Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can we avoid ‘dangerous’ global warming?

Nagraj Adve

The most pressing scientific question and political challenge about global warming at present is this: can we avoid ‘dangerous’ global warming, and prevent it reaching levels beyond which it will become irreversible?

This is the key question this essay attempts to address, and whether technological solutions really are the panacea they are so often made out to be. In doing so, it touches upon some themes in the Al Gore film and three books under consideration, including on some major impacts in India.

The sum total of all human activity generates 7.2 billion tons of carbon, or about 26.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from fossil fuels currently, according to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published this year.

Though transport is one of the fastest growing culprits, it presently accounts for only about 14% of CO2 and other greenhouse emissions that human activity is generating each year. The other big sources are electrical power (28.5%), deforestation (18%), industry (14%), even agriculture (14%).


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