Must-Read Hansen: ‘Climate Change Is Here — And Worse Than We Thought’

The nation’s best-known and most prescient climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, has a must-read op-ed in the Washington Post.

Here’s how “Climate Change Is Here — And Worse Than We Thought” opens:

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.

But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.

My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather.

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

I first wrote about this back in January when Hansen posted the draft of his findings, which made use of a detailed climatological analysis (see “Hansen et al: “Extreme Heat Waves … in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 Were ‘Caused’ by Global Warming”).

Hansen has a good figure to show what’s happening:

Frequency of occurrence (vertical axis) of local June-July-August temperature anomalies (relative to 1951-1980 mean) for Northern Hemisphere land in units of local standard deviation (horizontal axis). Temperature anomalies in the period 1951-1980 match closely the normal distribution (“bell curve”, shown in green), which is used to define cold (blue), typical (white) and hot (red) seasons, each with probability 33.3%. The distribution of anomalies has shifted to the right as a consequence of the global warming of the past three decades such that cool summers now cover only half of one side of a six-sided die, white covers one side, red covers four sides, and an extremely hot (red-brown) anomaly covers half of one side.

Hansen’s climate analyses and warnings need to be heeded for two reasons. First, this analysis is supported by other recent papers, such as “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia’s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” and “Nature: Strong Evidence Manmade ‘Unprecedented Heat And Rainfall Extremes Are Here … Causing Intense Human Suffering’.”

Second, Hansen has been right longer than almost anyone else around (see “Right for 27 years: 1981 Hansen study finds warming trend that could raise sea levels” and “Lessons From Past Predictions: Hansen 1981“).

Hansen’s mastery of climate science is quite literally what gives him climate prescience. We ignore him at our grave peril.

UPDATE: The AP’s excellent climate reporter, Seth Borenstein has a good piece up on Hansen’s new analysis, “New study links current events to climate change.” The AP has quotes from some credible independent experts:

The science in Hansen’s study is excellent “and reframes the question,” said Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who was a member of the Nobel Prize-winning international panel of climate scientists that issued a series of reports on global warming.”Rather than say, ‘Is this because of climate change?’ That’s the wrong question. What you can say is, ‘How likely is this to have occurred with the absence of global warming?’ It’s so extraordinarily unlikely that it has to be due to global warming,” Weaver said….

Another upcoming study by Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, links the 2010 Russian heat wave to global warming by looking at the underlying weather that caused the heat wave. He called Hansen’s paper an important one that helps communicate the problem….

White House science adviser John Holdren praised the paper’s findings in a statement. But he also said it is true that scientists can’t blame single events on global warming: “This work, which finds that extremely hot summers are over 10 times more common than they used to be, reinforces many other lines of evidence showing that climate change is occurring and that it is harmful.”

… Granger Morgan, head of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, called Hansen’s study “an important next step in what I expect will be a growing set of statistically-based arguments.”

Here’s more from the Hansen op-ed:

The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change. And once the data are gathered in a few weeks’ time, it’s likely that the same will be true for the extremely hot summer the United States is suffering through right now.

These weather events are not simply an example of what climate change could bring. They are caused by climate change. The odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small. To count on those odds would be like quitting your job and playing the lottery every morning to pay the bills.

Twenty-four years ago, I introduced the concept of “climate dice” to help distinguish the long-term trend of climate change from the natural variability of day-to-day weather. Some summers are hot, some cool. Some winters brutal, some mild. That’s natural variability.

But as the climate warms, natural variability is altered, too. In a normal climate without global warming, two sides of the die would represent cooler-than-normal weather, two sides would be normal weather, and two sides would be warmer-than-normal weather. Rolling the die again and again, or season after season, you would get an equal variation of weather over time.

But loading the die with a warming climate changes the odds. You end up with only one side cooler than normal, one side average, and four sides warmer than normal. Even with climate change, you will occasionally see cooler-than-normal summers or a typically cold winter. Don’t let that fool you.

Our new peer-reviewed study, published by the National Academy of Sciences, makes clear that while average global temperature has been steadily rising due to a warming climate (up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century), the extremes are actually becoming much more frequent and more intense worldwide.

When we plotted the world’s changing temperatures on a bell curve, the extremes of unusually cool and, even more, the extremes of unusually hot are being altered so they are becoming both more common and more severe.

The change is so dramatic that one face of the die must now represent extreme weather to illustrate the greater frequency of extremely hot weather events.

Such events used to be exceedingly rare. Extremely hot temperatures covered about 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of the globe in the base period of our study, from 1951 to 1980. In the last three decades, while the average temperature has slowly risen, the extremes have soared and now cover about 10 percent of the globe.

This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.

My only (slight) disagreement with Hansen is on matters of policy:

There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.

We agree on the need for a significant and rising price on carbon through what he calls a fee but which is the political equivalent of a tax. He thinks all the money has to be given back to the public to win popular support.

I generally think popular support has not been the problem, whereas business support has. Also, we have a massive deficit, so we at least have to leave open the possibility that some of the money collected will go toward deficit reduction.

In any case, it doesn’t really matter whether I am right or Hansen is as long as everyone is flexible in achieving the most important goal the rising carbon price, since the final deal will no doubt require compromises across the board.

But who can argue with his final statement?

The future is now. And it is hot.

53 Responses to Must-Read Hansen: ‘Climate Change Is Here — And Worse Than We Thought’

  1. Sou says:

    This is such an important message.

    With regard to the price on carbon, I don’t think everyone needs to get every penny. Those on lower incomes do to offset price rises in goods and services (so that’s probably 80 to 90% of the population). Most of the balance can be used to invest in renewable energy and afforestation projects.

    Some could be used to invest in putting renewable energy in developing countries. This might be politically unpalatable with the greedy, xenophobic and paranoid conspiracy theorists, but it makes good sense nonetheless.

  2. Arnold says:

    Yep all true and regettably so. I am not a scientist so my advice shold be looked at askance. I belive we had better “suck it up because it looks like this will be a hard landing” Government will do NOTHING until it is much too late. The world we will be leaving to our granchildren will look MUCH different than the one we got to live in. This is to our collective sorrow and shame.

  3. Paolo C. says:

    Here in Italy this year’s summer is as hot as 2003…

  4. squidboy6 says:

    I’ve just read Hansen’s article in the Post and some of the comments as well, the Post’s format is really awful but the comments are incredible from the deniers. They have the same qualities that people who argue evolution have – God said it and I believe it, so there!

    Some have, obviously, a monetary agenda in that they work for oil and coal, so their remarks are just red herrings, but others will deny it even when all indicators are against them.

    I doubt if there’s anything that can be done to change these people’s minds, and it certainly won’t be worth the time and energy to do so.

    Let them reap the harvest that denial brings. Many are overweight and will have their lives cut short by climbing temps and extreme weather. Some live next to the ocean and will not have safe homes when the ocean turns against them while others will fight drought and floods in the “heartland” when the time comes (now).

    Sounds cynical but I think we need to let these people live with their faith and when they lose the one agency that could help them, the government, then they will have lived up to their destiny. The deep ocean hydrothermal vents may repopulate the world. Life will go on when we’re gone.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    The 2003 European heat wave was so deadly, because of the temperature and unhealthy Ozone levels. And Ozone levels getting worse when you have wild fires.

    The temperatures increased between 1 August (daily maximal temperature of 25°C) and 5 August (37°C) and maintained themselves at very high levels up to 13 August 2003. They fell abruptly to 28°C between 13 and 16 August [Figure]. Moreover, the high temperatures and the stagnant atmospheric conditions significantly increased ozone levels, with observed concentrations ranging between 130 and 200 µg/m3 in almost every town between 3 and 13 August [1,2].
    The increase in the number of excess deaths followed the same pattern as the increase in temperatures. Nationwide, the impact hit on 4 August, when there were 300 excess deaths. The daily excess rose progressively, reaching 1800 deaths on 8 August and about 2200 deaths on 12 August.

    B.C. Ozone Alert: Russia Forest Fires Raise Ozone Levels To New High

    VANCOUVER – Smoke lingering over much of British Columbia from Siberian wildfires has pushed ozone levels in parts of the province to never-before-seen numbers.

    By Monday, ozone levels reached 84 parts per billion in the central Interior region, about three times the average for July.

  6. Lionel A says:

    I hear that Richard S Lindzen is retiring to the South of France, so at a guess he has brainwashed himself about climate sensitivity being low. I figure that he is in for a rude awakening.

  7. Ozonator says:

    Sometimes AGW is rocket science – usually it is greed.

    With condolences, “More than 100 buildings burn in Okla. wildfires” (, 8/4/12). With more condolences to his victims who lost their homes for EssoKochs, “Aug 02, 2012 … Inhofe Exposes Another Epic Fail by Global Warming Alarmists … EPW Minority … Katie Brown … Inhofe Exposes Another Epic Fail by Global Warming Alarmists … “… when will they finally realize they’ve lost this debate?”” (whistlesuckers perfuming the stink at “Mars dust storm, minor wobble give Curiosity scientists pause” (By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times;, 8/3/12). “GBRWE 7/29 – 8/4/12 ‘regular’ for global warming predictions: sports, rainfall, tornadic, hurricane, and stellar ecosystems with tectonic quantities … by Robert Rhodes, The “Ozonator” … B1). Weeks’ Reporting Period of GBRWE 7/29 – 8/4/12. … This week is going to continue to hurt civilization with the Ozonator’s global warming (AGW) pendulum stuck on ecosystems with the fires of extremist’s hell. We can continue to expect … hyper – monster increases in more epidemics, wildfires, wind, killer hail, ice storms, thunder-snow, droughts, dust storms (Earth and Mars) … swarms of hurricanes … from American extremists’ holy environmental racism from global warming, the still Brain-dead Ronaldus Magnus Model of Hatred and Greed & T-bags – tornadoes, blizzards, torrential rain, and other forms of lightning or something uglier will develop in titanic swathes within 2 weeks – a). Earth: Natchez … b). other planet(s)/chunk(s): … Mars”.

  8. Paul Klinkman says:

    Climatologists fight a battle:

    1. They have to keep their jobs. “Nothing personal, just business” oil company presidents are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on PR, and one of their jobs is to influence all of science by squelching climatologists.

    2. They have to be proved right. Science without accuracy is political pandering. Numbers of outsiders have been saying, look at the data coming in! Look at the records in ice cores. Look at the Mexican study where sea levels suddenly soared. Look at the current big Arctic methane blowouts. Look at the worldwide megafire trend and extrapolate. It all says, go big or go home.

  9. Anne says:

    “We tried to tell ya” gets old after awhile. “We’re still tryin’ to tell ya” makes me feel tired. We’re still stuck in: 1) If P is false I will feel sad. 2) I do not want to feel sad, therefore 3) P is true.

    People need to believe P — that it is false that human actions are threatening our survival – because the it’s very scary and sad to contemplate. Then the instant leap: denial.

    Sitting at dinner about twenty years ago with a climate guru who shall be unnamed, after a long discussion about the threat and the expected human response, we both teared up, held hands, and said in unison, “we’re all screwed.” Wish it weren’t so.

  10. MorinMoss says:

    I like that bell curve graphic but what does it look like for earlier decades?
    Say going back to 1900?

  11. Greatgrandma Kat says:

    We can’t move forward as long as fossil fuels are the only afforable choice we have. The fossil fuel industries will make sure it is. They have no care for the world they are trashing as long as the money is good and the tax breaks stay in place. A tax on carbon will continue to be battled against with amounts of money most of us can’t even imagine. So all we can do is keep fighting the good fight while understanding that as the science keeps telling us TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

  12. Dan Miller says:

    The frequency of “3-sigma” Extremely Hot Summers has gone from 0.1~0.2% to 10% in 50 years, a 50X or 5000% or more increase! Therefore, the probability that a particular recent 3-sigma heat event is due to natural variation is ~1/50 or 2% and the chance that it is caused by climate change is ~49/50 or 98%! Note that 4 and 5 sigma events — which essentially were unheard of in the past — and now happening a few percent of the time. The chances that these events are due to natural variation is close to zero.

    Also note that this study is not based on climate models nor is it a prediction. It is a simple statistical analysis of measured temperature data from the past 60 years. The 5000% increase in Extremely Hot Summers already happened! And we can expect the frequency of these events to increase this decade and the coming decades.

    The reason for giving 100% of the money back to the public is (1) to get public support, (2) address concerns about the poor paying for higher energy costs, and (3) to make it palatable to conservatives. With a 100% rebate, the policy will not increase the size of government and will not pick winners and losers. The policy will still reduce the deficit because it will create an economic boom because of (1) the spending money going to lower income folks and (2) a price on carbon will spur innovation and investment.

  13. john atcheson says:

    What I like about Dr. Hansen is that he does not equivocate or mumble conservative — and overly timid — defensive statements.

    The science is well pas the time when we need to equivocate, apologize, or soft-sell the hell we are headed for if we do not change course, and change it now.

    The recent Senate Hearing was a case in point. The witnesses were apologetic, esoteric, and diffident. Really guys? With the health of the planet that’s unforgivable.

  14. Steve in Miami says:

    Great comment Dan! So when are you coming out with a sequal to your last video (which this time around will obviously have to be called something like “A RIDICULOUSLY Inconvenient Truth!”)? On a serious note, I still believe that your lecture remains the best global warming primer out there. Glad to see you on here!

  15. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Now that it is gone, it is surprising just how well behaved the weather was thirty years ago. Yes we had extreme events, but they were actually surprisingly rare. Many good years between drought and flood.

    Our grain based industrial agriculture needs well behaved weather. The right temperatures, the right rain at the right time. Even a small loss of normal will have significant effect and we are looking at a large loss of normal.

  16. Hoedad says:

    Its time.
    We have to call ALL these guys like the Kochs or Rex Tillersons to the mat.
    It’s their money that is controlling the media (or suppressing the panic button) with Goebbles blue sky propaganda whilst they steer the Earth directly into an asteroid. Do we really want to follow these profit makers into their own hell? Its time to call it like it is. Hansen was too optimist.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    He’s 72, so won’t, possibly, be around when the proverbial hits the fan. If he is, I just hope any pitch-forked French peasants show him some mercy.

  18. Jack Burton says:

    I understand your anger at deniers and the role they play in preventing action to avert the worst climate change will bring if nothing is done. Their denial stems from many sources, political and religious belief seem to predominate, I find few if any deniers who deny due to firmly held scientific counter evidence to the theory of climate warming.
    They all whine about carbon taxes and liberals. They claim good old common sense proves puny man could never alter such a vast system as the atmosphere and climate.
    This gives me a huge laugh. Atmosphere? The earths atmosphere is like the skin of an apple compared to the scale of the planet. You get on an airliner and in minutes you are up in the upper reaches of breathable atmosphere. These deniers are so simply clueless to to scale of things, to the scientific method, to basic physics and chemistry. The simplest concepts like “averages” are beyond their capacity to grasp. Willful ignorance and a “know nothing” populism predominates.
    Yes, I get so angry at their foolishness that I sometimes wish them very long lives only so they can live to see the utter disaster coming.
    The vast methane plumes in the arctic sea off of western Siberia are the kind of new feedback that shows a tipping point is coming. Russian scientists in an official capacity have been leaning towards questioning climate change due to Russia’s huge interest in fossil fuel production and export. But these methane plumes were so huge and so shocking that the officials in the Russian Academy of Science made no bones about how serious they view the increase in the number and size of these methane plumes.
    So deniers can always deny, but they can’t change facts, and facts are not on their side!

  19. chalu says:

    here in the Philippines it is too HOT when it is not raining….and more floods than ever. The sea level rises to 2cm….some cities are flooded during high tides. More infrastructures and agriculture products destroyed because of the abnormal climate we are experiencing for the past five years.

  20. MorinMoss says:

    Unfortunately, for the conservative deniers (is that redundant?), reality increasingly has a strong liberal bias.

  21. I would like to see some numbers. Hansen says that the odds are “vanishingly small” that these events would have occurred without global warming. I think it would be more convincing to give numbers and say, for example, that the odds are only 1 in 2,000,000 (or whatever they actually are) that last year’s droughts in Texas and Oklahoma would have occurred without global warming.

    Does anyone know the actual numbers that Hansen has calculated?

  22. riverat says:

    The numbers will be in the paper to be published on Monday.

  23. Dave Olson says:

    It’s an almighty comfort to me to recall that that greatest of atmospheric physicists, George Bush, told us there’s no global warming. I began sleeping better immediately when I knew I didn’t need to worry any more and could just discount the findings of those liberal scientists all over the world. Dang, don’t they know that we INVENTED global warming in the United States? Who would know more about it than the leader of our country?

  24. Tvrtko Maras says:

    First we should isolate the people that can understand the concept of standard deviation, because it’s important to understand the measurement and methodology to make this argument.

    After that, we should reduce the group to those who care about the problem.

    Finally, we might find that remaining group is not large enough to make a change.

  25. Mark says:

    One of the things I’m struggling to figure out is what explains the difference in views between someone like James Hansen, who seems to say that a simple rising price on carbon will do the trick, from those of a scientist like Kevin Anderson, who argues that we’re well beyond marginal economic solutions and require much more aggressive action. They both are obviously horrified by the response of policymakers and are certainly among the most vocal scientists in sounding the alarm. Is it just a difference in political/advocacy strategy, or do they really have some fundamental disagreements about the scale of the problem and what is required to fix it?

  26. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    As a full-time engineer and a part-time math teacher, I have found that the percentage of USers who understand the concept of the Mean = 50%; those who understand the concept of Median = 10%; and those who understand the concept of the Mode = 8%. When it comes to Standard Deviation, 99.5% describe it as something Greek; Variance as something even more Greek [13.5% able to locate Greece on a map of Europe – 19.8% able to find it on a map of South America”].
    It is my opinion that only with repeated shortages of food, water, and fuels will there be concerted action against AGW. And I hope I’m wrong… because by then it may not be possible to do much about it.

  27. Joe Romm says:

    Hansen wants a high and rapidly rising price, that’s why.

  28. Phil Blackwood says:

    Extending the results into the future reveals a hockey stick where we have just reached the turning point at which frequency of extreme heat rapidly accelerates, as follows …

    Note that as a first approximation the observed anomalies form a normal curve that is shifting to the right at about .5 standard deviations per decade.

    When we reach a shift of 3 standard deviations (about 6 decades out from 1980), half the earth will experience extreme heat during the summer.

    In fact, with anomalies behaving approximately like a shifting normal curve, the frequency of extreme heat will behave approximately like the cumulative normal distribution.

    Decade by decade, the frequency of extreme heat is then approximately:

    1950-1980: .14% (baseline)
    1980-1990: .72%
    1990-2000: 2%
    2000-2010: 6%
    2010-2020: 16%
    2020-2030: 30%
    2030-2040: 50%

    So maybe the right slogan for US campaign season is, “It’s the climate, stupid.”

  29. prokaryotes says:

    Are high temperatures and humidity directly related to violent crime and general crabiness? We spoke with Dr. Randi Mozenter to get her take on this theory.

    Listen to the Podcast, use the 2nd link.

  30. Paul Magnus says:

    I was extremely frustrated that the science community were always saying that individual events could not be directly prescribed to GW.

    I felt that considering how extreme certain events were and their recent frequency that one could say in the known context of this, that the probability of that event happening was high enough you could vertually ascribe it to GW.

    Its just amazing that it has taken so long to come to this conclusion officially in the science community.

    ( My opinion mind you was just intuition, based on the evidence of course :)

  31. Paul Magnus says:

    This approach does not take into account stepwise state change.

  32. Paul Magnus says:

    Hansen reticence?

    He is just trying to stay with in democratic principles. ( he was a registeredrepublican :)

  33. Paul Magnus says:

    A tariff on carbon, if implemented properly/fairly, would halt ff exports virtually overnight. This would also be the case for the air industry. Flying for fun would stop pretty much immediately. We need planning on how to migrated economies away from air truism and addressing what happens to the airline industry. This isn’t happening and it’s all going to hit a wall shortly.

  34. Paul Magnus says:

    Yes. Interesting.

  35. Paul Magnus says:

    Yes, abc, no.

    Fits Occam’s Razor principle….

  36. Paul Magnus says:

    Agreed. What is strang is we still only have a handfull like him.

  37. Robert In New Orleans says:


    Time to whip out the HDTV camcorder and update your story with new data and your visuals with the latest images, graphs and charts.

  38. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Joe and everyone,

    What do think the temperature curve will look like in the next decade or so.

    It is obvious that we are way past linear change, but what degree of exponential change comes next?

    Is there anything beyond this?

  39. Dave Bradley says:

    Stay away from CO2 pollution taxes, or as hey are euphamistically called, “carbon prices”. Try concentrating on making renewable energy economically viable, instead of the money losing operation (which has to be propped up by tax avoidance based subsidies that only the super-rich can utilize) that is presently is.

    Once a few million jobs in manufacturing renewable energy systems, then maybe CO2 pollution fees can be discussed.

  40. Solar Jim says:

    Dr. Holdren’s comment about a factor of ten frequency increase ( between 0.1% and 10%) should probably read “one hundred times.” It seems our understanding of climate reality is becoming so ominous that even a scientist has trouble coming to terms with it.

  41. Solar Jim says:

    Overwhelming international evidence indicates the biogeochemical response is exponential (nonlinear), and we seem to be entering the curvature. If this is not a clear international and national security threat, then I do not know what is.

  42. Phil Blackwood says:

    Right. It’s an approximation that shows what the result will be if the curve continues to shift at a constant rate.

    At a constant rate of shifting, there is a sharp increase in the frequency of extreme heat.

    Even without a stepwise state change, the effect will be drastic and impossible to ignore.

    A stepwise increase is also a possibility.

  43. Mond from Oz says:

    I was prompted to this brief communication by the following announcement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2012: “A vast new coalmine has been approved …an open-cut pit about five kilometres wide, to remove 7 million tonnes of coal a year until 2033. The process will also include the clearing of 1300 hectares of native forests, much of which have been shown to be rich in rare animal and plant life.”

    The International Energy Outlook (2011) of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes yearly figures for predicted world coal-based energy usage, out to 2035. Summing from 2012 to 2035, the world total of coal based energy amounts to 4248 quadBtu. Applying a mid-range carbon content coefficient of 94.62, we arrive at an estimate of emitted CO2 from this source, of 401945.76 million tons of CO2. Assuming that 46% of this amount goes into the atmosphere, and dividing by 2130 million to convert to ppmv, we may predict that coal use will add 86.8 ppmv CO2 to the atmosphere by 2035.

    The same source calculates that emitted CO2 from all sources, including coal, to 2035 will amount to 896142 million tons: 46% of this amount, as the total remaining in the atmosphere, amounts to 412225.32 million tons, equating to 193.53 ppmv, of which coal is predicted to contribute 86.8ppmv, or 44%

    As at June 2012, the US Department of Energy Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre (CDIAC) advises that the present level of atmospheric CO2 amounts to 395.7 ppmv. The figures set out above suggest that by 2035, atmospheric CO2 will amount to 589 ppmv., and a commitment to an associated equilibrium temperature increase of 3.06oC over pre-industrial values. A simple extrapolation to 2035 of the Mauna Loa data from 1958 to 2012 (f(x)=0.122×2 + 0.7867x + 313) would predict 449.9 ppmv, and an associated equilibrium temperature increase of 1.8oC. by that date: it is abundantly clear that a much more dangerous track is now in view.

    The CDIAC predictions envisage very rapid increases in atmospheric CO2, by a factor of 31% over the 2012 level: the associated temperature increase takes the climate well beyond the EU adopted 2o C ‘safe’ limit, or the Hansen et al (2008) 1.7oC, over preindustrial temperatures and its “implied maximum” of 450 ppmv CO2. Hansen observes that “coal is the largest reservoir of conventional fossil fuels…The only way to sharply curtail CO2 emissions is to phase out coal use…”

    This, clearly , is very unlikely, and there is ample evidence – above and elsewhere – of an opposite process. Anderson and Bows (2011) state that “the logic of Annex 1 (cited) studies suggests (extremely) dangerous climate change can only be avoided if economic growth is exchanged,… for a period of planned austerity within nations and a rapid transition away from fossil-fuelled development within non-Annex 1 nations.”
    To which one might add, that in the current economic disorder, where ‘austerity’ and ‘growth’ are offered as alternate strategies, no great enthusiasm has been shown for the former.

    Given the adverse weather events now in view, and widely attributed to human caused climate change, it seems highly likely that the continuing world-wide commitment to carbon-fuelled ‘growth’ is an irreversible path to disaster.

  44. Dick Smith says:

    Look I needed a laugh in all this. And, you did it. Out loud.

    Do you have a source for that 13% europe map /map.19% S.American map finding?

  45. Dick Smith says:

    Hansen has endorsed HR 3242–$10/ton of co2 emissions (=$37/ton on carbon as it comes out of the ground). Most people consider that a “small” initial tax. The important thing is not the initial starting price, but that it continues to increase by $10/ton until emissions are 80% below 1990 levels. My understanding that the longterm price signal is much more important than the starting fee. In fact, if necessary, you could pass the bill and delay the start date a year or two, and it would still have an immediate market impact because, for example, it would be harder to get loan to build a coal-fired power plant that has to last at least 40 years.

    I also admit I’m way out of my sandbox on economics. This is my understanding.

    But, I love that we’re having a discussion about the details of the carbon tax. It gives me hope that during the next presidential term, we can get it done.

    The 100% rebate certainly has a lot to commend it. But, if the tax is enacted with the government keeping 100% do we care? I don’t think so. Getting a carbon tax is what should concern climate hawks. I don’t any of us should care what they do with the revenue as long as it doesn’t go into fossil fuel subsidies.

  46. Dick Smith says:

    If I’m reading this right, for the next 23 years we’ll add an average of 3.78 ppm per year of atmospheric co2 (87 ppm/23 years = 3.78 ppm/yr)–or roughly twice the average rate over the past two decades. That’s insane.

    But you say, that’s just from coal? And, it’s more than twice as bad when all carbon fuels are considered–let’s say, an average that’s somewhere north of adding 7.5 ppm co2/yr. That’s double insanity.

    Or, did I just read too fast and carelessly.

  47. Aussie John says:

    I too admit to a lack of expertise on economic matters.
    However, for what it’s worth I suggest that it is important to spend the proceeds of any carbon tax or fuel levy carefully on development of renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.
    The rate of change of climate, as a consequence of the increasing atmospheric CO2 pollution is far too serious to take half fix measures.
    All proceeds of the carbon tax or fuel levies should be applied to the development of alternative renewable energy sources to hopefully achieve an almost complete phase out of coal consumption as fast as possible.
    To be quite blunt, there is no easy cost free fix to this problem. The general public must be brought to realise that they have part ownership of the overall problem, and as such, are an essential part of the solution.
    While the carbon tax sends an essential ‘move on’ message to coal based energy suppliers, 100% rebate of the carbon tax to consumers sends them no immediate message on current unsustainable consumption of fuels in everyday private transport.
    As unpalatable it is to suggest, to break the disconnect of the populace from the issue of CO2 emissions, a CO2 levy of at least 50%, perhaps more realistically 100% on top of the cost of motor transport fuel needs to be applied; this will provide the price shock required to break the current lethargy and provide a source of funds dedicated entirely to development of sustainable alternative transportation. Further annual increases to the levy should be foreshadowed in the event that carbon reduction targets are not achieved.
    It will also have immediate temporary dubious upsides of:-
    1 Reducing the use of inessential motor transport, leading to greater patronage of more efficient public transport, leading to increased viability of extended transport facilities.
    2 Making locally produced goods and services more economic.
    3 Reducing traffic densities on all roadways, thus saving cost of expanding existing motorways until sustainable replacement transport is developed.
    4 Increasing car sharing and transport pooling.
    While none of these scenarios are politically marketable, inaction will lead to a worse disaster.

  48. Spike says:

    I gueess what we are beginning to see is as predicted by Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, the Earth reacting to a perturbation to limit that perturbation by eliminating the cause. We could have avoided that by using our intelligence to provide a more benign shortcut of the process but this seems increasingly unlikely.

  49. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Sorry, it’s completely fabricated. Any resemblance to actual fact would be purely serendipitous.

  50. Mond from Oz says:

    DICK: tHANKS FOR POINTING THAT OUT. I applied the conversion factor (2.13) for relating Carbon to ppmv CO2, instead of the correct 7.81 for carbon dioxide. Considering coal alone, consuming 4248 quad Btu by 2035 and taking 46% of the emitted CO2 as the proportion retained in the atmosphere, 185 million tons will result in an increase of 24ppmv, out of a total amount of 114.7 ppmv, as the expected increase by 2035 over the 2012 level. That is,CDIAC predicts that atmospheric CO2 in 2035 will be 510ppmv.,against the ~ 450 one might predict by simple extrapolation from the Mauna Loa data. Again sorry, and thanks.

  51. John Lonergan says:

    Well, 99% of all statistics are made up.

  52. A Schroeder says:

    wAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!! OR YOU MIGHT FIND WE DO NOT HAVE A HOME HERE ON THIS EARTH, WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR POLITICS AND PEOPLE TO GET THAT THIS IS REAL. AND WHY ISN’T THE FEDS AND OTHER GOVERNMENT BODIES DOING Anything constructive, they just bury their heads in the sand and try and confuse and deny this is real.

  53. One of the qualities that makes Hansen the best scientist on this issue is the fact that he is conscientious. He shows compassion for people, his family, their future, our future. This is a quality most climate change deniers lack. The reason they lack it? They’ve had their minds and hearts shrunk by a terrible ideology. And it is an ideology fueled by a myth of socialist world government. A very ugly way to twist a person’s mind. But that’s what conservative media has done.