Tag Archives: Dangerous climate change

Labor needs to rethink the climate emergency

I pinched that cartoon from the Townsville Bulletin from Facebook, where it was doing the rounds. I think it’s tragic rather than funny, but may go some way to explain why Labor, in Queensland and federally, is over-reacting to the ‘message’ that was sent on Adani, and the prospect of jobs flowing from the resources industry as against climate change and saving the planet. Both Queensland and federal Labor appear to be caving in to coal interests, and both appear to be clueless about the urgency of the climate emergency. Continue reading Labor needs to rethink the climate emergency

Cloud tipping point could yield a cataclysmic 14°C warming

Clouds could trigger a feedback effect. Stocktrek Images, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Commonly 2°C has been seen as the threshold for dangerous climate change, although last year the IPCC report on 1.5°C revealed that at that lower level we enter a zone where tipping points may take us to 4°C and beyond.

Levels of 4°C threaten civilisation as we know it. At 6°C we worry about the survival of the human race. However, at that point Tapio Schneider and his team at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, have found that there may be a further tipping point which heats the planet another 8°C to make it 14°C above pre-industrial levels (New Scientist, so probably pay-walled.)

How is this so? Continue reading Cloud tipping point could yield a cataclysmic 14°C warming

Climate change by the numbers

In 1999 NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from Imperial to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched. Numbers are important!

When Michael Le Page attempts to sort out the numbers in climate science (probably pay-walled) it’s not as straight forward as you might think. For starters we are given this image:

When ice melts, sea level rises – but how much, and how fast? Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Creative

Sorry, when floating ice melts the sea level does not rise. The caption is misleading. Continue reading Climate change by the numbers

Our legacy to the children

Last week school children of Australia marked the card of the Morrison government on climate change and gave it a fail. Was this too harsh?

On Q&A last Monday a Melbourne boy called Marco asked the panel:

    “I’m greatly concerned about my future and the future of children all around the world who will suffer the consequences of climate change more than anyone else,” Marco said.

    “A few days ago thousands of students from around Australia, like me, went on strike from school to demand that the Government acts on climate change.

    “When will the Government start to care about my future and children around the world by acting on climate change and create a strong climate policy?”

Continue reading Our legacy to the children

Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

Two years ago this month I posted Global temperature, the North Atlantic cool patch and the Gulf Stream. The cool patch was still there, lasting throughout the 2018 northern summer:

This now needs to be recognised as an enduring feature associated with the slowdown of the overturning ocean circulation AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) which James Hansen and Makiko Sato say is having an effect on the east coast hurricanes which have been so prominent during this summer. Continue reading Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

Trouble at the top of the world

Arctic summer sea ice minimum was the sixth lowest on record. So we can all relax, right?

Wrong.

I’ll come back to that. However, Tamino at Open Mind points out that while the Arctic warms three to four times as fast as global warming, the Arctic winters are warming at a much faster rate.

Using the NASA data, which is about mid-range in the major players, Tamino finds that the overall average warming rate since 1985 in the Arctic, at 6.48°C/century is fully 3.4 times as fast as the global rate since 1985 of 1.90°C/century. Continue reading Trouble at the top of the world

IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

The target should not be 1.5°C; rather we should aim for a safe climate. James Hansen told us in 2007 that to achieve a safe climate we need to bring GHG concentrations down to 350 ppm as soon as possible. That’s CO2 equivalent, not CO2. Current CO2e is not often quoted, but would be around 500 ppm on the basis that CO2 is about 80% of total GHGs. Also we need to focus on what we are doing to the planet over centuries and millennia, not just the next 50 to 100 years.

However, the IPCC team putting the report together were not asked what the goal should be. They were asked to build a scenario for achieving the 1.5°C warming limit specified as desirable in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and to look at the impacts of a 1.5°C world as against a 2°C world. Two Degrees came out of Europe in the 1990s, achieved a general currency, then became the official goal of at the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun in 2010. At that time there was a move mainly by many of the island states vulnerable it inundation for a more ambitious target. Essentially the whole group at Paris agreed to try.

However, while two degrees was commonly seen as a guardrail for a safe climate even by many scientist, it was never a scientifically derived goal for a safe climate.

The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C is important because it shows that the path to 1.5°C has a high degree of difficulty and has implications which to most will not be acceptable. It’s importance is in changing the discourse, from being seen as an achievable safe guardrail to 1.5°C as difficult to achieve and far from safe. Continue reading IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

Heat begins to bite

Mira Adler-Gillies at the ABC looks at How deadly is 50-degree heat? Australia’s cities face the new reality of climate change:

    Buckled train tracks, grounded planes, melting bitumen and massive blackouts: the dystopian vision of the 50-degree city is closer to reality every day.

    With wildfires raging around the Arctic Circle, unprecedented heatwaves in the Northern Hemisphere and record temperatures being set from Algeria to Canada, the world is getting inexorably hotter.

Continue reading Heat begins to bite

Coal power fading fast

Some time in the last few days I heard a person who should know better say that 1800 coal-fired power plants were being built around the world. One wonders where this (dis)information comes from. It went unchallenged by the ABC interviewer, showing once again that ABC journalists and presenters need an update on climate change – in the national interest.

As Adam Morton at The Guardian writes The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts. Back in June, John “Wacka” Williams asked the Parliamentary Library how many coal plants there were, how many were being built, how many closed etc and could he have the information by 4pm?

The Library included the information that 621 units were being built, the point here being that power plants typically have multiple units. Hazelwood had eight.

Unfortunately, this information was wrong. Continue reading Coal power fading fast

NEG policy disaster won’t fly

On the weekend Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg gently reminded the Coalsheviks in the LNP Coalition that they should not be flirting with the idea of coal-fired power, because

    we have to factor in a “carbon-constrained future”.

He warns that they may be investing in what will become ‘stranded assets’ before they wear out.

Why doesn’t he tell them like it really is? Tell them to look out the window.

The heatwave in Europe this year has been assessed as ‘five times’ more likely because of climate change. The northern summer’s heat is being recognised as the strongest climate signal yet. Wildfires have raced through neighborhoods in the western United States, Greece and as far north as the Arctic Circle. Drought is threatening food supplies: Continue reading NEG policy disaster won’t fly

Hansen got it right

In 1988 James Hansen gave his famous testimony to the US Senate. For the short story, go to Tamino at Open Mind. For the longer story, Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate, plus the commentary thread is best.

Hansen told the politicians that our production of greenhouse gases, principally CO2, N2O, CH4 and CFC, were warming the climate. He said temperatures would go up in the coming years: Continue reading Hansen got it right