350 ppm: le chiffre magique

[MotherJones] Now that we know how far we are past the carbon tipping point, it’s time to freak out—and get to work.

It was September 2007 that the tide began to turn. Every summer Arctic sea ice melts, and every fall it refreezes. The amount of open water has been steadily increasing for three decades, a percent or two every year—it’s been going at about the pace that the hairline recedes on a middle-aged man. It was worrisome, and scientists said all the summer ice could be gone by 2070 or so, which is an eyeblink in geologic time but an eternity in politician time. In late summer of last year, though, the melt turned into a rout—it was like those stories of people whose hair turns gray overnight. An area the size of Colorado was disappearing every week; the Northwest Passage was staying wide open all September, for the first time in history. Before long the Arctic night mercifully descended and the ice began to refreeze, but scientists were using words like « astounding. » They were recalculating—by one nasa scientist’s estimate the summer Arctic might now be free of ice by 2012. Which in politician years is « beginning of my second term. »

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