RealClimate logo


Unforced Variations: Nov 2015

Filed under: — group @ 2 November 2015

This month’s open thread.

198 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2015”

  1. 1
    Russell says:

    Have Mark Steyn’s minions drunk an unwitting toast to the success of the Paris COP ?

  2. 2
    Geoff Beacon says:

    I’ve been struggling with the the idea that “Green Growth” may not be possible. That’s because the carbon intensity of production may not be reduced fast enough to allow anything but negative economic growth – if we are to keep within the remaining carbon budget. The crude model I assumed is a simplification of the Kaya Identity:

    Carbon_emissions = Economic_production * Carbon_intensity.

    Anyone here have any thoughts?

    (My piece is at http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/is-green-growth-a-fantasy/)

  3. 3
    Phil Mattheis says:

    I’m imagining an open forum that does not get hijacked by usual suspects, playing usual distractive games.
    I’ll optimistically propose several suggestions toward that end.

    1. Show restraint, avoid feeding trolls, taking bait, staying up late because someone is wrong on the internet… At least one of the guilty has promised to “willingly buzz off” if no one responds to his posts. [“Climate change is coming to a place near you” comment #113 – 28 Oct 2015 @ 3:43 PM]

    2. Oppositional opinions thrown around without citations (or with irrelevant citations) should be thrown away (or ignored without comment), especially for unrepentant frequent violators. A corollary to this relates to length: if the post scrolls out of sight, with no citations, just reading it will almost always be a waste of time. No response is necessary, or deserved.

    3. Fr. Ocham and his razor should be left in peace, since there is no “law” there, and only barely a scientific principal – of some use in choosing between similar hypotheses, but which proves nothing (a citation calls out for use: youtube.com/watch?v=6GMkuPiIZ2k).

  4. 4
    sidd says:

    Is there a problem with this site ? I get many, many error 503 pages here. A denial of service attack or jus bandwidth problems … or ?

  5. 5
    Anonymous Coward says:

    Geoff (#2),
    Of course green growth is possible. But what’s the point?
    Switzerland has great “carbon intensity” for instance. So what? Sure, some of that’s due to decent policies but in the European context the country’s ain’t as green as your metric would have us believe. It’s just gots lots of fat banks and a strong currency.
    Here’s a “carbon intensity” tip: child care vouchers. You can get a quick bump in economic growth without increasing pollution much by commercializing unpaid work.
    There are also commonly used ways to game the stats on economic growth such as the hedonic deflator.
    Your metric is worse than useless. It’s a tool to legitimize pollution by the financially priviledged.

  6. 6

    In reply to Russell and Geoff Beacon:

    The fossil fuel industry is pulling out all the stops on their corruption and/or threats modus operandi to sabotage or water down any reforms to be proposed In the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris. I have written an article where this is detailed in the 3rd part of the 3 part article that I link at the end of this post. If they succeed, as they have done in the past, there is no hope whatsoever of preventing a ΔT = PLUS 4 degrees centigrade world within the next 85 years. Even the IPCC RCP-8.5 scenario is too conservative with 400PPM (and increasing at over 3PPM per year) of CO2.

    Whether “Green growth” is possible or not then becomes academic. You need a global civilization based infrastructure of manufacturing with a secure supply chain in order to transition quickly to 150% Renewable Energy. The excess above 100% to power civilization is sine qua non in order to get back to 350PPM with carbon sequestering technologies. 400PPM of CO2 is not going away in less than a few centuries, even if we stopped all CO2 emissions today.

    That means, according to Professor Peter D. Ward, an American paleontologist and Professor at Sprigg Institute of Geobiology at the University of Adelaide, 25% of all arable land (which happens to be located near sea level and coasts) lost due to salt water table intrusion and trillions of dollars in port facilities and infrastructure also lost. We do not have the resources or the money to replace all that land and all those facilities. The Precautionary Principle is not just prudent; it is sine qua non to human civilization.

    At present, there is a pipe dream the fossil fuel industry propagandists are putting out there that we can reduce the PPM of CO2 from 400PPM to 350PPM. Nuclear submarines cannot go below 4000PPM of CO2, even with high tech scrubbing, after they have been submerged for a few days. They routinely run at 8000PPM CO2. We do NOT have the technology, at present, to get back to 350PPM while continuing to burn ANY fossil fuels whatsoever. The multi-century persistence of CO2 in the atmosphere has been evidenced in the geological record.

    The predicted turbulence in the oceans in the Hansen et al study and the rapid sea level rise predicted in the Dutton et al study will threaten global civilization. That is why COP21 may be our last chance to stop the degrading of democracy worldwide and our biosphere by the fossil fuel industry.

    Climate Change, Blue Water Cargo Shipping and Predicted Ocean Wave Activity: PART ONE

    Climate Change, Blue Water Cargo Shipping and Predicted Ocean Wave Activity: PART TWO

    Climate Change, Blue Water Cargo Shipping and Predicted Ocean Wave Activity: PART THREE

    Why Dianoia is sine qua non to a Viable Biosphere.

    Our Responsibility to Future Generations

  7. 7
    Hank Roberts says:

    Be careful who you cite:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=wingnut+daily
    Double check the claims about UN tribunals before promoting them.

  8. 8
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oops.

    just published research suggesting that destabilization of the Amundsen sea’s glaciers would indeed undermine the entirety of West Antarctica, as has long been feared.
    In a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Johannes Feldmann and Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research use a sophisticated climate model to study what will happen if these glaciers are, indeed, fully destabilized. And in essence, they find that the process of retreat doesn’t end with the region currently up against the ocean.
    “We showed that there is actually nothing that stops it,” said Levermann. “There are troughs and channels and all this stuff, there’s a lot of topography that actually has the potential to slow down or stop the instability, but it doesn’t.”
    Or as the paper puts it: “The result of this study is an if–then statement, saying that if the Amundsen Sea Sector is destabilized, then the entire marine part of West Antarctica will be discharged into the ocean.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/02/scientists-confirm-their-fears-about-west-antarctica-that-its-inherently-unstable/

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/28/1512482112
    This article contains supporting information online:
    http://www.pnas.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1512482112/-/DCSupplemental

    Download Supporting Information (PDF)
    Download Movie_S01 (AVI)

  9. 9
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Why do I wan’t economic growth?

    Economic growth is nothing but growth in the dollar value of a select set of goods and services.

    Decreasing the health of a nation’s population may very well increase GDP by increasing the number of dollars spent on health care.

    Is leisure something to be valued? If so then where is it’s value recognized in a nations GDP?

    Is raising a family valued? If so then where is that value recognized in a nations GDP?

    Is producing a child who is a brain dead thug not valued? Where is it’s value reflected in a nations GDP?

    Ask a money grubber how many dollars of love he has for his wife and children and watch how quickly they become incensed and irate as they are forced to realize for the moment that a single parameter can not rate a nation’s well being.

    Economics is pure fail.

  10. 10
    Phil Mattheis says:

    Joe Romm has written several articles on increasing carbon dioxide concentrations that should be game-changing, if anyone is paying attention (and breathing good air).
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/10/26/3714853/carbon-dioxide-impair-brain/
    is the first, based on several studies of cognitive function in people exposed to varying levels of indoor [co2].
    Simple gist:
    1. Higher [co2] = reduced capacity to use information and deal with crises. The increases were real-world numbers, using 500 as “green” indoor air, compared to 900 and 1400ppm. Typical folks lose 21% at 900 – which would turn A’s to B’s, C’s to D’s…good decisions to selfish ones…
    2. Real world measurements of indoor levels can vary well above those numbers, with 31% of school tested in Texas hitting 3000+ppm (recycled air conditioning because hotter outside? In Tx our children is not learning good).

    OSHA rules are not easily accessible, and depend on how you look. I found one site discussing regulations for fulltime workplaces that used 10,000 as upper level, but could not find that one back for citation. CFR 29-1910.1900 Table Z-1 lists allowable maximums for air contaminants, with CO2 at 5000ppm.
    Romm’s second article covers NASA studies that looked at astronauts in controlled closed environments, for obvious reasons. By 7,000ppm, everybody was unhappy, with cognitive impact and other health impairments seen at lower levels.

    A large part of my day job is work with kids who have learning problems – we feel pretty successful when we can find strategies that turn D’s and F’s into passing grades, when that doesn’t happen we have to shift expectations. I work in Alaska, where for most of the school year its cold outside, and the buildings are meant to be tight to keep in the heat. I’m not aware of anyone looking at [CO2], but will be checking that out in the next few weeks. The potential strength of that variable could be huge, with solutions simpler than special classrooms and extra teachers.

    The old urban legend of the frog calmly sitting in a heating bath until he’s cooked leaves out the part where the frogs were prepped by lobotomy – any reactions to heat were pure reflex. Thinking frogs (!?) don’t sit still for much, and choose to leave. We are apparently sitting calmly in stuffy offices and sealed classrooms and packed auditoriums watching presidential debates that are poisoning our ability to think and act responsibly.
    We should be able to agree this is a simple enough problem for consensus – but leaping out into another pot is not an the list – we have to reduce [CO2] indoors, and part of that solution is to slow the growth outside. Not much science or religion to argue there.

  11. 11
    Phil Mattheis says:

    Joe Romm has written several articles at Think Progress on increasing [CO2], that should be game-changing, if anyone is paying attention (and breathing good air). http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/10/26/3714853/carbon-dioxide-impair-brain/
    is the first, based on several studies of cognitive function in people exposed to varying levels of indoor [CO2].
    Simple gist:
    1. Higher [CO2] = reduced capacity to use information and deal with crises. The increases were real-world numbers, using 500 as “green” indoor air, compared to 900 and 1400ppm. Typical folks lose 21% at 900 – which would turn A’s to B’s, C’s to D’s…good decisions to selfish ones…
    2. Real world measurements of indoor levels can vary well above those numbers, with 31% of school tested in Texas hitting 3000+ppm (recycled air conditioning because hotter outside? In Tx our children is not learning good).

    OSHA rules are not easily accessible, and depend on how you look. I found one site discussing regulations for full-time workplace exposure that used 10,000 upper level, but could not find it back for citation. CFR 29-1910.1900 Table Z-1 lists allowable maximums for air contaminants, with CO2 at 5000ppm.

    Romm’s second article covers NASA studies that looked at astronauts in controlled closed environments, for obvious reasons. By 7,000ppm, everybody was unhappy, with cognitive impact and other health impairments seen at lower levels.
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/10/28/3709322/nasa-co2-health-risk-astronauts/
    A large part of my day job is work with kids who have learning problems – we feel pretty successful when we can find strategies that turn D’s and F’s into passing grades, when that doesn’t happen we have to shift expectations. I work in Alaska, where for most of the school year its cold outside, and the buildings are meant to be tight to keep in the heat. I’m not aware of anyone looking at [CO2], but will be checking that out in the next few weeks. The potential strength of that variable could be huge, with solutions simpler than special classrooms and extra teachers.

    The old urban legend of the frog calmly sitting in a heating bath until he’s cooked leaves out the part where the frogs were prepped by lobotomy – any reactions to heat were pure reflex. Thinking frogs (?!) don’t sit still for much, and choose to leave. We are apparently sitting calmly in stuffy offices and sealed classrooms and packed auditoriums (watching presidential debates) that may be poisoning our ability to think and act responsibly.

    We should be able to agree this is a simple enough problem for consensus – but leaping out into another pot is not on the list – we have to reduce [CO2] indoors, and part of that solution is to slow the growth outside. Not much science or religion to argue there.

  12. 12
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Vendicar Decarian,

    Because without economic growth, the poor have zero chance to improve their lives. Period. Maybe you want to learn something about economics before you dismiss it.

  13. 13
    Edward Greisch says:

    2 Geoff Beacon: No, I don’t believe in economics, especially since economists still want unlimited immigration. They claim that unlimited immigration would help the economy. On a planet that can support 3 billion people permanently when there are already 7.5 billion people, those economists have to be crazy.

    There is going to be a population crash, not growth. It isn’t just GW, it is also population biology and resource depletion. We are going to have an enormous “shringth,” who knows how far.

  14. 14
    Dennis says:

    Any idea how much it would cost to stop the fires in Indonesia and prevent massive additional CO2 emissions, and some comparison with existing CO2 reduction costs?

  15. 15
    S.E. says:

    2 Geoff Beacon: Some time ago I found an argument along the same lines by Kevin Anderson, here: http://kevinanderson.info/blog/avoiding-dangerous-climate-change-demands-de-growth-strategies-from-wealthier-nations/

    Seems like quite a strong argument, but will not get traction politically.

  16. 16
    Dean says:

    Seems like competing (or contradictory?) studies from NASA in recent days about ice mass balance in Antarctica. One said there was enough new snow in parts to lead to positive net gain. The other said Antarctic ice sheet is doomed. They are not completely contradicting each other, but do seem to come to different conclusions about mass balance at the moment. As I understand it, the one that said ice is increasing only delays the decline for a bit until the AGW impact is stronger. Any commentary appreciated.

  17. 17
    Mark says:

    Apparently Roy Spencer’s CMIP5 models vs observations graph has gotten some “uninformed and lame” criticisms from “global warming activist bloggers,” but no criticism from any “actual climate scientists.” Would any actual climate scientists, perhaps one with expertise in climate models, care to comment? http://www.drroyspencer.com/2015/11/models-vs-observations-plotting-a-conspiracy/

    [Response: Happy to! The use of single year (1979) or four year (1979-1983) baselines is wrong and misleading. The use of the ensemble means as the sole comparison to the satellite data is wrong and misleading. The absence of a proper acknowledgement of the structural uncertainty in the satellite data is wrong and misleading. The absence of NOAA STAR or the Po-Chedley et al reprocessing of satellite data is… curious. The averaging of the different balloon datasets, again without showing the structural uncertainty is wrong and misleading. The refusal to acknowledge that the model simulations are affected by the (partially overestimated) forcing in CMIP5 as well as model responses is a telling omission. The pretence that they are just interested in trends when they don’t show the actual trend histogram and the uncertainties is also curious, don’t you think? Just a few of the reasons that their figures never seem to make their way into an actual peer-reviewed publication perhaps… – gavin]

  18. 18
    Killian says:

    2 Geoff Beacon says I’ve been struggling with the the idea that “Green Growth” may not be possible. That’s because the carbon intensity of production may not be reduced fast enough to allow anything but negative economic growth – if we are to keep within the remaining carbon budget. The crude model I assumed is a simplification of the Kaya Identity:

    Carbon_emissions = Economic_production * Carbon_intensity.

    Anyone here have any thoughts?

    Yes, it’s simple math: We are already far over budget, so any growth is suicidal. We can talk substitution a bit, but not growth. Anyone talking about growth needs to go back to elementary school math.

    The equation you have there is meaningless. Nature doesn’t care about your little numbers. Nature does or does not. Yoda was clearly an ecologist, but sane. Human constructs of economics have no place in this discussion because they are devoid of consideration of the natural world and its limits.

    What we can say is those people whose lands have been exploited and local structures disrupted or destroyed certainly deserve to have their systems restored sustainably, while those living in in OECD and other “developed,” “modern” conditions are very quickly destroying the ability of the planet to support us and must massively reduce our consumption.

    The green growth oxymoron is borne of either ignorance of this basic math of over-consumption or an attempt to keep the illusion going as long as possible. Consider: With as little solar, wind and hydro as we have in the U.S., it is already adequate for that simplified future. We need no more if we are serious about sustainability. Of course, we are not yet. We are still attempting to negotiate with Nature, and Nature is busily digging the hole she’s going to bury us in if we don’t start paying attention.

    But let’s go back to the start and phrase as a question: If we are already using more than the planet can sustain, how can growth be an option?

    This isn’t rocket science, it’s simplicity. You can’t do simplicity by using more.

  19. 19
    Geoff Beacon says:

    Dennis

    This doesn’t quite answer you question but I have recently come across the proposal from Nordhaus of a Climate Club. (https://economics.stanford.edu/files/NordhausApril28.pdf)

    “Here is a brief description of the proposed Climate Club: the club is an agreement by participating countries to undertake harmonized emissions reductions. The agreement envisioned here centers on an “international target carbon price” that is the focal provision of an international agreement. For example, countries might agree that each country will implement policies that produce a minimum domestic carbon price of $25 per ton of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). Countries could meet the international target price requirement using whatever mechanism they choose—carbon tax, cap-and-trade, or a hybrid.”

    “A key part of the club mechanism (and the major difference from all current proposals) is that nonparticipants are penalized. The penalty analyzed here is uniform percentage tariffs on the imports of nonparticipants into the club region. Calculations suggest that a relatively low tariff rate will induce high participation as long as the international target carbon price is up to $50 per ton.”

    This is and excellent idea – but it would be more direct to apply a system that paid contries not to pollute. Within the club, a carbon tax would finance payments to all citizens. This would be an international version of Hansen’s Carbon Fee and Dividend.

    If for administrative reasons, it is necessary to make payments internal to each nation, balancing transfers between countries will be made. For a two nation club, there would be payments from the country with the higher average carbon footprint to the country with the lower one.

    The incentive for the poorer nations, with lower carbon footprints, would be the transfer payments from the wealthier nations. The poorer nations (like Indonesia) would be paid to keep their pollution low. The incentive for the wealthier nations would be avoiding the effects of dangerous climate change.

    For nations ouside the club there would be tariff barriers – perhaps related to the carbon content of their imports.

    $25 per ton of carbon dioxide! Much too low. I believe James Hansen has suggested $1000 per ton.

    (See http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/world-wide-carbon-fee-and-dividend/)

  20. 20
    Edward Greisch says:

    From the October suggestion that we work on COP21: How do we do that? We can’t talk directly to the State Department diplomats who will be going to the conference. We can send emails to Obama’s Whitehouse web site, but that has very little effect. We can email or phone senators, but they only ratify or not long after the treaty, if any, is agreed. The denialists blame liberals and Obama for everything the small but numerous third world countries vote for.

    Example: Tuvalu. A one-island country with a maximum altitude above sea level of a meter or 2. With only a few centimeters of sea level rise, salt water is affecting their agriculture already. They want to move their country to Australia, I think. They don’t want to be immigrant Australians, they want to carve out their own country in somebody else’s.

    A small island country may think that we owe them San Clemente or Key West. We don’t, but it is one country one vote. The COP process founders on the rocks of UN organization. To accomplish anything, the conference has to be moved to another venue where only major powers are involved. Maybe the G8 Climate Change Roundtable, which to my surprise, exists:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G8_Climate_Change_Roundtable

    But from Wikipedia: “The G8 Climate Change Roundtable developed 3 key principles for governments to consider when addressing climate change. Governments should:
    Focus their resources on measuring the effects of climate change on human, economic and environmental health.
    Increase their understanding of current and future changes taking place within the global environment. (e.g. sea level rise, sea/ice cover).[3]
    Quickly and effectively adopt climate stabilization policies with the goal of mitigating future environmental harm.”

    “The G8 Climate Change Roundtable developed 5 key principles for businesses to consider when crafting a climate change mitigation strategy. These principles are:
    Strategies should be based on scientific and economic facts.”

    The moment they include the word “economic,” I decide that this is going nowhere.

  21. 21
    Edward Greisch says:

    YAY! Somebody hears us:

    Letter: Carbon pricing plan would fight global warming
    Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 1:00 am

    http://www.eagletribune.com/opinion/letter-carbon-pricing-plan-would-fight-global-warming/article_8e1698a7-a5d8-53c8-9134-4d02948c16a8.html

    To the editor:
    Very recently I attended a hearing at the Statehouse on pricing carbon. The bill proposed by state Sen. Michael Barrett now has 44 co-sponsors. A large turnout would certainly add to its impetus. The room was so packed that it was difficult to even find a place to stand.
    For hours, one after another testified from diverse backgrounds, such as people whose family was in the oil business, to various other business owners, clergy and green energy advocates among many others. They advocated for a carbon fee and dividend, a straightforward way to mitigate climate change. The fee would be placed on carbon at the source and the dividend represents the return of the proceeds to consumers and businesses.
    A similar plan is in effect in British Columbia. It is revenue neutral — an outcome legislators on both sides of the aisle can agree on — and has cut emissions significantly. British Columbia’s economy actually outpaced the other provinces since the plan has been in effect.
    Massachusetts already has in place a plan for electricity which has lowered emissions here. There is nothing as yet covering heating and transportation which accounts for 80 percent of emissions but this bill would change that. A call or a letter to your state senator or representative and to the governor in support of this bill will go a long way.
    Mark Kertzman
    Cambridge

  22. 22
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Sidd, I am experiencing the same sort of problems. Server Down. 504 messages etc. Not sure what’s going on . Just tried to post a comment and hit “say it” and everything disappeared.

    Back to my question? Has anything changed as far as projections into the future about some sort of economic/societal collapse by the 2030’s or so? Is this an imminent situation and is anyone preparing for it?

    I know this year is literally off the charts heat wise. The full effects of this El Nino won’t be felt for several more months. Fires are raging out of control in Indonesia. Tamino’s “Open Mind” just had a piece called “Apocalypse Now”. Record flooding in the South East and Texas. 1.5′ of rain in one day. Over 20 cat. 4-5 hurricanes etc. It looks like things are starting to get interesting. So what are we looking at time wise before some sort of major crisis i.e. “collapse”?

    How optimistic are people feeling about the Paris Climate Conference in December? I’m looking for any updated assessments about our situation.

  23. 23
    Darryl Williams says:

    Scandal brewing in Saskatchewan over the Boundary Dam Carbon Capture System. This facility supposedly went operational a year ago, to much fanfare, and there have been problems ever since that the Sask gov’t has covered up. They’ve claimed a 90% recovery rate of CO2, yet actual figures show less than 40%, with significant down time and major design problems. Now the Sask govt owes millions more to Cenovus, a major oil industry company, for not providing contracted amounts of recovered CO2, and is also involved in a lawsuit over the design and construction of the plant with SNC Lavalin.

    Lots of links and info here:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskpower-carbon-capture-debate-heats-up-saskatchewan-legislature-1.3300362

    Of course, some problems and glitches are to be expected with the first of its kind plant, but these problems are far more than glitches.

  24. 24

    “No, I don’t believe in economics, especially since economists still want unlimited immigration. They claim that unlimited immigration would help the economy. On a planet that can support 3 billion people permanently when there are already 7.5 billion people, those economists have to be crazy.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/11/unforced-variations-nov-2015/comment-page-1/#comment-637531

    Perhaps I should leave this alone, but why would the total population in relation to (posited) global carrying capacity have anything to do with a question that affects an unspecified subset of the whole world?

    IOW, do Chinese or Indian economists favor unlimited immigration? Or is the supposed phenomenon limited to countries that have already gone through the demographic transition, and are now marked by greying populations and high pension liabilities?

  25. 25

    #16, GAvin inline–very crisp!

    But I wonder about the first point:

    “The use of single year (1979) or four year (1979-1983) baselines is wrong and misleading.”

    – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2015/11/unforced-variations-nov-2015/comment-page-1/#comment-637551

    Why is that misleading? I would have thought that a baseline is essentially just a value for the ‘x’ axis, and that while some choices are better than others (especially WRT possible visible compression of the resulting curve), in principle the baseline choice is irrelevant to the actual calculated trend(s).

    Gavin (or for that matter, anyone else who can clarify) an you expand on this a bit more?

    [Response: Any specific year temperature has both a forced component and a ‘weather’ component (which includes the ENSO state etc). The CMIP5 models are free running which means that the ‘weather’ component is uncorrelated between each model simulation and the observations. If you are looking to see how the forced components line up, aligning on short time periods effectively increases the spread elsewhere by the magnitude of the weather component. More specifically, if you pick a year or short period where the real world was warm due to an El Niño it will shift the models up relative to the observations giving a false impression of divergence. – gavin]

  26. 26

    Dang. Not the news I wanted to read:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/world/asia/china-burns-much-more-coal-than-reported-complicating-climate-talks.html?_r=0

    Officials accepted the need to correct worsening distortions in the old data but have not commented publicly on the changes, according to Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University in eastern China. Mr. Lin said in a telephone interview that this was partly because the new figures made it more complicated to set and assess the country’s clean-energy goals.

    “It’s created a lot of bewilderment,” he said. “Our basic data will have to be adjusted, and the international agencies will also have to adjust their databases. This is troublesome because many forecasts and commitments were based on the previous data.”

    Not great intrinsically, and not great this close to COP 21.

    Still, there is a potential silver lining:

    The new numbers may mean that the peak will be higher, but they also raise hopes that emissions will crest many years sooner, Mr. Yang, the climate adviser, said.

    “I think this implies that we’re closer to a peak, because there’s also been a falloff in coal consumption in the past couple of years,” he said.

  27. 27
    Russell says:

    6: A.G. Gelbert:

    What does the “predicted incerase in sea turbulence in the Hansen Study ” imply in terms of ocean albedo ?

  28. 28
    Ken Fabian says:

    I’m not always sure what people mean by a green economy, but I don’t think there’s a lot of choice but to try for some version of one; frugality is unlikely to ever have the necessary popular appeal to be adopted voluntarily at large scale so prosperity needs to be achieved by better, less environmentally costly means.

    I do wonder to what extent poverty alleviation as a consequence of economic development is a relatively small component of development that has a much larger component of consumerism and extravagant wastefulness for winners who did not begin as poverty stricken. Also, noting that more people currently lived malnourished and in poverty now than the entire pre-industrial revolution global population I wonder if the level of poverty alleviation can ever gain sufficient ground that absolute rather than relative poverty can ever end up on a sustained course that tends toward zero.

    Absolute vs relative is a distinction that matters – the climate problem and emissions is ultimately a matter of absolute emissions and whilst relative emissions intensity has to reduce it remains at best a means for hazard reduction not hazard elimination.

    Transient vs permanent matters too – the transient economic benefits of industry that consumes irreplaceable resources and leaves permanent and irrevocable consequences and costs, such as economic prosperity for a century or two from burning coal but with a burden of costs that last millennia can look like a poor bargain. Of course we can leave future generations to succeed or starve or fight over reduced opportunities like it’s not our problem and going by past experience, they can blow up other people’s opportunities out of envy, hate and inadequate and inequitable economic systems and governance.
    (delete if this is a duplicate comment – recaptcha problems)

  29. 29
    Vincent says:

    Hi folks, I have a question (apologies if this is a stupid question). As I’m sure you’re aware, a recent NASA study has claimed that Antarctica is (for now) gaining more ice than that it’s losing. My question is, does this mean that the fresh water melt component of sea level rise has been overestimated–and, in turn, that the thermal expansion component of sea level rise has been underestimated? If so, does this mean that the oceans have been accumulating even more heat than previously thought? If so, does this have any implications for our understanding of the “energy budget” of the Earth? If not, what am I misunderstanding? Thanks in advance!

  30. 30
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Chuck Hughes

    It sounds as if you’d like to see an update on the report for Lloyds of London prepared by the Global Sustainability Institute. This organization is at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and his headed by Dr Aled Jones. Their conclusion is that chronic food shortages will result in the collapse of civilization by 2040, assuming a business-as-usual scenario. You have seen this, haven’t you?

  31. 31
    patrick says:

    Russell @1: The pattern of your behavior with this particular type of comment is trollish in fact–or something of a cross between trollish and spamish.

  32. 32
    Peter Backes says:

    Thinking this might be an interesting topic to address: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-antarctica-losing-ice-or-gaining-it/

  33. 33
    Matthew R Marler says:

    Here is an intriguing study of the changes (i.e increases) in evpotranspiration to be expected with climate warming.

    It does not have anything about the reduced ventilation (through stoma) that plants experience at higher CO2 levels — that would be for others to discuss. Probably ignoring the change in ventilation leads to over-estimating the increase in evapotranspiration, but how much?

  34. 34
    Matthew R Marler says:

    Did I forget the link?

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep15956

  35. 35
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Because without economic growth, the poor have zero chance to improve their lives.” – 12

    Clap Trap.

    Economic growth has little if any relationship with improvements in living standards and human well being. The claim that growth produces such benefits is one of the big lies of Economics.

    Corporations at all levels know how to game the system by producing shoddy – made to fail – goods that serve their need for an after market.

    The consumer is hoodwinked into believing that the purchase of a shiny new vacuum or toaster, or banana holder is a “good deal” when in fact months later after they have forgotten their purchase, the product fails, can not be serviced, and must be replaced.

    The economic system also benefits from injuring, burning up, and throwing away workers and consumers in the form of higher health care costs, which translate into higher levels of spending that add to the GDP.

    A healthy population does not spend as much on health care and hence does not contribute those unnecessary health care purchases to estimates of economic growth.

    In fact improving the efficiency of material production, and the health of a population both reduce a nations GDP and hence in terms of economic production, are negative.

    This is also true of the growth of leisure. Leisure of course is what people have when they are not slaves to industry. Leisure is what virtually everyone strives for. Leisure is the principle means by which people enjoy themselves. Yet an expansion of Leisure – something that everyone wants, must be bad according to economists because it reduces economic growth.

    Those who look to growth in GDP as a means of measuring the wealth of a nation, or a people, are playing a losers game, and have a vision of the future that is just more of the same wasteful and socially and environmentally destructive production and consumption that we have at present.

    No person who has any concept of where we are and what is coming down the pipe, has any interest in more economic growth.

    What we all want are improved standards of living, and that doesn’t come from being a slave to corporations, or by being poisoned by the effluent of out of control Capitalism.

  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
    Ken Fabian says:

    I’m not always sure what people mean by a green economy, but I don’t think there’s a lot of choice but to try for some version of one; frugality is unlikely to ever have the necessary popular appeal to be adopted voluntarily at large scale so prosperity needs to be achieved by better, less environmentally costly means. It needs to be sufficient to result in global absolute rather than merely local relative emissions reductions.

    I do wonder to what extent poverty alleviation as a consequence of economic development is a relatively small component of development that has a much larger component of consumerism and extravagant wastefulness for winners who did not begin as poverty stricken. Also, noting that more people currently lived malnourished and in poverty now than the entire pre-industrial revolution global population I wonder if the level of poverty alleviation can ever gain sufficient ground that absolute rather than relative poverty can ever end up on a sustained course that tends toward zero.

    Absolute vs relative is a distinction that matters – the climate problem and emissions is ultimately a matter of absolute emissions and whilst relative emissions intensity has to reduce it remains at best a means for hazard reduction not hazard elimination.

    Transient vs permanent matters too – the transient economic benefits of industry that consumes irreplaceable resources and leaves permanent and irrevocable consequences and costs, such as economic prosperity for a century or two from burning coal but with a burden of costs that last millennia can look like a poor bargain. Of course we can leave future generations to succeed or starve or fight over reduced opportunities like it’s not our problem and going by past experience, they can blow up other people’s opportunities out of envy, hate and inadequate and inequitable economic systems and governance.

  39. 39
    Omega Centauri says:

    Vincent @29. I’m not so sure the new study isn’t just rehashing something already known. I saw a graph of observed Antarctic ice mass, along with a quadratic fit. Basically it showed that the mass balance is changing from net positive to net negative. The study in question was backward looking, stating the average annual gain/loss over a period is going to be very close to the rate during the middle of that interval. And the middle is from a time ten or more years in the past (i.e. it reflects an earlier time when the mass balance hadn’t deteriorated as much.

  40. 40
    BojanD says:

    #25 @Kevin, you don’t really have to do baseline aligning right, but then the criteria for ‘failed’ projections should not rely on y axis comparison, but that is exactly what deniers are doing, aren’t they? Hence misleading and they know it.

    Of course, you can obviate any baseline issues by just looking at trends, but that is exactly what deniers are NOT doing or are, again, doing it in a misleading fashion. Tamino made this comparison. Looks about right, doesn’t it?
    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/rates.jpg

  41. 41
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Vendicar Decarian: “Clap Trap. ”

    Wow! What devastating logic! It is such a privilege to see your mind at work.

    Care to provide anything to justify your uninformed opinion other than straw men and blatant assertions? Say, maybe a mechanism whereby inequality can be remedied in an economy without growth (or outlawing wealth)?

    Didn’t think so.

  42. 42
    tb says:

    Maybe this is a good place to ask about the RSS data set and why it’s different from UAH and the surface temp record? Is this understood? I have looked around but never found a sensible discussion on it.

  43. 43
    tb says:

    Does anyone have an explainer posted somewhere covering the difference between the RSS temp data and every other data set, satellite or otherwise? Is there something wrong with it? Is it making measurements differently, etc? (if this reposts, sorry, forgot the captcha button)

  44. 44
    MA Rodger says:

    The Woy Spencer’s comparison of “satellite observations-vs-models graphs” linked @17 & (also referenced @25) lacks a working link to the graph being discussed. I assume it is effectively the same as this graphic which is also “…-thru-2013”, comparing UAH TLT (presumably v5.6) with HadCRUT4 (since updated) and with 90 CMIP5 models.
    With a sight of the graphic, I have to say that the CMIP5 models plot rather well against UAH5.6 being 88th of 90 models in 1986 and still 88th after 23 years in 2013. That is pretty consistent by anybody’s reckoning.
    Sadly, Woy is now spending his time playing with UAH6.0beta3 (And I note he is having fun with his satellite calibrations. TLT Beta3 shows little change from beta2 over 1979-2010 but 2010 to 2015 it has deviated dramatically: 0.03ºC warmer in 5 years.) which is flat as a pancake 2000-2015 (even beta3) so he probably hasn’t the time to sort an updated version of his graphic.
    HadCRUT4 has also undergone revision so if Woy did ever manages to plot HadCRUT4 using up-to-date figures and without displacing it downwards by cherry-picking his start-point, (which I fear is beyond the abilities of one a feeble-minded as Woy Spencer,) it would plot well within the mass of his CMIP5 model tracks. Again this would be a pretty good correlation given the forcings have proved lower than those used by CMIP5 model forecasts.

  45. 45
    Nick O. says:

    Slightly mischievious comment, I know, but I wonder if we should just refer to Exxon-Mobil’s scientists to settle some of these climate change controversies? I mean, if this latest news story on the Beeb is anything to go by, it appears that Exxon’s scientists have had firm opinions about climate change and global warming and the influence of C02 for decades (see this link):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34750196

    Maybe we – the public – have a right to know, yes? After all, the Climatic Research Unit at UEA was hounded … sorry … maybe I should say “pressed” … to reveal its data and analytical methods, wasn’t it? How about some balance, then, particularly if it goes back *decades*? Let’s get Exxon’s view, shall we?

    (Sorry, please excuse the heavy irony, but I couldn’t resist it – NAO)

  46. 46
    gmb92 says:

    More evidence for high climate sensitivity:

    “Long-term cloud change imprinted in seasonal cloud variation: More evidence of high climate sensitivity”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065911/abstract

    Comments?

  47. 47

    #35 & #38–According to the reading I’ve done, how much increased wealth also increases well-being is an inverse function of economic status. When additional wealth buys you access to safe water for the first time, that’s huge. When it buys a second Maserati, not so much.

    I must confess, though, it’s become a cynical reflex of mine to wonder, when concern for the poor is expressed in connection with carbon emissions, whether that concern is equally manifest in regard to other policies with economic implications, too–present company excepted, the concern often feels like a rationalization rather than an actual reason.

  48. 48
    Edward Greisch says:

    24 Kevin McKinney: You are missing the point. The point is the total number of 7.5 billion. The result is no food soon. Or people die of some never-before-seen disease. It is the numbers you are supposed to pay attention to. The demographic transition is irrelevant. Japan is using robots rather than immigrants. The Germans import Turks and then the Moslems wake them up with calls to prayer.

    35 Vendicar Decarian: I agree.

  49. 49
    Edward Greisch says:

    24 Kevin McKinney: You gave us an example of very illogical thought which a great many, maybe almost all, people do. Moving people from country A to country B does not cause there to be fewer people. No matter how you re-arrange 7.5 billion people on the globe, they are still 7.5 billion people. We can’t save anybody by letting them come here. In fact, all you do by letting them come here is encourage their parents to have even more children they can’t feed. Is it wishful thinking? Your desire to save people actually results in your own death sooner.

    It isn’t about a subset. It is the total set that is depleting the oceans and the aquifers. When the food runs out, those without will take food from wherever they can. All edible species will be hunted to extinction as we go extinct. There is no surviving subset.

  50. 50
    MartinJB says:

    Vendicar,

    pretty sure we had economic growth before we had corporations. And it does not require capitalism (or corporations, for that matter) to create pollution.

    Also, you seem to be a little confused on what GDP actually is and how economies are measured, or at least that’s my reaction from what you wrote in comment 35 – http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=18830#comment-637570). You can, in fact, have an increase in GDP whilst producing a smaller amount of physical goods. GDP isn’t defined as the physical amount of goods or whatever the equivalent would be of services. It is more accurate to describe it as the value of those goods and services. For instance, a higher quality widget that lasts longer would have a higher economic value than the chintzy, made-to-fail widget.

    Regarding lifting people out of poverty, in the developing world (or whatever you want to call it), where people lack basic needs (both physical and from services), providing those needed goods (i.e. food, medicine, a second pair of clothes [sustainably produced, of course!]) and services (education, healthcare, sanitation etc.) would almost certainly increase the GDP in those countries.

    All that said, I agree with the general point that the structure of our economies is largely dependent on supplying people with an endless and excessive amount of wasteful goods. There are some interesting efforts to reimagine an economy that does not function that way. Transforming economies to these new models is surely a daunting task. I doubt we’ll do so in any graceful way and instead will have endless disruption and unfortunate misery on the path to a sustainable civilization.


Switch to our mobile site