RealClimate logo

Unforced variations: Mar 2014

Filed under: — group @ 3 March 2014

This month’s open thread.

679 Responses to “Unforced variations: Mar 2014”

  1. 51
    Chuck Hughes says:

    DIO, The words, “Climate Apocalypse” tend to lose their meaning when you use them 4 or 5 times per post.

    We get it already.

  2. 52
    Tony Weddle says:

    Regarding EROI and energy needed for our industrial economy, check out the works of Charles Hall (who also has a good quote in a SciAm interview) and the analysis of Richard Heinberg, as a start.

  3. 53
    wili says:

    Quote from #42: “It would be good to have Plan C mapped out by then.”

    Plan C. Good name (if not completely original).

    “C” for Contraction? Curtailment?

    Or C&C?

    Or perhaps, Pat Murphy’s book with that name?

  4. 54
    Tom Bond says:

    SecularAnamist (3 Mar 2014 @ 12:08 PM at ~#5) with- “And I’ve seen studies that show renewables can’t power industrial civilisation, as we know it.”

    For those who are interested in data a very interesting reference showing the limits of renewable energy is David McKay at


  5. 55
    prokaryotes says:

    Re messaging, Joe Romm posted on this topic recently:

    There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.

    The original motivation for this post actually came up two years ago because I received an e-mail from a journalist commenting that the “constant repetition of doomsday messages” doesn’t work as a messaging strategy. I had to demur, for the reasons noted above.

    However, i personally would call it more meaningful (no extra drama) climate disruption etc. and you can remix content within messaging and robotic repetition can turn off people.

    Here are the key points about what repeated messages the American public is exposed to – read here

  6. 56
    Dave Peters says:

    Last July, a handful of us kicked around airborne CO2 behavior under the hypothetical where emissions are abruptly terminated. (see also, Gavin’s keypost addressing the distinction between “pipelined”, or previously committed warming assuming constant CONCENTRATION, as contrasted with the complete cessation of combustion:)

    The Academy (&RS) explicitly treat cessation at question # 20, with a graphic:

    The depicted guillotine break is effected in year 2300, following a century of stable concentration at 2000 ppm. A central assessment reduction of ~175 ppm (9%) occurs in 100 years, or a minimum drain of but 200 ppm could obtain, in 700 years.

  7. 57
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #49,

    “All you are able to talk about is a climate target, NOT A PLAN,”

    Au contraire! I have generated the only Plan on the climate blogs that offers a chance to avoid the climate Apocalypse. It can be found in the thread ‘If You See Something, Say Something’, #511.

    Now, a credible Plan requires at least two major components: an end point/target, and a series of actions/policies that will lead to the target. My Plan has both: quantitative targets recommended by the leading climate scientists to provide a reasonable chance of avoiding the climate Apocalypse, and actions that will come close to achieving the targets. If either major component is missing, there is no Plan. In particular, if actions are proposed with no quantitative target specified, as Secular always proposes, what we have is essentially an unpaid advertisement for the technologies proposed. This is the essence of Windfall!

  8. 58
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #49,

    “Because your targets are so absolutist and inflexible”

    This is not monetary bankruptcy court, where compromise can be negotiated. In carbon bankruptcy court, the other side does not negotiate. My targets come from what the best of the climate scientists are recommending we need. If you have problems with these targets, take them up with Hansen et al. The targets make sense to me, especially when I read of the unfolding disaster that is already occurring at 0.8 C.

    “refute the thoughtful points made by SecularAnamist”…..” claiming that others are wrong without any factual argument”

    What thoughtful points? He, and you, offer nothing but unpaid advertisements and invective in your responses to me. I am the one putting forth the numbers and the Plans. My responses don’t require invective; I prefer facts that link as closely to the science as possible.

  9. 59
    DIOGENES says:

    Wili #45,

    “Diogenes, thanks for the undeserved compliment. I had forgotten about that link. It seem to me that the next step in implementing your plan is to get as many people to themselves pledge to reduce their personal carbon footprint by over 10% per year starting now, and to push institutions that they are affiliated with–churches, businesses, schools, municipalities…–to do the same. There needs to be a media front as well. Are there other allies you’ve run across.”

    I appreciate your tenacity and motivation, but I have no illusions about the acceptability of my Plan. Only a handful of people on this climate advocacy blog have shown interest in the concepts reflected in the Plan; what does that say about how many people in the general public would be willing to support the main requirements? People with whom I’ve discussed the topic are believers that severe climate change is happening, and that something needs to be done starting now. However, they have become so brainwashed by the technology purveyors that they believe a timely transition to low carbon technologies is all that is required. No one has shown that implementation of low carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvement technologies can rescue us from the climate Apocalypse; in fact, Kevin Anderson has done the computations for a 50/50 chance of staying within 2 C, and has shown that transition to low carbon technologies can’t do the job without some serious additional fossil demand reduction. To stay even near the ~1.1 C ceiling that Hansen suggests, the strongest fossil demand reduction is required, far more than the 10% Anderson requires for 2 C. My Plan describes the elements of how this could be done; I show the numbers that are required; no one else does! Who’s willing to make the sacrifices that will save our civilization? Very few, I’m afraid.

  10. 60
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Diogenes: “Quit emitting CO2” is NOT a plan.

  11. 61
    Radge Havers says:

    Prokaryotes @ 55

    Good point. I’d note that while Romm uses a strong voice, he’s still capable of modulation, nuance and flexibility.

    One thing he doesn’t do is discredit his message by playing to a negative stereotype of his ‘type’. For instance, he doesn’t go on science sites, imply that everyone is dishonest and generally act like an Apocalyptic Troll.

  12. 62
    Hank Roberts says:

    > avoid the climate Apocalypse

    You’re being silly. Please stop.
    It’s well under way.
    It’s too late to avoid it, by half a century or so.
    It’s a slow event. Few of us will see the worst of it.
    It will go on happening over more than one human life span.
    It’s the fastest great extinction by far.
    It seems slow on our mayfly time scale.
    Some of our descendants will get through it.
    Some of the trees we plant will get through it.
    Some of the lives we save will get through it.
    We won’t. Six billion or so of us will die this century.
    Gracefully, or disruptively. Fat and greedy, or not so.

    People who work in the field of conservation biology are quite desperate…. They want to get this material out to a wider audience.

    Work on it.

    Get to know your local botany. You can anywhere from the dirt strip next to the sidewalk to any parcel of damaged property you can work on. I’ve mentioned these before. Aim for a negative carbon footprint — plant, protect, restore what grows where you live.

    Get a baseline for later reference. Historical Ecology Handbook : a Restorationist’s Guide To Reference Ecosystems (01 Edition).
    We don’t live long enough to know if we make a difference; if we leave a baseline record of conditions, others later can see what we did and understand what changed.

    (ecological restoration; sample book chapters)

    Go look at what grows where you live. Encourage that. Natural History of Vacant Lots (California Natural History Guide No. 50) (ISBN: 0520053907 / 0-520-05390-7 ) Matthew F. Vessel, Herbert H. Wong

    Restore what’s around you

    Earth Manual: How to Work on Wild Land Without Taming it (ISBN: 0930588185 / 0-930588-18-5) Margolin, Malcolm (1985, revised edition, green cover)

    You won’t avoid the climate apocalypse.
    We are in it now. We won’t see the end of it.
    We can help change what gets through it, by how we live.

  13. 63
    DIOGENES says:

    Ray Ladbury #60,

    ““Quit emitting CO2″ is NOT a plan.”

    I never said it was. My plan is listed below. It has two main components: species survival and lifestyle maintenance. The lifestyle maintenance includes the rapid implementation of low carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvement technologies that people have been proposing for years. If I believed that was adequate to avoid the climate Apocalypse, I wouldn’t include the species survival component. Maybe two generations ago, it would have been adequate; today, it is not. The elements in the species survival component are the most important, and because of the near term urgency to stop adding CO2 blankets that will last for a long time, the sharp demand reduction is the most critical. There are no guarantees here, but the sharper the demand reduction, the greater the chances of avoiding the worst consequences of the climate Apocalypse.

    The problem I’m having here is that I don’t see the basis for a debate. I have presented the only self-consistent plan on the climate blogs that will provide any chance of avoiding the worst features of a climate Apocalypse. If you, or anyone else, would present an alternative self-consistent plan, complete with quantitative targets and policies and actions that will allow a reasonable chance of those targets being achieved, that would offer a tangible basis for debate. Now, all I see are unpaid advertisements with absolutely no indication of the consequences of implementing these technologies.


    The objective is to maximize chances of staying near, and preferably below, Hansen’s suggested interim temperature increase maximum of ~1.2 C. The approach/strategy/plan consists of two major components: species survival and lifestyle maintenance. Species survival addresses the critical short-term barriers that must be overcome to insure survival into the long-term, and addresses long-term as well. Lifestyle maintenance allows a low-carbon energy-assisted lifestyle, and focuses mainly on the long-term.

    Species survival has two main sub-components: sharp demand reduction and high carbon capture. It does not include geo-engineering at this point, since no effective geo-engineering has been proposed/demonstrated that would be safe on a global scale nor ready for deployment in the short-term time scales required. Sharp demand reduction provides the earliest benefits in the critical near-term, and is the cornerstone of the strategy/plan. It divides present fossil energy use into two subjective categories: optional and essential. The first step is to eliminate the optional uses, and the second step is to eliminate the wasteful elements of the essential category. Optional uses would include most vacation-related expenditures and others not absolutely essential to daily living. Wasteful element reductions of essential uses would include radical reductions of thermostat settings in Winter and increases in Summer, smaller vehicles with greater occupancy per vehicle, etc. Hundreds of each type of reduction or elimination can be easily identified.

    High carbon capture would include the massive reforestation suggested by Hansen and others that have been proposed (biochar, artificial trees, etc). Ideally, it would be conducted in a low carbon emissions mode.

    Lifestyle maintenance includes rapid implementation of existing renewables, nuclear, and other low carbon technologies, as well as implementation of existing enhanced energy efficiency technologies. R&D would continue on renewables, nuclear, and other low carbon technologies, and they would be implemented rapidly once efficient and reliable operation has been demonstrated. All of these technologies would need to be implemented using the most low carbon approaches; to do otherwise would defeat the purpose.

  14. 64
    Eric Swanson says:

    Hank Roberts #62 – Looks to be lots of effort at rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Looking at the demographics of population, it would appear obvious that humanity has already grown much beyond the support capacity of the natural ecosystems. It’s been 40 years since the publication of “Limits to Growth” and 10 years since the 30 year update to same (which I recently read).

    There is still no realistic global effort to address the basic problem, which is that our economic system is based on consumption of the resources of the Earth, especially fossil fuels. Many nations are on a path of rapid population growth and there’s a large fraction of humanity which refuses to limit their own reproductive urges. Population is still growing at around 1% a year, or roughly 75 million additional people, which translates to adding another Egypt or Iran EACH YEAR. Since they gained their independence from British rule, Egypt’s population went from about 19 million to about 80 million and and India’s went from 350 million to about 1,200 million. The US population was around 75 million in 1900 and is now at roughly 310 million. For other examples, take a look at individual nations at the MAZAMA Population Data Browser or Google.

    Each person needs resources to survive and human wants can far exceed the resources for basic survival level. Much of the growth in population is occurring in the so-called “Developing Nations”, where the consumers are just beginning to use the automobile for private transportation. China’s i child per couple has limited their population growth, but that has freed those resources previously used to support children for other uses, such as increasing their industrial output for export. China now builds more new cars than the US and those are going to people who did not have cars before.

    Sorry to say, I must conclude that all those efforts at local conservation and “ecological restoration” which you mention are wishful thinking, just p*ssing into the wind…

  15. 65
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 5 Mar 2014 @ 7:55 AM, ~#57 plus #s 58 and 59

    You co-opted Hansen’s and others targets and say “a credible Plan requires at least two major components: an end point/target, and a series of actions/policies that will lead to the target,” and then claim that more targets, such as sharp demand reduction, are the steps. It is not a plan because you do not provide any reasonable means to achieve your various targets. Further you berate others who advocate reasonable components of demand reduction but provide no reasons why.

    Please respond to the following. If all fossil carbon energy were switched to renewable energies, wouldn’t this completely reduce demand for fossil fuels and CO2 pollution? If this were accomplished by a bunch of industrialists who made a whole bunch of money, wouldn’t this be a way to avoid the apocalypse? Discussing these sorts of actions is a way to actually come up with steps for a plan. Just dismissing them without any argument or numbers is just Dumbth.

    Finally, please stop accusing others here of being big technology shills. Keep in mind that doomer climate denial trolling is thought to be a pro carbon tactic.


  16. 66
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #49,

    “your actual plan should include the method by which all of the leaders of the world can be convinced to, in turn, convince the 7 billion people of the world to completely stop emitting carbon and all but the most opulent to voluntarily die of starvation.”

    My plan outlines what is required if we are to avoid the worst features of the climate Apocalypse. It has to be taken in that context. My objective is not to sell the plan; I don’t think it can be sold. Anderson’s plan of 10% reduction in fossil demand per year is somewhat softer, and my reading of his papers and hearing his presentations have convinced me he doesn’t believe his plan is salable either. In the thread If You See Something, Say Something, #396, I critiqued a post entitled “How The Northeast Could Cut Carbon Pollution By 75 Percent In 5 Simple Steps”. This plan, EnergyVision 2020, showed that a consortium of Northeast USA states had taken a series of steps to reduce carbon emissions, and had achieved slightly over 1% emissions reductions per year for the last decade. Their projections were targeted at reducing emissions about 1% per year for the next decade, and perhaps 2% per year for the following two decades. Those targets were viewed as extremely challenging, and many experts quoted were pessimistic about their being achieved. That, to me, is what the real-world is willing to do (under quite favorable conditions almost unique to the Northeast), and is more than an order of magnitude less than what is required to avoid the worst features of the climate Apocalypse. Under that plan, we’re toast!

  17. 67
    Dan H. says:

    Alex Lawrie,
    When we experience a significant disruption to the food supply, then we have experienced an emergency. Small, incremental changes would not constitute anything dire, as people would simply adapt. Rising seas occur slowly, and affect only those near the coast, and they would move. People adjust to small temperature or weather changes by varying their clothing or activities. If changes affect agriculture in a large negative fashion, then we have exceeded our adaption capabilities. When people cannot adapt, then very unpleasant situations will occur worldwide, and there is a real emergency.

  18. 68
    Hank Roberts says:

    > efforts at local conservation and “ecological restoration”

    If you don’t act as though you have hope for the future
    you won’t convince anyone to do anything about the present.

    ‘Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.’ — Mahatma Gandhi

  19. 69
    MARodger says:

    The daily rainfall for February has been posted by HadUKP allowing the recent heavy rains in Southern England to be put in context.
    The rains & exceptional weather stretched from mid December to Mid February. So while January broke the monthly records for SE England (see graph) that stretch back to 1873, December and February with only a half-a-month of rain only appear in 11th & 2nd place respectively.

    (SW England that also got heavy rain is combined within the published HadUKP data with S Wales that was less affected & which normally has high rainfalls, swamping the SW England data.)

    When daily data is used, the 60-day ‘event’ stands out well above other maximum 60-day events from previous years (back to 1931 for daily data) both within the time-series & in a histogram of that data.
    A simplistic analysis puts this recent 60-day event at 4.25 sd from the mean for last century, but I feel measuring from the median & re-calculating the sd (with the lower half of the data replaced with a reflection of the upper half about the median) may yield a more reasonable lower limit for the result. That comes out at 3.75 sd or a one-in-11,300 year event. So I reckon to round it up to a one-in-20,000 years event.
    Of course, an alternative explanation is that it is the result of some sort of climate change. So, has there been any reports of climate change recently?

  20. 70
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote (#41): “the only schemes that provide a chance of avoiding the climate Apocalypse will result in massive global Depression”

    Well, here’s one energy expert who emphatically agrees with Diogenes:

    “We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 outcome that is not devastating to economies, societies and peoples’ health and well-being around the world.”

    Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, May 2013

  21. 71
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Tom Bond — 5 Mar 2014 @ 3:26 AM, ~#54

    MacKay is fun and provides food for thought. I read his book some time ago and thought it was often centered on England and didn’t apply well to a worldwide situation. Also, he blows a bit of hot air himself. Take a look at section 18 “Can we live on renewables?” and sentence 4 beginning “Also, some….” and you will find that “photovoltaic panels and hot-water panels would clash with each other on roofs.” You have to watch out for those clashes (?). Further on he suggests that “solar photovoltaic farms using 5% of the country might compete with the energy crops…” How about putting them on roofs and other spaces unsuitable for agriculture?


  22. 72
    Eric Swanson says:

    #68 Hank Roberts said:

    “If you don’t act as though you have hope for the future you won’t convince anyone to do anything about the present.”

    I disagree. There’s usually 2 ways to “convince” people to follow a path they don’t want to tread. There’s the carrot and there’s the stick. The Chinese 1 child policy used the stick, which was rather successful, but the sterilization plan for Indian males apparently didn’t do so well.

    The fundamental systematic changes which I think will be necessary will be much less popular than the proposed steep increase in fuel taxes, which is now DOA in the US. The whole concept of suburbia, as in, low density residential connected to higher density urban retail and industrial areas via automobile, would surely become a thing of the past and the tremendous wealth which this pattern now represents would evaporate. Public long distance travel via aircraft would also need to shrink considerably, killing most of the airlines in the process. Shipping perishable food from one continent to another via air, such as Maine lobster to LA or Hawaiian MahiMahi to NYC would become rare. There’s a long list of activities called “the service sector” which depend on cheap fossil carbon for fuel and many of those jobs would of necessity disappear. That one nation or region should decide to enact drastic cuts in CO2 emissions would not guarantee that the rest of the Earth’s people would follow along and give up the wealth derived from burning fossil fuels.

    Sorry to say, over more than 40 years of study, the more I learn about the situation, the less hope I can muster regarding the future. It would appear that humans are a plague upon the Earth…

  23. 73
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote (#32): “You will never find any postings to the contrary that contain any numbers, and for good reason.”


    Bill McKibben actually names his entire organization to emphasize the target that we must aim for — and you claim that no one but you in the whole wide world has put forth any “numbers”.

    Diogenes wrote: “My Plan describes the elements of how this could be done; I show the numbers that are required; no one else does!”

    That’s blatantly false.

    You have never posted ANY NUMBERS — not even ONE NUMBER — showing how much emissions will be reduced, and when, by any specific measures.

    In fact you have rarely even mentioned any specific measures for reducing emissions. With one famous exception, of course — shutting down ski resorts. Which simply goes to show that when it comes to identifying carbon-intensive activities that are the most significant contributors to the problem, you are clueless.

    Other than that, you’ve offered nothing but number-free handwaving at completely unspecified, unidentified and unquantified “deprivation and hardship” that will inexplicably result from ending fossil fuel use.

    So your so-called “Plan” really contains nothing but a “target” — which is simply reiterating what others (see Bill McKibben) have been saying for years, that GHG concentrations are already well into the danger zone — with NO specific, quantifiable steps to get there.

  24. 74
    sidd says:

    Picture this: a trio of ladies of a certain age, one in fact quite advanced in years, denizens of a developing country, whose combined fossil carbon footprint is smaller than that of 95% of the posters on this forum.

    One of them is an internationally known economist specializing in labor law in the developing world, who spearheads efforts to involve labor in GHG reduction. Another is prominent in working to educate street children and develop textbooks for schools which emphasize ecology and fossil fuel use curtailment. The eldest is the founder of an organization that works with destitute women and helps them set up solar installations and small businesses servicing these.

    They tell me that they have decided to take a vacation. Great, I say, you deserve it. To my personal knowledge, the economist has not taken one in more than a decade. They intend to visit a region where the eldest of the trio passed her formative years, to which she has not returned since most of the world’s population were yet unborn. Wonderful, I think.

    Then I am informed that the journey involves two (short) trips in an airplane. This of course, plays havoc with their carbon footprint. They are not unintelligent women, and know as well than I the calculations involved. Yet they chose to do so.

    Some here would have me rail at them for condemning future generations to apocalypse. Some here would prevent the trip, if they had the power to do so. Some here are heartless zealots, who will brook no deviation from the One True Way. In short, some here are self-righteous idiots.

    These women individually and severally, have done more to better the world and the lives of future generations, than I will ever do. And I daresay, more than any of their critics on this blog will ever do.

    I briefly amuse myself by working out how many languages I might be abused in if I repeated some of the opinions expressed on this forum as to the morality of their trip. (One is fluent in more languages than I can count on the fingers of both hands, all are fluent in no less than four.) Then, I recall, that these are all ladies of great strength, charm and grace; they have spent their entire lives facing down worse opposition, violent and otherwise, than most here have ever seen. They know better than to respond to provocation.

    Apparently I do not. Which I suppose, is why I have a killfile. I must remember to use it all the time.


  25. 75
    wili says:

    Sidd, come on, give it a rest. “Some here would…” you say repeatedly based on…what? Has anyone here actually said any of those things to you or them? If not, then you are falsely defaming people as “heartless zealots” based on zero evidence.

    For the sake of mere decency and civility, please avoid attributing to others positions that they have not taken. Thanks.

  26. 76
    SecularAnimist says:

    Responding to the thoughtful comments from Tony Weddle (#52) and Tom Bond (#54) regarding the EROI (energy return on investment) for wind and solar:

    In short, the plummeting cost and skyrocketing efficiency of both wind and solar technologies have proved the peak oil theorists like Richard Heinberg wrong. The energy returned over the operating lifetime of today’s solar panels and wind turbines is vastly greater than the energy invested in producing them.

    Moreover, unlike fossil fuels whose EROI necessarily gets worse over time, as the lowest-cost, highest-quality supplies are exhausted, the EROI of wind and solar gets better over time because the energy sources themselves are both free and inexhaustible, so the EROI is purely a function of the rapidly improving technology.

    Moore’s Law is a better model for the future of wind and solar energy than the conventional fuel-oriented EROI calculations.

    See the articles linked below.

    The energy return on energy investment (EROI) of photovoltaics: Methodology and comparisons with fossil fuel life cycles
    Marco Raugei, Pere Fullana-i-Palmer, Vasilis Fthenakis
    Energy Policy
    Volume 45, June 2012


    A high energy return on energy investment (EROI) of an energy production process is crucial to its long-term viability. The EROI of conventional thermal electricity from fossil fuels has been viewed as being much higher than those of renewable energy life-cycles, and specifically of photovoltaics (PVs). We show that this is largely a misconception fostered by the use of outdated data and, often, a lack of consistency among calculation methods. We hereby present a thorough review of the methodology, discuss methodological variations and present updated EROI values for a range of modern PV systems, in comparison to conventional fossil-fuel based electricity life-cycles.


    * We perform a review of the EROI methodology.

    * We provide new calculations for PV compared to oil- and coal-based energy systems.

    * If compared consistently, PV sits squarely in the same range of EROI as conventional fossil fuel life cycles.

    Meta-analysis of net energy return for wind power systems
    Ida Kubiszewski, Cutler J. Cleveland, Peter K. Endres
    Renewable Energy
    Volume 35, Issue 1, January 2010


    This analysis reviews and synthesizes the literature on the net energy return for electric power generation by wind turbines. Energy return on investment (EROI) is the ratio of energy delivered to energy costs. We examine 119 wind turbines from 50 different analyses, ranging in publication date from 1977 to 2007. We extend on previous work by including additional and more recent analyses, distinguishing between important assumptions about system boundaries and methodological approaches, and viewing the EROI as function of power rating. Our survey shows an average EROI for all studies (operational and conceptual) of 25.2 (n = 114; std. dev = 22.3). The average EROI for just the operational studies is 19.8 (n = 60; std. dev = 13.7). This places wind in a favorable position relative to fossil fuels, nuclear, and solar power generation technologies in terms of EROI.

  27. 77
    SecularAnimist says:

    sidd wrote: Some here would have me rail at them for condemning future generations to apocalypse. Some here would prevent the trip, if they had the power to do so. Some here are heartless zealots, who will brook no deviation from the One True Way. In short, some here are self-righteous idiots.”

    Of course, many here have expressed no such views.

    Meanwhile, research by NASA among others into carbon-neutral biofuels for aviation is ongoing.

  28. 78
  29. 79
    Hank Roberts says:

    Might be worth revisiting the subject; the last long discussion of the thermohaline circulation mentioned a number of data sources that should, by now, have given the modelers more to work with:

  30. 80
    wili says:

    From the excellent (as usual), if grim, video and article that prok just posted:

    “…this study probably underestimates the amount of fresh water around Antarctica and its effects on Antarctic Bottom Water (ABW) formation…

    Global political policies are not keeping up with the rate of change and our models have, to date, underestimated the rate of change. We are witnessing a total failure of global leadership to deal with changes we caused that are spiraling out of control.”

    Peter Ward on the consequences of this development: “When [the global ocean current conveyor belt] stops, we lose oxygen at the bottom, and we start the process toward mass extinction.”

  31. 81
    Dan Bloom says:

    Both TIME mag and NYT are poised to report news of new literary and movie genre dubbed “cli fi” — coined by yours truly from my earlier “polar cities” work, one things leads to another — and the NYT story will be about “climate science education” issues and “climate change education” issues in higher education in USA and overseas……so it’s a story that interview academics and professors of science education etc……and TIME mag will be about new NOAH movie by Darren A set 5000 years ago and TIME is calling it a “cli fi movie” on its cover March 24 issue, get ready. like sci fi, cli fi has the power to energize writers and readers and critics. like the term. it has arrived. see my blog at ”cli fi central” or a wezine titled “cli fi books”

  32. 82
    wili says:

    Congrats, Dan. And thanks for the heads up.

  33. 83
  34. 84
  35. 85
    Bob Bingham says:

    I give talks on climate change in New Zealand, mostly to mature white males, and I get a very clear understanding of the science from the audience. There are very few deniers and I would say they make up 1 or 2% of the 500 or more people I have spoken to.
    On the internet it is completely different where the deniers make up around 50% or even more except on a really big site like the Huffington post.
    From this I believe that there are a certain number of people who are paid to portray the climate science as being uncertain. The fact that they always use a very limited range of points to paid employees who do this work on behalf of their employers.
    There are not many climate change sites where comments can be left and so it would only require 50 to 100 people with multi identities to cover the World. Journalists employed by newspapers with links to the fossil fuel industry could easily have five journalist and it would quickly add up to make a real impact. Its either that or the USA is peopled by a huge proportion of ignorant rednecks.

  36. 86
    wili says:

    Here’s the original Nature Climate Change article for the piece than prok linked to above at #78:


    [b]Cessation of deep convection in the open Southern Ocean under anthropogenic climate change[/b]

    Casimir de Lavergne, Jaime B. Palter, Eric D. Galbraith, Raffaele Bernardello & Irina Marinov

    From the abstract:

    “…among the present generation of global climate models, deep convection is common in the Southern Ocean under pre-industrial conditions, but weakens and ceases under a climate change scenario owing to surface freshening.

    A decline of open-ocean convection would reduce the production rate of Antarctic Bottom Waters, with important implications for ocean heat and carbon storage, and may have played a role in recent Antarctic climate change.”

  37. 87
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #65,

    “You co-opted Hansen’s and others targets”

    I would phrase it differently. I used the best of modern climate science to establish the temperature targets, and then built on that for the remainder of my Plan.

    “then claim that more targets, such as sharp demand reduction, are the steps. It is not a plan because you do not provide any reasonable means to achieve your various targets.”

    Sharp demand reduction is a policy/action; it is not a target. In the Plan, I provide a few examples of sharp demand reduction. See #63 above for the details. If you want more, give me a list of e.g. fifty activities on which significant fossil-based energy is expended, and I will identify those that I would eliminate. The basic principle is eliminate the non-essential, and improve the efficiency of the essential. Remember, essential/non-essential is subjective. What I think is non-essential, someone else may think is essential.

    “Further you berate others who advocate reasonable components of demand reduction but provide no reasons why.”

    My Plan contains all the “reasonable components of demand reduction” these ‘others’ advocate. See #63 above, especially the section on lifestyle maintenance. However, that’s where ‘these others’ stop, and try to pawn off on us the idea that’s all that is required to avoid the climate Apocalypse. Anderson showed with computations, not arm-waving, that the supply side alone is insufficient to stay under 2 C, and demand reductions are required. The way to refute Anderson is with hard computations, not arm-waving and invective. So far, I have seen no refutation of Anderson’s results for staying within 2 C, and my Plan goes to an even harsher level of staying within 1 C.

    “Please respond to the following. If all fossil carbon energy were switched to renewable energies, wouldn’t this completely reduce demand for fossil fuels and CO2 pollution? If this were accomplished by a bunch of industrialists who made a whole bunch of money, wouldn’t this be a way to avoid the apocalypse? Discussing these sorts of actions is a way to actually come up with steps for a plan. Just dismissing them without any argument or numbers is just Dumbth.”

    I have addressed this issue specifically in previous posts; I have never dismissed it. This is the problem of immediate cessation of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. A number of researchers have published on this topic. The results show global mean temperature increasing to a peak somewhere between one and two decades after cessation, then gradually decreasing. The lowest numbers I’ve seen for the temperature peak are about 1.2 C, and the highest numbers well over 2 C. In a Rolling Stone article, McKibben has stated “But, in fact, computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 now, the temperature would likely still rise another 0.8 degrees, as previously released carbon continues to overheat the atmosphere.” Thus, his sources show a peak of 1.6 C. The results differ based on what is assumed for climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing.

    In addition, as a recent study has shown (summary from CP), “Thawing permafrost will release carbon to the atmosphere that will have an appreciable additional effect on climate change, adding at least one quarter of a degree Celsius by the end of the century and perhaps nearly as much as one degree (about 1.5°F).
    The permafrost feedback response to our historic emissions, even in the absence of future human emissions, is likely to be self-sustaining and will cancel out future natural carbon sinks in the oceans and biosphere over the next two centuries.”

    Thus, even if fossil fuel combustion ceased immediately, these carbon sources in the permafrost and elsewhere that we have unleashed already will continue to release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Depending on the extent of the release as the temperature continues to rise toward the peak, there could conceivably be no downturn, or a much more gradual downturn. So, even in this most ideal case of complete cessation of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel immediately, the temperature will rise to unacceptable levels. Now, assume all fossil fuel use could be converted to zero carbon technology within a generation (another fantasy). The first year, (ignoring lag times for planning, construction, and start-up) would still have 95% of the original CO2 emissions, since only 5% of the capability had been converted. The second year would have 90%, and so on. There would be roughly ten additional years of the original fossil fuel use expended, further exacerbating the temperature increase and driving us closer to the climate Apocalypse. That’s why sharp demand reduction is required in parallel with low carbon technology introduction, as well as some type of rapid carbon concentration reduction.

  38. 88
    DIOGENES says:

    Bob Bingham #85,

    “It’s either that or the USA is peopled by a huge proportion of ignorant rednecks.”

    The problem is far more complex. There are two main types of climate change deniers. Type 1 are the classical deniers within the larger public. Type 1 deny the science, and, obviously, deny the need for any solutions to a non-existent problem. Type 2 are a smaller segment, found in part on the climate advocacy blogs. Type 2 accept the science, but deny the need for the personal deprivation and hardships required to avoid the climate Apocalypse. Type 2 offer the facade of a solution without the substance of a solution. For some Type 2, a final Windfall is the desired end point. Both types will lead us directly to the climate Apocalypse, Type 1 using the Express lanes, and Type 2 following closely behind.

  39. 89
    Hank Roberts says:

    Read Twitter, these days, to follow climate science.
    Scientists eschew wearisome volubility.

  40. 90
    Eric Swanson says:

    Re: prokaryotes #78 and Hank Roberts #79 – To add to the list of recent references, there’s new evidence form the RAPID program which suggests reduced THC sinking in the Labrador Sea.

    Observed decline of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation 2004 2012

    I know of another possible indicator which has appeared in the western Greenland Sea, but it’s not published, to my knowledge. Maybe it’s time for RC to do a post on the latest findings about the THC/AMOC.

  41. 91
    DIOGENES says:

    Anderson, in late 2013, at the Radical Emissions Reduction Conference:

    “Today, in 2013, we face an unavoidably radical future….No longer is there a non-radical option. Moreover, low-carbon supply technologies cannot deliver the necessary rate of emission reductions – they need to be complemented with rapid, deep and early reductions in energy consumption”

    And, that’s for 2 C ceiling. For the ~1 C required to avoid the climate Apocalypse, VERY rapid, VERY deep, and VERY early reductions are required!

  42. 92
    SecularAnimist says:

    Diogenes wrote: “Type 2 accept the science, but deny the need for the personal deprivation and hardships required to avoid the climate Apocalypse.”

    Actually, the “Type 2” deniers — the Defeatists — may either reject or (to varying degrees) accept the science.

    What they have in common is the false, baseless, thoroughly debunked claim that ending fossil fuel use requires “personal deprivation and hardships”.

    The point of such rhetoric is simply to persuade the public that the cost of ending GHG emissions is unacceptable, and to thereby defuse and discourage public support for action.

    Which is why your repetition of that baseless claim is indistinguishable from the rhetoric of Bjorn Lomborg, or ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson: “We do not see a viable pathway with any known technology today to achieve the 350 outcome that is not devastating to economies, societies and peoples’ health and well-being around the world.”

  43. 93
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 6 Mar 2014 @ 9:02 AM, ~#87

    You claim that- “Sharp demand reduction is a policy/action,” -but this would require all of the governments of the world to enforce it on all their citizens almost immediately and this idea is obviously utterly impossible. It is not a viable step in a plan. Adults, when faced with a seemingly insoluble problem don’t dither about and argue that an action plan has to be established before any action can be taken. Instead, they pick out portions of the solution that are individually doable and get to work while continuing to look for better solutions. The problem is fossil fuel pollution and the obvious solution is to switch to nonpolluting energy as quickly as possible. You claim that this can’t be done quickly enough? Prove it or, better yet, think of ways to make this happen. I can. Ultimately, renewable energy is the only solution.

    With reference to all the need for “personal deprivation and hardships required to avoid the climate Apocalypse” that you advocate, how much are you currently contributing? Steve

  44. 94
    prokaryotes says:

    Re THC and abrupt climate change

    Sea-ice switches and abrupt climate change Link (2013 / OA)

  45. 95
    prokaryotes says:

    Above paper is from 2003.

    Multiple sea-ice states and abrupt MOC transitions in a general circulation ocean model Link(2013) DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1546-2(7-8):1803-1817

  46. 96
    prokaryotes says:

    Warm Arctic, Cold Continents: A Common Pattern Related to Arctic Sea Ice Melt, Snow Advance, and Extreme Winter Weather (2013 / OA)

  47. 97
    Eric Swanson says:

    #96 prokaryotes – Quoting from the article:
    ” Anomalously low sea ice during summer exposes darker (i.e., low albedo) ocean water to sunlight, producing strong Arctic warming via direct radiative impacts and anomalous latent and sensible heat fluxes that persist into the winter months. The ensuing feedback leads to amplified warming of the Arctic relative to the rest of the globe (e.g., Serreze and Francis, 2006, etc.”

    Trouble is, this often repeated claim isn’t strictly correct. During summer, when there’s sunlight in the Arctic, the zenith angle for the incoming solar energy is quite large. Thus, under clear sky conditions when the energy beaming down is at a maximum, the albedo of water can be quite high, upwards of 30%. Most analysts claim that the albedo is very low, 5 to 7%, which is correct when the zenith angle is smaller, but wrong when the sun is low on the horizon. Then too, when the sky is cloudy, which happens most of the time, the effective zenith angle is low due to the scattering of the sunlight as it passes thru the clouds. But, the amount of energy deposited is also low, as clouds have a high albedo, reflecting some fraction of the energy back to space and absorbing another fraction, which heats the air above the surface.

    Other than that, Cohen’s comments regarding the effects of lower sea-ice cover after the melt season would appear to be plausible after a quick read.

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    The world’s financial markets could be creating a “carbon bubble” by over valuing the fossil fuel assets of large companies say MPs.

    Much of this coal and oil may have to be left in the ground to combat climate change, according to the Environmental Audit Committee


  49. 99
    Chris G says:

    Here’s one: Are there any GCMs which predict no major climate changes for the foreseeable future? (If there are then I haven’t been able to find them.) In principle, one’s skepticism of human-induced climate change could be motivated by a model which both accounts for past observations and predicts no significant changes in the future. In reality, are there any such individuals?

  50. 100
    Dave Peters says:

    In the piece mentioned two weeks ago (UV Feb. 22; # 337), Dr. Michael Ventrice reached for a forecast of upper air in the West Pacific that called for “two pair” of equator-straddling cyclonic systems–to help give birth to an El Nino. And indeed, storms arose with westerlies adequate to blow the CPC off neutrality, as they describe here: