The Global Carbon Project just released their annual report (‘Carbon Budget 2007‘), which makes for rather depressing reading, at least if you were hoping for a turn-around any time soon in global carbon emissions. The media release associated with the report is packed with good information, and so I’ll reproduce it at the end of this blog post. There have also been some news reports on this in the Australian and international media in which I am quoted, such as here, here and here.
My comments on the report, made to AusSMC, are as follows:
The carbon emissions growth story coming out of the latest Global Carbon Project analyses isn’t getting any brighter. At the average rate of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere over the last few years, we’ll reach a concentration of 450 parts per million by about the year 2040. And that’s an optimistic outlook under a business-as-usual economic scenario, if carbon ‘sinks’ in the ocean miraculously cease their decline in effectiveness, and industrial emissions growth somehow stagnates at the current output. A more realistic projection, accounting for further decline in carbon sinks and ramping up of industrial activity, suggests 2030 is a plausible timeline. But whatever the specific date, 450ppm CO2 commits us to >2 degrees C global warming and all the disastrous consequences this sets in train.
Of particular concern is that emissions from deforestation (mostly the burning of rain forest) in our nearest tropical neighbour region, Southeast Asia, continue to skyrocket. Not only is this damaging to this area’s rich biodiversity (because habitat is degraded and fragmented), but it also has a huge impact on the region’s carbon budget. Yet Southeast Asia, like Australia is particularly susceptible to the impacts of climate change from sea level rise and changes in rainfall patterns. Emissions from Southeast Asian forest loss now exceed those of Latin America or Africa – truly the global ‘hotspot’ of CO2 from deforestation. Australia’s regional role in abatement has never been clearer.
Each year that Australia’s industrial emissions and Southeast Asia’s forestry emissions continues to grow, our chances of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change diminish. Are we willing to continue to act like a lazy audience in a movie theatre, watching passively as a disaster film plays out in slow motion, in which we are the real-life actors? Who is going to ask the projectionist to turn off the reel before we get to the disturbing climax and the end credits start to roll?
This report is timely in the sense that it is a good lead in to another blog post I plan to make within the next few days, which will try to clarify the confusion around whether we are currently at atmospheric concentrations of 455 or 380 ppm CO2-equivalent. The answer is very much that… it depends…
(I also suggest you grab the PDF of their PowerPoint presentation, which has some excellent visuals)
[ppm = parts per million, 1 Pg = petagram (1 billion or 1000 x million tons), C = carbon (multiply by 3.6 to get mass in terms of CO2)].
Atmospheric CO2 growth
Annual mean growth rate of atmospheric CO2 was 2.2 ppm per year in 2007 (up from 1.8 ppm in 2006), and above the 2.0 ppm average for the period 2000-2007. The average annual mean growth rate for the previous 20 years was about 1.5 ppm per year. This increase brought the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 383 ppm in 2007, 37% above the concentration at the start of the industrial revolution (about 280 ppm in 1750). The present concentration is the highest during the last 650,000 years and probably during the last 20 million years.
Emissions from land use change
Land use change was responsible for estimated net emissions of 1.5 PgC per year to the atmosphere. This is largely the difference between CO2 emissions from deforestation and CO2 uptake by reforestation. Emissions for 2006 and 2007 were extrapolated from the previous 25-year trend of 1.5 PgC per year. Land use change emissions come almost exclusively from deforestation in tropical countries with an estimated 41% from South and Central America, 43% from South and Southeast Asia, and 17% from Africa. An estimated 160 PgC were emitted to the atmosphere from land use change during the period 1850-2007.
Emissions from fossil fuel and cement
Emissions increased from 6.2 PgC per year in 1990 to 8.5 PgC in 2007, a 38% increase from the Kyoto reference year 1990. The growth rate of emissions was 3.5% per year for the period of 2000-2007, an almost four fold increase from 0.9% per year in 1990-1999. The actual emissions growth rate for 2000-2007 exceeded the highest forecast growth rates for the decade 2000-2010 in the emissions scenarios of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (IPCC-SRES). This makes current trends in emissions higher than the worst case IPCC-SRES scenario. Fossil fuel and cement emissions released approximately 348 PgC to the atmosphere from 1850 to 2007.
Regional fossil fuel emissions
The biggest increase in emissions has taken place in developing countries, largely in China and India, while developed countries have been growing slowly. The largest regional shift was that China passed the U.S. in 2006 to become the largest CO2 emitter, and India will soon overtake Russia to become the third largest emitter. Currently, more than half of the global emissions come from less developed countries. From a historical perspective, developing countries with 80% of the world’s population still account for only 20% of the cumulative emissions since 1751; the poorest countries in the world, with 800 million people, have contributed less than 1% of these cumulative emissions.
Carbon intensity of the economy
After decades of improvements, the carbon intensity of the global economy, the carbon emitted per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was stalled during the period 2003-2005. This change was largely caused by China’s rapidly growing share in economic output and carbon emissions. Since 2005 China’s energy intensity (which underpins carbon intensity) has decreased (improved) by 1.2% in 2006 and 3.7% in 2007 compared to 2005 levels (according to the National Energy Administration in China).
CO2 removal by natural sinks
Natural land and ocean CO2 sinks have removed 54% (or 4.8 PgC per year) of all CO2 emitted from human activities during the period 2000-2007. The size of the natural sinks has grown in proportion to increasing atmospheric CO2. However, the efficiency of these sinks in removing CO2 has decreased by 5% over the last 50 years, and will continue to do so in the future. That is, 50 years ago, for every ton of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, natural sinks removed 600 kg. Currently, the sinks are removing only 550 kg for every ton of CO2 emitted, and this amount is falling.
Natural Ocean CO2 sinks
The global oceanic CO2 sink removed 25% of all CO2 emissions for the period 2000-2007, equivalent to an average of 2.3 PgC per year. The size of the CO2 sink in 2007 was similar to that in the previous year but lower by 0.1 PgC compared to its expected increase from atmospheric CO2 growth. This was due to the presence of a La Nina event in the equatorial Pacific. The Southern Ocean CO2 sink was higher in 2007 compared to 2006, consistent with the relatively weak winds and the low Southern Annular Mode (a circumpolar pressure oscillation between Antarctica and southern mid-latitudes). An analysis of the long term trend of the ocean sink shows a slower growth than expected of the CO2 sink over the last 20 years.
Natural Land CO2 sinks
Terrestrial CO2 sinks removed 29% of all anthropogenic emissions for the period 2000-2007, equivalent to an average of 2.6 PgC per year. Terrestrial ecosystems removed 2.9 PgC in 2007, down from 3.6 Pg in 2006, largely showing the high year-to-year variability of the sink. An analysis of the long term trend of the terrestrial sink shows a growing size of the CO2 sink over the last 50 years.
Conclusions. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, and despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of countries which are signatories of the Kyoto Protocol. Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel and land use change reached the mark of 10 billion tones of carbon in 2007. Natural CO2 sinks are growing, but more slowly than atmospheric CO2, which has been growing at 2 ppm per year since 2000. This is 33% faster than during the previous 20 years. All of these changes characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger climate forcing and sooner than expected.
53 replies on “Ongoing rise in global carbon emissions and the lazy audience”
TISM? What is that when it’s not an acronym?
The biodestruction in SE Asia and PNG rainforest is sickening.
It’s hard to believe that the local residents would support this and we can only assume that it is being done by corrupt govts and/or officials.
How much of it is driven by Kyoto, biofuels and the AGW hypothesis?
Sorry Barry, I was having an obtuse moment.
TISM was an 80s/90s alternative band in the true sense of the word: the acronym stood for ‘This is serious, mum’. They were very, um, irreverent on the surface, but they were also very good at picking at the cankers of the human condition. They also had a somewhat fatalistic bent, and it was this slant and their name that sprang to mind when I read this piece.
As you can see, I was having a bit of a pessimistic turn yesterday. The CC news from several sources repeated the observations on emissions, and the two inertias – that of the atmosphere and of human response – seem to be heading in diametrically opposite directions. At some point the thread between them is going to snap, and it seems that it’s starting to strain already…
What amazes me about you AGW true believers is that you rave on endlessly about how you have the science right when that is far from being true, however You definitely don’t have the Politics right. There is no way on this good earth that your prescription for the problem can be made to happen. at least not with the swiftness that your belief claims is necessary.
So instead of trying so desperately to achieve the impossible perhaps you lot should be looking more to how humanity could adapt to any climatic changes because all of you plans to manipulate the climate are bound to fail.
Ah yes, Ian’s familiar “it can’t be happening because it’s impossible, so it’s impossible anyone could do anything about it, even if it were happening, because it can’t be happening” proclamation. Sounds like learned helplessness.
Transcript of the Governor’s Remarks at the Commonwealth Club
We are building the hydrogen fueling stations up and down the state to make sure that we don’t have to rely on fossil fuel all the time, to make sure that we, for instance, have the million solar roof initiative, that we have the green building initiative to make sure that we have our more energy-efficient government buildings by the year 2015 to improve our energy-efficiency there by 20%. All of those things, putting aside for Sierra-Nevada Conservancy, the 25 million acres. So now we are petitioning the Bush Administration to make sure that we can put, also, the 4 million acres aside that are roadless now to keep them roadless and not to start developing those areas.
So this is very important, that we can do both. We can take care of the environment and also the economy. So I’m going to continue fighting for that. That’s important to me. When it comes to energy, I’m very happy to say that we have done a great job with our energy supply. Since I’ve come into office, we have taken over a real bad situation—as you remember the blackouts several years ago.
We now have produced, since I’ve come into office, almost 5,000 more megawatts of energy. We are now, for instance, even though the other day we used more energy than ever in the history of California, we didn’t even have to go to stage one alert. So that is tremendous progress. Because we challenged the people and asked the people to be our partners, to believe in conservation. …
Gov. Schwarzenegger Highlights CA’s Global Warming Accomplishments on Eve of AB 32 Anniversary
There’s one other person that I want to point out and this is Tony Blair, because there were in the beginning the debates, should we have just a cap on our greenhouse gas emissions, or should we do cap and trade? Some people were against the idea of doing cap and trade. I was for it but there were a lot of people against it. And so he came to California for an environmental conference, Tony Blair and he talked a lot about the importance of cap and trade. And I think because of that it pushed it over the top so that we now have cap and trade, so he was very much responsible for that, so we want to thank also him for the great assistance that he gave us.
Now, I signed this bill, of course, two years ago tomorrow and it was actually not far away from here, it was on Treasure Island. And I tell you, it was one of the most ambitious global warming law ever signed, the first in America to impose mandatory caps on greenhouse gases. It calls for 25 percent reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020 and it if that’s not enough, an additional 80 percent by the year 2050.
And of course we still have a lot of work to do, which is why you will never see us resting on our laurels, because we know and we are very much aware that everyone has to work very hard. As a matter of fact, next week the California Air Resources Board lays out its framework for how we expect to meet all of those goals that we set, because we all know that it’s one thing to set goals but it’s another one to follow through.
The bottom line is, as America and as China and other nations argue about who should go first when it comes to getting serious about global warming, California is already there and we do the work. (Applause)
We are already a model for the rest of the world. Now, even though, when you look at the globe you will see California is a very tiny spot but I can tell you, when it comes to the power of influence that we have, we are the equivalent of a whole continent, because we have had a tremendous impact on the rest of the world and the world has responded. And also, here in America we have seen the impact. Ten other states have immediately joined us and enacted laws just like ours, because we know that Washington is asleep at the wheel. We cannot look for leadership there. This is why it was important that we reach out — (Applause)
And we started out all alone, there was no one else there. And now another 20 states are heading exactly in the same direction and we have partnerships now with western states, with northeastern states, with Canadian provinces and with European nations. The Western Climate Initiative that we began released its cap and trade plan earlier this week already and the northeastern states started their own cap and trade just yesterday. So this is really great progress.
And we shook up the climate change debate so much so internationally that in July 2007 U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to California to see firsthand what kind of action we are creating. And I remember when he came here, he was shocked to see the kind of progress that we have made here in this state and also the huge expansion of green technology that he has seen here and I have taken him to various different places all over the state.
So he was so excited that he actually invited me to give a speech at a special U.N. session on global warming a few months later. Now, imagine. Here is California, inspiring the rest of the world at the U.N., 190-some countries sitting there and we are talking about what we are doing in California. I was never more proud of our state. I was really a proud governor, I tell you.
Now we have something even more exciting that we are working on right now. My office — as I said, we are not resting — my office is putting the finishing touches on plans for a Governors Global Climate Summit in November, right here in California. We will bring government officials to California from around the world, from provincial governments in China and India, from European nations, from Australia, from Mexico, Canada and every governor in America will be invited.
And the goal is very simple; to form a broad international alliance so that when the Kyoto negotiators start their work in Poland this December they will have our summit as a framework. Like I said, we are not waiting for the federal government. We will continue on, push forward, because we must — (Applause) Thank you.
We have reached a tipping point of the environment and California is at the forefront, as we expect to be.
Now, I realize there are a lot of people also that are negative about that and they say we should not do that. They say that we should slow down, that we can’t afford the attack on global warming, we should wait, that it is too expensive, that the economy is right now down, that it’s turmoil, this is not the right time and all of those kinds of excuses we hear. But the problem is, as far I’m concerned, too serious and the opportunities are too great to get stuck in that kind of short-term thinking.
That is why I also refused to let the legislators use delaying implementation of AB 32 as a bargaining chip in our budget negotiations. (Applause) That was not going to happen on my watch, so we sent that bad idea to the scrap heap and said hasta la vista, baby. (Laughter)
The truth is that there is far more economic opportunity in fighting global warming than there is economic risk. I was thrilled recently when the California Air Resources Board came out with that same conclusion. The Board’s economic analysis compared the cost of doing nothing with the cost of implementing AB 32. It said that AB 32 will boost California’s economy by $27 billion and will create an additional 100,000 jobs. As you can see, we can, in fact, do both, protect the environment and also protect the economy.
Our Air Board also issued a report on health impacts and of course that also has impacts financially. By 2020, with clean air, we will have 300 fewer premature deaths, 900 fewer incidents of asthma and lower respiratory symptoms and 53,000 fewer work lost days. We are, ladies and gentlemen, on the right track not just for California but for the United States. As a matter of fact, the famous journalist, Tom Friedman from the New York Times, says, “If global warming is a hoax, which it is not, doing the right thing to fight it will make us more secure, economically stronger and also healthier.”
So this is why Detroit is always very upset when I talk about that and very upset for each time that we have new kind of guidelines and caps on greenhouse gases and all those kinds of things. As a matter of fact, they had billboards up there in Detroit that say, “Schwarzenegger to Detroit: Drop dead.” But that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, “Arnold to Detroit: Get off your butt.” That’s what I am really saying to them. (Applause)
I think that was the big mistake of this administration, to protect the car manufacturers and to fight us when it comes to the Tailpipe Emission Standards and all this. The federal government, the EPA, didn’t even give us the waiver so that we can regulate our own air. They refused to do that and we are in court because of that, because they wanted to protect the car manufacturers of Detroit. And we have been fighting them and I am going to continue fighting them in court no matter what level of court we’re going to go. We’re going to keep fighting them and fighting them until they stop protecting the car manufacturers, because that will inspire them then to produce alternative-fuel vehicles and then they can be winners again and everyone in America is a winner. (Applause)
GOVERNOR: Well, I think first of all, the most important thing for an administration, is to inspire people. The people, whatever we have done, have been our greatest partners. And all the stuff that we have accomplished in our administration is because the people participated in it.
And I think it is important to let the people know that they themselves can really participate and make a tremendous impact on our state’s goals. So when we talk about a reduction of 25 percent of greenhouse gases, we are talking about that you can literally — even though we are setting a goal that we’re going to do that by the year 2020 — you can do it literally within a year. I mean, think about it. If you just go and wash your clothes with cold water — because the detergent that we have now is such that you can wash your clothes with cold water — you don’t need hot water. That will save, right there, a tremendous amount of carbon output and you can go — the kind of vehicles that you drive, for instance, or putting solar on your roof, or turning off the lights and not letting the lights burn, or turning off your air conditioner.
There are so many things, as I have said when we talking about it, when the oil prices went up, the kind of things that people can do, by just checking their engine, having their engine tuned, how this reduces and helps you by 5 percent on how far you can go with your vehicle. Or having the right tire pressure, even though there was this common joke and everyone laughed about the tire pressure — that’s OK. Let them all laugh about it. But let me tell you something. I have tested my own vehicle. It helps you 6 to 7 percent by having the right tire pressure, sometimes to 10 percent having the right tire pressure. So let everyone laugh but I bring down my costs by 10 percent. That’s perfectly OK. So those are the kind of things that people can do to really participate and to cut down their carbon footprint.
—- end excerpt —–
If the science supported by thousands of the world’ best experts is correct, there is less chance of successful adaptation than there ever is of mitigation.
Adaptation is a strategy of last resort, akin to painting over rust, because a changing climate, and buckling ecosystems, will always be throwing up ever more unexpected circumstances which need to be adapted to.
And with cheap, concentrated fossil energy being the limiting factor in the future, the need to continue to adapt, and the capacity to do so, will be a diverging couplet.
Adaptation will only ever be a bandaid for a very small and elite group of countries, and it will be a temporary one at that.
What amazes me about ‘you’ Denialists is that you seem to have an inordinate capacity to assimilate junk science, but none at all to understand the real science. Aside from a very small cliche of mostly discredited professional scientists the Denialist lobby is peopled by tabloid journalists, PR shills, right-wing fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists and Dunning-Kruger patients.
The only point upon which I agree with you is that emissions reduction will not happen swiftly enough, but that was the thrust of my previous two posts on this thread…
My point is clearly that if as a sceptic that I put aside my doubts about the “science” and look at what is politically possible you are all so clearly pissing into the wind with your proposed solution to the “problem”.
The prophets of AGW keep telling us that we must reduce emissions now and with an expanding Indian Chinese and South American economies that is just not going to happen they may make small gestures to placate their trading partners who have succumbed to your religious fervour but they won’t make any significant reductions.
So all of your ad hominem attacks of those of us who are sceptical about AGW are really moot if what you think will solve the problem can not be made to happen.
You are in total denial or the throes of religious rapture if you think otherwise. If the situation is as dire as you lot claim then humanity has to workout how to live in a changing world and not to have the hubris to think that they can manipulate the climate.
For pity’s sake Iain Hall.
My point is that I myself am saying that there is Buckley’s chance of humanity being able to reduce its emissions to any decently low target, irrespective of the validity or otherwise of the climate science. How do you figure that I am in a ‘religious rapture’ from this?
And where do you get the idea of ad hominem attacks? The list of players I detailed in my last post is an accurate description of the anti-science side.
Curious to see that it is the AGW proponents who are the denialists, though…
Love the logic. The worse the situation is, the more we should just let it happen and try to live with it.
You are clearly pessimistic about the chances of achieving the emission requirements of the AGW prescription for fixing the problem BUT by the same token you dismiss my suggestion that adaptation is the only way to approach the future thus:
This is all ad hominem
My logic is simple: if emission reductions globally are impossible (and you concede they are) futile attempts to reduce emissions in the first world are pointless. So why should we expend so much effort trying? Better to spend that effort (and treasure) on ways of learning to live with what comes.
Do you believe that emission reductions that AGW enthusiasts claim are necessary can be achieved?
Iain Hall – if you had read the post by Hank Roberts @ 6 you would have realised that not only is it possible to reduce emissions, but that it can also be profitable.When green energy becomes cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives you can be sure that India, China et al will be racing to use it. Schwarzenegger and the Californian people are streets ahead of the rest of us and they will, justly, be the ones to reap the financial benefits and if we follow their lead we will all reap the environmental benefits.
How do you KNOW what’s better unless you know what comes?
You know what? I am a big fan of Arnies films from way back But I don’t put much stock in a speech made by the big feller when it comes the viability of the Warminists prescription for global salvation being possible.
Even in your terms he is not a scientist and he has written no peer reviewed papers on the subject, he is a politician giving a speech to the already converted.
I see that you are trying to avoid answering my simple and direct question. I await your answer before I offer any response to your question in comment 14
by way of a reminder here is the question once again
Do you believe that emission reductions that AGW enthusiasts claim are necessary can be achieved?
Your assertion that I questioned came before your question. I await your answer before I offer any response to your question.
is this what you want me too respond to?
No matter how dire the situation there is nothing to be gained by futile efforts. You misrepresent my point because I am not advocating “doing nothing” I am advocating doing something that will actually help humanity survive and prosper into the future. What you and your fellow Warministas are obsessively focused upon is trying to stop something that you do not adequately understand , with a methodology that you can not achieve politically. So doing that rather than trying to develop an adaptation strategy is actually worse than doing nothing because it leads to inevitable failure,at great expense, while adaptation will still be necessary anyway.( assuming that you are right about the science)
I have responded to your non question even when etiquette would suggest that I was not obliged to so can I have an answer to my question now Chris?
Yes I do, and I do so correctly. As has been pointed out several times above, there are many options for mitigation rather than adaptation, irrespective of whether we have the will to adopt them or not.
And to repeat for the umpteenth time, not only is adaptation NOT the only way to approach the future, by itself adaptation is the wrong way to approach the future. Adaptation presents fewer, and only temporary, strategies. Get yourself a basic education in ecology and in systems responses if you do not understand this.
Further to Chris’s observation at #10 about your logic of response, you also seem to have twisted the logic on whether humans can have an effect on global climate. If the situation is as dire as climate scientists claim then humanity has to workout how to minimise changing the world, because it previously had the hubris to think that human activity couldn’t manipulate, or impact, the climate.
No, it is a description of the non-AGW side.
It is not a counter to an arguement by attacking the man instead of the facts; it is merely an observation on the actual composition of the people who deny the consensus of the best of the world’s climate scientists.
Your accusation of an ad hom is an attempt at a strawman, though.
I do not believe that reductions are ‘impossible’: I am very concerned that they will be inadequate. You are mendaciously misrepresenting what I have said:
Call me crazy, but I think developing technologies that tap unlimited and free sources of energy will be a net benefit for humanity and the economy. Every year, the world spends trillions of dollars on energy. The idea that this problem can’t be solved when we are squandering so much money is absurd. One day, someone will come up with the technology for economical solar cells and a storage medium that will compete with coal. I guarantee that developing that technology won’t cost trillions of dollars, but it will displace trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels. And before anyone can say “8 track” or “film camera,” people will forget all about burning dirt. If we’re actually serious about this, that day will come sooner rather than later. It will also be far cheaper than adapting to a world that is 2+ degrees warmer.
Sorry about the quote within a quote thingie – obviously left out a / somewhere…
Lets look at your response point by point shall we, just so that I do not miss addressing any of your points
There certainly may be many options for mitigation, in theory at least, But that amounts to nothing if you can’t achieve the level of global cooperation that your faith says is necessary. Can you honestly tell me that on a world that can’t address the issues of war, famine, and pestilence that it will be possible to get sustained global agreement to reduce emissions? Just how do you think that you can achieve this? You can’t just make vague generalist statements like that I quote above and think that anyone is going to be convinced.
Oh I do have a pretty good understanding of ecology and a very healthy respect for the way that life finds a way to endure and prosper, but you Warministas have a sort of museum mentality when it comes to the environment. Sadly for you ecosystems are far more dynamic and resilient than you think.
I am not even arguing about the science here, for the purposes of argument I don’t think that my position on the actual science matters one jot. My point is simply this You Warministas all claim that this is a global problem that requires a global response and I am saying how can you make that happen given the long history of failure of all attempts at international governance and treaties. If you have a good idea how this can be done please share it. ;)
Really Bernard did you read what you wrote here? You don’t need a science back ground to see that you are in fact easily meeting the definition of an Ad hom attack upon all of those who are sceptical about AGW.
I am not misrepresenting what you said at all Bernard , you are just trying to find reasons not to concede my point about the political impossibility of making the changes to the worlds energy use that the Warministas claim is required . I just have to ask you how far would do you think that AGW enthusiasts should be willing to go? Would you advocate criminalising scepticism about AGW? Or would advocate the use of lethal military force to bring to heel nations that refuse to comply with the emission reductions that you believe are necessary?
There is very often a difference between what someone thinks that they have said and what a reader gets from their words but I’m damned if I can see why you cite these quotes from your self on this occasion
Why is it that when my point is about the politics that you keep trying to argue the science? If you can’t do the politics then you can’t change anything, even if you have he science right?
Really? I don’t claim to be perfect but in a thread where all of the AGW true believers label all sceptics as ” “denialists” i think that calling you lot Warministas is just horses for courses.
Any mitigation effort is only as worthwhile as the effect that it actually produces now if for instance Australia were to closes down it’s entire economy that would certainly have an impact on global emissions for all of about two minutes before that enormous sacrifice(in domestic terms) was swallowed up by expansions in China and India. I are you going to claim that the destruction of our economy would be a good trade off for a less than 2% reduction in global emissions?
The world’s reserves of coal will last many years yet and it will only be religious fervour that will stop it being exploited.
Yes and how many overseas holidays do you take? How many frequent flyer points do you have? Because so many Warministas claim to be living their belief in AGW yet they still fly to spend time at some beach resort in another country.
No, it was: “How do you KNOW what’s better unless you know what comes?”
Sorry, not interested in responding to a non-sequitur strawman.
I asked you a question in comment#12
the which you have yet to answer now you expect me to answer your question from #14 having twice dodged answering my own question youself.
Come on where is the courage of your convictions if you can’t answer this:
Do you believe that emission reductions that AGW enthusiasts claim are necessary can be achieved?
You sir have just copped out Big time by refusing to answer.
But in the spirit of open debate I will look at the question that you NOW want answered:
Hardly an intelligible question when you get right down to it. could be about the desert menu at Macca’s so how about you try again and ask a proper question that makes sense this time?
Iain Hall @ 15 You obviously still haven’t read Hank Roberts @ 6. This is not a Hollywood movie – the problem is real and desperate and solutions are being created and implemented as a joint effort right now in many states and countries. That is what the post is all about – the success of innovative technology – as I said previously, and others have also indicated, clean, gren technology is available now and becoming cheaper all the time. We are going to run out of oil and coal anyway so why not mitigate climate change now and continue to develop alternatives. Any capitalist society would rather use a cheaper alternative so China and India will want to use it too. Meanwhile there are other pressures we can apply to any recalcitrant countries – an imbargo or an imbedded carbon tax on their manufactured goods for example.
iain clearly doesn’t understand the issues. unfortunately he’s stuck in the mindset of his hero andrew bolt and thinks that a science fact is political. somehow the world’s environment seems to vote left in their eyes.
iain is clearly acting the troll here using words like “faith” and “warminista”. so arguing with him is futile. also i think solutions are possible but not while people waste their time arguing with people who deny blue is blue. and further to that iain is a proven internet stalker trying to track down the identities of mr lefty (who has since admitted he’s jeremy sear after this), bruce everit and fell into two sting operations formulated to show what level he’s stoop to to “out” someone. this after he spent six months posing as a house wife from queensland.
he openly admits on his blog (sic) that he just likes a good argument. think carefully if responding to him may just be wasting your time.
To repeat, your assertion in comment#11 that I questioned came before your question. Your assertion followed other ill-founded assertions way back in comment #5. I’m asking nothing more than you provide justification for your unjustified assertion. I’m not the one spraying around unjustified assertions. You assertions don’t provide any justification to expect answers to random questions from you.
No less intelligible than your assertion. At least I’m not being a hypocrite. Since you need someone to do your thinking for you, the word “better” in my question refers to what you mean by “better” in your assertion and the word “comes” in my question refers to what you mean by “comes” in your assertion.
As Notallright has outed you as a troll, I do not intend to waste any significant time after this trying to untangle your knotted take on the science. I can see that it really would be a futile effort, and that you would forever confabulate disparate issues for the sake of your trolling.
Labelling the scientific consensus of thousands of the world’s best scientists as ‘religious fervour’ does not change the validity of the science, even though it might impress your denialist friends. As you are obviously not publishing in climate science yourself, it must be that thingie that you mentioned (what was it, hubris…?) that places you in such a rarified position that you can make this call.
And yes, your so-called group of ‘sceptics’ are exactly as I described – a bunch of denialists. There are very few true ‘sceptics’ amongst them, and it seems that you are not even acquainted with the definition of true scepticism. If there’s any religious fervour to be seen, it’s in the mottley crew of tabloid journalists, PR shills, right-wing fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists and Dunning-Kruger patients that you are convinced knows better than the scientists who study the subject.
You can paint the pig’s snout with ‘Shades of Scepticism’ lipstick, but it’s still a pig.
Live with it.
I serious doubt that you have even a perfunctory understanding of ecology.
As a practicing ecologist I can tell you that ecosystems are simply as resilient than I know them to be, and that most of them are rather less resilient than you seem to think. I would suggest that your perception of their resilience is more an indication of the inertia in these systems, and the large buffering capacity that many large systems have. The latter will be exhausted by human impact sooner or later, and the former will be the driver that tips balances if we fail to act with sufficient foresight.
With you as captain and your ecological understanding as a compass, the ship would founder on the nearest iceberg.
You must have a depauperate biological understanding indeed if you do not understand why concern for ecosystem integrity has nothing to do with a ‘museum mentality’. But don’t be too despondent, because your ignorance will be the cause for much merriment around the coffee tables in many departmental tea-rooms. At least you’ll be recognised for the passable job you perform as a clown.
Oops, did I just do an ad hom? Pardon me.
Or is it really an ad hom if it’s the truth? Seems we’re back to semantics again…
The argument that we can’t do anything to reduce emissions because we are too small is a fallacious one. We can certainly ‘export’ reductions through improved technologies, as has been pointed out to you already, and we can also ‘export’ reductions by example. If we do the converse – simply sit on our hands – the rest of the world will certainling not be inclined to take up their share of the slack either.
Your logic in this regard is that of a child. Piaget would shake his head in amazement…
I have not been overseas since my parents brought me to Australia as a small boy, and even then we came by ship. I have deliberately foregone all overseas conferences for work, and all overseas holidays with friends, because I believe that my reasons for doing so did not warrant the added emissions nor the hypocricy.
It hasn’t killed me.
I have no frequent flyer points. Not a one, and I yes, I actually have an account. I’m actually curious to see how many years Qantas will keep emailing me with updates when I don’t use it.
I take public transport or carpool with friends whenever I can, and my car has not moved from the garage since February. It’s not that hard if you try.
So don’t be pointing the finger at me Sunny-Jim, because I walk the talk.
As to the difference between the science and the politics, I believe that you would continue to conflate the thrust of my statements with whatever slant would serve your purpose at the time, no matter how many times I repeat myself. For the last time though, in case it really is just slowness on your part that is preventing comprehension, my take is that we need to significantly curb emissions, that we have the technological and non-technological alternatives to do so, that it would be of net economic as well as net ecological benefit to do so, and that it is the recalcitrance of individuals, vested-interest groups, and countries with less to lose that will slow the curbing far more than it should or could be slowed.
But keep trying to argue otherwise. You’re only going to paint yourself further into the corner than you already are.
Chris you are hiding behind this nonsense. So you are questioning my assertion in comment #11? (rolls eyes) the fact of the matter is that mine was the first question asked between us and you are dodging it because you know that your answer would undermine your position (assuming that you would be honest in your answer) Because if you admit that the reductions in emissions are not possible then you reveal the futility of your prescription for climate change don’t you?
I would say that your position borders on hypocrisy because you pretend that the “cure” to the “disease” is both possible and likely to be efficacious even while in your heart of hearts you know that neither is true.
If I was a “troll” rather than someone who wants to debate the issues why would I write in my own name as I have consistently since I began blogging in 2005. I have not been trying to argue the science at all in this thread. I have consistently been arguing about what is politically possible and I am profoundly pessimistic about what is possible when it comes to Global co-operation, and you have to admit that thus far in the history of humanity the record ain’t that grand. So now when you Warministas insist that a far greater level of international co-operation is required for longer than any empire has ever endured is it any wonder that I say (to evoke the Castle) that “yer dreamin”?
The religiosity of the believers in AGW, in particular their laity rather than those scientists that you mention, is one of the things that I find fascinating about this subject. And as I said earlier I am not even arguing about the science or the truth ( or otherwise) of the claims about man made global warming I am arguing about that one very large fly in the ointment of your proposed way to address the problem and that is the human factor itself.
You know what amazes me is the way that we sceptics are always so vilified by the true believers? It is he fact that you all claim to be so sure of the science and that the AGW hypothesis is so beyond question and yet you all display such fear of dissenting voices.
Perhaps you should learn to live with the fact that what you claim as certain will not just be accepted as such on your say so.
Yes Bernard I believe in motherhood as well but this comment seems to suggest that you are something of a misanthrope who thinks that human beings are in some sense outside of the natural world. news flash humans are part of the environment too.
With your appreciation of what is politically possible the ship of global co-operation would sink at it’s moorings, You see I can make the cutting remarks that do nothing for the debate too.
Oh it is all about a museum mentality Bernard and I can see that you have such a mentality but if I can help even one of your fellow academics think about doing something that works rather than empty theorising it will be worth it.
But that still begs my original question Bernard, namely can the level of reduction in emissions that you Warministas claim is necessary every actually be achieved? It is all well and good to mouth the platitudes that you cite here about exporting innovation and inspiration but will it work? or will it just make True Believers feel good about their piety? What I am advocating is that we certainly should be innovative , clever and efficient in the way that we approach living in the world and demonstrate that we can face any problem that comes and find workable solutions. Advocating the unworkable like trying to change the climate just ends up discrediting science in the long run and aren’t you a man who values science?
Oh the arrogance of academics like you Bernard, as soon as you don’t control the terms of debate you resort to petty insults, rather sad really. Remember though that in the fairy tale , The Emperor”s new clothes” that it was a small boy who pointed out that the emperor was in fact naked when he thought that he was wearing the finest suit of clothes imaginable and I have no trouble admitting that being such a child when it comes to debating climate change is nothing to be ashamed off.
Well I will give you credit for that because so many of your fellow Warministas do not walk the walk at all.
As I said credit for that but how many of your fellows do the same? no where near enough.
So what you are saying is that you are certain that reducing emissions is essential and that we should bend over backwards to do so even if (as is most likely) nowhere near enough of the rest of the world is going to follow suit? As a man of science can’t you see that your position is all about symbolism rather than being about actions that would solve anything?
Bernard I am not the one in a corner, that is the position that you and Chris find yourselves, you both know that you solution to the problem is going to be entirely ineffectual not because of the science but because of the politics which is why both of you won’t respond to my direct questions about it. It is so sad that you get so tied up in the beauty of for your Pet theory that you have lost track of the point which is to work towards a better world for the future. What you are doing is a productive as the debates about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
A significant amount of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia occurs to create palm plantations to create palm oil. It’s also driven by the high prices tropical hardwoods fetch on the world market (sadly, a vicious cycle; as the wood becomes rarer the price goes higher, but they are a prestige good so demand goes up with the price rather than down).
Indonesia, Malaysia and the rest of SE Asia, being classed as developing nations, do not have any targets set by Kyoto IIRC, so it’s hard to see how Kyoto could be blamed for this. Realistically, the biofuels boom has not been driven by belief in AGW but by record prices for oil. That Brazil and other biofuels exporters were able to paint biofuels as greenhouse friendly was a good marketing ploy for them, but the core demand is the demand for cheap oil substitutes that don’t demand technology switching (e.g. ethanol substituting for petrol without needing to change the engines).
The fact of the matter is that you made your assertion first. Just because you ask a question after it (that I didn’t see until later anyway) doesn’t allow you to get away with your assertion unchallenged.
So now you realize the question has a level of intelligibility sufficient for some sort of answer. Glad I could help out your mediocre thinking skill although you still need a great deal of help. You still have a problem with making non-sequitur responses but that’s probably because you’ve built a little world for yourself that you rarely venture outside of. All you have done so far is spray around unjustified assertions and questions and provided zero logical response to requests for justifications for your assertions. You are making the bullshit assertion:
for which I have asked justification:
“How do you KNOW what’s better unless you know what comes?”
I’m not interested in answering the questions of a bullshitter while their bullshit goes unjustified.
You know that this is what I am saying.
Any reduction is better than none.
Any reduction in emissions would not be ‘entirely ineffectual’, although such a reduction might not stave off the worst of any warming impact.
By not reducing emissions we certainly would not be working toward a ‘better future’.
To repeat again, because it simply seems to be passing you by – short of listening to the best science, we are unlikely to have any future that is ‘better’ than today’s, at least for the majority of the planet’s human population and its ecosystems. This is due to political recalcitrance, to ideological recalcitrance, to mere ignorant recalcitrance, and to vested-interest recalcitrance, or a mixture of any of these.
Nevertheless, trying as best we can to reduce emissions is not symbolism, it is the best strategy we have – any post hoc response (and adaptation is such a response) will be far more symbolic, because the chances of success will be far less than doing the best we can now.
It’s similar in some ways to the financial meltdown that the US is enjoying, and is beginning to share with the rest of the world. That mess – predicted years ago – could have easily been mitigated with some judicious a prioriregulation, but thanks to deregulating changes initiated by the Clinton administration and joyfully expanded upon by the ideology of the Shrub administration, we now have consequent socialisation of enormous debt after massive private profit-taking. This is hardly efficient or desirable cost-wise (unless one was of the small cadre who profited greatly by avoiding regulation), and the impact will last much longer and reach futher than it otherwise could have. The actions today are post hoc, and will have much less effect than if they’d been attended to when the opportunity existed to make a significant difference.
I’m very curious though to hear of your global adaptation strategy to AGW – assuming of course that the world’s religiously fervent climate scientists are correct. I’d especially like to know why adaptation will be cheaper than acting now would be (however reluctant humanity seems to be), and how it will reverse the significant and potentially dangerous simplification of global ecosystems. Oh, and how the inconvenient issue of carbon emissions will be addressed in your future.
G’day Barry, Sorry My coding did not work on your blog. Can you just delete the above. heres the comment with the naked URL :)
Australia emits just 1.3% of global emissions while the GCP report clearly shows 4 major global emitters China, USA, Russia & India account for 42.5% of global emissions. Unless the major emitters adopt their own ETS , Australia doing so is a psychotic exercise in self harm by implementing the ETS. http://www.agmates.com/blog/2008/09/27/dr-james-hansen-web-of-global-warming-deception-in-australia/
We will be really interested to see your post in relation “to clarify the confusion around whether we are currently at atmospheric concentrations of 455 or 380 ppm CO2-equivalent.”
We have been discussing that very issue ourselves.
Cheers Your Agmate – Steve
As per my comment at Agmates, I suggest people reserve judgment until they have read comments 8-24 here:
Christopher You clearly have no sense of sportsmanship when it comes to debate as you now seem to be acting like a petulant child, all because i asked you to answer a simple question. I did not serve you any bovine excreta, I did not have to respond to your actual questions but i did anyway and still you find excuses not to answer. So I think you refuse to answer because you know you can’t. well not without admitting that I am right about the level of co-operation being impossible to achieve.
Really why do you claim that? If we assume that the level of reduction that is required is represented by the number 100* and the total reduction that is possible is say 5* is it still worth expending huge efforts just for that? Because from where I’m sitting it seems like this is the level of difference between what you Warministas claim is necessary and what we see is likely.
Don’t misunderstand me Bernard I am all for treading lightly on the planet and being efficient with our resources but I just don’t believe that there is only one way to build a better future especially not one which requires adherence to your faith.
Sounds like you must be a fan of our former Prime minister Paul Keating from the number of times that you use the the word “recalcitrance” But it seems to me that you do realise that I am right here and that you know that your solution to “global warming” will just never get up no matter how sure your prophets are that it is the only way to achieve climate salvation,
Oh come on Bernard if the best strategy we have is sure to fail then we need to look at the problem again and to see if there is any way that we can fin a solution by some lateral thinking.
While I agree that the financial melt down in the USA is significant i do not think that it is in any way analogous to the issue that we are discussing, even though I agree with the suggestion that an unregulated financial sector is a very bad idea.
Bernard, the adaptation required will obviously depend upon the changes that we actually experience and it may require that we change the way that we do agriculture or even where we do it. It is impossible to say without knowing what challenges we will face. My point is of course that if we put all of our money into the futile mitigation efforts and then have to adapt anyway that we are paying twice to make our future viable and only one of those costs is going to give us a tangible benefit.
* numbers picked from the air for the purpose of argument.
The Agmates online community appreciates you commenting on the article. We have given you a fair bagging over the last few months, but respect your right to put your side of the argument. :)
Most members of the Agmates online community are what you’d call climate change skeptics although we have a number of readers who are greens and great fans of yours.
There is no doubting that farmers and rural communities will bear a crippling financial burden of the proposed ETS scheme and that is what we are dead set against. You and your readers can see that if they are interested, in this article: “ABARE warms Agriculture Doomed under an ETS.”
Or for a very practical example of the impacts on beef producers in this article: “ETS to Cost Beef Producers $450m a year on Slaughter cattle”.
Just a bit about Agmates (with is short for All Good Mates)
Agmates is Australia’s largest online rural & regional community and is owned by myself and a group of farmers. We have no political allegiances and no corporate sponsorship.
Agmates is 100% biased towards what is good for rural and regional Australians and we make no apologies about that.
We are a totally free and independent media and as such welcome your views anytime. Our aim is to provide our readers with the information and let them make up their own minds.
Gentlemen, if I may!
I have had the pleasure of debating with Iain Hall for several years on AGW, and I can confirm that, although he claims to be a sceptic, he is at the end of the day an out-and-out denialist.
He will slip up and demonstrate his denialism at various points by claiming –
1) that AGW supporters are ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ based,
2) that its a left-wing beat-up (although that has dropped off lately),
3) that people like Al Gore are ‘worshipped’ as some cult-like leader figure,
4) Conspiracy theory will get occaisionally used in relation to AGW science,
5) he will demand you to provide evidence but nearly always will avoid providing evidence of his own when likewise asked,
6) When you provide evidence it will usually get disallowed on some mysterious criteria that was never explained before (“its a statistic, it has no providence” being one that always comes to mind),
7) Even if it is allowed, the goal posts will get shifted to justify maintaining his positon.
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the general idea.
Hopefully, if nothing else, this ‘spoiler’ of Iains themes will serve to finally force Iain to debate AGW on facts, not evasiveness.
PS – Iain, sorry to do that and ‘out’ your denialism (which of course you’re welcome to try and refute), but they deserve to know the truth…
Iain Hall and Agmates – some opinions:
China, Europe, and America are at the center of what will happen. Collectively they are half of global emissions, and they are just three “governments” (if you count Brussels as one government), so a few decisions go a long way. I’d say you have the nucleus of the next decade’s climate realpolitik right there, in their interactions.
How much pressure there is to act may depend on what temperatures are doing. We’ve been on a bit of a plateau for a decade now. If they start moving up again, there will obviously be panic and everyone will turn to the most radical solutions. If they start moving down, only low-cost measures that were going to be adopted anyway will be politically viable. The global food and energy shortage guarantees that almost all issues raised by climate change mitigation will still be on the table even if we have a cooler spell.
I see no reason to doubt the technical viability of even the most ambitious targets, and the further into the future you go, the more technically viable they become. With sufficiently advanced nanotechnology, you can probably just suck the carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it to diamond. (I will be interested to see if our new carbon capture institute is going to research blue-sky technologies like that, as well as the more down-to-earth proposals.) Unfortunately, technology that advanced also implies truly apocalyptic potential for destruction (e.g. if you leached *all* the CO2 out of the air, we’d drop to 15 degrees below zero as well as suffocating all the plants). It sounds like science fiction, but I think it is just a fact about reality that the human race is going to acquire that sort of power, and long before the worst effects of climate change get to happen (long before 2050, I would think). Still, I think it is worth humanity’s time to muster up the intellectual, technical and political effort required to wind back emissions now; it’ll give us practice at not destroying the world. I suppose my views imply favoring just those “low-cost measures that were going to be adopted anyway”, since it’s all just practice for the real struggle with nanotechnology, but my views are not likely to shape policy any time soon.
Back in the semi-real world of concrete proposals to cut back global emissions, by far the most interesting and plausible one I’ve seen came out in mid-year, from the International Energy Agency. It’s hundreds of pages long and has the emission reductions being produced even while global economic growth of 3% per annum is maintained, through the use of many parallel measures (nuclear, renewables, carbon capture, efficiency – each makes an incremental contribution). Unfortunately the whole study is not free online, but it is bound to be influential in the forthcoming diplomatic process.
Finally, back to Australia. To some extent we are like those Pacific island nations, hostage to whatever happens in the northern hemisphere. But we do have more options than they do, and in particular, as a second-tier emitter, we do have the ability to prove by example that emissions cuts can be made. I have heard the proposed ETS compared to the tariff cuts of the 1980s – you gentlemen probably know more about this than I do, but the story I was told was that they hurt at first, but in the end they were for the best, since they prepared us for the era of global free trade. A global carbon regime is very probably coming, and while no-one is likely to invade recalcitrant emitters, the stick of economic sanctions will be employed as well as the carrot of technical assistance, I’m sure. The important thing is to do what you’re doing, and make sure that the people you represent have a say in its construction.
By the way, for those who are wondering (or care!), I haven’t forgotten about the next blog entry on CO2-e – I’ve just been flat out at work on other stuff (finishing a couple of scientific papers!). Will post it tomorrow, I hope.
The reality is that I am not even arguing about the science at all on this thread which you would appreciate if you had actually read the thread (which I am sure you have not done) I am arguing about the political realities and in this case my personal scepticism is entirely a moot point.
You ignore India south America and Russia the fact that while the AGW band wagon may be taken as unquestionable by Warministas it is considered a side show in the emerging economies and will only be paid lip service elsewhere.
Agreed the last decade where there has not been any evidence of the dire warming trend promised by the Warministas computer models is a profound setback for those who want to promulgate the most radical changes to the worlds economies.
Sorry Mitchell but i think that you are loosing it here and have suffered from watching to many episodes of Star Trek
So we should be optimistic because of a document that we can’t actually read? Hmm I don’t think so
Oh really? Australia is responsible for something like 1.3% of the worlds man made emissions and nothing we do is going to make a blind bit of difference to the big boys in China , India or the USA. I think that you mistake our prominence in the sporting fields where we do punch above our weight for the world of business and politics where we are less significant than we are willing to admit.
At Agmates we too believe that technology can and will control the level of our CO2 emissions. Those “nanotechnologies” you rightly speak of are just ideas at the present, but thats where all new technology starts in a need and then an idea.
As we point out Australia introducing an ETS to cut our emissions as Barry Suggested in the media last week by 90% is truly a case of “psychotic self harm as a nation”.
Believing that destroying our economy – (which a 90% cut would)when all we would achieve is reducing global emissions by 1.17% when the major Northern Hemisphere emitters do nothing is even more fanciful than your idea of “blue sky technology”. Though your idea is more practical.
Our does Barry hold out that the emissions reductions achieved in Australia will stop us “burning up” as a nation while the wicked northern hemisphere polluters fry in their own carbon saturated hell. Of course he doesn’t.
Sensible debate has to be on what our reductions contribute to global reductions – and the answer is “bugger all”. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on the right track with the Carbon Capture Institute and lobbying world leaders to put together global targets. Carbon Capture will only ever work if its a “Low Cost Technology”.
We truly wonder about the motives of anybody calling for emissions cuts of 90% in Australia without global consensus. If Barry & his climate crew could show us how to achieve that without turning Australia into a third world economy we’d back him all the way.
Or is a third world economy the legacy Barry would happily have us hand up to our children and grand children? They’d be poor but enjoy a pristine environment. But no hang on if Barry’s prediction of Cataclysmic consequences for the global environment at 550ppm and China, Russia, India and the USA don’t commit to reducing their emissions by an equivalent 90% – we’d be just poor.
From AusSMC 29 Sept 08
The rise and rise of carbon emissions and atmospheric CO2 reported by the Global carbon Project are threatening to render the current global economic problems a transient issue when compared to runaway climate change, notably reported high-methane “hot spots” along the Siberian Arctic shelf which threaten to accelerate global warming.
The magnitude of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing since the mid-19th century (~2.2 Watt/m2; CO2 ~ 1.6; CH4 ~ 0.5; NxO ~ 0.11) places the climate system on an exponential warming trend, briefly interrupted by the 11 years-long sunspot cycle (+/-0.2 Watt/m2), ENSO (El Nino – La Nina episodes +/- 0.4 Watt/m2) and transient aerosol albedo effects (mainly SO2, soot and dust). Due to the centuries-long CO2 residence time and thereby cumulative effect of emissions, proposed emissions slow-down rates (Emission Trading Schemes – ETS) may not be able to prevent crossing of potential tipping points affected by release of CO2 and methane from warming oceans and drying biosphere, nor is it likely to mitigate ice melt/warm water feedback effects.
Clean coal, a positive idea in principle, would not be able to resolve the cumulative effect of continuing emissions, nor the carbon cycle and ice-melt/water feedback effects, and should therefore be only one part of a range of urgent mitigation measures.
Recently leading US climate scientists have called for urgent attempts at developing atmsopheric CO2 draw-down technology aimed at reducing levels from the current 387 ppm to 325 ppm or lower (Hansen et al., 2008). Such attempts need to be accompanied with fast-track transitions from polluting to clean energy utilities, replacement of base-grid power fossil fuel plants with solar-thermal and geothermal technology, and equipment of vehicles with recharged batteries. A global re-forrestation campaign needs to be undertaken.
Inherent in the thinking of those who focus on economics and politics are linear trajectories, though rarely do they take exponential rise toward tipping points into account. Central premises hinge on attempts at competition, agreement and compromise. None of these approaches accords with attempts at mitigation of terrestrial atmospheric changes which are of non-linear nature and, once triggered, can hardly be “negotiated” or “argued” with …
Barring urgent effective measures at mitigation it is questionable whether terms such as climate “stabilization” represent more than climate “Newspeak”, or whether ETS-based measures are sufficient to avert dangerous tipping points. Leaving it to the market to sort out the climate may not prove more successful than leaving the global banking economy to its own devices, though there is no sign governments are planning a climate rescue scheme of any such magnitude.
In order to buy time, attempts at climate mitigation are likely to be accompanied with geo-engineering, i.e increasing the atmospheric albedo through injection of SO2 aerosols (incorporated in airline jet fuel), spraying of alumina particles and the like.
There is no evidence that the Garnaut Draft Report’s (GDR) recommended 10% emission cut relative to 2000 by 2020, nor the Government’s focus on clean coal, may be able to turn the climate around. The near-absence of estimates of GHG and ice melt feedback effects, in particular the volumes of methane and methane hydrates that can be released by even a further 1 degree C warming, councels caution.
It is not clear to what extent the Garnaut Draft Report and the government appreciate the implications of a 550 ppm CO2 atmosphere. Last time CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, in the mid-Pliocene (3 million years-ago), temperatures rose by 2 to 3 degrees C and sea levels by 25+/-12 metres, flooding what are now the agricultural and urban centres of civilization. Given the scale of fossil fuel reserves of over 5000 Gigaton carbon, further release of carbon emissions may take the atmosphere to uncharted territory.
A RESPONSE TO SOME OF THE DISCUSSION ABOVE:
TRY AND IMAGINE THE SITUATION IN SOME DECADES FROM NOW WHEN, AS ALL THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IS POINTING TO, GLOBAL TEMPERATURES HAVE RISEN BY SEVERAL DEGREES, LARGE RACTS OF THE CONTINENTS DRIED UP AND SEA LEVELS ROSE ON THE SCALE OF METRES.
WHAT WOULD YOU THINK/SAY WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT, HAD THE WORLD FAST-TRACKED FROM FOSSIL FUEL EMISSION TO CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY — WHICH WITH THE PRESENT STATE OF TECHNOLOGY IS PERFECTLY POSSIBLE — WE AND OUR CHILDREN WOULD STILL LIVE IN A WORLD LIKE THE ONE WE HAVE BEEN BORN INTO …?
Net emissions of CO2 can be made negative. A simple-minded approach is to grow enough biomass to contain more than the 10 GtC added yearly (at the present). Suppose that is 32 billion tonnes of dry weight biomass. Harvest and turn into biochar; bury the biochar deep underground.
Andrew @ 42, sorry, I can’t let that one through to the keeper. It’s just not true to say all the scientific evidence points to the scenario you paint for “some decades from now”. Substitute ‘centuries’ for ‘decades’ and you may well be on the money, however that’s a crucial difference. I know you hope you’re wrong, but overegging the pudding may well be unhelpful to the cause.
Sure if you say so. Here is your bovine excreta again:
And while I’m in editing mode, @ 41:
“…fast-track transitions from polluting to clean energy utilities, replacement of base-grid power fossil fuel plants with solar-thermal and geothermal technology, nuclear energyand equipment of vehicles with recharg
edable batteries. (I presume by this you mean electric vehicles?) A global tropical re-forestation campaign needs to be undertaken.
Yes, well, when you use terms such as ‘religious fervour’ and ‘warministas’ to describe the world’s climate scientists, and when you continually return to these themes throughout your posts, your statement that you are not arguing about the science begins to holds rather less water than you might imagine. For example:
That seems to be arguing about the science. Oh, and by the way, the evidence for warming is only magicked away when the record 1998 is cherry-picked as the first year to consider in a short-term period. This is not science, and it has been patiently refuted many times by scientists and statisticians more informed than those who promote this nonsensical pseudo-analysis.
Australia emits more per capita than just about any other country, so what our population size is relative to anyone else is irrelevant. We have a moral obligation to do our share, and by doing so to lead by example.
Oh, and because we are a part of the first world that built its wealth upon the use of fossil fuels way before the third world had a chance to catch up, we are even more culpable than might be inferred by utilising an arbitrary ‘per capita’ metric.
You and Agmate and many other Denialists are concerned at the cost of reduction, but you cannot seem to understand that not to reduce emissions will cause very much more cost – socially, politically, financially and environmentally – than to act now. If you’re past middle age you might not live to see these costs begin to bite, but they will become apparent sooner or later and you should be as concerned for your children’s and grandchildren’s welfare as you are for your own indulgent arses.
And it still seems to escape your notice that I have been saying all along that I have severe concerns for the political capacity of the planet to respond to the need for effective emissions reduction. This makes you either really stupid, or simply a troll, as many others here are confirming.
Take your pick.
Agmates @ 40
YOU JUST DON’T GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If we don’t reduce our CO2 emissions, and keep the Earth’s climate from rising above an extra 2 degrees, WE WILL CONSIGN OUR CHILDREN TO A THIRD WORLD STATE AND WORSE THAN THAT DENY THEM ANY FUTURE AT ALL. How many times does it have to be said that advancing and delivering green technologies is the only way to be able to run our economy and save the planet. Do you really think that other countries and economies wouldn’t also prefer to save our planet and their futures using green energy which is already available and could be implemented world wide if sufficient will was there. I don’t understand how AGMATES which has the philosophy of “doing what is best for rural areas” can not recognise the great threat to all rural areas of more heat, less rain, devastation of river systems etc. This is happening here and now and will increase in ferocity with every degree of warming. You surely must see the logic in supporting the scientist’s views – and understand that all respected scientists in Australia and overseas are saying exactly the same thing as Barry – e.g the latest letter from the Aust IPCC scientists to Rudd.
But Perps, if noone else does anything then the reality is that there is little benefit in Australia making radical cuts. It is sad but true… However Garnaut is not suggesting we make such cuts (90%, or even 25%) on our own so Agmates himself is being a bit sly with the stats.
There will surely come a point even if we go with Garnauts short term recommendations that we look around, see no one else is doing anything, and instead produce a Garnaut Mark#2 “How Australia can cope with Climate change given the failure of international negotiations on Carbon Emissions.”
I still get concerened about the targets like 90% cuts… given that the carbon rights should be tradable across international boundaries so the problem could potentially be solved with Australia making far lower cuts.
Actually those of us living in the bush – don’t see any physical evidence of climate change. Thats the point – here is what Ross Garnaut said in todays report about the impact of the ETS on Rural and Regional Australia. Bear in mind he is not talking about the impacts of future possible climate change on these communities he is talking about the impacts of an ETS due to start in 2010.
Under chapter 16 Sharing the burden.
” Regional communities and industries are likely to be more vulnerable to these impacts than urban centres, due to their reliance on agriculture and other natural resource-based industries, and low levels of infrastructure stock. Regional communities, in particular farming regions,
have already been subject to structural change to a much greater extent than metropolitan centres in recent history (Productivity Commission 1998).
These are issues for policy in the longer-term future”
You know at Agmates we like to keep things simple: He’s a little story about Urban folk (the chicken) and Country folk (the pig) that sums up the different perspectives that we both have towards sharing the burden when it come to cutting our emissions.
As the sun rose one morning in the farm yard the Chicken and the Pig were having a chat. It was the farmers birthday and they wanted to do something nice for the farmer as he was really good to them.
CHICKEN: Lets do something really special for his birthday”
PIG: “Good idea, what do you have in mind?”
CHICKEN “I think we ought to make him breakfast in bed for his special day”
PIG: “Hey great idea, But what will we make him?
CHICKEN: “He loves Bacon and eggs, lets do that!”
PIG: Yeh not on your life. For you, that’s just a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.”
The farming sector has already contributed more than any other group in Australia to cutting our carbon emissions through the stopping of land clearing (at a cost of about $600m a year through lost production). Does the Australian public now expect them like the PIG in the story to make the total commitment?
Is that what it takes for us to cut our emissions – wiping our our entire rural community?
And as MattB (G’day Mate) says “, if noone else does anything then the reality is that there is little benefit in Australia making radical cuts. It is sad but true…”
The growth in emmissions news certainly sounds bad.
On the flip side renewable energy has been growing at 30% a year the last couple of years. This is off a tiny base – currently about 1% of all power, so it is not making any difference to overall emmissions. However it does mean that our technology has been improving, our renewable energy infrastructure manufacturing capability increasing, and the price of renewable energy decreasing. If renewable energy can sustain 15% annual growth a year for the next 50 years, then renewable energy supply will grow to ten times our current energy supply – which is enough to allow for a 5% a year growth in energy demand.
And I agree with MattB. I don’t support drastic measures to reduce emmissions in Australia if the rest of the world is not on board as well. However I do support moderate measures, such as carbon taxes causing a 20% increase in the cost of electricity to consumers, and with appropriate measures in place to prevent job losses in industries competing with overseas companies not paying a carbon price. This will show other nations that Australia is serious about CO2 reduction, and encourage other countries to agree to stricter measures. It will also encourage growth in renewable or efficiency technologies and infrastructure.
Agmates @ 50
I don’t know where you live, but I think people living in the Murray-Darling Basin and here in Gippsland (yes, I am a country dweller too) would disagree with you, in that they have already seen plenty of evidence of the changing climate in their regions.
I don’t think anyone expects “the Bush” to carry the whole burden of mitigation and adaptation, lots of others will have impacts on their livelihoods e.g. mining communities. However, with the amount of money coming from an ETS, financial provision for changes and compensation for economic losses has already been agreed on. Besides, lack of any action is likely to cause greater economic loses according to Stern and Garnaut etc.
You also seem to think that Australia is going to be a pioneer in CO2 reduction and alternative technologies. Truth is many others countries in Europe and states in the U.S. are way ahead of us. The point is that we are, and have historically been, high per capita users of CO2 and therefore we must show commitment towards a global initiative. It must be “do as we do” not “do as we say”. That is the only way to convince and persuade recalcitrant countries to join in a global CO2 reduction.
Provision and maintenance of alternative fuel technology is a possible way for country areas to become involved with and benefit from the new economy.
Barry has recently written a new blog post on the subject “Climate ripe for tranformative change” and an opinion piece at http://www.news.com.au/story “How we can be a green superpower” which I suggest you, and others on this blog should read. It is a Churchillian like call to action!
If emission reductions are impossible (near term, they sure are but it’s not conceded yet by me for a decade or two hence), it still makes sense to keep the increases as low as possible. Unrestrained emissions growth will bring on stronger resulting changes, bring them on us quicker and making them harder to l
slow or reverse. Given the scale of the challenges in converting the world to a clean energy economy, more time is definitely desirable.
Having a race to be last in this is a sure way for everyone to be losers – with the winners likely to end up being blamed for it all. Saying nothing be done is loser talk and when Australians of the past faced their most dire struggles there was no room for loser talk.
That said, for the next few years at least Australia’s decision has already been made – 70 new mines and massive growth in coal exports, as much growth as economic conditions allow. Congratulations Iain, your side is currently the winner – not doing anything much besides a bit of greenwashing is still the order of the day in Australia. Policies that aim to keep coal in the ground from Australia? No bloody chance mate.
BTW other countries are well ahead of us in this so there’s no risk of being first. I’m more worried by the potential ill will over 70 new coal mines at a time when coal use needs restriction.
I reckon our sooty handed Governments would be better trying to entice companies like Nanosolar and Ausra to Australia, than Toyota and Mitsubishi – whether it’s next decade or the one after we will be finding solar is our best choice we will regret not laying the groundwork for it earlier.