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Bombshell: Recent Warming Is ‘Amazing And Atypical’ And Poised To Destroy Stable Climate That Enabled Civilization

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New Science Study Confirms ‘Hockey Stick’: The Rate Of Warming Since 1900 Is 50 Times Greater Than The Rate Of Cooling In Previous 5000 Years

Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013plus projected warming this century on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature).

A stable climate enabled the development of modern civilization, global agriculture, and a world that could sustain a vast population. Now, the most comprehensive “Reconstruction of Regional and Global Temperature for the Past 11,300 Years” ever done reveals just how stable the climate has been — and just how destabilizing manmade carbon pollution has been and will continue to be unless we dramatically reverse emissions trends.

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Harvard University published their findings today in the journal Science. Their funder, the National Science Foundation, explains in a news release:

With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have reconstructed Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age.

The analysis reveals that the planet today is warmer than it’s been during 70 to 80 percent of the last 11,300 years.

… during the last 5,000 years, the Earth on average cooled about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit–until the last 100 years, when it warmed about 1.3 degrees F.

In short, thanks primarily to carbon pollution, the temperature is changing 50 times faster than it did during the time modern civilization and agriculture developed, a time when humans figured out where the climate conditions — and rivers and sea levels — were most suited for living and farming. We are headed for 7 to 11°F warming this century on our current emissions path — increasing the rate of change 5-fold yet again.

By the second half of this century we will have some 9 billion people, a large fraction of whom will be living in places that simply can’t sustain them —  either because it is too hot and/or dry, the land is no longer arable, their glacially fed rivers have dried up, or the seas have risen too much.

We could keep that warming close to 4°F — and avoid the worst consequences — but only with immediate action.

This research vindicates the work of Michael Mann and others showing that recent warming is unprecedented in magnitude, speed, and cause during the past 2000 years — the so-called Hockey Stick — and in fact extends that back to at least 4000 years ago. I should say “vindicates for the umpteenth time” (see “Yet More Studies Back Hockey Stick“).

Lead author Shaun Marcott of OSU told NPR that the paleoclimate data reveal just how unprecedented our current warming is: “It’s really the rates of change here that’s amazing and atypical.” He noted to the AP, “Even in the ice age the global temperature never changed this quickly.”

And the rate of warming is what matters most, as Mann noted in an email to me:

This is an important paper. The key take home conclusion is that the rate and magnitude of recent global warmth appears unprecedented for *at least* the past 4K and the rate *at least* the past 11K. We know that there were periods in the past that were warmer than today, for example the early Cretaceous period 100 million yr ago. The real issue, from a climate change impacts point of view, is the rate of change—because that’s what challenges our adaptive capacity. And this paper suggests that the current rate has no precedent as far back as we can go w/ any confidence—11 kyr arguably, based on this study.

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, told the AP:

We have, through human emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, indefinitely delayed the onset of the next ice age and are now heading into an unknown future where humans control the thermostat of the planet.

Unfortunately, we have decided to change the setting on the thermostat from “Very Stable, Don’t Adjust” to “Hell and High Water.” It is the single most self-destructive act humanity has ever undertaken, but there is still time to aggressively slash emissions and aim for a setting of “Dangerous, But Probably Not Fatal.”

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195 Responses to Bombshell: Recent Warming Is ‘Amazing And Atypical’ And Poised To Destroy Stable Climate That Enabled Civilization

  1. Superman1 says:

    We seem to have gotten into a closed loop here. We’re posting the fundamentally same generic findings with moderately different language and warnings, and essentially the same comment responses with slightly different words. I’m not seeing any exit from this loop; it seems independent from the action (or lack thereof) in the real world. As the goal slips further from our reach, the proposals become more ambitious while fossil user behavior remains static.

    • Joe Romm says:

      Uhh, I’m running climate blog here so you should pretty much expect posts on climate science and solutions and politics. If you don’t understand the purpose of this blog, I can assure you, tens of thousands of people do. It is not only the most widely read climate science blog in the world, it is also the fastest growing in social media. We’re very much an expanding circle.

      P.S. This is quite a new finding, even if anybody who follows the subject is generally aware of it.

      P.P.S. Your comments have a remarkable sameness to them also. But seem to lack a certain something that would garner you more influence. Mote and beam, as it were.

      • Superman1 says:

        I included my comments in the closed loop scenario. The (possible) solution is rather obvious, so my repetition reflects consistency. But, with all this essentially repetition, we haven’t moved off the dime.

        • Superman… Joe’s reporting a new scientific finding that is very relevant to the still evolving science of global warming. It did not seem repetitive to me at all. In fact, its validation of Michael Mann’s earlier work and its implication of the risks of a very rapid human forcing (via temp rise) was a very important development.

          I can sympathize with your wish for solutions. But keeping track of the science is a part of developing an effective response.

          • Superman1 says:

            Robert, Here’s my message. We know we’re way into the danger zone. This article tells me nothing new relative to that fact; it is but another confirmation. Interesting, but we’re getting nothing new relative to the seriousness of the problem. We’ll get the same comments bemoaning our fate or offering non-solutions from the same people. That’s the context of my saying there’s nothing FUNDAMENTALLY new here.

        • Joe Romm says:

          Your comment is pointless, then — or worse, actually. I understand why so many of my readers are frustrated by you.

          If you actually take the time to read what you just wrote, you’d see that you are essentially implying — if not outright stating — that there is really no point in reporting any news or talking about the problem until we solve the problem.

          Bizarre! Hmm. Methinks you maybe be Bizarro Superman….

          • Superman1 says:

            “I understand why so many of my readers are frustrated by you.” Oh, I understand it too. The ‘truth’ puts a crimp in the pitches of the Python Oil salesmen. Remember the story about Truman: ‘why do they call you Give ‘em He**, Harry; because I give them the truth, and they think it’s He**’. That’s what we have here.

      • Ed Leaver says:

        Bah. “Quite a new finding” indeed. Close to a year and a half of yesterday’s news, is what. Here’s another relevant link for your collection:
        Determining the natural length of the current interglacial Nature Geoscience 5, 138 – 141 (2012) P. C. Tzedakis, J. E. T. Channell, D. A. Hodell, H. F. Kleiven & L. C. Skinner doi:10.1038/ngeo1358, with additional commentary at Carbon emissions will defer Ice Age. The Holocene is history. Get over it.

      • Cramer says:

        When I read Superman1′s comment, I assumed his thought was not original and he simply regurgitated the statement “vindicates for the umpteenth time” written in the article.

        Vindicating the work of Michael Mann for the umpteenth time will not likely curb the politically fueled AGW debate. Five years ago “skeptics” were denying the observed temperature data/proxies. Most deniers today seem to accept GW, just not AGW. Most of what I hear lately from AGW “skeptics” is that temperatures haven’t increased since 1998 but CO2 has increased; therefore GW is not human induced.

        Climate models that better forecast ENSO and temperatures over the next ten years (rather than 100 yrs) are what is needed. If that’s already out there, then there’s a communication problem.

        • GreenHearted says:

          I keep wondering if it’s a giant Kennedyesque push for scientific (climate/climate change) literacy among our students and the general public in the US and Canada (and add in the UK and Australia/New Zealand) that’s needed. Because then, the people who are too lazy to research why there’s been no increase in the rise of global average temperature will understand enough to figure it out for themselves.

          Hmmm. No increase in *global* average temperature rise doesn’t mean there haven’t been horrific *regional* heat waves and droughts. And hmmm, it doesn’t mean there’s no global warming, because we haven’t turned the oven off yet (it’s still 0.8º warmer than it’s been for 10,000 years). And hmmm, all that ice and snow and permafrost that’s been melting/disappearing/thawing in the Arctic, maybe *that’s* where some of the heat has been going.

    • prokaryotes says:

      Only experts read this blog. These findings are a good indicator of our assumptions and past predictions.

    • Raul M. says:

      It is in our best interests to decifer the truth of how the natural systems behave. And just what is a tweek to our common behaviors.
      How do tweeks change the path.
      A common theme may be that the fallen leaves on the patio are a work of art by nature. For without changing that it is the patio anything nature does could be said to be the work of art on its own, for when does one release the manmade to the relm of nature is it when man thinks it is released or when nature has access to it?
      Anyway the work of art that nature makes of the fallen leaves could be said to be tweeked when you walk by and nature accepts such change to the artwork. Then the rustling wind reagain changes the art. But,
      that there may be many efforts at play shouldn’t be denied but relish is that the multiplicity of efforts happen. Is it poor converation to identify the overall state of the art and the current state of the atr appreciative ability. Go figure.

    • Joe Brewer says:

      Hey Superman1,

      You are absolutely correct that this kind of information, while vitally important for scientific reasons, is not effective at nurturing the cultural awareness and impetus to action that is needed.

      My colleague and I have just completed the first meme analysis of global warming and this is what we found:

      Why Global Warming Won’t Go Viral

      Hope this helps.

      Best,

      Joe Brewer
      Co-Founder, DarwinSF

      • Mark E says:

        Great ideas on your blog, Joe B! Keep it up

        • Joe Brewer says:

          Thanks, Mark! Tomorrow I’ll post another article about the 20 psychological inflection points that are the “forcing functions” that give shape to the climate discourse. Be sure to drop by and have a look.

          Best,

          Joe

    • Bob Bingham says:

      I’m doing my bit down in New Zealand and there are more of us every day. Here we are in the worst drought for a century. Is it climate change? well it is a bit odd that it is forecast and now we have got it.
      Here’s my contribution. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/

    • Oakwood says:

      I see what you mean. Its kind of like Groundhof Day, except every day is April 1st.

    • MightyDrunken says:

      ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’, says the Teacher.
      ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’

      What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

      Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

      What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

      Superman1 I don’t think you are saying anything new!

  2. Dam Spahn says:

    This spike wasn’t predicted. Now there are new predictions. How much worse will it be, in just a few years, than these revised predictions? It has always surprised us, and it will again. Yes, we will see catastrophic conditions in our lifetimes. We’re all in the pot, and the water’s getting hotter.

    • Superman1 says:

      We’re getting essentially the same postings, the same dire warnings, the same reader comments, and the same lack of action by the fossil fuel users. Sounds like a closed loop to me.

      • David Goldstein says:

        Hey, Superman- I know that you tend to catch a fair amount of flak for your comments, but, I have to say the actual evidence on the ground regarding our collective (lack of) action keeps backing you. I would love to get your reaction to an article regarding, essentially, humanity’s ‘normalized collective insanity’ regarding climate change that I wrote yesterday and is up in Huffington Post’s climate section. Here it is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidgoldstein/adult-response-climate-change_b_2832052.html?utm_hp_ref=climate-change

        • M Tucker says:

          David,

          Your article presents the two choices faced by humanity very succinctly. We either respond to the diagnosis by immediately taking the advice of experts or we disregard that advice and suffer the consequences. It is obvious which path humanity has chosen so far. If we are lucky humanity will only “experience long and unnecessary suffering.”

          • David Goldstein says:

            You know, M. Tucker- it sure would be nice to get all vets of climate activism together for a long weekend so that we can blow of steam about how freakin crazy it is to walk around with the knowledge that we could avert what is essentially the downfall of civilization AND (by the way) clean up the land, air and water…and we are showing no signs of actually doing that. Here’s an analogy- somebody I love is told they have to stop smoking or they will get cancer and maybe die. They keep smoking. I go crazy with frustration and grief over the choice they are making. Now- with climate change – it as if everybody in the world has been told the same thing- and we have to make a collective choice – and we are choosing so far to puff away. Joe’s article a few days ago about reversing the ‘Kubler Ross’ stages of acceptance does not apply to me- I WANT to feel the grief, but sometimes it is crazy-making.

        • Superman1 says:

          “I know that you tend to catch a fair amount of flak for your comments”. If you don’t want to catch flak, join the Amen Corner here. Their solutions won’t solve the problem, but they sound good and feel good. I will read and respond to your article.

        • Superman1 says:

          David, I’ll post a series of responses at about #20 below.

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          David, you got lucky because you were born at the right time. 20 or 30 years before, that operation would not have been available. Essentially we never know what is around the corner or what will be discovered tomorrow but I know lots of very well equipped and concerned people are working on our predicament. In addition, as the climate rapidly destabilizes, more people are waking up and starting to do the right thing. Now is not the time to roll over, ME

        • Superman1 says:

          David, Your comments and columns are in the noblest traditions of our people. I can’t express enough admiration for what you are doing; keep up the good work.

      • prokaryotes says:

        I agree with this observation, only it is not news. We are in this loop since decades.

      • Good try, many honest participants! And elucidating up to a point. But ultimately… DNFTT.

      • F Michael Addams says:

        Oh..Sooo..Superman:” I’m caught in a feedback loop…I’m caught in a feedbackloop..loop…loop…loopy…error message 41…

        • BlackDragon says:

          If you read Joe Brewer’s link above, you will see that Superman1 is in fact making the most relevant point. As good as this blog is, there is, and will never be, any meaningful result from the inevitable repetition of the line: “we need to do something now” or “we need to act now, or else we are screwed” or any variation on that message that always concludes a post like this.

          Superman1′s point is that this message will not work, no matter the repetition loops. It won’t go viral, it won’t get into the mass psyche and it won’t inspire large-scale action that will make a difference.

          If you read the comments on Joe Brewer’s link, there is one insightful note from Gail Zawacki:

          “Also I wonder if you have looked at other campaigns that convinced people to abandon addictive but self-destructive behavior, like smoking, or fundamentally sacrifice in the face of a threat, like emigrating from Europe when before the Nazi’s made it impossible to leave.

          From what I have seen, they have to first have the wits scared out of them before they will even try.”

          No one just sitting around the home, office or cafe, reading yet again that “we must take action now” is going to be inspired to meaningfully change their fossil fuel addicted lifestyle. They are not even remotely in a real state of having “the wits scared out of them.”

          I am afraid Superman1 is a bit uncomfortably close to the truth – when you hear the truth that nothing is changing (yet), and you have also accepted that we are in dire straights – it can hurt like hell. For whatever reason, Superman1′s particular loop does not bother me. I would rather prepare for the outcome that is 99.9% certain based on objective facts, than be part of the Amen Chorus.

          Show me a revolutionary change in global culture that points to a real change in course, or show me a revolutionary, miraculous new energy source on the horizon, and then I would believe we might end up on the 0.1% side of outcomes. I check this blog regularly to see if there is any such good news. Superman1 is simply reminding me, “Nope, none yet.” Nothing wrong with that.

          • Joe Romm says:

            I followed the link and was not moved by the analysis, to the extent I thought it was accurate.

      • BlessHisHeart says:

        Superman1,

        The warnings are dire, because the situation is dire. New information makes the tenuousness of our situation clearer, and thus is worthy of note.

        With all due respect, if you feel you have all requisite knowledge related to the climate, and have no further need of reading the latest information – well, all I can say is, “bless your heart.”

        I’d like to thank you for your lame attempt at the “sweeping generalization” fallacy. It is terribly amusing. Please keep going, my friends and I are thinking of starting a drinking game in your honor.

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    Welcome to the Metricene, where we live measured lives on a managed planet.

    Of course, it didn’t have to be this way, as I pointed out in a post just this morning about that infamous report about pollution delivered to LBJ in 1965: http://www.grinzo.com/energy/2013/03/08/lbj-knew/

  4. jyyh says:

    some attorney generals might be interested on your emails. i wouldn’t call this a bombshell but then i’ve been following this stuff quite long already.

  5. M Tucker says:

    Yep, it is the rate of change that is so alarming and what matters most for species adaptation. 5000 years of cooling erased by 100 years of fossil fuel burning. The self-destructive power of human civilization displayed of all to see. Is this making a splash with the media? Are the airwaves abuzz with alarm? Is the President making any speeches about this? Have any congress people called for a press briefing? Will we actually institute policy while “there is still time to avoid the worst?” Nah…let’s discuss movies, and how stupid Rand Paul is. Let’s discuss the Chavez funeral and when the cardinals will meet. Let’s talk about whether a terrorist ought to go to trial in the US and the threats from N Korea. Let’s talk about how corrupt elections are in many African nations and whether the Syrian rebels are to be trusted. Let’s talk about anything and everything except the single most pressing threat to civilization. You ONLY get that discussion here!

    • Actually, there has been some coverage. CNN front paged it, at least on their web site. It was big front page news in our local paper — but only because I live in Corvallis, hometown to Oregon State University where part of the study was done. We’ll see if the News Hour picks it up next week. It seems their generally chickensh*t editorial board has rediscovered the words “climate change” since Obama mentioned it in his inauguration speech.

      As far as the discussions you mention go, it would be nice if we were engaged in discussions about Syria, etc. That’s a step below talking about climate change, but at least a discussion of SOMETHING meaningful. But it seem that 90% of the “current events” discussion in this country is about how much money the Kardashian sisters are raking in and who looks good in spring training.

      As our own dear Superman1 has said, “It’s surreal.”

  6. Jack Burton says:

    It is always nice to see the reports like this that offer some real confirmation of what those of us who follow this story already know.
    Rate of change is spectacular! Climate has begun to shift so rapidly that I can not recognize the climate where I live from what it was 20 years ago. The summers have gone from a quick two to four week warm spell in summer to 3-4 months of oppressive heat. That is some change for us who grew up in Northern Minnesota. The month of September often found us up in canoe country getting up to a few inches of snow we would shovel away from the campfire and tent with our canoe paddles. Now it is insect repellent that we most need in September!
    The recent information on the CO2 emissions spike of 2012 tells us that MAN has decided to double down on fossil fuels. This fact no man can deny! While every study like this says “We can mitigate the worst effects if we act now”, the real fact is that rapid change is baked into the cake. We now have to choose between severe climate warming and extreme weather that may or may not stabilize at some time this century if we take drastic action NOW. Or, and this is the course we are on, we double down and extract and burn MORE fossil fuels in a bid to keep the economies going to service billions more folks. This second course is complete and utter disaster for billions. No one, and this challenge is open to all, can tell me that we are doing anything but expanding fossil fuel use, and more countries on getting on the western model of energy intensive development.
    To make an impact, we would need to go to zero this decade. This would crash the world economy and social and political unrest would tear the world apart, making WWII look like a girl scout picnic.
    It has us between a rock and a hard place. Humans were warned heavily in the 80′s about this, I am old enough to remember the dire warnings science gave politicians. What did we get? A vast well funded denial movement, feed by right wing politicians and fossil fuel companies. Even Christian fundamentalists got on board to declare earth a resource for exploitation and allied themselves with the worst of the deniers. Sad and sick. History will judge and it will be vicious in it’s judgements.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Jack, on our current path the global economy is a dead duck anyway. Even without cc, we are witnessing the many effects of the inherent instabilities contained within its dominant theory and practices, such as rapidly growing inequality. We should also be planning for the substitution of more sensible and sustainable economics. But I cannot see how an all-out campaign to replace fossil fuels with renewables, done with careful, comprehensive planning, would crash the economy on its own. The evidence so far points to the opposite conclusion, ME

      • Bones288 says:

        The international price of crude is set in US dollars. If there was a dramatic drop in the demand for crude the demand for US dollars drops as well. My guess is that countries will begin to drop the US dollar as the world reserve currency. In the long run this will be more beneficial to other countries and devastating for us in the US.

        It would be beneficial to everyone in the long run to choke down the medicine now rather than live peacefully with the tumor.

        But I could be wrong.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Inequality is driving the economic implosion. But it is the object of the economic policies of the global elite to drive inequality deeper, to destroy all social welfare, to privatise every public institution and to drive wages and conditions lower. The cure, as advanced in the USA, UK, Europe and Australia when Abbott ascends, makes the disease immeasurably worse. Moreover the same elites refuse to allow climate change action, and are ruthlessly destroying every environmental gain of the last few decades. So, is this deliberate and wanton destruction of humanity simply malignant ideology run mad, or a carefully contrived plan to remake human society radically and irreversibly, through the means of catastrophe, ie the ultimate testing to destruction of ‘disaster capitalism’?

        • Mimikatz says:

          I think they want many, many fewer people, say half a billion tops. I’m not sure they have thought through who will do the work. But I am fairly certain that they want many fewer people sharing what resources remain.

        • TJinBoulderUT says:

          Your assumption seems to be that “the global elite” actually know and care about what they are doing. I believe that we live in an age of denial, where most people:
          1. Don’t understand science.
          2. Don’t care about science (i.e. are more interested in sports, food, celebrities and the economy, etc.).
          3.Are primarily interested in their own and their family’s comfort and safety.
          and
          4. Don’t want to deal with unpleasant realities like starvation, poverty, war, pandemics…..

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Basically this century is the end of familiar agriculture, as the temperatures get outside crop tolerances.

    The projection of nine billion humans seems like it ought to have a huge error bar, given the more immediate losses of food and water, plus thermal habitat instabilities.

  8. joe says:

    we’re all going to die, aren’t we?

    • SecularAnimist says:

      joe wrote: “we’re all going to die, aren’t we?”

      Of course we’re all going to die.

      What does that have to do with global warming?

    • Catherine J. Winterkk says:

      Yes Joe, but do you want to die in a tsunami caused by global warming, or in a massive hurricane, or under tons of ice and snow – violently, slowly, horrendusly? or your children? the earth will survive and go on spinning long after humanity is gone. good luck.

      • Alan D McIntire says:

        Tsunamis are not caused by global warming

        • Solar Jim says:

          Incorrect. The Royal Academy published an entire issue on the destabilization of plate tectonics by melting of trillions of tons of ice sheets off polar land masses, with subsequent loading of sea beds via weight of water. Both effects trend toward earthquakes.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      I think he is meaning as a species more or less…

    • prokaryotes says:

      The amount of Co2 modifies our environment to an extend, to a state which is unfavorable and in parts even uninhabitable for humans. And you will get rapid developments, problems particular on topics of food and water supply, when the climate shifts. We play with that trigger and are bout to lose control entirely.

      • espiritwater says:

        Prokaryotes said, “the amount of CO2 modifies our environment to an extend, to a state which is unfavorable and in parts even uninhabitable for humans. And you will get rapid developments, problems particular on topics of food and water supply- when the climate shifts. We play with that trigger and are about to lose control entirely.”

        Pentagon report (Reinsurrance magazine, few years back): “there is substantial evidence to suggest that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century…the evidence of an imminent abrupt shift may become clear and reliable within a decade.” (by 2015).

        Guess this explains why the elites are clamping down with greater and greater control, militarizing police, trying to disarm us, want 30,000 drones (capable of killing us) in the skies by 2015, etc. OF COURSE they know what’s coming! They just want to die as quietly as possible without much ado.

        • Solar Jim says:

          “evidence of an imminent abrupt shift”

          Tell that to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group. Isn’t that what also what happened in Germany leading to 1939? Or with the US Nuclear Insurance Indemnification Act of 1957?

          We’re all indemnified. Or indemnifried, the “capitalist” way.

    • MightyDrunken says:

      Speak for yourself.

  9. fj says:

    Right now trillion dollar markets are emerging to meet the challenges.

    NYC Rapid Repairs made livable 16,000 homes in response to Sandy with Skanska (a Koch Industries subsidiary) as one of the main contractors.

    These restorations likely did not include much hazard mitigation and energy retrofits necessary as longer term solutions.

    And, NYC alone is a trillion dollar real estate market with $billions in economic activity daily.

    So The President will have lots of support when he starts to act on climate change with wartime speed.

    Socio economic transitions will likely net trillions of dollars such as to universal healthcare where US healthcare cost two to three times more in other developed world economies. As a trillion dollar industry responsible cost reductions will free up $trillions.

    The President must start playing to keep and move on climate immediately.

    • fj says:

      In NYC traffic congestion is estimated to cost $13 billion per year

      In NYS road accidents cost about 20 $billion per year and car ownership costs about $8,000 per person per year.

      Greatly reducing dependency on cars will also free up lots of capital.

      And never mind the GDP which is a false metric depending on a vast array of extremely wasteful and destructive practices.

      As good meaningful economic activity centering on people and restoring our future.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Not this President, not Obama, not in a million years. Self-delusion got you Obama, as the perfect ‘Greek gift’. Time to let go of the illusion.

      • fj says:

        What in earth are you talking about?

        My self-delusion?

        And what exactly is the perfect greek gift?

        Please explain.

        There will be a dramatic moment in time when it will be a necessity of the direst kind that a president must stand up and move this country to act on climate change at wartime speed.

        That time will likely come during this presidency and if this president does not act accordingly he will leave his office at the end of his term, if not before, in infamy not much different than the president before him.

        I do believe President Obama will act with much better form; not difficult admittedly.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Sorry, fj, but I am convinced that Obama is never going to act, with ‘wartime’ or any other speed. And the Greek gift was the Trojan Horse, and Obama is, in my opinion, one such. Sorry to be blunt, but I believe that, if you think that Obama offers any ‘Hope’ in any form, over ecological destruction or any other policy, than I believe that you are mistaken. Trust me, I hope that you are right and I just a cynical curmudgeon, but, if, as I suspect, I’m closer to the truth, I do think I had better say so, and risk offending sensibilities.

      • prokaryotes says:

        Obama is good, but the entire political system is in jeopardy, in the hands of a few old grumpy men.

        • Superman1 says:

          “in the hands of a few old grumpy men.” Who were, by the way, voted in office by a majority of their voting constituents, and who, by and large, reflect the views of their constituents. The main problem is the constituents.

        • espiritwater says:

          No, Obama is NOT good…if he was good he would never had signed the NDAA bill nor be trying to take away our guns (God given right of self defense AND our Constitutional right to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government). Obama is just a very good actor who is working the Banksters, who bought and paid for his election.

  10. BobbyL says:

    The fossil fuel companies will continue to try to maximize their profits even if that means trying to create doubt about global warming. It’s up to our government which has been formally concerned about this problem since the 1960s to finally take action. Also, we have now reached the point where it is up to the committee of nine that governs China to take action. The time has passed when the developed countries could take action alone to reduce emissions and hope to prevent catastrophic climate change. It is now either joint action to reduce emissions between the developed countries and China or catastrophic climate change is essentially a given.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Bobby, China has announced it will have capped coal usage and have a price on carbon by 2015. They are an acknowledged leader in solar. Joint, or preferably international action needs the USA to reverse its obstructionist policy, ME

      • BobbyL says:

        I think you have things backwards. The US has reduced the percentage of electricity from coal from 50% to about 33% and over the last seven years has reduced carbon dioxide emissions more than any other country in the world. In contrast, China’s coal usage went up 6% in 2011 and they now account for 47% of all coal usage in the world. They still use coal for almost 80% of their electricity. And, they are planning on building hundreds of additional coal-burning plants, which would even surpass the capacity of the hundreds of new coal-burning plants planned by India. Moreover, they account for 70% of all increase in annual emissions. Their carbon tax would only be used for reducing carbon intensity, not emissions.The US may be obstructionist but China is on course to fry the world. Being in denial about China is not going to help things. Time to face facts.

        • Mimikatz says:

          China faces huge, huge health care costs down the road for their air and water pollution, toxics in so many products etc. Maybe it is their answer to rural overpopulation, but this will be a huge problem for them in 20 or so years, when really serious climate change impacts kick in.

          • BobbyL says:

            The Chinese are trying to continue their phenomenal economic growth rate to bring modern civilization to all of their people while delaying reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. It is not clear that the US or anyone can dissuade them from continuing on this path. What is really scary is that India is copying China and its population is expected to surpass China’s 1.3 billion pretty soon. Both countries are betting their economic futures on coal. Between them they have about 900 new coal-burning plants in the works according to the World Resources Institute. Those plants would be the equivalent of all the coal-burning plants in the US. Yet, American climate activists don’t seem to be bothered by this and love to point out all the new wind and solar power projects in China as if China is somehow a leader in solving the global warming problem. But what good is wind and solar power if it is not replacing fossil fuels but just being added to the electricity grid? Fossil fuels must be replaced, that’s the bottom line.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            It’s a serious problem for them now which is why they seem like they are a person on a tight rope, bringing their people into the 21stC while simultaneously battling climate change. It’s easy to criticize Mimi, particularly if you live in a rich country with all the comforts, but China has a long proud history and is not about to throw in the towel just yet. Conspiracy theories are too easy and don’t even come close to the complexities in reality, ME

          • Superman1 says:

            BobbyL, “But what good is wind and solar power if it is not replacing fossil fuels but just being added to the electricity grid? Fossil fuels must be replaced, that’s the bottom line.” Outstanding observation; five stars!

        • Superman1 says:

          In India and China, hundreds of millions have the opportunity to rise from abject poverty to lower-middle class, due mainly to cheap labor and cheap fossil fuel-based energy. Like football players, boxers, smokers, drinkers, etc, they are more than willing to sacrifice a few years at the end of days for a few ‘good’ years in the here-and-now. That’s one of the many reasons this problem won’t be solved voluntarily.

  11. Unprecedented pace of warming means unprecedented weather, unprecedented glacial melt, and unprecedented sea level rise…

  12. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “the same lack of action by the fossil fuel users”

    Lack of action?

    As of mid-2012, corporate and institutional fossil fuel users had installed more than 2,300 megawatts of solar PV on more than 24,000 individual facilities, directly replacing fossil fueled electricity with solar electricity. During the first half of 2012, more than 3,600 corporate and institutional PV systems came online — one every 72 minutes.

    And that’s in addition to the skyrocketing growth of residential PV systems, and the accelerating growth of utility solar, and the phenomenal growth of wind power.

    Meanwhile, what exactly have YOU done — other than to power your computer with coal-fired electricity while you use it to attack renewable energy?

    • fj says:

      Yes, and we have only just begun.

      But, The President has the capability of amplifying socio economic, scientific, technological and industrial action beyond all our wildest dreams.

    • Superman1 says:

      More Python Oil, focusing on the renewable ‘shell’ rather than the fossil ‘pea’. There is zero evidence from any long-range projection that the base fossil use of today will be reduced by any means, especially by renewable replacement. It is the reduction of the fossil base that is required. Renewables may capture some of the growth of fossil, but no one except for the Python Oil pitch men believes renewables will reduce the fossil base by voluntary means.

      • I do agree that we need strong policy goals for reducing fossil fuels as a portion of total energy. And I can certainly agree that not enough has been done in this respect.

        We need an ultimate goal for pushing that use to zero and a real plan for putting that into place.

        • Solar Jim says:

          A constitutional amendment (No person shall, etc.) against permanent toxic or climate changing contamination (of the commons or of property) would be advised.

      • SecularAnimist says:

        Superman1 wrote: “There is zero evidence from any long-range projection that the base fossil use of today will be reduced by any means, especially by renewable replacement …”

        Your ignorance is really quite stunning.

        You seem to think that belligerent repetition of assertions that have repeatedly been demonstrated to be laughably false, combined with juvenile name-calling, makes your defeatist, intentionally demoralizing nonsense more persuasive.

        It doesn’t.

        • Superman1 says:

          A fact-free response; how surprising! Similar to your proposals.

          • EDpeak says:

            secular and superman – respectfully, while not as regular a poster here, I have watched you two enter into a DANGEROUS POSITIVE FEEDBACK of mutual animosity….this is something all of us myself included, can get sucked into, but I urge you to take a deep breath, get a nature walk, a hug, wholesome food, sex, etc…and then try with fresh eyes to see not an enemy but someone who you have some goals and values in common with…most of us here on CP agree with *some* analysis, of each of you…it’s more CONSTRUCTIVE to see the other as at worst, confused in some areas, unconstructively framing maybe, etc, but not as a person to try to win an argument with…try to remember we all share common human pains, hopes, dashed hopes, common disappointments, stress, etc….try to see the worst (as you see them) of the others’ words as efforts to deal with these challenges, even if veyr awkward efforts..I have been frustrated by some posts of superman, disagreeing , etc, but see the root cause frustrations (I just think he’s often not taking the most constructive way to deal with those) if I had more time I’d post some suggested pathways to more constructive interaction…at the very least, let’s all remember we’re all human, all going to die some day, all are vulnerable little creatures on a tiny planet, we all make mistakes, even when we mean well, we hurt ourselves or hurt others….forgive, as much as you can…take what positive steps you can outside this blog..ignore posts you don’t like when possible; if not possible, try to give responses that assume the other person does not have mal-intentions…even if you find it hard to believe it, try to act/post as if their intentions are not malevolent, but misguided, or coming from extreme inner turmoil and frustrations..respectfully yours…closing quote: “If you want others to be happy, practice compass. If you want to be
            happy, practice compassion” -The Dalai Lama

    • Ken Barrows says:

      It’s not just about more; it’s about less. Or, if it is just about more, let’s state our premises.

      • Superman1 says:

        It’s about less if your main priority is solving the climate change problem. It’s about more if your main priority is making a final run on the casino.

    • Superman1 says:

      BobbyL’s comments above address your typical Python Oil on solar installation directly, and I’ll repeat them here: “But what good is wind and solar power if it is not replacing fossil fuels but just being added to the electricity grid? Fossil fuels must be replaced, that’s the bottom line.”

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    now that is a bomb. does anyone realistically thing we are going to survive this?

    • Paul Magnus says:

      I really do think people should start declaring sates of emergencies to tackle this stuff.

    • Sasparilla says:

      Realistically? It seems a very big longshot that would require worldwide WW2 scale implementation & multiple Geo- engineering (crazy) scenarios…basically a Sci-Fi movie dream of what could save our civilizations future.

      Less than a 10% chance IMHO and that’s probably being significantly too optimistic…the melt out of the arctic in a couple of years & associated permafrost feedback has pushed me from thinking we could still realistically do this to thinking we’ll need a miracle.

  14. Jakob Wranne says:

    Joe Romm, Welcome back!

    We hope you will take enough time to recover, so that you will last for a long time. (The opposite is awful, and your voice is important. It’s better to use it in a lower gear, than to loose it.)

    Your balance and mix of science backbone, a direct language, your ability to grip the very core of the subjects and to tell about it in wordings most people get – it’s skill on the uppermost level.

  15. Paul Klinkman says:

    I find their hockey stick projection to be rather conservative. Given the people now in charge of the world, try 8 degrees Celsius.

  16. irrefudiate says:

    With the apparent acceleration of rate of change, I guess the whole idea of “tipping points” is pointless.

      • Solar Jim says:

        Tipping point: arming the thermonuclear climate weapon against ourselves.

        Arctic sea-ice melt: removing the planet’s nuclear radiation shield. (Note: sunlight is short wavelength ionizing electromagnetic nuclear-fusion-generated radiation)

  17. Paul Taylor says:

    Many centuries ago, a Chinese philosopher said, “If you not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
    It seems that where we are heading with our present course of not responding urgently and aggressively to the Global Warming challenge is with considerable certainty that of extinction of the human species. This could be taken as fitting justice for our fully irrational self-destructive behavior. ThinkProgress says to me with its reports that we must take action NOW in large numbers. Can We The People initiate a social movement of some considerable scale for pursuing a “Peaceful War”, not a War for Peace, but a planned Peaceful War against GW that would secure our Future in the face of certain extinction toward a new paradigm of Peace with Justice for all. Would you join this group to Save Our Planet and its inhabitant for the security of the interdependent web of all life? I would. We can’t wait for action. We must take charge ourselves to control our destiny. It is in our hands.

    • roma guerin says:

      Paul, I think Avaaz.org has already millions of members who feel exactly the same. Don’t reinvent the wheel, you have a readymade audience to help with your plan.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Avaaz is, in my opinion, as phony a cats-paw of Western elite power as they come. Their role in Syria, which is under attack from Western forces allied, as for decades, with jihadist murderers, is, I believe, particularly execrable.

    • Solar Jim says:

      In 1776 this was called Revolution against tyranny. This time tyranny is within.

  18. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent article Joe, the more ammunition for discussions, the better. I think Katherine Hayhoe’s statement may have been more optimistic that she’d want if she reflected on it some. It perpetuates a view that humans will have control of the future of temps for our planet that does not appear to be warranted.

    “..and are now heading into an unknown future where humans control the thermostat of the planet.”

    We’ve had control of the thermostat for the last 100 years or so, but that is about to end. The ice cap is about to experience its first melt thru in a couple of years and the permafrost is starting to melt caused by that same warmth – humans, very quickly, will not have control of the thermostat of the planet at all – the planet will take over the heating and control on its own (to go way up).

  19. SecularAnimist says:

    Sasparilla wrote: “We’ve had control of the thermostat for the last 100 years or so …”

    Um, I wouldn’t call smashing the “thermostat” with a sledge hammer “controlling” it.

    I think I understand what Katherine Hayhoe meant — that for the foreseeable future, the impact of human activities will be an inescapable influence on the Earth’s climate. But that’s not the same thing as “control”. I think it’s just a poor choice of words on her part.

    There is no prospect that human beings will ever be able to “control” the Earth’s climate. What we need to do is to control OURSELVES.

    • Sasparilla says:

      I totally agree Secular…my point was that the language choice could convey a false sense of security (oh, we’ll have control) by those not informed and just glancing at the quotes.

  20. Superman1 says:

    PART 1 OF 10

    David, This is an excellent article. The personal experience is direct and powerful. I agree with the thesis and conclusions. I do have some problem with the numbers.

  21. Superman1 says:

    PART 2 OF 10

    If you want to get to Nirvana, you need to define Nirvana with some precision, so the cliffs along the way can be negotiated. In climate change, that means defining the temperature, CO2 concentrations, and CO2 emission ceilings that cannot be exceeded on the road to avoiding climate change.

    • fj says:

      It seems pretty obvious that we’ve exceeded those already and we are in for adventure and tragedy of unknown scale . . .

      Still there is good chance we will prevail.

      Such is the curse of the optimist and the tenacious nature of life.

      • Superman1 says:

        “Still there is good chance we will prevail.” Based on what? Where are the massive cadres of people motivated to do whatever is necessary to prevail?

        • fj says:

          They are there hiding behind nooks and crannies, in gullies and gulches, secretive, waiting, in the billions, even possibly in the trillions, for just the right nanosecond of a moment to jump out and spite that old drool-encrusted chair-bound codger of despair that life is indeed beautifu!

        • fj says:

          Perhaps, quantum neuromancers, singularities of sentience, scare-proof life forms of indeterminant origins . . .

          From miles deep under ice and snow and millions of years gone past at the very southern most opportunistic position of this most opportunistic third planet from its sun . . .

          http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/life-unbounded/2013/03/07/signs-of-life-from-lake-vostok/

  22. Superman1 says:

    PART 3 OF 10

    How do we define/identify a ‘safe’ temperature that cannot be exceeded; what are the criteria for such a ‘safe’ temperature? I see at least two major criteria, neither of which can be exceeded. One effect of increasing temperature is that the frequency and magnitude of events once considered ‘extreme’ increase as well. At some point, the disruption caused by these extreme events becomes unmanageable for cost and other considerations, perhaps around 1 C.

  23. Superman1 says:

    PART 4 OF 10

    Another effect of increasing temperature is that potential positive feedback mechanisms are initiated, and existing positive feedback mechanisms are accelerated. At some point, there is the danger these mechanisms go into self-sustaining uncontrollable mode, and eliminating them becomes all but impossible. In my view, we transitioned from ‘safe’ temperature to ‘dangerous’ temperature for this criterion when the rapid Arctic ice melt was initiated. I have shown elsewhere this is in the vicinity of 0.5 C, with no safety factor allowed. This becomes the ‘safe’ temperature limit.

  24. Superman1 says:

    PART 5 OF 10

    International agreements use 2 C, as does your Potsdam reference, and as do many scientists in their papers. If I believed that number had merit, I would end my comments here. From my perspective, that temperature is at least a factor of four too high, and with a safety factor thrown in, an order of magnitude too high. Even Kevin Anderson, who uses this temperature for his computations, states that it should be 1 C, and other scientists have stated far less than 2 C as well.

  25. Superman1 says:

    PART 6 OF 10

    I believe the selection of this non-defensible temperature is not an accident. It provides two benefits. It gives the governments of the world (who fund the researchers) ‘cover’ for their slow progress by providing the image of time remaining, and allows them to avoid the hard decisions now required to avert the impending climate catastrophe. It also gives the Python Oil pitch men (who we see operating on this site) the opportunity to ‘sell’ technology solutions that have no chance of avoiding the cliff because of their implementation times and the interim fossil fuel expenditures.

    • EDpeak says:

      it would be good not to assume ill motives…snakeoil salemen is a phrase that conjures up (whether historically accurately or not) someone who knows that what they sell is not going to work…let’s not assume deliberate misleading, ok? Second, it’s not either-or…why not post saying that wind and wave power, etc, *by* *themselves* won’t save us…we’ll all agree…or many of us will agree. But they can be part of the solution and can be done without any net increase in fossil use (just re-allocate from other project that would have used as much fossil fuels)

      If you still want to argue against that, well, use curtailment as an example: each person using less energy by itself won’t fix things, but it helps.

      Thirdly, just political effects. If we fight for more wind power we might lose and get X more units of coal/oil/gas plants…but had we not fought for it, we might have instead lost and had 2X more units of col/oil/gas..

      Kind of like Bush “won” and was able to invade Iraq and 10s of millionso f protesters “lost” but had all that political capital not been eaten up by Bush and co. he might have/probably would have invated even more countries…so just the political shifting to less-extreme is a net win, in climate too..if that’s the only thing we do, YES it’s NOT enough…but it can be one part of what we do.

      Meanwhile, start your own media stations, internet, local, etc, and wake people up, fellow citizens, about methane clathrates, thaw in permafrost, arctic feedbacks, the extra warming in the pipeline, and why 2C is very probably too high (I’ve seen Anderson’s talk online…chilling..no pun intended) and then instead of arguing (as many hours) on strategy, we’ll have that many more citizens woken up…who will help us decide best strategies…don’t say “we don’t have enough time” because we dont’ need to get 50% or even 20%…just going from tiny% to 1% to 2% to 3% who know how catastraphic our path is, can be critical mass (for many reasons, one being, that for every one of them, you have 10 who at least “get it” that it’s “serious” in their personal and family and professional circles)

      • Superman1 says:

        I mean Python Oil; I don’t think their comments are ‘accidental’. I agree with your either/or comment, and give some examples in Part 8 and Part 9. As I point out, it’s Mother Nature that has to agree that ANY additional fossil fuel expenditures are acceptable, not me.

  26. Superman1 says:

    PART 7 OF 10

    So, if one believes, as I do, that we are past the ‘safe’ temperature, then the required steps are clear to have even a chance of averting catastrophe. Fossil fuel use for any purpose has to be eliminated ASAP, rapid low-fossil use carbon recovery has to be instituted ASAP, and some low-risk (if possible) geo-engineering has to be initiated rapidly to ‘quench’ the positive feedback mechanisms before they go into self-sustaining mode. I understand the consequences of this plan of action all too well; they have to be weighed against the consequences of the system going out of control.

  27. Superman1 says:

    PART 8 OF 10

    Given the near-impossibility of gaining acceptance for what I believe is required, what are other options? The next harshest would be elimination of all non-essential uses of fossil fuel, and Manhattan Project-level conversion efforts to renewables. The issue is, however, not whether I am comfortable with such a compromise; the issue is whether Mother Nature would be comfortable with such a compromise. If we are over the line already in terms of ‘safe’ temperature, the fossil fuel expenditure during the conversion process may be all that is necessary to end the game. We are banking on ‘luck’ for this option to work.

    • David Goldstein says:

      Superman (I am assuming that your actual name is ‘Clark’)- thanks for your comprehensive response. My first time read over finds me agreeing with almost all of what you have written. And, yes, the ’1C’ vs ’2C’ vs ’3C’, etc is all a bit ridiculous. Of course. we need to define parameters (and I also see 1C as a ‘realistic’ parameter as far as maintaining a measure of equilibrium)…well, obviously there is the ‘basic truth’ that living in a mindful, aware, balanced manner as a species would be best for all and then there is the actual ‘reality’; the messy, essentially numbed out and out-of-control trajectory that humanity has come to. Well, I am going to go and have a drink (non-alcoholic one for this liver transplant survivor!). Have a good weekend.

      • BobbyL says:

        The goal of 2C makes some sense when you consider that enough greenhouse gases have already been emitted to reach about 1.5C. The big problem with 2C as a goal is that it is no longer realistically achievable according to many scientists such as former IPCC head Bob Watson. I would expect 2.5C to be the new goal in the next attempt at a global agreement which is supposed to occur in 2015.

        • Superman1 says:

          I think Anderson chose the 2 C limit rather than 1 C for two reasons, other than the internationally-agreed value. First, it allows him to get some publications that contain curves other than essentially vertical lines. Second, as you can see from many of the responses to my harsh proposal of what’s needed, people really have no interest in solving the problem if it means taking these tough steps. So, his paper is not quite sounds-good feels-good like some of the proposals here, but marginally acceptable.

          • BobbyL says:

            I would think most climate activists would agree that based on science a target above 1C is too high. But setting a target involves political and economic considerations as well as what is physically possible. The old target used to be a doubling of CO2 (about 550 ppm) but there was a consensus that it was too high. It was then reduced 450 ppm. Since few scientists think that limiting CO2 to 450 ppm is still achievable any discussion of a lower target gets marginalized.

  28. Superman1 says:

    PART 9 OF 10

    We can postulate other options that relax the requirements further, and which raise the danger levels even further. These would include no cutback in fossil fuel use during the conversion to renewables, which has been proposed by various people on this site. It is no secret why they don’t include emission and temperature trajectories during the transition process; the unworkable nature of their proposals would become obvious.

  29. Superman1 says:

    PART 10 OF 10

    In summary, I liked the article, and I liked how you presented your message. Had I written the article, I would have given a stronger picture of the difficulty we really face. Nobody’s getting the real message because we believe it would be a turn-off, and I think that’s a disservice.

  30. Mark E says:

    Superman, you are wrong here:

    “The issue is, however, not whether I am comfortable with such a compromise; the issue is whether Mother Nature would be comfortable with such a compromise.”

    You are wrong because we can not empirically know the answer up front and because if we create those conditions we can’t do anything about the response.

    INSTEAD THE ISSUE IS: Will we do what is possible for us to do? On that score, you still have not replied to my query from Feb which was:

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/23/1629081/dust-bowl-days-historic-us-drought-projected-to-persist-for-months-worsened-by-thin-western-snowpack/#comment-734891

    Superman, see Socolow’s “climate stabilization wedges” plan

    http://cmi.princeton.edu/wedges/

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/05/18/208131/socolow-wedges-deployment/#comment_link

    Kindly

    (1) do what you can to make that happen,

    (2) or else give us a detailed rationale supported by references why it won’t work,

    (3) or else have the good grace to shut up about how futile it all is.

  31. Brent Roberts says:

    Hello. What do you all think of the pdf at this website: http://apollo.gaia.org/Climate-Sensitivity.htm ? It seems to suggest that sensitivity to climate doubling is a whopping 7.8 degrees celsius. Does this reaearch seem valid to you?

    • Sasparilla says:

      Hi Brent, the best page for that would probably be the daily news page (just guessing) since we try to discuss the article above in the comments below.

      That said, it looked like a good swipe at trying to quantify all these unquantifyables (the effects of these different feedbacks that we haven’t seen directly before and their interactions). 7.8c for all of them actually seems a little on the low side to me, but that’s just a gut feeling. The short story of course is that if we let the feedbacks kick off (whether its 7.8c or 10c or whatever) its going to be game over for modern civilization – whether that’ll take care of our very adaptable species in total is another question.

    • Icarus says:

      Yes it seems about right, based on comparison with papers from Hansen and others. Two comments though:

      1: Time taken to reach equilibrium is probably in the hundreds to thousands of years, as even with the current extremely rapid global warming, the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica will still take a long time to disappear.

      2: The climate sensitivity investigated in this study is based on a constant level of atmospheric CO2 – we observe from palaeoclimate evidence that at Xppm of CO2, global temperature is Y°C higher (or lower) than the pre-industrial. The problem is that by definition we’re looking at very stable periods in the Earth’s history when the planet was in, or extremely close to, radiative equilibrium. It’s much more difficult to figure out the consequences for us, today, because atmospheric CO2 and global temperature are changing extremely rapidly. Suppose humans disappeared from the planet overnight – our CO2 emissions would instantly cease and the natural sinks would start to draw it down *unless* we have already warmed the planet enough to initiate self-sustaining carbon feedbacks, which doesn’t seem to have happened just yet. If our emissions were to continue for another 50 years and *then* stop, chances are that CO2 would continue to rise due to the natural feedbacks, rather than falling due to the natural sinks. So, it’s very hard to say what level of atmospheric CO2 we’re going to end up with, and hence what global temperature to expect at equilibrium. An in any case, it’s going to be hard to get people to care about what might happen a thousand years from now.

    • Superman1 says:

      Brent, I’ve seen his work before, and will address it in detail at a later time. In the past month, I’ve received three emails from three different researchers addressing variations on Wasdell’s theme. I won’t cite/use them until they are peer-reviewed, but they all make my conclusions look like pure optimism.

      • Mark e says:

        WHAT conclusions? If you have said anything here that was not a question or remark tearing down others It got drowned out in the all the vacuous verbosity.

        Concise…… Is good

  32. Brent Roberts says:

    Just insert www. before apollo above.

  33. Joan Savage says:

    Justin Gillis at the New York Times also caught the significance of the Marcott et al analysis.

    In “Global Temperatures Highest in 4000 Years,” Gillis closed by quoting Dr. Mann.

    “We and other living things can adapt to slower changes,” Dr. Mann said. “It’s the unprecedented speed with which we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome.”

  34. Ann Coulter's Adams Apple says:

    Superman 1 used to post at Real Climate.org till they finally sent his comments to the borehole. He’s kinda like James Kunstler, always saying the same things while offering no solutions beyond telling people who are already doing something about the problem that they should be doing something about the problem.

    Hey Superdude, I suggest you start writing your political representatives and getting yourself arrested like Dr. James Hansen. You would be making better use of your time WHILE ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROBLEM.

    Just a thought.

    • Superman1 says:

      Interesting that you and Secular and other members of the Amen Corner never address my detailed comments or proposals, but only offer unlimited invective. Hmmm, can’t understand why.

      • FrankD says:

        What detailed proposals, Superman? I’ve only ever seen you make vague “Manhattan project conversion” comments in amongst denigrating people who differ as “the Amen Corner”. Perhaps you could cite a few threads where you have made these detailed proposals?

        The only “facts” I’ve seen you bring to the discussion are links to spin-laden articles like on the “Fox News mocks German Solar Power”. (I wrote a point-by-point response to that one which was never released from moderation, and I’m not minded to repost.)

        Now I’m only saying I haven’t seen them, not that you haven’t posted them. So could you do us a solid and link to a few examples for the people like me who missed them?

    • Superman1 says:

      “Superman 1 used to post at Real Climate.org”. Yes, and I stopped posting because, like here, I was repeating myself endlessly, and the critics were repeating themselves endlessly. Not very cost-effective.

    • Lore says:

      Kunstler is a bit out there, but consistent, and in his defense he does offer solutions. Although, I personally think his belief that we should all end up living in some small town bucolic “Little House on the Prairie” existence is a bit naive. You can’t go back, you can only go forward.

      What ever ends up happening, it won’t happen, until both greens and reds agree that a substantial measure of sacrifice will be required by everyone to change our direction right now. Unfortunately the world’s majority of people don’t want to give up their level of present comfort for something that hasn’t personally posed an immediate threat. Which is one of the big reasons it’s so easy to foster inaction and promote BAU.

      Everyone loves to hear from mommy and daddy that things will be alright and not to worry.

      • Paul says:

        There existed in the 70′s/80′s the ability to fix the climate change problem via switching to nuclear power with out forcing us to live a live style of the 1920′s.

        Now the only way to arrest run away climate change is to aggressively remove carbon from the air.

        We are effectively screwed. Only top down and policy has the power to turn us around and only if governments enacted WW2 era scale drafts and retooling of factories.

        • Mathazar says:

          When the permafrost melts and releases loads of methane into the atmosphere, we’ll be even more screwed.

        • espiritwater says:

          Ah, but maybe the Elite are aiming to “aggressively remove” carbon from the atmosphere. Why do you think they’re imploding the economy and why did DHS just purchase 1.5 billion hollow point bullets(not allowed on battlefield, according to the rules of war), why are they militarizing the police forces, why 3,000 drones in U.S. skies by 2015 (which have built in tech for domestic surveillance and capable of killing citizens)? Why is Obama pushing so aggressively to ban our guns (Feinstein advocates about 150 or so to begin with)? Do your really think Obama cares about the little children? (Especially considering all the kids killed in other countries with his drones attacks)? Just a thought.

      • BlackDragon says:

        “You can’t go back, you can only go forward.”

        Considering that our technological civilization is a 200 year blip in time in the 200,000 year lifespan of our species, we haven’t yet “gone” anywhere, in any way that can be thought of as anything other than a fluke.

        Statistically speaking, it is almost a dead certainty that we will be going back to where we were most of the 99.9% of the time we’ve been here – hunter-gatherers.

        The only reason this might be considered a “bad thing” is that our “civilized” ancestors had to kill off 99.9% of the remaining hunter-gatherer societies in their way, and they needed some rather twisted psychological justifications to get where they where going. That was fun, but it wasn’t built to last. I personally won’t miss it.

        And in case anyone reading this isn’t aware of it, these hunter-gatherer cultures had just as much depth – creatively, psychologically, and spiritually, as anything we’ve created, in countless ways most of us don’t even have the remotest clue about. They weren’t carrying around those incredible brains for 200,000 years just using them for nothing until we came along with our enlightened ways. Not by a long shot.

        That big spike up at the end of the graph? Just Mother Nature’s little way of saying “Ooouups! Never mind…” :)

        • Mark E says:

          Can you walk out in the woods naked, and still be happy a month later? If not, then I suggest getting some practical experience to temper your romantic vision of the hunter-gatherer. Tom Brown Jr’s books are an interesting start but nothing like eating bugs when you can’t catch fish or rabbits.

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Your first peoples did not go cold or hungry anymore than ours did. Time to put away your prejudices? ME

          • Mark E says:

            Read again, please.

            Fancifully romanticizing the hunter-gatherer societies’ way of life without any direct experience, i.e., being bound to foot, skinboat, or horse travel; eating (or not eating) as you are able off the land;

            without direct experience oohing and ahhing over their way of life

            ***is*** a form of prejudice.

            So we agree, I think, that all forms of prejudice should be put to bed. In this case, the way to do that, is to come to terms with probably never seeing friends who live overseas in the flesh again, and eating, or not eating, only as one’s skills allow. There are workshops where one can get a dose of such experience for a short time. In my opinion, no one should romanticize native peoples lifestyle until they try their hand at it. And then when they speak, if they understood the lessons, their respect for these people should go WAY UP.

          • Mark E says:

            It seems you did not understand my comment. Romancing the first peoples’ way of life without direct experience of the lack of modern technology is itself a form of prejudice.

          • BlackDragon says:

            Hi Mark E,

            I would no more expect to walk out naked into the woods and survive, let alone thrive, than I would expect to dive right into doing brain surgery and expect to create anything besides total destruction. And I would no more expect to have any understanding of the original lifestyle and culture of a native person after a week-long workshop, than I would expect to be able to successfully perform brain surgery after a week-long workshop.

            Mostly my understanding of these cultures comes from multiple anthropology classes, and tons of reading on native people’s experiences, mythologies and thoughts on their lives, in their own words. Also from research on the lifestyles and daily practices of native peoples in Northern California, pre-Spanish settlement, as well as from learning about shamanic practices of various native cultures around the world.

            My own, sometimes weeks-long experiences of living in the wild, are always assisted by many forms of modern technology. I would have to set aside years of my life to learn how to thrive “out there” in any lasting way.

            Instead, I am totally immersed in, thriving with and happy as a creature born into our techno-culture. I used to be a techno-optimist about our various challenges, until I learned, in detail, how things work with our use of energy. That put to rest a lot of illusions.

            I couldn’t have more respect for “first peoples.” They survived, and thrived, across 200,000 years, including half of a previous glacial period, the entire previous inter-glacial, the next full glacial, and half or the next inter-glacial, with the worst volcanic catastrophe to hit Earth in the last 25 million years thrown in just for kicks (Toba).

            While enduring all this, they managed to colonize all of the globe, develop unparalleled knowledge of the world around them, and learned more about the inner workings of their own minds than we will probably ever know.

            If we don’t take the Earth into such a terrible place of extinction and destruction when our latest cultural experiment falls apart, we *may* be able to find ways to thrive like this again in the distant future.

            My view on what first peoples lives were like is neither romantic or idealized, but simply based on the best knowledge we currently have available. Their way of life was sustainable. Ours, not so much.

          • Mark E says:

            Thanks for your insightful remarks and apologies if I’m overly direct. What triggered my post was your comment after describing our civilization that

            “Personally, I won’t miss it.”

            If you eliminate romanticism fed with book knowledge, and also eliminate direct experience, how do you know your statement to be true?

            And certainly you’re not suggesting we should all revert to paleolithic tribal societies (of which you have no direct experience) ?

          • BlackDragon says:

            I had a feeling that was the comment that really rubbed you the wrong way.

            That comment sounds totally flippant, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a *rabid* fan of what we have created and discovered with our scientific/technological culture, and have been all my life. My livelihood and 95% of all enjoyment I have had in my life is made directly possible by that culture, and I cherish it and respect it immensely.

            Unfortunately, I have come to deeply appreciate just how radically flawed our current creations are, in just about every conceivable way. This is not an original observation of course, but what is amazing to me is just how sweeping and total the fatal flaws seem to be.

            Take for example antibiotics, one of our culture’s greatest achievements. We have known, in great detail, just how much it is possible for bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics since at least the early 80s. Every time we saw new resistance, we said, “full speed ahead with new drugs, and new weapons! Our science will triumph over all resistance!”

            The usual attitude, the accepted attitude, the same attitude we take to all our challenges. Very normal.

            Well, guess what? Just last week (google news it) the word is out that our very best, very latest and greatest antibiotic drugs, have now been totally defeated by certain strains, and they are spreading, very rapidly. And there is no “next drugs” in the pipeline this time, no next great hope. Nothing! But will we change our approach? No, the only response we have is “our cleverness will defeat it somehow!” And we keep trying the same things.

            I don’t need to draw out this one example to an analogy about how we are approaching our energy problems, as it is totally obvious.

            What is so hard to admit is that all our approaches, based on these attitudes, are all as equally doomed as our efforts to defeat bacteria. Bacteria, of all things, have more innate intelligence, in their own way, then our best science and billions of $$ of research.

            For the question of “should we all revert to paleolithic tribes” this possibly reveals a lack of appreciation of just how diverse these cultures were. Reverting to some types would be a nightmare, to just about everything we currently value as far as humanity and morality. Others would likely be as close to “Eden-like” as we could imagine.

            It’s possible we will create new variations all across the spectrum, and ultimately, it won’t be by choice, but necessity.

          • BlackDragon says:

            Ultimately what it boils down to, I think, is that there is what looks to be an almost impossibly small needle to thread, for any advanced technological civilization to actually “get somewhere” – meaning endure for at least a few tens of thousands of years or possibly much more.

            It needs to be just the right proportions of wisdom, psychological and spiritual insight, and scientific curiosity and development, spread out over the right amount of time, for everything to come together so the advancements can be made without total sacrifice of the planet, or destruction through conflict.

            It looks now to be about 99.9% certain that we aren’t going to make it. Not surprising, as intuitively it seems like the odds are so small that maybe only one or two such occurrences happen per galaxy, per billion years or so. Who knows! But it’s pretty clear by now we aren’t going to be one of them. My optimism for this outcome is not totally gone though – there is that 0.1% chance, still. And I still think we have the chance to create other variations, on the down-slope, that could be very interesting, in a good way.

            But honestly my feeling is, on our particular path, we sacrificed way too much on the spiritual and psychological side of things. We swung far too quickly and deeply into scientific materialism, and didn’t temper our greed for knowledge, material wealth and power to give us the wisdom and insight to think before we leapt, and make the right long-term choices before it was too late.

          • Mark E says:

            Thanks for expressing my own thoughts so well, and thanks for the conversation. You might be interested in offerings from
            http://www.trackerschool.com/

          • BlackDragon says:

            Thanks, Mark. Glad you enjoyed my ramblings, and interesting that our thinking has so much in common. I read The Tracker soon after it was originally released. It inspired me in many ways at the time. I hadn’t followed Tom Brown Jr’s work in quite a while, and it is awesome to see where he has taken it.

    • Ken Barrows says:

      Kunstler offers solutions, just not ones that most people like: local economies, trains, stuff like that.

  35. Ann Coulter's Adams Apple says:

    Now that I think about it Superman 1, were you to get arrested for protesting you wouldn’t have access to a computer. I SAY GO FOR IT!

  36. fj says:

    Anyway, net zero cities seems to be one of the best places to start . . .

    First, we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

  37. Robert Siebert says:

    Has anyone read Richard F. Yande’s paper (Reality Check) on why CO2 is not the big player? I’m reading it now; I’m now trying to understand the discussion of the relationship of CO2 and temperature in the Vostok ice cores. The CO2 lag is where we might be parting company, but I’m still uncertain. I also wonder if e has submitted it to a regular scientific journal.

    • The so called “CO2″ gap has been closed by recent studies — we’re getting better at reading the ice cores. There might be at most 200 years between the time we get closer to the sun and the time the CO2 starts to climb. Maybe zero years.

      But even if there is a gap, CO2 is a major player. The sun might kick off a warming period, but then the CO2 rises and takes over at least part of the job. Meanwhile, we start easing away from the sun, but the warming continues because the CO2 controls it for quite a while after insolation declines.

      The long and short of it? Don’t believe ANYTHiNG that tells you that CO2 isn’t responsible for radiative forcing, called “global warming” in the vernacular.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The ‘CO2 gap’, if that is what this hoary denialist canard is now masquerading as, was refuted almost as soon as it was initially floated, some years ago. That never stops the denialist industry, of course, because their adherents have such remarkably poor short-term memory and attenuated attention spans. I am not, of course, referring to your excellent self.

  38. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “Interesting that you and Secular and other members of the Amen Corner never address my detailed comments or proposals, but only offer unlimited invective. Hmmm, can’t understand why.”

    You dishonestly misrepresent your own comments as mine.

    First, you have NEVER, EVER, not even ONCE, either here or at RealClimate, posted any “detailed proposal” for doing anything. So there are no such proposals from you for anyone to respond to.

    Verbose, rambling, arrogant rants and the juvenile name-calling which fill your comments (e.g. “the Amen corner”, “snake-oil salesman”, etc.) do not constitute “detailed proposals”.

    Nor does rote regurgitation of anti-renewable energy bumper sticker slogans from Fox News constitute “detailed proposals”.

    The closest you have ever come to “proposing” anything is hand-waving at scary-sounding, unspecified “painful sacrifices” that everyone will supposedly have to make in order to phase out fossil fuels. You have never spelled out in any detail what these “painful sacrifices” are, or who will have to make them, or why.

    And quite conspicuously, you have refused to say what “painful sacrifices” YOU have made.

    Second, I have NEVER, EVER, not even ONCE, either here or at RealClimate, directed any “invective” at you — not even in response to your steady stream of insults and childish name-calling.

    What I have done is to show that you are at best ill-informed about renewable energy, and that most of your comments are heavy on defeatist rhetoric and lacking in substance, and that many of your claims, particularly regarding public opinion, are blatantly false.

    And your response has been to engage in name-calling and insults, and to attribute to me views that I have never expressed, and to falsely accuse me of “invective”.

    A commenter above cited the Dalai Lama’s admonition to practice compassion. In that spirit, the most compassionate thing I can say to you is to encourage you to spend more of your online time educating yourself (especially regarding renewable energy issues), and less of it engaging in stupid troll games.

  39. Frank says:

    I totally agree with this analysis of unprecedented temperature rise and agree to some extent on remarks about what is new. As I see it we who are alarmed at Global Warming seem unable to convince our Congregational leaders that this is an urgent issue needing immediate action. Economic growth seems to be the priority and Global Warming may hamper this priority.

    How do we convince our lawmakers that this should be a top priority? How do we get the message to our legislators that this is very important? I have already written messages to both my legislators and the President. I fear for the future of my children and their children.

  40. Camburn says:

    “We and other living things can adapt to slower changes,” Dr. Mann said. “It’s the unprecedented speed with which we’re changing the climate that is so worrisome.”

    Good thing that the resolution on this paper is 400 years.

    Any rapid warming or cooling over 200 years would not show up as the smoothing would hide it.

    And then to add a short term measurement on the end of a graph that is smoothed to 400 year resolutions demonstrates that the stats used in this paper are very questionable.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Keep hitting those keys, mate. The bananas are in the post.

    • MightyDrunken says:

      The median resolution for the paper was 120 years, more than enough time for the medieval warm period or our current very warm period to show up.

  41. David Wilson says:

    Our path forward has been decided for us. We will grow our military/police state, fight for resources globally and pray that technology can counter the havoc to supply systems and economy, caused by climate change. When it doesn’t, the military/police will turn on the masses to protect the wealthy elites. To change this path would require we downsize the military down to nothing and shift that revenue and focus solely to climate change solutions. That is not going to happen because the wealthy elites say so.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Just imagine if even 10% of the over one trillion spent per year by the USA for the apparatus of military destruction and geo-political intimidation, was spent on renewable energy instead.

  42. Tom P says:

    Superman needs a break, if this all sounds the same to him. I follow the developments in global-warming science and politics fairly closely, and this study, while it uses existing data, is an important new perspective.

    For one thing, it reminds how relatively short the span of human civilization is, and thus makes quite clear our particular hypothesis of sustainable human culture could easily be a dead end. We took the easy route, building our entire society on cheap fuel with nary a fallback.

    No matter what, our kind is in for a major adjustment. So far not enough adults have stepped up to get the tough work started, do the selfless thing, and accept a fair share of hardship.

    So far scientists have done their part, and more. (They shouldn’t need to Mann the barricades.) We possess ample evidence that drastic measures are in order. The enemies now are inertia, complacency, insecurity, and fear of the unknown.

  43. Bob h says:

    How is the effect of human-generated aerosols factored into the forecasts? These might tend to offset the greenhouse effects by increasing the earth’s albedo. We talk a lot about carbon dioxide and methane, but not so much about the aerosol and particulates we are generating.

    • BobbyL says:

      A recently published study says aerosols from volcanoes during the past decade had much more of an effect in reflecting sunlight than aerosols from human sources. Regardless warming is still occurred.

      http://www.livescience.com/27581-volcanoes-sulfur-dioxide-global-warming.html

      “The authors of the new study used computer simulations to see which changes in the stratospheric aerosol layer could be attributed to coal burning in Asia and worldwide volcanic emissions from 2000 to 2010. The results suggested that moderate volcanic eruptions were behind the increases of aerosols in the atmosphere.

      “This new study indicates it is emissions from small to moderate volcanoes that have been slowing the warming of the planet,” Ryan Neely, who led the research as part of his doctoral thesis at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a statement.”

  44. Colorado Bob says:

    The Atlantic has a nice graph of Mann’s paper laid over this the longer graph . Their title is pretty good too ;
    We’re Screwed: 11,000 Years’ Worth of Climate Data Prove It

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/were-screwed-11-000-years-worth-of-climate-data-prove-it/273870/

    • Joe Romm says:

      Don’t like that headline, myself.

    • Spike says:

      I thought I knew how the denialists would spin this and the headlines on their sites confirm their utter predictability:

      EARTH COOLER TODAY THAN 28% OF THE PAST 11,300 YEARS

  45. Colorado Bob says:

    Just so you know , the carbon we have already dug-up, and dumped back into our thin gas shell has opened the door back to a time when all these fossil fuels were laid down in the rocks.
    I looked-up the age of the shale gas in Penn……… 320 million years old. Oil from Odessa, Texas comes 70 million years later.
    No creature on Earth has ever done this,……. removed the stored carbon from the entire history of the Earth, and dumped it back into the atmosphere, all over the world all at once.
    In a geologic nano second .
    The Earth has never conducted such an experiment. So this one is on us.

  46. Harumi says:

    Too many comments to wade through…I take it these projections are not taking into account the effects on the permafrost?

    • Joe Romm says:

      My projections do, but the whole point of the graphic is that even things like the permafrost pale in comparison to what we are doing just with CO2.

  47. d0g3n says:

    I appreciate Superman1′s comments. This study, while alarming, does nothing to change my behavior. On our farm, we’ve already turned 40 acres of cropland over to forest, curtailed some fossil fuel use (training a donkey now, and have cut out industrial fertilizers and herbicides), and changed our eating habits. The study also does nothing to change the habits of oil companies, airlines, or the military. I am increasingly of the opinion that there is no large-scale policy solution to this problem. Perhaps if local collectives were to develop small-scale alternatives and then stop participating en masse in the global economy through a concerted program of tax resistance and anti-consumerism. I’m not sure what sort of critical mass we would need to achieve a tipping point. If you look at Indian independence from Britain, the end of apartheid in South Africa, or the US civil rights movement, policy follows action–not the other way around.

  48. Joan Savage says:

    The human species’ genome survived global temperature shifts that at times reached 10c lower or 2c higher than present.

    Each of those temperature shifts took around 10,000 years, an interval of 300 or more human generations, plenty of time for adaptations.

    Besides a long time, previous transitions were mostly to and from lower temperatures.
    So biologically, we are more likely to be adaptable to a next Ice Age.

    Unfortunately, we interrupted the trend towards planetary re-glaciation!

  49. Sou says:

    See how the bottom-dwelling 8% ‘dismissive’ denialists treat this information.

    Watts uses Booker to try to fool his readers, and by doing so further cements himself as a nasty peddler of disinformation.

    http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2013/03/fooling-bottom-8-oh-its-just-another.html

  50. Steve in Miami says:

    “In the past month, I’ve received three emails from three different researchers addressing variations on Wasdell’s theme. I won’t cite/use them until they are peer-reviewed, but they all make my conclusions look like pure optimism.”

    Superman, care to elaborate on the emails you recieved (no need to cite anything…just paraphrase).

    From reading your posts, I find it hard to believe that ANYTHING could possibly make your conclusions appear optimistic.

  51. _Flin_ says:

    That is not a hockey stick.

    It’s a scythe.

  52. Chris Mclean says:

    Thank you Joe Romm & company for your work! Please continue to keep an eye on your health. I hope the blog continues to find a wider audience…Because we need climate science to continue. We need reporting of climate science to continue as well.

    Social commentary:
    I read through all the comments and felt a distinct impression that I would like to share with you…I am reminded of (Lord of the Rings) LOTR fiction wherein, the “ring” of power sits in front of all commentators whilst they argue brilliant and non-brilliant debate points. OK?

    It is agonizing to see/read the frustration in the community. I’m certain many here are ready to follow a “plan of action.” The hour is late and we are in the twilight of our modern world. We all agree a “plan” has not yet been reached? That is OK. When enough variables are visible and understood someone (or more) will have the opportunity to propose said plan. We can do it. Do not give in to fear.

    I will attempt to inspire you somewhat…
    Would you please consider that someone extraordinary like M.L.K. (Martin Luther King Jr) willing to burden self-sacrifice may be needed to “rally” support for the “plan of action?” Keep your eyes open for human talent. Spread the word if you meet such a person. Hopefully, rare personalities will not be needed…and we can approach a socio-political ACTION to runaway AGW (anthropogenic global warming) slowly, carefully, methodically, and scientifically. However, if the time comes for decisive action…we need that action to happen at the “right” time with the “right” people in play on the world stage. What I’m saying is that all the pieces are not yet in place for the “big push” towards change. What do you think?

    Our future, the future of our world, our civilization, and the future of our descendants is in the crosshairs of AGW destruction. YOU CANNOT LIVE FOR THE PRESENT ANYMORE. That will not work for you, me, or the at-risk world populations. I am not a fool. I realize we have multiple opposing ideologies. We have competing plans for human social organization. But, which [ideologies] socio-political organizations will Climate Science and Climate Policy find its home in? Think about that. I see a push for Technocrat society, and technology worship. I see a potential slide into social Darwinism. I see the push from the Greens to revive civil liberties and respect for Earth systems. I see the conservatives trying to save what was, and the moderates trying to stay relevant riding the waves of change…

    It will be a wild century and we are just now “warming” up. It will become hotter on our world, hotter in academia, in policy creation, in ordinary living, and the tempo WILL increase with every climate shock. Some of us fear those in denial of AGW, and the groups behind them will find success stopping us in our tracks. Some fear that we will fail. But this perception will not work for us. We are making social progress and the climate science is improving, expanding, and deepening our understanding of the AGW crisis.

    Extraordinary challenges require all human thinking types, skills, and personalities. Keep in mind our human hubris, and other character weaknesses will follow OK? There are a rare few who can “work” with that. Do what you can to expand your emotional intelligence before it is too late. I dare say…you are going to need it. We have a great challenge ahead of us. We also need empathy, compassion, and if you will allow…”empathic civilization,” or as close as we can get. We need to work together. Lets try to limit the hostility and competition now and plan for the future. We need every bit of mental resource, faculty, skill, and human ingenuity. So, put a smile on your face, keep the science rolling, and remember what’s at stake here.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    • Mark E says:

      Why not you, Chris?

      Suggest reading
      Hind Swaraj
      which is online. You’ll have to adapt it to modern times.

  53. Steve Bloom says:

    My comment above from Saturday AM is *still* awaiting approval, so now pretty much no one will read it. It’s a bit de-motivating, but I suppose a comment that long was as much to organize my thoughts on the matter as anything else. IMO it’s an absolutely critical part of the discussion of these findings, albeit one that seems to have been pretty much glossed over everywhere, so perhaps I’ll work on it more and submit it as a guest post somewhere.

    Hopefully Joe’s own remarks on the Arctic camel paper are in the pipeline.

  54. Paul says:

    Whilst i don’t agree with the tone that Superman1 uses in his posts I can’t deny his conclusions.

    If you actually look at fossil fuel usage it rises every year per given country even if CO2 emissions drop as the countries energy generation has perhaps shifted to say natural gas.

    Superman1 is not wrong to say fossil fuel usage must be stripped out of energy generation entirely not merely capturing its growth or we will have changed nothing.

    • Mark E says:

      He could say that in one sentence, and if he did, he would be telling at least half the regulars here what we already think.

      I don’t know about you, but whenever I have tried shrill verbose pounding on the wrong table it has never been terribly effective.

  55. Camburn says:

    This is an excellent explanation of some of the holes this paper did not fill.

    I want good science, no……GREAT science that is credible.

    The paper above is not.

    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/the-dagger-in-the-heart-maybe-a-remedial-explanation-of-marcotts-hs-blade-mikey-whats-that-about-a-dagger/

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      What you really want is pseudo-science, produced to order, that reinforces your denialist narrative.

  56. Susan Anderson says:

    I’m a little puzzled as to why this is still “in moderation”!

    March 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm
    Thank you Joe Romm. It is refreshing to come here and read the facts presented straight up.
    As to extinction, I’d guess not, just a severe trimming. I always liked Earth2100, and they said a cutback to 1-2 billion by the end of the century. Sounds about right to me. Humans will find a way to survive, mostly likely, but not in our current profligate style, with daily Roman circuses (circi?) provided by the media.

    • Joe Romm says:

      Gremlins. I couldn’t find the earlier comment.

      • Susan Anderson says:

        I believe you. It might even be me, since I seem to be a target in a minor kind of way of some similar action you probably experience every day. Comes of telling the truth!

        Anyway, keep up the good work, we need you. And delighted you have come out well from your op!

  57. Steve Bloom says:

    Here’s my re-post attempt:

    Here‘s a 9 year old graph from Wikipedia representing the state of scientific understanding of broad Holocene temperature variation at that time. Comparing with the new results, we can see that the only significant difference is a somewhat taller mid-Holocene “hump” amounting to something like .4C more.

    That’s not an insignificant change, but the authors of the new paper note that their data for that time period may be biased high due to much of it representing high latitudes in summer. Such data is generally expected to run warmer due to increased summer insolation from orbital changes, which also means it’s in any case not very pertinent to the present time since our warming has an entirely different cause.

    But as with the original hockey stick graph, and as we see with the media in the last week (Joe is understandably right with the flow on this one), people seem to really like focusing on relatively recent climate periods. This takes much of the oxygen away from older periods that are vastly more significant to our immediate future since they were times when CO2 was similar to today’s ~400 ppm, as distinct from the nearly flat 280 ppm of the Holocene and previous interglacials.

    The most important such period, and also most recent, is the mid-Piacenzian stage of the later Pliocene era, about 3.3 million years ago, just before CO2 levels slid low enough to allow the Pleistocene glaciations to start.

    It has been known for at least five years that mid-Piacenzian co2 levels were approximately the same as present, maybe as low as 350 ppm, sea level was 25+ meters higher, global temperatures were 2-3C higher than present and, most significantly, Arctic temperatures were 14-22C higher than present (thus the sea level rise since ice doesn’t care for that kind of heat).

    Here’s the important part: Unfortunately, the climate models are entirely unable to replicate the high Arctic temperatures, meaning that there is probably some unknown mechanism that resulted in them. Having carefully studied this research as it was published over recent years, my (amateur) conclusion is that it’s Arctic sea ice loss, probably in combination with one or more knock-on effects. It couldn’t have been permafrost or shallow clathrates in the mid-Piacenzian since there likely wasn’t much available, or much sea ice to start with for that matter, since the earlier Piacenzean and prior Zanclean stage of the Pliocene was fairly warm to begin with (global average temperature of no more than a degree cooler).

    What we can know is that if CO2 stayed at current levels, climate would eventually come to resemble that of the mid-Piacenzian. But it’s not staying level, it’s on a fast transient to much higher levels! With the models failing to show the right temperature range for equilibrium conditions, it may be many years before they can give us any idea as to how fast we can expect things to change under such a transient.

    But provisionally, the answer to “how fast?” needs to be “probably quite fast,” especially with the permafrost and clathrates now available to add fuel to the fire. Ice can melt very quickly and is doing so now, and once it’s gone in the summer Arctic circulation may be able to quickly reorganize to eliminate the fresh water lens that allows persistence of extreme cold in the Arctic by facilitating the formation of sea ice. If that happens, the sky’s the limit for Arctic amplification of global warming. Mid-Piacenzian (and beyond), here we come!

    So this needs lots of attention. Instead, when a related paper came out a few days ago (press release), it got far, far less attention than the Holocene one. It did get some however, probably because cute (in a manner of speaking) giant camels were found to have been living on Ellesmere Island well above the Arctic Circle during the mid-Piacenzian.

    Among that limited coverage was a very good interview on NPR (transcript) in which the scientist who found the camel fossils hit all of the points I made above, with the exception of the speculation about the Arctic sea ice.

    One last thing on the sea ice, though: As Joe has discussed many times, another model failure has been in trying to show the sharply dropping sea ice levels of the last ten years or so. They can’t do it, although they come closer than they do to mid-Piacenzian warmth. Speaking as a close observer of climate science, the combination of these shortfalls with the entirely unprecedented fast CO2 transient makes me nervous indeed. So I can only agree with Joe’s proposal that we need a World War II-style crash program to stop CO2 emissions at the earliest possible date.

    All of that said, I’m sure Joe has a post planned on the Arctic camel paper and its implications, and I look forward to reading it since he’s a way better writer than I am.

    • Mark E says:

      I tried looking for the “perfect” geological analog last year. I ran into a lot of debate on whether we can really extrapolate from ppm to climate, era for era, due to the pesky oceans not keeping to the same identical shorelines. Between tectonics and the opening/closing of “shallow” waterways (e.g. Panama), we don’t really know how the BTUs from any prior era at this ppm will slop around the system, compared to how they are doing that now.

      That said, I agree with the bottom line of Deploy Deploy Deploy.

      • Steve Bloom says:

        Mark, boundary condition changes over the last 3 million years are slight. The likely most significant one is the increase in height of the ocean bottom ridge between Greenland and Scotland, which it is postulated might slow the pace of Arctic amplification, but the idea that what we’re seeing now is “slow” by some measure isn’t at all encouraging.

        And BTW, a lot of modeling has been and will continue to be done looking at such changes, but so far there’s little or no indication that they’ll be doing us any favors. Remember also that the sum of any such effects is as likely to make things worse, not better.

        Finally, note that in the geologic record of the last few hundred million years, increasing CO2 has always been correlated with increasing temperatures despite some quite radical changes in boundary conditions.

        Yes, yes, yes, deploy, deploy, deploy, but I remain convinced that compared to the Holocene record the mid-Piacenzian warming is a much larger and more effective flounder with which to whack the public up side the head (as it were). We need to start moving fast yesterday.