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Newsflash: A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided - World Bank

Posted on 21 November 2012 by John Mason

Regular readers of Skeptical Science will be well aware of the growing signs of destabilisation in the global climate. Coming hard on the heels of a plethora of other warnings, the World Bank have now released a must-read report, dated November 18th 2012.  It runs to 106 pages, which we'll read and digest before a more detailed analysis is posted (soon!): in the meanwhile, here is an excerpt from the above link.

Key Points:

  • New World Bank-commissioned report warns the world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise.
  • Adverse effects of global warming are “tilted against many of the world's poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and goals.
  • Bank eyes increased support for adaptation, mitigation, inclusive green growth and climate-smart development.

Turn Down The Heat - World Bank on Climate Change

November 18, 2012 – Like summer’s satellite image of the melting Greenland ice sheet, a new report suggests time may be running out to temper the rising risks of climate change.

"Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided," (pdf) warns we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.

Moreover, adverse effects of a warming climate are “tilted against many of the world's poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and global development goals, says the study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, on behalf of the World Bank. The report, urges "further mitigation action as the best insurance against an uncertain future."

"A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest."

The report, reviewed by some of the world’s top scientists, is being released ahead of the next comprehensive studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013/14, and follows the Bank’s own Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change in 2008 and the World Development Report on climate change in 2010. "Turn Down the Heat" combines a synthesis of recent scientific literature with new analysis of likely impacts and risks, focusing on developing countries. It chronicles already observed climate change and impacts, such as heat waves and other extreme events, and offers projections for the 21st century for droughts, heat waves, sea level rise, food, water, ecosystems and human health.

The report says today’s climate could warm from the current global mean temperature of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, to as high as 4°C by 2100, even if countries fulfill current emissions-reduction pledges.

Click HERE to access the report. Will this be the wake-up call that Mankind so clearly needs? Will people realise that one of the biggest direct threats related to climate change is future food security? And that agricultural problems can mean a severe increase in basic food prices - already on the up? The opposition to mainstream science like to bang on about taxes, but a major hike in food costs will be as a universal tax that nobody, even with the most creative accountant, will be able to avoid. Will Mankind wake up before it is too late? Only time will tell...

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. I listened to Dr. Kevin Anderson's talk, "Real Clothes for the Emperor" and he seemed quite convinced that restricting the temperature rise to 2 degrees C was pretty well impossible. He seemed to make some good points. His presentation is available in many places, including here; My appologies for the clumsy link.
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  2. Will Mankind wake up before it is too late?
    From polls recently, it seems about half of us are awake and the other half have hit the snooze button on their alarms. That half are being wooed back to sleep by voices soothingly whispering "Don't worry - there is plenty of time, and anyway the alarm is a hoax." Will enough people wake up to tip the balance in favour of effective action, before it is too late? Just because we did it with CFCs and DDT does not mean much, because the cause and effect in each case was close enough in time for the problem to be visible to even the sleepiest. Not enough people live near the Arctic to see what is happening here and now and the voices of those that do see it are being drowned by the sound of snoring. AGW cause and effect are so far apart in time that the sleepyheads cannot see the problem. We continue to advocate change to avoid a future hazard, not one that is clear to the misinformed. Will mankind wake up? Yes. Before it is too late? I doubt it. Our species will get the future it deserves, one way or the other.
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  3. jimb @ 1, That talk is a "must listen". I have just sat through all 59 minutes of it and can confirm it has cleared the fog from my understanding of where we are and where we are likely to be by 2050. It is a real wake-up call to those of us who already see AGW as a threat to our future. Although Dr. Anderson finishes on an optimistic note, I was not comforted. If all countries achieve the CO2 targets they are aiming at, we are headed for the diabolical future of at least 4oC warmer world, at which level it looks bad for organised human society. (Sorry about the layout - it looks as though sub /sub and sup /sup tags are not working ...) Good thing I am already on anti-depressants ...
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  4. "Thus, given that uncertainty remains about the full nature and scale of impacts, there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible. A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation, with many of these risks spread unequally. It is likely that the poor will suffer most and the global community could become more fractured, and unequal than today. The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur—the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen." From report, I would put that 2C considering it is all model based and the models so far have underpredicted well almost everything. Also doesn't include the permafrost feedbacks recently reproted, nor the facts that it uses a Climate sensitivity of 3C when appears that CS is higher as reproted by Trenbeth and from Pliocene extrapolations. New York already needs to have a planned relocation. Also uses models with far to optimistic carbon sinks, when the sinks are declining and going to keep doing so and the models in the report don't seem to have the loss sulphates effect (warming) or a full realisation of the lagged warming in the ocean (which I suspect is about to return to the surface through the AMOC circulation dynamics). So an optimistic report overall considering the new papers out since September. Then considering the shifts in mean already being seen to say the Russian heat will become a yearly event at 4C is missing the mean shift reality as it will be an 1:5 year occurance at 2C as the mean will have shifted well to the right by then. Then add in the faster tropical expansion, faster dessertification, more rain and geater extremes being seen than in these models and this wake up report is still painting an optimistic future. And as said above Dr. Anderson clearly says 2C is inevitable and 4C hardto avoid, to stay below 2C we need at most a peak 400ppm and 350ppm by 2100 and even that is only a 1:3 chance ish of being below 2C if the Pliocene data is right, 350ppm, 3-5C hotter! Paradigm shift anyone? Who has considered making room available in their homes for climate migrants yet? Stop flying, leave the car in garage whenever possible, turn the thermastat down and wear longjohns, give up on the modile phone, make gifts for christmas rather than consume more, use less energy willingly? Or is it going to be same old same old, replace what we have with "green bling" (PV panels have a very large environmental impact look up tri-nitrofloride and exactly how they made),when at peak 400ppm needed there isn't any carbon to be spending on such things anyway in an objective assessment. But if this is all doom and gloom, then get over your self, it just means living creatively and with ~90% less power, sharing, creating new employments, a new economic paradigm, a truly fair political system that cares for the masses not exploits them (the disparity between the poor and rich is rhe highest it is has ever been), and so on. This requires a gentle transformation with no enemies at all, to create a truly sustainable, vibrant and equitable world. Energetic engagement is a good cure for depression I find, and I find my depression only stems from thinking that no else will do it, but this situation cuts through all known previous possibilities and the choice is everyone together or no one at all, so fighting is futile and thus all that is left is coming together with purpose. And if you now feel that the time of change is now then change for then those around you will be more likely to change in greater and greater numbers as the reality crystalises in the collective consciousness of the world that global warming is the most serious threatening event to human civilization we have faced and at a time when life on earth is amidst a mass extinction event also caused by us (what does happen to the toxins produced by making PV panels????) We also plough billions into the wars for resources yet shouldn't we putting all our resources (everyone included) into the real war, the war to keep global warming within our adaptative capabilities, and not the wars to secure oil and inequitable wealth? Shoudln't we be planning for mass migrations, New York needs relocating as does, Tokyo, Lagos etc....?? Can't we make a problem into solution, with natural building materials and salvage, New York could be re-built elsewhere (albeit without highrises), and create a productive carbon sequestering prodcutive eco-system within its boundaries and lock tonnes of carbon into the walls of its buildings and how much active employment is that? Can't we all to come together, forget judgemental predjudices (Muslims, Christians, racial groups etc), willingly stop excessive consumption, care that we are all humans, and share any excesses willingly? And if all that seems like impossible rhetoric then maybe but the choice here is at last try or global warming will definately be unpleasant and all inclusive, and how foolish would we feel then, knowing we were pre-warned and did nothing or the wrong thing trying to maintain the power addiction we have?
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  5. These “scientific geniuses” make it sound like the 0.8 degrees we have already had is just fine. Do I really need to list the numerous adverse, extreme weather events we have suffered already? And it’s not just heat waves. We already have unprecedented melting of the Arctic. We have seen the evidence of the Greenland ice sheet melting. We have the evidence of the Iceland ice cap melting. We have the evidence of warming along the Antarctic Peninsula and the resultant collapse of the Larsen ice shelves and rapid melting of the glaciers they once buttressed. All with 0.8 degrees! Who ever said more warming is safe for civilization? If Jim Young Kim is going to “hold warming below 2 C” what will he hold onto? What is the magic brake lever he will grab? "Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, “climatically important” amounts of carbon dioxide and other compounds emitted today would continue to influence the atmosphere for thousands of years, Caldeira said." (in 2011) "The pioneering study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, shows how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped. The findings appear during the week of January 26 [2009] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." Let’s keep whistling past that old graveyard and accept the report from an organization that continues to fund coal power plants in those same poor regions they talk about in their report. As the climate spirals further away from manageable our response seems to get wackier.
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  6. It's like hitting the emergency brake without letting go off the gas pedal. We have to prepare as individuals and heads of families for a future that will include partial or full social collapse.
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  7. The World Bank? Don't trust 'em; they're a bunch of warmist watermelons.
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  8. I think the World Bank President doth protest too much in his repeated assurances that the World Bank is doing its part in working to curb the likelihood of 2100 temperature exceeding 2°C above those of 1850. The Bank is certainly not doing enough nor does it have appropriate policies. The latter should include the proviso that financial assistance will only be provided to countries which implement verifiable measures to reduce CO2 emissions. Such a policy would presumably obviate the present Bank practice of funding production and use of fossil fuels to produce energy. The findings of the report tell us little we did not know before and in the case of predicted rise in average global sea level rise (SLR of 0.5 – 1.0m by 2100) are a major, dangerous underestimation, likely to engender complacency, lack of planning and inertia rather than timely action. Given that rising sea level is primarily caused by the magnitude of mass loss of land based ice and thermal expansion of seawater, it must be assumed the authors are either unaware of present accelerating ice loss, or assume that it is magically going to slow for the rest of this century.
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  9. The talk linked to by jimb@1 is coming up "This video is private - sorry" for me today, but I have found a different (and shorter, at 23 minutes) video by Prof. Anderson at Well worth watching, IMHO.
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  10. ... belay that last message. The lecture linked to by jimb @ 1 is available on Youtube at
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  11. Here's another shorter video that covers some of the same ground--well worth a listen/watch:
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  12. John Russell@7: other than your obvious ad hominem, got anything actually *meaningful* to add to the discussion? The World Bank is not lily-white, as are all banks to a lesser or greater degree, but they do tend to follow along with establish science more so than most. As for being labelled a "warmist?" Given the *large* amount of reputable, refereed information available (including the Koch Bros-funded BEST study) that *robustly* supports the theory of rapid AGW, I'm happy to called such, for the truth is...we ALL are getting warmer: deniers, tin-hatters, socialists, atheists, World Bankers, and "watermelons" alike.
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  13. I believe John Russell was engaging in hyperbole...
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  14. Dan, that could certainly be one reason...;)
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