According to Nasa, in the summer of 2007, sea ice was roughly 39% below the summer average for 1979-2000, a loss of area equal to nearly five United Kingdoms. Many scientists now believe the Arctic will be completely ice free in the summertime between 2011 and 2015, some 80 years ahead of what scientists had predicted just a few years ago.
As local governments begin to take stock of their emissions and choose targets to reduce them, they will have to make decisions about how seriosuly they will take the issue. Setting targets that are too weak or too far into the future could yield disastrous consequences – rising seas, severe droughts, and hurricanes and huge populations of displaced people – “climate refugees.”
Many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying that 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit for global CO2 in our atmosphere. Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led many scientists to conclude that we have already exceeded a safe level of CO2 at our current 390ppm. Failing to reduce emissions to 350ppm could mean irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.
There is general consensus in the scientific community that an 80% reduction in emissions by the year 2050 will mean a stable climate. This means not only that we must stop burning fossil fuels at the current rate, but that we must find a way to pull some of the existing carbon we have already burned out of the atmosphere.