Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Climate crunch coming?
Jamaica last week picked preferred bidders to supply 78 megawatts of wind and solar power. Add in the existing Wigton wind farm and hydro-electric schemes and they will get close to one-fifth of their electricity from renewables. A week earlier, Jamaica announced a 360 MW plant, mainly using natural gas. Good news? Up to a point.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change nine days ago released the 2,216-page first slice of its 2013 report. They stepped up the probability that humans are responsible for global warming from 90 per cent to 95 per cent. That widely reported number makes only half the point. We know some other stuff with 100 per cent certainty. Yes, 100 per cent. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. No guesswork. We measure it directly. It is up from 300 parts per million in 1960 to 400 this year.
Carbon dioxide traps heat. It blocks outward electromagnetic radiation at known wavelengths. That much is basic physics. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must affect the environment. So will other more powerful greenhouse gases such as methane, which are also increasing. Now the uncertainties start—what sort of change? How much? And how fast? That’s where we start to be just 95 per cent certain, sometimes less.
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