The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming) and the Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/6236690/Met-Office-catastrophic-climate-change-could-happen-with-50-years.html) are both reporting today on a study prepared for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The study, by the Met Office, apparently states that unless serious action is taken to reduce emissions, there could be an average global temperature rise of 4 degrees C by 2060.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported last week that an analysis of the latest peer-reviewed science indicated that many predictions from the upper end of the IPPC 2007 forecasts were becoming ever more likely (download the full report here: http://www.unep.org/compendium2009/).
In the UNEP report it is stated that carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry had exceeded even the most fossil fuel intensive scenario developed by the IPPC: that aragonite (a substance in shells) corroding water is already upwelling along the California coast, decades earlier than existing models predicted; that losses from glaciers, ice sheets and the polar regions appear to be happening faster than anticipated; that an average sea level rise of 0.8-2.0m above the 1990 level is now plausible (compared with the 18-59cm scenario in the 2007 IPPC report). The list goes on...
Taken together, these reports indicate a truly horrific scenario, that we may already be committed to "damaging and irreversible impacts" and that unless there is co-ordinated and drastic action now, further environmental tipping points may be reached sooner than previously predicted.
Climate change is not just a distant threat to our grandchildren. The effects of climate change will be felt by people now living and those effects will be huge and unprecedented. Human civilisation has developed within relative climactic norms and we are facing the possibility of pushing the climate outside those norms.
We must act now and we must make our politicians act now. We must prepare for the impacts which will happen and do our best to avert those which might happen. Each one of us who takes no action now shares responsibility for what is to come.