RealClimate logo


Unforced Variations: Nov 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 November 2012

I can’t think what people might want to talk about this month…


476 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2012”

  1. 301

    Susan we are dealing with 2 monsters, one is the lack of connectivity on account of attribution which is used as an excuse to do nothing, the other is the obvious realities ignored in the high North exactly where climate change is hitting hardest. The change has been at times stunning for more than a decade, extreme weather events spreading more commonly further South help redress the seriousness of anthropogenic climate change. The terms “we can’t attribute any single event to AGW” has being thoroughly exploited by contrarians to the point where even cautious scientists using these terms join their chorus by a strange resonance, the end result is the gains made by the incertitude propagandists. There has to be better terms used especially when extreme AGW driven weather hits heavily populated areas. The latest hurricane damage over heavy populations was diverted from where it could have done no such thing, 3 consecutive years had 3 100 year events during later period of the hurricane season, 2011 Irene’s near miss over the same heavily populated area was more of a 100 year event for more sparsely populated New England seriously damaged to the near North. In December 2010 a similar weaker but warm cyclone turned an unusual hard left away from the gulf stream Labrador coast to Hudson Bay, the same feature as Hurricane Sandy. Although more Caribou faced much warmer weather than people because of a Greenland blocking high the UK froze to the point of convincing contrarians of impending ice age. And yet I watched NOVA about Sandy with the ever so cautious words on attribution sounding increasingly and amazingly hollow.

  2. 302
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Eric Rowland — 22 Nov 2012 @ 12:27 AM

    Hi Eric:

    I agree with you completely. The only problem is that this same off-topic claptrap has been offered up here repeatedly in the past by the same bad actor. Because he knows what the response will be from his past experience, he is trolling for an argument.

    I also agree that the best response to dumb and off topic posts is no response at all but, unfortunately, this only encourages trolls and they and their messy product tend to multiply. To put this into a climate context, gifted trolls try to create a greater than 1.0 X positive feedback to a discussion so that it expands to dominate a forum. So, the best response is to keep the feedback below 1 X and the lower the better. Often trolls write long essays, so let them do all the work and the best response should be very short and focused to keep feedback under control. This also reduces the burden on the forum hosts to police discussion.

    In retrospect, I think that the best response to the troll in this case is to have said- “Your EMF (ElectroMagnetic Fields) claptrap is off-topic here.” This allows an expression of opposing opinion without inviting an expanding discussion, and it takes very little effort! Eric, I have been trying to work through the problem of how thoughtful on-line science discussion can be disrupted by science denialists and trolls, so this post is as much an exercise in my working on the problem for myself as it is a response to you. Sorry. The trolling problem may also be considered to be off-topic, but I would disagree.

    Steve (who is between assembling turkey dressing and the end of brining)

  3. 303
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #299,

    [edit: this is all off topic. We're here to discuss climate science. Stick to it.]

  4. 304
    Susan Anderson says:

    One solution I’m proposing is for all colleagues to stop shooting inwards. It seems appropriate to quote Al Gore from Grist, which gets two targets in one (but misses another favorite blamee, Bill McKibben, who is only doing his best in difficult circumstances). Discussions all over that claim rescuring the economy trumps all future danger would do well to heed this warning:
    http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-chat-with-al-gore-on-carbon-taxes-natural-gas-and-the-morally-wrong-keystone-pipeline/

    Right now the activist community is taking on two big fights — one is against the Keystone pipeline, the other against coal export terminals in the Northwest. Where do you stand on those? Is it possible to keep some of the coal in the ground?

    A. I know the realpolitik and business perspective is to say, “It’s gonna come out no matter what,” but I don’t buy that. We have a planetary emergency. I know it drives some people nuts when I say that, but dammit, that’s what we face. We have to take that reality on board.

    I’m going to support [Washington] governor-elect Jay Inslee. He is my close friend and I think he is going to handle this extremely well. The folks around the Northwest ports have their own reasons for being concerned about what’s planned. I’m going to support those who are skeptical about this giant export strategy of coal.

    And let me answer the first part of that question — you’re probably not in as much suspense about that one. I am strongly opposed to that tar-sands pipeline. I think it’s crazy. Again, you have the realpolitik/business logic, but I just think it is morally wrong for us to open a brand new source of even dirtier carbon-based energy when we are desperately trying to bend down the curves.

    I understand why a lot of people think it’s unrealistic in the extreme for one of these things to be slowed down or stopped. But you know, if you take that position, then you are inherently saying, “Well, it’s not that unrealistic to destroy the future of human civilization.”

  5. 305
    Superman1 says:

    Alistair #288,

    “If the doctor does not tell the smoker he is likely to die, who can blame him for not quitting. Until the scientists tell the public that we are on a suicidal course, then they will continue divings their SUVs.”

    You are making the assumption that most posters on this blog make; namely, that dissemination of the hard reality of climate change will bring about the required change in behavior to avoid the climate change catastrophe. On what basis do you make such an assumption? Take your smoking example. Some of the harsh consequences of smoking were laid out in the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report. At that time, 42% of adults smoked. What was the impact of that report on smokers’ behavior? According to analyses I have read and heard, zero! What changed behavior were the economic penalties and mandates and anti-smoking advertisements. Forty-eight years after the report, smoking is down by half, to about 21%. And, I would add further, the only reason that these mandates and economic penalties were passed is that they were supported by a 60/40 intrinsic majority.

    The main point here is that to alter energy use behavior, more than dissemination of the ‘truth’ is required. There has to be some ‘carrot’ offered if change is to be effected by voluntary means. Since there is no 60/40 majority who is willing to take the type of bitter pill that e.g. Kevin Anderson proposes, I don’t see the types of mandates that were passed against smoking being able to get passed for avoiding serious climate change.

    Let’s take a specific example of what is required, and go beyond the arm-waving. Consider one of the ‘roughnecks’ who lives in Louisiana, and works on one of the drilling rigs in the Gulf Coast. His work is hard and dangerous, but he is reasonably well compensated, and is able to live a reasonable lifestyle. He, and his neighbors, can live the middle-class lifestyle whose underpinning is lavish expenditure of cheap fossil fuel-based energy.

    What would motivate him and his neighbors to support drastic reductions in fossil fuel production and utilization? Will he be able to get work; what kind? Will he get work of similar remuneration, to maintain his lifestyle? Will he and his neighbors be able to take trips to Europe and Asia for vacations at rates similar to those afforded by the use of fossil fuel?

    My guess is the answer to most, if not all, these questions is a resounding No. However, if you can show me otherwise, I am open to learn. A personal note: I don’t know anyone who lives off solar or wind or geothermal. All I know is from many anecdotes and experiences I have read on the Web. By and large, people wholly dependent on these sources tend to live a relatively low energy lifestyle from their description, and I don’t know whether their experience would be a transferrable ‘carrot’ to the public at large. Again, if you can show me otherwise, I would be most appreciative.

    Ray Ladbury #299,

    In response to Alastair, you stated: ” Your analogy to a doctor’s admonitions to a smoker is actually apropos-2/3 of the time they would be lying, since only 1/3 of smokers die of smoking related illness.”

    I have no idea what that means. I have studied perhaps a dozen chronic diseases in detail. In every one, smoking was a co-promoter. In some, such as lung cancer or cardiovascular, it was a major factor, in some, such as chronic kidney disease, it was a moderate factor, but it played a role nevertheless. How much did it contribute to death; who knows? Even a small co-promotional effect might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I also have that concern about climate change. In highly nonlinear dynamical systems, even small inputs can have effects way out of proportion.

  6. 306
    Alastair McDonald says:

    Ray,

    Neither I nor Anderson are arguing that climate scientists have not been warning about climate change. What we are saying is that they have not explained the real dangers of its effects. Of course I exclude Jim Hansen from this and would have excluded James Lovelock, but he now seems to have recanted. Perhaps rhetoric was the wrong word to use when I criticised RealClimate for not having increased its sense of urgency. Ten years ago at about the time RealClimate began, I was told by a senior scientist here in the UK that we had twenty years to take action to prevent disaster. If he was not being optimistic then now we have only ten. The dangers we now face have doubled but I see no evidence in the blogs produced here of any recognition of that fact. Anderson is making a similar point, except he is saying that we don’t have ten years – disaster is now inevitable! Your objection that he should have been speaking out earlier does not address the scientific fact he presented, and that is the criticism that I feel is an attack on his character and hence is an ad hominem argument.

    There is another way of looking at this. The climate scientists are working within the standard paradigm for climate change. They are opposed by a small group of scientists, let’s call them sceptics, with another paradigm where increases in atmospheric CO2 will not cause problems. But there is a third paradigm supported by yet another small but growing group of scientists, let’s call them alarmists, who believe that increases in atmospheric CO2 can cause catastrophic problems. The fossil fuel industries have encouraged the sceptics because the argument has been between the sceptics and the scientists, while the real debate should have been between the scientist and the alarmists, into just how severe the problems will be. My complaint is that scientists like yourself are unwilling to enter into this debate or even countenance that we may be facing disaster, and seem to think that by debating with the sceptics you are helping the cause when in fact you are hindering it.

    The public should be told what the real dangers are. The have a right to the truth.

  7. 307
    Superman1 says:

    An excellent video has been produced on climate change, featuring David Roberts (http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2012/11/david-roberts-remix-climate-change-is.html). He incorporates the findings from some of the latest reports, like the IEA Report. My only concern is that he, like most others who describe future climate projections, gives lip service to the effects from positive feedback mechanisms.

    When one examines the physics and fluid mechanics of the recent massive Arctic ice melt, the role of positive feedbacks becomes very clear. The ideal environmental conditions for massive ice melt were not present as they were in 2007, yet the melting went much further. Once a reasonable amount of open water became present, a number of different feedback mechanisms were triggered and operated synergistically to take command of the melting process. The only thing that prevented a complete melt was the ‘quenching’ of the feedback mechanisms by the usual solar input decline.

    I believe this process is a template for what is starting to occur in the broader climate including, but well beyond, the Arctic, and will result in substantially enhanced acceleration of the climate change process. The climate modeling community needs to adapt to this strongly nonlinear reality. The climate modelers were years behind the aerospace community in incorporating the use of adaptive grids in their models, and they are years behind the combustion and related communities in incorporating the coupled effects of highly nonlinear dynamical systems.

    I am starting to agree more and more with Peter Wadhams and the AMEG group on the need for geo-engineering sooner rather than later, despite my misgivings about the uncertainty of what could happen given the limitations of today’s climate modeling capabilities. While Wadhams’ focus is primarily on the Arctic, the self-sustaining mechanisms that are starting to increase throughout the climate impacting system need to be quenched at the earliest stages. The switch to renewables and reforestation, while necessary for mitigating additional damage, will not be sufficient to ‘quench’ the self-sustaining mechanisms.

  8. 308
    Phil L says:

    Mike Roddy at # 126 requested RC write a post on forests and the carbon cycle. I second that request, and suggest that a good starting point would be the literature review done recently by Canada’s FPInnovations of 66 published studies, mostly peer-reviewed journal articles, overwhelmingly showing that wood has a lower carbon footprint than either cement or steel. (4 MB PDF download)

  9. 309
    wili says:

    The Kevin Anderson talk, which has been the topic of some discussion here, is now available as a video with the relevant power point. Mostly he is talking about the best current understanding of climate science versus what numbers most policy makers are working with. For that, imho, it is well worth a watch.

    Here’s what Doug H recently noted at SkepticalScience upon listening to the whole thing:

    “I have just sat through all 59 minutes of it and can confirm it has cleared the fog from my understanding of where we are and where we are likely to be by 2050. It is a real wake-up call to those of us who already see AGW as a threat to our future. Although Dr. Anderson finishes on an optimistic note, I was not comforted. If all countries achieve the CO2 targets they are aiming at, we are headed for the diabolical future of at least 4oC warmer world, at which level it looks bad for organised human society.”

  10. 310
    Mike Roddy says:

    To Phil L, 305:

    Thanks for agreeing that we need to talk about the forest carbon cycle, but the link you provided sends the reader to a cesspool of timber industry sponsored fake science. For example, they tout carbon storage, but when a forest is logged only about 15% of the carbon released ends up in wood products. Logging is a big contributor to CO2 emissions, as detailed by IPCC, and confirmed by legitimate forest carbon research. Here is the link to a summary of the legitimate science, as opposed to industry PR:

    http://www.slideshare.net/dougoh/forest-carbon-climate-myths-presentation

  11. 311
    prokaryotes says:

    Re #307 about the video

    “Unfortunately, this EMI-music-content is not available in Germany because GEMA has not granted the respective music publishing rights.
    Sorry about that.”

    I note this especially since my guess is most German foreigners are not aware of this censoring.

  12. 312
    Phil L says:

    Mike Roddy # 310: I looked at the slide show at your link, and it seems to cite only one peer-reviewed journal article. The remaining citations are to non-peer-reviewed articles by The Wilderness Society etc., with lots of pictures of ramshackle wooden structures and ugly fresh cutblocks. No pictures of the Richmond Olympic Oval built from beetle killed pine for the Vancouver winter Olympics, or to healthy young stands that have passed the legally required regeneration surveys. Forestry seems to be equated with deforestation (conversion of forest to other uses). Somehow we’re to be expected to believe that when a stand is harvested 85% of the carbon is magically vaporized. The entire presentation is very lacking in science.

    Meanwhile what you refer to as a “cesspool of timber industry sponsored fake science” includes peer-reviewed articles in:
    - Canadian Journal of Forest Research
    - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
    - Journal of Forestry
    - Forest Ecology and Management
    - Silva Fennica
    - Ecological Modelling
    - Annals of Forest Science
    - Environmental Science and Polocy
    - Climatic Change
    and a host of other sources including government and university research institutes.
    I believe strongly that sustainable forestry can play an important part in mitigating climate change, and I believe that my position is supported by the science.
    For a science-based summary of forestry and the carbon cycle, I suggest viewing this 3 minute video by Dr. Werner Kurz (Research Scientist, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada).

  13. 313
    J Bowers says:

    Interesting research from University of Sheffield, showing 98% of solar installations attain what the manufacturers say on the tin, and probably because of our rubbish weather and its indirect sunshine.

  14. 314
    Superman1 says:

    Wili #309,

    I have listened to the audio of Kevin Anderson’s 6 November presentation, and followed the vugraphs in real-time as well. In my opinion, his presentation is the best of its genre by far. It pulls no punches, and comes closest to using a Roadmap for context of proposals. Here are the highlights.

    1. Continuation of present CO2 global emissions translates to 4 C near mid-century, and perhaps 6 C by end of century, with positive climate feedbacks not included in these calculations. 4 C global mean increase might translate into increases of e.g. 10 C-12 C for New York City!

    2. Drastic reductions in CO2 emissions over next decade-fifteen years required if any hope of peaking near 2 C.

    3. Supply modifications cannot meet these near-term targets; however, they are required for the long-term. Implementation times and implementation rates of new technologies not matched to time requirements, based on Roadmap of existing and under construction infrastructure.

    4. Demand modification is our only hope for these near-term targets. CO2 emission reductions of ~10% per annum, and probably larger for the advanced nations, required for a number of years until targets are met. He essentially proposes an ‘economic crash’ or ‘planned recession’. This comports with the published statements of Professor Tim Garrett, University of Utah, who proposed that only a deep and prolonged economic crash could really guarantee a safe climate. In short, in contrast to statements of many RC posters, substantial pain and sacrifice are required if we have any chance of avoiding the impending climate catastrophe.

    5. Anderson emphasizes the stark nature of our available choices: planned deep global recession vs living in a 4 C or greater world.

    Two final points. He emphasizes the Pareto’s Law nature of high fossil fuel use. A few percent of the population are responsible for much of the fossil fuel use, and if their demand can be curtailed substantially, that would go a long way toward solving the problem. The only problem with that argument is that this few percent controls the world’s wealth, controls the governments, controls the military, controls industry, and is probably the group most actively promoting continued use of fossil fuels and large energy use in general.

    His computations do not include the positive feedback mechanisms, which will almost certainly exacerbate the problem as temperatures continue to rise. I believe this presentation is of such importance that it deserves a future stand-alone thread on RC.

  15. 315
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman1,

    1. Smoking-related illness:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_tobacco

    2. My main objection to Anderson’s talk is his insistence that climate scientists are colluding with governments to keep bad news from the public. This is not only unhelpful (as it adds fuel to the aspersions by the denialists of an international cabal), it if also flat ignorant. It totally ignores what science does and how.

    3. By “Pareto’s Law”, I presume you mean that consumption follows a Pareto Distribution. The Pareto distribution is merely one of many thick-tailed distributions. The thing is that a)you have to go well beyond the tails of the distribution to make meaningful cuts (e.g. >50%), and b)you have to understand WHY high consumers have high consumption. For instance, I don’t think you will see Barrack Obama taking the train in the next 4 years with Air Force 1 gathering dust in the Hangar. Likewise, scientists living in Antarctica tend to have a high carbon footprint, but I think you want to keep them there. Savings on paper tend to stay on paper.

    4. Another reason I object to Anderson’s approach is that for all his claims of being a revolutionary, he is really just calling for more of the same. We will not feed 10 billion people in 2050 without substantial energy consumption. And you cannot expect a substantial proportion of that number to voluntarily submit to watching their children starve. They will consume and burn whatever they find to meet their needs even if only for the short term.

    We have to maintain a functioning global civilization in order to find answers to this problem–as well as all the other problems that threaten that civilization. If people fully appreciate the magnitude of the threat we face, I think we can get them to sign up for austerity–but only if we promise them something better on the other side.

    The first order of business, though, is to make appreciation of the risks the mainstream. We must defeat the glibertarians. We must marginalize them. We must expose them for the pathetic clowns they are. 2012 should be the last Presidential Election where candidates compete in science denial with votes as a prize.

  16. 316
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Alastair,
    The consequences of climate change have been here at RC for everyone who wants to look. Anderson’s talk tells us nothing we did not already know. The problem is that Anderson actually omits important information that makes it easier to understand why this problem is difficult–the timescale.

    Yes, we probably have less than a decade before catastrophe becomes inevitable. Yes, catastrophic events are unfolding and being exacerbated even now. The problem is that the real catastrophes will not unfold for 50-100 years. That is when the worst will start. Humans simply do not know how to deal with such slowly unfolding catastrophes–our intellects are attuned to dealing with immediate threats, e.g. tigers lurking in the bushes.

    In short, we suck at risk assessment. The good news is that we have developed techniques that compensate for our general suckiness at risk assessment. The bad news is that before these tools are deployed, policy makers have to accept that there is a credible threat–that is, they have to perceive the tiger in the bushes. All we do by scaring people is shut down their ablity to perceive the threat–they’ll keep looking for a tiger, and when none is found, we will be chicken littles.

    So part of the problem is that you are looking to science to do the job that engineers and risk management professionals should be doing. Let the scientists do science. Insist that the decision makers do their duty and deploy the risk managers, and hold the bastards accountable.

  17. 317
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #315,

    “If people fully appreciate the magnitude of the threat we face, I think we can get them to sign up for austerity–but only if we promise them something better on the other side.”

    This gets down to the essential crux of Anderson’s thesis. Depending on one’s definition of ‘better’, he is not promising them something better on the other side of austerity. He is promising the avoidance of something worse! So, it’s not like telling your child ‘get your flu shot and you’ll get a lollipop afterwards’. It’s closer to ‘get your flu shot and you’ll avoid the flu’.
    Now, according to some RC posters, they already live the ‘austere’ life voluntarily, and for them having a larger number of people participate in their lifestyle might indeed constitute ‘something better on the other side’. For most people who have become addicted to the high energy lifestyle made possible by cheap fossil fuels, the ‘something better’ they get in exchange for austerity is the absence of something worse.

  18. 318
    MARodger says:

    I have not listened to the commentary of the Anderson & Sharmina presentation, only having seen the presentation slides & had a quick scan of the transcript. (I would say that if this message does have merit, it should be presented properly, not like this with the speaker having to “whip through this a bit quicker sorry, I should have put a clock out so I can keep an eye on things.
    As it is, all we have that is properly presented is the abstract which urges us “to acknowledge that ‘at every level the greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different’, and that the early harnessing of human will and ingenuity may still offer opportunities to deliver relatively low-carbon and climate-resilient communities.” Whether this also is asking us to create “a planned economic recession” is not at all clear to me.

    All I see is a wake-up call to get stuck in to emission reductions. Is that so revolutionary? I also consider some of the presentation to be poorly thought through.

    Page 5 should add that almost half of the CO2 we have now in the atmosphere will, in the words of Archer et alpersist for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years into the future.“.

    As presented, Page 7 is surely alarmist. Emissions have shown no giant leap in recent years in % terms. The 2010-11 5.9% increase was a one off. Over the last half decade emissions are increasing 2.5% pa which is not an increase on previous years as Anderson states. Page 23 comments that emission reporting is wrong. A ‘comment’ is not suitable here. If such an assertion is something significant it requires backing with full argued evidence, not restricted to two bullet-points. If it isn’t significant, why say it?

    Page 28/29 & his Pareto analysis looks a bit too adventurous. 1% of humanity means some 70 million people. This is asserted as including UK citizens who earn over £30k. If this also includes dependents, with almost 30% of UK household incomes above £30k (See here, fig 2.1), this would give pro rata CO2 emissions from rich Brits as 12% the world total. This is strange as UK internal emissions from all Brits rich & poor was 1.5% world emissions. Or are rich Brits somehow poor rich.

    Page 33 I like. It should be noted that UK TV news reports petrol price increases but never a squeak on annual UK petrol use. It continually reports Tory MPs squealing about new wind farms but not a squeak on last month’s wind-powered electric output. When public perceptions shift, the % drops in UK CO2 emissions (8% last year a figure which makes Page 8 look questionable.) will be easier to sustain.

  19. 319
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #316,

    ” The consequences of climate change have been here at RC for everyone who wants to look. Anderson’s talk tells us nothing we did not already know.”

    Au contraire. One of Anderson’s key points is, because of the timeline for necessary preventive action, Supply-side solutions are vastly inadequate, and only Demand-side solutions can provide the relatively near-term CO2 reductions required to avoid the climate change bullet. Many RC posters focus exclusively on the Supply-side solutions (solar, wind, etc), and downplay the significance of the sacrifices required by the Demand-side solutions. Either 1) they are aware of Anderson’s thesis and don’t believe it (or choose to ignore it), or 2) they are not aware of Anderson’s thesis. We need the Supply-side solutions for long-term stabilization, but, according to Anderson, mainly the Demand-side solutions are required to avoid catastrophe.

  20. 320
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #315,

    “My main objection to Anderson’s talk is his insistence that climate scientists are colluding with governments to keep bad news from the public. This is not only unhelpful (as it adds fuel to the aspersions by the denialists of an international cabal), it if also flat ignorant. It totally ignores what science does and how.”

    Anderson makes two accusations against climate scientists, as I interpret his statements: sins of Comission and sins of Omission. For the sins of Comission, he identifies specific reports that make CO2/temperature predictions, and shows how the authors 1) underestimated the CO2 emission growth rates given existing trends (and in some cases misrepresented past CO2 emission growth rates), 2) underestimated when the peak CO2 emission peak years would occur given existing trends, and 3) underestimated the rates of CO2 reduction required after the peak emission year necessary to keep temperatures within the 2 C ceiling. For the sins of Omission, he questions why the bulk of the climate science community didn’t speak up (as he seems to be doing the last few years) and point out the bias and distortions in these widely-circulated reports.

    Now, do these two ‘sins’ represent ‘colluding with governments’, as you state? Some may be, but I would interpret the bulk of these ‘sins’ as an expression of a grantee’s or contractor’s desire not to antagonize his sponsor. Whether this is an ethical or moral response can be debated, but it certainly is not uncommon in science and technology.

    What I find ironic is that Anderson falls prey to the sins of Comission himself. His one ‘glimmer of hope’ is proposing a CO2 emissions reduction trajectory after the peak year completely at odds with any type of emissions reductions experienced in the past.

  21. 321
    wili says:

    Oops. Somehow at #304 the link to a video of the actual Anderson talk did not make it into the text. Since this continues to be a subject of conversation (which, in spite of some faults, I think it should be), I include it here now. I would appreciate people at least giving it a view before critiquing it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RInrvSjW90U

  22. 322
    Hank Roberts says:

    > RC posters

    S-man, you’re conflating contributors — named in the sidebar, or invited, who write the main posts about the science as it’s being done — with commenters, the kibitzers like you and me and wossname, posting followups.

    The contributors here are writing about the climate science.

    The sidebar will lead you to blogs by those writing about demand side constraints and how to reduce demand.

    Everyone is working on these problems.

    This ain’t the place for demand management.

    Try Eco-Equity’s page on development rights, among much else recommending Anderson for example.

    Follow the links.

    To do something about demand — start where that work’s currently being done.

    Read the books. Go to the meetings. Do the politics.

    Read

    Yelling at the scientists isn’t productive.

    The RC folks have given you a good list in the sidebar of places you can put the energy to change things.

    You can’t have everything done by everyone in every forum.

    Wondering how it’s possible to reduce consumption enough to give the planet a chance? A suggestion from 1972: The Sheep Look Up is worth reading.

  23. 323
    wili says:

    On another front, Shakhova, Semiletov and others have an abstract from a GSA presentation on pathways for seabed methane escaping into the sea and atmosphere:

    http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/eposters/eposter/c53a-0817/

    Not much on estimates of total methane being currently released from these sources in the abstract. But it does point out just how manifold are the pathways by which methane bubbles can find their way from the sea bed to the water column. In particular, I hadn’t thought about ice scraping being a source of release. At least this source of disruption of the sea bed should be declining, I would think.

  24. 324
    wili says:

    @323 that of course should have been “from their presentation at the upcoming AGU conference…”

  25. 325
    wili says:

    Superman, please note that hank, bless his schoolmarmish heart, is not the sole (or really any kind of) arbiter on what can and what cannot be discussed on these threads. Climate is such a complex issue, integrated into so many other aspects of life that important discussions about it inevitably lap over into a wide range of other fields. (We recently had a lead post on political poling methods, for example.)

    I do second his excellent recommendations for sites and readings, though.

    Other handy search terms are “Plan C,” contraction, curtailment, de-growth, ecological justice…

  26. 326
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman1,
    It is the policy of this blog to avoid to the extent possible discussions of “solutions”. In my opinion, that is a wise policy, because it avoids the tendency of the glibertarians to argue from consequences.

    One can agree on the science and disagree as to the policy–or rather, the appropriate mix of policies. All Anderson does is make a case for a particular policy. Yawn!

    The flu shot analogy fails because a flu shot is a one-time inconvenience, whereas what is being demanded of people due to climate change is an open-ended commitment to austerity. That is where we are losing people. We have to promise them something on the other side.

    The North did not rally merely to preserve the Union until it was also promised fulfilment Manifest Destiny (sorry, natives) and an end to slavery (but not racism).

    World War I could not be a war to save Europe, but rather a war to end war (oops!).

    World War II had to be sold as essential to make the world safe for democracy.

    And the problem we face here is that the threat is not imminent as it was in those previous crises. The problem with Anderson is that he makes the solution sound easy–and it would be if it involved moving chessmen around on a board. Unfortunately, it involves people, and the rules to that game are a little more complicated.

  27. 327
    Superman1 says:

    MARodger #318,

    “Whether this also is asking us to create “a planned economic recession” is not at all clear to me.”

    The Eco-Equity reference supplied by Hank Roberts below (#322) contains the same material presented in Anderson’s speech and vugraphs, and is very readable. It contains two quotes from his previous papers as to what he believes is required:

    “As a contrast, we state:
    ‘…it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilisation at or below +(650 ppm CO2e.’ [i.e. ~4/°C]
    (Anderson and Bows, 2008)

    In a more recent paper we conclude:
    ‘…the 2015-16 global peaking date (CCC, Stern & ADAM) implies…a period of prolonged austerity for Annex 1 nations and a rapid transition away from existing development patterns within non-Annex 1 nations.’
    (Anderson and Bows, 2011)”

    In response to your quote above, I think it is quite clear that he is stating that long-term planned recession/austerity is required. My only comment would be that one man’s Recession is another man’s Depression. Given the required CO2 emissions reductions required, and the implied strong reductions in GDP, I don’t see how Depression could be avoided for the advanced nations. Maybe someone could construct a low-carbon scenario where we’re all busy converting to renewables, but his base case is a hard-line Calvinist approach to austere living.

  28. 328
    Hank Roberts says:

    > not the sole (or really any kind of) arbiter

    Absolutely right.

    I’m a kibitzer here like most of y’all are.
    I’m not a scientist, nor a librarian. I appreciate their work.

    People actively directly involved in the hard work of making political and economic change are reachable.

    And reachable via links in the sidebar on every RC page, thanks to our hosts.

    It’s happening. Y’all come.

  29. 329
    Hank Roberts says:

    > maybe someone could

    This isn’t hypothetical, you’re not looking, just wishing

    Look for it:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=low-carbon+scenario

    finds among much else: http://www.lowcarbon-societies.eu/

    “Welcome to the Low Carbon Societies Network

    As part of the ENCI-LowCarb EU FP7 Project, we are facilitating information flows between European Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) and research institutes working on low carbon energy scenarios and technologies.
    Join our network and connect to your Low Carbon colleagues!
    There are more than 135 researchers and CSOs working are members and more than 40 European scenarios are available.”

    ——–
    –> that’s an example
    –> that’s the top hit on that Google search
    –> you might find better answers if you look for more
    –> than the 3 seconds I spent on it
    –> Don’t just wish and declaim, look and think

    That site might be interesting enough — once people look into it — to merit nomination for the sidebar here, for example.

    I’m not finding the best answers for you. I’m saying — look for’em.

    When you go on and on about how nothing’s happening and nobody’s doing anything — you feed the discouragement and the denial.

    Look, the work is happening.

  30. 330
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ray:

    2012 should be the last Presidential Election where candidates compete in science denial with votes as a prize.

    As always, Doonesbury (from Monday through today, at least) is the Voice of the People.

  31. 331
  32. 332
    MARodger says:

    Superman1 @327,
    The paper you refer to via #322 (ie Climate change going beyond dangerous – Brutal numbers and tenuous hope – Kevin Anderson) is the same argument as the talk at the March conference. The quotes given are but quotes. They are not developed except to contrast them with statements from others who see a 2°C warming is easier to avoid. The quotes, one saying “…it is difficult to envisage…“, the other “…implies…” fall short of a call for a ‘planned economic recession’ to reduce CO2 emissions.

    And as this is the same work, the criticisms I made of it @318 remain.
    I did a little research concerning the UK emissions reductions. Since 1990, UK GHG emissions have reduced 2% pa, twice that asserted by Anderson. This figure can be reduced to 1% only by taking 2010 as the end year for a period of a decade or more. Further, to say these reductions are due to the UK ‘dash for gas’ (to which is normally added the shutting down of our heavy industries) is blaming a 1980s phenomenon on the 1990s. The UK’s energy policies did little over most of the 1990-2010 period. The UK public are yet to sign up to the urgency of the situation. So I would argue that 2% is hardily representative of what could/can be achieved. Anderson is of a different opinion.

    Yet the general thrust of Anderson’s paper, that a wake-up call is becoming more urgent “each day,” is one I would not disagree with.

  33. 333
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #326,

    “The problem with Anderson is that he makes the solution sound easy”

    My interpretation was completely opposite. Assuming his CO2 trajectory targets are correct, the combination of required massive reductions in short-term demand and exclusion of positive feedbacks from the computations will produce a null set of solutions. I cannot envisage any realistic way to get from here to there, and I have seen no realistic proposals that can do so. His ‘glimmer of hope’ at the end came across to me as an add-on, to satisfy the sponsors, politicians, and followers. These groups tend to like positive messages to remain engaged. If you can see a path, one that is viable in practice not just in theory, please enlighten me.

  34. 334
    Hank Roberts says:

    > I cannot envisage any realistic way
    > … seen no realistic proposals

    Did you already do the search and read all of those pages where people are working on this issue?

    If you state — on their blogs, not here — what, specifically, you have seen and understood, offering comments at the sites where you read them, you might contribute to improving those scenarios.

    It’s no surprise that you can’t imagine a realistic solution all on your lonesome by commenting on a climate science blog where you don’t see an answer, and never will.

    That’s why the ‘ibertarian approach fails on this kind of question — because organized cooperative effort across most of a whole population makes changes work on the scale needed.

    This isn’t the place to look for the answers.
    This is for source material to inform those working on answers.

    Serious work is required — and happening.

    The first task for us kibitzers is to reach the point where
    we are making no net overall contribution to the process.

  35. 335
    Superman1 says:

    Hank Roberts #334,

    “Did you already do the search and read all of those pages where people are working on this issue?”

    The Science Citation Index (SCI) is a massive repository for premier peer-reviewed journal articles and some select Conference Proceedings. If I enter a simple query term e.g. “climate change” OR “global warming”, I retrieve over 85,000 documents. If I were to construct a more complex query, I would probably retrieve 50-100% more articles. In that voluminous retrieval, I can find articles that range from poor quality to outstanding, and I can find articles that would justify Anthony Watts’ position as well as articles that would justify Kevin Anderson’s position. The point is, if all I do is pull selected articles from the SCI (i.e., cherry-pick), or from the much larger and average lower quality Web, and throw them into blog postings without any analysis or insights, there is little value added.

    Yes, there are many people working on ways to reduce the carbon economy. The link you sent previously about an organization of 135 people interested in low carbon technology is superficial, for purposes relevant to this blog. If you’re going to propose some technology or demand-reduction effort as serious, you need to place it in the context of a Roadmap of what is required. Specifically, it could be placed in the context of Anderson’s CO2 trajectories, and if it has any value, you would show how strongly it bends the CO2 trajectory in the direction desired.

    The value of the postings on this blog comes not from throwing isolated links on a posting, but rather providing some value-added narrative that, if it contains a link, uses it for similar purposes as a journal article, not as a stand-alone.

  36. 336
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/1/014010
    Wolfram Schlenker and David B Lobell 2010
    Environ. Res. Lett. 5 014010
    doi:10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014010
    Robust negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture

    “… the scientific basis for estimating production risks and prioritizing investments has been quite limited. Here we show that by combining historical crop production and weather data into a panel analysis, a robust model of yield response to climate change emerges for several key African crops. By mid-century, the mean estimates of aggregate production changes in SSA under our preferred model specification are − 22, − 17, − 17, − 18, and − 8% for maize, sorghum, millet, groundnut, and cassava, respectively. In all cases except cassava, there is a 95% probability that damages exceed 7%, and a 5% probability that they exceed 27%. Moreover, countries with the highest average yields have the largest projected yield losses, suggesting that well-fertilized modern seed varieties are more susceptible to heat related losses….”

    I came across that paper reading
    http://whatnext.org/Publications/Volume_3/Volume_3/Volume_3_articles.html
    which has much else worth reading
    ———–

    also happened on this while searching for something else. One person’s solo website effort, more sociology than climatology, _very_ interesting.

    http://www.notargets.org.uk/the-two-degree-story—part-1.html
    “… a critical analysis of
    why climate change has been imagined to be a phenomenon with a single global dangerous limit
    why that limit has been identified as two degrees of warming
    who decided there is such a thing as a two degree dangerous limit
    how the idea of a two degree dangerous limit is represented in the media
    what is the likely future of the two degree idea.
    ….”

  37. 337
    Hank Roberts says:

    Want another? A lot of climate models may need some slight revision on projected CO2 and CH4 trends if this persists:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/review/428900/king-natural-gas/

    “… a transformation in the energy prospects of the country—and probably the world. The sudden abundance of cheap natural gas has dramatically changed the way the United States produces and consumes energy, dwarfing the changes wrought by decades of subsidies and other incentives for the development of nonfossil fuels.
    …. the price of natural gas hovered around $2 to $2.50 per million BTUs, far below the $13 it reached in 2008 (before the rapid expansion of drilling in the Marcellus shale). At $2.50 per million BTUs, the price of natural gas is the equivalent of around $15 per barrel for oil.

    Put another way, modern natural-gas-fired power plants can now produce electricity at around four cents per kilowatt-­hour. That’s cheaper than energy from new coal plants, and far less than the price of even the most efficient wind or solar power when the cost of backup systems for those intermittent sources is taken into account (see chart on facing page).

    “Cheap natural gas has taken a big bite out of coal very quickly,” says David Victor, an energy expert at University of California, San Diego. “And there’s going to be a bloodbath in wind power as well.” For investors and technologists hoping to make renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, cost-competitive with fossil fuels, reaching so-called grid parity has suddenly gotten much tougher. Arguably, it’s impossible to reach with existing technologies….

    … economists say it is hard to overstate how significant the sudden availability of cheap natural gas is. “It is the largest change in our energy system since nuclear became part of the electricity grid 50 years ago. And I don’t think we fully understand the implications,” says Michael Greenstone, an economist at MIT and director of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C….. cautions that it’s “an open question” how it will affect climate. “There are two views,” he says. “It’s a ‘blue bridge’ to a green future, or it’s the death of nuclear and renewables. I don’t think we know the answer yet.”

  38. 338
    Superman1 says:

    Hank Roberts #336,

    ” why climate change has been imagined to be a phenomenon with a single global dangerous limit

    why that limit has been identified as two degrees of warming

    who decided there is such a thing as a two degree dangerous limit

    how the idea of a two degree dangerous limit is represented in the media

    what is the likely future of the two degree idea”

    That is more useful. However, I could not find a link to Part 2, and I was not about to read his whole dissertation to get the essence. It appears to be more sociology than climate science, based on the Dissertation Table of Contents.

    Kevin Anderson does most of his computations based on the 2 C ceiling, even though he portrays this target as very dangerous, or similar terminology. There are three related issues here. What would climate be like at a stable 2 C temperature increase? Can a 2 C temperature increase be stabilized? Could there be an ulterior motive for selecting 2 C as the main target?

    At present, the temperature increase appears to be around 0.8 C. Now, there are time lags and latencies between 1) the appearance of CO2 and other carbon combustion-related products in the atmosphere and 2) temperature (and other variable) increases, and subsequent time lags/latencies/thermal time constants between temperature increase and the appearance of other mechanisms. The point behind this clumsy verbiage is that we have seen some effects resulting from the 0.8 C temperature increase, but there are probably more to come. In fact, 0.8 C alone may be sufficient to produce days of zero Arctic ice cap in Summer and accelerate methane release, among many other effects.

    What is the complete spectrum of effects from 0.8 C? In particular, where is the evidence that 0.8 C can be stabilized, especially with the ominous appearance of positive feedback mechanisms already, and the apparent acceleration of some of these feedback mechanisms?

    So, if we double or triple this temperature, what happens to the distribution function shifts that Hansen presented in showing that what were once extreme events are becoming more commonplace? What are the functional dependencies on temperature? And, what would lead us to believe that 2 C could be stabilized?

    Anderson’s glimmer of hope derives from selecting the 2 C as a target. His postulation of ‘planned recession’ as our only salvation parallels the recruiting messages of some religions and military organizations, where the siren songs of poverty, austerity, and sacrifice for the larger good provide a strong incentive for attracting many adherents. My reading of Anderson is that he offers no hope for achieving climate conditions resembling anything we have known in the last century. What he is really saying is that harsh sacrifice is required to hope to achieve a relatively horrific climate in order to avoid a major catastrophe.

  39. 339
    Superman1 says:

    Ray Ladbury #326,

    ” The flu shot analogy fails because a flu shot is a one-time inconvenience, whereas what is being demanded of people due to climate change is an open-ended commitment to austerity. That is where we are losing people. We have to promise them something on the other side.”

    You are, of course, correct. A better analogy would be someone with Stage 3/4 Chronic Kidney Disease who has not been able to control kidney deterioration. The Doctor gives him two stark choices: go on to dialysis, or expect to die in the near future. Dialysis is not great, but the alternative (for most people) is worse.

    So, the Doctor is not promising him ‘something on the other side’, only the avoidance of something worse. I certainly understand your point that it will be difficult to recruit adherents to reducing energy usage drastically without offering some ‘carrot’. One ‘carrot’ may possibly be that the severe energy use reduction would ‘only’ be required for the transition period away from fossil fuel use to alternative forms, and that some relaxation in energy use could be possible after the transition. I put in ‘qualifiers’, because I don’t know the ‘unintended consequences’, if any, of high energy use under alternative energy generation. We believe the world under alternative energy generation to be benign from our present perspective, but I would guess that a similar belief existed about the world under fossil fuel generation a century or two ago. But, in this game, ‘carrots’ are hard to find, and the one above is all that immediately comes to mind.

  40. 340
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Supe …
    > an organization of 135 people

    You didn’t read that carefully before dismissing their work, if you read it at all.
    Try it again. Look at the list, don’t just react to my little excerpt.
    Click the link on the page:

    http://www.lowcarbon-societies.eu/index.php?id=23

    I repeat: I’m not finding the best answers for you.
    I don’t do homework help, generally. I suggest you do it.
    I’m saying — look for the scenarios.

    I gave you one example of scenarios.
    You claim not to find any scenarios believable.
    I wonder if you are looking, or just here to express disbelief.

    When you go on and on about how
    nothing’s happening and nobody’s doing anything
    — you feed the discouragement and the denial.

  41. 341
    MARodger says:

    Superman1 @339.
    You talk of “Anderson’s … postulation of ‘planned recession’ as our only salvation…” yet nowhere do I read Anderson doing this. Indeed, your own quoting of Anderson @327 fails to support the existence of such ‘postulation’ where you present a quote ultimately from Anderson and Bows, 2008.
    This full quote is as follows. “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650ppmv CO2e,“( 650ppm equating to “4°C“.) Anderson makes his message very clear within this 2008 paper. “However, this paper is not intended as a message of futility, but rather a bare and perhaps brutal assessment of where our ‘rose-tinted’ and well intentioned (though ultimately ineffective) approach to climate change has brought us” and more recently elsewhere. “We must make the impossible possible.
    So Anderson may not be able to think up a viable alternative to ‘planned recession’ but nowhere does he ‘postulate’ that our only salvation lies in ‘planned recession’.

    Within Anderson’s use of Pareto analysis, the equasion 80% cubed ~= 50% is something I also use. If a consumer adjusted his/her consumption to use his/her material ‘stuff’ 20% less intensively (although for some ‘stuff’ this will be more easy/difficult than for others). And if when he/she buys(renews) his/her ‘stuff’, the new one is >20% more efficient, and if the energy supply harnessed by his/her material ‘stuff’ is also made 20% less carbon intense, that consumer has just halved his/her carbon footprint.
    For Anderson’s 6%pa, this process would need repeating every 11 years. Repeating it more than once may sound a big ask, especially repeating the first link, except that harnessing energy sources with effectively zero carbon emissions (ie renewables) means you only require two iterations, yielding 41% energy use, 40% renewable energy & 1% emissions (compared to status quo). Now I cannot tell you if this applies to an Annex 1 consumer or a non-Annex 1 consumer, but I would suggest that such analysis does make Anderson’s vision of making ‘the impossible possible’ look a lot less illogical, even today in 2012.

  42. 342
    Superman1 says:

    MARodger #341,

    I am interpreting Anderson’s message based on the energetics associated with our economy. For the most part, our modern economy consists of resource extraction by one group of people at one location, transport of these extracted resources to another location where they undergo processing by another group of people, transport of these processed goods to another location where they are marketed and sold by another group of people, and final transport to the end-user location. Each of these steps, including the transport steps, includes expenditures of energy, many times large expenditures, and right now predominantly fossil fuel-based energy. Each of these steps represents economic activity, and contributes to the GDP. Growth in GDP is viewed as desirable by economists and politicians, and planned reductions in GDP are the ‘third rails’ of politics.

    The message from Anderson is we are essentially at the gates of ‘dangerous’ climate conditions (2 C) now, and we need to do everything possible from transitioning into catastrophic climate conditions. At least for the short-intermediate term, we need to reduce the fossil fuel-based energy expenditures as drastically as possible. Given the above scenario of GDP relating strongly to energy expenditures, we essentially need to reduce GDP drastically. That’s what he alludes to as ‘planned recession’. You can parse his words in the best Clintonesque style, but that is what he is recommending.

    Now, if we had a sane society and a sane economy, we would eliminate all the relatively unnecessary extraction/processing/transportation steps and products in the above scenario, and transfer the workers to the construction of a self-sustaining society. One of the technical challenges would be to attempt this construction with the minimal expenditure of fossil fuels. Given the present economic rules under which we operate, I fail to see how any transition could be accomplished without a major long-term Depression. If you can show me a Roadmap by which this transition could be accomplished relatively painlessly, I would be most appreciative.

  43. 343
    Hank Roberts says:

    Your lecture on economics reads like a paraphrase of Catton’s Overshoot.

    > I fail to see …. If you can show me … relatively painlessly …

    Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.
    The more we take ourselves, the less we leave for the grandchildren.

  44. 344
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman1,
    Here’s the problem with your decreased GDP scenario: GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the economy. If we decrease GDP without decreasing population, not only do we decrease standards of living, we decrease efficiency of the economy. We cannot decrease population overnight–at least I hope no one is contemplating this.

    In reality what is needed is much greater efficiency with the savings being directed toward decarbonization. Ultimately, the goal is sustainability–sustainable population, sustainable growth driven by technological advancement rather than increased extraction, and a sustainable environment. I think that is what we have to sell.

    The Civil War had to become a battle for establishment of free labor.

    WWI had to be sold as a war to end war.

    WWII to make the world safe for democracy.

    The climate wars are a war to develop sustainability as a gift to our progeny.

  45. 345
    MARodger says:

    Superman1@342.
    That is a strange characterisation of an economy you give. The ‘economy’ Anderson & I live it (the UK) has about half the emissions resulting from actual energy use within homes or from out car exhaust pipes. Another third result from Industry & Business and the final sixth from other transport (including public transport). There is the matter of (net) imported ‘stuff’ and international air & sea travel. However, internal to UK, if train operators, shop keepers and widget manufacturers consider themselves as “consumers,” the model I outlined @341 holds mainly in tact. I am not sure how your own model of an economy could be made to fit the UK’s emissions. Maybe it would for the economy you live in.

    If Anderson is actually saying “we essentially need to reduce GDP drastically” or words to that effect, I cannot see where. And I’m not sure if anybody here has “parse(d) his (Anderson’s) words in the best Clintonesque style” but I am still of the opinion that you misrepresent his words regarding this ‘planned recession’.
    As for providing a roadmap, I fear that adding further detail to my last paragraphs @341 would likely be transgressing the boundaries of what RealClimate is about: ie climate science. So is such added detail truly necessary?

  46. 346
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS — a recent review of _Overshoot_ from a public health perspective is well worth a slow thoughtful read:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2602943/
    Public Health Rep. 2009 Jan-Feb; 124(1): 167–168.
    PMCID: PMC2602943

    “… haunting questions remain once an ecological perspective of public health takes root. Are we who work in public health unwitting accomplices …. for those of us lucky enough to live in this short period of exuberance ….?”

    He introduces his review with this quote:

    “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way … But you can never say again you did not know.”
    — William Wilberforce British Parliamentarian, 1789
    ——–

    For those just coming to realize what humanity has been about and where our civilization is headed, reading some of what was written in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s help you be less surprised, and perhaps more effective.

    “Don’t mourn. Organize.”

  47. 347
    SecularAnimist says:

    MARodger quoted Anderson and Bows, 2008: “Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year) …”

    That’s not a problem. That’s an enormous opportunity. Unprecedented rates of decarbonization can be — must be — the driver of strong, sustainable and equitable economic growth in the 21st century.

  48. 348
    Superman1 says:

    MARodgers #345,

    ” So is such added detail truly necessary?”

    Unfortunately, yes. The Roadmap required for credibility has three main elements. At the top level, there is the Scenario or Vision that provides a clear picture of the end point. The next level specifies the metrics that will allow quantification of the Vision, and includes the data (quantified targets) that populate the metrics. The bottom aggregated level contains the details of the pathways that will take us from where we are to the top level Scenario. Absence of any one of these levels converts any proposed approach into arm-waving relative to solving the problem.

    Where are we now? I have seen myriad published studies that project climate futures based on ending fossil fuel combustion now; this is essentially the best possible (obviously non-achievable) case. The expected temperature increases over the next few decades range from about 1.5 C total (including today’s 0.8 C) to over 3 C total, depending on one’s assumptions for climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing, among others. None of these projections I examined incorporated positive feedbacks in the calculations. Thus, I view them as optimistic and conservative, especially those that project in the higher end of the temperature spectrum.

    My interpretation of these results is that under the best of conditions, we are essentially committed today to what Anderson terms the ‘dangerous’ region of temperature (near ~2 C), and every bit of CO2 emissions from now on moves us that much closer to what Anderson terms the ‘extremely dangerous’ region. In terms of policy for transitioning from today’s fossil-based economy to a sustainable economy, not only is achieving the end goal highly desirable and necessary, but the path we select to achieve that goal is critical to future climate. Any unnecessary fossil fuel expenditures made along that path translates into higher mitigation requirements and riskier geo-engineering three or four decades down the road. That’s why the Roadmap is absolutely critical to the credibility of any proposals for the interim transition period.

    To respond to your and Ladbury’s comments on GDP and austerity, I provide a simple example. Many of my neighbors take two or more trips a year to Asia/Europe/Middle East. All are fossil fuel intense getting there and coming back, and tend to be fossil fuel intense while they are traveling around these foreign countries. All are adding to the GDP, relatively substantially during that period. If we are serious about minimizing fossil fuel use during the interim transition period, such non-essential uses of fossil fuel would be banned. This economic activity would no longer contribute to the GDP, and it would be reduced. That’s planned austerity and recession in action. Again, if we change the economic rules of how we operate, those travel agents, airline pilots, attendants, who were put out of work would then be employed in some low-carbon approach supporting the transition to sustainable. From my present perspective, the early construction of power conversion/generating facilities and early re-location of infrastructure would still be fossil fuel intensive, so a very hard line would have to be taken on any non-essential fossil energy expenditures.

  49. 349
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Superman1,
    What you are talking about is redirection of effort rather than shrinkage of GDP. That cannot be accomplished by fiat. It will be opposed strenuously by bidness types.

  50. 350
    Hank Roberts says:

    > economic activity would no longer contribute to the GDP

    Define GDP to include currently externalized costs.
    Problem solved.


Switch to our mobile site