Tag Archives: Spratt_David

Our beds are burning

Ask yourself a simple question. Can you give hope to future generations that the Great Barrier Reef will be protected if your policy is to limit warming to 1.5°C when the GBR is already disappearing before our eyes?

With about 1.1°C of warming we are told that Unprecedented fires in California and Australia signal the dawn of the ‘fire age’. Richard Flanagan talks of a Tasmanian rainforest burnt in 2018, now desolate shale with no sign of regrowth.

As I write, pristine Fraser Island is burning on a front about 46 km long, with reports that water from water bombers is evaporating before it hits the ground.

We have now reached a point where the cost of insurance alone in flood and bushfire-prone communities makes it impossible to live there.

Dangerous climate change is already here.

How can we set a target of 1.5°C temperature (actually a 50% chance of limiting the increase to that level) when we know that during the Eemian interglacial sea levels rose 6-9 metres with 300ppm of CO2, and we have already broken through the 410 ppm? Continue reading Our beds are burning

Has the climate tipped?

‘Tipping point’ is a metaphor, first used by science and the media about climate change from about 2005 as this article explains. The metaphor has become topical now because some of the most senior climate scientists on the planet have used it to warn everyone, just before the nations of the world meet in the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC meet in the first two weeks of December, as they do every year, this time in Madrid, to plan an international response to what was identified in the Rio Earth Summit as dangerous anthropogenic interference [DAI] with the climate system”.

The article, commentary rather than research – Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against – is freely available at Nature. The authors are Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber with the message;

    The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.

Continue reading Has the climate tipped?

Climate emergency – ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries, and a safe climate


That image is a shot of the earth rising over the moon, photographed on Christmas Eve 1968 from Apollo 8, taken from a 2016 article by Martin Rees, looking at the dawn of the Anthropocene.

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.

So what should Labor do if elected in 2022 to work towards a safe climate and a world were responsible growth and development is possible? What is a climate emergency, and can we respond appropriately? Continue reading Climate emergency – ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries, and a safe climate

Climate action: a doddle or deep adaptation?

Again, this post started as an edition of Climate clippings.

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

Continue reading Climate action: a doddle or deep adaptation?

Climate clippings 232: climate emergency edition

Freak hail in Guadalajara, Mexico

With France breaking heat records by nearly 2°C and 1.5 metres of hail fall on Guadalajara in Mexico, Australian blog Lethal Heating has been blogging a storm on the climate emergency. LH selects and republishes three articles per day, adding value by making some available that may be paywalled, and adding a list of links to relevant previously published articles.

Below I’ve linked to some recent articles. Continue reading Climate clippings 232: climate emergency edition

The die is cast – Turnbull chooses political power over the future of the planet and humanity

Here are the last four feature articles from Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy (as of last weekend):

It’s quite likely that politicians don’t read RenewEconomy. Here’s Ben Potter in the last Weekend AFR:

Continue reading The die is cast – Turnbull chooses political power over the future of the planet and humanity

Climate clippings 223

1. Climate as an existential threat

Last September I half-finished a post on this topic, with a paper by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop as the centre-piece. Their 28-page report on the state of climate science, action and politics entitled What lies beneath? The scientific understatement of climate risks is introduced as a post at Climate Code Red, but I suggest you go directly to the paper itself. Read any part of it, and I can promise you will be alarmed. Continue reading Climate clippings 223

Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Back in February this year Malcolm Turnbull (acting for the Commonwealth Government, of course) stumped up $60 million to future proof the Reef. Now we have Great Barrier Reef gets funding boost as PM tells ‘doomsayers’ to be optimistic. Via the NY Times and Gizmodo There’s $500 million more now to save the Great Barrier Reef:

    including $200 million in funding to reduce agricultural pollution and $100 million for “reef restoration and adaptation,” which includes a project to grow stronger corals in laboratories. Other projects include killing off invasive species like the crown-of-thorns starfish and community engagement and enforcement

Everyone, except the ABC, is telling Turnbull, that’s fine and dandy, but won’t do much good unless we get serious about climate change. Continue reading Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Climate clippings 222

1. Warming could soon exceed 1.5°C

The UK Met Office has warned that temperatures could break through the 1.5°C threshold within five years.

    The 1.5C threshold was set at Paris as an ambitious target because scientists fear that a world warmer than that would be susceptible to ever wilder climactic events that in turn would precipitate greater drought, habitat loss, food insecurity and mass migration.

The UN Environment Program in its annual emissions gap report, published last October, said government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Continue reading Climate clippings 222

The folly of two degrees

Back in 2011 David Spratt took a look at where we were in relation to temperature rise and the Holocene. At 2000 we were at 0.7°C above the pre-industrial temperature. This happens to coincide with the Holocene maximum:

Holocene_thin-blue-line 600

Spratt says James Hansen warns that at 0.7°C the ice sheets start to become unstable, so in terms of sea level rise alone we are entering a danger zone. Since then the temperature has risen ~ 0.15°C.

From this point of view the 2°C guardrail looks hazardous in the extreme. Continue reading The folly of two degrees

Climate sensitivity and the myth of ‘burnable carbon’

The ink is scarcely dry in the IPCC’s fifth report when it has become clear that they have badly underestimated the risks in two key areas – sea level rise and climate sensitivity. With respect to the latter, David Spratt at Climate Code Red comes to the conclusion that there is no carbon budget left, no ‘burnable carbon’ if we are looking for a safe climate.

As I said in Climate clippings 97 the fourth IPCC report in 2007 estimated that the planet will warm between 2 and 4.5°C warming in response to a doubling of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, with a best estimate of 3°C. This estimate was followed by a number of studies suggesting a lower sensitivity, leading the IPCC’s fifth report to extend the range to 1.5°C at the lower end and omit a best estimate entirely.

Back in May Dana Nuccitelli reported on a study by Kummer & Dessler which showed that recent studies suggesting an insensitive climate are flawed. They eliminate the lower part of the range but still converge on a value around 3°C.

Spratt now reports:

a recent paper by Sherwood, Bony et al looking at clouds and atmospheric convective mixing finds that on “the basis of the available data… the new understanding presented here pushes the likely long-term global warming towards the upper end of model ranges.” Taking “the available observations at face value,” they write, “implies a most likely climate sensitivity of about 4°C, with a lower limit of about 3°C.”

Problem is that these estimates are based on short-term feedbacks only, or what is known as Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS). Spratt says:

Paleoclimatology (study of past climates) suggests that if longer-term feedbacks of “slow” factors are taken into account, such as the decay of large ice sheets, changes in the carbon cycle (changed efficiency of carbon sinks such as permafrost and methane clathrate stores, as well as biosphere stores such as peatlands and forests), and changes in vegetation coverage and reflectivity (albedo), then the Earth’s sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 could itself be double that of the “fast” climate sensitivity predicted by most climate models, or around 6°C.

A measure of these effects for a doubling of CO2 is known as Earth System Sensitivity (ESS).

He says that “ESS is generally considered to come into play over periods from centuries to several millennia.”

If that’s how the earth system operates, that’s how we must operate.

Now in February 2013, new research on Russian cave formations measuring historic melting rates gives rise to a warning that a +1.5°C global rise in temperature compared to pre-industrial is enough to start a general permafrost melt.

Other research indicates that thaw and decay of permafrost carbon, once seriously started, is irreversible.

Rather than 2°C as a guardrail to avoid dangerous climate change, we must expect danger to occur at 1.5°C.

We are pushing the climate harder than it has been pushed in the last 65 million years. In this post I asked what does 4°C mean?

Professor John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, provides a stark assessment of the difference between a rise of two and four degrees. ‘The difference,’ he says, ‘is human civilisation. A 4°C temperature increase probably means a global [population] carrying capacity below 1 billion people’.

For a safe climate as we saw in The game is up, again quoting David Spratt:

We have to come to terms with two key facts: practically speaking, there is no longer a “carbon budget” for burning fossil fuels while still achieving a two-degree Celsius (2°C) future; and the 2°C cap is now known to be dangerously too high.

I hate to say this, but at the leading edge people are catching up with what James Hansen was saying back in 2008. Here’s a table from page 17 of the 2011 paper Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications where he gives four categories of climate sensitivity:

Climate sensitivity_cropped_600

The fourth doesn’t bear thinking about. Clearly he’s a dangerous man and needs to be locked up.