Friday was a good news day at the AAAS conference, with the fisheries scientists putting on a happy face. Today was bad news day for climate change. Chris Field, a very smart guy who I worked for briefly in 2002, announced that carbon dioxide emissions have increased way faster than they figured at the time of the last big climate assessment. “We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we considered in climate models,” he said at a press conference this morning.
Here’s a Washington Post article about it. (Kari Lydersen was at the same press conference and got a different version of that quote. Hm. She’s probably right, but I’m sticking with the version in my notebook. Maybe he said it differently in his science talk.)
Then this afternoon I went to a session called “The Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice,” so I knew I was in for a good time. Jean-Claude Gascard summarized all the data. Guess what: There’s less ice. He had graph after graph showing that there’s less ice every year, and it’s thinner than it used to be, too. He’s from the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. His very nice French accent didn’t make the news sound any better.
The talk after his, by Paul Wassman of the University of Tromsø (yay Norway), was even more depressing. He was talking about how the Arctic may have reached a point of no return with warming. Someone asked if that’s it, if people have lost the battle. “Yes, it looks not good,” he said.
Maybe next year the climate people will follow the example of the fisheries people and start telling us good news about carbon.