It’s not too late to avert the worst impacts of human-caused global warming. In fact, it’s not too late to stabilize total warming from preindustrial levels at 1.5°C — or possibly less. But the U.S. must pass a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill, leading to a major global deal, to give us a plausible chance of getting on the necessary emissions pathway.
From a scientific perspective, a major new study (subs. req’d, discussed below) is cause for some genuine non-pessimism, concluding “Near-zero CH4 growth in the Arctic during 2008 suggests we have not yet activated strong climate feedbacks from permafrost and CH4 hydrates.”
The media and others want to move quickly from denial to despair, because both perspectives justify inaction, justify maintaining our grotesquely unsustainable behavior, justify sticking with the global Ponzi scheme in the immoral delusion we can maintain our own personal wealth and well-being for a few more decades before the day of reckoning.
I have, however, received a number of queries from progressives about the meaning of this somewhat misleading Washington Post article, “New Analysis Brings Dire Forecast Of 6.3-Degree Temperature Increase,” which begins:
Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program….
Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report’s scientific findings, said the significant global temperature rise is likely to occur even if industrialized and developed countries enact every climate policy they have proposed at this point. The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change.
I don’t think the basic story should be a surprise to regular readers of this blog. We’re in big, big trouble, and we’re not yet politically prepared to do what is necessary to avert catastrophe — as I’ve said many times. But that is quite different from concluding it’s too late and we’re doomed.
The WashPost story is about the Climate Rapid Overview and Decision-support Simulator — the C-ROADS model. It “translates complex climate modeling into readily digestible predictions” and “is being adopted by negotiators to assess their national greenhouse-gas commitments ahead of December’s climate summit in Copenhagen,” as explained in a recent Nature article (subs. req’d, excerpted here).
As one of the leading C-ROADS modelers — my friend Drew Jones — explained in his blog, the Post headline could have easily been:
“New Analysis Shows Growing Commitment to a Global Deal Will Help Stabilize Climate.”