IEA: Global CO2 Emissions Hit New Record In 2011, Keeping World On Track For ‘Devastating’ 11°F Warming By 2100

UPDATE: For a debunking one of the most nonsensical attacks ever seen on the climate blogosphere, go here: “Yes, Deniers And Confusionists, The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 If We Keep Listening To You.”

First the bad news from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Thanks to a huge jump in Chinese emissions, “global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel combustion reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011.”

The worse news is that, “The new data provide further evidence that the door to a 2°C trajectory is about to close,” according to IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. Why does that matter? As Reuters reported:

Scientists say ensuring global average temperatures this century do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is needed to limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers.

Darn you truth-telling scientists, always ruining the party (see “James Hansen Is Correct About Catastrophic Projections For U.S. Drought If We Don’t Act Now“).

And the worst news, as Birol told Reuters, is that:

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius [11°F], which would have devastating consequences for the planet.”

As Birol said of 11°F warming late last year, “Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.” If only school children ran the country.

UPDATE: Anyone who reads this blog or any of my links knows that the warming of 11F would be by 2100, not 2050 as (mis)stated in the original Reuters piece (which Reuters has now corrected here).  I left out that obvious mistake. Didn’t stop the know-nothings from attacking me for something I didn’t say — again! Anyway, Eli Rabett dismantles the attacks in a must read post here.

In fact, the scientific literature now makes clear that even 4°C (7°F) warming would destroy the livable climate 7 billion people have come to depend upon (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).

So what is the ‘good’ news? We have been reducing our emissions:

CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt, or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating. US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions. This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector (linked to efficiency improvements, higher oil prices and the economic downturn which has cut vehicle miles travelled) and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector.

Actually, the change in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) predated the downturn. VMT “began to plateau as far back as 2004 and dropped in 2007 for the first time since 1980,” as Brookings has reported. Indeed, per capita driving saw “flat-lining growth after 2000 and falling rates since 2005.”

The point is that given Obama’s strong new fuel economy standards and the reality of peak oil (that high oil prices are here to stay absent a global depression), the U.S. could meet its Copenhagen target of a 17% reduction in CO2 from 2005 levels with a pretty modest carbon tax (see “Bipartisan Support Grows for Carbon Price as Part of Debt Deal“). And that is the prerequisite for a global deal that would take us off the 6C path and give us a fighting chance at 2C.

73 Responses to IEA: Global CO2 Emissions Hit New Record In 2011, Keeping World On Track For ‘Devastating’ 11°F Warming By 2100

  1. 17andscared says:

    Im 17 and been into climate for my whole life. Im sad. I cry at night sometimes, sometimes i wonder if its even worth trying in school and life, since civilisation is pretty much screwed,try and enjoy life while its good. And if any oil/coal people are here i have one thing to say: I hate you.[snip] everyone i know pretty much accepts that the future will suck but few know how bad. :( :( :(

    JR: One never knows whether such comments are genuine or not, so while this commenter was not advocating violence, I think it best to avoid the kind of over extremist speech that is standards fare on the denier blogs.

  2. Raul M. says:

    UV index projects levels well into the extreme day after tomorrow for AZ and NM in the US.
    Is at extremes at Tallahassee. Contact lenses to protect from UV is an option and may be used with glasses.
    Protection without vision correction is affordable. Trying to get damage fixed- not.

  3. Turn your fear and anger into action. There’s still time to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, but we have to act soon.

    Register to vote if you’ll be eligible for the next election, and get your friends to do so also. Learn to program and design apps so you can help create the Clean Web ( Eat lower on the food chain, and eat local. Build a solar water heater. Walk or bike to work. Buy a high efficiency car (if you need a car).

    Above all, don’t give in to despair. And remember the Winston Churchill quote “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”

  4. Raul M. says:

    Mitigation has best results, most emotionally rewarding action too.
    Sorry no magic cure.

  5. I agree with the advice to 17and scared.

    Fear has a purpose. It is a survival mechanism. If we were as afraid of climate change as we are of nuclear winter we would have altered course much faster and there would not be a party of denial in congress.

    Think of how nuclear fears have prompted presidents of both parties to negotiate START treaties, and even (mistakenly) to go to war in Iraq.

    But nuclear winter is now much less of a threat because of fear.Movies made it real to enough people that political response was required by both parties in government.

    There are only a few movies illustrating the horror of climate change, like this year’s Melancholia:

    but that is what is needed. The climate change equivalents of Dr Strangelove, and Hiroshima, Mon Amour, and On the Beach.

  6. Paul Magnus says:

    Post-1950s warming in the Australasian region is unmatched by any climate fluctuations over the past 1,000 years, according…

  7. Dick Smith says:

    You say that US emissions have dropped. But, this ignores the more important fact that the US CONTRIBUTION to global warming probably increased (and probably continues to lead the world, including China) after subtracting the 2011 export/import flows among countries. I don’t have the data, but I put a small wager on it. We’ve just shipped more of the “burning” overseas each year.

    And, it’s not just back-end consumption. The biggest IPO on the London stock exchange next year is probably going to be a Mongolian issue to capitalize the extraction of more of their coal deposits. So, it’s Western money that continues to finance the front-end of Asia’s fossil-fuel boom as well.

  8. Dick Smith says:

    The export/import flows I’m referring include consumer goods (I’m not just talking about Warren Buffet’s rail-coal express that James Hansen tried to disrupt-at least for a day-on May 5th.)

  9. Joan Savage says:

    Raul, you have been reminding CP readers about UV and ozone, without citing particular research, so I got curious.

    There’s been quite a bit written on UV-B, ozone layer and climate change. One of the abstracts has a summary of the possibilities and unknowns.

    Ozone depletion and climate change: impacts on UV radiation
    R. L. McKenzie , P. J. Aucamp , A. F. Bais , L. O. Björn , M. Ilyas and S. Madronich
    Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2011,10, 182-198

    “Compared to 1980, UV-B irradiance towards the end of the 21st century is projected to be lower at mid to high latitudes by between 5 and 20% respectively, and higher by 2–3% in the low latitudes. However, these projections must be treated with caution because they also depend strongly on changes in cloud cover, air pollutants, and aerosols, all of which are influenced by climate change, and their future is uncertain. Strong interactions between ozone depletion and climate change and uncertainties in the measurements and models limit our confidence in predicting the future UV radiation. It is therefore important to improve our understanding of the processes involved, and to continue monitoring ozone and surface UV spectral irradiances both from the surface and from satellites so we can respond to unexpected changes in the future.”

  10. We are ending almost all life and yet only a handful of people are calling for the acknowledgement of the dire planetary emergency we are all in.

    Make no mistake this 7C by 2100, due to current investment in more of the very worst polluting fossil fuels, is a real commitment being made today and its much worse than 7C.

    It is a full long term commitment of about 12C due to the ocean heat lag.

    At 3C all crops in all regions have declined below baseline yields (IPCC NRC UK Met Office). At 4C 75% of species are committed to extinction (IPCC). At 7C the planet is uninhabitable if there are any humans left.

    The solution is a global demand that all fossil fuel subsidies (direct and indirect) totalling well over $1 trillion be forthwith stopped and the direct subsidies transferred to the clean zero carbon industry.

    No one is demanding this.

    This is the worst crime against humanity ever and the greatest evil.

    Thanks for telling us IEA.

    Peter Carter

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Especially Dr. Strangelove. Oil and Fox execs are cartoon characters, too silly to be believed. They would be very cinematic.

    We desperately need this movie. The problem is studios’ tentacles with banks and fossil fuel companies, and that a movie like this will need a big budget. Someone will have to step up.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    When I was 19, I was filled with despair over nuclear war. We got through it, but it took effort. You can deal with your sadness by acting, and by keeping a sense of humor and love of life. Don’t let the world kill your spirit. We need it.

  13. Raul M. says:

    Thanks Joan,
    I guess I’ve been saying it cause I think that Joe is right about reminding numerous times. I think that with medical they just call the after effect of damage – macular degeneration. Eyes may be degenerated from the exposure.
    Causes of sky damage may tie to chlorine in tap water and many sources.
    If clear day exposure is bad, I might not notice it till I go to the Doc. to find what is going on.
    In the south bike riding means more steps are needed, as bad damage may happen in only a few years (3-5)?
    Broken record ,sorry.
    Happy trails

  14. ltr says:

    The idea of President Obama asking for a carbon tax is comical or rather sadly impossible. Obama is a conservative pretending to be a traditional Democrat and will never ever ask for such a tax.

  15. Wonhyo says:

    Dear 17 YO,

    Your message expresses depression, anger, and acknowledgement. Those are several steps in the classic stages of response to emotional trauma. That tells me you are ahead of about 99.99% of the human population in dealing with the reality of climate change. Make full use of your advanced understanding. Enjoy the precious little that’s left of the (previously) stable and moderate climate. Do what’s appropriate to prepare yourself, emotionally and materially, for what is to come.

    The most difficult part is, don’t abandon the rest of society. Most of society will continue to hum along in blissful denial for at least a few more years. It may be hard for you to “fit in” to the culture of denial, but it will do you little good to “drop out”, either.

    For me, the most difficult part is deciding how much of my time and effort to devote to “saving the climate”. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that many approaches are ineffective or counterproductive. Now I’m more selective about when, where, and with whom I discuss climate change.

    On behalf of the generations who preceded you, please accept my apologies for our utter failure to pass down a stable, moderate, and livable climate for you and your children to live in.

    One final note, be careful not to let your angry thoughts lead to open threats, especially on a public forum. I don’t think you crossed the line in your post, but it is uncomfortably close.


  16. CJ Anderson says:

    Unfortunately the article misses the culprit on global warming. Methane hydrate releases from the arctic circle will spell the end for us :(

  17. Raul M. says:

    Oh, and the inside dog got cataracts and he is an inside dog only a bit over 15 years. Since he can’t see much at all he has become very shy about things getting scared walking into walls etc.
    Ops, I’ve been telling on him.

  18. Barry Saxifrage says:

    Dick Smith, I agree that the current carbon counting scheme (just count local burning) leaves a two huge carbon loopholes:

    1) Exported carbon fuels
    2) Imported goods and services

    Both of those allow economies to benefit from carbon without counting it. This is distorting the carbon accounting and economic actions around carbon. A classic example is USA off-shoring factories to China make goods. The carbon is counted in China but the USA gets benefit of more goods with less carbon counting.

    The best data I have seen on this was put together by Caldeira here:

    For USA the embodied carbon in goods and services is 10% more than the carbon burned in USA. So on that end USA undercounts.

    However USA also imports a huge amount of fuel from nations that don’t have to count that carbon. So USA overcounts there.

    To try to account for economic benefit of carbon at every stage I did a triple carbon accounting with the data: (extraction carbon + burning carbon + good&services carbon) / 3

    The results surprised me. Based on that criteria, USA has a smaller carbon footprint than just counting “burning carbon”. The reason is because USA imports so much fossil fuel. The nations that sell that fossil fuel to USA don’t count the carbon even though they profit from it. If you make fossil fuel producing nations responsible for a share of the carbon in the fuel they export then it shifts carbon from importers to them.

    The biggest difference (biggest carbon “smugglers” currently) is Norway. They extract 150 tCO2 of carbon per person but export almost all of it. They burn only 13 tCO2 each locally. If they had to take some carbon responsibility for their economic extraction carbon then they become one of the dirtiest per capita nations on the planet, and far ahead of USA

  19. Raul M. says:

    Cataracts is the damage to the lens of the eye and macular degeneration may be said to be the damage to the nerves of the back of the eye.
    With macular degeneration the images just aren’t there so much though it may still seem bright.

  20. Barry Saxifrage says:

    A carbon tax has winners and losers. The winners are most of society and most of the biz community in the medium and long term. The losers include some economic sectors in the short term and the owners of carbon resources in the long term.

    Being for or against a carbon tax isn’t liberal or conservative…it comes down to which group you are looking out for.

    Carbon restrictions are going to eventually cause most of the carbon assets in the ground today to become worthless. People who stand to profit from those existing carbon assets are fighting tooth and nail to prevent a carbon tax getting started. They recognize the nose of the camel as it starts to peak under the tent.

    The rest of us need to organize and fight back with equal force if we want to see a safe climate.

  21. SecularAnimist says:

    Mike Roddy wrote: “When I was 19, I was filled with despair over nuclear war. We got through it …”

    Um, no — we didn’t “get through” a nuclear war.

    We managed to avoid having a nuclear war in the first place.

    That’s a very different thing.

    The angst over nuclear war was about whether someone would “push the button”. As long as no one “pushed the button”, no nuclear war. And so far, no one has.

    But with global warming, the button’s been pushed already. In fact, we’ve been pushing it harder and harder for decades. And each and every time we start up a gasoline-fueled car or switch on a light bulb powered by coal-fired electricity, we push it again.

    The missiles are already flying.

  22. Joe Romm says:

    Actually CO2 will suffice.

  23. Sid Abma says:

    Did you know that natural gas can be used to almost 100% energy efficiency? Instead of HOT exhaust going up these natural gas burning appliances and into the atmosphere, the heat energy can be recovered out of these WASTE exhaust gases with the technology of Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery. Instead of hot exhaust, COOL exhaust will be vented into the atmosphere. The energy that was recovered can then be used back in the building or facility. By recovering and utilizing this waste energy a LOT of CO2 emissions will NOT be put into the atmosphere.
    When this heat recovery is happening, and the energy is being recovered ~ WATER is being created, and this water can also be utilized. Have you ever seen combusted natural gas irrigate the lawns and flower beds?
    This is how efficiently natural gas can be utilized. now we have to get our governments and industries educated.

  24. Leif says:

    17&: We all are scared. I am 71 and have been scared since I first became aware of CO2 forcing ~1970. I cannot believe that anyone can go into any fight and not be scared, especially with a formidable enemy. None the less, there is power in numbers, and the power of truth and love is formidable as well. It is only with the power of the internet at our fingers that the true potential can reach critical mass. Vote, get others to vote. Live truth. “Keep the company of those that seek the truth, but run from those that know it.” Vaclav Havel. As Lenard Cohan states in “Anthem”:

    “I can run no more with this lawless crowd,
    while killers in high places say their prayers out loud,
    They have summoned up a thunder cloud
    and they shall hear from me.
    So ring the bells that still can ring,
    Forget your perfect offering,
    There is a crack in everything,
    That’s how the light gets in.,,,”

  25. Joan Savage says:

    Dreams of revenge usually come from a desire to use destructive power. It can drag you down with it. Let go of that for your own sake.

    Several successful social change movements such as the liberation of India from Great Britain, the civil rights movement, and women’s rights, succeeded through the overwhelming efforts of millions who acted for good.

    We can turn the trend back to a more wholesome world. As a wise man said, “We need to do it ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone!”

  26. Brooks Bridges says:

    A quote to remember when feeling hopeless:

    I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

    Helen Keller

  27. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Thank you Peter. If money could only buy sanity, ME

  28. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, that is why Australia has its greatest mining boom ever – they know its dig it up and flog it now before it becomes worthless, ME

  29. Mike Roddy says:

    Oh, don’t be so literal, Secular, and pissy besides.

    I agree that the missiles are flying already when it comes to global warming. That doesn’t mean that we give up.

  30. Makan says:

    Action is the antidote to despair.

    Shelling peas builds resilience.

    Blogged here.

  31. Ken Barrows says:

    Forget conventional four year college, learn how to grow/hunt food, learn other hands on skills. You’ll become a very attractive marriage partner (whatever your preference).

  32. From Peru says:

    And don’t forget the South Africa movement against the Aphartheid lead by Nelson Mandela, and more recently, the Arab Spring.

    In the latter, massive protests (i.e. millions of people in the streets demanding the departure of the dictator) toppled 20-year and 30-year old dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, and sparking a revolutionary wave across the arab countries.

    In other words, massive and peaceful people’s protests did in a few weeks what decades of terrorism cannot.

  33. From Peru says:

    I wanted to say, “And don’t forget the South Africa movement lead by Nelson Mandela against the Aphartheid”

    (the former order in the words gave an ambiguous meaning to them)

  34. Makan says:

    City of Sydney has an ambitious plan to provide for the energy needs for its CBD buildings by 2030 through a network of cogeneration and trigeneration plants.

    It aims to reduce emissions by 70 per cent from 2006 levels by 2030.

    Trigen, uses natural gas to produce low-carbon electricity and capture waste heat from electricity generation and use it locally for the heating and cooling of buildings.

    Do other cities have ambitious plans like this?

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sorry to disagree, but we are not ‘through’ the threat of nuclear war. Indeed I fully expect global ecological collapse to lead to thermo-nuclear war at some stage, as the global elites refuse to give up their privilege, and attack one another, with humanity as ‘collateral damage’.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama is an employee of the plutocracy, like all Western ‘democratic’ politicians. He was recruited at college, employed and promoted in politics by rich patrons, and he knows which side his bread is buttered.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The melting icing on the cake.

  38. Jack Burton says:

    You know we are in trouble when you look at how far and how fast China has surged ahead in CO2 emissions. It really takes your breath away to look back a couple decades and remember how people were dubious about China’s potential to out do the US in CO2 emissions.
    Well, the worst case has come to pass. And really, I am a bit tired of the old “there is still time” story. Man, who believes that? We have already front loaded dangerous climate change and feed backs into the system. The feed backs are already manifesting themselves.
    One of the first signs of global climate change will be extreme weather events increasing. Last night a local area here in the upper Midwest had 8 inches of rainfall in a few hours! Up here near Canada, we do not have tropical downpours. Or should I say, we didn’t used to have tropical downpours. It was 80 degrees for 2 straight days in March! A usual March day up here used to be invariably below the freezing point.
    We should stop fooling ourselves. We have baked a huge global warming shift into the cake. We are doing NOTHING to reverse it. China and India and others are surging ahead in fuel use. Coal mines are operating at full stretch. We are cooking tar out of sand and burning it as fuel in cars. There are a hundred similar stories of fossil fuel burning excesses, and it grows worse everyday.
    Be serious, be honest, look at the facts, and don’t tell me we are going to do a thing to slow down co2 accumulation in the atmosphere. It’s out of control, that is the fact!

  39. From Peru says:

    Yes, fear has the purpose of preparing the body and the mind to struggle and fled. Too little of it and you will ignore danger with deadly consecuences.

    However, too much of it as bad as too little: if it is strong enough, it will paralyze you , so you will not act, resulting in a similar deadly situation. Or maybe you will act, but you are so perturbed that the struggle and flee is done bad and you get seriously harmed.

    And finally, high and sustained fear of something become self sustaining, so that it continues even when the dangerous situation has ended. You will even feel fear of fear, and get stuck in an anxiety disorder ,that by the way is most common mental ilness, affecting 20% of the world population. I know that because I am in that 20%.

    I recommend people like 17andscared to realize that fear and wrath are feelings that can lead to either paralysis (so that at the end they do nothing) or violence (that is almost always countereffective). So for every time someone like you hear , read or think about the disastrous consecuences of human greed and irresponsability, think about the solutions, and how to implement them, within your possibilities.

    Do not be anxious about things that you could not change: one or a few individual cannot change the world socio-economic system, but millions of them can. The best you can do is spread the word, but with not showing fear or anger, but calm and clear scientific reasoning. There are a lot of people that choose denial to cope with the treat, but others will follow. The internet is very useful for this. As I said before, the massive (but mostly peaceful) mobilization of the people can topple decade old dictators like Mubarak and Ben Ali.

    Remember that out of every crisis can emerge positive things. For example, a form to reduce climate change by regional aerosol forcing is to give poor people improved cookers(believe it or not, a great part of aerosol pollution comes from biomass burning in primitive cookers). This will not only reduce emissions of black carbon pollution, but also improve people’s lifes by removing one of the main causes of respiratory illness, and lower the need for wood, things that then improve the economy of them making easier for them to exit poverty.

    An even better example is renewable energy:from the sun, wind, biomass,etc. it is everywhere. Development of renewable energy will not only prevent further climate change, but will democratize the energy supply from a centralized one to a descentraliced one, reducing and eventually removing the dependence from big energy corporations (Big Oil and Big Coal) or from autocratic petro-states (like Saudi Arabia &co.)

  40. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Be the Hummingbird
    A modern day fable by Wangari Maathai

    It is so appropriate to today’s situation. Even though the situation seems hopeless, we need to do what we can. So very often it is those who have no hope, that carry on regardless, that see victory.

  41. Eric Carlson says:


    Your letter was from the heart and was a welcome ray of hope; it’s reinforcing to know there are forward thinking people in your age bracket who are concerned and looking for ways to solve the AGW challenge(s)we face. You should also be encouraged by the many considered and considerate responses your letter occasioned from those who read this Blog!

    Note that nearly all of our problems are the result of human behavior. I don’t know enough about you to make any specific suggestions (and there is already plenty of thoughtful,encouraging, and sound advice from others here), but solving our problems will require people of good will with a solid knowledge of science, scientific method, and of the variables controlling human behavior.

    There is a behavior analysis conference in Ohio in this coming August about changing human behavior to promote sustainable cultural practices. Here is a link about the conference:

    Perhaps you can persuade your parents and friends to come to the conference with you. It may help you see what can be done and give you some hope as well as useful suggestions for career path options that will make a difference.

    I also agree with others who have replied and encouraged you to take positive actions and not to allocate time and energy hating those who are leading us to the brink; their actions are controlled by defective variables and learning histories that we probably cannot easily change. It will probably be more effective to work to guide the actions of those whose behavior can be changed and there is much that needs to be done. You should prepare yourself for such a task.

    Best of luck in shaping a better world and society. I am happy to leave the future to people like you.

  42. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    “THERE IS STILL TIME.. BROTHER.” The banner flying over the eery, empty streets of Melbourne from the last scene of “On the Beach”. A nearly forgotten movie that scared the hell out of all of us back in ’59. Thanks for remembering, Susan.

  43. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    A friend told me of his prediction that the US and China would some day go to war over oil. I told him that if that happened it would, indeed be too late to matter. I further predicted that before the Great War over oil there would be great wars over water – India and Pakistan, perhaps – with no weapons held in reserve – “Climate Wars”, so to speak.

  44. Mike 22 says:

    Hey 17, thanks for the comment. Its OK to hate the bad guys–just don’t let it waste too much of your valuable time.

    We are living in the most critical decades ever experienced by humanity. On the one hand, we have the potential to come to terms with this planet, undo all the mess, etc, and on the other, we are moving inexorably down the conveyor belt into the furnace. Keeping both those concepts in one’s head creates great dissonance and pain.

    I firmly believe we can do this. We have all the technology, at nearly zero cost, to replace the fossil fuels. Giant new forests could be grown, agriculture can be made sustainable. Etc. And it seems inevitable that we will need to cool the polar regions for several decades–and we can make that work if volcanoes can.

    Civilization is not screwed yet.

  45. Frank Zaski says:

    The US is still responsible for a lot of Chinese emissions and from the ships that bring us “Made in China.”

    At least 8% of China’s emissions are generated producing goods for the US.

    China emitted four times as much CO2 as the U.S. for every unit of GDP.

    Sea shipping is responsible for 18-30% of the world’s NOx, 9% of SOx and 4% of all climate change emissions.

    So, the moral of the story is:
    Don’t buy imports, particularly from distant countries
    Put pressure on our “Made in China” importers (Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) to buy US, at least demand a low carbon footprint from their overseas suppliers
    Plus do the 1,000 other necessary actons

  46. gus says:

    True… but you forgot to add “yet.” As long as the nukes exist, there’s always the danger some moron will use them, and climate change will only increase that risk. But that risk is only barely on most people’s radar screen, even though the danger is increasing with recent nonsense surrounding US missile shield plans, the Russian ICBM test, Iran, and neo-con types espousing violating the START treaty. We NEED to ramp up opposition to nuclear weapons and push our govts to BAN them outright. We need a similar effort to demand rapid cleanup of nuclear waste from power plants, b/c climate change-driven abandonment or collapse will all but guarantee those plants go into meltdown. THAT issue is not on the public radar at all.

  47. Spike says:

    Remember the darkest moment comes before the dawn.

    I have 17 and 19 year old sons, and have often despaired of the future we are bequeathing them. But you are in a position to help change things – let your anger and energy be channelled into the fight against the elites fostering this crisis. Vote, protest, write,read the science and politics/economics, change your own lifestyle – make it your mission to alter your friends and families lifestyle too.If you live in a rich country that in itself will have a very substantial impact. Join an environmental campaign group.When you get cash use and invest it responsibly. All these things will make a difference, and once you are involved in the fight the despair will recede into the background for at least some of the time. We need youngsters like you to join the fight – too many are hoovered up by the cults of celebrity and consumerism. I look forwards to reading more of your posts in future.

  48. gus says:

    That’s all too plausible. Years ago, I read a book by ecopsychologist Chellis Glendinning, and one thing she said has always stuck with me (not in a good sense): She cited an anonymous corporate officer as saying we’ll avoid nuclear war until China has been thoroughly converted to capitalism, “then there will be no reason left to live.” I can’t fathom such sociopathy, but China’s there now. Let’s hope THEY have more survival sense that that guy.

  49. NJP1 says:

    as resources go into life threatening depletion, man will fight to stay alive with every weapon in his (collective or individual) armoury. That unfortunately means nukes among other things.
    There’s no shortage of zealots in every part of the world who will see a nuclear holocaust as the necessary road to their particular salvation

  50. NJP1 says:

    the thought of you being so sad makes me sad too, the world is still full of so much beauty that it can fill you with joy. try to see it and hold onto it

  51. Mond from Oz says:

    Dear 17&
    There is a great deal I would like to say to you. I fully understand your rage and grief: I share your feelings, and I encourage you to express them, in the world of political action, and in the safe environment of your circle of friends. I stress this last (as did Wonhyo, above) because dissent is often under very close scrutiny.

    Above all, cultivate a close circle. Share with them, learn with them, explore with them, and in their company test your skills and your resilience.

    On another level, there are parts of the world that might have a chance of nurturing a surviving community. Tasmania, South Island of New Zealand, maybe Oregan.

    And Hey! Chin up – and don’t let those swine grind you down.

    Love to you, Mond


  52. Artful Dodger says:

    Director James Cameron has taken the first step with his 2009 film ‘Avatar’. I’ve also heard James speak about the future of Arctic Sea ice. He said simply, “It’s toast”.

    Well, Mister Cameron? Up for a Climate Zombie movie? If not, perhaps this is more to the tastes of Director Peter Jackson…

  53. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As Ava said, Melbourne was the ideal place to make a movie about the end of the world. Not true today, as it is, in my opinion, the best city (to visit) in the country. A great movie, really, and I see from the cast list that it contained an uncredited Al Thomas, whose name I’ve been trying to recall for years. He played Dr Einstein in a theatrical production of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ I saw years ago, and I just couldn’t remember his name.

  54. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Perhaps we ought to invent a meaning for ‘delingpole’. No need to be as vulgar as the ‘santorum’ acolytes, but something insulting would be apt.

  55. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Two other scenes from “On the Beach” have stuck with me after all these years. First, and most obvious, was the discovery that the erratic Morse Code transmissions coming from San Diego were the result of a string from a window shade which had gotten wrapped around a keyer, and activated it each time a breeze blew the shade about. Second, fairly late in the movie – a movie whose soundtrack made ample use of ‘Waltzing Mathilda’, though usually in the background – suddenly an off-screen tenor sings a line or two loudly and slowly as the on-screen players snap to a state of silent, semi attention. It is the moment when we, the viewer, realize that they, the players, accept that their time is up.
    A final comment: There were never any real deniers of the danger of nuclear warfare. Not only did we feel the dangers in our bones, but we had all those pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to prove the point. And the rating of each new bomb was a multiplier of the strength of the Hiroshima bomb. No one doubted…

  56. John Mason says:

    Some good pointers below your comment. I liked Spike’s “Remember the darkest moment comes before the dawn.”.

    It is easy to let despair win, but don’t let it – just accept that it rolls in at times and can seem asphyxiating when it does. Don’t let your anger overwhelm you either – it is a negative force, akin to the black light of race-hate and othersuch forms of resentment. I used to pour a lot of energy into arguing in the blogosphere but concluded it is often counterproductive playing whack-a-mole. Putting the same energy into generating hopefully interesting posts for Skeptical Science was my antidote, for which I have John Cook to thank – contributing items to a well-read site as opposed to the tit-for-tat I spent years engaged with and getting to read a lot more climate science in the process. But I agree – this is a huge problem and it’s happening on our watch. It’s not about saving the planet – the planet recovered after the end-Permian mass-extinction. It’s about saving Mankind from itself. We can do it!

    Cheers – John

  57. DRT says:

    Hey 17andscared, Ditto on everyone else’s comments above. Let me add this, for immediate relief get some intense exercise. That is presumptuous of me, so sorry, I don’t intend to offend. For all I know you are training for a triathlon.

    Then for medium term relief read something a little more more hopeful. You might try ‘Reinventing Fire’, Paul Hawken’s books: ‘Ecology of Commerce’ and ‘Natural Capitalism’, and one of my favorites ‘Cradle to Cradle’, which is not about climate per se but still has a hopeful view of how to make and unmake ‘stuff’.

    Others chime in with other slightly less doomy and gloomy literature please.

  58. Eli Rabett says:

    In the Reuters piece it says 6 C by 2050 which makes no sense. What did Birol really say?? any idea

  59. Jim Adcock says:

    I cannot promise whether or not the planet and the human race will be saved, but I CAN promise you this: Everyone who actually cares and who actually really and substantially reduces their personal CO2 emissions DOES make a real and substantial difference. And everyone who convinces, through their words and actions, one other person to do something about CO2 multiplies this difference. What the climate change deniers are basically saying [although they will never say this out loud] is: “look, there is no way we can solve this global warming problem because everyone is just too selfish, so be a smarty and act like me and just grab as much as you can as fast as you can because that is all there is to life.” Well, if all life means to you is just grabbing all you can, then by all means join the grabber/deniers. But, maybe you care more about life than just being a grabber? Consider what happens, worst scenario, if we don’t solve this problem: that would imply that the planet only lasts a finite amount of time and the human race only lasts a finite amount of time. Pick a number for how long the planet lasts, say 100 years. In that next 100 years about 14 billion people will be born and live their lives (assuming as must be the case that population growth levels off). Let’s say due to your efforts and that of others we (worldwide) only manage to reduce CO2 emissions by 50%. Then the planet lasts 200 years. Another 14 billion people get to live their lives. Do you like your life? Is living a a good thing? Then allowing another 14 billion people to live is a very good thing. But let’s say you alone, in all the world, are the ONLY person to really do something. You reduce your CO2 emissions by 50%. How much “carbon space” have you left other people in the world to live in before the eventual extinction? Well, in the US we use 5X as much CO2 as the average world-wide human does, and we use 5-10X more CO2 as what scientists believe represents sustainability. So *you*, *your* efforts, *by themselves*, allow about another 2.5 human beings to live their live on this planet before the eventual extinction. “Oh, but these other people do not live the Great American [needlessly-high-carbon] Lifestyle.” OK, but ask them “do you like living your life?” and they will tell you: “Yes, our life is worth living.” Kids from my daughter’s school went on a summer exchange program to Thailand to a village where everyone was dirt dirt poor. The students asked “Do you like your life?” and the people there said “Yes, we like our life. Our life has value to us. Our life IS worth living.” So simply stop being a pig. Share a seat on the lifeboat, make space for one or more other human being to stay alive on Lifeboat Earth. Don’t you feel compelled to measure *your* life by how many dollars you can grab, how big an SUV you drive, or how many rooms in your house you have dedicated to collecting clutter.

    [Europeans live lives similar in quality to American lives but only emit half as much CO2 as Americans do. Does that mean European lives are not worth living? Ask a European and they will tell you. “Our lives are great — how do you guys manage to waste so much time and energy anyway??? Why do you guys spend so much time and energy simply wasting time and energy??? Don’t you know that waste represents an economic LOSS not an economic GAIN???”]

    But, wait, consider: Maybe the “worse case scenario” doesn’t have to come true. How could that be? Well, that could be true only if enough people care to convince the world, world-wide, to change its behavior. And then what? Then basically the human race keeps running on “forever” and billions and billions and billions more humans get to live their lives — and do so in a moral and God-loving manner. Is that a goal worth striving for? Look, when I was a child the grabbers were saying “Grab all you can now, that is all that matters, because pretty soon ‘The Other Guys’ are going to blow up the entire planet and the human race anyway. Well, did they? Nope. Why not? Because blowing up the planet and the human race really wasn’t good for them and their children and grandchildren either. Well, is blowing up the planet *slowly* really any different? Not really. It still hurts or kills our children and grandchildren. So why do we all keep listening to the grabber/deniers and give in to despair? The answer is simple: 1) Change you personal behavior in a real and substantial way that substantially reduces CO2 emissions. 2) Tell you friends what you are doing. 3) Convince your friends to do the same for humanitarian “Judeo-Christian” reasons. 5) Point out to the “Christian”/grabbers who deny that they are destroying Creation are hypocrites. And 5) Tell politicians of either party you and your friends will not give them donations nor vote for them until they individually and as a party make a real, substantial, and demonstrable commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

  60. Pagodroma says:

    And sadly, the good news toted by Joe (So what is the ‘good’ news? We have has been reducing our emissions) is just fake

  61. Martin Vermeer says:

    Good question Eli. I only find 2050 in the Reuters piece,

    “When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.

    It’s not in Birol’s slides, and not in his transcript. And it doesn’t make sense.

  62. Joe Romm says:

    I meant to post that 2050 is obviously a mistake by the reporter.

  63. Kent Otho Doering says:

    Dear 17 and Scared:
    You can join the fight. First of all, you can do something very unlady like and study science, engineering or technology… (Siemens is a very progressive company.) Or get involvded in a hands on “clean energy” tech profession.

    Every day, millions of men and women around the world are producting and installing energy saving technologies and clean energy
    technologies. It all adds up. Where I live,
    we exited nuclear power and are exiting fossil fuel as well. (Fancy that, people have finanally figured out here that nuclear can be converted to deep geothermal, and that is what is happening.)

    Get active. And look for the low tech, and sometimes very high tech solutions.

    For example: Imagine simply replacing all refridgerator freezer motors with opposed magnet field drive- A +++ motors. Ditto for other appliances like washing maschines, dish washers and dryers. Then add power management systems. The combined “savings” in power consumption is close to 75%.

    Then, over on the power generating side, replace older, inefficient D or E rated generators at power plants (Most of them are old and inefficient) with opposed magnet field drive enhanced “oversized”

    That is just one more example of how Germany is leading the world in getting off “fossil fuel” and do other measures to counter the greenhouse effect.” Together we can do it.

    All the Best for Your future. And do consider a happy career in “clean tech.”

    Cost effective and cheaper than solar p.v.. A

  64. Bekah says:

    Thanks, Wonhyo.

  65. Solar Jim says:

    Building out infrastructure for use of fossil fuel (fossil methane) is not ambitious, it is pathetic. This is so even as the conventional efficiency improvements are welcome, but not sufficient for the necessary first step toward climate salvation: clean energy transformation.

  66. Mike Public says:

    Here’s what we’re up against. This is from the 2012 Iowa republican party platform:

    Item 9.2: “We believe that claims of human-caused global warming are based on fraudulent, inaccurate information and that legislation and policy based on this information is detrimental to the wellbeing of the United States. We deplore extremist scare tactics not based on scientific evidence. We recognize it as a plan to take our freedoms and liberties away from the people through legislation.”

    We need to get through to these idiots.

  67. Solar powered says:

    It’s time. Time for the moderates. Moderate everything. Grow some vegetables. Capture your rain water. Use solar and wind power. Start cycling ( it’s good for you ) and most of all, limit your families. Good Luck. See you in Valhalla !!

  68. Steve Bloom says:

    If the 2050 figure did get mentioned, it could perhaps refer to a commitment to 6C by then given a continuation of current emissions trends.

  69. Hank Roberts says:

    For Joe Romm, re the Reuters correction:

    Your first link at top still goes to Reuters’ mistake in “UPDATE2” — the uncorrected page — here:
    “… 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050) …”

    The corrected page is here:
    “… 6 degrees Celsius (towards the end of this century)….”

    It’s a pity they use parentheses inside quoted text — do UK readers recognize that as an editorial insertion? For US readers, using square brackets would be more helpful showing that both insertions were by the Reuters staff.

    Suggestion — since this error has been widely spread, it’d be a good way to track who made the mistake and who copied it without checking. So I suggest you edit by using strikeout and underscoring new, rather than replacing the mistakes quietly.

    Ordinarily cleaning up makes sense for general purpose writing. When the mistakes become the story, showing them and the corrections is helpful for later readers to follow what changed and when.

  70. Joe Romm says:

    Nobody speaks in parenthesis, which was one obvious clue that Birol didn’t make the mistake. The other is that, unlike some disinformers and confusionists, Birol actually knows what he’s talking about.

  71. Eduardo Vargas says:

    I’m about your age dude, I’m 18. And guess what I’m also scared and I did cry in the past. And like you I have struggled in school. But try to live your life, try to pray to God every night (if you believe in him) and try to keep your hope up. If you ever need talking to somebody contact me I’ll be glad to give you some advice.