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New global warming deadline: Reverse it in 8 years or it’ll be too late

By Doug Powers  •  March 28, 2012 02:51 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

For those of you keeping score at home, the climate “tipping point” has been moved slightly forward. The old tipping point was the year 2200. However, revised climate predictions now tell us global warming will be irreversible by the time Al Gore finishes dinner — or the end of this decade, whichever comes first:

LONDON (Reuters) – The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.

“This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines,” said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute, speaking at a conference in London.

Despite this sense of urgency, a new global climate treaty forcing the world’s biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, to curb emissions will only be agreed on by 2015 – to enter into force in 2020.

“We are on the cusp of some big changes,” said Steffen. “We can … cap temperature rise at two degrees, or cross the threshold beyond which the system shifts to a much hotter state.”

These “deadlines” come and go, and those who push them remind me of Robin Williams’ old bit about Colonel Gaddafi’s warning: “This is the line of death: Cross it and die! — Alright, cross this line and die… Okay, cross this line and die…”

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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