Climate Scientist: Atmospheric Carbon Levels ‘Off The Scale’


At an energy conference in Milwaukee, a noted climate scientist says problems related to global warming are accelerating.

Michael Mann is a meteorology professor and climate researcher at Penn State, who has compared global temperature rise over the last few decades to the upward slope of a hockey stick. Mann told an energy forum yesterday that carbon pollution usually linked to climate change has just set a new record. “We probably have to go 2 million years back in time, now, to find CO2 levels as high as the level just recorded in 2012, of 395 parts per million. That’s off the scale of this plot; it’s ahead of schedule in terms of what we were projecting.”

Mann also says the damage of last year’s drought and Hurricane Sandy on the east coast were probably made worse by factors triggered by climate change, though he says it’s not possible to directly link global warming to those weather events. Some business groups continue to disparage Mann’s work, but some firms say climate change is real and the question is who will do something about it. Clay Nesler of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls says there are some local initiatives.

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“What you tend to see is, individuals committed in large numbers. You see cities making very aggressive policies and taking a lot of actions. Some states – California and Massachusetts, for instance. So, in the U.S., at least, it seems ‘bottoms-up’ appears to be a very good strategy.”

At the federal level, President Obama is promising to take action on climate change.