Tuesday, November 15, 2016

As Expected, Enormously Large Emissions Cuts Needed To Meet Paris Climate Criteria

A new T-shirt proclaiming "Science Is Not A Liberal Conspiracy" has just gone on sale online, and none too soon as the incoming administration seeks to stack the EPA with climate change deniers. Clearly, the announcement viewed on my FB page was also meant to counter the memes spread by the deluded Libertarian members of high IQ societies such as Intertel and Mensa. These anti-intellectuals follow the line and mold of Intertel's  Kort Patterson - a computer techie and Editor of Intertel's Region 7 NL 'Port Of Call' ,  who scribbled in the June issue:

"Many people continue to believe the lies and demand that Western Industrial Civilization commit cultural suicide by adopting the crippling constraints sought by the global warming conspirators."

But global warming science as the T-shirt notes, is no "conspiracy",  nor are the scientists involved in climate research "conspirators". . AGW (anthropogenic global warming)  is based on pretty well settled science which - while it may have uncertainties as to timeline -  is very clear we are speeding toward a cataclysm for the whole species. If there is any major oversight or error it is in underestimating the intensity and emergence of the impact.

Now, a new report released Thursday from the U.N. Environmental Program,  shows this is very much the case.  In a release from Stockholm it announced the world is nowhere near on track to achieve the temperature goals adopted in the Paris Conference on Climate Change from last December.

The report dashes the PR nonsense released in that summit that lulled the world's people into false security. That is,  that the pitiful steps and "suggestions" in Paris would  avoid a burning planet. This is because the REAL steps needed to even have a chance of limiting the increase were too much to acknowledge.

UNEP has effectively called the summit's bluff, asserting that the world needs to slash annual greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 12- 14 billion metric tons by 2030 to have any remote chance to limit global mean temperature increase to 2 C. This was the putative temperature increment goal the world's nations agreed to in the  Paris pact. Putting the news into perspective,  the emissions gap is 12 times the annual emissions of the 28 nation EU transportation sector, including aviation. In other words, it's considerable.

I saw the actual gap at the time I wrote my Dec. 13, 2015 blog post, noting:

"This agreement is terrific for PR purposes and to make leaders feel like they  actually accomplished something besides more hand waving....But the sober realist knows that it won't do anything to really stem what's headed our way. We had our chances after the Rio Summit, but we just pissed it away and wasted time in useless exchanges with the deniers.."

In other words, what the Paris summit leaders proposed was literally "a day late and a dollar short".  This was based on report appearing 7 months earlier in a Guardian UK article (from May 17, 2015)  that bluntly noted:

"A paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification. Instead, the New Lens Scenarios document refers to a forecast by the independent International Energy Agency (IEA) that points to a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C."

This UNEP report reinforces that alarm by indicating the current science shows the need to move much faster. Thus, the Paris Agreement's proclaimed CO2 reductions would have attained 54-56 billion tons by 2030 leaving the world "on a path to 5.2 to 6.1 F increase" according to UNEP.  To instead get only 3.6F the total of 42 billion tons emissions would be allowed.

But since the world's leaders have little practical interest in achieving that, and the recent U.S. election alone will put climate deniers in charge of critical agencies, one must assume we are well on the way to a 4C world.  The signal for the onrushing calamity will also be intensifying. As UNEP leader Erik Solheim has warned (Denver Post, p. 9 A, Nov. 11):

"The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver".

That point and others will be emphasized in the U.N. Climate Conference to be held over the coming two weeks  in Marrakech, Morocco.

Also emphasized at that conference will be the extent to which the added emissions affect Arctic melting.  According to the World Bank, for example, the average American emits more than 16 metric tons of carbon each year. This translates to the melting of about 48 square meters of ice in the Arctic, enough to cover a 500 sq. foot apartment. These and other calculations appear in a new paper in Science by Dirk Notz of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.  The goal is to quantify the rate of  Arctic melting and tie it to CO2 emissions and more importantly, "makes it possible to intuitively grasp how we all contribute to global warming."

Why does increased melting of Arctic sea ice matter? According to Walt Meier, a sea ice specialist at NASA:

"When you're changing the Arctic you certainly expect it to have ramifications outside the Arctic.  The climate system is interconnected . What happens in the Arctic doesn't  necessarily stay in the Arctic."

This dovetails with the Arctic heat emphasis exposed in the zonal temperature map shown above. and what is called "Arctic amplification".

It also means we have much to fear in terms of climatic-based catastrophes. For example, a much warmer Arctic means a much more unstable polar region with more frequent intrusions of the polar vortex.

Further, the Arctic heat anomaly detected in January was accompanied by a new record-low level for Arctic sea ice extent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center more than 400,000 square miles of the region were below average  for the month. This in turn was closely tied to warmer Arctic air temperatures.

Prof. Gunter Weller, a former climate scientist at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, had predicted much of this with his ground breaking research on Arctic warming in the 1980s. But most of us thought at the time humans would soon come to their senses. Even Prof. Weller expressed cautious optimism to me in one conversation in April, 1986. That hope now appears to be dashed as reality sets in on how far we really need to go - all the while battling a new administration that regards the science as a "hoax" . Not to mention a phalanx of pseudo-intellectuals who are convinced that climate researchers are "global warming conspirators".

Stay tuned!

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