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This is my nomination for the most important statement last year.
“Emissions reduction of 6%/year and 100 GtC storage in the biosphere and soils are needed to get CO2 back to 350 ppm, the approximate requirement for restoring the planet’s energy balance and stabilizing climate this century. Such a pathway is exceedingly difficult to achieve, given the current widespread absence of policies to drive rapid movement to carbon-free energies and the lifetime of energy infrastructure in place.”
“Review Assessing ‘‘Dangerous Climate Change’’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature” Hansen et alia. PLOSONE December2013, volume 8 issue 12 e81648, page 18.
Kevin Anderson set the needed immediate carbon emission reductions for industrial countries at at least 10%.
Two of the world’s leading climate scientists have now laid down clear indications of the range of reductions needed immediately. It is the job of the rest of us to make it happen.
What are your strategies for realizing these difficult-to-achieve but absolutely necessary reductions personally, locally, nationally and globally? Can we have a conversation about this crucial issue here?
Martin Smith, it might have to do with the strongest Jet Stream ever recorded? But without checking the monthly/annual average and numerical comparisons it’s hard to put the animation you link into a broader perspective.
oh my, I was resolved to post less in 2014, I’m already up to February’s self-imposed quota, but, this is priceless (from twitter). Tom Nelson gives us the very definition of epistomology, while sounding like he doesn’t know what the word means.
Gavin Schmidt @ClimateOfGavin 38m
@tan123 Tip: You should really take a course in epistemology – it would do you a lot of good.
.@ClimateOfGavin … *that’s* the best you can do?!
“Two of the world’s leading climate scientists have now laid down clear indications of the range of reductions needed immediately. It is the job of the rest of us to make it happen.”
As I have posted previously, the climate advocacy community needs to present a clear, simple, and unified message of what is needed before a critical mass of people can be assembled. Your statement above reflects the problem we have presently.
Here are two experts who have studied the problem; the combination of their messages is neither clear, simple, nor unified, and one can only imagine the combined message of perhaps ten leading experts. First, Hansen believes that temperature increases much above prior Holocene experience of about 1 C would be ‘deleterious’, and his computations are based on that ceiling. While Anderson has stated that temperatures much above that range would be ‘dangerous’, his computations are based on 2 C. Thus, the two emissions reductions you quoted were net generated on a consistent basis. Other experts say these numbers are wishful thinking, and we should be prepared to adapt to a 4 C world.
So, we are starting out with different targets. Hansen includes reforestation in his CO2 emission reductions required; I don’t believe Anderson does. Hansen looks at only two deforestation levels: 50 GtC and 100 GtC. For 50 GtC, a 9%/year CO2 emissions reduction is required starting now; for 100 GtC, the 6% you quote. He does not include 0 GtC, which by itself is a formidable target, given that we have been deforesting recently (net) at about seven million hectacres/year. What are the CO2 emissions reductions required for 0 GtC? I suspect he did not include this point for the same reason Anderson did not include it (1.1 C ceiling and 0 GtC); the emissions reductions required would probably be horrific.
So, we have only two experts, and the targets and assumptions are already very different. If there is a coherent message here, it is not easily available. Then you ask: “What are your strategies for realizing these difficult-to-achieve but absolutely necessary reductions personally, locally, nationally and globally?” Excellent question. The answer would involve some combination of improved energy efficiency, rapid introduction of renewables, rapid introduction of nuclear, reduction in demand, and other ancillary measures like carbon sequestration, geoengineering, etc. Each of these components has different time consequences; if the lower temperatures are the appropriate target, we have to place high weighting on those components that can be implemented in the very near term, and if the higher temperatures are acceptable, we can then add the longer lead time components to the mix. Thus, our potential actions require a clear and unified message.
Superimposed on these technical issues are the economic and political issues. How do we get the Tony Abbotts of the world to unilaterally leave their fossil reserves where they belong: in the ground? That includes Steven Harper, Vladimir Putin, and, yes, our own Barack Obama. Until you can answer this question (which I can’t), forget about answering the technical questions above.
A new record was set for the number of consecutive days the national average temperature exceeded 39C – seven days between January 2 and 8, 2013, almost doubling the previous record of four consecutive days in 1973.
Annual climate statement 2013
Issued Friday 3 January 2014
Data collected and analysed by the Bureau of Meteorology show that 2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record while rainfall was slightly below average nationally.
Summer 2012–13 was the warmest on record nationally, spring was also the warmest on record and winter the third warmest
Overall, 2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record: annual national mean temperature was +1.20 °C above average
All States and the Northern Territory ranked in the four warmest years on record
Nationally-averaged rainfall was slightly below average for the year, with 428 mm (1961–1990 average 465 mm)
Rainfall was mostly below average for the inland east and centre, and above average for the east coast, northern Tasmania and parts of Western Australia http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/2013/
One of the most obvious assumptions was that the increasing global warming has already extended into these regions of the North Atlantic. However, the investigations partly carried out with the German research submersible JAGO, pointed clearly to natural causes. “On one hand, we have found that the seasonal variations in temperature in this region are sufficient to push the stability zone of gas hydrates more than a kilometre up and down the slope,” Professor Berndt explains. “Additionally, we discovered carbonate structures in the vicinity of methane seeps at the seafloor”, Dr. Tom Feseker from MARUM adds. “These are clear indicators that the outgassing likely takes place over very long time periods, presumably for several thousand years”, Feseker continues. http://phys.org/news/2014-01-methane-hydrates-global.html#jCp
“A lot of things are exceedingly difficult to achieve in the absence of any effort to achieve them.”
It probably doesn’t help matters, that apparently the salaries of many of those who might be tasked with attempting to achieve such things, specifically depend, on their doing everything in their power NOT to achieve them…
Diogenes, it seems to me that a healthy portion of the reductions have to come from…reductions. We have to just mostly start doing a whole heck of a lot _less_. Why do we have to constantly zip our sorry carcases all over the place? Especially in this age of online communication? Most of what we purchase we throw away within a few days or weeks, or we never use it after the first few times. We are killing the world, and it’s not mostly even making us very happy. Time to do a sudden 180!
Prok, I don’t say this to just everyone, but: I fink you freaky, and I like you a lot!
“While many climate extremes cannot be directly attributed to a changing climate, the burden of extremes Australia is experiencing is a product of climate change and requires a coordinated national response.”
The 2013 record high is also remarkable because it occurred not in an El Nino year (where a warm ocean current can push up temperatures), but a normal year.
Professor David Karoly, from the School of Earth Sciences at University of Melbourne, says analysis has been made of the temperature record using simulations with nine different climate models that represent the natural variability of Australian average temperatures.
He says these indicate that greenhouse climate change vastly increased the odds of setting a new temperature record.
“In the model experiments, it is not possible to reach such a temperature record due to natural climate variations alone,” Professor Karoly says.
In simulations with no increases in greenhouse gases, none of the more than 13,000 model years analysed reach the record temperature observed in 2013.
And in simulations for 2006 to 2020 with natural variability and human influences, including increases in greenhouse gases, such records occur approximately once in every ten years.
I’m not entirely sure how you came with this song suggestion wili, but thanks for the positive expression. A friend showed me this artist before but it is not exactly what i’m listening to. Listening now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmpiAHY7ULc Cheers.
Can regional climate engineering save the summer Arctic Sea-Ice?
Rapid declines in summer Arctic sea-ice extent are projected under high-forcing future climate scenarios. Regional Arctic climate engineering has been suggested as an emergency strategy to save the sea-ice. Model simulations of idealized regional dimming experiments compared to a business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission simulation demonstrate the importance of both local and remote feedback mechanisms to the surface energy budget in high latitudes. With increasing artificial reduction in incoming shortwave radiation, the positive surface albedo feedback from Arctic sea-ice loss is reduced. However, changes in Arctic clouds and the strongly increasing northward heat transport both counteract the direct dimming effects. A four times stronger local reduction in solar radiation compared to a global experiment is required to preserve summer Arctic sea-ice area. Even with regional Arctic dimming, a reduction in the strength of the oceanic meridional overturning circulation and a shut down of Labrador Sea deep convection are possible.
All the talk of hot Australia temps aside, we are definitely seeing an extremely cold stretch here in NA right now. Next week, for example, the GEM-GLB models are predicting freezing temps all the way into northern Mexico early in the week far below 20N. Expect a lot of comments about “it’s really cold (insert place), therefore all the scientists are crazy/stupid/dishonest.”
Expect no comment at all about the fact that right now and on into next week the we will also observe above freezing temps both in the northern Davis Straits and in the Norwegian/Barents Sea areas presently at latitudes in excess of 80N at times which are presently in 24 hour dark!
(NB–the title reflects the article origins as a *prospective* on 2013. I’ve changed it to “Climate 2013–The Year In Prospect And Review” to reflect the year-end updates, but the since the original also functions as URL it can’t update in that respect.)
SA, yes, essentially much of our entire economy is built on inefficiency. Look at the enormous size of the cars/trucks in the current US fleet, most of them mostly used most of the time to haul one person’s sorry carcass to a job that itself mostly the product of some manner of inefficiency.
So “doing what we do” IS largely inefficiency itself.
But much of the rest of “doing what we do” is turning the beauty and depths of the world into toxic waste.
At long last, at this point well into the sixth mass extinction, the world teetering on the edge of utter calamity…finally, is it not time to really deeply reconsider much of “what we do,” why we do it, and what else we might be doing?
As Tony put it so well at #23: “…we have to jetison the notion that whatever we do about this can achieve the necessary reductions and continue our current ways of living.”
wili wrote: “But much of the rest of ‘doing what we do’ is turning the beauty and depths of the world into toxic waste.”
Certainly some of our environmental problems cannot be “fixed” without far-reaching and profound changes in human societies all over the world which will likely take decades or generations to achieve.
We don’t have decades or generations to fix the greenhouse gas problem. We have years.
Fortunately we do have short-term technical fixes available, which, IF THEY ARE APPLIED, can quickly stop, and then begin to reverse, the increase in atmospheric GHG levels within a decade or two at the most. And that’s what we urgently need to do, if we want to buy time to address the more difficult problems (e.g. population growth).
And in the USA the lowest-hanging fruit is eliminating the outright waste of more than half of the energy we consume.
> eliminating the outright waste of more than half of the energy
To us, it’s waste. But remember that’s a longterm view.
To managers whose job limits them to considering a year’s short-term profit and loss, much outright waste happens over the longer term — it’s an externalized waste.
(Is that even a term? It’s a “not my department” waste problem.)
They focus in this year’s budget on the money they save by buying less efficient, cheaper products.
Managers aren’t stupid. But they’re only doing a job, not doing the best they could for the company by changing the rules.
Look at how the utility transformer manufacturers, several states, and several environmental groups got together to sue the Department of Energy when it proposed to allow the cheapest and least efficient utility transformers to be the industry standard. Those things last 40 years in service.
Everyone knew that DOE was protecting a domestic manufacturer that was way behind the efficiency curve.
None of the utilities -wanted- to buy the cheap, inefficient, wasteful transformers, knowing they’d cost more year after year after year.
So they sued DOE and won a better, more efficient standard. Not as good as it could be or should be.
It’s easy to say “waste” — but it’s not that simple.
Hank Roberts wrote: “It’s easy to say ‘waste’ — but it’s not that simple”
The word “simple” does not appear in any of my comments on this subject.
Yes, change doesn’t happen without effort from those who recognize the need for it.
The LLNL pages I linked to provide a lot of detail on energy waste in the USA. Opportunities to dramatically increase efficiency abound — some of them have the potential to pay for themselves very quickly.
SA@37, whilst there may technically be short term “fixes” available (though that is open to debate), you have to remember that members of Homo sapiens make the important decisions. As Hansen has noted, the role of money in politics ensures that appropriate action won’t be taken (although he, himself, remains marginally optimistic that people can come to their senses). When you use the word “fortunately”, I think you are using it hypothetically (as in, “if people come to their senses, fortunately there are short term fixes”). Unfortunately, with humans, what you see is what you get – after all, we are a species, not some mythical beasts, so we act, generally, in the way you would expect a species with our genes to act.
I can think of a very obvious example of energy inefficiency from my last job before retiring in 2010. A large (non-US) government organisation had a development/support computer network, with 2 or 3 server rooms populated largely with hand-me-downs. IIRC the server rooms between them were supplied with about 50 KW, and were using about 30 on a continuous basis (plus maybe another 10 to run the air-conditioners taking the heat away).
I once did a casual back-of-the-envelope estimate and concluded that if we re-equipped with current hardware and virtualised all the servers, we could have fitted the server side of that network into a single rack with a PILE of other benefits (reliability, expandability, ease of management, etc. etc.).
But that would have meant getting a budget for perhaps $500K, and as far as the functional area’s management was concerned power simply came with the building.
more generally separation of carbon and state.
The (relative) cost of energy is political. Fossil fuel is subsidized worldwide to the tune of around, is it $600 Billion per year. In addition the professional deniers get some very large sum per year of dark money. (reported recently, what was the amount? (I have it bookmarked but I am not trying to dot all i’s in this comment))
The cost of energy is political! Demand separation of oil and state!
I am always frustrated by people, even people who are officially smart, saying it is so hard to make a modest change-over to renewable energy per year. The hard part is political. There is much normal work to be done and there are plenty of people looking for work. Deploy the subsidies appropriately (away from carbon) and we have a win-win. Only the ASBs (anti-social billionaires, both corporate and corporeal) stand between us and a better world.
What is needed is a simple strong clear message and goal. Now we have it!
Separate Oil and State!!
The cost of energy is political. Let us have our better world.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 3 Jan 2014 @ 10:42 PM
prokaryotes: I signed up for the course. I expect the course to be OK because Dr. Richard B. Alley is teaching it. Did you sign up?
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 3 Jan 2014 @ 11:15 PM
We tend to focus our severe weather stories on the same few contries over and over.
“Australia’s having a heat wave! Australia’s having a heat wave!” Probably just a continuation of the one they have had forever. But do they have anything like this?
There is a heat wave in Argentina. Many people in the town of Rosario went swimming in the river Parana to escape the heat. But soon they rushed out of the water screaming and bleeding. They were attacked by a swarm of Piranhas.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 3 Jan 2014 @ 11:43 PM
Edward Greisch, i logged in but i do not see a signup button. Could you post the direct link for the signup?
Another thing about humans: They tend to project present trends and realities indefinitely into the future. This is the psychological tendency cas-inos rely on to ensure winners keep playing until they lose back their gains. It is behind market bubbles, failed military strategies and even difficulties with family relationships. People look at the present, see the seemingly iron-clad constraints that have prevented a breakthrough and confidently proclaim the problem impossible…until it suddenly gives way and we’re in a new normal.
You confidently claim that economic interests will ensure that the last lump of coal will be burned. Did it occur to you that new technologies leading to a better energy infrastructure may be out there right now and that these represent economic interests diametrically opposed to the coal and oil barons? Did it not also occur to you that it might be helpful to identify and promote those interests? The only way we will build a better reality is to first envision it–you vision is too narrow.
Yes, 20 C–I suppose I should really write -20 C–is a reasonable estimate. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I specifically sourced that from originally, but see for instance this reconstruction (Figure 7), based on the GISP-2 ice core from Greenland.
And thanks for the mention of the Argentine heat wave; I’ll have to have a look at that.
It’s not just cheap DVD players, either–how much pollution was avoided by the advent of more durable automobiles in the US following the ‘Japanese invasion?’ And how much more could be avoided with still more durable ones that could potentially be engineered and built, if doing so were profitable?
And how could you incentivize reliability across wide chunks of the economy? Reliability standards, perhaps calibrating corporate tax rates to some sort of reliability index over time?
“Treloar, et al. have estimated the embodied energy in an average automobile in Australia as 0.27 terajoules as one component in an overall analysis of the energy involved in road transportation.” Given that “About 63 terajoules were released by the atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima,” that works out to something like the energetic equivalent of 8,500 pounds of TNT per car… good thing even Pintos couldn’t realize more than a tiny fraction of that in actual explosions…
It’s also rather piquant to think that the TNT would mass roughly twice what the actual vehicle does. (Model year 2012 US cars and light trucks averaged 3,997 pounds, according to the EPA.)
…. seemed to me that a world short of risk-bearing capacity needed virtually anything that induced people to commit their money to long-term risky investments.
In other words, such a world needed either the reality or the illusion that finance could, as John Maynard Keynes put it, “defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelop our future.” …
… A back-of-the-envelope calculation of mine in 2007 suggested that the world paid financial institutions roughly $800 billion every year for mergers and acquisitions that yielded about $170 billion of real economic value. That rather poor cost-benefit ratio does not appear to be improving.
Two more points on Hansen’s/Anderson’s recommended solutions. Hansen’s Plos One paper emphasizes “contributions are surely required from energy efficiency, renewable energies, and nuclear power, with the mix depending on local preferences.” Anderson has focused mainly on demand reduction and improved energy efficiency. While they both agree upon improved energy efficiency, the other recommendations pull in different directions. Again, not only their temperature ceiling targets and assumptions differ, but the approaches to alleviate the problem differ as well. Again, not the clear, simple, and unified (and credible) message required to assemble the critical mass of people necessary to alleviate the climate change problem.
Reforestation is an important component of the emissions reduction scenario postulated by Hansen. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture. Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation; logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel wood removals make up 5% of deforestation.
From another reference:
Causes of Deforestation
1. Agricultural activities: As earlier mentioned in the overview, agricultural activities are one of the major factors affecting deforestation. Due to overgrowing demand for food products, huge amount of tress are felled down to grow crops and for cattle grazing.
2. Logging: Apart from this, wood based industries like paper, match-sticks, furniture etc also need a substantial amount of wood supply. Wood is used as fuel both directly and indirectly, therefore trees are chopped for supplies. Firewood and charcoal are examples of wood being used as fuel. Some of these industries thrive on illegal wood cutting and felling of trees.
3. Urbanization: Further on order to gain access to these forests, the construction of roads are undertaken; here again trees are chopped to create roads. Overpopulation too directly affects forest covers, as with the expansion of cities more land is needed to establish housing and settlements. Therefore forest land is reclaimed.
4. Desertification of land: Some of the other factors that lead to deforestation are also part natural and part anthropogenic like Desertification of land. It occurs due to land abuse making it unfit for growth of trees. Many industries in petrochemicals release their waste into rivers which results in soil erosion and make it unfit to grow plants and trees.
5. Mining: Oil and coal mining require considerable amount of forest land. Apart from this, roads and highways have to be built to make way for trucks and other equipment. The waste that comes out from mining pollutes the environment and effects the nearby species.
6. Fires: Another example would be forest blazes; Hundreds of trees are lost each year due to forest fires in various portions of the world. This happens due to extreme warm summers and milder winters. Fires, whether causes by man or nature results in huge loss of forest cover.
Given that agriculture, logging, and urbanization are the big three, with agriculture dominant, and given that world population is projected to grow another 30% before supposedly peaking by mid-century, where exactly are we going to find the land to reforest? Given that a main near-term consequence of climate change is expected to be reduction in arable land, do we really believe that conversion of arable land back to forests is realistic, or even desirable? Do we also believe that conversion of land used for urbanization infrastructure back to forests is credible or desirable, given the prospects of an increasing population?
How realistic are the reforestation numbers that Hansen includes in his computations? Going to zero deforestation is not a small challenge, given the increasing needs for land for reasons stated above. If we use zero reforestation in Hansen’s computations, what level of emissions reductions are required to meet the ceiling targets he postulates? If they are in the 15%-20%/year range, which of his proposed solution options are available today to allow those targets to be met? Anything that requires long development times or long construction and licensing times seems somewhat out of sync with the required time scales.
By the way, besides using the Internet to find sites in need of trees, look in your local For Sale section for raw, abused real estate, and study up.
And don’t forget to contribute to those doing excellent work, like Woodfortrees
… a self-funded personal project by Paul Clark, a British software developer and practically-oriented environmentalist and conservationist. You can provide support through my Charity Tip Jar if you like.”
Martin Smith, you compare operational with reanalysis data (different base line, different model) and it turns out the “operational” data is considered in error.
This page plots the operational NCEP analysis. The model used to compute these values changes through time so it is not as appropriate for anomalies or examinging climate. For most purposes, using the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis with its consistent model and longer climatology is preferred. That page can be found at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/composites/day/. The variables RH and air temperature have been removed as the climatology is very bad and the older years do not match the reanalysis very well. We suggest users use the daily composite page or look at the latest FNL plots from the maproom. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/data/histdata/
1) >”While they both agree upon improved energy efficiency, the other recommendations pull in different directions. Again, not only their temperature ceiling targets and assumptions differ, but the approaches to alleviate the problem differ as well.”
Well, sure. The ‘approaches’ are ipso facto policy, and as such include differences in values resulting from non-scientific aspects of the scientists’ personalities. It’s unfortunate to the extent that, as you say, it detracts from a “simple, direct, and unified” message–but it’s inherent, IMO, and I believe (yes, that is a matter of ‘faith’ as well as judgment) more of a ‘feature’ than a ‘bug.’ I think that competing visions and ‘approaches’ will ultimately (hopefully not *too* ‘ultimately!) be more likely to provide a reasonably optimized strategy.
Sure *hope* I’m right about that…
2) “…given that world population is projected to grow another 30% before supposedly peaking by mid-century, where exactly are we going to find the land to reforest?”
Well, the eastern US has reforested very considerably during the last century, even as its population has increased just as considerably. There was this thing called ‘urbanization’, which resulted in much denser mean population, even as farming became less profitable on average, and more land-efficient. At the same time, wood became less ubiquitous as a structural material, supplanted by metal, modern composites and plastics.
That’s not to say that the same will, or even necessarily can, happen everywhere. But it’s certainly a good example that increasing population and increasing forest can coexist in the same region in the ‘real world.’
Ray Ladbury wrote to Tony Weddle: “You confidently claim that economic interests will ensure that the last lump of coal will be burned.”
Economics no longer favor burning coal for electricity generation. Economic interests are already causing utilities to cancel long-term contracts for coal-fired electricity and to close fossil-fueled power plants.
Indeed the explosion of distributed rooftop photovoltaics in Germany and Australia — which the grid “sees” as demand reduction — is making the economic future of large, centralized power plants uncertain.
In early 2013, David Bromwich, a professor of polar meteorology at Ohio State University, and a team including Antarctic weather station experts from the University of Wisconsin, published a paper in Nature Geoscience showing that the warming in central West Antarctica was unambiguous—and likely about twice the magnitude estimated by Steig et al. The key to Bromwich et al.’s work was the correction for errors in the temperature sensors used in various incarnations of the Byrd Station record (the only long record in this part of Antarctica); miscalibraiton had previously caused the magnitude of the 1990s warmth to be underestimated, and the magnitude of the 2000s to be overestimated. The revised Byrd Station record is in very good agreement with the borehole temperature data from nearby WAIS Divide. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica_cooling_controversy
Reconstructed Byrd temperature record (1957-2013)
This webpage provides the near-surface temperature dataset from Byrd Station, in central West Antarctica, used by Bromwich et al. in the 2013 Nature Geoscience article entitled Central West Antarctica among the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. A detailed description of the methods used to fill in the gaps in the temperature record can be found in the Methods section of the paper and in its Supplementary Information.
The revision mentioned above in the ‘Important Note’ is described in a Corrigendum published in the January 2014 issue of Nature Geoscience. This corrigendum is accompanied by a Supplementary Information describing in detail what we learned from the newly-discovered 6-hourly temperature observations from 1957-1975, how/why we corrected the original monthly mean temperatures from this period, and what impacts these corrections had on the results presented in the original paper. As we underscore at the end of the corrigendum, ” the main finding of the study, namely that the total annual temperature increase at Byrd between 1958 and 2010 still ranks among the fastest warming rates on Earth, remains valid.” http://polarmet.osu.edu/Byrd_recon/
Furthermore, there are actually good reasons to expect the overall rate of warming in the Southern Hemisphere to be small. It has been recognized for some time that model simulations result in much greater warming in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere than in the South, due to ocean heat uptake by the Southern Ocean. Additionally, there is some observational evidence that atmospheric dynamical changes may explain the recent cooling over parts of Antarctica. .
Thompson and Solomon (2002) showed that the Southern Annular Mode (a pattern of variability that affects the westerly winds around Antarctica) had been in a more positive phase (stronger winds) in recent years, and that this acts as a barrier, preventing warmer air from reaching the continent. There are also some indications from models that this may have been caused by a combination of stratospheric ozone depletion and stratospheric cooling due to CO2 (Gillett and Thompson, 2002 ; Shindell and Schmidt, 2004). It is important to note, though, that there is evidence from tree-ring based climate reconstructions that the phase of the Southern Annular Mode has changed similarly in the past (Jones and Widman, 2004). We cannot, therefore, ascribe observed recent temperature changes to any one particular cause.
So what does this all of this imply? First, short term observations should be interpreted with caution: we need more data from the Antarctic, over longer time periods, to say with certainly what the long term trend is. Second, regional change is not the same as global mean change. Third, there are very reasonable explanations for the recent observed cooling, that have been recognized for some time from model simulations. However, the models also suggest that, as we go forward in time, the relative importance of increasing radiative effects, compared with atmosphere and ocean dynamic effects, is likely to increase. In short, we fully expect Antarctica to warm up in the future.
Notice above post is from 2004, one of the first RC post and interesting to read in full. Though even if it were to cool it is supported by observations – in line with what had been suggested.
Shouldn’t the surface air getting cooler when the upper most ice melts, because of phase transitioning?
And what is the impact from the ozone hole cooling on the Katabatic wind transport to the surface?
In the case of the Santa Ana, for example, the wind can (but does not always) become hot by the time it reaches sea level. In the case of Antarctica, by contrast, the wind is still intensely cold.
The entire near-surface wind field over Antarctica is largely determined by the katabatic winds, particularly outside the summer season, except in coastal regions when storms may impose their own windfield. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katabatic_wind
2008 Association of Antarctic polar stratospheric cloud formation on tropospheric cloud systems
The formation of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) is critical to the development of polar ozone loss. However, the mechanisms of PSC formation remain poorly understood, which affects ozone loss models. Here, based on observations by the NASA A-train satellites, we show that 66% ± 16% and 52% ± 17% of PSCs over west and east Antarctica during the period June –October 2006 were associated with deep tropospheric cloud systems, with maximum depths exceeding 7 km. The development of such deep tropospheric cloud systems should cool the lower stratosphere through adiabatic and radiative processes, favoring PSC development. These deep systems also transport lower tropospheric air into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. These new findings suggest that Antarctic PSC formation is closely connected to tropospheric meteorology and thus governed by synoptic scale dynamics, local topography, and large-scale circulation. More dedicated studies are still needed to better understand Antarctic PSC formation. Citation: Wang, Z., G. Stephens, T. Deshler, C. Trepte, T. Parish, D. Vane, D. Winker, D. Liu, and L. Adhikari (2008)
2011 Signatures of the Antarctic ozone hole in Southern Hemisphere surface climate change
The influence of the ozone hole on the Southern Annular Mode has led to a range of significant summertime surface climate changes not only over Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, but also over New Zealand, Patagonia and southern regions of Australia. Surface climate change as far equatorward as the subtropical Southern Hemisphere may have also been affected by the ozone hole. Over the next few decades, recovery of the ozone hole and increases in greenhouse gases are expected to have significant but opposing effects on the Southern Annular Mode and its attendant climate impacts during summer 
2013 Past, Present and Future Climate of Antarctica
Anthropogenic warming of near-surface atmosphere in the last 50 years is dominant over the west Antarctic Peninsula. Ozone depletion has led to partly cooling of the stratosphere. The positive polarity of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) index and its enhancement over the past 50 years have intensified the westerlies over the Southern Ocean, and induced warming of Antarctic Peninsula. Dictated by local ocean-atmosphere processes and remote forcing, the Antarctic sea ice extent is increasing, contrary to climate model predictions for the 21st century, and this increase has strong regional and seasonal signatures. Models incorporating doubling of present day CO2 predict warming of the Ant- arctic sea ice zone, a reduction in sea ice cover, and warming of the Antarctic Plateau, accompanied by increased snowfall. 
Actually, Ray @ 50, I didn’t confidently proclaim that the last lump of coal will be burned. I have little doubt that that will not happen. What will happen is that humans will try to burn the last lump of coal but they will likely fall far short of that desire because of the impacts of burning all of the other lumps of coal and because of the dream that resources are infinite and can be harvested without consequence.
The only way to build a better reality is to recognise what reality is. I used to be a techno-optimist, as you seem to be, but no longer. The reality is that we live on a finite planet. It’s impossible to live the way we do, for ever, regardless of some hoped for new energy infrastructure. We really should start getting used to that idea but it seems we won’t until we absolutely have to. I’m not into wishful thinking any more.
Tony Weddle, Hope differs from wishful thinking in that it acknowledges the difficulty, even the direness of the present while realizing that the present is not the future.
The fact is that we cannot anticipate the future. It may indeed be grim, but it will be no less grim for all our prognostication of its grimness. Indeed, by foreclosing on the possibilities of change, we would likely make it even more grim. We face many challenges on the way to sustainability. The climate is one of the first to confront us. I hope we are made of tougher stuff than to collapse at the first difficulty.
I don’t want to take issue with the general thrust of your argument, but with respect to the specific case of personal motor vehicles doesn’t the ongoing energy cost dwarf the initial investment? A fossil-fuel car or light truck used “normally” will consume (to a first order approximation) it’s own weight in fuel every 20,000 Kilometres (12,500 miles). For a lot of people that’s one year’s motoring.
52 Kevin McKinney: I wrote a book about that. Most people follow their instinct and their instinct works for horses, but is exactly perfectly wrong for cars. If you want cars to last longer, first you have to get everybody numerate. That is the hard part. Then you have to tell them:
MTBO is proportional to (engine weight/horsepower)cubed
MTBO = mean time between overhauls
And you have to make the lawyers be reasonable.
54 Hank Roberts: What do you mean by “efficiency?” Turns out to have lots of meanings.
57 Hank Roberts: Make lawn mowing illegal to grow more trees.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 4 Jan 2014 @ 11:33 PM
apropos earlier discussion, and spurred by one of Gavin’s tweets on ozone layer history, here’s a bit from the AIP’s oral history project. I plead fair use, this is a recommendation and pointer to the source:
… one of the NASA modelists, a guy called Bill Gross who worked at NASA aviation, he stood up and said, “I think you’re being far too optimistic about how far we can qualify the uncertainties. If you compare different models, what you get is a take on the random errors of your model, you don’t get the systematic error and it’s the systematic error that’s important.” This was said in front of the NASA aviation people, not the research people, or as well as the research people.
You could say this in front of the research people and they couldn’t possibly disagree with it, but the aviation people, it came as news as them. They’re basically engineers. They didn’t like hearing that the uncertainties couldn’t be quantified, despite the fact that they had spent millions of bucks trying to quantify. And that’s an example.
That gets written large. You get an orthodoxy built up that’s, actually I think, antithetical to the whole way science works. When things get into the political arena, you can see things even more clearly.
Scientists are trained to survey all the evidence and then come up with a hypothesis that is maximally simple, that’s consistent with all the evidence. If your previous working hypothesis, or even theory, can’t accommodate all the facts then you have to abandon it. Science is provisional.
Most politicians are trained as lawyers, and in any case they operate the same way. They look at the evidence and they pick the bits that support a preconceived line of argument. That is a really fundamental clash. Scientists are trained to ask questions to which they don’t know the answers. Lawyers are trained to ask questions to which they already know the answers. It’s really a fundamental difference….
(extra line breaks added for online readability–hr)
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 4 Jan 2014 @ 11:55 PM
#75–Well, keeping it simple, the textbook energy density of gasoline is 45 MJ per kilogram. So if we take that auto as massing about 2,000 kg, then a year’s motoring ought to account for 90 GJ. Which would be a third of the embodied energy, so you might guesstimate that over a typical automotive lifetime, embodied energy would be something like a quarter of the energy content of the gas burnt. I wouldn’t call that ‘dwarfing.’
But I’m not sure what it has to do with the argument in any case: unless the mileage is improving really drastically, you’re still going to be ahead significantly just by prolonging vehicle life, aren’t you? (I’m too tired to run more numbers just now.) Similarly for many other sorts of products, too, I suspect.
“The only way to build a better reality is to recognise what reality is. I used to be a techno-optimist, as you seem to be, but no longer. The reality is that we live on a finite planet. It’s impossible to live the way we do, for ever, regardless of some hoped for new energy infrastructure. We really should start getting used to that idea but it seems we won’t until we absolutely have to. I’m not into wishful thinking any more.”
Outstanding observation, but you are in a distinct minority here. Hope, wishful thinking, and spin have become the order of the day.
Re: prokaryotes, #70, #79 and other comments about polar jet steam. Since it’s Winter and the middle of January is historically the coldest period of the year, we are seeing lots of news stories about how cold it is. Many of those reports focus on wind chill values, which aren’t actual low temperatures but a calculation of the effect of the cold on exposed skin. Here in Western NC, we had a bit of snow and yesterday’s low temperature was 7o F, but this morning, we are on the warm side of the next front and the 10 AM temperature was at 48o.
The jet stream is part of the tropic to pole circulation loop and isn’t a cause but a result of the flow of energy transferred from the tropics to the polar regions. We in the US are experiencing the cold side of the flow as large masses of air move toward the south over the continental area. This year, the poleward flow appears to be strong over the Eastern North Pacific Ocean, which is warmer than usual. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/sst/sst.anom.gif
I suggest that it’s that warm pool which is the main element of that process and should be seen as the cause of the current weather experienced in the US last week and will continue into next week as well. (Note that these satellite images change continually, so what one sees tomorrow is likely to be different from that this AM). http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/west/nepac/flash-avn.html
A warmer world may lead to colder temperatures in some locations during some months of the year. The US land area is only a small fraction of the surface area of the Earth, of which about 72 percent is oceans…
It takes a special type of arrogance and stupidity to assert that the current reality is the only possible one in the future. Any fool can look at our current reality and see we are in trouble.
However, the one thing we can say with certainty is that the future will be different from the present. The choice we face is whether we make that future reality better or worse than our present reality. If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.
81 Kevin McKinney: You can get a half MILLION mile warranty on a big [real] truck engine. There was a Mack truck locally that went past the 1.7 Million mile mark without an overhaul. Locomotives go tens of millions of miles.
So don’t even mention “prolonging vehicle life” unless you mean “multiply the miles by ten.”
Nowhere did I assert “that the current reality is the only possible one in the future”. Many realities are obviously possible, albeit with far different levels of probability. How we get to the ones desired with any finite probability is the central issue.
“If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.”
I’m more than willing to. If you buy into Hansen’s Holocene-level temperature ceilings of about 1.1 C, as stated in his recent Plos One paper, tell me how you would get there from today’s ~0.8 C? Especially without the levels of Reforestation he assumes. Hansen’s Plos One paper emphasizes “contributions are surely required from energy efficiency, renewable energies, and nuclear power, with the mix depending on local preferences.” Anderson states flatly that we can’t get to even 2 C from the supply side.
#86 “If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.”
Such a meaningless platitude. Rush Limbaugh and Paul Ryan have a vision on how to make the future better – are you suggesting we cede the future to them? Ditto just about every other nutter that comes to mind. Having a vision is great. Having one that’s realistic and accompanied by a plan that can be executed is even better. Part of that is recognizing the problems to be faced and their magnitude.
About the coming annual updates:
Could you update the fiddlesticks graph of linear trends for eight year periods? And then show it of thirty year periods? I think that would be helpful.
Later, it would be good I think to have a post on ENSO as a physical phenomenon. A guest post would be fine. And another for overall water vapor transport in a warming world. I don’t want much do I? ;)
#87, with respect, I’m not considering Mack trucks or locomotives, I’m considering light autos and trucks.
I’m not so tired this afternoon, so let’s consider some numbers. Eyeballing a chart from pewenvironment.org, it seems as if combined car/truck mileage in the US went from 24 mpg to 28 mpg between 2005 and 2010, a 17% improvement. Let’s consider two scenarios: in the first, you buy an ‘average’ 2005 vehicle and keep it to 2015. In the second, you buy the same vehicle, but replace it in 2010, again with an ‘average’ vehicle.
12,000 miles driven divided by 24 mpg gives us 500 gallons of gas yearly, and thus 5000 gallons of gas burnt over the 10-year lifetime of the vehicle. To that, one must add the embodied energy in the vehicle, which from the BOBOTE (‘back of the back of the envelope’) calculation made above in #81, would be equivalent to 2.5 x 500, which is obviously 1,250 GGE ‘gallons of gas equivalent.’
So, a lifetime GGE of 6,250.
The 2005 gives you 2500 gallons burnt and 1250 embodied, for 3750. Then, the 2010 gives you 5 x 429 gallons burnt, for 2,145, plus 2.5 x 429 GGE, for a total GGE of 3,218. The two together have given you a total of 6,895 GGE over the 10 year timeframe.
The latter is about 10% greater than the former, so score one for ‘prolonging vehicle life.’
Caveats and questions
Obviously, you can slice and dice this a lot of ways, and there are judgments to be made. For instance, if you sold your vehicle in 2010, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it went off the road. So should the embodied energy be ‘charged,’ or not? You might consider that bringing a more efficient vehicle into the fleet ought to increase the mean mpg, and you are doing a good thing.
On the other hand, if you keep the old vehicle, are you helping to slow the growth of the aggregate fleet, and so avoiding pollution? If you don’t come, will they keep on building it?
…but what I really wanted to say…
In the big picture, though, I don’t want to get hung up on the automotive case. The initial comment I made was to the effect that the ‘disposable society’ is by definition energy-intensive. So if we stop being so ‘disposable oriented’, might that not be one way to save a whole lot of energy (and thus emissions?)
The conversation I’d really like to invite is, what might it take to stop incentivizing disposable artifacts of all sorts? What might that mean for the economy? For corporations? For different social classes? Different nations?
Kevin Anderson speaks of annex 1 and none annex 1 countries stating that China (the main globalisation player in the east presently) wont peak before 2025, india in 2040 and africa 2060 – way beyond our current ecconomic assessments by the climate planners/strategists/etc which means that mitigation for 2C is nigh on impossible now unless our cuts are steep which supply side economics can supply in time, therefore demand side must be used until supply side can work in 10-30 years time. Demand side means us top 5% of the worlds wealthiest buying technologies to cut our demand by buying more energy efficient appliances, devices and transport methods.
You are right on target! I especially like your statement “Having a vision is great. Having one that’s realistic and accompanied by a plan that can be executed is even better. Part of that is recognizing the problems to be faced and their magnitude.” One starting point is with the numbers from recognized experts and their proposed approaches.
Hansen is about as credible as any climate scientist around. His Holocene-level ceiling target of ~1.1 C makes sense, and is what Anderson concedes makes sense in a number of papers. So, I’m comfortable picking that temperature ceiling as a starting point.
Anderson seems to have done as much credible work as anyone in relating temperature targets to potential solutions. He states flatly that we can’t get to a 2 C ceiling through the supply side because of time lags, and offers improved energy efficiency and strong demand reduction as potential approaches to achieve the 2 C ceiling. He does not address the 1.1 C ceiling that Hansen proposes, and one can infer he believes it is unattainable.
Hansen suggests a combination of reforestation, improved energy efficiency, renewables, and nuclear. I don’t remember seeing Anderson including reforestation in any of his papers; I think not. I’m frankly not able to discern a compatible solution when combining the targets and recommendations of these two experts. Further, if a large part of the discrepancy is due to the reforestation assumption, I have no idea how good or bad or realistic an assumption that is. One could argue that the higher reforestation assumption is one component of an encompassing vision. Maybe, and if it’s realistic, all the better. But, if a vision is composed of some major unrealistic assumptions, I don’t think that will move the ball forward.
The choice we face is whether we make that future reality better or worse than our present reality. If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.
Frankly, Ray, this doesn’t sound like you, if your past contributions on RC are a guide. You’ve forthrightly (and correctly IMO) called out wishful thinking yourself, in numerous discussions. Do you really believe it’s “vision” that drives history? And who is this “we” you speak of, the authors and commenters on RC? Can we few overcome the powerful forces that stand between us and a better future reality, even assuming we all have the same vision? Who would you trust to take the lead?
Assuredly, it’s arrogant and stupid to assert that the current reality is the only possible future; it’s equally arrogant and stupid to think that your vision of a “better” future is the one that will prevail. One can just as easily imagine it will be Al Qaeda’s!
I don’t begrudge anyone hope, and I haven’t yet succumbed to utter despair myself. I sure don’t have a clear vision of how to get from the current reality to a better one, for anything but trivial values of better. What’s yours, and why do you think it’s more likely to succeed than Dick Cheney’s?
In the time I took to compose my response to Ray, I see that several others have posted in the same vein. I hope he doesn’t feel he’s being dog-piled, as he has contributed a great deal to RC, and I hope he will continue to.
Ray at #86 wrote: “The choice we face is whether we make that future reality better or worse than our present reality. If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.”
Anderson thinks it is nearly impossible to stay below 2 degrees C at this point. Hansen’s case for staying within 1.1 degree require massive projects that have not been started and that we can’t be sure will work.
We are now at .8 and already seeing dramatic destructive effects.
So Ray, do you really thing a “better future” is realistically in the cards at this point?
Eric Swanson: The jet stream is part of the tropic to pole circulation loop and isn’t a cause but a result of the flow of energy transferred from the tropics to the polar regions.
And is affected by the polar vortex, which in turn is affected by evapotranspiration patterns.
Qiuhong Tang and Xuejun Zhang, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers, decided to look for patterns of atmospheric change correlated with the loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the decline of early summer snow cover. Using reanalyses, which generate global datasets based on all the available measurements, they examined how the lower, middle, and upper troposphere responded to variations in sea ice and snow cover from 1979 (the start of the satellite era) to 2012.
They found modest correlations with the behavior of high-level winds and the differences in atmospheric pressure that drive them, more so for sea ice than snow cover. Over most regions, the average position of the jet stream moved a little northward when summer sea ice was smaller, while the opposite was true for the western edges of continents. The high-level, west-to-east winds of the jet stream also slowed a bit.
Those two factors are consistent with the hypothesized link between sea ice and weather extremes. When the jet stream slows, it gets wigglier, with ponderous meanders extending north and south. Because the temperature difference across the jet stream is so large, these slow-moving excursions can lead to temperature extremes. The early loss of snow cover can exacerbate this, as it means soils can dry out earlier in the summer. Not only does that make a region susceptible to drought, but low soil moisture allows temperatures to rise higher.
Another recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters focused on Northern Europe, using different techniques. There, an unusual run of six wet summers left people wondering if Arctic sea ice loss could have contributed.
Looking through the data, University of Exeter researcher James Screen saw that wet conditions are associated with the jet stream coming south from its average position. Conversely, it’s drier when it stays far to the north. Screen ran two climate model simulations: one in which Arctic sea ice was present at its 1979 extent and one at its diminished 2009 extent. Each simulation was repeated for a century’s worth of summers to calculate the average position of the jet stream over Europe.
Consistent with the study by Tang, Zhang, and Francis, the lower sea ice extent in the model was associated with the jet stream moving a little southward over Europe as part of its amplified “wiggliness.” That brought more precipitation to Northern Europe in the model simulations.
However, Screen emphasizes that these things vary quite a lot from year to year on their own, and the simulated sea ice impact was only a slight shift. “This means that whilst low sea ice coverage increases the risk of wet summers, other factors can easily negate this influence and lead to dry summers during depleted ice conditions or wet summers during extensive ice conditions,” he writes. URL
Hutchings said none of the closures has anything to do with saving money, due to the small cost of maintaining the collections. He, like many scientists, concludes that Harper’s political convictions are driving the unprecedented consolidation.
“It must be about ideology. Nothing else fits,” said Hutchings. “What that ideology is, is not clear.”
Hutchings saw the library closures fitting a larger pattern of “fear and insecurity” within the Harper government, “about how to deal with science and knowledge.”
“That pattern includes the gutting of the Fisheries Act, the muzzling of scientists, the abandonment of climate change research and the dismantling of countless research programs, including the world famous Experimental Lakes Area. All these examples indicate that the Harper government strongly regards environmental science as a threat to unfettered resource exploitation.
“There is a group of people who don’t know how to deal with science and evidence. They see it as a problem and the best way to deal with it is to cut it off at the knees and make it ineffective,” explained Hutchings.”
Re: prokaryotes, #97: Not to start a flame war, but your reply references sea-ice reduction and weather patterns during Summer, not Winter. The present Arctic sea-ice extent is within the historical range and has been so since late November. To get an idea of the present situation in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions, take a look at these plots from Accuweather:
Note that there are data for only the first 4 days of January, the rest of the month is their projection. One can also step back to earlier months, if desired. For some cities, the plots don’t include the record temperatures.
A) BAU. CO2 doesn’t affect climate.
B) More carbon! Avert the coming ice-age.
C) BAU. A little warming is good for us(*1),
D) We still have time to reduce CO2 emissions to achieve no more than x degrees warming.
E) We must immediately stop virtually all CO2 emissions or life as we know it will be drastically changed.
F) Resistance is futile. Join the hordes of Doomsday Preppers.
Even if we could get the deniers to suddenly recognize the validity of the science, all we’d be taking off the table is scenario A. Note, I’m not saying that positions B or C are valid in my POV – just that they are accepting of the science.
I start from the assumption that I am first a citizen of the world, rather than a member of a nation state. This is probably a minority view in most countries. Nationalism runs strong. It means that all visions have to take this into account and good luck changing it.
Given that we have not reached zero population growth despite decades of awareness, and that there is a strong correlation between economic growth and energy usage per capita, and likewise between energy usage and CO2 emissions, the simple accounting leads us to an almost inevitable conclusion: we either end population growth or carbon intensity (or some combination of the two). What rarely gets said is the corollary: GDP per capita is likely to go down as a result.
This is a hard sell in the developed west – especially in the USA. It’s impossible (and understandably so) in countries where people are already struggling for bare subsistence.
The answer in some quarters is that we will develop the technology to make this a moot point. Great. How do we incorporate wishes and prayers into our plan for the future? A transformative technology would be a godsend, but simply stating it will occur is no better than ignoring the problem per positions A and B above.
The radical ignorance of the most privileged citizens on this planet needs to be changed/ The climate science deniers are only a subset of this larger group. Even many of those who accept the science do little or nothing to ameliorate the situation. Inconvenience, habit, and procrastination are probably larger impediments to action than lack of scientific understanding. Any workable vision of a better future must figure out how to overcome these obstacles.
My objection to the posts by Diogenes and Tom stems from their certainty that the game is over. It isn’t. I’m more than willing to stipulate that if current trends persist and if there is no technological breakthrough, then things look grim. Even then, though, there is a huge difference between 4 degrees of warming and 6 degrees–and the latter is possible if sensitivity is >3 degrees per doubling and we burn all the fossil fuel reserves known today (or the equivalent). Hell, we could even do worse if we started spewing a long-lived powerful ghg with the right IR absorption characteristics.
I have no objection to conditional statements. My objection is to projecting current trends and realities indefinitely into the future as a prediction of the future. It is pointless to predict the future. We do not know what technological breakthroughs we will see. We could be on the verge of a clean energy revolution. We could be on the verge of a carbon capture technology that actually works. We could be on the verge of pulling our collective heads out of our collective posteriors. We could develop such technology and still fall short of deploying it in time because people lost hope and didn’t take the steps necessary to buy time needed for that deployment. WE DO NOT KNOW.
So, while I fully acknowledge that we are in kimchi and that things do not look good, I will not foreclose on the futures of generations yet unborn by pretending that I have certainty where I have none. Humans don’t do well without hope. Foreclosing on such hope is bound to worsen the future of our progeny.
Eric, i don’t argue against your conclusion, rather try to provide additional information. Here is another recent article from the Washington Post,
Arctic warming, jet stream coupling may mean another winter of extreme storms and cold air outbreaks for eastern U.S.
Investigation of differences between northern hemisphere winters from 2001-2013 and 1998-2000 leaves little doubt that a large and consequential trend has occurred in the configuration of the polar jet stream which is linked directly to pronounced warming in high northern latitudes. Moreover, the overall trend has remained largely unbroken and appears to have accelerated in the last six winters.
The coupling between Arctic warming and polar jet is oft referred to as arctic amplification. It features a likely, but not yet definitively proven, link to the apparent increase in extreme, high impact winter weather events occurring over varying regions in mid-to-high latitudes in the northern hemisphere.
It’s critical to note that the seasonal averages examined reflect the net effects of considerable variability of weather systems and processes. As shown below, the single most prominent signal in the means (averages) to emerge from this variability during the 2000s is one closely resembling the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (hereafter referred to as -NAO). It is well known that periods of -NAO are favorable for major winter storms affecting the mid-high latitudes from eastern North America though western Europe. Preceding and/or accompanying such storms are surges of anomalous cold penetrating further south over eastern U.S. than nominally expected.
It may seem reasonable to believe the odds favor the continuation of this multi-year trend through this winter (and perhaps winters following). However, given limited understanding of factors contributing to arctic amplification, especially as manifest in the predominance of –NAO discussed here, there is no certainty that will be the case.URL
Things are probably going to be bad. But there is a big difference between bad and worse.
A while back I had an interchange with Tony on a somewhat related topic. I brought up the example of South Africa, mentioning that it ‘turned out much better’ than anyone could have imagined; Tony responded questioning whether it had turned out all that well.
Well, it wasn’t great in many ways; South Africa’s economy has been pretty stagnant, eroding its formerly unassailable position as the most economically and technologically sophisticated country on the continent; the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic decimated a generation, with the worst effects disproportionately concentrated upon the best-educated, and seriously exacerbated by governmental denialism; poverty and crime remain terrible social problems; and in some ways political extremism seems to be growing.
Pretty bad, huh?
Yep. But the thing was, the only ‘rational’ expectation anyone could really entertain ca. 1970 was that there would at some point be an apocalyptic race war which would rival the worst extremes of the 20th-century beastliness.
Bad and worse.
And maybe some of the same factors are at play: certainly, the tactics of ‘divestment’ and stockholder activism are parallels. If the widespread abhorrence of apartheid that held during the 80s–Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were still more concerned that the ANC might be communist–could be replicated today with respect to the climate change issue, then we’d probably be making better progress than we have so far been doing. But that could change, and it could potentially change with surprising speed.
Yeah, it’s going to be bad. But there’s still time to avoid worse.
Anticipating the next objections, recall Transient Sensitivity. It is much less than the other flavors, which take much longer to achieve. So it CO2 goes up to a level with frightening ESS but then comes down quickly we will not reach ESS and probably not even Charney S.
Once subsidies are shifted and the New Energy Jobs Boom happens, people will notice that Solar panels (perhaps graphene by then) can go anywhere. On all roofs and over all big shopping plaza parking lots for instance. How long will it be until we are looking for new uses for all the energy?
Ray, Pete: I think the technical problems of AGW are already solved. It’s the political problem I don’t see a way around. In that arena, the “we” that accept the science and the need for rapid decarbonization are up against the “we” that stand to lose wealth and power by it. The political balance is lopsided in their favor. The question is, What.Is.To.Be.Done about it? That may be off-topic at RC, but does anyone here doubt that it’s the hard problem?
I probably phrased my earlier post badly, because you’re actually making my point for me here. The 10% difference between your two scenarios is IMHO a minor increment; the problem is the 5000, not the difference between 6250 and 6900.
However, I fully agree with your argument if we get to the point where the 5000 MJ in fuel load vanishes or massively reduces. Say solar cell and battery technology reaches the point where a suburban rooftop can economically capture and store enough energy during the day to recharge an EV overnight. Then engineering for durability could make a BIG difference in lifetime energy usage.
One of the head engineers at Porsche once stated that they could design their cars to ROUTINELY run for 30 years with normal maintenance, barring accidents. I think he said it would add about 40% to the manufacturing cost of the major components (which would of course be a smaller proportion of the sale price), and there would be some weight penalty.
Note that reduced demand for carbon energy is (per my links) happening even faster than the writer indicates. Note that there is a war move in the US Congress to undermine the President’s diplomacy with Iran. This increases investor concern with unstable supply chains and subsidy providers’ concern with price volatility.
As new money shifts to clean energy, a tipping point may occur.
#110–Well, if you are saying that the burning of fossil fuels is a big problem, then I certainly can’t disagree.
But here’s the thing about the automotive case: it’s an energy hog in both of the ways we’ve been discussing, which rather blurs the question. For most of our ‘stuff’–plastic gewgaws, clothing, tableware, garden ornaments, lots of artwork, etc.–that’s not the case. For them, it’s *all* embodied energy. And it seems rather perverse to be wasting that energy at such a rapid clip.
For me, the context was the whole economy. What I suspect is that a very helpful way to help reduce energy consumption and therefore emissions would be to drastically reduce the use of disposable and quasi-disposable products. But, as I keep wondering, what would it take (if the premise is true) to make that happen?
Family silverware and grandparent’s watches used to be quasi-permanent possessions–but the whole idea has become a strange one for us today, I think. Our culture has really shifted around material possessions and what we expect of them, or so it seems to me. What sort of shift would be helpful in creating a ZEG (zero energy growth) world? And how to facilitate it?
Take your Porsche–what would make a ’30-year Porsche’ desirable to more folks? (Yeah, we don’t really want to prolong the life of gasburners, but I’m ignoring that part for the moment.) And what about that 40% ‘durability penalty?’ How typical is that in the case of consumer goods in general, and to what extent does the incentive to go cheap shape the present reality?
Oh Kevin O., that’s awful! [edit - way over the line. Not funny]
For the rest of us, let’s cheer up with some Mark Z. Jacobson material. Start here: Scroll down to
What does a climate scientist drive? A cherry red Tesla Roadster of course. “…the power does come from rooftop solar” says Jacobson. Doubtless Mike and Gavin each have one but raypierre still wins.
“However, the one thing we can say with certainty is that the future will be different from the present. The choice we face is whether we make that future reality better or worse than our present reality. If you lack the vision to make it better then step aside and let those that do possess such vision take the lead.”
It depends on what you consider “better” and what you consider “worse”. If you want unfettered global trade and global travel, for example, the future will be worse. If you want an economy which can grow, perhaps raising all boats (as some people think), then the future will be worse. Almost everything we do today is unsustainable (i.e. can’t be sustained indefinitely), so you or your descendants will be disappointed by the future. If, by better, you want a reasonably comfortable and satisfying existence for yourself and your descendents, then that kind of future may be possible. If you think that a smooth transition from this future to a better (however you want to define that) future, then I’d suggest that you might be using wishful thinking.
As others have, effectively, said avoiding serious consequences of our profligate lifestyles, is almost certainly now impossible. That isn’t closing the door on a better future but, it seems to me, more likely to be a grim future if we fail to be realists.
The exponential use of fossil fuels has enabled us to believe that unsustainable ways can be continued for ever. Even if renewables could be built, operated and maintained with renewables (a very doubtful supposition) and even if our current lifestyles (and remember increasing numbers of people are aspiring to “western” lifestyles) could be supported by those renewables (another doubtful supposition), there are so many other aspects of those lifestyles which degrade the environment that the notion of an improved version of what currently exists is surely wishful thinking. It would be better if the wishful thinkers stepped aside rather than the realists.
For the record, I’m still enjoying being on the warm side of the cold front. The temperature this afternoon (Sunday) hit 52F, then dropped to 40F after dark. Then, the temperature started climbing again and was at 48F by midnight. Funny thing, it’s still getting warmer, hitting 49F by 12:45 AM. All that warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico is being pushed over us, keeping things warm while the temperature to the west is quite cold. I expect Winter will return by Tuesday morning. Of course, the denialist media are trumpeting the very cold air flowing southward from Canada, ignoring the other side of the circulation loop. The last time a cold blast similar to this hit around here was 1996 and we know how that year turned out…
91 Kevin McKinney: The customer always wins dollars by buying more durability if the deal is fair and he keeps the car until it is worn out. But durability looses the stoplight drags. So the law needs to end the stoplight drags by limiting the horsepower. No consumer vehicle should have more than 150 horsepower. Perhaps robot drivers would help end driver stupidity.
I DO NOT WANT TO TRADE CARS OFTEN. I’M NOT THAT RICH!!!!! Trading often is just plain stupid unless you have more money than you know what to do with. I am into keeping one car for 40 years, but it is OK to own several if your mission changes. Kevin McKinney sounds like Nixon. Slice it this way: Nixonomics [voodoo economics] is not affordable for most people. Nixon gave voodoo a bad name. Your scenarios are crazy. You could lighten the cars while extending durability. Just make the engines iron and the bodies aluminum.
Transportation in total is not the biggest driver of CO2. Electricity generation is. It is nonsense to care about transportation until you have zeroed the CO2 production from electricity generation and heavy industry.
113 Kevin McKinney: Again, everybody must be numerate. The customer is clueless when it comes to durability. There is no way to tell. Read my book: “How to Tell Which New Car Will Last Longer.” Not to advertise, and I already spilled the beans, but the legal system would have to change before consumer goods in general could become more durable. Right now, a manufacturer would get in trouble for telling you the design life. Most people don’t even know what “design life” means.
Penn State’s FREE 8 week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Energy, the Environment, and Our Future.”
Will this course require the students to solve problems like forecast.uchicago.edu/moodle Open Climate Science 101 with professor David Archer or will it be strictly innumerate like the University of Melbourne’s Coursera course entitled “Climate Change?” From what I see, it will be more like the Melbourne course.
In the University of Melbourne climate science course, each student evaluated the papers of 3 other students. The 3 students whose papers I evaluated thought that Global Warming [GW] is a liberal cause. That is why this course should be abandoned as worthless. GW is clearly NOT a political cause of any kind. This course has failed utterly. The humanities and fine arts students have no idea what science is and they have no idea what the word “truth” means.
Student discussion forums are worse than useless.
I sincerely hope that there are homeworks that require the students to solve problems. Without problems, student discussion forums are advertising contests
It happened again on 3 January. People don’t care about GW as long as it means polar ice is melting or somebody somewhere else is going to get flooded. If you want to get past “Who Cares?” you are going to have to mention food.
“Some of you would never have put a man on the moon nor won WWII.”
Well, both those efforts involved very detailed planning, where the consequences of the actions were predicted fairly accurately (with the appropriate dose of uncertainty mixed in). I don’t see General Marshall or Dr. von Braun running around shouting Deploy, Deploy, Deploy!
What are you going to deploy, and what will be the consequences? What will it take to achieve Hansen’s 1.1 C target? What will it take to achieve Anderson’s 2 C target? In fact, what will it take to achieve the 4 C target that Pete Best mentions; some scientists worry that may slip out of reach if we are not careful.
I certainly recognize that there are off-the-shelf energy efficiency improvement technologies whose deployment would probably be necessary in any scenario. After that, the optimal mix of demand reduction, rapid renewables introduction, rapid nuclear introduction, reforestation, other carbon capture, geoengineering, etc, is by no means clear. Given the dogmatism with which each of these options appears to be supported, we will probably have to compromise and use some of each, thereby moving us further from the optimum, and further from temperatures that we would be better off avoiding.
Sorry Pete, I’m a realist and think we have a much greater dilemma at hand other than getting more jobs or staying positive… the problem is continued growth on a finite planet.
Climate change is just the tiny tip of that particular melting iceberg!
“Sorry Pete, I’m a realist and think we have a much greater dilemma at hand other than getting more jobs or staying positive… the problem is continued growth on a finite planet.
Climate change is just the tiny tip of that particular melting iceberg!”
You are 100% correct, from a conceptual perspective. However, I have resigned myself to the belief that the only acceptable climate protection solutions to the mass of people across the globe will involve two main components: more jobs for the proles; more profits for the investors. Large cuts in growth/demand will not produce these results. Anderson flatly states that we can’t get to 2 C from the supply side, and I have yet to see his computations/conclusions refuted. So, we will need to judiciously select those supply side technologies that minimize the damage, but keep people employed and investors happy at the same time. Maybe the large dose of reforesting that Hansen recommends will also help minimize the damage, and keep people employed at the same time. I have no idea how realistic the reforesting assumption is; there was a reason those forests were destroyed, and reversal may not be so simple.
Some choice quotes: “60 -80% reduction in about ten years…very large emissions reductions every year: 8, 9, 10 %, or preferably even higher every single year from the wealthier parts of the world…”
Since constructing a full carbon-free supply of energy will take at least three to four decades, and since we need to reduce carbon emissions much earlier than we can build that capacity:
“…the only way to do that is actually to reduce our energy demand…we’ve left it so late now that we have to dramatically reduce emissions in the very short term, which supply options can’t deliver and therefore we have to look at what we can do to radically reduce energy demand…”
Kevin O’Neill wrote: “Having a vision is great. Having one that’s realistic and accompanied by a plan that can be executed is even better.”
There is no shortage of visions accompanied by realistic plans that COULD be executed to stop the growth of GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within 5 years, leading to near zero emissions in 10-20 years with most of the reductions occurring up front, followed by a draw-down of the existing anthropogenic excess of atmospheric GHGs towards pre-industrial levels in the second half of the 21st century.
Unfortunately what CAN be done — what in my view can be VERY EASILY DONE, with enormously beneficial “side effects” for humanity in addition to addressing the GHG crisis — and what WILL be done, are two different questions.
And what lies between them is basically the obstruction of the fossil fuel corporations.
is excellent. Though it worries me to see only two comments, one of them by a madman. Which is left as an exercise for the reader.
Do watch that video, it’s:
om Murphy: The Fossil Fuel Joyride Is Over
04 min 28 sec
Tom Murphy, associate physics professor at the University of California San Diego, projects energy needs in coming generations, and shows the cost of maintaining our current way of living. “The fossil fuel joyride that we have experienced has clouded our judgment,” says Murphy.
And the answer to “DIOG…” is implicit therein, it’s Stein’s Law we’re acting out here, and in retrospect, we’ll know how we did that. (For values of ‘we’ equal to those living by that time, a century from now)
Saw the Anderson clip you recommend. Seems no different from what he’s been saying for the last few years. In 2012, he emphasized that a 2 C target was too high by a factor of two (which is Hansen’s conclusion as well), yet in the clip his recommendations are for achieving a 2 C target. He doesn’t add any caveats about how safe or unsafe this target is, as he did in his 2012 papers/presentations. Does making recommendations for a target he believes is fundamentally unsafe make sense to you?
Incidentally, the Tom Murphy video starts with basic thermodynamics, pointing out that he’s talking just about waste heat from energy production at the rate our economy has been growing. Not about global warming/climate change from CO2.
Purely based on the rate of growth of energy use, Earth reaches the boiling point of water in less than 500 years if we go on as we are now.
That, by the way, is the tipping point for a Venus runaway — when the oceans boil off, the hydrogen gets blown away from the top of the atmosphere, as it’s so light, leaving the oxygen to react.
Duh, people. We should be smart enough to understand this.
Watch the video. “The fossil fuel joyride has clouded our judgment.”
Diogenes @ #128: I have no good idea, but I am personally much much less concerned about keeping ‘investors’ (gamblers, banksters…) happy than keeping folks employed (who want to be). As you mention, there is much work to be done. Money can apparently be created at will by governments. Rather than using it to keep ‘investors’ happy or to float fraudulent, world-economic-system-distroying banks, why not use it to keep workers’ bodies and souls together to do the things that need doing:
What we _cannot_ and _must not_ continue doing is buying a lot of crap that we immediately throw away, flying, most other long-distance travel, most driving, most meat and dairy eating…(add your own favorites here).
DIOGENES @ 126
“So, we will need to judiciously select those supply side technologies that minimize the damage, but keep people employed and investors happy at the same time. Maybe the large dose of reforesting that Hansen recommends will also help minimize the damage, and keep people employed at the same time. I have no idea how realistic the reforesting assumption is; there was a reason those forests were destroyed, and reversal may not be so simple.”
Ok, I’m going to backtrack just a hair and admit that I actually have a modicum of hope left that we can reverse the growth paradigm. I also believe that to accomplish that we need to keep people employed and investors happy at least for the short term.
Case in point:
I just took an 8 month sabbatical in Brazil and while working on a few projects of my own I met a Brazilian agronomist who has a business in Sao Paulo called ‘Bambu Carbono Zero’ I’m going to guess that a translation isn’t necessary. He markets bamboo products. However he is also working on a project together with the Brazilian government and is trying to get permission to plant bamboo along train tracks all over Brazil. Bamboo is a very fast growing plant and a really good carbon sink. IMHO and that of others as well, it is a no brainer as a choice for reforestation of degraded or otherwise not generally usable land for other agricultural purposes.
Personally I’m putting together bamboo frame bicycles and have been road testing my first prototype in Florida where I live. I have another two frames on order…
Yeah, I’d love to see thousands of people employed in the planting and harvesting of bamboo and then also employed in the making of bamboo products.
But realistically how many people are going to give up their cars and ride one of my bamboo bikes to the supermarket to buy groceries? Probably not too many!
I also sell photovoltaic systems, and while people are starting to adopt this technology we still have a hell of a long way to go before people enough people start doing these things to really make a difference.
So while I still get up every day and keep trying to do what I can to make a difference it still feels like trying to drain the ocean with an eyedropper…
Limits to growth? If we work to redo our energy system this will require many jobs for a few decades. The limit to growth will postponed. If we reach the point of having enough electricity we will notice that we could keep going and getting even more….
I am not saying there is no limit at all, but I don’t think that is what is keeping us from changing out energy infrastructure.
DIOGENES #128 – Economics may be defined as the process we use to convert the existing world into something which we imagine is better or more desirable. At the foundation of that process is the energy and the materials which we extract from our surroundings. Much of that processing simply can not work without a large input of energy, which has led to our massive use of fossil carbon as an energy source. The minerals we exploit are being depleted as well and it isn’t at all clear to me that humanity can continue to operate our economic system at today’s level of throughput using renewable energy sources.
In the private sector, a job of necessity the result of a person doing some function which produces a profit for the employer. The individual then spends their income buying some fraction of the total production of everyone else, thus, the more jobs, the more consumption. Providing employment for everybody will only result in the continued destruction of the natural ecosystems on which humanity is still very dependent, even though most of us fail to recognize our dependence. Even the workers in the so-called service industries will consume the payments they receive and many service industries are utterly dependent on a functioning transportation system to provide their services. Less consumption implies less demand for productive workers, which then brings up the basic question: “What are the workers to do at their jobs as the demand for their production is diminished?”.
Humanity can’t have our (ecosystem) cake and eat it too, as the old saying goes. Growth is the problem, not the solution. Our most accomplished economists don’t appear to understand this: http://tinyurl.com/lkdtpgo
@119 It’s still not too late to run the last five days of the Animation of Data Analyses (‘Jet Stream Maps’), without digging individual frames out of the archive later, at crws.org (California Weather Service):
Apologies if this question has been addressed already – I’m not sure what text to search for, to find it – but what’s a good metric for northern hemisphere jet stream “stickiness”, and is it as sticky so far this 2013-14 fall & winter, as it has been for the previous few years?
#120–Ed, you are clearly not reading my posts. They are NOT ‘about’ transportation; they are asking “What does would it take to turn this society away from a disposable mentality?”
ALL our goods embody considerable energy; therefore, we could save considerable amounts of energy (and thus emissions) by slowing the throughput rate of material goods. (Cars, diamond rings, sound systems, pet accessories, whatever.)
Now, there’s a reason that manufacturers want that rate high, of course; and I’m well aware that orthodox economics would view a slowdown of the incessant economic ‘churn’ of consumer goods with alarm: “recession” would be the result in the short term, they would tell us (and they’d be right, practically by definition). But one is still permitted to ask whether the life we live is the life we want to be living, and whether we like the probable cost.
I’m also quite curious, Ed, why you characterize ‘my’ scenarios as ‘crazy.’ Simplistic? Of course. But the mileage numbers were real ones, the energy density number was real, and the ratio of embodied energy to mileage came from previous discussion without being labeled ‘crazy.’ All else was arithmetic.
Please feel free to make your criticism more explicit and therefore possibly more helpful. “Crazy’ sounds a bit, well, crazy, and tells me nothing.
I am a regular visitor of RealClimate.com. I am skeptic, but I wish RealClimate.com’s authors and visitors all the best for 2014 ! In 2014 I hope to read me articles from Gavin, I enjoy reading his posts.
Comment by Tietjan Berelul — 6 Jan 2014 @ 10:36 PM
Dr. Overland said the changes to the polar vortex had become more common in the past five years, leading to suggestions by him and others that climate change in general, and the decline in Arctic sea ice in particular, may play a role. But most researchers say there is not enough data to conclude that anything other than normal climate variability is involved. NYT
The last part by the NYT is grossly misleading. Only because we have a lot of uncertainty doesn’t mean we can’t draw conclusion on observations. Basically effects on the atmosphere, the oscillations and evaporation/transpiration are supposed to happen when the sea ice goes. We just can’t say that this will be a long term trend, yet. The point here is that we produced a large pronounced feedback with albedo loss.
Everybody is aware of implications to various degree and we are now finding out how far reaching the changes really are. At the same time we need to look at the big picture and compare the anomalous frequency of these events, which were only rare in the past.
Polar Vortex in U.S. May be Example of Global Warming
Researchers told Climate Central that the weather pattern driving the extreme cold into the U.S. — with a weaker polar vortex moving around the Arctic like a slowing spinning top, eventually falling over and blowing open the door to the Arctic freezer — fits with other recently observed instances of unusual fall and wintertime jet stream configurations.
Such weather patterns, which can feature relatively mild conditions in the Arctic at the same time dangerously cold conditions exist in vast parts of the lower 48, may be tied to the rapid warming and loss of sea ice in the Arctic due, in part, to manmade climate change.
Arctic warming is altering the heat balance between the North Pole and the equator, which is what drives the strong current of upper level winds in the northern hemisphere commonly known as the jet stream. Some studies show that if that balance is altered then some types of extreme weather events become more likely to occur. ClimateCentral
… this research program is to gain a better understanding of the synoptic and planetary-scale atmospheric processes contribute to the formation and maintenance of such atmospheric phenomenon known as blocking anticyclones and how interannual variations and/or global climate change may impact on their characteristics and occurrence. Blocking anticyclones are planetary-scale phenomenon, which have an impact, not only on the regions they occur in, but also within regions upstream and downstream of the main event….
… . In this day and age, this blocking log could be called the Climate Change Group “Blocking Log” ….
Warning, signs of scientific/mathematical humor; from the abstract of one of the 2013 papers linked on that page:
… One year of Northern Hemisphere blocking events from July 2011-July 2012 are studied to demonstrate that the integral of enstrophy advection is a useful diagnostic. In particular, time series of IRE and DIRE for four of the blocking cases are presented …
Diogenes, concerning reforestation. I posted some comments, last year, from a climate scientist who has done calculations in the past about the amount of carbon in the Amazon rain forest (and this was when it was larger). The upshot is that he calculated that a mature forest the size of the Amazon, every 17 years, would be needed to counter emissions (as of a year or two ago). Now, if emissions start to decline, the amount of reforestation would need to decrease but, since we have to decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, let’s just assume 1 mature Amazon rain forest every 17 years is required. Is that likely or even possible?
Wili, did Anderson say how a “carbon free” energy source might be constructed? Can cement be produced without carbon emissions? Can resources needed for renewable energies (or nuclear) be obtained without carbon emissions? Maybe substitute materials can be produced using only carbon free energy sources, in order to provide those carbon free energy sources, but that sounds like a tall order, to me.
Not that I’m saying nothing should be done. Surely any actions that may make our situation less dire than it otherwise would be must be a good thing. But, as others have also pointed out, many of the things we take for granted as being needed or desirable (e.g. economic growth) have to go. Anderson actually implies that growth may be possible at a later stage but I don’t know whether he’s just being non-committal or actually believes growth can return once we get the climate under control (at 2C or some other dangerous figure).
I was reading up about Rossby waves only a few months ago and then when the US’s big freeze came it kind of put the theory into reality. The unique slow meandering haphazard undulations often having large degrees of NS amplitude extending this time to florida seem to be getting more pronounced over the past 5-10 years. I am aware this is caused by the narrowing of temperature range in the mid altitudes between the tropics where the jet stream begins and the arctic/Antarctic regions. What I’m not sure about is why this extreme southerly excursion of the rossby wave has occurred in the northern winter, you would think the NS temp gradient is wider then than in summer? I have noticed that over Australia our W-E trans continental weather patterns seem to be slowing down considerably resulting in our record heat waves this summer where we had a massive pool of stagnant hot air over the centre of the country just getting hotter and hotter which eventally drifted over us in SE Queensland last Saturday. We endured temps of 44C breaking the old record by two whole degrees. Since both events have occurred pretty much simultaneously could they be linked??.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 7 Jan 2014 @ 4:33 AM
Stratospheric Harbingers of Anomalous Weather Regimes
Science 19 October 2001:
Vol. 294 no. 5542 pp. 581-584
Observations show that large variations in the strength of the stratospheric circulation, appearing first above ∼50 kilometers, descend to the lowermost stratosphere and are followed by anomalous tropospheric weather regimes. During the 60 days after the onset of these events, average surface pressure maps resemble closely the Arctic Oscillation pattern. These stratospheric events also precede shifts in the probability distributions of extreme values of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations, the location of storm tracks, and the local likelihood of mid-latitude storms. Our observations suggest that these stratospheric harbingers may be used as a predictor of tropospheric weather regimes.
Tom Weddle asked (@#154): “Can cement be produced without carbon emissions?” “Can resources needed for renewable energies (or nuclear) be obtained without carbon emissions?” Yes and yes (or at least with much lower carbon emissions), and that is already happening in many places.
But those are off topic from Anderson’s main point, which is that we can’t sit around waiting for alternatives to scale up. We don’t have that kind of time. We don’t have any time. We have to reduce emissions immediately, and only ‘demand’ reduction can happen that fast. So the harder question right now is: Can we reduce carbon demand rapidly and humanely (without causing too much economic distress for those least able to cope with it)?
I don’t know the answer to that, but the longer we wait, the less likely that the answer can be positive.
(reCaptcha wisely though stammeringly entones: mmanaged goblin)
The association between stratospheric weak polar vortex events
and cold air outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere (2010)
Previous studies have identiﬁed an association between temperature anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere and the strength of stratospheric polar westerlies. Large regions in northern Asia, Europe and North America have been found to cool during the mature and late stages of weak vortex events in the stratosphere. A substantial part of the temperature changes are associated with changes in the Northern Annular Mode (NAM) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pressure patterns in the troposphere. The apparent coupling between the stratosphere and the troposphere may be of relevance for weather forecasting, but only if the temporal and spatial nature of the coupling is known.
Using 51 winters of re-analysis data, we show that the development of the lower-tropospheric temperature relative to stratospheric weak polar vortex events goes through a series of well-deﬁned stages, including the formation of geographically distinct cold air outbreaks. At the inception of weak vortex events, a precursor signal in the form of a strong high-pressure anomaly over northwest Eurasia is associated with long-lived and robust cold anomalies over Asia and Europe. A few weeks later, near the mature stage of the weak vortex events, a shorter-lived cold anomaly emerges off the east coast of North America.
The probability of cold air outbreaks increases by more than 50% in one or more of these regions during all phases of the weak vortex events. This shows that the stratospheric polar vortex contains information that can be used to enhance forecasts of cold air outbreaks. As large changes in the frequency of extremes are involved, this process is important for the medium-range and seasonal prediction of extreme cold winter days. Three-hundred-year pre-industrial control simulations by 13 coupled climate models corroborate our results. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.620/pdf
“let’s just assume 1 mature Amazon rain forest every 17 years is required. Is that likely or even possible?”
With seven billion people in this world, almost any type of project is possible, if resources and incentives are made available, and leadership is provided. I see no reason why forests of this magnitude could not be planted in your time frame; I don’t know how long it takes for forests to reach your definition of ‘mature’, and whether that would be consistent with your time frame.
Look, according to the article below, the USA has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of seven trillion dollars on R&D since WWII. Obviously, not all of it has been on energy, but directly and indirectly much has been spent on energy because of the fundamental role energy plays in a high-tech society. We have a tremendous amount of developed capability for producing, converting, and storing energy sitting on the shelves and ready to go because of this R&D, and the complementary R&D performed by the rest of the world. So, much is POSSIBLE for improving our energy posture based on what we have in the here-and-now. However, for a multitude of reasons, that’s where this capability remains, sitting on the shelves! So, there is a huge gulf between what is ‘possible’ and what is ‘likely’ in the types of energy we use and how efficiently we use it. When one reads between the lines of Hansen’s Plos One paper, one senses Hansen’s frustration in discussing the emissions reductions that could have been achieved relatively painlessly with existing technologies decades ago, thereby circumventing much of the climate problem we are seeing today. I, like you, am not optimistic that conditions today have changed all that much in order for the ‘possible’ to become ‘likely’.
“Anderson actually implies that growth may be possible at a later stage but I don’t know whether he’s just being non-committal or actually believes growth can return once we get the climate under control (at 2C or some other dangerous figure).”
Anderson has an acceptance problem. The first part of his presentation, where he states the problem and consequences of various scenarios, is quite grim and quite realistic, and from my view, not all that different from McPherson. If he ended after the first part, he would basically be treated by his audience the way McPherson is treated; that is to say, ridiculed and ignored. So, he needs to add some cause for optimism to keep his audience on board. To me, that’s the only value of his recommendations. They are based on a 2 C target, which he states in earlier papers is too high by a factor of two, the latter being aligned with Hansen’s target. If he based his computations and recommendations on Hansen’s target, then one would see how narrow and limited our options really are.
For Tony Weddle, LMGTFY citing articles for “Cement from Sea Water – A Concrete Cure for Global Warming” which appeared in Sci. Am. some years back. Most of your questions, tho’ you may think they were rhetorical, have interesting answers.
Special Issue: Carbon Dioxide Recycling
Volume 4, Issue 9, pages 1194–1215, September 19, 2011
Quadrelli, E. A., Centi, G., Duplan, J.-L. and Perathoner, S. (2011), Carbon Dioxide Recycling: Emerging Large-Scale Technologies with Industrial Potential. ChemSusChem, 4: 1194–1215.
To paraphrase Vonnegut, it was a really nice planet, and lots of smart people had good ideas that could have saved it, if it wasn't for their damned stupid economic system that locked up most of the needed information and kept people from talking to each other freely during the emergency until far too late .....
“Is the jet stream reacting to the lack of Arctic ice? – ”
Chris the biggest influence positioning the jet stream is the location of the coldest atmosphere, or now a days : meso atmospheres. By logic, if there is less thick ice, the atmosphere above the Arctic Ocean becomes warmer, therefore the coldest zone splinters and becomes smaller. Smaller cold zones – instead of one gigantic cold area covering the entire Northern half of the NH – would cause the jet stream to meander more, instead of closely reflecting a world wide bulge of winter, therefore more cold weather like now in central North America, and extreme warmth like in NW Europe is possible simultaneously when it should normally be colder everywhere at once. The last 10 years of Arctic sea ice coverage was at all time low values, therefore the last 10 years of weather extremes.
For those wondering where the coldest atmosphere is , look at the 700 or 500 mb charts for temperature. The coldest spot is exactly where the lowest temperatures are. Unfortunately not even NASA do DWT charts, Density Weather Temperatures, so we settle for 700 or 500 mb current data. Temperature at About 600 mb closely resembles the DWT. So by extrapolation anyone can calculate the center of the coldest atmosphere in the world. Which was in Illinois and Siberia yesterday. But Illinois area seemed more expansive. I call the center of the coldest atmosphere in the world the Cold Temperature North Pole http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/.
I read recent Mike Mann superb comments again, but not on RC?? Mike, follow the outline of the jet stream, compare from now with respect to 30 years ago, holistic data suggests a vast difference……
In winter, sea ice spreads over the ocean, creating an insulating layer, like a blanket, that prevents much heat from escaping from the ocean to warm the air. That means that the air above the ice can get bitterly cold—deep below freezing—while the water underneath remains much warmer—never getting colder than the freezing point.
How do climate models account for aeresols, sulfur etc injected into atmosphere by coal fired power plants in China, India and other countries? If these countries are successful at cleaning emissions and reducing aerosols do the models predict an acceleration of warming due to cleaner air? What if any part of current “flatlining” might be attributed to these aerosols?
Comment by Christopher Yaun — 7 Jan 2014 @ 12:20 PM
Just an interested amateur here: Remind me why we went to the trouble of re-establishing/maintaining our ozone layer when the Antarctic is now partially attributed to being colder than the Arctic because it has an ozone hole, rather than an ozone dent, which the North Pole has. We want to reduce CO2, but increase ozone? To what degree, if at all, can increased CO2 compensate for decreased ozone? Or, why don’t we want to decrease ozone as well?
Comment by Dwight Mac Kerron — 7 Jan 2014 @ 1:42 PM
SA, did you watch the entire video?
” … waste heat from energy production”
Please stop equating “energy” with “fuel”.
I’m not. He isn’t.
In that video “energy production” means “production” of energy.
Not capture of solar energy. Not capture of wind energy.
The video is about the thermodynamics of using more energy than is available — by producing more — and how that can’t work out well.
He’s on your side. You should be on his side.
He’s making the point you want made — very clearly and bluntly.
#169–Yes, Chris, this is dealt with in *some* models. (There’s discussion of the topic in AR5, though I can’t point you to exactly the right spot just this moment.) To the best of my non-expert recollection, the answers to your last two questions are “Yes, probably” x 2.
#166–SA, you are sounding a tad cranky, though I appreciate the point you are making. The piece Hank was citing was, in part, a ‘reductio’ of the notion that unlimited growth is possible (let alone normal.) The ultimate punch line is that 2 millennia at an energy use growth rate of 2.3% pa would have us using as much energy as is emitted by all the stars in our galaxy.
However we sourced it, that would be way beyond ‘global warming’, unless we also had a magic waste heat sink.
In other words, the piece takes seriously a phrase you probably didn’t mean so–at least, not in the most literal reading of it: “more energy than we can possibly use…”
Hank at 168 quoted: “In winter, sea ice spreads over the ocean, creating an insulating layer, like a blanket, that prevents much heat from escaping from the ocean to warm the air. That means that the air above the ice can get bitterly cold—deep below freezing—while the water underneath remains much warmer—never getting colder than the freezing point.’”
Yes, but now that winter ice is much thinner and much more cracked apart and even slushy than before, so presumably more heat may be getting through even in winter, and so affecting things like polar vortex and other patterns. Over on Neven’s blog, people have noticed what they call WACC–Warm Arctic [Ocean anomalies] / Cold Continent [temperature anomalies], even in winter. That is mostly holding up this winter, especially with the cold over much of North America. (Note, though, that Europe has been quite warm lately, as has the Pacific side of Alaska.)
… . Here, we utilize recent advances in the theory of turbulence, mixing and air-sea flux in the ice-ocean boundary layer (IOBL) to formulate a simple model for gas exchange when the surface ocean is partially covered by sea ice. The gas transfer velocity (k) ….
… The largest values of k occurred during the periods when ice cover around the ITP was changing rapidly; either in advance or retreat. The model indicates that effects from shear and convection in the sea ice zone contribute an additional 40% to the magnitude of keff, beyond what would be predicted from an estimate of keff based solely upon a windspeed parameterization….
Metacomment — I’m trying to tempt one of you scientists who actually knows something about this to comment and teach us something here :-)
The three-dimensional rendering in Figure 1 compares the current annual energy consumption of the world to (1) the known reserves of the finite fossil and nuclear resources and (2) to the yearly potential of the renewable alternatives. The volume of each sphere represents the total amount of energy recoverable from the finite reserves and the energy recoverable per year from renewable sources …
… the solar resource is orders of magnitude larger than all the others combined. Wind energy could probably supply all of the planet’s energy requirements if pushed to a considerable portion of its exploitable potential … On the other hand, exploiting only a very small fraction of the earth’s solar potential could meet the demand with considerable room for growth.
As I said, contrary to popular belief, getting enough energy to power a technologically advanced civilization in perpetuity (or at least as long as the sun shines and the wind blows) is not a problem. It’s easy.
There are, of course, other constraints on “growth” (depending on how “growth” is defined) besides the energy supply. There are many “enviromental” and “natural resource” problems that humanity faces.
If we can solve the global warming problem quickly — which we certainly can do, IF we choose to do so — then we can buy the time to deal with those problems.
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Jan 2014 @ 10:31 AM
You offer such a negative Vonnegut quote. How about something more uplifting and, perhaps, more appropriate:
“Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.”
If C emissions proceed at rates given in “business as usual” scenarios, how much will the resulting warming prolong the current interglacial? If the continuation of fossil fuel extraction was limited only by resource depletion, will the climate system ever return to the ~100,000-year cycles established in the mid-Pleistocene? Or is there a threshold condition (e.g. loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice caps) that would be a point of no return?
These questions developed from some discussions with students, but this isn’t my field, so I’d appreciate any help addressing them. I presume that someone has been doing modelling work along these lines, so I’d be interested in any relevant references or links that I could share with students. Thanks for any leads!
If novice preceeds amateur then what preceeds amateur? Allow me to try my question again. I have heard said that the Clean Air Act accelerated global warming by removing, is it black carbon from the atmosphere. BC reflects sunlight to space decreasing global warming, aerosols trap infrared increasing global warming?
China and India are burning quantities of coal that far surpass the max coal America burnt. We know the CO2 traps heat. What is the net impact on global warming of CO2, aerosols, BC, sulphur, etc from the enormous quantity of coal now being burnt outside the developed nations. I expect auto/truck emissions and cooking fires should be considered also.
Comment by Christopher Yaun — 7 Jan 2014 @ 9:34 PM
hank wrote: “Metacomment — I’m trying to tempt one of you scientists who actually knows something about this to comment and teach us something here :-)”
The basic impact of thinner sea ice stems from its multifaceted and temporal effects leading to the “Polar Vortex” weather. Kara , Greenland and Barents sea are not so covered, because the Arctic Ocean pack at minima was much reduced. Northwards bound Cyclones hugging this vastly more open water area penetrate fortress winter more frequently and inject vast amounts of heat straight to the Pole, reducing accretion and leaving sea ice thinner. Arctic Ocean thick multiyear ice is the foundation of winter and injects far less energy to the atmosphere than thinner ice, the later contributes many times more Long Wave Radiation from the sea than CO2 warming, sea ice thickness matters. An ideal Arctic ocean completely covered with 3 to 5 meters ice is not the same as Today’s ice pack. Further heat and water vapour injections from numerous leads are readily seen on IR pics from space. Reducing the strength of winter much further. The entire process is seen on surface level, with stronger inversions vanishing more readily, adding less resistance to Cyclones from the South, with their penetrations becoming more frequent , the Global circulation changes from the Pole Southwards.
> Christopher Yaun
Have you looked at the page linked at the top left corner?
The one labeled Start Here
When you consider the size of the planet, and of the problems, the questions you raise aren’t going to be answered in a comment field on a blog, any blog — unless you want answers that are unrealistically oversimplified.
I recommend this advice, from a gun’totin’climate’nialist programmer, who was very smart about how people ought to ask -him- questions (even if he hasn’t used his own advice to learn about climate change) How to ask questions the smart way
With complicated questions, the people willing to give you simple answers may not be your best resource, and the rest of us get tired of retyping frequently answered questions. As ESR writes, saying what you have already read and understood is a good way to encourage people to help you further.
You start your questions with “I have heard it said” — where did you hear or read the ideas you quote?
Be very careful about trusting comments from strangers on blogs. Paste the claims they make into Google, and into Google Scholar — and compare the results. There’s a lot of fake science that comes up if you just google stuff.
I’m sure this is not a surprise to anyone at RC but still, the RW PR machine is in full gear. Did you know that you scientists have “total dominance of the media”?
“Do you know what the polar vortex is? Have you ever heard of it? Well, they just created it for this week,” he said. “They’re in the middle of a hoax, they’re perpetrating a hoax, but they’re relying on their total dominance of the media to lie to you each and every day about climate change and global warming.” ~ Rush Limbaugh
and if you don’t have time to read the blog, how about an excerpt:
My success at vastly trimming down my energy footprint in this world can be tied to an attitude that my personal comfort/enjoyment is comparatively unimportant. I prioritize the “us” over the “me.” I’m just one individual, and my very existence—let alone the fullness of my belly—is hardly important in the grand scheme. But I can have a big positive influence by being less selfish about grabbing goodies just because I am able.
As highlighted in previous posts, my wife and I basically don’t heat or cool our house, tolerating 55°F (13°C) in winter and (occasionally) 85°F (29°C) in summer. We line-dry clothes, limit gratuitous lighting, limit discretionary travel, avoid energy-intense foods (like meat), don’t have kids, etc. These are sacrifices of a sort, and often invite ridicule by those (threatened individuals) who find such practices repellent. I expect similar reactions to my diet technique. But just like I know that huge energy savings may be realized by exercising choice, I know that weight gain is very easily controlled by what you put into your mouth (and how often). The math, physics, and chemistry are on my side. The barrier is in the will. My question is: do we have the constitution to exercise the requisite will to trim down our energy appetite as well as our physiological analog? Show me. Please.
and he speaks for many of the rest of us as well
Secular Animist–Below the link is text posted on YouTube with the video segment titled, “Tom Murphy: “The Fossil Fuel Joyride Is Over.”
Or, as I thought the first time I saw it: “We’re Not Even Taking Care of Our Gerbil Yet.”
His metaphor is: What makes us think we deserve a pony, when we aren’t taking care of our gerbil?
Along with finding that we have cloudy judgement about the fossil fuel joyride, he says we have no clear idea of what “sustainable” means or at what level we can expect to operate.
He says that we should be careful not to trivialize an unsolved problem, because it tends to reduce the imperative to work like mad on establishing adequate (renewables) capabilities in time–which requires decades of fore-thought and planning. (This is from his UCSD “Do the Math” blog, plus stuff on his own gerbil: his own domestic ventures with renewables.)
Tom Murphy, associate physics professor at the University of California San Diego, projects energy needs for future generations to argue that current ways of living are unsustainable. Disputing the argument that technology can save humanity from a peak oil crisis, Murphy states, “the fossil fuel joyride that we have experienced has clouded our judgment.”…He currently leads a project to test General Relativity by bouncing laser pulses off of the reflectors left on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts, achieving one-millimeter range precision.
Murphy’s keen interest in energy topics began with his teaching a course on energy and the environment for non-science majors at UCSD. He has explored the quantitatively convincing case that our pursuit of an ever-bigger scale of life faces gigantic challenges and carries significant risks.
Yes, I did think my example questions were rhetorical but would not be surprised if there were practical alternative ways of doing some things in our present societies that wouldn’t emit CO2 when they presently do. But the question is, is it realistic to expect to get to a zero carbon civilisation, without changing that civilisation drastically? Carbon emissions result from almost everything we do. Reducing emissions is one thing, stopping the increase in atmospheric carbon is another thing entirely.
Christopher Yaun @169 & @179.
I think you demonstrate your own predicament rather well @179. “If novice precedes amateur then what precedes amateur?” A trick question perhaps? Or is it posed by somebody who fails to see the level of complexity that their questioning engenders?
Asking how climate models account for things is different from asking about climatic impacts of aerosols, that is different from asking about the impacts from coal burning, that is different from asking about the effect of the location of those emissions. And that is not the total scope of your questioning. As Hank Roberts @183 points out, you ask far too much of a blog comment thread.
But if your questioning is taken in the round, I would offer the following responses.
 Negative forcing from aerosols can only be playing a minor role in the “flatlining” or ‘hiatus’ as ‘non-flatlining’ global warming continues apace. The ‘hiatus’ phenomenon is actually rather restricted in its scope.
 Global SO2 emissions are only about half from coal. (If you like a good read try Smith et al 2011 and if you like numbers try here) Emissions peaked in the 1970s and had fallen by some 25% by 2011 according to the work of Kilmont et al 2013
 The main trend in recent decades has been a fall in emissions at high latitudes and a rise at low latitudes. There is the view that the effect of tropical emissions and European emissions would differ climatically, with perhaps tropical emissions having more force.
 Black carbon emissions cause net warming through various mechanisms but my understanding is that globally SO2 cooling is considered to be greater although there remains a lot of uncertainty in this.
#190–”Could you expand on this and explain why that energy is not already in a useful form and not already being used for useful things?”
Not directed to me, I know, and a big question. But I’d offer that one realistic aspect of the answer right now is that deep-pocketed corporate interests vested in legacy technologies are vigorously defending their energy oligopolies.
Renewables are emerging as significantly disruptive forces in a number of markets right now–including the US, where significant pushback is occurring in the area of two-way metering, which a number of companies have sought to eliminate or at least limit. If we were able to implement carbon taxes at the national level, it would, I think, be pretty decisive in this struggle. We’d see a whole lot more use of distributed solar–as may be happening in Australia, for example.
On another topic, I was reading a ‘viewpoints’ book on renewable energy, and was struck by an essay therein considering the merits of a hybrid renewable/nuclear system which basically used nuclear as a ‘battery’ by using nuclear-generated steam and renewable electricity during high-renewable-output periods to create biofuel at high efficiencies. Interesting, given that both liquid fuel needs and energy storage are important subtopics for a renewables-based energy economy…
But part of the scenario was the use of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs). Hadn’t paid much attention to the fuel cell industry lately, and when I did a little digging, I found that it’s made some strides since the ‘hype days’ early in the millennium:
PS at 178 asked: “will the climate system ever return to the ~100,000-year [glaciation] cycles established in the mid-Pleistocene?”
I’m not a scientist, but I would be inclined to say “not any time soon” (tens of thousands to millions of years).
We are on track to go above 500 ppm in just the next few decades. That’s higher than CO2 levels ever were since the Antarctic ice sheet formed some 15 million years ago. And you can’t really have glaciation cycles without ice caps, as far as I know.
One place to look for further insight into your question would be the earlier loss of that ice sheet during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago. It doesn’t look as though it took much of a CO2 push to make that happen then, but the various proxies disagree on how much added CO2 came into the system then. You can find some of the relevant graphs just by searching ‘oligocene CO2″ but there are doubtless more precise measurements in the scientific lit.
GIS is even more sensitive to temperature rises, so it is even less likely that GIS will come back any time in the foreseeable future. And keep in mind that CO2 levels/global temperatures have to come down and stay down well below the temperature levels at which they melted the ice caps to get them to freeze again (hysteresis and all that).
The problem with things like clathrate thawing being a slow process (if that’s what it turns out to be, as the various wise folks around here seem to think)–a process that takes thousands of years–is that it guarantees that there will be a steady added forcing of methane and CO2 for a very long time after human global industrial civilization has exited the stage (which it almost surely will do rather shortly, in the coming years to decades).
And of course if you push into time scales on the order of magnitude of tens to hundreds of millions of years, you have the issue of the sun slowly heating up to deal with. (But getting to that scale, you might want to check tectonic plate predictions to see if any new Himalayas are on track to be formed by then!)
(I’m sure others here have much more intelligent things to say on all this–just hoping something in my comments will be idiotic enough that it will prompt them to post a correction from their better-informed vantage point!)
patrick wrote: “Disputing the argument that technology can save humanity from a peak oil crisis, Murphy states, ‘the fossil fuel joyride that we have experienced has clouded our judgment’ …”
There is no reason whatsoever that “peak oil” — or more generally peak fossil fuel extraction, or more urgently the much more rapid elimination of all fossil fuel use that addressing AGW requires — should become a “crisis”.
All the energy so far consumed during our 150-year-long “fossil fuel joyride”, plus all the energy in the remaining fossil fuel reserves combined, is miniscule compared to the energy available on an ongoing basis from sunlight and wind. The idea that ending fossil fuel use will leave humanity without abundant energy, in a state of “energy poverty”, is nonsense.
As I wrote above, there are definitely material constraints on “growth” (again, depending on how “growth” is defined) — but the supply of energy is not one of them.
#184–Re “Lush Rimbaugh comments”–wait, was that a typo? Anyway, rhetoric like that ain’t nothin’ (or should I have written in Cockneyese “nothink”?) but a big ol’ invitation to rhetorical hilarity. Swing for the fences, folks! That’s a hanging curveball, for sure.
204 Patrick, that NOAA description is far better than what I’ve seen on TV by many presenters. But its the “wobbly polar vortex” the whole vortex, which has been greatly confused by TV weather presenters. This vortex always happens during winter, even summer, the term was misused and rather confused with what appeared to be a Cold Low , or a smaller vortex over Northern USA. This smaller vortex was called “Polar Vortex” by many, which wasn’t correct, I watched it form in the sub-Arctic and it is a spin-off from the Vortex. But it influenced a counterclockwise circulation greatly. Changing the weather scene from very cold to soon quite warm. A better way to identify this phenomena is with density of the entire atmospheric column, through density weighted temperature calculation, this apparent extension of the Polar Vortex is very cold near its center, very much unlike most Low pressures or cyclones. I suggest more names to avoid confusion, I call these Cold Temperature North Poles, usually as with the NOAA November example there is only one massively cold zone. Even NOAA’s wavy polar vortex pattern is misleading as presented, because it confuses cold zones with very warm cyclones which are part of the pattern by marking pressure heights. So this presentation does not differentiate vital differences felt on the ground.
I make my case on my blog: http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/
You also seemed to have answered a different question from the one I asked Secular Animist, who claimed that there was more than enough energy all around us; all we have to do is convert it to useful forms. The implication is that the energy all around us is not already in a useful form. That energy must be having an impact in our biosphere, why is that not useful? A follow on question would probably be: how much of the energy all around us can be converted to forms that are useful to us, without having unintended consequences for us? Perhaps related to this is a piece of research I read about a couple of years ago about the limits of wind energy, without causing detrimental effects, but there is little research in this area. I do also wonder about the resources needed to harness the “energy all around us” plus the EROEI on that.
It seems to be promoting the idea that the freezing conditions are nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Is this right? Have there been other times in recorded history when parts of every state have seen sub-zero temperatures on the same day? How about country-wide average temperature, has it been this low before in recorded history?
Kevin McKinney #193–I think fuel cells are coming faster and more widely than just about any 1 can possibly imagine. But I’ve never been a fan of the particular version you cite, for reasons stated in paragraphs 7 & 8 here:
Secular Animist #195–I didn’t write that. I wote: “Below the link is text posted on YouTube with the video segment titled, ‘Tom Murphy: The Fossil Fuel Joyride Is Over.’”
I was trying to con-text-ualize the video for you. (As were others.) It does seem a bit outdated, doesn’t it? I think the words just mean that Murphy doesn’t expect sustainability to be a cake-walk.
I agree with you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Murphy does too. The video is from a conference dedicated to the idea that human ingenuity is an infinite resource. He’s a macro guy and a physicist and a mathematician, too.
He’s a great resource. So use him. Why don’t you send him (faculty at UCSD or the “Do the Math” blog) the PDF you posted #176 and see what he has to say? I like it myself.
He was using a different TW-yr world energy use number from the one in the PDF.
IPCC5 figure 8.34 identifies radiative forcings by source, chemical and value in a simple, visual and clear presentation and answers my question. Total net forcing of SO2 plus BC are near neutral to slightly positive. Therefore the answer to my question is “NO!”. The SO2 and BC generated by burning fossil fuels and cooking fires etc exert a miniscule positve forcing on average global temps. Thanks to whoever suggested that I might find my answer in the IPCC5.
Comment by Christopher Yaun — 9 Jan 2014 @ 5:59 AM
2, 9, 18, 23, 32, 35, 37, 39, 41, 42, 43, 52, 54, 61 et others regarding energy conservation: It can be argued that we consume 1100 units of energy to gain 4 units of light. A simple model works like this: Extract 100 units of energy (UOE) from the Earth. 5 UOE are consumed during extraction, refining and shipping to market.
Burn the remaining 95 UOE in a state of the art power plant:
- 63 UOE degrade as waste heat plus CO2
- 32 UOE reach the buss bar as electricity.
- 10% line loss, 29 UOE reach the end user.
Burn that 29 UOE in an incandescent light bulb:
- 25 UOE degrade as waste heat.
- 4 UOE are converted to light.
If the building is empty or the room is unoccupied that light is wasted. If air conditioning is required to cool the building our model will consume 75 UOE (and a lot of water) to eject the waste heat from the building. Working backward: 75 units>>>300 units enter the building>>>330 units at the buss bar>>>990 units burned>>>add 5%>>>roughly 1000 units extracted.
A whole host of workable schemes for reducing CO2 can be derived from this exercise.
I build and maintain the HVAC controls in large commercial buildings. I could write a book about the energy waste that goes unchecked. If every $1-2million in energy bills bought one qualified engineer tasked with reducing that energy bill he/she could easily pay his/her salary many times over with simple energy conservation measures.
Comment by Christopher Yaun — 9 Jan 2014 @ 6:22 AM
“While attending the recent AGU conference, some of us were struck by a statistic presented by Professor Richard Alley: On average, a person’s contribution of carbon dioxide waste to the atmosphere is forty times greater than their production of solid trash to landfills when measured as mass. …
“We put 40 pounds of C02 into the air for every pound of household trash we put into landfills.”
Skeptical Science: “Talking Trash on Emissions,” 7 Jan.
“A major new study in Nature finds “our climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates.”
The result, lead author Steven Sherwood told me, is that on our current emissions path we are headed toward a “most-likely warming of roughly 5°C [9°F] above modern [i.e. current] temperatures or 6°C [11°F] above preindustrial” temperatures this century.”
Which, if one believes Lynas and others who have studied the impacts of such temperatures, means extinction of our species by century’s end. And, his computations don’t include the major carbon feedback mechanisms, so end of century may be optimistic.
” The implication is that the energy all around us is not already in a useful form. That energy must be having an impact in our biosphere, why is that not useful?”
I think SA’s point is that we have enormous amounts of solar, wind, ocean current and wave, etc, energy all around us, and, rather than exploit it fully, we continue down the self-destructive path of burning carbon. However, this type of situation is not restricted to energy. Go to one of the better supermarkets. All around the shoppers is outstanding food whose consumption would reduce many types of illness today. Yet, look at what they put in their shopping carts. So, having good stuff available, whether it is energy, food, water, or anything else, doesn’t mean that it will be used. There are external and internal forces that will determine how these resources are used.
#215–Patrick, you seem to be talking about companies like Plug Power & Ballard, which are using PEM fuel cells in the markets you mention. Indeed, that sounds promising. For those interested, there’s some info on the former company at their website:
To help forestall (I hope) another round of the nuclear/renewable heebie-Jeebies: I’m not advocating it, just noting it exists–though I’ll admit that I do find it refreshing to see an example of someone considering synergies between the two, rather than bashing the ‘other non-carboniferous guys.’
And here in Georgia, we’re going to have Vogtle operating for decades to come–up to six decades if they finish Units 3 & 4, which I expect they will, despite the 14-month slippage (regarding which, some reports are still claiming that ‘construction is ahead of schedule’) and the $14 billion price tag (presuming no further over-runs.) It would be nice to see that investment helping to jump-start solar here–there’s a very good solar resource here which is woefully under-utilized, and which is currently not receiving much attention overall, despite the “Green Tea” alliance’s prevailing over Georgia Southern Power at the PSC earlier this year.
Conceptually, with or without nuclear, it does make a lot of sense to have a “sink” for high renewable-output periods–from what I’ve been reading, that’s one of the keys to the Danish success in using high proportions of wind power: during windy periods, excess electricity can (in many cases) be used to heat water very efficiently via electrode boilers and used for heating. (The Danes have a lot of combined heat and power schemes operating at the community level, so this approach fits in well with established infrastructure.)
Synfuel production could qualify, too, providing the efficiencies were reasonable. As Forsberg describes it in the 2009 piece:
…when significant electricity output is coming from wind farms, the steam from nuclear plants would be diverted [from direct power production] to the high-temperature electrolysis system with wind providing electricity for high temperature electrolysis and to the grid. The nuclear and wind systems would each do what they do most economically to maximize efficient… hydrogen production.
If implemented here in Georgia, such a scheme would presumably use solar electricity, not wind. If it led to additional closures of coal plants, I’d be all for it. Of course, some of those coal plants are closing anyway–as elsewhere in the US, cheap natural gas is taking up most of the slack:
It’s a significant deal, cumulatively; the story above says that “Currently, the amount of coal that Georgia Power uses to produce electricity stands at 47 percent, down from 70 percent five years ago.” It doesn’t quantify what the proportion will be after the closures of the 15 further plants, though you could derive a rough estimate from other information in the story.
#218–”It can be argued that we consume 1100 units of energy to gain 4 units of light…”
Which is why windows are such a good idea. When we bought our current house, the living room was a cave, requiring artificial light 24/7 for just about anything except snoozing on the couch. Changed that permanently and for less than $1000–could have been *much* cheaper, but we went for a ‘Cadillac’ sky-light, which bumped up the cost by a factor of more than two, IIRC.
I’m sure it’s been paid back many times over in livability plus energy savings, if not in the latter alone.
“I build and maintain the HVAC controls in large commercial buildings. I could write a book about the energy waste that goes unchecked.”
For Kevin McKinney and others who have expressed interest in energy storage, renewable energy, and related matters, I would like to again commend to your attention the website http://www.CleanTechnica.com.
It is an excellent “news feed” blog that follows current developments in the solar, wind, storage, smart grid, EV and related industries, with original content as well as articles reposted from other sites. They do take comments, and occasionally there are some pretty interesting discussions, but I find it of value mainly for keeping up with these VERY rapidly evolving and growing fields.
There is a lot more going on in those fields — with both the deployment of existing technologies and the development and commercialization of new ones — than most people seem to realize, probably because of the rather poor coverage of them in the general media.
Just to reiterate, my remarks above should not be taken as advocacy. I love renewables, but there is a lot to think about in today’s scene, IMO. And priority one for me is getting rid of as much coal as possible, as soon as possible. (“War on coal?” Hell, yeah–unless there’s real CCS, which at the moment seems unlikely ever to be economic without the personal intervention of Harry Potter, or perhaps Hermione.)
Agreed, much there, and links from there out to much more:
… In both of Shell’s new scenarios, which are led by Jeremy Bentham (Vice President Business Environment and Head of Shell Scenarios), the company sees global CO2 emissions dropping to zero by 2100, but through very different means. In the first, its projection is that solar will account for 37.7% of primary energy use by 2100….
The report includes … three paradoxes, … the prosperity paradox, the connectivity paradox, and the leadership paradox; the structure of the global economy; …
… contrasting worlds, two panoramas:
Mountains where the beneﬁts of an elevated position are exercised and protected, and those who are currently inﬂuential hold on to power;
Oceans with rising tides, strong currents, and a volatile churn of actors and events with an irregular accommodation of competing interests….
… with consequences for energy developments over half a century….”
So — who do you think they’d rather work for, the rich, or the poor?
Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises
Both abrupt changes in the physical climate system and steady changes in climate that can trigger abrupt changes in other physical, biological, and human systems present possible threats to nature and society. Abrupt change is already underway in some systems, and large scientific uncertainties about the likelihood of other abrupt changes highlight the need for further research. However, with recent advances in understanding of the climate system, some potential abrupt changes once thought to be imminent threats are now considered unlikely to occur this century.
This report summarizes the current state of knowledge on potential abrupt changes to the ocean, atmosphere, ecosystems, and high latitude areas, and identifies key research and monitoring needs. The report calls for action to develop an abrupt change early warning system to help anticipate future abrupt changes and reduce their impacts.
Please join us for a webinar this Friday, January 10 at 2 pm EST. Speakers will include James White from the University of Colorado at Boulder, who chaired the report’s authoring committee, and committee members Anthony Barnosky from the University of California at Berkeley and Richard Alley from Penn State University.
Scheduled for the exact same time slot as the White House program on the same subject:
Friday, January 10th at 2:00 p.m. ET for We the Geeks: “Polar Vortex” and Extreme Weather, for a conversation with leading meteorologists, climate scientists, and weather experts about … what we know about extreme weather events in the context of a changing climate.
This can’t be a conspiracy.
Isn’t 2pm Eastern also the usual deadline for the evening’s news stories to be turned in?
“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” – Will Rogers
205 wayne davidson: Thanks. I had looked at how you conceptualize it, and I had looked at the 700mb graphic you provide. I am not dismissing the complexity you point out. I’m taking it in. The NOAA climate news page does say, “‘Polar vortex’ is the new buzzword of 2014 for the millions of Americans learning about its role…” The good news is that the conversation is happening. The page is to help people understand what they’re hearing. The text links add color:
Well, yes, but let me be more explicit. The energy flows on this planet currently produce the planet we see. For example, solar energy is used for NPP (and for natural conversion to other forms of energy), which is eaten by other species, etc. Wind moves some resources around, mixes the air, etc. Tides, waves, rivers, and so on, support certain characteristics of the world we live in. Of course, fossil fuels are an abomination and maybe renewable energies will be better, but if we pile ahead with renewables, there are almost certain to be unintended consequences (assuming all the energy we desire could be practically obtained that way). We need to see the big picture, because ploughing ahead on some path, wearing blinkers, has not had good results so far. We need to make sure we take the blinkers off, in future.
Patrick, thanks for the neat links. Especially Natures article. Elizabeth Barnes apparently is not looking at the right holistic data. First of all it would be very hard to recognize a slowing jet stream because it varies with height. But rather much easier to prove that the scope of winter, its extent, is less. The latest cold wave outbreak (weather underground has the best definition) , was small, did not happen as at other side of the world, hence it was more isolated, that is the biggest clue that many can readily observe. During the last 10 years, there was such very freezing events but mostly only in one area , as opposed to the past.
The latest jet stream shape on top of Greenland is very strange,
although jet streams can take any shape,
they tend to join next to where the densest atmosphere is. A broken up jet stream pattern at mid-winter implicates smaller cold zones. Which is what logic would dictate if the world was warmer.
MLO CO2 level for December 2013 (396.81 ppm) is up 2.53ppm over the 12 months.
While the size of the annual CO2 rise peaked in the Spring & has been generally dropping since, we are now well past the mildly positive ENSO conditions of mid-2012 and the 5.4GtC required for such a rise appears to require a ramping up of the Airborne Fraction. If reports of 36GtCO2 emissions prove correct, that is 9.8GtC FF+C emissions & RF=55%. With land use added into the mix, an RF of 45% (the value it has roughly hovered at since 1959) would require Land Use emissions of 2.2GtC which is miles higher than any past estimates from say CDIAC. Thus my worry that RF may be on the rise.
“but if we pile ahead with renewables, there are almost certain to be unintended consequences (assuming all the energy we desire could be practically obtained that way). We need to see the big picture, because ploughing ahead on some path, wearing blinkers, has not had good results so far. We need to make sure we take the blinkers off, in future.”
The ‘big picture’, as I see it, is the following. If we continue BAU with respect to fossil fuel, and all indications are that we will, today’s models predict on the order of 5 C by end of century. People who have studied potential life under these conditions believe many species will go extinct, including the human species. If we add the major positive feedback mechanisms to these models, the heating will be accelerated, and nearer-term extinction is possible. This, to me, is the default case we face today.
Now, many experts believe we have no choice but to transition rapidly to a non-carbon economy. Will such an economy have ‘unintended consequences’? Undoubtedly, but it has the potential to avoid extinction, and that is, or should be, our main concern today.
While potential ‘unintended consequences’ in the long-term is a valid concern, my concern is more fundamental. To get to the long-term, we have to go through the short-term. Can we, in fact, get through the short-term such that we will have a long-term that includes survival of our species. McPherson believes we can’t, but that is a very minority opinion; not necessarily wrong, but minority, nevertheless.
Two climate experts I respect, who may be speaking for a large segment of the credible climate community, are Hansen and Anderson. They have both made the point that going beyond about 1 C global mean temperature increase will have very adverse effects, using terms such as ‘deleterious’, ‘dangerous’, etc. They don’t define these terms because of the uncertainties in what happens when we go beyond prior Holocene experience, but my interpretation is that some or all of the important feedback processes could accelerate out of our control, with the most devastating of consequences. They both state that the international target of 2 C is very dangerous.
They both offer recommendations for getting over the short-term hump to arrive at the long-term in reasonable (not unscathed) shape. I have a difficult time seeing the compatibility of their recommendations, since their assumptions have differences. Beyond that, I don’t see how the transition to renewables alone will get us over the short-term hump. Anderson flatly states that we cannot stay within the 2 C ceiling based on supply side changes alone; he posits a scenario of at least 10% reduction in global emissions annually for the interim period in order to stay within 2 C. He does not present an emissions reduction estimate for 1 C, but one assumes it would be far greater than 10% per year, if in fact 1 C is possible given what we have put in the pipeline already. Hansen assumes a ceiling of about 1.1 C, and proposes a combination of renewables, nuclear, and reforestation. My reading of the tea leaves is we need the combination of strong renewables introduction coupled with strong demand reduction, and possibly some strong carbon capture methods as well.
So, yes, there may be unintended consequences from accelerated introduction of renewables (or nuclear), and there would certainly be unintended consequences from strong demand reduction, but the days of effecting the transition painlessly have long passed. We will need some compromise that includes accelerated renewables, accelerated nuclear, accelerated reforestation, accelerated demand reduction, etc. Unfortunately, the only acceleration I am seeing now is by Australia, Canada, USA, Russia, etc to extract their remaining fossil reserves as rapidly as possible to maximize revenues.
Ultimately, a civilization that is sustainable on a timescale of centuries must be based on renewables. There isn’t another choice. And if we adopt other energy infrastructures before plowing ahead with renewables, then we create new industries with a vested interest in slowing progress toward renewables. By all means, we need to try to understand the consequences of our choices. However, given how limited our choices are, that isn’t an overwhelming task.
A trio of researchers (two from the University of Chicago, the other from Princeton) has proposed a new theory to explain the sudden breakup of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. In their paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, Alison Banwell, Douglas MacAyeal and Olga Sergienko suggest that the breakup came about due to the sudden drainage of one surface lake causing others to drain leading to a chain reaction that ultimately led to the entire ice shelf being torn apart.
When Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf (once roughly the size of Rhode Island) suddenly collapsed twelve years ago (over a two week period) many blamed global warming—prior to the collapse scientists had observed large stretches of surface water on the shelf, the result of warmer air—it was suggested that the surface water made its way down into crevices causing the shelf to break apart due to pressure from within. In this new effort, the researchers don’t refute the claims of the ultimate cause of the collapse, i.e. global warming, but they do suggest it was a much more complicated process than most have assumed.
To gain a better understanding of what might have occurred, the researchers built a computer simulation to emulate the conditions that existed prior to the shelf collapsing. By adjusting multiple variables, the researchers say that it became clear that rather than surface water causing the collapse, it was more likely due to the sudden drainage of just a single lake. When that one lake drained, it caused other lakes nearby to drain, leading to a cascading event that resulted in virtually all of the lakes on the ice shelf draining in a very short period of time. The draining of the lakes led to chaotic stresses all across the shelf causing it to crumble and fall apart. Their theory is bolstered, the team says, by satellite observations just prior to the breakup that showed empty lakes all across the ice shelf.
The researchers are unable to explain why the first lake drained, though they suggest it might have been due to a process many years in the making, brought on by global warming. Warmer water under the shelf, for example, may have weekend its structure and perhaps eventually caused a hole to develop in the ice beneath one of the deeper lakes, allowing the lake water to seep through.
Larsen breakup theory — see previous topics at RC, over past years. If anyone has read the papers, I’d be curious to know what’s new about this. I’ve gotten to mistrust university press release hype on science.
I have been following the major climate blogs for the past few years. It seems to me every paper reported shows some new phenomenon making the climate situation even more dire, such as the one you have reported along with your extrapolation to Greenland. Is this biased self-selection by the contributors, or is this a reflection of what’s happening: the situation is really far worse than we had thought even a few years ago? Are we in fact seeing a positive feedback mechanism of the climate literature itself, where identification of new adverse phenomena is spawning further research into these phenomena, which in turn is identifying even more dire prospects for the future?
The problem I see with transitioning to a completely carbon free or carbon neutral energy economy is that, as wonderful as that may be, it is only one of a myriad of horrible problems that are self evident at the extinction level. The major problem is the use of energy, Thus I have come to the conclusion that complete evacuation of the human species from the planet is the only solution that will yield anything even vaguely resembling an early Holocene era planetary ecological and biological diversity. And indeed, I have worked out the necessary global technological and engineering actions required to produce that desired result. Your opinion on the subject of future evolution of humanity may diverge from my own, of course, but it is a subject I have studied deeply.
“Every footnote tells a story. But a nugget in the minutes of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) Working Group on Oceanography, dated March 2, 1956, marks the beginning of a particularly important tale.
In the IGY meeting, two U.S. scientists, Roger Revelle and Hans Suess, pushed for government funding to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s ocean and atmosphere. Their goal: “a clearer understanding of the probable climatic effects of the predicted great industrial production of carbon-dioxide over the next 50 years.”
That’s right: Way back in the 1950s scientists were already focused on gathering data that would help them test the theory that human-caused production of CO2 was likely to cause climate change.
Revelle and Seuss were successful in their recommendation. The upshot of the meeting: A young post-doctoral student at CalTech, Charles Keeling, received enough funds to further his passion for measuring CO2. Keeling, according to the New York Times, was “the first person in the world to develop an accurate technique for measuring carbon dioxide in the air.” ”
The article goes on to describe the Keeling Curve and how the measurements have continued for fifty+ years, and focuses on the need to obtain funds for continuing to take measurements. All well and good, but in those fifty years, what have we done as a result of these measurements, and how have we altered the Keeling Curve? Information on climate change is important, but it doesn’t do much good if it is not used to spur action.
# 248 Ray Ladbury “… renewables. There isn’t another choice.”
On the contrary Ray, when eventually we grasp the nettle of exploiting the unimagined potential of nuclear energy we shall own a resource of such prodigious power as to enable the liberation of mankind from poverty well into a future measurable in millennia. But renewables? Sadly, a hopeless dead end.
Comment by simon abingdon — 10 Jan 2014 @ 11:45 AM
It is a new circulation, after effects from the Cold wave over North America. This should change the weather everywhere in the NH. I’d expect Europe to be colder from this. There is a westward cyclone displacement overt the Canadian Arctic, not so common, but affecting weather further South.
simon abingdon wrote: “But renewables? Sadly, a hopeless dead end.”
With all due respect, sir, that is utter nonsense. I find myself thinking that your comment must be some kind of joke.
Solar and wind are the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation capacity in the world, growing at record-breaking double-digit rates year after year, while the cost of the technologies plummets and their efficiency grows rapidly, with no “end” in sight.
The energy content of all the fossil fuels and all the radioactive fuels on Earth combined is puny, compared to the energy available on an ongoing basis from sunlight and wind.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:10 PM
#241 prokaryotes–Thank you, but that’s Rasmus, not Gavin–isn’t it? That post was focusing on Europe but it’s right on topic here and now.
“Last June, during the International Polar Year conference, James Overland suggested that there are more cold and snowy winters to come. He argued that the exceptionally cold snowy 2009-2010 winter in Europe had a connection with the loss of sea-ice in the Arctic. The cold winters were associated with a persistent ‘blocking event’, bringing in cold air over Europe from the north and the east. … …and Petoukhov and Semenov argue that the cold winter should be an expected consequence of a global warming.”
Simon, I could hardly be called phobic when it comes to nukes. I collect uranium and thorium minerals (I even have a gemstone containing thorium–ekanite). However, to date the impact of nukes on our energy infrastructure has been not so much unimagined as imaginary. Now, it is possible that the new thorium-based generation technology might eventually reanimate the corpse of nuclear energy in this country. That would increase the fuel supply and likely help (not solve) waste disposal. It would not, however, eliminate proliferation concerns.
And ultimately, where would this have gotten us? We’d be beholden to a new set of energy overlords probably as ruthless and immoral as the Koch brothers. We’d still have a finite energy supply and a new energy infrastructure owned by stakeholders bent on maximizing their profits.
Ultimately, if it’s not renewable, it’s not sustainable, and anything that diverts us from sustainability is a detour, possibly a long one that would take us centuries to recover from.
Thus I have come to the conclusion that complete evacuation of the human species from the planet is the only solution that will yield anything even vaguely resembling an early Holocene era planetary ecological and biological diversity.
Diogenes at #246, I think we are mostly in agreement.
On your next point, at #252, I too have been following the science pretty closely. Things do look worse than just a few years ago, but papers come out that modify some of the worst cases occasionally. But they themselves are of course subject to revisions. I see this back-and-forth in sensitivity studies, studies of rates of GIS loss, AMOC (non-)slowing, and a number of other areas. That’s to be expected. It’s not necessarily a consequence of some kind of disciplinary ‘feedback.’ (If anything, I get the impression that most researchers are hoping that they are wrong, and that things aren’t as dire as the data seem to suggest.)
But, yeah, as far as I’ve seen, mostly most areas of study show today that things are looking worse than they were looking five to ten years ago. To paraphrase MLK, the arc of GW research is long, but it bends toward catastrophe!
the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is closing five of its seven libraries, allowed scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through what remained of Eric Marshall Library belonging to the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.
One woman showed up to pick up Christmas gifts for a son interested in environmental science. Other material went into dumpsters. Consultants walked home with piles of “grey material” such as 30-year-old reports on Arctic gas drilling.
Privatization, with extreme prejudice.
I’ll bet some very, ah, potentially fruitful collections shuffled out the loading dock in the last days. I wonder if anyone kept the card catalog or equivalent to know what was ‘lost’ that isn’t duplicated elsewhere.
The link you have provided is outstanding, incorporates the views of all the major credible climate experts, and I would commend every viewer of this blog to read it in detail.
Some important takeaways:
“Yet the 2ºC goal is not an option either, because, with climate and carbon cycle positive feedbacks in full swing, IT IS LESS A STABLE DESTINATION THAN A SIGNPOST ON A HIGHWAY TO A MUCH HOTTER PLACE. The real choice now is to try and keep the planet under a series of big tipping points by getting it back to a Holocene-like state, or accept that a 3-6ºC“catastrophe” is at hand.”
“As Anderson and Bows show, if global emissions don’t peak till 2020, THEN THE CARBON BUDGET FOR THE DEVELOPED WORLD IS… ZERO (5b. above). Even the 2ºC target requires actions that are completely outside the current climate policy-making framework, and therefore considered impossible”
“Today, in 2013, we face an unavoidably radical future. We either continue with rising emissions and reap the radical repercussions of severe climate change, or we acknowledge that we have a choice and pursue radical emission reductions: NO LONGER IS THERE A NON-RADICAL OPTION. MOREOVER, LOW-CARBON SUPPLY TECHNOLOGIES CANNOT DELIVER THE NECESSARY RATE OF EMISSION REDUCTIONS – THEY NEED TO BE COMPLEMENTED WITH RAPID, DEEP AND EARLY REDUCTIONS IN ENERGY CONSUMPTION”
While I agree with the statement of the seriousness of the problem, I don’t see how any of the solutions recommended in the article, even the most radical solutions, will extricate us from being in the truly ‘dangerous’ regime. And, as the first quote above implies, we might not be able to stabilize at ‘dangerous’, but will proceed to ‘catastrophic’.
Folks are feeling “isolated” as their mobility is significantly reduced due to loss of sea ice and snow cover. Diet is disrupted due to phenology changes.
There were strong emotional reactions to that loss among all 120 people interviewed by researchers behind the community-based Inuit Mental Health Adaptation to Climate Change project.
The feelings included “a sense of grief, mourning, anger, frustration, sadness, and many people said they also felt very depressed about not being able to get out there on the land,” Cunsolo Willox said.
Traditional routes no longer safe
Wildlife and vegetation have changed, with caribou and moose moving further north, and traditional berries have been failing to grow when they have in the past.
Some headlines from today’s extended menu of CP articles. While my previous post emphasized the dire nature of our climate predicament, and the extremely radical actions required to avoid catastrophe, the articles below show motion in the completely opposite direction. How do we turn this situation around?
“Canadian Government Dismantles Ecological Libraries After Dismissing Thousands Of Scientists
By Ari Phillips on January 10, 2014
Closing critical libraries and severely cutting scientific research are the latest moves by the Harper administration to prioritize fossil fuel development and short-term profits over long-term concerns like climate change and the environment.”
“In The Face Of Historic Smog, China Adds $10 Billion In New Coal Production Capacity
By Emily Atkin on January 9, 2014
The desolation of smog in China? Forget it.
Despite experiencing the worst air pollution on record in 2013, China last year approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity at a cost of $9.8 billion, according to a report compiled Wednesday by Reuters. The increase in coal production in 2013 was six times bigger than the increase in 2012, when the administration approved just four coal projects with 16.6 million tonnes of annual capacity and a total investment of $1.2 billion.
In other words, in just one year, China added coal production capacity equal to 10 percent of total U.S. annual usage.
The news is startling, considering the country’s world famous pollution, which has caused myriad health problems, marred cityscapes, and even gave an 8-year-old girl lung cancer. What’s more, the pollution has recently been confirmed to be caused by fossil fuel production, with coal at the forefront.
The news of China’s staggering increase in coal production capacity also casts serious doubt on the government’s recently-announced new pollution reduction targets, which reportedly require all of China’s provinces to reduce air pollution by 5 to 25 percent annually. Those who fail to meet those goals will supposedly be “named and shamed” publicly.”
“Can America’s Grasslands Be Saved?
By Tom Kenworthy on January 8, 2014
As America’s Great Plains are converted to the production of corn and soybeans, the result is a dramatic change that is eating away at our carbon storage reserves.”
“After Winning Support Of Environmentalists In 2013, McAuliffe Looks To Boost Virginia’s Coal Industry
By Katie Valentine on January 7, 2014
McAuliffe calls jobs from CCS-equipped coal plants “jobs of the future.”"
Diogenes at 276: Yes, the folks at ClimateCodeRed are pretty impressive at laying it out there. I agree with your assessment. It is time to practice a Buddha-like detachment from desired consequences and just do the right thing because it is right.
Look, I’m all in favor of screaming doom, but you need to do it effectively and credibly and not make stuff up if you claim the scientists are all in agreement with you.
Joe Romm does it about as dramatically as I think can be supported. He’s entertaining, captures attention, and gets lots of blog hits. People have been scraping his stuff — a big hazard once interest develops, the promoters who don’t do any of the work have all their time and money available to do the SEO and try to grab the attention. Look at the sites scraping Tamino’s work now for example.
I wish “climatecodered” did a better job of citing sources, rather than screaming doom and disaster.
When people think there’s no hope of correcting our course, they just drink up and watch the disaster coming and hope to die before it bothers them personally.
That’s not a good approach.
If you believe all the credible climate scientists endorse some statement, show a link to where they endorsed it.
Things are plenty bad enough without confusing people further.
“Look, I’m all in favor of screaming doom, but you need to do it effectively and credibly and not make stuff up if you claim the scientists are all in agreement with you.”
THERE WAS NOTHING ‘MADE UP’ IN THAT ARTICLE. ALL QUOTES WERE FROM REPUTABLE SOURCES.
“Joe Romm does it about as dramatically as I think can be supported. He’s entertaining, captures attention, and gets lots of blog hits.”
THOSE ARE YOUR CRITERIA: ENTERTAINING; CAPTIVATING; MANY HITS?? THEY ARE NOT MINE!
I wish “climatecodered” did a better job of citing sources, rather than screaming doom and disaster.”
THEY HAVE ~65 REFERENCES, INCLUDING ANDERSON, HANSEN, LENTON, MASLOWSKI, IPCC, ON AND ON. THEY HAVE LAID OUT THE REALITY; YOU ARE INTERPRETING THEIR ACCURATE DEPICTION OF REALITY AS ‘DOOM AND DISASTER’.
HANK; YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT; YOU USUALLY DO!
How to start. Hank’s most vociferous point seems to be that we should never present anything that might take away people’s ‘hope’ (‘hope for what?’ one might ask.). But the first critique of the article is that it is too unrealistically hopeful–that we could even get back to the climate range the civilization arose in. So which is it? On the other side, 3-6 degree C warming is well within what many scientists and organizations are saying we are headed for by about the end of the century, if not sooner. So what exactly is your beef here?
Note that they point out in the last paragraphs that, even with very fast cut backs in fossil fuels, there will need to be major efforts at carbon dioxide removal and probably some geo-engineering. These are things that the IPCC includes in its latest report. We can certainly discuss the enormous problems with all of these, but don’t you think it is, at long last, necessary to face the stark future we have locked ourselves into, and that it is long past time to get into emergency mode to do what we can to minimize the impacts?
> 3-6 degree C warming
Definitely probable, ample sources for that
> “catastrophe” is at hand.”
Which scientists support this? That’s harder to cite.
Now you’re in this territory. Which, to me, seems overreaching. Rather than claim to know what the scientists support, why not ask the scientist to sign on if the blogger’s got it right?
Scientists appreciate people who understand their work and can interpret it in plain language. They’ll tell you if they think you did. Heck, some even will tell you if you’re getting it wrong.
But silence isn’t agreement, when blogging about what scientists think. You gotta ask them to check what you wrote and sign on or not.
Enough. It’s just my opinion, remember. Some guy on a blog.
I couldn’t bring up your link. But I can tell you directly where I’m coming from. I’m trying to reconcile Anderson’s and Hansen’s statement of the problem and desired targets with their proposed solutions, or any other proposed solutions I’ve seen. Why Anderson and Hansen? They are two climate experts I respect heavily, and both have been willing to put their necks on the chopping block to show their commitment. They have very different backgrounds, have a number of co-authors who obviously support their conclusions, and identify temperature ceiling targets that have been around for at least two decades (and have not been refuted).
If Anderson requires ~10% annual reductions in CO2 emissions to stay within 2 C (and in the next breath states that is too high by a factor of two), then I would surmise that far higher reductions would be required to achieve Hansen’s target. If Anderson states flatly that we cannot achieve 2 C through the supply side alone, but need substantial demand reductions, what does that say about supply side solutions and a target of ~1 C?
‘Gloom and doom’ is not the issue; the question is whether we can close the loop on the numbers. If you have problems with the ceiling targets, take them up with Anderson and Hansen, not me. I’m just accepting the numbers that the experts have provided as targets; that’s their strong point. If they could show me how their proposed solutions are consistent with achieving these targets, I would accept them as well. In my view, they haven’t done the latter, nor has anyone else.
As diogenes pointed out, they cite all sorts of sources. As far as I can see, all of them are valid.
Do you not think 3-6 degrees is a catastrophe?
How many people and major institutions do you need me to cite that say we are on the path toward 3-6 degrees (or more)? Hansen? Anderson? IEA? World Bank? PWC? What kind of legitimacy are you looking for? I already addressed your point about the Holocene.
If you aren’t willing to read and respond to points made, you are acting no different than a troll.
I’ll get back to you when you actually show some evidence of reading what people are writing and actually looking at the works you are dismissing, rather than just emoting and reposting already posted and addressed graphs.
@266 wili said: “But, yeah, as far as I’ve seen, mostly most areas of study show today that things are looking worse than they were looking five to ten years ago. To paraphrase MLK, the arc of GW research is long, but it bends toward catastrophe!”
Are Sea Level Rise and a rise in temperature going to vastly accelerate in the next few years? I understand that events are in a state of flux and nobody really has any definite answers as to how long we have or when we might expect some serious climate events to take place. Having said that, the Global Average Temperature seems to be creeping up at about the same pace for the last 150 years. Sea Level Rise seems to be pretty steady even though it’s gradually increasing. Sooooo…. Does anyone expect a sudden acceleration of either temperature or sea level rise within the next few years?
Here’s the same question in another form: what are the chances that we will experience sudden increases in temp and SLR within say, the next decade or so?
Simplified even further: How much time do we realistically have before things get really bad… as in, miserable?
Thanks. Sorry in advance for the elementary questions. I’m not a scientist.
<a href="../report/ICA-RUS_REPORT_2013_eng.pdf" ICA-RUS REPORT 2013 (5.3MB) PDF
Learning from the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and ensuing nuclear crisis, emphasis is also placed on 4) paying attention to all kinds of possibilities and 5) inclusion of social decision-making processes. (While “climate risk management” is often used to refer to the discussion of regional-scale adaptation, we should like to reemphasize that the aim here is to consider global-scale targets for response options to address climate change.)
Studies of global-scale climate change targets that adopt a risk management approach include those of the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change (2008), which recommends that the objective should be to limit our central expectation of temperature rise to 2°C, or as close as possible, and reducing the risk of extremely dangerous climate change to very low levels (e.g. less than a 1% chance of 4°C temperature rise), and the studies of Mabey et al. (2011), who propose aiming to mitigate to stay below 2°C, building and budgeting for resilience to 3°C-4°C and making a contingency plan for capability to respond to 5°C-7°C. However, research of this kind is still somewhat limited.
This project will therefore comprehensively examine the risks posed by the various impacts of climate change, an array of risk management options (including mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering1) ), the interrelationships with water, food, and other issues, public perception of the risks, and value judgments. Taking all these factors into account, it will then consider a global climate risk management strategy. This will then be put to society with the aim of contributing to the building of international consensus and assisting policymaking in Japan.
Diogenes, wili et al.,
Look, when it comes to telling us that things look bleak, you are preaching to the choir. When you lament that our leaders are behaving irresponsibly, all I can say is “Amen!”
None of that means there is no hope. What we have to do is make as much progress as possible until there is a surgical solution for the recto-cranial inversion condition from which our leaders suffer and/or until we come up with technical fixes that can further ameliorate the situation.
Do the experts say we’ll get 3-6 degrees of warming. OK. Let’s do whatever we can to hold it to 3. Because damage scales exponentially with increasing temperature above about 2 degrees, and exponential damage in a world of 10 billion people (we are already off track to meet the UN’s low-end estimate for the crest of 9 billion in 2050) is not something I want to contemplate except in the context of minimizing suffering those people will experience. Hope is more than wishful thinking.
Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2014 @ 6:07 PM and previous
Hank, I am confident that there are more than a few here who understand what you are saying with regard to intellectual honesty and communicating with scientific accuracy. I, for one, appreciate your voice.
I agree that we need to phase out fossil fuels as quicky as possible. I agree that future societies or communities will get their energy from renewables. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t pretend that our present society can continue its ways with renewables, partly because that amount of renewables could have consequences which could be like hauling ourselves out of the fire only to land in the frying pan. All of the energy received from the sun is currently used in providing the planet we now live on. It may not be that great but diverting more of that energy to provide humans with their niceties may not improve the planet. Not that a renewables infrastructure of that size would itself be renewable but that’s another matter.
I know many people think nuclear is a major part of the “answer” to our problems. But what if we have 900 (double) or 1300 (triple) nuclear reactors providing the bulk of the world’s power when some of those societies start destabilising (as all societies do)? What if the attempt fails and climate change, plus environmental deterioration, continue to the dangerous level (as some commenters think we’ve already reached) or emissions before nuclear starts to replace fossil fuels ensure that catastrophic levels will be reached? We haven’t thought about future generations up to now, let’s start doing so. Energy usage reductions must be the main response, and that will require a rethink of how we live.
Can you envision any way to provide for the food and energy needs of 10 billion people that will not have adverse consequences? And yet doing so is the only way we have of 1)bringing growth of human population under control, and 2)progressing toward sustainability. We have squandered all of our good options. Now we have to select the least bad.
“Do the experts say we’ll get 3-6 degrees of warming. OK. Let’s do whatever we can to hold it to 3.”
Agreed; that general approach is the best we can do. In fact, if we really roll up our sleeves, we may be able to limit it to 2 C, given the commitments we have already made in the pipeline.
I see four sticking points to achieving even these limited goals. First is the technical one. As Hansen points out in his Plos One paper, once we get past prior Holocene experience, there are really many unknowns that could crop up. Who knows; some could be good, but based on recent experience, most seem to go in the other direction.
Second are the political ones. Most of the fossil-exporting governments are like Australia in drag. Australia and Canada have no shame in admitting they are going all out on fossil, and pursue openly options to destroy the opposition. But, fundamentally, is the USA acting any differently? There was an article in the paper recently that, based on a fund from North Sea oil, every Norwegian is now a millionaire. Do you think Norway, or any other fossil exporter in a similar position, is going to unilaterally give that up?
Third are the economic ones. The fossil energy companies have put, are putting, and will continue to put a large amount of money towards opposing any effort to curtail the use of fossil fuels. There is no effective organized opposition with the dollars or the numbers to counter this. Also, people who own stocks and believe, as Anderson does, that any efforts to save the biosphere will involve severe cutbacks, will be reluctant to support curtailment of fossil fuel. I believe strong demand cuts have to be part of the solution, along with off-the-shelf improvements in energy efficiency and off-the-shelf installation of renewables, and I think the markets will suffer. I don’t see that being supportable by both large and small institutional investors in myriad securities.
Fourth is also economic from the employment perspective. CP (or maybe it was Salon) had some interesting articles about the new Governor of Virginia, McAuliffe. He was supposedly the climate advocate of the two candidates, but he now is pushing clean coal solutions. There are large coal-producing areas in parts of Virginia, and he didn’t want to do anything to hurt employment. I think this plays out in all states and countries with a strong fossil fuel producing contingent, and is another source of opposition that has to be overcome. The only way I could see getting their support is to ensure that energy efficiency improvements and renewables installation are given to these people first when they lose their fossil jobs, with comparable salaries. Otherwise, they will exert anti-climate sentiments at the ballot box, and unlike the 1%, they have the numbers to keep their advocates in public office (McAuliffe, anyone).
Ray, I agree. But please note that neither I nor Diogenes have use the words “no hope.” That was Hank at 281.
In the spirit of Hank ‘-), I would love to have a source for your statement that “damage scales exponentially with increasing temperature above about 2 degrees”–not that I doubt it, but I would like to be able to defend it if I quote it elsewhere (especially since people are so eager to accuse one of advocating ‘doom and gloom’ and giving people ‘no hope’ when one points such things out).
As I said at #2 at the top of the thread: “Two of the world’s leading climate scientists have now laid down clear indications of the range of reductions needed immediately. It is the job of the rest of us to make it happen.
What are your strategies for realizing these difficult-to-achieve but absolutely necessary reductions personally, locally, nationally and globally? Can we have a conversation about this crucial issue here?”
I would still like to hear from others what their strategies are. (Do these words sound like someone calling for people to do nothing or to wallow in hopelessness?)
If he can back away from his overwrought emotionalism, I think it would be good to have a further discussion about the role of non-scientists in getting across the messages we understand from the science. Should words like “catastrophe” be off the menu?
Diogenes wrote: “the question is whether we can close the loop on the numbers”.
And the answer is unknowable.
For all we know, we may have long since passed the point where the anthropogenic warming that has already occurred, plus the additional anthropogenic warming already locked in, by our cumulative GHG emissions is already sufficient to trigger various feedbacks that must now inevitably lead to the complete collapse of human civilization and the mass extinction of most life on Earth.
Or not. And so what?
The options available to us are still the same, either way. And the massive, costly damage that global warming, and the climate change and extreme weather that it is causing, are already sufficient reason to act, with urgency.
Gloom-and-doomism is irrelevant. We already know what we need to do. We already know that we need to do it now. We cannot know whether, or to what degree, we can prevent or mitigate the worst possible outcomes — and we don’t need to know that.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2014 @ 11:40 AM
Hank, I am confident that there are more than a few here who understand what you are saying with regard to intellectual honesty and communicating with scientific accuracy. I, for one, appreciate your voice.
Ditto that from me, and I emphatically reject the dittohead label 8^D!
Tony Weddle wrote: “… we shouldn’t pretend that our present society can continue its ways with renewables …”
A society that abandons the massively wasteful use of fossil fuels and rapidly transitions to maximally efficient use of 100 percent renewable energy sources is, by definition, not “continuing its ways”.
Tony Weddle wrote: “… that amount of renewables could have consequences which could be like hauling ourselves out of the fire only to land in the frying pan. All of the energy received from the sun is currently used in providing the planet we now live on. It may not be that great but diverting more of that energy to provide humans with their niceties may not improve the planet.”
These questions about the potential environmental impacts of greatly expanded renewable energy use have been studied. I would refer you for example to the work of Mark Jacobson at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
In short, the world’s solar and wind energy resources are sufficient to power all of human civilization many times over, so only a tiny fraction of those resources need be “diverted” to human use. And much of the infrastructure can be built on land that is already in use by humans (e.g. wind turbines built on agricultural land which can then still be used for farming) or even incorporated into existing infrastructure, the obvious example being solar panels on rooftops. By one estimate, solar panels installed on all the flat, commercial rooftops in the USA could generate as much electricity as all the country’s nuclear power plants.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2014 @ 11:58 AM
Tony Weddle wrote: “I know many people think nuclear is a major part of the ‘answer’ to our problems …”
Niagara Falls … slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch …
Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2014 @ 12:03 PM
wili wrote: “Should words like ‘catastrophe’ be off the menu?”
When I see “catastrophe” on the menu, I have to ask the waiter what’s in it. Because the word on the menu gives me no clue.
I think that “catastrophe” is an appropriate term for consequences of global warming that have already occurred.
Others seem to disagree, and seem to suggest that only the “Venus effect” qualifies as “catastrophe”.
So, if you are going to use that word, please be specific and clear as to what you mean by it.
Less terrifying, more horrifying. That, more or less, was the between-the-lines takeaway from Friday’s National Research Council (NRC) briefing on abrupt climate change.
The event was part of an announcement of the NRC’s newly released and finalized report, “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises.”
Several of the scientists involved in the report were present, including James White from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Anthony Barnosky from the University of California at Berkeley, and Richard Alley from Penn State University.
In one of the most shocking statements, Barnosky said the world’s oceans are now undergoing a change in pH and temperature that is so rapid and severe, that if we stay on our business-as-usual emissions pathway, then we will see the most significant degradation in the world’s oceans since 250 million years ago when there was the “end-Permian extinction event.” That was possibly the most extreme extinction event in Earth’s entire history. Over 90% of marine species in the fossil record went extinct.
“Just in the next five or six decades we will see some very major problems,” Barnosky said….
“Trends and acceleration in global and regional sea levels since 1807,” Jevrejeva et al. (I see Grinsted in there),Global and Planetary Change v. 113 (2014) pp. 11–22
From the abstract: ” We calculate an acceleration of 0.02 ± 0.01 mm/yr^2 in global sea level (1807–2009)”
More interesting, from the paper (GSL12 is their study):
“There is an excellent agreement between the linear trends from GSL12 and satellite altimetry sea level since 1993, with rates of 3.1 ± 0.6 mm/yr and of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr respectively. GSL12 shows a linear trend of 1.9 ± 0.3 mm/yr during the 20th century and 1.8 ± 0.5 mm/yr for the period 1970–2008. Regional decadal trends demonstrate diversity since 1970 with the fastest regional linear trends of 4.1 mm/yr in the Antarctic region and 3.6 mm/yr for the Arctic basin”
thats 4 mm more water pressure every year levering ice shelves up and adding pressure forcing hot water under.
Another interesting thing. They invoke see glaciers and small icecaps accelerating twice as fast .006mm/yr^2, Leclerq) as thermal component (Gregory) of sea level rise, but the acceleration actually measured is 0.02 mm/yr^2. The elephant must be AIS and GIS which are absent from Leclerq.
Here are some comments on the “Is CC Already Dangerous” piece that (for reasons I still don’t understand) has caused such a kerfuffle among some posters (comments collected essentially at random–the first ones that popped up from a ‘oogle search):
“The IPCC’s new assessment report hasn’t even been released, but the denialist fog machine is already running hard. If you’re tired of it — and, frankly, if you’re tired of the smoothly-leveled understatement that we usually get from the IPCC — take a look at Is Climate Change Already Dangerous?, a new report by David Spratt of Australia’s Climate Code Red.
I’ll not summarize this report; there’s no point because it’s already a summary, one which sticks extremely close to the original scientific literature…Spratt’s paper is excellent…Spratt’s conclusions echo Jim Hansen’s…
“In a compelling survey, this report answers the question many are afraid to ask: is climate change already dangerous?This science survey measures the current manifestations and impacts of climate change against the “safe boundaries” metric; surveys the literature on tipping points and non-linear climate events; and provides a detail study of significant recent events in the Arctic.” http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/content/380878/is-the-climate-already-dangerous/
But don’t take these guys’ word for it, or mine, or diogenes, or hanks (who doesn’t seem to have read it)…read it yourself, and then please do critique it.
For now, I will point out that Spratt’s summary is already out of date, even though it only came out about three months ago. On the positive side (for climate), the aerosol shielding may not be as high as thought, so when it goes away, there might not be as big a temperature spike. But on the other side, as the neighboring thread here points out, climate sensitivity may be considerably higher than thought (or at least we may need to give up hope that the lower sensitivities would end up being the right ones).
I would be interested in other, specific, critiques, within the context of the piece. It also seems to be a good focus of discussion for the issue of the role of non-scientists in summarizing and presenting this material to a broader audience. I don’t think categorical dismissals based on a phrase or two are very fruitful to the discussion, though.
I’d just like to tell Hank Roberts that I really appreciate all of his input and links he provides here. Thank you. I believe it was Susan Anderson that said she has learned a lot from you, and I can second that.
“Here we show that for the next decade the PIG grounding line is probably engaged in an irreversible retreat over tens of kilometres and that the dynamic contribution to SLR will remain at a significantly higher level compared with preretreat conditions. All three models, despite their differing physics, numerics and parameters, support the notion of MISI in PIG, and two out of three cast doubt on any possible recovery. Starting from the first years of significant imbalance increase, the variation of the mass loss between experiments after 20 years is relatively narrow with a cumulative contribution to SLR of 3.5–10 mm over this period (Fig. 4). Afterwards, estimates diverge dependent on further retreat of the grounding line across a region of gentler slopes and stronger basal traction behind the instability zone. Once the grounding line has crossed the steep retrograde slope, imbalance decreases but remains between three and six times higher than the mean estimates obtained for the past 20 years (20 Gt yr−1 ; ref. 4).”
Now consider that these models are not coupled to the ocean, except thru a prescribed melt rate. No basal hydrology as far as I can tell (In this context see Livingstone et al. (doi:10.5194/tc-7-1721-2013 which I find fascinating.) And Thwaites is next door, and order of mag wider. And every prediction has underestimated so far.
The only 100 percent renewable energy source that I’m aware of, for humans, is eating plants and animals (who eat plants or eat other animals who eat plants). I’d concede that it may be hypothetically possible to also convert sunlight and other natural energy to forms, that you and others might judge more useful, using only renewable energy sources but I’m not aware of any such infrastructure, though would be happy to have examples.
Regarding research into the impacts of renewables, I checked that link you provided but Mark Jacobson only seems to have two publications that have renewables as their subject. One is an article about biofuels needing more research and one paper about wind versus coal but I couldn’t access the text so I’m not sure if he addresses environmental impacts of wind. The only research paper I’ve seen to address impacts is by Axel Kleidon concerning the limits of Wind energy. Do you have a link to a paper?
Hypothetically, wind and solar definitely could power industrial civilisation many times over but you seem to be saying that only diverting a tiny fraction of natural energy flows will have no significant impact. Do you have a reference to research which backs that up? Of course, that is only one aspect. Whether there are the other resources needed to power industrial civilisation this way is another question which seems to rely on wishful thinking (in terms of the exhaustability of such resources or the substitutability of other resources). A further question would be whether the needed resources could be obtained and refined by renewable energy and could be done so sustainably.
It really depends on what you mean by the “energy needs of 10 billion people”. Do you mean at the energy use level of the US, Europe, China or the Sentilenese? Concerning food, there are ways to produce food that do not require more energy than is obtained from the food (unlike the common way of producing food today). Whether they could feed 10 billion people or not is not certain to me (though some people seem to think so) but should we aspire to feed 10 billion people? Would population not increase to 10 billion if enough food were supplied? Would that be a good thing for our planet and future humans? You say doing so would bring population under control. How do you know that? So far, producing enough food for everyone has certainly not brought population under control. When was it under control in the past? What were energy consumption levels like then? Can we “progress toward sustainability” with 10 billion people (assuming that was the plateau, though UN projections have the population still growing, though much more slowly, by the end of the century)? How would 10 billion live sustainably?
I don’t believe we have squandered our good options. We can always choose to live our lives differently. That may not do anything on an individual scale but if whole societies wake up to our predicament, there would be much more scope for effective action (not to “solve” climate change, I don’t think even nuclear will do that, but to reduce and limit its impact). Even though I also don’t believe whole societies (of significant size) will choose to live differently, I also don’t believe that whole societies will adopt the “least bad” options purely to reduce the impact of climate change in the short term.
Now I have one more fundamental question about our situation…. at the current rate of warming, understanding that it could accelerate or slow down, how long would it take us to reach 3 Celsius above pre industrial levels? I know we’re nearing the 2C mark and that’s bad but are we likely to see 3C before mid century?
It should be obvious why even some non-deniers would be uncomfortable with Spratt’s excellent paper. He’s essentially saying we are already in a dangerous region, and one can only conclude that we have run out of carbon budget. That’s my conclusion, if it has not been evident already. If in fact we are out of carbon budget, then ANY carbon we expend only compounds the danger. The objective in any remedial action therefore has to be twofold: demand reduction first and foremost, and strong carbon removal from the atmosphere as well. This does not sit well with advocates of alternative technologies like nuclear and renewables, who might argue that only modest demand reductions need accompany rapid introduction of their alternative technologies. If one couples Anderson’s reduction requirements to Hansen’s targets for temperature ceiling, the only conclusion that can be drawn is what I have stated above and what Spratt states in his outstanding article.
Since you have rightly asked people to define what they mean by ‘catastrophe’ when they use it, I will ask you to define ‘we’ when you use it. Other than accelerate use of off-the-shelf technologies to enhance energy efficiency, I see no consensus agreement that ‘we already know what we need to do’. Greisch et al believe we need to accelerate nuclear installation. You et al believe we need to accelerate renewables installation. Wili, Anderson et al believe we need to accelerate strong demand reduction. Hansen believes we need to accelerate strong reforestation. And we can find advocates for strong carbon capture , geoengineering, etc.
That’s the problem I raised initially. We do not have a clear, simple, and unified message that we can present to the larger global community, and until we can come up with such a message, we cannot expect a massive shift in the required direction. We, the climate advocates, are our own worst enemy!
Mark E @#303: The loss of phytoplankton would indeed affect levels of O2 in the atmosphere. But since there is a lot of oxygen in the atmosphere already, it would take a good while for the levels to drop to dangerous levels–on the order of thousands of years, iirc.
The “energy needs” must be sufficient to realize the gains on which UN assumptions of reduced population growth are predicated. We have already failed to make sufficient progress for the population curve to follow the low end of UN predictions–population cresting at 9 billion in 2050. We could still meet the mid level of 10 billion by 2080. If we don’t meet this scenario, the situation will be grim indeed.
However, even if we do manage to stabilize population, that is only the beginning of our difficulties. Somehow we have to keep economic growth sufficiently high that a reduced and decreasing working population can support their aging parents and grandparents. The only way I can see this happening is an acceleration of technological advance coupled with medical advances that allow older adults to work longer.
Now it is true that if we don’t manage this, nature will take over the task. However, nature doesn’t usually handle population die backs in a very orderly fashion, and we’d be unlikely to emerge on the other side with something resembling a global, technologically advanced society.
Ray at 329 wrote: “we have to keep economic growth sufficiently high”
Economic growth has to be strongly negative for a long time if we are going to have any chance at a livable planet. Employment can remain high in a managed downturn–reduced work-weeks, federal work projects…
But, just as you point out about ‘natural’ die backs, un-managed economic contraction can be very ugly indeed.
Tony Weddle wrote: “Mark Jacobson only seems to have two publications that have renewables as their subject”
Jacobson does indeed have more than two publications on the subject of renewable energy, and has authored or co-authored several papers or articles which address precisely the issues you are asking about, with regard to powering the world with 100 percent renewable energy. Here are some additional links:
Jacobson is also a participant in The Solutions Project which is an effort to develop detailed plans for each state in the USA, which “provide comprehensive data modeling for each State proving the viability of an 80% renewable energy target by 2030 and virtually 100% by 2050″.
The plan for New York was published in the journal Energy Policy in March 2013 and is available for download as a 17-page PDF.
Jacobson also appeared on David Letterman’s TV show in October to discuss proposals for a 100 percent renewable energy economy, and the video of their conversation is available on YouTube.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jan 2014 @ 11:36 AM
wili wrote: “And The Onion again nails it: ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reverse The Alarming Trend Of Climate Change,’ Scientists Who Know It’s Too Late Announce’ …”
Too late for WHAT?
Again, this is like using the word “catastrophe” without explaining what you mean by it.
Without that explanation, expressions like “TOO LATE!” and “CATASTROPHE!” are just noise.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jan 2014 @ 11:40 AM
Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 13 Jan 2014 @ 6:08 AM
Your statement – “This does not sit well with advocates of alternative technologies like nuclear and renewables, who might argue that only modest demand reductions need accompany rapid introduction of their alternative technologies” – is a straw man argument.
But, cynically, “devil take the hindmost” is more likely to be the policy outcome. Whether that’s the hindmost one third, or the hindmost 99 percent, I dunno.
Wasn’t there some report about the Bush family buying a large remote isolated chunk of a South American country, sited over an untapped aquifer, and installing a Space-Shuttle grade airstrip, a while back? Or was that just paranoia?
“should we aspire to feed 10 billion people?” – Tony Weddle
I take it you’re volunteering yourself and your family (if you have one) to be among those who don’t get fed if we don’t so aspire and population reaches 10 billion.
Actually, a peak of 9 billion around 2050 is by no means out of the question. The demographer Danny Dorling, in “Population 10 Billion” argues that current UNDP estimates are too pessimistic; specifically, that the slowdown in the rate at which the population growth rate has declined, which we’ve seen in the last decade, reflects an earlier “baby boom” in the 1980s.
Here’s the view of Maslin and Austin, in a Nature editorial of June 2012.
“Dan Rowlands of the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues have run one complex model through thousands of simulations, rather than the handful of runs that can usually be managed with available computing time. Although their average results matched well with IPCC projections, more extreme results, including warming of up to 4°C by 2050, seemed just as likely.”
It may be that the UNDP estimates are pessimistic, but we are nowhere near meeting any of the trajectories. Population is still not under control. Moreover, it is better to plan for a reasonable worst case.
Judging from that and what I’ve been able to find online it looks like we’re going to easily hit 3C at or before mid century.
Somehow all this scientific information will have to be turned into some sort of political action committee. Maybe that’s what 350.org is but you need some sort of cute name to throw off the dogs. It seems like Super PAC’s are the way to go if you want to help fund political campaigns for politicians who will vote to cut CO2 and other emissions and fund renewable energy. Unless we can get some major political activism happening really soon I don’t see a way out of this mess. Surely there’s a way to get it done since we have folks like Al Gore and Bill Clinton and John Kerry already. How about recruiting some Hollywood celebrities like Robert Redford, George Clooney and Leonardo DeCaprio? I think if you could get some big money and a couple of film makers involved things might get rolling. Here’s an example:
Just a thought of course. I’m sure somebody has already tried this and I’m sure there are plenty of obstacles standing in the way but since it seems to be a desperate situation, why not give it a try? Change is going to come from the younger generations anyway because they stand to lose everything if we don’t act. Therefore I would concentrate on the 20′s and 30′s demographic and forget the old farts. Again, just my 2 cents worth. Thanks
“… we diagnose blocking using three unique blocking identification
methods from the literature, each applied to four different reanalyses. No clear hemispheric increase in blocking is found for any blocking index, and while seasonal increases and decreases are found for specific isolated regions and time periods, there is no instance where all three methods agree on a significant trend. Blocking is shown to exhibit large interannual and decadal variability, highlighting the difficulty in separating any potentially forced response from natural variability.”
High levels of molecular chlorine in the Arctic atmosphere
Chlorine radicals can function as a strong atmospheric oxidant1, 2, 3, particularly in polar regions, where levels of hydroxyl radicals are low. In the atmosphere, chlorine radicals expedite the degradation of methane4, 5, 6 and tropospheric ozone4, 7, and the oxidation of mercury to more toxic forms3. Here we present direct measurements of molecular chlorine levels in the Arctic marine boundary layer in Barrow, Alaska, collected in the spring of 2009 over a six-week period using chemical ionization mass spectrometry. We report high levels of molecular chlorine, of up to 400 pptv.
Concentrations peaked in the early morning and late afternoon, and fell to near-zero levels at night. Average daytime molecular chlorine levels were correlated with ozone concentrations, suggesting that sunlight and ozone are required for molecular chlorine formation. Using a time-dependent box model, we estimate that the chlorine radicals produced from the photolysis of molecular chlorine oxidized more methane than hydroxyl radicals, on average, and enhanced the abundance of short-lived peroxy radicals. Elevated hydroperoxyl radical levels, in turn, promoted the formation of hypobromous acid, which catalyses mercury oxidation and the breakdown of tropospheric ozone.
We therefore suggest that molecular chlorine exerts a significant effect on the atmospheric chemistry of the Arctic. doi:10.1038/ngeo2046
Thanks for the links to Jacobsen’s work. It will take a while to go through but I note that the two part paper about powering the world with renewables doesn’t include a section on environmental impacts, which I thought you wrote he’d researched. He also seems to be overoptimistic on the availability of materials, even admitting that some of the research on which he bases that optimism is limited or non-existent. But I haven’t read the papers fully yet, so I’ll reserve my opinion on that.
What? I’m not about to make the decision on who gets to eat and who doesn’t. But to paraphrase the late Professor Albert Bartlett, in his lectures about the exponential function, everything humans do seems to exacerbate the problem (of population growth) so I guess we’ll leave it to nature to sort it out.
As wili mentioned, we need economic contraction, not growth. It’s a tall order keeping economic growth going not only until (and if) population plateaus but, presumably, for some time after that unless life expectancies drop quickly to start righting the balance between young and old. I think scarcity of critical resources could well kick in well before population plateaus, making hoped for economic growth impossible, even if the energy for such growth could be delivered.
So I can twist my head into thinking of quality of life development in an otherwise steady-state as being a form of indefinite growth. But it’s not your father’s growth. It’s not growing GDP, growing energy use, interest on bank accounts, loans, fractional reserve money, investment. It’s a whole different ballgame, folks. Of that, I am convinced. Big changes await us. An unrecognizable economy. The main lesson for me is that growth is not a “good quantum number,” as physicists will say: it’s not an invariant of our world. Cling to it at your own peril.
Tony Weddle: : As wili mentioned, we need economic contraction, not growth.” Nope. Growth is the only way we can get our little asses out of this meat grinder we find ourselves in. What we need are massive increases in energy efficiency, technological advancement and reduced wasteful consumption, especially where consumption is highest. All economic contraction does is keep poor people poor, and poor people have lots of children.
Siimon Abingdon: What, pray tell, is funny about the deaths of 6 billion people? Your failure of inagination and comprehension do not constitute evidence against the possibility of population collapse.
“But to paraphrase the late Professor Albert Bartlett, in his lectures about the exponential function, everything humans do seems to exacerbate the problem (of population growth) so I guess we’ll leave it to nature to sort it out.” – Tony Weddle@349
If you are reporting him correctly (and from a quick google, you do appear to be), then Professor Albert Bartlett (whom I note was a physicist by trade) was an ignoramus with regard to demography. We know a number of things that reliably reduce birthrates: availability of contraception and abortion, better medical care, urbanization, economic development, and above all, improvement in the status and education of women. The growth in human population has not been exponential or anything like it (“exponential” means that the proportional rate of growth – or shrinkage – is constant). The rate of global population peaked in the early 1960s at around 2.2% per annum; before then, it had been increasing for centuries, so population growth had been super-exponential; since then it has fallen continuously, and is now around 1.1%, so growth has been sub-exponential – and at some points, slightly sub-linear. Total births per annum peaked in the late 1980s at 138 million, and in 2011 the figure was 134 million. There are very few countries where the growth rate is not falling, and an increasing number where the birth rate is below long-term replacement level. These facts are not difficult to come by – I got most of them from the wikipedia article on “World population”, but there are many other sources. Is it too much to ask that people who bleat about the impossibility of ending population growth without mass starvation actually aquaint themselves with the facts?
“Judging from that and what I’ve been able to find online it looks like we’re going to easily hit 3C at or before mid century.”
Whatever the specific number turns out to be, every projection I’ve seen of life in 2050 under BAU is horrific. This includes drought, arable land/food availability, storms, ocean life, etc. Look, we are trapping net solar energy due to greenhouse gases, and that energy has to go somewhere. It goes mainly into the oceans, but some small part goes into the atmosphere, some into land/vegetation, and some small part into processes like melting ice, and these ‘sinks’ also interact with each other. If one year the amount into the atmosphere is reduced from the previous year, this means one or all of the other ‘sinks’ will be increased by that amount. So, even if the fictitious atmospheric temperature hiatus had existed, that would be no cause for comfort. Substantive cumulative energy input to any of the four ‘sinks’ will eventually lead to catastrophic effects, and substantive cumulative energy input to all four ‘sinks’ will lead to …..! Irrespective of specific numbers from the models, we have to start reducing the energy trapped ASAP; that means not adding any more CO2 (or other) blankets to the atmosphere, and eliminating those blankets that exist presently.
My problem is that BAU appears to be the default option from today’s perspective, and I view it to be the most probably case from now to ….! I see no precursors that would indicate potential movement away from BAU. Are their any new governments that have taken office as a result of a strong stand against BAU? Look no further than Australia, Canada, and, yes, the USA for the answer to that question. Are there strong steps being taken to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; if so, show me one? Are there strong steps being taken to add taxes to fossil fuels to account for environmental damage clean-up; if so, show me one, especially in the major fossil exporting countries? Are there strong steps being taken to reduce the impact of fossil fuel money on politics; just the opposite! Pick any precursor you like; where is there any indication of movement away from BAU?
As the economic system takes over more and more of the ecology, it will eventually stabilize — Stein’s Law — but how?
A stable population requires a stable economy. I can only speculate that controlling economic parasites, however defined, would be required. If you haven’t read John Brunner, you should consider his computer’s projection that the greediest ten percent of the human population could eliminate ourselves by overreaching and collapsing, soon enough to spare the rest of the planet.
Or, perhaps, we could get smarter, and emulate Salmonella and control our own overgrowth?
Diogenes wrote: “I see no precursors that would indicate potential movement away from BAU.”
Well, with all due respect, you can’t be looking very hard.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jan 2014 @ 11:01 AM
Regarding population growth:
1. We already know of multiple approaches that effectively and humanely reduce population growth rates, which are easy and inexpensive to implement, and which have beneficial “side effects”. These include educating and socially empowering women and girls, and meeting the HUGE unmet worldwide demand for family planning and birth control services.
2. Nonetheless, there is no way that humanely reducing population growth, or even humanely reducing the total population, is going to end the growth in GHG emissions and begin rapid emission reductions within five years, leading to near zero emissions within 20 years, with most of the reductions occuring up front, which is what we need to do to have any hope of avoiding the worst outcomes of AGW.
3. We can, however, achieve that urgent, short-term goalwith “technical fixes” (e.g. replacing all fossil fuel use with zero-emission energy sources) — which will buy time to address population growth and other longer-term problems.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jan 2014 @ 11:11 AM
Last October The Sydney Morning Herald announced it would not publish letters from climate change deniers that misrepresented the facts. So naturally I was shocked to see an opinion piece from right-wing think tank operative John McLean published on both the SMH and The Age websites earlier this month. Not only was the piece misinformed, but McLean was falsely presented as an expert on climate science.
It’s a veritable coup for the climate denial noise machine.
Two titans of the sustainability movement (for lack of a better word) have gone head to head over how to proceed from here (or at least about how to think about the process). Holmgren is the top permaculture guru and Hopkins the father of the Transition Towns movement.
One really has to read through each position to understand where they are coming from, but briefly:
Holmgren sees the only hope of having anything like a livable planet left after industrialization is to intentionally crash the planetary financial economy. He thinks the global financial system is now fragile enough that a relatively small part of the middle class could bring about it collapse by basically opting out–disengaging from most of the financial economy.
The latter is a good thing to do for all sorts of reasons anyway, and it is these positive reasons that Hopkins would like to emphasize rather than promoting local resilience and permaculture (which now have mostly positive associations, to the extent they have even been heard of in the larger culture) as a means of collapse. Hopkins thinks there are still positive things to get out of the system, and the goal should be to extend the influence of the nascent local organizations up into the city and state levels, in hopes that these in turn can put pressure on national and international levels of governance to do the right thing. He also emphasizes the importance of employing the Buddhist dictum of “skillful means.”
The whole discussion brings up many issues battered about around here and on other fora, but here we have major leaders of these alternative movements expressing them openly.
One of the main things driving these debates is the ever-worsening prospects for addressing climate change. Unfortunately, the major participants occasionally reveal great misunderstanding about the latest science. So I would encourage folks (who are up to such things) to help go and clarify the science with responses on the linked sites.
Getting further into the specifics of the proposals in the threads on RC would probably get too far away from the mostly-science focus of the site. I did think it was important for people to know, though, what kinds of things are being discussed on these other sites, since a primary concern of all involved (except perhaps Foss) is climate change.
BAU as of what year? Remember, part of business as usual is consistent exaggeration. That’s how business gets driven and investors get captured, by exaggerating what’s going to happen. Selling the sizzle not the steak, as they say. The illusion is part of the process.
needed either the reality or the illusion that finance could, as John Maynard Keynes put it, “defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelop our future.”
Both you and Tony Weddle are correct, and that is part of the dilemma we face. We need population reduction to reduce the total demand on energy (and other resources), and that will increase the pressure on the limited number of young people who have to support a larger fraction of an aging population. I think the present trend toward eliminating industry pensions and in reducing local government pensions as part of bankruptcy settlements reflects this problem. The ratio of Social Security beneficiaries to contributors has increased by over an order of magnitude since the program’s inception, when people didn’t live long enough to collect all that much.
We also need economic contraction to reduce the activities that require fossil fuel, at least at present. There is a whole host of other conflicting requirements.
Climate change is a problem whose scope and challenges are far beyond what we have ever faced as a global community, and we are unequipped to respond appropriately. All the major issues of the past: – wars, space program, major construction projects – required doing something, usually putting your foot on the accelerator to mobilize people and get the job done. Climate change resolution may involve taking your foot off the accelerator and stepping on the brakes, at least in part. That’s not how we traditionally address these large scale challenges; doing less; what kind of solution is that? But, on the economic growth issue, I agree with Tony, Wili, and Anderson: we need some hefty cuts. Take your foot off the accelerator, put on the brakes, and stop adding those CO2 blankets.
Ray, dude, where has rapid reduction in ff energy AND reduction in consumption ever corresponded with economic growth? And note that economic growth does not always help the poor–India’s economy has grown quite a bit, but its poorest citizens are by and large as poor as ever.
I guess I just want to know if you think infinite growth can happen on a finite planet? If not, when should it stop? If not now, when we are teetering on utter destruction (if we’re not already over the edge), when? I know that what you are spouting is just the standard neo-economic ‘wisdom’/ideology, but if there was ever a time to rethink assumptions, this is it. Try it sometime.
I was going to correct Tom Weedle on his over-statement that humans have never had any success with addressing population growth–look to China, Bangladesh, Mexico–all places where careful planning have greatly reduced growth rates. And of course most affluent countries have low to negative rates. But then I saw that Nick Gotts already addressed it…but _then_ I saw that Nick seems to think that a growth rate of 1.1 percent is not exponential and is nearly linear. Perhaps Nick is confusing growth rate with birth rate? A growth rate of 1%, as the rule tells us, means a doubling in 72 years, any rate that regularly doubles is of course exponential. The hope is that the world populationgrowth rate will continue (and ideally accelerate) its long-term decline. Unfortunately it jogged slightly higher last year…as with carbon emissions, going in the wrong direction. http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?v=24&c=xx&l=en
Have you been to India? Even the peasants in the poorest villages have benefited somewhat.
And to answer your question–fossil fuel reduction and decreased WASTEFUL consumption could result in economic growth if the economy were mobilized to build a new sustainable energy infrastructure–an effort akin to mobilizing for war. And what I am saying is hardly the typical liberal (in the economic sense) economic vision. What I am trying to do is see how we get from where we are now to sustainability–that means:
1)a stable and much smaller population
2)a restored demographic pyramid
3)a sustainable, renewable energy infrastructure
4)a new industrial revolution that doesn’t rely on huge capital investments requiring mass consumption to recoup costs
5)a whole helluva lot more than that.
The climate crisis is just the first in a long line of crises we must confront–yes, we must confront it, but we have to think two or three moves ahead. It will do no good for the US to develop sustainable energy if China and India burn the last lump of coal, the last drop of oil and the last twig of wood. It will do no good to develop a sustainable energy infrastructure if we don’t stabilize population. It will do no good to do all of the above if civilization collapses because there are too many old people for the working age population to feed. Getting 70% right on this is not a passing grade.
“355.Diogenes wrote: “I see no precursors that would indicate potential movement away from BAU.”
Well, with all due respect, you can’t be looking very hard.”
Well let’s look a little harder. From Andrew Freedman’s summary of the EIA International Energy Outlook, we find these tidbits.
“Global energy consumption will grow by 56 percent by 2040 with fossil fuels remaining dominant energy sources. Along with that growth will come increased carbon dioxide emissions and a continued reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas for transportation and electricity generation, according to a new report published Thursday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The International Energy Outlook, which is released every two years, shows that strong economic growth in developing countries will be the dominant force driving world energy markets during that period.”
“Importantly, though, the report projects that, despite robust growth in renewables, fossil fuels will continue to supply nearly 80 percent of world energy use through 2040.”
“As far as carbon emissions are concerned, the report estimates that global energy-related CO2 emissions will rise from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36.4 billion metric tons in 2020, and 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040 — an increase of 46 percent over 30 years. During that period, the gap between emissions coming from developed nations vs. developing nations is expected to significantly widen. In 2010, developing country emissions exceeded the emissions of industrialized countries by 38 percent. In 2040, they are projected to be in the lead by about 127 percent.”
But, you’re right, this is a precursor indicating potential movement away from BAU. Unfortunately, the movement is toward greater than BAU!!
” “Emissions reduction of 6%/year and 100 GtC storage in the biosphere and soils are needed to get CO2 back to 350 ppm, the approximate requirement for restoring the planet’s energy balance and stabilizing climate this century.”
How do you square this requirement with my recent response to SA showing an EIA global projection of CO2 emissions increasing ~46% per annum over the next thirty years?
Diogenes wrote: “I see no precursors that would indicate potential movement away from BAU.”
Well, with all due respect, you can’t be looking very hard.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jan 2014
SA – I’m looking pretty hard and I haven’t seen any significant move away from a BAU scenario. I see plenty of renewable energy coming on line and more fuel efficient cars but as for the oil and gas wells and drilling NOTHING has slowed down. We have more gas wells in Arkansas now than I’ve seen throughout Texas and Oklahoma my entire life. I also know that the oil and gas companies are licking their chops over the ice free Arctic. Politically we seem to be stuck.
Climate Change is not on everybody’s lips in the media. And nobody I personally know is talking about it at all. Other than some members of my immediate family I know of no one who thinks that Climate Change is a problem. I bought the only Chevy Volt in the county and it sat on the lot for almost three years. Nobody even wanted to test drive it. I got a hell of a deal because the car dealer couldn’t sell it.
I’m not a scientist so I don’t have the qualifications to assess the physics of the situation but I can tell you that unless “we” are able to get some serious media attention or form a PAC that is well funded, most folks are not going to see this for the emergency it is. The Heritage Foundation has the money and media advantage. I say we should use whatever influence we might have to tap into the Hollywood industry. there are plenty of intelligent/wealthy folks who would be able to lend their celebrity and maybe funding toward getting the message out. The scientific community needs some backing and PR from people who know how to wield a camera.
Again, that’s my 2 cents worth on it. Feel free to tell me why it can’t be done.
“but _then_ I saw that Nick seems to think that a growth rate of 1.1 percent is not exponential and is nearly linear. Perhaps Nick is confusing growth rate with birth rate? – wili”
No, I’m not. I stated clearly that “exponential” simply means that the rate of growth (or shrinkage) is constant; it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what that rate is at any particular point. I noted that the rate of growth has halved over the past half-century, meaning growth has not been exponential, and indeed it has been near-linear and at times sub-linear – the absolute year-on-year increase in global population has sometimes fallen. While it is true that there appears to have been a very slight uptick in the growth rate last year, in an earlier comment I noted that the demographer Danny Dorling argues that the higher-than-previously-forecast-by-the-UN growth in the past few years is a “reflection” of an earlier baby boom, and there are good reasons to expect the fall in growth rate to resume. Of course we should encourage (non-coercive) measures to promote this fall, but one of the big causal factors in bringing it about, urbanization, is going to continue whether we want it to or not, and in itself promotes some of the others, such as literacy, access to contraception, and female workforce participation.
“SA – I’m looking pretty hard and I haven’t seen any significant move away from a BAU scenario.”
The reason you haven’t seen it is that it doesn’t exist. Today’s CP has an article about how newspaper climate change coverage has plummeted, and continues to plummet. Another precursor away from BAU that doesn’t exist. The notion that any precursors away from BAU exist is a triumph of ideology over credibility.
> methane monster
> a handful of leading scientists who are very concerned
> methane spikes in the Arctic were very significant
> Barrow, Alaska … risen from an average of 1895 ppb
> during early 2012 to about 1920 ppb by early 2014, an
> increase of more than 12 parts per billion per year
> it becomes more difficult to cling to the comfort
> provided by a number of the more conservative scientists
> on the issue of methane release
> compare the Arctic Methane Monster to a massive volcano.
> One that continues to rumble even as it releases ever
> greater volumes of its climatologically volatile and
> heat-contributing gasses. As anyone living in the neighborhood
> of a volcano can attest, it’s generally not a good idea to ignore
And what should we do about all this?
Promptly invest money and time to depressurize the strata, pipe and sell the methane on an emergency rush basis
Stop investing in more new fossil fuel development and distribution
Gee, what to do, what to do.
I thin I hear a cash register somewhere, ringing ….
From prok’s link at 367 (http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/beneath-the-cracking-melting-ice-the-arctic-methane-monster-continues-its-ominous-rumbles/):
“Given the evidence showing an amplifying methane signal coming from the Arctic, a signal that becomes louder with each passing year, it becomes more difficult to cling to the comfort provided by a number of the more conservative scientists on the issue of methane release (hydrates, compost bomb or other). Though we have not yet seen major releases large enough to push global methane levels higher by 50, 100 or more parts per billion per year (as we would see during an exceptionally catastrophic event), what we have seen is a growing Arctic release that remains a serious cause for concern.
In such an instance, we might be wise to compare the Arctic Methane Monster to a massive volcano. One that continues to rumble even as it releases ever greater volumes of its climatologically volatile and heat-contributing gasses. As anyone living in the neighborhood of a volcano can attest, it’s generally not a good idea to ignore such things. In this case, the monstrous volcano is so large as to make all the Earth its neighborhood. So we should all be paying attention.”
I hope we can all agree, at least, that this area is worth much more careful and thorough study.
Nick (at 368), yes, the rate of growth is on a long-term trend toward zero. But it is not dropping anywhere near fast enough, and last year’s numbers suggest that the drop in rate of growth may have stalled.
Diogenes (at 365), yes, what our top climatologist are saying we absolutely must do right now is the polar opposite of what our industrial society seems to be hell bent on doing–toasting the planet.
Ray (at 363), a good friend of mine is an economist from India who is greatly disappointed that economic growth has done so very little for the neediest in that country. This is a widespread concern–as anyone can see with a simple ‘oogle search–first recent hit:
“there is one shocking statistic India’s economic miracle has not been able to improve: the number of children that are severely malnourished.”
But basically your answer is a tacit admission that you cannot answer the main question posed, which, again, is: “where has rapid reduction in ff energy AND reduction in consumption ever corresponded with economic growth?”
And are you saying that ‘wasteful’ consumption is going to go down at the same time that general consumption increases? Who decides which consumption is ‘wasteful’? And exactly how much more of the world should we consume?
Addendum to my #368:
“Female economic independence” would be much better than “female workforce participation”: rural women most certainly work, but generally have little or no income of their own.
Have you been to India? Even the peasants in the poorest villages have benefited somewhat.” – Ray Ladbury
Yes, and I’d say more than a little. Despite the fact that India has on the whole done less well by its poor than China, life expectancy has increased from a little over 40 to around 65 in the last half-century. See here: http://internationalmchjournal.org/?p=1111.
Again, I note the apparent imperviousness to simple facts displayed by many when it comes to what’s changed for the better in poorer countries over the past half century.
Chuck Hughes wrote: “I haven’t seen any significant move away from a BAU scenario”
What Diogenes wrote was that he could “see no precursors that would indicate potential movement away from BAU.”
“Precursors to potential movement” are quite a different matter than “significant moves”.
In fact, the extremely rapid scaling up of renewable energy that is already happening now IS, in my view, a very significant move away from a business-as-usual scenario. Without it, the world would be emitting significantly more greenhouse gases than we are.
And as a “precursor to potential movement”, it provides evidence that we have at hand the technological and economic means to eliminate all GHG emissions from electricity generation in a much shorter time than most people realize.
The fossil fuel interests clearly understand this. That’s why they are fighting tooth and nail against any and all public policies that promote the rapid deployment of wind and solar — particularly distributed photovoltaics whose ongoing growth is truly explosive, and threatens the entire business model of utilities that distribute power from large centralized power plants.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Jan 2014 @ 11:12 AM
Re- Comment by Nick Gotts — 15 Jan 2014 @ 7:40 AM
A 1% growth rate results in a doubling in 70 years. Population is currently at 7 billion, so with a 1% yearly increase there would be 14 billion around 2084. Because this is compounded “interest” the next 70 years would yield 28 billion. We need 0% increase or less.
There are four interesting climate change numbers that need to be addressed in an integrated manner. First, we have Hansen’s prior-Holocene-based target temperature ceiling increase of ~1 C. Second, we have Anderson’s agreement with Hansen’s target, further stating that many climate scientists agree. Additionally, we have Anderson’s computations showing that ~10% CO2 emissions reduction per annum is required for years to stay within a (dangerous) 2 C ceiling target. Third, we have the EIA stating that “global energy-related CO2 emissions will rise from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36.4 billion metric tons in 2020, and 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040 — an increase of 46 percent over 30 years.”
Finally, we have estimates of what would happen if all CO2 emissions were to cease soon. Hare and Meinshausen, 2006, predicted that cessation of CO2 emissions would result in a further temperature increase of 0.4 C, raising the total temperature increase to ~1.2 C in a decade or two. MacDougall et al, Journal of Climate, Dec 2013, stated:
“In a scenario of zeroed CO2 and sulfate aerosol emissions, whether the warming induced by specified constant concentrations of non-CO2 greenhouse gases could slow the CO2 decline following zero emissions or even reverse this trend and cause CO2 to increase over time is assessed. It is found that a radiative forcing from non-CO2 gases of approximately 0.6 W m(-2) results in a near balance of CO2 emissions from the terrestrial biosphere and uptake of CO2 by the oceans, resulting in near-constant atmospheric CO2 concentrations for at least a century after emissions are eliminated.” In “Climate response to zeroed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols”, Matthews and Zickfeld (2012) concluded:
‘Eliminating all emissions led to a peak followed by decline in non-CO2 forcing, which drove a global warming of 0.3 °C over a decade, followed by a gradual cooling that converged with the CO2-only result after about a century’.
So, we need no more than a temperature increase of ~1.1 C to (hopefully) stay out of the real danger zone. If we reduce emissions by ~10% annually for decades, resulting in essentially zero emissions by well before 2040, we should be able to stay within (dangerous) 2 C. If we reduce emissions by 100%, according to the above, we get to the upper limit of what Hansen views as ‘safe’. If, however, we GROW emissions by ~1% per annum, as the most likely scenario from EIA predicts, and the CO2 emissions in 2040 are over 40% greater than those of 2010, then we would probably be in serious, in fact extremely serious, trouble. How do we reconcile the emissions we need by 2040 (~0) with those projected from BAU? I cannot think of another endeavor where we are two orders of magnitude away from an extremely critical target, and there are NO precursors showing ANY movement to close the gap!
If this business strategy, advocated and partially invented by Jigar Shah, continues to expand exponentially, it would provide a large number of local jobs for skilled and unskilled labor (your point 2), create a sustainable and renewable infrastructure (point 3), and can be done with off the shelf components on a piecemeal basis (point 4).
It amuses me to think that concerns about poor public education, fossil fuel investors and their whores, Tea Party culture wars, and politicians for hire, might be misguided if the best answer is to outcompete carbon emitters with a good renewable energy business model. I would like to see how the Ayn Rand hugger stink tanks would dance in order to deal with successful business competition.
> companies that install rooftop solar systems at little or
> no cost and then sell the electricity
A neighbor who’s very good at thinking this stuff through just went with SolarCity, saying he wanted to see the very simplest, easiest to understand approach at work.
He has a nice sturdy new house, though.
Our old house would need significant strengthening of the roof to take current solar panels, and so far each of the solar companies I’ve talked to did their numbers and we don’t use enough electricity and gas combined to make doing the installation cost effective, given the structural work needed. But the panels get lighter and cheaper, time will come when thin film PV can go on the existing roof structure.
My hunch is the companies are really capturing solar real estate — and they may find it profitable to upgrade panels several times during the time they have rights to the roof — each time increasing the amount of surplus power they get to resell, above what goes to the homeowner.
People look at the present, see the seemingly iron-clad CONstraints that have prevented a breakthrough and confidently proclaim the problem impossible…until it suddenly gives way and we’re in a new normal.
I see the point that there are those who claim, game over without playing and those that claim it will fix itself and or blame cows or deny green house gas, except all of those are contradictory arguments by the same people who forget to use their other accounts to argue with themselves.
Just an observation.
How fast we are able to move away from a BAU scenario is meaningless if we can’t move fast enough. Time is of the essence. We still have 7 billion + people on the planet consuming everything in sight. CO2 emissions are still on the rise and have accelerated. All the great solutions to the problems don’t matter much if we hit the wall of reality.
I have a feeling that there are some wealthy influential people listening to this conversation who would be more than willing to help us get the message out and put it front and center. We’re not tapping into all available resources here. There are high profile people who have backed the Clinton’s and President Obama in their political campaigns. Those same people would be willing to help if they knew what to do. You get an Oprah Winfrey or somebody of that stature to mobilize their peeps and you’ll have success.
“The Day After Tomorrow” was pretty much a Si Fi movie but it got a lot of attention. The only problem is it wasn’t realistic. We have some high profile scientists like Gavin and James Hansen and many others who are regular guests on TV. They could at the very least talk to a few people about getting something started. The younger generation would embrace it and that’s where the real change is going to come from. Utilize all available resources in the media and modify the message into something average folks can understand and grasp. Talking amongst ourselves will get us nowhere. We have to play the media game and appeal to those with the most power. I posted a Leonardo DeCaprio video about Climate Change earlier. He would jump on this in a New York minute if a few high profile scientist were to hit him up and provide him with the necessary information.
It may sound stupid and far fetched but it beats setting around waiting for the worst to happen. Getting anything done will require a massive media blitz backed with credible proof, demonstrated in such a way that the average Joe can understand it. Somebody out there has the contacts to get this started.
This is my vote for one of the most interesting papers of the year:
A. Abe-Ouchi, F. Saito, K. Kawamura, M. E. Raymo, J. Okuno, K. Takahashi, and H. Blatter, “Insolation-driven 100,000-year glacial cycles and hysteresis of ice-sheet volume” Nature, Vol 500, August 8, 2013, p. 190.
Modeling produces a time plot of ice volume changes over the last 400,000 years that is a close approximation of the usual temperature or [CO2] plots over that period. An especially interesting feature of the modeling results is that if [CO2] is kept constant at 220 ppm across the entire time period, the model still produces the 100 ka ice age cycle with nearly the same curve shape. If [CO2] is kept constant 260 ppm, the ice ages completely disappear. If [CO2] is kept constant at 160 ppm, the ice age frequency is much higher and interglacials are much colder.
These results indicate that [CO2] is critical to gross climate behavior, but that whether [CO2] precedes or lags temperature is not particularly important in ice age-interglacial periodicity and intensity. It also suggests that at 400 ppm of [CO2] descent into another ice age will not be possible.
The strange thing is that I have seen nothing about this paper in blog space. Is this already all well-known?
For those who think population will take care of itself, I hope you’re right. I hope your dreams eventuate. There is no guarantee, no guarantee whatsoever, that economic growth will continue to take care of the problem or that any plateau is sustainable. Indeed, although the rate of growth has fallen, it hasn’t fallen continuously, as Nick Gotts states; between 2004 and 2008, it was stable or growing, with the 2008 rate greater than 2003. Since then, it resumed it’s downward course but actually grew from 2011 to 2013. So there are no guarantees it will level out, though climate change may force a reduction in population before too long. Albert Bartlett was not an ignoramous but, yes, a reducing rate of growth will lengthen the doubling time though, as wili pointed out, there is still a doubling time if the rate is positive (a halving time if it’s negative).
For those hoping that economic growth can continue a lot longer (on a finite planet, it has to end, no matter where you get your energy from), and can lift all boats, check out a special edition of New Scientist which pretty much buries that myth.
In case it has escaped anyone’s attention, climate change is looking increasingly dangerous, and pretty much certain to reach catastrophic levels. We don’t have the luxury of hoping that we can just switch energy sources and continue economic growth and happy-go-lucky lifestyles, with more aspiring to so-called developed status. Some reality focus is needed.
It is not that such temperature data (or other climate data) “are [that] damned hard to find.” It is rather the presentation of the raw data in its various forms is not seen as having a large audience. The vast majority do not want raw data but rather graphical representations. And with sites beginning to offer ‘interactive’ functionality, the raw data becomes even less necessary for most of that audience.
As somebody who attempts to provide up-to-date climate data (using old-fashioned static graphs), I am very conscious of the difficulty of presenting a fair and proper representation. Part and parcel of such propriety is a link to the data sources I use. It appears that WoodForTrees is of a similar mind.
And relying on Google alone to provide your climate data sources is perhaps asking too much.
A new paper submitted to the Cryosphere Discussion (Eisenman, I., Meier, W. N., and Norris, J. R.: A spurious jump in the satellite record: is Antarctic sea ice really expanding?, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 273-288, doi:10.5194/tcd-8-273-2014, 2014) suggests that much, if not most, of the upward trend in southern hemisphere sea ice may be due to a spurious jump caused by an undocumented change to how the data are processed. It also explains the dramatic difference in the state of affairs between what was reported in AR4 and what was in AR5 just a few years later. URL
“In fact, the extremely rapid scaling up of renewable energy that is already happening now IS, in my view, a very significant move away from a business-as-usual scenario. Without it, the world would be emitting significantly more greenhouse gases than we are.”
We need to define BAU. I define BAU with respect to CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentration. The BAU emissions component means that we continue to have present or increasing emissions levels for the foreseeable future; essentially, the EIA projections. Any precursor of potential movement would need to offer the promise of potentially rapid decreases in emissions. While renewables certainly have the capability of offering decreases in emissions (although from Anderson’s perspective not with sufficient rapidity in the short-time scales of the near-term, where they are required), I don’t see them as a precursor yet. Their introduction has come mainly as a result of traditional market forces. To get the steep declines in emissions we need, there have to be extra-ordinary efforts made as well.
In #353, I identified a few of these possible extra-ordinary efforts that would signify early-stage precursors:
“Are there any new governments that have taken office as a result of a strong stand against BAU? Look no further than Australia, Canada, and, yes, the USA for the answer to that question. Are there strong steps being taken to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; if so, show me one? Are there strong steps being taken to add taxes to fossil fuels to account for environmental damage clean-up; if so, show me one, especially in the major fossil exporting countries? Are there strong steps being taken to reduce the impact of fossil fuel money on politics; just the opposite!”
I see none of them operating. Without these extra-ordinary efforts, renewables will continue their growth, but, as in the past, mainly substituting for growth of fossil. While this is certainly welcome, renewables need to displace existing fossil, and do it at unprecedented levels. Without these extra-ordinary efforts that could serve as precursors, I don’t see that happening.
A few more non-precursors of potential movement away from BAU, from this morning’s CP:
“Department of Energy. Funding for government research into renewable energy and efficiency gets a 4.8 percent boost in the omnibus budget, from $1.95 billion in 2013 to $2.05 billion in 2014. That level is unfortunately lower than what was requested by the White House and proposed by the Senate, but it’s also much higher than the $983 million the House GOP wanted to go with. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) — an advanced green energy research project originally funded by the 2009 stimulus — also gets a 5.6 percent increase to $280 million in 2014. Again, that’s lower than the $379 million the White House and Senate wanted, but way above the $90 million the House GOP wanted. On the downside, RESEARCH INTO FOSSIL FUEL DEVELOPMENT ALSO GETS MORE THAN THE WHITE HOUSE, THE SENATE, OR THE HOUSE GOP WANTED: $562 MILLION, 5.2 PERCENT UP FROM 2013. AND PRESIDENT OBAMA’S REQUEST FOR $200 MILLION TO SUPPORT A “RACE TO THE TOP” ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM IS SCRAPPED ENTIRELY.”
“Along with department and agency funding, the 2014 omnibus budget also includes a few riders with more specific consequences for certain policies and programs.
Weakened limits on investment in overseas coal projects. Earlier in 2013, the Obama administration released new guidelines curtailing when the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) could invest in coal power in foreign countries. A provision added to the omnibus bill by the House GOP PREVENTS ENFORCEMENT OF THE GUIDELINES IN 2014….”
I am aware that a 1% growth rate leads to a doubling in about 70 years. I have nowhere said, or implied, either that population growth is zero, or that it does not need to be halted.
Why might I? Having followed the link kindly provided by wili@386 (if you recommend a piece, it’s useful to be rather more explicit about where it is to be read) it doesn’t tell me much I didn’t know: I’m well aware of the gross inequalities in India. Maybe you think an improvement in life expectancy from just over 40 to around 65 is of little or no benefit, but I doubt whether those living an extra couple of decades would agree.
Yes, my “continuously” was inaccurate – thank you for pointing that out. But as far as I know, no-one has said or implied that population growth will take care of itself. I certainly haven’t. In my #368 I explicitly said:
“Of course we should encourage (non-coercive) measures to promote this fall”
I also alluded to a possible explanation for the (very small) recent increases in the growth rate.
Prok, thanks for pointing out the important article at #389, “Australian heatwave shows man-made climate change, scientists say.”
But your link doesn’t actually go directly to that article (for me, at least), and the FT site it does go to does not make more than the first few lines of the article available; the rest of behind a paywall. The LowCarbonFacts site allows you to see at least a bit more of the piece:
“An interim report published on Thursday by the Climate Council, a non governmental group staffed by Australian scientists, found heatwaves in the country are becoming more frequent, lasting longer and the hottest days are becoming even hotter. It blames increased greenhouse gas emissions for the intensity of the heatwaves.”
This is a perfect example of a non-solution being discussed seriously because it has the appearance of a solution rather than the substance. Neglecting compounding effects, this is basically an emissions reduction of ~2.5% per year. It is well below even Anderson’s requirement of 10% per year globally, and even further below what the Annex 1 nations (advanced nations) would have to contribute to the global 10% for equity. It is far far below what would be required to achieve Hansen’s targets.
Is it better than what we are doing now? Of course; almost anything is better than what we are doing now! Will it prevent catastrophe, even if agreement could be obtained? Probably not; it would put us on the road to well over 2 C, and there, all bets are off!
The sort of economic growth dealt with in the New Scientist issue is unsustainable. There is no dispute there. I do not think it is the only sort of economic growth possible. Growth based on technological advances ought to be sustainable, and, indeed, it could even wind up decreasing resource consumption.
It is all well and good to proclaim “Growth has to stop.” How would you propose to stop it? How would you propose to African villagers that they cut back on what is already a near starvation diet? How do you propose to convince mothers to have fewer children without bringing down infant mortality rates and educating those mothers? And indeed, how do you keep a coal miner from digging coal if you don’t offer him an alternative way of supporting his family.
We have to think beyond zero-sum games. People will make sacrifices–but you have to promise them something worth the sacrifice on the other side.
Another article questioning the workability of attaining Anderson’s and Hanson’s proposed levels of transmission cuts without abandoning limitless economic growth _and_ capitalism: “Beyond Growth or Beyond Capitalism?” by Richard Smith
Steve Fish wrote: “… if the best answer is to outcompete carbon emitters with a good renewable energy business model. I would like to see how the Ayn Rand hugger stink tanks would dance in order to deal with successful business competition.”
It is already happening. Electricity from wind and solar is already cheaper in many places than grid power — even without subsidies.
Once again, I just wish that those who opine here so heartily and frequently about what renewable energy “can’t do”, would look at the real renewable energy industries in the real world, where they are ALREADY DOING IT.
Reading some of these comments, I can only come to the conclusion that it is impossible for any of us to be using personal computers or smart phones or Wi-Fi or the Internet, since at one time there were no such technologies, therefore we must all still be using dumb-terminals, dial-up modems and copper phone lines to connect to time-share accounts on a mainframe.
And of course, the reaction of the Koch-funded pseudo-libertarian “think tanks” to the free-market success of renewable energy is to fight tooth-and-nail against tax cuts, access to public land, and streamlined regulations for the wind and solar industries, while demanding an endless stream of massive corporate welfare for the fossil fuel industry.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2014 @ 11:00 AM
#396–The Financial Times seems to have an innovative paywall that just keeps trying to coax you to subscribe. But the whole story is available (for a while, anyway) via a Google search for ‘climate change.’ The first result, currently, is the story.
Great anecdotal material, as well as the ‘crucial bit’ wili correctly highlights:
The extreme heatwave gripping southern Australia forced the suspension of matches at the Australian Open tennis tournament on Thursday, as temperatures soared to 42C in Melbourne and officials warned of escalating risks of bush fires and power outages.
Tournament organisers implemented an extreme heat policy and stopped matches played on outer courts, which do not have retractable roofs. Temperatures are forecast to reach 44C in Melbourne, putting pressure on electricity networks struggling to cope with surging demand. Government officials have warned of health risks caused by the extreme heat amid reports of an increase in cardiac arrests…
“Today, 30 minutes after the match I could not walk,” said Ivan Dodig, a Croatian tennis player on Wednesday. “I was thinking I could maybe even die here.”
The Australian heat does not prove global warming any more than the U.S. cold disproves it. These are short-term weather events. Granted, the public perception of global warming waxes and wanes with each temperature change. The temperature records go back over a century now, with many short-term rises and falls superimposed over the longer-term rise.
Fifty years ago 180,000 whales disappeared from the oceans without a trace, and researchers are still trying to make sense of why.
When doing the arithmetic on geoengineering, for example calculating the climate change from iron fertilization of the upper ocean, take into account these missing populations which could, yet, be restored.
The difference seems to lie, in part, in how warming influences evaporation in areas of the Pacific, according to Trenberth. He says the models suggest that global warming has a greater impact on temperatures in the relatively cool east, because the increase in evaporation adds water vapour to the atmosphere there and enhances atmospheric warming; this effect is weaker in the warmer western Pacific, where the air is already saturated with moisture.
Scientists may get to test their theories soon enough. At present, strong tropical trade winds are pushing ever more warm water westward towards Indonesia, fuelling storms such as November’s Typhoon Haiyan, and nudging up sea levels in the western Pacific; they are now roughly 20 centimetres higher than those in the eastern Pacific. Sooner or later, the trend will inevitably reverse. “You can’t keep piling up warm water in the western Pacific,” Trenberth says. “At some point, the water will get so high that it just sloshes back.” And when that happens, if scientists are on the right track, the missing heat will reappear and temperatures will spike once again.
Nature 505, 276–278 (16 January 2014)
This is something that took me by surprise. Perhaps SA can put it in some perspective for us? Perhaps a reconsideration of his claim at #375 that “extremely rapid scaling up of renewable energy…is already happening now” is now in order?
“Global Clean Energy Investment Fell for the Second Year Running”
“Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has released a report stating that, despite increasing interest in and awareness of clean energy technologies, for the second year in a row global investment in renewable energy has fallen.
Last year it was down to $253 billion, and in Europe it fell by a staggering 41% compared to the year before.
This news has come just as investors meet at a United Nations summit aimed to encourage investment in clean energy and build momentum towards the shift to a clean energy economy. It marks the second year of declining investment in the sector, down from the record high of $318 billion in 2011. It has been calculated that in order to make the transition global investment in renewable energy technologies must reach $1 trillion a year by 2030.”
Did you read the link you posted? In the second paragraph it states:
“However Michael Liebrich, the founder of BNEF, stated that “the top?line figures don’t tell the whole story.” He explained that the fall in investment, especially in Europe, was partly due to the declining cost of photovoltaic solar panels, and that the number of solar installations around the world actually grew last year by 20%.”
The site is called Oilprice.com, I wonder how unbiased they are.
They link another article: Utilities are hurting because of renewable power here. Utilities are concerned that rooftop solar will drain their most profitable afternoon pricing and it will start them on a death spiral. We can only hope that it starts soon!
They actually had several other interesting nuclear, renewable and other articles. It is always hard to find unbiased articles about energy, everyone distorts the numbers.
#409–No, I don’t think that SA’s claim needs reconsidering. The very next sentence in the story rather answers it, IMO:
“However Michael Liebrich, the founder of BNEF, stated that “the top-line figures don’t tell the whole story.” He explained that the fall in investment, especially in Europe, was partly due to the declining cost of photovoltaic solar panels, and that the number of solar installations around the world actually grew last year by 20%.” Note that those price drops weren’t just marginal; we’re talking up to 30%.
I have little doubt that large amounts of capacity were added in 2013, though there aren’t any comprehensive figures yet, as far as I know. But, for instance, the SEIA reported that Q3 US solar installations totaled 930 MW, and projected the yearly total would reach 4.3 GW, for an impressive 27% increase in cumulative capacity.
And in China, “Including nuclear power, the nation installed 36 gigawatts of clean energy capacity in the 10 months through Oct. 31, the National Energy Administration said today in a statement on its website. Wind power increased by 7.9 gigawatts, while solar rose 3.6 gigawatts and nuclear expanded 2.2 gigawatts. Hydro electric power accounted for the remainder.”
No, I don’t see the drop as a reversal of momentum in the deployment of renewables; more a maturing of the technology and a rebalancing of incentives as renewable technologies outgrow the need for them.
Do you disagree with the following statement from the EIA Energy Outlook that I quoted in #377 and, in more detail, in #364?
“Third, we have the EIA stating that “global energy-related CO2 emissions will rise from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36.4 billion metric tons in 2020, and 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040 — an increase of 46 percent over 30 years.” ”
Do you not believe that the EIA, which has enormous resources and access to the best minds in the world, is aware of renewables growth and incorporates it in their projections? They in fact show the substantial growth of renewables out to 2040, albeit starting from a low-modest number. Unfortunately, the growth of renewables does not cut into existing fossil fuel usage; it appears to replace some of the growth in fossil fuel use and emissions. While this renewables growth may sound impressive on a blog, it is doing almost nothing to alter fossil use from BAU, and therefore is not addressing the central problem. Also, do you not believe the statement of Anderson that we cannot extricate ourselves from the crucial near-term problem through the supply side, and it has to come from the demand side?
Further, as I showed in #377, Anderson concludes that at least a 10% cut in CO2 emissions is required starting now if we hope to have any chance of staying within a 2 C (dangerous) ceiling, and the papers I cited showed that ~100% cut in CO2 emissions is required starting now if we hope to have any chance of staying within ~1.2 C, the upper limit of Hansen’s prior-Holocene-based safe limit. If you add the above three pieces of information together, it is rather clear that renewables without very strong cuts in demand won’t solve the problem that needs to be solved. Do you disagree in any way with that conclusion, and if so, what is the basis for your disagreement?
hi guys. i pop in here every once in a while when i need info, because, you know, you guys are full of it…. anyway, do any of you know of a website that tries to catalog all the various known natural “climate forcings”? i.e., what is the current state of the PDO and ENSO, and solar radiation, and natural co2 emissions, and whatever forcings there are?
“This is something that took me by surprise. Perhaps SA can put it in some perspective for us? Perhaps a reconsideration of his claim at #375 that “extremely rapid scaling up of renewable energy…is already happening now” is now in order?”
That ‘claim’ has to be taken with many grains of salt. It is equivalent to measuring a car’s acceleration on a smooth road and estimating what the speed will be five miles away, when there is a brick wall one mile away. If renewables ever get to the point to where they are causing significant challenges to BAU fossil fuel production, then the fossil fuel industry can start turning the many competition levers it controls. There’s plenty of slack in those multi-billion dollar quarterly profits that can be used to ward off serious competition. That’s why the precursors that I mentioned in #393 (reproduced below) are necessary; they won’t allow the ‘free-market’ to determine the fate of civilization on this planet. And that’s why their stark absence is so troubling!
” “Are there any new governments that have taken office as a result of a strong stand against BAU? Look no further than Australia, Canada, and, yes, the USA for the answer to that question. Are there strong steps being taken to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; if so, show me one? Are there strong steps being taken to add taxes to fossil fuels to account for environmental damage clean-up; if so, show me one, especially in the major fossil exporting countries? Are there strong steps being taken to reduce the impact of fossil fuel money on politics; just the opposite!” “
Fortunately, the earth and homo sapiens are more resilient than generally given credit for by most of the posters (knowledgeable as they are) on this site. What will save us is that we respond to things when we HAVE to. We fought WWII when we HAD to, and not a minute sooner. I spend too much of my time sparring with folks of polar political persuasions on various sites; my sole insight that it is the mushy middle which makes things happen. Both sides throw their best, and most dramatic (and unbalanced) shots at trying to move the mushy, sodden middle. As for myself, well ensconced in said, sodden middle, I can see how warming will CHANGE things, but we we will adapt; it is what humans do. The real gloom and doomers seem to me more like Millerites than Arkwrights, (no surprise there.) My growing season in Massachusetts is about one month longer now than it was thirty years ago. Potatoes are now growing at greater rates in Greenland, and, yes, it is hotter than hell at the Australian Open. So it goes.
Comment by Dwight Mac Kerron — 17 Jan 2014 @ 8:58 AM
“The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen to 23 percent, up 7 percentage points since April 2013.
The latest survey, taken in November 2013, finds that the majority of Americans — 63 percent — do believe in climate change, and 53 percent are “somewhat” or “very” worried about the consequences.
The proportion of people who do believe in climate change has been steady since April 2013, but the proportion of those who say they “don’t know” whether climate change is happening dropped 6 percentage points between April and November 2013, suggesting that many “don’t knows” moved into the “not happening” category.
“People who prior said don’t know are increasingly saying they don’t believe it,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which released the new results today (Jan. 16).”
Another site I’d recommend is the Australia-based RenewEconomy.com.au. (CleanTechnica republishes many of their articles.)
Australia is a particularly interesting case, where the booming solar and wind energy industries are strongly challenging a powerful and wealthy fossil fuel establishment — against the background of some of the most extreme climate change effects in the world.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2014 @ 11:04 AM
Regarding the BNEF report on clean energy investment, see also:
Leading investment house Deutsche Bank has dramatically lifted its demand forecasts for the global solar industry – predicting that 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV will be installed across the world in 2014, before jumping by another 25 per cent to 56GW in 2015.
It notes that the world’s three biggest solar markets – co-incidentally located in the world’s three biggest economies, US, China and Japan – are currently booming and are likely to deliver what market analysts describe as more “upside demand surprises.”
But it also points to other countries such as India, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, as well as regions in the Middle East, South America and South East Asia, to act as strong growth contributors.
… Deutsche says solar is currently competitive without subsidies in at least 19 markets globally and it expects more markets to reach grid parity in 2014 as solar system prices decline further.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Jan 2014 @ 11:11 AM
Ascending behavior in non-flagellated phytoplankton is not limited to giant cells in the ocean. Positive buoyancy is the result of lift (cell sap density) exceeding ballast (silicate frustule in diatoms, cell wall in others)(Woods & Villareal 2008) and theoretical considerations have suggested that there is a minimal cell size that can support positive buoyancy (Villareal 1988). However, there is persistent evidence of positive buoyancy in smaller (10s vs 100s μm diameter) spring bloom diatoms (Acuña et al. 2010; Jenkinson 1986; Lännergren 1979), Antarctic diatoms (Hardy 1935), deep chlorophyll maximum diatoms (Waite & Nodder 2001) and post-auxospore diatoms (Smayda & Boleyn 1966; Waite & Harrison 1992). Cells as small as 200 μm3 (equivalent spherical diameter= ~8 μm) could be capable of positive buoyancy (Waite et al. 1997). These observations are scattered, but consistent with laboratory data that in sinking rate experiments, some fraction of healthy cultures are generally positively buoyant (Bienfang 1981). Stoke’s velocities of this size range of phytoplankton are < 1-2 m d-1 (Smayda 1970); however, aggregation and chain formation could increase the effective size and the Stoke’s velocity. Clearly, there are numerous aspects of this phenomenon that are unresolved, but the core observation that ascending behavior occurs in a variety of non-flagellated phytoplankton cannot be ignored.
The abundant but scattered data that document ascending behavior in a diversity of both small and large cells are contrary to standard concepts of passive phytoplankton settling in the ocean, but is consistent with evolutionary adaptation to a physical partitioning of light and nutrient resources (Ganf & Oliver 1982; Smetacek 1985). We have considered only the largest vertical migrators, but persistent reports of small, ascending phytoplankton coupled with the long-noted potential of flagellated forms to vertically migrate in the open sea (Nielsen 1939) opens entirely new linkages between events in the deep euphotic zone (Brown et al. 2008; McGillicuddy et al. 2007) and the response of surface communities. The ascent of some fraction of the biomass is a mechanism rarely considered in models of nutrient cycling in the open sea but should not be ignored. Quantifying these upward fluxes is a challenge for existing instrumentation and will likely require new approaches.
… the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors.
Therefore, we at Copernicus Publications wish to distance ourselves from the apparent misuse of the originally agreed aims & scope of the journal as well as the malpractice regarding the review process, and decided on 17 January 2014 to cease the publication of PRP. Of course, scientific dispute is controversial and should allow contradictory opinions which can then be discussed within the scientific community. However, the recent developments including the expressed implications (see above) have led us to this drastic decision.
Interested scientists can reach the online library at: http://www.pattern-recogn-phys.net
Journal guest editor Roger Tattersall — known as Rog Tallbloke online — tweeted:
Copernicus clearly didn’t like the climate science related nature of the special edition. I sought peer reviewers..
The journal’s editor-in-chief, Sid-Ali Ouadfeul, who works for the Algerian Petroleum Institute, started publishing his research in journal articles around 2010, but he’s only been cited a couple times, not counting his many self-citations.
Co-editor-in-chief Nils-Axel Morner is a noted climate “skeptic” who believes in dowsing (water divining) and believes he has found the “Hong Kong of the [ancient] Greeks” in Sweden, among other things. These beliefs are documented in Wikipedia and The Guardian. Morner has over 125 publications, but pattern recognition does not appear to be among his specialties.
Moreover, speaking of “pattern recognition,” my analysis revealed some self-plagiarism by editor Ouadfeul in the very first paper the journal published, an article he himself co-authored.
Governor Brown has just declared a drought emergency. This is a rapidly developing/deteriorating situation. Some towns are just weeks away from totally running out of water.
The San Juan Water District near Sacrament is at “Stage 5″ level of water restriction–50% reduction in _indoor_ water use, along with other severe restrictions. This district serves over a quarter millions people.
To Gavin and all the other Climate scientists running this site…
I want to thank you for everything you’re doing with this web site and for all your research and patience. I’ve learned a lot here. Thanks to all the bloggers as well. This is the absolute best web site I’ve found for Climate Science and information. I read it every single day. I also recommend it to everyone I know. The information is rational, level headed and spot on, even if I don’t understand some of it. Makes me wish I had paid attention in math class but I guess it’s better late than never. By far the biggest challenge has been reCAPTCHA. :)
#419–Diogenes, why would you even think that I’d disagree with the statement you quote? I answered wili’s comment, which concerned the lower investment in renewables, and questioned whether this suggested a reversal of momentum in the deployment of renewables. Neither of us directly addressed emissions.
Nowhere did I say or suggest that this ‘momentum’ means that all is well. In fact, I’ve previously pointed out in connection with my articles on Six Degrees that though the growth in renewables is very impressive, it still needs to accelerate considerably if we are to really address the carbon crisis: at the present rate of addition, it would still take about 4 decades to add one ‘stabilization wedge’ for solar and one for wind. And we need, what? Ten or twelve wedges? While I do find the present growth of renewables comforting and encouraging to a degree, it is certainly not yet grounds for complacency, nor anything even approaching complacency.
I refer to the many comments above with regard to reducing carbon emissions. To illustrate just how massive this task is I refer to the International Energy Agency (IEA) PDF document 2013 Key World Energy Statistics. Document is available on line through Google.
This document shows;
In 1973 the world used 6,109 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) of primary energy. Non fossil carbon energy contributed just 13% and fossil carbon energy the remaining 87%.
In 2011 the world used 13,113 Mtoe of primary energy, double that in 1973. The non fossil carbon energy contribution increased to 18%, mainly due to nuclear increasing from 1% in 1973 to 5% in 2011.
Realistically on this evidence, to meet the emission reductions required by the IPCC RCP2.6 scenario the world needs to implement every non carbon energy generation technology that is available otherwise our descendants will be looking at a bleak RCP8.5 scenario future in 2100.
There’s the rub. What if there isn’t anything economic that can be offered as an incentive for sacrifices? The only thing on offer is a habitable planet but very few people seem to be interested in that, despite its being the best incentive one could have.
Growth through technology? Not likely. Of course, technology could, potentially, hypothetically, provide dramatic ongoing efficiencies in all resource use and minimise environmental damage. Maybe it would even be profitable. But, ultimately, economic growth (i.e. the growth in production of goods and services) isn’t going to happen without an increase in resource use and, consequently, an increase in environmental damage.
You don’t get to have both a habitable planet and economic growth (which has to end, anyway, on a finite planet).
Walter Crain @418.
For a “catalogue” of “forcings” (rather than specifically the changing levels of things that result in those “forcings”) the various figures within Chapter 8 of IPCC AR5 is probably not a bad place to look being presently up-to-date. It is summed up in Figure 8.18 that you can seen here.
You do mention specifically PDO & ENSO. There is a bewildering range of such ***Os which do have climatic significance of some form but to call them “forcings” is wrong both in the meaning of the term and in the sense you use the term. ENSO does waggle global temperature (see here – usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’) but beyond that, the likes of AMO or PDO are mickle wobble and little driver. (See for instance the AMO discussion at AR5 Chapter 10 p22 or see graphic here of PDO/ENSO.) ***Os do work very well at attracting foolishness – like a flame does moths.
Tony Weddle: “Growth through technology? Not likely.”
Tony, I can only hope that you are sufficiently astute to appreciate the delicious irony of using a high-speed computer and the Internet to say this. Good lord, man, none of this existed 25 years ago! And most of this has occurred after scaling–the physics on which the electronics revolution got it star–has failed. Moore’s law is now driven by economics and creativity.
There is an even older exponential driver than Moore’s law. Rosenfeld’s law states:
“From 1845 to the present, the amount of energy required to produce the same amount of gross national product has steadily decreased at the rate of about 1 percent per year. This is not quite as spectacular as Moore’s Law of integrated circuits, but it has been tested over a longer period of time. One percent per year yields a factor of 2.7 when compounded over 100 years. It took 56 BTUs (59,000 joules) of energy consumption to produce one (1992) dollar of GDP in 1845. By 1998, the same dollar required only 12.5 BTUs (13,200 joules).”
We need to understand this so we can drive the same sort of development we’ve seen with semiconductors. You really don’t understand technology.
there DOES appear to be a correlation between PDO phases and temps. when PDO is negative, temps are stable, when it’s positive temps go up – so rather than alternate between cooling and warming periods, we’ll alternate between slow-warming and fast-warming periods.
basically, i’m trying to figure out if the recent slowing of warming is a product of natural forcings being mostly/all negative thus balancing GHG’s positive forcing.
With all due respect, that’s a misnomer. The key variable is Energy, and the key Law is Conservation of Energy. There is net energy being trapped by GHG; that energy has to go somewhere. Most of it goes into the oceans, shallow and deep; some of it remains in the atmosphere, contributing to your ‘warming’; some of it is absorbed by ground/vegetation; some of it goes into endothermic processes like melting ice. These four energy ‘sinks’ are not independent; atmospheric circulation helps determine what gets transferred to the oceans, and where. If one year, or many years, a little more energy goes into the oceans due to circulation patterns, this will make a huge difference in what happens in the other three sinks (small differences between large numbers can be significant). I would take no solace from perhaps a little less energy staying in the atmosphere (remember, the ‘hiatus’ never really existed); more going to the e.g. deep ocean and warming the clathrates, or going into melting ice, is no cause for comfort. If anything, that may even be more serious. Substantial energy input to any of the sinks alone is enough to cause ‘catastrophe’; in all four sinks, it is doubly catastrophic!
“Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found.”
Walter Crain @440.
That graphic you link to comes from an article in Nature by Jeff Tollefson who has a bit of a history of skepticalesque writing. This particular article sports such gems as “Average global temperatures hit a record high in 1998 — and then the warming stalled.”
It is worth making the distinction between the ‘hiatus’ of global surface temperature (which only began in 2007) and the indicators of what was afoot that can be now seen in the data half a dozen years earlier. Statements like ” the global-warming hiatus enters its sixteenth year” belongs in the Daily Mail not the journal Nature.
However with Tollefson, don’t be surprised if his writing suggests the PDO is a “cycle” that can halt AGW in its tracks. Of course, this “cycle” is so powerful that it wasn’t even christened until 1997 and its full strength is probably best demonstrated by plotting global temperature (here a detrended BEST) against reconstructed PDO. I tend to the view that PDO, like a gentleman’s pocket watch, may or may not have been useful to plot the global climate’s past behaviour but the hammer blow that is AGW could make finding out if it was useful a bit of learning that’s now academic.
Ray seems to want to solve the problems brought on by complexity by employing ever greater levels of complexity. Historians tell us that this has not proven to be a way that previous civilizations have managed to avoid collapse–quite the opposite.
Just one specific and obvious problem with his factoid: “…the amount of energy required to produce the same amount of gross national product has steadily decreased…” But if you are increasing GNP by more than one percent per year, you are still using ever more energy.
You say “We fought WWII when we HAD to, and not a minute sooner.” So I guess it isn’t Czechoslovakian history that you are familiar with. Or the German!
Still I think you do hit one nail on the head. Perhaps the one big big worry with AGW is “We fought WWII … we HAD to.” That’s what human societies do – we readily fight each other. So keeping climate refugees and other undesirables of our various lawns and off any other desirable piece of real estate considered part of the national interest – that would so easily result in far far more than the 2% mortality that WWII inflicted humanity with.
i appreciate your engagement on this question.
we can play around with words (is it a “hiatus” or a “pause”?) or whatever, but the fact is the atmosphere isn’t warming like it was before, or as predicted. the atmospheric warming has slowed, at least for now – and apparently the “missing heat” is in the oceans.
so, if lots of this warmth is going into the “deep oceans” why is that bad? while we’re figuring our how to reduce co2 emmisions, that seems like a pretty darned good place to put it, all things considered. there’s a lot of deep ocean, and it’s pretty darned cold down there.
infact, i wonder if it would be possible to intentionally bring some of that cold water to the surface (in a carbon-neutral sort or way), maybe with wave-action driven pumps or some other clever method, and be used to cool the atmosphere.
as for the PDO cycle stopping global warming “in it’s tracks”, well… it’s cyclical so it could only temporarily to that, then when the cycle flipped it would warm doubly fast. that’s sort of what i was after in terms of finding our the direction of all the forcings. i understand that global warming is continuing “underneath” any of the weather cycles.
“so, if lots of this warmth is going into the “deep oceans” why is that bad?”
It’s bad for three reasons. First, there is extra energy going into the ocean from wind circulation patterns, in addition to CO2 that is deposited in the ocean. The combination of energy and H2CO3 changes the chemistry and ecology of the ocean, resulting in destruction of many forms of oceanic life.
Second, if enough energy goes to regions in the ocean where there are substantial shallow methane clathrates that are sensitive to temperature changes, there is the danger of strong methane release to the atmosphere. Clathrates have been found in shallow regions that are sensitive to water temperature increases; the remaining question is how extensive are these clathrates at sufficiently shallow depths.
Third, at some point, the wind circulation patterns will change, and the energy that has been stored in the ocean will re-emerge. Then, you won’t have to worry about the semantics of ‘hiatus’ or ‘pause’; what you will worry about is 1998 redux!
During La Niña events (with cold ocean surface) the ocean absorbs additional heat that it releases during El Niño events (when the ocean surface is warm). The next El Niño event (whenever it comes – that is a stochastic process) is likely to produce a new global mean temperature record …
“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” –C. Northcote Parkinson
As for myself, well ensconced in said, sodden middle, I can see how warming will CHANGE things, but we we will adapt; it is what humans do.
AGW may well end civilization, but few “gloom and doomers” expect Homo sapiens to perish altogether. “We” will certainly adapt, but under realistic warming scenarios, adaptation entails premature death and misery for millions of people. Can you really be sanguine about that? And even under optimistic scenarios, tens of thousands of other species will not adapt, but will be lost to the Great Anthropocene Extinction. Not everyone would consider that a tragedy, but I would.
wili wrote: “Ray seems to want to solve the problems brought on by complexity by employing ever greater levels of complexity.”
The problem of global warming caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions is not a problem “brought on by complexity”.
It is a problem brought on by burning fossil fuels. It is a specific problem with a specific cause. It is an urgent problem that we need to solve very, very quickly. It is a problem that we already have the means to solve very, very quickly IF we choose to do so.
Yes, there are many other problems in the world — some of them may indeed be “brought on by complexity”, whatever that means — and some of them are very challenging and will take a long time to solve.
But we need to solve the specific, immediate, urgent problem of GHG emissions if we are to have any hope of buying the time to solve those other problems.
And by the way, an energy economy based entirely on zero-emission renewable energy sources is not self-evidently more “complex” than our current fossil fuel based energy economy. Quite the contrary.
Has the Sun gone to sleep?
17 January 2014 Last updated at 05:57 GMT
Scientists are saying that the Sun is in a phase of “solar lull” – meaning that it has fallen asleep – and it is baffling them.
History suggests that periods of unusual “solar lull” coincide with bitterly cold winters.
Rebecca Morelle reports for BBC Newsnight on the effect this inactivity could have on our current climate, and what the implications might be for global warming.
Dr. Richard Harrison
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Dr. Lucie Green
University College London
Dr. Mike Lockwood
University of Reading
Change in UV affecting jetstream, making Northern Europe colder, even if the rest of the world does not get colder.
Of course I understand technology. I’ve been using computers for over 40 years. Oddly enough, it takes energy to make use of technology. It is energy that is the driver of growth (it’s needed to extract and refine resources, as well as make and use the goods and services we have). Technology can make better use of resources and energy but it can’t substitute for those things. So technology will not drive growth for longer than the required energy and resources are there.
Our environment just won’t allow growth for ever; so we might as well get used to that. Let’s stop pretending that we can continue on this unsustainable road by just switching to some other energy resource, even if that were possible in time to significantly effect climate change. It’s not happening, anyway, so its being possible is moot.
I would have thought that an economy run on zero emissions energy could well be more complex. After all, that would be switching from a fairly easy way of generating energy from energy dense raw materials to vastly more numerous conversion devices, in more remote places, trying to harness very diffuse and often intermittent, energy sources. Of course, running a society on renewables could be vastly simpler, but I don’t think that’s quite what you had in mind. I have grave doubts that our current industrial and technological societies could be run on renewable energies, even if that were desirable.
“The problem of global warming caused by anthropogenic GHG emissions is not a problem “brought on by complexity”.
I’d say that is a at the very least a gross over simplification of our current dilemma! or at worst a profoundly disingenuous statement.
Generally speaking I find your comments to be well thought out and quite rational however I think when making this one it seems you one weren’t wearing your best thinking cap. Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels, it is the life blood of our civilization, without it, it ceases to exist! To say we can solve our problems by ceasing all uses of fossil fuels is it bit like saying we can cure a fish’s ailments by taking it out of the water…
Unfortunately our current civilization is already in the throes of collapse due to resource depletion and peak oil. Transitioning from the current paradigm to a civilization based exclusively on renewables while highly desirable in theory is unlikely to happen in the short term because we continue to need those same fossil fuels to build out a new renewables based civilization. We continue to add new layers of complexity in a futile attempt to access ever dirtier and more difficult to access sources of fossil fuel such as the Canadian tar sands,deep water drilling or drilling in extremely hostile environments such as the Arctic.
To me at least, it seems we don’t have a simple problem at all, What we have is multiple nested dilemmas within a conundrum. I don’t know if you are familiar with Dr. Joseph Tainter’s ‘Collapse of complex Societies’
“According to Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies, societies become more complex as they try to solve problems. Social complexity can be recognized by numerous differentiated and specialEYEsed (deliberately misspelled to get around stupid spam filter) social and economic roles and many mechanisms through which they are coordinated, and by reliance on symbolic and abstract communication, and the existence of a class of information producers and analysts who are not involved in primary resource production. Such complexity requires a substantial “energy” subsidy (meaning the consumption of resources, or other forms of wealth).
When a society confronts a “problem,” such as a shortage of energy, or difficulty in gaining access to it, it tends to create new layers of bureaucracy, infrastructure, or social class to address the challenge. Tainter, who first (ch. 1) identifies seventeen examples of rapid collapse of societies, applies his model to three case studies: The Western Roman Empire, the Maya civilization, and the Chaco culture.”
Case in point about layers of complexity being counter productive: The stupid spam filter wouldn’t let me post a comment containing the word S P E C I A L I S E D because it thought I was trying to promote a drug for erectile disfunction!
I would be happy to try and simplify things–if you’ll just tell me how we can do this and feed, clothe, house and employ 10 billion people by 2080. There are some who are saying our agriculture is already near “peak grain”. Our soils are already becoming depleted of phosphorus. I don’t see how we get there without a new agricultural revolution, a new energy revolution and a new industrial revolution. That depends on technology. Technology need not be dark satanic mills. 3D printers are an empowering technology.
As to avoiding collapse, I’m afraid no one has been particularly good at that without continual expansion–not even the South Sea Islanders, who had one of the more sustainable societies. We’re trying to develop something new here, something that has never existed. I’m willing to try damn near anything as long as:
1)It ends with a sustainable, global society.
2)It does so via a soft landing in terms of reducing population.
3)It finds a way to negotiate the challenges of caring for the young and the aging as population decreases (never been done before).
4)It ends with a moderately equitable distribution of wealth across the globe and within societies.
5)It preserves something like a global civilization.
Got any suggestions? Because, so far, I’ve heard jack from you that isn’t either handwringing or pie-in-the-sky fantasy.
re: “see what you did there”
i’m not trying to trick anyone. i’m trying to get educated answers to share with deniers out there…. i’m on “your side”… sheesh… i understand the cyclical nature of ENSO (and PDO, MJO etcO). that’s why i was asking if there’s any website that catalogs all the forcings – including the various oscillations.
the oceans are a huge potential heat sink. there’s a lot of cold water in the oceans. i guess the quick answer to deniers is that the slow down, pause, hiatus, whatever you want to call it, of air temperature increases has been taken up by the oceans.
… possible involvement of Fungi in CaCO3 biomineralization processes, a role still poorly documented at present-day. Moreover, on a global scale, the organomineralization of organic nanofibres into calcitic nanofibres might have a great, however overlooked, impact on the biogeochemical cycles of both Ca and C.
Citation: Bindschedler, S., Cailleau, G., Braissant, O., Millière, L., Job, D., and Verrecchia, E. P.: Unravelling the enigmatic origin of calcitic nanofibres in soils and caves: purely physicochemical or biogenic processes?, Biogeosciences Discuss., 11, 975-1019, doi:10.5194/bgd-11-975-2014, 2014.
i understand what you mean by “oscillations aren’t forcings”. ok… maybe not in the rigorous sense you might use it, but el nino IS a forcing in the common vernacular in that it DOES cause global temps to go up, if only temporarily, as shown in the chart in the article to which you linked: http://www.realclimate.org/images/climcent_sat_enso.png
Tony Weddle wrote: “I would have thought that an economy run on zero emissions energy could well be more complex. After all, that would be switching from a fairly easy way of generating energy from energy dense raw materials to vastly more numerous conversion devices, in more remote places, trying to harness very diffuse and often intermittent, energy sources.”
There is nothing either “easy” or simple about extracting, refining, transporting and burning vast quantities of highly toxic “raw materials” that are densely concentrated in a few places on Earth, which requires them to be shipped all over the place to where they are finally burned — especially when the supply of those resources is rapidly dwindling and becoming increasingly difficult, costly, destructive and complicated to obtain.
On the other hand, wind and solar energy are abundantly available everywhere on Earth, and the technologies needed to harvest them, and when necessary store them, are profoundly simpler than the technologies needed to produce usable energy from fossil fuels (which as described above require costly and complicated mining, refining, and transporting before they can even be burned).
Today’s commercially available photovoltaic panels, for example, are certainly the product of some of the most advanced science and technology in the world — but that doesn’t necessarily make them “complex” to manufacture, install or use. Indeed, there are millions of residential and commercial rooftop solar installations up and running all over the world which are turnkey, plug-and-play systems which require little or no intervention or even much thought from the users.
Where a renewable-based grid would entail additional complexity is in the grid itself — i.e. the “smart grid” that will be needed to efficiently and resiliently integrate a diverse population of electricity producer/users, both large and small, centralized and highly-distributed.
But we have done this sort of thing before — it’s called the Internet. And somehow I haven’t seen the evolution from the telegraph to the telephone to the Internet bring about the collapse of civilization due to “complexity”.
Quite the contrary — the built-in “intelligence” and resilience of the Internet is an essential tool for maintaining a complex society. Likewise, we need to replace our current, primitive, “dumb” power grid with an intelligent grid. That is, in fact, a key component of eliminating all GHG emissions from electricity generation — which is a significant chunk of the GHG problem.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2014 @ 12:44 PM
I wanted to get some idea of this blog’s history, so I examined the archives. The initial entries are around November 2004, so we’re approaching a decade. A small sampling of comments from that period showed two interesting findings: there was much angst and concern expressed about taking immediate action to limit carbon emissions and potential climate disaster, and myriad proposals were advanced covering a wide spectrum of possibilities with no temperature ceiling or allowable carbon budget numbers to back them up.
Fast forward to today, where the Keeling Curve and the global CO2 emissions graphs have continued their inexorable climb. Guess what: the same angst and concern about the necessity of immediate action to limit carbon emissions, and the same wide spectrum of proposals with no temperature ceiling or allowable carbon budget numbers to back them up. So, in the course of a decade, we have not been able to come to consensus about the best pathway to limit climate damage, and the audience for our proposals still has no idea of the specific consequences on temperature and other specific parameters that could result from implementation of our proposals. Is it any wonder we’re getting nothing done?
Fred Magyar wrote: “Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels, it is the life blood of our civilization, without it, it ceases to exist!”
With all due respect, that’s nonsense. And of course, it is also the favorite bumper sticker slogan of the fossil fuel corporations, who love to equate “energy” with fossil fuels.
Our “complex industrial civilization” requires ENERGY. Burning fossil fuels is just one way of obtaining that energy. Thanks to the geological accident of plentiful fossil fuels happening to be readily accessible where human beings could discover them, we have grown to rely on them. Now they are running out, with the remaining supplies being of decreasing quality, ever more costly and difficult and destructive to extract. Moreover, we now know that thanks to AGW we simply MUST NOT extract and burn the vast majority of the remaining reserves.
But so what? The total amount of energy contained in ALL the fossil fuels on Earth, both what we have already burned and the remaining reserves combined, is PUNY compared to the solar and wind energy that is available to us in any given year.
Getting off fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy won’t deprive our civilization of its “life blood” — on the contrary it will replace energy scarcity with energy abundance.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2014 @ 12:55 PM
Fred Magyar wrote: “Our current very complex industrial civilization only exists because of fossil fuels …”
By the way, as a “thought experiment” I find it interesting to contemplate an alternative history of human civilization, in which the Earth’s geological history was such that there simply were no deposits of fossil fuels accessible to human extraction. Perhaps all of that ancient biomass happened to get buried far, far below the Earth’s surface, under the deep oceans, etc. As a result, we never started burning fossil fuels in the first place.
What would have happened?
Well, the 19th century saw tremendous advances in the scientific understanding and the use of electricity. The late 19th century was a “golden age” of electrical engineering. The photovoltaic effect was first observed in 1839, and the photoelectric effect was observed in 1887 and explained by Einstein in 1905.
Perhaps, in the absence of fossil fuels, an emerging technological civilization would have recognized the potential of solar-generated electricity much earlier, and it would have become the “life blood” of our civilization, instead of fossil fuels.
In which case we would not be facing the problem of AGW from fossil-fueled GHG emissions at all.
And our society, governments, economy and culture would have not have been distorted by the concentrated wealth and power of those few who could gain control of the world’s fuel supply, but rather would have been shaped by technologies that give universal access to an abundant, endless supply of free energy.
Nicely put, Magyar. That spam filter thing is just too funny and a propos!
Ray, I’m sure anything I say is going to sound either like hand-wringing or pie-in-the-sky to you. Perhaps those really are the only actual options left to us?? (Note though that ending South African Apartheid and the Soviet Empire seemed like pie-in-the-sky goals…until they happened.)
I think it is quite likely at this point that there is no path left that fulfills all of your laudable criteria. There are, after all, consequences to ignoring problems and warnings, as we collectively as a world have been doing for decades now. And we have now, to paraphrase Churchill, entered the era of consequences.
But since you put them out there, I’ll lay out some random thoughts on each of your points, but to save having to repeat it, these are all things we _could_ do with enough collective will, not things that I think we are _likely_ to do:
“1)It ends with a sustainable, global society” This sounds very nice, but you do realize that, by its very nature, _no_ forms of mining are ‘sustainable.’ So, if we are going to go on making anything with, for example, metals, that means moving completely to a total-recycling or “scavenger” society, as far as metals go. Ultimately, of course, even this is not sustainable, as metals tend to degrade and oxidize over time–rust never sleeps, and all that. The least sustainable things to mine are those substances we burn once we mine them (that is fossil-death-fuels)–no realistic way to recycle or scavenge them at that point. I see no way of doing anything close to this without massively downsizing the economy– specifically the manufacture and purchase of the number of things we buy and then fairly quickly burn or throw away (a huge part of the current economy).
“2)It does so via a soft landing in terms of reducing population” Population _could_ be reduced relatively ‘softly’ by enacting universal policies that result in no more than one child per woman and only after that woman was at least 30. Ideally this would be accomplished through a variety of incentives and empowerments. Yes, there will be demographic challenges as the ‘missing’ generation is not there to care for and pay for care of the elderly. Obviously the not-quite-as-old-and-infirm will have to take up the job of caring for those who are older and less firm. This is something already faced by various societies. Those who handle best that inevitable demographic transitions could be models to be replicated elsewhere.
“3)It finds a way to negotiate the challenges of caring for the young and the aging as population decreases (never been done before).” See above.
“4)It ends with a moderately equitable distribution of wealth across the globe and within societies.”
Obviously capitalism, especially the relatively unfettered version we now have in the US, has _not_ resulted in anything like “moderately equitable distribution of wealth.” This problem obviously calls for some kind of reparations as called for in the various “contraction and conversion” scenarios that others have laid out in more detail than I can go into here. (OK, I’ve said I wouldn’t endlessly repeat “_could_ vs _likely_” issue, but this, like the others, prompt the age old question, “Who will bell that cat?” But this is always so when revolutionary changes are needed. The answer is all of us who have a clue.)
“5)It preserves something like a global civilization” This of course depends on what parts of global civ one thinks is worth preserving and what is possible to be preserved. Kevin Anderson and others have pointed out that the emissions road we are on will make any kind of global civilization impossible fairly quickly (within the next few decades, if not sooner). If it means a civilization that involves constant air transport across continents, for example, I can’t see that as something that can be preserved (unless we’re talking dirigibles, or some such thing). Most production of most things will have to be relatively local. Of course, there is much much more that could be said on each of these and more. But this post is already too long.
I think we may be in agreement that all of this becomes more possible if we were able to divert resources away from ‘wasteful’ uses, but we may disagree on what those wastes are. Mine would include: most military expense; nearly everything used to prop up the current crop of financial wizards/banksters; most air travel; most meat and dairy eating; most non-local production; most products intended for one-time use…I’m sure others can add many more. Most of us can opt to cut most of these out of our own lives. But we mostly need collective action.
The point is, we are at the point of wiping out not only ourselves but most of complex life on earth. This is not the time for imagining that slight adjustments at the edges of the system are going to move us perceptibly away form our current omni-cidal direction. (Sorry for the longish screed–but you did kind of ask for it.)
I wanted to get some idea of this blog’s history, so I examined the archives…..there was much angst and concern expressed about taking immediate action to limit carbon emissions and potential climate disaster….
Fast forward to today, where the Keeling Curve and the global CO2 emissions graphs have continued their inexorable climb. Guess what: the same angst and concern about the necessity of immediate action to limit carbon emissions….So, in the course of a decade, we have not been able to come to consensus about the best pathway to limit climate damage…..
it’s a denier success story. the plan is working beautifully.
What are the chances that the next El Nino will be worse than 1998? It’s been 16 years since the last one and according to this article they happen about every 10 years or so. Does the fact that it’s been so long since the last one portend anything or is the time between El Nino events arbitrary? Thanks.
Walter Crain @463.
A bewildering array of oscillations and data series of their history is presented by NOAA ESRL (although this has been previously presented to you @438). As you admit, these are oscillations not forcings.
I am not sure what you are trying to infer by presenting the Jeff Tollefson PDO/temperature graphic again. The original version of the PDO part appears as the smoothed line on this Washington Uni graphic. Yet, unlike ENSO, there is no sign of this PDO signal (smoothed or otherwise) visible in the global temperature record. How can you then suggest it is some “forcing” wobbling global temperatures? The sole evidence is the PDO going ‘mainly negative’ roughly when the early twentieth century warming peaked and then going ‘mainly positive’ when the late twentieth century warming began. And it is now again ‘mainly negative’. But if you smooth out the wobbles in ENSO, it shows exactly the same features. And the ENSO signal is evident in the temperature record. So I fail to understand your interest in PDO?
wili wrote: “… moving completely to a total-recycling or ‘scavenger’ society, as far as metals go. Ultimately, of course, even this is not sustainable, as metals tend to degrade and oxidize over time …”
Ultimately, of course, the aging Sun will expand and incinerate the Earth and everything on it. Nothing is “ultimately sustainable”. If you have trouble accepting that, then I recommend Buddhism.
Meanwhile, we are in the midst of an urgent crisis driven by our reliance on particular technologies which release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and thereby threaten the “sustainability” of not only our civilization, but of a diverse, healthy and thriving biosphere, much beyond the next 50 years.
We need to solve that specific problem NOW — within YEARS, not decades — if we are to have any hope of “sustaining” our civilization long enough that we’ll need to worry about the challenges of sustaining a renewable energy / recycling based economy over many millennia.
But this is a change from just last week that showed a relatively weak one. Apparently predictions at this time of year are very difficult. It will become more and more clear in the coming months. Definitely worth watching carefully. But perhaps others, who are likely to know much more than I do about such things, can shed further light here?
SA, rust operates at time scales a bit faster than does the rate of the sun’s expansion, iirc. Nice try at reductio ad absurdum, though.
“We need to solve that specific problem NOW — within YEARS, not decades”
Yep, that’s why we don’t have time to rely on the marketplace to gradually replace fossil-death-fuels (if this would actually ever happen completely). Even mandated rapid acceleration of alternatives (which I support) will not be fast enough at this point (though we should be doing this anyway).
As Kevin Anderson and others have pointed out, we need to ‘crash’ carbon emissions by at least 10% starting NOW; and as he further points out, this just cannot be done by alternative supply alone in the timescales needed. The ‘win-win’ strategies you continue to promote are those I have been promoting for decades. But now is not decades ago, and the urgency of the reality demands immediate, dramatic action.
Do you have _anything_ to contribute to the discussion besides “more alternative energy”? If so, please do.
What wili said. I would add a little extra on sustainability, since this is what you imagine that your policies would result in. A sustainable society cannot consume resources faster than they can be renewed (for non-renewable resources, that means none can be consumed – at least on an ongoing basis – and renewable resources can’t be consumed faster than their renewal rates). A sustainable society can’t degrade its environment by its behaviour (and by its consumption of resources). It seems that your preference is to continue, mayb even worsen, unsustainable behaviours until some magical point at which societies are living sustainably, having reached 10 billion people or more.
Personally, this is just wishful thinking. If you think wili, or I, haven’t provided a smooth pathway for you to achieve all of your desires for the future, then it might be because such a pathway doesn’t exist. In order to start addressing our predicament we have to start describing reality, not virtual reality. That bad things might happen in the future is no justification for putting on the rose coloured glasses and insisting that those bad things must not be allowed to happen. If you want to reach sustainability, start now by powering down, localising and loosening dependencies on far-flung lands.
Secular Animist dreams that the energy of the sun (including energies converted by nature to other forms) can be harnessed at whatever level we desire without having significant adverse impacts, without running out of resources, without increasing complexity and having such a high EROEI that current industrial and technological civilisation can carry on as before, perhaps for ever. That is just as unreal as your hope that all countries can continue to grow until they all have the standard of living they want and until women, globally, stop having more than replacement children. Of course, there is nothing to stop both of you wishing for the best but I don’t think meaningful approaches to our predicament are best served by ignoring reality. Economic growth is not our friend.
Assuming there is something to this PDO thing, the mid-20th century cooling commences around two years after the change in direction of the PDO trend in 1940. So for around 12 years there was a pronounced cooling. After that it levels off, somewhat akin to what we have happening now. Peak to peak is about 40 years. Currently the PDO has been on a negative trend since ~1983. The surface air temperature appears to have a mind of its own as it is doing the opposite of what it did with respect to the PDO in 1940 to 1954. One could argue the surface air temperature has paid no attention to the PDO until around 2002.
So what is next? Based on the pattern exhibited mid-20th century, it looks like an upward trend in the PDO is about due.
Come on Wili. Like DIOGENES, you have contributed nothing about how to realistically get from here to there (e.g. convince citizens). Also, do you really not know that another name for rust is ore, it doesn’t go away.
Steve Fish @483 — A mineral body is not an ore if it is not economically recoverable.
Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Jan 2014 @ 7:14 PM
Recycling and scavenging are key–not just of metals, but of nutrients. And yes, materials degrade over time, but that doesn’t mean they become unusable–energy is required to restore them to usefulness. We are going to need energy, both to maintain a viable civilization and to repair damage to the environment. It won’t work to go back to the 1700s–we have to go forward. If you demand sacrifice from people and tell them things will always be worse, you will fail. WWI was the war to end war. True, it failed in that goal, but the goal did not fail to motivate horrendous sacrifice. WWII was the war to make the world safe for democracy–arguably a bit more successful. We need something we can promise in return for the sacrifice–perhaps a war for the security of our progeny.
Tony Weddle, I would think that you at least agree that the ultimate goal is a sustainable society–one that can be maintained over a large number of human generations. OK. I disagree with some of your characterizations thereof–it is not necessarily consumption that must be avoided, but rather consumption that cannot eventually be recycled. And growth can occur in such a society as long as it is driven by technology and not by extraction and consumption. We can mine, but we have to repair the damage and recycle, eventually, what we’ve mined.
Now the question, ultimately, is how we get from where we are to sustainability, and if you examine the issue, I think you will find that all 5 of my criteria + more must be met if we want a reasonable chance of arriving there with a society anyone decent would want to live in.
It is not necessarily all consumption that is the enemy. Consumption that brings us nearer the goal of sustainability is essential. Mere austerity won’t get us there.
Just noticed that Nature seems unwittingly to have provided the doubters with some ammunition demonstrating “obvious deception.” The difference between the warm and cold phases in the figure entitled ‘The Fickle Ocean’ accompanying this recent piece, seems just a little too symmetrical.
What, however, is this actually illustrating? Some ideal? A reflection of actual data from particular warm and cold phases? (Surely not.) Can anyone enlighten?
which has fascinating maps of (some putative) buried rivers and lakes in Greenland and Antarctica.
Now that brings me to the studies on inverting surface velocity and elevation data for basal conditions such as slipperiness. For a nice taste see ” Estimating basal properties of ice streams from surface measurements: a non-linear Bayesian inverse approach applied to synthetic data,” Raymond and Gudmundsson, The Cryosphere, 3, 265–278, 2009, http://www.the-cryosphere.net/3/265/2009 (no doi, so sad,) but there are far more detailed treatments that seem broadly correlated with Livingstone.
Are there any studies demonstrating that indeed, in general, ice slides easier in the regions where we suspect water flow at base ? Not just near the outlets, where i am aware of some work, but over the whole ice sheets ?
wili wrote: “Do you have _anything_ to contribute to the discussion besides more alternative energy?”
I have nothing to offer those who have their hearts set on failure and take comfort in defeatism and despair.
To those who go on and on about the impossibility of attaining some pie-in-the-sky utopia of ultimate, guaranteed eternal “sustainability”, I offer one word: FOCUS.
The house is on fire. This is not the time to worry about whether moisture may damage the foundation over the next 50 years.
For those who want to have a shot at preventing the worst possible outcomes of global warming and recognize that this requires ending all anthropogenic GHG emissions within a VERY, VERY short time, I am simply pointing out that:
1. Emissions from electricity generation are a significant part of the problem — according to the EPA, in 2011 electricity generation was the largest single source of US GHG emissions accounting for 33 percent of total emissions.
2. We have the ability to eliminate virtually all of those emissions within 10 years, by rapidly deploying today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies. The explosive and accelerating growth of wind and solar energy that we have already seen in the last few years demonstrates that this is possible. Achieving this will have enormously beneficial environmental, economic and social “side effects” in addition to reducing GHG emissions and has no real downside in any of those respects.
For amusement, here are two IEA projections from the past:
1998: IEA predicts 47 GW wind by 2020
Reality: 47 GW installed in 2004
2002: IEA predicts 104 GW by 2020
Reality: 104GW installed in 2008
For more fun look at spectacularly incorrect previous IEA estimates for Saudi reserves, world crude and condensate production, oil price …
The IEA is a frail reed upon which to rest looming edifice of assured doom.”
You don’t identify the post you are addressing. If it is the projections in my post that showed a 46% increase in CO2 emissions in 2040 compared to 2010, they were by the EIA, not the IEA. These are very different organizations.
Now, to paraphrase Yogi Berra: ‘Predictions are very uncertain, especially of the future’. The EIA predicts two or three decades into the future in its biennial reports. If the prediction for each source for each year is a data point, there are hundreds of data points in each report, and thousands in the compendium of reports. To get some estimate of prediction accuracy, one would perform a random representative sampling of these thousands of data points. Far more than two would be required! But, for many of the ideologues who post on this site, one or two ‘selected’ points are more than enough as long as they support the ideology.
Since you have accessed some projections (and have not provided a link to those projections), could you provide a couple more projections? What were the 2002 projections for total fossil fuel use and/or total CO2 emissions for 2013. Those are the numbers about which we should be concerned. Fossil and wind can grow at unprecedented rates, but unless much of that growth starts coming at the expense of legacy fossil, it is somewhat irrelevant for our purposes.
keep in mind i’m not saying PDO is causing global warming or anything, but it does appear to accelerate or attenuate its effects. it implies to me that a negative PDO is currently masking or minimizing global warming temp rises.
when the negative ENSO and the negative PDO and the “negative” solar cycles go positive, air temps will continue their upward march.
as for that “dizzying array” of oscillations and dipoles etc…. wow… that’s quite an array alright. are any of those thought/known to affect global temps like ENSO and possibly the PDO?
Re: 487: My goof. Kevin Trenberth (of course) has it right. Each ppm of CO2 represents 2.13 Gt (billion tons) of carbon. The corresponding atomic weight of CO2 is higher by a factor of 44/12 because it includes not just carbon (12) but also oxygen (2 x 16).
January 2014, Volume 122, Issue 1-2, pp 257-269
Anthropogenic and natural causes of climate change
David I. Stern, Robert K. Kaufmann
We test for causality between radiative forcing and temperature using multivariate time series models and Granger causality tests that are robust to the non-stationary (trending) nature of global climate data. We find that both natural and anthropogenic forcings cause temperature change and also that temperature causes greenhouse gas concentration changes. Although the effects of greenhouse gases and volcanic forcing are robust across model specifications, we cannot detect any effect of black carbon on temperature, the effect of changes in solar irradiance is weak, and the effect of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols may be only around half that usually attributed to them.
“I have grave doubts that our current industrial and technological societies could be run on renewable energies, even if that were desirable.”
I, for one, find that highly desirable, since it would by definition imply success in creating a zero-emission energy economy. It’s true that the jury is still out on the practicality question, but I think that SA has done a much better job of supporting his optimism than you have done of supporting your ‘grave doubts.’ (Though there are still lots more comments I want to catch up on…)
“SA has done a much better job of supporting his optimism”.
Not true. He has not shown a major consequence of his proposal: the impact on peak temperature during the transition. If temperature increase reaches levels that we cannot stabilize, then all is for naught. He needs an energy use diagram with the detail and complexity of the LLNL diagram on energy use he loves to reference. I think he will find that the amount of fossil energy used during the full transition to maintain lifestyle and prosperity, which he loves to emphasize, will lead to undesirable temperatures. I have estimated between 2 and 3 C, but it could be more. This is one case where details are important.
We have the ability to eliminate virtually all of those emissions within 10 years, by rapidly deploying todays renewable energy and efficiency technologies. The explosive and accelerating growth of wind and solar energy that we have already seen in the last few years demonstrates that this is possible. Achieving this will have enormously beneficial environmental, economic and social “side effects” in addition to reducing GHG emissions and has no real downside in any of those respects.
While I appreciate your championing of renewables, I’m really skeptical of your prognostication on the global environment, economy and society. Case in point in the real world: I chose to live in British Columbia, where fossil fuels supply virtually no electricity generation. In fact I live in an area supplied by local hydro that feeds a wider area when capacity allows. This [glacier fed] impoundment currently is at the lowest level in its history, and ‘export’ has been curtailed. The general area here on the “wet coast” has just had the driest fall quarter on record, 9 of the past 12 months have seen well below normal precipitation.
To make up the increase in demand in the province, the govt now plans to build another mega billions dam, that will certainly have some less than beneficial side effects, at the same time that expanding population in the limited prime agricultural areas of the ‘lower mainland’ is “paving paradise”.
I suppose it would be possible for some major solar installations in the B.C. interior to take up the slack, with the generation exported to the coast, although the amount of sun in winter would make that a pretty expensive proposition. Meanwhile, to make up for uneconomic management in the past, and pay for the new dam, our electric rates will be increasing by 26% over the next 5 years – should help to curtail demand, especially for those of us on a pension. Can’t imagine what solar and wind installations in addition to that, or in place of, would cost, but I know that although I’ve planned for years to add PV solar to my in-progress RV retirement home, I’ve not been able to afford it so far, and may never.
All of which is to point out that here in the real world, the ability of the masses to deploy anything is very limited at best. Talk “the 1%” into dedicating 90% of their worth towards achieving this utopia of which you speak.
flxible wrote: “All of which is to point out that here in the real world, the ability of the masses to deploy anything is very limited at best.”
And yet somehow, in the real world, “the masses” have managed to deploy over 100 gigawatts of solar PV generating capacity — two-thirds of it deployed within the last two years, and the cumulative installed capacity expected to double over the next two years.
And that’s without half trying. And that’s not including the nearly-as-rapid growth of wind power.
flxible wrote: “I’m really skeptical of your prognostication … towards achieving this utopia of which you speak”
I am not prognosticating. I have not offered any predictions as to what WILL happen.
Nor have I said anything about any “utopia” in which all our problems are finally and completely solved. In fact I have criticized the focus on utopian notions of “sustainability” as misguided and even counterproductive.
What I have said is that we have in hand, now, the technologies needed to quickly eliminate a large part of anthropogenic GHG emissions, namely those from fossil-fueled electricity generation — IF we choose to do so.
And importantly, and often forgotten by those of us in the developed world (a.k.a. the “top 5 percent”), these same technologies can be deployed in distributed fashion to provide the enormous benefits of electricity to millions of people in the developing world who desperately need it — WITHOUT requiring a massive increase in GHG emissions that would result from generating that electricity with fossil fuels.
Kevin McKinney wrote: “SA has done a much better job of supporting his optimism.”
I am not optimistic. On the contrary.
I do believe it possible that we CAN avoid the worst possible outcomes of AGW. That doesn’t mean that I’m confident that we WILL.
Diogenes wrote: “I think he will find that the amount of fossil energy used during the full transition to maintain lifestyle and prosperity, which he loves to emphasize, will lead to undesirable temperatures … He needs an energy use diagram with the detail and complexity …”
What is your alternative, Diogenes?
Accept defeat, give up, and do nothing?
Demand “solutions” like immediately shutting down the entire electric grids of every developed country on Earth and instituting an immediate worldwide ban on all use of fossil-fueled transportation? Would you care to provide a “detailed” and “complex” plan for just how that will work?
As for “leading to undesirable temperatures”, the current anthropogenically-elevated temperatures are self-evidently already undesirable, and are already having destructive impacts, and beyond any reasonable doubt we are headed for worse. There is no way around it. The only way through it is to eliminate GHG anthropogenic emissions as quickly as possible.
I focus on eliminating fossil-fueled electricity generation because it is one of the easiest, quickest, most affordable, and generally beneficial opportunities to do that.
flexible at #205: Nicely put, especially: “Talk “the 1%” into dedicating 90% of their worth towards achieving this utopia of which you speak.” There’s the rub. As K. Anderson points out, it is a relatively small portion of the total global population who could rather quickly do rather a lot toward reducing total carbon emissions. The problem is that it is exactly that portion of humanity who are (mostly) the most entrenched in short term, me-first ideology. (That’s pretty much, after all, how they got where they are and how they justify maintaining that status.)
SA said (of me, presumably): “those who have their hearts set on failure and take comfort in defeatism and despair”
I do wish others would stop mis-characterizing my positions, though. If people want a practical step, how about getting rid of subsidies to ff companies. I helped elect and re-elect one of the sponsors of a bill to do just that, and have been pushing him to do so and to keep at it. Is that practical enough? Have others done the same? I have also struggled at every level from personal/family, through workplace/municiple to national international to effect changes, often at considerable sacrifice. How are others doing on these fronts? My http://www.myfootprint.org score is down to one earth–how are others doing on that front?
Ray (@#484), I agree with most of what you say here. I just think we are past the point that we can realistically offer promise of things getting better. Unfortunately, again as K. Anderson points out, all choices are now dire and radical. In the shorter term, though, I do think it would be possible to offer such things as forgiveness of debts, free universal healthcare, free education, guaranteed employment and housing, much reduced income disparity…but that would mean taking on the 1% and those who support them directly and those who have been duped into supporting them. But perhaps if the nation were put on the kind of emergency footing necessary to the current need, those would be more…doable.
And yes, some things like insulation and alternative energy systems do need to grow, but, though ‘austerity’ (if you choose to call it) may not be sufficient, I have to agree with Kevin Anderson that there is now no way to get anywhere close to where we have to be without a lot of immediate curtailment of activities that generate emissions–economic contraction. Obviously, you see it differently. Perhaps we just need to leave it there.
Yet another climate scientist choosing to speak out about the truth of our situation (in spite of the likelihood of being accused of being among “those who have their hearts set on failure and take comfort in defeatism and despair”):
“Climate scientist Dessler to US Senate: ‘Climate change is a clear and present danger’”
“Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist from Texas A&M University, was one of the expert climate science witnesses invited to testify. In his testimony, Dessler simply and clearly articulated what we know about climate change, and why he personally views it as “a clear and present danger.” Dessler’s main points were:
1. The climate is warming – not just the atmosphere, but also the oceans, which are rising as a result, and ice is melting.
2. Most of the recent warming is extremely likely due to emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by human activities. This is supported by overwhelming evidence and hence was a conclusion of the 2014 IPCC report.
3. Future warming could be large. Over the 21st century, if we continue with business-as-usual, the IPCC projects 2.6–4.8°C average global surface warming.
4. The impacts of this are profound. The virtually certain impacts include increasing temperatures, more frequent extreme heat events, changes in the distribution of rainfall, rising seas, and the oceans becoming more acidic. There are numerous additional possible impacts as well.”
SA, Those ‘gigwatts’ of alternatives are NOT being deployed by ‘the masses’, or by governments to ameliorate AGW or help the masses, they’re being deployed by wealthy investors to produced profit.
I have been fully involved in alternatives since I was old enough to realize the world was ‘going to hell in a handbasket’. I’ve dealt with a major resource in Canada, have kept tuned to our local consultants/installers, have been watching prices of panels/systems at a wholesaler here on the Island, and am aware of regional activities such as the Haida Gwaii wind project and various “run of the river” schemes, which of course will be expected to be paid for by whatever they generate, plus a profit. I’m also well aware of the information the BCsea discusses about costs. Alternatives to CO2 emissions [other than reduction] are not affordable for the average person even in N America, let alone in developing countries.
Wili, People tend to act in concert with their perceived interests. The 1% are greedy bastards. We have to promise them the prospect of gain–and there is a whole helluva lot to gain in developing a new infrastructure for energy, agriculture and industry in a century. And last I checked, we lived in a quasi-democracy, so if we can educate a majority of the 99%, we can ameliorate some of the worst of the buccaneer capitalism we see in the US.
There is nothing to be gained by despair. Even if it is too late to avoid severe consequences, we’ll be better of for trying than we will if we give up and get drunk. A guarantee of success is not a prerequisite for a heroic effort.
Wili, if I may, I like reading your posts. They’re quite informative. I think we have every reason to be seriously concerned and there’s not nearly the amount of so called “hand wringing” coming from this site that I see coming from many other reputable climate sites. I don’t think there’s a person on here who in there heart of hearts isn’t worried. They may not say it publically but if they’re honest and really understand the situation I don’t know how you couldn’t be worried. Just because someone is worried doens’t mean they’re not rational and level headed. Fear is the very thing that keeps us alive because it causes us to avoide dangerious situations.
Right now we’re all hell bent on trying to avoid a very dangerous situation. As long as we stay calm and rational we can arrive at solutions. I don’t mind admitting I’m more than a little worried. We just have to stay focused on solutions and hope we have enough time to implement them. Our problem is more political than anything else. I think we know how to fix most of the problems but we’re stymied by ignorance and apathy on the part of the general public and political gridlock in D.C. I’m not at all sure we can overcome that problem. It would, in my opinion require a massive PR campaign and we need some serious media backing and money to match organizations like The Heritage Foundation. We have the message and the knowledge but we don’t have the PR skills and we’re not employing the very people who would be most willing to back our message. Robert Redford is on the Board of Directors at the NRDC. He’s already made a documentary about the Colorado River. He spoke out during the BP Oil Spill and he knows how to use a camera. It may sound far fetched but I think it would be a great idea to get his attention.
Ray wrote: “Even if it is too late to avoid severe consequences, we’ll be better of for trying than we will if we give up” I agree (though I’m not completely averse to a drink or two now and then). I just think we need to have one place where we can stare the scientific truth in the face no matter how dire it is. I was thinking this would/should be that place.
You seem to be saying that we can’t talk about anything any scientist says if it suggests really, really bad things are heading our way (and if we do, we will be accused of advocating despair….). I hope I am misreading you on that.
“The 1% are greedy bastards. We have to promise them the prospect of gain…” Or maybe we have to rethink their worth (or lack thereof) to society. There is no end to their greed. They would consume the whole planet and more, and are in fact largely doing so. Providing them with yet more of the same is no solution, imvho.
about the problems with EIA projections. The main problem is that the EIA is constrained to not make assumptions about new future policies, but it can allow current policy to expire as scheduled. This leads to absurd overall scenarios that result in ridiculous projections. It is unfortunate that many individuals are not aware of these distortions that render some EIA projections useless (even damaging). I urge everyone to check out that posting.
Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Jan 2014 @ 10:43 PM
Thanks, Chuck. Yeah, the Heritage Foundation and its ilk are doing a lot of very careful planning and strategizing with very disciplined, well coordinated (dis-)information campaigns. While there are obviously some groups doing important things on ‘our’ side, I don’t know of any group yet that has fixed on either Hansen’s or Anderson’s goals of 6% (global) or 10% (industrial nations) annual reductions in ghgs. I’d be glad to be pointed to any group that is (besides the Holmgren stuff).
Now please take careful note: not one of my proposals is leftist or anti-capitalist. Adam Smith would have no trouble with any of it. Every single item that I raised would have the effect of invigorating markets by re-establishing actual competition.
These measures are inevitable …. don’t be fooled. That is noise rising from the ancient enemies of market enterprise. Not soc i a lism, but feudalism. And they have no idea that modern versions of tumbrels are being fashioned, by their own hands.
Thanks, Hank (@#516). It’s a good piece. To save others time, I would just point out that you need to scroll down on that site to the section headed “Who benefits from the politics of outrage?” to get to the part that includes what Hank quoted.
But really much of that good analysis is stuff that’s been around for decades. Most folks with a clear head know the general contours of the basic problem, but so far the political will to change these insane practices is not really in evidence. It’s why some of us were hoping that Elizabeth Warren might run for president. But then one person, even a president, is not likely to be able to enact these changes alone.
1)We see from Balmaseda(2013) doi:10.1002/grl.50382 that heat is increasingly mixed down to colder layers.
2)We know that thermal expansion coeff of sea water at increases with T
3)We know that GIS put 574 Gtonne(1.5mm SLR) into the ocean 2012, and AIS is doing 1/2 mm/yr now
4)But SLR shows no upward excursion in response to 3)
is it possible that SLR due to meltwater from ice sheets is masked by decreased thermal expansion of seawater since colder waters are warming ?
please dont make me do the gridded calculation … someone… anyone … Cazenave ? Mitrovica ?
Demand “solutions” like immediately shutting down the entire electric grids of every developed country on Earth and instituting an immediate worldwide ban on all use of fossil-fueled transportation? Would you care to provide a “detailed” and “complex” plan for just how that will work?”
I addressed this issue in #70, on the thread “If you see something, do something”. I stated:
“Maybe the best that can be sold to any substantive number of people is the technology substitution approach offered by e.g. SecularA, which would maintain economic activity. As I have pointed out, my estimate is that it would lead us to a temperature peak somewhere between 2-3 C (given that Anderson has considered renewables and improved energy efficiency as part of his proposal, and still requires substantial demand reduction to stay within 2 C). How horrific life would be at such temperatures, and whether we can stabilize at such temperature levels is open to question, and is one of these questions which would best be left unanswered by proactive avoidance policies.”
Your approach may delay the inevitable, but it won’t prevent it. However, is your approach really a Trojan Horse? Here’s what I have in mind. To get the billions of people on board that would be required even to get your approach accepted globally, their ‘consciousness’ or ‘level of awareness’ would have to be raised from the present Level 1 to some higher Level 2. Analogous to many energy state transitions, it may be too large a transition to go from Level 1 to some Level 3 where sufficient cuts in economic activity would be required to reduce total CO2 emissions to some acceptable level. But, once the thinking and awareness have adapted to that required for Level 2, perhaps the transition from Level 2 to Level 3 may be more feasible. So, in a sense, your proposal would be the ‘foot in the door’ that could possibly lead to doing what needs to be done rather than lead to doing what can be sold. This two-step approach may not be optimal (one immediate transition step would be better), but it may be adequate for survival. Is that what’s in the back of your mind, or are you basically satisfied with rapid introduction of renewables and increased energy efficiency?
flxible wrote: “SA, Those ‘gigwatts’ of alternatives are NOT being deployed by ‘the masses’, or by governments to ameliorate AGW or help the masses, they’re being deployed by wealthy investors to produce profit.”
First, SO WHAT? Does the fact that a solar panel is “producing profit” somehow cause it to generate less zero-emission electricity?
Second, as a matter of fact, you are incorrect. The great majority of solar generating capacity deployed so far is in the form of relatively small, distributed, end-user PV installations — NOT large “profit producing” utility-scale power plants.
In fact, one of the hot issues today in countries like Germany and Australia where distributed rooftop solar is exploding is that end-user electricity consumers are generating so much of their own power that the profit model of the large-scale, centralized generators of grid power is being seriously undermined.
And third, the ongoing expansion of distributed, end-user solar power is, in significant part, being enabled by various government policies designed specifically to promote the deployment of solar power.
I have never said that what is happening now is “enough”. What I have said is that it demonstrates what CAN be done, if we choose to do it.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Jan 2014 @ 11:56 AM
wili wrote: “I do wish others would stop mis-characterizing my positions, though.”
Well, join the club.
I am pretty fed up with being accused of advocating “endless growth” every time I simply point out that we have at hand the technologies needed to eliminate GHG emissions from electricity generation within a decade if we choose to do so.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Jan 2014 @ 12:05 PM
If you are an emergency room doctor and a guy is brought in who has just had a massive heart attack and is in immediate danger of death, the first thing you need to do is to stabilize him so that he doesn’t croak right there in the ER. You may need to zap him with the paddles, more than once.
IF you can keep him alive and stabilize him, THEN he can be evaluated to determine what if anything can be done to keep him alive longer. Maybe that means medication. Maybe that means scheduling him for emergency bypass surgery ASAP.
And then IF you can get him past that point, AND he can survive and recuperate enough to go home, THEN there will be time to talk about making diet and lifestyle changes to prevent another heart attack, and perhaps even reverse his heart disease, and give him a good chance of living a “sustainable” life for decades to come.
We’ve got a patient in front of us whose heart is failing and about to stop. The comments from a number of participants here sound to me like they are standing in the ER demanding a detailed plan outlining the exact diet and exercise regime that will guarantee the patient’s ongoing wellness — and meanwhile, for lack of emergency intervention, the guy has already died.
If future generations are to have ANY chance at all, if the Earth’s biosphere is to have ANY chance to heal, then we need to eliminate virtually all anthropogenic GHG emissions in THIS GENERATION.
That is our urgent task — not drawing up plans for “sustainability” on the scale of millennia. That’s an ongoing task that will extend indefinitely into the future — but only if there is a future.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Jan 2014 @ 12:27 PM
“The comments from a number of participants here sound to me like they are standing in the ER demanding a detailed plan ….”
in the US that would end “… of who’s going to pay the bills” :(
Canada doesn’t have much of the subsidy action the US has, nor do most other countries, and the gigawatt wind project you originally referenced is a commercial venture, aimed at a specific area, so for the consumer, yes profit matters in this capitalist world.
An industrial and technological society would be highly desirable if there were no consequences and if it could be maintained without growth. Without those things, even if renewables, built, operated and maintained only with renewables, provided the source of energy, there would still be carbon lost from the soil, there would still be ecosystem damage as materials were mined and waste was dumped.
This is what I’ve yet to see explained; how we run even this economy, these societies, on zero-emission power, without continuing to damage the environent that supports everything else.
As SA has stated, climate change is a crisis that we have to respond to. However, responding to the crisis in a way that supposes we can continue doing what we do, will just be kicking the can down the road. Of course, kicking the can down the road may be a good idea, all the same, I have to admit. But, as James Hansen has noted, a stable climate is now a memory. I’m not sure we can continue to do what we do, even with renewables, without a stable climate.
Economic growth is growth in goods and services. Smart technology isn’t going to provide growth without needing more resources and energy. Maybe from time to time, it could, but not over the longer term.
“If you are an emergency room doctor and a guy is brought in who has just had a massive heart attack and is in immediate danger of death, the first thing you need to do is to stabilize him so that he doesn’t croak right there in the ER. You may need to zap him with the paddles, more than once.”
Wrong analogy; that’s not what we have. In our situation, the guy is brought into a rehab center. He has been on ‘coke’ for decades, and his vital organs are on the verge of collapse. if you’re the attending physician, you would tell him he could reduce his ‘coke’ 5% a month, and substitute methadone. In about a year and a half, he would be off ‘coke’. If I’m the attending physician, I tell him he needs to go ‘cold turkey’, given the lab tests on his vital organs. If he says he can’t do ‘cold turkey’, but is willing to substitute 20% methadone per month for coke, I’d probably say ‘OK, but there’s no guarantee you’ll survive; your vital organs are too far gone already, and even with cold turkey, you may not make it’.
The Hansen targets mean ‘cold turkey’ for emissions. Anderson’s 2 C limit is the 20% per month substitution for methadone. Your approach is the 5% per month for twenty months. Better than nothing, but that patient better have his Will made out.
“And contrary to green capitalism proponents, across the spectrum from resource extraction to manufacturing, the practical possibilities for “greening” and “dematerializing” production are severely limited. This means the only way to prevent overshoot and collapse is to enforce a massive economic contraction in the industrialized economies, retrenching production across a broad range of unnecessary, resource-hogging, wasteful and polluting industries, even virtually shutting down the worst.”
Insightful article about relation of economics to climate change. Think about this article when you read the proposals about converting to renewables and increased energy efficiency technologies and maintaining prosperity and jobs in parallel.
The article is far from insightful. It sounds like it was written by a Rush Limbaugh of the left–string together a series of true observations and use them to justify an utter nonsequitur. In particular, the author makes it sound like game over if we haven’t cut emissions by 90% in 2050. Yes, things will get worse, but most of the worst effects will unfold slowly and can be mitigated to some extent.
Yes, we are in deep kimchee. No, we don’t know how to create a sustainable civilization. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible or that we should prejudge what such a society would look like. I agree that in the near term, the consumer society we have grown up in is going to have to be drastically reduced. I do not think this requires drastic reductions in the welfare of all citizens–quite the contrary.
People need enough to eat–that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of meat protein. They need to be sheltered–that doesn’t mean everyone gets a McMansion. They need some transport–that doesn’t mean everyone gets his or her own car or flies at will on a plane. They need to be clothed–that doesn’t mean a closet overflowing with clothes we don’t wear. And people need a degree of security–I think that the magnitude of the task before us is sufficient to guarantee work to all.
Sustainable does not mean static. Progress can and must be maintained.
There are many other “oscillations” whose impact is analysed by climatologists. The NOAA presentation of data indices you ask of @495 includes many such “oscillations” but the only ones that are significant for the global temperature record are the ones that represent (in some form or other) ENSO. This includes MEI, NINO3.4 & SOI. The PDO is very much interlinked with ENSO. This graph of ENSO(MEI) & PDO shows strong correlation between the two. If you increase the smoothing (see here), the “negative” phase of PDO coincides with a “negative” phase in ENSO. And so does the “positive” phase.
Thus when you @495 talk of “when the negative ENSO and the negative PDO and the “negative” solar cycles go positive”, you are trying to having your ESNO cake and PDO eat-it at the same time while also adding for good measure some meagre ‘solar cycle’ crumbs off the plate. Such climatalogical accounting is surely bonkers.
The usual definition of an El Nino is when 6 consecutive months have a NINO3.4 anomaly above +0.4ºC (& a La Nina -0.4ºC). Other definitions put ‘warm’ conditions as above +0.8ºC. But what that graph shows is a strong set of predictions for El Nino conditions for the back end of 2014. NOTE – That is strong predictions but NOT a prediction of a strong El Nino.
Tony Weddle: “Economic growth is growth in goods and services.”
Why, gee, thank you for that textbook definition. Had I known you were going to provide this, it would have saved me the trouble of taking Econ 101 35 years ago!
Actually, it is the value of the goods and services we are talking about. Increasing the quality/capability/durability and decreasing the resources permanently consumed in making the goods increases growth. Services are the fastest growing portion of the economy–and they are neither extractive nor consumption intensive. Economic growth can be driven by technological advance–we just have to get a whole helluva lot better at it.
MARodger at 535 wrote: “strong predictions but NOT a prediction of a strong El Nino” Good point, but when “La Nada” years like 2013 are in the top ranks of hottest year on earth, any kind of El Nino is almost certainly going to be record breaking.
I didn’t say I agreed with every point of his, but I do agree with his general assertion that switching to a ‘green’ economy without severe economic cutbacks won’t hack it. There is no article I have found where I fully agree with the statement of the problem and the proposed solutions. The problem seems relatively clear. If we couple Hansen’s prior-Holocene-based temperature limit of ~1.1 C with the results of the CO2 cessation TODAY studies, we find that we have run out of carbon budget. I’m not going to argue with Hansen on that target, and, in fact, he is one of many who have proposed similar numbers.
Now, if one believes we have run out of carbon budget, what is the next step? Well, we know what we would do on a personal level. If we ran out of credit or funds, we would cut spending to the bare minimum until the day our finances improved. Or, if we suffered a severe wound, and were in danger of running out of too much blood, we would apply a tourniquet until the flow stopped. Somehow, when it comes to running out of carbon budget, these common sense approaches no longer apply. Well, we just adjust the tourniquet very loosely, and let the blood flow gradually stop, so after a few days maybe it has ceased. You state: ” In particular, the author makes it sound like game over if we haven’t cut emissions by 90% in 2050.” Well, if in fact the worst case of Hansen’s concerns comes true, 90% cuts in emissions by 2050 may be overly optimistic; that’s what running out of carbon budget means.
My message is not getting across; I will repeat it from another perspective. As I have shown on other posts, we have run out of carbon budget. Cessation of CO2 emissions today would result in a temperature peak (in a decade or two) at the limit Hansen states it would not be safe to exceed (~1.1 C). Any rational strategy from here on out involves minimizing further CO2 emissions, recognizing that ANY further CO2 emissions push us further into that unknown region that could lead uncontrollably to the ‘unthinkable’.
The ONLY projections that count in this scenario are fossil fuel use. Any projections I have seen for fossil fuel use, whether from EIA, IEA, industry, or any other credible source show increasing use out into the foreseeable future. Renewables or nuclear projections are irrelevant EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT THAT THEY REDUCE LEGACY FOSSIL FUEL PROJECTIONS. I don’t care that reneweables might replace fossil fuel GROWTH; that’s an irrelevant metric. If they, or nuclear, can’t replace the BAU fossil projections, what I call the legacy fossil fuel projections, we will see today’s global climate models projections for 2100 occurring well before then.
The fossil fuel nation states (oil, coal, and gas) depend too much on this resource for revenues and jobs to allow renewables or nuclear to take a meaningful and environmentally-protective share of the market. We all know the role the fossil energy companies, with their vast resources, are playing to preserve this industry. So, unless you can show me a credible projection of rapidly PLUNGING fossil fuel consumption, with the slack taken up either by GREATLY reduced demand or EXTREMELY RAPID introduction of renewables and nuclear, the admittedly sizable errors by the EIA or anyone else in projecting these small renewables numbers are meaningless in the larger picture.
I’ll stipulate that we need significant energy savings. I would not say “severe”. When an avalanche took out a transmission tower supplying Juneau, AK back in 2008, the residents made significant energy savings with very little time to prepare and without severe hardship. There is a lot of fat to cut before things get severe.
What is more, mere austerity wouldn’t get us there in any case. If we simply cut energy consumption by 90% abruptly, the results would be catastrophic. Energy consumption by 8 billion severely freaked out humans during a population crash would not be less than energy consumption by 10 billion during a soft demographic landing.
We need a concerted effort to develop more efficient technology, not economic contraction. If we can get people on board with that, we stand a snowball’s chance in hell of coming out the other side with something that at least resembles a global civilization.
Diogenes wrote: ” I do agree with his general assertion that switching to a ‘green’ economy without severe economic cutbacks won’t hack it.”
“Severe economic cutbacks” tells me nothing. It reminds me of a fellow I encountered on another blog who loved to repeat the mantra that addressing AGW would require “draconian sacrifices” that “the public” would never accept — but he steadfastly refused to spell out exactly what those “draconian sacrifices” might be or exactly why they would be required.
You have repeatedly demanded “credible projections” and “detailed plans”. Perhaps you would care to share “details” of the “severe economic cutbacks” that you believe are needed, and some “credible projections” for actually achieving them.
While I’m waiting, I just keep watching coal-fired power plants being closed and long-term contracts for coal-fired electricity being canceled, because coal is no longer competitive with wind and solar.
If human nature is consistent, seven billion people will die this century, one way or another.
What matters isn’t who dies or how, so much, it’s what do we leave behind. “A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.”
It’s what we leave alive after we’ re dead that matters.
Diogenes wrote: “Your approach is the 5% per month for twenty months.”
No, that does not remotely resemble any “approach” that I have ever advocated, here or anywhere else.
What I have said repeatedly is that we can eliminate ALL greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation (33 percent of US emissions) within 10 years, if we choose to do so. And I have said repeatedly that the current explosive growth of solar and wind generated electricity demonstrates that we can, in fact, do that.
I have also repeatedly pointed out that the USA in particular WASTES well over half of our primary energy consumption, and much of that waste can be very easily ended using readily available and well-understood efficiency measures.
Both of those approaches — moving rapidly towards zero-emission electricity and maximizing efficiency — are ongoing, are proven effective, and could be greatly accelerated by appropriate public policies.
NEVER have I said that those are the ONLY approaches that are needed.
There is much more that could be and should be done. For example, also within the realm of energy generation and use, we can and should electrify most ground transport and bring the age of the internal combustion engine to an end as soon as possible — which I think will be more challenging than de-carbonizing the electricity supply but still could be accomplished much more quickly than most people imagine.
Outside of the energy domain, there is a huge opportunity to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture — and even to draw down the existing GHG excess by sequestering CO2 in soils and biomass — through organic agriculture and a shift to vegan diets.
As I wrote in my previous comment, what I would like to see from you is a specific, detailed proposal for achieving in “the real world” the “severe economic cutbacks” that you insist are needed. Exactly what are these cutbacks? Exactly how would they reduce emissions, and how quickly? Who exactly would be affected by them, and how? And who will make them happen?
Ideologically-driven anti-capitalist screeds like Richard Smith’s TruthOut essay are not what I’m looking for, and I don’t think they are very helpful.
The Richard Smith TruthOut essay that Diogenes linked to above concludes by asserting that solving the global warming problem “is inconceivable without the abolition of capitalist private property in the means of production and the institution of collective bottom-up democratic control over the economy and society.”
Right. As I understand the science, if we are to have any hope of avoiding the worst outcomes of anthropogenic global warming, GHG emissions must peak and begin a steep decline within five years at most, to near zero within 10-20 years at most, with most of those reductions occuring in the first 5-10 years.
And Richard Smith proposes that the way to accomplish those reductions in that very, very short time frame is to abolish capitalism and private property and institute complete control of “the economy and society” by a global “collective”.
“As I wrote in my previous comment, what I would like to see from you is a specific, detailed proposal for achieving in “the real world” the “severe economic cutbacks” that you insist are needed. Exactly what are these cutbacks? Exactly how would they reduce emissions, and how quickly? Who exactly would be affected by them, and how? And who will make them happen?”
Well, SA, you and I have one thing in common. Neither of us have offered a credible proposal that would keep the planet out of Hansen’s and Anderson’s danger zone; not even close. You make believe you have, with no backup. There’s nothing new in your proposals; these options have been known for decades. What would be ‘new’ is to show that some combination of them at this point in time would keep us out of the danger zone. You haven’t been able to do it, because your combination of options is missing the essential ingredient: the sharp cutback in demand that Anderson and many other experts believe is a non-negotiable requirement for keeping us out of potential ‘catastrophe’.
I have not offered one either, and I have stated the reasons many times. I don’t think that any approach that requires severe economic decreases will be acceptable to investors, workers, and politicians, even though that’s what I believe we need. I think the technology substitution approaches might find receptive audiences, but they won’t take us anywhere near where we need to go. What you propose is certainly better than BAU, but in my view takes us well into the danger zone.
“While I’m waiting, I just keep watching coal-fired power plants being closed and long-term contracts for coal-fired electricity being canceled, because coal is no longer competitive with wind and solar.”
Well, I just keep watching the Keeling Curve continue its monolithic climb upwards, and the CO2 emission curves following suit. The fossil fuel nation states (oil, coal, and gas) depend too much on the fossil resource for revenues and jobs to allow renewables or nuclear to take a meaningful and environmentally-protective share of the market. We all know the role the fossil energy companies, with their vast resources, are playing to preserve this industry. I see no slowdown in fossil fuel exploration, no slowdown in construction of fossil fuel distribution facilities, and absolutely no credible projections of any slowdown in fossil fuel demand. If anything, they are increasing, especially in the rapidly developing nations of this world.
H-h-h-hank…. I’m assuming you mean d-d-die of natural c-c-causes, d-d-don’tcha Hank? Like, old age? …Right?
“If human nature is consistent, seven billion people will die this century, one way or another.
What matters isn’t who dies or how, so much, it’s what do we leave behind. “A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.”
It’s what we leave alive after we’ re dead that matters.”
Comment by Hank Roberts
A little bit of snark there from me but that does sound quite serious. (A little bit of humor helps me to cope). Sorry, but I read most of your comments and I’ve never seen you state things in quite that manner before.
“In December, Kevin Anderson, a climate scientist at the Tyndall Center, sent an open letter to the European Commission, insisted an 80 percent cut by 2030 was needed to keep global warming below the 2°C threshold.” This is for a 2 C ceiling, which Anderson and Hansen both acknowledge is far too dangerous. What level of cuts would we need by 2030 to keep out of the dangerous regime: far more than the 10% Anderson says is necessary to stay under 2 C. And, how could we achieve these desired emission cuts?????
Your observation is well-taken. Let’s summarize the full chain, to see the full context of this event.
Hansen and many other leading scientists believe that going beyond prior-Holocene temperatures in the transition period away from fossil fuel use would lead to uncharted, perhaps very dangerous, waters. They suggest a temperature ceiling of ~1 C. That ceiling, coupled with the results of CO2 emission cessation computations, means that we have run out of carbon budget TODAY!
Anderson, who suggests we need to cut emissions by 10% per year starting now to stay within the dangerous 2 C ceiling, is viewed by many as a radical for such high goals (and the attendant economy cuts required to achieve these reductions). And, his emission reduction recommendation computations do not include the major carbon feedbacks in the models, so the real emission reductions required are greater than 10% per annum just to reach the dangerous zone of 2 C.
The EU has now set a target of 40% reduction over 16 years, or a non-compounded average of about 2.5% per year. That is well below Anderson’s required reductions, and means that their effective target is on the order of 3 C or more. Now, this is a target; what are the penalties for a country that doesn’t meet the emissions reduction target? Are there substantive penalties involved? My understanding is that some of the EU countries were extremely recalcitrant about the 40% target; what will happen to them if they don’t comply. And, if they don’t comply, are the de facto targets closer to 4 C, or even larger?
So, Kevin, as you note, the EU leaders have set the bar very low on what should have been a very lofty target. What does that mean about what will actually get accomplished, and what does that imply for the rapidly developing countries like China and India who have not come close to setting such targets?
During that short blip a vast amount of energy got transferred to the living environment. First, it turned into people and stuff.
Where does that energy and organic material go after that? A lot of it gets consumed by bacteria — more than you’d expect because we’ve killed off most of the larger animals and plants, and pushed bacterial evolution by feeding it vast quantities of novel organic compounds with which to work:
… transforming complex food webs topped by big animals into simplified, microbially dominated ecosystems with boom and bust cycles of toxic dinoflagellate blooms, jellyfish, and disease. Rates of change are increasingly fast and nonlinear with sudden phase shifts to novel alternative community states. We can only guess at the kinds of organisms that will benefit from this mayhem that is radically altering the selective seascape far beyond the consequences of fishing or warming alone. The prospects are especially bleak for animals and plants compared with metabolically flexible microbes and algae.
What will the bacteria do with all this free lunch we’ve given them?
I doubt they will be a comfort to us all in our old age, somehow.
Our end, if we live right, is to turn all this energy back into sod — soil — and into the other living ecologies with which the world rebuilds from our era.
I thought Neil Armstrong made a significant choice — burial at sea. Looking for memorial to the first man to walk on the Moon?
That would be: Earth.
Diogenes wrote: “Neither of us have offered a credible proposal that would keep the planet out of Hansen’s and Anderson’s danger zone; not even close. You make believe you have, with no backup.”
You continue to claim that I have said things that I have NEVER SAID. This behavior is really now entering the realm of systematic and apparently deliberate dishonesty, which is what distinguishes a troll from someone who is arguing in good faith.
I have never “made believe” that there are any guarantees whatsoever of any particular outcome. In fact I have repeatedly, and VERY CLEARLY, said that the planet is self-evidently already in the “danger zone”, and that in fact it is impossible to know whether we have already passed some “zone of no return” such that catastrophic warming is now inevitable even if all GHG emissions ended today.
What you are doing is demanding that someone “prove” what is in principle unknowable. That is not serious discussion; it is nothing but a pointless rhetorical gambit.
Diogenes wrote: “I don’t think that any approach that requires severe economic decreases will be acceptable to investors, workers, and politicians, even though that’s what I believe we need.”
Whether you “believe” that or not, you certainly keep relentlessly repeating it. And you just as relentlessly REFUSE to give any specifics whatsoever as to what those scary-sounding “severe economic decreases” might be and exactly why they will be needed.
Oddly enough, the claim that rapidly phasing out GHG emissions from fossil fuel use will require “severe economic decreases” is one of the favorite talking points of the fossil fuel propagandists — and oddly enough, every serious economic analysis of the costs of aggressively cutting emissions has shown that claim to be spurious, and has found that the costs of urgent action are tiny compared to the costs of delay and inaction.
I note that you linked to an article on the EU plan to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, apparently to support your argument that “severe economic decreases” are necessary and unavoidable. I also note that you were careful to omit this part of the article:
A major study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, along with 11 other supporting research groups, recently concluded that the 40 percent cut by 2030 would cost a mere 0.7 percent of the European economy. The technologies necessary to make it happen are low-cost and already in the pipeline: further deployment of renewable energy, more energy efficiency, and more nuclear power, for example.
In short, emissions can be reduced 40 percent below 1990 levels by doing next to nothing.
Obviously that is insufficient, and obviously a larger transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel sector to other sectors of the economy will be needed to, for example, reduce emissions to near zero by the 2030s — that transfer of wealth being what the fossil fuel industry calls “severe economic decreases”.
So again, you have utterly failed to support your claims that effective action will require draconian sacrifices. All you have offered is defeatism, despair, and ideological tirades demanding the “end of private property and capitalism” and imposition of a “global collective to run the economy and society” — as though such rhetoric represented a substantive and serious proposal.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Jan 2014 @ 11:35 AM
Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 23 Jan 2014 @ 9:59 AM
In addition to what Secular Animist said in his response, 11:35 AM , your posts match the- “Denial noise 1.) The doomer” description of climate denial tactics posted on “The secret of conclusion and how to spot climate denial” website linked by Prokaryotes above, 5:29 PM.
“You continue to claim that I have said things that I have NEVER SAID. This behavior is really now entering the realm of systematic and apparently deliberate dishonesty, which is what distinguishes a troll from someone who is arguing in good faith.”
You take more steps backward than a Flamenco dancer. Whenever I challenge the spirit and usually the text of your statements, there comes the usual denial. Well, let’s take a look at some of those statements.
#37. “Fortunately we do have short-term technical fixes available, which, IF THEY ARE APPLIED, can quickly stop, and then begin to reverse, the increase in atmospheric GHG levels within a decade or two at the most. And that’s what we urgently need to do, if we want to buy time to address the more difficult problems (e.g. population growth).”
#129. ” There is no shortage of visions accompanied by realistic plans that COULD be executed to stop the growth of GHG emissions and begin steep reductions within 5 years, leading to near zero emissions in 10-20 years with most of the reductions occurring up front, followed by a draw-down of the existing anthropogenic excess of atmospheric GHGs towards pre-industrial levels in the second half of the 21st century.
Unfortunately what CAN be done — what in my view can be VERY EASILY DONE, with enormously beneficial “side effects” for humanity in addition to addressing the GHG crisis — and what WILL be done, are two different questions.”
#176. ” As I said, contrary to popular belief, getting enough energy to power a technologically advanced civilization in perpetuity (or at least as long as the sun shines and the wind blows) is not a problem. It’s easy……If we can solve the global warming problem quickly — which we certainly can do, IF we choose to do so — then we can buy the time to deal with those problems.”
#198. ” Yes, it is possible to get to a zero carbon civilization while improving civilization drastically.”
#287. ” The solution is far easier than most people realize.”
#375. ” And as a “precursor to potential movement”, it provides evidence that we have at hand the technological and economic means to eliminate all GHG emissions from electricity generation in a much shorter time than most people realize.”
#475. ” We need to solve that specific problem NOW — within YEARS, not decades — if we are to have any hope of “sustaining” our civilization long enough that we’ll need to worry about the challenges of sustaining a renewable energy / recycling based economy over many millennia.”
#492. ” We have the ability to eliminate virtually all of those emissions within 10 years, by rapidly deploying today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies. The explosive and accelerating growth of wind and solar energy that we have already seen in the last few years demonstrates that this is possible. Achieving this will have enormously beneficial environmental, economic and social “side effects” in addition to reducing GHG emissions and has no real downside in any of those respects.”
#503. ” What I have said is that we have in hand, now, the technologies needed to quickly eliminate a large part of anthropogenic GHG emissions, namely those from fossil-fueled electricity generation — IF we choose to do so. ”
#525. ” If future generations are to have ANY chance at all, if the Earth’s biosphere is to have ANY chance to heal, then we need to eliminate virtually all anthropogenic GHG emissions in THIS GENERATION. ”
The impression one gets from reading all your comments above is that it is relatively simple to get to a ‘near zero emissions economy in 10-20 years with most of the reductions occurring up front, followed by a draw-down of the existing anthropogenic excess of atmospheric GHGs towards pre-industrial levels in the second half of the 21st century’, ‘it is possible to get to a zero carbon civilization while improving civilization drastically’, and ‘we can solve the global warming problem quickly — which we certainly can do, IF we choose to do so’. That certainly sounds to me like you are offering a solution to the global warming problem. But, your problem is, you know that your proposed approaches will not lead to a solution of this problem, and therefore you continually refuse to ‘own’ the consequences of your proposals. If they are not going to solve the problem so that we can avoid the Apocalypse, what’s the purpose of offering them? Just to quote Livermore reports, or today’s solar installation numbers?
I have made very specific statements as to what I believe the problem is, what is needed, and what is possible. I ‘own’ every one of them. I have linked to articles some of which I agree with almost in total, and some of which I agree with in part. I usually point out those sections with which I agree. I ‘own’ what I state; it’s about time you started to do the same!
“What you are doing is demanding that someone “prove” what is in principle unknowable. That is not serious discussion; it is nothing but a pointless rhetorical gambit.”
There is nothing unusual about asking a proposer to generate some numbers to back up his statements. We do this in every walk of life; why should we not do it with proposals to improve the probability of survival of our species?
“And you just as relentlessly REFUSE to give any specifics whatsoever as to what those scary-sounding “severe economic decreases” might be and exactly why they will be needed.”
As Anderson (who has studied the problem in far more detail than you have) states, changing the supply side alone will not give sufficient emissions reductions to keep us even within a 2 C ceiling (much less the required 1 C ceiling). He states that ‘significant’ cuts in economic activity are required to reduce the emissions NOW, not in a generation when the new supply options become available. Extrapolating to what would be required to stay within the desired ceiling of 1 C, ‘significant’ cuts translate into ‘severe’ cuts.
“Oddly enough, the claim that rapidly phasing out GHG emissions from fossil fuel use will require “severe economic decreases” is one of the favorite talking points of the fossil fuel propagandists — and oddly enough, every serious economic analysis of the costs of aggressively cutting emissions has shown that claim to be spurious, and has found that the costs of urgent action are tiny compared to the costs of delay and inaction.”
Ah, this is really the only card you have: guilt by association.
“I note that you linked to an article on the EU plan to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, apparently to support your argument that “severe economic decreases” are necessary and unavoidable. ….In short, emissions can be reduced 40 percent below 1990 levels by doing next to nothing.”
No question about it; as I pointed out, they are proposing emissions reductions on the order of ~2.5% per year. With energy efficiency improvements and some introduction of renewables, should be relatively straight-forward. As I also pointed out, reductions of this magnitude will do little, if anything, in preventing the Apocalypse. So, the EU, the leaders in climate advocacy, at least according to Kevin McKinney, essentially proposed a target that requires little effort beyond where they are presently going, and will do next to nothing to address the real problem. Maybe you should do some reflection on what that means.
In short, it is clear that you are throwing out bits and pieces of established technologies that, when taken together, will not solve the global warming problem, as you have claimed above. It’s time you started ‘owning’ your proposals if you are going to offer them, and stop the endless weaving, dodging, and name-calling.
A brief excerpt from the comments at the above-linked thread, as an example of why Azimuth is worth reading:
Recent example: Permaculturists advocate keyline tilling, and recently an extensive study of that technique was performed by a prof from the soil sciences department of a reputable university. The claim by the proponents of the theory is that it markedly increased soil fertility over conventional methods. The site selection and tilling was done by a proponent of the technique, who sells plows in the range of $7,000 to $10,000 each to do this kind of tilling. The study was done over a two and one-half year period, at four separate farms, with thousands of baseline samples, samples taken during the tilling study period, and samples taken after the study period.
Result: No measurable increase or change in fertility by any criterion was found. The proponent of the method immediately condemned the study – even though he chose the tilling pattern and did the tilling himself. There’s a huge outcry against science being used to evaluate permaculture and especially this method and so forth and so on, and this study will most probably be swept under the rug if at all possible. See: http://onpasture.com/2013/06/24/keyline-plowing-gets-you-522720-worms-for-280/
Maybe not swept under — the permalculture people, of all those speaking up about climate change, have a fair number of science-educated people involved and some willingness to listen.
And whatever the issue, there are some scientists everywhere, scattered through the population, maybe more scientists than rhetoricians, maybe enough to speak out.
That’s an example of one small specialized area of research, where getting comment from scientists would have to come after getting any interested scientists to even read, let alone replicate, cite, and eventually support warnings based on that science.
Scientists are mostly doing their own work. Campaigning for policy change? They’re busy seeing how the world works and telling that.
Think about that guy out on the bow of the Titanic assigned to watch for icebergs ahead. He yells out he sees one; he hears the other watch standers echo the warning, he knows it’s been passed up to the pilot house.
What’s he supposed to do next — he’s the one who actually sees the iceberg. Leave his post and go run up the ladders to take the wheel or slap the captain awake?
(Oh, wait, there was nobody up at the bow watching for icebergs, that night on the Titanic; maybe we’re a bit better off than they were)
I think some clarification is needed. The problem we are discussing here is greatly reducing CO2 pollution. SecularAnimist, and others, advocate a rapid switch from fossil energy to non-polluting energy sources. If this is accomplished in a timely manner the biggest part of the problem is solved, isn’t it? You can question the possibility of doing this but you give no reasons why. You say that a large cutback in world economy is also necessary, apparently in addition to what might accompany a switch to renewables, but are unable to provide parameters of the amount of this required cutback or how this might be accomplished.
It is very difficult to find a way forward in the face of powerful sources that deny there actually is a problem and you are accusing many thoughtful folks of the same problems in your own arguments. I, for one, find this annoying.
Diogenes wrote: “Whenever I challenge the spirit and usually the text of your statements, there comes the usual denial.”
That is even more dishonest than your usual comments. Making things up and pretending that I wrote them is not “challenging” anything. It is simply dishonest. And pointing out your dishonesty is not “denial”.
Nowhere in ANY of the excerpts from my comments that you just posted did I say anything about “keeping the planet out of Hansen’s and Anderson’s danger zone” which is what you like to “make believe” I have said.
In fact, I have repeatedly said that the planet is ALREADY in a “danger zone” and that there can be no guarantees of avoiding catastrophe — which should be self-evident to anyone who is paying attention, given that multiple AGW-driven catastrophes are already occurring.
What those excerpts demonstrate is just how egregious is your repeated misrepresentation of my comments.
And I note that once again, you have refused to offer any specifics whatsoever about what those “severe economic decreases” you insist upon actually are, how or by whom they would be implemented and enforced, and how they would affect GHG emissions.
Perhaps it is just a coincidence that your rhetoric is virtually identical to that of the fossil fuel propagandists who promote defeatism, despair and inaction with vacuous claims that phasing out the use of their products will destroy the world’s economy and reduce us all to shivering and starving in caves.
Indeed, I’m quite sure that scary-sounding claims of “severe economic decreases” similar to those that you post here were deployed during the recent EU negotiations by those who opposed setting tougher GHG reduction targets.
“The problem we are discussing here is greatly reducing CO2 pollution. SecularAnimist, and others, advocate a rapid switch from fossil energy to non-polluting energy sources. If this is accomplished in a timely manner the biggest part of the problem is solved, isn’t it?……It is very difficult to find a way forward in the face of powerful sources that deny there actually is a problem and you are accusing many thoughtful folks of the same problems in your own arguments”
The ‘problem’ I am discussing is how to best avoid the Apocalypse, one component of which is ‘greatly reducing CO2 pollution’. We have known, and have had the technology, for decades that a ‘rapid switch from fossil energy to non-polluting sources’ goes a long way toward addressing the problem. SecularA offers nothing new in quoting solar installation numbers or Livermore reports on increasing energy efficiency; there is nothing ‘thoughtful’ in proposing non-solutions to the problem masquerading as solutions. At this point in time, just switching from fossil to non-fossil technologies will not be adequate; part of the problem will be solved, but not the total problem. Anderson has examined this problem in far more detail than you or me. He concludes that we need to have rapid introduction of renewables and energy efficiency improvement technologies, but because of this late date in getting started, we also need a hefty dose of demand reduction. He specifies the numbers needed that will keep us from exceeding 2 C. As I have shown repeatedly, if one believes Hansen is correct, which I do, then we have essentially run out of carbon budget, and much sharper cuts are required. The greater the cuts, the closer we come to Hansen’s ceiling target. Whatever the global governments would collectively decide are acceptable cuts are what we would have to live with. Keep in mind; the less the cuts, the greater the danger!
When one or 2 people take over most of the comments for days, that’s a bad sign. When the bulk of the verbiage is spent on how the other cuss is misconstruing your crystal clear thoughts, that’s even worse. Not interesting to the rest of us, and it’s abusive to make us even skim enough to scroll past it. Please give it a rest. The moderators are much more tolerant than I would be, were I in their position.
If you’ve made your point with longish paragraphs, and clarified in a sentence or two what the main point was in a followup post, that’s enough until you have a different point to make. TIA.
(Scroll to images on p. 25 & 26); & see that ENSO forecast probabilities, while retaining neutrality bias into early summer, now tip towards El Nino by fall, ’14. Perhaps Gavin will finally get his chance @ topping 2010, & we can all bellow: What’s up w/dat?
For those paying attention to the US, this discussion of a classic TNH (Tropical/N. Hemisphere) positive index, treats of CA drought & the endless Clipper parade. Damage to California’s eighth of the country now hinges critically upon the next few weeks. If the ridge breaks down, they can still fill low reservoirs. If not, damages could eclipse both Sandy & the dunking of New Orleans. BTY: the last time California was this dry, in the 1976-77 winter, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation flipped its mode.
It is interesting what part of my post you left out when quoting me, so again, what beyond the elimination of the production of fossil greenhouse gasses requires an economic cutback? This is the confusing component of your message. You can argue that cutting fossil pollution can’t happen quickly enough, but because switching to renewables is a necessary component of your argument you should be cheering on SecularAnimist and others while suggesting ways that this can be speeded up. For example, broadcast the very rapidly expanding practice of leasing (no upfront charges) a grid tied PV system at a rate guaranteed to be less than the grid electricity cost.
Convincing the world’s population to stop consuming (what exactly?) is a very difficult row to hoe. In my own and many neighbors experience with household solar is that it causes one to focus on usage (the Trimetric meter). I think that every home, car, mass transit and airliner seat should have a spendometer for energy usage and pollution.
… Contributors must be properly credentialed, honest, rational, and engaging. Guest postings from non-contributors will also be accepted from time to time if they meet the appropriate standards.
… Below each entry, and above the general comment section, will be comments made by other contributors…. contributors are encouraged to question, debate, dispute, expand, and otherwise discuss other contributions. The public rarely gets to see scientists debating each other, outside of the fake debates that are set up by news shows….
“what beyond the elimination of the production of fossil greenhouse gasses requires an economic cutback? This is the confusing component of your message. You can argue that cutting fossil pollution can’t happen quickly enough, but because switching to renewables is a necessary component of your argument you should be cheering on SecularAnimist and others while suggesting ways that this can be speeded up.”
You’ve got it. That’s exactly the message that I have been sending, and that Anderson and many others have been sending. The key to Anderson’s argument is that switching to renewables or nuclear, or whatever, cannot result in the necessary cuts fast enough (in his case, to stay under the 2 C ceiling). The only way in which this can be achieved is cuts in demand, in addition to energy efficiency improvements and switch to renewables. If you or SA believe these necessary reductions can be achieved without demand cuts, do adequate computations like Anderson and show that he’s wrong. Absent that, the argument is not credible.
No, you don’t. Because you can’t.
Correlation is not something you can see.
Correlation is something you can calculate.
wow… hank…. you can’t see that the patterns match? i understand the difference between correlation and causation. there is clearly a correlation between that PDO pattern and global temp trends. i know the guy who produced that paper is a skeptic or whatever, but if you can’t be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge a correlation, then, well, you’re as much in denial as the denialists. again, i accept the reality of AGW. i’m trying to figure out how to explain the “hiatus” to my denier in-laws and other friends.
maybe you’re hung up on some technical definition of “correlation”? what if i say “relationship”? “similarity”? “pattern matchiness”?
heck, a few posts above yours (@534) MARodgers said:
“There are many other “oscillations” whose impact is analysed by climatologists. The NOAA presentation of data indices you ask of @495 includes many such “oscillations” but the only ones that are significant for the global temperature record are the ones that represent (in some form or other) ENSO. This includes MEI, NINO3.4 & SOI. The PDO is very much interlinked with ENSO. This graph of ENSO(MEI) & PDO shows strong correlation between the two. If you increase the smoothing (see here), the “negative” phase of PDO coincides with a “negative” phase in ENSO. And so does the “positive” phase.
Thus when you @495 talk of “when the negative ENSO and the negative PDO and the “negative” solar cycles go positive”, you are trying to having your ESNO cake and PDO eat-it at the same time while also adding for good measure some meagre ‘solar cycle’ crumbs off the plate. Such climatalogical accounting is surely bonkers.”
sooo… he’s saying that the PDO is “very much interlinked” with ENSO, and that ENSO affects global temps. so, maybe i’m using the wrong words here, but to me that’s an acknowledgement of at least a correlation.
would it be accurate to say the “hiatus” is caused partly by negative cycle phases (ENSO, cake-eating PDO, crumbs of a negative solar cycle), partly by increased deep, medium and upper ocean uptake, and partly by “statistical noise”?
some technical definition of “correlation”? what if i say “relationship”? “similarity”? “pattern matchiness”?
People show up in conversations about science claiming their eyeballs are good at detecting patterns, over and over. The problem is that’s true. Your eyeballs and brain are _excellent_ at detecting patterns.
Whether there is a pattern actually present, or not, you’ll see one.
Throw enough stuff at people and they’ll supply whatever pattern they believe is there. It’s why obfuscation is so good at confusing people.
OK, we are getting somewhere. However, here is your problem. You say- “If you or SA believe these necessary reductions can be achieved without demand cuts, do adequate computations like Anderson and show that he’s wrong. Absent that, the argument is not credible.”
First, there are no computations that can be made regarding how quickly the reductions can be made because this depends upon effort, not what could be done (e.g. reference WWII).
Second, aggressively claiming that someone else has got it wrong when you cannot come up with any possible way to actually do what you think is right makes your arguments to not be credible.
I agree with your perspective on such exchanges, and I plan to respond no further to SA’s endless screeds.
However, in that pile of admittedly vituperative verbiage, there was a ‘pony’; in fact, there were two ponies. These are the two central technical issues that will determine whether we can avoid the potential climate change Apocalypse, and I am extremely dismayed that hardly anyone else picked up on them, and steered the discussion back towards the technical.
First is the setting of the target(s). Before a rational strategy can be developed, or actions taken as J. R. suggested, or a plan that can be presented to the general public as a rallying point, the end goals/targets need to be set. Otherwise, we will end up with mindless expenditures of energy and effort, like hamsters on a treadmill, and drift into the Apocalypse. I have selected temperature as a basis for my discussions, and in particular have selected Hansen’s prior-Holocene-based 1.1 C as a target. No one can claim this is a guaranteed ‘safe’ target, but Hansen seems to imply that the closer we are to past Holocene experience, the more confidence we can have in our computations. Anderson has selected 2 C as a basis for his computations, and in the next breath implied that many leading climate scientists agree with the 1 C target. Some technical/policy people have suggested we need to consider adapting to a 4 C increase. It seems to me that far more discussion on these potential targets is merited than we have seen.
Second is the generation of a strategy that would allow whatever target is selected to be met. It is clear to me that the mix of possible options for any strategy is very dependent on the temperature (and possibly other parameters) target selected. In my view, the central point of disagreement in the exchange was whether strong demand reduction needed to be added to the mix of carbon-lowering technologies in order to meet the target. I, Wili, Tony Weddle, Anderson, and others believe it is required in order to meet the target. Obviously, others disagree.
So, in order to move the discussion beyond the personal, what is your view on the temperature (or other) target required, and what is your view on whether sharp demand reduction is required to meet your target?
Walter Crain @571.
Using HadCRUT4, MEI(ENSO), & PDO(Washington Uni), the correlation between MEI & PDO is strong (which is reassuring as I am quoted by you asserting it exists). The correlation between MEI & temperature is statistically significant. The correlation between PDO & temperature is not. This last one is the one you were proposing.
I think the big thing with the “hiatus” is that it is a phenomenon that evidently stands out beyond the “statistical noise.” The ‘noise’ is of course present in all signals. So listing ‘noise’ as a “cause” of the “hiatus” isn’t helpful. And the “ocean uptake” could be seen as yet more double-counting on your part – a La Nina is a process that sucks energy down into the ocean.
Diogenes wrote: “If you or SA believe these necessary reductions can be achieved without demand cuts …”
You continue to misrepresent my comments. I have REPEATEDLY pointed to the Lawrence Livermore Lab report which shows that far more than half of the USA’s primary energy consumption is wasted.
Therefore it is possible to cut US energy demand by more than half — simply by eliminating waste and implementing well-known efficiency measures — with no reduction whatsoever in the goods and services that we obtain from our energy use.
Your slight-of-hand is to equate reductions in the demand for energy with “severe economic reductions”. They are not the same thing, as years of steady decreases in the amount of energy inputs required for a given amount of US GDP have demonstrated.
Of course, reduction in the demand for fossil fuels will certainly lead to “severe economic reductions” for the fossil fuel corporations, which is exactly why their propaganda dishonestly equates the fossil fuel industry with “the economy”.
Ric Merritt wrote: “When one or 2 people take over most of the comments for days, that’s a bad sign. When the bulk of the verbiage is spent on how the other cuss is misconstruing your crystal clear thoughts, that’s even worse.”
I agree. And I apologize for allowing myself to get sucked into an extended and pointless exchange that was no doubt tedious and annoying to other readers. Having views attributed to me that I do not hold and have never expressed does get my goat. It’s a vulnerability that I should by now have learned to guard against.
And of course, what’s worse is that this blog is about climate science, not about possible emission reduction solutions, so the whole thing is off-topic anyway.
I will say this: I believe the whole notion of trying to determine some specific target concentration of atmospheric CO2, or some specific temperature threshhold, that we should aim for as a maximum, is not at all helpful.
There is no need to know those things.
What we already know is that we have been going in the wrong direction for a century. We know that we are already in the “danger zone” because dangerous and destructive things are already happening. We know that we need to reverse direction as soon as possible, and then go in the opposite direction as fast as possible.
And we know that even if we do that — no matter WHAT we do at this point — there can be no guarantee of success.
(2) It is highly questionable whether this “pause” is even real. It does show up to some extent (no cooling, but reduced 10-year warming trend) in the Hadley Center data, but it does not show in the GISS data, see Figure 1. There, the past ten 10-year trends (i.e. 1990-1999, 1991-2000 and so on) have all been between 0.17 and 0.34 ºC per decade, close to or above the expected anthropogenic trend, with the most recent one (1999-2008) equal to 0.19 ºC per decade – just as predicted by IPCC as response to anthropogenic forcing …
The cooling phase of the PDO, often characterized as a period of La Nina dominance, is exactly the type of natural variability being discussed above as being reasonably able to cause a pause in global warming.
I don’t think Walter has to prove correlation to ask for answers or to have a discussion here.
I believe I watched a press conference the other day where Trenberth actually speculates the PDO caused mid-century cooling.
I don’t see a single benefit to avoiding talking about the Nature article.
#578–Strongly agree. No-one at this point can tell what can get us where we need to go, or if anything at all can do so.
Yet we do know which direction to be moving in. Time–and past time–to get moving. We may ‘waste effort and money’, as Diogenes says. That’s apt to happen when you undertake novel tasks, and what we’re facing is nothing if not novel. But we do have a direction. Do we have the will to start ‘walking?’
I would just ask that the commenters on here show some respect for the climate scientists that run this website. And by that I mean, getting into these stupid egotistical arguments between yourselves, that more often than not has nothing to do with climate science is waisting the scientists and everybody else’s time. Supposedly, most of the commenters have great respect for Gavin, Mike, Jim and others who contribute here. So why don’t you show that respect by stop posting irrelevant stuff that they have to spend their precious time reading? I would bet you that they dread this chore. If I were them, I’d completely change the blog, so they wouldn’t have to deal with this. Why don’t we all grow up and follow the guidelines they set up for the blog?
Secular said, “It is possible to cut US energy demand by more than half — simply by eliminating waste and implementing well-known efficiency measures — with no reduction whatsoever in the goods and services that we obtain from our energy use.”
It will require a lot of debt. High efficiency stuff is expensive, and there’s nothing like replacing major systems thirty or more years early.
“We may ‘waste effort and money’, as Diogenes says. That’s apt to happen when you undertake novel tasks, and what we’re facing is nothing if not novel. But we do have a direction.”
‘Wasting effort and money’ is an efficiency issue, but that was not the main thrust of my comments. The greater concern is without the appropriate end target(s) and without the proper strategy to achieve those targets, we won’t get over the interim ‘hump’, and will continue directly to the Apocalypse. It’s very true, as you and others have commented, that we don’t have the capability to predict where we are going or where we need to go with ultra-high certainty. But, we need to work with the best information and tools we have now, set appropriate targets, and establish a plan to get there. We need to start ‘walking’, as you say (I would say we need to start running), but make sure we’re not walking off the end of a pier.
Absolutely true. If Walter Crain wishes a “discussion here” he is not obliged to prove any convoluted correlation to take part. But so far Walter Crain has not shown discussion to be his intention. Instead he asks questions then converts whatever responses he receives into his ‘preferred answer’ which he had from the start and continually throws it back onto the thread. The upshot is that he appears to be littering this thread with trolling rather than discussion. The discussion may be going over his head or he may be ignoring it (for whatever reason), but Walter Crain is not taking part in the “discussion” which he himself initiated.
For instance, let us discuss your comment @581.
I would disagree with you that the ‘reality’ of the “pause” is “questionable.” And surely 2007-13 is not comparable with 1987-96 because we can name the phenomenon that occurred back then – Mount Pinatubo. I would agree with your “11 years” but only in that the symptoms of the “pause” can be seen if you delve deep (ie regionally, seasonally etc). I argue very strongly that the “pause” makes its appearance within the global temperature record only in mid-2007. (See for instance the graph in the RealClimate item you linked to.)
So what is that cause of the global “pause”? I have yet to see anything that contradicts the findings of Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) and more recently Kosaka & Xia (2013) which point rather convincingly to a run of negative ENSO. But then folk ask ‘Why is ENSO negative’?
The problem I see with asking such a question and answering “a negative PDO” is because nobody than asks “Why is the PDO negative?” People seem to accept that PDO (in contradiction to its name) must be some multi-decadal oscillation and, of course, entirely natural. So, the logic goes, PDO must therefore be the reason for the big multi-decadal wobble in global temperature that peaked in 1940 and is peaking now. And then every air-head wobblologist from Akasofu to Curry can justify attributing 50% of recent warming to PDO and the rest to the end of the LIA.
Here is the thing – Climatologists like Kevin Trenberth may have reason for seeing PDO as a phenomenon worthy of multi-decadal status in preference to ENSO but I think they should be mindful of how their words will used by denialists. (This isn’t a normal scientific consideration but AGW isn’t normal within human history.) Whatever that reason is for promoting PDO ahead of ENSO, it is not being described forcefully enough. After all ENSO & PDO are very much both milti-annual & multi-decadal peas in a pod. And I have yet to see rebuttal of Newman et al (2003) who find ENSO drives PDO.
That is my view of things. But what do I know? You may beg to differ in part or entirely and that would be the stuff of discussion. But Walter Crain rather ignores my comments (@438, 444, 474, 534 & 577) just as he ignored yours @ 481. Walter Crain is presently engaged solely with his own views. His mistake is repeatedly presenting those views on this thread.
Still, early days maybe.
The issue is not whether you can see a pattern, but whether the pattern you see is real. Are you familiar with the jibe that economists have predicted 10 out of the last 4 recessions? The human brain has a better than 100% efficiency of spotting patterns, precisely because there is a higher evolutionary cost for not spotting some patterns than there is for spotting some that aren’t there.
By all means, use your brain to look for possible patterns, but then subject those candidates to rigorous statistical and physical analysis to make sure they are real.
Actually, a lot of increased efficiency is behavioral. Slight changes in the way you drive can change your gas mileage by 10% or more. Composting food decreases landfill waste and puts badly needed nutrients into the soil, obviating the need for chemical fertilizers, and so on.
Yes, there is a need for some expensive energy efficient technologies, but there is still a whole helluva lot of low-hanging fruit.
I can’t imagine living in a world where 70 thousand dollars must seem like something obtainable only by the top 1%
Unless you live on Mars, you *do* live in that world.
To BILLIONS of people “in this world” a $70K+ car is something obtainable only by the top 1%. To the deeply impoverished of Africa, India and Asia – And some parts of South America – Spending more money than they will see in their entire lives on a car seems unimaginable, especially when you consider spending $40K on a car and then spreading your ‘leftover’ $30K in an African village on goats, vaccinations, mosquito nets, school supplies and a well will improve their lives dramatically.
You will literally be saving the lives of children.
Sure you’ll be driving a Leaf instead of a Tesla, but so what?
Yeah, yeah, I’m a commie. Whatever. Stop buying stupidly expensive cars and help your fellow man.
You are so right. Human behavior is number one here. Stop doing the unnecessary energy intensive practices in the first place, and use energy judiciously in those that remain. Anderson’s refusal to travel by airplane for the past x years is one example of many of the former, and cutting your thermostat setting by five or ten degrees in winter and wearing more clothes is one of many examples of the latter. And, it doesn’t take a generation to implement.
Diogenes wrote: “what is your view on the temperature (or other) target required”
My view is that such “targets” are irrelevant and pointless.
The temperature increase that has ALREADY occurred, as a result of the CO2 that we have ALREADY emitted, from the fossil fuels that we have ALREADY burned, is self-evidently ALREADY causing severe harm and is ALREADY certain to get much worse no matter what we do.
And it is entirely possible that we have ALREADY passed a point of no return such that an unimaginably horrific global ecological catastrophe is now inevitable no matter what we do. We have no way of knowing whether that is the case or not.
What we DO know is that we have been going in the wrong direction for over a century.
What we DO know is that we need to reverse direction NOW.
What we DO know is that we need to MOVE in the OPPOSITE direction NOW, just as fast as we possibly can.
What I have been saying is that we have the technological and economic means to virtually eliminate GHG emissions from fossil fuels MUCH more quickly than most people imagine possible, and that doing so is MUCH easier and MUCH less costly than most people realize, and in fact would have far-reaching benefits to humanity in addition to reducing GHG emissions.
Even if we take the most aggressive action possible, there can be no guarantee of “success”, however “success” is defined.
If we do nothing there is an absolute guarantee of failure.
Gavin mentioned, in his AGU talk, his preference for discussion over noisemaking, and consequent aversion to comment threads at the Journal or Times. I have spent many odd hours this past year on exactly the opposite tact: directly attempting to talk down prominent writers advancing minimalist slights-of-hand. As a matter of year end housekeeping, I would like to share a few highlights.
Is their anything new to say about cherries and pauses? I happen to have a rather personal take on this, owing to a week-long labor I undertook at the turn of the millennium. When you start to etch sub-micron elements upon a fresh silicon disc at a chip fab, the first thing they do is to laser burn four tiny crosses, or corners, which they call “fiduciaries”. Or Honda, when it designs or builds a new car, establishes the meeting of its three dimensions at the center of the forward tip if the steering shaft. Somewhat haphazardly, the climatically aware have gravitated towards a loose “beginning” of the analysis interval; one within the recent decades, after we had satellites, and after the anthro signal could be teased from noise [via models]. In my writing I was interested in personalizing the combustion problem, and an empirical comparison of consequence with accumulating forcing. Strongly influenced by the seminal Mann, Bradley, Hughes paper, I chanced upon an earlier fiduciary: When did the millennial cooling just attain equipoise with the growing anthro forcing [detection of “signal” via extension of frame to a paleo interval]? So I meticulously calculated a thirty-five year crawling Hadley average, to define its central year as 1907. It has anchored my thinking ever since.
I will illustrate with numbers in a subsequent comment, but one can readily appreciate that a mid-seventies fiduciary exaggerates the post Mother of All El Ninos inflection, while the full century interval “contains” both the treads and risers of our staircase warming history. As such, it more faithfully captures our real experience, whatever the physics of the multi-decadal fits and starts.
Hank wrote: “If you cite yourself, others may cite you as well. If you repeat yourself, people learn to ignore you.”
That’s an interesting hypothesis, worth testing empirically to see if it is actually true.
Because it is also possible that if you “cite yourself” with a link, others may not bother to click on it, and just scroll past it to the next comment, in which someone has taken the trouble to type out what they have to say.
Whereas if you “repeat yourself”, people who missed seeing your original statement may be more likely to get it when they encounter your repetitive post if you put it out there in plain words right under their nose.
I’m sure there are social media experts who have studied this sort of thing. Click-throughs are money, you know.
“‘We Can’t Trust Capitalism to Just Fix This’ Global Warming Mess”
Interesting interview with McKenzie Funk, the author of a new book “Windfall,” with some points relevant to some of those brought up in this conversation:
“mitigation is relatively democratic—cutting private emissions helps everybody—but adaptation, which is more and more what we seem to be going toward, is not at all democratic. In fact, it is deeply unfair. I think everybody needs to understand that. We talk about climate change as this tragedy of the commons, which kind of takes some of the moral oomph out of it—like, we’re all doing this, we’re all screwing ourselves. But that’s not a very good frame for what climate change really is. It’s not even at all. It’s not even geographically. It’s not even economically. So for those of us who have the highest historic emissions—in North America and Europe and, increasingly, China—to be able to buy our way out of this problem or to profit off it is systemically dangerous. It really raises the moral stakes. I don’t want to villainize the individuals I met, because by and large they’re good people doing things they believe in. But I think we all need to step back and understand what the stakes are.
The second thing isn’t a moral point, but sort of a practical point: We can’t trust capitalism to just fix this. We can’t trust self-interest to fix this. If those who have the most to gain from climate change happen to be the ones who are emitting the most carbon—if I’m that person, am I really going to do too much about climate change, just to save myself?”
Thanks for the correction, growth is an increase in the value of goods and services (adjusted for inflation). So I guess your vision is that the quality of goods and services improves, ad infinitum, so that the value of them increases. Of course, somehow everyone must earn enough to afford the increasingly valuable goods and services (because not selling them doesn’t generate an increase in total value and, consequently, in the economy). If that all happens, I’ve no argument with you other than the fact that even higher quality goods and services continue to consume resources. This can’t go on ad infinitum unless all resources are consumed only at their renewal rates (which they won’t be). Recycling can help reduce the rate of extraction of natural resources but can’t reduce it to zero.
Having said that, if half the world (or more) aspires to reach the living standards of the other half (or less), then increasing resource use is needed. That would only hasten the onset of scarcity (and the increase in emissions).
Services can only be a certain portion of an economy as people still need and want stuff. Even though the services sector has increased in developed markets, I’m not sure it has globally, as developing nations take up the slack of producing stuff.
The upshot is that it’s difficult to see how economic growth can continue much into the future, though, if enough societies can remain stable for log enough and all the infrastructure (including international trade) can be made completely emissions free, then your notion of growing through quality improvements could, hypothetically, keep it going for some time.
Not getting bogged down by ‘paralysis by analysis’ does not mean we eliminate the analysis; it means we use it judiciously. Here’s another way of explaining our present situation.
A few years back, a book was published called ‘Die Broke’. The author’s thesis was that the idea of working one’s life and being frugal, only for the purpose of leaving the assets acquired to one’s descendents, is foolish. Better to spend all the money while one is alive, and ‘die broke’. The author went on to state that the best of all worlds was to get a number of credddit cards, and die when all the cards have maxxed out.
Well, as I have shown numerous times, we are out of carbon budget! We don’t have 500 GT remaining, or whatever numbers people choose to advertise; we are not only out of carbon budget, but I suspect more complete models including carbon feedbacks will show that we have started to run up our carbon credddit card charges. As a civilization, we have made a collective decision to ‘die broke’ with our credddit cards maxxed out, but carbon credddit cards rather than monetary credddit cards. Unlike the monetary approach, where the time of our demise determines how much credddit we have run up on the cards, in the carbon approach, the amount of credddit we have run up will determine our demise!
“If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet’s biggest oil producer and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we’ve begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine”
“We’ve built lots of new solar panels and wind towers in the past five years (though way below the pace set by nations like Germany). In any event, building more renewable energy is not a useful task if you’re also digging more carbon energy – it’s like eating a pan of Weight Watchers brownies after you’ve already gobbled a quart of Ben and Jerry’s.”
If that’s not maxxing out your carbon credddit cards before your demise, I don’t know what is. And, there are absolutely no indications that America and other fossil fuel-rich nations will stop ‘revving the engine’ for the foreseeable future.
#602–”Not getting bogged down by ‘paralysis by analysis’ does not mean we eliminate the analysis; it means we use it judiciously.”
Certainly. I wouldn’t claim otherwise at all. The only reason that I even raised this as a concern was that I took something or other in your initial comment about this issue to refer to a rather more extensive plan than I thought helpful. Apparently that was an error of interpretation on my part.
As to the rest of your screed, I assume you were ‘just saying,’ since your comments don’t seem responsive to anything that I said. If so, well sure, “dying broke” is a decent metaphor.
By the way, I’m having trouble these days with the comment box–the Captcha fails to appear most of the time, which of course makes commenting impossible.
That’s in Safari, my normal browser; Firefox is working normally (as you might guess from the fact that you are reading this comment.) The issue just cropped up a couple of days ago; anybody else experiencing this?
(Just how normally can be seen from the fact that Captcha presented two absolutely unreadable squiggles before coming up with “raEngli persecution.”)
Mal Adapted, no because everybody can think abstract and can build on the current state of preconception (based on the latest), thus you need to frame the current situation and address questions and implement a FAQ to enhance the process of swarm learning.
Is there a correlation between the spike in North Pacific water temperatures and the blocking high off the west coast that is causing the jet stream to swing up north and into the Canadian arctic and then down into the Midwest. Would it be reasonable to opine that at least some of the severe weather can be attributed to ocean warming?
Though, you need to stay focused on the actual context here, the meaning of swarm learning is a very broad term. Call it internet learning if you prefer that. The internet is the perfect platform for information sharing and learning, which has been shown to accelerate evolution and drive major trends for society in all aspects.
Relevant to the context at hand
Google’s Schmidt calls climate-change deniers ‘liars’
The media ‘doesn’t believe in facts,’ but the internet will come to the planet’s rescue
“You can hold back knowledge, but you cannot prevent it from spreading,” Schmidt told his audience at his company’s “How Green Is the Internet? Summit” in Mountain View on Thursday. “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”
When they discuss this problem, he said, “The media gets confused because they don’t believe in facts, and public-policy people get confused because they don’t believe in innovation.”
But an increased number of people in developing countries sharing information, Schmidt believes, will eventually lead to a global understanding of the threat of climate change. “It may take five years or ten years,” he said. “A true global emergency, which is underway, will eventually be noticed by the people whose water sources dry up, are victims of terrible variations in climate, on and on – we all know what the issues are.”
Schmidt told the Summit attendees that these directly affected, internet-enabled people will be open to their messages of increased efficiency and green technology. “You’ll have an audience that you didn’t have before, and they’ll show you what the market looks like,” he said. “And they’re amenable to solutions that address both their need to move to modernity as well as their need to be respectful to the globe.”
Getting back to climate change, Schmidt said, “The framing goes something like this: there’s a real problem. The math doesn’t work. The solution is the use of the internet to create an awareness and empower individuals. You empower those individuals to come up with creative solutions.”
Those solutions, he said, should be focused on “not making the climatic situation worse” while improving people’s lives.
“It’s not that complicated,” Schmidt said. “I think that it’s an opportunity that, working with Google and others, we can get these messages out.”
And, one would hope, spark some of the ingenuity that he referred to – and quickly. “What you all are trying to do,” Schmidt told his audience, “and what we are trying to do together to innovate in this space, is the only solution that I can see that can reverse the math that we’re going to see in the next couple of decades.” URL
Eventually you need the media reporting the facts. And my impression is, that it’s happening.
Diogenes wrote: “McKibben wrote an article last month for Rolling Stone …”
Yes, and McKibben quite correctly chastises the Obama administration for expanding US fossil fuel extraction, which is obviously the opposite of what is needed, and moreover is in blatant contradiction to Obama’s own rhetoric about global warming.
And McKibben also correctly points out that the Obama administration’s support for rapid deployment of wind and solar, while a distinct improvement over past policies, falls far short of what Germany and other countries have demonstrated is possible, and far short of what is needed. Moreover, the emission reductions represented by the growth of wind and solar are more than offset by the expansion of fossil fuel extraction that the administration has promoted and continues to promote.
What McKibben does NOT say is that expanding renewable energy generation is in itself unhelpful — he says that “building more renewable energy is not a useful task IF you’re also digging more carbon energy“.
What McKibben does NOT say is that the amount of fossil fuels that might be burned specifically to build and deploy wind and solar will, in itself, push us “over the edge”.
What McKibben does NOT say is that ending subsidies and supports for fossil fuel extraction, and implementing policies to greatly accelerate the phaseout of fossil fuels, will require “severe economic sacrifices”.
What McKibben’s analysis really shows is that (1) we have the necessary solutions in hand, and there are no significant technological or economic obstacles to rapidly deploying them on a scale that gives us a fighting chance at averting the worst outcomes of AGW, and that (2) the only real barrier is the entrenched wealth and political power of the fossil fuel industry.
The full text of the Redford TV ad reads as follows:
“Hello, I’m Robert Redford. Climate change is happening fast. We’ve got to stop making the problem worse, and that means reducing carbon pollution from its biggest source, coal-fired power plants. The good news is that President Obama has pledged to act. I just hope the President has the courage of his convictions. Please, urge the President to make dirty power plants clean up their carbon pollution. Thank you.”
Media outlets can download high-quality materials for the Redford “Courage to Act” campaign:
Something to watch for, given the sticky planetary wave and this Clipper parade persistence in the US, if it continues into February, is stress on the movement of propane. Metropolitan gas distributors meet greatly expanded winter heating loads with a combination of enhancements, one of which is to inject propane/air from liquid storage tanks. Late into an unusually cold winter, adjusting propane moves by rail, but for those watching the revolutionary liquid hydrocarbon extraction patterns here these last few years, a comparatively huge volume of petroleum and diluted bitumen has been moving by rail also. A tank car might well be worth its weight in bitcoins this week.
The general public has but a minimal comprehension of the gravity of a mass loss of service continuity for exposed cities.
HadCRUT4 December 2013 temperature is now posted. The annual figure was posted a couple of days back & I note the denialists have been celebrating the lack of official announcement as some sort of victory.
The full list of rankings for 2013 global temperature are:-
It would be interesting to know if this new discovery affects both ECS & Earth System climate sensitivity:
Rapid Soil Production and Weathering in the Western Alps, New Zealand
Isaac J. Larsen, Peter C. Almond, Andre Eger, John O. Stone, David R. Montgomery, and Brendon Malcolm
Science 1244908Published online 16 January 2014 [DOI:10.1126/science.1244908]
Comment by Peter Shepherd — 27 Jan 2014 @ 11:59 AM
Peter Shepherd, if the weathering process of breaking down rock into soil is twice as fast as has been estimated in the past, the carbon cycle feedback needs to be updated. Though, it is not clear how this feedback is constructed. But the extra carbon ends up in the Ocean and waterways, so this suggest it may accelerate ocean acidification and various other things like infrastructure damage from acid rain.
It is interesting to note that this study even points out mountain uplift.
The process of mountain block uplift is important in exposing new rock strata to the atmosphere and moisture, enabling important chemical weathering to occur; significant release occurs of Ca2+ and other ions into surface waters.
Dissolution and carbonation
A pyrite cube has dissolved away from host rock, leaving gold behind
Rainfall is acidic because atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in the rainwater producing weak carbonic acid. In unpolluted environments, the rainfall pH is around 5.6. Acid rain occurs when gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are present in the atmosphere. These oxides react in the rain water to produce stronger acids and can lower the pH to 4.5 or even 3.0. Sulfur dioxide, SO2, comes from volcanic eruptions or from fossil fuels, can become sulfuric acid within rainwater, which can cause solution weathering to the rocks on which it falls.
Some minerals, due to their natural solubility (e.g. evaporites), oxidation potential (iron-rich minerals, such as pyrite), or instability relative to surficial conditions (see Goldich dissolution series) will weather through dissolution naturally, even without acidic water.
One of the most well-known solution weathering processes is carbonation, the process in which atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to solution weathering. Carbonation occurs on rocks which contain calcium carbonate, such as limestone and chalk. This takes place when rain combines with carbon dioxide or an organic acid to form a weak carbonic acid which reacts with calcium carbonate (the limestone) and forms calcium bicarbonate. This process speeds up with a decrease in temperature, not because low temperatures generally drive reactions faster, but because colder water holds more dissolved carbon dioxide gas. Carbonation is therefore a large feature of glacial weathering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weathering#Biogeochemical_weathering
Tony Weddle, it is unclear how far this new signal is established in time and space. Maybe the accelerated weathering of rocks have yet to be accounted for to reflect the real magnitude of acceleration.
As the world’s oceans turn more acidic, a cheaper and more accurate sensor would be useful—inspiring a new $1-million award
Basic chemistry teaches that dissolving carbon dioxide in seawater will increase acidity. With atmospheric CO2 levels rising—touching 400 parts per million for the first time in millennia this past May—it is therefore a safe bet that the world’s oceans are becoming more acidic. But just how much more? And how much do those levels change from place to place—at the coast or out in open waters, or at the surface versus in the depths? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ocean-ph-acid-x-prize/
Look at the bit from just about the hour mark. He points out multiple crises that are crashing around our heads in the next few years to decades, and points out that “solving these problems generates no new wealth.”
id est, capitalism will not solve any of these problems since there is no freakin’ profit in it.
Australia’s BOM is moving toward predictions of and El Nino later this year. This coincides with similar predictions at NOAA. Hansen has also said that he thinks that an El Nino is likely coming up.
How much stock should we put in such prognostications given past failures, the fact that this time of year is a particularly bad season for accurate predictions, and the fact that these are predictions for events many months out? At what point might we have more confidence in them?
Interesting talk by Tainter. He said, in a roundabout way, that all societies must collapse eventually (because all societies have to maintain themselves by solving problems and solving problems increases complexity and increasing complexity eventually leads to collapse) but seemed reluctant to say that in the Q&A.
Tony (@#632), I’m not sure about all societies. The San society in southern Africa, for example, has probably lived pretty much the way it is now (or was till a few years ago when it was disrupted by modernity) for thousand or even tens of thousands of years. He may say that most if not all _civilizations_ must collapse.
On the Larson et al study #621 et seq: I am a Bear Of Very Little Chemistry, but if I’ve got this right, the surprisingly rapid rate of soil production won’t increase acidification, because it’s already a step further on in the process.
That is, the calcium bicarbonate is the *product* of carbonic acid formed from atmospheric CO2, and as it ends up in the ocean, this happens:
3. Calcium carbonate is precipitated from calcium and bicarbonate ions in seawater by marine organisms like coral
Ca++ + 2HCO3- -> CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O
the carbon is now stored on the seafloor in layers of limestone
(Note: calcium bicarbonate only exists as an ionic solution–a concept, by the way, that’s owed to Svante Arrhenius; that’s what he won his Nobel for, and boy, was *that* a scientific struggle! The bicarbonate ‘is’ the Ca++ + 2HCO3 in the precursor side of the reaction diagram. And, lest I sound wise on chemistry, let me say I know just barely enough to understand what I wrote, and no more. And a good chunk of it comes from Dr. Archer’s “The Long Thaw”–see link at bottom of post for those who haven’t already encountered it.)
So I’d conclude that the rapid soil formation rates are not increasing ocean acidification, but probably rather increasing the buffering capacity of seawater. Though no doubt this is very important for understanding the carbon cycle in the requisite detail. [Wild and perhaps unlikely speculation omitted here.]
Note: still having to use Firefox to post, as Safari is still mostly not presenting a Captcha box. So far, I haven’t heard that anyone else is having this problem–is that the case out there in Internetworld?
Tom, also note that at about the hour and 14 minute mark, in response to a question Tainter does point to one example of a major civilization intentionally and successfully simplifying in order to (at least in part) survive–the Byzantine Empire.
(Interesting, since the term ‘Byzantine’ has come to mean something like ‘inscrutably complex’!
Interesting perspective on the recent European Climate Targets from the NewScientist. Not only are the targets grossly inadequate for what is required, but it’s not clear how enforceable they are and whether they will be met.
“Latest European climate targets may never be met
17:24 22 January 2014 by Fred Pearce
Europe has proposed fresh targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. But officials baulked at imposing national targets for investment in renewable energy, leaving it unclear how the overall targets will be reached.
Today’s white paper on climate and energy proposes that the 28 nations of the European Union (EU) should cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The EU has already nearly met its existing target of a 20 per cent cut by 2020.
The European Commission (EC) also suggests upping the current target for the share of energy obtained from renewable sources like wind and solar power. But this increase will only be from 20 per cent of the total in 2020 to 27 per cent in 2030. Moreover, INDIVIDUAL NATIONS WILL NOT BE COMMITTED TO THE TARGET, SO IT IS UNCLEAR HOW IT WILL BE ENFORCED.
Officials hope the targets will set a benchmark for United Nations negotiations on future emissions, which aim to conclude in Paris at the end of next year. But before that, THE TARGETS HAVE TO BE APPROVED BY EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS. With growing concern about Europe’s high energy prices, that could be hard.
Kind of vague
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard insisted the proposed targets were “ambitious”. She said the emissions target must be met with domestic actions alone, with no contribution from “offset projects” such as paying poor nations to plant and protect forests.
But environmental groups reacted with dismay, complaining that the targets were not tough enough. Europe “must agree to cut greenhouse gases by at least 55 per cent by 2030 if they wish to play a meaningful role in a new climate deal,” says Greenpeace UK’s director John Sauven. Climate Action Network, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, called for a target of 45 per cent of energy coming from renewable sources.
EU officials also disappointed many environmentalists by backing out of planned tough controls on shale gas. Instead, companies wanting to extract gas by fracking will only need to meet basic local environment and safety standards. The EU also postponed new targets for improving energy efficiency.
In December, Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester, UK, fired off a letter to the EC. He complained that the targets were being developed “IN A VACUUM OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE” that overestimated our chances of keeping global warming below 2 °C. Anderson called for 80 PER CENT CUTS IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY 2030.
Chaos in Europe
European energy policy is in disarray because of concern that high prices are choking off economic recovery. As a result, COUNTRIES WOULD NOT ACCEPT NATIONAL TARGETS FOR RENEWABLES. Countries like Poland are keen to stick with burning domestic coal. Others, most notably the UK, want to follow the US path: exploiting what they hope will be cheap shale gas reserves. The UK also wants a nuclear option.
In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, CO2 EMISSIONS HAVE BEGUN RISING AGAIN: coal burning hit a record high last year, nuclear power plants are shut and expansion of renewables has stalled at 17 per cent. Last week, its energy minister announced plans to CUT SUBSIDIES FOR RENEWABLES BY A THIRD.
European leaders insist they won’t give up their role as world leaders in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But with NO NATIONAL TARGETS FOR RENEWABLES OR IMPROVED ENERGY EFFICIENCY, it is increasingly unclear how they will achieve their aims.”
Enhanced chemical weathering as a sink for carbon dioxide, a nutrient source and a strategy to mitigate ocean acidification
Chemical weathering is an integral part of both the rock and carbon cycles and is being affected by changes in land use, particularly as a result of agricultural practices such as tilling, mineral fertilization, or liming to adjust soil pH. These human activities have already altered the terrestrial chemical cycles and land-ocean flux of major elements, although the extent remains difficult to quantify. When deployed on a grand scale, Enhanced Weathering (a form of mineral fertilization), the application of finely ground minerals over the land surface, could be used to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The release of cations during the dissolution of such silicate minerals would convert dissolved CO2 to bicarbonate, increasing the alkalinity and pH of natural waters. Some products of mineral dissolution would precipitate in soils or be taken up by ecosystems, but a significant portion would be transported to the coastal zone and the open ocean, where the increase in alkalinity would partially counteract “ocean acidification” associated with the current marked increase in atmospheric CO2.
Other elements released during this mineral dissolution, like Si, P, or K, could stimulate biological productivity, further helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. On land, the terrestrial carbon pool would likely increase in response to Enhanced Weathering in areas where ecosystem growth rates are currently limited by one of the nutrients that would be released during mineral dissolution. In the ocean, the biological carbon pumps (which export organic matter and CaCO3 to the deep ocean)may be altered by the resulting influx of nutrients and alkalinity to the ocean. This review merges current interdisciplinary knowledge about Enhanced Weathering, the processes involved, and the applicability aswell as some of the consequences and risks of applying the method. http://hal.univ-brest.fr/hal-00926362/
Somebody described the field as “a mess” and brought up the idea of CO2 fertilization specifically. The general claim is that we don’t know how big of an effect it is and can’t account for it if we can’t quantify it. The conclusion seems to be that all previous dendro-based reconstructions of temperature have a bias which makes the past look colder since CO2 concentrations were lower, hence slower-growing trees than in recent times.
I’ve been trying to find out whether this is the case, but I can’t read any paywalled articles, so I can’t access much.
1) I know CO2 fertilization has been proposed in the literature as a confounding factor when interpreting some records. What’s the current prevailing opinion on its significance? How good are we at taking into account?
2) I know sampling sites are chosen to try and limit the number of confounding factors, i.e. studies about precipitation look for trees stressed mostly by water availability. How is the potential fertilization from atmospheric CO2 concentrations controlled for when selecting sites for tree rings that are used as proxies for temperature?
3) Some recent research indicates that enhanced CO2 availability increase the efficiency of water use by trees, because it’s easier to pull sufficient amounts of the gas from the atmosphere without having to leave their stomata open and let water escape. That seems to be subtly different from a direct “CO2 fetilization” effect, where carbon dioxide is simply the limiting factor to growth because there’s not enough of it. Not the same issue? Different implications for interpreting dendro data?
4) What else should I know about this, and where can I look?
Regulation of Open-Ocean and Coastal pH in the Anthropocene
The rapid increase in the capacity of humans to impact the key processes regulating the functioning of the biosphere into the Anthropocene (Steffen et al. 2007) has extended to a capacity to impact marine pH (Table 1). Human activities can act on marine pH through impacts propagated through the atmosphere, freshwater discharges and direct impacts on ecosystem components (Table 1). Accordingly, there are three main vectors of anthropogenic impacts on marine pH: (1) emissions of CO2, and other gases affecting marine pH, to the atmosphere; (2) perturbation of watershed processes affecting the inputs of nutrients, organic and inorganic carbon, acids and carbonate alkalinity to the ocean; and (3) impacts on ecosystem structure (Table 1). These drivers add to the processes operating prior to the human perturbation to regulate marine pH in the Anthropocene.
Impacts of Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions on Seawater pH
The impacts on marine pH derived from anthropogenic CO2 emissions have received the greatest attention and have led to a growing spectrum of research programs focused around the paradigm of OA by anthropogenic CO2 (Caldeira and Wickett 2003; Raven et al. 2005; Doney et al. 2009). CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and land use change since the industrial revolution have caused an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 280 to 390 ppm (globally averaged mean surface value for 2011; Thomas Conway and Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL, http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/). The global oceans have absorbed about 40 % of the anthropogenic carbon emissions (Sabine and Tanhua 2010), leading to a decline in pH evident in surface open-ocean time series (Caldeira and Wickett 2003; Raven et al. 2005; Doney et al. 2009). In addition to impacting surface water pH, accumulation of anthropogenic carbon in deeper waters is leading to shoaling of the horizon for aragonite saturation (Feely et al. 2010). Accordingly, upwelling of waters acidified by anthropogenic CO2 has led to a further decrease in surface pH, as reported in the eastern Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America, from central Canada to northern Mexico, where shoaling of the layer of seawater undersaturated with aragonite increased the frequency and magnitude of coastal acidification associated with upwelling events (Feely et al. 2008, 2010).
Human emissions of reactive sulfur and nitrogen, derived from fossil fuel combustion and agriculture, have led to increased deposition of strong acids (HNO3 and H2SO4) and bases (NH3) to the ocean, hence affecting seawater pH (Doney et al. 2007). Whereas these effects on open-ocean pH are calculated to be minor, they can be higher, at rates of 0.02–0.12 × 10−3 pH units per year (<10 % of OA by anthropogenic CO2), in coastal ecosystems (Doney et al. 2007), where atmospheric deposition is intense and the waters can be more weakly buffered.
Impacts of Anthropogenic Watershed Perturbations on Seawater pH
Changes in land use over the past centuries have affected the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrients in the coastal zone strongly (Nixon 1995; Doney 2010; Hooke and Martín-Duque 2012). In particular, human activity has altered the watershed export of organic and inorganic carbon, carbonate alkalinity, acids and nutrients to the ocean, affecting pH (Aufdenkampe et al. 2011). However, these impacts are largely restricted to the coastal ocean, where these inputs are received.
Deforestation, agricultural (Oh and Raymond 2006), mining (Brake et al. 2001; Raymond and Oh 2009) and urban/suburban practices (Barnes and Raymond 2009) were linked to direct changes in the delivery of buffering capacity to streams and rivers. These changes have the potential to alter the concentrations of inorganic C species expected through the mixing of freshwater and seawater in estuaries, thereby affecting pH in coastal water (Aufdenkampe et al. 2011). Mining activities typically yield an increase in acid export, leading to a decline in pH in the receiving coastal waters (Brake et al. 2001; Raymond and Oh 2009). In an extreme example, a pH of <3 was reported in the estuarine reaches of the Río Tinto estuary, SW Spain (Elbaz-Poulichet et al. 1999). Alteration of tropical acid sulphate soils also releases large amounts of acids (Wilson et al. 1999; Johnston et al. 2009), affecting coastal waters containing vulnerable organisms, such as corals in the inner Great Barrier Reef ecosystem (Powell and Martens 2005).
Watershed processes, including export of alkalinity, derived from the weathering of carbonate rock and the use of lime in agriculture to reduce soil acidity (West and McBride 2005) can affect the magnitude of the alkalinity buffer in coastal waters. Changes in land use and increasing precipitation and/or runoff can also enhance alkalinity export from land to coastal ecosystems through chemical weathering (Raymond et al. 2008). These changes may counteract the tendency for pH to decline from OA due to anthropogenic CO2 or increase in heterotrophy from eutrophication (sensu Nixon 1995). For example, the alkalinity export from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico has increased by almost 50 % over the last 50–100 years due to increasing areas of cropland and increasing precipitation over the watershed (Raymond and Cole 2003; Raymond et al. 2008). Although freshwater discharge accounts for a large part of enhanced alkalinity export, concentrations of alkalinity in rivers have increased over time (Fig. 2a). Long-term records of river alkalinity from other areas (Fig. 2b, c) suggest a common global trend of increasing alkalinity exported from land to coastal ecosystems, which can lead to changes in pH on the order of 0.02–0.04 pH units, sufficient to offset more than a decade of OA.
Inputs of organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus to coastal ecosystems have increased greatly (Nixon 1995; Howarth et al. 1996; Conley 2000; Stedmon et al. 2006; Sharp 2010). Although eutrophication is the major concern related to these inputs, the pH of coastal waters is also influenced through the enhanced CO2 uptake from primary production and CO2 release from respiration associated with increased nutrient inputs. When in balance, primary production and respiration processes result in large diel variability (Table 2), but are essentially CO2-neutral; however, over longer timescales, spatial and/or temporal decoupling of these processes can change pH drastically (Borges and Gypens 2010; Provoost et al. 2010; Cai et al. 2011). The effects of eutrophication on carbonate chemistry can exceed that of OA from anthropogenic CO2 by either increasing pH, when enhanced CO2 uptake by primary producers prevails (Borges and Gypens 2010), or by decreasing pH, where enhanced respiratory CO2 release prevails (Cai et al. 2011), a condition often associated with coastal hypoxia (Feely et al. 2010).
Impacts on pH by Anthropogenic Changes in Coastal Habitats
Coastal ecosystems contain multiple habitats that play an engineering role, affecting the physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem (Gutiérrez et al. 2011). These ecosystems include vegetated coastal habitats (seagrass meadows, macroalgal beds, salt marshes and mangroves) and coral and oyster reefs, among others (Gutiérrez et al. 2011). All coastal engineering communities support intense metabolic processes, including high primary production, respiration and calcification rates, thereby affecting CO2, CO3 −, and alkalinity concentrations and surface water pH. However, many metabolically intense coastal habitats are experiencing global declines in their abundance at rates in excess of 1 % per year (Duarte et al. 2008; Ermgassen et al. 2013). These shifts in coastal habitats have major, although largely unreported, consequences for coastal pH, affecting both their mean values and variability. Likewise, the restoration and redistribution of these habitats may affect pH in coastal ecosystems significantly. For instance, Arctic warming may allow the poleward spread of macroalgae and seagrasses, which could affect the pH of the coastal waters of these highly vulnerable regions seasonally.
Coastal ecosystems may show acidification or basification, depending on the balance between the invasion of coastal waters by anthropogenic CO2, watershed export of alkalinity, organic matter and CO2, and changes in the balance between primary production, respiration and calcification rates in response to changes in nutrient inputs and losses of ecosystem components.
From my admittedly brief research, I’m not sure the San can be called a society as it seems they exist(ed) in small independent groups of only a dozen or so, occasionally getting together for “social” occasions. But maybe it’s a pointer to the kind of “society” we can look forward to. Existing for 20,000 years would be an achievement.
TW at #647 wrote: “…I’m not sure the San can be called a society…” ???
What definition of ‘society’ are you using here? It’s not one I am familiar with. Google “hunter-gatherer societies” and you will get many scholarly and semi-scholarly references. Is there some sociological definition of society that excludes small scale groups that I am unaware of?
“…it’s a pointer to the kind of “society” we can look forward to.” Indeed.
The greatest human genetic diversity found anywhere is found among the San, going by markers which descend on the y-chromosome.
Cognitively, linguistically, and technically their culture marks a key moment in the global footprint of the human race.
Here’s a video with Spencer Wells–equal parts geneticist and historian. The link plays the 13-part video in sequence–plus thumb-nail menu. Wells meets with a group of the San in part two. If you haven’t seen it:
The first main part of the human migration could not have happened as it did without the lower sea levels of an ice age. The window of opportunity for getting this story straight is particular to now, as Wells says near the end. I think it’s a key to a clear-eyed view of what time it is now. For diverse reasons.
Our study shows that current seasonal cyclone activity is at its lowest level in Western Australia since 500 AD and since about 1400 AD in Queensland. That decline began about 40 years ago.
While Australia’s official cyclone records only date back to 1906, we can track cyclones further back in time using measurements of isotopes housed within limestone cave stalagmites. Those stalagmites grow upwards from the cave floor as rainwater containing dissolved limestone drips from the cave ceiling.
The isotope chemistry of tropical cyclone rainwater differs from that of monsoonal and thunderstorm rainwater. As a consequence, it is possible to analyse the chemistry of each of the stalagmite layers, which are approximately 1/10th of a millimetre thick, and generate a record of cyclones over the past 1500 to 2000 years.
[...] Global trends – Several recent studies published in leading journals – including these papers involving the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – have all separately projected the frequency of tropical cyclones will decrease in the Australian region due to global climate change.
But while the number of cyclones is expected to decrease, the intensity of those cyclones that do occur is expected to increase.
Those previous studies have suggested we would see those changes occur towards the middle to the end of the 21st century. However, our new study suggests this decline in cyclone frequency is ALREADY OCCURRING !!!!
We cannot be sure that this current decrease in cyclone activity is due to climate change – but it is mirroring the forecasts.
[...] Essentially, we are faced with a choice. Continue to hope and plan for the best, as if this current 40-year lull will continue. Or hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
[...] government’s recent decision to remove a safeguard in state planning policy to consider future sea level rise (which could worsen storm surges in a cyclone).
Our results reveal a repeated multicentennial cycle of tropical cyclone activity, the most recent of which commenced around ad 1700. The present cycle includes a sharp decrease in activity after 1960 in Western Australia…. Our results, although based on a limited record, suggest that this may be occurring much earlier than expected.
Did you get the words you posted above from some secondary source, or a press release? Please cite your source if so.
Please don’t make up scary stuff and attribute it to scientists.
Reality is more than scary enough.
… Those previous studies have suggested we would see those changes occur towards the middle to the end of the 21st century. However, our new study suggests this decline in cyclone frequency is already occurring.
We cannot be sure that this current decrease in cyclone activity is due to climate change – but it is mirroring the forecasts.
Our results also confirm the conclusions of other studies into long-term cyclone behaviour, which show that the past 40 to 100 years of cyclone activity in Australia has been very low compared to times previous.
Planning based on a lull in the storm
The results of our study suggest that we may have a problem with coastal development in cyclone-prone regions, particularly in built-up parts of Queensland.
For many years, Western Australia had a more cautious approach on where coastal development was allowed …. However, this policy has now changed and is now more in line with Queensland coastal policy…. based on the history of cyclones over the last 40 years, and 100 years at best.
This period is unrepresentative of the natural variability of cyclones. So relying on this narrow window of time means that we are making risky assumptions ….
Professor of Physical Geography at James Cook University
There’s an interesting parallel to California’s experience, where all the expectations appear now to have been based on a couple of very wet centuries in an otherwise very much drier climate than the Spaniards found here when they arrived and we’ve built our assumptions on that.
Not to mention the larger time span, the stretch of Holocene years that were sufficiently calm to allow development of agriculture and cities rather than migratory hunting camps.
This might be a whole new take on what the habitable zone and habitable planets are like — perhaps our experience of the Universe really has been peculiarly uncommonly favorable.
17 January 2014
“Large, older trees have been found to grow faster and absorb carbon dioxide MORE RAPIDLY than younger, smaller trees, despite the PREVIOUS VIEW that trees’ growth slowed as they developed.
“Research published in the journal Nature this week shows that in 97% of tropical and temperate tree species, growth rate increases with size. This suggests that older trees play a VITAL ROLE in ABSORBING carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
Fair enough, wili. Tainter talks of complex societies, which I guess I’ve been thinking of as societies, having institutions. As the kinds of societies we have today are complex, I don’t think they can become sustainable (which, to my mind, doesn’t include the notion of time).