Nature: Limiting Climate Change Will Become Much Harder ‘And More Expensive If Action Is Not Taken Soon’

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"Nature: Limiting Climate Change Will Become Much Harder ‘And More Expensive If Action Is Not Taken Soon’"

– IIASA News Release

Limiting climate change to target levels will become much more difficult to achieve, and more expensive, if action is not taken soon, according to a new analysis from IIASA, ETH Zurich, and NCAR.

The new study, published this week in the journal Nature, examined the probability of keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above preindustrial levels under varying levels of climate policy stringency, and thus mitigation costs. In addition, the study for the first time quantified and ranked the uncertainties associated with efforts to mitigate climate change, including questions about the climate itself, uncertainties related to future technologies and energy demand, and political uncertainties as to when action will be taken.

The climate system itself is full of uncertainty – an oft–used argument to postpone climate action until we have learned more. “We wanted to frame the problem in a new way and try to understand which uncertainties matter in trying to limit global warming by specific climate action,” said Joeri Rogelj, ETH researcher and lead author on the paper, who carried out the research at IIASA.

The most important uncertainty, according to the study, is political – that is, the question of when countries will begin to take serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement other policies that could help mitigate climate change. Keywan Riahi, IIASA energy program leader and study co-author said, “With a twenty-year delay, you can throw as much money as you have at the problem, and the best outcome you can get is a fifty-fifty chance of keeping temperature rise below two degrees.” Two degrees is the level that is currently supported by over 190 countries as a limit to avoid dangerous climate change.

Social uncertainties, which influence consumer energy demand, were second-most important, the study found. Social uncertainties refer to things like people’s awareness and choices with respect to energy and to the adoption of efficient technologies.

“How much energy the world consumes going forward turns out to be a much bigger swing factor for climate change than the availability of technologies like solar and wind power, biofuels, and so on,” said IIASA researcher David McCollum, another co-author. “Energy efficiency, improved urban planning, lifestyle changes – these things on the demand side of the energy equation are so important; yet they receive relatively little attention compared to the supply side.”

The researchers examined geophysical and technological uncertainties and found that while the climate system and energy supply technologies are generally seen as the major factors for climate, they ranked below political and social uncertainties in the new study. Geophysical uncertainties refer to the unknown – and unknowable – factors about how the climate system will react to greenhouse gas emissions. Technological uncertainties refer to questions about which energy supply and carbon capture systems will be available in the future.

The authors used scenarios to define how these factors affect the probability of staying within a given temperature target, at a variety of carbon prices. In addition to the 2°C target, the researchers also explored the distribution of costs and risks for limiting global warming to below 1.5°C and 3°C. Even for a 3°C target, a 20-year delay in the most stringent greenhouse gas reductions in combination with a high demand future means that there would remain a one in three chance that temperatures exceed 3°C. At the same time, limiting warming to 1.5°C with at least a fifty-fifty chance (a target supported by the least-developed countries and small island states) appears only to be possible if the world starts acting on climate change now and turns towards an energy-efficient future.

Surprisingly, while much research is focused on understanding the global climate, a highly complex system with many uncertainties, the new study finds that after a certain point, there is little chance of limiting temperature rise to below 2°C. “Ultimately, the geophysical laws of the Earth system and its uncertainties dictate what global temperature rise to expect,” said Rogelj. “If we delay for twenty years, the likelihood of limiting temperature rise to two degrees becomes so small that the geophysical uncertainties don’t play a role anymore.”

In order to make the results of their study accessible to the wider public, the authors developed a simple interactive tool that is free for download. The tool allows people to explorethe feasibility, costs, and likelihood of limiting warming to specific temperature targets. The tool can be downloaded here.

This news brief was originally published at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

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36 Responses to Nature: Limiting Climate Change Will Become Much Harder ‘And More Expensive If Action Is Not Taken Soon’

  1. John Paily says:

    Common sense tells us that any system that is unilaterally heated will break down – In our material and scientific quest we have lost common sense and are failing to note some of the facts and realities that exist next to our skin – Earth and our life is falling apart for we do not understand its parallel world design and the principle on which it works. http://www.scribd.com/doc/114273537/Climate-Change-and-Its-Relation-to-Energy

  2. Superman1 says:

    Their point about “How much energy the world consumes going forward turns out to be a much bigger swing factor for climate change than the availability of technologies like solar and wind power, biofuels, and so on” is key. Mother Nature is telling us: Read my lips; no more fossil fuels. Yet, many of the climate hawks keep focusing on implementing renewables, irrespective of the amount of fossil fuels required or parallel hard reductions in fossil fuels required. We need a synergy of immediate cessation of fossil fuel use, immediate fossil fuel-free measures to withdraw CO2 from the atmosphere, and immediate geoengineering measures to quench the self-sustaining positive feedback mechanisms that are starting to appear and, in some cases, accelerate. Sacrifice and pain cannot be avoided; we are thirty years too late for that!

    • Lou Grinzo says:

      Strongly agree. The perfect example of this situation is China. We see and hear endless claims about how much China is doing because of their aggressive ramp-up of wind and solar power, etc. But as long as they’re planning to build a mind-blowing amount of coal-fired electricity generating capacity, none of it with CCS, then the renewables build-out means nothing. The environment cares about the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere, not the amount we could have emitted but didn’t or which country did or didn’t emit it or why it was emitted.

      We live in a political world that will have to deal with the least convenient truth of all: the infinite indifference of the universe to our needs and desires.

      • Lou,is there not another truth that we must deal with, but have not the will? Whenever I hear any governmental official talk about policy, it is always based on the idea that continued growth is possible if only…. The list of “if only” things is highly variable. If only we reduced governmental regulation, if only we reduced the cost of government, if only we opened up energy production and so on ad finitum.

        Even those economist, such as Matthew Kahn, who deal with both environmental and economic issues end up writing about adaptation to climate rather than mitigation and ignore many of the constraints on what we can do, not the least of which is the fact that our climate is changing faster than any adaptation policy can build a new Climatopolis.

        Maybe the desire for growth is just too much of a human drive to be eradicated. After all, we are born rather tiny and helpless and only achieve anything through growth. When we stop, then we may begin to die. Much the same is true of corporation, which either grow begin to fail.

        So, I ask whether Obama’s climate / energy policy would be any different if he did not need growth to pay our debts?

        • Mark E says:

          Blindly expanding to fill an ecological niche is a behavior common to all living things, not just us.

          The only meaningful way to distinguish “wise man” from bacteria, flowering plants, and “dumb beasts” is neither the use of speech, nor the use of tools, but the ecological awareness and self-discipline to keep the population below “carrying capacity”. Measured this way, we should change our species name from “wise man” to “dumb beasts”.

          http://emilymorash07.tripod.com/id12.html

          Lessons are repeated until learned.
          Lessons are repeated until learned.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            It is our culture that is the problem, not the species. There have been and are cultures that respected the carrying capacity of their land and limited their populations and resource usage accordingly. They’ve tried sharing their wisdom with you but you seemed more intent on trying to wipe them out, ME

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            No responses to my comment? Of course not so please stop defaming our species here and get on with the real task, ME

        • John McCormick says:

          Wes, a great comment.

          Trains on the same track heading towards each other; a warming planet and global development.

          Then there is the immediate focus on shoveling more coal into the development train. Economic growth is the oxygen on which some 2 billion inhabitants depend.

          Shutting off that oxygen will eliminate some of us sooner than global warming but the trains will collide.

      • Lewis Cleverdon says:

        Alongside the limits of nature’s tolerance of our GHG pollution are the limits of the planet’s many societies’ tolerance of rates of closure of GHG outputs. While a uniquely well-informed global dictatorship might take the rather Stalinist position that the emergency warrants a maximum rate of closure, throwing economies into slump, vast numbers out of work, and many millions worldwide into death by hunger and strife, this strategy is neither optimum, reliable, nor requisite.

        The hubris of dictatorship normally includes overconfidence in brutal techniques of the suppression of dissent, and very often includes a crass lack of appreciation of the critical relevance of a co-operative sense of common purpose (which cannot be commandeered) for great national and international endeavours
        – and there is none greater than getting ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug.

        In short, the more disruptive the rate of closure, the more disorganised is our capacity to build the replacement energy infrastructure, to assist those whose cities have just been comprehensively wrecked by the latest impacts, to co-operate in investing national farm produce in a global food bank, and to address sundry other globally vital activities. I suggest that the nearer we got to dictatorship, the further we’d drift from the co-operative ethic required.

        Yet in reality our choices are not that fraught – the sole justification for a crash closure program is if it is our only feasible prospect of controlling global temperature before the seven major feedback outputs exceed the sinks’ intake and so become self-fuelling regardless of any emissions cuts we achieve. The fact is that
        a/. it ain’t feasible: not even a crash program of emissions cuts can avoid us sailing way past the 2.0C threshold due to the unavoidable loss of the sulphate parasol with the closure of our coal-plants’ fossil sulphate outputs; and
        b/. a crash program of Emissions Control is not our sole prospect of achieving the objective – both Albedo Restoration and its partner Carbon Recovery are already being recognized as necessary and potentially sufficient as the complement to a manageable rate of Emissions Control.

        Consider for a moment the sort of benign condition we’d need to reach:

        – the US gov.t has acknowledged internally that its bipartisan policy of a brinkmanship of inaction with China is no longer sustainable, and is discreetly preparing to negotiate the best deal it can get;

        – there is growing recognition around the world that afforestation for biochar and co-product methanol offers critically relevant yields beside the requisite Carbon Recovery, but there is also concern that if it is not done under international mandate huge benefits could be lost and even real harm done in land evictions and old-forest clearance. For instance it could well be applied to serve corporate ‘carbon-offset’ markets prolonging the status quo, rather than facilitating all nations’ verifiable recovery of their historic emissions during this century;

        – there is increasingly candid widespread understanding that Albedo Restoration has to be applied during the period of Emissions Control and Carbon Recovery both to maintain global agricultural yields and to halt the further acceleration of the feedbacks, as well as offsetting the loss of the sulphate parasol. Yet there are also real concerns over both sovereignty – no nation can tolerate another operating a unilateral control of its weather – and also over safety and reliability, which demands the most stringent and transparent collective scientific supervision of techniques’ objectives, research and trials, with any decision to deploy necessarily being taken collectively by the UN members.

        Perhaps it needs saying here that the idea of a geo-e treaty excluding Emissions Control is simply a non-starter – unrestrained BAU growth of emissions would be against the interests of various powerful nations that are reliant on fisheries threatened by acidification, and it is also plain that Carbon Recovery could not hope to keep pace with a rising CO2 output, and also all nations would be well aware that trying to get an Emissions Control treaty at a later date would be highly problematic. A commensurate climate treaty includes all three requisite means to resolve the issue, and there would be no consensus for a geo-e-only treaty.

        If and when we reached that rather happier condition of constructive negotiations, we should find that rather a lot of formerly solid assumptions are for the bin. For instance, if Prof. Salter (who has studied the Cloud Brightening option since the ’90s) is correct, then the operation of a fleet of one to two thousand small vessels could restore the C19 global temperature within a couple of years, cooling the arctic and rapidly stabilizing the Jetstream. The implications of this are transformative for the negotiation of a stringent but manageable carbon budget and of a framework for the allocation of national tradable emission rights, since with warming potentially controlled, current EU & US concerns over liability for roughly half the future global damages are dissolved, as are developing counties’ current fears of increasingly unaffordable damage and losses regressing their societies. With the formal mandating of Carbon Recovery with similar governance to resolve the longstanding “historic emissions” issue, the agreement of an equitable and efficient climate treaty could then become a relatively straightforward matter.

        This is not to suggest that with effective campaigning we could reach a position where no sacrifices are required – we lack non-fossil fuels for various whole industries that will go to the wall if they cannot show a sustainable affordable alternative.

        Moreover, the urgency of ending emissions is changed but it is not removed: the recovery of some hundreds of gigatonnes of carbon will take decades to ramp up to full flow and many more to complete the task of cleansing the atmosphere. Meanwhile the oceans are acidifying, threatening both the basis of the ecosphere and of much of our food supply. In addition, the Peatbog Decay feedback is driven at its steady 6%/yr increase not by warming but by the rise of airborne CO2 ppm, and by ~2065 it would (under the ongoing emissions-trend) emit an annual volume of CO2 equal to the global anthro-emissions of 2000.

        Personally I’d not be very surprised if the global transition to non-fossil energy and old-forest conservation were achieved substantially faster than is now thought feasible – there has been comprehensive foot-dragging and misrepresentation in the West as a part of the US policy of inaction. And in reaction China and India’s determination to provide fossil-fuelled power – despite grossly inefficient usage – is also likely to have been inflated.

        With regard to the pathway leading to that happier condition of constructive negotiation, it bears repeating that it starts with effective pressure on the White House of the exposure of the bipartisan policy of a brinkmanship of inaction with China. Given the policy’s reckless incompetence and genocidal immorality, the nearer the US public gets to recognizing just what the hold up on official action has actually been, the sooner the policy will be quietly dismantled and replaced.

        Roll on the day !

        Regards,

        Lewis

        • Superman1 says:

          Draconian changes, accompanied by much sacrifice and pain, are required if we are to avoid the impending catastrophe. Any implications that a seamless painless transition to a fossil free economy will be possible are disingenuous. I see no way this can be accomplished on a voluntary basis. The last thirty years of zero progress should convince us of that.

          I think it may be possibly technically to avoid some, not all, of the damage from climate change, but only if three severe conditions are met: very hard drawdown on fossil fuel use; rapid GHG extraction from the atmosphere; some geoengineering to quench the positive feedback mechanisms, especially in the Arctic. One fossil fuel-free energy source that could be used in part for the latter is the nuclear fleet, mainly USA and Russian. We have aircraft carriers, subs, and cruisers that are nuclear powered, and the Russians have a number of nuclear powered ships as well. As far as I know, none of these nuclear powered ships are doing anything useful to help ameliorate climate change. Their power production is limited, and I don’t know how it would compare to the power requirements of desired geoengineering schemes, such as marine cloud-brightening from spraying sea water into the atmosphere to increase Albedo. But, if we start doing some out-of-the-box thinking, and everybody pitches in and really tightens the fossil fuel belt, there may be some possibilities.

          That said, I do have a concern about Albedo Restoration, or more accurately inflated Albedo Restoration, based more on intuition than any evidence from model results. The foundational problem is not the sunlight coming in; it is the blockage of thermal radiation from Earth back into space. In medical terms, the Earth is suffering from thermal constipation. The Albedo Restoration ‘treatment’ seems analogous to going to a Doctor with a complaint of constipation, and the Doctor prescribes a starvation diet! The sun is necessary for many life processes, and reducing it by e.g. solar shields or artificially inflated Albedo or other types of blockage should be a last resort, not a first resort. Removing the blockage by CO2 removal or perhaps some radiation frequency conversion approach that bypasses CO2 absorption, would seem more logical as a first resort.

  3. Jim Baird says:

    The climate system acts in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics. The problem is over 90 percent of the accumulated heat is going into the oceans.

    The First Laws of Thermodynamics, “the change in the internal energy of a closed system is equal to the amount of heat supplied to the system, minus the amount of work done by the system on its surroundings.”

    The only thing that can be done with ocean heat is to put it to work. You can produce twice the amount of energy as we consume today and replace all carbon based fuels in the process.

    • Mark E says:

      More flawed promotional advertising for Jim’s patented financial interests in OTEC, under a guise of ecological wisdom.

      The BTUs OTEC would temporarily remove from that part of the climate system represented by the ocean surface will merely be transferred to other parts of the climate system, with unknown consequences. It is the classic “out of sight out of mind” thinking that led to CO2 emissions in the first place.

      • Jim Baird says:

        When is it preferable to bury BTUs?
        1. When the coefficient of expansion of water is half what it is on the surface.
        2. When those BTUs produce storms that move more BTUs to the poles which melt the icecaps and permafrost.
        The fixation on whether or not someone makes a little money out of solving the world’s problems seems at a minimum bizarre.

        • Mark E says:

          “Fixation” on the financial incentives one might have to float numerous ecological-sounding soundbites is how the rest of us decide what reputation you have when you get around to mentioning specifics.

          Implicit in your list of specifics is this:

          3. And we *know* that adding those BTUs to the ocean system’s depths will not negatively impact the ocean system in worse ways than having those BTUs at the ocean system’s surface.

          The only trouble is, we don’t know that. Will mass BTU burial in the deep ultimately turn off the Asian monsoons? Will it redirect warm deep currents to methane hydrates on the continental shelf? Will it increase the amount of dissolved CO2 in the deep waters, leading to accelerated de-calcification of the benthic part of the food chain?

          We – don’t – know.

          Like I said before, your claims of panacea are identical to the assumptions made a century ago that CO2 would simply float out of our tailpipes and harmlessly disappear. Pardon me for “fixating” on your financial incentive to ignore the entire spiderweb we call ecology.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Delaying global action on climate change by 20 more years will put the goal of keeping the world relatively cool out of reach forever, no matter how much money humanity later spends to try to solve the problem, a new study finds. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/global-temperature-goals_n_2404322.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    I guess he has not read this article…

    Climate Portals shared a link.
    20 hours ago

    Fairfax Climate Watch – Losses from Sea Level Rise
    climatewatch.typepad.com
    Sea level rise could crimp GDP; US direct losses could top 1/4 trillion per year during 2040-2050 by Matt Owens December 30, 2012 Things are coming into very clear focus now, and this is quite an exciting time. Sadly, most people are willfully blind to the impending climate changes, with…

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=214973318639257&id=139434822741700

  6. Paul Klinkman says:

    There’s a big difference between climate symptom mitigation and climate cause mitigation.

    I optimistically predict that the Arctic Ocean can be refrozen to its historical ice thickness for about $1 billion per year. Next, huge swaths of Arctic tundra and boreal forest can be coated with artificial snow in early fall and in late spring to naturally reflect sunshine back into space. The ecology of these areas is accustomed to early and late snows.

    Treating the planet’s overheating symptom through environmentally sensitive geoengineering still does nothing to drop carbon dioxide back below 350 ppm. We need to look at the cost of turning CO2 into hydrocarbons such as cellulose, probably with algae photosynthesis, then sequestering the hydrocarbons for an average of 2500 years by creating huge lignite mountains in the earth’s deserts.

    Enhancing forest sequestration is an option. Our current “hope the forest sequesters carbon” system is a joke worthy of deep scorn, because climate change kills entire forests dead, dead forests give off more methane, and then finally a megafire will soon put all the forest carbon back into the atmosphere.

    Nor does this symptom mitigation do anything for ocean acidification.

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      Oops, artificially produced natural snow, using wind power. No edits are allowed in these comments.

      • Omega Centauri says:

        Do you have any idea of the scale of effort needed. Ski areas find snowmaking to be very expensive (and energy intensive). And we are talking about millions of square miles of currently unoccupied (or scarcely populated land).

        • Paul Klinkman says:

          Snowmaking units would have to be self-powered, almost certainly by wind, which at times is fierce in the Arctic. Snowmaking would only take place when the wind blows.

    • Superman1 says:

      “I optimistically predict that the Arctic Ocean can be refrozen to its historical ice thickness for about $1 billion per year.”

      How would you do that?

      • Paul Klinkman says:

        In the Arctic winter, a thick layer of sea ice and surface snow insulates the ocean from the -40 degree or so air. If we manufactured and deployed a huge number of floating thermal transfer enhancement devices, great amounts of heat in the water would be transferred to the air. For environment continuity reasons, the device would preferably not transfer water vapor into the air and wouldn’t transfer excess oxygenated air into the water underneath the ice.

        One key to the project is reaching perhaps 100 feet down into the water to gather as much heat as possible from the local water without freezing the water onto the device.

        The best way to physically transfer heat up to the surface is probably thick salt brine, which has a low freezing point. If the brine ever leaks out of the transfer tubing, it won’t really affect the local environment.

        Above the ice would be a heat fin array to disperse heat into the atmosphere.

        I can see quite a number of details that should be worked out for peak performance. That’s the critical research that should be done now.

      • Paul Magnus says:

        Mother Nature always has the last word…. always….

        Another outbreak of blue green algae has occurred in Adelaide’s Torrens Lake despite combined Government and City Council spending of more than $2 million.

        City lake blighted by another algal bloom
        http://www.abc.net.au
        Another outbreak of blue green algae has occurred in Adelaide’s Torrens Lake despite combined Government and City Council spending of more than $2 million. The Council says the lake can remain open until another bloom occurs.
        https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=518890881474663&id=187700434593711

    • Or, how about converting the dead algae biomass into biochar, and actually putting it to use enhancing soil, not just sitting in a pile in the desert?

      Aside from carbon dioxide from the air and water (copious), what nutrients does algae need, and can be economically provide enough of it? How about the economics of moving it around?

      • Paul Klinkman says:

        Will biochar put into topsoil stay out of the atmosphere for 2500 years? Not that biochar isn’t a good idea on its own.

        The key is to grow the algae near to where it’s being sequestered. Algae is 50% biodiesel and 50% cellulose in the algae cell husks, so the sequestration project can supply its own energy.

        • prokaryotes says:

          There is several thousand year old Biochar ( Terra Preta) in the Amazonas.

          From Terra Preta wikipedia: It is very stable and remains in the soil for thousands of years. Johannes Lehmann found 9000 year old Biochar.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Abrupt SLR within days or weeks a likelihood http://climatestate.com/climate-state/videos/item/slip-slidin-away-ice-sheets-and-sea-level-in-a-warming-world.html

    Bout time the world the wake up! This is a matter of pure survival on a GLOBAL scale

  8. Jack Burton says:

    I find it a bit hard to believe that this mythical 2 degrees of warming is obtainable.
    Are we not already in a position where that number will be easily passed on the path upwards? As of today ZERO has been achieved in lowering or even stabilizing CO2 emissions. On the contrary we are exploding upwards in CO2 volumes and rate of increase. Not to mention the clear kicking in of positive feed backs and the new realization that the great carbon sinks are running out of ability to absorb much more of that huge CO2 emission.
    Most heat has gone into the oceans, much of it has been found in the deep oceans. More is going into ice melting of glaciers and the poles. Little of that heat is appearing as atmospheric warming. So the extent of the heating has been masked from the population, but the heat is still there. I think it is about to explode onto the scene as extreme weather. Just look at the last two years, unprecedented in now the common place. This is clearly the heat juicing weather systems, especially the ocean heat. Sandy got a major positive feed back from Atlantic warming.
    2 degrees in a useless number, that is already baked into the cake, even if we take drastic action on fossil fuel use, we are more likely going to struggle to stay under the 6 degree number.
    Remember this, almost all the climate scientists and models have been far too conservative. We are now seeing effects that most of science predicted for post 2050! How long ago was it that talk was of ice free summers in the arctic seas by the end of this century! Woops! Missed that by a bit didn’t we.
    People and governments will take action only when complete and utter ruin is upon us. The present state of mind of people and their governments is a “so what” or “we are in an economic crisis, growth to service out of control debt is a necessary thing”. The great struggle for economic growth and the rise in populations that is baked into the cake make public and government biased towards heavy new use of fossil fuels to get the growth needed to satisfy the peoples of this planet. ipads and iphones drive people’s imaginations NOT climate science. This is a fact, look around you and you can not dispute that fact!

    • PeterM says:

      and thus we will see decades of economic and social chaos- if we survive it will be a new kind of society- vastly then the consumer based one of today.

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    Another outbreak of blue green algae has occurred in Adelaide’s Torrens Lake despite combined Government and City Council spending of more than $2 million.

    City lake blighted by another algal bloom
    http://www.abc.net.au
    Another outbreak of blue green algae has occurred in Adelaide’s Torrens Lake despite combined Government and City Council spending of more than $2 million. The Council says the lake can remain open until another bloom occurs.

    Mother Nature always has the last word…. always….
    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=518890881474663&id=187700434593711

  10. Renewable Guy says:

    If the science is correct, at 2*C/trillion tons we have to work very hard at 2.4%/year reduction in co2.

    If it is really 3*C/trillion tons it is economically out of reach unless we really do a WW2 effort. That would require nationalizing all the world’s carbon reserves and reducing our co2 diet at 10%/year.

    http://trillionthtonne.org/

    If temperatures rise by 2°C per trillion tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere, to avoid more than 2°C of warming we need to limit total cumulative emissions to below 1,000,000,000,000 tonnes of carbon.

    Based on emission trends over the past 20 years, we expect the 1,000,000,000,000th tonne will be emitted on Sat, 31 Aug 2041 19:08:07 UTC

    We would not release the 1,000,000,000,000th tonne if emissions were to start falling now at
    2.4%/year

    If temperatures rise by 3°C per trillion tonnes of carbon released into the atmosphere, to avoid more than 2°C of warming we need to limit total cumulative emissions to below 666,666,666,666 tonnes of carbon.

    Based on emission trends over the past 20 years, we expect the 666,666,666,666th tonne will be emitted on Fri, 26 Mar 2021 13:54:24 UTC

    We would not release the 666,666,666,666th tonne if emissions were to start falling now at
    9.9%/year

    • Lewis Cleverdon says:

      Your refreshingly simple maths makes the position pretty clear as it stands, but there is a further nuance worth considering. Since conventional global economic growth of around 3%/yr is a close proxy for global emissions growth, the actual rate of change from current practice is thus of 9.9% + ~3% = ~13.9%/yr.

      I’ve yet to see any of the political lemmings who still promote the illusory 2.0C goal via emissions-control-alone get anywhere near acknowledging either the unfeasibility of agreeing such a global rate of change (for the next 4 decades) or its predictable political unsustainability in operation.

      Personally I see no reason to promote any higher a goal of peak global temperature than 0.9C, achieved before 2025. This would require a global climate treaty adopting a ‘fully integrated tripartite strategy’ [FITS] of both productively stringent Emissions Control alongside effectively governed deployment of the necessary Carbon Recovery and sufficient Albedo Restoration.

      What puzzles me is the near-total lack of articles across the web even discussing the FITS mitigation option on its merits, let alone formally advocating it. Instead we have a notable rise of disabling defeatist tosh and growing indulgence of daydreams of ‘adapting’ to more than 4.0C of continued warming.

      Ideas on just why this lack of rational focus should be so would be very welcome.

      Regards,

      Lewis

  11. Tom says:

    Sorry folks, but we’re out of time. There will be no “fix” for the atmospheric CO2 contamination, the acidic oceans or anything else before climate change makes humanity extinct if not all life on earth in the process. As we’ve seen for the past at least 30 years NOTHING has been done, and this trend will continue until it can’t, because humanity refuses to learn from its mistakes and continues living this unsustainable fantasy despite all the billion dollar climate catastrophes happening all over the globe. Well, now that methane is gushing out of the seas and earth, the boreal peat and permafrost is thawing and decomposing (adding more methane and CO2), the rainforests are actually producing CO2 instead of absorbing it (due to severe drought and humanity grinding it up for agriculture), the oceans are overfished, polluted beyond any ability to clean it up (especially plastic), and acidifying (not to mention the growing “dead zones”), and the global average temperature keeps rising which will cause significant sea level rise as most of the ice on the planet melts away. Nobody is decommisioning the world’s nuke plants, so that when the global electrical grid finally fails it’ll be Fukushima times 450 – radiating everything living into oblivion in short order.

    Enjoy your remaining time.

    • Solar Jim says:

      Thanks for your bluntness. Agreed we are out of time, assuming global revolution does not miraculously present itself this year against the ravages of globalized corporate fascism. Your scenario of reactor and spent fuel meltdowns may be preceded by a reduction in atmospheric oxygen, which is dependent on forests and phytoplankton and dropping, below that required for respiration.

    • Mark E says:

      Dubious. Seems to me those who really think this way would not bother posting. After all, to those who really think this, what’s the point? And for those who do post, they look a lot like industry operatives engaged in their final tactic: preventing change by sowing unfounded despair.

      I suggest we don’t play that game.