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Global weirding with Katharine Hayhoe: Episode 4

Posted on 11 November 2016 by Guest Author

Global Weirding is produced by KTTZ Texas Tech Public Media and distributed by PBS Digital Studios. New episodes every other Wednesday at 10 am central. Brought to you in part by: Bob and Linda Herscher, Freese and Nichols, Inc, and the Texas Tech Climate Science Center.

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. Our new president is highly sceptical about climate change so perhaps we should make a strategic retreat.  Perhaps, this is an argument he could go with without having to do a political flip flop that would weaken his message to his base.

    I know this comment it is political and hence will be deleated but please read before deleating.  Unfortunately, as Catherine says, the issue is political.

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  2. Here are some observations from the current literature, as I understand them, and questions::

    1. Average global temperatures are predicted to rise by 2100 by from 1.1 to 5.4 deg C. (Is this accurate?)

    2. Once CO2 gets into the atmosphere most of it stays there for a very long time (perhaps centuries), and presumably continues to contribute to rising temperatures while it is there.

    3. To set a lower boundary on the problem, let’s say that ALL new human-produced CO2 and methane added to the atmosphere is reduced to ZERO starting tomorrow. Using current models, what is then the predicted change in average global temperature in 2100?

    4. Are my statements/assumptions accurate?

    5. Has anyone run the simulation I describe in (3)?

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  3. Richard...

    1) The range you've listed spans different emissions pathways. I'm not sure where you find the 1.1C number since there would be no possible way to hold global temperature to that level. The 5.4C figure is a business-as-usual scenario.

    2) Yes, once we put CO2 into the atmosphere it's going to stay there for 100-300 years. But, if I understand your second statement, no, it doesn't continue to contribute to raising temperature. Once we hold CO2 as a particular level, temps will rise for another 30 years before reaching most of  it's equilibrium potential. After that warming would continue on a much slower pace over the following centuries. See SkS sections on Transient Climate Sensitivity, Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity and Earth Systems Sensitivity.

    3) If we stopped today, temperature would continue to rise for about 30 years or so. That might put us somewhere between 1.5C and 2C, if we're lucky.

    5) In addition to the Climate Sensitivity reading, I'd suggest reading up on Representative Concentrations Pathways, also found here on SkS.

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  4. Richard, the calculations were done for this by Matthews and Weaver and by Hare and Meinshausen.  You can find both of these discussed here and here.

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  5. A more important factor in the opposition to climate science than the cost of properly addressing the issue is that the costs of not acting will be suffered by other humans.

    Humans trying to benefit as much as possible from actions that will create problems and challenges that other humans will have to deal with will only consider caring if the "others" are likely to be successful in rapidly and effectively "getting back at" the trouble-makers.

    What is clearly missing in current day socio-economic systems is rapid effective getting back at trouble-makers, a lack of ability to ensure a trouble-maker gets no satisfaction or perception of success for any meaningful period of time.

    Rapid action against the trouble-makers is critical. If they expect to die of old age before the action back against them happens they will not be deterred. Heck, some of them probably would think that even just a year of living with wealth and power is worth the risk of being severely penalized at some point in the future.

    It would be nice if everyone could be relied on to thoughtfully and considerately limit their actions and focus their efforts on helping to advance humaity to a lasting better future for all. But that is a fantasyland that only exists in fairy tales like the ones made-up by the likes of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.

    In reality, the desired actions of people need to be rapidly tested regarding the impacts they would have on the future of all humanity. Atittudes and actions that would be contrary to the advancement of humanity to a lasting better future for all would be deemed unaccepable and be stopped, with penalties assessed against any pushers of the activity that could have been expected to actually better understand the unacceptability of what they were promoting or trying to benefit from (the fundamental basis of laws and by-laws and even sport rules, keep knowing cheaters from succeeding).

    In that reality (the one that is really needed), someone like Imhoff would already have been removed from his position for being proven to be "incapable of properly performing the duties of the position", which is a valid legal reason to remove an elected official, or any business leader, from a position of power.

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  6. William@1,

    I recently scolded you about your mispelling Katharine's name, which you have not only ignored but this time you ravaged in two mispells. Because of your lack of engagement with me on it, I don't understand your motivation of your persistent offending Dr Hayhoe, or persistent extreme ignorance of the rules people like me are trying to obide, but I underscore both to be a bad practice and a bad etiquette in blog commenting in general. And I suggests the others not to follow your example.

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  7. The Trump election is certainly a setback for efforts to address climate change. However, the key epiphany that will make effective action possible is the wide spread recognition that to keep co2 concentration in the atmosphere from rising, we need to limit our human caused emissions to the net amount that nature sequesters. This is what the COP21 treaty referred to as a net zero carbon emissions economy. Nature sequesters most of our human emissions that are safely in the carbon cycle. However, the emissions that can not be sequestered are dumped into the atmosphere adding to the previous inbalances causing the concentration to rise. This is a debt. The ultimate difficulty will be determined by how high this carbon concentration (debt) gets. When we achieve net zero, we will no longer be adding to the carbon debt. However, to reduce the carbon concentration we will need to have a net sequester economy where our emissions are less than what can be sequestered. This we firmly understand. It is the only way to do it. If you do not believe we will ever go there, then you are assuming we will destroy the life resilience on our planet and the opportunity for our proginy to have healthy happy lives. The only way for there to be political will to acheive a net sequester economy is for the main stream to understand these limitations. Since this is our only hope, I will assume it will eventually occur and act in such a way that will make it more likely to happen. I am not sure Hillary Clinton had that recognition. However, she did recognize the rising carbon concentration was a problem and was postured to promote clean energy jobs, Trump is headed for that bridge back to the 20th Century where burn baby burn is the modow for economic growth.

    This is a graphic I created that attempts to summarize the business as usual, net zero and net sequester economies.  

    Since our ability to sequester co2 is limited, should we share the capacity to emit co2 fairly?

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