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#COP21

Filed under: — group @ 30 November 2015

Apparently there is a climate conference of some sort going on. Happy to answer any science questions as they arise…

270 Responses to “#COP21”

  1. 1
    Edward Greisch says:

    “Years of Living Dangerously” Can you make it watchable on RC?

  2. 2
    Killian says:

    How does the science get presented for policy decisions given there is pretty much zero information from climate scientists for policy makers with regard to resources, resource limits and how to create regenerative nee sustainable systems?

    Seriously. Gobsmacked constantly when I consider this question.

    Phrased another way, why is there no attempt (I am aware of) from climate scientists to integrate climate science with resource issues and non-tech-based solutions to both aka an integrated climate/systems approach? (Well, not none. There is the LtoG update from 2005.)

    I suggested an approach for creating such a global model back in 2008, completely viable. Yet to find anyone interested in doing so.

  3. 3
    Killian says:

    Dear Ed,

    Given how useless the first one was, not sure the second is worth anyone’s effort. They have no idea whatsoever what they don’t know. Let’s not taint this site with the severe limits of that series.

    So much potential… so wasted.

  4. 4
    Simon says:

    Could the build up of heat in the worlds oceans if unchecked lead the world to a runaway greenhouse effect where the worlds average temperature gets close to the dreaded 20 degrees ‘C’ in about a fifty year period.?3

  5. 5

    It’s not really about how bad. (we sort of know all that)

    It’s about how soon. How soon? I figure about 7 generations of humans are left. – that’s with inaction – or without astounding commitments to make physical change happen.

    Of course the most valid modeling is based on current trends, we really don’t know what the “How Soon” answer would be if we actually applied effort. So, how soon without any effective changes to carbon emissions?

  6. 6
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Could the build up of heat in the worlds oceans if unchecked lead the world to a runaway greenhouse effect where the worlds average temperature gets close to the dreaded 20 degrees ‘C’ in about a fifty year period.?3

    Where did you get the 20 degree C in a 50 year period?

    I haven’t heard of that one yet.

  7. 7

    Glad to see that RealClimate.com is back up… for a while I was sure it went down again today because of my comment.

    It was just like an early Star Trek story where a computer was destroyed just by asking it to compute the value of pi. As fans know π is an infinite, transcendent number, impossible to resolve. And so Spock tricked the computer with that question.

    So too, I thought I may have broken RealClimate today with just the power of my question. It’s not even my question…everyone wants to know the two great questions: How bad will it get? and How soon will all that happen? (except for science journalists – who won’t touch the question of how soon)

    So far it seems climate scientists know there will be warming that goes well above 3 degrees and will continue to heat up more and more, the polar ice caps will be melting – probably totally, sea levels will rise well over 100 feet probably to 270 feet, and all the destabilizations of that heating globe will happen – drought, heatwaves, fires, deluges…. we read all this. Scientists know of no sure way to keep this from happening. Even if humans work hard to prevent it.

    We just don’t know when this will unfold. And like a plane that has run out of fuel in mid flight – we know it is coming down, we just don’t know precisely where and when. (May we please have a warm-water landing near shore?) And with global warming, I read suggestions we can slow down the timing of the crash, we can mitigate the harshness of inevitable events. And we just don’t know how much we can do to slow it down. How much effort must we put into it?

    So like a student asks about π , I asked RealClimate the forbidden question: How soon will all this happen? After all isn’t that the most important answer that climate delegates in Paris need to know?

    Let me make it easy, here are a few “how soon” questions (…please correct my understanding):

    How soon will it be over 3 degrees of C average warming? (… possibly by 2050 – likely by 2100)
    How soon will sea levels rise just 3 feet more? (… likely sometime between 2070 and 2100)
    How soon will sea levels rise hundreds of feet more? (… probably centuries from now)
    How soon will the Arctic Ocean be totally ice free in the summer? (… likely in the next few years)
    How soon will methane start to make things worse? (… happening already, and worse as it gets hotter)
    How soon will there be wildfires, killer heatwaves, famines, drought, millions of climate refugees ? (… hmm, it’s unlikely that a scientist would dare address that kind of question with any specificity. But others are addressing that today in Paris)

    Anyone drawing a circle knows that one does not need to know a precise value of π in order to draw a pretty good circle. Perhaps Paris delegates know they must show clout to lead the world act now. Then recalculate the question of how soon.

  8. 8
    Andy Revkin says:

    Might be useful to provide a fresh reminder that setting 2C (or less) as a threshold was a political decision based on, but not defined by, science? Gavin has made this point many times.

    Unless there’s fresh evidence that tipping points of no return are there and/or avoidable?

  9. 9
    Russell says:

    A climate conference in Paris ?

    Sounds like a a good idea , as long as the weather holds

    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!
    Prince, n’enquerez de sepmaine
    Où elles sont, ne de cest an,
    Qu’à ce refrain ne vous remaine:
    Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!

  10. 10
    Ken Lassman says:

    Where are things at with our best guesses at climate sensitivity? If I am recollecting correctly, in 2013/14 the best guess was that it was ranging anywhere from 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C. Have new studies narrowed that window at all?

  11. 11
    Phil Scadden says:

    Killian – what is IPCC WG3 then? However, climate scientists study climate. If you want something different, then first you find a funder, then that funder hopefully finds bidders with appropriate expertise. IPCC cant do that – it is not a funder. It is up to national science funding agencies.

  12. 12
    Edward Greisch says:

    2 Killian: There is also the population biology problem. Population biology is a branch of biology. They count rabbits. Reference “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009. Catton says that we humans are about to experience a population crash. Population biologist William Catton says that the US is the most overcrowded country. Collapse from overpopulation could happen any time now.
    The Earth has 4.5 Billion too many people. An overshoot in population requires an equal undershoot. We overshot by 4.5 billion, and the consequence is an undershoot by 4.5 billion. The carrying capacity is 3 billion. 3 billion minus 4.5 billion is zero because there can’t be minus 1.5 billion people. This can happen even if there is enough food.

    Catton tells the story of an island with deer but no wolves. The deer population increased to ~3500. There was still plenty of food, but the population crashed to 35. The reason was overcrowding.
    Sharing kills everybody because you can’t survive on half of the required calories. 7 billion people is 4 billion too many no matter how you slice it. “We” didn’t make “Them” have too many children.

  13. 13
    Leif Knutsen says:

    Right on Richard. Current glide path for you airplane looks darn close to straight down to me.

    It does not take a climate scientist or even a particularly bright bulb on the street to see that Capitalism, unrestrained by the requirements of Planetary life support systems, is guaranteed mutually assured destruction. When dollars are sacrosanct to Planetary life support systems, what other outcome can be expected? Socially enabled capitalism is clearly a failed paradigm. Help end tax funded pollution of the commons for starters. Our tax dollars are funding a Planetary ecocide future for the children of ALL species. A future EXXON scientists confirmed to the CEOs of EXXON as early as 1978. Shortly after that EXXON and other fossil industries started investing big money into the denier-sphere pipeline. The GOP of today would not exist as such without that cash infusion.

  14. 14
    Leif Knutsen says:

    Governments and the rich need to look at the third world poor as an asset, not a liability to kill off as fast as possible. The poor are unemployed and looking for something meaningful to do with their lives. They can rejuvenate farm land and build perma-culture ag. Water ways, build sewer and water systems. Give them health care, education and birth control, treat women and girls as equal and deserving members of the human race, humanly bring the population down. The difference between desert and bounty is not water but proud mankind.

  15. 15
    patrick says:

    The Paris 2015 UN Climate Change Conference is live-streaming on five channels, plus an on-demand channel, here:

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/

    Elapsed events have already been posted to the on-demand channel. Things to like. Menu:

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events

    All the better, to come up with questions.

  16. 16

    A loose network of 4,556 individuals with overlapping ties to 164 organizations do the most to dispute climate change in the U.S., according to a paper published today in Nature Climate Change. (Bloomberg)

    Take no prisoners: the Paris climate talks need to move beyond ‘fairness’!

  17. 17
    Victor says:

    Well, if nothing else, billions of dollars will be redirected to third world countries that badly need it — assuming it won’t fall into the pockets of corrupt politicians. Nice if it could help the poor. But that always seems to be the last priority.

    #7 Richard Pauli: “How soon will all this happen?”

    When will the next “big one” happen in San Francisco or LA? We know a humongous earthquake is on the way, and very likely soon. But no one seems interested in doing anything about it. Shouldn’t we be evacuating those cities and everywhere in between?

  18. 18
    Victor says:

    Second try, wish me luck:

    Well, if nothing else, billions of dollars will be redirected to third world countries that badly need it — assuming it won’t fall into the pockets of corrupt politicians. Nice if it could help the poor. But that always seems to be the last priority.

    #7 Richard Pauli: “How soon will all this happen?”

    When will the next “big one” happen in San Francisco or LA? We know a humongous earthquake is on the way, and very likely soon. But no one seems interested in doing anything about it. Shouldn’t we be evacuating those cities and everywhere in between?

  19. 19
    patrick says:

    Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, with other leaders of the U.S. Climate Action Network, at 13:10 of this video (30 Nov.):

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events/2015-11-30-14-30-us-can

    “We need…to address [the] ambition gap. We need a long term goal that sends a clear signal…that the end of the age of fossil fuels is inevitable, and the dawning of the age of renewable energy is unstoppable. …We need a five year cycle for review and revision of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. [With current trends] all countries should be able to put greater levels of ambition on the table by 2020.”

    “My organization and others have documented a decades long pattern of behavior by the fossil fuel industry to confuse public opinion, to mislead people about the science, and to block action on climate change. The good news is that we are seeing increasing waves of action…at the state level, the regional level, cities, businesses, etc. …Congress is a lagging indicator…the last entity that’s going to come around…”

  20. 20
    Edward Greisch says:

    http://decarbonisesa.com/2015/12/01/new-appointment-to-international-advisory-board-of-terrestrial-energy/
    “Terrestrial Energy announces the appointment of Ben Heard of Australia to its International Advisory Board.”
    “Terrestrial Energy will be represented at COP21 in Paris, France, the week of December 7, 2015.”

    Give ’em hell, Ben! They need it after what I saw today on France24 and DW [Deutschland World] news. What I saw was a vindictive “diplomat” from India wanting to tax the first world. She kept saying “Polluter pays,” not recognizing what a mess India has made of the air downwind of India.

  21. 21
    Mike Roberts says:

    Well, is this a science question?

    With what is already built in, it looks like the collapse of the WAIS is inevitable (no timeline). So, is it inevitable that some nations (e.g. Kiribati) will disappear from the impacts of AGW? If that’s inevitable then it’s also inevitable that the coasts of almost all countries will be drastically altered (no timeline). In this case, why are our so-called leaders offering to try to reduce emissions only to a level that will make this problem worse?

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    India is still digging in her heels…it’s up to the developed world then to make renewables significantly cheaper than coal and then assist India in every way to transition. It can be done..it WILL be done! I still shake my head in quiet despair when that bloody 2C target keeps getting mentioned.. as if that will save the planet. I so wish 1.2-1.5C was instead the maximum safe limit. Then that would give the majority of the world about 10 years to get their act together. That would put a real stick of dynamite up their nether regions.

  24. 24
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    That’s why we have the likes of Gavin Schmidt to create models based on available known data to more accurately than any of us – predict how soon this all will unfold. In my own experience the deeper you research into this field the more confronting it becomes. I read an article last week stating that no one is sure how the current El- nino will end…if it will ever end; now that the oceanic conditions are quite a bit different from what they were in 1997. “we are in uncharted territory”. All the many many pieces of the jigsaw are coming together to create the perfect storm of apocalyptic proportions. As Sir David Attenborough has just said at COP21. “the world will carry on as it’s done for eons” and without humans it has a chance to recover. If you are in your 40’s like me..hold on! for the rest of our life’s we will be in for an unpredictable and wild ride. As the arctic ocean finally melts for good not just during summer but for longer and longer periods of autumn and spring as well. As the Western and eastern Antarctic peninsula breaks up and the Antarctic ice begins de-massing on a stupendous scale. As the bottom water of the arctic keeps rising above 0.0C and CH4 plumes turn the water white. That is indeed a little further down the track, the global mean temp will keep sequentially breaking records year by year along with the arctic ice melting soon at an accelerating rate trending faster than the monthly background noise. There is a NASA app on cell phone which shows before and after photos of the same locations taken in the 1950’s and 1980’s and then again in 2012. The images speak for themselves. That to me gives a idea of the speed at which climate is changing and to understand in the back of your brain that this process is accelerating yearly. We don’t have long!

  25. 25
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Richard Pauli … like a plane that has run out of fuel in mid flight

    Er, no. You’ve misstated your analogy, grossly. Let’s fix that first.

    Your plane isn’t out of fuel. Not yet.

    Your prospects look grim only because you’ve been flying in the wrong direction.

    That’s why you’re seeing ocean where you expected to see Iowa.

    Turn the damned thing around and you’ll have what you need to land it somewhere without screwing things up a whole lot worse.

  26. 26
    Dean says:

    Would the following statement be accurate: “We have satellites in orbit. They measure the energy that arrives from the sun and the energy that leaves earth. The difference is global warming.”

  27. 27
    Pete Best says:

    Re #7

    At 0.2C per decade (01.5C really) and at present emission rates (10 billion tonnes per annum) then its going to take another 50 years to hit 2C.

    Seas are rising at 3mm per year so its 8 years per inch and hence 12×8=96 years per foot. If sea level rates are rising then it could be less but all things being linear it 100 years per foot presrntly.

    Methane is not a threat relative to CO2. Ace free arctic summers are somewhere around 2060. as for the rest of it, go wave your hand

  28. 28
    Dean says:

    Would this statement be correct: We have satellites in orbit. They measure how much energy arrives from the sun and how much is reflected back into space. The difference is global warming and skeptics have to prove where that energy is going if it is not to affect the climate.

  29. 29
    Chuck Hughes says:

    of the crash, we can mitigate the harshness of inevitable events. And we just don’t know how much we can do to slow it down. How much effort must we put into it?

    So like a student asks about π , I asked RealClimate the forbidden question: How soon will all this happen? After all isn’t that the most important answer that climate delegates in Paris need to know?

    I’m not a scientist but my guess on all of the above is a lot sooner than anyone anticipates. Especially when it comes to sea level rise. I think Greenland will go quickly.

    One error humans make consistently is in thinking we have time. We ALWAYS think there’s more time… until it runs out.

  30. 30

    I would appreciate some insight concerning this paragraph from Kevin Anderson in Nature recently:“Instead, my long-standing engagement with many colleagues in science, leaves me in no doubt that although they work diligently, often against a backdrop of organised scepticism, many are ultimately choosing to censor their own research.”
    Thank you!

  31. 31
    John says:

    a question: AR 5 WG 1 TFE.4 a) versus b) – as I understand it a) black line shows cumulative energy trapped in Earth system which equates to black line in b) but that is then divided between storage and radiative response – I don’t understand why it is not all in storage because all radiative response does is heat up the atmosphere so this heat should show up increasing amount in storage

  32. 32
    Jef says:

    The #1 stated reason for not committing to reductions is that it would have a devastating effect on developing countries economic prospects.

    Half the world population 3 to 4 BILLION is on the cusp of becoming “better off” which means having access to energy, energy consuming products like cars and homes with all the “necessities”, and jobs making, buying, selling, fixing, and disposing of all those things all of which requires massive amounts of energy and how ever that massive amount of energy is created it will generate massive pollution.

    Proponents of “renewable energy” never talk about this. They talk about replacing what we use now. Well BILLIONS of people don’t have access to much if any energy right now. So not only are we going to replace FF energy but we are going to nearly double the amount of energy produced in order to grow the world population out of poverty? Efficiencies will not accomplish a fraction of that either.

    What needs to be done is LESS not more. Trouble is the 1% needs everyone to believe that they to can become rich or else the whole game is up.

  33. 33
    Pierre-Normand Houle says:

    Hi John,

    The black line in figures (a) and (b) (from TFE.4 figure 1) don’t actually represent cumulative energy trapped in the climate system. Cumulative energy trapped — which is the net radiative flux at the top the atmosphere — rather must be equal to the total energy storage as represented by the blue line in figure (b).

    What is rather meant by the phrase “total energy inflow” (black lines in (a) and (b)) just is the total cumulative forcing. This isn’t a net energy flow since it does not incoporate the Planck response — that is the increase in outgoing longwave radiation that results from surface (and lower troposphere) warming together with albedo, cloud and water vapor feedbacks. The magnitude of this increase in outgoing radiation depends on the magnitude of the net feedback and, for three possible values of the feedback parameter alpha, corresponds to the purple, orange and green lines in (b). Those lines represent the sum of (1) the amount of (cumulative) energy storage and (2) (cumulative) increase in outgoing longwave radiation.

    This sum (storage plus outgoing) must exactly balance — and thus be equal in absolute magnitude to — the cumulative forcing in order to close the energy budget. Indeed, all three lines fall within the error bars for the total cumulative forcing (grey area), which it is the main purpose of the figure to illustrate.

  34. 34
    Mike Roddy says:

    I hope someone answers the “how soon” question posed by Richard Pauli. That date is so all over the place it’s starting to lose meaning.

    My woman friend Linda Sills, who founded Global Issues Network, is in Paris at COP 21. Her organization develops and works with English language schools worldwide. If anyone has questions for Linda, he can email me at mike.greenframe@gmail.com. Linda’s contacts are excellent, including at high banking and government agencies, and she is determined to improve climate awareness and scientific education.

  35. 35
    Chuck Hughes says:

    The one thing I rarely see or hear about amongst all the changes taking place is a factoring in of the rate of acceleration. I may be wrong about this but it seems to me that estimations of future changes in the climate omit the possible rate of acceleration over time.

    For instance, predictions based on Business As Usual… NOT predictions based on the entire process speeding up as we go, under BAU, which seems to be what’s happening. Arctic ice is disappearing faster and faster. The entire process is speeding up. Can someone figure that in and THEN calculate how much time is remaining? Thanks

  36. 36

    @Pete Best, and re #27, the IPCC reports show the projections. They are not linear. Accordingly, linear extrapolation is not appropriate. Moreover, whatever your model, you owe #7 a prediction interval, not only a point estimate.

  37. 37
    Chuck Hughes says:

    How about this question… It’s simple and direct:

    Has this Climate Conference been a success or a failure?

    IOW, are we exactly where we were BEFORE the Conference?

  38. 38
    Steven Sullivan says:

    Edward Greisch @ 5:19 PM — William Catton was a sociologist, not a population biologist. They are quite different things.

  39. 39
    Chuck Hughes says:

    This is why we can’t get our act together and probably never will. Maybe OT a little but you need to take a good look at what we’ve created. It’s all come down to this. Just wait till it’s food:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=77&v=KK2XFYL3D80

  40. 40
    robert says:

    Re: #8 ― Andy, I’m interested in your point. Why do you feel it “might be useful…” to, what I read as downplay, the importance of the 2C target?

  41. 41
    Tony Weddle says:

    Pete Best,

    If only it were that simple. Mike Mann projected 2036 for 2C, with BAU. Sea level rise is accelerating and discontinuities seem more and more likely.

    As for an ice free Arctic Ocean, 2060 seems far too optimistic.

  42. 42
    Tony Weddle says:

    Michael Mann wrote, in a Scientific American article that we can only emit “270 billion more metric tons” to have a chance of limiting warming to 2C. Does that come from the CO2 budget of 1000 Gt? If so, wasn’t that the budget from 2011? If so, the budget is way smaller now, less than 860 Gt CO2. If everything is taken into account, I’ve seen estimates of less than 650 Gt CO2 from fossil fuels. What’s the right figure? We can’t keep using the same figure, year after year; it has to come down as we emit.

  43. 43
    Edward Greisch says:

    “This website allows you to explore how different scenarios of global greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change could change the geography of food insecurity in developing and least-developed countries. By altering the levels of future global greenhouse gas emissions and/or the levels of adaptation, you can see how vulnerability to food insecurity changes over time, and compare and contrast these different future scenarios with each other and the present day.”
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/food-insecurity-index/

  44. 44
    Killian says:

    #32 Jef said, The #1 stated reason for not committing to reductions is that it would have a devastating effect on developing countries economic prospects.

    Indeed, and thank gods. The last shall be first is the perfect motto for The Perfect Storm: Those people living closest to the bone are those with the least distance between themselves and sustainability.

  45. 45

    #27, Pete Best–Good BOTE work, but I have to quibble a bit here:

    “[I]ce free arctic summers are somewhere around 2060. as for the rest of it, go wave your hand…”

    That used to be the consensus, and it looks like that’s more or less what extrapolation of the linear trend gets you still.

    But now the consensus seems to be more like 2030s, though estimates still vary a lot. Wikipedia says “Models that best match historical trends project a nearly ice-free Arctic in the summer by the 2030s,” and footnotes that to the Third National Climate Assessment. (However, a quick look there did not turn up the reference, though I expect it’s in there somewhere.)

  46. 46
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jef wrote: “Half the world population 3 to 4 BILLION is on the cusp of becoming ‘better off’ which means having access to energy … Proponents of ‘renewable energy’ never talk about this.”

    That’s incorrect. Proponents of renewable energy talk about that all the time.

    In fact there is an ongoing revolution in rural electrification via small-scale, distributed photovoltaics in Africa, southern Asia and other parts of the developing world. Solar power is bringing the benefits of electricity to millions of people who have never had access to it, and who have no hope of ever getting access to grid power from large centralized power plants of any kind.

  47. 47
    Katy says:

    How reliable do you find this study and how probable do you find the scenario of most of the life on earth being destroyed due to lack of oxygen?

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11538-015-0126-0

  48. 48
    patrick says:

    Dr. JAMES HANSEN at COP21 now:

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events/2015-12-02-16-30-tzu-chi

    This is archived in sequence on the on-demand channel. Originally live-streamed on the “Press Room 3” channel. The clearest guy in the room, first to last, all the way.

    “What we have to do is have the price…honest. That requires only a few of the major players to agree.”

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/events

    http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/

  49. 49
    patrick says:

    “We have delinked and decoupled carbon from GDP.”(0:55)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5bOY03hqAY

  50. 50
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jef,
    Actually, in some ways, the problem is easier where infrastructure is currently lacking. They can build a clean infrastructure that caters to people’s needs rather than advertising-fueled consumerism. And proponents of “renewale energy” talk about this all the time (but I rather doubt you spend much time in their presence).

    And given the astounding amount of infrastructure building and replacement that will be needed, some folks are going to get very rich. Just not the oil and coal companies. That is why they’ve produced the propaganda that you’ve swallowed hook, line and sinker.


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