Monday, October 15, 2018

IPCC Releases Climate Report — First Thoughts


by Gaius Publius

I'm just delving into the new IPCC special report on the effects of limiting, or not limiting, global warming of 1.5°C (full report here), and there are a number of bottom lines coming out of it, including this one, which we reported earlier: "IPCC Manipulating Climate Report Summary to Favor Wealthy Nations."

The reference to manipulation refers to the executive summary part of the report (titled "Summary for Policymakers"), which national representatives are allowed to edit line by line. The rest of the report is written by climate scientists, but written by consensus, which causes it to "lean conservative" in its prognostication and prescriptions.

On that last point, Climate Central wrote in 2012:
Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world's most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent, say a growing number of studies on the topic.

This conservative bias, say some scientists, could have significant political implications, as reports from the group – the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – influence policy and planning decisions worldwide, from national governments down to local town councils. ...

A comparison of past IPCC predictions against 22 years of weather data and the latest climate science find that the IPCC has consistently underplayed the intensity of global warming in each of its four major reports released since 1990.

The drastic decline of summer Arctic sea ice is one recent example: In the 2007 report [here], the IPCC concluded the Arctic would not lose its summer ice before 2070 at the earliest. But the ice pack has shrunk far faster than any scenario scientists felt policymakers should consider; now researchers say the region could see nearly ice-free summers within 20 years.
Sea ice predictions that are way off the mark are just the first of the prognostication failures the article lists.

Yet taking all that into account, the bulk of which will strike most people as obvious, I still want to write several pieces about this publication, starting with this one. Greenpeace bottom-lines the report as follows:
Key takeaways

2°C is much more dangerous than thought when the Paris deal was signed. We are closer to critical tipping points and other key risks than we thought. Four out of the five main Reasons for Concern have been revised to signal substantially higher risks with lower levels of warming for humans, species and economies.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C would make a huge difference for the life in oceans and land. It would protect hundreds of millions of people from frequent extreme heatwaves, halve the proportion of additional populations suffering water scarcity and help achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication goals.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C or below is challenging but still achievable, if we are fast, bold and lucky, and accelerate action on all fronts now.

Solutions exist that could enable halving global carbon emissions by 2030 in ways that support development goals, build climate resilience and deliver us healthier and more prosperous societies.

The next few years are critical for the world to embark on a transformational path to reduce its carbon emissions and increase its forests to bring emissions to net zero by mid century the latest. With countries’ current climate targets for 2030, we would have no chance. So they must be improved.

We need to think big, at all levels, with everyone on board. The challenge is unprecedented and it won’t be solved by technology or economics alone. We need better governance and deeper understanding of system transformations, agency and motivation for change. And we need to prepare for the impacts and losses that can no longer be avoided, meeting the needs of people at risk.
Greenpeace has other takeaways with more detail; the short info-sheet is worth reading in its entirety. Two that caught my eye are this one:
With countries’ current climate targets we are heading for well above 3°C. ...
and this one:
To get below 1.5°C global CO2 emissions would need to be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by mid-century at the latest, with substantial reductions in other gases.
Greenpeace is doing its best to be equally alarming and encouraging, as is, I suspect, the IPCC (though we'll find out more after reading the full report). Since no one really knows the future (an obvious statement that's still only partly true), there may be a chance to avoid the worst of the climate outcomes by stopping our emissions "now" — meaning ASAP, on an WWII-style emergency timeline.

The problem, of course, is that even though everyone, including the average Fox News drone, believes the worst is on the way, no one among the masses believes a real solution is possible. Thus, nothing meaningful will be done, since no one thinks a meaningful thing can be done. A circular checkmate, to mix metaphors.

Climate Change and Confederate Flags

More on the last point later, but I do want to show you a recent Saturday Night Live take on the IPCC report, which restates the above problem in a novel and comic way. This is from their "Weekend Update" segment. After talking about Kanye West's bizarre appearance in the Oval Office, the hosts pivot to the climate report (emphasis added):
Colin Jost: This [Kanye West's pro-Trump pronouncement] was pretty crazy. But look, it’s not the end of the world, O.K., because this is the end of the world. That’s right. Scientists basically published an obituary for the earth this week and people were like, yeah, but like what does Taylor Swift think?

We don’t really worry about climate change because it’s too overwhelming and we’re already in too deep. It’s like if you owe your bookie $1,000, you’re like, oh yeah, I gotta pay this dude back. But if you owe your bookie $1 million, you’re like, I guess I’m just gonna die.

Michael Che: This story has been stressing me out all week. I just keep asking myself, why don’t I care about this? Don’t get me wrong: I 100-percent believe in climate change. Yet, I’m willing to do absolutely nothing about it.

I mean, we’re all going to lose the planet. We should be sad, right? This whole episode should be like a telethon or something, but it’s not. I think it’s because they keep telling us we’re going to lose everything and nobody cares about everything.

People only care about some things. Like, if Fox News reported that climate change is going to take away all the flags and Confederate statues? Oh, there’d be recycling bins outside of every Cracker Barrel and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Nice double use of "cracker" and two good points. First, disaster freezes action (until it doesn't). And second, most people don't care about the planet or "humanity" in the abstract nearly as much as they care about their kin, their immediate friends, and their tribe. So what will make the TV-watching masses care enough to act?

I've often thought, for example, that something as non-lethal as the permanent inability to play college football anywhere on the East Coast from October 1 through November 30 — eight solid weeks — due to constant hurricanes and torrential rainstorms might do the trick.

After all, imagine: no home games for two entire months in much of the ACC or SEC, none in Florida, the Carolinas or Georgia, ever again. Would that get the Fox News and Fox Sports fanboys' attention, enough for them to act? I think it might, and with a lot less loss of life than something much more drastic.


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At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't football (especially involving unpaid collegiate gladiators) actually a religious ritual of the Trumpster Deplorables?

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This link shows you that prominent scientists (in this case, Edward Teller) were looking at this *60* fucking years ago:

"I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. [....] But I would [...] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [....] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [....] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [....] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe."

note: he quotes 10% increase in CO2. How much has it increased already?

All this is to lead, once again, to my own read on this. It's already too late for 2 or even 3 deg. C. That much is already baked into the system. The current amount of C guarantees increases in temps which guarantees increases in CO2 and H2O which, in turn, guarantees more releases of CH4, all of which guarantees more temp increases, CO2, H2O, CH4... and the resonant cycle continues...

Nothing short of resequestering carbon by the gigatons per year will change that.

There is no impetus for resequestration; not even any discussion of reduction of the number of humans polluting the planet; no discussion of how to save the oceans, rivers and land as we must continue to denude our forests to uncover farmland; and there certainly isn't any plan to make americans smarter...

There will be increases in extraction, burning and polluting... and profits. There will be 10 billion humans before the IPCC's projection of ITS deadline for 2 degrees.

Humans' propensity for delusion, religious and other, will prevent any majority of them from acting with urgency... and the powers (money, religion, Nazis, democraps...) certainly will continue their efforts to keep everyone stupid -- or have we already forgotten the tobacco industry's 7-decade long propaganda industry to keep their products from being interfered with?

It's too late. As Edward Teller's talk hints, it was probably already too late when Carter first put a solar cell on the white house (that was torn down by big-oil's puppet, Reagan).

Venus didn't become a runaway hot box hellscape over night. It took at least hundreds of millennia.

But venus wasn't polluted with billions of carbon-gushing imbeciles either.

We're headed toward the same end point. And humans are going to speed up the process by orders of magnitude. We're simply too stupid not to.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Solutions exist that could enable halving global carbon emissions by 2030..."

not good enough. emissions must cease and 100 gigatons of existing carbon must be resequestered by 2030.

This report is a crock. It would seem to be simply a feel-good propaganda effort meant to keep the idiots stupid ... and optimistic... and to prevent any urgency in actions.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't praise Edward Teller all that much. He was a strong supporter of civilian nuclear reactors which generate huge amounts of heat all by themselves.

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too have begun to feel that this is game over for planet earth, over the next several decades. I hope that I am wrong.

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't waste my time with this shit (topic) anymore. Carbon tax on each gallon of petrol fuel will NEVER be passed!Suffer you morons. You had your chance!! I really want to see destroyed!

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:18, the heat of all the reactors doesn't touch the heat retained in the atmosphere (from the sun's bigger nuclear reactor) due to all the carbon humans have already pumped into the atmosphere.

Teller also designed the first thermonuke. If he had not, someone else would have. But still..

Someone as smart as that should have been listened to all the same.


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