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Climate Hustle

IEA CO2 Emissions Update 2010 - Bad News

Posted on 3 June 2011 by dana1981, John Abraham

This article has also been published on The Conversation, which publishes articles exclusively from individuals in the university and research sector (primarily from Australia).  We recommend checking it out.  The article has also been quoted and linked at ABC Drum.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released unpublished estimates of 2010 global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and the news is not good.  Between 2003 and 2008, emissions had been rising at a rate faster than the IPCC worst case scenario.  However, the global recession slowed the emissions growth considerably, and in fact they actually declined slightly from 29.4 billion tons (gigatons, or Gt) CO2 in 2008, to 29 Gt in 2009.

However, despite the slow global economic recovery, 2010 saw the largest single year increase in global human CO2 emissions from energy (fossil fuels), growing a whopping 1.6 Gt from 2009, to 30.6 Gt (the previous record annual increase was 1.2 Gt from 2003 to 2004).  As illustrated in Figure 1, in 2009 we had dropped into the middle of the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) scenarios, but the 2010 increase has pushed us back up toward the worst case scenarios once again.


Figure 1: IEA global human CO2 annual emissions from fossil fuels estimates vs. IPCC SRES scenario projections.  The IPCC Scenarios are based on observed CO2 emissions until 2000, at which point the projections take effect.  Also added to the Hi Rez Graphics page.

Currently, in terms of both cumulative and annual emissions, we are on track with Scenario A2, the description of which matches what's happening in the real world fairly accurately thus far:

  • Relatively slow end-use and supply-side energy efficiency improvements (compared to other scenarios).
  • Delayed development of renewable energy.
  • No barriers to the use of nuclear energy.

The major exception being that several countries are transitioning away from nuclear power in the wake of the Japanese Fukushima disaster, which could slow emissions reductions even further.  So, what does continuing on our current path look like?

Figure 2: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations as observed at Mauna Loa from 1958 to 2008 (black dashed line) and projected under six IPCC emission scenarios (solid coloured lines) (IPCC Data Distribution Centre)

Figure 3: Global surface temperature projections for IPCC Scenarios. Shading denotes the ±1 standard deviation range of individual model annual averages. The orange line is  constant CO2 concentrations at year 2000 values. The grey bars at right indicate the best estimate (solid line within each bar) and the likely range.  (Source: IPCC)

Scenario A2 puts us at 850 ppm atmospheric CO2 in 2100, with an average global surface temperature 3.5°C hotter than in 2000 (more than 4°C above pre-industrial levels).  If we return back up to Scenario A1FI (fossil fuel intensive), which we were exceeding until the global financial crisis, we're looking at 950 ppm CO2 and 4°C global warming over the 21st Century (more than 4.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures in 2100).

Clearly this is very bleak news.  In an interview with The Guardian, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol said:

"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions...It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker.  That is what the numbers say."

Indeed, limiting global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, which is considered the "danger limit" but which may even be too risky, is a challenge to achieve even in the most optimistic IPCC CO2 emissions scenarios.  In fact, the UK Hadley Centre Met Office recently found that just to limit global warming to 3°C, we should have started taking serious action to reduce emissions in 2010 (Figure 4).

Hadley emissions results

Figure 4: Hadley Centre modeled warming by 2100 in various CO2 emissions scenarios (Source)

Right now we're on track with the orange and red arrows in Figure 4.  If we continue with this business-as-usual high emissions path, the consequences could be dire.  Some of the impacts listed in the IPCC report for global warming of 3–4°C above pre-industrial levels include:

  • Hundreds of millions of people exposed to increased water stress
  • 30–40% of species at risk of extinction around the globe
  • About 30% of global coastal wetlands lost
  • Increased damage from floods and storms
  • Widespread coral mortality
  • Terrestrial biosphere tends toward a net carbon source
  • Reduction in cereal productions
  • Increased morbility and mortality from heat waves, floods and droughts

The IEA also found that about 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, which means we're "locked in" for continued emissions from these power plants, which constitute about one-third of global human CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.  So it's going to be difficult to transition off of these high emissions scenario paths, and we'll have to find wiggle room in other sectors like transportation.

Birol said that this alarming news should serve as a "wake-up call" for international climate negotiations and other emissions reduction efforts:

"This should be a wake-up call. A chance [of staying below 2 degrees] would be if we had a legally binding international agreement or major moves on clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and other technologies."

These findings should serve as an alarm bell to warn us that our window of time to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences from climate change is running out fast.  We need to get on track with the green arrow in Figure 4, which involves immediate and rapid action to reduce global carbon emissions.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 61:

  1. I notice the clause "no barriers to the use of nuclear energy". But as the article also observes, the Fukushima incident has been a major setback for the use of nuclear energy.

    It pains me to notice that after some small progress getting environmentalists to accept the need for nuclear, that has been pretty near completely erased due to Fukushima. More precisely, due to TEPCO's total failure to address long-standing safety problems in the way they run their nuclear plants.

    Still, in the course of following the news during the month after the disaster, I learned of a very interesting alternative in nuclear technology, one I wish the world knew more about: thorium liquid fuel cycles.

    Apparently, the use of thorium instead of pure uranium or plutonium, and the use of it in liquid form instead of solid, really does make it much safer. No meltdown is possible, for example, because it is already molten; and if the molten fuel escapes, it solidifies instead of providing "China syndrome".

    But most of the material about it on the web is by industry advocates, so it may be 'colored' by industry optimism.
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  2. MattJ - I disagree that we necessarily need nuclear, or at least very much more nuclear. I do think we need to keep the nuclear we have, at least for now, and phase-out fossil fuels first. But we can eventually meet 100% of our energy needs with renewable energy.
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  3. by the way, let's please not turn the comments into a nuclear argument, since it's just one relatively minor aspect of the article in question.
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  4. @MattJ

    It is nice to see an advocate for nuclear power. I am disagreement with dana because I don't see 100% of our energy needs met with renewable energy. Below is an excellent article I read today.

    With renewable energy accounting for between 0 and 1%, I think it is a plastic banana dream to convert to 100% renewable.
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  5. Additionally, I don't think anyone has put solar energy into perspective. We have known we can harness the power of the sun for a very long time. Same with lightning. Yet nobody has figured out how to capture or maximize this energy.


    What are your thoughts on clean natural gas?
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  6. Jay - wow, that's by far the worst article I've ever seen on Salon.
    "The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes."
    By definition "the most" is going to be a low probability outcome. So let's just ignore the catastophic outcomes that aren't "the most" catastrophic? Absolutely horrible logic. That article is a prescription for disaster.

    I'm not exactly impressed by the logic "we're not doing it now therefore we can never do it", which is your argument in a nutshell. In the early 1900s, cars accounted for between 0 and 1% of transportation miles. I guess that's why they never made it big!
    "We have known we can harness the power of the sun for a very long time"
    And we've been doing it for a long time. And the price of solar power is rapidly declining, set to be on par with fossil fuels in a few years (already cheaper than fossil fuels if you account for externalities).

    Of course I'm not exactly sure what any of this has to do with the blog post here.
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  7. We have known we can harness the power of the sun for a very long time. Same with lightning. Yet nobody has figured out how to capture or maximize this energy.

    Dr Cadbury, surely you jest.
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    [dana1981] I'm assuming he only meant we don't know how to harness lightning, although I don't have the foggiest idea why that's the least bit relevant.

  8. Jay... Our US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu came out a few weeks ago be believes that before the end of the decade solar will be competitive with coal... without subsidies.

    I would have to suggest this is not only clearly harnessing the power of the sun but also harnessing the power of the marketplace.
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  9. It's ironic to discuss how to respond to the wake-up call with a skeptic which, by definition, is not willing to respond at all.
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  10. Dr. Jay, PhD:

    Yet nobody has figured out how to capture or maximize this energy.

    Assuming you're being serious, you're in roughly the same position as someone looking at the Commodore PET and concluding that personal computers will never have enough memory to do anything worthwhile.

    In the real world, solar panel efficiency keeps increasing, and the cost keeps coming down, just as one would expect. (Oddly enough, we owe many of these developments to researchers in countries that aren't encumbered with a strong anti-science party.)

    You also overlook the fact that alternative energy has historically faced huge opposition from the same ideologues who now tell us that AGW isn't happening, or is beneficial (or, with their typical flexibility, both). They also seem to resist moving away from the incredibly inefficient incandescent bulb, or taking any other steps that would maximize the energy generated by fossil fuels. "Innovation," in these circles, seems to involve creating endless excuses for lying down in the path of progress.

    I know these folks are supposed to be the "optimists" on this issue, but if I shared their view of human ingenuity and intelligence, I'd be very tempted to throw myself off a bridge.
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  11. When I see comments like #4, it is frustrating. Scotland's going for 100% renewable by 2020, and the UK government has made commitements for beyond 2020. I'm not saying it'll happen (politicians involved), but there is a big push in the renewables industry, including wind, wave and tidal installations aiming to provide 1GW of Scotland's target from northern Scotland. Regardless of the politics, the long-term aim is positive and reasonably achievable. With the technology rapidly being proven and deployed in places like Orkney and Islay, and the cost per watt dropping steadily, it's something to be optimistic about, despite the bad news on CO2 emissions.

    There is certainly everything to gain by being positive about the possibility of providing for our energy needs in a carbon-free way that does not require a constant supply of fuel from politically unstable countries. Prices are dropping, and are rapidly becoming competitive, and dana's car analogy is an excellent one here.

    Clearly the concern is the increase in CO2 emissions from India / China, and the lack of action in America, but we can only hope that as dirty fuel prices rise rapidly and renewables prices drop, the economics will make the transition to renewable energy as obvious a choise as the transition from horse to car...
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  12. We have known we can harness the power of the sun for a very long time. Same with lightning.

    I have to add that it's ridiculous to conflate solar power and harnessing lightning. They present totally different engineering challenges, and we certainly have not "known for a very long time" that we can use lightning in place of fossil fuel energy.

    I'd hope that even the worst pro-FF zealot would be willing to concede that the problems with solar power are a lot more tractable. But if not, here's a hint: people are actually running their homes and businesses on solar power. Lightning, not so much.
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  13. Don't worry about that red trend scientists. Be joyful about the fact that it'll be the best experiment yet to prove the AGW theory.
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  14. Dr Jay displays such lack of information about clean energy that it is difficult to believe that he is either a “Dr” or a “PhD”. How about a bit of biography “Doctor” or is it all pretention?

    Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the consequences of a 3°-4°C rise in global temperature by 2100 will realize just how bad the bad news conveyed in this article is. It comes as no surprise that rather than reduce emissions with a view to achieving a tolerable CO2 concentration of 350ppm by 2100, we face the dual prospects of 800ppm and a climate so dangerous that it seriously damages human habitat.

    If we do not reduce our emissions significantly starting now “nature” will take care of the pollution problem by eliminating those responsible for it – which is almost all of us. Little wonder that the German Chancellor has decided to adopt a renewable energy future and that the UK had set an even higher emissions reduction target – 50% by 2027. However, unless all countries do likewise, forget a habitable planet.

    The message is clear, so is the course of action which can be taken to avert a bleak and short future. The only problem is that most governments are not prepared to heed the message or take timely action. Any suggestions on action needed and how to persuade governments to take it?
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  15. If you think there is a problem you will naturally want to do something about it. Meanwhile we're half way along the IPCC path already, we have almost half the doubling of 260ppm and as a result agreed increase in average temperature is 0.8C. That is the actuality, no future projections or complications.

    Take that as our known (as opposed to futurism). The 1C rise with no feedback is something which to my knowledge never expected the feedback to be delayed. In fact if this had been the case it would have made the prediction almost impossible as they were looking for a previously unseen and as a result unknown phenomenon. But as the expectation was a possible 2-400% increase over base level then as we now have an actual extrapolation heading way under the 2C rise for 2100 (I'm not sure why you use this point as we won't be here to know and as such is untestable and therefore unscientific).

    Therefore you are imagining an as yet absent positive feedback. Unless you can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that this feedback may be delayed then you are not describing reality with the above mental exercises.
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  16. voice of reason - you're not making any sense. You can't just pretend that the unrealized warming won't be realized because it hasn't been realized yet. There's a global energy imbalance, and until the climate reaches equilibrium, the surface will continue to warm. That's not a controversial concept. Denying physical reality will do us no good.
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  17. Agnostic - Australia seems to be trying to do something about the issue, which is a good start. The USA is the big problem, and Republicans are of course the obstacle behind US action, and behind Republicans is the fossil fuel denialist industry. As an American, I don't know what we can do about it, other than try to get global warming denying Republicans out of government. Unfortunately a large segment of the US population either also denies the global warming problem, or doesn't consider it a priority. So we have to convince them otherwise. Until the US takes serious action, we can't expect China or India to do anything either. Nor will Canada, and so far Australia has waited for us too.
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  18. An interesting tidbit in Hansen 2011 is that "Contrary to a common misperception, CO2 is not increasing faster than IPCC projections. Human-made CO2 emissions are increasing just above the range of IPCC scenarios" but (paraphrasing...) CO2 sinks are working better than the models predicted.
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  19. dana1981:
    The USA will not do cap and trade anytime soon. And it isn't because of Republican nor Democrat.
    We are a sckeptical bunch, we always have been. And we recognize the benifits of energy.
    People talk about energy useage per person, but the real metric to look at is energy use per unit of GDP.
    The USA is reeling right now because of the non funding of 2, and now it seems 3 wars/police actions. The price of fuels, diesel and gas, has risen over 25% in the past year.
    This has been a shock to the economy that may turn the mini recovery into another full blown recession. No matter how you cut it, if you derail the worlds largest economy, people throughout the world will suffer.

    Until we get government spending brought under control, no carbon bill will pass. And I do believe that during the next 2 budget cycles, the EPA will be stripped of money to enforce what they think they have reasonable grounds to enforce....co2.

    Most of my friends hold some type of college degree. They look at figures like accelerated sea level rise and say.....what percentage rise is this verses the previous trend. Then they look at it as nothing important.

    GISSTEMP says that where I live, the temp has risen 1.4C in the past 120 years. Yet, when looking at the past 20 years, using state climatological numbers, the trend is down by over .3F per degade.

    Our Januarys in the 2000 decade have been cooling at a rate of 6.7F per decade. We also have some long term climate cycles as verified by cores of earth and tree rings. By long term I mean approx 160 years.

    It comes back to the sensativity and what each person percieves it is. Also it comes back to being educated and understanding that when a model can't do a very important part of climate, the hydro cycle and clouds, that the hole is too large to give the model much credibility.

    I, personally, know that research is being done to try and close that gap, but as yet, it isn't even close to being closed.

    Just some reasons that the USA will not go along with government carbon taxes or government mandates.

    The economic reasons are already there, and people take them seriously. Insullation is being installed in older homes, new windows, smaller structures being built etc.
    A lot being done on an individual bases that does not get reported.

    Fossil fuels will be a minor source of energy in 30 years, and the reason is that someone will come up with a way to provide energy at less cost than fossil fuels.
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    [DB] "GISSTEMP says that where I live, the temp has risen 1.4C in the past 120 years.  Yet, when looking at the past 20 years, using state climatological numbers, the trend is down by over .3F per degade."

    Well, that's easily checked.  Let's look, shall we?

    Last 20 years


    Hmm, there's something wacky going on here...I think you meant increased by .3° F per decade.

    "Our Januarys in the 2000 decade have been cooling at a rate of 6.7F per decade."

    Wow, that's pretty cold!  Let's look at that, too:



    So instead of cooling, your January's have actually been...warming.

    Camburn, this is a science discussion forum.  If you can show us where you got the data that is so egregiously wrong for North Dakota, perhaps we can help you.  Because as it stands right now, it looks like you're just making things up to waste everyone's time.

  20. Camburn,

    Where do you live?
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  21. Djon:
    I live in ND.
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  22. "the real metric to look at is energy use per unit of GDP."

    No it isn't. That's a lame rationalization suggesting the climate allows for GDP. The only things that matter are total global pollution levels and the rate of additional pollution. Quoting GDP intensity levels is the first hint of pro-pollutionist word-spin.

    Cadbury's reference to the Lindt word-jumble is refuted here: It's basically trying to make the worst-case the mid-line (pin the tail on the alarmist), while it glorifies the supply side.

    Voice of Reason's argument is just demanding that the warming obey 0-delay commands. It doesn't. Set your stove to 400dF and count to 10, if the oven isn't 400dF ... there's something wrong with the theory of ovens.

    What really happens is what is really observed and recorded. The science lays out the mid-line.

    The thing that's affected recent trends is a series of La Nina's, a long solar minimum, and some exceptional global wetting (which is the perfect transport of heat into the ocean). The 'slowdown' has also recorded the record-setting temperature levels and extreme events that walks and quacks like an AGW. There hasn't been any cooling trend for over half a century.

    The article illustrates that the public and private sectors worldwide are on a fossil-fuel expansion binge. The next 'boom' is going to knock the levels and rates off the charts.

    The world walked away from common sense when it trashed Kyoto. It destroyed Copenhagen with a B&E.

    Add to that the next El Nino or two; and the ramp-up of Solar Cycle 24:

    Now synthesize a forecast onto the graphs:

    (currently a record low)

    (currently a record low)

    The world isn't in love with fossil-fuel power. Still goes back to a goood ol' quote:- Civilization is Man's way of showing Nature who's boss.
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    [DB] Embedded linked graphics.

  23. owl905:
    I wouldn't put too much credence in solar cycle 24 ramping up anytime soon. The L&P effect seems very effective in this cycle, and there have been so many false alarms as to start up that it is hard to have much confidence in any prediction.
    And as far as GDP and energy useage, yes, that should be the metric, not per capita as per capita is more a metric of production than useage as an individual.
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    [DB] "I wouldn't put too much credence in solar cycle 24 ramping up anytime soon."

    As owl905's linked Solar Cycle graphic shows, you are very wrong.  Please stay on-topic.

  24. correction:
    And as far as GDP and energy useage, yes, that should be the metric as it measures production.

    Per capita is not a good measure of the whole and its value.
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  25. owl905@22
    "Voice of Reason's argument is just demanding that the warming obey 0-delay commands. It doesn't. Set your stove to 400dF and count to 10, if the oven isn't 400dF ... there's something wrong with the theory of ovens."

    So glad i had not yet started in on the cookies and milk or they would have been coming out my nose. Hilarious and clever. I tip my hat to you.
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  26. Camburn,

    You wrote "GISSTEMP says that where I live, the temp has risen 1.4C in the past 120 years. Yet, when looking at the past 20 years, using state climatological numbers, the trend is down by over .3F per degade."

    So with the GISSTEMP statement, are you comparing the annual anomaly for a grid cell covering North Dakota or part thereof in 2010 versus 1890 or fitting a linear trend to all the annual anomalies from 1890 through 2010 for a grid cell or looking at only the station nearest you used in their analysis or doing something else? Also, where are you looking up state data for the past 20 years? I'm not immediately seeing, when I search, that that's available from any state agency in tabular or graphical form.

    I'm interested in checking out the accuracy of your statements, if only because recent cooling at the rate you claim in an area where you also claim GISS says the warming over the past 120 years is quite a bit higher than the world average is somewhat surprising but I find it hard to believe it will produce anything other than a demonstration that there can be considerable regional variation about the global trend, partly because even the people here - - who refer to the "IPCC. and its cohort of alarmists" appear to have concluded in 2004, using USHCN data, that temperatures had gone up by just over 1C in ND since 1900. That seems to be based on taking a simple average of all the available temperature stations in the state so the method is less sophisticated than the GISTEMP analysis. In any case, if even dedicated skeptics of global warming agree with GISTEMP that the temperature has gone up in ND by more than 1C since 1890-1900, then I can't see why I should believe that the GISTEMP numbers are somehow called into question even if you're correct about the trend over the past two decades. Or were you driving at some point other than to suggest that the GISTEMP results are untrustworthy?

    All of which leaves aside the fact that North Dakota is quite a small part of the globe.
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    [DB] I have looked at Camburn's claims in his comment and have found them...lacking in accuracy.

  27. I dunno, sounds like good news.

    Emissions are high but temperature trends are lower than the best estimate for the 'Low Scenario'.

    Sensitivity is low?
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    [DB] "temperature trends are lower than the best estimate for the 'Low Scenario'"

    Prove it.  Sources with links please.

    Or cease your dissembling.

  28. Camburn - please don't presume to speak for all Americans. And don't pretend that Republicans aren't the only obstruction preventing a carbon pricing mechanism. If it weren't for the 40% minority of Republicans abusing the filibuster rule in the Senate, we would have had a cap and trade system in place over a year ago.

    ClimateWatcher - keep dreaming, but please stop spreading misinformation. As I've told you many times, the temperature trend is well within the range of model estimates.
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  29. Thank you for this post. The information, as sobering as it may be, is very helpful for assessing our current trajectory in GHG emissions in light of the different IPCC scenarios. I also appreciate your ongoing efforts in demonstrating how various other trends (e.g., Arctic sea ice extent, sea level rise) are measuring up against earlier predictions.

    And I must echo the previous comment about Camburn not speaking for all Americans. While his or her statement about the U.S. not implementing cap and trade any time soon might be correct, the entire northeast has cap and trade through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). My experience has also been that there is a quite substantial difference between Democrats and Republicans on various mitigation policies, and I think most fair-minded Americans are aware of this. As for RGGI, two states now might be backing out of the program, due to actions taken by their Republican governors or legislatures. And my home state (Massachusetts) is on target to have its 2020 statewide GHG emissions be 25 percent lower than the 1990 levels, through various clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives--an action triggered by a law passed by the Democrat legislature. A more concerted mitigation strategy is definitely needed if we are to substantially alter the emissions trends mentioned in the original post.

    Camburn: I suggest you communicate the temperature trends you mention in your post to your state climatologist, because the January trends that you quote quite clearly conflict with what he reported on page 13 of this document (
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    [dana1981] Thanks.  Yes I've previously written about the real-world success of RGGI as well.

  30. @22 owl905

    Incorrect version:

    "Civilization is Man's way of showing Nature who's boss."

    Correct version:

    "Weather is Nature's way of showing Man who's boss."
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  31. Camburn

    I live in Connecticut- average temperatures over the last 35 years have increased about 4 degrees F in the winter. Absolute lows have changed my growing zone from a Zone 6 to nearly a zone 7.

    The zone 7 line is creeping north from the shoreline of Long Island sound about 1.6 miles per year.

    Anecdotal evidence? The ability to grow sub tropical plants here. Gardeners rejoice now at growing Giant Sequoia, along with Windmill palms in protected locations. Crepe Myrtle can be grown, and also sabal minor.

    Back in 1990 - this would be difficult- if not impossible.
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  32. While the current trending is bad keep in mind that the 'worst case' scenarios discussed above assume that we continue nearly full out fossil fuel use all the way through 2100.

    I don't believe that is likely to happen. As others in this thread have noted, renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many small locales around the world and this is becoming true for larger and larger areas with each passing year. Within the decade this will become the case for the majority of the planet's population.

    According to most sources we also passed the peak of conventional oil production back in 2006. Optimistic projections have alternative oil sources providing a steady plateau of oil production for decades... but even that rosy view runs afoul of the fact that petroleum demand in China and India is exploding. There simply won't be enough oil produced to meet demand. The only thing preventing this currently is the global economic slowdown.

    These two factors will force conversion to renewable energy. The fossil fuel industry might be able to hold it off for a few more years, but by 2020 the process will definitely be in full swing.

    The only downside is that as more renewable energy comes online that will result in less demand for fossil fuels and thus falling costs... which will keep them affordable and thus used in many parts of the world. Unless renewables become radically less expensive or the political will to phase out fossil fuels is eventually found we are likely to keep burning them indefinitely. That won't be as bad as if we continued using them for nearly all power generation through 2100, but it still could make a mess of things.
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  33. Dana:
    Here is the link:

    Jan, 2000-2010 shows a cooling trend of 6.6F. That is using the long term base temperature which makes the results the most accurate.

    I don't speak for all Americans. I am making an observation of the current political/economic climate of the USA.
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  34. Camburn,

    According to the graphing function at the link you just gave the annual average temperature in ND increased from 1991 to 2010 at a rate of 0.26 degF/Decade.

    Also, if you think the cooling trend over Januarys from 2000 to 2010 is made more or less accurate by the choice of base period rather than being unaffected by it, you either need some remedial education in mathematics/statistics or the humility to stick to politics since numbers clearly aren't your thing.
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  35. Djon:
    The more samples, the more reliable the mean.
    Take a look at our winters 2000-2010. We have been experiencing a cooling trend verses the long term mean which surprises no one living here.
    This is only a regional observation, and in no way implies that the world as a whole is not warm. I picked those months because the temp/trend is important to life here.
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  36. With the economic numbers out this morning in the USA, I don't forsee much of an increase in CO2 coming from this area any time soon.
    I don't see any legislation coming any time soon either. There are too many current problems that need to be addressed before long term problems will find a foothold.
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  37. Camburn. Such short term slope are going in every direction. Anything shorter than 30 years make no sense for climate trend analysis. This is only basic statistics. This has been discussed extensively here and elsewhere.
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    [DB] This has been pointed out to Camburn many times previously.  I believe the distinction to be lost.

  38. Yvan Dutil:
    Note I said regional. The 30 year trend for winter is down as well based on the long term mean, and the last 10 years have shown an accelerated downward trend.
    I live here, I believe the trend.
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  39. Camburn,
    While accurate, your choice of month and years renders the cooling trend almost meaningless. Long term, the temperature has increased, although most of the increase has occurred during the winter (even including the cooling trend of the last decade), and prior to the mid 1930s. If you check the seasonal trends prior to and after 1935, winter prior to 1935 showed the greatest warming, with almost no temperature trend in either the summer or fall from 1935-present.
    Not sure were we are going with this, except to point out the fallacy in determining trends over short time frames. It is interesting to note that ND has shown no warming over the past 30 years. Bucking the trend, are you?
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    [DB] Please, let us remove our focus from the weather and back to the topic of this thread, IEA CO2 Emissions Update 2010 - Bad News.

    Weather is now off-topic on this thread.

  40. Eric:
    Yes we are. And it involves a larger area than ND.
    That is why our Senators were going to vote no on Waxman.

    ND is an energy exporting state. We have permitted 4 large windfarms, with another being built this summer. I live 13 miles from one large windfarm, and it is great to see the turbines turning.
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  41. Dr. Jay, PhD:

    I like wind and solar but everybody besides dana knows that at night the sun is gone and there is a moon and the wind is not always blowing.

    The hostility, such as it is, arises from the fact that you don't seem to know what you're talking about.

    In the first place, storage systems already exist for solar energy. You can try googling "thermal storage." Or if that's too technical for you, "batteries." Are these solutions perfect? Obviously not. Is there no conceivable way of improving them? Obviously not. Are companies working on these problems right now? Of course.

    Beyond that, the complaint that "I don't see 100% of our energy needs met with renewable energy" is basically a strawman, as well as an example of the fallacy of exclusion (i.e., it implies that we can meet 100 percent of humanity's energy needs with nuclear and fossil fuels. Which is debatable, to say the least).

    It's also funny that the people who whine about the practical availability of renewable resources tend to be downright cornucopian about our supply of fossil fuels, but that's a rant for another day.
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    Moderator Response: A better thread for continued discussion of this topic (if Dr. Jay chooses to reply) is Renewables can’t provide baseload power.
  42. Dr PhD,

    I suspect your perception of hostility is due in part to your assumption that some demonstrably highly knowledgeable individuals are simply unaware of really basic things. And, your last response indicates an unawareness that Dana is not advocating 100% solar and/or that there exist ways of storing energy for later use.

    Do we have such capacity to store energy on industrial scales now? No, but it is an engineering problem and I have more faith that it can be solved than the problem of fusion or some other miracle cure will be found.

    Personally, I don't know and don't care if nuclear is required. Compared to the costs/effects of widespread food shortages, an incident like Fukushima every decade or so is a fair trade-off. Chernobyl like situations are to be be avoided, of course. My guess is that fast-breeder reactors are a viable course for base load, but nothing is going to be as expensive as continuing fossil fuel use.

    It is likely that Camburn is right that the US will not implement cap-and-trade anytime soon, and I prefer a phased-in carbon tax+dividend anyway, but that does not mean that the US and the world at large would not be better off if some attempt to limit CO2 production were made.

    For instance, if a disastrous harvest in Russia can spark a wave of revolts across the Middle East, I'm not looking forward to seeing what a serious drought across the agricultural regions of China triggers. China will just buy up whatever their shortfall is, but that won't be good news for whichever poorer nations have to bid against them. If it happens that the US has a poor harvest at the same time, I don't know that the US could get away with an export ban as Russia did; China has leverage on the US because of debts.

    It is a pretty safe bet that food production will suffer some impacts in a BAU world. Here is something recent:

    Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity in the global tropics
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  43. skywatcher -- "Scotland's going for 100% renewable by 2020,..."

    Here in England, I'm already having all of my electricity from the grid replaced by Scottish renewables, so the option is already there if you shop around (hint - M&S, if you weren't aware). It works out cheaper to me, the end consumer, and I get incentives to reduce my electricity consumption.
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  44. I think you may need to check the emisions estimates in Figure 1. The IEA figures released earlier this week, and the EIA figures, are for energy-related emissions only, and do not include sources such as cement, which account for about another gigatonne (see for isntance this paper:
    I think the IPCC projections are for total human emissions of carbon dioxide, not just energy-releated emissions. I suspect that when you factor in the other emissions we are even closer to reaching the A1F1 path again.
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    [dana1981] No, I made sure to be careful about that.  The IPCC breaks down the numbers, and I used their projections for CO2 emissions from fossil fuels only.  So it's an accurate comparison, but you just have to keep in mind that the graph only plots CO2 emissions from fossil fuels/energy use.  As you note, there are other emissions sources as well.

  45. Thanks for clarifying dana1981.
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    [dana1981] My pleasure!  It was a good question and good point - the graph is most of the picture, but not the whole picture.

  46. There is no doubt that there is enough solar energy at the top of the atmosphere to provide for all of humanity's energy needs, including a margin for bringing the third world up to western living standards.

    Has anyone calculated the amount of coal that would need to be burned to produce the solar cells and windmills to access this?
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  47. Since solar cells produce more energy (by considerable margin) than is consumed in making them, you dont have to burn coal to make them at all. All renewables (including hydro and geothermal) and solar cells themselves can be used to create more. Coal is for foreseeable future needed to create steel.
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  48. scaddenp @48 charcoal made from plantation timber can substitute for coal in steel manufacture. At what carbond price that would become economically viable I do not know; and whether it would ever be ecologically a good idea is also on open question for me.
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  49. Tom - I'm surprised that you get enough air flow for modern steel but your comment sent me rushing to google to see if anyone was doing it. I couldnt spot any large scale operation (though I was interested to see how much pig iron Brazil was producing by this process) - do you know of one?
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  50. trunkmonkey:

    There is no doubt that there is enough solar energy at the top of the atmosphere to provide for all of humanity's energy needs

    Well, from a certain point of view, one would hope that there's enough solar energy to provide for all of humanity's *food* needs.

    If not, the rest is moot.
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