By Dan Shapley
A new analysis of recent data finds that the Earth is closer to a climate "tipping point" -- when dangerous consequences are inevitable -- than even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted. The analysis comes from some of the United States' top scientists, including Gavin Schmidt
of NOAA and James Hansen of NASA. Staying on the "business as usual" path, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, would mean reaching that tipping point within about a decade. The consequences include higher sea levels, stronger storm surges and possibly stronger hurricanes
. The good news is that the scientists say the window of opportunity for action is open wide enough to act. Even if the United States and world fail to make meaningful progress curbing carbon dioxide emissions, tackling other greenhouse gases, like ozone, and other contributors to climate change, like soot, can go a long way toward stabilizing the climate. The other ray of hope is that many businesses are taking into account climate change as they make future plans -- a step that the scientists said is crucial. On the flip side, the U.S. this week rejected emissions targets favored by the European Union, a step that further distances the Bush Administration from other world leaders on the climate issue, according to a story in the May 30 Christian Science Monitor.