Ice is shrinking in the Arctic faster than climate computer models have predicted, according to a recent Newsweek article. How much of the shrinking is due to carbon levels in the atmosphere and how much of the ice would have retreated anyway? UW atmospheric scientist David Battisti says we need more data: “The most likely bet is that the acceleration is due to greenhouse warming. But I’d be nervous about making that bet. To know for certain we’d want a couple hundred years of data. We have 30 years of really good data.”
If the effect of carbon levels is underestimated, then it seems that under a best case scenario, the goal of the Copenhagen treaty should not be to correct past damage but rather to keep things from getting a lot worse. The subtitle of the article expresses this very point: Even a miracle of diplomacy wouldn’t put global warming back in its box.