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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Earth in the grip of a fever - CO2 at 400 ppm - deniers ecstatic

Sou | 4:04 PM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

Unknown Territory - Never Since Humans Appeared on Earth

Yesterday we were told that at Mauna Loa, CO2 passed the 400 ppm mark.  It hasn't been this high in more than 3 million years at least - never ever since humans evolved, let alone since human civilisation.
This event, memorialised in a haiku tweet from NOAA, is a frightening reminder of how poorly we are doing in attempting to reduce CO2 emissions.  The implications are awful.  Here are some thoughts from various sources:

...and more from Richard Monastersky at Nature, Damien Carrington of the Guardian, Greg Laden putting it into perspective, National Geographic,  MIT Technology Review, Imperial College London and many, many more.

The Fever Came on Quickly

For some of us, the milestone has come much sooner than expected.  It was only three years ago, in March 2010, that Atmoz had a competition asking his readers to state when they thought the average global CO2** would hit 400ppm.  These bets were for the global monthly average, not Mauna Loa daily.  Global monthly CO2 hasn't hit 400 ppm yet.

Anyway, back in March 2010, this is what climate bloggers bet - and that was only three years ago.  Several were very optimistic, thinking that dreadful milestone was years away.  I hate to say it, but I believe I will have come closest.

March 2018
March 2018
October 2016
June 2016
May 2016
January 2016
December 2015
December 2015
April 2015
April 2015
March 2015
December 2014
December 2014
May 2014
April 2014 - Sou

Deniers say "Bring it ON!"

On the anti-science blogs, people are positively gloating.  On WUWT, Anthony Watts is heralding his triumph, offering T-Shirts in celebration.  He and his band of Dismissives are trumpeting what they see as a milestone in their frantic efforts to make earth dangerously hot, writing:
Mauna Loa hits 400 PPM of CO2, alarmists wail and gnash teeth, Earth survives
Since the world hasn’t ended (just like what happened with Y2K) we can now go forward from here.  T-shirts saying “I survived 400 PPM” will be made available if there’s enough interest in comments.
Some are pretending to be blasé, but there have been 169 responses to Anthony's article so far, so deniers aren't disinterested.  There are even many science-denying people who want to shoot higher and hasten the Anthropocene Extinction Event:
AndyG55 can't wait for another Permian-Triassic extinction event to give Earth a clean sweep and says:
May 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm  700ppm .. upward and onward.. Yee-haw !! :-)))
Let Mother Earth flourish as she once did. !
James at 48 ambitions are more modest, maybe settling for an Ordovician–Silurian extinction event - he says:
May 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm  500 or fight! (that was for all of my Canadian brethren).  In all seriousness, though, I reckon we will never reach 500. We’ll probably be peakin’ shortly, given the way things are trending.
There are some WUWT-ers who are as bad as Moondoong, not able to distinguish real dangers from make-believe.  They stridently oppose actions to minimise real risk and when others, despite this opposition, work hard and take actions that succeed, the Dismissives say "ha! there was no risk". (Like Anthony did with his allusion to Y2K.)
Olaf Koenders says:
May 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm  davidmhoffer says: May 10, 2013 at 11:25 am
“Y2K? That seems pretty light. I suppose the younger folks might not relate to all the disasters their elders have survived. If memory serves, I’ve survived (so far)..”
Thanks David. I survived them too. Maybe we should put this on a tee:
10 Impending Ice Age
20 Ozone Depletion
30 Acid Rain
40 Toxic Rain
50 Y2K
60 Bird Flu
70 Swine Flu
80 Global Economic Collapse (fossil fuel depletion)
90 Global Starvation (population exceeding food supply)
100 Catastrophic AGW
110 Goto 10

Ghoulishly Celebrating a Fever

Would the deniers be acting the same if their child had a temperature of 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit)?  Would they be making T-shirts saying:

Shoot for 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit)

Fevers come and go.  The analogy fails with Earth.  Until we stop emitting CO2, Earth will just keep getting hotter.  When we do stop it will take centuries to make a difference.

Source: Base chart from Jos Hagelaars 

Fear Averse Deniers

Frankly, I think the reason many deniers are triumphing their success is because they are fear averse.  (See the Conservative Brain.)  They are putting on a front, acting as if there's no problem, because they don't want to be wrong.  They are not wired to face danger but cannot flee, so instead they pretend to themselves the danger isn't real.

Climate science deniers are a danger to us all.  Dismissives only number about 8% in the USA and probably slightly lower proportions elsewhere.  They do yell and shout a lot so it sometimes seems as if there are more who oppose progress than there really are.  Mostly they confine themselves to their own echo chambers, where they are more at ease and take comfort in the echos.  (For an industrialised democracy, the USA is an oddity from a cultural perspective, with wider extremes than most places - from fundamentalist/religious illiterati through to some of the world's best thinkers.  In some ways it's more like some countries in the Middle East than, say, Europe.)

The number of people opposed to modernising energy and who don't care about our long term survival will drop further as time goes by.  In the meantime, the Dismissives' fear of change will be exploited by sociopaths and other unscrupulous people who have no regard for earth or their fellow human beings and don't care if Earth is unlivable 200 years from now.

The world is changing

Despite the efforts from some influential quarters to send humanity to oblivion, individuals, businesses and even some governments are making gains in the shift to clean energy.  Not quickly enough yet.

**Note: I haven't been able to access the global or any CO2 data or the NOAA ftp site lately. If the server gets back up or if I find a new location, I'll post it here.  Meantime, if anyone knows what the problem is, can you tell me please?

This might explain things.  None of the options work for me at the moment.


  1. Do you think the number of dismissives in Australia is higher than the US figure of 8%? I get the feeling that Australia is a hot-bed of denialism, which if true, is very strange because I don't think it is going to do very well in a warmer world.

    1. Rachel, it's hard to say. I don't believe we are a 'hotbed' of denialism, but we do have some real cranks like the climate skeptics party - none got elected AFAIK. (That article is dated 1st of April, but I'm not sure it was put up as a gag.)

      Politically Australia does not appear to have as large a proportion of people in the extremist right wing nuttery end of the spectrum (yet) judging by who we elect to parliament. We have our share (remember Pauline Hanson, Australia's Sarah Palin). The conservative party is currently further to the right than the middle (it varies from middle of the road to the right). Our Labor party has also shifted more to the right in recent years continuing a trend from the Hawke-Keating era.

      This article refers to various polls, including one of the more comprehensive that suggests Australia has roughly the same proportion of Dismissives as did the Yale study - around 8%.

  2. Thanks. The Graham Readfearn article is good and somewhat of a relief to read.

  3. It is absolutely mind-boggling at the rampant cretinism over at μWatts.

    But given that this was predictable, why am I surprised?

    At μWatts, reality is inverted, science and common-sense are nowhere to be seen (except from non-zombies, who are soon banished).

    This is not unlike the joke about the optimist falling from a tall building, shouting OK so far, as he passed each floor. Except this is not a silly joke.

    The μWatts zombies are jubilant and intent in taking everyone with them.

  4. Watts' headline, ".. Earth survives" is perversely correct and irrelevant. The earth survives all ecological tragedies and geologic events up until the latter stages of the sun's lifecycle when it becomes a red giant and expands engulfing the earth. Unfortunately, the earth's organisms (including us) aren't as resilient. On another level, Watts ignores, oops .. either doesn't know about or can't comprehend radiative forcing, thermal lag and equilibrium temperature.
    IMO, Watts et al should confine themselves to analysing the Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (apologies to Giacomo Balla) and leave blogging on Climate Change to those who not only understand the meaning of probity but also know what they're talking about. On a positive note, getting outdoors together in the fresh air will be a win-win situation for Anthony and Kenji, Steve and Cujo, Bob and Beethoven, Jo and Toto, ...


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