Climate clippings 42

Climate sensitivity

James Wright at Skeptical Science has constructed a summary of some recent work done by James Hansen and colleagues. Climate sensitivity is the temperature change caused by a doubling of CO2. In this post I referred to a paper by Hansen et al, Earth’s energy imbalance and implications. Wright is working from a paper by Hansen and Sato entitled Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change which contains much of the same material, including Table 1 on p16.

The bottom line goes like this:

The exact value of climate sensitivity depends on which feedbacks you include, the climate state you start with, and what timescale you’re interested in. While the Earth has ice sheets the total climate sensitivity to CO2 is up to 8°C: 1.2°C direct warming, 1.8°C from fast feedbacks, 1°C from greenhouse gas feedbacks, and nearly 4°C from ice albedo feedbacks. The slow feedbacks have historically occurred over centuries to millennia, but could become significant this century. Including CO2 itself as a feedback would make climate sensitivity even higher, except for the weathering feedback which operates on a geologic timescale. (Emphasis mine)

CO2 alone, not CO2e, of 450ppm is likely to give us an ice-free planet – eventually.

I take it that the stability we’ve had during the Holocene is unusual. Upset the balance with a bit of the trace gas CO2 and the system can go wild. Continue reading Climate clippings 42

Climate clippings 41

Antarctica’s glacial movements

Via Gizmodo researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the University of California, Irvine have made a map of every glacier on the continent, down to its individual shape and flow velocity, illustrating how water melting in the interior of the continent makes its way out to the coasts. Lead author Eric Rignot calls it a “game changer for glaciology.”

I think the implication may be that we will lose more ice than previously thought from East Antarctica with a temperature rise of 1 or 2C.

NASA press release here. Continue reading Climate clippings 41

Climate clippings 40

German electric vehicle goes 1,014 miles (1,631.5 kilometres) on a charge

That’s the Schluckspecht E developed at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Frauenhofter Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems.

The electric vehicle sports extremely aerodynamic bodywork, two hub-mounted electric motors and an optimized battery management system that evenly divides the load among 14 individual lithium-cobalt battery packs.

More vapourware from Germany? Perhaps, but something good will surely come from it. Continue reading Climate clippings 40

Climate clippings 39

Greenland ice

Predicting tipping points

Tim Lenton is now attempting to link the basic theory of climatic “tipping points” with observed early warning signals.

Problem is, these tipping points may not be sudden and dramatic but involve a steady but inevitable increase. When outbreaks of pine beetles first became obvious perhaps the eventual destruction of Canada’s boreal forests was inevitable. But Lenton is making an argument “from almost a mathematical point of view” that there are general properties of tipping points. Continue reading Climate clippings 39

Assumptions underlying the CEF package

In case the acronym hasn’t stuck yet, CEF means Clean Energy Future. If I’d said “carbon tax”, no problems.

In my 2009 submission to the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy I ripped into the Rudd Government for commissioning Ross Garnaut

to analyse two specific stabilisation goals: one at which greenhouse gases are stabilised at 550 ppm CO2-e (strong global mitigation) and one at which they are stabilised at 450 ppm CO2-e (ambitious global mitigation).

I then castigated Garnaut for accepting the brief:

This is sad and actually outrageous. Garnaut, had he acted responsibly at this point, would have gone back to those who commissioned the report and asked for the reference to be changed so that he could develop a strategy for a safe climate.

When the 2050 target was changed from a 60% reduction in emissions relative to 2000 to 80% I wondered whether the assumptions about the science had changed. If you go to the Treasury Report on modelling a carbon price it becomes clear that nothing has changed.

Treasury modelled two scenarios, one called “medium” and the other “ambitious”. The medium scenario is then called “core”. If adopted worldwide, it aims to stabilise greenhouse gas concentration levels at 550 parts per million. The ambitious scenario aims at 450ppm.

Treasury then blithely tell us that 450ppm will give us a 50:50 chance of keeping the average global temperature at less than 2C above pre-industrial levels, while 550ppm raises that figure to 3C. Stabilisation at 2C, they say, is the threshold for “dangerous” climate change. They then calmly tell us the likely implications of a 3C rise: Continue reading Assumptions underlying the CEF package

Climate clippings 38

Germany’s expensive switch to renewables

Following the decision to phase out nuclear Germans are being told that achieving 35% renewables by 2020 will only cost 1c per kilowatt hour, or the price of a latte per month. Others calculate the cost at five times that amount, or an additional cost of €175 ($250) a year, a figure confirmed by an internal estimate making the rounds at the Economics Ministry.

Electricity customers already pay more than €13 billion this year to subsidize renewable energy. PV solar receives almost half all renewable energy subsidies, even though it makes up less than one 10th of total green electricity production, or 1.9% of total production.

What do they say about governments picking winners? Continue reading Climate clippings 38

Climate clippings 37

UN Security Council accepts climate change as a threat to global security

The best outline I could find was at Deutsche Welle. What we got was a Presidential Statement rather than a resolution, but one that had to be voted on and accepted by members. Russia had been opposed, saying it would lead to increased politicisation. China wanted climate change addressed as part of the development agenda. There are two main outcomes:

The final statement expressed “concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”

It also requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include information on possible climate change impacts in his regular reports on global trouble-spots.

There’s more background here, when the cause seemed lost. Continue reading Climate clippings 37

Climate clippings 36

Sceptical ‘science’

For many in Australia on climate change Bob Carter is the man. Tamino at Open Mind got access to his slides and took a look at how he does temperature trends. Turns out he doesn’t. What we get is the most outrageous and blatant cherry-picking.

See also Deltoid.

John Abraham took a look at how Monckton cites scientific literature on the Mediaeval Warm Period. Abraham emailed a sample of the cited scientists to find Monckton achieved perfect score for misrepresentation.

More at Quiggin’s here and here and some good journalism at Background Briefing. Continue reading Climate clippings 36

Climate clippings 35

Australian greenhouse graphs

The ABC has a graph of Australia’s greenhouse gases. I’ve extracted the pie chart here:

Australian GHG emissions 2009-10

The figures are for 2009-10 and exclude land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) which in 2005 was 6%.

Lots of GHG information can be found at the UNFCCC GHG data site, including a global map (may take a while to load).

This graph is of changes, 1990-2008 (including LULUCF), showing Australia and NZ in a bad light, but Turkey is the runaway champion. I suspect outsourcing of manufacturing from the EU.

There’s an interesting champagne glass image Jo Abess’s blog (scroll down) but I’m not sure of it’s pedigree. Continue reading Climate clippings 35

It’s simple, really

Clean Energy Future launch

Frustration at the nonsense purveyed on Madonna King’s program inspired me to send her an email, stating the main features of the Clean Energy Future (CEF) package in three simple points. In this post I give an expanded version so you can check and let me know if I’ve got it right. The scheme does seem to me to have an elegant simplicity about it together with a flexibility that bespeaks careful design.

First, the government is selling permits to pollute, not imposing a tax. About 500 of the biggest polluters will have to buy permits to dump their waste carbon into the atmosphere. Annabel Crabb quotes Gillard as saying:

“Around 500 big polluters will pay for every tonne of carbon pollution THEY put into OUR atmosphere.”

As Crabb says:

WE are getting those polluters to pay for what THEY do to US.

Continue reading It’s simple, really

Climate clippings 34

Mt Pinatubo

Volcanic CO2

Open Mind tells us that even earth scientists outside the field of volcanology don’t know how much CO2 volcanoes emit. Claims are made that it dwarfs human activity and that Mt Pinatubo emitted more than humans in the history of the world.

The answer is that it’s probably less than 1% and that we emit in half a day the equivalent of the Mt Pinatubo event. Continue reading Climate clippings 34

Garnaut bows out

Ross Garnaut

The central task arising out of the findings of climate science,
according to Ross Garnaut, is “breaking the connection between economic growth and greenhouse emissions”.

In bowing out of his role as the Government’s climate advisor, he did take a swipe at the media which he described as irresponsible and “somewhat rabid”.

“Much of the media and public discussion of climate change policy over the past nine months has been about the crudest and most distorted discussion of a major public policy in my experience,” Prof Garnaut said.

“Facts are ignored, the rules of logic violated and it’s rare for people expressing very strong opinions on particular issues to go back and actually read the document on which they are commenting.”

Continue reading Garnaut bows out

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff