The Earth is crying out for help

As national leaders and others assemble in Copenhagen for the climate change negotiations, the whole subject must seem a mystifying cloud of acronyms, numbers and data. But as important as all these are in crafting an action plan, they completely obscure the fact that the planet works as a biological as well as a physical system.

That biophysical system (the biosphere and atmosphere together) is the key to understanding the urgency of climate change as well as crafting a truly meaningful response.

The oceans, so important to us for seafood, have become 30 percent more acid because of higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. This ultimately will affect all the tens of thousands of marine species that build skeletons or shells of calcium carbonate. Effects are already being noticed at the base of some ocean food chains.

The living planet is signaling very clearly that current greenhouse gas concentrations are already too high.

So the challenge becomes not only to find ways to reduce emissions from deforestation (“REDD”) and other land-use change, but also to identify ways to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Thomas Lovejoy, The New York Times, 8 December 2009. Full article.

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