IPCC Climate Report: Profound Changes Are Underway in Earth’s Oceans and Ice – A Lead Author Explains What the Warnings Mean

Yves here. This post is a measured, high-level recap of the latest IPCC Report in the form of an interview with one of its lead authors. We thought this would serve as a pretext for reader discussion and links to commentary you liked.

While it’s good to see that the IPCC reports sets forth where we are and where we are going in suitably stark terms, the general public and the press seem inured to the message.

By Robert Kopp, Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, and Director, Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Rutgers University. Originally published at The Conversation

Humans are unequivocally warming the planet, and that’s triggering rapid changes in the atmosphere, oceans and polar regions, and increasing extreme weather around the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns in a new report.

The IPCC released the first part of its much anticipated Sixth Assessment Report on Aug. 9, 2021. In it, 234 scientists from around the globe summarized the current climate research on how the Earth is changing as temperatures rise and what those changes will mean for the future.

We asked climate scientist Robert Kopp, a lead author of the chapter on Earth’s oceans, ice and sea level rise, about the profound changes underway.

What are the IPCC report’s most important overall messages in your view?

At the most basic level, the facts about climate change have been clear for a long time, with the evidence just continuing to grow.

As a result of human activities, the planet is changing at a rate unprecedented for at least thousands of years. These changes are affecting every area of the planet.

Humans produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through fossil fuel burning, agriculture, deforestation and decomposing waste. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

While some of the changes will be irreversible for millennia, some can be slowed and others reversed through strong, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

But time is running out to meet the ambitious goal laid out in the 2015 international Paris Agreement to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels (2 C equals 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Doing so requires getting global carbon dioxide emissions on a downward course that reaches net zero around or before 2050.

What are scientists most concerned about right now when it comes to the oceans and polar regions?

Global sea level has been rising at an accelerating rate since about 1970, and over the last century, it has risen more than in any century in at least 3,000 years.

In the years since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2013 and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate in 2018, the evidence for accelerating ice sheet loss has become clearer.

Over the last decade, global average sea level has risen at a rate of about 4 millimeters per year (1.5 inches per decade). This increase is due to two main factors: the melting of ice in mountain glaciers and at the poles, and the expansion of water in the ocean as it takes up heat.

Ice sheets in particular are primarily responsible for the increase in the rate of sea level rise since the 1990s. There is clear evidence tying the melting of glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet, as well as ocean warming, to human influence. Sea level rise is leading to substantial impacts on coastal communities, including a near-doubling in the frequency of coastal flooding since the 1960s in many sites around the world.

Since the previous reports, scientists have made substantial advances in modeling the behavior of ice sheets. At the same time, we’ve been learning more about ice sheet physics, including recognizing the potential ways ice sheets can become destabilized. We don’t well understand the potential speed of these changes, but they have the potential to lead to much more rapid ice sheet loss if greenhouse gas emissions grow unchecked.

These advances confirm that sea level is going to continue to rise for many centuries to come, creating an escalating threat for coastal communities.

Sea level change through 2050 is largely locked in: Regardless of how quickly nations are able to lower emissions, the world is likely looking at about 15 to 30 centimeters (6 to 12 inches) of global average sea level rise through the middle of the century.

But beyond 2050, sea level projections become increasingly sensitive to the world’s emissions choices. If countries continue on their current paths, with greenhouse gas emissions likely to bring 3-4 C of warming (5.4-7.2 F) by 2100, the planet will be looking at a most likely sea level rise of about 0.7 meters (a bit over 2 feet). A 2 C (3.6 F) warmer world, consistent with the Paris Agreement, would see lower sea level rise, most likely about half a meter (about 1.6 feet) by 2100.

The IPCC’s projections for global average sea level rise in meters with higher-impact pathways and the level of greenhouse gas emissions. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

What’s more, the more the world limits its greenhouse gas emissions, the lower the chance of triggering instabilities in the polar ice sheets that are challenging to model but could substantially increase sea level rise.

Under the most extreme emissions scenario we considered, we could not rule out rapid ice sheet loss leading to sea level rise approaching 2 meters (7 feet) by the end of this century.

Fortunately, if the world limits warming to well below 2 C, it should take many centuries for sea level rise to exceed 2 meters – a far more manageable situation.

Are the oceans or ice nearing any tipping points?

“Tipping point” is a vague term used in many different ways by different people. The IPCC defines tipping points as “critical thresholds beyond which a system reorganizes, in a way that is very fast or irreversible” – for example, a temperature rise beyond which climate dynamics commit an ice sheet to massive loss.

Because the term is so vague, the IPCC generally focuses on characteristics of changes in a system – for example, whether a system might change abruptly or irreversibly – rather than whether it fits the strict dynamic definition of a “tipping point.”

One example of a system that might undergo abrupt changes is the large-scale pattern of ocean circulation known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, of which the Gulf Stream is part. Paleoclimate evidence tells us that AMOC has changed rapidly in the past, and we expect that AMOC will weaken over this century. If AMOC were to collapse, it would make Europe warm more slowly, increase sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast, and shift storm tracks and monsoons. However, most evidence indicates that such a collapse will not happen in this century.

The Gulf Stream is part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. A slowdown would affect temperature in Europe and sea level rise along the U.S. East coast. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

There is mixed evidence for abrupt changes in the polar ice sheets, but clear evidence that changes in the ice sheets can be locked in for centuries and millennia.

If the world succeeds in limiting warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F), we expect to see about 2-3 meters (7-10 feet) of sea level rise over the next 2,000 years; if the planet continues to warm and reaches a 5 C (9 F) increase, we expect to see about 20 meters (70 feet) over the next 2,000 years.

Some people also discuss summer Arctic sea ice – which has undergone substantial declines over the last 40 years and is now smaller than at any time in the past millennium – as a system with a “tipping point.” However, the science is pretty clear that there is no critical threshold in this system. Rather, summer Arctic sea ice area decreases roughly in proportion to the increase in global temperature, and if temperature were stabilized, we would expect sea ice area to stabilize also.

What do scientists know now about hurricanes that they didn’t realize when the last report was written?

Since the last IPCC assessment report in 2013, there has been increasing evidence that hurricanes have grown more intense, and intensified more rapidly, than they did 40 years ago. There’s also evidence that hurricanes in the U.S. are moving more slowly, leading to increased rainfall.

However, it’s not clear that this is due to the effects of greenhouse gases – reductions in particulate pollution have also had important effects.

The clearest effect of global warming is that a warmer atmosphere holds more water, leading to more extreme rainfall, like that seen during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Looking forward, we expect to see hurricane winds and hurricane rains continue to increase. It’s still unclear how the overall number of hurricanes will change.

The report involved 234 scientists, and then 195 governments had to agree on the summary for policymakers. Does that broad range of views affect the outcome?

When you’re writing a report like this, a key goal for the scientists is to accurately capture points of both scientific agreement and scientific disagreement.

For example, with respect to ice sheet changes, there are certain processes on which there is broad agreement and other processes where the science is still emerging and there are strong, discordant views. Yet knowing about these processes may be crucially important for decision-makers trying to manage risk.

That’s why, for example, we talk not only about most likely outcomes, but also about outcomes where the likelihood is low or as-yet unknown, but the potential impacts are large.

The IPCC uses a transparent process to produce its report – the authors have had to respond to over 50,000 review comments over the three years we’ve spent writing it. The governments also weigh in, having to approve every line of a concise Summary for Policy Makers that accurately reflects the underlying assessment – oftentimes making it clearer in the process.

I’m very pleased that, as with past reports, every participating government has signed off on a summary that accurately reports the current state of climate science.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Acacia

    Isn’t the US military the single organization that consumes the most fossil fuel, and is ergo the largest producer of greenhouse gases? What would stop and reverse this?

    Total collapse of the American Empire?

    1. Hazel Down

      Replace ‘human activity’ with ‘Imperialism’ or ‘capitalism’ in the discussion maybe?

  2. Tom Pfotzer

    For me, this report demonstrates why the public isn’t engaged in climate change:

    a. It doesn’t connect climate change to disasters that are currently happening. No remarks about floods in Europe, widespread fires in Greece and Turkey, and the U.S. west coast*

    b. It doesn’t connect climate change to apparent shifts in jet stream position, which have been progressively drying out the U.S. western mountain and high plateau states

    We know that humans have short-term / immediate focus. We’re not good at long-term; it’s a weakness of ours. “one degree in a century” and “6-12 inches of sea level rise by 2050” isn’t anywhere near dramatic and immediate enough to compel human action.

    This is the core dilemma: by the time we get hit by a hefty-enough 2×4 to compel change, the momentum of the system makes it too late to change.

    I understand the scientists’ need to be measured, and to speak with one voice. That’s important, and they absolutely must preserve their credibility.

    But there is something big missing: we’re not adequately dealing with the human weakness for slow-moving threats. We don’t “see” them, so we don’t react to them appropriately.

    * It does connect rising temps to increased hurricane rainfall, e.g. Hurricane Harvey which nearly ruined Houston

    Another impression: I didn’t see any mention of permafrost methane emissions in the summary, and I wondered why that was. Seems like that introduces a non-linear change rate, and certainly would qualify as a “tipping point”.

    1. Aumua

      I think there are plenty of alarms being raised elsewhere such as in the news media, and connections being made to climate change for these extreme events. In contrast, I rather appreciate the measured tone of this summary, but that may also be because I am a student of atmospheric science. Regardless, high levels of alarm don’t seem to have that much more effect on human behavior than measured tones when it comes to this, so I don’t really know what it’s going to take for us to pull our collective head out of our butt, or if it is even possible.

      1. Tom Pfotzer


        I agree with all your points: shrill or calm, it’s not making it thru the force-field of psychological inertia.

        And I agree that I certainly don’t know “what it’s going to take to …”.

        My point is “that’s where the blockage is”. It’s time to add more effort to that point of the system.

        This subject came up the other day here @ NC re: blowing stuff up in order to attract attention. We all decried that method; after all, we’re very civilized.


        So if we can’t blow stuff up, and we can’t do scientific talk, let’s put some brainpower on some new tactics. Our problem is that we’re _not communicating effectively_.

        We’re not “gittin’ people where they live”. Abstract thinkers like NC readers are all on-board. This is all very obvious to us.

        But most people aren’t as good at abstract thinking. They need graphic, concrete, here-and-now impact on the food-on-the-table subjects.

        Anybody agree with this thesis, and if so, got suggestions about how better to communicate?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Give up on reaching the unreachable.

          Give up on teaching the unteachable.

          Shift communication to the task of communicating survival information to those people who think survival may be in question, and who think that the right approaches might enhance the survival chances of those who realize that survival-chances need concerted action-taken enhancement.

          Identify those areas with a hope of geographic survival and begin concentrating all communication and information spreading and pooling and applying efforts on those places.

          And for people who can’t get to those places but who want survival information and assistance, figure out how to get it to them where they are and encourage them to turn themselves and like-minded people/micro-areas into climate survival doomsteads.

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            I agree that we must concentrate on the motivated-capables first. They are the vanguard, and trails must be blazed. The laggards are not coming along till the way is cleared and trail marked.

            But there isn’t anywhere near enough vanguards, and the scale of the problem exceeds what vanguards can do.

            Remember that the Overlords make their stock in trade scaring the herd into delivering up its money and kids.

            You mentioned “revenge” as a motivation the other day, as I recall. I hope I’m not being to subtle, but the art of communication is grounded upon a great understanding of human nature.

            What we need is some effective communication.

          2. Tom Pfotzer


            Let me affirm, with near-religious zeal, the veracity and wisdom of your instructions above. I am hot on the trail of these actions, have been for years.

            One modifier, tho: one can’t teach what one can’t do. I’m doing the doing first, then get into the outreach. One part of the doing is to build the outreach and collaboration tools.

            A lot of team-work needs to happen that isn’t currently … obvious.

            This is a very interesting conv. but I’m already afield of the topic of this thread. Feel free to drop me a line – I’m easy to find.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Yes, that is very much so. Anyone who is going to speak on global dewarming matters will have to show they are doing what personal energy-conservation living they can in the teeth of an anti-conservation civilization carefully engineered to frustrate and prevent every effort even at personal energy conservation.

              Because those who have shown and are showing that they can “do” will be given a respectful hearing by others, even if they are in the end rejected. At least they will have gained a respectful hearing first, based upon their own visible lower-than-average personal contribution to carbon skyflooding, nitrogen oxide skyflooding, etc.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              @Tom Pfotzer,

              I am surprised and honored by your invitation to get in touch. My feeling that there may be less to my analog meatspace self than meets the eye in a comment section leads me to wait a bit and think about that. If I feel I have the sustained and sustainable energy and discipline to be able to do that, I will go ahead and get in touch.

              In the meantime, I will keep reading comments and offering comments if/when I think they can be helpful in this sort of setting. I hope that will be better than nothing on my part unless/until I do that actual getting in touch.

              This thread in general is revealing a spirit on the part of many to try finding actual things to do which can force some kind of actual improvement in the meatspace reality-sphere we all live in when the computers are off.

              One thing we could think about is how to bring actionable information or sources of actionable information or links to actionable information here to these threads in such a way that readers can find it easily and predictably if/when they wish to circle back and study it for possible application in meatspace. If such information were to be easily findable enough that people here might even try leading other people here to find it, that might increase visitorship and readership ( at least for such threads) and a part of that rising visitor/readership might also be looking for actionable information to take from the blogosphere back to meatspace for reality-application.

              Perhaps that is something to begin working on in a very slow and careful and blog non-disruptive way.

              Ian Welsh has begun an experiment in that vein with his Hard Times Survival Thread which he re-hoists to the top of the screen every Saturday. So far, the commenters over there have treated the opportunity with respect, have kept their comments mostly relevant, and have kept fights and arguments off that thread in particular. Here is a link to that thread so people here can decide whether it has anything to offer by way of possible inspiration for the readership doing a careful version of it here with findable archive threads which already exist.


              1. Nick

                There are a lot of efforts underway around the world to start taking real action to tackle the crisis. COVID shows us that if we collectively stop doing stuff, emissions go down dramatically. So that’s a great place to start. How can we positively encourage people to take a fresh look at their lifestyle and make conscious moves to reduce their consumption. If millions do it, stuff happens. There are also forums where action is discussed and effected. Reddit for example has /r/climateoffensive as a gathering point. It’s dire at the moment, but not completely hopeless!

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  One could try appealing to laziness and see if that works on some people. Suggest that you can either have more things or more time, and which would you prefer? Some people would prefer more time and those people might be ready for constructive reality-based actionable advice on how to live well-enough materially on less things.
                  Less things needed might equal less things needed-to-be-worked-for.

                  Variations on that approach might be tried.

              2. Tom Pfotzer


                Glad you were pleased by the invite.

                Like you, I’m sensing that the level of concern has notched up a bit, and might accelerate from here. People are trying to make the transit from “concern” to “re-positioning”.

                You note that there’s plenty of diffusion and info dispersion, and I have seen that as a major impediment for everyone for years.

                You’ve also noted that there are some people who embody that happy intersect between motivation and capacity, and that’s where the action is. Again, I agree.

                These three points are easy to recap/express, but not easy to notice until you’ve done some work in this space, and that perspective really changes what one might be tempted to do.

                It’s useful wisdom.

                Seems to me that the question turns to “what tools are necessary to support the transit from concern to actual prep/competency, and how can you attract a quorum of the motivated-capables necessary .. a critical mass necessary to deliver the sustained, skilled effort to actually do stuff.

                I haven’t seen anyone really zero in on this that has the full gamut of skills and experience necessary to tackle it.

                I think you have some of the parts – nobody has all of them – and you seem to recognize the need to marshal resources (knowledge, experience) in somehow that’s way better than the current state-of-the-internet.

                I think G. Engineer has similar perspectives, too, and I’d like to hear more from him about how this “plan” of his – e.g. how to redesign the economy – would get drafted and vetted, and then something else’d, like maybe “adopted and used”.

                That’s a similar focus, similar type of problem (concentration of forces, right motivation and skill level), but a somewhat different scope (it’s more macro, and I’m grooving on micro / household level)

                And saying all this stuff in NC’s forum, great fun that it is, may well be taxing the gracious host’s patience a bit, and that’s why I thought it might be worthwhile to open up a side-channel conv.

                G. Engineer, if somehow you see this, I’d like to discuss this with you, also. Feel free to find me and get in touch.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  Thank you for this comment. An interesting approach and worth pursuing by those with the skill and ability and energy. Especially in matching/countermatching groups.

                  I think writing about some of this on these threads where people can read it, is valuable to at least some of those people. If it is taxing our hosts, hopefully they can tell us in time and tell us how to lower the taxingness level.

                  If we try to be polite and constructive about it, and find certain places to bring and trade our information, and not crowd any other threads except the few specially chosen ones with it, our hosts may feel not-taxed. And if our doing that ends up attracting enough new readers that our hosts see it reflected in reader-counts, they might even be pleased. But that is for them to say. And restrain us if it isn’t working out.

                  1. Tom Pfotzer


                    I keep expecting the Yves-swatter to whack me for violating NC decorum stds, so I’m glad you’re raising this issue objectively.

                    Yves has been very patient with me. It’s a privilege to have access to NC.

                    Your approach is a good place to start. Let’s see where it goes.

                    NC is general-purpose facility, tho, and not designed to support highly-focused, continuous drill-down and implementation work.

                    And that’s where I see the problem-frontier to (shortly) be.

                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Well, we have to work within the general-purpose design as it is. There can be creative focused ways to do that while anticipatorily pre-respecting what the overuse limits could be and staying well within and/or beneath those limits.

        2. Aumua

          You’re not just fighting inertia. You’re fighting willful misdirection and media control, consumerism, entrenched corporate power, indeed the Capitalist system itself which will of course continue to try and use this crisis to prop itself up a little longer. We need an international eco-Socialist movement and revolution to break the spell that we’re all under. Or something like that, but I don’t have many answers as to how that begins or plays out.

          My primary doctor was asking me recently what can we do about climate change, when I told him I was in meteorology. I pretty much had to tell him not to ask me that right now, because I was feeling pretty cynical about it. (but also because he might not like the severity of the solutions I’m considering lately).

          1. Julie Berry

            Where are the eco-socialist groups at? I know of a new one out of Canada. Green Left Canada. They are sounding very good. Why can’t there be an international eco socialist movement? Surely there are many national eco socialist movements.

            1. Aumua

              It’s an excellent question, and one that I should probably have some answer to if I’m going to promote the idea. I’ll have to get back to you on that, though.

            2. PlutoniumKun

              European Parliamentary groupings are a good way to measure the current alliances of small parties in the EU. There used to be an explicitly left and green group, known as the Nordic Green/Left, but it seems to have changed into a more conventional communist/left group now. In general, Green parties in Europe are too rigidly divided by pragmatists and left wingers to form any sort of coherent alliance with the left. Immigration is often the topic that proves a deal breaker in more ways than one.

          2. Tom Pfotzer

            Of course we’re fighting entrenched, well-designed resistance, and that resistance is based on all the things you mentioned, core of which is profound selfishness.

            That selfishness isn’t confined to the Overlord Elites and Godly Ones. It’s rampant in the beating heart of nearly all Americans, just to pick on us for a change.


            Tell your primary doctor to charge less, and require the patient to redirect the savings (original bill, revised bill delta) toward the local farmers’ market.

            Nice, easy, pleasant, fair, and suitably challenging thing for someone with a doctor’s earnings potential to accomplish.

            See if the doc does it, and then report back to let us know if selfishness is rampant among the plebes.

            1. Aumua

              Well this Dr. charges what the hospital administration tells him to charge, I’m sure. He also informed me that he is supposed to keep his consultation visits to 15 minutes per patient! So you see the hour is very late indeed.

              That said I am all for building dual power structures at whatever levels we can, alongside the accelerating collapse of the old. That includes the household and local levels of course.

            2. George

              Well, the frustrations I’m hearing here must be tenfold in the scientific community. IPCC reports traditionally underestimate. Let’s face it, it’s a guess about an unknown, and by the time they are published somewhere the data may already have been breached. Having said that, and the emphasis Professor Kopp puts toward disappearing ice sheets, we need all of this help/input to prosper adaptation towards a rapidly changing climate. The big underline to me is how fast this is happening compared to their models. You begin to see the obsolete data and that to me is a blinking red display that’s only the beginning if we don’t stop burning coal and gasoline like yesterday.

              Want more to frustrate? There is a certain thought taking hold because of
              all this gas sequestered in the atmosphere already, if we did clean it all up the resultant cleaner skies would accelerate a warming climate. Remember, there is so much damage done already because we have ignored almost all past scientific reports that when we do get around to it, Earth’s temperature is still going to increase. Said another way, if we rid the atmosphere of manmade pollution the dimming effect it once had will be gone, allowing more heat to penetrate the planet. I think that might be the reason ice sheets melting are of such concern. Their abilities to reflect sunlight is viable to an inhabitable planet.

              1. Tom Pfotzer

                I happen to agree with your assertion that things are happening faster than the scientists are willing to state.

                They have to maintain credibility and avoid panic. Panic is bad.


                I’m not waiting around for final confirmation. I have seen enough tea leaves to convince me that I need to act, and I have to plan for the most unfortunate of circumstances.

                But then, I am a conservative. You read it right. I believe in conserving the biosphere upon which I depend for my survival.

                I’m not waiting around for top-down authorization which may never come.

                1. George

                  Tom, your hands on approach is commendable. You must have been born standing up and talking back. The speed at which this is becoming apparent is going to take many by surprise. What I am having a problem with is how to prepare for unbreathable air and the cognitive disabilities it creates. Bad air will only circulate and we already have plenty of deaths/dumbing down because of it. Going Venus is a tough one to navigate.

            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              If we can align selfishness with eco-survival, then we can work through selfishness and make selfishness work for us.

              I would rather try doing that than spending my limited lifespan trying to engineer something as basic as selfishness out of the humanimal being.

      2. Larry Gilman

        ” high levels of alarm don’t seem to have that much more effect on human behavior than measured tones when it comes to this”

        Yet most people have not yet been highly alarmed: as of 2020 only 26% of Americans report feeling “very worried” about climate change (the rest are merely “concerned” or at some other, even lower temperature), and even that is a recently-achieved high. Only 42% think that climate change will harm them. Mainstream media’s history of climate coverage has been more characterized by false balance (though less in recent years) than by any serious attempt to get the public to perceive an “emergency,” which there is. We have been lulled far more effectively than we have been alarmed.

        The Michael Mann thesis of climate communication, held by many, is that scaring people is bad because it only paralyzes them. If so, one wonders why we build fire alarms to emit loud, scary noises instead of Muzak. I think it’s clear that the people who are most active in trying to change the climate picture, including many climatologists, are among the most afraid, not the least afraid. Fear may drive nihilism and withdrawal, but it also drives activism.

        In any case, the appropriate degree of alarm or fear should be that determined by our best knowledge of risk and urgency, not by the dubious psychology of spin strategizing. By the knowledge standard, a high level of alarm is merited. This should be communicated to people. Some will take refuge in nihilism; many will not.

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      @Tom Pfotzer: You said, “But there is something big missing: we’re not adequately dealing with the human weakness for slow-moving threats. We don’t “see” them, so we don’t react to them appropriately.“.

      I think the big thing missing is this answer to this question: What do we do about it?

      I see a lot of effort expended at getting people to be concerned (and a lot of people already are), and a lot of effort expended at demanding that citizens and politicians “take action”. But what actions should be taken? Any by this I mean real actions that directly address the equipment we use today that emits CO2. Getting people’s beliefs to change doesn’t alter the behavior of the equipment. Passing legislation that sets CO2 reduction targets doesn’t alter the behavior of the equipment. Until the equipment is actually replaced (or decommissioned entirely), all we’ve done is consume emotion and create paperwork.

      And a lot of people think the technical answers are obvious, but they’re not. I’ve seen a spectrum of ideas discussed here, and they run a wide spectrum. We should replace all cars with electric vehicles. No, we should get rid of cars entirely and force everybody to use public transportation. We should replace everybody’s oil- and gas-fired furnaces with geothermal heat pumps. No, we should declare single-family homes as unsalvageable energy pigs and force people to move into energy-efficiency high-density housing. We should replace coal- and gas-fired power generation with nuclear. No, that’s too risky; we should use CCS (carbon capture & sequestration). No, that’s still too dirty; we should use renewables backed by battery. No, batteries are prone to fires; we need renewables backed by hydrogen and/or ammonia. We should implement strict population controls. And the list goes on. A cost-effective, technically feasible solution with which most people would actually agree has not been presented yet.

      Net result: We’re stuck. And I don’t see that changing until somebody comes forth with a detailed (and viable) plan that addresses all of the CO2-emitting equipment out there, takes into account the real resource constraints that actually exist, and doesn’t leave people impoverished by their energy bills, stranded by the side of the road, or freezing to death in the dark. Particularly during transition periods. Ideally, it would be a plan that could be embraced by governments worldwide, but I haven’t seen it yet.

      1. Dave in Austin

        I, to, and a bit of a grumpy engineer.

        For more than a century the US has been the most powerful country in the world and Americans have the tendency to believe that we can solve- and control- all of the world’s problems.

        For the past 25 years I’ve had on my wall a one-page article and chart from page 31 of the July/August 1995 Foreign Policy Research Journal (FPRI) . The title is “The Greenhouse Connection” and the bar chart displays the actual 1990 CO-2 emissions by country and region (1990 total= 5.9 gigatons of carbon) versus the prediction for 2050 based on the existing trends (12 gigatons of carbon). The units of measurement we use have changed but the trajectory hasn’t. In the past 30 years CO-2 emissions have gone up 60% and are on track to equal or exceed the 12-gigaton-by-2050 estimate.

        But what has changed- and the article accurately predicted- is the source of the emissions. US emissions have stayed relatively constant or gone down a bit while the emissions from China, India and the other developing countries have risen sharply. In the struggle to industrialize rapidly they are using 1950 fuels,1950 pollution controls and 1960 energy efficiency. The result is that even if the US were to totally eliminate CO-2 emissions the global total would still be climbing rapidly. The FPRI estimate was that the US share of CO-2 emissions would go from 26% of the world’s total in 1990 to 12% in 2050 and we are right on track to get there. Thus no act by the US, the EU and Japan will alter the trajectory as long as Third World emissions continue to rise rapidly.

        The industrial countries argue that “This is a crisis!” and we all have to cut CO-2 emissions; the Third World countries argue “You did it. Now to achieve our economic goals we also have to do it” and point out that a citizens of the First World each still generates much more CO-2 than a citizen of the Third World. The Paris Accords tried to paper over this problem by asking the Third World countries to “set goals”, which of course they didn’t meet. The First World had much firmer goals, which we only came part way to meeting. And with rising Third World populations we get an impossible problem; increased populations lead to Third World claims for increased entitlements to produce CO-2. Not that this dialog of the deaf really matters; without First World changes and Third World buy-in no progress can be made.

        Now this is a dreary statement of fact. All the “its capitalism’s fault”, “Cars must be more efficient” and “We must show leadership” are like King Canute ordering the tide to stop coming in. They will have no effect.
        So the US choices are simple and unpalatable and politically unlikely. We can 1) Cut immigration, lower the U.S. population density, watch as the sea and temperature rise and say “You’re on your own” to the rest of the world as we make the best of a bad situation; 2) Follow the European lead and work to end the WTO “high polluters can produce cheaply because they pollute and export to low polluter” system and impose a serious “embodied CO-2 tax” on imports to the First World (which may not work but will certainly end the present, fifty-year-old WTO system) or 3) enter into a serious dialog with the Third World Countries to institute a real carbon tax with the proceeds to be used to produce goods and services to reduce fossil fuel use on a worldwide basis. Such a system would require monitoring from space, true, instantaneous punitive tariffs and export restrictions levied against backsliders, some way to deal with issues of land use and CO-2 sequestration and a recocnition that population increase doesn’t grant a tribe or nation the right to a bigger cut of the world’s CO-2 budget. I seriously doubt that the third option is possible within the present level of crisis. A combination of one and two are the best we can hope for as the crisis deepens. One final option is a serious investment in increasing the R&D aimed at reducing the cost of production of solar and wind generating facilities, with economic incentives for a rapid uptake in the developing Third World. That, also, has a chance of working.

        But the present dialog of wishful thinking, hysterical calls that “Something must be done!” and a belief that US CO-2 changes will solve the problem are leading us nowhere.

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          That was a great post. All makes sense.

          My take is “we (the developed West) are relatively rich, well-informed, and originator of most of the CO2 in the atmosphere (above approx 200 ppm).

          So, we’re on the hook to move first.

          The rest of the stuff I’m on board with, esp. the focus of investing in R&D for energy generation w/o greenhouse gasses.

          I also think a CO2 tariff applied on any products coming into the U.S. has a decent chance of getting political support both here in the U.S. and in EU. That’s a lot of market.

          That tariff would help protect our industry as we restart domestic production (un-competitive at the outset). We actually need protective tariffs for some key industries.

          Your point about the U.S. exporting all it’s pollution is a great one, and actually has an opportunity embedded in it. If we really could get our energy infrastructure upgraded (efficiency, no pollution, etc.) that’s a fundamental competitive advantage which we could implement _first_. China and ROW invested a lot in old tech, and can’t ditch it yet.

          If I was wearing my Capitalist hat, there’d be a glint in my eye.

          1. vlade

            It matters less who’s put it there than who’s going to be putting it there. I’m not saying that it should leave the past polluters out of the hook, but if say the EU (or even the US) drops its pollution levels a lot, but China/India doesn’t, and in fact increases it, it achieves exactly nothing.

            And, TBH, the most bang for the buck we can get is in India (less so in China) etc., because it’s there where often you can replace obsolete (or non-existent) equipment with the new generation one, cf mobile data and similar.

        2. Larry Gilman

          “Thus no act by the US, the EU and Japan will alter the trajectory as long as Third World emissions continue to rise rapidly.”

          That is true only if one assumes that no act by the US, the EU, and Japan can reduce emissions from poorer countries. But the assumption that technological practices change in discrete national compartments is inadequate. First-world government investments in wind and solar have already created the technologies that are now totally dominating newbuild generation over the whole planet. There is such a thing as technology leadership, and the wealthiest countries are the ones equipped to demonstrate it: to create, adopt, and mass-produce the technologies whereby lives can be improved in poorer countries while reining in CO2 emissions.

          What the rich countries do is undeniably a strong contributor to shaping technology, markets, and costs, and thus behaviors, the world over. The reality is not that the US et al. are helpless, but that the only thing that will make reductions in poorer countries feasible is immediate, massive, material action in the richer countries. If we don’t do it here, there’s little hope elsewhere: if we do, then there’s more.

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            That’s got to be the most eloquent and compelling rationale for rich-country action I’ve seen.

            Great debunk of the “can’t do it here becuz they’re not doing it there” rationale.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            We can’t mass produce anything if we can’t protectionize the industry to mass produce it with.

            China has conquered the solar panel market thanks to its lower charged prices of production. Part of that is eating the cost of anti-environmental counter-standards in China, I have read recently that part of it is vast coal-burning for electricity to make the panel ingredients and the panels with, etc. And then those panels are carbon-dumped on a higher-priced world.

            If we want to have the least bit of green-energy-tool mass production survive in Europe, America, Japan, etc., then we will have to ban imports from countries which charge a lower price for these things than the price we can charge.

            Let China make the solar panels for China. Let Europe, America and Japan make the solar panels for Europe, America, and Japan. And so on for every other industrial product.

            Or we can proceed as now, on the free trade road to general heat death.

      2. Eric377

        I have an important transportation mission. 70 miles round trip. Six or 7 passengers. Low cargo: couple of beach chairs, cooler, inflatables, beach toys, beach towels. No more than 60 pounds. I have a Ford Expedition that handles mission easily. I can start with under 25% full range and easily make it, or reestablish full range at 8 places en route in no more than 10 minutes. Departure time is any time desired. Return time the same. Zero on-going capital expense (no payments). Looks like vehicle should be quite functional through 2031 – maybe a bit longer. People will adopt technology that makes their lives easier or at least not harder. Is it possible that more reports on the nature of the problem is part of the problem? Time maybe for fewer climate scientists and more energy technologists.

        1. Larry Gilman

          “Is it possible that more reports on the nature of the problem is part of the problem?”

          No, it’s not possible, actually. Ignorance is not strength.

          “Time maybe for fewer climate scientists and more energy technologists.”

          Time maybe for fewer throwaway inanities.

      3. Tom Pfotzer

        OK. When are you doing the first draft?

        There’s a couple of people here @ NC that are clearly capable of providing some feedback, and once you’re happy you’ve got a decent first draft, ask Yves to post it up for feedback.

        Got to start somewhere, and you seem perfectly capable.

        If you don’t feel like doing the whole thing, do an outline, ask some people to take a section and write it. Maybe post it section-by-section.

        Organize by consumer-type, e.g. household, commercial, industrial, then gov’t. Or maybe better, do sector by sector: ag, energy, transport…the high-potential areas first, then move down the significance chain.

        I’ll do a part of it if you want. There’s plenty others better than me that scan NC. Ask and you might receive.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          @Tom Pfotzer: You asked, “When are you doing the first draft?

          Heh. To be honest, I’ve thought about it. But there are too many gaps in my knowledge base (particularly with regard to certain CO2-intensive industries like metal refining and cement manufacturing), and to be honest, I’m doubtful that I could develop a viable plan that would get us all the way to an 85% CO2 reduction, even if I try my hardest.

          And I’m short on time. Doing it right means looking up tons of numbers and then doing tons of calculations on top of that. It’s not something that could be assembled in a day.

          1. Tom Pfotzer


            Yes to all objections. So, how about:

            a. you don’t do all the work
            b. scratch out an outline. Start somewhere, do an hour’s work, try to ID the parts. Stay at very high level, 2 pgs
            c. get people to review the outline, and ID what’s missing or what’s included that shouldn’t be, what the thesis of the outline actually should be. Send it to me first, maybe a few others on back-channel, then spring it on the unsuspecting publik

            That would be a massive step forward; could reduce billowy-scope to 20% or less from where it is (absolutely un-actionable) now

            I’m thinking we should try this, and make it fun instead of “duty”. Others might enjoy it, too. I can think of about 10 people I regularly see posting here @ NC that would hammer it if they saw it.

      4. Mike

        Reply to Grump Engineer re: .

        OK. I have such a plan/design/drawings/modeling. It is quite detailed. Several inventions are described. It is multi-specialty science based. There is very little hand waving, but there are areas where additional area expertise and ideas would be helpful. I am looking for contributors and knowledgeable collaboration.

        The plan is in an editing process prior to release to first reviewers. If you want to be among them, then contact me privately.

        I assume the moderator sets up an email exchange? I haven’t done that before.

      5. Larry Gilman

        Hi, fellow grumpy engineer . . .

        “I haven’t seen it yet.” But sincerely, with respect, have you really, really looked? Google Scholar and all? People have actually been thinking about this stuff. As a starting point, though not an impossibly encyclopedic inventory map for swapping out every pump and switch in the country, try “100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States,” Energy Environ. Sci., 2015,8, 2093-2117.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          @Larry Gilman: Please, please, please don’t ever post a link to a Mark Jacobson report again. They are catastrophically flawed and aren’t suitable roadmaps for anything.

          A large team of experts published a formal rebuttal to his first paper here: https://www.pnas.org/content/114/26/6722. I won’t go through all of the hairy details, but there were three key objections that really stood out.

          [1] He wanted to expand hydro production in the US ten-fold, basically enslaving the country’s waterways to a master grid control system, with flows being controlled purely for the purpose of keeping the lights on; river ecosystems and down-stream communities be damned. State and local governments would (quite rightly) block any such exercise. [2] He assumed that the refill rate on hydroelectric reservoirs would never vary, even though we know river flows change through the seasons. And then there are the occasional large-scale droughts, like we’re seeing in the West today. Whoops. [3] He calls for 540 TWh of energy storage, even though current worldwide production of batteries is only 0.15 TWh per year. 3600 years worth? Sheesh.

          Jacobson later published a study intended to cover the entire planet. It was similarly flawed. You can read a detailed rebuttal here: http://euanmearns.com/the-cost-of-100-renewables-the-jacobson-et-al-2018-study/.

          Now I do have to give credit to Jacobson for recognizing the need to keep the lights on 24/7 and for covering more details than most “plans” do. But did he “take into account the real resource constraints that actually exist“? Not even close. These are academic exercises bordering on pure fantasy.

  3. BeliTsari

    Boy, doesn’t that first chart look familiar, after ~2008 or so? Almost, like someone’s willing to take a financial loss, to unleash the clathrate Kraken? Oops, too late; better let our brilliant tech oilgarchs TRY to save us with geo-engineering, GE Monoculture and nifty carbon sequestration scams?


  4. Synoia

    At what point does the sea level rise on the US Atlantic coast flood sewage plants periodically?

    Sewage plant flooding could make large areas uninhabitable. Such as most of the US eastern seaboard for 10 to 20 miles inland.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we had systems whereby every pee-er and poo-er collected all his/hers pee and poo in a deposit-it-here collection receptacle, and then we had social techno-service systems whereby all the receptacles were always retrieved and replaced with fresh new ones on a no-exceptions-ever totally timely basis, and all the collected receptacles went to highly thermophillic composting facilities to degrade the pee poo all the way down to pathogen-free compost, then that compost could be moved back to agri-land for soil maintanance, and the sewage systems could be abandoned or repurposed because sewage would no longer be a thing.

      Joseph Jenkins has been working on this concept for decades now.

      He has also written recently a book more specifically about using humanure in composting operations. Our search obstruction engines prevent me from finding the title.

  5. Terry Flynn

    The weather here in UK is certainly getting wackier. We seemed to get our summer this year more or less in Spring whilst the rain at the moment is awful (though, thankfully, not as terrible or fatal as it has been in parts of continental Europe). One thing has puzzled me for a while when debating sceptics, and I don’t seem to see a good lay explanation for it: whilst I “get” that a Gulf Stream shutdown could make British weather more extreme and be like (say) Toronto (higher mean but much higher variance too), I don’t “get” why Vancouver has a similar climate to us with no equivalent to the Gulf Stream.

    There is the “California Current” which flows along the BC coast but it is cooling (going from Alaska southward) not warming. From numerous trips I have experienced the Vancouver phenomenon that whilst the “averages” look similar to London, its rain is less likely to spoil a summer vacation compared to London as the distribution over the year is different. But why is Vancouver etc so comparatively mild? I sense the Rockies must be part of the explanation – I’ve driven through the Okanagan valley in summer.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks but I wouldn’t ask if Wikipedia had helped. That page shows the often seen Wikipedia effect of general comments with no quantitative explanation that causes former academics like me to hate it. It mentions the California current along with Alaska current and the mountains but there is no detailed analysis let alone reference to net effects.

        I can paste a similarly reputable source that only gives the cold current as the “net” flow. Which would suggest Vancouver should be MUCH more like Toronto than London. Yet the data dispute that. So the “descriptions” are lacking numbers or some measure of quantitative AND intuitive effect.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’m not a climatologist, but I think the notion that the Gulf Stream is the primary driver behind the mild weather on the western fringe of Europe is exaggerated. It is a real thing, as anyone who has ever swum off the SW of Ireland in early winter will confirm, but even without it, the western fringes of a continental mass gets a major amelioration impact from sea winds. As in the northern hemisphere, wind directly is generally westerly, there is a greater ‘marine’ influence than a continental influence on the west coasts of the continental masses, hence Vancouver and London have less weather extremes than Nova Scotia or Hokkaido.

          The other major influence is the jet stream, which put simply acts as a barrier between cold northern weather fronts and southern weather. The interaction of continental and sea air means that the jet streams tend to be pushed further north up through the middle of the major oceans, making the clearest distinction between the climate of, say, Amsterdam and Berlin.

          This is hugely simplistic of course – the gulf stream undoubtedly helps in moving more warm water/air towards the poles, but its only one of many interrelated factors. I suspect that the failure of the gulf stream would make it more likely that the jet streams move further south, leaving those of us on the fringes of Europe with far more nasty weather, maybe a little more like the Baltic, just without so much winter snow.

          1. Terry Flynn

            Thanks. I kinda thought this myself but since nobody as yet has given me a good scientific (non Wikipedia) explanation I wondered if I must be missing something….

  6. Grant

    Keep in mind as well the recect reports on soil pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, the collapse in biodiversity and the species extinction rate, plastic and nuclear pollution, dead zones in places like the Gulf and the Baltic Sea and unsustainable farming. Anyone that thinks capitalism can solve this or do anything but make this worse is out of their minds. Economics departments should have long ago ditched neoclassical economics, but if the field of study was logical and based in reality, economic planning would have been at the core of the curriculum. It would have ditched nonsense like general equilibrium and would instead base the education on a foundation of ecological economics. Karl William Kapp’s “The Social Costs of Private Enterprise” would be widely known. Instead, we have economists using the same neoclassical framework, assuming things that will lead to total collapse and we see a massive gap between the physical sciences and traditional economics. It is really a mass insanity and irrationality.

  7. Tom Pfotzer

    As we contemplate “what to do about this”, may I offer some food for thought?

    The U.S. Energy Information Association produces a report that describes sources and uses of energy in the U.S. Here’s a 2-page PDF with simple graphics that tells the story:

    U.S. Energy Sources and Uses 2020

    Drawing from this 2-page report, here are a few “did you know?” items you may find interesting:

    * 65% of electrical energy generated is wasted. Does NO work.

    * Coal provides just 10% of our energy input, and _almost all is used for electricity generation_

    * Nat gas provides 34% of our energy input. Of that, 1/3 goes for electricity generation, 1/3 to industry as feedstock and heating, and the rest to residences / commercial buildings for heating

    * Petroleum provides 35% of our energy input. Of that 68% goes for transportation as motor fuel, and 28% goes to industry as feedstock (petro-chem, plastics). (See excerpt below for more detail)


    As we contemplate redesigning our economy to address global warming (C02, methane), it seems like the obvious first place to start is with the electrical system. 65% waste is astronomical. And we’re about to increase electricity consumption as we move to electrically-powered vehicles and trains.

    The next place to look is transportation. We’re already moving in the direction of electric vehicles, and that’s great. But if we’re generating dirty electricity, and then wasting 65% of what we generate….that’s hamster-wheeling. Not productive.

    The other thing we’re already doing, more or less by accident, is working from home. It’s hard to find a less-wise use of energy than moving a 3000 lb vehicle 50 miles a day in order to get to a place where there’s a desk, a phone, a computer, and a white-board. Do ya think we could equip our houses with a desk, a phone, a computer and a white-board? Duh.

    Another bit of low-lying fruit: heat for buildings. 25% of our natural gas goes to heat buildings. Most buildings absolutely bleed heat. Broadcast it. Fritter it away like confetti at a party.

    And what about industry, that bad-boy of smoke-stacks and polluted rivers? Well, turns out industry’s use of energy is highly concentrated in a few key areas.

    Here’s an excerpt from a recent EIA report on industrial energy uses:

    “Among the energy-intensive industries, the largest consumer of delivered energy is the basic chemicals industry, which in 2012 accounted for about 19% of total delivered energy consumption in the OECD industrial sector and about 14% in the non-OECD industrial sector. In both regions, the basic chemicals share of industrial energy use in the IEO2016 Reference case rises to about 20% in 2040 (Figure 7-4 and Figure 7-5). The chemicals industry in general uses petrochemical feedstocks, which are included in its energy use. In 2012, petrochemical feedstocks accounted for roughly 60% of the energy consumed in the chemicals sector (which includes both energy-intensive basic chemicals and nonenergy-intensive other chemicals). Intermediate petrochemical products (or building blocks), which go into products such as plastics, require a fixed amount of hydrocarbon feedstock as input. For any given amount of chemical output, depending on the fundamental chemical process of production, a fixed amount of feedstock is required, which greatly reduces opportunities for decreasing fuel consumption in the absence of any major shifts toward recycling and bio-based chemicals.”

    See page 5 of this PDF: EIA Industrial Sector Energy Consumption for a quick thumbnail on where energy gets used in the industrial sector.

    Before you turn your attention elsewhere, I’d like to point out that the U.S. is a world-leader in recycling of metals, notably steel and aluminum. It takes about 60% less energy to re-use steel (melt it down, re-form it to new use) as it does to dig it up and smelt it. For aluminum, recycling uses 2% of the energy required to dig up and smelt.

    I love steel and aluminum. I think they have a great future in the economy of tomorrow.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      EIA does good work. Although if you compared them to the charts from 25 years ago, you’d see what a hollow shell America has become, having offshored its industrial energy load (along with the jobs and knowhow).

      > 65% of electrical energy generated is wasted. Does NO work

      The financialization / tax investor crowd has had its beady eyes fixed on energy efficiency for at least 2 years now; rooftop solar isn’t enough to feed the beast. I’m already seeing grand plans, backed by the usual PE suspects, to buy fleets of building aircon units, retrofit them for EE and then sell the ‘greened’ energy back to tenants. At a huge markup, to cover the giant blob of financial engineering that is the actual purpose of this, and offset the fact that EE isn’t actually economic (unless subsidized… just wait for that shoe to drop soon, ratepayers)

      But hey, it’s Green, th’hell you complaining about? Do you also haggle for your heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market?

      And now that CEOs have all piously (in the skyously) signed Net Zero in Ten Years commitments, all kinds of stupid money (World Awash In Capital) is blundering around frantically, sternly commanded to go forth and Save The Planet. Due diligene and hurdle rates be damned. While the green grifters and gimmickers (Hydrogen, baby!) are waiting on the other side.

      Nice pension fund / endowment you’ve got there, retirees. Be a pity if sumfink happened to it. But at least you’ve given something back toward saving the planet. You know, for the children. Just not yours, yuk yuk.

    2. Larry Gilman

      “* 65% of electrical energy generated is wasted. Does NO work. ”

      I just gotta quibble on that point. The EIA source doesn’t say that 65% of “electrical energy generated” is wasted: it says that electrical “system energy losses” total 65%, where “system energy losses are calculated as the primary energy consumed by the electric power sector minus the heat content of electricity retail sales.” Here “primary energy consumed” means heat released from fuels.

      What this means is that of all the units of raw heat released in centralized thermal (coal, nuclear, gas, oil) plants to make electricity, 65% don’t get delivered as electricity. That’s the nature of boiling water to turn turbines. But it’s not 65% of the “electrical energy generated” that’s being wasted, it’s 65% of the original heat.

      System energy losses include lost electricity, but that’s a relatively small term. Once electricity is generated, about 5% of it is dissipated as waste heat in the transmission and distribution network. How much is wasted in inefficient end-use is, of course, another matter. But ~95% of electricity generated gets delivered.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        Great point. Your quibble is absolutely correct and points us to where the problem actually is:

        We have massive waste-heat losses, and that IMHO, is preventable waste.

        For ex:

        a. locate industrial processes which require moderate levels of input heat near the gen facility, and

        b. have a cascade of such processes so that waste heat from process 1 becomes input heat to (lower temp req’mt) process 2 and on down the cascade until there’s no more heat extractable.

        c. I’m thinking at the bottom of the cascade is a greenhouse. Greenhouses need CO2, also, btw. Maybe fish-farm; most fast-growing fish need heat, e.g. tilapia. Seas are fished-out.

        Whether you agree or not with what I said above (no doubt, tech issues will obtrude themselves) this is the sort of thinking that needs to be reflected in the “next edition of the U.S. economy”.

        Drumlin above talks about capturing waste steams, eliminating land-fills, reclamation centers. He might also have spoken about distributed manufacturing, regional steel and aluminum melt-down and reforming facilities (same for glass, same for plastics). Make basic shapes / components which are usable in _many_ designs, like bars, angles, sheet, fiberglass panels, compost, etc.

        These are the building-blocks that can be integrated into many designs. Distributed manufacturing (automated; download your design from your desk-top, get the part in a few days, made from materials that may well have come from your own house’s trash-can).

        There’s a whole lot of potential for process-stacking and closing off of “resource leaks” like sewage, “garbage”, land-fills, and many of the other concentrated/easily accessible waste streams our society is currently tolerating and not harvesting.

        Drumlin and G.E.: this is the sort of stuff that needs to show up in the “Econ Design Outline”. Let’s get the parts on the table, and figure out how they are integrate-able into a coherent next-gen economy.

        Larry, pls see the dialog above re: new economic design outline development, and consider getting involved. You clearly have a lot to offer.

  8. Felix_47

    I don’t think the current regime believes in any of this. One thing that would cost little would be a 50 mpg national speed limit. It would reduce CO2 production significantly….not solve it but do something without too much pain. And like Nixon did 55 it could be a presidential decision. Not doing simple stuff tells you where their heads are at. Until we get campaign finance reform expect the worst possible outcome.

  9. Prairie Bear

    While it’s good to see that the IPCC reports sets forth where we are and where we are going in suitably stark terms, the general public and the press seem inured to the message.

    This observation seems more interesting to me at this point than the details of the report. Those are pretty much what I’ve been expecting all along. It’s kind of the same thing, only worse. But I have given a lot of thought to the apparent indifference of most of the public. A number of years ago, I read an article about a general attitude that the author observed had arisen among a population of a certain geographic area about a different kind of threat. Most of this populace had adopted an attitude toward the threat that was locally known as “the [family blog]-it factor.”

    I am beginning to wonder if people are aware that we are headed for disaster, aware either consciously or subconsciously, and have simply adopted this “FI factor” thinking and decided to live out their lives the best they can. Maybe it might explain the apparent widespread fatalistic attitude about covid? A large portion of these people are quite religious, and may already have a mindset of waiting hopefully for the end times.

    But the inurement and denial problem is even more serious than the quoted sentence indicates. It is that the people who do believe firmly in climate change and its seriousness are still in serious denial and/or ignorance about “what is to be done.” They believe that a “Green New Deal,” a massive investment into “clean energy” technology, a massive retooling of the industrial economy, etc., etc. will save us.

    I have mentioned Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It here before. It lays out the problems in painstaking detail, examines all the “green” energy technologies, does the math, and shows all the work on why none of it will stop climate change, and in fact will make things worse. There is also a documentary film version. The book and film have made some headway in getting out to a few people, but nowhere near the mainstream. Both book and film are well worth the time. Neither will provide “hope,” however. Derrick Jensen, one of the book’s authors, says that, “Hope is the longing for an outcome over which you have no agency.”

    We can’t begin to fix the problem if we don’t face the full extent of it.

    1. Keith

      Perhaps people just don’t believe the authorities any longer. We have been lied to about so many things that many may be adopting a just wait and see attitude. After all, we have been told about the doom and gloom and imminent end of the world for a while now, yet here we are- media does tend to sensationalize everything, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

      They look at what the leaders do. They scold us for flying or driving vehicles, yet the jettison around to attend parties or go to conferences. Ditto for the covid experience.

      They recent lies like the 1/6 coup attempt, russiagate, keep your doctor, weapons of mass destruction, etc.

      Is it any reason we just go on with our lives paying little attention to the medias flavor of the week? When you are constantly lied to and subject to constant hypocrisy, it becomes hard to trust the elites on anything they say. Why would climate be any different? Because this one time they are telling the truth?

      1. Grant

        Well, the elites have not been focusing really on the environment crisis because it spells doom for the capitalist system. Many of the elites have ignored the crisis (far beyond carbon emissions), others have lied about it, many have downplayed the changes needed or the scale of the crisis. Most of those that have been screaming about this are activists and scientists. I wouldn’t call them elites, since the term elite denotes power and if the people focusing on this crisis had power we wouldn’t be staring down collapse. No, it is a crisis of CAPITALIST elites, and many in the population at this point are so up to their necks in propaganda that they are effectively happily marching to collapse, just as they are not wearing masks or getting vaccinated during a pandemic based on propaganda from those same sources. The fact is that capitalism is not a sustainable system and many in power would rather see the world burn than to ditch capitalism. I am a fan of cosmology and astronomy and it is not easy all things told to have a beautiful and habitable planet. Many things have to line up. We have that and don’t care to maintain it. I get what you are saying about being lied to, but how often do people question the clear science of this based on the nonsense from the worst, most dishonest and right wing profiteers there are? I have sympathy for victims of propaganda but I think people are willingly and often knowingly following proven liars and frauds. And I personally think that some on the right are miserable and angry, and just want to see the world burn.

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          Absolutely right.

          This is why I am so committed to household-level change. It’s the “final demand” for all things capitalist, and if it isn’t demanded, it doesn’t get capitalized. Pardon the mangled metaphor.

          Change is not going to come top-down. Not happening.

          Change _can_ happen at the household level. Purchase decisions, commute decisions, insulation decisions, permaculture .vs. lawn decisions.

          Many of us are still pretty bought into the “there is no alternative to buying from the Machine” narrative, and that’s no longer necessary, IMHO.

          We have alternatives now that no prior generation has had available.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            We cannot look to Government action to do anything meaningful about the growing Climate Chaos. Little remains except action at a household level. However — I believe many of the actions you have proposed are contingent on households having control over the decisions you enumerated. Much of the Populace lacks the power or the income necessary to make meaningful decisions about how they live. As our retail markets consolidate it grows more and more difficult to avoid buying from the Machine — many old alternatives have been eaten or gutted.

            “We have alternatives now that no prior generation has had available.” I cannot imagine what alternatives you have in mind.

            1. Tom Pfotzer

              Jeremy: first, I agree that many households have little time or discretionary income. But many do, and just about every household can do something significant. Buying local, for ex. Allow me to pause on that point, so I can focus on the great question you asked.

              What can this generation do that no other could? Here’s some:

              a. use the internet and collaboration tools to rapidly develop household level technologies that can be used to displace products bought from the Machine

              b. manufacture stuff from your desktop. I build computer boards, write software, and design parts for remote-machine-shop-manufacture from my desktop. I can do stuff – and I suck at this compared to some people I know – I can make machines, rather sophisticated machines which do real, useful, revenue-generating stuff, I can make those kind of machines and they almost work the first time. Remember, I’m a piker. When I was a kid, I didn’t know _anyone_ that could do that.

              c. One big reason I can do this stuff is because of the Internet. I can get detailed design docs, design tools (software), movies on how to do it, and order a bazillion parts – anything you can dream of – delivered to my door in a few days. And it’s so ridiculously cheap. For all its faults, this global economy is one awesomely powerful and providential entity. Give it credit where it deserves it.

              Those are just a few items, but the principle is that I am _waaaaayyyy_ empowered beyond any thing I or anyone else dreamed of 30 yrs ago, when I got started. And…I’ll repeat it: I’m a piker.

              So, getting things done, from a purely technical slant, has never been so easy.

              1. topcat

                All of that stuff that you are doing, the programming, the desk-top printing, building machines etc etc, is enabled by our current fossil-energy driven society, and is not a replacement for it.

                1. Tom Pfotzer

                  There are replacements for fossil fuel.

                  Don’t let the current model’s weaknesses keep you from changing the current model.

                  Instead I suggest using the current model’s deficits as motivation – or compulsion even – for you/us to evolve it.

                  If Grumpy Engineer was here to comment, I bet he/she could offer up several viable alternatives to the current energy-sourcing regimen. Such alternatives exist.

                  I assert that we can think-and-do ourselves out of this trap.

              2. Ian Perkins

                ‘Buying local, for ex.’
                ‘order a bazillion parts – anything you can dream of – delivered to my door in a few days.’

                1. Tom Pfotzer


                  Build a chip foundry in your basement, and I’ll buy from you.

                  I get your point, and I hope you get mine: for a while, the international supply chain will produce things – useful things – which a local supply chain simply can’t.


            2. Grant

              There is zero chance we can deal with the environmental crisis without comprehensive economic planning. None, it will not work and you cannot deal with these distributional issues without planning production, consumption and distribution in a world where we simply cannot consume as much, pollute as much and cannot live as we have in the US for some time now. Who consumes, who pollutes, and absolute limits as far as production, consumption and markets have to be acknowledged and dealt with. This cuts across national boundaries, so this has to be dealt with within and between countries. The informational challenges for individual consumers and producers is too overwhelming to overcome. If we cannot push for a different economic system, radically different people in power and a large number of structural changes we are in a Mad Max existence. Yes, we should encourage individuals to change their behavior, but this crisis is far beyond that being sufficient.

              1. Tom Pfotzer

                I’m all for it, Grant. Let my words in no way no how be an impediment to top-down policy-making. I have a lot to say about top-down policy, and I bet my proscriptions would be a giant step ahead of what I’ve seen presented top-down to date.

                Glad to get on, walk beside, or push that bus.

                My read of the situation is that currently, the people that control that bus are adamant that it not move. Furthermore, I recognize that most of the change that needs to be done is at the individual level: values, emotional development, knowledge.

                No leader takes any group anywhere they aren’t already.

                No MLK without an army of Rosa Parks.

                Top-down is a myth. “Leadership” is a myth. No Moses is going to lead us out.

                1. topcat

                  A huge number of people have to be willing to give up their lives and take to the streets and protest. The civil rights movement was possible because the every day discrimination of coloured people was so overwhelmingly obvious and present that people did give up their lives. Climate change is too vague a problem. I want to save the planet but I must also keep my job and support the system so that I can send my kids to University so that they can have my life, even though my life “my life” may no longer be possible. How can I quit and just tell my kids that we are going to protest on the streets and that they are not going to University and are going to have shitty lives? Can’t do it. The system must be changed such that people can get off the hamster wheel without fear of disastrous consequences.

                  1. Tom Pfotzer

                    What if the hamster wheel doesn’t change?

                    What will you do then?

                    What if the hamster wheel changes one individual’s decision-making at a time, and that decision-making can (and is) incremental, and each increment carries a very small risk of repression?

                    Do you still wait for top-down action?

                    Let me ask a different question. Are the consequences of failure greater or lesser than those faced by Rosa Parks?

                    1. topcat

                      Let me put it another way, middle aged men with families (i.e. the people who in aggregate drive capitalism) are extremely risk-averse. Greta’s generation can force political change,but they must first get elected and the MSM will do all it can to prevent that. Rosa Parks and segregation was a different problem entirely and not relevant to this discussion.

                    2. Tom Pfotzer

                      To Topcat:

                      They are relevant to the degree that Rosa Parks and her contemporaries decided that the risk of no action was greater than the risk of taking action.

                      In that respect, I think the situations are quite comparable.

                      They way they aren’t comparable is the impact of failure. If Rosa failed, she sat in the back of the bus (metaphorically) for a while longer.

                      If we fail now, we don’t sit, and we have no bus. We’re mostly dead.

                      Who are you expecting to take your risk for you?

                      And let’s be specific about that “risk”. What do you risk by changing your household-level behaviors?

                      Lastly: may I ask your forgiveness for being a self-righteous boor? I am not in your situation, and I _know_ that my attitude would be different if I was.

            3. Grumpy Engineer

              @Jeremy Grimm: You said, “Much of the Populace lacks the power or the income necessary to make meaningful decisions about how they live.

              Aye. Or they lack the knowledge. If you ask random person people on the street what they could could personally do to reduce their carbon footprint, the #1 answer would almost certainly be this: “Unplug my cellphone charger”. [I’ve heard way too many people offer that as a solution.] But cellphone chargers are really low-power devices that are far, far down the list of energy-consuming devices used in a household.

              A better answer (by several orders of magnitude) would be “add weatherstripping, storm windows, and insulation”, but as you note, many people lack the income. Or the power, if they’re renting and don’t actually own the property in which they live.

              Sadly, too few individuals would try, and too few of those who tried would implement changes that actually worked. To succeed, we truly do need government action, but alas, our politicians are as clueless as the general public (and are considerably more corrupt).

              1. Daniel LaRusso

                When it comes to personal carbon footprint;

                I wonder if each individual could get an annual/monthly carbon amount ? And if the carbon in say the production and transportation was calculated, if you buy say apples in the supermarket from abroad it’s deducted from your balance.

                You could do the same with buying petrol, buying arline tickests etc. I dare say not practical, but if we’re saying the user needs to pay.

            4. drumlin woodchuckles

              There are still mini-governments and micro-governments at the regional, local and microlocal levels where useful action might still be taken and forced. Perhaps all the green-living households in an area can become aware of eachother and see if they are numerous enough to take over their own micro-level government structure, and begin doing pro-green things and conservation-facilitation things with it.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps the “FI” community silently hopes that runaway global warming will reach out and touch ( as in kill every member of) the Upper Class who carefully engineered runaway global warming into existence to begin with. If that is what the ” FI” community silently feels, they may well passively obstruct measures designed to “do something” because they have decided that they themselves will not accept unbearable shrinkage of their own material lives merely in order to permit the Upper Class to preserve its own safety and comfort.

      In other words, perhaps we have a “Silent Nihilist Majority” on our hands.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I begin thinking a better name for the “f*ck it” community might be the ” effit” community, because most-everyone knows what ” effit” means. Whereas ” FI ” needs cumbersome explanation.

        So I might rephrase what we may have on our hands as being the ” Silent Effit Majority”.

        And perhaps some of the Effit Americans can be motivated to action by realistic hope of getting revenge on the people and classes who put them into their Effit frame of mind to begin with. The promise of realistic vengeance can be a powerful motivator for some people and should be tried.

        With a head full of plans and a heart full of hate, we can make things happen.

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          Now that’s how you win hearts and minds. Why did it take so long for us to figure this out??


  10. Hk53

    The graph shows a 25cm increase of sea level from 1900 to 2020.
    I did not make a multimillion study but living in a a seaside town in north Mediterranean I can assure that this value is completely false.
    An other study to support the Great Reset?

    1. Greg

      It’s a global average, so local amounts will vary. That’s one of the challenges with communicating at a global scale – none of the numbers apply as-is anywhere a reader might be.
      It’s close enough for my local experience. We’ve seen a bit under 2mm a year in NZ for a century, and you can see this on the old wharf pilings and the changing beaches.
      How are you measuring sea level rise in the north Med, and what are you seeing?

      1. Hk53

        Thanks for your observations.

        Well we have old piers dating from 1750. Pretty easy to spot.

        Since water is a liquid, unless there are gravitational anomalies the mean water level cannot vary, for this you need solid roks.

        By the way, I had the opportunity to work in a team that modeled the Adriatic see. A few years ago. Nobody was aware of any variation in mean sea level.

        The earth has gone trough many cycles of heating and cooling even when human beeings were insignificant.

        IMHO this is the old trick of propaganda to make people feel guilty for something and allow the Masters to pursue their own goals.

        1. topcat

          A quick internet search turns up many papers on the Med….where the sea level is rising…

          “The sea level in the Mediterranean has risen by between 1 and 1.5 millimetres each year since 1943, but this does not seem set to continue, because it now seems that the speed at which it rises is accelerating”, Manuel Vargas Yáñez, main author of the book Cambio Climático en el Mediterráneo Español, and researcher in the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO), tells SINC.

          Some discrepancy here.

        2. Aumua

          Sea level rise doesn’t happen gradually and evenly in many cases. The level might appear to be roughly the same for a long time, and then you get a Sandy and suddenly the subways are flooding in New York and the Jersey shore is in ruins. That’s how it manifests, in waves, with surges and receding phases. The ocean is really, really huge. It’s hard to even grasp just how big it is. I’m not sure but I think there may be massive sloshings around of water that happen on a yearly or even decadal time scale. There are such oscillations in the atmosphere, I can say for sure, and what is that if not an ocean of air?

          There are other possible factors too that might make anecdotal observations at a single point unreliable. The land itself shifts in relation to the water level, for example. Memory is also imperfect, and we tend to remember details differently from what they actually were. That’s why I go with scientific global observations and theory.

          The earth has gone trough many cycles of heating and cooling even when human beeings were insignificant.

          Yes it has, but those were natural occurrences, and were all extremely gradual compared to the relatively instantaneous shock of the Human caused warming that is happening now, whether you believe it or not. And of course, as you pointed out, Humans were not around in the distant past and we did not have the vulnerable infrastructure and massive numbers that we have today, which makes us highly susceptible to the kind of upheavals that are coming down the pipeline because of climate change.

          An other study to support the Great Reset?

          It’s funny that most people who talk about the Great Reset think it’s some kind of Communist and/or Socialist plot, in the same way that they talk about globalists as if they were global Communists, and not the global Capitalists that they are. So you see, there’s a lot of confusion and deception to sort through.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The other question of course that makes localised measurements irrelevant is tectonic and isostatic processes. In the Mediteranean there are former Roman ports that are now miles from the sea, and there are Bronze Age cities underwater. Along the west coast of Ireland you’ll find former beaches 20 or 30 metres above sea level and you’ll also find the remains of forests at low tide not too many miles away. Measuring sea level changes over time is surprisingly difficult for this reason as geology has an annoying habit of moving at a surprising speed.

  11. Susan the other

    The more we try to understand the state of the planet the more we are lulled by research and reports that come to a conclusion we are bored with. Global warming. The disconnect between what we must do to mitigate global warming and what we consider essential for our survival is a mental impasse. With non-solutions like electric cars. No one ever discusses over-population. We hear lately that world birth rates are under replacement levels. That’s good. But that’s where analysis always stops. We could carry the logic of population decrease into other areas. Like (dare I mention this stuff?) making a majority of the world off-limits to human exploitation; or restricting human settlement to places that can withstand it and away from sensitive ecosystems. Rationing resources. It’s such a no-brainer. But blasphemy for the “free-market”. Even though we are having such a godawful hangover from overindulgence and overpopulation. And etc.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      I think two key reasons that we don’t discuss population reduction is a) because it’s one of the most highly emotional, impervious to external suasion subjects of the human realm, and b) it’s tough enough to get consensus on climate change action without totaling the cah on the tree-trunk of not having kidz.

      Nevertheless, I’m happy to agree with you, and say it out loud. We need to reduce population.

      My proposal is that everyone gets a “have a kid” ticket at birth. That ticket entitles you to have one kid. Massive econ penalties are imposed if you have more. The ticket is transferable; if you don’t want kids, then sell it to someone that does. Everyone’s more or less happy, and population gradually trends down. No guns required. If a society wants population to trend down faster, make the ticket good for 0.5 kids.

      1. Basil Pesto

        The ticket is transferable; if you don’t want kids, then sell it to someone that does.

        a market solution to child-bearing. what could possibly go wrong?

        1. Susan the other

          But consider that controlling the economy and controlling the population are almost inseparable. My bottom line is that people/society is the economy. Other people think that the economy is a separate thing – a place where the lucky win. But that winner mentality has trashed the planet imo. And left more and more people in poverty. So, just for instance, if we control the population (which we definitely should do) then we are simultaneously controlling the real economy. There will be less commerce by definition. Less consumption. That’s a huge step in the right direction. Along with best practices – using science and government to create a sustainable world. We know where we are failing. We can certainly fix it. The biggest tizzy is anticipating a market tailspin, destroying the economy as we know it. Not enough supply or not enough demand. That’s all hysteria imo. We just need to start controlling it.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Here’s some pie in the sky hopefullness.

            Perhaps if enough millions of people can lower their demand for those parts of the economy which deserve extermination, those millions of demand-lowering people can exterminate those parts of the economy.

            If those same people raise their demand for those parts of the economy which deserve strengthening, perhaps they can strengthen those parts. Maybe by enough to provide jobs for the mass jobicide refuges in flight from the parts of the economy which are exterminated because those parts of the economy deserve to be exterminated.
            And hopefully the rich people invested in those parts of the economy which deserve to be exterminated will have all their money and wealth exterminated along with their evil parts of the economy. That would be a side benefit. If Bezos had to live out the rest of his life sleeping in a cold soggy box under a bridge somewhere, wouldn’t that satisfy some of our need for justice and revenge? Could enough vengeful NOmazon people actually shrink and destroy Amazon so totally that Bezos loses everything he has?

  12. John

    This sent me on a little trip down memory lane to see what remained on the web of the Jay Hanson material from his “dieoff” material…now at dieoff.com.
    Biological overshoot still seems to be relevant. And the old question from those days: Are humans smarter than yeast?
    It really doesn’t look good at this point.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      His “dieoff” page had a little subsection called “got economics?” It was led with a naked butt made up to look like a face. Several years ago it disappeared and I could never find it again anywhere. I was about to lament that sad fact right here right now, but I had a last second impulse to hunt for it again just to make sure.

      And what do you know? It’s come back! So here it is. ” Got Economics?”

  13. Ian

    An addition to the discussion I wasn’t aware of, from The Ethical Skeptic:


    “A study released in January 2020 by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics/Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, claims that the world’s oceans are warming at the same rate as if five atomic bombs were dropped into the sea every second.

    When the Earth’s core enters an exothermic cycle, the Earth’s air-conditioning heat pump gets less efficient.”

    A long article I haven’t finished yet, but I’ve been finding this person to be quite thorough and compelling in the presentation of their ideas on many topics.

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    If this overview of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report provides an accurate portrayal of that report, I am not sure what has changed. I suppose the IPCC seems less restrained in tying recent unhappy events to climate change and in tying climate change to consequences of human activities. Beyond drift from reluctance to make these connections I am not sure what is significantly different or new in this long awaited report. Apparently some model parameters have been refined. The models have been tweaked. But the agreed upon assessments of the outputs from these models support what I regard as an optimistic view of climate change as described in this post. I find little wonder that “the general public and the press seem inured to the message”. There is little the Populace can do to have an intended impact on climate policy. Besides, many of the climate impacts the IPCC predicts remain conceptually small and at least one, three, and eight decades in the future — plenty of time for some grand engineering fix or some green miracles or governments suddenly taking real action to reduce CO2 emissions.

    I think the IPCC’s updates to regional climate predictions may hold greater interest. I believe they will show improvements in their resolution and in the estimated limits to their accuracy.

    I do not remember whether any IPCC report provides updates to the Paleoclimate. I believe the American Geophysical Union handles Paleoclimate. The climate transitions of IPCC models and pronouncements contrast with my understanding of the transitions characteristic of the Paleoclimate. Paleoclimate changed in response to much smaller and slower changes to the Earth’s surface heat flux than that resulting from the roughly 140 ppm CO2 Humankind added to the roughly 280 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere before Humankind’s activities. [I recall(?) Charney used 280 ppm CO2 as his baseline for calculating Earth’s temperature sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2.] Based on my attempts to read Hansen et al. 2016, many of the recent Paleoclimate transitions were much more abrupt and much larger than the IPCC models anticipate for our present climate.

    1. George

      The optimistic view is all peer review politics. They are not going to let loose a bunch of foaming at the mouth rabid doomsday prophets shouting “move to high ground” or “stock up on oxygen now”. I read a lot of Robert Hunziker and what I get from him is the realities of past present and future IPCC assessments. And from what I gather, they almost always underestimate as we seem to rapidly blow right past their findings. That’s not to say we do not need them. OK, so their outlook is tempered; little gets out there that they don’t want you seeing. And as many here see the capitalistic implications taking over the narrative, please believe what you can see with your own eyes and let that be your compass. Granted, it is actually going to take a catastrophic event to gear us off burning up our thin atmosphere, but until such a time as a piece of ice falls from the sky and hits dear leader in the head, there is much we can do. Please lead by example, as many of yours is exemplary.

  15. Louis Fyne

    the IPCC also set forth a plan* to a plan to deal with warming….but it met a collective hall of crickets in the zeitgeist because the IPCC called for two things verboten in “mainstream virtue-signaling environmentalism”: more fission and decreased consumption.

    People are still clinging to a magic bullet from Elon Musk’s bottom instead of a path (with unpopular medicine to the right and left) that is in their face today

    * https://www.ipcc.ch/event/48th-session-of-the-ipcc/

  16. Mark Ó Dochartaigh

    It isn’t often mentioned, but long term exposure to high CO2 levels is problematic. It used to be levels above 2,000- 5,000ppm that were considered to be too high. New studies are saying that exposure to levels of 1,000ppm can cause problems. Of course these studies consider short term exposure, usually in badly ventilated buildings, submarines, etc. Our bodies are able to begin to buffer negative short term effects as soon as we breathe more normal air. IPCC estimates are for CO2 levels from 600-1,000ppm by the end of this century. If people are exposed to these levels as an ambient atmosphere, the “new normal” atmosphere with no opportunity for our bodies to regulate in a lower CO2 atmosphere, it seems like it could be a serious public health problem.


    1. cnchal

      > . . . it seems like it could be a serious public health problem.

      So, less than a hundred years of livable air, is that what it boils down to? When it becomes obvious, and a CO2 war starts in about 30 to 40 years, some general is going to have to go to the President and tell him or her the F35s are for show only.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I recall from watching Jim White’s 2014 Nye lecture — brief mention of what appeared to be a strong attractor in the climate system around 600 ppm of CO2, but much above that — I think it might have been above 800 ppm climate will shift toward a strong attractor above that. The CO2 level at 600 ppm will be above the Charney doubling at 560 ppm. If the CO2 sensitivity calculations still hold as CO2 increases, average temperatures will be within a range well into an entirely new climate which Humankind will find most uncomfortable. Reaching a stable point at a strong attractor above the stable point at 600 ppm would shift to an ancient climate Humankind might find difficult or impossible to survive in.

      I did not realize the IPCC was contemplating 600-1,000 ppm CO2 by the end of this century. That is very frightening. Unless Dr. White is wrong, or my recall is faulty, the IPCC is insane to even consider allowing CO2 levels to get much closer to the Charney doubling. I will watch Jim White’s lecture again this evening.

  17. Alice X

    The report now demonstrates a firm grip on the already obvious. We are doomed. The capitalists will guaranty that. They will not change. Marx had a thing or two to say on that.

    1. topcat

      Marx was though also very much an industrialist / modernist, he wasn’t for sitting back and enjoying the free time that automation was making possible, he wanted to use it to conquer even more of nature. We would be facing the same problems under a Marxist regime.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        According to my sketchy memory, Marx favored EuroColonialism in Africa and Asia to bust up the “primitive” cultures there and force the AfroAsians to endure the “unleashing of productive forces” so that the AfroAsians too could be Marxified and Socialized.

        Marx also hated peasants and their culture and wished to see them all destroyed and replaced with vast chain gangs ( I am sure he had a nicer word for it) of New Socialist Slaves working the New Collective Farms.

        Marx was a paleonazi anti-jewitic racist among other things, and if the best we can do is a return to the folly of Marxist Gulag Socialism, then there really is no hope, and no meaning anywhere.

  18. fastbikkel

    Me and my family have given up hope altogether back in 2012, when the CO2 levels went through that historical boundary.
    Before 2012 i (in a naieve way) thought that we would globally reduce CO2 drastically by imposing limitations on anyone and everything.

    But no, nothing happened.

    Now i know that nothing will happen again. In a few years from now, there will be another report and another meeting of our leaders and again, not much will change.

    Me and our family have started reducing our CO2 output (and reduce plastics) more than 10 years ago.
    We have been without car for years, we hardly take an airplane, never use a woodstove and/or barbecue and we do many more things.
    All these things also save us money!!
    We will continue to reduce our footprint so we can at least tell our son that we tried.
    But we know that our efforts cannot solve this unless most people also show discipline and effort. It is not going to improve. People around us continue to pollute and make us feel like we are the idiots and they even say so.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the money your carbon-footprint shrinkdown has allowed you to save has been invested into turning your dwelling unit/area into a Big Heat Survival Doomstead, then your efforts have been “for something” and not just “in vain”.

      1. Fastbikkel

        Thanks for the reply.
        Well it sure feels “in vain” and even if we did create a heatresistant/doomstead, it will not be enough. Besides, what is the use having a place like that if the world around is wasted?
        Going back to polluting like we did 10 years ago is a certain and proven disadvantage. This is what keeps me and my family going against the stream.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, if the world around you becomes only half-wasted, such that you can still survive in it, and if other people are also surviving in a half-wasted world in their Big Heat Survival Doomsteads, perhaps you and they and equivalent people all around can begin to restore the half-wasted world back to a level of less-than-half-wasted, and so forth.

          Worth entertaining as a possible vision?

  19. Quill

    We have no chance of keeping warming below 1.5C. It is time to recognize that.

    We do have a chance of keeping global warming below 2C. To have an 83% chance of doing so, per the latest report our global carbon budget is 900 gigatons as of the beginning of 2020. In 2019, total GHG emissions (excluding land-use change for which add 7 Gt) was about 52 Gt. Estimates for 2020 suggest a pandemic induced drop of 7-8%.

    What this means is that starting in 2026, we have to cut GHG emissions globally by over 3% per year from 2020 levels. This is certainly doable. But I am fairly skeptical that it will actually be done by any major economy.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      A good first step would be for a major economy to defect from the New World Free Trade Order, and re-autarkify itself as much as feasible and then as much as possible.

      Such a political economy could bring itself to the point of not needing economic contact with its carbon dumping trading enemies, and can cut contact with them to permanent hard zero. If America and Europe at the same time together rejected the Free Trade Order and re-autarkified themselves, they could exclude contact with China so rigidly as to force China to shrink its own carbon footprint by depriving the Racist Chinese Colonialists of markets and resources from the designated targets of Chinese carbon-dumping resource-appropriating-and exploiting One-Ball-One-Chain economic imperialist aggression.

      But you can’t do that if you are trapped in a Free Trade situation.

    2. Fastbikkel

      “We do have a chance of keeping global warming below 2C”
      I probably sound pessimistic here, but we are on schedule to easily go over 5C.
      And the majority of people, it seems, are not willing to change their habits much.

      And governments are not easily persuaded to impose regulations on citizens, companies and such.
      And there are still governments that want to compete with other governments (economies), i don’t see anything change for the good.

  20. eg

    How far are we from a rather more sanguineous “solution” akin to Jay Gould’s reputed boast that he could hire one half of the working classes to kill the other half?

    1. fastbikkel

      I think, and correct me if im wrong, that the situation in the U.S. is often quite difficult for people without cars. I mean, the distances are often quite big.

      We live in the Netherlands and most people here can do without cars because the distances to shops and such are quite small. And they often have a good public transport connection.

      Now i’m saying “can do without cars”, but im sure that most do not agree with this because a car is just comfortable.

      Me and my family have been without a car for more than 8 years now. It sure is a hassle sometimes to get to places, but we make the climate a high priority so we just deal with the lack of comfort.

      And we are no saints and we are not trying to be. We also pollute.
      Even if we want to be 100% CO2 output free, we can’t. We need other people.

      This whole situation requires a team effort.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The overall human community does not have to be 100% CO2 output free. All it has to do is lower CO2 output deeply enough and raise CO2 resuckdown high enough that we lower the current skyload of CO2 down to tolerable levels.

        Once there, if we can get there, then we just have to match our CO2 output to CO2 uptake-systems’ level of CO2 uptake.

        Conceptually simple, though not operationally easy.

        And yes, distances in America are big. Its almost like a little Russia around here. But there are little zones withIN America where distances to a lot of what you need to do and where you need to go are smaller. Within those daily-life zones, changes can be made.

        And such changes are even technologically doable and feasible. Several years ago the good people of Nashville, Tennessee were presented with an opportunity to vote for a Mass Transit program for Greater Nashville which the Nashville Leadership Elite all favored. But the Koch brothers opposed it, because it would have caused less oil use. So the Koch brothers worked through their army of spin mills and astro-turf citizens groups to get that initiative defeated.

        Perhaps Nashvilleans can create a long-term hate-based counter movement against the Koch brothers to get that plan put back on a ballot and voted “yes” on, both to have nice things like a mass transit system, and also to take nice things away from the Koch brothers . . . nice things like power and money.

Comments are closed.