Sustainability of Gaia: A Question of Balance Climate Change and Sustainable Development

With the mixed publicity in the media related to climate change, the scientifically credible, robust facts are often overshadowed by mixed, contradicting, or plainly wrong stories. This paper, therefore, dispels myths and lays the foundation behind the scientific evidence pertaining to the on-going changes in our climate and to our planet. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the most important of the radiative forcing components driving the ongoing change in climate (IPCC, 2007). The global increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration are driven primarily by carbon dioxide release during fossil fuel combustion and land use change. On average, 40% of the carbon dioxide released by fossil fuel combustion stays in the atmosphere and the remainder is removed from the atmosphere by Earth”s oceanic and terrestrial biosphere. Life on Earth, on land and in the oceans, offsets the impact of human modification of the global carbon cycle. Quantifying and projecting the removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide is critical to understanding how the Earth”s climate will change and evolve over the next years, decades, and centuries. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) was the first to address the “Earth System” by including a coupled carbon cycle and climate.