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  1. I’m still very unclear on how figure 3 is constructed and what RCP or group of RCP’s it represents. If we knew it represents RCP8.5, we might be able to use figure 2 to estimate that RCP2.6 looks like the 2010-2029 bin, but if it a mashup, then RCP2.6 might end up looking like the 2030-2049 bin just from the effects of smearing.

    I am wondering also if the joint probability of heatwaves that wreck yields occurring on more than one continent over more than one season has been considered for RCP2.6. RCP2.6 is consistent with the 350.org goal in that the carbon dioxide concentration gets to 361 in 2300, but that is 200 to 300 years in which to run the risk of global famine if that joint probability in non-negligible. Is even RCP2.6 a dream of seven withered cows rising from the Nile simply because the draw down in concentration takes so long? Do we need to prepare to maintain a four or five year surplus in grains rather than our current four or five month surplus already? http://www.earth-policy.org/indicators/C54/grain_2012

    Whatever the averaging process in figure 3. it may conceal risks of consecutive extremes that have the most catastrophic consequences.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 7:16 AM

  2. A recent document (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22844-us-falling-emissions-a-mirage-offshoring-and-fracking) speaks of recent emissions in the USA from Gas and limiting Coal usage in the process which you would say is a good thing. However the analysis shows that in the short term gas will be worse than burning coal (cooling agents reduced) but in the long term no net gain in warming but now coal is being exported as the US uses less of it.

    Put into context in regard to this report and the need to avoid going over 2C with 1C being is safer still but unobtainable now due to the 0.6C of warming to come from the oceans (thermal lag of about 30 years)and hence 450 ppmv is the 2C limit. We need to do far more than we are actually talking about at these global meetings. 2C is becoming harder and harder to achieve and is almost out of reach now. Kevin Anderson states that emissions of the magnitude required is noting short of a large scale recession lasting a few decades and hence which politician wants that so we limp on.

    Comment by pete best — 4 Apr 2014 @ 7:28 AM

  3. Pete (#2),

    Your conception of lag is an artifact of an increasing concentration profile. If you compare figure 2 here with the concentrations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_forcing_agents_CO2_equivalent_concentration.png you’ll see that temperature responds immediately to a change in forcing. It is drag, not lag, effectively. It goes away when you change direction.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 8:16 AM

  4. How does civilization adapt to a moving target. Build a sea wall as the sea level rises???

    Comment by John McCormick — 4 Apr 2014 @ 8:48 AM

  5. Re #3 if we stop emitting carbon today we still get a few more decades of warming at 0.15C per decade don’t we?

    Comment by pete best — 4 Apr 2014 @ 9:19 AM

  6. Pete (#5),

    No, indeed, ending all emissions today causes the forcing to fall. The balance is reached quickly and any delayed rise would be lost in the annual noise. Later the carbon dioxide uptake by the oceans slows, but initially it is quite rapid. Cooling starts within about fifteen years or so. There is a bit of an issue that aerosols associated with emission would disappear too. But that is also a forcing, not drag.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:18 AM

  7. Pete (#5),

    I should add that if we stabilize the concentration of carbon dioxide at today’s level (400 ppm) then there is continued warming for a few decades. But, to stabilize, you need to continue emissions, with an initial 50% cut then falling until 2150 or so if I recall. But that makes the continued warming a function of the future emissions, not the past. Basically, the climate is driven, it doesn’t really have momentum.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:33 AM

  8. Pete, Chris, this has been discussed at some length, e.g.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/climate-change-commitments/

    if we define the commitment as the consequence only of past emissions, then you should set future emissions to zero before you calculate it. This is a valid point, and the consequence of that is seen in the lower lines in the figure.

    CO2 concentrations would start to fall immediately since the ocean and terrestrial biosphere would continue to absorb more carbon than they release as long as the CO2 level in the atmosphere is higher than pre-industrial levels (approximately). And subsequent temperatures (depending slightly on the model you are using) would either be flat or slightly decreasing. With this definition then, there is no climate change commitment because of climate inertia. Instead, the reason for the likely continuation of the warming is that we can’t get to zero emissions any time soon because of societal, economic or technological inertia.

    That is an interesting reframing of an issue that comes up all the time in discussions of adaptation and mitigation. This is because it demonstrates that adaptation (over and above what is necessary to reduce vulnerabilities to current climate conditions) is unnecessary if mitigation is dramatic enough.

    However, the practical implication of this reframing is small. We are clearly not going to get to zero emissions any time soon, and even the 60-70% cuts required to stabilise concentrations initially seem a long way off. Thus as a practical matter, it doesn’t really matter whether the inertia is climatic or societal or technological or economic because the globe will continue to warm under all realistic scenarios (what we do have a possible control over is the magnitude of that warming). Thus further adaptation measures will still be needed.

    citing
    Committed climate warming
    H. Damon Matthews & Andrew J. Weaver
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n3/full/ngeo813.html (paywalled)
    Nature Geoscience 3, 142 – 143 (2010)
    doi:10.1038/ngeo813

    which has subsequently been cited by at least 35 other papers going into the question further:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=doi%3A10.1038%2Fngeo813

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:45 AM

  9. PS, you can limit the subseqeunt cites search to, e.g., since 2013 — which gets some interesting reading on the subject worth a look:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2013&hl=en&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5&cites=2953701649732902185&scipsc=

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:47 AM

  10. “4.How does civilization adapt to a moving target. Build a sea wall as the sea level rises???”

    In a word, yes – but there are other answers as well. Sea level and climate change have been “moving targets” since time began, and always shall be. Historic seaports such as Bruges and Ephesus have become landlocked, and ancient cities in Greece, India and Japan have been inundated, as the earth continues to change. Rigid civilizations die, those which adapt survive.

    Comment by Jack Maloney — 4 Apr 2014 @ 11:41 AM

  11. Next-Generation Claims Handling: How Will the Property/Casualty Industry Respond to the Increasing Frequency and Severity of Weather-Related Events?

    U.S. insurers did not escape the impact of natural disasters. The fourth costliest catastrophe of 2011 was not one single event but a series of more than 330 severe storms and tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri, and other regions in the plains states over a week in late April. Hurricane Irene, the fifth costliest disaster of 2011, followed a few months later.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2014 @ 11:45 AM

  12. Pete Best #5,

    “Re #3 if we stop emitting carbon today we still get a few more decades of warming at 0.15C per decade don’t we?”

    If we stop burning fossil fuels today, we will get peak temperatures within one or two decades anywhere from 1.2 C to near 2 C. Carbon emissions from the Permafrost (and perhaps other sources) that have been initiated already by global warming will impact how (and if) the temperature would decline after the peak, depending on how these emissions would increase with temperature.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 4 Apr 2014 @ 12:00 PM

  13. #5 Pete,

    IIRC, if we completely stopped emissions today, warming would also basically stop, and the temperature would remain steady. Yah, there’s a thermal lag from the CO2 in the air today, but the ocean and biosphere would also be absorbing CO2, so atmospheric CO2 would start dropping immediately. The thermal lag and the dropping CO2 basically cancel out to mean temperature remains steady for a good half-century or so.

    On the other hand, if we were to start decreasing *emissions* now, then CO2 would keep increasing for a while, and so would temperature. Even if we just emitted enough to keep atmospheric CO2 steady, the temperature should also keep increasing at about 0.15C/decade, yeah.

    Comment by Windchaser — 4 Apr 2014 @ 12:34 PM

  14. Irony, illustrated dep’t: http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/retrotisements/oil_gas/texaco-1951-ad-sky-chief.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2014 @ 1:13 PM

  15. #6 & #9,
    I think Pete (#5) is on the right track – although CO2 levels would stop rising, the global average temperature would continue to rise as the climate reaches equilibrium. It has been said that temperatures lag CO2 by as much as 40 years, so today’s warming is due to ’70’s or ’80’s CO2 level. If this is even close to being the case, then we would still have 30-40 years of warming to look forward to even with a total cessation of emissions right now.
    CO2 would start to fall, as natural processes gradually remove it from the atmosphere, but this is a long-term (~100’s of years) thing.

    Comment by Jim — 4 Apr 2014 @ 2:17 PM

  16. #9–Now that sounds right–IIRC…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Apr 2014 @ 2:20 PM

  17. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:45 AM, ~#8

    Don’t forget the part II sequel-
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/climate-change-commitment-ii/

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Apr 2014 @ 7:10 PM

  18. Hank (#8),

    That is about right. The temperature over land starts dropping right away(modulo aerosols) and there is probably a period of increasing sea surface temperature, but not for long as the forcing decreases.

    The last paragraph though is not well thought through. While we may end up on a trajectory like RCP2.6, with everyone cutting emissions, we may not. If we end up on RCP4.5 because China and India insist on increasing their emissions, the consequence of how the climate behaves is that they are responsible, through intent, for the subsequent damage. These are legal issues that feed into such areas of international law as the GATT in which countries have already agreed that environmental tariffs may be imposed. Those who get to impose tariffs are those who are undertaking environmental protection domestically. See how intent comes is?

    So, if you prefer RCP2.6 over the other ones, China must be turned, and a legal means has to be found to do it. The science says that it is future emissions, not past emissions that are responsible for future warming. That seems to have immense practical implications. We don’t pay China to be good because we share the blame, we fine China for being bad because the blame in entirely theirs.

    When the fine gets large enough, they’ll turn. Their other option is to withdraw from the WTO, which gives them no recourse at all on tariffs.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 7:32 PM

  19. 4 “How does civilization adapt to a moving target. Build a sea wall as the sea level rises?”
    To the extent that what we are protecting with that seawall is built environment, we can rely on the fact that built environment decays over time. So we build the seawall, and cutback on maintenence of the protected building, then by the time the seawall is overcome we are ready the abandon the now decrepid buildings. As long as the rate of SLR is small enough that we can protect the built environment for as long as its natural lifespan, we are OK.

    Comment by Thomas — 4 Apr 2014 @ 8:06 PM

  20. Hi everyone, I am an undergraduate student at McGill university, studying environmental sciences. I am participating to a contest organized by UNEP, promoting the World Environment Day and the issues related to climate change, if you can take a look at my video and give me some feedback, it would be greatly appreciated!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbyVEMyNUw0&feature=youtu.be
    Thank you for your time!

    Comment by Sarah — 4 Apr 2014 @ 9:20 PM

  21. Re- Comment by Chris Dudley — 4 Apr 2014 @ 7:32 PM, ~#18

    It sounds like you are saying that even thought we (western nations) have emitted most of the pollution to date and we, as a group, still emit more than China, we should not assume a leadership role in reducing our CO2 emissions but, instead, require China (et.al.) to back off. Please tell me I am wrong.

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Apr 2014 @ 9:22 PM

  22. “Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”

    seems to be the title. I don’t see “Mitigation” in there. Suggest that discussion of mitigation by punishment of noncompliant countries be moved to the diogenes tarpit.

    sidd

    Comment by sidd — 4 Apr 2014 @ 10:50 PM

  23. The temperature over land would abruptly spike as the emission halt would remove the cooling aerosols (for comparison, follow the spike in the 90s after the pollution-intense USSR-Comintern industrial base collapsed). The accrued warming potential would be minor and probably weather-swamped in a decade.
    Unfortunately CO2 levels will continue to rise, probably for about a decade. The pipeline through eco-systems into the ocean and back to the air will churn CO2 back into the atmosphere in the tropical areas. It may be supplemented by reservoirs on land – the same diffusion continuation as the oceans. We get a break if there are more La Nina’s, and we pay the piper longer if there are more El Ninos.

    Comment by owl905 — 5 Apr 2014 @ 12:14 AM

  24. 4John McCormick says: How does civilization adapt to a moving target. Build a sea wall as the sea level rises??

    It doesn’t. There are three different factors here: Where will we end up? Where do we want to end up? How do we do that?

    The first involves figuring out the worst case scenario with all-out mitigation efforts. Key elements of this are backcasting from a given, relatively discernible point in the future, probably 2100 or so, giving us 2 or three generations for the transition, but **hopefully** prior to unstoppable tipping points. This tells us what to design to for worst case scenario wrt adaptive actions.

    ** It is vital to understand, this is NOT the end point, nor is it where most deign will be guided by. This is more like the minimum necessary actions for survival at that future point from which we are backcasting. Also, this is a parameter that we actually are designing to avoid.

    We now have a baseline to design to for survival in a warmer world, but not out of control world.

    The second is really the question, how do we survive long-term? With a climate we clearly can overcome with our actions, a living, often dangerous planet, 9 billion people or more, and limited, rapidly depleting/depletable resources? Put more simply, what does sustainability look like? To answer this question, you cannot just ask, what are the issues with climate? You have to ask what the effects of exponential growth? What do we do when we run out of resources? How do we avoid using up resources?

    Consider, people talk about adaptation, but adaptation requires far, far more resource use than mitigation does. It involves ever more complex solutions to ever more complex problems. Basically, we end up with more of the last 800 years. This simple observation logically excludes adaptation as our primary response. It simply isn’t sustainable.

    What we want is a way of using our resources that allows us to keep being on this planet with a minimum level of sophistication, i.e. contentment and comfort, for so long as we and the planet may exist. Note this does not exclude being able to someday mine distant worlds, necessarily, and the resource budget, and what sustainability is, can be recalculated at such a time. However, you design to what might magically occur someday, you design to the resource inventory that is known and adjust it up and down as appropriate at future points.

    As of now, that level of resource use is a lot less than the US currently consumes, and without getting to deep into things, my best guess is maybe ten percent of current U.S. consumption.

    There are many, many implications that follow from this statement that many would consider ideological/moral/economic/political issues. This is a mistake. There is nothing sustainable about any of those systems. It would be like trying to breed a better orange from an apple. But let’s set aside these things and look at the gist of this: We must live simpler. Let that be whatever it needs to be in your mind, but understand it means serious deep-seated changes, though you could live a daily schedule and style that outwardly looks just like today, though with a very different veneer. Still, breakfast, work, break, lunch, work, dinner, hang out. Add in ball games, entertainment, family activities, music, whatever. Maybe even some computer time. Etc.Your homes will be comfortable, but new constructions will be different. You won’t have a car. Etc.

    How? The answer is above: Simplify, localize, consume a heck of a lot less, make choices based on the design of natural systems. Make decisions with the ecosystem as the first-level consideration. Localize. Massively distributed systems, inclusive: Energy, food, production, people. This also builds resilience.

    We want to be able to survive, but we have to stop imposing and start cooperating with the natural systems. IF we design sustainable communities, we solve climate, we solve energy, we solve economics, we solve politics.

    Think of a prairie. In many ways a larger ecosystem is a fractal. Take any two square meters of prairie within a reasonable distance of each other and they will contain many of the same biota. But it won’t be all the same. And destroying a patch of prairie affects the surrounding patches. (See wolves in Yellowstone.) Do it in a serious enough way, it changes forever, particularly if you alter large enough areas.

    The best model I know of is either the Iroquois federation or pre-Columbian Amazon society. There was a vast network of associated villages in the Amazon. Yet, they were so naturally integrated, for five hundred years we never knew they had existed at the time Columbus bumped into the place. Former estimates of around 5M people are now closer to 15M or 20M. They lived lightly.

    I am not suggesting copying these societies except in the principles of design and the patterns of use with modern knowledge applied to create a sustainability that fits today.

    Cities will not disappear, but they will greatly depopulate because…. they are completely unsustainable. But, we must think of bio-regions, not just localities. When taken as a bio-region, the exchange between cities and the rest of the bio-regions is one form of closed loop so long as the cities produce something needed.

    Etc.

    Key, we must and will localize. We must and will consume less. We must and will simplify. (If you haven’t read Tainter and Diamond yet, you very much need to do so.)

    If you don’t believe me, believe the climate scientist I heard say the other day that our energy system is unsustainable. ‘Bout danged time.

    Comment by Killian — 5 Apr 2014 @ 3:18 AM

  25. Skepticalscience say on the subject of ocean lag:

    The Thermal Inertia of the Oceans

    If we accept that greenhouse gases are warming the planet, the next concept that needs to be grasped is that it takes time, and we have not yet seen the full rise in temperature that will occur as a result of the CO2 we have already emitted. The Earth’s average surface temperature has already risen by 0.8 degrees C since 1900. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing at the rate of 2 ppm per year. Scientists tell us that even if CO2 was stabilized at its current level of 390 ppm, there is at least another 0.6 degrees “in the pipeline”. If findings from a recent study of Antarctic ice cores is confirmed, the last figure will prove to be conservative [ii]. The delayed response is known as climate lag.

    Current climate change is from emissions 40 years ago. Emissions are not going to stop tomorrow so 1.5C (0.6C extra) is already accounted for.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climate-Change-The-40-Year-Delay-Between-Cause-and-Effect.html

    Comment by Pete Best — 5 Apr 2014 @ 3:32 AM

  26. according to that chart in Fig 2 then 1C is the new 2C and hence the implications are not good.

    Comment by Pete Best — 5 Apr 2014 @ 3:37 AM

  27. Hank Roberts #8,

    “And subsequent temperatures (depending slightly on the model you are using) would either be flat or slightly decreasing.”

    This is the only CO2 immediate emissions cessation study I have seen that draws this conclusion about temperature profile. Every other study I have seen has the temperature increasing for a decade or two after immediate emissions cessation, then declining slowly. For example, Armour and Roe (GRL, 2011) state: “Turning now to the case in which all anthropogenic emissions cease, there is an immediate unmasking of greenhouse gas forcing as aerosols are quickly washed from the atmosphere. The effect is an abrupt rise in climate forcing (Figure 1a) to a peak value of around 2.7 W m−2, which is relatively well constrained as it depends only on greenhouse gases. The response is a rapid warming (Figure 1b), with a transient commitment of up to 0.9°C above the modern temperature. Thereafter, forcing declines over the next few centuries as greenhouse gases are partially, but not completely, removed from the atmosphere. At the low end of the climate response, temperature falls to less than half of its peak value. At the high end, temperature continues to increase because the system has not yet attained equilibrium due to the long adjustment time scales of high sensitivity systems.”

    In their case, the temperature would increase to 1.6 C, then decline slowly. I have seen other computations where the range of the peak is from 1.2 C to ~2 C, with some higher outliers. Given that we have already triggered carbon emissions from other sources (e.g., Permafrost) due to climate change, even if all anthropogenic sources were to cease immediately, the triggered sources would keep generating, slowing the rate of temperature decline after the peak somewhat.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 5 Apr 2014 @ 5:08 AM

  28. “The science says that it is future emissions, not past emissions that are responsible for future warming.”

    No, Chris, it doesn’t. Science is entirely silent on concepts such as ‘responsibility.’ For that, you have to go to the study of ‘ethics.’ And your view on future responsibility is not generally accepted, either here, or in the corridors of power, where it really matters.

    And let me reiterate: China and India together are only about 30% of the problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Apr 2014 @ 7:12 AM

  29. Steve (#17),

    It is interesting that the sulphate aerosols have been scrubbed in a lot of developed countries. It may be that the warming from their absence would be localized to the Pacific North of the Equator. Cooling over land might occur fairly soon in the Southern Hemisphere and perhaps Europe.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 10:37 AM

  30. China got messed with much like the USSR did. The USSR went broke trying to match the US in the arms race. China has gone broke getting rich with the 19th and 19th=century industrialization that the US tricked them into using in return for lots of dollars.

    If we’d exported democracy, unionization, the IWW, the Clean Air Act regulations and public health done to the mid-20th-Century criteria, China wouldn’t be a polluted mess with toxic soil, water, and air right now. They’d be much more of a threat politically, as they’d be healthy.

    So they have dollars and a poisoned environment.

    Very tricky, these Americans. Suckered them into a devastating ecological debt in return for paper dollars.

    Just my opinion. I’m sure the economists would tell you different.
    But if you want good economic advice, ask the ecologists. They don’t fool themselves.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2014 @ 10:38 AM

  31. re Jim @~15

    I would very much like to see a reconciliation of “It has been said that temperatures lag CO2 by as much as 40 years,” with Chris Dudley’s assertions, which appear knowledgeable to this lay reader.

    Talk about reduction often means only a lessening of rate of increase. A person wishing to reduce weight first needs to stop gaining before they can slow down, level off, or reduce. How much leveling or reduction in practical terms are we talking about (still a considerable increase in total quantity)?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Apr 2014 @ 11:28 AM

  32. I see Hank Roberts has as usual done the homework. I also found the Truthout piece (@2) useful. My point remains but part of practical query is answered. Another joker is the increased warm temperatures in areas of permafrost and snow/glaciers and other areas where potential for feedbacks are growing.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Apr 2014 @ 11:35 AM

  33. Chris Dudley wrote: “China must be turned, and a legal means has to be found to do it … When the fine gets large enough, they’ll turn.”

    First of all, China is already being “fined” for its fossil fuel use, by the huge economic costs of the pollution that is choking China’s cities, and by the rapidly escalating economic impacts of global warming on Chinese agriculture. Not to mention the economic cost of importing massive amounts of coal and oil.

    Which is exactly why China is already investing so much more in renewable energy and efficiency than the USA — in fact, China is adding more renewably-generated electricity (which directly replaces coal) than any other nation on Earth, with the International Energy Agency projecting that China will add more renewable electricity generating capacity by 2035 than the USA, Europe and Japan combined.

    The USA should not be concerned about “turning” China, it should be concerned about catching up with China in the race to lead the emerging global renewable energy economy.

    And if the USA does want to do something useful to “turn” China, a good start would be to end US coal exports, which are at an all-time high, much of it coming from the Obama administration’s expansion of coal mining on public lands.

    According to US EIA data, US coal exports to China have increased from just over one million tons in 2009 to over TEN million tons in 2012.

    Even worse, the US is exporting increasing amounts of petroleum coke, or petcoke, to China. Petcoke is a solid fuel derived from oil refining which when burned emits 10 percent MORE CO2 than coal for the same amount of energy. According to EIA data, US petcoke exports to China have increased from about 2 million barrels in 2008 to over 38 million barrels in 2013.

    So, what you are proposing is basically that the US should “fine” China for burning the fossil fuels that we are selling them.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Apr 2014 @ 11:51 AM

  34. So, if you prefer RCP2.6 over the other ones, China must be turned, and a legal means has to be found to do it.

    This makes little sense given China has already a national climate policy, far ahead of the U.S. in this regard. Many mistake momentum for lack of policy and intent.

    The science says that it is future emissions, not past emissions that are responsible for future warming.

    That’s not what the science says. First, there is the lag. Second, the cumulative effect upon which future emissions lie. Third, future effects of already-triggered feedbacks aren’t quantifiable.

    Comment by Killian — 5 Apr 2014 @ 3:18 PM

  35. Chris Dudley, #18: “We don’t pay China to be good because we share the blame, we fine China for being bad because the blame in entirely theirs.”

    I think such fines are quite a way away (certainly in terms of the US or UK imposing fines).

    World Bank figures for per capita annual CO2 emissions (apologies these are from 2010, admittedly a little out of date):

    India: 1.7 Metric tons per capita
    China: 6.2 Metric tons per capita
    UK: 7.9 Metric tons per capita
    USA: 17.6 Metric tons per capita

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

    (I daresay this may have changed quite a bit since 2010 and will no doubt change a lot more in the coming years. Note also that I’m not sure whether this takes into account all the “outsourced” emissions – e.g. a lot of products consumed in the UK are made in China and the emissions from creating those products arguably ought to be included in UK’s emissions instead of China’s but I understand that this has often not happened).

    Also, I’m not convinced that historical emissions aren’t important (although I think I understand that if we could get to zero emissions then the concentration of CO2 would fall quite quickly, I’m not sure how likely this is to happen any time soon).

    Also, I’m not very comfortable with the idea that if nations that developed by burning a shed load of fossil fuel such as US and UK do somehow find a way to cut their emissions to virtually zero, that those same nations should necessarily fine other nations that are burning a lot of fossil fuel to develop. That doesn’t seem particularly fair to me.

    Comment by Rob Nicholls — 5 Apr 2014 @ 4:37 PM

  36. People don’t seem to have followed up on Hank’s suggestion (always a mistake) at 9 to look through some of the more recent research on the subject. Most earlier research leaves out carbon feedbacks from permafrost and other sources. Just adding (some) of the carbon feedback from permafrost to the equation at least offsets the uptake by oceans and by non-permafrost land sinks.

    Check out the third source there, MacDougal et al. Including just this one carbon feedback, warming continues even with immediate cessation of all further CO2 emissions.

    (I’d link and quote it further, but when I did, I got a warning that my post was flagged as spam.)

    Comment by wili — 5 Apr 2014 @ 5:47 PM

  37. #36–Yes, from Figure 3 it would appear that under 3C climate sensitivity, the permafrost feedback by itself is enough to maintain the atmospheric concentration at 400 ppm, even with the cessation of anthropogenic emissions:

    http://i1108.photobucket.com/albums/h402/brassdoc/MacDougaletal2013figure3.png

    That would imply (to me, which may cast some doubt on the reliability of the conclusion!) that we’d still be seeing an energy imbalance at TOA, and therefore further warming to reach equilibrium.

    The quote from the abstract that Wili probably would have made says:

    We estimate that this feedback could result in an additional warming of 0.13–1.69 °C by 2300. We further show that the upper bound for the strength of the feedback is reached under the less intensive emissions pathways.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Apr 2014 @ 7:05 PM

  38. Steve (#21),

    You may not be aware that the US is cutting emission, and has a policy in place to cut them further. Many other western nations are doing the same. China plans to increase emissions. We can’t do RCP2.6 unless everyone cuts. So, the US has already taken on a leadership role and now has a responsibility to invoke the environmental provisions of the GATT to impose tariffs on countries, such as China, which are not cutting emissions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 7:21 PM

  39. Pete (#25),

    You have not understood what it means to stabilize. It means continuing to emit. If you want that pipeline warming, you are going to have to provide enough carbon dioxide to make it happen. If you fail to do that, the pipeline in gone. Past emissions don’t do it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 7:27 PM

  40. Kevin (#28),

    OK if you won’t grant a physics based use of the word responsible I’ll rephrase: The science that it is future emissions, not past emissions that cause future warming. There is really no doubt about that. Even folks invoking feedbacks are invoking future emission. And, it looks like China and India are about 80% of the problem: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/images/figure_146.jpg

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 7:58 PM

  41. Rob (#35),

    I find your concerns confusing. If you think emissions are being outsourced, what better policy than to invoke the environmental language in the GATT and impose tariffs. Do the manufacturing at home using clean energy.

    On the fairness question, The US and UK have to pay twice for their energy infrastructure. China can avoid that by going directly to clean energy. Should China not direct some of its savings on that towards assisting the US and UK with the their extra expenses? There are many ways to look at that. The way I look at is RCP2.6 is needed and we need effective policies to implement it. International relation are not usually fair. Burden sharing in NATO is pretty unbalanced, for example. The US has an interest in not seeing its agriculture decimated, so putting tariffs on imports from China seems like a good thing to try.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:20 PM

  42. > Even folks invoking feedbacks

    Who isn’t?
    Why would anyone be discounting feedbacks?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:29 PM

  43. Killian (#34),

    You’ve allowed yourself to be bamboozled by “energy intensity.” Just imagine Dick Cheney sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet nothings in your ear. That is China’s energy policy: increase emissions with a slight nod to efficiency. The US policy is to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 emissions and continue cutting to reach a goal of 83% cut by 2050. China’s policy is to increase emissions out to 2040 and beyond. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/images/figure_145.jpg

    I would say also that you have misunderstood lag in the climate. Further, feedbacks, if they are not runaway, need to be driven, so ending the driver ends the feedback.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:40 PM

  44. SA (#33),

    Bottom line in what you are saying, China is increasing fossil fuel use.

    My bottom line: We can’t do RCP2.6 if they do that.

    Supporting China’s goal to increase pollution is supporting mass extinction of species according to AR5. Give China all the kudos you want, but if they don’t cut emissions, the American Pika will be gone, along with a lot of its friends. Grain yields will be down and violence will be up. So, turning China around has to be a priority.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:51 PM

  45. >China’s goal to increase pollution is supporting mass extinction of species

    It’s not the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
    The fool who overloaded the camel tries that pathetic excuse.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Apr 2014 @ 9:46 PM

  46. “You may not be aware that the US is cutting emission, and has a policy in place to cut them further.”

    And you may not be aware that US emissions rose last year–though I’ve already mentioned it once before.

    No, the US does not have such a policy. The current administration does, but much of what would be required to be sure that future US emissions do in fact decrease are beyond its jurisdiction. And there is no knowing what the next administration will choose to do–though we can certainly infer what Mr. Romney would have done, had he been elected.

    Perhaps relevantly, I note that the EIA projects comparatively little change in their projected US emissions for 2040:

    In the AEO2014 Reference case, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2040 equal 5,599 million metric tons, 92 million metric tons (1.6%) lower than in AEO2013.

    (Though I expect that those emissions will in fact be lower than that, even without a radical policy change; the EIA consistently underestimates the growth of renewables.) I haven’t found another projection that has some authority, that is recent, and that runs out that far.

    I don’t understand why you are harping on China and India, Chris; emissions cuts on their part are necessary but not at all sufficient. As I keep saying, mitigation is a multilateral problem. In fact, the EIA report you cite shows that quite clearly. Though it’s true that developing nations are projected to increase more than developed, nevertheless, the latter–as sampled by today’s OECD grouping–is projected to increase nearly 10% by 2040.

    http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=IEO2013&subject=0-IEO2013&table=10-IEO2013&region=0-0&cases=Reference-d041117

    Nor does your statement that “China’s policy is to increase emissions out to 2040 and beyond,” seem to be supported. China does not officially report emissions, has no official projections of emissions, and couches its policy in terms of energy intensity. So ipso facto, no policy on emissions one way or the other.

    However, the probable results of current policies have been assessed by non-official source inside and outside China. As reported by this US congressional analyst:

    In the longer term, Chinese officials are signaling possible absolute reductions in China’s GHG emissions. As reported by the Xinhua news agency, a recent report by the Chinese Academy of Engineering concluded that China’s energy development is projected to experience a “historic transition” around 2030 when its consumption of coal becomes restrained, the emission of carbon dioxide reaches its peak and energy-saving capacities around the world reaches an advanced level. This conclusion is consistent with other analyses and official statements suggesting that 2030 could mark the high point of Chinese CO2 emissions if current policies continue.

    The EIA report, referred to above, is more pessimistic, but even it shows Chinese emissions peaking in 2038.

    Now, why do I keep arguing about this? Because it’s important: pinning the blame on China is an evasion of responsibility. We should pressure China to do better on emissions. But the best step toward doing so effectively would be getting our own act together. Manifestly, it is not–not when there is no national policy, no political consensus, and no mechanism for mitigation beyond EPA regulations that exist at the mercy of the next Presidential election. None of those needs will be addressed by pretending that the only problem we have is located in Beijing.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Apr 2014 @ 11:59 PM

  47. #44 “Bottom line in what you are saying, China is increasing fossil fuel use.”

    http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2014ER&subject=0-AEO2014ER&table=17-AEO2014ER&region=1-0&cases=full2013-d102312a,ref2014er-d102413a

    USA CO2 emissions.

    2013 = 5421 million metric tonnes of CO2

    2040 = 5500 million metric tonnes of CO2

    2013 EIA report had it at 5691

    Chris Dudley, there’s an inconvenient Truth for you to swallow:-

    “Bottom line the USA is INCREASING fossil fuel use!”

    How much should the rest of the world FINE YOU for totally disregarding the urgency explained by the Science?

    REFRAMING your “beliefs” into the REAL World:

    “My bottom line: We can’t do RCP2.6 if they do that.”

    True!

    “Supporting the USA’s goal to increase pollution is supporting mass extinction of species according to AR5.”

    I Agree. True!

    “Give the USA all the kudos you want, but if they don’t CUT emissions DRASTICALLY, the American nation will be gone, along with a lot of its friends. Grain yields will be down and violence will be up. So, turning the USA around has to be a priority!”

    That’s true too!

    Go forward Chris Dudley …. turn your nation around, turn your own personal behaviour and your misinformed verbiage around too ….. NOW!

    Comment by Walter — 6 Apr 2014 @ 1:40 AM

  48. #43 “The US policy is to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 emissions and continue cutting to reach a goal of 83% cut by 2050.”

    That is a NON-Policy that has no effective actions to back it up. In fact the “policy actions” are the complete opposite of such a “goal”.

    Furthermore, such a Goal is counter-productive and basically “spin” that looks nice on the surface because basing it on 2005 is a total cop out and a mis-direction.

    In order to get anywhere near RCP 2.6 what is required is a 90% cut to 1990 level emissions BEFORE 2050, and preferably by 2040.

    1990 Data is the ONLY Valid yardstick … it applies to the USA and to the globe equally.

    Under 10% of 1990 emissions is the ONLY Valid Goal, that “might” work.

    RCP 2.6 globally is NOT achievable under any rational potential changes in Carbon Energy use in the foreseeable future. None.

    RCP 8.5 IS the current real world trajectory – and the USA is feeding that as much as the rest of the world are.

    Why? Because there are NO policies, and no actions in place that show the USA is heading anywhere BUT towards RCP 8.5 by systemic increasing of it’s fossil fuel carbon emissions, concrete use, and land use effects.

    Comment by Walter — 6 Apr 2014 @ 1:51 AM

  49. Yes, we have them surrounded after all.

    Comment by Tony Lynch — 6 Apr 2014 @ 2:08 AM

  50. @42 Hank asks:
    “> Even folks invoking feedbacks

    Who isn’t?
    Why would anyone be discounting feedbacks?”

    Apparently most models discount major carbon feedbacks. Why? I don’t know.

    From the third source from your link at #9:

    “these models have typically neglected the permafrost carbon pool, which has the potential to introduce an additional terrestrial source of carbon to the atmosphere.”

    And, yes Chris, they do include future CO2 emissions…just not human ones. Is that what you meant?

    Comment by wili — 6 Apr 2014 @ 3:17 AM

  51. For Chris D et al.

    The presidents actions amount to almost nothing regarding reducing CO2e emissions. The only real action was setting tougher standards (via the EPA) on vehicle engine emissions that come into affect in the future.
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan

    What EPA is Doing about Climate Change?
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/EPAactivities.html

    Almost nothing, as there is no genuine enforceable National emissions targets nor power to do anything about them bar engine emissions. This is what the EPA does today:

    – Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Findings = Good DECISION but with a NIL EFFECT to date.
    – EPA collects various types of greenhouse gas emissions data, via the “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks” and the “Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program” = NIL ACTIONS

    – On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its first steps under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. EPA is PROPOSING carbon pollution standards for new power plants built in the future = NIL ACTION TO DATE

    – On April 18, 2012, EPA finalized cost effective regulations to reduce harmful air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry, while allowing continued, responsible growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production. = NIL ACTION (because the EPA has grossly understated fugitive Gas emissions by accepting Industry advice, already proven wrong by multiple science studies that cam eout last year and this year)

    – Geologic sequestration is the process of injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) from a source, such as a coal-fired electric generating power plant, into a well thousands of feet underground and sequestering the CO2 underground indefinitely. = NIL ACTION

    – On May 13, 2010, EPA set greenhouse gas emissions thresholds to define when permits under the New Source Review Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V Operating Permit programs are required for new and existing industrial facilities. = minor ACTION, small effect.

    – EPA is also responsible for developing and implementing regulations to ensure that transportation fuel sold in the United States contains a minimum volume of renewable fuel. = Minor ACTION, minimal effect

    – EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are taking coordinated steps to enable the production of a new generation of clean vehicles = NIL ACTION, still at a “proposed stage” for any future changes.

    FACTS: The US Clean Air Act is NOT effecting Carbon Emissions Cuts in the USA. The EPA is NOT responsible for driving down Carbon Emissions except in some very narrowly framed constraints. The EPA is NOT responsible for meeting NATIONAL Carbon Emissions targets in the USA.

    FACT: THIS IS A NEW PROPOSAL NOT A SET IN STONE POLICY OF THE US GOVT “The US policy is to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 emissions and continue cutting to reach a goal of 83% cut by 2050.”

    It is merely a Hope on a Wing and a Prayer … it is hypothetical and an “ambition” of Obama’s White House .. it is NOT a Fact, yet.

    Comment by Walter — 6 Apr 2014 @ 3:57 AM

  52. Hank Roberts @30,

    “But if you want good economic advice, ask the ecologists. They don’t fool themselves.”

    It might be of some interest to note that both the words economy and ecology have the the Greek word ‘eco’, οἶκος as a root, Greek word οἰκονόμος (i.e. “household management”), a composite word derived from οἶκος (“house, home or place of habitation”) and νέμω (“manage; distribute”) by way of οἰκονομία (“household management”). In other words ‘economy’ is the management of the the place of habitation through the application of man made rules or laws.

    While neo classical economists like to say that their field of study is a true science, unfortunately it seems they are stretching the definition of what science really is all about…
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-economist-has-no-clothes/

    The word Ecology on the other hand is derived from the Greek as follows : ‘οἶκος’, “house”; -λογία, “study of. And most modern day ecologists try to apply the fundamental rules of the scientific method in the study of our home.

    IMHO, every current economics course should be based on biophysical principles and should start with a Review of Ecosystem Thermodynamics 101

    http://www.uni-kiel.de/ecology/users/fmueller/salzau2006/ea_presentations/Data/2006-07-05_-_Thermodynamics_II.pdf

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 6 Apr 2014 @ 6:31 AM

  53. Going back to the post on Impacts of climate change, I think the post is excellent. I have so far found WG2’s SPM quite difficult to get my head around and I believe there is a need for articles like this which summarise WG2’s findings and make clear the kinds of futures the science says we might be facing if we don’t start cutting GHG emissions v soon.

    Chris Dudley (#41), thanks for your response to my comment. China is increasing its fossil fuel use but I think that USA’s per capita GHG emissions are still way above China’s (although the latest figures I have found so far are for 2010). I don’t believe that the US will be in any position to preach to China about China’s GHG emissions until the US’s per capita emissions are lower than China’s (and even then I think that historical emissions have to be taken into account). I agree that China has to tackle its rising emissions (and quickly if we want to have a chance of meeting RCP 2.6) but the US, UK and other very affluent nations with very high per capita GHG emissions have to get their own houses in order before they start trying to take the moral high ground on this issue.

    Comment by Rob Nicholls — 6 Apr 2014 @ 6:33 AM

  54. …And coincidentally out this morning:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/05/china-1-renewable-energy-investment-us-2-japan-3-chart/

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Apr 2014 @ 7:19 AM

  55. Chris Dudley, please take the Sinophobic politics elsewhere, China does NOT have a goal or policy of increasing pollution or emissions. Like every country, they have a goal of increasing the ‘prosperity’ of their populace. The “developed” world is currently the enabler of that.

    The only priority everywhere is to turn the global energy economy – if you want tariffs, put export tariffs on the dirty energy being sent to China by the developed nations [particularly the US, Australia and Canada] who are pursuing their own prosperity by supplying the coal, oil, gas and tar sands to China, which is the “enabler”.

    Comment by flxible — 6 Apr 2014 @ 9:24 AM

  56. Chris Dudley #18,

    “The science says that it is future emissions, not past emissions that are responsible for future warming.”

    Actually, the science says that it is past AND future emissions that are responsible for future warming. If we cease all CO2 emissions today, the aerosols essentially precipitate out immediately, while the CO2 remains for many decades. There is roughly a ten-twenty year period for the atmosphere to adjust to the increased heating from the reduced Albedo, and the temperature reaches a peak somewhere between 1.2-2 C. After the peak, there would be a steady decline (in theory), but the decline would be reduced by the carbon feedbacks we have already triggered (e.g., from thawing Permafrost).

    However, the magnitude of the peak is of major concern, and it was a strong component of Hansen’s recent Plos One paper. If the temperature were to peak near 2 C, which is certainly possible given present uncertainties about climate sensitivity, aerosol forcing, and other critical parameters, then substantial carbon feedbacks could be triggered that would obliterate the peak and drive the temperature further on an upward trajectory. As far as I have seen, none of the published studies on immediate CO2 cessation take major carbon feedbacks into account when computing temperature trajectories. This is the main reason that Spratt, Salter, Wadhams et al believe that some type of geo-engineering to replace the aerosols would be necessary.

    In a sense, the developed countries, with the USA in the lead, have created a ‘time-bomb’ with their past copious use of fossil fuels. Additional copious future use of fossil fuels only adds to the problem.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 6 Apr 2014 @ 9:34 AM

  57. Chris Dudley wrote: “Bottom line in what you are saying, China is increasing fossil fuel use.”

    Sure, that’s the bottom line in what I’m saying — IF you ignore everything I actually wrote.

    The “bottom line” is that your proposal for the USA to impose “fines” on China for China’s fossil fuel use is absolutely hypocritical and nonsensical given that the USA is actively aiding and abetting and encouraging and enabling China’s fossil fuel use by exporting record amounts of coal and petroleum coke to China.

    If you want the USA to do something effective to reduce China’s fossil fuel use, then call for a complete ban on US fossil fuel exports to China — and to any other country, for that matter.

    If, on the other hand, you want to engage in hypocritical and nonsensical China-bashing, carry on as you were.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Apr 2014 @ 12:03 PM

  58. wili: “Apparently most models discount major carbon feedbacks. Why? I don’t know.

    From the third source from your link at #9:

    “these models have typically neglected the permafrost carbon pool, which has the potential to introduce an additional terrestrial source of carbon to the atmosphere.””

    Focus on the word “potential.”

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 6 Apr 2014 @ 12:08 PM

  59. To the Moderators,

    An interesting climate science issue has arisen on this thread: what would happen to atmospheric temperature and other variables if fossil fuel use were to be terminated immediately? The posted projections have ranged from immediately declining temperatures to flat temperatures to some peak temperature to decades-long increasing temperatures. Since the moderators are first-class climate scientists, it would be useful if they would weigh in on this topic. What are the physical phenomena involved under such conditions, what temperature profiles would be expected and what are the associated uncertainties, and do the moderators agree with the concerns expressed in #56?

    [Response: It’s been discussed many time before: here and here. – gavin]

    Comment by DIOGENES — 6 Apr 2014 @ 12:16 PM

  60. Secular Animist:

    If you want the USA to do something effective to reduce China’s fossil fuel use, then call for a complete ban on US fossil fuel exports to China — and to any other country, for that matter.

    What I want the U.S. to do is impose an effective tax on fossil fuels at the source (mine or well-head if domestic, port-of-entry if imported) based on carbon content, and a Border Adjustment on imported goods at the same time:

    Border Adjustments, also known as Border Tax Adjustments or Border Tax Assessments, are import fees levied by carbon-taxing countries on goods manufactured in non-carbon-taxing countries.

    The impetus behind border adjustments is the desire to ensure a level playing field in international trade while internalizing the costs of climate damage into prices of goods and services.

    It would have to be adjudicated, but there’s apparently reason to think this is permitted under WTO law:

    [former WTO appellate officer Jennifer] Hillman concludes that “…provided that policymakers carefully design a [carbon] tax, keeping in mind the basic requirements of the WTO not to discriminate in favor of domestic producers or to favor imports from certain countries over others… the treat of WTO challenges should not present a barrier to policymakers wishing to adopt a carbon tax system now.”

    I may be behind the times, but I think the U.S. still has sufficient global economic leverage that even China would have to pay attention to something like this. I’m talking it up, and hoping for an outbreak of common sense in our leaders.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 6 Apr 2014 @ 2:27 PM

  61. Walter (#51),

    Perhaps you’ve never heard of wedges. So, again, US policy: 17% cut from 2005 level by 2020. We’re expected to get there based on EPA efforts already in the works. 83% cut by 2050. Still figuring that one out but it’s the goal. Amory Lovins has outline a number of detailed scenarios, and the goal looks quite feasible.

    So, you’ve found many things that are being done and you claim all of the are small. Yet we have been cutting, so something is definitely working. I would say that one reason you are not catching on very well is that you don’t seem to have looked CAFE standards.

    Get yourself educated. I got Lovin’s book from the library. It’s pretty easy to follow.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 4:47 PM

  62. Mal Adapted (#60),

    Exactly. So long as a country is addressing and environmental issue domestically, it can impose duties, tariffs, border adjustment taxes, what ever you want to call it under the GATT. The WTO is the body that enforces the GATT.

    In the US, regulation under the Clean Air Act, not a carbon tax, is what is cutting emissions, but that is not important. What is important is that we are taking action to cut emissions. That gives us standing.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 4:56 PM

  63. Kevin (#46),

    Actually, the 17% cut is US policy. It has been presented as such in world forums. That makes it extend beyond administrations.

    Unlike Canada, in this area, we attempt to keep our commitments.

    I would point to this: “I don’t understand why you are harping on China and India, Chris; emissions cuts on their part are necessary but not at all sufficient.” and say you’ve got it. Necessary is the operative word. Most others are headed in the right direction and are looking for ways to do more. But, China and India are not. They must be turn round, not just nudged further in the right direction.

    Regarding EIA analysis of the US emissions prospects, you need to read more carefully. They are specifically avoiding including anticipated policy. It gives a baseline against which thing like stationary source regulation can be measured.

    That also makes your quote from the analyst interesting as well. If coal merely stabilizes, what happens to gas and oil? Transportation seems to have been neglected and yet the market for cars in China is huge. Leaving that out seems a little shortsighted if one is making projections.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 5:24 PM

  64. Rob (#53),

    It is not really about taking some moral high ground, it is about how GATT is written. We’re cutting emissions. We can and should put tariffs on nations that are increasing emissions.

    And, regarding per capita emission, so long as China has per capita emissions above our goal, they should be cutting, not growing on stabilizing emissions. They have badly overshot while other developing nations are pursuing clean development paths.

    China is the blockade to achieving RCP2.6. Tariffs may unblock that path.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 5:37 PM

  65. SA (#57),

    I don’t care much about petroleum coke exports, but mountain tops in Appalachia and US coal miners’ lives should not be sacrificed for coal exports. The US needs to commit to end mountain top removal and coal mining fatalities, and then do it before coal is exported at all.

    Other than that, I don’t care where China gets coal or petroleum coke so long as they are burning less next year and less after that and so on. Keep cutting until we are on RCP2.6 and staying there.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 5:47 PM

  66. Hank (#42),

    Feedbacks that are not runaway are driven. End the driver and the feedback ends as well. So, that would be one motivation to not account for them. They would not be active. There is a paper in a list you put up that claims that permafrost may already be a runaway feedback. If so, the RCP2.6 will have to involve much more biochar and other such efforts to shift the permafrost carbon into temperate soils.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 5:58 PM

  67. Walter (#47 and #48),

    Ignoring these. Too counter factual.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 6:07 PM

  68. US Falling Emissions a Mirage: Offshoring and Fracking 02 April 2014
    Bruce Melton is a professional engineer, environmental researcher, filmmaker, and author in Austin, Texas.http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22844-us-falling-emissions-a-mirage-offshoring-and-fracking

    Stanford Report, February 13, 2014 The first thorough comparison of evidence for natural gas system leaks confirms that organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have underestimated U.S. methane emissions generally, as well as those from the natural gas industry specifically. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/february/methane-leaky-gas-021314.html

    Scientific papers and academic reports on CSG and Shale Gas Mining
    Item 1 The first ever ‘Science Paper’ on the GHG Footprint of Unconventional Gas extraction was not published until March, 2011.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/203619501/Scientific-Studies-on-Hydraulic-Fracking-of-Shale-Gas-Coal-Seam-Gas


    IPCC AR5
    “Further near-term warming from past emissions is unavoidable due to thermal inertia of the oceans. This warming will be increased by ongoing emissions of GHGs over the near term, and the climate observed in the near term will also be strongly influenced by the internally generated variability of the climate system. Previous IPCC Assessments only described climate-change projections wherein the externally forced component of future climate was included but no attempt was made to initialize the internally generated climate variability. Decadal climate predictions, on the other hand, are intended to predict both the externally forced component of future climate change, and the internally generated component.” […]
    “The loss of carbon from frozen soils constitutes a positive radiative feedback that is missing in current coupled ESM projections.” […]

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/206878243/Historical-and-Future-Projections-for-Energy-Use-and-GHG-Emissions-the-IPCC-AR5

    IEA world energy outlook 2013
    “Fossil Fuel Subsidies in 2011 were equivalent to an incentive of $110/tonne of CO2.” [ slide 11/17 ] http://www.slideshare.net/internationalenergyagency/redrawing-theeenrgyclimatemappresentation
    (IEA .. fossil-fuel subsidies, which we estimate rose to $544 billion worldwide in 2012. )

    Comment by Walter — 6 Apr 2014 @ 11:31 PM

  69. CD at #66 wrote: “There is a paper in a list you put up that claims that permafrost may already be a runaway feedback. If so, the RCP2.6 will have to involve much more biochar and other such efforts to shift the permafrost carbon into temperate soils.”

    Good idea…if biochar was actually a proven reliable readily mass-producible technology.

    But it isn’t, unfortunately.

    Comment by wili — 7 Apr 2014 @ 12:05 AM

  70. flxible (#55),

    GATT seems ambiguous on oil, gas and coal exports. http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/publications_e/wtr10_forum_e/wtr10_marceau_e.htm And, gas exports have been restricted by Russia in the past while OPEC is an export restricting cartel.

    So, your proposal might have some benefit. But it does seem kind of like pushing on a string. Import duties on Chinese manufactured goods actually cut emissions by reducing Chinese energy consumption. They can be carried out unilaterally by countries that are cutting emissions. Restricting exports would merely give another seller a larger slice of the export market. So, you would need a cartel like OPEC to have any effect. The US would definitely not participate in such a cartel for oil I think. For coal, Australia would need to be a member and Australia has had difficulty meeting its Kyoto obligations. Thus, Australia’s environmental laws may not be strong enough to give it standing to impose restrictions if that is the grounds for doing that sort of thing. Indonesian membership would also be needed.

    So, I don’t think your proposal would get itself together to be useful on a timescale relevant to getting on RCP2.6.

    One export restriction that the US could do that would make some sense is to declare natural gas to be a climate strategic resource and only export it to replace coal. An exception may be needed for Japan owing to their nuclear difficulties, but a time limit on the exception might be useful. LNG has some climate problems but probably still helps as a coal replacement if taken from deep or conventional gas deposits. Fracking seems like it has too much leakage. I doubt the restriction would have much effect, but it might be usefully symbolic.

    I’ve said elsewhere that US coal miners’ lives and Appalachian mountain tops are not worth sacrificing for coal exports. We should have an export moratorium until coal mining fatalities have held at zero for a few years and mountain top removal mining has been banned.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:12 AM

  71. Most earlier research leaves out carbon feedbacks from permafrost and other sources. Just adding (some) of the carbon feedback from permafrost to the equation at least offsets the uptake by oceans and by non-permafrost land sinks.

    Check out the third source there, MacDougal et al. Including just this one carbon feedback, warming continues even with immediate cessation of all further CO2 emissions.

    Comment by wili — 5 Apr 2014 @ 5:47 PM

    This is why talk of adaptation may be interesting, but for all intents and purposes is suicidal. We know the Arctic is losing carbon more rapidly than is safe. Yet another study, recently published, shows the Arctic is emitting twice the carbon previously thought. Why, pray tell, is this always the case? Because it’s a crumbling system with chaotic and non-linear features. Look at a graph of bifurcations sometime. My estimate is that we are into the fourth or fifth bifurcation for the Arctic already. If true, we’re in deep sheep poop. Even if I’m wrong (this is based on a simple analysis of phase changes in ASI since 1900), we’re still past the first one, or the ice wouldn’t be melting. I think most would accept at least one more tipping point was hit in the 2005 – present time frame. That’s two. So, in the absolute simplest terms we now have a system that had one singular path that now, in very lay terms, has four.

    How can anyone feel comfortable about that? Add to this Hansen et al.’s finding a couple years ago that there was some evidence for an ice-free Greenland even at 400 ppm. Other recent findings are that overall sensitivity is closer to 4.5 than 3. (Another I told you so: I said it had to be at the high end, between 4.5 and 6, a long time ago.) If all of this is true, then the risk associated with adaptation vs. mitigation is still an existential, ELE-level event. How does one justify that?

    There is only one choice that flows from the simple logic determined not by the models, but by direct observation. Add in the modeling, and it’s a no-brainer: expecting the planet to stop once we’ve pushed it past several tipping points is no different than Russian Roullette. There’s at least one chamber filled, and death comes if you play long enough.

    Surely you are all aware the same process that is causing dipole anomalies and breakdown of the Arctic circumpolar winds and freezing the mid-latitudes is creating a high pressure ridge that pushed the storm track up into Alaska all winter? How long can that go on before the place gets downright soggy and pours CH4/CO2 into the atmosphere in a feedback we can’t stop?

    There is only one solution: Cool the planet. And there is only one safe way to do that: Sequester carbon naturally. And the only way for that to be effective in a time frame that *might* be safe so we can put the acidification and CH4 genies back in their bottles, is to reduce consumption to 10% or so of current consumption in OECD countries.

    So sayeth Kevin Anderson, which shocked the poo out of me.

    http://simplicitycollective.com/radical-emissions-planning-kevin-anderson

    Comment by Killian — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:15 AM

  72. DIOGENES (#56),

    I have included a “modulo aerosols” caveat in places.

    But, what you are describing places even greater responsibility on China for dangerous climate change. Countries, like the US, that have been cutting emissions have also be scrubbing their smoke stacks and using low sulfur coal and oil to cut those aerosols. If there is a warming as you describe, it will be the fault of China burning coal inefficiently and without scrubbing. Associated adaptation costs should be paid by China.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:27 AM

  73. Killian (#34),

    You’ve allowed yourself to be bamboozled by “energy intensity.” Just imagine Dick Cheney sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet nothings in your ear. That is China’s energy policy: increase emissions with a slight nod to efficiency.

    No, I haven’t. I concern myself with what is sustainable. That means paying attention to net energy and systems. I don’t care what anyone says, I care about what they do, and my requirements are stringent wrt climate policy, resources and sustainability. The Chinese gov’t acknowledged the dangers of climate change years ago and started planning to that end at the same time. As I said, they have some wacky things they have to deal with, and they have to, like we do, phase out some stupid policies that obviously had to be part of planning before they fully acknowledged climate.

    Regardless, you can’t have a climate policy at all when one party, the TeaPublicans, is holding the nation hostage. Regardless of all the other problems China faces, and they are massive, they don’t have that one to deal with. This makes it likely they will turn their oil tanker into a windmill before we will.

    My previous comments stand.

    I would say also that you have misunderstood lag in the climate.

    Based on what? That I know they kick in about 30 years after? You out your mind, son?

    Further, feedbacks, if they are not runaway, need to be driven, so ending the driver ends the feedback.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:40 PM

    And? Kinda why I’ve been calling for <300 ppm. Or are you saying if we stop at 480 or so, all will be well? That's a prediction. That's a bad idea. Try a scenario. And the scenario I choose is the worst case because that is where the existential threat lies, and the odds of it are non-zero, so must be planned to. That means back to 300ppm, not 350. The ice started melting at 300 – 315. Just stopping is too dangerous to accept. We must mitigate and turn back the dial.

    I trust the science will support this in the end, just as it has everything else I've said since 2007.

    Comment by Killian — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:35 AM

  74. Walter (#51),

    Perhaps you’ve never heard of wedges. So, again, US policy: 17% cut from 2005 level by 2020. We’re expected to get there based on EPA efforts already in the works. 83% cut by 2050. Still figuring that one out but it’s the goal. Amory Lovins has outline a number of detailed scenarios, and the goal looks quite feasible.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 6 Apr 2014 @ 4:47 PM

    Actually, we can get to negative emissions with a combination of simplifying and natural sequestration. Technically possible to get to <300 ppm within 20 or so years. Politically, probably more like 100. But simple, doable, and necessary. Lovins, btw, currently is not on the right track. He still thinks innovation and efficiency can get us to a sustainable world with gadgets and doodads. Simple logic says this isn't remotely possible.

    Even Hansen understands the major role sequestration will play, but his numbers are low because he's not counting the vast spread of home gardens/farms in addition to public gardens, turning current FF-based farming into natural farming, reclaiming marginal lands/deserts, things like bio-char and changes to how we use animals on the land.

    We can so simply return to pre-industrial levels… but too many still want your cars and phones and whatnots. Lovins among them. He's a bright fellow. He'll figure it out.

    Comment by Killian — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:53 AM

  75. Chris @ 61…OK, fine, I see you can’t or won’t grasp the concept of cumulative emissions, and what that says about the the job ahead. Btw I read Lovins and as for getting educated on this topic, you would do well to read Hank’s links above with as much as an open mind as you can muster.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:07 AM

  76. Hank Roberts #8/Gavin #59,

    I find this interchange strange in the extreme. Hank Roberts, in post #8, quoted from a Letter on the immediate CO2 cessation problem, to the effect that “And subsequent temperatures (depending slightly on the model you are using) would either be flat or slightly decreasing.” In response to my request (#56) for moderator input on this issue, Gavin stated in #59: “[Response: It’s been discussed many time before: here and here. – gavin]”

    I went back to the two threads recommended by Gavin. The first thread accepts the temperature decline statements in the Letter as given, and the usual voluminous posts follow. The second thread admits that the aerosol precipitation (and other quantities) were omitted in the Letter (and in the Article on the first thread), and shows graphs of the temperature increasing to a peak and declining afterwards, as I stated in #27 and #56. Comment #13 in the second thread was by none other than Hank Roberts. So, this raises two questions.

    First, why did Hank Roberts quote from the Letter in the present thread that temperature would be flat or slightly decreasing after immediate CO2 cessation when he was aware that aerosol precipitation would lead to a brief temperature increase? Second, why wasn’t that point made by the moderators on Hank Robert’s post #8; it would have saved much erroneous discussion?

    Comment by DIOGENES — 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:21 AM

  77. Chris Dudley @ 41,

    “That is China’s energy policy: increase emissions with a slight nod to efficiency. The US policy is to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 emissions and continue cutting to reach a goal of 83% cut by 2050. China’s policy is to increase emissions out to 2040 and beyond.”

    Popycock! Actions speak louder than words! The US is merely exporting its emissions to other parts of the world. last year Americans imported roughly $450 billion worth of goods from China alone…

    In 2013, the US bought US$2.33 trillion worth of imported products. That total is up by 45.5% since 2009.

    Yeah, bad bad China, burning all that oil and coal to produce cheap goods for Americans who continue to buy and use gas guzzling cars and trucks, fly around in planes, and waste lots of fossil fuel produced electricity. Let’s not forget our industrial agricultural processes either!

    When US policy is to start seriously restricting all of the above and begins to impose large carbon taxes on imported goods produced abroad I might have a little more sympathy for your flag waving and holier than thou attitude with respect to the rest of the world.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:46 AM

  78. Gavin in (#59),

    It might be worth a post to look at MacDougall et al. Journal of Climate Dec2013, Vol. 26 Issue 23, p9563-9576. 14p.
    in the context of David’s maximum available 1000 GtC from permafrost melting estimate here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/

    Are the two views consistent?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 7:46 AM

  79. CD, your opinion, you’ve made it clear, isn’t going to change.

    The two topics at RC on climate change commitment, with cites to the science, address uncertainties you don’t want to.;

    Could you blog your opinion, so discussion of the science including the uncertainties can proceed here?

    E.g., from the second of the two links Gavin provided above: http://www.realclimate.org/images/haremeinshausen06.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Apr 2014 @ 10:16 AM

  80. Regarding MacDougall et al. Journal of Climate Dec 2013, Vol. 26 Issue 23, p9563-9576. 14p. A preprint version uses available soil carbon of up to about 2000 Gt (emitted out to 2300) and requires that we do nothing about non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases to get an effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration after cessation of carbon dioxide emissions. Since non-greenhouse gas emissions seem to be quite a focus of diplomatic efforts, such a scenario seems unlikely: we are unlikely to cut carbon dioxide only.
    http://climate.uvic.ca/people/ahmacd/Publications_files/MacDougallEtAl2013.pdf

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 10:53 AM

  81. Oops,

    The MacDougall et al. soil carbon pool is up to 570 GtC. The 2000 GtC (1920 Gt C) is fossil fuel emissions. And, for RCP2.6:

    “Note that even the most optimistic estimate
    for future non-CO2 greenhouse gas forcing is consistent with
    approximately balancing the ocean uptake of carbon with emissions
    from the terrestrial biosphere in the present simulations.”

    Here are their policy recommendations:

    “The results presented here indicate that sharp reductions
    in the concentration of non-CO2 greenhouse gases
    may be required to prevent CO2 from continuing to
    build up in the atmosphere (albeit slowly). That said,
    stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations
    may not be sufficient to prevent ‘‘dangerous anthropogenic
    interference with the climate system.’’ Achieving
    that goal may require the removal of greenhouse gases
    from the atmosphere (e.g., Hansen et al. 2008). It is
    possible that enhanced natural sources of biogenic methane,
    irreversible damage to the caping formations of
    geological methane, and/or slow destabilization of methane
    clathrates could replace the current anthropogenic
    sources of methane (O’Connor et al. 2010). This could
    keep non-CO2 greenhouse gas concentrations above the
    quantity needed to stabilize atmospheric CO2, even if
    anthropogenic sources of these gases are eliminated.”

    So, in my comment to Hank (#66), this should not be considered a runaway but rather driven feedback. The driver is non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions post carbon dioxide emissions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 11:27 AM

  82. CD, “end the driver and the feedbacks _eventually_ end” would be closer to correct, though far too vague.
    — a driver can have several feedbacks, with varying lag times.

    e.g.
    Long Cao et al 2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 024012 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/2/024012
    Response of ocean acidification to a gradual increase and decrease of atmospheric CO2

    There’s interesting science to learn here (and few other places to hear from the scientists). Please.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Apr 2014 @ 12:54 PM

  83. 18 Chris D said, “We don’t pay China to be good because we share the blame, we fine China for being bad because the blame in entirely theirs. ”

    um, China produces something like 1/5th the emissions per capita as the USA, so under your scenario China should be able to fine the USA. Remember, past emissions “don’t count”, so the USA doesn’t get to grandfather in past bad behaviour.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:09 PM

  84. Hank (#76),

    “Please” Wouldn’t “Thank you” be better. You asked a question, I answered it. We obviously were not discussing acidification. So, I am a scientist. I’m an astrophysicist with graduate training in atmospheric and planetary science. I have a basis for knowing what is bogus and what isn’t. I cite you politely and you jump all over me. What’s the problem really?

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 2:42 PM

  85. Walter (#68),

    Regarding offshoring emissions, about the only thing you can do about that is to invoke the environmental language in the GATT to impose tariffs on those products that had their emissions offshored. And the only countries that have standing to do that are the ones that are themselves cutting emissions domestically, like the US. Your position really seems to have some contradictions in it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:10 PM

  86. > We obviously were not discussing acidification.

    Not obviously, and I’m responding to your claims, which are broad.

    As I read you, you’ve been saying that
    — all the fossil fuel burned to date doesn’t count as a problem
    — anyone burning fossil fuel after this point is responsible for the consequences, and
    — feedbacks stop as soon as forcings stop.

    Ocean pH will change in response to the past century’s fossil fuel use for a long time to come, and not in good ways.

    Melting Greenland is another such cost, externalized for the past century or more into our future, happening sooner than expected.

    If you mean to narrow your claim solely to air temperature, why bother? The world isn’t that simple.

    Mistakes were made.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Apr 2014 @ 6:09 PM

  87. CD #85 re “Your position really seems to have some contradictions in it.”

    That seems to be because, despite being an ‘astrophysicist’ and University Graduate, you are too nationalistically arrogant and far too stupid to work it out by yourself. Even when it is laid out for you like a feast on the Kings banquet table. *PLONK*

    Comment by Walter — 7 Apr 2014 @ 9:40 PM

  88. Walter (#87),

    I’ll try one more time. Fred (#77) I think you did not see my #85 but this is also relevant to your post.

    Understand that while we where increasing emissions, we had no choice but to accept imports from China without restriction owing to international law. Now we are cutting emissions and we are doing that under an endangerment finding by the EPA as part of its function in enforcing the Clean Air Act. We have a domestic law that is addressing an environmental issue. And, we have a trading partner that has no such law and its actions are affecting our environment in that particular issue. Under this condition, we can restrict imports from China where we absolutely could not before.

    You can really only use the phrase “outsourced emissions” or that kind of thing if you have a choice about where to buy things. We did not until the endangerment finding. Now we do, and we should do something about it.

    Once China starts cutting emissions, we’ll be back to regular old free trade and we will be back to no (collective) choice on where things come from (other than the choice to abide by WTO disciplines).

    And Walter, I graduated from a college that is particular about calling itself a college. I took my doctorate at a university.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 7 Apr 2014 @ 11:54 PM

  89. Hank (#86),

    You write:

    “Not obviously, and I’m responding to your claims, which are broad.

    As I read you, you’ve been saying that
    – all the fossil fuel burned to date doesn’t count as a problem
    – anyone burning fossil fuel after this point is responsible for the consequences, and
    – feedbacks stop as soon as forcings stop.”

    I would say that I’ve been trying to make careful narrow statements which you are reading broadly.

    So, here is what I’ve said, which if you look carefully is not what you have perceived.

    Until climate change became dangerous, emissions were not a problem for legal liability for the damage that climate is now causing. It’s nearly a tautology so I don’t see why you’d have a problem with that.

    I’ve also said the science says that if you stop greenhouse gas emissions, the warming stops, so past greenhouse gas emissions are not the reason for future greenhouse warming, future greenhouse gas emissions are. Non-greenhouse aerosol emissions that are associated with greenhouse gas emissions can put a wrinkle in this. This should be a statement you can agree with. And, it also refines the legal issue above. In that statement, you can’t have liability without damage. We can refine it to say that emissions prior to known damage were innocent if we were surprised by the onset of of dangerous climate change, which we were. They may be a cause, but they are an accidental cause (no intent to harm) and it is only a slight fraction of historical emissions that could be a cause. Ending emissions in 2004 would likely have left us going round and round about attribution even though there had been some deadly heatwaves by then. (OK so that last bit is not something I’ve said before but it is interesting and illustrative.)

    Now, after dangerous climate change has arrived and is recognized, there is safe harbor from liability: cut emissions. The US EPA had found greenhouse gas emissions to be dangerous and is regulating them so that we cut emissions. No one can put tariffs on our exports because we are emitting. We are cutting emissions in recognition of the danger. Nations that are not cutting emissions don’t have that safe harbor. They have liability, and under GATT, tariffs may be placed on their exports by nations that are cutting emissions. Perhaps to use the word “responsible” in a way Kevin might approve, some nations are taking responsibility by cutting emissions, and others should have responsibility thrust upon them. Rather obviously, you can spend climate tariffs anyway you like, once you can extract them, but spending them on climate damage such as excess crop insurance payouts would be an appropriate use.

    On your last reading, I’ve been trying to use the word driver for a feedback. Warming is the driver for increased soil carbon respiration, for example. Ending the driver ends the feedback if it does not drive itself (runaway). If warming stops with the reduced forcing, then the driver for the feedback stops too. If you are thinking of forcing and warming as interchangeable then that may be why you are writing that, but that is not how I am thinking about it, or writing about it I hope, since it does not really distinguish what feedbacks are. You did ask a question about greenhouse gas feedbacks which I answered. My answer does not appear to be flawed in the manner you suggest.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 1:23 AM

  90. Jim (#83),

    That figure is likely out of date. In 2011, China’s per capita emissions were 40% of the US per capita emission and typical of Europe. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/18/china-average-europe-carbon-footprint

    However emissions in China are growing and emissions in the US are falling. Some estimate that per capita emissions will be the same in 2017. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8793269/China-population-to-become-worlds-biggest-polluters.html

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 2:11 AM

  91. Chris D.–OK, I’ll give you the point that the intended 17% reduction of US emissions has been presented as ‘national policy.’ Nonetheless, that does not mean that it will “extend beyond administrations.” Had Romney won, it would have been history by now, and American policy would essentially have been “Drill, baby, drill,” since the legislative and administrative branches would have been united in opposition to any controls whatever.

    On the question of the EIA projection, I must ask, if the 17% is US policy, then why was it not included in the projection? It would seem to me that you really can’t have it both ways: if the EIA projections are solid, then the policy isn’t–and vice versa. One might also be inclined to ask, what Chinese policies are excluded from consideration in the EIA work? My own (perhaps tediously oft-expressed) perception is that the EIA analysts are systematically biassed toward BAU (I mean that in a technical, non-pejorative sense: they have a consistent history of underestimating adoption rates of renewables.) Out to 2040, that certainly undermines the value of their projections.

    But fundamentally, the problem I’m having with your comments is that the main result of the US adopting your point of view would be the complete failure of any comprehensive multilateral climate treaty process for the foreseeable future. Developing nations need to come on board, as we’ve known all along, and as the case of China drastically illustrates; but denying any historical responsibility on the part nations that ‘came first’ in terms of using up the carbon budget is not the way to accomplish that. The steps that brought us close to the brink are not properly understood as ‘harmless.’

    Adopting your pose of ‘harmlessness’ would be a massive repudiation of basically everything done toward a climate change agreement so far. Total collapse of the Framework Convention would probably be unavoidable. Being firm with emitting nations is one thing: being ridiculously cavalier about one’s own actions and their consequences is quite another–particularly when the claims to emissions ‘virtue’ are still so flimsy.

    And it is hypocritical. As pointed out above, China is investing more money in the transformation of her economy toward a more sustainable than anyone else (and has a smaller economy than the US, to boot.) We agree that Chinese emissions need to reverse course. But just what level of commitment do you think reasonable in that regard? And if only the ‘bottom line’ matters, not the cost to China in terms of development and poverty, then given that the good accrues to everybody (should emissions actually drop), then why should only China be liable for the costs?

    If she is, then why should not the same logic apply to Canada? Or any other country for which emissions are not being controlled–like, say, Mexico? (See the EIA projections for Mexican emissions to see a drastic increase.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Apr 2014 @ 8:17 AM

  92. “Until climate change became dangerous, emissions were not a problem for legal liability for the damage that climate is now causing. It’s nearly a tautology so I don’t see why you’d have a problem with that.”

    We know you don’t (or won’t) see. As long as you refuse to come to grips with the cumulative nature of the problem, you’ll be confused about everything from impacts to liability.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 8 Apr 2014 @ 8:29 AM

  93. Walter (#92),

    Read that again. It says if you don’t get into an auto accident, there is nothing to sue about. Prior to any climate damage, there is no case. The statement is concerning the way law works. You are misreading it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 9:23 AM

  94. CD, you’ve taken over the topic to promote a legal argument that assumes your belief. Please, get a blog to argue with what’s known. Paste your own belief into a search engine, at least, e.g.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=+if+you+stop+greenhouse+gas+emissions%2C+the+warming+stops

    Your argument assumes nature’s capacity to absorb excess CO2 has been rather precisely claimed and used (with no overshoot) so there’s no responsibility for the early owners, nothing left for latecomers, therefore anything latecomers try to take hurts everyone.

    Recognize that argument? That’s Malthus:

    A man who is born into a world already possessed … has no claim of right to the smallest portion …. At nature’s mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him.

    The opening post of this topic warns about the consequences of what’s actually been done here. We’ve used up the world’s capacity to handle climate change, and overshot by half:

    About half of the emissions from these anthropogenic activities have remained in the atmosphere ….

    http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10_8223.pdf

    and, while total emissions are increasing, the proportion absorbed by photosynthesis and stored on land and in the oceans is declining (Le Quere et al., 2009)

    http://cnx.org/content/m41618/latest/

    Your assumptions are wrong. Do like this guy, get a blog to proclaim your ideas. Filling this topic just blocks discussion we need to have about the science.
    —-

    Grumble. Also you damn kids get offa my, er, xeriscape. No further argument on politics here from me, I’ll just read about the science.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Apr 2014 @ 9:45 AM

  95. Kevin (#91),

    Nice post. First, the EPA endangerment finding was a result of a court order owing to a law suit brought by some states, cities, a territory and some NGOs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_v._Environmental_Protection_Agency#Parties It does not really matter who is President, the EPA has to bring about cuts. A nation of laws, etc….

    The EIA method can seem frustrating. They do market analysis and don’t include non-promulgated regulations. It is actually helpful since when the regulations are promulgated, you can figure out how effective they are. They are also a bit clueless about cost curves for renewables and get adoption rates wrong pretty often. They know oil and gas very well however. If there is low cost fracking potential in China, they are all over that.

    Non-participation of the US and China in Kyoto has been a problem for the Framework Convention for a while but there has been pretty good attainment from that protocol for participating nations. Canada is rogue and Australia is in an embarrassing situation, but the compliance period worked for quite a lot of Annex I countries. Bilateral efforts such as between the US and China may be beneficial to the Convention. In my view, Kyoto was an attempt to do Montreal without skin cancers having actually risen. If the US Senate had been successful in its attempt to get China involved, we’d be much farther along. But, now we can hold China harmful, and use other leverage beyond the Framework Convention owing to our emissions cuts.

    And, I don’t recall developed nations ever crying mea culpa at COPs. They have said the problem is large and some undeveloped nation may need help with clean development. Undeveloped nations have taken that line, but it is not the basis of the Convention. It’s been about “common but differentiated responsibilities” rather than liability. AR5 may make introduction of liability inevitable but I doubt RCP2.6 can wait for working that out. GATT is available however to use now. In terms of carbon budget, we’ve got a cushion of 270 GtC left under RCP2.6. AR5 seems to make any budget above that tied to high adaptation costs. So, that is about all the budget there is and growing Chinese emissions can’t fit within it. They have to shrink.

    Regarding what China buys in the renewable market, they are growing their energy sector by leaps and bounds. It is unsurprising that they would be a big purchaser. But they are not growing their energy sector in a way that cuts emissions, which they certainly could just as we are replacing our energy sector in a way that cuts emissions. Our expense is necessarily larger since we have to pay twice for our energy sector and they could avoid that extra expense. I don’t see the grounds for a claim of hypocrisy. We are cutting emissions, they are not.

    I see RCP2.6 as reasonable in that it fairly consistent with the goals of http://350.org/ . I think that under the Framework Convention alone, the best we might hope for would be RCP4.5 which looks very expensive on the adaptation/morbidity/mortality front in light of AR5 and causes too much species extinction. Because of this, I think we need other tools to turn China around and soon. And, as noted, some get renewable cost curves wrong, and China is very definitely mistaken that it must slavishly follow our development history. Clean development is very likely much more prosperous for China than its current trajectory. Under GATT, as soon as China cuts emissions, we would have no basis for tariffs and might have to fund Framework Convention clean development assistance in some other way. Making the World Bank Presidency rotating with Chinese participation might be an interesting approach. Did you know Jim Yong Kim was born in South Korea? He is highly competent, but might his appointment not also be a kind of hint towards China?

    Owing to NAFTA, I don’t think the US can impose tariffs on Canadian goods. I think a number of European nations could and the EU as a whole might be able to as well. Same goes for Mexico. That situation turns out to be slightly anti-Monroe Doctrine though tariffs don’t really count in that.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 11:21 AM

  96. Chris Dudley #89,

    “I’ve also said the science says that if you stop greenhouse gas emissions, the warming stops, so past greenhouse gas emissions are not the reason for future greenhouse warming, future greenhouse gas emissions are.”

    I know you have made that statement, but as I’ve pointed out on more than one occasion, it’s not correct. And, if you’ve read any of my past postings, you know I have a short fuse for misinformation/disinformation. You are starting your argument with misinformation; how can it possibly result in anything but an erroneous conclusion? The problem we have today is if we stop greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use today, the warming increases. If we’re lucky, the temperature will rise to a modest peak, and then start a slow decline. If we’re not lucky, the increasing temperature will trigger more carbon feedbacks, and the temperature could continue to increase to????? Most of the emissions cessation studies don’t include these major carbon feedbacks, so we don’t know what will happen during this short interim period. Read Hansen’s Plos One article for the concerns. Additionally, if we stop fossil fuel use today, even if there were no pulse, we have initiated carbon emissions from the Permafrost and other sources, and they would continue until ?????

    This issue of the heritage of past emissions is major, and constrains us strongly if we were to make a serious global effort to solve the problem. That’s why a number of responsible scientists have suggested the possibility of geo-engineering, in addition to other climate change amelioration measures. Not that most of them like geo-engineering, but there may be no practical alternative if we wanted to reduce emissions on a short-time scale, and were concerned about the short temperature pulse going beyond any recommended limit.

    Yes, it would be wonderful if China and all nations reduced their future emissions rapidly. But, we are first among nations responsible for the CO2 ‘time-bomb’ that exists in the atmosphere today, and we are responsible for taking the lead role to de-fuse it IF POSSIBLE. We committed the initial misdemeanor; we are obligated to pay the penalty, as in any other misdemeanor.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 8 Apr 2014 @ 12:03 PM

  97. Chris Dudley wrote in 89:

    I’ve also said the science says that if you stop greenhouse gas emissions, the warming stops, so past greenhouse gas emissions are not the reason for future greenhouse warming, future greenhouse gas emissions are.

    It has been estimated that if we were to put 5,000 Gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere in this century perhaps as much as 30% will still be left in 10,000 years, resulting in the world being more than 3°C warmer than it would otherwise be at that time — even if our emissions fell to and remained at 0 for next 99 centuries.

    Please see:

    Archer, David, and Victor Brovkin. “The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2.” Climatic Change 90.3 (2008): 283-297.
    Open Access: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-008-9413-1#page-1

    As such, over any period of time that might normally be of interest to us, what matters isn’t the rate of emissions but total cumulative emissions.

    Please see:

    Zickfeld, Kirsten, et al. “Setting cumulative emissions targets to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106.38 (2009): 16129-16134.
    Open Access: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16129.full

    Zickfeld (2009) states, “We show that to stabilize global mean temperature increase at 2 °C above preindustrial levels with a probability of at least 0.66, cumulative CO2 emissions from 2000 to 2500 must not exceed a median estimate of 590 petagrams of carbon (PgC) (range, 200 to 950 PgC)… Furthermore, these estimates of cumulative CO2 emissions, compatible with a specified temperature stabilization target, are independent of the path taken to stabilization.”

    With regard to future temperatures, past and future emissions carry equal weight.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 8 Apr 2014 @ 2:19 PM

  98. DIOGENES (#96),

    Fortunately, I’m patient with people who are confused on this issue. So, Gavin gave you two links. I think perhaps if you understood that I am speaking of stopping emissions all at once, just as Gavin’s links explore, you would understand my statement better. It is a statement about the way the climate responds to a step function elimination of greenhouse gas emissions. That leads to cooling and the end of feedbacks. It is not a technically feasible scenario (except that we have still not destroyed remaining smallpox strains) but it does tell us something important about how the climate works: inertia is a misleading concept. Future warming is owing to emissions that have not yet occurred. The new Hansen paper does not address this, and probably could not reliably do so owing to the Green’s Function approach used there. You’d end up assuming your result.
    You can find a representative concentration profile there though in fig. 4 B. Also, by comparing figs. 8 B and 9 B, you can see that temperature tracks forcing quite tightly in time. So, lingering warming is not a big aspect of that model.

    If you read a recent study that did include permafrost by MacDougal et al. you’ll see that that feedback needs to be driven by ongoing greenhouse gas emissions. That has consequences for RCP2.6 but not for just cutting to zero all at once.

    Hope that clears it up.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 6:19 PM

  99. Timothy (#97),

    That final warming depends on cumulative emissions is well know. It is a result of equilibration between the oceans and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. But we can certainly construct emissions profiles that get warmer than the final temperature and then cool to it, or we can construct profiles that asymptotically approach the final temperature from below.

    If we cut off emissions today, we would have the former kind of profile and would cool to the final temperature. We would need more emission to get more warming. And, there are some intermediate profiles that would produce cooling some from the present warmth. That is the aim of 350.org. So, what I wrote is correct. The atmosphere is presently well out of equilibrium with the oceans so our choices about future emissions can produce cooling or warming from the present temperature.

    Your statement as it pertains to the final temperature that [“w]ith regard to future temperatures, past and future emissions carry equal weight,” can only be true if past emissions equal future emission. Since we are at a choice point, I hope we don’t choose that.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 8 Apr 2014 @ 7:19 PM

  100. Chris Dudley (98) responds to Diogenes (96):

    So, Gavin gave you two links. I think perhaps if you understood that I am speaking of stopping emissions all at once, just as Gavin’s links explore, you would understand my statement better.

    I assume you are referring to:

    2.3 Geophysical commitment

    A warming commitment can be defined from a purely geophysical perspective, as the warming that would result from a complete cessation of anthropogenic emissions. Such a thought experiment has value in terms of showing the timescales of the climate system without implicit entanglements with socio-economic assumptions.

    Hare, Bill, and Malte Meinshausen. “How much warming are we committed to and how much can be avoided?.” Climatic Change 75.1-2 (2006): 111-149.

    In the caption to figure 1 they state that in their model the “zero emissions” assumes that the emissions immediately falls to zero in 2005. They also state that the temperatures initially rise due to “ceased cooling by aerosols.” To simplify matters, earlier you assumed that we could leave aerosols out of the picture, in which case, according to their analysis, temperatures would immediately begin to fall with concentrations.

    But how realistic is this result of theirs? They state that their 2006 analysis uses a “simple climate model” by the name of MAGICC 4.1.

    Now, setting aside the effects of aerosols as you would have us do, what would happen if we were to immediately cease greenhouse gas emissions according to a more realistic climate model?

    I did a little digging and found the following:

    We used version 2.8 of the UVic ESCM, an intermediate complexity coupled climate-carbon model with spatial resolution of 1.8 degrees latitude by 3.6 degrees longitude. The ocean is a 19-layer general circulation model, driven by specified wind stress at the surface and coupled to a dynamic-thermodynamic sea-ice model.

    Matthews, H. Damon, and Ken Caldeira. “Stabilizing climate requires near‐zero emissions.” Geophysical research letters 35.4 (2008).

    In their “3. Results and Discussion” they state:

    The results shown here differ importantly from previous zero-emissions commitment analyses [e.g. Friedlingstein and Solomon, 2005], which have neglected the heat capacity of the deep ocean, and have therefore concluded that after emissions are stopped, global temperatures would decrease in response to declining atmospheric CO2 concentrations…

    … our results suggest that if emissions were eliminated entirely, radiative forcing from atmospheric CO2 would decrease at a rate closely matched by declining ocean heat uptake, with the result that while future warming commitment may be negligible, atmospheric temperatures may not decrease appreciably for at least 500 years.

    ibid.

    Thus as they state in their introduction, “… fossil fuel CO2 emissions may produce climate change that is effectively irreversible on human time scales.”

    These are essentially the same results as what I found in:

    Archer, David, and Victor Brovkin. “The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2.” Climatic Change 90.3 (2008): 283-297.
    Open Access: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-008-9413-1#page-1

    The results of Matthews and Caldeira (2008) are made use of by:

    Solomon, Susan, et al. “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.” Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 106.6 (2009): 1704-1709.
    Open Access: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704.full

    … and the paper I previously referred to:

    Zickfeld, Kirsten, et al. “Setting cumulative emissions targets to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106.38 (2009): 16129-16134.
    Open Access: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16129.full

    Now in response to my comment 97 where I brought up Archer (2008) and Zickfeld (2009), you respond (99):

    That final warming depends on cumulative emissions is well known. It is a result of equilibration between the oceans and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

    … then immediately backtrack with:

    But we can certainly construct emissions profiles that get warmer than the final temperature and then cool to it…

    This is contradicted by:

    Matthews, H. Damon, and Ken Caldeira. “Stabilizing climate requires near‐zero emissions.” Geophysical research letters 35.4 (2008).

    Archer, David, and Victor Brovkin. “The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2.” Climatic Change 90.3 (2008): 283-297.

    Zickfeld, Kirsten, et al. “Setting cumulative emissions targets to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106.38 (2009): 16129-16134.

    Solomon, Susan, et al. “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.” Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 106.6 (2009): 1704-1709.

    Even if emissions immediately fall to zero, barring attempts to artificially increase the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere (e.g., 350.org), the warming that has taken place is essentially irreversible on human time scales. As such, with regard to future temperatures, equal units of past and future emissions carry equal weight. Effectively (per Matthews and Caldeira), even when the rate of emissions go to zero, what determines future temperatures for the foreseeable future are total cumulative emissions, and as such, a kilogram of CO2 emitted a century ago contributes to future warming just as much as a kilogram of CO2 emitted today or five decades from now.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 1:46 AM

  101. CORRECTION:

    In my most recent comment, I state at one point:

    These are essentially the same results as what I found in:
    Archer, David, and Victor Brovkin. “The millennial atmospheric lifetime of anthropogenic CO2.” Climatic Change 90.3 (2008): 283-297.

    This should have been omitted — as should be my later reference to the same paper. While they are closely related, the issues of the lifetime of CO2 and the lifetime of atmospheric warming are distinct. While CO2 concentrations and thus radiative forcing due to CO2 begin to fall immediately after emissions drop to zero, temperature does not appreciably fall — as the reduction in radiative forcing is balanced by the reduction in heat uptake by the ocean, per:

    Matthews, H. Damon, and Ken Caldeira. “Stabilizing climate requires near‐zero emissions.” Geophysical research letters 35.4 (2008).

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 3:05 AM

  102. Chris Dudley #98,

    “So, Gavin gave you two links. I think perhaps if you understood that I am speaking of stopping emissions all at once, just as Gavin’s links explore, you would understand my statement better”.

    I understand that you want to stop emissions all at once; that has been the focus of my posts on this thread. Gavin provided two links. The first link was – how shall I say it – incomplete. In the second link, Gavin described the first link thusly: “however, as a few people pointed out in the comments, this exclusive focus on CO2 is a little artificial…..Thus, I shouldn’t have neglected to include these other factors in discussions of the climate change commitment.”

    I suspect the authors of the Letter did not include aerosols in their analyses. Aerosols are short-lived, and if all fossil fuel combustion were terminated immediately, essentially all the aerosols would precipitate, and their shielding of the sun would vanish, leading to increased temperatures. If one allows the aerosols to remain in the atmosphere under the immediate CO2 cessation case, as I assume the authors of the Letter did, then, yes, the temperature would not increase. What kind of physics would that be? It seems to me you are distorting the science to promote your pre-determined China-bashing agenda.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 9 Apr 2014 @ 7:48 AM

  103. Timothy (#100),

    Nice digging. I think that you would agree with me that all delta function emissions profiles that have ever been examined lead to warming then cooling to a temperature above the initial temperature. Thus my statement that we can construct profiles with this type of behavior is manifestly true. Then the question is, has our initial build up been steep enough to allow this for an immediate cut. But, the actual criteria is not cooling but a lack of warming.

    From what you’ve summarized, ending emissions suddenly does not result in a final temperature higher than the current temperature so future greenhouse warming depends on future emissions, not past emissions. Note that the use of the word “final” here is important as it is above, where you feel you see a contradiction that does not exist.

    I don’t think we have a disagreement that some climate change is irreversible (modulo capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide through, for example, modified agricultural practices). I do think that AR5 indicates that the irreversible consequence of mass species extinction can be avoided and suggests we can pull back from the current dangerous climate change that we are experiencing as might be expected from Fig. 4 here: http://edoc.gfz-potsdam.de/pik/get/5095/0/0ce498a63b150282a29b729de9615698/5095.pdf

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 8:13 AM

  104. DIOGENES (#102),

    I don’t want to stop emissions all at once, I want to know if a WTO case can be made that placing tariffs on Chinese imports to the US is allowed under the GATT without a long time delay. One possible quarrel to eliminate is that China’s emissions don’t matter because inertia from vast historical emissions means that all future warming is our fault. Many people here seem to feel that that is the case. The science does not support it.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 8:33 AM

  105. Timithy (#100),

    Sorry, I missed this: “Effectively (per Matthews and Caldeira), even when the rate of emissions go to zero, what determines future temperatures for the foreseeable future are total cumulative emissions, and as such, a kilogram of CO2 emitted a century ago contributes to future warming just as much as a kilogram of CO2 emitted today or five decades from now.”

    If we end emissions now, there won’t be any kilogram emitted 5 decades from now. And the temperature five decades from now would be lower than if we had carries on emitting for five decades. So, it seems that at least some future warming depends on future emissions. Would you not agree with that? After all, future emissions contribute to cumulative emissions as you say, unless there are no future emissions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 9:05 AM

  106. Hank (#94),

    You seem to have missed a rather important aspect of this situation. The latecomer is being offered the most delightful cake as an alternative owing to research sponsored in the Carter administration. The latecomer does not have to suffer all the horrible drawbacks of the fossil fuel spinach we were forced to eat. They can go directly to the renewable energy desert. The situation is even more generous than the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard considering that the tardiness was self-inflicted through horrible human rights abuses perpetrated on the educated citizens simply for having an education.

    Now, you should really give a few more reads to what I’ve written because you have again put words is my mouth that I did not say. For example, on overshoot, since I continually note that dangerous climate change has come sooner than expected, the essential reason why future emissions growth is intolerable, overshoot is not only acknowledged, it is motivating. I am pleased that RCP2.6 can avoid some of the irreversible consequences of climate change according to AR5. There are various thresholds for overshoot. Perhaps you are thinking that there is just one.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 9:52 AM

  107. #95–Thanks for the clarifications.

    Just a few (though, sadly, somewhat lengthy) comments. I’m going to break them up, largely in an attempt to deal efficiently with the spam filter, which doesn’t like something…

    You say:

    And, I don’t recall developed nations ever crying mea culpa at COPs. They have said the problem is large and some undeveloped nation may need help with clean development. Undeveloped nations have taken that line, but it is not the basis of the Convention.

    I think you will look in vain for any Party ‘crying mea culpa’ in the context of negotiations which involve the economic future of their nation. However, the whole structure of Annex I and the rest makes pretty clear that there is (or has been) broad acceptance of the principle that the ‘responsibility’ of developed nations for historical emissions is primary. Moreover, the results of Warsaw suggest a tentative (and rather weasel-worded) acceptance of the idea that rich nations should be responsible for damages from warming:

    http://unfccc.int/adaptation/workstreams/loss_and_damage/items/8134.php

    Kinda sounds like liability…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:10 AM

  108. “It seems to me you are distorting the science to promote your pre-determined China-bashing agenda.”

    And put his WTO argument in a box in the process – if future emissions only are the driver of change, anyone emitting any amount is at fault, not one particular country, regardless of “intentions”.

    Comment by flxible — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:10 AM

  109. Comment Part Deux

    But I’m not talking primarily about the legalisms. I’m talking about the politics. My perception–for what that is worth–is that thorough-going adoption of the point of view you’ve been expressing would be extremely provocative, and would be tantamount to repudiation of the structure that exists. Frustrating and ineffective as the process has been lately (meaning, ‘at least since 2009′), I think that its complete failure would really be a Bad Thing.

    You say:

    Regarding what China buys in the renewable market, they are growing their energy sector by leaps and bounds. It is unsurprising that they would be a big purchaser. But they are not growing their energy sector in a way that cuts emissions, which they certainly could just as we are replacing our energy sector in a way that cuts emissions.

    Well, I must disagree in a couple of ways. I still feel skeptical about the durability of the US emissions decrease–particularly in light of the fact that there was a ‘negative decrease’ last year. But setting that aside, your statement that China is “not growing their energy sector in a way that cuts emissions” is only true if you add the qualification “right now.”

    Let’s review: China has built (in a very short time) the largest renewable energy manufacturing sector in the world, and has deployed more renewables than anyone else. She is undertaking the world’s largest expansion of her nuclear generation capacity as well. While new coal generation capacity is also being added, there has been concomitant retirement of old, inefficient coal plants, with the stated aim of reducing reliance on fossil fuel. Oh, and let’s not forget the mandating of energy efficiency measures, including possible criminal proceedings against non-compiant officials:

    http://tinyurl.com/ChinaEnergyEffStory

    One can’t argue that all this has stopped the rise of emissions, of course. However, it sure does look like a very serious effort to transform the Chinese energy economy. Despite the putative decrease in US emissions, there is nothing like this kind of commitment in the US. Indeed, some (not necessarily me!) argue that America is locking in yet more reliance upon fossil fuels with current investment decisions:

    http://tinyurl.com/ECChinaRenewablesTrajectory

    That’s an analysis well worth reading, IMO. “The official target from the NDRC in China is for this proportion to rise to 30% by 2020 – a target that shows every likelihood of being reached.” (Yes, given that the renewable target for the current five year plan (2011-2015) was reached three years early.) Compare also this (Australian) business report, especially Figure 1, which illustrates the EC analysis better than their own graphics.

    http://tinyurl.com/BizSpecAUCleantechStory

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:20 AM

  110. Comment Part Trois

    It’s not clear to me when the increasing proportion of renewables and nuclear is going to result in dropping emissions. Indeed, I doubt it’s clear to anyone–for one thing, no-one seems to have expected the slowdown in Chinese economic growth seen over the last couple of years. But I’m pretty sure it will be well before the 2038 peak shown in the EIA analysis we were talking about above.

    Some interesting speculation from the “Energy Collective” analysis above:

    Finally, we need to ask what are the motives for China’s dramatic shift to a renewables trajectory? The common assumption is that it is concern over climate change (global warming) that drives the shift. Important as this motive is, we believe it is the least likely of the explanations for China’s shift. We believe the more plausible explanation for China’s new trajectory – and for the determination with which it is being pursued – is energy security and industrial development.

    Sounds plausible to me–and it raises a larger question. While I’ve argued sort of an “A for effort”–or maybe a “B+”–thesis above, you, Diogenes, and just about everybody else here are of course correct that what we really need form a purely climatic point of view is for emissions to just stop, right now. Not possible, of course–but what is possible for China? How much more could she be doing? I don’t think a thorough-going answer is possible, but it is possible to consider some of the constraints.

    First and foremost is political stability. The regime is authoritarian, and deeply inconsistent from an ideological point of view. That means that pragmatic success in handling the economy and social issues becomes paramount, because that’s what lets everyone look the other way with regard to the political justification of the status quo. (Including the quasi-kleptocratic nature of the Chinese elite. Or should that have been “crypto-kleptocratic?” Anyway…)

    If your choice were climate disaster in, say, 2050, versus political disaster in 2020 (possibly culminating in your execution at the hands of revolutionaries), what would you choose? The former may be worse for the planet, but the latter would definitely be worse for the ruling elite–many of whom would be dead by 2050, anyway. So there’s clearly a limit there, somewhere.

    I do think it’s possible to get China to do more yet, and who knows? A GATT threat might be a useful bargaining chip. But it would be a heck of a lot more useful if the US were less vulnerable to all manner of countercharges (not to mention retaliatory GATT or other trade actions on other grounds–which could probably be cobbled up, if past precedents are worth anything.) And chief among the measures reducing vulnerability would be a US national emissions policy really worthy of the name–one, that is, that had solid Congressional public support. That, in turn, requires a whole lot of organization, education, and political activism, and it requires it ASAP.

    Which, FWIW, is what I’m trying to do, despite all the distractions and requirements of quotidian living.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:25 AM

  111. Methodological comment on spam-filter

    It was the links in my ‘Part Deux.’ Though they didn’t seem objectionable WRT what the spam message said, that evidently was the issue.

    So, if your comment, too, should fall afoul of the filter, you might consider using the tinyurl workaround I used–it was quick and easy. Website here:

    http://tinyurl.com

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:30 AM

  112. Timothy (#100),

    One other question that might help illuminate things: Would you agree that future emissions don’t affect past warming? I ask because if you do agree, then you would seem to be asking for a symmetry for the future that you would not allow for the past.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 11:01 AM

  113. Diogenes writes in 102:

    I suspect the authors of the Letter did not include aerosols in their analyses. Aerosols are short-lived, and if all fossil fuel combustion were terminated immediately, essentially all the aerosols would precipitate, and their shielding of the sun would vanish, leading to increased temperatures.

    Actually, as I point out in comment 100, the paper:

    Hare, Bill, and Malte Meinshausen. “How much warming are we committed to and how much can be avoided?.” Climatic Change 75.1-2 (2006): 111-149.

    … “takes aerosols into account” and shows temperatures rise briefly when emissions are abruptly brought to an end only to quickly fall below what they had been prior to emissions being brought to an end. The real problem with the paper is that it is making use of an unrealistic climate model. It uses a shallow ocean of low heat capacity.

    Using a more realistic model, we find that warming due to CO2 is effectively irreversible on the time scale of several centuries. If we consider what this means in terms the warming masked by aerosols, we see that the additional warming that results from past emissions once the aerosols are removed will be with us for centuries — regardless of whether there are future CO2 emissions.

    What does this mean in terms of Chris Dudley’s argument?

    The conclusion he has been trying to reach is stated in 89:

    Until climate change became dangerous, emissions were not a problem for legal liability for the damage that climate is now causing…. the science says that if you stop greenhouse gas emissions, the warming stops, so past greenhouse gas emissions are not the reason for future greenhouse warming, future greenhouse gas emissions are.

    In terms of the physics, his argument fails spectacularly once one takes into account both the presence of aerosols and the heat capacity of a realistic ocean. Aerosols mask warming due to past CO2 emissions. Remove that mask and that warming that aerosols were masking shows up. But far more importantly, that warming doesn’t disappear any time soon. It is effectively irreversible.

    As such, physically, there is little reason to distinguish between past and future emissions. Whether a given amount of CO2 is emitted before or after the cessation of masking due to aerosols, it will be responsible for essentially the same degree warming and this warming will be irreversible on human timescales.

    We have known that aerosols mask warming at least since the 1970s. As such we have known that removing the aerosols would result in more warming than we are already seeing. Furthermore, more than half of the CO2 emissions since 1750 were emitted since the mid-1970s. Chris Dudley wrote earlier that “… emissions prior to known damage were innocent if we were surprised by the onset of of dangerous climate change, which we were.” But were we as developed nations actually so surprised? Apparently not, at least not any more than the drunk driver who gets into a car and winds up committing manslaughter. As such I do not find his argument regarding culpability convincing.

    However, I believe the issue of irreversibility is far more important than that of culpability. Warming due to CO2 emissions is effectively irreversible. It will be with us for centuries. Moreover, aerosols have masked some of the warming due to CO2 emissions. Once that mask is removed we will see additional warming, and that warming will likewise be with us for centuries.

    Contrary to Hare and Meinshausen (2006), warming is effectively irreversible. If we care about future generations we need to bring emissions under control as quickly as possible. They cannot afford the legacy we are creating.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 12:01 PM

  114. Timothy at #105: “In terms of the physics, his argument fails spectacularly once one takes into account both the presence of aerosols and the heat capacity of a realistic ocean. ”

    Thanks for that clear evaluation. You do a good job of discussing the aerosol situation. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by “the heat capacity of a realistic ocean” and the role it is likely to play in future warming?

    Do you just mean the heat itself coming back to bite us (as it seems more and more likely to do soon with El Nino seeming to develop in the next few months)?

    Or do you mean that a hotter ocean will be ever less able to absorb CO2? Are there any recent estimates of when that point will come (when the ocean becomes too hot to absorb CO2 and start emitting it), given the path we’re on?

    Comment by wili — 9 Apr 2014 @ 4:29 PM

  115. http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/how-much-co2-can-the-oceans-take-up/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Apr 2014 @ 5:43 PM

  116. Ask, and ye shall receive! Thanks for the great link, Hank (@#115). For those of you who have made the grievous error of not clicking on and reading all of Hank’s posted links, here are a few choice, relevant points:

    “…although the oceans presently take up about one-fourth of the excess CO2 human activities put into the air, that fraction was significantly larger at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. That’s for a number of reasons, starting with the simple one that as one dissolves CO2 into a given volume of seawater, there is a growing resistance to adding still more CO2…”

    “in the absence of such warming, ocean mixing would normally be expected to be constantly refreshing the water at the ocean’s surface, the place where it meets with air and dissolves CO2. Instead global warming leaves surface water in place to an increasing degree thus slowing down the transfer of CO2 from the ocean surface deeper into the ocean. It’s as if the pump removing CO2 from the atmosphere into the surface water and then on deeper into the ocean had slowed down.

    This slowing of ocean mixing may have another effect. It stifles the transport of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate from deeper waters to the surface, which diminishes the growth of phytoplankton, which store carbon in their tissue as a product of photosynthesis. The sinking tissue takes the carbon with it to the deep ocean when the organisms die. It’s another way that carbon can be removed from the ocean surface.”

    Comment by wili — 9 Apr 2014 @ 9:27 PM

  117. Kevin (In three parts),

    Yes, that is thoughtful. I would say that I am interested in the immediate cessation of emissions in order too understand what causes future warming. It is a “How does it work?” question. I’m pushing for RCP2.6 as described in AR5 because it is consistent with the goals of 350.org. The 350.org goals are based on a paper about what the target carbon dioxide concentration should be to avoid problems like losing big parts of the WAIS and the GIS. It is now a world organization that grew out of an effort to get the US to commit (without negotiations) to an 80% cut in emissions by 2050. We did not get it from Congress but this administration has made it a goal at least. The people-tech involved in this has probably influenced the outcome of some elections as well. In any case, RCP2.6 still has another 270 GtC of emissions to go. It does not end emissions all at once.

    So, you ask the question on which RCP2.6 hinges: “but what is possible for China? How much more could she be doing?”

    And, from the GATT perspective, the answer is easy: how much less could China be doing? Does such a vast amount of trade serve us well if it increases emissions? It does not, so use tariffs to reduce the volume of trade until China reassess its policies. Just reducing the trade cuts emissions. If reduced trade threatens the political viability of the leadership, then new leadership can fix the emissions problem. They may be hard to find; China keeps massacring it bravest souls. But somewhere there must be someone like Sun Yat Sen who believes China must be China and not some sad imitation of a defunct prison state.

    Well, in terms of rapid climate action, we need to work with what we have. GATT seems like a strong tool.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 9:34 PM

  118. Is folly in the filter?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:16 PM

  119. wili wrote in 113:

    Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by “the heat capacity of a realistic ocean” and the role it is likely to play in future warming?

    Heat capacity is simply a measure of the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of an something by a given amount. Matthews and Caldeira state:

    The results shown here differ importantly from previous zero-emissions commitment analyses [e.g. Friedlingstein and Solomon, 2005], which have neglected the heat capacity of the deep ocean, and have therefore concluded that after emissions are stopped, global temperatures would decrease in response to declining atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    This is similar to what Tamino dealt with in Spencer’s Folly, parts I through III, accessible from here. In Tamino’s case, he was examining what happens when the forcing is held constant, e.g., where CO2 concentrations are increased from the original value that the system had when it was in equilibrium to a higher value. This differs somewhat from Matthews and Caldeira, in that they allow atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to fall naturally as carbon dioxide is absorbed by various sinks, but otherwise things are much the same.

    In this context Tamino asks essentially how quickly the system approaches a new equilibrium temperature in response to the constant forcing. The answer is… it depends: how deep is the ocean? The deeper the ocean the longer it takes for the ocean to reach a state of thermal equilibrium. The forcing is measured in watts per meter squared per degree Kelvin. That remains the same regardless of how deep the ocean is. But the deeper the ocean the greater the amount of water that is included in a meter squared column, thus the more slowly the system approaches equilibrium.

    The difference between current temperature and final temperature falls as an exponential function of time according to a characteristic time scale. For each period of time equal to the characteristic time scale the temperature difference drops by 63% = 0.63, which is 1-(1/e). In essence this is a form of exponential decay. The characteristic time scale is itself proportional to the inverse of the ocean depth. As Tamino calculates it, the characteristic time scale for 50 meters is roughly 1.6 years but for 1000 meters the characteristic time scale becomes 32 years.

    However, things get a bit more complicated for Matthews and Caldeira. Not only are they allowing carbon dioxide to be absorbed by a carbon sinks or “pools” but they are allowing for different functions that govern the rates at which carbon moves from one pool to another. The physics of the system determines those rates. They are also allowing for not just 1 but 19 different layers to the ocean, letting physics determine the rate at which each layer warms. They are allowing for ocean circulation. And they are allowing for the fact that the warmer the ocean is the more slowly it will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Perhaps the biggest element they are missing is the mineralization of ocean carbon, but for the time period they are considering this has little effect:

    The version of the UVic ESCM used here does not include a sedimentary carbon model; as such we have restricted our simulations to a 500-year timescale over which time the effect of carbonate compensation on ocean carbon uptake is negligible.

    Importantly, Matthews and Caldeira did not just consider the scenario in which emissions were made as a single pulse (or “slug” as it is sometimes called) and then drops to zero, but as they state, according to:

    … four additional simulations (thin lines) in which emissions were reduced to zero gradually such that total cumulative emissions after 2005 were equivilent to the thick-line zero-emissions commitment simulations.

    The results?

    In these thin-line simulations, atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures increased more gradually in response to gradually declining emissions; however, the final stabilization temperature was unchanged. Furthermore, the amount of additional warming that resulted per unit of carbon emitted in both sets of simulations was equivalent to the pulse rate response cases despite both higher initial CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the distribution of emissions over the next 10 to 100 years.

    This was in agreement with earlier research

    … which has shown that the declining radiative forcing per unit CO2 increase at higher CO2 levels is approximately counter-balanced by increased airborne fraction of emissions due to weakened carbon sinks [Caldeira and Kasting, 1993].

    Unfortunately, Matthews and Caldiera is paywalled, but:

    Solomon, Susan, et al. “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.” Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 106.6 (2009): 1704-1709.
    Open Access: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/6/1704.full

    … obtains similar results and brings in additional aspects, including glaciers, ice sheets, sea level rise, and changes to precipitation.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:20 PM

  120. 111 Kevin McKinney, well done with your series of comments!

    I recommend http://goo.gl/ for shorter links, as they are ‘persistent’, and they have some other benefits over tinyurl.

    Comment by Walter — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:39 PM

  121. 113 (and others) Timothy, thank you very much for your contribution here. Well done.

    RE: “As such I do not find his (ChrisDs) argument regarding culpability convincing.”

    You’re too kind. I find it fraudulent and emotionally driven being not based on the whole of the science nor known related facts.

    RE “However, I believe the issue of irreversibility is far more important than that of culpability.”

    100% agree. The issue is the “climate” not anything else, and that includes the spurious suggestions that the current form of the global and national economies are more important. My hope is that enough shit will hit the fan regarding both extreme climate responses and a fracturing global economy before the 2015 Paris meeting rocks around so the “myths” can be put aside and the issues dealt with honestly and openly for a change at the UNFCCC etc.

    Not holding my breath. But sooner or later the reality will hit home to all. Best.

    Comment by Walter — 9 Apr 2014 @ 10:51 PM

  122. Timothy (113),

    You seem to be imprecise when you mix greenhouse and non-greenhouse forcings there. And the University of Victoria model you relied on earlier is known to be at the high end of lingering warmth. http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/2793/2013/acp-13-2793-2013.pdf

    But, even so, it does not keep getting warmer once emissions stop. It stabilizes. If you want more warming you need more emissions. Notice, for example, how the 500 GtC curve immediately departs horizontally from the the 2000 GtC curve in the bottom panel of fig. 2 in Matthews and Calderia. That happens exactly when the emissions cut off, no delayed rise etc… So, all the warming from the 500 GtC is immediately what you get. No inertia etc… If you want more warming, you are going to need more emissions.

    To say it again: the science says that if you stop greenhouse gas emissions, the warming stops, so past greenhouse gas emissions are not the reason for future greenhouse warming, future greenhouse gas emissions are.

    BTW, there may be an inconsistency in Hare and Meinshausen in the version I looked at, they claim that they set aerosols to zero as well for the constant forcing case, but it seems to have lower forcing than the immediate cessation of emissions case. Just at the point of cessation then, the forcing should be identical if both have aerosols turned off. Interestingly, an emission profiles that gives you constant carbon dioxide it the sort that would probably involve converting coal power to gas power, cutting aerosol emissions. So their intention seems to have foundation, but it is not clear that the execution came off as intended.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 11:00 PM

  123. flxible (#108),

    Regarding the WTO and GATT, intentions are the most important thing. You have to have a domestic environmental law on the books to be able to invoke the environmental exception and apply tariffs to imports from a country that is lacking a law and causing environmental damage. If you are trying to fix the problem yourself, you can use tariffs, if you are not, you can’t. Intent is the deciding factor.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Apr 2014 @ 11:09 PM

  124. Chris Dudley writes in 103:

    Nice digging. I think that you would agree with me that all delta function emissions profiles that have ever been examined lead to warming then cooling to a temperature above the initial temperature. Thus my statement that we can construct profiles with this type of behavior is manifestly true. Then the question is, has our initial build up been steep enough to allow this for an immediate cut. But, the actual criteria is not cooling but a lack of warming.

    I misunderstood you then. My apologies.

    You continue:

    From what you’ve summarized, ending emissions suddenly does not result in a final temperature higher than the current temperature….

    Omitting aerosols, yes, this is correct. However, if we include aerosols (that due to their cooling effects mask the warming that will result from greenhouse gas emissions once those aerosols are removed) in our analysis, then the final temperature will most certainly be above the current temperature. And over human time scales the warming that results when emissions, including reflective aerosols, are brought to an abrupt end, the rise in temperature that takes place afterwards will be effectively irreversible.

    You continue:

    so future greenhouse warming depends on future emissions, not past emissions.

    Only to the extent that the warming that will be due to past emissions is already included in current temperatures. To the extent that aerosols have masked the warming effect of past emissions such that temperatures initially rise when all emissions (including carbon dioxide and reflective aerosols) abruptly end, the warming that results will be effectively irreversible on the timescale of centuries.

    As I stated (113) in response to Diogenes (102), the paper that you directed him to:

    Hare, Bill, and Malte Meinshausen. “How much warming are we committed to and how much can be avoided?.” Climatic Change 75.1-2 (2006): 111-149.

    … “takes aerosols into account”, showing temperatures rise briefly when emissions are abruptly brought to an end. However, they make your move of simply omitting aerosols from the analysis seem reasonable since according to their analysis the warming due to the cessation of aerosols that appears after emissions are abruptly brought to an end vanishes almost as abruptly as it appears.

    However, given a more realistic model, this move of omitting aerosols from the analysis is no longer reasonable. If, as the authors of that paper calculate, the temperature initially rises after the cessation of emissions due to the cessation of the cooling effects of reflective aerosols, then (according to a more realistic model that takes into account the heat capacity of the deep ocean) the warming that takes place at that point will be effectively irreversible:

    In terms of the physics, his argument fails spectacularly once one takes into account both the presence of aerosols and the heat capacity of a realistic ocean. Aerosols mask warming due to past CO2 emissions. Remove that mask and that warming that aerosols were masking shows up. But far more importantly, that warming doesn’t disappear any time soon. It is effectively irreversible.

    As I point out, if that warming is dangerous then past emissions are responsible for such dangerous warming.

    Now with regard to the issue of culpability which is evidently your paramount consideration, I summarize as follows:

    We have known that aerosols mask warming at least since the 1970s. As such we have known that removing the aerosols would result in more warming than we are already seeing. Furthermore, more than half of the CO2 emissions since 1750 were emitted since the mid-1970s. Chris Dudley wrote earlier that “… emissions prior to known damage were innocent if we were surprised by the onset of of dangerous climate change, which we were.” But were we as developed nations actually so surprised? Apparently not, at least not any more than the drunk driver who gets into a car and winds up committing manslaughter.

    But as I point out in my response to Diogenes, I believe the issue of irreversibility is far more important than culpability. The warming that takes place after the cooling mask of aerosols is removed will be more or less with us for centuries.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 9 Apr 2014 @ 11:57 PM

  125. Tomothy Chase #113,

    When I mentioned the Letter in my post, I was referring to the Matthews and Weaver ‘Committed Climate Warming’ Letter that Hank Roberts referenced in post #8, not the Meinshausen paper. There are really two issues here, and they need to be discussed separately. There is a short-term issue and a long-term issue. We need to overcome the short-term issue so there will be a long-term to address. The short term issue is the temperature pulse due to precipitation of the aerosols if fossil fuel combustion is terminated rapidly. If that pulse is higher than we expect, and given the uncertainties in aerosol forcing it could very well be, it could trigger some of the carbon feedbacks to unacceptable levels, and perhaps put them on autopilot. Geo-engineering that would temporarily replace the aerosols under such conditions might be required.

    You are correct about the long-term issue; it needs to be taken into consideration seriously.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 10 Apr 2014 @ 4:37 AM

  126. DIOGENES (#125),

    Because the anthropogenic sulphate aerosols are pretty localized owing to their brief residence time in the atmosphere. So, the warming owing to their elimination will be mainly a local phenomenon. The feedbacks would need to be geographically associated with unsophisticated industrial areas which lack sulfur control. I think we might be mainly worried about increased methane outgassing from warmer rice patties if the wild fire danger is not increased. Permafrost may not be affected at all, being geographically remote.

    It it worth noting though that for rice growing regions, the apparent resilience of that crop to warming may have less of a cushion than anticipated since the warming could be stronger than the global average regionally if aerosols are presently locally dense. RCP4.5 may have unaffordable yield impacts for countries where arable land is nearly fully exploited, even to the point where encroachment on bamboo forest habitat for endangered megafauna that are crucially important to a national image has already been an issue.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 6:45 AM

  127. “Is folly in the filter?” Almost certainly… ;-)

    (Especially the Borehole.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 10 Apr 2014 @ 7:48 AM

  128. Timothy(#124),

    “However, if we include aerosols (that due to their cooling effects mask the warming that will result from greenhouse gas emissions once those aerosols are removed) in our analysis, then the final temperature will most certainly be above the current temperature.”

    I wonder if that is really true, or if the front ending of ocean heat uptake in the deeper ocean model might end up compensating somewhat.

    There are really two things of interest here: what does the science say about the effect of emissions, and then how does that feed into the liability question that a WTO mediated trade dispute would need to address.

    That latter part goes might go like this:

    USA to China: China you are not controlling your emissions and we are controlling ours. We are suffering from climate damage from your actions and so we are putting a tariff on your imports to cover our costs. Attribution science has shown that we are paying extra costs in our federal crop insurance and flood insurance programs owing to recent dangerous climate change. Our tariff will cover those extra costs.

    China to WTO: Whah Pielke, Whah Christy.

    WTO to China: Got to do better than that, the tariff stays.

    China to WTO: Whah historic emissions.

    WTO to USA: WTF inertia? You can impose a tariff but you have to cover some costs yourself.

    USA to WTO: Greenhouse warming is wysiwyg. Here’s why….

    WTO to USA: Oh, we’d heard of inertia, but it turns out you are correct. Keep your tariff at its current level.

    China to WTO: Whah aerosols: not wysiwig.

    WTO to USA: Hey, you fooled us. Lower your tariff.

    USA to WTO: We did not fool you, we said “greenhouse warming.”

    WTO to USA: Still caused by historic emissions, lower you tariff.

    USA to WTO: Not for us. We have an environmental law controlling sulfur emissions that has been on the books for a while. Damage we are suffering is owing to recent greenhouse gas emissions which we are also controlling. Regarding our damages, warming is wysiwig. China may experience a bump from failing to control sulfur emissions and extra damage, but they will have to recover those damages from India not us. We are not liable for historic emissions since we are already controlling current emissions (safe harbor).

    WTO to USA: Oh, OK, maybe you have a point, oh wait, China is cutting emissions, end your tariff. We have to hear the India v China case now.

    So, the science feeds into this, but the liability issue is more about how GATT is written. You can only sue if you are doing something about the problem yourself, and if you are, you can only sue parties that are not doing something. Sue is not the right word since it would be China, not the US that first approaches the WTO. We’d start by imposing a tariff unilaterally. The compensation starts before the case is decided.
    But, that is the idea anyway.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 7:58 AM

  129. Walter (#121),

    Hoping for disaster is not an attitude that is going end up contributing to solutions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 8:10 AM

  130. Timothy (#124) asks again: “But were we as developed nations actually so surprised?” regarding the early onset of dangerous climate change.

    Yes we were. Politicians like Olympia Snowe had enough scientists tell her that a 2 C rise was the limit at which dangerous climate change started, that she was ready to defy her party and go to bat for action to limit warming to below 2 C. A scientist who has warned about reticence also urged a target of 350 ppm but said that excursions above that could be tolerated if brief enough. Finally he realized empirically that heatwaves, as examples of extremes, have probability distribution tail effects that bring dangerous climate change into our lives much sooner than that scientifically supported 2 C limit. Empirically! Not forecast. The forecast was for 2 C.

    So, yes, we were very much surprised by the advent of dangerous climate change. We thought it was still far off.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 10:12 AM

  131. intentions are the most important thing….
    Intent is the deciding factor.

    No, read the opening summary by Stefan again.

    You are ignoring the impacts of climate change.
    Read the cautions as set out by the IPCC.

    That’s the topic here — the damage in the pipeline.

    The ocean will keep rising for centuries to come.
    Greenland will melt.

    Physics doesn’t change based on intent.
    Laws change. People change them.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Apr 2014 @ 11:13 AM

  132. Timothy Chase wrote (#124): “But were we as developed nations actually so surprised? Apparently not …”

    Certainly not.

    In the Nixon Libary, there is a September 1969 memo from Daniel P. Moynihan to John Ehrlichman which discusses “the carbon dioxide problem” in terms of “apocalyptic change”. Moynihan succinctly describes the problem:

    The process is a simple one. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has the effect of a pane of glass in a greenhouse. The C02 content is normally in a stable cycle, but recently man has begun to introduce instability through the burning of fossil fuels. At the turn of the century several persons raised the question whether this would change the temperature of the atmosphere.

    He then goes on to describe some potential impacts:

    Over the years the hypothesis has been refined, and more evidence has come along to support it. It is now pretty clearly agreed that the C02 content will rise 25% by 2000. This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter. We have no data on Seattle.

    He then states, “it is possible to conceive fairly mammoth man-made efforts to countervail the C02 rise. (E.g., stop burning fossil fuels.)”

    And he concludes by noting that “The Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee reported at length on the subject in 1965.”

    The Watergate investigators addressed the question of culpability thus: what did the president know, and when did he know it?

    Clearly, US presidents have been well informed about the “carbon dioxide problem” and the need for “mammoth efforts” to avert “apocalyptic change” for at least 50 years.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Apr 2014 @ 1:53 PM

  133. Hank (#128),

    GATT is a body of law relevant to the course of climate change. Without it, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases would have much less access to foreign markets and would have much lower emissions now. Without it, Sandy might have been avoided. In law, intent often matters. So, it is pretty relevant.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 3:05 PM

  134. SA (#132),

    It is not a question of did people know about the greenhouse effect in 1965. They did not know much about it, and not enough to say that a 2 C warming is the onset of dangerous climate change. So, back is 2006, RealClimate was interested is technical aspects of doing the 2 C limit. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/can-2c-warming-be-avoided/ but did not see the limit as an issue. I 2009 it got called “almost cavalier.” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/07/two-degrees/ Tough on the politicians who thought they had a number. There were attribution studies of individual events http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/going-to-extremes/ and a start at statistical detection of damaging climate change effects as can be seen that 2011 article. But it was the next year where we saw why we should expect problems now rather than at some 2 C limit. J. Hansen, M. Sato, and R. Ruedy, “Perception of climate change”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 109, pp. E2415-E2423, 2012

    A lot happened in six years from 2006 to 2012 regarding our understanding that dangerous climate change is now among us (fig. 1 above).

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 10 Apr 2014 @ 11:52 PM

  135. #135–Yes. One landmark not mentioned is “Six Degrees,” which was mentioned by many here at the time.

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Mark-Lynass-Six-Degrees-A-Summary-Review

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Apr 2014 @ 6:39 AM

  136. Kevin (#135),

    And you can see the heatwave issue is associated with 2 C there, rather than 0.8 C as we now understand it to be. My guess is that the distribution tail phenomenon gives a non-negligible chance of consecutive crop yield wrecking heatwaves in world breadbasket regions that completely deplete our carryover grain stocks at 2 C. A bit of bad luck could lead to unrelivable famine years. Bad luck becomes destiny if we stay for long near 2 C. So, our understanding has certainly evolved since 2008.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 8:07 AM

  137. 134…Talk about not being able to read. From SA @ 132:

    “It is now pretty clearly agreed that the C02 content will rise 25% by 2000. This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

    Indeed, who knew? Bet one of your savvy attorneys specializing in liability would have a field day with that document.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 11 Apr 2014 @ 8:34 AM

  138. Walter (#137),

    Look at those numbers. That indicates a climate transient response of 7 C per doubling. Naive speculation is occurring there.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 10:04 AM

  139. CD, that said 7F, not C; that was not a bad guesstimate in 1969 compared to current climate sensitivity estimates, and the lag time for sea level to rise was understood — the damage was understood to be in the pipeline.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2014 @ 11:39 AM

  140. Chris Dudley wrote in 104

    I don’t want to stop emissions all at once, I want to know if a WTO case can be made that placing tariffs on Chinese imports to the US is allowed under the GATT without a long time delay. One possible quarrel to eliminate is that China’s emissions don’t matter because inertia from vast historical emissions means that all future warming is our fault. Many people here seem to feel that that is the case.

    I may be somewhat out of the loop with regard to the politics, but from what I have seen, typically developing countries argue that the developed world owes much its development to its use of fossil fuels and it would be unfair to expect developing countries to match the cuts in fossil fuel use that the developed world should make when this would result in developing countries remaining poor. As such it isn’t tied to the sort of “climate inertia” argument you are arguing against. Another related argument is that even now developed countries are responsible for considerably more emissions than developing countries on a per capita basis. In 2010 the average US citizen produced 17.6 tons of CO2 but the average Chinese citizen produced 6.2. No doubt this has changed in the past four years, but I strongly doubt it has reached parity. These are I believe the two most common arguments. Neither relies on a “geophysical commitment” to future warming once emissions have ceased.

    Chris Dudley continued:

    The science does not support it.

    Informal logic does not support arguing issues of physics based on their political implications. You seem to be quick to dismiss the results of more recent papers based on relatively advanced climate models in favor of an older paper which, by the admission of its own authors is based on a “simple model.”

    Regardless, I don’t think the question of responsibility on a national or per capita basis should be regarded as the central issue. We should be primarily concerned with reducing future emissions, preferably without reducing living standards or opportunity. And there are several major steps we could take in this direction.

    One of course is a carbon tax, perhaps the least controversial of which would be revenue neutral, entirely offset by reductions to other taxes according to an “across the board” (ATB) approach. Others might argue for keeping the revenue for the purpose of subsidizing the development of renewable energy or else a revenue neutral “fee-and-dividend” model (FAD) where revenue is given back to citizens on a per capita basis. While I might sympathize with the intents behind the other approaches I would prefer not to see the other issues linked in this fashion. In particular, the latter might strike some as a form of social engineering. And as long as one is taking an ATB approach it is likely that a fairly high carbon tax could be implimented on a state-by-state basis without putting those states (or for that matter, those countries) that impliment it first at a disadvantage.

    For more on this, please see:

    Surprise! Even A Crazy-High Carbon Tax Would Help California Businesses
    by Jeff Spross, 4 Mar 2014
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/04/3356461/california-carbon-tax-200-ton/

    … and the economic study linked to in the first paragraph of the article. A carbon tax could later be married to tariffs on those governments that have not implemented their own domestic carbon taxes until such time as they implement such a tax. However, even without tariffs it would move the developing world forward to the extent that domestic innovation and economy of scale make renewable energy more affordable internationally.

    A second step would be various forms of legislation that support distributed renewable energy, much of which has interestingly enough found support among Libertarian and Tea Party groups.

    Please see for example:

    Clean Energy Splits Conservatives
    by Peter Sinclair, 27 Jan 2014
    http://climatecrocks.com/2014/01/27/clean-energy-splits-conservatives/

    Unlikely Bedfellows: Wisconsin Libertarians Join Greens In Favor Of Solar Energy
    by Kiley Kroh, 8 Sep 2013
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/09/08/2584011/wisconsin-libertarians-solar/

    Wisconsin Libertarians Open New Front in Solar Rooftop Push
    by Peter Sinclair, 7 Sep 2013
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/09/07/wisconsin-libertarians-open-new-front-in-solar-rooftop-push/

    The Koch Brother’s Worst Nightmare: A Green-Tea Coalition
    by Peter Sinclair, 12 Aug 2013
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/08/12/the-koch-brothers-worst-nightmare-a-green-tea-coalition/

    Tea Party Takes On Georgia Power Over Lack Of Solar Energy
    by Kiley Kroh, 6 Jun 2013
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/06/2111561/tea-party-takes-on-georgia-power-over-lack-of-solar-energy/

    Tea Party Turns on Georgia Nuke, Pushes Solar
    by Peter Sinclair, 4 Jun 2013
    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/06/04/tea-party-turns-on-georgia-nuke-pushes-solar/

    A third step would be to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel.

    These are quite substantial on both a global basis and at considerable cost:

    Globally, the cost of government subsidies for fossil fuels increased from $311 billion in 2009 to $544 billion in 2012, the IEA estimates. Once lost tax revenues are included, this figure rises to around $2 trillion, equal to over 8% of government revenues, according to a recent IMF report.

    Other research suggests that most of this spending leads to big “deadweight losses”, meaning lost economic efficiency as a result of government intervention. In the case of fuel subsidies for road transport, worth $110 billion globally in 2012, these losses reached $44 billion, reckons Lucas Davis at the University of California, Berkeley, in a new paper.

    The Economist: Fuelling controversy
    11 Jan 2014
    http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21593484-economic-case-scrapping-fossil-fuel-subsidies-getting-stronger-fuelling

    Those interested in persuing this issue in the United States may wish to see:

    Fossil Fuel Subsidies in the U.S.
    http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies

    Incidentally, the recommendations I have given above should be acceptable to most conservative groups except to the extent that those organizations place vested fossil fuel interests ahead of those of their rank and file, but this does not mean that I am opposed to other approaches.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Apr 2014 @ 12:29 PM

  141. Hank (@139),

    Do the math. 1965 Keeling Curve: 318 ppm. 25% more: 397 ppm (actual value about 366 ppm so over estimated which is fine). Ratio to preindustrial: 1.41. ln(1.41)/ln(2)=0.5 so half the temperature effect of a doubling. Doubling implies 14 F transient response so 7.7 C transient response in more familiar units. A fast feedback sensitivity of 11 C per doubling or higher might correspond to that. This was a naive first pass at looking at the issue, not solid knowledge that a conspiracy has been hiding ever since.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 12:45 PM

  142. PS My tons per capita for China and the United States comes from:

    CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)
    The World Bank
    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

    I do not know, however, whether this is calculated by attributing the carbon dioxide to the source (producer) or destination (consumer). The latter would seem to be the correct approach — and would take care of the problem of reducing domestic emissions by outsourcing carbon-intensive production.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 11 Apr 2014 @ 1:34 PM

  143. #136–Yes. Lynas in fact devotes large amounts of space in the book to the 2003 heatwave. It’s primarily associated with the 2 degree world because that’s roughly the amount by which the norm was exceeded during that disaster. (Note, BTW, that ‘we are living in the 1-degree world’ now, according to Lynas’ scheme of things–and in fact, the 2003 heatwave is the subject of a section in the 1-degree world, Danger in the Alps.)

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/The-One-Degree-World
    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/The-Two-Degree-World

    No argument that understanding has evolved.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 11 Apr 2014 @ 2:35 PM

  144. CD@141…Better put that attorney on retainer. In 1979, JASON produced its report, The Long Term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate. Hardly naive, and the highest level of the U.S. government had the information to make informed decisions.

    Knowing the cumulative impacts, only a dedicated Chinaphobe would fail to assign culpability to the one nation that had the facts for decades yet until recently was the single largest CO2 emitter.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 11 Apr 2014 @ 3:34 PM

  145. > do the math

    No, read the quote, from 1969:

    “C02 content will rise 25% by 2000. This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    What’s between the quotation marks is what they wrote: “will rise” by a specific time, and “could increase” — as a consequence.

    Not a bad guesstimate — understanding that the consequences are not immediate. As we do.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2014 @ 4:00 PM

  146. Timothy (#140),

    You might be please by this news. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2014/04/12/08/01/imf-world-bank-push-for-price-on-carbon “The IMF and World Bank have urged finance ministers to impose a price on carbon, warning that time is running out for the planet to avoid worst-case climate change.”

    Tariffs on Chinese imports would essentially be a price on carbon. I think though for internal emissions, we’ll use regulation since that is how we handle pollution. There is a cap-and-trade program in sulfur emissions, which has been considered innovative and which has been applied to greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. But with regulations coming that will close nearly all coal plants, the sulfur issue may be left well under the cap.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 8:16 PM

  147. Walter (#144),

    I just wonder how the Jasons got so far out ahead of people like Gavin that he is only just catching up now. We could have just skipped FAR, SAR, TAR, FAR, AR5 and gone right on to AR6. What a waste of effort all that has been.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 8:23 PM

  148. Walter (#144),

    I’m rather fond of the government in Taiwan which, with out lengthy negotiations, and always under heavy military threat, is cutting emissions now and has a plan for cuts out to 2050. http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/03/16/idUSTOE62F04M

    You may be unaware the the atrocious human rights record of the government on the Mainland. They massacre peaceful student protesters there, not like Kent State, but with rolling tanks. I sat stunned and saddened with friends and family in Taipei as this atrocity unfolded. Perhaps you should not assume quite so much when you call people names.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 11 Apr 2014 @ 8:42 PM

  149. 140, Dear Tim re “Another related argument is that even now developed countries are responsible for considerably more emissions than developing countries on a per capita basis.”

    More than that “per capita basis” Tim, the total quantity in GtC emissions is still clearly very much higher now (2013/14) for all developed nations versus developing countries, even if you include China in the latter. See various figures from IEA, EIA, Hansen et al, my refs in comments here recently, IMF, OECD, ad nauseum. Plus Non-Hydro renewable energy capacity is still floating somewhere between 1 and 2 % globally. Sorry no time to repeat sources.

    Currently this BAU status is physically, scientifically impossible for said renewables, plus Hydro, plus planned Nuclear expansion more than doubling, to meet the reduction of Carbon energy supply to be below ~78% of total global energy use by 2040. 2012 carbon energy was 83% of the total. Found your website long ago, good to see you here sharing your astute knowledge and experience, Best.

    Comment by Walter — 11 Apr 2014 @ 9:19 PM

  150. 142 Tim, ” whether this is calculated by attributing the carbon dioxide to the source (producer) ” it is always attributed to the producer of said CO2e emissions when it is “burnt and emitted”.

    Not the consumer, and not the mining source nation either — except for fugitive emissions of CO2/CH4 etc from coal mines and Gas exploitation at the source etc. and the mechanisation that is fossil fueled, ie trucks diggers transportation to the Ports for export etc.

    Comment by Walter — 11 Apr 2014 @ 9:25 PM

  151. CD, it’d be easier just to admit you’re wrong than to go on disparaging people’s work on the issue.

    Yes, rough guesstimates of climate sensitivity in the past were in the same ballpark as modern work.

    Still the IPCC’s work is needed — to convince you and your peers.

    It’s clear you don’t like the science.

    Well, history shows that legal and economic systems that rely on misunderstanding the world for short term profit don’t stand forever. Yet they’re very popular with those who build them, while they last.

    Science is starting to show us _how_ and _why_ that’s been a problem — forever in human history.

    We get our picture of the world wrong, and on that basis we make money fast.

    That error has cost us the Earth, slowly. Shifting baselines change so slowly each generation til the last few has had no clue about that.

    Well la, most of us aren’t delighted by discovering we and our predecessors were wrong and have turned a real planet into imaginary money and played games with it.

    That doesn’t change how the world works.
    We can understand it, if we are willing to try.
    We can do great things if we take better precautions.

    Climate sensitivity is still being worked out, in detail.
    We know it within limits that are being improved.

    As noted above by Gavin:

    It’s been discussed many time before: here and here.

    and the more recent topics. Yes, do the math.
    Understand the work done so far. More’s to come.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2014 @ 9:56 AM

  152. Thw WGIII SPM concerning mitigation is out lacking some language that is included in the base report. The missing language concerns the need for developing countries to cut emissions and the need for developed countries to foot some of the bill for for development related mitigation efforts in undeveloped countries. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/science/earth/un-climate-panel-warns-speedier-action-is-needed-to-avert-disaster.html

    WGIII SMP:http://report.mitigation2014.org/spm/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers_approved.pdf

    The US is in an excellent position to cut this Gordian knot since it is cutting emissions without having committed to do so through formal negotiations: our emissions cuts are not contingent. The US can legally place tariffs on the imports from countries that are increasing emissions and devote a portion of the tariff revenue to assisting countries that are holding emissions steady at a low level owing to barriers to development in return for a pledge not to increase emissions. This would allow broader demonstration of the entirely clean development model taken up by, for example, the Maldives.

    This attacks the tied problems by placing external constraint on developing nations that are increasing emissions while cultivating a very appropriate funding source for clean development assistance without channeling funding away from the developed world’s transition from fossil fuel dependence, which must not be slighted or slowed at all.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Apr 2014 @ 12:15 PM

  153. Hank (#151),

    Read the links. No Pipeline. A brief jump owing to aerosols has no effect on sea level rise. I think it would be much better for you to admit that you have a trollish side, and when you call someone on units, and have made an error in doing that, you tend to persist in your rudeness.

    It is fine with me if you think being off by a factor of four in 1965 is close enough for government work. But it is truly disparaging of subsequent work to claim the number was well known at that time, and well enough known to know when to stop burning fossil fuels. That was my objection to the conspiracy claim, and it was a sound one.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Apr 2014 @ 6:47 PM

  154. > brief jump owing to aerosols …
    > off by a factor of four in 1965 …
    > well enough known to know when to stop …
    > the conspiracy claim ….

    and I wrote nothing of the sort.
    Who _are_ you replying to? Not to me.
    This topic is getting badly derailed by this nonsense.

    Argue about the IPCC’s statement, if you have reason to argue that.

    And learn something from history:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2014 @ 12:02 AM

  155. Hank (#154),

    Well if you are going to jump in with an erroneous correction on units without reading the discussion, it is not too surprising that you would clueless about what the discussion is about. What I had to say was correct. You are just chasing your tail apparently.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Apr 2014 @ 6:37 AM

  156. Hopefully there will be an RC post on the WGIII report on mitigation, but in the mean time, rumors about the next mitigation steps for the US are circulating. http://washingtonexaminer.com/epa-sends-proposed-emissions-rule-for-existing-power-plants-to-white-house/article/2546607

    It may be that stationary source emissions regulations will be salted with the ability to do offsets in renewable energy. Are there advantages in the short term to allowing coal plants to run when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining? Natural gas has staked out a claim to being the bridge fuel, but can coal claim to be a stepping stone fuel?

    And, since the EPA already proposes to regulate emissions from new power plants, should not new renewable energy be regulated under those rules, not as some annex to existing polluting plants? http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-09/documents/20130920factsheet.pdf

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Apr 2014 @ 9:37 AM

  157. Further to my (#152),

    I should mention that for the US to take on the proposed leadership role of channeling climate tariff revenue to clean development assistance will involve some sacrifice (which should make curmudgeons happy). Low cost imports would no longer be as low cost. However, we might offset this with higher incomes if we notice our advantage in thin film solar manufacturing. If the aid we provide comes in the form of US manufactured clean energy goods, then we may not be bothered so much by consumer price inflation. The prior administration proposed a fairly outlandish plan to essentially form a cartel in nuclear fuel and lease it out. But, First Solar’s CdTe panels include recycling in their purchase contracts. That seems much more reasonable.

    The US Export/Import Bank is facilitating some clean energy deals. http://www.exim.gov/ Perhaps that should be ramped up.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 14 Apr 2014 @ 11:12 AM

  158. CD @ 148. You are way off topic with that post so I’ll correct you one last time.

    You indeed have little sense of history, with your lack of understanding on the cumulative emission problem as well as your little rant on human rights. We in the U.S. would do well to stop lecturing others given our own sordid history with native Americans, the middle passage, etc.

    If it’s not obvious to you by now that lacking any moral or factual high ground we need to make every effort to work in concert with others, then you’ll be unable to make any positive contribution to the discussion.

    I’m going to take my own advice when first you resurfaced, and resume rolling my eyes at your rants.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 14 Apr 2014 @ 2:06 PM

  159. SA (#132)

    We can see further evidence of imprecision in understanding of global warming in 1965 from the claim that sea level could rise 10 feet with a warming of 3.9 C. In fact the sea level rise for 2 C warming is about that much in 2300 and still rising. http://ssi.ucsd.edu/scc/images/Schaeffer%20SLR%20at%20+1.5%20+2%20NatCC%2012.pdf

    On the other hand, ending emissions after a 25% increase over the 1965 carbon dioxide concentration would halt sea level rise at around 5 feet around 2200. That would lead to an attenuated NYC, but perhaps not abandonment.

    For a precautionary approach like Kyoto to work, you have to have your scientific ducks in an row. Kyoto probably occurred as early as feasible in terms of scientific certitude. With the early advent of dangerous climate change, we are no longer in a precautionary posture but in a reactive posture. At this point there are people to blame for actual damage, particularly China’s intransigence at Kyoto and the impossibility still to plan our response owing to their unwillingness to commit to any limit on emissions. We don’t know if we lose NYC in 2400 under a 2 C limit or if we lose NYC a century and a half earlier under a blown limit owing to China’s maleficence.

    A shift from a precautionary to a reactive posture means new methods will be brought to bear. Unfortunately, the mutual veto on the security council between the US and China means that some UN tools that are used to bring quicker and less costly solutions to conflicts will not be available. The effort behind the Framework Convention on Climate Change is never going to have UN sanctions as an enforcement mechanism, for example.

    The element of blame has entered the climate policy arena now. If it is going to be a useful tool in preventing damage, it should be applied where it will do the most good. Blaming President Nixon, as fun as it is to still kick him around, just isn’t going to help, nor is it accurate. Though you can blame him for giving Taiwan’s security council seat to the mainland if you want.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Apr 2014 @ 7:25 AM

  160. Chris Dudley #157 – Impacts of Climate Change – Part 2 of the new IPCC Report has been approved,

    “I should mention that for the US to take on the proposed leadership role of channeling climate tariff revenue to clean development assistance will involve some sacrifice (which should make curmudgeons happy).”

    I object to the implications of that statement. If you had a life-threatening condition, and your doctor told you the only chance for survival was an uncomfortable regimen of high-dose Key-mo, would you call him a curmudgeon? If it worked, you would probably revere him as a Saint! On the other hand, if he gave you some comfortable treeetment that did nothing for your survival, how would you (or more likely your heirs) view him? You/they would probably sue him for malpractice.

    Why, then, do you take the opposite approach for climate change amelioration. Those of us who recommend the harsh and uncomfortable actions required to avoid the impending climate catastrophe are vilified, while the malpractitioners who promise ‘prosperity’ and ‘no hardships required’ are treated as credible by posters and moderators alike. Would we allow malpractitioners to publish in the credible medical journals? Why, then, do we allow the malpractitioners of climate change amelioration to post their misinformation/disinformation on the credible climate advocacy blogs?

    Comment by DIOGENES — 15 Apr 2014 @ 8:42 AM

  161. Even saints get exasperated with other humans from time to time. What a treat it would be if the rest of the world would just realize that what’s best for you is simply the best course of action, period. That’s the moral hazard in cold equations, the existential crisis of lifeboat rules. If being in a lifeboat gives you the power to make everyone else shut the hell up and listen (or else), then wouldn’t it be awfully convenient if our ship were to go down?…
    … ask yourself whether the captain of our lifeboat had any role in the sinking of the ship.

    Science fiction is supposed to teach us how to think about the future…. stories about how we can’t afford to hew to our values in time of crisis are a handy addition to every authoritarian’s playbook, a fine friend of plutocrats, and they reek of self-serving bullshit every time they’re deployed.

    http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2014/03/cory-doctorow-cold-equations-and-moral-hazard/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2014 @ 12:09 PM

  162. Walter (#158),

    I agree with you that you started out with name calling and have not let up since.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Apr 2014 @ 12:35 PM

  163. DIOGENES (#160),

    Sorry if you took offense. There are a lot of doomers that form a sort of unkindness around the issue of climate change. On the up side, we can grow the US economy by a factor of 2.6 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 82% from year 2000 emissions levels by 2050. http://www.rmi.org/reinventingfire

    Don’t you find it rather odd that for a problem that needs to be addressed seriously within 15 years or so, we hear so much about population issues in comments? That seems to me to be curmudgeon central.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Apr 2014 @ 12:51 PM

  164. 162. We’re agreed that you lack a factual basis for your rants, to the point that you don’t remember “what I started out with.”

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 15 Apr 2014 @ 7:25 PM

  165. The WG III final draft “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change” is now available. It’s Chapter 13 does seem to indicate that China has to cut emissions for mitigation to occur:

    “Income patterns and trends as well as distribution of GHG emissions have changed significantly since the 1990s, when the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol listed Annex I/Annex B countries; some countries outside these lists have become wealthier and larger emitters than some countries on these lists (U.S. Department of Energy, 2012; WRI, 2012; Aldy and Stavins, 2012). For example, in 1990, China’s total CO2 emissions were about half of United States emissions, but by 2010, China emitted more than 50% more CO2 than the United States. Over this same time period, China’s per capita CO2 emissions experienced an almost three-fold increase, rising to nearly equal the level in the EU, but still about 36% of the United States level (IEA, 2012; JRC/PBL, 2012; PBL, 2012, see Annex II.9; Olivier et al., 2012). Non-Annex I countries as a group have a share in the cumulative global greenhouse emissions for the period 1850 to 2010 close to 50%, a share that is increasing (den Elzen et al., 2013b) (see Section 5.2.1 for more detail on historical emissions).”

    Elsewhere it describes how China has pledged to increase emissions.

    http://mitigation2014.org/report/final-draft/

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Apr 2014 @ 8:29 AM

  166. “On the up side, we can grow the US economy by a factor of 2.6 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 82% from year 2000 emissions levels by 2050.”

    No ‘WE’ can’t. Forget climate change. The laws of thermodynamics say you are wrong!

    Growth has an expiration date and it is coming due very quickly.

    http://fora.tv/2011/10/26/Growth_Has_an_Expiration_Date

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 16 Apr 2014 @ 8:00 PM

  167. Fred (#166),

    For the last couple of decades we’ve had about that growth rate on average. I guess your understanding of thermodynamics is badly flawed. Give Amory Lovins a call, he can probably put you straight.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 17 Apr 2014 @ 9:20 AM

  168. Speaking of impacts, as we have been on this thread, here is a beautiful piece of reporting on the impact of climate change in Peru. It’s very much in line with the discussion in “Six Degrees” (and elsewhere.)

    Says a mountain villager:

    “We see that there is less water. That is a concern for us, for the well-being of our children,” Cilio says.

    “In those moments, we feel like crying. Because when I compare my childhood to now, it is very different,” he says. “Back then, the land was healthier, we could see white thick snow when it snowed in the mountains. And now all we see is black rocks.”

    An environmental engineer:

    “We’re trying to anticipate changes that we can’t definitively predict,” says Valverde, who’s working with colleagues on the fourth version of a master plan to adapt to climate changes. “When will the glaciers be lost? When will we not have enough water? Some believe 50 years, others 60 years. Still others 10 years.”

    Valverde is awake most nights. He can’t say whether it’s the worry or all the work he’s doing that keeps him from his bed.

    “We did not realize in the beginning, but when we faced a high point of crisis, then we realized,” he says. He fears the government has somehow missed a crucial point in preparing for the crisis.

    “We have to be ahead. If we plan, we should plan at the right time, not when things are already happening.”

    Peru’s Director of the Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs:

    Acurio says those elements are expected to be affected so severely, the country is already treating climate change as a national security threat.

    His government has given up on trying to stop or reduce the glacier melt. Instead, they’re looking for ways to adapt to the changes that are coming. The new master plan, expected by the end of this year, will identify up to 80 actions that the country can take. All of which have a price tag.

    It’s a cost Acurio already knows his country cannot afford.

    “Peru, as most developing countries, does not have the resources necessary to deal with mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” he says.

    http://www.cbc.ca/edmonton/features/dying-for-a-drink/disappearing-act.html

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Apr 2014 @ 7:20 AM

  169. Funny you should mention him, here’s his comment about ‘The Limits to Growth The Thirty Year Update’ perhaps you should read the book!

    “Thirty years ago, The Limits to Growth was widely but erroneously attacked for prophesying doom, ignoring price, and denying adaptation. Today, its timely update remains an exceptionally valuable tool for creating the kind of future we want.”

    —Amory B. Lovins, CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute

    http://www.donellameadows.org/archives/a-synopsis-limits-to-growth-the-30-year-update/

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 19 Apr 2014 @ 7:24 AM

  170. Fred (#168),

    I don’t think we’ve gotten any closer to clearing up your misconceptions about thermodynamics.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Apr 2014 @ 12:32 PM

  171. Fred (#168),

    Possible miscommunication there. I mentioned Lovin’s because he is the source of the “we can grow the US economy by a factor of 2.6 while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by more than 82% from year 2000 emissions levels by 2050.” figures. So, it is not funny at all that I should mention him. You may also want to look at Scenario 9 from Meadows et al. which probably fits fairly well with some of Lovins’ scenarios for the US.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 19 Apr 2014 @ 1:05 PM

  172. Chris Dudley,
    “I don’t think we’ve gotten any closer to clearing up your misconceptions about thermodynamics.”

    I’m pretty sure my understanding of thermodynamics is sound, thank you, as is my understanding of system dynamics and ecosystems etc. I also grasp the concept that all economic systems are subsidiaries of Ecosystems Inc. Furthermore I have had the opportunity to work both in the oil industry and more recently in the solar industry. I have also traveled the world and seen first hand some of the social strife that is being caused by peak resources, climate change and limits to growth. I am not impressed by a continued insistence in pushing the mantra of so called ‘Economic Growth’ It ain’t working! It won’t solve any of our problems. BTW since at one time you mentioned that I had better hope for economic growth, let me say that my personal hopes are completely irrelevant. However basing public policy on the notion that the tooth fairy will bail us out of our current predicament is not something that I can or will support! I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 21 Apr 2014 @ 5:55 AM

  173. Fred (172),

    Well if you feel your understanding of thermodynamic is adequate, perhaps you can explain what you mean. I can guarantee that you will end up making elementary errors just based on your claim.

    The WG III report indicates that economic growth is not the culprit in climate change, rather it is fossil fuel use, which may be profitably substituted. So, you seem to have picked the wrong target. What you are calling limits to growth may just be averse market distortions such public subsidies for fossil fuel use. If policy leaves you stuck in a fossil fuel rut, you may perceive limits that are really just illusions.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 21 Apr 2014 @ 10:20 AM

  174. Chris,
    Here is a very good primer on ecosystem thermodynamics.

    http://www.uni-kiel.de/ecology/users/fmueller/salzau2006/ea_presentations/Data/2006-07-05_-_Thermodynamics_II.pdf

    Right now there is plenty of evidence that we are already in deep ecological overshoot! Yet you insist that the only way forward is to go ever deeper into ecological debt?

    http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/

    “World Footprint

    Do we fit on the planet?

    Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.

    Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one.”

    This is backed up by lots of very good data:

    http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_science_introduction/

    “National Footprint Accounts measure the ecological resource use and resource capacity of nations over time. Based on approximately 6,000 data points per country per year, the Accounts calculate the Footprints of 232 countries, territories, and regions from 1961 to the present. These accounts provide the core data that is needed for all Ecological Footprint analysis worldwide.

    Although these accounts provide the most comprehensive aggregate indicator of human pressure on ecosystems currently available, the National Footprint Accounts are a work in progress.”

    If you have a yearly income of $100,000.00 and you’re spending $150,000.00 year after year by drawing down your savings you will at some point have to stop doing that and start living within your means.

    I guess where we disagree is that I think we have already reached the point where we can no longer continue to grow our ecological footprint and you seem to believe that we still can.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 22 Apr 2014 @ 7:18 AM

  175. Fred Magyar #174,

    “If you have a yearly income of $100,000.00 and you’re spending $150,000.00 year after year by drawing down your savings you will at some point have to stop doing that and start living within your means.”

    We are now at the point where we have used up our carbon savings, and are spending against our carbon creddit card.

    Comment by DIOGENES — 22 Apr 2014 @ 12:51 PM

  176. Fred (#174),

    Well, that is not thermodynamics, and that tentative Fourth Law borders on Aristotelian Final Causes which would make it spiritualism, not science. (SA, notice the word I didn’t use.)

    The footprint concept can be useful if you know who you are stepping on. According to the WG II report we get 270 GtC more emissions before we start causing mass extinctions through climate change. We seem to be killing off amphibians by not washing our shoes, but that is not climate change. Different kind of footprint…. In my opinion, we are at the point where we can deeply reduce our carbon footprint and we might not even require the whole 270 GtC cushion. We can certainly dispense with photosynthesis for fuel which will lay off our land use impacts. According to some things I’ve looked at recently, we could, in principle, avoid most use of photosynthesis aside from fresh air and perhaps convenient carbon sequestration.

    Now, that “Fourth Law” does have some application if there is agency such as people wanting more natural land use. I suspect a world population of 40 billion people living in harmony with vast herds of bison on the North American plains is quite feasible as a result of full exploitation of solar technologies’ efficiency advantage over photosynthesis. Odum recognized this sort of thing and your link may be a misinterpretation of his work (which crucially included selection pressure for agency).

    You are concerned about overshoot, I’d say we have not even begun to arrange the furniture in a pleasant way.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 22 Apr 2014 @ 3:07 PM

  177. Chris Dudley @ 176,

    “…that tentative Fourth Law borders on Aristotelian Final Causes which would make it spiritualism, not science.”

    Perhaps you should take that up directly with Dr. Huckauf. If I’m not mistaken, he holds a PhD in physical Chemistry, I’m sure he would be interested in finding out that he is a spiritualist and not really a scientist.

    From his web page:

    “My research interests are the chemical syntheses and the high-resolution molecular spectroscopic investigations of small molecules and weakly bound (van der Waals) complexes with a main focus on
    high-resolution rotational, rovibrational and vibrational spectroscopy in the centimetre-, millimetre- and submillimetre-wave range,

    unstable and/or carbon-chain containing (linear) molecules such as alkinyl (iso)cyanides which are of great astrophysical interest and

    quantum chemical calculations that supplement the experimental methods.”

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the wild assumption that he has a least a basic understanding of the laws thermodynamics.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 26 Apr 2014 @ 5:11 PM

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