10 years left to stop global warming
Peter Smith, a professor of sustainable energy at the University of Nottingham, told a British Association gathering that the world had ten years to develop and implement technologies to generate clean electricity before climate change reaches a point of no return.
The scientific opinion is that we have a ceiling of 440 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon before there is a tipping point, a step change in the rate of global warming. The rate at which we are emitting now, around 2ppm a year and rising, we could expect that that tripping point will reach us in 20 years' time. That gives us 10 years to develop technologies that could start to bite into the problem.
Professor Smith faulted the British government's recent energy assesment for failing to adequately address the problem. He was not optimistic that the government would make policy changes without some major weather event to bring the problem home.
What will overcome [government apathy] is when there's a 2 metre rise in the Thames so that the House of Commons is underwater. The tragedy is that there needs to be a fairly catastrophic event to motivate politicians to take action then they feel confident that the public will vote for them next time.