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Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path

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"Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path"

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Dr. Vicky Pope, head of climate change predictions at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, writes in the UK Times that

In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5°C by the end of the century.

It may be “a worst-case scenario” for rational people like her, but right now even Hadley understands it is better described as the “business-as-usual” case.

Update: Thanks to WestCoastClimateEquity for pointing out this figure.

This staggeringly grim conclusion shouldn’t be news to anyone. After all, the traditionally staid and conservative International Energy Agency annual noted in its World Energy Outlook released last month said, “Without a change in policy, the world is on a path for a rise in global temperature of up to 6°C.”

Thanks in large part to poor messaging by scientists (and environmentalists and progressives) and generally lame media coverage, the public thinks there is some broad range of temperature rise we face, from pleasant to maybe a tad too toasty. That’s because scientists mostly analyze and talk about a range of emissions scenarios that almost exclusively assume very strong emissions reductions efforts — efforts that aren’t happening and don’t look to be happening anytime soon because of the lack of urgency brought on in part by that poor messaging (and by a major disinformation campaign led by conservatives and energy companies).

The consequences of 5.5°C warming by 2100, which Hadley says is “likely” on our current emissions path are all but unimaginable — mass extinction, devastating ocean acidification, brutal summer-long heat waves, rapidly rising sea levels, widespread desertification. But they are rarely studied or articulated by scientists who can’t imagine humanity would be so stupid as to let this happen. I have tried to piece them together them together from the scientific literature (see “Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction“).

A 5.5°C warming would inevitably lead to the mid- to high-range of currently projected sea level rise — 5 feet or more by 2100, followed by 6 to 20 inches a decade for centuries (see “Startling new sea level rise research: “Most likely” 0.8 to 2.0 meters by 2100“). That means 100 million or more environmental refugees by century’s end alone.

Then we have desertification of one third the planet and moderate drought over half the planet, plus the loss of all inland glaciers that provide water to a billion people.

The unexpectedly rapid expansion of the tropical belt constitutes yet another signal that climate change is occurring sooner than expected,” noted one climate researcher last December. As a recent study led by NOAA noted, “A poleward expansion of the tropics is likely to bring even drier conditions to” the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Australia and parts of Africa and South America.”

In 2007, Science (subs. req’d) published research that “predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest” — levels of aridity comparable to the 1930s Dust Bowl would stretch from Kansas to California. And they were only looking at a 720 ppm case! The Dust Bowl was a sustained decrease in soil moisture of about 15% (“which is calculated by subtracting evaporation from precipitation”).

Yet even the “one-third desertification of the planet by 2100″ scenario from the Hadley Center is only based on 850 ppm (in 2100). Princeton has done an analysis on “Century-scale change in water availability: CO2-quadrupling experiment,” which is to say 1100 ppm. The grim result: Most of the South and Southwest ultimately sees a 20% to 50% (!) decline in soil moisture.

How hot is it likely to get in this country on the do little path?

Well, 5.5°C global warming means an average warming of 15°F over much of the inland United States. Based on two studies in the last few years:

By century’s end, extreme temperatures of up to 122°F would threaten most of the central, southern, and western U.S. Even worse, Houston and Washington, DC could experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year. Much of Arizona would be subjected to temperatures of 105°F or more for 98 days out of the year–14 full weeks.

Yet that conclusion is based on studies of only 700 ppm and 850 ppm, so it could get much hotter than that.

And the Hadley Center adds, “By the 2090s close to one-fifth of the world’s population will be exposed to ozone levels well above the World Health Organization recommended safe-health level.”

Then we have the rest of life on this planet. In 2007, the IPCC warned that as global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5°C [relative to 1980 to 1999], model projections suggest significant extinctions (40-70% of species assessed) around the globe. That is a temperature rise over pre-industrial levels of a bit more than 4.0°C. So a 5.5°C rise would likely put extinctions beyond the high end of that range.

And, of course, “When CO2 levels in the atmosphere reach about 500 parts per million, you put calcification out of business in the oceans.” There aren’t many studies of what happens to the oceans as we get toward 800 to 1000 ppm, but it appears likely that much of the world’s oceans, especially in the southern hemisphere, become inhospitable to many forms of marine life. A 2005 Nature study concluded these “detrimental” conditions “could develop within decades, not centuries as suggested previously.” Large parts of the ocean will become hot, acidic dead zones on our current emissions path.

But again, scientists rarely analyze or talk about such impacts. A notable exception was the recent US geological survey report (see “US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections, SW faces “permanent drying” by 2050“).

In, the last year or two, a few climate scientists have begun explaining to the public just how high concentrations and temperatures are likely to rise this century if we keep doing nothing (see “Stabilize at 350 ppm or risk ice-free planet, warn NASA, Yale, Sheffield, Versailles, Boston et al” and “Nobel laureate Rowland agrees we are headed to 1000 ppm” and Study: Water-vapor feedback is “strong and positive,” so we face “warming of several degrees Celsius”).

That’s why it is such a big deal when the UK’s official provider of climate and weather-related analysis — located within the UK’s Ministry of Defence — starts telling it like it is:

Because governments need to understand the consequences of choosing one strategy over another they also need to understand what will happen if targets are missed or cannot be agreed by all countries. Failures could have far-reaching consequences and so the Met Office has conducted a series of ‘what if?’ climate projections, to give a better understanding of what those consequences might be.

In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5 °C by the end of the century. This would lead to significant risks of severe and irreversible impacts.

In the most optimistic scenario, action to reduce emissions would need to start in 2010 and reach a rapid and sustained rate of decline of 3 per cent every year. Even then there would still only be a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below around 2°C. This contrasts sharply with current trends, where the world’s overall emissions are currently increasing at 1 per cent every year

Only an early and rapid decline in emissions gets anywhere near to the 50 per cent reduction in emissions needed by 2050 to avoid large increases in temperature as recommended in the latest IPCC report.

Two further scenarios have been considered, which fall into the middle-ground of temperature projections. Delaying until 2030 together with a slow reduction of emissions results in a 4ºC rise by 2100 compared with almost 3ºC linked to an early but slow reduction in emissions. All of these temperature projections are the ‘most likely’ rises.

I think it is increasinly clear the “middle ground” is unstable in that once you hit 500 ppm (or possibly lower), the amplifying feedbacks kick in: These feedbacks include:

As Dr. Pope puts it, “If the climate turns out to be particularly sensitive to increases in Greenhouse gases and the Earth’s biological systems cannot absorb very much carbon then temperature rises could be even higher.”

Indeed, some of the best research on this has come from the Hadley Center, since it has one of the few models that incorporates many of the major carbon cycle feedbacks. In a 2003 Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) paper, “Strong carbon cycle feedbacks in a climate model with interactive CO2 and sulphate aerosols,” the Hadley Center, the U.K.’s official center for climate change research, finds that the world would hit 1000 ppm in 2100 even in a scenario that, absent those feedbacks, we would only have hit 700 ppm in 2100. I would note that the Hadley Center, though more inclusive of carbon cycle feedbacks than most other models, still does not model most of the feedbacks above or any feedbacks from the melting of the tundra even though it is probably the most serious of those amplifying feedbacks.

So we must stabilize at 450 ppm or below — or risk what can only be called humanity’s self-destruction. Since the cost is maybe 0.11% of GDP per year — or probably a bit higher than that if we shoot for 350 ppm — the choice would seem clear. Now if only the scientific community and environmentalists and progressives could start articulating this reality cogently.

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43 Responses to Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path

  1. john says:

    Even the worst case (business as usual) forecasts of the IEA and the Hadley Center are wildly optimistic. You alluded to the reason in your second to last paragraph, Joe.

    Any policy which put us on a path to increase temperatures by 5C would automatically result in something much higher — maybe twice as high – because it would trigger release of some 3000 Gt of methane from the arctic and deep sea clathrates.

    Real worst-case forecasts would include this in their models. We actually don’t need the models — we have empirical data from the geologic record that shows us what this looks like. And it is far worse than even the most dire forecasts we are now looking at. Ironically, it is — at this point — the most likely scenario.

    If we don’t act, act now and act with conviction and commitment, we’re toast. Literally.

  2. Russ says:

    Thanks in large part to poor messaging by scientists (and environmentalists and progressives) and generally lame media coverage, the public thinks there is some broad range of temperature rise we face, from pleasant to maybe a tad too toasty. That’s because scientists mostly analyze and talk about a range of emissions scenarios that almost exclusively assume very strong emissions reductions efforts — efforts that aren’t happening and don’t look to be happening anytime soon because of the lack of urgency brought on in part by that poor messaging (and by a major disinformation campaign led by conservatives and energy companies).

    It seems to be a universal trait that, given a range of possibilities, or a certain number of points of possible statistical error, that people tend to look only at the side of the range which they see as the potential upside, and ignore the other, down side.

    Now I suppose conscientious scientists have no choice but to give these ranges, but activists don’t have to do this. We have the precautionary principle which may not be strictly scientific, but is the essence of wisdom, and it says activists should focus on the catastrophic side of the range, and drop the “optimistic” side which, as Joe said, assumes mitigation initiatives which are not likely to be enacted.

    I’d go further and say we shouldn’t be squeamish about attributing individual extreme weather events to climate change. Again, this may not be scientific, but if this were a scientific battleground we would’ve won a long time ago. This is a political struggle, and here what’s needed are strong, frightening narratives.

    Besides, we know climate change is increasing the incidence and severity of these events, so why not treat them as fungible and say of any one in particular, it might as well have been from AGW, so I’ll proceed therefrom. To have too much of a hothouse flower-type integrity here is a false virtue which only handicaps one in the face of an enemy who has no scruples at all.

    Anyway, even leaving aside the causality of, say, a given hurricane, we know that AGW has already caused sea levels to rise, and this in turn will intensify any storm surge, so that effect at least is incontrovertible.

    So I suggest, anything bad that happens, it’s climate change all the way.

  3. Dorothy says:

    I’m working on a “good news” post for West Coast Climate Equity right now, on Obama’s appointment of John Holdren for science advisor. But it’s hard to ignore the very real possibility that we simply may not be able to put things right. I posted an image from the Hadley Centre a few days ago, http://westcoastclimateequity.org/?p=1521. As you can see, BAU would take us to 132% increase in emissions by 2050, or a 5.5 to 7.1 rise in global temperatures by 2100.

    Here’s what Jim Hansen had to say in his “Bjerknes Lecture” presentation at the American Geophysical Union on 17 December 2008:

    “The Earth’s climate becomes more sensitive as it becomes very cold, when an amplifying feedback, the surface albedo, can cause a runaway snowball Earth, with ice and snow forming all the way to the equator.
    If the planet gets too warm, the water vapor feedback can cause a runaway greenhouse effect. The ocean boils into the atmosphere and life is extinguished.
    “The Earth has fell off the wagon several times in the cold direction, ice and snow reaching all the way to the equator. Earth can escape from snowball conditions because weathering slows down, and CO2 accumulates in the air until there is enough to melt the ice and snow rapidly, as the feedbacks work in the opposite direction. The last snowball Earth occurred about 640 million years ago.
    “Now the danger that we face is the Venus syndrome. There is no escape from the Venus Syndrome. Venus will never have oceans again.
    Given the solar constant that we have today, how large a forcing must be maintained to cause runaway global warming? Our model blows up before the oceans boil, but it suggests that perhaps runaway conditions could occur with added forcing as small as 10-20 W/m2.”

    Back to work, before we lose power. The snow’s falling heavily in the Pacific Northwest and the power lines are sure to break before long.

  4. paulm says:

    Were on course for a mass extinction – if we try hard and are lucky its going to be a ‘mild’ one.

    We are not going to get away without a lot of misery now (not to belittle the pain and suffering many are already experiencing). Too bad.


    CO2 Vs Mass extinctions

  5. Ronald says:

    All that gives me the idea that the term AGW is not enough to describe the condition.

    The major problem with AGW isn’t the warming that has already occured, but what will happen to people in the future with the heated planet.

    The condition of what we now call AGW should be called continuing AGW or accumulative AGW (CAGW or AAGW.) Continuing or accumulaive better describes what the possible future condition of the planet we really need to avoid that continuing AGW would be, not the little warming that we have now.

  6. Tom Rounds says:

    We could improve messaging by translating centigrade temperature increases into Fahrenheit. Many don’t know how to translate and just remember 5 degrees; remembering 9 degrees would have a much greater impact.

  7. guido says:

    Wow, Joe

    This is one of the most striking graphic, because especially after just reading 6 Degrees.

    Recently you asked us to Digg,,,i tried even after registering…Can’t.

    Also, thanks for referring to the UC Berkely linked, an enjoyable way to kill a sunday morning, over coffee. had no idea you were a comedian, too!

    kudos

  8. @Ronald…

    John Holdren, the President-elect’s science adviser, says the same thing… He suggested calling it Global Climate Disruption.

    http://usclimateaction.org/userfiles/flash/Holdren.html

  9. It is clever to say “Lessons not learned will be repeated”

    Yes we can learn from mistakes, that is right up until the very last mistake.

  10. llewelly says:

    There aren’t many studies of what happens to the oceans as we get toward 800 to 1000 ppm, but it appears likely that much of the world’s oceans, especially in the southern hemisphere, become inhospitable to many forms of marine life.

    Peter Ward’s book Under A Green Sky (which is mostly about the Permian extinction) contains a very good science-for-the-layman of current theories on what happened in the distant past when CO2 levels rose above 800 ppm. The final section of his book, about the implications the paleo evidence has for the potential future, is unsettling. Excellent book.

  11. llewelly says:

    We could improve messaging by translating centigrade temperature increases into Fahrenheit.

    Could we? If that works (I’m skeptical, but go with it for the sake of this argument) can we stop referring to greenhouse gases in ‘parts per million’ and start expressing it as as the earth total TOA forcing in watts? Try this on for size: “The power of global warming is currently 816 trillion watts(1), or enough to power 8 billion automobiles.”

    (1) 1.6 W/m^2 * 5.1 * 10^14 m^2 == 8.16 * 10^14 W

  12. llewelly says:

    Small error in my above post. 1.6 W/m^2 is the IPCC 4AR 2007 estimate for total net anthropogenic TOA forcing, not just greenhouse gases (which would be about 3 W/m^2).

  13. alex says:

    Great post. The most alarming thing about GW is that we really have little idea of just how bad it could get. The geological record suggests massive abrupt climate change can take place in just a few years and, given that the sun’s power is slowly increasing, the consequences could be off the scale.

    The only thing I don’t understand is why the actions suggested on this blog are so timid. Posts such as this one smack of the ‘delayer’ camp.

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/12/08/obama-is-right-new-gas-taxes-to-boost-efficiency-a-mistake/

  14. JCH says:

    “Thanks in large part to poor messaging by scientists …”

    In the United States of America, no matter how objectionable it may seem to scientists, you cannot talk to lay people with a realistic expectation of getting through to them if temperatures are not presented in both celsius and fahrenheit.

    They see that 5.5 to 7.1 and they think “sounds not so bad.”

  15. Alan D. McIntire says:

    5 to 7 C is just plain silly. You get a much more plausible estimate by using the UAH figures- right now there’s a 1.3 C per century trend- A. McIntire

  16. john says:

    Alan:

    Empty assertions of silliness don’t change the reality — Why would you prefer University of Alabama at Huntsville figures over the rest of the world — and over the world’s most preeminent scientists?

    Could it be that they conform to your particular ideologically (as opposed to scientifically) driven view of the world?

    Why yes. Of course that’s it.

  17. ccpo says:

    Ronald: disruption is not nearly strong enough.

    ACC -> Anthropogenic Climate Change –> Anthropogenically-driven Climate Change –> Anthropogenically-driven Climate Chaos.

    Or:

    Humanity is toast if we don’t stabilize climate. Well, civilization as we know it, anyway.

    It seems the Clovis culture was decimated by the Younger Dryas. They survived, but it took a thousand years for them to resurface in the fossil record (According to the History Channel’s Journey to 10,000 BC.)

    It is important to make sure that even though warming seems the far more likely effect of all this carbon in the seas and air, a flip of the thermohaline could stop that in its tracks for a thousand years… Things are not simple. By treating the situation too simply we give the naysayers ammunition. It’s chaotic, not linear. Heat is not the only possible outcome.

    And it could flip – hotter or cooler – within the next ten years for all we know. This should not be downplayed. It’s happened before.

    Climate Chaos. Social Chaos. Economic Chaos. The Perfect Storm Cometh… and, indeed, has arrived. the eye is yet off shore, but we haven’t much time, I fear.

    Cheers

  18. Wes Rolley says:

    Yes, it is business as usual. I went through Hansen’s AGU presentation right after listening to Monbiot’s interview with IEA chief economist Faith Bariol. We better have some faith, and then work our asses off, because Bariol was talking about doing exactly what Hansen says will doom us all. Use up the coal AND the Tar Sands.

  19. The Forecast of Catastrophic Climate Change by a seminar at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, has just been released on a simple 1 page website that attempts to improve the messaging and the graphics. While Hadley’s graphic arrows are better, we spread the message on a Celsius/Fahrenheit translator chart, the lack of which, as others here say, is part of the communication failure. We cite Joe Romm, among others, as sources. See http://www.climateforecastloyola.info

  20. danny bloom says:

    two words: POLAR CITIES, get ready for em……maybe earlier than 2500 AD, maybe sooner

    http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

  21. mauri pelto says:

    I disagree with the poor messaging by the scientists being the large part of the problem. The message has been broadcast loudly and often. A special international body was formed the IPCC, to further examine and amplify the results. Most scientists are not born communicators, but it seems to me just as with tobacco and cigarettes, it is those listening that are choosing to ignore the widely published science.

  22. Alan D. McIntire says:

    Everyone agrees that a doubling of CO2 alone would increase temperatures by about 1C. The question is the water vapor feedback.

    See this Minschwaner paper:

    http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/water_vapour/dessler04.pdf

    The multiplication factor would be only about 1.5, not the 5 to 7 times your
    “sky is falling” scenario projects.

    “Why would you prefer University of Alabama at Huntsville figures over the rest of the world — and over the world’s most preeminent scientists?”

    Just what “preeminent” scientist project a warming trend of 5 to 7 C for the 21st century?

    UAH, RSS, HADRCUT, GISS – take your pick. NONE of them shows such a high trend. They’re all in line with Minschwaner

    [JR: Do you even read the posts you attack or their links? Hadley predicts this -- they are HADCRUT. Actually, NASA also predicts. Actually, so does the IPCC. Actually, the Latest observation and analysis on the water vapor also predicts this, as the link in the post makes clear (here).]

  23. John McCormick says:

    Mario I respect your work and willingness to educate readers of realclimate and this climate blog. But, I respectfully take issue with your comment:

    [I disagree with the poor messaging by the scientists being the large part of the problem. The message has been broadcast loudly and often.]

    Yes, the message is being broadcast but the sense of urgency is not a part of that message except for the few of you scientists who put your careers and reputations on the line when you express your fear for the direction we 6.6 billion passengers are heading.

    I know how the label *alarmist* can cause one to step back for fear of losing the listener, the audience or the debate. But alarmism in the name of truth telling is another matter. One could be blamed for criminal negligence if the manager announces over the theater’s PA that the carbon monoxide measurement is increasing with the ambient temperature and patrons should begin to leave the building. The hero would rush into the theater and direct the customers to the exits.

    I am weary of the AGW label. Heck, half of us do not know the meaning of anthropogenic. There was a brief moment when we called it climate change but NRDC thought AGW as more explicit.

    Well, Catastrophic Climate Change is about as specifrc as it gets and that is the label I am using from here on out.

    And, Joe, it has been said many times but I will say it again; we owe you our thanks.

    John McCormick

  24. Jim Eager says:

    Alan D. McIntire, your figure of 1C for CO2 alone is not accepted by everyone. Try 1.5C to 2C. And water vapor feedback is hardly the only question. There is also the question of accelerated feedback of CO2 and CH4 from thawing permafrost and methane clathrates, which have the potential to dwarf human emissions from fossil carbon fuels. Then there is the question of lowered albedo in the Arctic during extended summer daylight, and in alpine snow and ice fields. Then there is the drop in soil moisture as temperature rises, and the subsequent drying of vegetation, which will alter albedo in non-polar regions. And then there is falling ocean pH.

    Don’t myopically focus on water vapour amplification alone.

  25. Dano says:

    Everyone agrees that a doubling of CO2 alone would increase temperatures by about 1C. The question is the water vapor feedback.

    There are two egregiously wrong things with this incorrect assertion, and on biggly wrong thing:

    o CO2 doesn’t act alone. Warming causes multiple feedbacks. This is a distractor.

    o A doubling of CO2 alone with no feedbacks (again, not possible), is closer to 2º than 1º.

    Lastly, the Minch…Dessler paper is not generalizable to the entire atmosphere for the conclusions reached, save for the sign of WV forcing.

    HTH.

    Best,

    D

  26. Keep it coming, Joe. We need your perspective on the recent science to help us translate a sense of urgency to our localities!

  27. I keep thinking about the media and how maybe their treatment of the topic of global warming could be turned around.
    Maybe if enough scientists wrote letters to TV news anchormen and whoever else makes such decisions, it would make a difference. Not debates with skeptics, but hour long interviews and specials, without the phony “balance”.

    Another issue is that the public is mostly clueless about the solutions, not realizing the scope of what must be done. And they think it all depends on some advance in technology in the future, rather than using the technology we have now.

    I was talking with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. The subject of Climate Change came up and I mentioned something about the potential of solar thermal with storage. He responded, saying that power generated near it’s end user is better and the solar thermal needs transmission lines, whereas distributed power could access existing lines. I explained that a study showed the feasability of building 300 gWt of CSP near existing transmiission lines, and the need for something to replace coal plants.

    This guy wasn’t clueless, he had read about solar thermal.
    But I realized later, he didn’t realize how many tools we need, and the scale they need to be implemented at.

    Long story short, most Americans don’t understand what it will take, nor what we have the potential to do now.

  28. Pete Best says:

    I would have to suggest that the peaking and subsequent energy decent will not allow for the rational business as usual 2/3 ppmv per year for the entire century or even to 2050 for that matter unless we decide to do coal to liquids and gas to liquids in the form of hydrogen which through reformation processes is very efficient but still will burn a lot of fossil fuel. The energy future is essentially unknown at presetn by the take up of any single technology in significant industrial quantities will take 40 years at least and that is only when allo of the issues have been resolved.

    The Top Gear program reported on the Honda hydrgen car which costs a lot of money to hand build and hence will be only owned by wealthy people who fill up on hydrogen in california made presently from the natural gas reformation process. There are other ways to make hydrogen too but as yet a chain of issues plague its large scale deployment within 20 years. Hydrogen is still a R&D technology and explains why batteries and capacitor cars are still being looked at too but once again for the masses batteries are a R&D project. No one knows the time when either of these technologies will be deployed for mass uptake.

    Take any other single technology for producing electricity, a energy carrying liquid or heat and you will see that realtive to fossil fuels and its infrastructure across the globe we are 40 years away in the west from reducing our emissions from 2 to 1 ppmv and the east probably 40 years after that before emissions there come down to 1 and zero.

    So I reckon we can judge that Co2 emissions alone will still be another 80 ppmv come 2090 if all goes well. We half our output within 20 years and extince it within 40. The east halves it within 40 years and extincts it within another 20 after that.

  29. Chuck L says:

    Well, if Hadley says it must be so, then, it must be so. Their recent predictions have been sooo accurate.

  30. Joe says:

    Actually, their climate analysis has been cutting edge.

  31. An independent review of the Met Office Hadley Centre commissioned by Defra and the MoD in 2007 concluded that:

    ‘It is beyond dispute that the Met Office Hadley Centre occupies a position at the pinnacle of world climate science and in translating that science into policy advice.’

    (from their web site)

  32. cet says:

    evet bencede

    Peter Ward’s book Under A Green Sky (which is mostly about the Permian extinction) contains a very good science-for-the-layman of current theories on what happened in the distant past when CO2 levels rose above 800 ppm. The final section of his book, about the implications the paleo evidence has for the potential future, is unsettling. Excellent book.
    yes

  33. moving says:

    great opinion
    love u all

  34. paulm says:

    Taking the “its always worse than predicted” (especially when it comes to climate predictions) rule in to account, I would shift the temperature column down one.

    We are probably in for a +3 deg rise in the best case scenario. And Hansen hints at this when he says we should aim for 350 or less! Its that ‘or less’ part which he does not clarify.

  35. Gail says:

    We are clearly going to reach the worst case scenario predictions as nothing drastic is being done about this catastrophic issue. People fail to mention that the world population is growing exponentially and this urgently needs to be addressed in order to curb carbon dioxide emissions. It is time that political correctedness is set aside, in favour of realistic solutions if we are to save the human species. We need to stop reproducing at the rate at which we currently are, and prevent global world population from reaching 9 billion by 2050. If this becomes reality, we are on a direct path to human extinction. It is that simple. A global one-child policy should be implemented now. Of course, because of human rights, especially in the EU, this would never become a reality but this would be a pragmatic solution to this issue. Drastic consequences warrant drastic measures. Without addressing the population issue, we are only tackling the problem of climate change superficially and that is a waste of time – we might as well resign ourselves now to certain, imminent extinction. We need to tackle this issue from all angles. Everybody, wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its now or never. Our human consciousness needs to be awakened.

  36. Hydrogen need not be 40 years away. Forget all that missing infrastructure for ground transportation and focus on air transport. A subsidized pilot demo of a LH2 fueled turbine on an airframe revised for cryogenic H will showcase the aircraft.

    New facilities at the airport for generating power from a renewable to hydrolize water and liquefy hydrogen gets you the fuel. Compare “well to wheel” for hydrogen made and used at the airport to Jet A kerosene fuel starting out as crude under the sand in the middle east.

    Air transport anaylists say the fuel weight to energy ratio of hydrogen is compelling, not to mention Jet A cost at next price rise, or climate change, or security, or stimulus.

  37. petB says:

    I am just a physicist, so I do not have any insight into used models, but large positive feedback would point to highly unstable system, and climate is rather very stable system.

  38. Brad Arnold says:

    While I think there are many serious threats from elevated temperatures, the primary one is being overlooked: the routine failure of non-irrigated crops due to record high temperatures. Civilization began about 12K ago when the Younger Dryas ended and the Holocene began, because the climate allowed for humans to grow crops to support cities.

    “Few seem to realise that the present IPCC models predict almost unanimously that by 2040 the average summer in Europe will be as hot as the summer of 2003 when over 30,000 died from heat. By then we may cool ourselves with air conditioning and learn to live in a climate no worse than that of Baghdad now. But without extensive irrigation the plants will die and both farming and natural ecosystems will be replaced by scrub and desert. What will there be to eat? The same dire changes will affect the rest of the world and I can envisage Americans migrating into Canada and the Chinese into Siberia but there may be little food for any of them.” –Dr James Lovelock’s lecture to the Royal Society, 29 Oct. ’07

    By the way, for a taste of what is to come, witness what will happen in 2009 when global food production declines 20-40% due primarily to drought ( http://informationclearinghouse.info/article21955.htm ).

    “Food riots terrify the elites much more than energy riots. Marie Antoinette was beheaded because bread, not wood or20coal, was so scarce for the poor. The Roman Emperors provided free bread to a third of the population of Rome, not free wood, because they were very fearful of the hungry and jobless mob. For an increasing number of third world nations civil unrest, including violence, as a result of food deprivation is now the most significant threat to regime continuity.” –Vinod K. Dar, Right Side News, 18 June 2008

  39. Anthony, rabid doomsayer says:

    And I called myself Doomsayer. This is getting very scary.

  40. RICHARD RALPH ROEHL says:

    No doubt… THE DOCTRINE OF PERPETUAL GROWTH of the human population and the global economy on ‘Planet Over-Birth Earth’, a fragile HOST ORGANISM of limited space and limited resources, cannot be sustained.

    Perpetual growth is NOT progress! It is cancer! Full blown cancer… killing the planet body (Earth’s ecosystem and the biosphere) that sustains humankind (a.k.a.: ewe-man-unkind).

    We are clever baboonies, but we’re not very wise or prescient. And where there is no insight, the people perish! This is the price we shall all pay for stupidly clinging to outdated religious dogmas (a.k.a.: ‘dogmess’)… and indulging in arrogant, racist, bigoted tribe-all-eeego identities.

    The human family had better wake up and think bigger than a worthless buck… and gold bricks that ewe folks can’t eat or drink. Furthermore… Mohammad-mad, Jesus (a..k.a.: Jeeezass!), L. Ron Hubbard and all the other prophets of profits will not be returning to save ewe folks (der ‘sheeple people’) from EXTINCTION!

    Yesss… Old Coyote Knose! Old Coyote Knose!

  41. Sky Modem says:

    You may be right about “poor messaging by scientists (and environmentalists and progressives) and generally lame media coverage”, I don’t know for sure.

    But I know this: When I try to talk to others about Climate Change, their eyes glaze over. I think that people are so overwhelmed with the reality they face already that they just can’t face the bad news, and they tune it out. Hell, I posted THIS in Reddit a while ago, and it got kicked to the curb within a minute. No big deal I guess, but I suspect that is what many I have talked to are doing mentally with this issue.

    It is hard for me to believe that so many are stuck in some kind of denial trance, but that seems to be what I’m seeing.

  42. Arnie says:

    “It may be “a worst-case scenario” for rational people like her, but right now…”

    So this blog post was made by irrational people? Please explain what I’ve missed. American is my first language, English my second.

  43. Dan L. says:

    The mainstream media have mostly lost interest in climate issues. Even these catastrophic scenarios don’t seem to move them to produce any special reports on the subject. I have seen and heard but a few brief mentions on the American tv networks.

    The right wing propaganda machine, on the other hand, is still in full song. Its American media stooges on Fox News, talk radio and myriad blogs are in non-stop misinformation delivery mode. Fake “climate conferences” are given breathless coverage; fake “experts” are given regular air time; wisecracking Fox (and other) news anchors smirk every day it snows somewhere in the U. S.

    A full scale propaganda struggle is underway, but only the rightists are truly dedicated to total war. James Hansen seems to be one of the few scientists who realize this.