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RFID and Global Warming

The same technology used to increase operational efficiencies can also save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
By Leslie Downey
Atmosphere as Open Sewer for Carbon
International climate negotiators have pledged to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. In its most recent report, issued in 2007, the IPCC reported that the world would need to lower emissions by 50 percent to 80 percent by 2050, in order to stabilize temperatures within that range. Now, many leading climate scientists—including James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies—say emissions must be cut faster in order to achieve that goal: The quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, they claim, must be reduced from the current level of 390 parts per million (ppm) down to 350 ppm.

Meanwhile, the CO2 level is climbing rapidly. If unabated, the amount of carbon dioxide is projected to exceed 450 ppm by 2020. Climatologists have pointed out that this level prevailed when the Earth was ice-free. Hansen asserts that 450 ppm in 2020 would result in a temperature rise of 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century, resulting in "the end of civilization as we've come to know it."

Some of the predicted consequences are:
• A staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land—some 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 degrees Celsius) over much of the United States
• A rise in sea level of 3 to 7 feet (0.9 to 2.1 meters), rising some 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.5 centimeters) or more each decade thereafter
• Permanent dust bowls over the U.S. Southwest, as well as many other heavily populated regions around the globe
• Massive species loss on land and in the sea—some 50 percent of all life worldwide, with huge dead zones in the oceans, due to acidification from absorption of CO2
• Massive wildfires
• More severe hurricanes

However, the United Kingdom's national weather service, the Met Office, says that based on present evidence, global warming and the resulting climate changes could be slowed if emissions of methane and carbon dioxide were reduced.

Such a prediction may be optimistic. In 2010, global carbon emissions were about 9.1 gigatons (9.1 billion metric tons). According to the IPCC's 2007 report, even a very strong mitigation effort during this century, keeping carbon emissions at an annual average of 11 gigatons of CO2, will likely take us to 1,000 ppm. The scientific community has spent little time modeling the impacts of a tripling (to 830 ppm) or quadrupling (to 1,100 ppm) of carbon dioxide concentrations from preindustrial levels. Until recently, this was considered unthinkable.

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