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Two degrees

Filed under: — david @ 8 July 2009

The countries of the G8 today approved a target of 2° C rise in global average temperature above the natural, preanthropogenic climate, that they resolve should be avoided. The Europeans have been pushing for 2 degrees as a target maximum temperature for several years, but this is something of a development for the Americans. We posted recently on two new papers about what it would take to limit global average warming, finding that it would require fairly strong change in trajectory. About 2° C as a target, we wrote,

… even a “moderate” warming of 2°C stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society, leading potentially to the conflict and suffering that go with failed states and mass migrations. Global warming of 2°C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture. Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far, a target of 2°C seems almost cavalier.

Nevertheless, we view today’s development as a constructive step.


411 Responses to “Two degrees”

  1. 101
    Dan L. says:

    Jan Galkowski (92) says:
    “I know it sounds terrible, and I wish it weren’t true, but maybe we’ll get “lucky” and an 1821-type Eastern seaboard hurricane will come long and WAKE PEOPLE UP?”

    What, another monster hurricane? That’s so-o-o 2005!

    Now, a catastrophic drought in the American Midwest, THAT would get people’s attention.

    Until it finally rained; then all would be forgotten again.

  2. 102
    Gareth says:

    Forgive the shameless plug, but I went into the lessons to be drawn from Ramanathan & Feng, and this recent NatureReports: Climate Change paper, in a lengthy discussion of emissions targets for New Zealand (we’re in the middle of a hurried “consultation” process).

    In my local consultation meeting, NZ’s climate change ambassador, Adrien Macey, provided a handy summary of the preferred international target: 450 ppm CO2e(total), 2C and 50% (global) cuts by 2050. Unfortunately, as several recent papers have shown (and I discuss in my post), if we are really shooting for 2C then we need to do more than 50% globally — more like 70% according to the NatureReports study. This suggests that the developed world needs to be heading for greater than 90% cuts by 2050 – not the 80% on the table at the G8 meeting.

    That message is not getting through to negotiators — perhaps in part because the current goal, however inadequate, is unlikely to be met at Copenhagen. To be optimistic about the situation we need to hope that we will be lucky, that (even more) rapid change will not happen in the coming decade, and that Copenhagen puts in place a process that can be rapidly adjusted to cope with more agressive emissions cuts when the body politic wakes up to their necessity.

    And all that’s before we start considering whether 2C can really be considered a safe target…

  3. 103

    #1 “For every fool that subscribes to the global warming frenzy there many others who actually have taken the time to properly research the subject.”

    Wow! Not one, I repeat, not one published study stating that human caused global warming is false has held up to world wide juried peer review to the best of my knowlege. You sir, are being political or are extremely misinformed on an extremely dangerous situation.

  4. 104
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?

    I would bet that 95% of those who post here have adequate money to get by on.

    And those consumer goodies. Within my lifetime I have seen off wind-up gramophones (yes, kids, clockwork music!), electric gramophones, hi-fi record players, cassette tape, CDs, those i-pod things. (Have I missed anything?) At any point people were happy with what they had – until a new gizmo came along.

    Now there you are! Captcha says “borrowed fantasy”. Yes, the Credit Crunch was borrowed fantasy and we all fell for it.

  5. 105
    tharanga says:

    Mark, re 97: When? My original post on the Stern report, 65:

    “He says this is cost is worthwhile, as the costs of avoided problems down the road would be even greater. ”

    Cost and Benefit. or rather, cost and avoided later cost.

    RichardC, re 94: I think you’ve confused yourself with some circular logic with your taxes and rebates. If energy source A costs $x/BTU, and energy source B costs $2x/BTU, then you cannot (in the short run) save net money from going from A to B. You would save money in the long run if source A is damaging your planet, however.

    Mark, re 96: Sure, those are other costs associated with using oil. If you want to somehow estimate those costs and add it to the ledger, it would change the sums.

    “Saying that changing to renewables will “cost” is misleading. Saying changing to renewables will cost more than staying with oil is not misleading, but may well be wrong,”

    I would have assumed that a reader would read the former to be the same as the latter, but fine, I’m agreeable.

    “So when you say the changes will cost, no changes will cost too.
    Which will cost more?
    And according to the Stern report, not changing will cost more.”

    Precisely my point. I don’t see what the disagreement is. All that you’re leaving out is the time scales.

    IN the next few years, cutting emissions will cost more than not cutting emissions. But some years down the line, not cutting emissions will result in costs which may well dwarf the current cost of cutting emissions.

    That’s what I mean, and it’s what I’ve meant the whole time. My issue is with people who don’t recognise that there will be net costs in the short term. Mitigation won’t come free in the near term – we will pay some costs, in order to spare our children.

  6. 106
    tharanga says:

    Re Theo, 102:

    “Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?”

    IN the end, that’s what drives decision-making, like it or not.

    Some people might be willing to pay any price at all, in order to prevent sea level rise, ocean acidification, ice caps melting, agriculture and wildlife and ecosystems being disrupted, people forced to migrate due to climate, etc, etc.

    But to build the critical mass to change policy, you have to answer the question: Well, what would all those awful things cost, and how much would it cost me to prevent them?

  7. 107
    Stuart says:

    Politicians agreeing to some target in 40 years time is not a step forward at all, it is completely irrelevant. If they agreed to a target in 1 or 2 years then it might actually mean something.

  8. 108
    David B. Benson says:

    Gareth (101) — Look how bad it is (for some folk) already with only 0.8 K rise. I opine that 2 K will be quite badf indeed. You might care to see what Mark Lynas states about 2 K in his “Six Degrees”.

  9. 109
    Dan L. says:

    OK, who can talk me off the ledge?

    2C? The world is going to set a hard ceiling of 2c? With treaties?

    Holy s***. Certainly I am not the only one who sees how frackin’ stupid this is. What convenient estimate was used to guarantee this result?

    I’m losing hope, folks. I think we’re headed for 5C+ by 2100 with this kind of bogus political goal setting. Somebody please show me I’m wrong.

  10. 110
    isotopious says:

    #1

    I agree. It’s fine for climate to have a high public profile, however, it should be unbiased.

    For example, we never hear about the fundamental assumption. Elements of the fundamental assumption have been discussed on this blog, but that is as far as it goes for the general public. It’s never news worthy! No glossy graphics describing the big IF on the nightly news.

    Why don’t we break down the fundamental assumption into it’s basic elements. What is known and what is unknown, and the relationships in between.

  11. 111
    Doug Bostrom says:

    haranga says:
    9 July 2009 at 6:07 PM

    “I don’t know about “culture”. Reduced growth is felt by all, economist or no. The issue is convincing people that having reduced growth now is worthwhile, in order to prevent worse things happening to our children.”

    Sorry, I was being tongue-in-cheek about “the dismal science” and its practitioners.

    Opinion samples usually reveal a reluctance to pay for dimly perceived objectives, absolutely true, and even trying to tease out a thread of self-consistency from public opinions about such matters is sometimes impossible. As an example, looking at mitigation of household lead dust from paint reveals just such problems, that example affecting in particular poorer households. Parents in such households on the one hand are quite certain their children need protection, but equally they balk when confronted with the costs of mitigation. Simultaneously, many such households entertain levels of discretionary spending that, if adjusted, will help offset mitigation costs. It’s not a feature of being poor; we don’t think clearly about these things.

    At root I’m not qualified to argue with actual economists, but I’ll hazard a guess that, just as with CFCs, tetraethyl lead and a host of other examples, the increased costs associated w/controlling carbon emissions will quickly be lost in the general noise level of economic statistics. More, I’ll double down by speculating there will be a distinct net benefit by so doing in terms of stabilizing hydrocarbon costs in the relatively near future, that benefit having nothing to do with climate control in particular.

    It’s worth remembering that smaller yet still bulky analogues of what we’re discussing are relatively abundant in recent history (CFCs, tetraethyl lead, others). In all cases, those with a fiduciary charge to protect their investors ultimately resorted to exaggerated claims about costs, relying on public fear to help slow the rate of policy response. In every one of those examples we find that no existential damage was done to anybody. Except in the bookkeeping of a relatively few concerns the effects were not particularly visible in the noise of our economic machine.

    This is a larger problem. For existing and still-to-be-minted economists I’m sure it will represent a rich feeding ground as signals emerge from financial statistics. Though features of the problem are larger they are yet still familiar from experience, including the exploitation of public fears of costs.

  12. 112
    Richard Steckis says:

    Richard Ordway says:

    “Wow! Not one, I repeat, not one published study stating that human caused global warming is false has held up to world wide juried peer review to the best of my knowlege.”

    [edit] What is a “world wide juried peer review”?

    [edit -ok, enough on this now]

  13. 113
    Gareth says:

    David BB @ #107:

    Read the Lynas a long time ago. Check out the graph from Ramanathan & Feng. It’s a powerful argument against complacency. And that’s before we start talking about positive feedbacks in the carbon cycle…

  14. 114
    John E. Pearson says:

    Re 109: “The fundamental assumption????” Are you referring to the reality of physical existence or to some other less fundamental fundamental assumption?

  15. 115
  16. 116
  17. 117
    isotopious says:

    #113

    “Are you referring to the reality of physical existence or to some other less fundamental fundamental assumption?”

    Interesting question. I think it is wise to remind you all, in the context of climate science, ‘the reality of physical existence’ is accepted.

    For clarity, there is a fundamental assumption on which the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is based.

    [moderator: enough of this nonsense. no more please. ]

  18. 118
    Jim Bouldin says:

    I think it is wise to remind you all… ‘the reality of physical existence’ is accepted.

    Good deal.

  19. 119
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 92, Edward Greisch – from what I’ve read recently, nuclear, solar, and wind are about the same in CO2 output per unit energy, although I once read that solar put out less CO2 than nuclear. Is it necessary to use a lot of cement with solar? Aside from the lime that goes into glass, that is (which might not be used in all solar panels). The CO2 emissions should actually decline (presumably for all of the above) as clean energy takes over, since clean energy will be used to create clean energy devices, althouth there may be some C necessary for some material processes, but biochar and carbonate mineral production might be used to offset emissions.

    (PS solar energy payback time could be analogous to the energy used in conventional power plants (difference between gross and net generation).

    Solar doesn’t generally need a lot of water, though it depends on the technology. How much water does nuclear use? For one solar thermal to electrical energy plant I looked up, the energy used by desalinating and pumping vertically 1000 m an equivalent amount of water as used by the plant would be a tiny fraction of the energy output, and less per unit area of the plant than rainfall even in most arid regions so far as I know, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    I was trying to estimate the mining footprints of solar and nuclear, and came up with some very tentative rough estimates that ore input for solar energy might have an energy density (per unit mass) ~ 5 to 80 times coal, while nuclear (convential US fuel cycle) may be ~ 20 times coal – on the solar side, this doesn’t include some balance of system components, and on the nuclear side, it only includes the U, but on the solar side, the actual energy density could get much higher with recycling of the same material into multiple successive generations of solar energy devices, and on the nuclear side, breeder reactors. It also doesn’t include cogeneration (hybrid systems) for any of the three (solar, nuclear, coal)

    PS I’m not antinuclear, but I’m not pronuclear either. But it is certainly interesting that the Pu in the fuel cycle you refered to is less of a security risk than I would have guessed (but there is the issue of dirty you-know-whats). A somewhat farfetched idea I had was that maybe nuclear fuel cycles could be developed that produced stable isotopes of Ga,In,Rh,Ru,Pd,Ag,Te,Xe,Re,Ir,Pt, and/or Au, etc. (some of those would be helpful to the solar cell industry) – this would indirectly reduce the mining footpring of nuclear power. On the other hand, use of common rock for seasonal thermal storage of solar power might be used to manufacture ores over time…

  20. 120

    54 tharanga; How do you do a cost-benefit analysis of a collapse of civilization or the extinction of your own species? Economics is useless because the cost of a collapse of civilization is nearly infinite and the cost of the extinction of Homo Sapiens is infinite if you are a human. Economics assumes the existence of money and people. Either a collapse of civilization or the extinction of Homo Sap eliminates money. Therefore, a cost-benefit analysis is meaningless.

  21. 121

    57 Todd Albert : 20 people or fewer might survive on Mars. If more than that move there, Mars won’t be able to support them. If anybody other than scientists move to Mars, they will make a mess of Mars and cause the Mars colony to die as well.

    The point is that the average person on Earth won’t understand the need to change until it is too late. Nothing will be done to save people on Earth because the scientists are not in charge. 6.7 Billion people will die on Earth. “WE” don’t get to move to Mars. Only astronauts with post-doctoral degrees in science will be stranded on Mars by accident. An intentional colony is too far in the future.

    It would certainly be far less painful to save Earth. I doubt that it will be done, again considering the average person and the political process.

  22. 122
    Jim Eaton says:

    Re: 119, Patrick 027:

    “Solar doesn’t generally need a lot of water…”

    It does depend upon the technology, but for example, the concentrated solar power plants proposed for Ivanpah Valley in the Mojave Desert would use about 100 acre feet of water a year — but most of that would be not in power productions but used to wash the mirrors:

    “Each plant uses an air-cooled condenser or ‘dry cooling,’ to minimize water usage in the site’s desert environment. Water consumption would therefore, be mainly to provide water for washing heliostats.”

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/ivanpah/index.html

    Captcha: $1.5 want

  23. 123
    Chris Dudley says:

    David (in #22),

    As I read Hansen, http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf the 350 ppm target is aimed at stabilizing the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica. Restoring Arctic sea ice requires a target between 300 and 325 ppm and avoiding stress on coral reefs wants about the same range. So, I think he is considering not just stabilizing at committed warming but actually avoiding some of that. The “irreversible” aspects of climate change are only so if we fail to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, something that these targets imply. Does that seem like a reasonable reading?

    [Response: I don't recall his paper at this level of detail but the Arctic sea ice and the coral reefs are already being hurt, although in the case of corals they're also impacted by local pollution and fishing and ocean pH. So it makes sense to me that a target CO2 with respect to these issues might be lower than the number that stuck in my head from his paper, 350 ppm. As for irreversible, if an ice sheet starts flowing, or if an albedo change from sea ice gets locked in, I could imagine a climate change being essentially irreversible even if CO2 was brought back down, but it's just speculation, nothing more. David]

  24. 124

    96 Doug Bostrom: Go ahead and try it right now. Get off the grid. Build a wind turbine or a solar collector. To maintain your current lifestyle, you are going to need a lot more batteries than you can afford. I did the calculation for the current price of lead-acid batteries. My house would need $50,000 worth, given my air conditioning bill, etc.. Car batteries last about 5 years. That makes batteries cost $10,000. per year. And by the way, if you go with photovoltaics at the current price without subsidy, you would be raising the price of a $150,000 house by $1 Million.
    Go ahead and do it to your house right now. I double dare you.

    “Do you -really- think proponents of PV power are suggesting that every home will have a battery bank?”
    There are a lot of ways to do it in the future. Dr. Smalley suggested [http://cohesion.rice.edu/NaturalSciences/Smalley/emplibrary/120204%20MRS%20Boston.pdf] putting the batteries in houses, obviously because the electric company doesn’t want the cost. So let those who choose “renewable” alias “intermittent” power pay for the intermittentcy.

    PS: My credibility is irrelevant. Only experimental evidence is believable. I’ll be watching for a report from your accountant.

  25. 125
    Jacob Mack says:

    Unfortunately it is not realistic to keep the warming at or below 2 degrees C. Also, I do not think we will have a run away global climate at 2 degrees or such drought and weather changes that the human population will be threatened in a major way. The data does not really point in this direction either. I am referring to the majority of the data from peer review; some from the very moderators of this site. What the data does show is a series of risk factors at 2 degrees C and then of course above that, 3, 4 and 5 degrees.I agree that we should continue to lower global emissions and the US is responsible for leading the way, however, we need to think about adapting as well.Humans do make a potent impact on weather and climate, but this is not unprecedented in the paleoclimate record as Gavin and other paleoclimate modelers have mentioned in their papers and interviews, but if people continue to be ignorant of climate and science in general, then we will prematurely destroy ourselves; all socities and empires fall and eventually species either become extinct or evolve…humans will not inhabit this planet forever regardless; many threats to our existence permeate our every day lives.
    I love this site and I do read all of your papers and books as they are published, but this 2 degree fear is a little sketchy as it is being portrayed by some. Humans are not eternal, but ephemeral; all we can do is double our efforts, but people are so scientifically illiterate in general the scare tactic of “2 degrees,” is not working which admittedly has been used by geniuses like Hansen to speed up the process of slowing global warming.It is like going to a doctor and you have a high BP reading from anxiety (iantrogenic) and the doctor tells you “will” have a stroke if you do not give up caffeine and exercise more; the doctor has no idea when you will have a stroke, but you are at a higher risk for it though it may never occur; if you stop or cut down on caffeine and lower your BP you have less risk factors, which is great, but there is no assurance that you will not have a premature stroke. Natural vraiations and the “butterfly effect” are the same way; the world could cool or warm from more rare, but natural cycles if greenhouse gases did not exist. There is no “vital force” holding the sun and atmosphere together. Yes, we should implement more green technologies because it is humanity’s best interest and nothing more or less. Even if we do get GHG down below 350 one day, do you really think that we have somehow reduced the overall statistical risk factors to the globe and specifically humanity? Just saying.

  26. 126
    Jacob Mack says:

    Nuclear power is unwise for the US.

  27. 127

    119 Patrick 027: “from what I’ve read recently, nuclear, solar, and wind are about the same in CO2 output per unit energy, although I once read that solar put out less CO2 than nuclear.”

    “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist.

    Page 13 has a chart of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production. Nuclear power produces less greenhouse gas [CO2] than any other source, including coal, natural gas, hydro, solar and wind. Building wind turbines and towers also involve industrial processes such as concrete and steel making.

    Nuclear power plants produce a total of 30 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, the lowest.

    Wind turbines produce a total of 58 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Solar power produces between 100 and 280 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Hydro power produces 240 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Natural gas produces between 439 and 688 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour.

    Coal plants produce the most, between 966 and 1306 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, the highest.

    Remember the total is the sum of direct emissions from burning fuel and indirect emissions from the life cycle, which means the industrial processes required to build it. Again, nuclear comes in the lowest. Nuclear would produce even less CO2 per kilowatt hour if the safety were lowered to the same level as other sources of electricity. Switching from coal to nuclear is a 97% reduction in electricity’s 40% of our CO2 output.

    “How much water does nuclear use?”
    NONE
    Some nuclear power plants are water cooled. Some nuclear power plants are air cooled. In the water cooled case, the water coming out is just as clean as it went in, just warmer. NO water is consumed. You may choose air cooled nuclear power if you wish.

    “Renewable energy could ‘rape’ nature ”
    11:10 25 July 2007
    NewScientist.com news service
    http://environment.newscientist.com/article/
    dn12346-renewable-energy-could-rape-nature.html

    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/
    2007/07/renewable-energy-bad-nuclear-power-good.html

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg18925361.500-interview-be-green-think-big.html
    “Ausubel (who New Scientist interviewed in 2006) says the key renewable energy sources, including sun, wind, and biomass, would all require vast amounts of land if developed up to large scale production – unlike nuclear power. That land would be far better left alone, he says.
    Renewables are “boutique fuels” says Ausubel, of Rockefeller University in New York, US. “They look attractive when they are quite small. But if we start producing renewable energy on a large scale, the fallout is going to be horrible.”
    Instead, Ausubel argues for renewed development of nuclear. “If we want to minimise the rape of nature, the best energy solution is increased efficiency, natural gas with carbon capture, and nuclear power.”
    ‘Massive infrastructure’
    Ausubel draws his conclusions by analysing the amount of energy renewables, natural gas, and nuclear can produce in terms of power per square metre of land used. Moreover, he claims that as renewable energy use increases, this measure of efficiency will decrease as the best land for wind, biomass, and solar power gets used up.”
    article continues……

  28. 128

    Edward Greisch #92: “all we have t do” … if it’s so easy, why hasn’t it happened yet? Thorium sounds like a great alternative but I’m not aware of a single commercial-scale reactor. Are there real practical problems with it, or is it a matter that the massive R&D costs any nuclear approach needs are unlikely to be footed if there isn’t a military application?

    Some articles outlining some of the problems:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle

    Short summary: getting a practical thorium fuel cycle working would be expensive and requires the sort of technologies that can be misapplied to make nuclear weapons. While thorium itself looks relatively benign compared with uranium, the fuel cycle produces a number of highly radioactive by-products.

  29. 129
    John E. Pearson says:

    Re: 92 “Don’t worry, power plants make the wrong isotope of plutonium to make bombs.”

    Huh? A quote from

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/pu-isotope.htm

    “A successful test was conducted in 1962, which used reactor-grade plutonium in the nuclear explosive in place of weapon-grade plutonium. The yield was less than 20 kilotons. This test was conducted to obtain nuclear design information concerning the feasibility of using reactor-grade plutonium as the nuclear explosive material. The test confirmed that reactor-grade plutonium could be used to make a nuclear explosive. This fact was declassified in July 1977. ”

    You might also be interested in what these guys have to say:

    http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

    (especially chapter 9).

  30. 130
    Mark says:

    Tharanga says ““Why is everyone so concerned with the cost of things?”

    IN the end, that’s what drives decision-making, like it or not. ”

    No.

    Else there would be no charity.

    There would be no leisure.

    “Accountants know the cost of everything and the value of nothing” is a common meme for a reason.

    The CFC’s was a good one. Lots of doom-and-gloom about how the price of fridges and so on would skyrocket if cheap CFCs were no longer used.

    But guess what? They found something else and the price of fridges and so on didn’t go up.

  31. 131
    Mark says:

    Richard 103, people HAVE informed themselves. They’ve informed themselves of the current cut and paste arguments against AGW.

    They haven’t informed themselves of whether these arguments are *right* mind.

    But that’s not their problem.

  32. 132
    pete best says:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/the-big-question-will-it-really-be-possible-to-meet–the-g8s-climate-change-targets-1740136.html

    This article in the UK newspaper The Independent shows a graph of emissions of carbon and where we need to be to keep things below 2C (most likely temperature rise). Its now more than 15 billion tonnes of carbon by 2015 (we are presently at 9?) and it must then tail off but if you have reached 15 then that is the problem in itself as usage is growing very quickly.

    So here comes the next part. 0.8C experienced and another 0.6C in the pipeline from our oceans. Now here comes the question. if its rising at 0.2C per decade so long as we continue to emit at 2 ppmv per year making 20 ppmv per decade then that 0.4C to reach 2C requires another 40 ppmv or two more decades of present emission levels ?

    If emissions are increasing at 3% per year (recession not counted as it is a short term blip) then it will take around 20 years of present emissions levels to get to 2C at present linear CO2 emissions radiative forcings? If on the other hand we have slowing sinks and increased emissions from other potential sources (dying temperate forests and more land use changes) then its not that 2C will be guaranteed any quicker but that more then 2C will be guaranteed.

    What is the time line radiative forcing of CO2? If we reach 400 ppmv does that mean that the world cannot warm anymore than what a forcing of that much CO2 is? Co2 is not like a big battery and continuously stores more and more heat, its just a matter of equilibrium being reached of a world on average 1.6-2C warmer?

  33. 133
    Alan of Oz says:

    “Nevertheless, we view today’s development as a constructive step”

    I agree, we can’t forget that five years ago very few politicians took this threat seriously. In that very short time frame the global political argument has changed from “what problem?” to “how do we reach the scientifically derived target?”.

    As noted in the article, here in Australia the climate is already screwed but we will never be able to adapt to the new reality if it continues to change. Stability is what is required and this agreement is a good start.

    As a software engineer I’m willing to make a social prediction, if dangerous climate change is averted you can expect a large number of people to claim it was just another “Y2K scam”.

  34. 134
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Isotopious, you know, at a certain point, when somebody makes vague and ominous statements like that, you really have to wonder whether they’re [edit-lets keep it civil]. Just sayin’.

  35. 135

    Gareth Evans writes:

    2) Renewables – solar, wind etc. Variable output – energy not always available to meet demand.

    Smart wide-area grids. And note that some solar thermal plants are now achieving availability on a par with coal-fired plants, due to storing excess heat from the day in molten salts and using it to run the turbines at night and in bad weather.

    5) New forms of energy. Space-time energy may be a possibility but little interest / investment in it to date:

    http://www.aias.us/

    http://www.aias.us/documents/miscellaneous/Spacetime-Dev-2.pdf

    http://et3m.net/

    “Spacetime energy is is the only energy source available 24 hours a day, that does not use fuels and other resources that are finite and limited, that produces zero emissions to the atmosphere, that does not produce other wastes that cannot be recycled, that is not toxic or radioactive or a danger (in any known way) to the environment or public health , that does not depend on natural processes that vary and are subsequently not reliable (such as the sun or wind), and is completely silent (and so produces no noise nuisance)”.

    “Space-time energy” is pseudoscience. It exists, but it is so diffuse that there is no practical way to harvest it, and there never will be. With a collection area the size of the Earth you might be able to harvest enough to run a lightbulb.

  36. 136
    bobberger says:

    Question: If we do model future temperatures based on CO2 emission scenarios, then how can we target a future temperature without targeting CO2 emissions at the same time? Why target the temperature? Who benefits? Will this open a whole can of worms where some politicians chose model x, projecting 2C at n ppm and some chosing model y, projecting 2C at m ppm and again others picking a trendline from a number of years in the past, extending it to 2050 and do nothing unless it exceeds 2C? I agree that targeting 2C rather than nothing is a start – but is it a start in the right direction or will we be confronted with a whole new set of excuses ranging from “we don’t have to do anything because of the “current” trend” or “we’ll put up an aerosol emission program as soon as 1.9C have been reached” or “our scientists say we’ll never reach the 2C anyway and we don’t care what your scientists say” or other ideas like that?

    I think without naming a single authority for the +2C projection (like the IPCC) which translates this temperature to emission scenarios, a temperature target is at least worthless – probably worse.

  37. 137

    P.S. Gareth — about that last site you link to: if they ever claim to be producing home energy devices that use “space-time energy,” as they are hinting at, it will be a clear sign that they are a criminal enterprise perpetrating a consumer fraud. I note that, being located in Mexico, this firm is outside FTC supervision, and I suspect Mexico is kind of lax about these things (cf Laetrile).

  38. 138

    Randy L writes:

    I don’t see a down side to the earth losing 1 to 1.5 billion humans.

    Do you volunteer to be one of that group?

  39. 139

    Edward writes:

    It’s possible that CO2 contributes about a .6C increase in temperature and that the effects of clouds acts as a negative feedback to moderate further increases.

    It’s not very likely. If that were true, you couldn’t account for paleoclimate.

    CAPTCHA: “Time cogwheel”

  40. 140

    tharanga writes:

    Oil, coal and gas are cheap; nuclear, solar, wind and biomass are currently more expensive. You can’t wish that fact away.

    Present price of wind electricity in California: 9 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Coal: 10 cents.

  41. 141

    Mark writes:

    But the 12% GDP spent on the military isn’t considered lost money.
    In fact much effort is spent to make sure that level of spending IS spent.
    (I think that 12% is what the US spends…)

    The proposed FY 2010 defense budget is $533.7 billion.
    Present GDP: $13.84 trillion.
    Percent represented by defense spending: less than 3.9%.

  42. 142

    Edward Greisch writes:

    Nuclear is the ONLY source of electricity that is cheaper than coal on a per kilowatt hour basis.

    Price of wind electricity in California: 9 cents per kwh.

    Coal: 10 cents.

    Nuclear: 15 cents.

  43. 143
    Silk says:

    “The G-8 decision to cap global temperature at 2 degrees while China and India refuse to enter any discussion on any negotiation”

    What an odd statement.

    What on earth do you think they are discussing at the MEF? At the UNFCCC?

    Did you know both India and China have climate change plans?

    There is very significant DISAGREEMENT about who should do what. China and India want the “rich” to do more, and won’t commit to actions under the UNFCCC until they see money. The “rich” want China and India to do more, and aren’t yet willing to talk about money.

    None of my business to say who is right and who is wrong, but the idea that China and India are doing nothing is a dangerous lie propogated by those who don’t want to see action in the US and elsewhere.

  44. 144
    Henry Molvar says:

    Getting all the necessary parties to not only agree to two deg C max seems unlikely let alone to actually do what it takes to implement it.

    One possible consequence: http://www.williamsburghomes.com/hurr.html

  45. 145
    Dan L. says:

    #113 re. Ramanathan & Feng.

    In section 2.6 of Air pollution, greenhouse gases and climate change: Global and regional perspectives they say:

    “Lastly, the CFC concentrations are so low (part per billion or less) that their effect increases linearly with their concentration, where as the CO2 absorption is close to saturation since their concentration is about 300,000 times larger.”

    Eh? Having learned at the feet of the wise here in RC, I thought we had debunked the s word. Do R and F mean something else?

    http://tinyurl.com/kmb25l

  46. 146
    Gail Z says:

    As far as actual costs of climate change go, I can see the ravages (from my porch in NJ!) There has been much discussion of the damage by pine bark beetles on the West Coast and in Canada, and virtually no attention to the trees on the Eastern Seaboard. I cannot understand this willful blindness, because it’s quite apparent they are all in decline. Every species, every age, and many shrubs and vines as well, are shedding leaves and needles, and dropping branches.

    The trees are the structure of the ecosystem. Without this foundation all other species -birds, butterflies, plants in the understory, wild animals like squirrels that eat nuts – are all going to die as well.

    What is this going to cost us, to raise children in a world without apples and pears and peaches? Without the majesty of trees, without their shade?

    If you don’t believe me, check out my blog where I an doing my best to document the decimation. Or just go outside and really LOOK at some trees. The evidence is quite obvious.

  47. 147
    Mark says:

    “Eh? Having learned at the feet of the wise here in RC, I thought we had debunked the s word. Do R and F mean something else?”

    No, the denialists just don’t bother to listen.

    They mean “it’s saturated, so how can adding more be a problem?”.

    They are ignoring why it is still a problem.

  48. 148
    Mark says:

    BPL #140

    I point you to #96:

    RichardC says:
    9 July 2009 at 5:24 PM

    75 Tharanga said, “The US spends 4% of GDP on military.”

    That’s only the base military budget, excluding the wars, nukes, veterans, and lots of other stuff. The US spends close to 10% of GDP on current and deferred military costs (deferred as in the cost of taking care of widows and the disabled)

    +++

    The source I read may have not made the distinction.

  49. 149

    #85 Pete, its fascinating to see most esteemed people here fixated on the present wind energy technology which is good, but , as you wrote, is cumbersome and takes a lot of land/sea space.
    THere is other ways to harvest winds in sync with gravity waves. I would suggest thinking out of the wind pillar box.

  50. 150
    llewelly says:

    … sure, installing insulation will save you money over the course of ten years, but what if you don’t want to foot the up-front bill?

    What if you live in an apartment, where the choice to (not) install insulation is made by someone who doesn’t pay your heating or cooling bills?
    Additionally – having spent the whole of my adult life without a car, I’ve found that car-free living requires moving every few years, due to new jobs.


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