Can We Keep Warming to 2 Degrees?

September 4, 2017

Glen Peters is a Senior Researcher at Cicero – The Center for International Climate Research, in Oslo, Norway.

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11 Responses to “Can We Keep Warming to 2 Degrees?”

  1. andrewfez Says:

    Probably not, but if we shoot for 2C we might get lucky and hit only 3C.

  2. indy222 Says:

    No. We’re not going to limit to 2C. We’re at 1.25C now and yes, we’ll cut CO2 emissions at some point in the next decade or two, and eventually perhaps even to zero late in the century, but permafrost carbon will pick up the slack and temperatures will continue to rise, permafrost will continue to melt and release more carbon, 2.3% of it in the form of methane, and so the CO2e will continue to rise and temperature continue to rise faster than CO2e. I see no hint of learning that we live on a finite planet and global economic growth is incompatible with limiting global warming. I see widespread delusional indulgence in cherry-picked small-scale examples like Denmark, California, etc, that GDP can rise and emissions not rise, while ignoring that globally is quite a different story – when you consider the massive outsourcing of manufacturing to Asia that has happened over the last several decades. I see no prospect of a global willingness to face how expensive to our lifestyles, or notions of population control, it will be to halt climate change to 2C. Even if you succeeded to limit it to 2C, 2C is a “disaster”, finds James Hansen. It’s the attitude, the ATTITUDE, that makes me pessimistic. If we had an emergency mentality, an all-resources-on-deck spend-whatever-it-takes mentality, then we could succeed perhaps. As is, we’ll learn the hard way, and the inertia of the climate system will guarantee that we tip over to disaster. I see no appreciation even among the Progressives of what we actually must do. No one….. NO ONE wants to hear the true cost to get to sustainability. No one wants to hear that according to careful demographic studies, even global 1-child-per-family still leads to rising population to mid century, and still 4 billion people by 2100 – on an Earth that is already 50% beyond sustainability and eating badly into it’s see corn. Certainly not Republicans of course, but not liberal/progressive/eco-friendly’s either, in my educational experience. EVERYone wants economic growth and wealth for everyone, including the half of global population living on less than a few $ per day. And they can’t have it and live within the limits of a sustainable planet at this late date. 50 years ago could we have gotten there? Yes, I think so. Today, we’ve gone too far and our response is not to face up, but instead to run ever faster into delusional denial. It’s the politically and economically and psychologically expedient thing to do, and we’re doing it in spades. A very tiny, narrow range of human beings have used their lifetime of self discipline and training to face up to reality; mostly in the sciences. The rest, are indulged with New Age “no limits” books sold by hucksters, with politically correct notions of “fairness” and “everyone’s opinion is valid” and all the rest, which is permission to indulge wishful thinking and avoid confrontation with painful reality, getting more painful all the time. I don’t feel sorry for such people, but I do feel sorry for the youth. They are the only hope to overthrow this paradigm, and they have the most at stake to do so. Do they have the ability to see through the educational pablam they get to do so? I can only hope and do my personal best.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Well said. Regarding “….EVERYone wants economic growth and wealth for everyone, including the half of global population living on less than a few $ per day. And they can’t have it and live within the limits of a sustainable planet at this late date. 50 years ago could we have gotten there? Yes, I think so”—-ideas better known as “The American Dream”—-I suggest that everyone view the documentary or read the book by Noam Chomsky titled “Requiem for the American Dream” (DVD from Netflix, book from Seven Stories Press, 2017).

      Our chances of having gotten there 50 years ago were very slim, and the efforts made by the extreme right and the plutocracy since then to take over the country have made it virtually impossible. Another recent good book that addresses the issue is Democracy in Chains—-The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Plan for America by Nancy MacLean, a terrific follow on to Dark Money that starts back in the days of John C. Calhoun.

      Read the Chomsky and MacLean books, Dark Money by Mayer, Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes, Makers and Takers by Foroohar,, and Wealth and Democracy by Philips, and you will have a graduate level understanding.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      indy222,

      you wonder why people’s attitude sucks so much that they can’t get into fighting a war mode?

      Maybe you should look at your own views. You could not type for more than ten seconds before you started hyperventilating about sustainability, overpopulation, economic growth, etc.

      It was like watching spittle hit my monitor from the inside.

      FFS, must we really go over this again? Consumption, economic growth, population have ZERO to do with global warming.

      ===>>> Global warming is about [CO2] levels. <<<===

      It doesn't matter how many fucking cars you own if they don't burn fossil fuels, and fossil fuels were not used to make the components of those cars.

      It doesn't matter how many fucking people there are in the world if nobody is adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

      The only thing we have to do to solve global warming is to build and deploy RE fast enough. That's it. That is all. It is a technology fix.

      And all your tangential shit about x,y, and z does is confuse the issue, and magnify despair and confusion and guilt and hopelessness, and dilute the message, and fuck up our chances of success.

      Plus, you are wrong. We CAN accomplish the reversal of global warming and at the same time improve the quality of life of everyone on the planet. Because we have the opportunity to democratize energy and have it be not just clean but virtually if not literally free of charge.

      Population is already slowing. Sustainability will arrive. In time. But that time is not NOW. NOW it is time to BADNRE. Build And Deploy New Renewable Energy. That is the ball. We all need o keep our eyes on it.

  3. rsmurf Says:

    No we are not gonna make it!! The thing that pisses me off is i did and do my part, yet virtually everyone else i know does LESS THAN NOTHING. Ive changed my lifestyle done things i REALLY DID NOT WANT TO DO, and have really made a difference, but all the people that wouldn’t even buy a hybrid car, or use CFL/LED lights are ruining MY planet with their GREED.

    • indy222 Says:

      Yup. That’s the brutal economic reality of climate. Personal individual voluntary sacrifice counts for nothing. Sacrifice only works when we ALL do it since GHG molecules diffuse globally within weeks. That means we need global POLICY, enforced legally with severe consequences for violations. I believe it’s a waste of valuable energy to try to convince people to lower their carbon footprint voluntarily. It may induce a few to do so, it won’t make any detectable difference to climate. Far better to educate people on how dire our situation is, and ask them to instead help with OCCUPY DC with 1 million strong (that’s only 0.3% of our population; not impossible) and refuse to leave until the paradigm of corporate-bought Congress and President is gutted, by passing laws forbidding corporate money to candidates, by passing at 28th amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing unspoiled commons (air, ocean, great forests) to future generations

      • indy222 Says:

        And of course, most important, a stiff Carbon Tax and Dividend Law.

      • andrewfez Says:

        I think there might be a solar minimum coming that’ll shave a few tenths of a degree off the temp rise in the mid term. The paper that claimed that was being touted around the climate denial circuit and it’s somewhere on potholer54’s latest set of videos dealing with climate denial, but I don’t have the link at the present.


    • It’s great to do those things and I have too.

      But the amount of people who will make voluntary sacrifices to lower their burden on the planet is maybe 10%. It just won’t ever amount to enough to make a difference.

      So like indy222 says, we need policy. That policy should reward the right behavior by creating incentives for lowering our emissions. Pricing fossil-derived carbon is critical since it would make low-emissions energy more competitive. Also it would influence consumer behavior (much of our carbon emissions is really embedded in the products we consume, not direct fossil fuel consumption.

      So, while individual actions are great, it’s much more important to speak with your member of congress to ask them to introduce legislation for a carbon tax.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Screw the carbon tax. It does nothing to actually build and deploy new RE. I do not believe there is an example in the world where a carbon tax has ever been shown to do this. In fact, most carbon taxes have been abject failures.

        Which is a REALLY stupid way to squander one’s political capital.

        If we want policy, then let’s have real policy. Let’s skip the carbon tax middleman and go directly to mandates for RE deployment. Let’s go directly to nationalization of the utility system. Let’s go directly to the implementation of a new series of Government bonds which will fund only the construction of publicly-owned RE farms.

        Jesus H., a carbon tax is really small thinking. Let’s think bigger, a lot bigger. Because building the U.S. a brand spanking new 100% carbon-free energy system is simply a matter of of redirecting about 5 to 7 years worth of fossil fuel purchases. This is not some impossibly huge superhuman effort we need – it is simply a diversion of a finite amount of money we are already spending on something stupid and using it instead for something intelligent.


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