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BAU wow wow

How should we discuss scenarios of future emissions? What is the range of scenarios we should explore? These are constant issues in climate modeling and policy discussions, and need to be reassessed every few years as knowledge improves.

I discussed some of this in a post on worst case scenarios a few months ago, but the issue has gained more prominence with a commentary by Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peters in Nature this week (which itself partially derives from ongoing twitter arguments which I won’t link to because there are only so many rabbit holes that you want to fall into).

My brief response to this is here though:

Mike Mann has a short discussion on this as well. But there are many different perspectives around – ranging from the merely posturing to the credible and constructive. The bigger questions are certainly worth discussing, but if the upshot of the current focus is that we just stop using the term ‘business-as-usual’ (as was suggested in the last IPCC report), then that is fine with me, but just not very substantive.

References

  1. Z. Hausfather, and G.P. Peters, "Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading", Nature, vol. 577, pp. 618-620, 2020. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-00177-3

103 Responses to “BAU wow wow”

  1. 1
    Martin says:

    Any comments regarding Zeke Hausfather’s comments in Nature on climate scientists believing that the RCP8.5 scenario is business-as-usual?

  2. 2

    This:

    We must all — from physical scientists and climate-impact modellers to communicators and policymakers — stop presenting the worst-case scenario as the most likely one. Overstating the likelihood of extreme climate impacts can make mitigation seem harder than it actually is. This could lead to defeatism, because the problem is perceived as being out of control and unsolvable. Pressingly, it might result in poor planning, whereas a more realistic range of baseline scenarios will strengthen the assessment of climate risk.

    You see the defeatism they fear all the time, here and elsewhere. (It’s even been co-opted by denialati, as in “Unstoppable Warming”–though that’s not entirely parallel in substance.) A lot of it has to do with precisely what Hausfather & Peters say, but there’s also a dash or three of false binaries: catastrophic/safe, action/inaction, and so forth. There are degrees of catastrophe, and degrees of action, and they make a quantitative difference.

    The authors are far from Pollyanna-ish in saying that we are probably heading for a 3 C world–they call it “catastrophic.” But they are also saying something worthwhile when they point out that that is still a far cry from 5 C. From a practical point of view, that is a difference well worth fighting for.

    Switching to a retrospective framing for a moment, I’d point out that while the grossly inadequate actions taken on mitigation so far rightfully frustrate a great many of us, it’s still a damn good thing that Hanson’s “A” scenario did not come about. We’re screwed now, but we’d be a whole lot worse off yet, had its high-emissions trajectory actually been realized.

  3. 3
    BJ Chippindale says:

    Well, as much as I respect Professor Hausfather, and it is no small thing, I must disagree in part with his effort here.

    I agree that the RCP 8.5 is being misused and that the likely problems we face are not the problems from that “most extreme view” but I, like most engineers, regard Murphy as a deity and not to be trifled with. Policy makers have to take quite a lot of “worst case” conditions into consideration if they are going to chart a course that gets us through the next 80 years with our civilization intact.

    There is no sign of that happening at present.

    The other area of partial disagreement may be about “Business-As-Usual” (BAU). I do not think climate scientists generally regard it as RCP8.5, but with or without climate destabilization it cannot continue. The destabilization of our climate puts an exclamation mark behind the word “continue” but the emphasis on a “free market” (which never really existed and even if it did would not be as good for everyone as its adherents claim it is), and “Capitalism” as currently practiced (which would make Adam Smith’s spinning in his grave a source of energy fit to power London if we could but harness it), carries impossible consequences in a world where money is not properly defined.

    Is he right about the human consequences of the pessimistic assessment? Possibly yes. A lot of people who work through the potential feedbacks that make a world that is able to balance at 3 degrees of increase look difficult to achieve are very dismayed and disheartened. It is to me, a risk that is not acceptable because the consequences to human civilization are so dire, but it isn’t “the most probable outcome”. It is merely a possible outcome – a temptation to my implacable God. My philosophical outlook (stoic) is not much affected by my professional paranoia. It also seems unknown to the general population.

    Everyone here understands pretty well, and many likely better than I do, the scientific basis. I think though, that scientists have been punished too often for their public moments of pessimism. The media will invariably snatch at the most sensational worst case and then we all do feel just a bit ridiculous because the result is not a better informed public.

    At the same time however, that worst case is likely enough and the risk associated is severe enough, that it and not the more moderate expected results has to be used to guide policy. You cannot “hope” that the bridge will not be subjected to 3 truckloads of depleted uranium stuck on it in a traffic jam, you have to plan for that and accommodate it by design. The risk of the event is part of the evaluation, but even a 1 in 10 chance of ending human civilization is too much to accept just to make the wealthy more obscenely wealthy and powerful while according so few benefits to the rest of us.

    The definition of money that makes that an inevitable part of BAU needs to be corrected too, but that is a separate subject.

    Optimism is a sin for my religion, and a mistake for my profession. For science it is perhaps a defense mechanism.

    It is not wrong to be optimistic, but it is wrong to pin the survival of our civilization on it. The sacrifices to Murphy (also known as safety margins) are not optional.

    respectfully
    BJ

  4. 4
    Dominik Lenné says:

    Science should always make clear, that its statements are of the kind:

    if (x) – then (probability distribution of y).

    With respect to socio-economic-technological pathways, a probability distribution can be given as well. But probably more like an educated guess.

  5. 5
    Lance Olsen says:

    Totally in accord with Gavin Schmidt’s “The bigger questions are certainly worth discussing, but if the upshot of the current focus is that we just stop using the term ‘business-as-usual’ (as was suggested in the last IPCC report), then that is fine with me, but just not very substantive.”

    Michael Mann closed his analysis with much the same conclusion

  6. 6

    Whatever we call it, we need a scenario like RCP8.5 to know the consequences of the policy preferences of people who claim to fear that the sound of windmills gives them cancer.

  7. 7
    Andrew says:

    If “business as usual” means the present climate change mitigation policies which will result in 3C global warming above pre-industrial, and the “extremely unlikely” RCP 8.5 scenario will result in 5C global warming above pre-industrial, then we are just wasting precious time discussing how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

    In both cases the urgently needed mitigation policies translate into a very simple directive: reducing fossil fuel emissions as fast as possible without completely disrupting local economies and global trade.

    Basically I think the think the article in Nature by Zeke Hausfather &
    Glen P. Peters is irrelevant and ill-timed. There are many much more urgent climate change matters to discuss and that, as soon as possible.

  8. 8

    Overlooked in the paper was the reason for the lowering of expectations. Glen Peters admitted that he has discussed elsewhere the constraint on emissions due to peak oil and fossil fuel depletion but neglected to mention that in the Nature commentary. Over the years, every forecast has faced lowered expectations due to the finite & nonrenewable aspect of fossil fuels. This is an example of a forecast from 1969 that was much too optimistic

    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/img923/8117/y8Q7h7.png

  9. 9
    Michael Sweet says:

    It seems that 3C is expected by 2100. Do Hausfather at al expect the world to end then? The graph Michael Mann has shows continuing CO2 emissions thus continued heating. Hanson estimated Whole Earth Equilibrium as twice the Charney heating. That would mean 6C by 2300 plus the additional CO2. Sea level 20-40 meters higher eventually.

    Does that seem like a good idea?

  10. 10
    Keith Woollard says:

    Paul @ #8 – Do you really believe that energy production is supply bound? Surely the limiting factor is demand, and this is more likely to be influenced by technological and efficiency improvements

    The same reason we didn’t all starve to death like was predicted

    At the end of the day mankind survives and flourishes in spite of doom and gloom forecasts due to knowledge

  11. 11
    Killian says:

    I guess I need a better analogy than a gun pointed at your head you are certain will be firing at some point because you’re all out of your damned minds thinking minimizing the framing of risk is a positive adaptation.

    This is very, very simple: You are, every one of you, Hausfather, et al., and Mann, getting this completely incorrect.

    Facts? Mann gets this 100% incorrect when he says, “he numbers show that escalating efforts around the world to decarbonize our economy are starting to pay dividends. We’re starting to bend that emissions curve downward.

    Wrong. We set record emissions levels last year. Record. Worst ever. How in the name of god is that bending the curve downward? It’s not. It’s the opposite of what Mann claims. Bizarre, frankly. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe he meant if we were doing nothing at all they would be growing even faster, or, put another way, because we built some windmills emissions are at record levels, but less bad than they might have been.

    Good lord…

    The rest of you join in with the illogical argument that telling people the truth is bad for them. Nonsense! Dangerous nonsense. You cannot solve a problem you do not acknowledge. By minimizing, to any degree, the dangers, you give permission for Pollyanna-esque magical thinking. That is, give people an easy way out, they will take it even if rationality and logic dictate it will fail – as is the case here.

    The problem here is the world is dominated by people who are addicted to only thinking positively, yet, extreme positive thinking is detrimental to accurate analysis. Worse, people tend to conflate positive and negative *thinking* and positive and negative *emotions.* The correct framing is being willing to consider every negative and every positive, but to not let your *emotions* drag you down into a depressive state the stunts action toward solving the problem. The idea we must avoid the worst case scenario is absurd, imo. How do you solve the worst case scenario if you do not fully consider it?

    The fact is, the worst case scenario is too much for small and mid-range risks, but it is vital for long-tail, existential risks. We don’t need to lock up the steak knives because they are sharp, we just need to take care in using them. We do need disarm grandpa’s WWII souvenir hand grenade… because it can kill us. We have seatbelt laws because tens of thousands die in car accidents every year, but we don’t ban cars. It’s a personal existential risk, but not a societal risk. Still, we buy the insurance.

    But what if you knew you’d die every twentieth time you got in a car or flew? You never would unless you had no choice. Well, guess what? Extinction due to climate risk has been pegged at 5% by at least one paper, but every response in this thread has argued we should not focus on that 5% – one in twenty car trips – but on the fact you don’t die 19 times out of twenty. Wrong. That’s what insurance companies do, not whole societies. They are creating metrics to maximize profit and minimize *their* risks, we are talking about minimizing the risk of extinction. The “middle way” is potential suicide in that context.

    Further damaging effective risk analysis is the insistence things just *can’t* get that bad because there just aren’t enough FF’s to make it so. Yet, we have eight models coming out that put climate sensitivity as the high end. If EArth System sensitivity is well above 3, it’s not going to matter how much we emit because we are very likely over budget already. Yes, I know, the models don’t really say this. Well, guess what? They also didn’t say permafrost would melt this fast, Antarctica would already be in danger of collapse, etc. I agree! Yes, the models are getting the temperature response largely right! But they are not getting the system response right, and that’s the key. Who cares if we hit 5C and it just means longer summers and some change in growing seasons? Nobody, really. But if 5C means we can’t grow food, we’re screwed.

    It is not the temp that we have to worry aobut so much as the effect… so stop talking so much about the temps, per se, and talk more about the risks associated with temp changes. We already know Charney sensitivity is *at least* 3C; anything above that is just that much worse and 1.2C is already kicking our collective ass.

    So, what does negative *thinking* get us? Awareness. And negative emotions? A half gallon of ice cream or a six pack of beer. So, we have two choices, either balance our objective analysis with a belief we can solve this problem, or stop demonizing one side or the other and realize both negative and positive thinking are adaptive when balanced by their opposite emotions.

    I’m what most mistakenly believe to be a negative thinker, yet I am the most certain person I know of when it comes to the understanding we can absolutely solve this Perfect Storm of existential threats. And that’s where the rest of you are shown to be the true Cassandra’s: You don’t know we can. You can’t see a true solution set that you have true faith in. You all debate dozens of possible “slices” all based around maintaining the status quo for all intents and purposes. What? Get rid of capitalism? Absurd! What? Try a different kind of government? Absurd! What? Have true equality? Absurd!

    Every solution set is built around changing… nothing. You want gov’t that is fundamentally hostile to equality, fairness, and preserving the planet to deliver equality, fairness and a preserved planet. The same, and even more so, for the economy. You don’t want to live in community because you fundamentally either don’t like the people around you and/or fear them. You don’t trust the humanity of your fellow humans, so you don’t want to rock the boat more than a degree or two off level. You want gov’t because you don’t want to govern. You want jobs because who are you without your jobs? And you don’t trust each other to work unless told to or to govern *with* you. So, please give us BAU electric! Too bad that electric is unsustainable.

    And you can’t see these things because you are not willing to look at the threat as it truly is: The risk of societal collapse is extremely high if we do not alter behavior sufficiently and remake the system to return it to one that functions with Nature. The risk of extinction is far from trivial. Even if you argue we can’t truly go extinct (bull!), we can damned sure lose billions, and that’s would be a world in complete disarray, so the differences between societal collapse and extinction are distinctions without a difference.

    More prosaically, do you know when irreversible tipping points are coming? No. Yet, you all advocate rates of change that are on the scale of half a century or longer. WTH? By this metric alone, the sane choice is whatever is the fastest pathway to negative emissions, and there is only one of those: Simplicity. But that takes us back to your lack of willingness to see what is (supposedly “negative” thinking) and to accept Nature as she is, finite, thus allowing the fantasy of never-ending consumption – albeit “green”washed. E.g., metals will last centuries! No, they won’t. Some will, not all. And centuries is not long enough; humans have already existed for 300,000 years, the planet, without negative emissions, will stay significantly warmer than pre-industrial for thousands of years, sea level is going meters higher in the long run no matter what, if the latest research proves accurate, etc. (Which, given the temperature/pressure balance that keeps clathrates from dissociating, might end up being a worst case mitigation strategy! LOL!)

    So, no, the problem we have is not “negative thinking,” it’s a failure to think in terms of the worst case scenario out of naked fear of the people around you. You do not trust them to handle it. Yet, you also fail to offer a viable solution set, not even allowing yourselves to consider the long-tail solution set: Simplicity. You fear your lack of lattes, cars, personal wealth, your job-identities, etc. You are all, in fact, reacting out of fear, not rationality, so you can’t offer all those frightened people a pathway to the light. And *that* is why you witness fear and despair. It’s not the bad news, it’s the lack of a way out of the problem. And they don’t believe you. The collective analytical accuracy of crowds is well-known. The average (or mean?) in guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar is usually close to the true number. Collectively, subconsciously, people know they talk about mitigation and adaptation is bull. The mere fact there is no clear agreement on what to do is enough to leave people paralyzed with fear. How can there be agreement when the proposed solutions… aren’t?

    Tell people the truth – the only way out is simplicity because it is the only response that

    – can be done in less than a decade, thus is most liekly to avert tipping points

    – addresses rate of change

    – addresses the long-tail risk

    – addresses all aspects of inequality

    – reintegrates humanity with Nature

    – addresses the finite nature of the planet comprehensively

    – is applicable anywhere on the planet

    – and already is proven, having been our way for 290,000+ years.

  12. 12
    David B. Benson says:

    If BAU means a total of 3 K of warming, 2 K more than now, that’s a catastrophy. As examples, the southern third or so of Vietnam and Laos drowned. I don’t know how much of Bangladesh, but lots.

    What else? Even larger tropical cyclones? Expansion of deserts?

  13. 13
    MA Rodger says:

    The idea that RCP8.5 is a worst-case scenarion and so should not be seen as BAU may or may not be the wrong argument to have but I do see RCP8.5 being wielded by denialists (eg Judy Curry) as probably being impossible and nought but scare-mongering. In that context, the case for a possible RCP9.5 future (indeed a probable RCP8.5) surely does need to be made. After all, RCP8.5 was developed for sensible reasons by sensible people, wasn’t it?

    So I ask, why is RCP8.5 considered an improbable/impossible future?
    (1) Three decades on from Rio we see carbon emissions risen by 50% and BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy shows that, beyond the unscalable hydro & nuclear, our new non-carbon-powered future providing for just 4% of our energy needs. Our old friends coal (27%), oil (34%) and gas (24%) are still doing the heavy lifting. The UK government makes much of its reduced emissions, leading the world with 2016 emissions down 41% on the reference 1990 levels, but the UK situation is no different from everybody else’s (if you ignore imported wood chips) with the emissions down simply because of a transfer from coal to gas (plus industries moving abroad). In our journey away from burn-burn the fossil fuels, there is nothing yet that merits the description of ‘one small step for mankind’.
    So lesson one is that we have not broken our adiction to fossil fuels.

    (2) If we cannot demonstrate our ability to turn away from fossil fuels, the one remaining argument against RCP8.5 will be the absence of the fossil fuels to provide the necessary emissions, some 1,600Gt(C) by 2100. The absence of fossil fuels that will force us to relinquish their use.
    Proven FF reserves as of 2006 work out as having a carbon content of 900Gt(C) coal, 150Gt(C) oil and 100Gt(C) gas, totalling 1,150Gt(C). Yet these numbers are not now lower. Despite consumption, oil and gas reserves have increased 50% over the last two decades and new coal reserves are not unknown, some of which are truly massive (although not so easy to mine). Finding new fossil fuel reserves could prove the easier path than giving them up.
    And while RCP8.5’s 935ppm CO2 by 2100 is an eye-bogglingly high level, if we do fail to provide the required emissions with fossil fuels to achieve 935ppm, the emissions from the natural world are not very well defined under the warming of RCP8.5 and could well assist in providing the shortfall.

    So I ask again, why is RCP8.5 considered an improbable/impossible future?

  14. 14

    KW, #10–

    Do you really believe that energy production is supply bound?

    Of course, at some point. If nothing else, the ‘supply’ limiting things becomes the ability to sink waste heat:

    https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/

    At the end of the day mankind survives and flourishes in spite of doom and gloom forecasts due to knowledge

    No, at the end of the day ‘mankind’–I’d prefer ‘humanity’ but let it go–becomes extinct or morphs into something new. But it’s possible that if we’re smart, wise, and lucky the day is still fairly young.

  15. 15

    Killian says:

    [Michael Mann:] “We’re starting to bend that emissions curve downward.”

    Killian: Wrong. We set record emissions levels last year. Record. Worst ever. How in the name of god is that bending the curve downward? It’s not.

    But it is, technically, because:

    …the rate of emissions growth is slower than in the previous two years…

    https://news.stanford.edu/2019/12/03/global-carbon-emission-increase/

    But it’s admittedly damn cold comfort:

    …the researchers warn emissions could keep increasing for a decade or more unless energy, transportation and industry policies change dramatically across the world.

    “When the good news is that emissions growth is slower than last year, we need help,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “When will emissions start to drop?”

    THAT would be a milestone worth a grin, just briefly, before rolling up our metaphorical sleeves again.

  16. 16
    mike says:

    I would suggest that business as usual is the path where annual CO2 increase is more than 2.0 ppm. We can change lots of things on the business scene but if CO2 continues to increase at more than 2 ppm per year, it’s just deck chairs on the Titanic. We can change the look, but not the outcome if we don’t focus on CO2 accumulation in atmosphere and ocean.

    But, hey, what do I know?

    Daily CO2

    Jan. 30, 2020: 413.95 ppm
    Jan. 30, 2019: 411.42 ppm

    December CO2

    Dec. 2019: 411.85 ppm
    Dec. 2018: 409.23 ppm

    Weekly

    January 19 – 25, 2020 413.65 ppm
    January 19 – 25, 2019 412.19 ppm
    January 19 – 25, 2010 388.27 ppm

    co2.earth

  17. 17
    Alexis Berg says:

    Personally, I’ve always understood high-emissions scenarios (A1F1, A2, RCP8.5…) to be a bit unlikely, for two reasons:
    – there are probably not enough recoverable fossil fuels to sustain them
    – they don’t include (as far a I understand) the increasingly adverse impacts of warming on human emissions.

    (The Nature piece doesn’t seem to mention those, which is a bit odd to me. )

    I remember climate papers from ~10 years ago mentioning as much, saying basically, if we are analyzing one scenario only we are using A2 to maximize the signal and differences between models. So that’s not new, but I think the overall point of the Nature opinion is probably true that high-emission has become synonym for BAU, and that it shouldn’t be.

    I do find the figure in the Nature piece highly problematic, though, as the characterization of likelihood on the right-hand side leaves out low-emissions scenarios (so it makes it look like probabilities basically increase from top to bottom) however if we are going to mention that the higher-emission scenarios are unlikely, then we should also say high-mitigation scenarios are probably unrealistic, too.

  18. 18
    Al Bundy says:

    Paul P,

    Those graphs puzzle me. The left one, consumption, goes from 2ish in 1950 to 9ish in 2000. The right one, production, goes from 3ish in 1950 to 22ish in 2000. That the graphs use different units doesn’t matter. Given that production and consumption are tied at the hip the ratios should track, right?
    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/img923/8117/y8Q7h7.png

  19. 19
    Al Bundy says:

    How about “Accelerated Mitigation”, “Quick Mitigation:, “Risky”, “Insanity”, and “Suicidal”?

  20. 20
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Anyone who can understand what kind of energy politics is and has being going on in the real world since the coup 1979 of Reagan (in reality Bush l), will realize that these semantic discussions are pure nonsense. Glen Peters is working here in Norway, and his job in fact is to start these kinds of “discussions”, ie. to promote by academic greenwashing the neoliberal oil- and gas-sales policy of all norwegian governments, as in fact ordered by the global leading oiligarchs in the US, who have for the foreseeable future executing absolute power over these matters qua their global atomic blackmailing overkill capacity. Their only powerful opponents in China and Russia, the EU and anywhere else are all promoting exactly the same policy of global climatic and ecological desaster, which in fact is, as Michael Mann points out, already happening. To a degree which all the socalled optimists have never predicted… In fact this silly optimism is the one big reason for the deep shit we are sinking into.

    All that must be done is cutting down all fossil energy use as fast as possible, and the only way to do it is to at least quadruple the price of this energy within as few years as possible. That this can be done we know from the history of the second world war. That it won’t be done by the kind of politicians we (for some “strange” reason…) have had everywhere since the greenhouse problem became known to the oiligarchs, is by now more than crystal clear to anyone not insane. In this there is no difference between the real politics being done after the socalled debates and elections. No kind of academic wool-in-the-mouthing will change that fact, as no manipulations with numbers whatsoever will change what is overwhelmingly happening in Australia, Siberia, Antarctica, Greenland, Europe (the winter is already by now a fast disappearing season all over Europe, and the spring, the summer and the autumn are changing with more and more unbearable heatwaves and droughts), Asia, Africa etc. etc.

    Anyone can call this whatever he or she prefers. Chatter in the saloons won’t change our catastrophic course. That can only be done by a global nonviolent movement of people who realize that democracy has to be reinvented by breaking the power of the oiligarchs and their totalitarian mediamachinery.

  21. 21
    nigelj says:

    Climate change is deadly serious problem at even just 2 degrees or RCP 4.5 or 6. However RCP 8.5 just doesn’t look entirely realistic to me. There may well be a lot of coal reserves currently unused, but they are very expensive to extract, and coal is already non competitive with wind power.

    RCP 8.5 needs to be realistic or the denialists will have a field day. Worst case scenarios are needed, and fear can work well as a motivator, but studies show it all has to be based on realism, solid evidence and no exaggerations.

    Agree its important public are made aware that just moderate efforts can go a long way to stopping the worst outcomes.

  22. 22
    nigelj says:

    Regarding KVJ @20 “That can only be done by a global nonviolent movement of people who realize that democracy has to be reinvented by breaking the power of the oiligarchs and their totalitarian mediamachinery.” True enough have a read of this:

    https://e360.yale.edu/digest/fossil-fuel-interests-have-outspent-environmental-advocates-101-on-climate-lobbying

    Won’t add more its getting OT.

  23. 23
    James Charles says:

    “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
    ‘Limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius will not prevent destructive and deadly climate impacts, as once hoped, dozens of experts concluded in a score of scientific studies released Monday.
    A world that heats up by 2C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—long regarded as the temperature ceiling for a climate-safe planet—could see mass displacement due to rising seas, a drop in per capita income, regional shortages of food and fresh water, and the loss of animal and plant species at an accelerated speed.
    Poor and emerging countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America will get hit hardest, according to the studies in the British Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions A.
    “We are detecting large changes in climate impacts for a 2C world, and so should take steps to avoid this,” said lead editor Dann Mitchell, an assistant professor at the University of Bristol.
    The 197-nation Paris climate treaty, inked in 2015, vows to halt warming at “well under” 2C compared to mid-19th century levels, and “pursue efforts” to cap the rise at 1.5C.’
    https://phys.org/news/2018-04-degrees-longer-global-guardrail.html#jCp

    “Atmospheric CO2 is already at levels last seen around four million years ago, in the Pliocene epoch. It is rapidly heading towards levels last seen some 50 million years ago — in the Eocene — when temperatures were up to 14 °C higher than they were in pre-industrial times. It is challenging for climate models to simulate such past ‘hothouse’ Earth states. One possible explanation is that the models have been missing a key tipping point: a cloud-resolving model published this year suggests that the abrupt break-up of stratocumulus cloud above about 1,200 parts per million of CO2 could have resulted in roughly 8 °C of global warming12.”
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0?fbclid=IwAR0UkDVD3Nh753RXHrpd0USM3wrXsRJzX3kP3uzMqYYqzGUPo_xAosqwMVU

    Will there be change?
    “Today’s global consumption of fossil fuels now stands at roughly five times what it was in the 1950s, and one-and-half times that of the 1980s when the science of global warming had already been confirmed and accepted by governments with the implication that there was an urgent need to act. Tomes of scientific studies have been logged in the last several decades documenting the deteriorating biospheric health, yet nothing substantive has been done to curtail it. More CO2 has been emitted since the inception of the UN Climate Change Convention in 1992 than in all of human history. 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, manmade greenhouse gases have risen inexorably.”
    https://medium.com/@xraymike79/the-inconvenient-truth-of-modern-civilizations-inevitable-collapse-8e83df6f3a57

    “ . . . and this year 2019
    07:53 the atmospheric carbon dioxide increase
    07:56 rate was the highest that it’s ever been . . . “
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa13KrOvE2s&fbclid=IwAR1XUa8LUVGc9z-hA4G2e6pGy8_5-vZZz0IBu3VTYmYfHk1_fNbYRwK_Jao

  24. 24
    Killian says:

    Re #20 Karsten V. Johansen said Anyone can call this whatever he or she prefers. Chatter in the saloons won’t change our catastrophic course. That can only be done by a global nonviolent movement of people who realize that democracy has to be reinvented by breaking the power of the oiligarchs and their totalitarian mediamachinery.

    It’s simplicity. A non-violent localization and autonomy. Adults in the room will realize Capitalism and central gov’ts are a FAIL and their opposite is not Communism, but egalitarianism and Commons.

  25. 25
    Killian says:

    Re #15 Kevin McKinney said How in the name of god is that bending the curve downward? It’s not.

    But it is, technically, because:

    …the rate of emissions growth is slower than in the previous two years…

    But is it? Really? Hmmm… I do believe I’d call an upward curve an… upward curve. And, were that curve to slow, I’d call that… slowing. Or, flattening. I don’t see how up equals down as you and Mann seem to be claiming. I’ll be thrilled to call it “doward curve” when it’s, you know, consistently headed back towards zero year after year.

    ;-)

    And then there’s the whole long term sensitivity thing, which the science is weakest on.

    But it’s admittedly damn cold comfort:

    …the researchers warn emissions could keep increasing for a decade or more unless energy, transportation and industry policies change dramatically across the world.

    Change dramatically. Hmmm… But not so far as simplicity – which actually solves ALL the problems. Hmmm… So, let’s make them honest and rephrase as make my damned latte with electricity from wind generators, only, dammit!

    “When the good news is that emissions growth is slower than last year, we need help,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “When will emissions start to drop?”

    See! He understands what downward means! LOL

    THAT would be a milestone worth a grin, just briefly, before rolling up our metaphorical sleeves again.

    Or, we could go with simplicity and give everyone a lot more free time.

  26. 26
    Killian says:

    Re #18 Al Bundy said Paul P,

    Those graphs puzzle me. The left one, consumption, goes from 2ish in 1950 to 9ish in 2000. The right one, production, goes from 3ish in 1950 to 22ish in 2000. That the graphs use different units doesn’t matter. Given that production and consumption are tied at the hip the ratios should track, right?

    Nope. Unless you can eat interest, profits, stocks, accounting and it’s many 1 and 0’s, computer code, etc.

    There’s a LOT of non-real/abstract GDP/product.

  27. 27
    Killian says:

    Re #21 nigelj said Climate change is deadly serious problem at even just 2 degrees or RCP 4.5 or 6. However RCP 8.5 just doesn’t look entirely realistic to me.

    1. You don’t mean realistic, you mean probable. 2. It is not supposed to look probable, it’s supposed to reflect the utter stupidity of inaction, which, given that means billions die, if not extinction, would be utterly stupid.

    People are complaining about a long-tail (fat part of the tail, though, not the far end) scenario being a long-tail scenario.

    This entire discussion, all of it – here, there, and everywhere – is absurd.

    There may well be a lot of coal reserves currently unused, but they are very expensive to extract, and coal is already non competitive with wind power.

    RCP 8.5 needs to be realistic or the denialists will have a field day. Worst case scenarios are needed, and fear can work well as a motivator, but studies show it all has to be based on realism, solid evidence and no exaggerations.

    Agree its important public are made aware that just moderate efforts can go a long way to stopping the worst outcomes.

  28. 28
    Killian says:

    Re #17 Alexis Berg said Personally, I’ve always understood high-emissions scenarios (A1F1, A2, RCP8.5…) to be a bit unlikely, for two reasons:
    – there are probably not enough recoverable fossil fuels to sustain them

    Anyone that thinks there is *any* carbon budget left is kidding themselves. This eggheaded myopathy at its worst: We’re not dead yet, and my data says….! It’s a complete fail of logic which assumes we actually know where the tipping points are and how the planet is going to respond long-term.

    People, these scenarios are partially-educated guesses, at best.

  29. 29

    KW 10: At the end of the day mankind survives and flourishes in spite of doom and gloom forecasts due to knowledge

    BPL: Some familiarity with history would show you that civilizations fall all the time, many of them due to climate change. We essentially have one worldwide civilization nowadays, and there is nothing–absolutely nothing–that prevents us going the way of Mycenae or the Mayans. Except that if this civilization falls, it may never get up again, because the resources available to earlier civilizations will all be used up.

  30. 30
    Mark BLR says:

    @MA Rodger (#13) : So I ask again, why is RCP8.5 considered an [improbable] future?

    Zeke covered some of the reasons in his “Explainer” article at the Carbon Brief website last August on “The high-emissions ‘RCP8.5’ global warming scenario” [ URL : https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-the-high-emissions-rcp8-5-global-warming-scenario ], which covers both the “old” RCP scenarii (for CMIP5 / AR5) and the “new” SSP ones (for CMIP6 / AR6).

    As explained in that article :

    CMIP6 will include the same four forcing levels found in the RCPs – 8.5, 6.0, 4.5, and 2.6 – in addition to new 1.9, 3.4 and 7.0 forcing scenarios. Both the 8.5 and 7.0 scenarios are taken from no-policy baseline emission scenarios in the SSP database, while all the other forcings use emissions scenarios where some level of mitigation is employed.

    The new 8.5 scenario represents the highest emissions no-policy baseline scenario of any developed in the SSP process. The 7.0 scenario is near the middle of the pack, while the 6.0 scenario is near the lower-end of what models suggest is possible in the absence of concerted mitigation efforts driven by climate policy.

    The 8.5 scenario is similar to the original RCP8.5, though it features around 20% higher CO2 emissions by the end of the century and lower emissions of other greenhouse gases. It was a scenario that the IAMs had some trouble generating; of the five socioeconomic pathways examined, only one – SSP5 – could produce a scenario with emissions that high. In their paper outlining the SSPs, Riahi and colleagues suggest that “8.5 W/m2 can only emerge under a relatively narrow range of circumstances. In contrast, an intermediate baseline (SSP2) only produces a forcing signal of about 6.5 W/m2 (range 6.5–7.3 W/m2).”

    One particular aspect of both the RCP8.5 and the new SSP 8.5 scenarios that has drawn quite a bit of criticism from energy researchers are their assumptions around future coal use. Reaching the CO2 emissions in these scenarios requires a large-scale increase in coal use – with 6.5 times more coal use in 2100 than today.

    With global coal use having declined slightly since its peak in 2014, it is hard to envision a world where coal expands this dramatically in the future even in the absence of new climate policies.

  31. 31

    @11 Killian,
    I am with you over much of what you stated…. Seriously.

    However, there is a bit of a nit pik I have with you here:
    “By this metric alone, the sane choice is whatever is the fastest pathway to negative emissions, and there is only one of those: Simplicity.”

    “the sane choice is whatever is the fastest pathway to negative emissions”… 100% correct.

    “and there is only one of those: Simplicity.”… No, not really.

    It actually is a factor of complexity that there is no simple solution, not even simplicity itself. And by its very nature, all biological interactions on this planet function as self regulating complex systems…even those we ourselves have been mucking up.

    So we actually don’t even have time to make such changes as you advocate. If the simplicity solution you advocate is incompatible with current governmental systems or monetary systems, then is is certainly not the fastest pathway to negative emissions because to make societal changes that great will in fact most likely cause such social upheaval as to trigger war and chaos that climate will cease to be capable of being dealt with. This actually has always been my main fear.

    We certainly can get to negative net emissions in less than a decade. That is very clear. In fact we spend huge effort preventing that from happening, just because of the hugely inefficient way we feed ourselves currently. Just by stopping our massive effort to kill the biosphere with pesticides and the plow annually, we would make an incredible difference. And you and I both fully understand we certainly can feed the populations of the world without killing a significant portion the biosphere annually… In fact it is the only known sustainable way to do it long term.

    “We try to grow things that want to die, and kill things that want to live. That is pretty much how (industrial) agriculture functions.” Colin Seis

    But even though we know how to do it now, once society begins to break down as happened in Syria, we will lose that capacity to mitigate or reverse AGW due to mass scrambling for food and dodging bullets…

    Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest
    https://climateandsecurity.org/2012/02/29/syria-climate-change-drought-and-social-unrest/

    In fact your idea that we must first change our societal systems before we can effectively reverse AGW is a bit of a cart before the horse problem. Counterproductive. First we mitigate AGW and once that existential crisis is solved, then we have plenty of time to consider the other societal changes you advocate on their merits. Quite frankly, we don’t have time for that social conversation today. Too much work to do first.

    And yes we certainly can do all that within a decades time frame if we start now.
    https://www.quora.com/Can-the-global-climate-change-be-reversed-or-halted/answers/34310028

    The fastest way to get to negative emissions is to use the already established societal systems of government and economics in place now, and put them directly towards reversing AGW. Once we reach negative emissions, then we have time to consider the rest of your sustainability designs….

    I actually have a business plan to build the infrastructure required to to make the changes you seek, if and when society is ready to make that change. Yet fully compatible and profitable in the current systems if society decides not…. I did include that in my design because I feel we need flexibility to be capable to chose, rather than be forced. It’s part of human nature and needs to be included in any permaculture design with the capacity to actually be implemented.

  32. 32
    zebra says:

    The “problem”, it seems to me, is the unwillingness/inability of some (many?) scientists to discipline their language. In this Nature article that talks about clarification, they fail to distinguish between

    A. “worst case” climate outcome
    B. “worst case” CO2/forcing outcome.

    For each value of radiative forcing the scenario modelers produce, there will be a range of climate outcomes the climate modelers will produce. Are these people saying that scientists are incapable of communicating this to policy-makers?

    Well, maybe, given language like:

    We must all — from physical scientists and climate-impact modellers to communicators and policymakers — stop presenting the worst-case scenario as the most likely one. Overstating the likelihood of extreme climate impacts can make mitigation seem harder than it actually is.

    The probability of burning all the coal has no connection to the probability of x meters sea-level rise if you burn all the coal.

    It’s inconceivable that any rational, objective, policy-maker doesn’t already understand that “the most CO2” = “the worst amount”. It sounds rather that the authors of the article are the confused ones, not the policy-makers.

  33. 33
    mike says:

    [Michael Mann:] “We’re starting to bend that emissions curve downward.”

    Unfortunately, it’s not the emissions curve that really counts, it the atmospheric CO2 accumulation curve that matters.

  34. 34

    Al Bundy said:

    “Those graphs puzzle me.”

    The right graph was an early *forecast* of FF energy usage from 1969 showing a huge projected increase, which is referred to as the red line in the left graph used to contrast against the *actual* production reported.
    https://imagizer.imageshack.com/img923/8117/y8Q7h7.png

    This is just one example of an overestimated forecast.

    Here is another one for coal forecasts by the EIA, which shows overestimates on a yearly basis

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EPsZGksWkAACfS3.jpg

  35. 35
    Mr. Know It All says:

    From the article: “The bigger questions are certainly worth discussing, but if the upshot of the current focus is that we just stop using the term ‘business-as-usual’ (as was suggested in the last IPCC report), then that is fine with me, but just not very substantive.”

    The IPCC not very substantive?! Who is surprised about that? Not me:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qypnQkdg89g

    14 – Kevin McKinney
    “No, at the end of the day ‘mankind’–I’d prefer ‘humanity’ but let it go–becomes extinct or morphs into something new. But it’s possible that if we’re smart, wise, and lucky the day is still fairly young.”

    That anyone would object to the word “mankind”, which has ALWAYS meant “all humans”, indicates that we don’t have much of importance to worry about. Times must be very good. Good times produce weak men. Weak men produce bad times. Bad times produce strong men. Strong men produce good times. Buckle up, it may get bumpy soon.

    20 – KV Johansen
    “Chatter in the saloons won’t change our catastrophic course. That can only be done by a global nonviolent movement of people who realize that democracy has to be reinvented by breaking the power of the oiligarchs and their totalitarian mediamachinery.”

    So the oiligarchs and the media are preventing the people who believe in AGW from making significant changes to their CO2 footprint?

    21 – nigelj
    “….There may well be a lot of coal reserves currently unused….”

    FYI, info on high efficiency, low emissions coal and on carbon capture and storage:
    https://www.worldcoal.org/reducing-co2-emissions

    https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/coal/how-much-coal-is-left.php

  36. 36
    nigelj says:

    Mr Kia @35, and high efficiency coal is in limited supply, and carbon capture and storage is just too expensive. Cheaper to demolish old coal fired plants and build renewables. Use of coal is generally declining. So all this doesn’t change what I said, or make RCP 8.5 accurate.

  37. 37

    KIA: That anyone would object to the word “mankind”, which has ALWAYS meant “all humans”, indicates that we don’t have much of importance to worry about.

    Me: First, some of us are a tad better at multitasking than others. Second, not all of us think that gender equality is an unimportant matter.

  38. 38
    nigelj says:

    Scott Strough @31, I would agree that if the current socio economic system is abandoned quickly, you could get a huge destabilisation and collapse in services delivery and stability. Said it myself.

    I agree about the benefits of more sustainable agriculture. The decline of insects is very concerning, yet even organic farming presumably need some forms of pesticides? It just looks like a really hard problem to solve. Would be interested in your thoughts, but the FR or UV threads are more appropriate.

  39. 39
    Al Bundy says:

    Re #18 Al Bundy said Paul P,

    Those graphs puzzle me. The left one, consumption, goes from 2ish in 1950 to 9ish in 2000. The right one, production, goes from 3ish in 1950 to 22ish in 2000. That the graphs use different units doesn’t matter. Given that production and consumption are tied at the hip the ratios should track, right?

    Killian: Nope. Unless you can eat interest, profits, stocks, accounting and it’s many 1 and 0’s, computer code, etc.

    AB: Your comment makes no sense. Paul and I were speaking of the production and consumption of fossil fuels. What does “eating” or “accounting” have to do with it? Again, I was not speaking to you or about your precious baby.

  40. 40
    nigelj says:

    Killian@27

    “1. You don’t mean realistic, you mean probable. 2. It is not supposed to look probable, it’s supposed to reflect the utter stupidity of inaction, which, given that means billions die, if not extinction, would be utterly stupid.”

    Ok RCP 8.5 is no longer probable. It is no longer “probable” because we just dont have that many coal reserves, and wind power is already cheaper than coal, and some progress has been made with mitigation . The claim is that RCP 8.5 has been effectively cancelled, and we are a a little bit closer to RCP 6, which is still a bad scenario anyway in terms of warming outcomes. And I would definitely say we are only a little bit closer.

    “When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir?” (famous quote, possibly J M Keynes)

  41. 41
    Dan Miller says:

    Re: #11 – Killian. I generally agree with what you are saying… how can you solve a problem if you’re not willing to talk about it? Fear is not only a motivating emotion, it is the #1 motivator! Combine it with a solution and the public will demand action. I don’t know what you mean by “simplicity” but I would suggest a Fee and Dividend carbon tax that encourages carbon capture and negative emissions. We can suck CO2 out of the atmosphere starting at a small scale now and getting to 40+ Gt/year in a decade or two. A steadily rising carbon fee will drive an energy transition and the deployment of negative emissions infrastructure.

    See this paper I wrote in collaboration with Jim Hansen on why Fee and Dividend is the best carbon pricing policy:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LCyH32Yn3c9mEuYJyh4XfIzcxS82033R/view

  42. 42
    Killian says:

    Re #31 Scott E Strough said @11 Killian,
    I am with you over much of what you stated…. Seriously.

    However, there is a bit of a nit pik I have with you here:
    “By this metric alone, the sane choice is whatever is the fastest pathway to negative emissions, and there is only one of those: Simplicity.”

    “the sane choice is whatever is the fastest pathway to negative emissions”… 100% correct.

    “and there is only one of those: Simplicity.”… No, not really.

    It actually is a factor of complexity that there is no simple solution, not even simplicity itself.

    You are conflating two things, the adjective simple and the noun and concept, simplicity, and assuming that simplicity means all complexity has been removed even as you state simplicity is not a simple solution. Well, if you know that, why do you assume I do not? However, at the same time, simplicity is far *simpler* than the systems we have now.

    And by its very nature, all biological interactions on this planet function as self regulating complex systems…even those we ourselves have been mucking up.

    Again, conflating.

    So we actually don’t even have time to make such changes as you advocate.

    Apparently not as you envision it. As I do, it’s the only way that can be done on a 5 or 10-year basis – in a perfect world. In the morass of stupidity we live in now, longer will almost certainly be necessary. That doesn’t change that the risk analysis indicates every year of delay moves us dramatically closer to irreversible tipping points. But not all tipping point are irreversible, at least to certain points. We will see SLR of meters even if we could get to 260ppm today. That’s not stoppable. However, 3 or 5 or 15 meters might be stoppable. If we can keep it to 1~3M, that might indicate we have returned to pre-Anthropocene conditions climatically and a close approximation of the Holocene climate since 8k BCE might be restablished.

    If the simplicity solution you advocate is incompatible with current governmental systems or monetary systems, then is is certainly not the fastest pathway to negative emissions because to make societal changes that great will in fact most likely cause such social upheaval as to trigger war and chaos

    That is true of any solution set. There is no solution set that can maintain market capitalism and unending growth. Those with power and wealth will resist. Your point, in that regard, is moot.

    However, there are ways to move to simplicity that are non-confrontational. In fact, the only way I can see to do that is the pathway I promulgated back in 2011. Anything that attempts to avoid deep ssytemic change will be, imo, suicidal for society and possibly humanity. I’d rather risk a war than large portions of permafrost and clathrates. The former would hurt and kill some millions, the latter equals near-certain extinction.

    Pick your poison.

    that climate will cease to be capable of being dealt with. This actually has always been my main fear.

    Yes. But you’ve got it backwards. #GND, e.g., is suicidal and will take far too long.

    Just by stopping our massive effort to kill the biosphere with pesticides and the plow annually, we would make an incredible difference. And you and I both fully understand we certainly can feed the populations of the world without killing a significant portion the biosphere annually… In fact it is the only known sustainable way to do it long term.

    Yes, and the key element of simplicity.

    But even though we know how to do it now, once society begins to break down as happened in Syria, we will lose that capacity to mitigate or reverse AGW due to mass scrambling for food and dodging bullets…

    So, I have proposed Regenerative Community Incubators. A variant could be, as I tried to make happen, shifting Ecosystem Restoration Camps to Ecosystem Restoration Communities. The logic for doing so is air tight, but I make a poor salesman these days.

    In fact your idea that we must first change our societal systems before we can effectively reverse AGW is a bit of a cart before the horse problem.

    I have never said that. We could keep everything as is, do the #GND, etc., but we’d end up with nothing more than a downshifted BAU. The rich would still be superrich, at least relatively, but everyone else would be struggling, There would be no middle class, bc if you do #GND without regenerativity (new word?!) you will either get that *or* cement the 1st world ~ 3rd world division into permanence: Nobody is going to pay to bring the 5 billion poor up to the level of, say, American upper lower class (the mostly poor, but better than most of the world’s desperately poor).

    First we mitigate AGW and once that existential crisis is solved

    Well, see, there’s the rub: Climate is a resource abuse/over-consumption problem, so you can convince yourself that it’s possible to not simplify *and* draw down carbon to pre-industrial levels, but you can’t do that without passing tipping points and continuing to despoil the remaining (relatively) intact areas of the planet if you keep consumption rolling along.

    then we have plenty of time to consider the other societal changes you advocate on their merits.

    Inherent in that statement is that you know where the tipping points are and when they will be triggered. You do not. Is it worth risking extinction to make the transition more comfortable?

    Quite frankly, we don’t have time for that social conversation today. Too much work to do first.

    What social conversation? It would not be done by some massive global action, but by grassroots growing of regenerative networks. You don’t fight the old way, you create a better one, as Bucky Fuller said.

    And yes we certainly can do all that within a decades time frame if we start now.

    But you won’t. You are claiming we can get everyone to stop consuming, but keep the system of consumption in place. Can you swim without getting wet?

    The fastest way to get to negative emissions is to use the already established societal systems of government and economics in place now, and put them directly towards reversing AGW.

    You mean the system of profit and loss, ever-growing consumption, and the governance model that created this mess? You’re going to get the 1% to fund the 99%? You’re going to get rich people out of Congress so they will stop making 70% of laws to benefit themselves as they have done for 3 ~ 4 decades?

    With what magic dust?

    Once we reach negative emissions

    Which will never happen w/o simplicity.

    then we have time to consider the rest of your sustainability designs….

    But that day will never come.

    I actually have a business plan to build the infrastructure required to to make the changes you seek

    The changes I seek require no business plan.

    Yet fully compatible and profitable in the current systems if society decides not

    There’s a disconnect there. I guess I’d need to see whatever plan you have in mind to figure out where it lies.

    I did include that in my design because I feel we need flexibility to be capable to chose, rather than be forced.

    Forced? Where did that come from?

    It’s part of human nature and needs to be included in any permaculture design with the capacity to actually be implemented.

    Then you aren’t talking about a permaculture design.

  43. 43
    MA Rodger says:

    MarkBLR @30,
    You answer my question @13 “So I ask again, why is RCP8.5 considered an [improbable] future?” and appear to agree with the ‘consideration’ you provide. I am far from convinced.
    You quote from the CarbonBrief piece by Zak Hausfather which doubts that a BAU future would increase current coal use by 6.5-times to achieve the 28Gt(C)/y CO2 emissions. (CO2 emissions from coal were 4Gt(C)/y in 2018.)
    Of course, we can argue about what a BAU future would entail but I would suggest that if we are unable to find a replacement for FFs and thus shed our reliance on them, by 2100 we would perhaps be clean out of oil and gas. So coal would be the FF of the moment, not a helpful situation as coal is more carbon-intense than either oil or gas. Indeed, if we were burning coal exclusively today, our carbon emissios would be 50% higher already (from 10Gt(C)/y to 15Gt(C)/y).
    The idea that coal-use is in decline, having peaked in 2014, is a bit optimistic. Coal-use was risng to 2014 and has been flat since then. A downward trend is not yet evident with two years of falling use followed by two of rising use. And over a longer period, over the decade coal-use rose at an average of 0.7%/y.
    For comparison, oil rose 1.2%/y, gas 2.4%/y and all FF 1.4%/y. The BP numbers on World Energy show carbon-emitting energy use continues unabated. If that is BAU, with a limit to oil & gas reserves, with increasing energy demand, our FF future will be one of high coal-use.

    But let us play with those BP numbers. Total energy use rose 1.7%/y over the last decade. Extrapolate to 2100 and that is a 5x increase.
    Now the good numbers are the increases for ‘renewables’ and biofuels – 16%/y and 7%/y respectively which if extrapolated at that rate would allow them to replacement all FF by 2040. But, if that were a possible future, it wouldn’t be BAU.

    Perhaps BAU can be seen as ‘renewables’ and biofuels increasing in capacity at a constant rate (equal to today’s) rather than an exponential rate. That would see ‘renewables’ and biofuel increasing far slower than current global energy demand increases. Even by 2100, the level of ‘renewables’ and biofuels energy would still be short of today’s FF energy. Yet by 2100, the total FF energy-use we’d want to displace would have increased more than four-times. So FF power would be 3.5x bigger to plug the gap and, if oil and gas were not available, that would see coal emissions 3.5 x 1.5 x 10 [current FF emissions] – 7 [renewable replacements] = 45Gt(C)/y.

    The only restriction is FF reserves and while oil & gas may be looking short, there is plenty of coal.

  44. 44
    jef says:

    There is a line in “The day the Earth stood still” that says; “But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.” It’s a movie/book I know but I believe it is true. If we keep telling people that we are no where near the brink then they will not respond properly.

    Killian – I agree completely and have said much the same as you at every opportunity. Instead of simplicity, when people ultimately ask “so what do we do?” I say LESS. We could stop doing half of the destructive BS we busy ourselves with almost immediately. Then we could simplify even further while making sure everyone is ok. This does not mean going back to the stone age at all. I have been advocating for this for over 15 years now and it always amazes me that the hardest thing for people to do is less.

    31 – Scott – You talk like an economist making huge assumptions that gloss over reality but look great on paper.

  45. 45
    Mark BLR says:

    MA Rodger @43.

    You answer my question @13 “So I ask again, why is RCP8.5 considered an [improbable] future?” and appear to agree with the ‘consideration’ you provide. I am far from convinced.

    You asked : “Why is RCP8.5 considered … improbable ?”.

    You did NOT ask for : “An explanation THAT I PERSONALLY WILL BE CONVINCED BY“.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Some other “considerations” for 30 to 80 years into the future …

    – Coal can always be “gasified”

    – By 2060 the “ITER + DEMO + PROTO” series of scientific research projects may, I repeat MAY (!), give humanity the first commercially-viable fusion reactors, which would be able to power as many “gasification plants” as “required”.

    – Alternatively, rather than doing “Fusion -> Electricity (at X% efficiency) -> Gasification of coal (at Y% efficiency) -> Electricity from CCGT power plants (at Z% efficiency and 50% of coal’s CO2 emissions) -> People”, we might decide to do “Fusion -> Electricity -> People (directly, at X% efficiency and ZERO CO2 emissions)” instead … which would mean that the number of gasification plants “required” above would be “0”.

    – Technology is a wonderful thing, but you (/ we) can’t assume it will just “magically” appear, e.g. BECCS (/ commercially-viable fusion reactors). You (/ we) also can’t just assume that it will remain strictly identical “from now until the end of time” (or the end of the century, at least …), that there will be no evolution whatsoever.

  46. 46

    MAR, #43–

    The only restriction is FF reserves and while oil & gas may be looking short, there is plenty of coal.

    Yes–plenty of increasingly uneconomic coal.

  47. 47
    zebra says:

    #43 MA Rodger,

    A while back I made the unpopular prediction that we were not going to achieve drastic reductions in CO2 production in a few decades. Rather, a substantial decline might be expected more in the range of 150 years.

    Looking at the geopolitical and economic realities, it is not unreasonable to think that the probability of something closer to that 8.5 is far from improbable, as you suggest.

    But referring back to my #32, the question is: What’s the point these people are trying to make, anyway? Is it that we shouldn’t bother with mitigation if 8.5 will not be achieved even without mitigation? Is 7.5 not a problem?

    It’s going to be a messy business. There isn’t some World Dictator to implement a perfect plan to achieve a particular forcing number. The only thing we need to know is that faster mitigation is better, as soon as possible. How about in 50 years, we look at the progress and then, if possible, fine-tune what everyone is doing in terms of potential marginal gains.

    Right now, we are very far from having that luxury.

  48. 48

    Killian,

    You said, “Well, if you know that, why do you assume I do not?”
    ->No, actually the assumption is that you do know that. My nit pik is to address aspects that you actually know to be true, and argue a very slight (but significant) modification in direction. Tacking instead of trying to sail directly into a head wind.

    You said, “Again conflating”
    ->No, actually I am using systems science and holism to include factors that you either haven’t considered as part of that complexity, or that you considered and rejected, and I believe you should reconsider.

    You said, “We will see SLR of meters even if we could get to 260ppm today”
    ->I’d like to see a citation or three for that.

    You said, “There is no solution set that can maintain market capitalism and unending growth. Those with power and wealth will resist.”
    ->Unending is a long time. Long enough to fix this particular problem? Fairly easy. I couldn’t even speculate on forever…. You shouldn’t either. But more importantly is that of course capitalists will resist your plan to dismantle capitalism. That’s a self fulfilling prophesy. There are plenty of potential solutions that can not only maintain capitalism, but actually strengthen it, and make it more equatable. Those in power are far less likely to resist these sorts of solutions.

    You said, “A variant could be, as I tried to make happen, shifting Ecosystem Restoration Camps to Ecosystem Restoration Communities. The logic for doing so is air tight, but I make a poor salesman these days.”
    ->It’s a great idea. Make it profitable and it will be far easier to sell. Make it extremely profitable and you won’t be able to hold back the flood of new recruits even if you tried.

    You said, “Climate is a resource abuse/over-consumption problem”.
    ->I actually like the re-framing of AGW in such a way as to view it as a symptom of a larger problem. I agree 100% in so much as this is exactly what I had to do in order to really get a firm grasp on potential solutions. Once you start viewing it as a symptom, that frees your mind to consider options others would overlook. Clearly this is a major factor in your plans for a long term solution. Maybe also another reason for such pushback you seem to be getting. Not everyone thinks about global warming like we do.

    You said, “With what magic dust?”
    ->The same “magic dust” they used to get where they are in the first place. See getting there is actually the easy part. Staying there is much harder, which is why such massive corruption in government abuses of power in a mad scramble to hold onto what is constantly slipping through their fingers. But two can play at that game, if you know the rules and have a good endgame. Remember just as major corporations have the ability to lock down costs through vertical integration down the supply chain, so too the bottom has the ability, through vertical stacking, to add multiple lines of value added to any grass roots business or organization. With the distinct advantage of being much more flexible and populous. And in any sort of representative democratic system, more populous has great advantages.

    You said, “The changes I seek require no business plan.”
    ->exactly

    You said, “Forced? Where did that come from?”
    ->Listen to your own pitch some time. Words like “extinction event” and the “only solution is”. This is forced. You are not offering a choice. Not much different than a burglar with a gun to someones head saying, “do this or else”. They have no idea you’re entirely benevolent and forcing them metaphorically into the basement so the tornado won’t kill them. And that is exactly how your words sound to people who don’t fully understand yet what you are discussing. Yet another reason for pushback. It’s human nature and must be considered as a key part of the complexity.

    You said, “Then you aren’t talking about a permaculture design.”
    I was talking about including this in your design. I am fairly sure yours is actually a permaculture design. It was only a mention as to how you might make your design stronger short term. Because if you can’t sell it short term, you have no chances at all of selling it long term.

  49. 49
    Ignorant Guy says:

    Kevin McKinney @37

    Reluctantly I have to admit that for once Mr Kia is right. “Mankind” is not synonymous with “malekind”. It is synonymous with “humankind”. I don’t agree with the other things he says. And of course gender equality is important. (And I am bad at multitasking. The context switch is too expensive.) The word “man” can have at least three different meanings: 1. “Male person” 2. “Person of arbitrary gender” 3. “Humankind”. I try to avoid using “man” in meaning 1. If I mean specifically male I prefer to use the word “male”. If I use the word “man” I may very well refer to a woman in a context where gender is not important – which ought to be most contexts.

  50. 50
    nigelj says:

    “Inherent in that statement is that you know where the tipping points are and when they will be triggered. You do not. Is it worth risking extinction to make the transition more comfortable?”

    We do actually have a reasonable idea about tipping points and when tipping points will be triggered. There may be hidden tipping points but the research looks to have identified all the big ones that are plausible. See below:

    https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

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