Beyond Neutral

Greenhouse Solutions

Greenhouse/ Climate Change

Greenhouse is a major threat to our economy, society and environment.

It is also an opportunity for forward thinking, adaptive companies, communities and individuals to be at the forefront of the new economy.

Climate change is currently being caused by a build up of gases in the atmosphere in combination with changes in land use which is reducing the ability of the biosphere to remove those gases. The science is complex but the effects are cumulative and will continue into the very long term (2100 is not the end date). The effects are analagous to that of compound interest — small additions add cumulatively to create a much bigger effect over time.

The greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring part of the earth’s climate system. It is the enhanced greenhouse effect, caused by human activity, which contributes to climate change.  The natural greenhouse effect is the trapping of long wave radiation, reflected off the earth’s surface, in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, e.g. CO2. This process warms the earth’s surface.  The enhanced greenhouse effect is the intensifying of the natural process through anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, leading to increases in surface temperatures, which has cascading impacts on ecosystem services.  In addition, landuse change, i.e. forest to agricultural land, interferer with the natural process in place to regulate concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The most recent IPCC report projects over the next 20 years an average temperature increase of 0.4°C is expected.  Even if CO2e concentrations were reduced to 2000 levels, an increase of 0.2°C is expected.  By 2099, average temperatures are expected to increase between 1.8°C (with a likely range of 1.1°C – 2.9°C) and 4°C (with a likely range of 2.4°C – 6.4°C) relative to 1980–1999 data.  Globally this equates to possible sea level rises of between 0.18 to 0.59 metres, however larger rises should be considered.  Sea level rises are expected to occur from the melting of sea ice from both the Artic and Antarctica, and the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.  The enhanced greenhouse effect will also adversely affect perception patterns.  The climate changes must also be linked in with the living environment, i.e. plants and animals, as well as socio-economic impacts to understand the complexity of climate change.

Past and future anthropogenic CO2e emissions will continue to enhance the greenhouse effect past 2100, due to time scales required to remove/break down CO2e gases.  This is why Beyond Neutral® takes the position that carbon neutrality, although good, may not be enough.  Going beyond carbon neutrality is required to shorten the time scales of reducing atmospheric CO2e concentrations and thus shortening the period of climate change.  The enhanced Greenhouse effect is a major threat to sustainability but is also an opportunity for forward thinking, allowing adaptive companies to be at the forefront of a new low carbon economy.