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Unforced Variations: June 2019

Filed under: — group @ 3 June 2019

This month’s open thread for climate science discussions. Remember discussion about climate solutions can be found here.

183 Responses to “Unforced Variations: June 2019”

  1. 51
    mike says:

    “For nearly a million years, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have maintained an average of about 280 ppm, not going above 300 ppm or below 160 ppm. Global warming (and cooling) trends have played out on thousand-year time scales. The latest human-caused warming event is occurring over just a couple of centuries, which is so quick in comparison that the trend line appears vertical as it approaches today.”

    Popular Science uses the term vertical to describe the rise in CO2.

    https://www.popsci.com/record-breaking-co2-graph-climate

    How about methane? I didn’t spot a chart, but I will hazard a guess and say it probably looks vertical also. We should talk to people about this because it looks like we are headed to a place on the climate map where it says “here there be dragons.” If you want your talk with others to result in changes in behaviors remember that facts are not persuasive, you have to bring myth and imagination to the discussion to overcome competing tribal myths and stories.

    I think it makes sense to live as if the lives of all sentient beings matter, but hey, that’s just me.

    Cheers

    Mike

  2. 52
    mike says:

    To N at 46: yes, quite right. The discussion of global tribes and their relative impact on the environment should make distinctions about which tribes exert an inordinate influence on the physical world. I think that might have been assumed to some extent in the piece, but from an equity pov, it makes sense to point out that all tribes are not created equal in terms of environmental impact.

    On tipping points: I wonder if we have reached a tipping point or created a positive feedback regarding discussion of climate change and the sixth great extinction. I am seeing more and more climate change stories in various media. The Conde Nast story is an example. It may be that as the discussion builds and rolls out in new areas, that the story will be framed and presented in a manner that will help our species change and slow the extinction event and reduce suffering. I hope that turns out to be the case.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  3. 53

    Killian, #34

    Kevin, et al: So nice to see you all acknowledging what you’ve been told for so long wrt risk and rapid change. Why, pray tell, are you still in denial on the solutions side?

    You’ve always had trouble reading me for comprehension. Maybe it’s my writing, who knows?

  4. 54

    zebra, #50–

    Don’t want to obsess over this point, but your response confuses me. I’m really not sure how to read the auto-quote in the context of discussing tipping points vs. feedbacks.

    You had said that you thought Fred was equating the two; I opined he wasn’t, and he subsequently confirmed that.

    So, if you are saying in your quote that tipping points and feedbacks are different–that, for instance, warming rice paddies constitute a positive feedback but do not instantiate a tipping point because they don’t release more GHGs “on their own,” then it would seem we’re all in fundamental agreement about TPs & FBs: they are quite distinct.

    As to “what difference would that make?” I’d say that’s to be determined empirically and analytically.

  5. 55
    Al Bundy says:

    Fred Magyar: An example of a tipping point might be the climate warming enough to melt the permafrost and begin releasing previously sequestered CO2 and CH4.

    AB: I disagree. Any time there is warming some permafrost somewhere melts and there will “always” be more permafrost to melt. There’s no change of system state, just localized melt and/or freezing. That’s feedback.

    A tipping point is like it getting warm enough to melt all the arctic sea ice and that lets enough warmth into the Arctic Ocean so that arctic sea ice never forms again even if things cool below what they were when the ice disappeared. Tipping points are irreversible without a serious kick in the opposite direction.

  6. 56
    mike says:

    Hey Al,

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2019/06/04/carbon-dioxide-levels-hit-record-peak-in-may/

    Rob Monroe says in this piece: “The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases every year, and the rate of increase is accelerating.”

    You have objected quite strenuously in the past to this current tense statement about the acceleration of the rate of increase. Are you willing to explain to the Scripps Institution that they should retract or modify this statement?

    Do you think they have this wrong?

    Cheers

    Mike

  7. 57
    nigelj says:

    Zebra says melting permafrost cannot reach a tipping point. However the hothouse earth research says permafrost could reach a tipping point if temperatures rise more than 5 degrees above the 1980’s baseline here ( a brief summary of the research):

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/hothouse-earth-climate-change-tipping-point-2018-8?r=US&IR=T

    This means at that temperature permafrost melting becomes self sustaining. I’m not sure that Zebra has explained why he thinks that research is wrong.

    I do agree with Zebra that feedbacks and tipping points are different things, but the former feeds the later doesn’t it? Anyone disagree.

    Zebra says “On the other hand, if BAU, I also doubt it would matter much at all. How much worse would it be, he asks again, if we reached +4C in 85 years instead of 100?”

    Not much worse. There would be some extra adaptation costs from replacing more infrastructure before its use by date but obviously these would not be huge. However I have absolutely no idea what this has to do with tipping points in the arctic as to whether they are possible or not.

  8. 58
    Tpaine says:

    If there were no greenhouse gases in our atmosphere would that atmosphere provide any additional warmth to the earth at all?

  9. 59
    mike says:

    I have questions about the time and effort that goes into moderation at this site, but who cares?

    Cheers

    Mike

  10. 60
    mike says:

    How about CO2? how are we doing?

    June 2 – 8, 2019 414.32 ppm
    June 2 – 8, 2018 410.86 ppm

    That looks like 3.46 ppm increase in yoy CO2. Where is that coming from? Keeling says, more fossil fuels and maybe a bit of el nino. Some think that warming arctic may also be contributing. Is the rate of increase accelerating?

    Maybe, some say yes, but other say it should be fine. Emission reports suggest emissions continue to decrease, right?

    Warm regards

    Mike

  11. 61
    sidd says:

    Thanks for the post on the Haustein paper. Could we have a post on the Knutson paper on Type I and Type II errors on tropical cyclone trend detection and attribution ?

    https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0189.1

    It is a nice review.

    sidd

  12. 62

    tpaine, #58–

    If there were no greenhouse gases in our atmosphere would that atmosphere provide any additional warmth to the earth at all?

    I don’t know for certain, but as far as I do know there is so far only one known mechanism by which atmospheres can provide “additional warmth”–and that is the greenhouse effect. So I’m thinking no, it wouldn’t.

    Also–in a side note–if there were no greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, it seems unlikely there would be any life, either, since the only way not to have CO2 in the atmosphere would be not to have lots of both C and O available in the planet’s geophysical system. Lacking either one, no life.

  13. 63
    Ignorant Guy says:

    Mike at #56 and #60.

    I beg your indulgence while I’m nitpicking.
    “The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases every year, and the rate of increase is accelerating.” actually looks wrong. It should be “The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases every year, and the rate of increase is increasing.”
    For illustration I refer to the graphs at https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/full.html (1) and https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html (2).
    “Growth rate” should be equivalent to “rate of increase”.
    We can see in the graph (2) that growth rate has been > 0 for all years since 1958. That means that concentration has been increasing for all those years. In (1) that is the same as the line in the graph sloping upward.
    We can also see in (2) that the trend of the growth rate is sloping upward. That means that the growth rate is increasing which is the same as that the concentration is accelerating. In (1) that is shown by the graph not only pointing upwards but also curving upwards. The growth rate is sloping upwards but is not curving upwards. Actually it is curving downwards. That means that although the concentration is accelerating, the growth rate is increasing but not accelerating, it is decelarating. In (1) that means that the graph slopes upwards and it also curves upwards but the curvature is decreasing.
    So:
    The concentration is increasing and accelerating.
    The (rate of) increase of the concentration is increasing but decelarating.
    The acceleration of the concentration is positive but decreasing.
    Or to put it differently:
    The first time derivative of the concentration is positive.
    The second time derivative of the concentration is also positive.
    But the third time derivative of the concentration is negative.
    The increase is positive.
    The first time derivative of the increase is also positive.
    But the second time derivative of the increase is negative.
    OK, but is that good or bad? It’s bad. The concentration needs to decrease. Instead it’s not only bad, it’s getting worse – and fast.

    Next question: Is it “skyrocketing”? Well, that’s really a matter of taste. I think that it’s reasonable to call the numbers from Scripps/esrl.noaa “skyrocketing”.

  14. 64
    Nemesis says:

    @mike, #51

    From your quote of the article you linked to:

    ” For nearly a million years, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have maintained an average of about 280 ppm, not going above 300 ppm or below 160 ppm. …”

    What about the recent 15 million years?:

    ” Earth’s carbon dioxide levels are likely the highest they’ve been in 15 million years”

    https://mashable.com/article/climate-change-carbon-pollution-15-million-years

    15 million years ago the global temperature was ~5°C higher than today.

    @mike, #52

    ” The discussion of global tribes and their relative impact on the environment should make distinctions about which tribes exert an inordinate influence on the physical world. I think that might have been assumed to some extent in the piece, but from an equity pov, it makes sense to point out that all tribes are not created equal in terms of environmental impact.”

    That’s the way it is. At some point we will have to talk about socio-economic inequality, we will have to talk about the global economic system as it is at the core of the climate- and ecological desaster. Technology combined with capitalism is the ultimate killer. Everyone who still didn’t learn it yet will learn it very soon once and for all. After what I’ve seen over the last 3 decades, I’m pretty sure we will simply go extinct before the economic system will ever change. No, I’m no optimist in any sense, I’ve learned the hard way.

    ” On tipping points: I wonder if we have reached a tipping point or created a positive feedback regarding discussion of climate change and the sixth great extinction. ”

    The 6th global mass extinction is already happening and climate heating is a big part of it, the change is happening too fast for the ecosystem and animals to adapt, that’s a given, no doubt about that. So even if the powers that be should start wearing flowers in their hair and start hugging trees tomorrow, it will be a hell of a ride. And I don’t expect TPTB to wear flowers or any shit like that for the next 1000 years. And about permafrost (resp methane) tipping point:

    Just look at Alaska, Canada or Siberia. It’s happening.

  15. 65
    Nemesis says:

    I said ” I’m pretty sure we will simply go extinct before the economic system will ever change” in my recent comment. But that’s not 100% valid I guess, because it is highly likely that at some point in the not too distant future we might see some real Climate emergency, a Climate Dictatorship. That’s when the military-industrial complex will openly and fully take over, implementing climate engineering (eg Solar Radiation Management at large, com on, it’s happening already to some degree), martial law, food and water rationing ect ect.

    I’d like to be at the boneyard already when that happens.

    Btw:

    ” How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/23/tech-industry-wealth-futurism-transhumanism-singularity

  16. 66
    Hank Roberts says:

    The change of leadership at Heartland comes as another conservative think tank, the Cato Institute, recently disbanded a program designed to sow uncertainty around climate science. The libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch parted ways with Pat Michaels, a climate scientist who rejects mainstream researchers’ views on global warming, and shuttered its Center for the Study of Science.

    https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2019/06/11/stories/1060543395
    Climatewire (Washington, DC)
    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    POLITICS

    Leader of the Heartland Institute abruptly exits

  17. 67
    Killian says:

    CO2-e over 500. Hadn’t heard. (Beware, however, the authors inexplicably state warming thus far as 0.7C and sensitivity as 2.5.)

  18. 68
    Killian says:

    Re #53 Kevin McKinney said Killian, #34

    Kevin, et al: So nice to see you all acknowledging what you’ve been told for so long wrt risk and rapid change. Why, pray tell, are you still in denial on the solutions side?

    You’ve always had trouble reading me for comprehension.

    No, you can be vague, at times vacillating, but there are clear differences in our views.

    Maybe it’s my writing

    Given you have posted this, which is a masterclass in how to be so vague as to be perfectly balanced on the fence, certainly. Perfect irony.

    Now, since you are showing signs of moving closer to me in the spectrum, will the be true on the solutions side?

  19. 69
    zebra says:

    #54 Kevin McKinney,

    See Al’s #55. Fred gets it wrong.

    And I gave my reading of what difference the feedback would make, which is… not enough to justify the breathless reporting we get from Mike et al.

  20. 70
    MA Rodger says:

    Hey mikey @56,
    No, Rob Monroe at Scripps is not wrong. It is you that is wrong, again. Do read #35. You will note #35 is addressed to you and that it explains fully the Rob Monroe quote you cherry-pick @56.

    Of course, your pursuit of acceleration in CO2 levels will be assisted by the 2019 BP Stastistical Review of World Energy which finds “Carbon emissions [this from just the energy sector] grew by 2.0%, the fastest growth for seven years.” This BP report confirms the prelimenary report from GCP at the end of 2018 although the BP percentage (2.0%) is a little lower than the GCP projection (2.7%).
    While this “fastest growth” since 2011 for 2018 is not a great leap above the “fastest growth” since 2011 reported in 2017, the negative growth of Energy Sector emissions in 2015 & 2016 cannot sustain a ‘plateau’ of total emissions without a bit of help. The LUC emissions did provide such help in 2017 but it is very unlikely to do so again for 2018 given these BP numbers.
    Perhaps I should add, but with apologies for straying into “Forced Responses Thread” territory:-
    Within the BP report, note the comment (for some reason the data isn’t presented in a tabular version – the table on p51 again seems to contain the wrong data) “Renewable energy in power generation (excluding hydro) increased by 14% in 2018, slightly below 10-year average growth (16%).” This is more than a little worrying and provides yet more evidence to support the statement of Glen Peters (a Research Director at CICERO) quoted in the prelimenary 2018 GCP Report which said “It is becoming crystal clear the world is so far failing in its duty to steer onto a course consistent with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.”

  21. 71

    Tp 58: If there were no greenhouse gases in our atmosphere would that atmosphere provide any additional warmth to the earth at all?

    BPL: There might be a very slight greenhouse effect (a small fraction of a degree) from collisional dimers of nitrogen. Otherwise, no, it wouldn’t.

  22. 72
    zebra says:

    #56 mike,

    “the rate of increase is accelerating”

    “do you think they have this wrong?”

    Well, yes, the person who wrote that doesn’t seem to have a physics background, but hey, I suppose that’s just my guess from the language. Maybe I’m wrong.

    A physics person would say that the rate of increase is increasing.

    What the time scale (resolution) for such a statement would be, I don’t know. With GMST, we look at 30 years. We don’t say, every year, that the rate of temperature increase is increasing (or decreasing). So, “current tense” may indeed be inappropriate.

    Maybe someone has a reference that would clarify this?

  23. 73
    mike says:

    uh oh, Carbon Brief now says there were large increases in global energy use for 2018:

    “Gas leads large increase in energy use

    Energy use grew in 2018 at a rate of 2.9%, the largest growth since 2010. China, the US and India accounted for more than two-thirds of global energy-use growth, with US energy use expanding at the fastest rate for 30 years.

    Energy use increased by 390m tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2018. Fossil fuels were responsible for 71% of this, while near-zero-carbon energy sources, including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear, were responsible for 29%.

    The figure below shows the change in energy use between 2017 and 2018 for each major energy fuel type.”

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-bp-data-reveals-record-co2-emissions-in-2018-driven-by-surging-use-of-gas

    Hey, Nigel and Al, weren’t you both arguing that emissions and energy use were flat or down in this time frame?

    Cheers,

    Mike

  24. 74
    nigelj says:

    Killian @34 says

    “So nice to see you all acknowledging what you’ve been told for so long wrt risk and rapid change. Why, pray tell, are you still in denial on the solutions side?”

    I have not finally acknowledged anything, and its tiresome but predictable that you make huge assumptions about people. I first became aware of the climate change problem about 1990, and I thought at this time climate change would be very serious for humanity and more rapid than the IPCC thought, and I haven’t changed my mind one way or the other since, or been influenced much by you or Mike.

    I have thought for about 10 years that worst case sea level rise would be about 2 metres per century, which is rapid compared to the IPCC scenarios. It appears science is now converging on 1.5 – 2 metres per century.

    Of course one or two scientists think that climate change would make humans extinct, or the collapse of civilisation within 10 years, or lead to sea level rise of 5 – 10 metres per century, because its inevitable you will get some people making extreme predictions about absolutely anything in life, but their views are not convincing for me when I look at the methodology. I have no idea why you take the extremists views as always being correct, and dismiss everyone else. Careful that you don’t get trapped by confirmation bias. Please note that the extremists have had to sometimes retract their views.

  25. 75
    nigelj says:

    mike @73

    “The figure below shows the change in energy use between 2017 and 2018 for each major energy fuel type…..Hey, Nigel and Al, weren’t you both arguing that emissions and energy use were flat or down in this time frame?”

    No. I said emissions flattened off from approx 2013 – 2016 (refer link below). I also posted an article talking about 2018s high emissions. Is there anything else you have managed to get wrong?

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/13/climate/co2-emissions-rising-again.html

  26. 76
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: I wonder if we have reached a tipping point or created a positive feedback regarding discussion of climate change and the sixth great extinction.

    AB: feedbacks are not turned off nor turned on (that would require a change in the paradigm, which is possible). A feedback is like a trust fund that was set up to encourage you to work by paying out $1 for each $1 you earn. Yeah, though the analogy only works with positive incomes, feedbacks work both ways without significant friction. The paradigm change is when the trust fund runs out.

    ——–

    NigelJ: However the hothouse earth research says permafrost could reach a tipping point if temperatures rise more than 5 degrees above the 1980’s baseline

    AB: a grand example but I think the elimination of arctic sea ice will doom (unless humanity develops a bad case of sanity) permafrost first. So perhaps an example of cascading tipping points?

  27. 77
    Killian says:

    Re #64 Nemesis said ”Earth’s carbon dioxide levels are likely the highest they’ve been in 15 million years”

    https://mashable.com/article/climate-change-carbon-pollution-15-million-years

    15 million years ago the global temperature was ~5°C higher than today.

    I watched a video by a climate scientist recently where he made this point, but differently than is typically done. He didn’t just point out the fact and indicate, gosh, that’s not a great precedent, he was explicit in saying, given paleoclimatology findings, it would be happening again, the question was when.

    Well, duh. That’s exactly the reasoning that has had me telling everyone and their brother, sister, cat, dog and pet flea, things are going to be worse than the IPCC, etc., say because they *have* to be. If anything, and here’s another echo for ya, there’s less hysteresis in the system than ever before excepting Chicxulub. The only way to avoid 5+ meters SLR, +4~5C or more, etc., is to reverse the amount of GHG’s in the air and oceans. The *only* way that happens is to return well below 300ppm CO2, and the only way to do that includes simplicity.

    This isn’t hard to get; it’s mitigation denial that keeps people from accepting this.

    At some point we will have to talk about socio-economic inequality, we will have to talk about the global economic system as it is at the core of the climate- and ecological desaster.

    Technically, we could design a slave-based economy that was also sustainable, but it would still require, over time frame T, a different use of resources, i.e. simplicity. (I.e., the eternal mouse, given a food supply, on a giant cheese planet still eventually runs out of cheese and dies.) However, slaves eventually revolt in some way, shape or form, so ultimately it would be unsustainable.

    Basically, it’s simplicity or bust. Someday, mining the solar system might allow a rise in consumption comparable to today… if you can figure out how to off-world the waste.

    Technology combined with capitalism is the ultimate killer.

    Yes, despite the all-too-common technique on these pages of attempting to tie the poster to concepts to diminish the concept via guilt by association, there are too many independent conclusions by academics with standing to ignore, and they are, frankly, just pointing out the obvious. (Nice to have things confirmed, as with soil science and regenerative ag these days, but we’d be a lot further along if the over-dependence on Superwoman/Superman weren’t so pervasive.)

    Capitalism is incompatible with averting collapse and extinction. Michael Mann can block me and anyone he wishes on Twitter, but it won’t change the facts constraining a Capitalist, market-based, tech-based solution set for climate, resources, injustices and collapse.

    Everyone who still didn’t learn it yet will learn it very soon once and for all.

    Indeed, but they won’t admit it here.

    ” On tipping points: I wonder if we have reached a tipping point or created a positive feedback regarding discussion of climate change and the sixth great extinction. ”

    The 6th global mass extinction is already happening and climate heating is a big part of it, the change is happening too fast for the ecosystem and animals to adapt, that’s a given, no doubt about that. So even if the powers that be should start wearing flowers in their hair and start hugging trees tomorrow, it will be a hell of a ride.

    Yes. Tipping points are not one-offs. They come in steps, a catabolic process, or cascade. We have already passed tipping points, but have passed irreversible changes to new regimes? That is the actual question. Passing 300ppm was a tipping point. Of its own accord, the planet hadn’t done it during this glacial period, some 3 million years. The Arctic Sea Ice started showing up with extent reductions around 1953. The climate lag is 30 years, so we can roughly place the forcing at around 1923, or between 300 and 315ppm, roughly. That’s all it took. We have now hit 415.

    Do the math, my babies! (<– Conan ref.)

    And about permafrost (resp methane) tipping point: Just look at Alaska, Canada or Siberia. It’s happening.

    Indeed. I see ASI Extent melt in 1953 as the second identifiable bifurcation after passing 300 ppm. Probably we could see the declines in flora and fauna – now decades long – and the melt beginning in Greenland and Antarctica – also decades long – as roughly a 3rd bifurcation. The big melts in the Arctic in the 2005 ~ 2012 time frame probably represent another. Acceleration of permafrost melt seems to be coincident with that, as well as increased rates of melt, SLR, extinctions, etc. The last four years seem to be heralding another one.

    Now, some of this might be responses to bifurcations; it’s hard to tell which is which, tipping point and result/feedback, but I think no matter how you look at it we’ve hit at least two, and I’m guessing the minimum is actually three with four very possible already.

    Now, let’s assume this is correct, or at least has a significant possibility of being true: Go look at a bifurcation chart and you’ll see how deep into the shit we already are.

  28. 78
    nigelj says:

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/japans-deadly-2018-heatwave-could-not-have-happened-without-climate-change

    “The record-breaking 2018 summer heatwave in Japan in which more than 1,000 people died “could not have happened without human-induced global warming”, a study finds.”

  29. 79
    Keira says:

    Es sind maximal 29 von 37 Trophäen erspielbar.

  30. 80

    Killian, #68–

    Now, since you are showing signs of moving closer to me in the spectrum, will the be true on the solutions side?

    If you are talking about risks, I’ve been trying to tell you for a very long time that our views on that score are/were not far apart at all: I’ve said multiple times, I hope clearly enough, that civilization crash and even human extinction can’t be ruled out. (True, I did say that the former (let alone the latter) was *not* going to happen before 2040, or mid-century, or some such date.)

    I’ve said for a long time that we’re *going* to lose a bunch of coastal cities.

    I’ve said for a long time that we’re *going* to lose a huge chunk of irreplaceable biodiversity.

    And I’ve said for a long time that a whole bunch of people are *going* to die unnecessarily and prematurely.

    So, from some perspectives at least, some folks might be tempted to put us in the same conceptual box.

    On the ‘solutions’ side, I’ve *already* moved toward your position. You’ve really focused my views on sustainability and what that means; on natural ‘solutions’, and on the crucial part of quasi steady-state ‘economy.’ (There’s probably a better term already in use than that last label, but I hope you follow my intended meaning.)

    It’s true that substantial differences remain. While I can to some extent envision a ‘simplified’ world along the lines you speak to (and for), it’s much harder for me to imagine a ‘roadmap’ to get there from here. The ones I can come up with basically amount to the survivors of a massive civilizational and demographic crash taking up some similar way of being (perhaps because permaculturalists will be well-adapted to survive in the aftermath, in some ways at least.)

    But I think that there’s zero chance of current civilization adopting such a path voluntarily without at least a generation of consciousness change–and we don’t have a generation to start gaining ground on mitigation. Hence my conclusion that the immediate need is to substitute less-damaging technological and economic alternatives, such as renewable energy sources and the electric transport, to transform our fossil economy with all possible haste. (Impossible haste would be even better.

    That, people will do voluntarily–and I say that with assurance, because you can see them enthusiastically doing so in a lot of places around the world today. It won’t be permanently sustainable, but if it happens fast enough, it can halt or drastically slow the climate and acidification damage we’re doing now, and buy time for changing consciousness. It might also normalize ecological thinking, which is still quite foreign to a good many people. Or so I see it, FWTW.

  31. 81
    MA Rodger says:

    Keira @79,
    Which 37 trophies are these you talk of and why is it that only 29 are playable? Although, is it likely that the folk here @ RealClimate are in any way interested?

  32. 82
    mike says:

    A lot of argument seems to be about just how deep in the shit we are. Nigel said recently: “a 21st century electricity has to happen within a lower growth economy, but this is possible in theory anyway by shifting priorities around: Less resources on military spending and big status defining homes and cars.”

    That seems right to me. We may disagree about how deep in the shit we are, but maybe we fundamentally agree on some important points.

    to IG at 60 and zebra at 72: yes, the question about how to express the increase in atmospheric CO2 is complicated. I quoted Rob Monroe at 56, then used his language (I think) at 60, so I don’t know. Take it up with Rob Monroe, I guess. Popular Science uses the term vertical to describe the rise in CO2.

    MAR uses the term skyrocket. I think a skyrocket is thought to go straight up, but of course, I expect it deviates from straight up, even if only for the slow rotation motion of the earth below. Lots of quibbling about tipping points or feedbacks? skyrockets or verticality, acceleration or increase? CO2 or CH4 from permafrost melt? Much ado about nothing. I am inclined to agree with Nemesis with his opinion about our species future expressed at 64 and 65.

    Nigel asked at 75: Is there anything else you have managed to get wrong? I say, oh, plenty, I am sure, but none of my errors can be fixed to get us to some spot where most of would agree that we are not in the shit. How deep is the shit? I don’t know. Kinda deep, I think.

    Cheers

    Mike

  33. 83
    nigelj says:

    Killian @68, regarding solutions to the climate problem. I got side tracked and forgot that bit. I have always pointed out that one part of the solution is some form of ‘simplification’, such as lifestyle changes towards lower energy consumption, wasting less and so on, but it looks to me that this will come up against limits relating to what is practical, and what people are prepared to embrace.

    I endorse KMs view on that: “But I think that there’s zero chance of current civilization adopting such a path voluntarily without at least a generation of consciousness change–and we don’t have a generation to start gaining ground on mitigation. Hence my conclusion that the immediate need is to substitute less-damaging technological and economic alternatives, such as renewable energy sources and the electric transport, to transform our fossil economy with all possible haste. (Impossible haste would be even better.”

    To me its a systems view. What is the ideal response and what are human beings reasonably capable of as a species and group (not a few enthusiastic reasonably well informed individuals embracing hugely simplified lifestyles).

    Sooner or later civilisation will run out of at least some mineral resources no matter how strictly we ration them, so we are only at best delaying the inevitable. Given this its a trade off between conservation and quality of life.

  34. 84
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @86 ” a grand example but I think the elimination of arctic sea ice will doom (unless humanity develops a bad case of sanity) permafrost first. So perhaps an example of cascading tipping points?”

    I don’t get this. I assume the people who arrived at 5 degrees permafrost tipping point based that on including the arctic warming and its effects both globally and more directly regionally on Russia.They are smart people and don’t live in a vacuum. The study did mention an arctic tipping point at 1-3 degrees. But yes it is in effect a cascade of tipping points.

    Of course if arctic amplification was to accelerate beyond current trends and predictions then the permafrost would melt sooner than we think, but I’m inclined to think Zebra is right in principle this doesn’t make it worse unless of course its much, much sooner.

  35. 85
    Nemesis says:

    Killian, #77

    15 million years ago the global temperature was ~5°C higher than today.

    I watched a video by a climate scientist recently where he made this point, but differently than is typically done. He didn’t just point out the fact and indicate, gosh, that’s not a great precedent, he was explicit in saying, given paleoclimatology findings, it would be happening again, the question was when. “

    I agree with that, it will happen again. And guess when? It will most likely happen “faster than expected”. If we sum up the recent decades and tons of stientific studies, that’s the meme that sticks painfully right into the eye all the time- “faster than expected”. Mother Nature can be a real badass I bet, she does not hesitate to get us right at our balls “faster than expected”.

    ” The only way to avoid 5+ meters SLR, +4~5C or more, etc., is to reverse the amount of GHG’s in the air and oceans.

    Forget about carbon sequestration, BECCS and direct air capture , these are pipe dreams.

    ” The *only* way that happens is to return well below 300ppm CO2, and the only way to do that includes simplicity.”

    What do you mean by “simplicity”? I mean, I don’t see any efficient technology to suck out CO2 from the atmosphere and we won’t see it any time soon. the scale of that project is just too gigantic, it’s a pipe dream like so many other technofixes. And it makes no sense to suck out CO2 while the CO2 emissions keep rising (“Eintritt nur für Verrückte”):’D The core problem is not technology but the system itself:

    ” Technology combined with capitalism is the ultimate killer.

    Capitalism is incompatible with averting collapse and extinction.”

    You name it. Have you ever heard about William Nordhaus? He won the Nobel price last year. He is an economist and he is into climate change, he was a key figure among those who set up the initial 2°C target of the IPCC. It’s all in this neat little article (sorry for posting such a long comment, but it’s absolutely crucial):

    ” The Nobel Prize for Climate Catastrophe

    The economist William Nordhaus will receive his profession’s highest honor for research on global warming that’s been hugely influential—and entirely misguided.

    … In the 1990s, Nordhaus invented the first integrated assessment models to explore how economic growth affects carbon emissions, and how climate change in turn affects economic growth. The basic mechanisms that Nordhaus described continue to inform the models that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses today….

    So, Nordhaus’ career has been devoted to finding what he calls a “balance” between climate mitigation and GDP growth. In a famous 1991 paper titled “To slow or not to slow,” he argued firmly for the latter option: Let’s not be too eager to slow down global warming, because we don’t want to jeopardize growth.

    To justify this conclusion, Nordhaus manipulates what is known as the “discount rate,” which is how economists value the costs of climate breakdown in the present as compared to the future. It might sound arcane, but it’s really quite straightforward. A discount rate of zero means that future generations are valued equally to the present; a high discount rate means that future generations are valued less, or “discounted,” compared with nearer generations.

    Nordhaus prefers a high discount rate—very high. Discounting the future allows him to argue that we shouldn’t reduce emissions too quickly, because the economic cost to people today will be higher than the benefit of protecting people in the future. Instead, we should do the opposite: Focus on GDP growth now even if it means locking in future climate catastrophe. This is justifiable, he says, because future generations will then be much richer than we are and therefore better able to manage the problem.

    Using this logic, Nordhaus long claimed that from the standpoint of “economic rationality” it is “optimal” to keep warming the planet to about 3.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels—vastly in excess of the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold that the IPCC insists on.

    It sounds morally problematic and flies in the face of scientists’ warnings, but economists and policymakers have lined up behind Nordhaus’s argument. They like it because it gives them license to carry on with the status quo and delay difficult decisions. President Trump, for instance, has been aggressive in his preference for growth over climate action. This is in large part what explains the fact that nearly 30 years after the first IPCC report was published, global emissions are still going up. It also helps explain why even with the Paris climate agreement in place, and with all of the plans promised by the world’s governments, we’re still headed for about 3.3 degrees Celsius of warming. It’s all eerily similar to the Nordhaus trajectory.

    So how do economists get away with believing that these extreme temperatures are somehow okay? Because the Nordhaus model tells us that even the worst catastrophes will not really hurt the global economy all that much. Maybe a percentage point or two at the most, by the end of the century—much less than the cost of immediate action.

    How do they figure this? Because if climate breakdown ends up starving and displacing a few hundred million impoverished Africans and Asians, that will register as only a tiny blip in GDP. After all, poor people don’t add much “value” to the global economy. The same goes for things like insects and birds and wildlife, so it doesn’t matter if global warming continues to accelerate mass extinction. From the perspective of capital, what most of us see as tremendous ethical and even existential problems literally don’t count.

    What is more, Nordhaus reasons that the sectors most vulnerable to global warming—agricultural, forestry, and fishing—contribute relatively little to global GDP, only about 4 percent. So even if the entire global agricultural system were to collapse in the future, the costs, in terms of world GDP, would be minimal.

    These arguments obviously offend common sense. And indeed, scientists have been quick to critique them. It’s absurd to believe that the global economy would just keep chugging along despite a collapse in the world’s food supply. And mass extinction of species poses a very real threat to the web of life itself, on which all of human civilization depends. Plus, Nordhaus doesn’t factor in the possibility of feedback loops that could kick in—Arctic methane release, ice-albedo feedback, and others we can’t yet predict—pushing us way beyond 3.5 degrees. No amount of wealth would be enough to help future generations navigate such a total system collapse.

    So, what if Nordhaus turns out to be wrong? What if extreme global warming destabilizes our civilization and collapses the economy? The Stern Review, for instance, predicts annual GDP losses could be up to 20% per year. If this happens, then we’ll get the worst of both worlds: Future generations will be poorer, and they’ll end up locked in a hothouse Earth. It’s a dangerous gamble with the future of humanity— and the risks are so deadly as to be beyond the power of imagination.

    Strangely, in what seems a bizarre coincidence, Nordhaus was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize on the very same October day that the IPCC published its latest report on climate change. The report is the United Nations’ most urgent yet: It calls for the world to cut emissions in half by 2030, and get to net zero by the middle of the century. While Nordhaus has spent most of the past four decades calling for gradualism to preserve the conditions for economic growth, the IPCC calls for radical and immediate action in order to preserve the conditions for life. Growth versus life. The conflict between economics and science has never been clearer…”

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/06/the-nobel-prize-for-climate-catastrophe/

    There is a quite reasonable call for some post-growth agenda at the end of that article, but TPTB have a different view I’m sure. We’d need to let reason, compassion and sharing rule and politicians and bosses would have to wear flowers in their hair and hugging trees, but that’s not how the game works for sure, haha. It’s about money and power and about preserving the status quo at all cost, grab it all or die trying. Ultimate End of story. Period.

    Here is a stark statement from the Club of Rome regarding William Nordhaus getting the Nobel price:

    ” The Club of Rome to William Nordhaus and the Nobel Committee: “Pursue profitability —  even at the cost of the planet?!”

    https://medium.com/wedonthavetime/the-club-of-rome-to-william-nordhaus-and-the-nobel-committee-pursue-profitability-even-at-the-37c544e0c03d

  36. 86
    nigelj says:

    Mike @82, yes we agree on some stuff. I think we are fairly deeply in the shit, maybe a score of 8/ 10 so not as bad as a huge asteroid impact, but very bad and more of a painful and costly slow motion train wreck. This should be obvious because I would not be bothered reading this website and talking about mitigation if I didn’t think we were deeply in the shit.

    I think it’s fairly natural to be curious about exactly how deeply in the shit we are, whether we are taking specific climate trends or the bigger picture. But you are right we need to be careful not to start splitting hairs and missing the point (I think that’s what you are saying?) But the opposite argument is if we loose track of precision, we are at risk of losing track of everything . So I respect people like MAR.

    I think the book The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace Wells is quite good and evidence based, but we see some really extreme disaster scenarios worse than even this, that look like they are based on very rough science or gut instincts. Eg the rubbish on http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/ If we start parroting these we risk being made to look stupid, and people will loose faith in the mainstream climate science community. It’s hard enough already.

  37. 87
    Nemesis says:

    nigelj, #86

    ” I think we are fairly deeply in the shit, maybe a score of 8/ 10 so not as bad as a huge asteroid impact, but very bad and more of a painful and costly slow motion train wreck.”

    8/10 sounds quite reasonable, yet we have to consider that this is just the very beginning of the real shit that’s right around the corner. When the crew of the Titanic saw the iceberg, it was already too late, simply because the rudder of the Titanic was too small to handle any efficient maneuver:

    “Titanic Hits the Iceberg | Iceberg Hitting Scene | Leonardo DiCaprio | Kate Winslet | Titanic”

    https://youtu.be/Ffp2nGDpJd8

    The ship resp the system hit the iceberg several decades ago and it is sinking inescapable while the music ist still playing. We are riding on a ghost ship like the Flying Dutchman.

    Will any human being see the next century? I don’t know. Will the system see the 2nd half of this century? Never ever.

  38. 88
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @85

    My understanding is some scientists think temperatures could go to 3 degrees or more even at current CO2 levels, based on paleo evidence, but this would be very slowly due to slow feedbacks, so its still makes sense for us to stop emissions asap. Its all a rate of change problem as much as a destination problem.

    I agree Nordhaus’s views are delusional. He uses a high discount rate by assuming high levels of future gdp growth to deal with climate adaptation. This is delusional because gdp growth has been slowing since the 1970’s in developed countries, and cant just increase forever no matter what we do. Resources are not infinite.

    And Nordhaus’s evaluation of climate costs doesn’t make sense as you say. However I’m not sure where you get the idea everyone is following Nordaus because other economists have other views, you yourself mention Stern who is more realistic. Our government isn’t following Nordhaus. As far as I know most economic evaluations say the benefits of mitigating climate change outweigh the costs even at 1.5 degrees. Nordhaus is the black sheep who appears to not think beyond numbers and data to the real world.

    However all the economic evaluations I have heard of omit things that are hard to quantify in dollars, like species losses, and even human lives, or they throw nominal sums of money at the issues. Still just how would we quantify those things? These things are value judgements for society to make, not economists. And imho they have a lot of value.

  39. 89
    James Charles says:

    “An increase of 1.5 degrees is the maximum the planet can tolerate; should temperatures increase further beyond 2030, we will face even more droughts, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people; the likely demise of the most vulnerable populations – and at worst, the extinction of humankind altogether.” P8-9.
    https://www.iss.europa.eu/sites/default/files/EUISSFiles/ESPAS_Report.pdf
    “The IPCC report that the Paris agreement based its projections on considered over 1,000 possible scenarios. Of those, only 116 (about 10%) limited warming below 2C. Of those, only 6 kept global warming below 2C without using negative emissions. So roughly 1% of the IPCC’s projected scenarios kept warming below 2C without using negative emissions technology like BECCS. And Kevin Anderson, former head of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, has pointed out that those 6 lone scenarios showed global carbon emissions peaking in 2010. Which obviously hasn’t happened.
    So from the IPCC’s own report in 2014, we basically have a 1% chance of staying below 2C global warming if we now invent time travel and go back to 2010 to peak our global emissions. And again, you have to stop all growth and go into decline to do that. And long term feedbacks the IPCC largely blows off were ongoing back then too.”
    https://www.facebook.com/wxclimonews/posts/455366638536345
    “ The level of fossil fuel consumption globally is now roughly five times higher than in the 1950s, and one-and-half times higher than in the 1980s, when the science of global warming was confirmed and governments accepted the need to act on it. This is a central feature of the “great acceleration” of human impacts on the natural world. . . .
    CO2 emissions are 55% higher today than in 1990. Despite 20 international conferences on fossil fuel use reduction and an international treaty that entered into force in 1994, man made greenhouse gases have risen inexorably.”
    https://piraniarchive.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/pirani-helsinki-wern2018-paper.pdf

  40. 90
    Killian says:

    “A large carbon outgassing event could really whack the climate system if it happened multiple years in a row.”
    https://www.sciencealert.com/we-re-starting-to-figure-out-why-there-are-mysterious-holes-in-the-antarctic-sea-ice

    Well, what the heck does *that* mean, “whack?”

  41. 91
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @82,
    You may consider the detail of AGW is “much ado about nothing.” You may be inclined toward adding your unsupported agreement to the comment set out @64&65. And you may be untroubled by what “you have managed to get wrong.” But this is an “open thread for climate science discussions.” It is all about ‘the detail of AGW’, where “unsupported agreement” has no merit and where what folk “have managed to get wrong” will require correcting. That is how science works.
    Skyrocketry CO2
    You evidently need a refresh on this. The assertion was repeatedly and strongly made in previous UV threads that the increase in atmospheric CO2 was being driven by more than just anthropogenic emissions, that today there is a significant proportion of the CO2 increase resulting from natural emissions due to AGW; a feedback if you will.
    I have not see any evidence to support the existence of this skyrocket effect presented on these UV threads. And in its absence, if the rate of anthropogenic emissions does not increase, there should be no underlying acceleration of atmospheric CO2.
    (Pedantically, I would disagree with the nitpicks @63 & @74. We can say cars accelerate. But can we say CO2 accelerates? Or atmospheric CO2 accelerates? No! Not in the sense we mean. But whether that should be acceleration of the ‘level’ or acceleration of the ‘increase’ in level, I don’t think the English language is exact enough to judge – it is probably both.)
    Skyrocketry Methane
    More recently there has been a similar set of bold assertions that atmospheric methane levels are being diven up by Arctic emissions. Again, not one jot of evidence was presented to support a significant new methane source arriving in the Arctic.

    And addressing one part of the comment @64&65 that is more than just opinion, the idea that ”Earth’s carbon dioxide levels are likely the highest they’ve been in 15 million years” and that “15 million years ago the global temperature was ~5°C higher than today.” The implied conclusion is that we should expect a global temperature “~5°C higher than today” if we have similar levels of CO2. There is no scientific basis for such an assertion as studies show ECS is not high enough to add ~5°C to today’s temperature (or pre-industrial tmperature) with the 2.044Wm^-2 CO2 forcing 1750-2018.

  42. 92
    mike says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/climate-crisis-alaska-is-melting-and-its-likely-to-accelerate-global-heating?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlVUy0xOTA2MTQ%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUS&CMP=GTUS_email

    Warmest spring on record in Alaska eclipsing record temps of 1998 and 2016. A lot of permafrost melting reported. We are in a mild ENSO warm cycle, not a really major ENSO warm cycle like 1998 and 2016. The next major ENSO warm cycle is going to be something to see. The heat is on now in the great white north.

    CO2, you might ask? How are we doing?

    June 13, 2019: 414.72 ppm
    June 13, 2018: 410.80 ppm

    3.92 ppm increase yoy in noisy, daily number. Vertical number, as Popular Science has described the CO2 trajectory.

    Cheers

    Mike

  43. 93
    John Kelly says:

    KM, #80 –

    I agree with all, thanks for expressing how I feel. A few additional thoughts:

    1. I too sense that in the bigger picture Killian is probably right about the mouse and cheese. Eventually, we run out and along the way we’ve ruined a lot. But, unfortunately, I also don’t foresee a change in society’s structure, and as a result I think we need to make changes within this system.

    2. We would also buy time for the population curve to turn down. I know it sounds incredibly naïve, but it seems possible to me that we could come out the other side of this. Decarbonize over the next 50 years, continue to spread prosperity and then reap the lower birth rates that result, and eventually have a shrinking population reducing its impact on the planet (granted, in a few centuries). Hotter, yes, with different coastlines, but with a steadily declining drag on a still-adjusting biosphere. I recognize there is a fairly fat tail risk that we “lose everything” before we get there.

    3. “50 years” sounds unambitious of me, but I look around at all the embedded infrastructure and it seems unlikely to be replaced while it still works. As one example of many, here in MN, there are natural gas lines to every house, fueling furnaces and stoves.

  44. 94
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #88

    ” Nordhaus is the black sheep…”

    Nordhaus is not just some black sheep, he represents fatal capitalist thinking like no other. A black sheep who got the funny Nobel price?! Hahaha. Svante Arrhenius already saw climate heating as an “opportunity”:

    ” Since, now, warm ages have alternated with glacial periods, even after man appeared on the earth, we have to ask ourselves: Is it probable that we shall in the coming geological ages be visited by a new ice period that will drive us from our temperate countries into the hotter climates of Africa? There does not appear to be much ground for such an apprehension. The enormous combustion of coal by our industrial establishments suffices to increase the percentage of carbon dioxide in the air to a perceptible degree.”
    “We often hear lamentations that the coal stored up in the earth is wasted by the present generation without any thought of the future, and we are terrified by the awful destruction of life and property which has followed the volcanic eruptions of our days. We may find a kind of consolation in the consideration that here, as in every other case, there is good mixed with the evil. By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind.”

    Svante Arrhenius, Worlds in the making

    Just look at that book title:

    “Worlds in the making”.

    That book title tells the complete story. It has always been the wet dream of TPTB to influence climate and weather and to geoengineer the planet for their military and economic benefit. Hahaha, Doctor Faustus couldn’t have done better, muhahaha. Did you know that I LOVE Mephisto? Yes, I love Mephisto and I despise megalomaniac Doctor Faustus 38=>

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius

    ” I know most economic evaluations say the benefits of mitigating climate change outweigh the costs even at 1.5 degrees.”

    But that’s not the way economists, bosses and politicians ACT. Show me the action, show me that “mitigation”! I can not see it, all I see is BAU and the cynical statement that climate heating would be benefitial for the economy of the northern hemisphere rang in my ears for many decades. In fact, the complete f* fossil fuel industry resp the engine of the military-industrial complex and the economy, politics included, played exactly that gamble for roughly 150 years! And they will lose that gamble 100%.

    ” My understanding is some scientists think temperatures could go to 3 degrees or more even at current CO2 levels, based on paleo evidence, but this would be very slowly due to slow feedbacks, so its still makes sense for us to stop emissions asap. Its all a rate of change problem as much as a destination problem.”

    “Very slowly?” Have you ever heard about the “faster, hotter, higher” meme? I hear it 24/7. But well, if you say it will be very slowly then wake me up when the CO2 curve is unmistakably pointing downwards. In the meantime I lay back and enjoy the short rest of the show (I got nothing to lose, you know, no wealth, no kids, nothing, I always travelled with light luggage on the inevitable way to the boneyard and I’m extremely happy about that).

  45. 95
    Nemesis says:

    mike, #88

    Btw, why didn’t get Stern the Nobel price but Nordhaus?^^

  46. 96
    Fred Magyar says:

    Kevin McKinney @ 38 says:

    FWIW, I read Fred’s comment 2 #21 as differentiating between tipping points and feedback loops, not asserting that they are the same.

    Yes, that was kinda my intent! ;-)

  47. 97
    nigelj says:

    John Kelly @93, exactly. We are using resources too fast, this is obvious, but slowing that ship down is going to be very challenging. Everyone wants to get rich, more or less. What we can do is make some differences at the edges of this problem, and economic growth is also slowing, and people may change their values given time. In the meantime we need as much renewable energy as possible.

    When you look at planetary reserves of materials, there are some big limitations, but they are not quite as dire as the doomsters predict either. This theoretically gives us enough time to solve the problems or at least reduce their severity with smaller population combined with slowing economic growth. Once fertility drops to about 1.5 population size contracts faster than many people realise.

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @94

    Interesting about Arrhenius. Stopping an ice age by deliberately burning fossil fuels looks delusional because while we could possibly prevent the next ice age, what about the one after that, and after that? There are probably not enough fossil fuels on the planet! remember CO2 levels slowly drop between ice ages so we would have to be burning more.

    I’m not sure that I equate Arrhenius with some robber baron capitalst, but it’s a bizarre idea anyway with big risks.

    In fact I read a study that suggested humanity will cancel the next ice age on CO2 levels consistent with 2 degrees of warming or less! We simply don’t need to be burning one molecule more than we do now.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/13/fossil-fuel-burning-postponing-next-ice-age

    Regarding paleo evidence saying there was 5 degrees of warming for CO2 concentrations at today’s levels. If we stopped emissions tomorrow more warming would happen but at a slow pace and will terminate. If we go on adding CO2 it wont be too slow. But MAR says this paleo evidence conflicts with climate sensitivity so perhaps something else caused high temperatures in the past at those levels of CO2, but what would that be?

  49. 99
    nigelj says:

    MAR @91 well said, except I think its skyrockety methane and CO2. Nitpick.

  50. 100
    mike says:

    to al at 91: sorry, I can’t make heads or tails of what you are talking about, but I agree with you that CO2 and methane are skyrocketing. We are of one mind on that at least.

    Cheers,

    Mike

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