Tag Archives: Hansen_James

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

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

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

Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it

James Hansen said in his book Storms for my Grandchildren that if we burnt all the available coal, tars, and oil then the ‘Venus Syndrome’ would be a dead certainty, extinguishing life as we know it on the planet. He has now thought further and says that is not going to happen, the time-scales make it impossible. It would take 100 million years to get enough carbon into the atmosphere, and by that time much of it would be back on the sea floor.

However we are on a path to make living at low latitudes impossible, plus more than half the major cities in the world cling to the coastline and are subject to sea level rise. The world, he says, would become ungovernable.

How likely is this? The short answer is that we appear to be on a path to achieve an ungovernable world within a century. Continue reading Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it

Where will we be in 250 million years time?

A bit longer than 250 million years is when we had the Great Dying, the Permian–Triassic extinction event, when up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct. A mere 65 million years ago saw the extinction of the dinosaurs and the dawn of the Cainozoic Era. From a screenshot of this YouTube, this is how the continents were placed around the globe:

Continue reading Where will we be in 250 million years time?

Saturday salon 9/9

1. Hurricane Irma

Having just finished with Harvey, Hurricane Irma, said to possibly be the biggest and meanest on record in the north Atlantic basin, looks set to make landfall in Florida by Sunday, but flanked by Hurricane Katia and Hurricane Jose.

James Hansen worries that, given what happened during the Eemian, the last time we had temperatures roughly this high, all hell could break loose. Maybe it’s happening.

Here I want to talk about the impact Harvey, Irma el al could make on the US budget and immigration policy. Continue reading Saturday salon 9/9

Can we get to 350ppm?

Quiggin says, yes we can.

I can’t comment on his blog, because the Askimet software has got me marked as a pest, and my comments go straight to spam. There is no facility for telling Askimet I’m OK, so there it is, I’m as good as banned. So I’ll make my comments here, which are in any case longer than is form for comments there.

I’d have to say I agree with Fran Bailey’s comment, the analysis seems entirely too optimistic. Continue reading Can we get to 350ppm?

Science shows the need for urgent climate action

In August last year in Climate clippings 181 (Item 5) I linked to a report by Climate Analytics examining the impacts on Australia of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C and 2°C.

For me the crux of the report is this, from a discussion piece at The Conversation:

    The report predicts that half of the world’s identified tipping points – such as the collapse of polar ice sheets and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest – would be crossed under 2C warming, compared with 20% of them at 1.5℃.

If we go to 2℃, we will have a very different climate and there is a good chance we won’t be able to stabilise there. The bad news is that if we just carry on we’ll reach 1.5C by 2024, and 2C by 2036. Continue reading Science shows the need for urgent climate action

Record 2016 heat spells trouble on global scale

The third record year in a row has been declared. The last time it was as hot as this was 115,000 years ago. The last time CO2 was this high was in the Pliocene, 3 to 5 million years ago when the temperature became roughly 3 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer than today, and the sea level up to 40 metres higher.

Andrew Simms for The Guardian polled a number of scientists about whether we could keep warming under 2°C. Not a single one thought we would. One scientist said “not a cat in hell’s chance”. Kevin Anderson, now professor in Uppsala, said politically we gave up years ago. Prof Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, would “only confirm that it is still possible to keep global warming below 2C”. Technically speaking, I assume. Continue reading Record 2016 heat spells trouble on global scale

Climate risks re-examined

Back in 2001 the IPCC devised the famous Burning embers graph to reflect a broad perspective of risks emanating from climate change. Seventeen scientists have now had another look, original paper here. The graph has been enhanced with more information, which is itself more up to date. Continue reading Climate risks re-examined