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Friday, August 21, 2015

Is it too late to prevent dangerous climate change?

Sou | 11:22 AM Go to the first of 67 comments. Add a comment
A lot of people think it is too late to prevent dangerous warming. That we have already passed the point of no return in regard to limiting the increase in global mean surface temperature to 2°C above that of pre-industrial times. Some people think that we'll be lucky to stay within 4°C of warming this century. Anthony Watts doesn't think we've passed the point of no return. He wrote about how Dr Pauchari said, back in 2007, that "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." Anthony called it a failed prediction (archived here).

What makes Anthony think that Dr Pauchari was wrong? What makes him think that it's not too late? He doesn't say. All he says is:
Well, it’s now August 2015, the world isn’t destroyed and no new U.N. climate treaty has been presented, though there’s a lot of hullaballo ramping up for the Paris COP21 meeting this coming December. 

So it's another case of the usual brain failure you so often see in deniers, that if something hasn't happened yet then it never will happen. Notice that he also seems to assume that because the agreement to be made in Paris at the end of this year, hasn't yet been "presented" yet, that this means that global warming isn't happening - or something like that. He's a bit of a nutter, isn't he. Clear thinking eludes him. And remember, Anthony has called predictions "failed" even when they are for well into the future. Has he deluded himself into believing he has a time machine?


Looking at the carbon budget, we've already spent an awful lot. It would take a huge effort to stop emitting carbon soon enough to stay below the amount required. In January, Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins had a paper in Nature, that stated that "globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2 °C. " That's a big ask, given the paltry efforts to shift to renewables so far.

Last year, Todd Sanford, Peter C Frumhoff, Amy Luers and Jay Gulledge wrote a commentary in Nature Climate Change, saying that:
It is time to acknowledge that global average temperatures are likely to rise above the 2°C policy target and consider how that deeply troubling prospect should affect priorities for communicating and managing the risks of a dangerously warming climate.

Many experts agree that Western Antarctica is past the point of no return when it comes to melting the ice sheets. The speed with which it happens is the only unknown. It could be sooner, like within coming decades or it could be later. It seems fairly certain that over the next few centuries, seas will rise by metres, not centimetres. And sea level could rise by anything up to two metres this century even.

Now the fact that it's too late to prevent 2°C of warming doesn't mean we shouldn't try. If we don't act, then we won't stop 3°C or 4°C or 6°C or more.



References and further reading


McGlade, Christophe, and Paul Ekins. "The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 [deg] C." Nature 517, no. 7533 (2015): 187-190. doi:10.1038/nature14016 (pdf here)

Sanford, Todd, Peter C. Frumhoff, Amy Luers, and Jay Gulledge. "The climate policy narrative for a dangerously warming world." Nature Climate Change 4, no. 3 (2014): 164-166. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2148 (access courtesy Nat Geo)

The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit - David Roberts at Vox. May 2015

Alarming UN report on climate change too rosy, many say -  Elisabeth Rosenthal and James Kanter in the New York Times, November 2007


From the HotWhopper Archives

67 comments:

PG said...

I drink a full bottle of scotch a day and my liver is cancer free so pass me another (It's under the sink).

OK, now I drink 2 bottles of scotch a day and my liver is slightly painful but there has been no diagnosis of cancer and as long as I stay away from those blithering idiots (aka doctors) it will remain that way. Pass me another (it's under the mattress)

I drnk 3 blotters of scrutch a day and I'm feeling a bit unwell. I think I'll cut it back to 2.

Millicent said...

Dangerous for who?

Sahel villagers fleeing climate change must not be ignored

Bernard J. said...

PG.

Scotch has no effect on the liver - but the sun does - and in the past scotch consumption has not killed people. And anyway your scotch consumption has not increased, and if it has it's good for you. And if it's not then it's only a minor effect, and if it's not just minor then it's too late to stop drinking, so you might as well continue...

Oh, and tea-totallers are nazis and gay and communist and conspiring to tax scotch drinkers, and Al Gore is fat, and...

Lars Karlsson said...

Watts: "...the world isn’t destroyed..."

Now that's what I call a straw man!

jgnfld said...

Scotch is human food. Scotch is just well preserved barley that is completely germ free and can be stored indefinitely.

Prince Mishkin said...

Who are we to deny scotch to people in the 3rd world? Only rich people drink scotch so if people in the 3rd world drink scotch then they must be rich too. Trebles all round!

Cugel said...

"... the world isn't detroyed ..." - but Yes We Can!

looʞ oɹez said...

"This very expensive SCOTCH DAMAGES YOUR LIVER bullshyt has got to stop. Our livers is freezing, record low temps, and our liver doctors are stuck in SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS!" Donald Trump

PG said...

When distinguished scientists ditch their highly paid jobs in favour of the survival of the species, I scoff at those commie fools. Scoff I tells ya.

Gingerbaker said...

Anthony Watts is not as confoundingly illogical or stupid as you credit him. He is a paid propagandist , happily plying his craft, and doing more than his fair share to murder billions of people in slow motion.

He should not be just held in disregard. He should be held in Gen. Pop.

Bernard J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard J. said...

"...doing more than his fair share to murder billions of people in slow motion."

Exactly.

In the matter of human-caused climate change, everyone is either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. Responsibility and culpability are directly proportional to the extent of the one or the other.

Anonymous said...

Since dangerous climate change has already happened, I would say yes, it is too late to prevent it.

We've recently had severe floods, droughts and heat waves that are influenced by global warming. What's left to us is the challenge of keeping things from getting much, much worse.

-Adam R.

RobH said...

I like Glen Peters' (of CICERO) where he says, "Yes, we can still stay below 2C... but only in the models."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=529Og_YR0IU

numerobis said...

Or perhaps the challenge is to reducing the number of "much"es before the word "worse" -- since of course it'll get worse.

Bernard J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernard J. said...

For a few years now I've been convinced of exactly the points that Glen Peters raises. Perhaps I'm sticking my neck out here, with the Paris talks still a few months away, but given past history, the current tepid response from Obama, and the distinct international inertia after Pope Francis' admirable encyclical, it's clear that the political and social will across the planet is profoundly and lamentably insufficient to deal with the situation. I see nothing that indicates that Paris will deliver anything resembling the war footing that is required.

And without such we're into 3-5 °C warming territory.

3 °C will see a world with an effective global repeat of the worst of the Great Depression from almost a century ago, with accompanying global reach of dustbowls, Katrinas, and WWIIs thrown in for good measure. Ongoing. How can we cope with that?

~5 °C will be accompanied by collapse. Pick any of the great civilisational collapses from history, and mix them up with anything from the fevered minds of science fiction, and it will be worse.

The future is effectively now cemented somewhere between these two magnitudes of change. Anyone who ignores this, especially if they are in positions of political or economic responsibility, carry the additional burden of responsibility for this future of the planet.

As do the electorates and the consumers who facilitate this abrogation of responsibility.

And watch how the world will continue to sit on its collective hands for years to come...

Gingerbaker said...

"the political and social will across the planet is profoundly and lamentably insufficient"

I think what we are seeing is a disconnect between the social will and the political will. The social will is evident everywhere - from polls which show a large majority of even die-hard Republicans wanting AGW fixed, to enormous demonstrations world-wide to solve AGW. The people want action. The politicians listen to special interests.

Bernard J. said...

GB, there's certainly sections of the society that understand - I guess that I should have emphasised that in most of the Anglo countries it fails to make much of an impression at the ballot box.

It's a shame that Australia, the USA, Canada and England don't have a more Scandinavian/NW Euro mindset - then perhaps we might have had global social movement that isn't effectively eating the dust of a distant galloping horse.

looʞ oɹez said...

Bernie Sanders has a pretty good mindset. Jimmy Carter has brain cancer. These are the only two politicians in the USA who don't seem sick in the head.

There will be shuffling as GOP candidates like Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Hickabee and Cruz eventually drop out. Just pray they don't pledge their support to Jeb, which they probably will. With Paul Wolfowitz advising Jeb on foreign policy that makes him BY FAR the most dangerous threat to mankind.

BBD said...

Ah, shut up and drink yer drink.

We're all doomed anyway.

:-)

BBD said...

Bernard J.

+1

You have a knack for saying what I wish I'd said, first.

Millicent said...

We might comfort ourselves that if Dubya2 is anything like as incompetent as Dubya1 then he is likely to hurt the economy . And as that has not yet recovered from the massive damage Dubya1 inflicted, it is likely to take a large slice off world industrial production.

And that is likely to reduce emissions more than anything our painfully inadequate politicians are likely to sign up to.

looʞ oɹez said...

Suggestion, for the other side, since you're losing traffic, maybe you need a younger audience. Have you ever heard of the charity called Cars For Kids (CFK)? What if Climate Etc. changed to (CFK) Climate For Kids and since WUWT is where spelling is such a challenge, how about (KFWK) Klimate For Watts' Kids... You could both be household names.

For brilliance go to HotWhopper... PG is so brilliant, isn't he? Always something stimulating...
Now I know I'm drunk... time for a nap

marke said...

All very witty. And much is on target.

But Prince Mishkin dropped the clanger in the room....

As we are equating cheap energy and scotch; should cheap readily available energy really remain the preserve of the wealthy?

Are you not concerned at the booming populations of Africa? Is the intention to let them continue as uneducated subsistence farmers for as long as we possibly can? Or are we all quite comfortable making them all wait that bit longer (probably only 2 or 3 generations!) until newer technologies and reducing costs meet at the point it is all generally affordable?

A logical approach (ie, minus the religious fervour) would be to assist them with modern more efficient coal plants, and focus more on replacing old inefficient systems in developed countries with more efficient ones. (Oh, and enforcing reversion of some developed lands back to forests, rather than simply berating and sanctioning the Indonesians and Brazilians for now cutting their forests).

marke said...

It is a bit tiresome to have to repeatedly make this point...

But, Anon, please, can you provide some statistics to confirm "We've recently had severe floods, droughts and heat waves that are influenced by global warming"?

More overall warm days, you can confirm (presuming we accept the accuracy of the recordings and proxies), ongoing sea level rise likewise, but accelerating sea rise? Not so clear.

More heat waves, floods, droughts, storms?

Not quite yet statistically measure, matey.
Just theorized.

Mal Adapted said...

Marke: "Anon, please, can you provide some statistics to confirm "We've recently had severe floods, droughts and heat waves that are influenced by global warming"?

Marke is one of these people, a hard man to convince.

Bernard J. said...

BBD.

You have a knack for saying what I wish I'd said, first!

Anonymous said...

It is a bit tiresome to have to repeatedly make this point...

You and me both, matey. So please stop. Note that there is no "have to" anywhere in the HotWhopper rules.

But to address your rather facile idea. Examine your statement "that are influenced, by global warming". Are you seriously trying to suggest that if the climate warmed there would be no influence on these weather events?

It might not be easy to statistically measure an influence. But I would bet the farm on that against you being able to statistically measure no influence.

Millicent said...

There are papers on that very subject.

But all this means is that we can look forwards to Marke's next form of denial and then a bout of amnesia so that he still doesn't know that extreme weather is being caused by global warming next time around.

But seriously - and this is a point that Marke needs to tell us - with the planet getting hotter that translates to more energy in our climate system. How could that not result in more extreme weather?

Is this unfair, but I wonder what sort of IQ you would need to figure that one out?

marke said...

Well, it's not easy, but someone has to do it... :-)

It's more a matter of language used:

For Anon, when you said "...  that are influenced by global warming." , you could have better stated, " ...  that are theorized to be influenced by global warming."

For Millicent, perhaps she needs it to say  "...that are theoretically almost certainly influenced by global warming."

PG said...

marke, physics.

Millicent said...

"For Millicent, perhaps she needs it to say "...that are theoretically almost certainly influenced by global warming.""

No. More along the lines of "you'd have to be extraordinarily stupid to think otherwise".

PG said...

I don't want to be pedantic Bernard J but what about
Mass migration.
War everywhere?

Millicent said...

Theory represents the current state of human scientific knowledge. This is contrasted with denialist gobshite, which is just what it says on the tin - gobshite.

So Marke: why exactly do you prefer the latter?

Anonymous said...

marke

Can I hand you a bigger shovel? As PG points out - physics.

It is not a matter of language. It is not a matter of theorizing. It is a matter of physics.

Are you really trying to suggest that if global warming went up by, say, 0.1 degrees it would have no influence on floods, droughts and heat waves? None? None whatsoever? Not a smidgin? Not one scintilla? Not one drop added to a flood? Not a puff of increased evaporation in a drought? Not one second added to the length of a heat wave?

If you feel happier maintaining that self-delusion to support your tottering edifice of logic carry on. I think you would find it easier if you just accepted the obvious and then tried to understand the rest.

marke said...

Anon, if the global average temperature actually did go up by 0.1 degree C over some defined time period, compared with some other equally defined time period , I am very dang sure that if you, PG, Millicent, and every climate scientist in the world combined their efforts and perused a century of weather data, you would not be able to demonstrate any changes in storms, floods, fires, or rainfall.

Statistics ..... and highly variable, intermittent and spatially variable data.

marke said...

edit above ... and droughts, and heat waves

Millicent said...

"I am very dang sure that if you, PG, Millicent, and every climate scientist in the world combined their efforts and perused a century of weather data, you would not be able to demonstrate any changes in storms, floods, fires, or rainfall."

And yet the papers I linked to above showed just that. So are you an amnesiac too?

Anonymous said...

marke

You are now describing a different issue. That is called moving the goalposts. Or a gish gallop.

Let me remind me of the statement you are trying to undermine: "We've recently had severe floods, droughts and heat waves that are influenced by global warming"?

You need no statistics to accept that statement.

marke said...

Look, all I am trying to say here is you cannot cite Nasty Weather (NW) as proof of Global Warming (GW) simply because you know GW must cause NW therefore NW must exist .... thus (somehow) proving GW.

Logic.

marke said...

Welk I"ll agrre wholeheardedly with this version,

"We've recently had severe floods, droughts and heat waves that are influenced by global warming, and although we are unlikely to be able to statistically differentiate those from similar phenomena occurring without the influence of global warming, we should be worried, because current scientific knowledge and theory indicates said warming will worsen, and said effects on weather and climate phenomena will similarly worsen, to the point they actually become measurable, and harmful".

marke said...

Typos ....Well I'll agree wholeheartedly....

jgnfld said...

Its rather bad "logic" to assert someone made a circular argument when in fact they did not.

You can, in fact, cite "nasty weather" if in fact the rates of various "nasty weather" events change in line with predictions emanating from an underlying, well established set of physical and paleohistorical principles and observations. In point of fact you'd be a scientific fool to assert otherwise...hence the scientific broad consensus on the basic facts of warming and harm.

But then the point of denierism is, in fact, to BE a scientific fool if you think about it.

Millicent said...

"...to the point they actually become measurable, and harmful"

Already measurable and harmful according to the papers cited. Amnesia again?

jgnfld said...

Think I'll have a cup or two of "bottle-preserved barley" for breakfast. Surely there is no measurable harm in that! It's just good food, after all!

Bernard J. said...

"...if the global average temperature actually did go up by 0.1 degree C over some defined time period..."

From where did "0.1 degree C" come? A statistician would say that it was selected because its order of magnitude is such that it makes it very difficult to discern anthropogenic signal from inherent system noise.

And so doing would be a particular type of logical fallacy.

Just saying.

Bernard J. said...

PG I did mention WWII, but yes, mass migration probably deserved its own explicit mention.

I didn't want to come across as a pessimist though...

marke said...

Bernard;

Re 0.1 degrees C ...

from
Anonymous August 23, 2015 at 7:32 PM

Are you really trying to suggest that if global warming went up by, say, 0.1 degrees it would have no influence on floods, droughts and heat waves? None? 

izen said...

Sea level rise is directly caused by global warming, not 'influenced' or mediated, but a specific and direct objective causal chain links the thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of land ice with increased temperatures.

That higher sea level then certainly has an 'influence' on the severity of storm surge flooding. With non-linear consequences as seen with Sandy overtopping the sea flood defences.

Lionel A said...

"...mass migration probably deserved its own explicit mention."

Indeed, not forgetting the mass migration of all the 'bugs' that are fellow travellers.

Maybe the resulting plagues will have a similar effect to atmospheric GHG levels to those that went before, the ones that Bill Ruddiman had a handle on.

The stress on biological systems is barely on the radar of most where life, the latest tittle-tattle in gossip magazines and adverts for the latest anti-ageing lotions along with the football results (which wives have done what with whom) are far more important.

Mal Adapted said...

From the link* I posted previously, which apparently didn't catch Marke's attention:

Climate Change Deniers Present Graphic Description Of What Earth Must Look Like For Them To Believe
"The group of skeptics, who said that the consensus among 97 percent of the scientific community and the documented environmental transformations already underway are simply not proof enough, laid out the precise sequence and magnitude of horrific events—including natural disasters, proliferation of infectious diseases, and resource wars—they would have to witness firsthand before they are swayed.

"For us to accept that the average surface temperature of the Earth has risen to critical levels due to mankind’s production of greenhouse gases, we’ll need to see some actual, visible evidence, including a global death toll of no less than 500 million people within a single calendar year,” said spokesperson William Davis, 46, of Jackson, NJ, who added that at least 70 percent of all islands on the planet would also have to become submerged under rising seas before he and his cohort would reconsider their beliefs. “To start, we’re going to have to see supercell tornadoes of category F4 or higher ripping through Oklahoma at least three times a day, leveling entire communities and causing hundreds of fatalities—and just to be perfectly clear, we’re talking year-round, not just during the spring tornado season.”


Marke, what horrific events will you need to witness before you'll "statistically differentiate those from similar phenomena occurring without the influence of global warming"?

* Yes, Captain Obvious, it's The Onion.

RobH said...

I'm not nearly as pessimistic as Bernard on this point. It's pretty certain we'll go over 2C. That's almost a given. But there are a lot of good things happening which are very important, like, in the US wind and solar are growing strong and costs continue to fall. We also have lots of coal-fired projects getting canceled. It's great that China has been so proactive on this issue, and their energy mix projections are rapidly shifting toward wind and solar, and away from coal and gas.

We are certainly still in a precarious time relative to climate change. I have strong hopes that this current developing El Nino is going to start opening people's eyes to the impacts climate change can have (though, I don't wish the impacts on anyone).

We really need carbon taxes to help move things much faster than they're currently moving.

Harry Twinotter said...

I see marke's at it again.

This new-found concern about the impoverished people of the world is making me tear up.

BBD said...

marke

Are you not concerned at the booming populations of Africa? Is the intention to let them continue as uneducated subsistence farmers for as long as we possibly can?

Ah, more opportunistic hypocrisy from the physics-denial brigade.

What, one might ask, are the Millennium Development Goals and how might they contradict your self-serving nonsense above?

You lot do spout the most utterly dishonest bilge.

BBD said...

A logical approach (ie, minus the religious fervour) would be to assist them with modern more efficient coal plants

There is nothing logical in encouraging developing economies to build a coal-fired infrastructure which will last for ~40 years when this will result in even worse climate impacts that will hit the self-same developing economy first and hardest.

In fact encouraging them to go for coal is criminally stupid.

BBD said...

But there are a lot of good things happening which are very important, like, in the US wind and solar are growing strong and costs continue to fall. We also have lots of coal-fired projects getting canceled. It's great that China has been so proactive on this issue, and their energy mix projections are rapidly shifting toward wind and solar, and away from coal and gas.

Far, far too little and too late. Also mostly rhetoric. I have to agree with Bernard J: we are headed for >3C.

bill said...

So, marke, what's the official denier position this week: that we warmists are all heartless bastards depriving The Poors (who you just wuv to pieces, you little philanthropists, you!) of nourishing, revitalizing coal; or evil Socialist bastards intent of transferring your hard-earned wealth to shiftless and undeserving furriners who just need to get out and get jobs and work hard like you did? It's hard to keep up...

Personally, I find the spectacle of selfish and self-righteous blowhards opportunistically pretending to care about the poor distinctly unedifying, and about the most contemptible thing you lot do.

marke said...

Nah, you have helped me see it differently, bill. Thanks.

I just realized that if they have no energy source, they can't industrialize. Therefore, they won't have suitable technology and there is no risk of them invading other countries as either armies or refugees as their population quadruples in the next 80 years......

We can just quietly forget about them and let them starve quietly in situ.

But, hey, at least they will have contributed to saving the world, right?!

bill said...

If they're in coastal zones, marke, perhaps we can just pile up all your strawmen and that will save them from rising sea levels, right?

I repeat: contemptible.

bill said...

And, wow, look - seems Oxfam hates The Poors too!

Millicent said...

Shell Oil are planning on 4C

I guess we can expect a lot more sockpuppets and dupes parroting that there are no consequences to a 'bit of warming'.

Prince Mishkin said...

Marke. We are not equating cheap energy with scotch. We're equating energy that causes damage to our health with scotch.

pbjamm said...

If only someone could invent a way to harness the power of marke's smugness then those poor souls in Africa could have limitless energy. Instead they will have to burn all those strawmen to fuel the power plant. A renewable source and cleaner than coal!

metzomagic said...

Hey marke, I believe the festival organisers are looking for a really big straw man next year:

http://www.day-finder.com/burning-man-2016.php

I reckon you could be sole supplier :-)

KR said...

Re marke's various comments:

Coal isn't a panacea for poverty, despite various coal interests attempting to paint it that way recently - if it was, we would have eliminated poverty entirely somewhere along the course of the Industrial Revolution. Strawman. And I view such crocodile tears with nothing but contempt.

Shifting his goalposts: Both increases in heatwave frequency and severity and changes in precipitation have been clearly attributed to temperature change, see Hansen et al 2012 and Coumou and Rahmstorf 2012. Changes in large storms have not reached statistical significance, but the trends are heading there.

jgnfld said...

Hitler on coal and poverty reduction:

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