The nation’s top climate scientist, James Hansen, has just published a general-audience article, “Tipping Point” [PDF], in State of the Wild 2008-2009 from Island Press. It is well worth sending to folks who don’t like all the math. His key points:

We are at the tipping point because the climate state includes large, ready positive feedbacks provided by the Arctic sea ice, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and much of Greenland’s ice.

Prior major warmings in Earth’s history, the most recent occurring 55 million years ago … resulted in the extinction of half or more of the species then on the planet.

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In my view, special interests have undue sway with our governments and have effectively promoted minimalist actions and growth in fossil fuels, rather than making the scale of investments necessary.

You might also like this figure on “cumulative fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by different countries as a percent of global total” —


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China has a long way to go to catch up to this country — let alone the entire industrialized world — on cumulative emissions (though they are obviously trying as hard as they can).