Scientists: We May Be Shooting Past 2 Degrees

September 30, 2016

This news item tells us what we already knew: The Paris agreement of last year is a good start, but inadequate by itself to solve the larger climate problem.

What is different now is that, in the interim, global temperatures have taken a breathtaking jump that is greater even than the large spike we might have expected with the El Nino of last winter.  We are closer to the edge than we thought.
To be real – the idea that there is a 2 degree threshold below which we are “safe” is nonsense – the number is arbitrary. We are already in territory that will melt catastrophic portions of the polar ice sheets, and create havoc with weather extremes, agriculture, and infrastructure around the world in coming decades.

hansensmall

Washington Post:

Here, in the wake of the first presidential debate, the media skewered Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for denying his prior Twitter claim that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese”  — even as Trump’s surrogates continued to bluntly advance positions contrary to modern scientific understanding on the subject. His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, for instance, asserted on CNN that Trump believes the current climate swing is “naturally occurring,” contradicting the view of mainstream climate researchers that it is mainly human-caused.

On Thursday, a group of seven distinguished climate scientists led by Robert Watson, a former chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,  asserted that the chance of holding warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels “has almost certainly already been missed.”  And we could very soon be on an irrevocable path to 2 degrees of warming, they continue, unless countries dramatically up their pledges to cut emissions under the Paris climate agreement — an agreement Trump has said he would “cancel.”

“When you read the Paris agreement, it is absolutely inadequate, with the current pledges, to get on a pathway to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone a pathway to 1.5,” said Watson in an interview with the Post. To be clear: The researchers are happy with the agreement itself, but not with the steps that countries are currently committing to take under it.

Watson said that as of now, on our current emissions trajectory, the world could be at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels in 2030 — less than 15 years — and at 2 degrees by 2050. But because of time lags in the climate system, the actual emissions that would result in those outcomes, and that would have to be averted in order to avoid them, would occur sooner than that.

 

Advertisements

21 Responses to “Scientists: We May Be Shooting Past 2 Degrees”


  1. We might be shooting past but in my opinion, quoted here,

    https://667-per-cm.net/2016/09/16/predicting-annual-temperatures-a-year-ahead-dr-gavin-schmidt-at-realclimate/

    and that of Tamino and Dr Gavin Schmidt, we just don’t have the evidence yet. My own forecast of the mean trend uses methods differently done than Tamino or Dr Schmidt (see my blog under keyword “Munshi”) yet agrees that at present there’s no budge in the mean trend. Sure, that could be wrong, but wait a year or two.

    Meanwhile there’s every reason to aggressively move to zero Carbon emissions.


    • I read Tamino and Schmidt at Real Climate and your blog and your always enlightening comments at Tamino. But I wonder if this is not an apples and oranges issue. You are talking about statistical projections in the short term, I think, and their implications. Enlighten me if I am wrong. The paper by Watson and others assumes the projections published in IPCC and the UNEP Emissions Gap assessment concerning what is needed to stay below 2degC, which is that by 2030 we will have reduce CO2 emissions from the current 54GT to 42GT. What they are doing is a kind of meta-analysis taking a series of studies looking at the pledges of countries that are part of the Paris Climate Accord (the INDCs) and projecting whether these will be adequate to reach that goal. (See their footnote 16 for a list of 11 of these studies.) Unfortunately, they do not present the details of the analysis, but assuming they are correct, much more will be needed to avoid the 2deg threshold. They also present an enlightening discussion of how this might be achieved (e.g., what is needed in renewable energy). In addition, they discuss the probabilities (~=0) that we will stay below 1.5deg, which is frightening by itself, if you follow Hansen et al in their Science study of last year.
      The Watson paper is at:
      https://www.scribd.com/document/325824016/The-Truth-About-Climate-Change#download


      • I know the Carbon commitments and the trends and, yes, we’re in trouble if we don’t get crackin’, as I said. However the question is to what degree a “hot 2016” and recent trend is being taken of evidence something extraordinary happening beyond projections, which is where the evidence is weak. I will look at Watson et al.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You said in your first comment “There’s no evidence yet” and “Sure, that could be wrong, but wait a year or two”?

          Now you say “However the question is to what degree a “hot 2016” and recent trend is being taken of evidence something extraordinary happening beyond projections”.

          By all means, let’s keep “waiting for a year or two” (and repeat as often as needed to maintain the state of denial) until the “evidence” becomes so clear and “extraordinary” and “beyond projections” that we will KNOW that there’s a real problem that needs to be addressed. Perhaps a sudden and massive outgassing of methane from thawing permafrost and subsea clathrates? Or sudden ice sheet collapse in the Arctic and Antarctic leading to greatly accelerated sea level rise? Or…..(the whole list of things that ARE happening and exceeding projections and “surprising” us ever more often).

          I agree with “Meanwhile there’s every reason to aggressively move to zero Carbon emissions”, and would add “Navel gazing and playing the projection and data crunching game is not very productive—-when bullets start to zip past one’s head, the smart thing to do is to first look for cover, then neutralize the source”.


          • If you read my, Tamino’s, and Gavin’s posts, readd without which my commment is incomplete, there is NO BASIS FOR ARGUING WE ARE SAYING THERE IS NO WARMING. Rather the question is whether or not the 2015-2016 upturn is evidence for an acceleration in warming beyond the undeniable warming trend that is there.

            If someone refuses to read and understand those posts, I cannot help you here. You can of course disagree with the points, but then the obligation IS UPON YOU to justify your claim with quantitative argument. I say you cannot without getting a year or two more data.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            My, my—-look at all the shouting! Didn’t know that navel-gazing number crunchers were so excitable. I don’t know if you “refused to read and understand” my comments or just don’t have language comprehension skills that match your number skills, but I was not ARGUING YOU ARE SAYING THERE IS NO WARMING.

            I will try to state my ARGUMENT more succinctly. I look at the last couple of years on the global surface temperature graph and say WOW. Coupled with all the other unremittingly bad news about other AGW impacts, and the fact that all our projections and models seem to be understating them, I apply just plain common sense rather than relying on “regression to the mean thinking” and say to myself “I hope we aren’t approaching some unknown tipping points and a positive feedback loop situation”. Please tell me how you incorporate unknown tipping points and positive feedback loops into your number crunching.

            I see the numbers but also listen to my gut, and if we have a year or two more of temperature increases like the last two, we will be moving onto very dangerous ground very quickly, and your rather sanguine belief that “…the question is whether or not the 2015-2016 upturn is evidence for an acceleration in warming beyond the undeniable warming trend that is there” is true only to a point, and you are advocating watching it unfold in the rear view mirror. IMO, the question is “How much time do we have until we hit tipping points and the SHTF, and can we afford to just sit around crunching numbers and hoping for the best?”

            The issue of AGW is pretty much settled among scientists and mathematicians—-it’s the politicians, economists, social scientists, psychologists, and anthropologists who are wandering around in confusion—-they don’t need to be encouraged to “wait for more data”. The data we have RIGHT NOW says that we are not going to stay within 1.5 degrees and are very likely to shoot through 2 degrees and beyond.

            PS Peter says here “The Paris agreement is inadequate….”. Has anyone noticed that we are talking about airplane emissions right now in Montreal and are close to an agreement that doesn’t take effect until 2020, has a five-year “grace period” after that before it must be implemented, and exempts many of the smaller country’s airlines? (We have not even begun to consider emissions from ocean shipping).


  2. Need to do geoengineering research and see what turns out.


    • Really? Why is that cheaper than mitigating? In fact, need to mitigate anyway. No sense paying huge amounts to remove CO2 from air and still be putting it in. And, yeah, that’s the only kind of geoengineering that makes sense. This SRM has nothing good about it.


      • Geoengineering research should be planned so the research itself costs less than mitigation. That’s self evident.. For example, spending $200 million per year for 10 years is only $2 billion.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      YES! Let’s do some GEOENGINEERING research!! Whoopee!! Technology will save us from ourselves!!!

      The fact is that we have been engaged in a huge “geoengineering research experiment” since the dawn of agriculture and the Anthropocene, and particularly for the couple of centuries that we have been burning fossil fuels.

      And it’s NOT turning out well.

      And it doesn’t look like mankind is capable of stopping the experiment in time to avoid major upheaval, if not extinction. (I wonder why we don’t have in place the same kind of protocols that we do for medical procedure and drug research? You know, when patients start dropping dead in large numbers, we stop the experiment?)

      And when we DO begin our geoengineering (and it will likely not be methodical “research” but hastily thrown together “save our asses” and thumb-in-the-dike things like spraying sulfur compounds in the air), I want to push for the much cleaner and more “elegant” solar mirrors or “venetian blinds” at the L1 Lagrangian point.

      If we can get Musk and Space-X to concentrate on that rather than his idiotic Mars fantasies, he will still make that pile of money that he seeks. Of course, his competitors are sabotaging his rockets. Are all aware that a “strange shadow and a white spot” were seen on the roof of their competitor’s building nearly a mile away at the time of the Space-X explosion? And that there was a “popping noise” coming from that direction a few seconds before? Sniper fantasies, anyone?

      PS I have often asked my Magic 8-Ball for “advice” when pondering weighty questions. I asked it THREE times if there was any chance that Musk’s competitors had sabotaged his rocket, and it answered “Most likely” twice and “Signs point to yes” once. IMO, that’s almost proof positive.


      • We are living in an industrial civilization, therefore the use of technology is built into everything we do, and there no turning back to the caves.

        If your plans rely on the development of better solar panels and batteries, then you are relying on technology we haven’t seen. My proposal is simply to research geoengineering. But one has to have the right background and mindset to understand why I think the way I do. And I’m afraid most readers here aren’t that much into science and engineering.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          “We are living in an industrial civilization, therefore the use of technology is built into everything we do, and there no turning back to the caves”.

          WHAT? That statement is just proof of the mindless belief that “technology will save us from ourselves”, to say nothing of the fact that large numbers of humans are NOT living in “industrialized societies” (or at least in ones that have been around for very long).

          We have already “turned back to the caves” with the damage being done by AGW, and NO technology is going to save all of us. Like so many other “advances”, geoengineering may prove to be perhaps a short term “band-aid” but WILL be a long term disaster.

          If anyone watched the segment on AI on 60 minutes tonight, that too is an “advance” that will ultimately turn on us. Once the machines get smart enough to realize that humans threaten the climate of the planet and therefore their existence, they will proceed to eliminate that threat. Terminator Redux!

          As for “But one has to have the right background and mindset to understand why I think the way I do. And I’m afraid most readers here aren’t that much into science and engineering”. Really? How smug, self-satisfied, and condescending of you to say that. How about explaining to all exactly what “background and mindset” we need to understand your thinking?


          • It helps to have studied physics, engineering, oceanography, and subjects like that. It also helps not to get lost amongst the trees before you decide which forest is better to walk through.

            Knee jerk reactions against geoengineering are a classical case of option selection made with insufficient information.

            I like to point out that decarbonization isn’t really possible without causing serious damage to humanity unless we develop improved solar power and energy storage technology. So tell us, is THAT particular technology research and development field acceptable to you? Or are you simply aiming at a particular field you oppose, because you already decided what’s best? Or are you against all future technology development? How far would you take the clock? To 1500 AD? Or to 1500 BCE?

            I also wonder if you grasped the main point in this particular article. If indeed we are already set to cross 2 degrees C (I believe there’s a better than even chance it will happen), then what other measures can we take other than geoengineering research, to see if we find a way out of the hole?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Fernadolame says “It helps to have studied physics, engineering, oceanography, and subjects LIKE THAT”? What is “THAT”? And it HELPS? Lord love a duck, but that is a rather insubstantial answer to my question, as is the gibberish about walking through forests and not getting lost among the trees, which is something fernandolame appears to have done himself.

            He also says “Knee jerk reactions against geoengineering are a classical case of option selection made with insufficient information”. I suggest that one of the “subjects like that” that F-Lame needs to study is English comprehension, because he certainly doesn’t understand what I said in my comment, and if he had any understanding of my background, he would not be tossing “knee-jerk” at me.

            He smugly says of himself “I like to point out that decarbonization isn’t really possible without causing serious damage to humanity unless we develop improved solar power and energy storage technology”. As the saying goes, “No S**T, Sherlock!” (or is he channeling Captain Obvious here?)

            Since fernandolame thinks he’s on a roll and winning this argument he’s having not with me but with himself, he goes all out with the rhetorical BS and piles on more smugness and condescension with “So tell us, is THAT particular technology research and development field acceptable to you? Or are you simply aiming at a particular field you oppose, because you already decided what’s best? Or are you against all future technology development? How far would you take the clock? To 1500 AD? Or to 1500 BCE?” To which I can only say that he needs to get both Reading Comprehension for Dummies and Logic for Dummies books, study them well, and then try again to enter the discussion.

            “I also wonder if you grasped the main point in this particular article. If indeed we are already set to cross 2 degrees C (I believe there’s a better than even chance it will happen), then what other measures can we take other than geoengineering research, to see if we find a way out of the hole?”

            Actually, the main “point” of this article and so many others lately is that we have dithered and dawdled for so long that the the main “measure” most humans will be taking during the next century is to bend over and kiss their asses goodbye.

            I will repeat that geoengineering is a “least best alternative”—–something that mankind WILL attempt when the SHTF—-it will be hurried and sloppily done, may work to some degree in the short term, but will NOT address the real problem—-man’s inability to recognize and deal with the consequences of massive and rapid burning of the fossil fuel inventory in time to avert CAGW. And the real answer as to why mankind has not done that lies in the realm of psychology, sociology, economics, politics, political neuroscience and psychology, and “subjects like that”. THAT is a forest that F-Lame appears to be afraid to enter.

  3. webej Says:

    The fact that the Donald has backed away from many previous pronouncements gives some hope: basically he is a tabula rasa (in policy terms) overlaid by rhetoric from his beer buddies who shows signs of yielding to inescapable conclusions when forced to confront reality.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The Donald “backs away from previous pronouncements” only long enough to do one of the following:

      1) Insist that he never said it (in spite of video and print evidence)
      2) Come back and say the exact opposite
      3) Come back and double down on what he said
      4) Talk about something totally unrelated in an attempt to distract, divert, and obsfuscate

      Mentioning Trump and “some hope” in the same sentence is just more proof of how naive and immature your thinking is.

      And you say that he is a tabular rasa? He’s SEVENTY freaking years old, and his problem is not that he has no “policy” ideas but that he’s crazy as hell and his “policies” are reminiscent of Hitler.

      And are you proud of this little exercise in attempted intellectualism? “….overlaid by rhetoric from his beer buddies who shows signs of yielding to inescapable conclusions when forced to confront reality”.

      Lord love a duck! Have you been paying ANY attention? Hillary said it well—-Trump lives in his own reality, and there is no such thing as an “inescapable conclusion” in it—-only expediency, self-serving, and profit at the expense of others.

      Like get educated and like grow up.


  4. What does mitigation look like? The better we can communicate, in vivid imagery and imaginative creativity, the beautiful future possible with clean energy on an energy descent trajectory, the more likely such an outcome is possible.

    cf The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury

  5. redskylite Says:

    Even my simple (Openware Apache) spreadsheet forecast is telling me that we are on the way to 2 degrees and beyond in the touchable future, even if we plateau and dip for brief periods due to ocean states and variability. Deep down the populace know it too. And I feel a bit better today after reading Popular Science, it seems to explain why so few in my circle seem to be as concerned as me. At least I spied the first Nissan Leaf in my hometown today, it felt good.

    “so many people remained silent as the country slipped into the grip of fascism. She found that when everyone is silent, no one speaks up.”

    http://www.popsci.com/six-charts-show-why-no-one-is-talking-about-climate-change


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: