Michael Mann: We Are Even Closer To Climate Disaster Than IPCC Predicts

Yves here. It’s disconcerting to see the latest IPCC report get less attention that the less-scary-but-still-pretty-grim releases did in 2007. This Real News Network interview is a badly needed corrective. And as with the 2007 series, the current batch was subject to political pressure to downplay its findings.

DHARNA NOOR :It’s The Real News. I’m Dharna Noor.

A new report from the world’s leading body on climate change warns that in just 12 years, rising global temperatures could cause irreversible damage like mass extinctions and severe droughts. Just 12 years. The report from the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change, or the IPCC, says if temperatures keep increasing at their current rate, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052. To avoid a disaster, the IPCC says governments must take “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

Now joining us to talk about this is seminal climate scientist Michael Mann. Michael Mann is a distinguished professor and director of the Earth Science Systems Science Center at Penn State University. He’s the author of several books, perhaps most famously in 2012 The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, and most recently The Tantrum that Saved the World, a children’s book on climate change which he coauthored with Megan Herbert. Thanks for joining us today.

MICHAEL MANN: Thank you. Good to be with you.

DHARNA NOOR: So, Michael, you’ve been raising the alarm about climate change for decades. Talk about the significance of this IPCC report. The Paris climate accord years ago actually set 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels as an aspirational target, but this report makes it seem like that target is nowhere near enough.

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, and In fact, even this report is overly conservative, as these IPCC reports often are. It turns out that in some ways this latest report has actually understated the amount of warming that we’ve already experienced because of the burning of fossil fuels and the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And so arguably we are actually closer to those 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2.0 Celsius thresholds, temperature thresholds, that are discussed in the report. We’re probably closer to them than the report implies. We probably have less carbon left to burn if we are to avoid crossing those thresholds.

DHARNA NOOR: But 1.5 degrees seems like such a tiny increase. Explain the history and significance of that figure, the 1.5 degree rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels, and how much worse would 2 degrees be than that?

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, so 1.5 degrees Celsius warming over the time scale of a century is unprecedented. As far back as we can go, we have not seen rates of warming that large. And in fact, the level of warmth that we’ve now reached is unprecedented in tens of thousands of years. So even what might seem like a modest amount of warming can be profound from the impacts that that warming can have.

Just think about this. The warming that we’ve already experienced is more than halfway, it’s more than halfway from the warming between the last ice age and the modern pre-industrial climate. So we’ve already warmed the climate half as much as it warmed coming out of the last ice age. And that has implications for the melting of ice. We are inching ever closer to crossing key thresholds where we basically lock in the melting of large parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and potentially even the Greenland ice sheet, enough ice to give us not feet but metres of sea level rise in the centuries ahead. For every half a degree Celsius warming of the ocean surface, we increase the destructive potential of hurricanes by more than 10 per cent; closer to 15 percent. That’s a large enough signal that you can see it in the data. We can see it playing out. And when it comes to extreme weather in general, unprecedented floods and heat waves and wildfires and droughts like we have seen over the past few years, that is the face of climate change. It’s no longer subtle.

And that’s just 1.5 degrees Celsius. Every additional half a degree Celsius locks in more destructive, more extreme weather events, more melting of ice more sea level rise, and 2 degrees Celsius might be enough to basically destroy the world’s coral reefs. We’re inching ever closer to that threshold.

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. 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 we crossed 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. In order to avoid crossing those thresholds we need to bring our emissions down dramatically. Arguably more dramatically than implied in this latest IPCC report.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah. Another report from 2016, The Truth About Climate Change, which was authored by leading climate scientists, some of whom are actually on the IPCC, said that we’ll hit 2 degrees by 2050 even if every country fulfils the Paris climate agreement. That seems like a pretty significant difference, especially because that was before Trump was elected.

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot going on there. So first of all, the 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.

What that means is that Paris sort of gets us on the right path, that gets us on the right road. It helps us start to bend that curve of carbon emissions downward. But we’ll need to do a whole lot more work if we are going to stabilise warming below the dangerous 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limits.

DHARNA NOOR: To curb climate change, the report says that we must reduce global emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, and altogether by 2050. It also says that by 2050 the use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent, which it has today, to between 1 and 7 percent. About 67 percent of our energy must come from renewable sources like wind and solar. The IPCC report really puts the pressure on governments to act, especially the Trump administration. But Trump hasn’t even responded to it at all. Given our current political climate, you could say, is it even likely that we could do any of these things? Is it possible to take these sorts of policy actions?

MICHAEL MANN:Well you know, political will is renewable. And right now in less than 30 days, in less than a month, we have a critical midterm election here in the United States where the people can make their voices heard. If we are not satisfied with a president who not only won’t act on climate change, but denies it exists, and a Republican Congress that has enabled his denialism in his delay in dealing with this problem, we have an opportunity to shift the political winds in a direction that’s more favorable for climate action.

So that’s critical. People can impact the process. People can impact the problem by voting. That is one very important way that we can act to help avert catastrophic climate change. Well, even in the absence of national leadership- we have no national leadership on this issue right now. But we do have leadership at the state level. States like California, led by Jerry Brown. The other West Coast states, the New England states, many of the mid-Atlantic states have banded together to form consortia to put a price on carbon, to incentivize renewable energy. Many of our largest businesses, many of our largest companies and corporations here in the U.S., are acting to reduce their carbon emissions. And because of that we may meet our Paris obligations even without support from the president or the Republican Congress. But as I said before, we need to not only meet those obligations, we need to improve on them substantially if we’re going to- if we’re going to avert catastrophic warming of the planet. And that’s going to require leadership at the national level. One way to try to ensure that happens is to show up at the polls and to vote out politicians who refuse to act, who deny the problem, and vote in politicians who are willing to be part of the solution.

DHARNA NOOR: I don’t want to belabor this, but you know, you mentioned that the Trump administration was denying the existence of climate change. But last month the Washington Post reported that buried in this some hundreds, hundreds of pages-long National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statement is this prediction that the world will warm by 4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. So essentially they said given that the world is going to warm catastrophically anyway, new policies- in this case a freezing of fuel efficiency standards- is just a drop in the bucket. So again, given this political climate when people are saying, you know, if the world is going to warm so drastically anyway, if the outcome requires such fatalism, is it worth acting in any case? How do you respond to people who say it’s too late to act?

MICHAEL MANN:Yes. So here you have two equal and opposite untruths. And It really speaks to the intellectual honesty or lack thereof when it comes to the Trump administration. They’re willing to use two completely inconsistent talking points. On the one hand climate change is a hoax, it doesn’t exist; on the other hand, oh, it’s going to be so large that there’s little we can do about it now. And what that tells you is that there is no good faith in their position on climate. They’re just looking for any argument, throwing as much mud on the wall as they can, to try to block progress to deal with this problem, because they’re basically furthering the agenda of the fossil fuel interests and the conservative donors who fund this administration and congressional Republicans today.

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.

DHARNA NOOR:But what about some of the Democratic leaders who are leading the way on climate change? For instance, you mentioned Jerry Brown’s administration in California as being, you know, really precedent-setting in terms of climate change; really taking the lead on climate change. But critics would say that since he became governor he’s admitted some 20,000 new oil and gas permits. So do we also need to act on the supply side versus the demand side, versus things like supporting more wind, supporting more solar, and move to really stopping the production of fossil fuels in the first place?

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah. Well, you know, there’s a worthy debate to be had about the role of demand-side versus supply-side approaches to the problem. And I fear that when it comes to folks like Jerry Brown, who I consider a hero and a leader on this issue, there is the true danger of the perfect being the enemy of the good, or the very good, in this case. He has taken a leadership position at a time when we have a president and a Congress that wants to deny that there’s a problem, that wants to pull out of the Paris accord. He has taken a leadership position. He has set an example for other states to follow. He is moving ahead with an effort to put a price on carbon, to incentivize renewable energy.

So yeah, you know, there are no arguments that can be made that it would be great if we were to see maybe more action when it comes to policies on natural gas and pipelines. But you know, first we have to tackle this problem one piece at a time. And Jerry Brown has taken on a huge challenge in putting forward policies that have the potential to make the largest dent in this problem, putting a price on carbon so we level the energy playing field so renewable energy can compete compete fairly against fossil fuel energy in the marketplace. And if we do that, we know that we’re going to further accelerate this transition that is already underway away from the continued burning of these dirty fossil fuels towards a clean renewable energy future.

DHARNA NOOR: I want to ask you one more question about some specific policy implications. So it’s looking now like Jair Bolsonaro is likely to become Brazil’s next president, and Brazil is in the top 10 emitters globally. Many are predicting that he’ll lift all restrictions on logging in the Amazon. If he does that, what could the impact on climate be? How significant could that be?

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, well, deforestation is a problem, and it contributes to our carbon emissions, as does agriculture and a whole lot of other human activities. Basically everything that we do contributes to our global carbon footprint. And we need to think carefully about our practices across the board when it comes to energy, transportation, food systems and distribution systems, buildings and infrastructure, city planning, forest management, et cetera. There’s no one magic bullet that solves this problem. But the lion’s share of our carbon emissions today comes from the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation. And if we can tackle that largest piece of the pie, we will make huge inroads in meeting our, you know, the Paris commitments, and getting- again, getting our carbon emissions on a path where we’re bending them downward towards zero, where they ultimately have to be in a matter of decades if we’re going to avert catastrophic warming of the planet.

We’re making some progress. We have to continue. We have to accelerate the policies that are helping out. And we have to think about all of the things that we can do in our everyday lives to try to help out. There is a role for voluntary actions, for personal responsibility in our food choices, in our energy usage, et cetera. We can all solve this problem through personal choices and by demanding accountability of our policy makers to enact policies that will accelerate this transition away from dirty fossil fuels towards renewable energy.

DHARNA NOOR: Given the need for individual action and also global action, what are you expecting from COP24 in Poland this December? Another big UN international conference on climate change.

MICHAEL MANN: It’s my hope that this latest interim report on the Paris targets, the latest IPCC report, will help frame the urgency of action. It will help frame sort of this problem that we’ve been talking about, that Paris is a good start. It gets us a foot in the door, but it doesn’t come close to solving this problem. We need to ratchet up all of those obligations that the various countries of the world made a few years ago in Paris. We need to make even more firm commitments. We need to make good on our current commitments, and that’s a challenge in itself. We have to make sure that countries are meeting their obligations under Paris, and that they’re willing to ratchet up those commitments in the next conference of the parties.

So it’s a, it’s a tall order, but it’s doable. To those people who say, who throw up their hands in defeat and say there’s just nothing we can do, that is not true. We’ve risen to the challenge before. We did it in World War II. We did it with the space program here in the U.S. We can do it here, as well.

DHARNA NOOR: All right. Well, we’ll be sure to keep in touch with you as we see what happens, and as we see what actions are taken. As always, such a pleasure to have you on. Thanks.

MICHAEL MANN: My pleasure. Thank you.

DHARNA NOOR: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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  1. Jack Lifton

    The American media do not support any policies of the Trump administration, nor do they report its successes. So why are they not reporting that the end of the world is near due to American withdrawal from the Paris accord?
    The reason is that the Democrat Party agenda is to not make the public aware that to implement the rescue of the world from global warming would require draconian financial changes only possible through a globally managed economy. But in such a fantasy world the state would control all of the money not today’s oligarchs, the ones in particular control the Democrat Party. So we are in an Emily Latila moment of “never mind” about climate control.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      So I guess there’s no point in supporting the “Democrat” Party. Might as well vote for the Republic Party instead.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The Democrats were not serious about climate change either, just not as openly retrograde as Republicans. The Paris Accord is weak tea and even then, Obama joined in September 2016, at the very end of his term in office. And he did so by executive order, as opposed to a Congressional vote, which would have been far more difficult to reverse. If Obama had been serious, as opposed to wanting credit for better post Presidential optics, he would have joined the Paris Accord right after he came into office, when the Democrats had majorities in both houses, and pursued other anti-greenhouse gas policies.. Instead, he’s been a huge supporter of fracking, which as Gaius Publius documented in many posts, is a big climate negative due to how much methane it releases.

      1. Prairie Bear

        Obama was also a big backer of “clean coal technology.” He did drop it later, after he got elected, but it helped promote the idea that coal could be a “green” energy source, which it can’t.

    3. TheScream

      I wrote several replies which I self-moderated in the interest of preserving the dignity and decorum of this site.
      If I understand you correctly, Trump’s successes will save the world but the liberal media hates him so they are preventing these successes from saving us.
      Soros and the Evil International Cabal love climate change because it will let them put their Evil Oligarchy for Destroying Freedom into place.
      Better dead than red, so let’s let the planet burn rather than save it while singing, God forbid, Kumbaya.
      Or have I overinterpreted?

      1. pretzelattack

        i don’t know what the poster meant by trump’s successes, but you seem to miss the part about the democrats being fakes on the issue of climate change.

        1. pretzelattack

          and mann seems to miss that, too. no, “having the political will” to elect more generic democrats is not going to fix the problem.

        2. TheScream

          Not at all, but to equate Democrat’s insincerity about climate change with a nefarious International Plot to Ruin White Christian Men’s Lives is a silly.

    4. Louis Fyne

      Democrats ain’t serious. GOP ain’t serious. Mainstream “environmentalist” NGOs ain’t serious.

      All 4 de-CO2 plans proposed by the IPCC ***increase*** nuclear fission use from 100% to 500%. see http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf page spm-19

      Find me anyone at in California, or Sierra Club or Greenpeace who’s on-board with that.

      Climate change is real and the biggest threat to humans—except it ain’t cuz people absolutely will not even listen to a science-based argument as to why nuclear fission is necessary.

      I’m being a realist. There is no magic thermodynamics fairy that’s going to rescue us—-and Elon is too busy smoking weed.

      If California really wanted to be CO-2 neutral, it needed to start building nuclear plants and filling the Channel Islands* with wind farms years ago.

      Just ranting.

      (the environmentally sensitive channel islands have some of Cali’s best wind energy potential)


      1. jefemt

        Fission has been ‘just around the corner’ — in the next decade— for decades. Nuke waste is one of many elephants in the room that gets no play- similar to Fukushima- like it never happened, that it has been resolved and addressed. And I know that’s fusion, but fusion is the bird in hand, and it has never been cost-effective, would never have come about with huge federal backstops–and never addressed the waste issue head on. NIMBY’s don’t want the waste. Reasonable- I call them YIIMBYs Yes, it IS my backyard

        PBS Newshour- the same folks who didn’t bring us Bernie’s pre-2016 Dim convention best-of-year barn-burner speech, and instead featured, like all the MSM, Trumps empty podium for 1.5 hours… had the climate story as their lead last night. You could have knocked me over with a feather…

        Waiting on gubmint or business is folly. They ain’t gonna make any changes. They might get in line and follow well after the rabble has taken the lead.
        This one really is up to each of us, personal action, thoughtful choices– every moment. That deeper thinking and ‘intentional’ acting may lead to despair— but better to act consciously , than decrying the looming disaster and not personally changing behavior or doing anything.

        For example, when one turns on a light-switch, is it magical, and do we give thanks at the marvel, or do we merely have an expectation that the light (heat, power-assisted transportation) had damned well better work?

        Anyone else beside me divest stock portfolio and wall street and put on solar panels? Keep a stockpile of decent chromoly bikes on hand for self and guests? Move closer to work? Cogently argue with employers/clients that telecommuting is a viable option?

        I am hardly virtuous, but my neck is sore from all the head-shaking I do resulting from ‘enlightened’ enviro types and their dissonant lifestyles. Our town has over 300 NGO/ enviro groups headquartered here— parking lots loaded with late model Subarus besplattered with enviro-message bumper stickers. Name me one thing environmentally positive about an internal-combustion auto…

        Argh. Back to my despair…

      2. Grumpy Engineer

        @Louis Fyne: Aye. Environmentalists lose a lot of credibility when they state that excess CO2 emissions will cause highly destructive global warming, but then they turn around and reject the only technical solution that we know can get us there.

        [To do it with 100% renewables? Hah. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University listed 541 TWh of energy storage as a requirement in his “plan” to get the US economy to 100% renewable energy, per page 64 of his US States WWS report. That’s 1.64 MWh per person. That’s 121 of Tesla’s 13.5 kWh Powerwall-2 modules purchased for $717,000. Again, per person. From a cost standpoint alone, this will never happen. And when you look at physical limits (like lithium and cobalt shortages and the question of “where the hell do I put my 121 Powerwalls?”), this whole concept irrevocably breaks down.]

        But there are environmentalists who call for nuclear, many of whom are listed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro-nuclear_movement. Notably, James Hansen is among them. I’ve always respected his intellectual consistency in describing a problem and then calling for a solution that will actually work.

        Unfortunately, the pro-nuclear environmentalists are outnumbered and have little voice. I suspect that we’ll continue to limp along the pro-renewables path until intermittency issues become too prevalent, at which point we’ll discover that we only have a 20% solution. And another couple of decades will have slid by.

        1. Pedantic Engineer

          @Grumpy Engineer
          I think your assumption that battery arrays are the only or best way to store energy in bulk are very poor and completely undermine your point. Elevating water, accomplishes the same thing as a powerwall at much lower cost. Just like no one considers backyard nuclear reactors, the economies of scale for grid storage en mass are quite different than personal energy storage.

          How much non potable water does $771,000 buy you?

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            @Pedantic Engineer:

            I ran my math with lithium-ion batteries because that’s what everybody’s using for new grid storage facilities right now. I happen to think it’s a stupid approach.

            Indeed, pumped storage (i.e., the elevated water you suggested) is a better idea. I’ve actually visited the Bath County pumped storage facility in western Virginia, which holds a whopping 22 GWh of energy. It was built in 1985 at a cost of $1.6 billion (or $3.7 billion in 2018 dollars).

            To reach Mark Jacobson’s requirement of 541 TWh, we’d need 24590 stations of that size. It would cost a “mere” $91 trillion, assuming that we could find 24590 sites that were as favorable as the original site at Bath County. Alas, there aren’t that many good sites available, and we’d never be able to build them anyway. The local opposition to the massive earth-moving exercises required at each station would be enormous.

            Do you know how many pumped storage stations we’ve built in the past 25 years? Two. The most recent was a relatively dinky (~0.3 GWh) facility at Lake Hodges, built in 2014. The one before that was a larger (~8 GWh) facility at Rocky Mountain, built in 1995. That’s it.

            To use pumped storage hydro as the backstop for a 100% renewable-powered energy system would require us to accelerate the rate of construction by several orders of magnitude. Can we do that? I’m skeptical. After all, initial paperwork for the Eagle Mountain pumped storage station in California was originally filed in 2005. Construction still hasn’t started. It’s been thirteen years.

            1. Pedantic Engineer

              I’m not sure why you’re leaning on one number picked out of page 64 of a 130 page paper… especially when the authors estimate the costs of storage in the same table that they estimate the capacity need.

              The number they come up with is $0.0005 per kwh in one scenario and $0.0070 per kwh in another.

              I don’t know how they got 541 TWh for 14 hours of power storage, but if you consider the authors credible for this estimate, then you should consider them credible for the cost estimates.

      3. Anon

        “If California really wanted to be CO-2 neutral, it needed to start building nuclear plants and filling the Channel Islands* with wind farms years ago.”

        Yes, just a rant. While the Channel Islands have wind power potential, they are also 30 miles out to sea. While onshore sits the Vandenberg Air Force Base with plenty of terra firma (acreage) and substantial wind power. Seems to me the military could use their obedient manpower to erect, maintain and protect wind/solar power facilities, as well as, launching secret satellites.

        The problem with nuclear power in California is earthquakes and water. Too much of the former and to little of the latter. (Unless you build them on the coast like Diablo Canyon and San Onofre where sea water is plentiful—but so are latent seismic faults.)

        Fukushima has the Cali natives on edge. After much debate (by experts) over the years, the cost of renewables (wind/solar) has made the Diablo Canyon plant too expensive to operate, and it will be decommissioned. The existing nuclear waste will likely remain on-site. (Nevada don’t want it.)

        The solution to reducing energy demand (instead of production) is multi-faceted: LED lighting at my local community college has reduced site lighting power consumption by two-thirds; the college has installed solar panels over parking areas that feed power to the grid and on-site EV charging stations; the local Community Environmental Council provides no-interest loans for homeowner PV systems (solar panels); California now allows battery storage to be included in PV conversion funding (which reduces the number of PV panels needed to be installed).

        I’m sure everyone in the Commentariat can think of a way to personally reduce their energy demand.

      4. Ruthmarie Hicks

        In most cases, I would agree with you about nuclear energy, but I think the earthquake potential in that region pretty much eliminates that as a viable option. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done elsewhere. You need to be in a (relatively) earthquake-free zone and because cooling is so important, nuclear power plants can’t be in areas prone to severe drought. That kind of takes much of the Pacific coast out of that equation. That doesn’t mean that it’s a non-starter. There are parts of the country where it is workable.

        Meanwhile, the technology for renewables has to be aggressively pushed and financed. One of the problems we run into is that the oil, coal, gas industries try to put the kybosh on the intensive research needed to bring renewables to a more viable place. New technologies are seldom profitable right out of the starting gate. But this is used as an excuse. Because don’t you know, ALL businesses must be profitable right out of the starting gate. It’s the basis of capitalism…

        The answer, if there is one, depends on a multi-pronged approach and the use of multiple technologies. I’m guessing that few will actually like what a viable solution actually looks like. Pretty damn sure it’s going to please no one.

        This is the type of

    5. John Wright

      As I have posted before, the policy makers around the world know what will quickly decrease emissions.

      That being a decrease in what is known as “economic activity”.

      see “Carbon dioxide emissions rebound quickly after global financial crisis”


      But NO politician wants to go on record for decreased economic activity.

      As an aside, I attended a local NPR hosted program, called Forum, yesterday about how Sonoma County in Northern California had responded to the wildfires of October 2017.

      The local officials want to rebuild all the burned down houses AND add even more to accommodate more people.

      If this liberal area does not understand that with 80% of the USA’s energy produced from coal, oil, and natural gas, probably about 80% of GDP arises as a consequence of burning fossil fuels.

      Adding ever more high consuming Americans to an area to increase the local economic activity is unlikely to improve the future for climate change.

      But that is the game plan throughout much of “Blue” California.

    6. Saylor

      I hate these stupid ‘right versus left’ snarks, but I would have to ask…, ‘so the Democrats don’t support a globally managed economy but the Republicans would? Better check with the neo right winger on that one.

    7. fajensen

      A.F.A.I.K., The successes of Donald Trump are:

      1) Somehow did not manage to start a new war, although this is compensated to a large degree by Yemen,
      2) Forced the EU grow up and realise that America only cares about Americans and only for the 0.1%,
      3) Made such a spectacle of everything that our leaders will not be willing to get sucked into another stupid American military adventure because there is simply no way for them to make it look not stupid to the electorate with Donald Trump pushing it.

  2. Brooklin Bridge

    If we don’t reduce global population and thus our over consumption of earth’s finite resources (including the resource of the world’s ice box), nature will do it for us.

    And that is not to say that we shouldn’t also implement massive reduction of carbon emissions to mitigate GW. But given human nature, it’s unlikely that will be enough in the long run.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The IPCC report is clear that urgent action is needed well before 2040. How do you propose to significantly reduce the worlds population before then?

      50% of emissions come from the 10% worse polluters (i.e. the wealthiest), 70% from 20%. Any ‘culling’ of humanity will be of the poor who, who are proporationately irrelevant in terms of emissions.

      There is no realistic way human population can be substantially reduced (bar genocide) before 2100, and even that would be an enormous undertaking, likely to require something close to compulsion on many people. Unfortunately, we are stuck with the population we have. Solutions must focus on total net emissions, the number of people making them are irrelevant.

      1. alan2102

        Actually, Brooklin Bridge is correct: we must dramatically reduce population. What he/she neglected to mention is WHERE (or among whom) the reduction must take place. The obvious answer, as you touch on in your post, is what are by far the most serious climate offenders: the wealthy in the developed world; specifically, the 10%ers, the six-column-income set and above. (SEE: Herve Kempf’s great little under-appreciated book: “How the Rich are Destroying the Earth”.) Perhaps a campaign to encourage volunteers from that group to submit to execution? I mean, as an urgent necessity to save the planet. That would be the voluntary way. The involuntary way…. er, we won’t go there.

        All tongue-in-cheekiness and morbid humor aside, you are precisely correct: “we are stuck with the population we have”. Spot on. It cannot be reduced, at least not in less than centuries. Population moves very very slowly and is subject to incredible (generations- and even centuries-long) momentum. Population growth has been steadily declining since the mid-1980s, due to collapsing fertility just about everywhere except Africa. We should do better in Africa, and I don’t mean only promoting birth control, though that is an important part of it.

        1. alan2102

          PS: “Any ‘culling’ of humanity will be of the poor.”

          Yes, that is the horrific reality that is being mostly-unintentionally promoted by Malthusian overpopulationists. They advocate “population reduction”, but never (I mean never EVER, and I’ve been reading them for decades) mention who should be reduced, and never (EVER) mention the huge disparities in consumption profiles between populations. They never mention reduction of population of those principally responsible for the crisis. And by not so mentioning, they leave it to the reader to fill in the details, and the details hence conjured always have to do with masses of black and brown people “over there”. The effect is to prepare masses of minds, when the acute food/etc. crises come, to passively accept genocide by neglect: “it could not be helped!” “too many people!” “just nature taking its course!” etc. etc. Those NOT responsible for the crisis will suffer and die in the tens or hundreds of millions, and Malthusian overpopulationists will have contributed to this outcome.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            I agree that population reduction is a long term goal, but am saying it must be addressed just as surely as carbon emissions and the consumption paradigm should have been addressed long ago.

            No, I’m not able to say how, but though convenient, I’m also not sure that taking blame for not providing solutions negates the problem I observed.

            1. alan2102

              Brooklin: I’ll buy population reduction as a very long-term goal, like over the next century or two. Or rather prevention of population increase, particularly Africa. This would not be hard to do, and is certainly salutary. As for a solution to the current crisis: it will have to involve drastic reduction of consumption, as I alluded to (but did not state) in my previous. Near-term population reduction is a total non-starter; near-term consumption reduction is very very difficult, but at least possible (in contrast to population reduction). Of course, no one wants to talk about consumption reduction. I wonder why.

            2. Scott1

              Wherever women are educated family planning reduces family sizes. Overall every problem mankind has ever faced or will face is moderated by the educated population. I can think of two world religions of great power that retard women’s rights.

              I try hard to think of a good war, for Machiavelli said “A struggle with the environment is not enough to make a nation.”

              The rich like Sir Richard Branson, or Elon Musk react to overpopulation by building rockets. Musk wants to save mankind by removing a segment of the population to Mars. Sir Branson has a moneymaker in thrill rides, and Bezos is building his space ships because he has a lot of money and yachts are passe`,.?

              NASA does research, and told us what the world looked like. In order you would populate the Moon and from there go to Mars because the radiation shields are made from water, and there is water on the moon.

              It doesn’t look like this UN is going to prevent apocalyptic riot. A nuclear exchange would cool the planet, so Trump looks for a nuclear war to have is my suspicion.

              In the absence of an alien invasion war to bring us together there are big rocks. We need to paint ugly faces on them.

              Closest thing to the kind of UN Television we have going is YouTube, and that is for all the instructional videos.
              TV is a great power amongst us.
              There is a lot of us.

              Overall I’d say that the US reach towards Unitary world power has not and will not work out, at least as far as a peaceful prosperous world that is overpopulated & throwing plastic and poisons into every body of water.

              However in my estimation we do need a second UN created along the lines that Andre` Lewin, French Ambassador & former spokesperson for Boutros Boutros Ghali wrote up and was published partially in March 15, 2003 NYTs.

              An army enforcing a ban on nuclear weapons is the best war for the warrior classes in fact as it would be covert and overt and never ending. That overcomes the fact of Political Science that says environmental difficulties do not bring people together for a system of governance like war does.

          2. John

            Don’t worry, in the chaos and randomness that is integral to Nature’s carbon reduction plan, there will be equal opportunity death everywhere. Overshoot effectively results in overkill. Even in NewZealand bunkers.

            1. alan2102

              “chaos…. randomness…. equal opportunity death…. overkill”

              The refreshing voice of nihilism, amidst all this disconcerting hopeful talk.

        2. Louis Fyne

          Naturally most first world countries would be at zero, near zero or negative growth but for immigration and higher fertility rates of migrants.

          But zero migration into the first world is an politically correct no-go.

          Continued >3 fertility rates in the developing world is a future big problem—-I say this as a person who wants the entire developing world to have the material wealth on par with someplace like Thailand right now.

          But having 7-8 billion people living at Thailand-levels with 1.5 billion living at EU-USA levels is going to break the planet—-barring massive science breakthroughs

          1. alan2102

            Louis: I don’t think massive science breakthroughs are necessary. Just eliminating the massive waste built-in to capitalism would accomplish most of what we need. Aggressive development of on-the-shelf technology would take care of the rest, or most of it. The solutions are almost all there, just waiting to be built out in the context of human needs rather than profits.

            The planet can easily support 7-8 billion people (or many more) living at Thailand-levels, but not 1.5 billion living at EU-USA 10%er levels. “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”, as Gandhi quipped.

            FWIW, >3 fertility rates prevail almost exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa. China is far below replacement, under 2. India I believe is at or near replacement, and falling.

      2. funemployed

        You’re right that demographics have a lot of inertia, and that going from population growth to decline would take decades even if birthrates dropped well below the replacement rate tomorrow. You’re also right that we need to focus on net emissions, but that doesn’t make addressing population growth irrelevant.

        Cost-benefit wise, providing the full gamut of birth control and reproductive health care to nearly every human on the planet (especially women) should still be a top priority. Not only does every human born, ceteris paribus, immediately increase the rate of human-caused planetary destruction for many decades to come, but also helps the chances of the children who will be born.

        Also, the US has been sabotaging efforts to bring free reproductive care to the poor for decades, and places like India and Africa and Southeast Asia are now in deep trouble as a result. Population reduction via birth control is humane, and desired by a great many poor women.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Population reduction via birth control is humane, and desired by a great many poor women.

          Giving women control over their reproductive organs is also the fastest way out of poverty…

      3. Brooklin Bridge

        It would be nice if one person could take the blame for a problem that must either be addressed or that not only will, but already is addressing us, particularly the poor.

        In my defense, I was hoping people might read the second sentence as well as the first.

        Nevertheless, perhaps you could tell us what is realistic about your solution (emissions and only emissions)? Technically yes, it’s possible, but realistically? In the time frame we are talking about? With the governments we have now, and the greed, and the understandable desires of emerging economies to imitate the worst of the advanced nations?

        I did not suggest any time frames. Just like the population issue now, the issue of emissions should have been dealt with long ago when we DID have time. The problem I’m raising is that humans -and their political will, and motives, and systems- change and often do so while creating their own sort of inertia that is not easily or quickly stoppable. Such is our current affair with consumption, imperialism, etc., incredibly complex and quite possibly impossible to change to the degree necessary in an increasingly limited time frame.

        Simply because carbon emissions reduction is a more attainable goal than population reduction, does not mean carbon reduction is the only thing which requires attention. If we are to live on this earth long term with the science, medicine, long life etc., we currently enjoy, population reduction should be considered now, with the same seriousness that we should have considered fossil fuel and the whole concept of consumption back in the early 1900’s.

        Less people, besides slower growth, equals less consumption equals more time. Humans need flexibility and time to deal with their issues and that is already an immensely difficult Gordian knot with the current population. Moreover, it’s not enough to simply say there is room for all of us now if only the most flagrant abusers would control their carbon emissions. Because if the past is any indication of the future, populations will continue to expand until that issue is part of the equation.

        1. pretzelattack

          i don’t think the argument is that we should focus only on emissions, but we need to focus primarily on emissions in the near term. we are like survivors of a shipwreck on a lifeboat. the boat is sinking. in the next 2 weeks, water and food will be pressing needs, but right now there is a hole in the lifeboat. we need to bail out the incoming water and fix the hole.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Agreed. Again, I didn’t specify a time frame, merely observed that it’s a big problem. It remains a big problem that will get bigger (just as carbon emissions did) regardless of the fact that we must first address carbon emissions reduction (as I thought I stated in the second sentence).

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              Actually, I take that back. I’m being defensive. We need to deal with population NOW, precisely because it is a long term issue, just as we should have dealt with consumption of resources (particularly but not exclusively carbon based resources) long ago and for the same reasons.

              1. pretzelattack

                we can do both, and need to do both. with respect to climate change, the only practical focus is on reducing emissions, both voluntarily on an individual level and by concerted government action.

                1. Brooklin Bridge

                  You make a valid point in that we have little alternative but to focus on carbon, but carbon emissions and over population do exacerbate each other and remain closely linked. Dense populations that are not presently producing vast quantities of carbon emissions, are somewhat justifiably wishing they could do just that and will put enormous pressure on their governments to do so as the means become available. Part of the problem is that carbon remains incredibly easy to exploit for energy with few and relatively primitive (and thus available) resources.

                  It is not clear that the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions will result in the kind of coordinated political or economic effort needed to succeed without addressing the issue on multiple levels.

                  One idea I think might be part of addressing carbon emissions AND over population, is bringing more resources -a better lifestyle- to underdeveloped countries, which eases pressure to over populate, and making developed countries share resources more equitably. This may seem pie in the sky, but then so is the hope that our current governments are going to suddenly get religion on climate change to the degree needed.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to be snappy in my post, but I get a little annoyed about this ‘population’ thing. Of course we must – for many, many reasons – do our best to reduce the worlds population. But pushing demographic trends beyond their ‘natural’ curves is extraordinarily difficult (as the Chinese have found out). Even if we had a worldwide one-child policy or even more extreme, we’d still have far too great a population by 2100 on current lifestyles and technology for the planet to withstand.

          The fact that its not the absolute number of people that matters, but the per capita contribution in certain countries can be seen clearly from any comparison table. Countries like Sweden and Switzerland emit 5 or less tonnes per person, while countries like the US and Canada emit three times as much per person. And of course the difference between the ‘developed’ world and Africa or poorer parts of Asia is enormous. It takes 150 Malians to emit as much CO2 as one American. This is a lifestyle and technology issue, and its far easier to change lifestyles and technology than it is to remove half the worlds population.

          There is still an enormous amount of low-hanging fruit that could very significantly reduce emissions in the 10-20 year time frame that is urgently needed. A rapid reduction in meat eating for example. Large scale housing upgrades in those countries which have terrible construction standards. A rapid roll out of renewable energy. None of these will solve the problem, but they can at least mitigate it.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            No problem, PK, I over-reacted anyway. But I do think a slow moving policy that encourages population reduction, indirectly such as by improving living conditions -which eases necessity of larger families- in susceptible regions, is important and necessary as part of a mental (if nothing else) environment in which a host of related but entangled issues can be addressed without resort or with less resort to an autocratic and draconian approach.

          2. Felix_47

            When those Malians move to Cologne, Berlin or Dusseldorf they consume just as much as the Western Europeans per capita and they have a ton more children. Should people that have a low consumption and low CO2 lifestyle be forced to stay where they are. They are leaving precisely because they want a high C02 lifestyle.

        3. alan2102

          “Simply because carbon emissions reduction is a more attainable goal than population reduction, does not mean carbon reduction is the only thing which requires attention.”

          I agree, and never said otherwise. My very first post featured the affirmation that birth control (etc.) for Africa should be a priority. However, that is a very simple and easy priority, relatively speaking. The much larger and more difficult priority is getting control of emissions, and that means addressing consumption by the rich.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            alan2012, my comment was in response (over response) to PlutoniumKun, not you. The comment nesting gets tricky.

            1. alan2102

              OK. Pardon. Cheers.

              However, I do have a question for you, Brooklin: what do you suggest? You rightly see great difficulties in controlling emissions. You rightly see existing political structures as resistant to change. And so on. I agree with all that. But what do you suggest? That is, to reduce population? HOW can we do this?

              The experience of China and India both are instructive. China in particular is far below replacement and has been for a long time:

              https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/china-now-has-the-lowest-fertility-rate-the-world-18570 — “China now has the lowest fertility rate in the world—1.05 according to China’s 2016 State Statistical Bureau data …. China has been in “below replacement fertility” ( under 2.1 births per woman ) since about 1990 and there is little hope of reversing this.” end quote.

              “Little hope” — haha! I take no responsibility for the pro-natalist orientation of the article. The point is the stats, which are glaring. China has been below replacement for going on 30 years, and is now FAR below replacement, and their population is STILL growing at about .5% per year. (That’s demographic momentum for you! A major bitch!)

              This raises the question to overpopulationists: HOW is your objective to be achieved? I mean achieved in some contemporarily meaningful time frame, like say a half-century. If China, a nation of 1.4 billion, can get its fertility down to such an astonishingly low level and is STILL growing, then what do you propose? HOW do we “reduce population”?

              I ask these questions rhetorically, since I cannot imagine a serious answer to them. The only answers are non-serious and monstrous: all-out nuclear war, abolish sanitation and public health infrastructure (the main cause of the plunging mortality of the last century), etc.

              That’s the thing about overpopulationism: even if it were true that population were the main driver of our problems (and it isn’t), there’s simply nothing that can be done. NOTHING. Drastically reduced fertility will work, but only slowly at time increments of half-centuries and centuries. Not nearly fast enough to cope with the crises of the next several decades.

              1. alan2102

                PS: YES, we should energetically support birth control. It will make for a better outcome in the year 2150. :-)

              2. Brooklin Bridge

                I can’t give you a serious or in depth answer to your rhetorical question(s) any more than you expect them, but perhaps not for the same reasons as you imply (that they are impossible to answer). Again as I said above, my failure there doesn’t mean it’s an unsolvable problem nor does it mean it will fail to become all the more urgent the more we put it off, and I suspect a lot more quickly than a century from now, regardless of whether or not I can provide an answer.

                I have to wonder if this conversation were taking place seventy years ago, only my topic that bothered people was one of carbon emissions rather than population explosion, if the arguments against solving what to many hardly seemed an issue then wouldn’t be remarkably similar at least in tenor to those against population reduction now.

                1. Anon

                  Well, the population topic was broached 50 years ago (1968) by Stanford University (CA) professor Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne in their Best Seller, “The Population Bomb”.

                  Unfortunately, the only bombs Americans were privy to were those over Hanoi, at that time.

                2. alan2102

                  Brooklin: “…. my failure there doesn’t mean it’s an unsolvable problem”

                  OK. So what’s the solution? Any ideas? I won’t hold you to them. Go ahead and offer some preliminary thoughts.

                  “nor does it mean it will fail to become all the more urgent the more we put it off”

                  Put off WHAT? I mean in practical terms. What is it that we should be doing, right now, that we are not doing? (Leaving aside sensible promotion of birth control in areas of still-high fertility, like Africa, which of course I support, and have said so repeatedly.)

      4. Mark

        You are correct in saying that only the total emissions and ressource consumption matter but this also implies that the lower the population the higher the potential emissions and resource intake per capita. A lower population can more easily rettain, or even attain in the first place, the current way of life seen in the first world. With our lifestyle based on finite non-renewable ressources and producing intensive emissions every child born neccessarily reduces the amount of ressources and net emissions available to everyone as long as every human being gets the same ressource and emission budget which seems a prerequisite for a just world. Since there is the possibility of total collapse because of our overuse of ressources and total emissions within the lifetime of presently born children the moral choice, every individual can make, is to not have any offspring.

        I would like to point out that the population growth during the last two centuries has been explosive, multiplying the population from about or below 1 billion to significantly above 7 billion which ought to put arguments that change needs a long time into perspective. Our population could heavily decline without any “culling” or anything of that sort if we manage to reduce birthrates. Wikipedia gives a figure of 56 million global deaths vs 130 million births, the exact figures are neither here nor there but it highlights the potential.

        In the rich countries the so called baby boomer generation is going to reach the end of its life soon, therefore from lets say 2025 (1950 + 75 years) to 2050 (1970 +80 years) there is a significant potential to reduce the population of the worst emission offenders without any negative actions if those deaths are not equaled by new births.

      5. SKM

        ++++++++++++++++++++ at last someone (PK) has pointed out that the problem is too many consumers not necessarily too many people. Most of the carbon ppm currently in the atmosphere was mostly put there by “western civilisation” i.e “us”, not the majority of the world`s population living at a subsistence or worse level.
        On another note, how do these climate so-called experts imagine we can somehow suddenly hold the average surface temp rise at 1.5 degrees. When and how is this magic supposed to happen??? Why are these experts not talking about the crucial factor of the delayed expression of the c480 ppm carbon equivalent currently up there, in terms of global surface temp rise (in other words, the temp rise AT EQUILIBRIUM corresponding to the current carbon load will be well over 3 degrees)? The IPCC reports make me despair, this is not science.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Animals, birds, insects, and particularly fish; most all them go extinct more readily in dense top predator human populations than in sparser ones regardless of carbon consumption, though the two issues do go hand in hand, meaning they exacerbate each other. Yet over population can exist independently and at certain levels will inevitably (if not already) have dire consequences for other life forms. And many scientists will point out that humans will have a difficult time without these networks of life. Human over population is a problem that will only get worse over time.but, just exactly like oil and coal, perhaps we must wait until that also is a dire emergency like carbon emissions are now before it is permissible to bring the topic up.

          If anything, carbon emissions and the way we humans have dealt with them over the last 50 + years should be all the proof necessary that we need to learn to address issues before they become emergencies and that urgency is not necessarily the only criteria for importance.

          1. alan2102

            Brooklin: “Human over population is a problem that will only get worse over time.”

            Actually, we don’t know that to be true. As I said up thread, fertility has collapsed almost everywhere except Africa. And Africa is a big wildcard. There could be effective birth control there, and economic development which fosters lower fertility, over the next half-century, which would change the picture drastically. There is no basis for saying that overpopulation can ONLY get worse over time. It could get a lot better. In fact, it likely will — but it will be long past the current crisis/bottleneck, and we might not even get there (if the worst existential crises materialize).

            1. Wukchumni

              155,000 check out every day, 340,000 check in every day.

              Well over a million new human beans week in and week out.

              1. alan2102


                1. Have you noticed that the rate of population increase peaked in 1986 and has declined every single year since then? With no end in sight? This is the result of global fertility collapse, which takes ~100 years or more to fully express itself in population numbers (demographic momentum). The fertility collapse could be intensified by assertive support of birth control in Africa; in that case, the rate of population growth would decline even more steeply, perhaps getting us to ZPG by say 2050. Which would of course be good.

                2. What’s the solution? What practical steps can we take that have not already been taken? That is, leaving aside sensible promotion of birth control in areas of still-high fertility, like Africa, which of course I support, and have said so repeatedly.

            2. Brooklin Bridge

              That’s quite a coin to flip. I can hear the Opps now; not quite doing justice to the result of such a sanguine postulate. But I grant that my statement could be incorrect and that is a good point.

          1. alan2102

            j84ustin: we are all eagerly awaiting your practical and humane suggestions for how to reduce the population of humans.

            1. Merf56

              Disease and climate change looks like it is already making some substantial inroads in world population . The climate report recently put out seems to indicate these will rise exponentially. Add our lovely little wars and you have a whole boatload of dead people. Seems we are actually doing a great job so far of killing off humans….. though clearly there are still far too many.

      6. fajensen

        The IPCC report is clear that urgent action is needed well before 2040. How do you propose to significantly reduce the worlds population before then?

        Liberate the women. Everywhere that women are free to run their own lives according to their own wishes and the state enforces women rights to do this, birth rates rapidly fall off to the replacement rates of 2.2 babies per women or so. Child mortality rates falls off too.

        Generally, the fewer guaranteed freedoms women have within a country, the lower the “Human Development Indicators” of that country will become, on all relevant statistics.

        Lots of interesting things here: http://www.hdr.undp.org/en

        Maybe what is needed is to cull the men? Starting off with the fundamentalist religious types and see how it goes! If that idea doesn’t work out, we at least didn’t waste any potential Nobel prices or key patents here.

    1. tegnost

      That looks pretty bad. The tweet replies to the nws warnings are a real eye opener, too…what ever anyone tells you, it’s not a good idea to chain yourself to the end of the pier with a case of beer…

  3. Chauncey Gardiner

    What do you do when your nation’s policies are driven soul-ly by money, the executive branch is riddled with appointees from fossil fuel interests, a majority of the legislative branch is paid to either ignore the problem or actively deny there is a problem, judicial appointees are vetted by those same interests, and corporate media is skewed to ignore the problem?

    However, it is noteworthy that some of the brighter lights among the donor class have broken ranks the past several years.


    There’s also the issue of fostering global cooperation and political will in a very short time window. It would be a constructive development to see Nikki Haley’s replacement as UN ambassador actively engage in such an effort.

  4. dutch

    I’m confused. I thought convection and weather in general resulted from the contrast (difference) in temperature and moisture content between air masses. If global warming causes all air temperature and moisture content to increase, there should be no increased contrast, but actually less contrast in air masses (since tropical air masses temperature and water vapor content are already maxed out). In short, there should be LESS weather in a warmer world, not more.

    In physics, only relative energy is real. Absolute energy does not exist.

    1. Isotope_C14

      If the earth was a cue ball, perhaps that would make sense, but mountains are the reason there are tornadoes in the US. The water drops out on the west aide so the bouyant dry air can flow over the mountains, resulting in cool dry air over moist humid air. Large geographic features affect weather significantly.

      The same is true for areas that get less sun at certain times of the year, those tend to ice over, for now, and affect weather patterns as well.

      Regardless of all temperature and moisture increasing, you will have areas still affecting climate based on the fact that we don’t live on a cue ball. Mountains, vast spaces of ocean, el nino/LA Nina, desert regions etc.

      it still gets colder with altitude as well, for now, until we conclude the Venus 2.0 project.

      1. dutch

        According to your argument there should be no change in climate if the mountains and regions of lower insolation don’t change. It doesnt matter if the earth is a cue ball or a golf ball its topology is essentially fixed.

        1. Isotope_C14


          Is the earth a sphere, rotating around a star, with daily differential heat inputs due to sunlight?

          Does this cause temperature gradients?

          They do offer earth science courses at your local community college. I strongly recommend enrolling in a couple of semesters of it. Planetary science is incredibly interesting.

            1. Isotope_C14

              Never once did I say that earth’s rotation causes climate change.

              You might want to re-read the terms of posting here on NC.

              I’m sure “Straw-man” arguments violate the TOS here.

              Please consider some continuing adult education courses on planetary/earth science. It’s incredible stuff. Wouldn’t hurt to read some Carl Sagan as well.

    2. False Solace

      Heat is energy. Adding energy to a system makes it more dynamic, not more stable. More dynamic means weather events become more extreme. Local changes are not predictable and will not be identical. Feel free to read any of the elementary resources available about weather systems.

      1. dutch

        Yes heat is energy. Adding heat to an air mass can change temperature, pressure or entropy. The movement of air masses (i.e. weather) requires differences between adjacent masses. Pumping more heat into all of them will not result in increased contrast and therefore not increase instability (weather).

        If local changes are not predictable, how can anyone predict more extreme weather?

        1. Anon

          Well, adding heat (increased ocean temps) to past hurricane Sandy and the current crop in the Atlantic sure is making a predictable mess. Current weather predictions are notably accurate over a broad area (your particular house may not get rain). Weather is not climate. But more global warming adds energy to the climate which creates the opportunity for extreme weather events (somewhere on the planet).

          1. dutch

            The question is how does global warming increase DIFFERENCES in temperature and moisture content between air masses. Raising all temps and humidity everywhere doesn’t create more contrast. It’s the difference in moisture content and temperature that causes weather, not their absolute values.

  5. John Wright

    I thought Mann’s closing statement was not at all encouraging:

    “So it’s a, it’s a tall order, but it’s doable. To those people who say, who throw up their hands in defeat and say there’s just nothing we can do, that is not true. We’ve risen to the challenge before. We did it in World War II. We did it with the space program here in the U.S. We can do it here, as well.”

    Both examples either represent extensions of existing technology (the space program) or a massive expenditure of energy to solve the World War II “problem”.

    How one can view these as providing hope for the massive “tragedy of the commons” of climate change is lost on me.

    1. jefemt

      ?? and we had 7 billion folks on earth with 2000’s carbon use back in 1200-1500’s?

      Seems to me the marvel that is oil has allowed the world to overshoot population carrying capacity over the past 6-7 generations. The stuff is in everything- we eat it

    2. Jeff

      If you’d read the study, you would observe that the study itself says no such thing. We all know the difference between ‘truth’ and a press release.
      Judith Curry is mostly known for denigrating climate science, not for her critical thinking (which she might have had long ago).

  6. Ignacio

    I wonder how much, any and everybody of us, does personally to address the problem. I believe that the leadership tends to mirror lack of action and preoccupation of the population in general. IPCC reports don’t reach beyond the already compromised people. Hurricanes, fires, heat waves, floods,… are more effective. Looks like we need a big one, something really damaging. Something catastrophic but not yet apocaliptic.

  7. David in Santa Cruz

    I missed the part where a single government on the planet is taking serious action to combat or reverse climate change.

    We can now round up to 7.7 Billion human beings on the planet, thanks to more people being born and more people living longer. The climate impact of this unprecedented population level is inevitable, as is their impact on the consumption of natural resources.

    The better question to be asking is whether we as a species can deal with climate change peacefully, or whether it will lead to violent conflicts over the control of dwindling resources and high ground. War and violence seem to be the natural way that human populations self-regulate. It would be nice if we could avoid this for once.

  8. french75

    Prevention of climate change is a coordination game that requires every advanced economy to simultaneously switch to (currently) less efficient technologies and methods.

    This will not happen. The risk of losing “competitiveness” should any other country refuse to coordinate is too high.

    Humans are notoriously bad at coordination games.

    I would like to see an increase in focus on post-warming logistics and technologies (integrated farming; viable farmlands). We should take 4 degrees as a given and plan accordingly.

    1. Jeff

      4 degrees is what we’ll see by 2050, and 6 to 7° by end of century. 4 degrees does not allow standard farming techniques anymore, so the population reduction will come all by itself.

    2. fajensen

      This will not happen. The risk of losing “competitiveness” should any other country refuse to coordinate is too high.

      If one can produce a similar economical output and higher living standards while using less energy and resources than the competition, one will become more competitive. Especially one will be more competitive than countries that need to blow 4 Trillion US per year to keep the oil flowing as usual, rather than spending perhaps 1 Trillion of that huge “maintenance budget” on just using less of the stuff.

      Humans are notoriously bad at coordination games.

      Humans observed ‘in the wild’ are generally fine. The problem is that some cultures / ideologies de-humanise their populations into a mindset of never ending zero-sum competition games and sometimes even fighting over empty trophies like “zero-hour contracts, age, gender, race, religion and identity”.

      Once this conversion process is complete, the afflicted persons just don’t “get it” anymore and they believe everyone are out to “get them” so the must “get the others” first and that if others fail (or are pushed) they can be higher by standing on the bodies. The people who made them like this enjoys the spectacle, like they did in Rome back in the day.

  9. Paul Whittaker

    I have replied before but found them deleted quickly. Would appreciate knowing what the rules are.
    Breeder reactors have been tried for decades in the USA, Franc, UK Japan etc and terminated after billions of wasted dollars since not being able to make them work. The waste fuel from Ontario’s biggest stations is perched next to billions of real estate, millions of people and the largest supply of fresh water in the great lakes, which flows into the St Lawrence river supplying millions more. Add the US side and ask what happens if some of the oldest nuclear plants with a chronic under performance has a accident. We have had two in Ontario, The UK where I came from had the Whinscale disaster several years before I left, but I never heard about it until years later, and after the town had been re-named Sellafield. meanwhile Ontario has been offered water generated (we cal electricity water here) power from Quebec at about 1/2 the rate nuclear costs, and turned them down instead spending more billions on a decrepit rebuild of Pickering and Darlington. Those are our leaders, I can do nothing to stop this “Dam the torpedoes” direction.

  10. Unna

    Sailing ships for shipping dry goods? Why not? I read about this a few years ago. Here’s a website I just dug up right now, so no warranties on it. Wondering if anyone here knows anything more about this?


    Sail boat shipping, natural cooling methods in the Southwest, localized ag. Eat meat but like they did 100 years ago, just one or two times a week in modest amounts Things like this. Also, ban private jets for one thing, and so on. Many acts would require government action.

    A friend of mine, who’s actually environmentally aware, awhile back bought a jeep with the explanation of ‘who cares how much gas it burns because if he doesn’t burn it somebody else will because all the oil is going to be drilled and burned anyway.’ It seems that political leaders like Trudeau would agree with him….

    1. Wukchumni

      Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, is the ultimate tale of sailing commerce, the ship he’s on sails from Boston to California in the early 1830’s, full of consumer goods to sell to Californios, and same ship is loaded to the gills with 60,000 cowhides on the return voyage.

  11. T. W. McCall

    It is indeed discouraging, but giving up hope entirely is too easy, and no doubt plays into the manicured hands of our ghoulish elites.
    However, both parties show absolutely no seriousness, and we simply cannot vote our way out of this. That is not to say we should not continue to seek political solutions.
    But, how we live is most powerful. My wife and I live in a cooperative RV park, we travel short distances in the summer to volunteer in higher and cooler domains, and we travel very little. We drive so minimally that our tires rot well before they wear out and we eat low on the food chain, locally produced whenever possible. Used clothes, used books, bicycling, solar panels, et cetera.
    Sounds boring, eh? Actually, it’s a wonderful life, full of conversation, walks, time to read and contemplate, and very free of stress.
    Yes, we’re retired, and fortunate to have Medicare, and I hasten to assure that I am not insensitive to the plight of younger people who have work and family demands, or the lamentably impoverished all around. My point is only that the quality of a low key, low consumption life can be very high, much more than one utterly tied to the consumer lifestyle.
    Finally, if we could somehow organize national days of no buying, sort of an economic strike, we could hit the PTB where it truly hurts. At age 69, I’m still a dreamer.

  12. Synoia

    There is no realistic way human population can be substantially reduced (bar genocide)

    I beg to differ. Starvation will do the job. The crunch comes from rising sea levels where human dwelling loss from rising seas, and storms will be exacerbated by sewage plant loss.

    There are about 180 to 200 coastal sewage plants serving about 200 million people. The plants will fail from flooding in a exponentially increasing number up to the limit of the number of plants that exist.

    At the beginning of the destruction of the plants, plants will be repaired, but the value of the real estate will drop precipitously, the mortgages will collapse because of the lost value of the land. Later as the rate of plant destruction increases, the plant service area will be abandoned, generating many destitute, starving refugees moving inland.

  13. fries

    Survey after survey shows that “climate change” is at or near dead last in the list of things that people of the world worry about. People are more worried about unemployment, poverty, corruption, healthcare, violent crime, drug abuse……..than climate change. I suspect it has something to do with the repeated over the top predictions of calamity simply not coming true. And here (MM) is another one.

    Two things you can do: Don’t move to Florida and buy yourself a bigger fan.

  14. gepay

    MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, so 1.5 degrees Celsius warming over the time scale of a century is unprecedented. As far back as we can go, we have not seen rates of warming that large. And in fact, the level of warmth that we’ve now reached is unprecedented in tens of thousands of years. So even what might seem like a modest amount of warming can be profound from the impacts that that warming can have.
    But here is Columbia saying: “The most spectacular aspect of the Younger DRYAS (YD) is that it ended extremely abruptly (around 11,600 years ago), and although the date cannot be known exactly, it is estimated from the annually-banded Greenland ice-core that the annual-mean temperature increased by as much as 10°C in 10 years.” http://ocp.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/arch/examples.shtml
    Definintely not a scientist I would hire.
    So what are you to believe from this man who made a graph that didn’t show the Medieval Warming Period or the Little ICE in his hockey stick graph and apparently doesn’t have a clue as to what temperature changes happened at the end of the Younger Dryas?

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