Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New IPCC Report Confirms Humans Have Very Little Time Before Catastrophe Sets In

A new interactive Google Earth map showing the impacts of a 4°C world
Google maps projection of  a +4C greenhouse world -on the verge of being unlivable. 

I have ten great nieces and nephews who will reach a youngish middle age by 2040. But I am pondering now what kind of world awaits them. Will they, indeed, be able to find shelter and prosper in the world now projected in an ominous United Nations report — prepared by The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.    These dire manifestations are certain if humans collectively fail to change their fossil fuel gobbling ways. Surely, this latest report  ought to have every sentient member of homo sapiens quaking with forebodings.

This is given that it is the embodiment of the United Nations issuing its most urgent call to arms yet  and painting a far grimmer picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought.  Basically, thick-headed humanity is warned  that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

As if to insert an exclamation point for emphasis, we also learned (WSJ, p. A3, yesterday)  that on Monday, Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus shared the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work arguing for the implementation of global carbon taxes to reduce long term greenhouse emissions.    Quoted in the piece, Dr. Nordhaus said:

"There are billions of individuals, millions of firms, thousands of governments, hundreds of nations, and for them to take action, they're going to have to have incentives.  We can raise the prices of goods and services that are carbon intensive and lower the ones that are less carbon intensive."

This is very sound advice, but now that the IPCC report has come out, one wonders if the window available is simply too small to achieve what's needed. The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.5 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels by 2040.  Meanwhile, in the same WSJ issue (p. A17)  one finds a propagandist attempting to impugn Nordhaus' model by referencing the potential costs to limit the temperature increase to 2.7 F by 2100.. Uh sorry, guy, but that train already left the station.  

That would be bad enough but the fake news pusher (a "research fellow at the Hoover Institution") also claimed in that context that the cost of implementing Nordhaus' policy would have been vastly larger than doing nada ($37 trillion vs. $16.4 trillion). Which, of course, is BS. The cost of doing nothing until 2040 and allowing the now forecast 4C rise (more likely 6C) by 2100 will be well over $100 trillion in worldwide costs - from the mega-disasters including massive flooding, fires, to loss of jobs, homes, infrastructure - including power stations. Hence, the propagandist Henderson's take that "Mr. Nordhaus' work doesn't support the recent announcement by the IPCC" is total bollocks.  

Oh, another clown that needs slapping upside the head is Holman Jenkins Jr. (WSJ today, p. A15) who babbles deliriously about "the standard climate sensitivity envelope" and its being applied to "future forecast emissions".  Reading his ignorant spiel it's clear this overpaid hack lacks clue one about what data go into global temperature projections.  Still, even a broken clock is right twice each day so give little Holman credit for having at least the thermal physics guesstimate capacity to realize the IPCC authors' solution of injecting reflecting particles into the atmosphere is a non- starter. It would take an albedo coverage equivalent roughly equal to the lunar surface area to get the job done.

Prof. Nordhaus' work does support the IPCC report,  but look, we have to hit the ground running - and that means immediately (in the next year) retiring 500 million autos worldwide from spewing CO2,. Oh, and shutting down all coal-fired plants.

But after also reading the article in the WSJ Business and Investing section, i.e.:

Traders Bet on Return of $100 Oil

I am not sanguine that consumption of fossil fuel, especially oil, will drop one bit. Nope, we will keep guzzling the damned stuff even as the rising seas drown us or raging fire tornadoes cremate us as the runaway greenhouse kicks in.  Don't believe it? Just stick around - at least until 2040, or better 2100.

Where does the 4C increase come from?  Look at the Guardian UK article from May 17, 2015  which bluntly points out:

"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 is the unvarnished truth but you'd never know it by reading most corporate media  releases.   So, in fact, the new IPCC report is basically merely bringing most humans who don't follow climate science closely up to speed.  I guess the reason for the lack of clarion calls is to avoid "frightening" the somnolent public or appearing to always be in emergency mode. Well, newsflash, that's what we have! 

As for the newly released report, it describes a world of worsening food shortages and poverty; more wildfires; and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.  Certainly, alas, in the lifetimes of my great 6 great nephews and 4 great nieces.   Given I likely won't be around by then, I just can't imagine how they will fare - especially as half already live either on an island (Barbados) or a locale prone to wildfires.

Meanwhile, Traitor Trump, who has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, cut the American contribution to a global fund that supports climate mitigation and assistance efforts in developing countries by two-thirds, to $1 billion. He has also  tried to cut government funding of climate-related research — an effort that Congress has so far resisted.

Predictably, the  Dotard White House issued no public response to the United Nations report, which was issued Monday in South Korea at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders.  In the immortal words
 of one Bill Shine, the White House communications director:

Not today.  It’s a Kavanaugh night.

Right. So Donnie Dotard would rather rest on the laurels of an almost certain Pyrrhic victory than address the number one emergency facing the whole planet. Why am I not surprised?  I guess, like my great nieces and nephews, his doting supporters can go suck salt (sea salt).

So the reptilian spawn Kavanaugh - arguably the most disreputable SC justice yet - gets precedence and props over the five alarm report issued by the UN.    Am I making too big a deal of the IPCC report? Hardly!   According to  Bill Hare, the author of previous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization:

"The report is quite a shock, and quite concerning.  We were not aware of this just a few years ago.”

Well, I was, since the Guardian UK article came out 3 years ago. All the signs and data in fact had been pointing to lowballed temperature increases - leaving most citizens living in a fool's paradise So there have been numerous warning blips that the rate of global warming may be much larger than previously thought.

The bottom line?

Without aggressive action NOW, many effects that climate scientists once expected to happen further in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, the report shows.

Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report. quoted in one NY  Times piece said:

“It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime,”

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse emissions must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and by 100 percent by 2050. It also found that use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to 1 to 7 percent by 2050. 

Seriously?  Are we really going to be able to remove 500 million autos worldwide? I doubt it. But... when a species like ours is faced with the proverbial hangman's noose maybe it will finally focus attention. Maybe.  As Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University and an author of the report put it:

“It makes me feel angry when I think about the U.S. government.  My kids feel like it’s their future being destroyed.”

Join the club, Mr. Shindell, because my great nieces and nephews feel pretty much the same way!

See also:
Climate report understates threat


So far, average temperatures have risen by one degree Celsius. Adding 50 percent more warming to reach 1.5 degrees won’t simply increase impacts by the same percentage—bad as that would be. Instead, it risks setting up feedbacks that could fall like dangerous dominos, fundamentally destabilizing the planet. This is analyzed in a recent study showing that the window to prevent runaway climate change and a “hot house” super-heated planet is closing much faster than previously understood.


What Does Science Demand? A Global Energy Transformation With Focus on Inequality of Consumption

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