End Climate Silence Now: Draft Climate Assessment Warns Of Devastating 9°-15°F Warming Over Most Of U.S.

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"End Climate Silence Now: Draft Climate Assessment Warns Of Devastating 9°-15°F Warming Over Most Of U.S."

The rule in Washington, DC is if you want to bury news, release it late on a Friday afternoon. So one can only assume the climate silence crowd prevailed in the release this afternoon of the draft U.S. Climate Assessment.

Perhaps it’s this chart they don’t want folks talking about, from the “Newer Simulations for Projected Temperature” in Chapter 2:

Projected rise in average U.S. surface air temperature 2071-2099 relative to 1971-2000. This is RCP 8.5, “a scenario that assumes continued increases in emissions,” with CO2 levels hitting about 940 parts per million. It is close to the emissions path we are currently on — but not the worst-case scenario and not where still-rising temperatures would end up post-2100.

The Assessment, put together by dozens of the country’s top climate experts, makes clear that if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path, we are headed towards a devastating 9°F to 15°F warming over most of the United States (this century), with ever-worsening extreme weather, heat waves, deluges and droughts. As the report notes “generally, wet [areas] get wetter and dry get drier.” Future generations will be wishing for the boring “moist” and “cool” days of 2012 (when they aren’t cursing our names).

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But if the administration were to give this news the attention it is due, then it would have to prioritize climate action above gun-control and immigration and deficit reduction (or, in the latter case, insist upon a carbon tax as part of any comprehensive deficit bill). For the Administration, climate action appears to always be the lowest of top priorities — and when the priorities above it (like health care, economic stimulus) are dealt with, new priorities take their place at the top of the list.

In a statement (below), Center for American Progress Distinguished Senior Fellow Carol M. Browner, former EPA administrator and former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, said that the Assessment makes clear “The time to act is now” with “significantly steeper reductions in industrial carbon pollution” than we’ve seen to date — if we are to avoid the worst impacts. She notes the report makes clear, “no part of the nation is safe” from manmande climate change.

Here are the key points from the Assessment’s Executive Summary:

  1. Global climate is changing now and this change is apparent across a wide range of observations. Much of the climate change of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities.
  2. Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally, and how sensitive the climate is to those emissions.
  3. U.S. average temperature has increased by about 1.5°F since record keeping began in 1895; more than 80% of this increase has occurred since 1980. The most recent decade was the nation’s warmest on record. U.S. temperatures are expected to continue to rise. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, smooth across the country or over time.
  4. The length of the frost-free season (and the corresponding growing season) has been increasing nationally since the 1980s, with the largest increases occurring in the western U.S., affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Continued lengthening of the growing season across the U.S. is projected.
  5. Precipitation averaged over the entire U.S. has increased during the period since 1900, but regionally some areas have had increases greater than the national average, and some areas have had decreases. The largest increases have been in the Midwest, southern Great Plains, and Northeast. Portions of the Southeast, the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountain states have experienced decreases. More winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern U.S., and less for the Southwest, over this century.
  6. Heavy downpours are increasing in most regions of the U.S., especially over the last three to five decades. Largest increases are in the Midwest and Northeast. Further increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for most U.S. areas.
  7. Certain types of extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense, including heat waves, floods, and droughts in some regions. The increased intensity of heat waves has been most prevalent in the western parts of the country, while the intensity of flooding events has been more prevalent over the eastern parts. Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense in the future.
  8. There has been an increase in the overall strength of hurricanes and in the number of strong (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes in the North Atlantic since the early 1980s. The intensity of the strongest hurricanes is projected to continue to increase as the oceans continue to warm; ocean cycles will also affect the amount of warming at any given time. With regard to other types of storms that affect the U.S., winter storms have increased slightly in frequency and intensity, and their tracks have shifted northward over the U.S. Other trends in severe storms, including the numbers of hurricanes and the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds are uncertain and are being studied intensively.
  9. Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
  10. Rising temperatures are reducing ice volume and extent on land, lakes, and sea. This loss of ice is expected to continue.
  11. The oceans are currently absorbing about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually and are becoming more acidic as a 36 result, leading to concerns about potential impacts on marine ecosystems.

Here is the full statement by Carol Browner:

The draft climate assessment released today confirms what the science says and what our eyes are telling us: It’s getting hotter, and that carbon pollution is driving climate change, fueling more violent and frequent weather events and threatening public health. Climate alarms continued to blare in 2012, which was the hottest year on record in the United States. And destructive superstorm Sandy was one of 11 storms, floods, droughts, and heat waves last year that each caused at least $1 billion in damages. The draft assessment warns us that the loss of lives and livelihoods will only get worse, and no part of the nation is safe.

Senior citizens, children, and middle- and lower-income Americans will experience increasing vulnerability to more frequent and ferocious extreme weather events. Residents and businesses in coastal towns will face more damaging storm surges and sea-level rise. Our aging roads, water plants, electricity generation, and other infrastructure will also face more climate-related threats.

We made some progress in reducing climate pollution since 2009 but the draft assessment is a reminder that we must make significantly steeper reductions in industrial carbon pollution. We all need the courage to stand up to the special interests and instead support immediate action to address carbon pollution and climate change. We can start with strict carbon pollution standards for power plants and we must significantly expand investments in community resiliency to protect people and the economy from the gathering storms—and floods, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves. The time to act is now.

Hear! Hear! Or perhaps, in the case of President Obama, Speak! Speak!

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67 Responses to End Climate Silence Now: Draft Climate Assessment Warns Of Devastating 9°-15°F Warming Over Most Of U.S.

  1. M Tucker says:

    How is it that we have already seen TV commercials from the gun control PAC’s but never one from the existing climate change or environmental PAC’s that have existed for quite some time now?

    Why is the messaging so weak from these groups? What makes them so impotent?

    I would be thrilled if anyone would speak on a regular basis about this.

    Drought, rising food prices, fires, lowering levels on the Mississippi, Sandi…lots to talk about. Lots to be upset about. Get out there and SPEAK!

    • I think that, like the climate scientists, the climate action groups still think in terms of better educating the public and Congress.

      Who can be against that? But awkward things happen along that path. The partly educated may realize that their property value is threatened (and thus the amount they can borrow against it). Just as some civic improvement groups mount a whitewash campaign to hide problems from potential outside buyers, so some will try to hide the truth about climate change until they unload the property.

    • Nan says:

      I’d like to see a federally funded PR campaign, with billboards, bus & train posters, FB ads, etc., along the lines of, “Your grandchildren are going to die unless we stop climate change”. “”Every drop of oil you use is a nail in your kid’s coffin.” “This is our last chance….go solar or go hungry.”

      A liitle strong perhaps, but we need to wake people up.

      • But it isn’t grandchildren.

        In the continental U.S., it now looks as if we are going to overheat 2°C (3.6°F) by 2028. Remember that year. It’s when today’s toddlers finish high school and contemplate their future—or lack thereof.

        That 2°C (3.6°F) frontier is when we have about twice as much overheating as today.

        Ref: Joshi M, Hawkins E, Sutton E, Lowe J, Frame D (2011) Projections of when temperature change will exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Nature Climate Change 1:407-412, fig. 2. doi:10.1038/nclimate1261

        • Jim Baird says:

          Powering the future rather than the storms of our grandchildren.

          OTEC competes for the same source of power as tropical cyclones, which besides causing havoc, as has been seen on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and elsewhere in the past decade, also moves heat from the equator towards the poles where it is melting icecaps and permafrost that locks in massive amounts of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide.

          To the extent OTEC converts ocean surface heat to work it is no longer available to power tropical storms.

          OTEC also moves surface ocean heat to a depth of 1000 meters where the coefficient of expansion of water is half what it is at the surface.

          It addresses sea level rise in two additional ways;
          1. the conversion of heat to work in accordance with the First Law of Thermodynamics, and
          2. the conversion of liquid volume to gas to move power generated offshore to markets in the form of hydrogen, ammonia or methanol.

          OTEC’s drawbacks related to cost, biofouling and marine life are addressed by the replacement of a cold water pipe by a heat pipe which “reduces parasitic losses by as much as 50% and the complexity, mass (and cost) of the system by at least 30%.” Dr. Paul Curto, former Chief Technologist NASA.

          Dr. Gerard Nihous of the University of Hawaii and Dr. Ray Schmitt, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, both estimate OTEC can produce as much as 25 terawatts of renewable energy, whereas the world currently operates on 16 terawatts.

          OTEC using a counter-current heat recovery system would make the oceans potential virtually limitless in view of the fact the oceans are accumulating in excess of 90% of the heat attributable to global warming. This heat is making life difficult for phytoplankton which are the lungs of the planet and the base of the ocean foodchain – Warmer Future Oceans Could Cause Phytoplankton to Thrive Near Poles, Shrink in Tropics.

          The more energy produced by OTEC the more vital are the oceans, the more they are cooled, the less the seas rise and the less intense are tropical storms.

          The oceans are also rich in diminishing resources like potassium and phosphorous, vital to agriculture, which are made available through OTEC modifications.

      • MimiK says:

        As Joe, here, has tirelessly reiterated, we need to follow the rules for effective messages. Robert Brulle at Drexel says “nightmare and dream” is the key, and both need to be immediate and visceral.

        I think we need to form ‘ensembles’ of skilled creative writers in the arts and creative marketing & scientists and to saturate the mental landscape with emotionally powerful & scientifically impeccable climate nightmares AND global dreams, right next to each other.

        After all, when the Greeks invented Tragedy, it was a rule that it had to be presented with Comedy.

        • Daniel Coffey says:

          Take a look at my opinion columns on the San Diego Daily Transcript. Hiroshima, dreams, haunting and a lot more.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          The Greeks also conceived of ‘hubris’ and ‘Nemesis’. Prescient.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      I copied the following from transcript of a Bill Moyers show “Ending the Silence on Climate Change” (interview with Scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication) taking a few liberties to shorten. Also indicate my additions for clarity.

      “Remember that 16 percent I identified as the alarmed? Again people who are very concerned and think this is an urgent problem, but they feel relatively isolated and alone. They say, “I feel this way, some of my friends and family feel this strongly.” But they have no sense that they’re part of over 40 million Americans that feel just as strongly as they do.
      They’ve never been properly organized, mobilized and directed to demand change.

      Past attempts at climate legislation involved going after and trying to cajole and convince and persuade the members of the Senate and the House to pass this legislation without first engaging the broad public and building a citizens movement that was actually demanding change.

      because in the end politicians, care about their job.”

      End of quotes from show.

      We now have a chance to change this. Please go to ForwardOnClimate.org and Join The #Forwardonclimate Rally On 2/17! Over 10,000 have already signed up. And pass info on if you can’t. We all have to get in persuasion mode.

      Please.

      • Brooks Bridges says:

        “They failed because in the end, politicians only care about their job”

        not

        “because in the end politicians, care about their job. “

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      Those large and small environmental groups would be forced to abandon their traditional “just say no” answer to all environmental problems. The one thing that gives them power in the world are the environmental EIR/EIS studies and legal challenges, much of which reduces down to cosmetic changes and paying money to make it go away and stop the delays. It’s a dirty little secret which is killing us and now has been discovered by the likes of the Heartland Institute.

      If the real scope, scale, intensity and duration of the problem was made clear to the public, they would not tolerate the frivolous challenges which are raised to large-scale solar and wind projects. Oh, no, we can’t let those projects go forward because they might affect our “jobs” programs, our endangered species challenges, our power and control mechanisms.

      The public is stuck between Republicans who live for “no” and the environmental community that lives by “no.” Heavens, don’t tell the public.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Big Green sold out long ago, and purged the ‘extremists’. Just as the German Greens split between ‘Realos’ and ‘fundies’, the ‘realos’ being more acceptable to the money power that rules all our lives, and the German Greens are now just another Rightwing, neo-liberal, party, in all matters but the environment.

    • Bruce Stotts says:

      It’s very simple… money. The NRA gets millions of dollars from large weapons manufacturers. Environmental groups get $20 from people like you and me.

  2. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The Australian Climate commission also released its latest assessment yesterday, also sounds pretty dire, ME

    • Jack Burton says:

      No doubt. OZ is chock full of climate change deniers, as OZ is a great coal exporter and that brings in enormous export revenues and creates boat loads of jobs.
      But science is still being done in Australia and the results are disturbing enough.
      This summers great OZ heat wave is so severe and record shattering that even the climate science deniers are beginning to go into hiding. They haven’t changed their denial, but are parked in front of air conditioners awaiting a break in the heat so they can run out and proclaim global warming is a hoax because some town in OZ had a cool day or two.
      Deniers are screaming like made about a cold wave in Bangladesh right now. They found some extraordinary cool temps and proclaim it as proof global warming is a hoax, while they seem to forget that OZ is burning up.
      Of course much of the denier community is funded by fossil fuel industry and the PR firms they hire keep a large group of internet trolls busy trolling the discussion boards and comments sections of newspapers and blogs full of talking points and lies!

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        The deniers here have become more vociferous but their followers have been dropping off the twig since the carbon price was implemented, ME

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          The denialists are prone to dropping off the twig because they are mostly superannuated senile delinquents who let the likes of Alan Jones do their thinking for them. I’m reminded of St. Gough’s observation when asked about his position on a woman’s right to terminate their pregnancy. He replied that he was, and also felt that, in certain circumstances, it ought to be made retrospective.

          • D Martin says:

            I am sure that was ‘retroactive’, not retrospective.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Nothing to do with being overtaken by a few realities? ME

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            Merrelyn, you are talking as a member of the ‘reality-based community’. The denialati Right concoct their own reality, ex nihilo, from out the perfect vacuum that exists between their ears.

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      I think the Australian approach and blunt language is very useful. take a look at

      http://climatecommission.gov.au/report/the-critical-decade-generating-renewable-australia/

  3. wili says:

    On point 11, there is good discussions of sea level rise going on right now over at RealClimate.

    One meter by century end seems to be the best estimate current modeling can come up with. But current modeling seems to be far from a “mature” field, and some scientists, such as Richard Alley are pointing out that a sea level rise of 3 meters or more cannot be completely ruled out, though others say 2 meters is the upper reasonable limit.

    We should start immediately planing the evacuation of all residences and other buildings and infrastructure near sea level, with immediate plans for those living within one meter of sea level rise.

    Perhaps, starting to make such concrete prudent plans will start to drive home to people the gravity of the threat consequences of GW will pose.

    • Taxpayers almost everywhere will be having their own extreme weather and economic loss. It seems unlikely that they will pay to move all of Miami, New Orleans, and Galveston to higher ground.

      But sooner than sea level rise is the threat from increasingly extreme weather episodes everywhere. Insurers already know from their own records that a 20 percent increase in peak wind speeds from 50 to 60 mph causes a 500 percent increase in windstorm claims.

      In addition to more extreme windstorms, overheating promotes deluge, both as rain and snow. It promotes drought and heat waves. Any one such episode can produce an instant slum—even a freeze-free winter that allows an insect infestation to quickly spread.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    Joe’s link cuts straight to the Executive Summary.

    Page for links to all sections:
    http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/

  5. Superman1 says:

    I’m uncomfortable with any numbers based on existing models, given their assumptions. For example, consider the Rowlands model, published earlier this year, which had a temperature prediction in ~2050 of 3 C, and which a later Nature paper said may be as high as 4 C. From the Abstract in Rowlands et al paper: “We find that model versions that reproduce observed surface temperature changes over the past 50 years show global-mean temperature increases of 1.4-3 K by 2050, relative to 1961-1990, under a mid-range forcing scenario.” In the full paper, they state: “Towards the end of the century, we observe a similar relationship with the IPCC expert estimate, although by that time the uncertainty could be larger if carbon-cycle feedbacks were included in our ensemble”. So, they are using a model that excludes carbon-cycle feedbacks, gives good agreement with the past when there were little carbon-cycle feedbacks, and attempts to estimate the future with similar physics when there could be massive carbon-cycle feedbacks.

    What does one do with such a model; what is the value of it or other similarly-based models? How much better is it than a back-of-the-envelope estimate? Yes, it provides a conservative lower bound estimate, and with the feedbacks added in, the actual numbers will be worse. But, how much worse? What serious decision-making could such models impact or inform?

    It seems to me there are three main questions one would want climate science modelers, theoreticians, and experimentalists to answer:
    1) For a given temperature increase, what is the pattern of frequency and magnitude increases for what were once considered ‘extreme’ events (re Hansen’s paper);
    2) For a given temperature increase, what known positive feedbacks can be accelerated and new positive feedbacks triggered such that self-sustaining temperature increases can occur.
    3) At what point in time can we expect the temperature increases in 1) and 2) to occur?

    Issues 2) and 3) reflect the real danger points, and models that do not include at least all known positive (and negative) feedback mechanisms are not only of very limited utility, but could be very misleading for policy purposes, due to attenuation of the urgency. My own experience with fluid modeling, admittedly in a different velocity range, was that physical and chemical phenomena that were known to be important would never be excluded from serious models used to inform decision-making. Even if these phenomena were ‘soft’, we would include them and account for the softness in error estimates. I personally cannot believe that the ‘black’ world is not doing exactly that, in order to gain a somewhat better perspective on what really awaits us for climate change in this century. I also cannot believe the ‘black’ world will stand idly by watching the atmosphere and our civilization deteriorate.

    • Jack Burton says:

      You are right superman, the past is now a poor model for the future as a totally new climate system is now in place. Linear thinking is old fashioned. Feed backs are non linear events. How do you use the past to model when in the past the arctic was not near to full melt down in summer. That adds a totally new positive feed back, and there is a possibility that the arctic could be in a run away scenario where a rapid flip to ice free summers is already upon us.
      Of course the arctic might recover with cooler temperatures, but what is going to bring these cooler temperatures? The mechanism for a refreeze up there seems elusive at best.
      Using a model to predict the future by looking to see how well it models the past could be old hat at this point!

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        All mainstream climatologists have been using reductionism which has proven inadequate to the task. Moving to systems science is required, urgently , ME

        • Daniel Coffey says:

          You are absolutely right, and the reality is that we already know everything we need to know based on the current energy imbalance already measured.

          Even assuming that we do nothing more to add to the GHG concentrations, the net energy added to the planet each year is more than enough to rip things up.

          As a relatively minor example, ask how long habitats will last when animals can’t get water for a few weeks due to drought. We focus on human adaption via pipe, reservoirs, etc, but overlook the entire wild world which has no ability to adapt to drought because the water just isn’t available.

      • Superman1 says:

        Look at where we are with today’s 0.8 C increase. Arctic ice cap will go in Summer, and perhaps seven or eight positive feedback mechanisms already shown to be operable, not theoretical. Arctic methane release accelerating. Does anyone seriously believe we will get to only 3-4 C by 2050, as predicted by the Rowlands/Nature articles, without triggering some level of runaway? From Lynas’ book, and other sources, 6 C spells game over. Forget about end of century; we’ll see it far sooner at present CO2 emission rates.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      To help me persuade people I think your:” 1) For a given temperature increase, what is the pattern of frequency and magnitude increases for what were once considered ‘extreme’ events (re Hansen’s paper)” and WHEN are potentially powerful points.

      I’d like better data for near term.

      I’ve already started telling people a given average increase in temp means the extremes will be correspondingly greater – so the odd 100 deg day in DC will be come the odd 105 deg day and 100 will become common.

      That shakes them up. You have to personalize this stuff.

  6. Chris says:

    I think when communicating with the American public we should stick to giving temp changes in Fahrenheit. Even though 9 F is the same as 5 C, 9 F sounds more worrisome and hopefully will get the seriousness of the message across better.

    • Remember too that 2degC is the global average overage overheating. Land temperatures rise about twice as much. The global is 70% sea surface temperature, the slowest rising component.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      I must respectfully disagree. Having all the world but the USA using Celsius and the US Fahrenheit only confuses things and lets the denialists have a lovely method of befuddling the Dunning-Krugerite hardcore.

  7. The more we avoid facing this, the more calamitous will be the confrontation

  8. jyyh says:

    (sarc) Is this a national chapter of the IPCC conspiracists? Have they finally succumbed to the pressure by climate realists that America is on another planet than Europe? What I find precarious in this raport is that they’re not talking anything about our neighboring planet, China. We should encourage them to spew out more interplanetary sulfur that would cool us down. (/sarc)

    It seems I should probably install http://sartalics.com/ since there are days I’d use that font more than the normal font…

  9. Greatgrandma Kat says:

    Those of us that are long time subscribers to CP know that without a majority of people around the world willing to give up some of the wont and waste of our current cultural society we will not be able to overpower the message of denial which to most people means they need do nothing because nothing is really changing it’s just a hoax. A much more comforting message than the reality we now face, which gives the advantage to the money makers in fossil fuels. Our entire modern civilisation is based on fossil fuels, they are so intricately woven into our everyday lives that most people can’t even imagine life without them. And the reality is it will take fossil fuels to get us to a non-fossil fuel era which this late in the game may be a final nail. BUT we are fast running out of time, it’s possible we have already crossed the line on being able to maintain our current societies. Still thoses of us that know whats coming keep right on fighting to get the message out and changing peoples minds even if it’s one at a time. Building resilience into our commuities with living local programs for food, water and power can make a diffrence.

    • Will Fox says:

      Solar and wind are growing exponentially in installed capacity. If current trends continue, they could replace 100% of fossil fuels by 2030. Smart grids would take care of any base load problems. There is hope.

      • Superman1 says:

        Remember Kevin Anderson’s point; the CO2 contribution to the atmosphere is cumulative. What matters is the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere by 2030. That has to be radically decreased, starting today.

      • Daniel Coffey says:

        Yes, but that will require that we act with urgency. Where is it that deployment of these technologies is occurring at that pace? I see a very slow deployment here in California.

      • Richard Miller says:

        Can you point me to a study that backs up your statement? I give lectures on climate change and the hope angle is important.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Agree entirely. Was that meant to be ‘wanton waste’? Wanton can be quite lovely, but, alas, not in that usage.

  10. David Moore says:

    We need permanent federal carbon reserves NOW.
    Powder River Wyoming coal and other federal owned Rockies reserves like gas and shale oil, deep Gulf of Mexico oil, Alaska federal oil and gas. These must not be drilled or mined but saved for long term future use and to prevent warming. ACTION NOT PHILOSOPY!

  11. SecularAnimist says:

    Chris wrote: “I think when communicating with the American public we should stick to giving temp changes in Fahrenheit.”

    I strongly agree.

    There is much discussion here and elsewhere about how climate scientists can more effectively communicate the reality and the danger of global warming to the American public.

    I can hardly think of anything climate scientists could do in that regard that would be more effective than to simply state temperatures and temperature increases in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius.

    Americans are conditioned to viscerally think of temperatures in Fahrenheit degrees. When scientists state temperatures in Celsius, many Americans just don’t “get it”.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      SA, I don’t think the average American thinks beyond “degrees”, period. Fahrenheit is as confusing to them (or nearly so) as Celsius. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it not so…

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Old joke: Americans favour international standards and are inching towards them, ME

      • Dennis Tomlinson says:

        True story, likely dating to the same period: I was once shopping at the local hardware store when I happened upon a sales placard for a 5/8 inch O.D. metric garden hose.

  12. The step-change issue is real. I doubt civilization will be around to measure a 15F average global temp, or even 9F. The weather will have gone into fibrillation long before that.

    Among the many, many challenges of communicating this likelihood is sheer visualization. The numbers are just too abstract and, really, too denatured. What does “average of 9F warmer” really mean? What do you think of instinctively when you hear that? My reaction is generalized alarm, with no specific image.

    Generalized alarm might work for those of us who understand this problem, but it doesn’t work for anyone else. Every day I go to work with very, very intelligent people whose job is GHG management who cannot engage in a conversation about this. They focus on regulatory compliance, or shrug and say (boiling it down) it’s a bigger problem than me.

    That is where fiction comes in. Not crazy, sci-fi crap, but stories of societal stress set in the near future, as plausible as possible.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      Agree. You are the author, are you not, of a book whose title matches your moniker? I’m nearly finished reading the book, and I have to say the situation and events depicted are utterly plausible.

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      I think fictionalizing the actual challenge we face debases and trivializes the problem. The hard challenge is finding the real words to explain the triage choices and need for urgent action. Most writers are not willing to take the time to think that through, nor disciplined enough to find the path.

    • Daniel Coffey says:

      Once you live long enough to see both bureaucratic government and bureaucratic environmentalists, you realize that big problems require a different approach. None of these groups have any interest in changing what has worked in the past, even as the nature of the solution is radically different. To a hammer the whole world is a nail.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Yes, specifically alternative structures that produce cooperation and care for the whole. Not new and easy to bring in, ME

    • Superman1 says:

      Truth has the greatest impact. Tell the parents or grandparents of young children that the probability of these children reaching old age is small due to climate change, and the probability of their reaching middle age and having to struggle every day for survival against the elements is high.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        That’s risky on several fronts. Probably more productive to explain the extreme weather and help them significantly reduce their usage of ffs, ME

  13. Spike says:

    “As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere soar, temperatures rise and chaos ensues. Air pollution intensifies, wildfires increase, insect-borne diseases spread, confrontations over water rights become more violent and storm surges rise. This is the near future for America and for the rest of the world. Earth is set to become a hotter, drier, unhealthier, more uncomfortable, dangerous and more disaster-prone place in coming years.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/no-one-can-deny-global-warming

  14. Joe Sauer says:

    940ppm CO2 by 2100? That’s average 6ppm rise every year between now & then. In the last 15 years, we have averaged ~2.2ppm/year rise. I realize that warming will reduce ocean adsorption, but to achieve 6ppm would take a lot more than that. I do not expect increased industrialization to offset growth in renewables to this extreme. I am more than concerned about the future, but we must forecast the future as truthfully as we can or else we will be forever ridiculed. CO2 will probably increase at the same rate of ~2ppm for the next 25 years pushing CO2 to 450ppm by 2038. This is BAD ENOUGH! Temperatures will then be another +0.5F hotter (than today) based on the simplistic equation: dT = 3x[log(CO2,ppm/395ppm)/log(2)] (i.e. doubling of CO2 causes a 3F rise in degF temp). Again, this is bad enough! By then, hopefully a majority of us will come to terms that a major change in our overly indulgent lifestyle must change (i.e. we are the problem), and this forces a change from political trepidity to real change, and an effective carbon tax is installed that starts to eradicate our dependence on fossil fuels. After that, it will take at least another 25 years to completely re-tool our energy infrastructure. Thus, after 50 years of 2ppm rise, we have pretty much locked in CO2 of 500ppm. Net effect is a 1.0F rise from now and probably another 1.0F or more, after that, due to the pipeline effect (by ~2100-2125) (i.e. due to the latency/inertia of the earth’s climate). These numbers are bad enough! 940ppm & 9-15 deg-F rise just doesn’t sound credible; the numbers don’t add up! Past alarmist predictions (Lovelock: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2134092/Gaia-scientist-James-Lovelock-I-alarmist-climate-change.html) are now only fodder for denialists. Predicting the above sorts of numbers will do nothing but make us look like idiots and give more fodder for the denialists, prolonging the stalmate. … Speak the truth when the truth is BAD ENOUGH!

  15. Joe Sauer says:

    oops! I’m terribly sorry (brain dead). The 3F sensitivity factor above SHOULD BE 3C. That does make a big difference to my numbers above. The ~2F I predicted by 2100 would therefore be 3.6 deg-F. And, yes, those numbers are definitely VERY bad! Sorry for the gauffe!!

  16. David F. says:

    I think this projection is unreasonably optimistic. If we reach near 1000 ppm, we will see 11F of globally-averaged warming. Most of the continental US would probably see 15-20F of warming, and Alaska would probably see 25-40F of warming.

  17. Joachim Falken says:

    FLOOD in LAS VEGAS ?
    I just had a look at (poor) drainage systems in Las Vegas, which sometimes seem to end at new residential areas or at most are channelled into small pipes.
    Would be interesting to know about the chances of a major rain and, consequently, deluge (flood) in this part of the country. Proposal: Evaluate chances for a deluge with previous weather patterns and with expected future climate. Probably most homeowners do not have insurance against floods at this place in the desert. Some local banks may also be drowned together with their communities in such an event.
    Not limited to Las Vegas, I wonder why areas that are highly at risk from climate change still fetch high real estate prices and receive mortgages as if nothing would change.