The Future Laid Bare.

Scientific research and climate events over the last 2 years paint a different picture to the one the I.P.C.C. provides for COP21 in Paris this November. The U.N. and governments, have championed economic growth and technological development as necessary for a warming world. Sir Nicholas Stern (an economist), speaks as an ‘authority’ on the future “compatibility” of earth systems and economic growth.

“There is no conflict between economic growth and action on climate change.” (1)

The increase of research/data in 2006, compared to 2015, is staggering, as is what the reports say.   The UNFCCC has overseen 20 years of COP meetings to limit warming to “under 2 degrees C”. This is not legally binding. (2) There was no penalty when Canada, Russia and Japan withdrew from the “legally binding” Kyoto Protocol.

JHScientists such as James Hansen, Michael Mann (3) and Kevin Anderson (4), have since 2006 consistently been critical of the official climate change “doublespeak”, which, with climate denial, has allowed apathy, disinterest and confusion to develop at a grass roots community level towards climate change.

The I.P.C.C. “language” now explains we are “likely to achieve 2C with a 60% probability”(5), even though it now knows 2C is a marker between “dangerous” and “very dangerous” impacts. The IPCC knows that at a 90% “certainty” of staying under 2 degrees there is no carbon budget left, and reduces the “risk” from 90% “must stay under”, to a 60% “probability”. (RCP2.6). (6)

The IPCC announced a “carbon budget” which “allows” us to continue contributing to a cumulative emissions total that is “dangerous” now. (7)

The underlying economic concerns since 2007/8, and a considerably weakened environment movement since the 2009 Copenhagen fiasco, provided a vacuum now filled by Ecomodernism.   New age economic “winners”, such as Gates (8), Branson bransonspacesuitand Musk have thrown their support behind the Ecomodernist movement with heavy research funding, whilst paying lip service to what is left of “the environment”. The centre of the climate denial industry, the Heartland Institute, and the Koch brothers, have recently given support to the Ecomodernist Manifesto, strange bedfellows. (9)

 

The manifesto’s geo-engineered, “virtual” climate future (business as usual), is nuclear fuelled, negative emissioned, GMO fed, Apple inspired and technologically spellbound by ideas of recreating extinct species and living on Mars. (10)

The recent announcement by the head of the I.E.A. that “decoupling” carbon emissions from growth is hailed as being “on the right track”, came after 46 billion metric tons-e of carbon was emitted. (11)

Along with prosperity, growth and a safe climate through technology, the I.P.C.C.’s “low/zero/no carbon” (RCP 2.6 /4.5 A.R.5), vision of negative emissions technology, “sometime between 2070 and 2100” (12, 13), is completely untried at scale, (or still theory), has unknown consequences and is far too late.

Ecomodernism has wide appeal, wait for technology and the markets, and do nothing for 70 years. The Anthropocene is here. This is the future Christiana Figueres is taking to Paris.

Governments, the I.P.C.C. and neoliberalism cannot control nature and time. Try as they may to control the science, the weight and consistency of proof over time, and nature’s response in the form of climate “events”, is becoming overwhelming, and exposing the doublespeak and lies up to now passed as “information”.

“Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036” is a paper by Dr Michael Mann that contains a dire warning. (14)

In Brief

  • The rate at which the earth’s temperature has been rising eased slightly in the past decade, but temperature is still increasing; calling the slowdown a “pause” is false.
  • New calculations by the author indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will rise to two degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will harm human civilization.
  • To avoid the threshold, nations will have to keep carbon dioxide levels below 405 parts per million.

 

As the carbon content of the atmosphere is above 400 ppm now, this research indicates that there are 2 or 3 years at most, until we reach the atmospheric carbon content equivalent of 2 degrees of warming above pre-industrial times.

Relevant factors, not publicised in a Murdoch world, include Mann’s “cooling effect” of particles (from coal burning particularly), preventing temperature increases relative to emissions generated. As coal use declines, temperatures rise to equilibrium.

Thermal lag/inertia. Recent research from Katherine Rike and Ken Caldeira, give a 10 year “cause/effect” time, between emissions generation and heat increase. This indicates there is already “built in”, a further 0.5C warming, supported by Dr Mann’s research. (15)

Cryosphere “tipping points” are being reached far in advance (75 years) of IPCC projections at the north and south poles. (16) RCP 8.5 is the do nothing scenario the Arctic is heading for soon.

arctic-ice-1

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In an attempt to activate negotiators at the Paris COP21, James Hansen has published a paper open for public comment called “Climate Danger in the Hyper-Anthropocene” and reopens the debate which the IPCC avoided about ice melt and rapid sea level rise over decadal periods. (17)

Climate scientist Paul Beckwith in conversation with Alec Smith examines many of these issues and suggests Arctic summer ice melts could see ice free summers in 5 years. (18)

Slide1Author David Spratt, following research by Dr Mann, says the temperature “now”, from pre 1880 modelling, and observations, is 1.17C above pre-industrial times. (19)

Given the “thermal lag” of 0.5C “built in”, we are very close to the 2 degree limit and the 405 ppm stated by Dr Mann.

Spratt also observes the “El Nino” event “brewing” in the central Pacific Ocean, as big at present as the 1998 EN which began a new level and regime of temperature increases.

These points lead us to an uncomfortable conclusion: we are already at risk of failing to meet a target that is itself inadequate to avoid dangerous climate change”(20). and ;

“The world needs to understand the plausible worst-case scenario for climate change this century and beyond — something that the media and the IPCC have utterly failed to deliver.”(21)

 

  1.   http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/26/lord-stern-hits-out-at-claims-about-cost-of-climate-cuts
  2.    http://www.mrfcj.org/our-work/unfccc/cop-timeline.html
  3.    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-mann-climategate-court-victory
  4.    http://www.whatnext.org/resources/Publications/Volume-III/Single-articles/wnv3_andersson_144.pdf
  5.   I.P.C.C. 2013 WG1AR5 report p. 27.
  6.   I.P.C.C. 2013 WG1AR5 report “The Physical Science Basis”, slide 5.
  7.    Ibid.
  8.    http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/02/26/how-bill-gates-is-engineering-the-earth-to-resist-climate-change/
  9.    http://clivehamilton.com/the-technofix-is-in-a-critique-of-an-ecomodernist-manifesto/
  10.    http://www.ecomodernism.org/espanol/
  11.   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11486432/The-lights-are-going-out-for-coal-and-humans-may-be-starting-to-fight-back-against-global-warming.html
  12.    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/co2-emissions-zero-by-2070-prevent-climate-disaster-un
  13.    http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/leading-scientists-call-for-long-term-climate-vision/
  14.    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-will-cross-the-climate-danger-threshold-by-2036/
  15.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBe60pVAePY
  16.    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/12may_noturningback/
  17.    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/27/3684564/james-hansen-climate-danger-hyper-anthropocene/
  18.    http://www.ecoshock.info/2015/09/are-we-already-in-abrupt-climate-change.html
  19.    http://www.climatecodered.org/2015/08/as-2015-smashes-temperature-records-its.html
  20.   http://www.carbontrust.com/news/2013/06/negative-emissions-technologies-climate-necessity-or-technical-distraction
  21.   http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/27/3684564/james-hansen-climate-danger-hyper-anthropocene/

 

 

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The High Road or the Low Road.

 

Understanding the consequences of which direction we take at the fork in the road requires a knowledge of the circumstances which brought about the birth of “Eco Modernism”, which has lobbied as an environmental organisation, and gained support, particularly in the corporate world (Gates, Apple, Branson, Musk) for a technological solution to climate change.

The Bush administration had refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, leaving (then) 35% of global emissions unregulated, emphasised by Dick Chaney’s famous comments, “the American way of life is non negotiable”.

In 2004, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, co-wrote a paper called “The Death of Environmentalism”, http://www.thebreakthrough.org/images/Death_of_Environmentalism.pdf

It stated the obvious that the environment movement had failed to secure political support for climate change. Whilst recognising the increasing environmental impact of growth, a school of thought emerged advocating “technological solutions” to ecological problems.

Nuclear energy for a secure baseload electricity supply, spreading Genetically Modified Organism’s to feed the expected billions added to world population.

Dow Agroscience “promotion” of 2 4D resistant seed.

 

Carbon Capture and Storage and Geoengineering to save climate problems include “negative emissions technology” which can “suck” carbon out of the atmosphere.

Stewart Brand was likewise an established “environmentalist”, and became a firm supporter of the Breakthrough Institute, now establishing the credentials for the Bio engineering of extinct species, in case there’s a particular one we want to save.

6200213Mark Lynas too was a well respected environmental commentator who wrote a book called “6 degrees” and appeared in the film “The Age of Stupid” as a hard and fast environmentalist who now sees nuclear power as the only answer to energy questions.

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Dr Clive Hamilton wrote a stinging response to the Breakthrough Institute’s recently released “Ecomodernist Manifesto” ~ http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/an

And this has led them to their most audacious declaration to date: the publication, last week, of what they are calling An Ecomodernist Manifesto, a self-consciously provocative attempt to make sense of what some scientists are calling “the Anthropocene,” or the Age of Humans. In the end, however, the manifesto’s faith in technological breakthroughs means it substitutes a kind of Californian positivity for the hard reality of climate politics. As a roadmap out of our ecological and social predicaments it leads us nowhere.

Only nuclear power can give us climate stabilization. But, the authors concede, the nuclear industry is flat on its face in most places, so we must wait for the next generation of nuclear fission (or even fusion!) plants, before which opposition will surely melt away. In the meantime, we will need to build more hydroelectric dams and construct “fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage” technology.

Here the ability to set aside science is on full display. The manifesto does not say how long we will need to wait for the next generation of nuclear plants, or how much of the global carbon budget will be used up while we cool our heels. Perhaps it might take 20 years for the first plants to be built, and 40 before they are making a large dent in global emissions. By then the planet will be, in Christine Lagard’s arresting phrase, “roasted, toasted, fried and grilled,” and there will be no way to rescue the situation.

http://clivehamilton.com/the-technofix-is-in-a-critique-of-an-ecomodernist-manifesto/#sthash.oSxYvAhq.dpuf

Sad to say, this “Great Anthropocene” has won support from the business community where Christiana Figueres has been actively seeking support. The International Energy Agency is also a key player as advisor to ALL governments on energy policy. It has laid out a “roadmap” for the development of a global carbon capture and storage industry that is twice as large as the existing global oil industry. There will be no “zero carbon” FOR 50 YEARS or more.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/04/paris-climate-summit-missing-global-warming-target-would-not-be-failure

All scenarios in the Unep report now require some degree of ‘negative CO2 emissions’ in the second half of the century, through technologies such as carbon capture and storage or, possibly, controversial, planetary wide engineering of the climate known as geoengineering. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/co2-emissions-zero-by-2070-prevent-climate-disaster-un

So as we enter the Paris COP 21 it is with an IPCC “vision of business as usual”, displaying the worst possible arrogance that prevents us from admitting we have made a mistake, a BIG mistake. To save face, we must insist that our hubris will save us, so the Dolce Gabbana life can continue.

So this is the high road, the high emissions, “crisis what crisis” positivity that has brought us to this point and will lead us nowhere. Relying on totally untested (at scale) technology is the final abandonment of the “Precautionary Principle” replaced by “Blind Faith”.

So the low road is the alternative. It offers no glitz, is a very hard challenge for a very long time. Its a very different world based on living within planetary limits, a Steady State System after a Degrowth Transition. The demands of a 90% cut in carbon emissions are non negotiable.  Starting Again.

Naomi Klein sets the scene very very well, and gives a mountain of research in her book to establish “Climate Justice” as the objective. The political palatability of the needed “redistribution of wealth”, globally, and restraints on the “extractivist economy” prevents serious wide discussion of the only effective solutions.

Of course, effective solutions means being able to finance the necessary transitions, and whilever tax havens remain open, financial transactions unregulated, and tax avoidance rampant,  climate change will remain merely a distraction from the next IPhone roll out. Business as Usual.