As a result of climate change and the increasing visibility of its effects, other related social and environmental concerns are increasing in both scope and severity. Ecosystems are in decline and resources are shrinking, and the potential impact to the planet’s biodiversity is uncertain.
Figure 4. A sampling of the myriad of problems affected by climate change.
This is not sustainable. These impacts far exceed the world’s true capacity to sustain life. NASA scientist James Hansen, one of the nation’s premiere climatologists who testified in front of Congress more than 20 years ago about the threat of climate change, contends that we should be aiming to lower the concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm). Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels were at about 287 ppm, but as of 2008 we are at 387 ppm and are increasing at an estimated rate of 2-3 ppm per year.Xvii