Point of no return?

Climate experts warn of irreversible damage to the planet

An in-depth analysis by the International Energy Agency of the world’s energy infrastructure has produced dire news: If carbon emission continues at its current pace, the last chance to remedy climate change will be lost forever in about five years’ time.

Scientists estimate the maximum safe amount of carbon in the world’s atmosphere is 450 parts per million. The present ratio is at about 390 parts per million, but scientists project the world will exceed its “carbon budget” by 2017; China, the United States and India are the top three producers of greenhouse gases.

The projection comes on the heels of news that 2010 carbon levels were higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts in 2006.

“The door is closing,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency chief economist. “I am very worried—if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy … [t]he door will be closed forever.”