He plots two futures, one where we continue to degrade the planet, another more optimistic, where human societies could navigate current threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate a future more marvellous than what was achieved in the Holocene. He is interested in humans becoming electronic beings, which I’d see as a dystopia. Nevertheless, if humans act together, in the interest of the the broad ecology, including our species as a whole, our future could be bright.
In the real world we take action within nation states, which typically put the nation’s interest, however derived, ahead of other nations or indeed ahead humanity as a whole.
Internationally through the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) we are offered scenarios on climate change where, at best, the already bad will get worse. In the case of the latest IPCC 1.5°C report we are offered a 50% chance of avoiding the worst of a dangerous climate. Meanwhile, even if ‘successful’ sea levels will continue to rise, the Great Barrier Reef will be devastated, bad weather, droughts, floods and wildfires will get worse.
Unfortunately in Australia we have a government in power that intends to meet it’s commitments through cheap accounting tricks, where its environment department sees emissions continuing to rise through to 2030. Given that we are one of the largest per capita emitters in the OECD, our Paris commitments are exceptionally modest at 26-28% from 2005 levels. Those were initial commitments. A point overlooked is that under the Paris Agreement parties we undertook to ratchet up our commitments post 2020.
Where I ended up after a series of happenings as described below, is concluding that we need a paradigm shift in our climate change aspirations. Instead of trying to limit warming to a point where we can avoid dangerous climate change, we need to recognize that we’ve already gone too far, that the climate is already dangerous, so we should aim to ratchet down GHG concentrations in the atmosphere to attain a safe climate.
1. Germans look to 7.4 trillion tons of fake snow to save the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
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!
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→
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.
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.
The Mail on Sunday recently declared the polar bear in good shape on the basis of the opinion of biologist Dr Susan Crockford, who says:
“On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears … It really is time for the doom and gloom about polar bears to stop.”
It turns out that Crockford’s expertise is the archaeology of dead dogs and the identification of animal remains, and receives funding from the Heartland Institute to spread disinformation about human agency in climate change.
Information, reliable or not, is difficult to come by. This is a snapshot of one estimate of how the polar bear is travelling:
In nine of the 19 populations of polar bears information is deficient.
On their future the best estimate is:
To keep polar numbers relatively healthy, though still lower than today, scientists suggest global temperatures should not exceed 1.25 degrees Celsius above the 1980-1999 average.
Contracts worth £315 million have been awarded to 27 renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 2.1 gigawatts.
The majority of the 27 schemes are windfarms, including 15 onshore and two offshore schemes (the blue and green chunks below). The remaining contracts went to five solar farms (yellow) and five schemes that will burn or gasify waste to generate energy (black and grey).
By peak capacity the outcome looks rather different:
The auction was divided into two pots, with one pot reserved for “less established” technologies.
The big surprise was the prices, which were lower than expected.
Every seven years the IPCC publishes three whopping reports followed by a Synthesis Report. Working Group 1 looks at the physical basis of climate change. Working Group 2 looks at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Working Group 3 looks at mitigation. Each of these whopping tomes has a Summary for Policy Makers of about 30 pages.
The main decision is that the program will continue with some minor modifications. They will try to link the second and third volumes more specifically to the first, while producing the whole series within about 18 months.
More special reports on specific issued will be produced during the interim years.
They will try to make the summaries for policy makers more readable.
6. NZ infestation of flat-earthers climate denialists
The Dominion Post is the newspaper of record for New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Last Friday it featured an opinion piece by high profile climate denialists Bob Carter and Bryan Leyland titled Hypothetical global warming: scepticism needed. Gareth Renownden at Hot topic calls it
a “Gish Gallop” of untruths, half-truths and misrepresentations — a piece so riddled with deliberate errors and gross misrepresentations that it beggars belief that any quality newspaper would give it space.
He then identifies 24 specific errors or misrepresentations.
El Niño has finally arrived at a time of the year when they usually decay. It’s weaker than usual and is unlikely to have much impact on world weather.
9. US weather conundrum
Last week I reported (Item 1) that the planet had just experienced the hottest 12 months, while it was freezing in eastern North America during January and February and into March.
Because winter includes December and December was mild, no state had a record low winter. In fact the East’s brutal cold was offset by record warmth in the West, which was caused by warmth in the Northern Pacific. The experts think this pushed the jet stream out of shape, bringing Arctic air further south in the east.
It seems the Northern Pacific warmth has now moved to the Central Pacific, causing the weak El Niño referred to above.
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