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By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
Atmospheric CO2 is currently well above 400 ppm (horizontal dotted line; right scale). This chart, going back to the Cambrian Period, shows how unusual the current situation is. The last time CO2 was greater than 400 ppm was when the Indian subcontinent slammed into Asia from the south (note the rise and fall in CO2 around 50 million years ago). What we’re doing to the atmosphere in two years took tens of million years last time. The dark red path on the far right, labeled “RCP8.5,” is the path we’re on today, thanks to billionaire control of our political system. (Chart from “Past and Future CO2” at Skeptical Science.)
This is the second in a short series on the new IPCC report, “Global Warming of 1.5°C.” I want to reiterate a single point here, one that’s been made before in this space, but one that’s easily missed.
That point: We’re already far closer to global warming of +1.5°C “above the pre-industrial baseline” than most are acknowledging. The reason is simple; most people, including the scientists at the IPCC, set the pre-industrial baseline too high, which obscures how much global warming humans have already caused.
Of course, in the world we are experiencing quite a lot of global warming and its effects, regardless of what the numbers say, but it’s the numbers that drive conversations in the halls of power, not the world outside, where people without power reside. Positioning those numbers lower allows the current generation of policymakers to take their time — and continue to take fossil fuel money from the donor class as they do it. (More on that below.)
1.5°C Global Warming Is Almost Upon Us
To see how close we are to 1.5°C global warming, let’s look at this interview at the Real News Network with Dr. Michael Mann, one of the most prominent voices in the climate science community. Dr. Mann had argued in 2015 that pre-industrial global warming can be observed to start around 1800 (thanks to the Watt steam engine of 1781), far earlier than the baseline year, roughly 1870, assigned to it by the IPCC. In Dr. Mann’s words, “It is evident that … roughly 0.2C warming [had already taken place] by 1870,” the implied IPCC baseline.
Dr. Mann concludes from this, “We exceeded 1C warming more than a decade ago.”
Here are a few selections from the RNN interview. First, a reaffirmation of how close we already are to global warming of +1.5°C (emphasis mine throughout):
DHARNA NOOR: You mentioned that you thought that these IPCC scientists might have been too conservative in their estimates. And in coverage of this report of this IPCC report several outlets — the New York Times, Business Insider — are saying that we’re on track to reach 1.5 degrees by 2040, not 2030. So we’re seeing even more conservative estimates from the coverage of the report than is in the report itself. Can you talk about this a little bit?
MICHAEL MANN: Yeah. I think it’s sort of a bad game of telephone where, you know, parts of the report have been translated for the purpose of the summary for policymakers [he’s being polite; more on that here]. And then there are press releases that have been sent out. And there’s been a lot of nuance that has been lost in translation, as it were.
I also pointed out that the IPCC made a number of extremely conservative- I would argue overly conservative- decisions in how they measure the warming that has already happened. And by doing that they underestimate how close we are to these 1.5 degree Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius thresholds. And they overestimate how much carbon we have left to burn.
If you look, for example, at the Northern Hemisphere, which is where most of us live, and you ask the question when do we cross the 2 degree warming — 2 degree Celsius warming — threshold for the Northern Hemisphere if we continue with business as usual burning of fossil fuels?
I showed in an article several years ago in Scientific American[here] we cross that threshold before 2040, in the late 2030s. So we are on the way, on our way to blowing past the 1.5 degree Celsius mark and crossing the 2 degrees Celsius threshold in a matter of, you know, depending on how you define it, it really doesn’t matter. Is it two decades, is it three decades, it hardly matters.
He thinks we’ll “blow past” warming of +2 degrees in the 2030s, which means that warming of +1.5 degrees is … very close indeed.
About the Paris agreement and the various national emissions targets:
MICHAEL MANN: … [T]he Paris agreement alone doesn’t stabilise warming below those dangerous levels of warming, below 2 degrees Celsius. There are credible estimates that have been done that if you tally up all of the commitments under the Paris accord- and keep in mind that many countries, including Europe and the U.S., are not quite meeting their targets at this point- but assuming every country meets its target, that only gets us halfway from where we would be headed, which would be towards 4 to 5 degrees Celsius warming of the planet; a catastrophic warming of the planet by the end of the century. The Paris agreement only gets us halfway down to the 2 degrees Celsius mark, and nowhere near that 1.5 degrees Celsius mark.
And finally, Dr. Mann’s prescription for success in this fight:
The reality is that there is still time to reduce our emissions by the amount necessary to avert the worst impacts of climate change, but not if we continue to vote in climate change deniers and fuel lobbyists like we have in the form of the current administration and the congressional Republicans who are enabling their agenda.
From this he pivots to the current elections and the need to vote out Republicans.
What Form Should Political Action Take?
This leads to a second point: Dr. Mann is right that there’s time to reduce emissions “by the amount necessary to avert the worst impacts” of global warming. Note: he said “the worst impacts,” not all impacts.
But even by conservative IPCC estimates, the rate of reduction must be greater than the rate at which we’ve been proceeding under both political parties. As Dharna Noor puts it, according to the IPCC report “we must reduce global emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, and altogether by 2050.”
Which means — and I think this is more than obvious, though rarely said — we’ll have to remove from power any political leader dedicated to keeping the current financial-energy system in place if there’s to be any hope of even Dr. Mann’s modest goal of averting “the worst impacts.” Otherwise, we won’t avert any impacts at all.
BP throws in another $3 million, big oil now spending over $25 million dollars to ensure Washington doesn't act on climate change #waelex https://t.co/ra6cFWTsnv via @seattlepi
— Jamal ? 10 YRS LEFT TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE Raad (@jamalraad) October 22, 2018
This does, in fact, require a kind of revolution — in its mildest form, the kind of revolution that a WWII-style demand-directed economy represents.
Achieving that degree of change is not an impossible job, by the way, just an improbable one. The key to an orderly revolution of this type will be the 2020 presidential primary in the Democratic Party. To understand why, ask yourself this: What would the U.S. be doing about climate change today if Bernie Sanders, no fan of rule by “the billionaires,” were in the White House?
Sanders was sincere about the threat of global warming. Had he governed like he spoke, the result would have been revolutionary.
Bernie Sanders is a fan of American imperialism, the biggest polluter of them all, so I very much doubt he would change anything.
He’s not a fan. He just opposed the war in Yemen and generally avoids taking a stand, which is far from being a “fan”. His focus is domestic issues and as a Senator from a small state who has to caucus with Democrats, he can’t influence foreign policy and pissing off people he needs to support his initiatives would make him less effective in getting the things he wants passed for Vermont citizens. Plus even if he wanted to take on the US war machine, doing so frontally, even as President, is a hugely uphill battle and is guaranteed to get all the people whose rice bowls would be broken (and they run in the millions, that’s how many people have security clearances) out to sabotage him. You’d have to go after it on a case by case, issue by issue basis. Going about it frontally is guaranteed to fail.
It’s going to be a long process to reel in our imperial reach. I think sanders’ approach would be to tackle regions/theaters on a case by case basis. He’d try to restore the iran deal…he’s been a vocal supporter. He’s also talked with some of the top people who did the korean deal during the clinton years. He’d probably stop or at least greatly slow the expansion of joint projects with various govts in s america and africa, too.
That’s not the magical ending you are looking for, but, it would represent real progress.
Yves, I have a minor nitpick here. The people whose rice bowls would be broken run in the billions of dollars worth assets and power, but not necessarily into the millions who hold Security Clearances. I happen to know many with Security Clearances that fully supported Sanders with money, time, and votes.
I think it’s a little unfair to assume that Security Clearances drive politics. It seems to me it’s the other way around. I would be willing to bet that many who have Clearances have one because without one they wouldn’t have a job (or at least a job paying enough to cover the mortgage), not because they are pro military and pro oil. It’s the people that own the M-I-C-C that have fought Sanders tooth and nail and unfortunately these are the people that more or less run this country.
The people with the security clearances have the info to manipulate the billionaires, or at least the appearance of having the info. Principal-agent problem. The agents are really in charge. Plus most of the billionaires have many interests. Tell me who on the Forbes 400 made it solely on military-industrial complex grifting. I have trouble naming a name. It’s usually one line of business, like with Bezos and Brin.
I agree with you in this regard.
My point, which I probably didn’t make clear enough, is that most with Clearances are very low level. They may appear to have the info, but most would be surprised to know that many are actually filling pretty mundane positions like HR/payroll, desktop computer fixers, communications-link maintainers (with zero access to the actual commo itself), carpenters, machinists, etc. Not all Clearance holders are carrying guns, directing weapons programs, or have the ear of the top dogs.
Like I said, it was just a nitpick. I just dislike seeing a potential prejudice being formed against people who have a security clearance holding specific views just because they have a security clearance.
At one point my employer made a deal with HUD (Housing and Urban Development) to work on some technical issues and I had to get a clearance. I’d guess that half the clearances out there aren’t doing anything that involves stuff which is defense related or really, truly needs to be kept secret.
The flip side of all this is that the people with clearances are frequently people with degrees and scientific understanding; to assume that they believe global warming deniers is probably not accurate. Note David Brin’s discussion about how ALL knowledge/science based disciplines are under attack.
Thank you, Yves Smith, for starting this thread and providing, along with Tegnost, a textbook definition of apologist for the left wing of the Democratic Party.
It also generously provides insight into their views on how a rational left Democrat should maneuver in the current milieu, of how that wing should look.
If you agree that this this self muzzling is what is needed in this political crisis, own it!
What you state is probably true and illustrates how the American War Machine has been normalized. It’s as if the Iraq War never occurred. Sanders could have, at the very least, not supported the international drone assassination program:
Sanders: I wouldn’t end drone program
… or the largest state sponsors of terrorism:
Bernie Sanders’ Policy Backing Saudi Intervention Needs to Change Now
… or the illegal war of aggression on Syria:
Bernie Sanders Says US ‘Kill List’ Legal, Backs Troops in Syria
As an anti-war environmentalist, I supported Sanders as the lesser of the evils even though the reality is that he has backed crimes against humanity.
bernie knows which battles to fight, and when to guard the flank. Stetesmanship is a complicated game.
And complicated games cost other people their lives, their children, their country…
‘Had (Sanders) governed like he spoke, the result would have been revolutionary.’
Wouldn’t have made any difference, If Sanders had made it to the Presidency, he would have found himself sandbagged just like Trump. You would have the same Russia!Russia!Russia! accusations to explain his election. As well, you would have an ongoing, never ending FBI investigation into a possible possible bank fraud by Jane Sanders constantly in the news.
And the way that Sanders has buckled over the whole Russia business would suggest that he would have adopted the same interventionist foreign policy and perhaps taking on Russia in Syria and the Ukraine and China in the far east. Sorry but that is just the way that it is.
I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. Sanders is a vastly more subtle thinker than Trump and, as his record in the Senate shows, he knows how to get real results with a very weak hand. So he certainly could not achieve what most of us would want, he would be far better equipped to outmanoever existing power blocs in and around Washington. And he would be far better than Obama at leveraging his popularity with the public into getting things done.
He would be a vastly more formidable opponent for the neocons and corporate lobbies – which would make me worry that they’d do all they could to ensure he never gets into power as I suspect they know this full well.
“And he would be far better than Obama at leveraging his popularity with the public into getting things done.”
Getting what things done? That’s the real problem. Back during his 2016 campaign, Sanders advocated a strong expansion of renewable power along with a gradual phase-out of nuclear power. This is essentially the same approach that Germany has taken with their “Energiewende”, and they’ve made ZERO progress on reducing CO2 emissions since 2009. They have no hope of making their 2020 targets, much less their 2035 targets.
In Germany there was strong public support for the “Energiewende”. Existing power blocs and lobbies in the power generation sector were pushed aside. All the things we presumably want to see in the US. And yet it failed. Why? Because they pursued a flawed technical solution.
Supporting a politician because he or she believes in global warming isn’t enough. That politician also needs to be advocating technical solutions that will actually work.
Trump doesn’t seem to be sandbagged in the slightest. He has been extremely effective, unfortunately.
what form should political action take?
mass civil disobedience. Peaceful protest, but of a type which cannot be ignored any longer.
there is no civil way to take back what’s been stolen from us
Catch-22, politicians only go where voters let them.
Find me a D or R politician who is going to tell voters that $12/gallon gas, $15/lb for the cheapest ground beef and $1.00 per kWh of electricity is good for them.
not going to happen barring the ghost of Henry David Thoreau introducing Jesus in Times Square today @ noon.
Or, politicians see a parade and jump in front of it. We really need parades.
They seem to be forming up more and more, let’s just hope they don’t get washed away with the next flood.
Or political mass mind-hacker psy-war operatives manipulate the brain-contents and mind-orientation of tens of millions of voters at a time in order to get voters to permit politicians where the mass mind-hacker psy-war operatives want those voters to be manipulated into permitting the politicians to go.
Those voters or citizens or whatever who want the politicians to go in a different direction will have to figure out how to get just-enough tens-of-millions of citizen voters to perform tens of millions of personal brain-salad-suisurgery mind-hacks upon their own selves in order to get together to created a different direction to let the politicians go.
What the voters want is irrelevant — if their opinions mattered we’d have universal health care and wouldn’t be bombing 7 countries simultaneously. Politicians disregard policies with majority support. They go where their donors let them.
General strike has, IMO, been the only peaceful, effective way to renegotiate the social contract since the rise of the Euro welfare states, post WWII. Not holding my breath.
Thank you Louis, Bdy and JCC.
Yes, the General Strike…almost had something like it with occupy and it could work again if we stop focusing on one thing – like Wall Street or Standing Rock. A focused protest like that makes it easy for the money to hire up some thugs to disperse us. When the protest is everywhere, it becomes much, much harder for the other guys to disrupt what we are doing. It need only be a sign on property that we all put out.
As for a real strike, forget about it in Australia.
The Melbourne train guys wanted to stop work for a few hours earlier this year. They had rejected a proposed pay increase (and the offsets which went with the money), but the operator (private company) had not come back with a higher offer, so the drivers had signaled their intent to stop work. The current requirements for unions is that they give notice and the matter then goes to the Fair Work Commission who decide on the legality.
The operator argued that the trains were an essential service and that the strike would endanger the general public, which is what the Commissioner ruled – go and negotiate.
The way the laws have been worded now, it is essentially illegal to withhold your labor from an employer.
And, I can see too many people either don’t care, don’t know what’s happening (anywhere) or can’t afford a few hours off work to protest.
Not enough anger by far in Australia – the shock and awe has yet to materialise
What kind of event in Australia would it take to supply the shock and awe needed to bring the anger, or whatever is necessary, to lets-act-on-it levels in Australia?
Category 6 or 7 hurricanes? A week long heat wave where the daily highs are 130 degrees fahrenheit and the nightly lows are 115 degrees fahrenheit?
And if that wouldn’t do it either, then what would it take?
According to NASA/Giss we are now ca 1,45 dgr C above temp of 1880(global land to air temp). The last 2 years temp has fallen below 2016 temps EVERY MONTH. That is also thrue for the northern hemisphere. And for the southern hemisphere only 2 months deviates. Including water temp there is no change.
Some well establ. researchers says temp.changes comes before co2-changes. Not the other way around as IPCC say.
I understand your eagerness to inject a bit of joy into our gloomy discussions of global warming, Thorleif. So I grasped your straw and did some research on the internet.
Turns out that you are correct: a study of the Antarctic ice cores from the deglaciation period (10,000 to 20,000 years ago) indicates that temperatures warmed (due to slight changes in the earth’s orbital path?), then atmospheric carbon dioxide increased at bit. The ‘greenhouse gas’ effect worked, the carbon dioxide worked to trap in heat, so the planet warmed a bit more. And so on. Until, most of the ice melted and we got a pretty livable planet.
However, all this took place over a period of 800 or so years. And, during those 800 years, we did not have burning fossil fuels and methane-producing gas wells spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate.
And, you are also correct in pointing out that 2016 was cooler than the preceding two years.https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201713 However, this is not exactly a reason to get out our polar gear and rush to buy Florida coastal real estate. Global temperatures have been rising for the past
100 years, not in a straight line. There are tiny ups and downs within that upward warming curve.
Sorry, my reply is displayed 9:45 down below here. I used the proper reply-button but….weird!
Ask any still-active life-long farmer in their 60’s or 70’s if there is warming and climate change.
I have yet to meet one who hasn’t experienced it, observed it, and isn’t deeply concerned and actively trying to anticipate and manage for it.
On a tangent— how ‘we’ gonna feed the world and farm without carbon-belching equipment? Have not noticed john deere and competitors trotting out electric equipment, theoretically powered by decentralized local solar PV and wind…
I think the sky has fallen…
Ditto with scientists and explorers who go to the Arctic. They did Polar Year measurements in 2007 and were totally freaked out by the standards of macho men (and women) who go to Dangerous Place and must stay calm.
I went to a day of presentations at the Explorers’ Club. No one minced words.
My dad grew up on a farm. I grew up working on a farm. Farming has always had it’s weather related challenges, if you have motivation see historical weather below, farming was tougher many times in the past. Back in the seventies and eighties the consensus prevailed that we were heading to an ice age. Then it warmed and the same chicken littles switched to doom about global warming. They act like gangsters in a way they build consensus. It’s a big club and if you’re a scientist who doesn’t go along with it you’re going to face ridicule.
Carefully select trees that have tree rings that fit the deception you’re trying to achieve and hook that hockey stick. I do not care for anything Michael Mann has to say.
A Chronological Listing of Early Weather Events
A Chronology of Notable Weather Events
Landmarks of World History: A Chronology of Remarkable Natural Phenomena
The Top 15 Climate-Change Scientists: Consensus & Skeptics
tried replying once. there was no scientific consensus that we were heading for an ice age. the hockey stick has been replicated in numerous studies. these are just facts.
No you are also trying to bolster a fraud.
no, i’m just telling you the facts. you can’t produce evidence of a scientific consensus around cooling because it didn’t exist. you can produce a couple of stories in time or newsweek about it, but those aren’t scientific journals. they got it wrong at the time, much as the new york times or washington post gets things wrong today. try the skeptical science link i posted above to get more information about the subject. you’re recycling propaganda from the 90’s, long refuted.
I kinda remember those days. Seems to me it was mostly a case noting that by the historical lengths of interglacial periods we were about due for another ice age.
Just like socal is overdue for the next big one.
had to do more with how a small minority of scientists interpreted the effects of aerosols from what i understand.
article titled “the myth of the 1970’s global cooling scientific consensus”.
the fossil fuel propaganda campaign seized upon a few articles in the press back then to argue that the science is inconclusive and scientists are just silly followers of fashion. people continue to sling it to this day.
“Some well establ. researchers says temp.changes comes before co2-changes.”
I suppose “some well establ. researchers” might say that but I believe it would be more accurate to say that temperature changes came before — lead — CO2 changes in paleoclimate changes of the last million years. Unless you want to argue that CO2 does not act as a ‘greenhouse’ gas you should be very concerned by this.
“Major glacial–interglacial climate oscillations are spurred by periodic variation of seasonal and geographical insolation (Hays et al., 1976). Insolation anomalies are due to slow changes of the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit, the tilt of Earth’s spin axis, and the precession of the equinoxes, and thus the day of year at which Earth is closest to the Sun, with dominant periodicities near 100 000, 40 000 and 20 000 years (Berger, 1978). These periods emerge in long climate records, yet a large fraction of climate variability at any site is stochastic (Wunsch, 2004; Lisiecki and Raymo, 2005). Such behavior is expected for a weakly-forced system characterized by amplifying feedbacks, complex dynamics,
and multiple sources of inertia with a range of timescales. Large glacial–interglacial climate change and stochastic variability are a result of two strong amplifying feedbacks, surface albedo and atmospheric CO2 .” [“Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 ◦ C global warming could be dangerous” Hansen et al. 2016, p.27. http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/ ]
The assertion CO2 is a “strong amplifying feedback” means the CO2 increases in glacial–interglacial climate oscillations would indeed follow temperature increases due to increased insolation and would lock-in and amplify those temperature increases, resulting in further increases in the levels of CO2. A “strong amplifying feedback” is also commonly referred to as a positive feedback. Now ask where did this increased CO2 come from? The obvious answer — there is some source for CO2 in the Earth’s climate system.
Humankind became an additional source for CO2 after the discovery of fire, and became a strong source for CO2 through burning fossil fuels. The CO2 from the Earth’s climate system will add to the CO2 humankind dumped into the atmosphere.
“CO2 is the principal determinant of Earth’s climate state, the radiative “control knob” that sets global mean temperature. … The CO2 dial must be turned to ∼ 260 ppm to achieve a Holocene-level interglacial. … Interglacials with CO2 ∼ 280 ppm, i.e., the Eemian and Holsteinian (∼ 400 ky b2k), were warmer than the Holocene and had sea level at least several meters higher than today.” [Hansen et al. 2016, p.29]
The CO2 level at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (NOAA-ESRL) was 405 ppm for the month of September, 2018. [https://www.co2.earth/] Considering the extremely rapid increase of CO2 as a result of humankind’s combustion of fossil fuels compared to much slower release of CO2 characteristic of paleoclimate transitions and I think we should expect that CO2 remains bound in the Earth’s climate system and this CO2 could slowly add to the CO2 we put in by burning fossil fuels.
Hansen et al. is not an easy read but it is a very worthwhile read. Playing with climate models — which serve as the basis for much of the IPCC report — is all well and good. Paleoclimate studies suggest there remain many effects which our current climate models either do not model or model with incorrect parameter values. I believe asserting that the IPCC report is ‘conservative’ is being most kind.
Where Mauna Loa Observatory is located pretty much displays the rise of CO2 emissions from China over the years. Does the 405 ppm display at any other locations around the world?
Mauna Loa data is the “gold standard” for CO2 data. Yes the 405 ppm is measured at other locations although the average reported for the world CO2 at co2.earth is 410 ppm. Data is collected at other sites. Mauna Loa has the longest running record of CO2 measurements.
“The idea of making measurements at Mauna Loa arose while Charles David Keeling was a post-doc at Cal Tech. … What he [Keeling] discovered was that when he sampled the air remote from forests, cities, and other obvious sources or sinks for CO2, he always got almost the same value of 310 ppm. Previous measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere did not show such constancy, but these measurements had been made by wet chemical methods that were considerably less accurate than the dry manometric method he was employing.” [http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/history_legacy/keeling_curve_lessons]
“Mauna Loa was originally chosen as a monitoring site because, located far from any continent, the air was sampled and is a good average for the central Pacific. Being high, it is above the inversion layer where most of the local effects are present…” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauna_Loa_Observatory]
Well, thank you very much for the “feedback”-explanation. I also have a few other layman-questions;
1. CO2 measurements have been done since 1812 and CO2-levels have been this high before, like in the 40s and in the early days. Why is that do you think?
2. Natural sources of CO2 are said to be in constant balance(!). Man-made emissions per year are only 3% of natural emissions&absorbtions. Could natural swings be of larger importance than human emissions? Sure?
Forgot to ask why the highest concentration of CO2 is not in the industrial regions of the world. Could that indicate natural emissions are at work? Or is it weather-related(jet-streams i.e).
“Keeling started collecting carbon dioxide samples … in 1958. In 1961, Keeling produced data showing that carbon dioxide levels were rising steadily in what became known as the ‘Keeling Curve’.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_David_Keeling] Not sure what earlier measurements you have in mind for your questions. Keeling’s measurements attempt to measure the CO2 levels for the planet. Of course a ground level measurement of CO2 in an industrial region or a city will have higher concentrations of CO2.
For your remaining question, #2 ask first what CO2 natural emissions and absorptions have to work with. What total CO2 is there in the natural system — without help from man? The total amount of natural CO2 varied during different epochs, as did global climates:
“The CO2 dial [Hansen likens the level of CO2 to a climate control knob] must be turned to ∼ 260 ppm to achieve a Holocene-level interglacial. CO2 ∼250 ppm was sufficient for quasi-interglacials in the period 800–450 ky b2k, with sea level 10–25 m lower than in the Holocene …. Interglacials with CO2 ∼280 ppm, i.e., the Eemian and Holsteinian (∼400 ky b2k), were warmer [by less than 1 degree C] than the Holocene and had sea level at least several meters higher than today… Natural CO 2 change includes an increase to ∼1000 ppm about 50 million years ago … as a result of plate tectonics, specifically volcanic emissions associated with movement of the Indian plate across the Tethys Ocean and collision with Asia …” [Hansen et al. 2016, p. 29]
Some natural process slowly removed the CO2 dumped into the atmosphere by the volcanic emissions. There were periods more than 50 million years ago when CO2 levels were ~2000 ppm and the earth was very different place. A far amount of the natural CO2 on earth was sequestered in deep holes in the ground as coal and as petroleum and natural gas. Humankind dug up this sequestered CO2 and we’ve been adding it back into the atmosphere at a truly amazing rate really taking off after the 1950s. So how much of the present 405 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere is CO2 we added above the initial ~280 ppm levels characteristic of the peak CO2 concentrations of the Eemian and Holsteinian? I think the answer is most of the increase is our doing, but does it matter? Clearly burning fossil fuels adds CO2 and the CO2 raises the global temperature which leads to release of CO2 from other natural reservoirs of CO2 and ratchets up the temperature as we add more CO2 by burning more fossil fuels. There are ways to estimate the levels of CO2 from fossil fuels as opposed to CO2 from some other natural sources based on the levels of various isotopes of carbon but the accounting exercise is definitely outside the content of the sources I’m working from. Much/most of the added CO2 is CO2 humankind added to the atmosphere. Note that Keeling measured global CO2 levels as 310 ppm in 1958 and we are at 405 ppm at present. If a natural release of CO2 triggered this increase I think you are the one who should point it out to us.
The point of who wins elections in the US is, at first, very important indeed. Only if someone worried with climate change is elected, and the candidate can survive the lobbying of deep powers associated with fossil fuel economy, it will be important. It is also important to note that such politician could reduce the current divide between the US and EU because energy geopolitics is one of the main drivers of the divide. Such a President would also dilute the Russia!Russia!Russia! campaign and the new cold war.
Let’s take the case of China. Policies to mitigate climate change could also be seen as an oportunity to help mitigating current imbalances reducing excessive savings etc.
In Europe the advantages of reducing emissions –apart from figthing climate change– are so obvious that it is not necessary to mention them.
In the financial realm, reducing risks associated with climate change should be welcome.
There are many, many arguments that should favor a change in mind of the powerful. I think of Trump, the Kochs, the Sauds and the likes as dinosaurs that, sooner better than later, will disappear.
I hope you don’t actually think that.
Change is not driven by one man. One man cannot go up against literally the definition of modern civilization (mining/extraction, processing, production, and distribution) and expect to survive or even make it to a position of power. The modern machine, for all of its faults, plays directly on mans ego and drive to make life easier, more pleasurable, more worth, etc. All of that would need to change. The entire drive of humanity would need to go from a consumption, wealth-based, GDP/Market obsessed economy, to one where efficiency & environmental impact is placed above all else.
Look at the current EPA – its a disaster of an agency, no serious punishments for repeat offenders, wrist slaps for huge blunders.
As a professor of mine once said, change in a society only comes after famine, disease, or revolution. You need a serious stress inducer to get humans to wake up. America is only just waking up to the class system & political propaganda, let alone an impending environmental disaster. In some ways, we currently have the opposite: a generation of spoiled, arrogant, kids still holding onto their wealth and power like crack addicts, and the new generations, though more environmentally conscious, completely oblivious as to how quickly society can change for the worse and how one cant pick and choose. Trying to truly save the environment, as in not for show or face value, would mean no more personal vehicles, no more Amazon and delivery to your door, no more A/C in every room, no more electricity 24/7, serious penalties for industrial misuse of water, serious bans on driving cars (like seen in China during particularly bad days), a complete ban on one-time use plastic goods (forks, knives, bottles), etc. We are talking about a reversion to a less leisurely life.
I dont see any evidence that climate change will be solved at the oval office, and all evidence that it will be mitigated, as usual, by the scientists & engineers who will see a present need/future need and invent some solutions. But I dont think the future will be a pleasant one.
This wont come pro-actively. This will all come re-actively. You cannot convince the generations that were born in the wealthiest of times to cut back. Imagine telling someone, like Al Gore, a proponent of environmentalism (laughs), to sell his multiple cars, sell his personal planes, sell 5 out of his 6 homes, etc.
But feel free to dream. I havent seen a single politician worth anything in American politics for my entire life of 30 years and I have little hope finding one in the generation that plundered their progenies future for quick profits which greatly accelerated environmental disaster that is this century(see offshoring for a primer on what happens to an environment when your so called ‘progressively minded’ presidents like Clinton take the helm).
Great comment and observations.
Never cease to be amazed by how many get duped by politicians and their laughable propaganda from the protofascists nativist trump cronies to the democrat acolytes at the church of neoliberalism.
The current way of life is a piped ream and nowhere near sustainable. The longer the change gets postponed, the more harsh the price to pay will be.
Correct, I am kind of a guy always against the crowd, always in opposition. Why? Because I like to look at the contradicting theories/facts. Then you learn more as long as you are open to the other side´s argument. And always stay ready to change opinion if you are wrong. Very important.
The biggest problem in politics though is that politicians often have mixed motives and they definately don´t want to acknowledge when they are (even 100%) wrong. Climate Change is politics. Climate Change started with politics(Club of Rome), not with the knowledge that burning fossils is bad.
I don´t like to hear “non-researchers” preaching constant alarms about how our earth are going under in 10 years making our children sick of anxiety and politicians ready to overtax our lifes. This at the same time as Asia and rest of the world are planning to start 1600 new coalplants in the near future. The chinese are not going to stop. What west will do will not have significant effects on the climate.
Yes I agree it is getting warmer. And I like it living in the cold north. Deserts are shrinking and the world has never been able to grow more food than now(incl Monsanto though). It is a pity we are not planning to start nuclear-powerplants using the latest tech. We have lost decades of energy-production potential(incl research). I like alternatives like wind/sun but they are not enough.
It is interesting looking at the NASA-data since 2016. It is significant data. Using i.e quarters per year every quarter after since 2016 have been colder(not warmer) than the corresponding quarter the year before. Now 7 quarter in a row. This have never happend before counting NASA-data from 1880! Not even for one year. Now we are in for the last quarter year +2 from 2016. Yes I know 2016 was I blow-out temp. year making an extra reversal kind of normal. But as I said. It have never happend before counting a whole year(4 q)! That said I a not saying it is going to get much colder right now. Just making a significant point.
Are you a researcher?
I sense an agenda here, and I’ve been exposed recently to the sillycon valley meme that global warming is good. After all, what self respecting democrat loyalist would not want florida washed into the sea? Yes, in fact the argument was put forth on these terms…we in the northwest are better (supposedly) in a warmer clime…well you can always move if the terms of life seem better elsewhere. For the record, 2016 is like 10 minutes ago (and I’m being generous there) across the scope of time we’ve evolved in. Global warming is not about your ambient comfort, it’s about wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and any number of unforseen knock on’s
Thank you, tegnost, I think SV is intent on monetizing the “Thelma & Louise” bespoke experience we seem to be on.
Yet Another Clincher, for me:
Nights Are Warming Faster Than Days. Here’s Why That’s Dangerous.
No I´m not a researcher. I just wanted to point out that most serious researchers are not alarmists. They know their models are models, far from secure to make certain predictions. Korrelations are plenty but causes are less. Why is there official stats saying i.e wildfires and hurricanes are not increasing? How can both camps say they are right reading the same stats? Alarmist(paid by IPCC i.e) have been telling us now for decades that we many times in the past should have seen much higher ocean-levels. It is not true. Also that the Greenland land-ice should be gone by long. It is shrinking but experts does not agree about the velocity. 1000 year or 10.000? Not to speak about Antartica!
If CO2 from natural sources within the earth complex are naturally absorbed/emitted in the size of 150GT/year and man made CO2 from fossil fuel are only 5,5GT/y, how can IPCC draw the conclusion that the natural system always is in balance and that the emissions from man are the culprit of the warming?
I am not saying 2 years of 140 makes a difference, Did you not read what I said? For the first time since 1880 we have 2 years of decreasing global temp. That is a significant observation! Not anything else.
the science is not based on models, or correlation. the vast majority of serious researchers say the world is getting warmer. you might try skepticalscience.com, which could answer a lot of the questions you pose.
IPCC paid the alarmists? IPCC disbursed the funds to them? Do you know this? Can you show this? Do you have copies of the receipts?
IPCC is funded i.e by the UN and the UN in turn by governments. There a lot of people out there, scientist and non-scientist, having their whole livelihood funded by the global-warming agenda. It´s wellknown that the UN since long have funding-problem(the US i.e is not paying their share since the late 70s). Governments are now in the process of planning for new CO2 taxation were taxes can be transferred to the UN. Already some countries(incl mine) have new extremely high payed jobs(up to 18.000 usd/month) for government ex- ministers working for the agenda. Salaries payed at the moment out of the Aidbudget.
“In developing a theory to explain the ice ages, Arrhenius, in 1896, was the first to use basic principles of physical chemistry to calculate estimates of the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will increase Earth’s surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. These calculations led him to conclude that human-caused CO2 emissions, from fossil-fuel burning and other combustion processes, are large enough to cause global warming. This conclusion has been extensively tested, winning a place at the core of modern climate science”
Arrhenius thought the warming would be a good thing for plant life.
But one can say that climate change/global warming was posited in 1896, well before the Club of Rome
Agree, and we know who´s interest runs within the club!
Deserts are not shrinking, they are expanding. Sea ice is shrinking. You have it completely opposite.
I don’t even know where to start with your “theories”.
Aquifers are depleting rapidly. Deserts that held millions of gallons of water under them are now literally bone dry in every sense of the word. Farming is becoming a huge issue in the Middle East where tapping the desert aquifers for agriculture went full blown in the late 80’s. Now they have barely any land left to tap. This has in itself expanded the reach of deserts, let alone the affects of a gradually growing equatorial band.
Moderate climate zones are moving to the extreme. Weather patterns are more chaotic. I dont understand what people have trouble understanding about this: add more energy/entropy to a system and it becomes more chaotic. This doesnt mean you wil lhave warm winters and warmer summers. It means prolonged winters, prolonged summers, short falls, short springs, unusually high or low temps, quick exacerbated swings with sudden droughts or sudden floods, etc.
Chaotic means you cant find patterns in a single year. Yes, you will OBVIOUSLY have years that are colder than the previous (on avg, though the metric is hardly used since it means very little since temperature is constantly in flux). But if we look at records of extreme temps, it is so obvious that climate change is here and now. That it is not part of a natural cycle that would take 10’s of thousands of years. Its happening now in decades.
Flora that is native to current temperate zones will die unless they are hardy enough. It will be another mass extinction, along with the insect population, aquatic populations, on and on. You may have a few plants thrive, as all of their properly balanced competition dies. This isnt a good thing. More mono cultures, less diversity means extinction of animals and insects reliant on those less hardy plants. The temperate band will move further north and south leaving the equator an increasingly uninhabitable place.
This isn’t hearsay. This is empirically verified by NASA satellite systems that track gravitational movement of ground water and surface temperatures. Its more than just NASA too. Australia’s NOAA is also tracking the same data. As you imagine, the Aussies are deathly afraid of climate change as they inhabit the equatorial zones of an island that is increasingly out of water and increasingly exposed to radiation from greenhouse effects. It’s why they spent the largest amount of government funding on desalination plants than any other country.
Let me just say this: if you don’t read the actual scientific papers and/or follow the current scientific news on a legitimate academic website, I find it puzzling why you would even take a stance on this issue. Im not even talking about opinion, just the pure data gathered.
Look at the pure data and tell me that we are not experiencing a huge uptick in extreme weather because of A, B, and C and we can agree to disagree.
Get some random cherry picked data about what years had the coldest temp, and ill just look at you funny. Because those extreme low temps are exactly a part of climate change.
If equatorial and sub-equatorial parts of the Global South become too hot to live in, several million Global Southerners will probably want to become Climate Refugees in your Northern country. You’ll have lots of new neighbors.
Forgot to say I only made reference to data from Global Land-Surface-Air temp
Have to correct myself:
For 1890, 1902, 1907, 1929, 1939, 1945, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1962, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1984, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1999 every quarter were colder than the corresponding quarter the year before. For 20 years of total 139 years it was colder.
But never for more than one(1) year. Now we are in for two years in a row(waiting for q4 2018 sep-nov)).
My original point of significance was 2 years in a row!
Maybe it´s only the exponential-factor(2 years in a row) in the 140 years of warming!
And yet the trend is that earth is rapidly warming. 2016 set a record temperature, which beat the previous 2015 record, which beat the previous 2014 record. Your observation is valid, but fails two take into account two very important factors.
First, it takes a tremendous amount of heat to melt ice. Observational data of both sea ice extent and volume show that the trend is spiraling towards zero.
Second, the oceans are huge heat batteries that absorb the majority of global warming. We are within reach of the mother of all tipping points.
Disappearance of Arctic Sea Ice
“rapidly warming”, yes 1,45 dgr C in 140 years. And we know it has been warmer before. But we have no solid termometer-data as proof. And we don´t know exactly what was the cause in the past.
The “mother of tipping point” is very interesting indeed. Why have IPCC or it´s precurser been so wrong about the timing of the big ocean-flooding? Why should we listen now when they been wrong so many times? Crying wolf could be very, very dangerous for public trust if you are wrong again(10 year now).
Why are we in the western world not making bigger alarms about the risk that most countries lacks the ability to self-feed themselfes with food if there was a sudden crop-failure for a year? Extreme warming or cooling have potential.
If the earth surface system was losing heat for those two years in a row, did the ice-cap edges and the various glaciers spend those two years regaining size and volume, and begin growing again?
I am not implying the surface-system is directly responsible for the 2 years of lower global temps.
Probably if anything is ever done of consequence, it will not be done until necessity dictates change, and that necessity is likely to look like 100’s of millions of climate/war refugees and mass famine.
Whatever change comes from that looks more like lockdown; all the talk about climate change offers little to nothing in the way of real change, as in, seriously, 7+ billion people are going to stop burning fossil fuels? Or just change over to a zero emissions regime in a decade? Beyond unlikely.
Speak your truth, skill up, study, take care of yourself, take care of those you love and what you love. Be prepared for whatever comes, because it is guaranteed to get a lot more crazy.
A couple observations:
_. 10% of the the planets population (Industrialized World) emits 50%+ of atmospheric CO2.
_. There is little an individual can do to plan to survive a breakdown of social/governmental fabric. (The Survivalists may be better prepared—but that food/water cache will someday be depleted.)
The following is a paranoid nightmare:
1. Our Beloved Leaders seem determined to build more nuclear weapons.
2, India, China, Indonesia, parts of Africa and other spots on the Earth have the greatest population density (Earthlighjts composite picture)
3. Nuking the high density population countries would have two results, Halve the Earth’s population, and reduce incident heat for a decade or more.
It appears to me that some in our current regime would not shrink from such a scenario.
Temps in upper Scandinavia were 90 in July, about 30-35 degrees over normal.
Why wouldn’t that happen here, and if it does, localized grids get fried from everybody seeking comfort in their cemented in metropoli.
We’ve become a 72 degree people in the past few generations, and in no way are we ready for the big heat.
There is one industry that will be heard from in a big way as climate change effects hit.
That is the insurance industry.
In my Northern California area, current and rebuilding homeowners are nervous about getting fire insurance in the future as insurance companies are limiting their exposure to wildfire prone regions.
Now, the recent wildfires may be unrelated to climate change, but it seems to me the locals are less willing to pooh-pooh climate change now.
One bay area television station recently featured a story that homeowners who rebuilt after the 1991 Oakland Hills fire are now seeing their fire insurance policies cancelled.
The insurance industry has a business model that requires them to properly assess risks, and their data can indicate problems earlier than media/politicians want to acknowledge.
For example, many years ago I talked with a senior manager at an insurance company at a family event.
He mentioned that the insurance companies saw, early on, that smoking + asbestos exposure was very harmful as gleaned from the insurance of asbestos miners.
Of course, as insurance companies back away from possible climate change risks, the states and federal government will likely step in, as demanded by the real estate industry and property owners.
“we’ll have to remove from power any political leader dedicated to keeping the current financial-energy system in place if there’s to be any hope of even Dr. Mann’s modest goal of averting “the worst impacts.” Otherwise, we won’t avert any impacts at all.”
I don’t expect to see much of this as politicians can’t win if they are against the financial-energy system.
Instead, Insurance companies may be the early leaders in acknowledging climate change effects as they quietly pull back from markets or demand much higher prices.
“Instead, Insurance companies may be the early leaders in acknowledging climate change effects ….”
And, the US Department of Defense, as well.
But looks like they are just going to roll with the results, not do anything to mitigate it.
> But looks like they are just going to roll with the results, not do anything to mitigate it.
Really weird googling session: “surf the chaos” “foreign policy”.
So yeah, the military is going to mitigate the climate threat the same way Hillary mitigated Trump.
EDIT: The google search result showed the 2013 date in the synopsis.
” ….. a new generation of joint warriors …”
Might this be the result of states legalizing marijuana? ” Dude, the chaos is gnarly this morning. Let’s surf!”
What melts the ice is the temperature, not the change in the temperature. If you use a different baseline temperature, say 0.5 colder, then you need an extra 0.5 of increase to cause the same issues.
It might be more useful to assume that not much will be done other than by the market for solar and wind power, and plan for the a relatively large increase, say 3.0C by mid-century.
On the other hand, note that Saudi Arabia has apparently maxes out their pump capacity, and others are in worse shape, implying that the amount of CO2 in the air by and by stops increasing due to exhaustion of fossil fuels.
> What melts the ice is the temperature, not the change in the temperature
While I fail to see the connection amongst those three paragraphs, not gonna let this obvious one go by.
Sans subtleties (modulo being completely wrong):
This is why the end of ice in the arctics is so dire: All that recently sopped up heat melting the ice did not raise the water temperature – that is changing now in a big way.
Polar albedo also changes, more dark water, less reflective white ice, more heat captured.
Toward a complete list of climate feedbacks
It’s not easy being green
Cannot express how deeply I regret voting Liberal in the last Canadian national elections. Green and NDP (further left) candidates were non-starters in my region and after years of Conservative rule Liberals seemed like a lesser evil. Now they’ve gone and literally bought into a petro-state future by buying a [family blog] pipeline! That the original investors didn’t even want and were happy to offload! Then a bunch of provinces nixed the idea of a carbon tax, so any faint hopes of Canada leading the way on climate change have vanished. Moral of the story: no more “safe”/strategic voting.
I’ve been reading a ton on the IPCC report, as well as doing thinking and reading about what the heck we can do about it. As Ian Welsh says, and I have come to agree, there is no stopping 1.5, 2 degrees or likely more warming at this point. Why haven’t we done anything real to address the issue? Climate fight club, that is why.
Global warming is real but the U.S/European component is shrinking. The emerging nations (China, India, Pakistan, the middle east, etc) are rapidly increasing their CO2 as they industrialize. If by some miracle the U.S. cut CO2 in half, China and India alone would offset the U.S. decline in five years . The U.S. no longer rules the world o=r determines its future.. Nothing we do alone can change the CO2 trajectory. Trump was right to bluntly say Paris II was a feel-good failure.
So what can we do? I see three courses we should pursue. First, a significant increase in investment in R&D and development for wind, solar and electrical transmission plus storage and biotechnology would position the world for a more rapid transition when the developing world eventually accepts that there is a problem.
Second we should consider disrupting the free trade system where it fails to take climate change into consideration. That means threatening to institute things like carbon taxes on imports and our own production; basically abandoning free trade for CO2 trade. The public might go along with this if the system were perceived as fair and compensated the change’s short-term losers.
Third, and I’m sure more contentiously, we should end mass immigration into the U.S. Our resources can give us a reasonable standard of living even with a huge increase in CO2- but not if our population keeps increasing with waves of refugees and immigrants from failing, high birthrate countries like Syria, Honduras, Guatemala and all of black Africa. Americans are not having seven children and tripling the population every 50 years..We should leave the practical and ethical problems of high birth rates to be solved by the countries involved.
We should accept as immigrants only a few outstanding, proven professional and reject the present system where Green Cards go to the Third World rich and their children via the investment/student visa systems. A student visa or an investment in a condo development should not be a road to a U.S. citizenship. The Third World rich not illogically think: “The birth rate here is a disaster but not our problem. If it blows up we’ll just take our money, go to the U.S. on a tourist visa and hire a bunch of lawyers to find a way for us to stay”. Obviously this means an end to the unlimited flow of “refugees”, a term which now not only means dedicated political people but also any and all people who are losing out as the local population explodes, This a sad but necessary step. As I said at the beginning, the U.S. no longer controls the world’s future- but we do still decide on our own future and investments and immigration decisions will decide on what that future looks like.
Why not nuclear-power using i.e Thorium. Decades of lost research-momentum.
See below regarding R&D of new tech to save the day. Definitely keep working on Thorium reactors but they have been just around the corner forever. Even an Apollo-type program won’t bring them online in the next decade. India, the only country working to commercialize Thorium tech at scale has downgraded their traditional nuclear plans significantly, slashing 57 planned reactors and reducing their 2030 build out to only 19. There has been no announcement to make up the slack with Thorium and per usual Thorium remains just around the corner. Coal is to replace the lost reactors. Sounds great.
Thoughtful response Dave, but unfortunately even though we don’t control the world’s future vis-a-vis CO2 we share the same atmosphere, weather, ecology and world economy as the rest of the globe. So an isolationist approach is not going to save us. We should pursue some (if not all) of your ideas certainly, especially trying to price the real cost of CO2 and other equivalent emissions into products and trade. The R&D ship has sailed I think. We can invest more heavily in proven renewable tech and should continue to develop new tech but new tech will not come on line in time to stop significant warming. It’s baked in (rimshot).
Immigration is going to be a tricky issue as globally climate-refugees will be significant, if not huge in number from Canada or Mexico as compared to places like Bangladesh or Africa. Regardless, the caravans from our southern neighbors to our borders are going to get bigger and angrier if they are starving. And I’m not so sure we won’t see dramatic reductions in agricultural productivity of our own as the drying of the great plains and American West continues along with significant aquifer depletion. The only real way to halt climate change is population control. All of Germany’s efforts to date to reduce CO2 have basically stalled, for a number of factors, but one big one is growth. Economic and relatedly, population growth, is incompatible with reduction in CO2. A global one-child policy would require little tech and have an enormous impact on CO2. Politically nearly impossible perhaps, but the alternative is unchecked warming and war.
I am looking for a website with good data on ocean-temperatures. NASA/Giss site does not show exclusive ocean-data as far as I can see. Anyone with tips!
Jeez, @Thorleif, were are you getting this stuff?
The ocean acidification caused by absorbing excess CO2 from the atmosphere is destroying coral reefs (coral bleaching). Then there’s the effect on phytoplanton which produce over 50% of the earth’s oxygen. Temperature change is only one aspect of increased CO2 effects. Ocean acidification is another.