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Abrupt climate change: CO2 equivalent now at 485 ppm

Written By: - Date published: 1:23 pm, August 26th, 2016 - 76 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment, farming, global warming, International, science, trade - Tags:

Abrupt climate change can be considered radical climate change which occurs in just a few short years.

The paleoclimate record shows that in the distant past, >10 deg C of warming (or cooling) has occurred in a time frame of only one or two decades which shows that the Earth’s systems can respond far faster than normally thought.

For some time now, 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere has been considered a “safe level” of atmospheric carbon dioxide from a global warming standpoint, and hence an important goal for climate change activists.

We have now blown past that number with no prospect of returning to that level of carbon dioxide within any time frame relevant to current society (a few hundred years). In 2016 the Mauna Loa observatory has consistently recorded CO2 levels in the 400 ppm plus range.

TS co2_trend_mlo

But in fact it has been known for years that CO2 makes up only part of the greenhouse gas (GHG) picture for the Earth. Methane is a very powerful GHG, and although it breaks down in the atmosphere relatively quickly (unlike CO2 which is a highly stable molecule) it is still considered 29x more powerful a GHG over a one century time frame.

Put another way, a 1 ppm increase in atmospheric methane has the same warming impact as a 29 ppm increase in CO2, over a 100 year time frame.

Throughout the European dark ages, middle ages and the Rennaisance, methane levels in the atmosphere sat around 0.7 ppm. But from the 1750s a massive and rapid rise in methane levels occurred. Some directly released by man; some as a result of positive feedbacks occurring in nature (like the destabilisation of under sea methane hydrates or the thawing of terrestrial permafrost). Currently atmospheric methane levels are sitting around the 1.8 ppm level.

This level of methane is by far the highest level in the (geologically brief) experience of homo sapiens.

In terms of GHG warming potential this increase in methane is the equivalent of adding another 32 ppm of carbon dioxide to the 400-plus ppm of CO2 currently in the air.

The chart below by Reg Morrison suggests that based the last 400,000 years history we are on track for well over 4 deg C warming, and even towards 8 or 12 deg C increase. No one knows whether it will take us 40 years to get there, or 400 years, however. But indications are that get there, it will.

TS Atmospheric_CO2_CH4_Degrees_Centigrade_Over_Time_by_Reg_Morrison

Of course, there are also many other more minor GHGs, including ozone, water vapour, CFCs, nitrous oxide and more. Some of them extremely powerful in effect compared to CO2, but far less common than CO2. What would really be useful is if someone put together some figures for what the total effect of all these GHGs add up to, in terms of a carbon dioxide equivalent figure.

Fortunately, the United States NOAA has done just that in the form of their Annual Green House Gas Index (AGGI).  TS AGGIYou can see from the bright blue-green in their graphic that CO2 makes up the lion’s share of the Earth’s total greenhouse gas effect (approx 2/3), while methane and other gases make up the rest.

You already know what the total GHG equivalent is from the title of this post: 485ppm CO2.

TS CO2 equiv

And from these charts, you can see that there is no sign of the last few decades increase in GHG effect slowing down in the slightest.

In summary, there is zero chance of returning the GHG balance in our atmosphere back to the ~350 ppm of the 1960s and 1970s.


76 comments on “Abrupt climate change: CO2 equivalent now at 485 ppm ”

  1. Bill 1

    You got a link to evidence of ~ 10 degrees C of warming or cooling happening in a matter of decades? And I mean sustained warming or cooling, not a temporary blip caused by some super volcano erupting or some such.

    Also thinking that your Annual Greenhouse Gas Index might be misleading. My understanding is that when the positive and negative forcings are taken into account, then the basic CO2 levels offer up a proximate enough basis to calculate expected warming.

    Not saying that won’t change if there is a sudden and major release of methane, but for now it seems we can just base figures around CO2.

    Did I say that I’m a bit puzzled as to why bother posting on “worst possible scenario” stuff? We’re looking at 3.5 – 4 degrees C of warming if all commitments made at Paris are followed through on and there are no tipping points in the meantime. Scientific consensus seems to be that that level of warming will stress any semblance of an integrated global human community beyond breaking point.

    In light of that, to then say it might be 5 degrees or 10 degrees is, well it’s just pointless, no?

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      You got a link to evidence of ~ 10 degrees C of warming or cooling happening in a matter of decades? And I mean sustained warming or cooling, not a temporary blip caused by some super volcano erupting or some such.

      Yes will go try and find my source for that and post it up this arvo.

      In light of that, to then say it might be 5 degrees or 10 degrees is, well it’s just pointless, no?

      The Permian Mass Extinction was caused by the global average temperature moving up to 26-27 deg C. Over 90% of species died.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      Hi Bill,

      Responding to your question on ~10 deg C warming or cooling happening in a matter of decades:

      James White, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research speaking at a Nye Lecture:

      15:30 mins >10 deg C warming in Greenland found in less than 50 years.

      16:20 snow fall in Greenland doubled in the space of 3 years.

      17:00 mins – how abrupt is abrupt? – approx 14,000 years very large change in sea ice extent in one to two years.

      18:40 mins – can now analyse ice cores continuously with high frequency analysis, and very quickly, due to new technology.

      19:10 mins – just over 11,000 years ago: record shows an event 1 deg C warming per year for 5 years, a plateau for about 40 years, then another 1 deg C warming per year for 5 years (100x faster than current warming). This rate of warming has “happened many times in Earth’s history.”

      20:20 mins – found 2 ice cores demonstrating 5 deg C to 10 deg C increase PER YEAR in mean annual temperature in Northern Greenland, lasting between 1 to 2 years. 1000x faster than current warming.

      • dukeofurl 1.2.1

        So ice cores give a direct temperature reading at the level of 50 year intervals
        I thought it was only compared to ‘average temperatures’ of this era ?

        “On the basis of water stable isotopes, NEEM surface temperatures after the onset of the Eemian (126,000 years ago) peaked at 8 ± 4 degrees Celsius above the mean of the past millennium”
        Eemian interglacial reconstructed from a Greenland folded ice core- Nature.

        Having a lecture is not quite the same as a published paper- is it to come ?

        • Colonial Viper

          So ice cores give a direct temperature reading at the level of 50 year intervals
          I thought it was only compared to ‘average temperatures’ of this era ?

          They can now analyse ice cores at a year by year level

          Soon they will be able to analyse them on a continuous basis according to James White.

      • Bill 1.2.2

        That’s incredibly misleading CV.

        Might as well point out that the Arctic has warmed by 6 degrees C or whatever. Greenland isn’t and wasn’t the planet. And since the post is about global warming, global climate and average global surface temperatures…

        Remember all that bullshit about the mini ice age that denialists kept trying to use? You’ve essentially done the same thing – extrapolated from specific local conditions to a global context.

        • Colonial Viper

          Hi Bill, not sure you can dismiss this so easily.

          As you know, its not the average change in climate which is going to kill. It is going to be the massive year to year variability and weather extremes.


          1) This evidence demonstrates that extraordinary mean temperature variability can and does occur on a localised basis over a small number of years – which is enough to completely wipe out all the farming in a regional or small country basis.

          2) Greenland going up 10-15 deg C within a span two years. No more Greenland ice sheet soon after. 6m sea level rise. Does that count as having a “global” climate change impact.

          • Bill

            Think you’re missing the point.

            The header links global atmospheric concentration of GHGs and abrupt climate change. The first two paragraphs claim the paleoclimate records show instances of abrupt climate change. The clear implication or suggestion is that global climate can change in a few years. But that isn’t what the paleoclimate records show.

            That’s not to dismiss possible large and rapid, local changes. Neither is it to dismiss possible cascade effects.

            It’s simply to point out that the header and lead in to the post are misleading.

            • Colonial Viper

              OK I can see that criticism.

              I will say though that ice cores going back 400,000 to 800,000 years are only available from a small percentage of the current planet surface area, in the modern day. But some of those ice cores show us that climate change can be far faster and far more severe than commonly assumed.

              TL/DR I don’t think that Greenland is necessarily some special case.

              • Bill

                Ice cores can tell us CO2 concentrations, yes? So if there is (say) 600 000 year old ice in the northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere, then it’s probably safe to bet that where the concentration levels are the same, then we’re talking about global CO2 levels and not a coincidence of two local events giving heightened levels.

                Beyond ice cores, there are sediments on the sea bed that can be used and that go back much further.

                Regardless, I’d be shocked, astounded and a whole pile of other things if one ice core (or sediment sample) was used to make any type of claim about global conditions.

                What’s TL/DR mean btw? Too long, didn’t read?

        • Macro

          Yes it is quite misleading to give anticipated Greenland temperatures and extrapolate them to average Global temps. There is such a thing as Polar Amplification and the Poles are expected to warm much quicker (and are) than the equatorial regions.
          I concur with your statement at 1 above.

          • Colonial Viper

            Fine don’t worry about it then. Even though we know that averages hide a multitude of sins.

            • Macro

              CV there is everything to worry about. I just don’t think it is helpful to overstate the case. Things are bad enough already, and yes they are going to get worse. But we loose credibility when we overstate the case. The current spike in warming has been fuelled by a massive El Nino, but that has now subsided. The spike will continue for a few months and 2016 is around 99% certain to be the hottest year on record. But we cannot expect that to continue as the La Nina will again begin and the oceans will again start to act as the planet’s heat sink. (last year and this has seen a noticeable drop in the overall Ocean Heat content.) The heat lost from the Oceans is evidenced in the sea level temp increase.
              I agree the IPCC figures are on the conservative side and they do not factor in the imminent loss of the West Antarctic Ice Shelves – that science was yet to be fully confirmed at the time of the last report. Nevertheless the prognosis for BAU is scary enough. and there is need for urgent action.
              I was at a CC workshop just this past weekend. One thing we really have to do is consider how best to help the 120,000 people on Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Tokelau’s. Su’a William Sio showed a short video of the effect of rising sea levels on Tuvalu. A king tide and a moderate swell was sufficient to inundate the village in sea water. The resulting increased salinity and drought means crops are poor and locally grown food is scarce. These people are experiencing the effects of rising sea levels even now. Now they do not want to be considered Climate Refugees, and they would prefer to stay where they are. There are sovereignty issues to be considered. Already Chinese fishing vessels are fishing illegally in their EEZ’s. Mike Field reported on Radio NZ last week that the RNZN had encountered around 40 fishing vessels illegally fishing in the area. Pacifica people who are overstayers are being sent back to the islands where there is no future for them. There is no status of Climate refugee. Our govt and the Australian government don’t want to know, yet we are the people who are causing the problem, not the people of the Pacific.

              • Colonial Viper

                Let’s get real Macro, we’re not going to help those 120,000 people on Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Tokelau’s.

                We can’t even be bothered to help our own 300,000 Kiwi children in poverty or the tens of thousands of NZers living in garages and in cars around the block from us.

                Let alone some faraway people that no one has ever met.

                • Pat

                  do you believe that when those islands become uninhabitable and the pictures of distressed people are daily on our televisions we (NZ) will turn our backs?

                • Macro

                  Under our current Govt CV you are correct. However this issue of the vulnerability of the Pacific Island peoples to CC was raised by Su’a William Sio Labour MP for Mangere. As the spokesperson on CC wrt the Pacific I would expect that he speaks with the backing of his party. Half the people at the workshop of around 200 were Pacifica and I would be extremely surprised if the Greens were not supportive of any Labour initiative to work towards solutions for ensuring the safety and ultimately relocation of these people.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I’m making a prediction that as homelessness, accommodation unaffordability and climate change impacts hit Auckland harder and harder over the next ten years, that governments (of whatever stripe) are going to have few political options to choose from.

                    • Macro

                      Which is why we need to work together to change this Govt which is not only bereft of ideas, but also completely lacks any shred of compassion or empathy.

              • Colonial Viper

                Who is going to help relocate the 15,000 people in Dunedin whose homes are going to be screwed by rising sea levels in the next 20-30 years?

                My bet: nothing is going to be done until the last minute, and then at that time, sweet FA is still going to be done.

                • Pat

                  that one i can answer with confidence….no one…. just ask the residents of some of ChChs eastern suburbs

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Exactly. Hence what can the people of Kiribati expect from us

                    • Macro

                      Tokelau is a dependent territory of NZ – we have a responsibility.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I fully agree. But you’d think that we also have a responsibility to homeless and in poverty NZ kids, but we shirk that one quite fine.

                  • Macro

                    They (the residents) don’t want to know – they organised a review of the Tonkin and Taylor report which said their homes were vulnerable (The review included such distinguished denialists as de Lange from Waikato) because the ChCh CC said well we must put that on the LIM – all hell broke loose. So now they have their way. Nothing on the LIM. All one can say is “Buyer Beware”.

                    • Pat

                      the report was full of flaws as the review showed…..one of the issues is the application of hazard notices on properties without any plan to deal with the subsequent issues…the CCC appear to wish to cover their arses and transfer all risk and cost to the residents and wash their hands,

                      This on top of the fact the CCC (and central govt) have allowed and assisted the ICs and EQC to reinstate properties without accounting for those increased hazards.

                      Many residents , particularly on east, have been screwed at every turn and consequently will almost oppose any official standpoint as of right…..and who can blame them.

                    • Macro

                      No the report was not full of flaws wrt to rising sea levels. It is on that point that the T & T report was addressing

                    • Pat

                      CCRU spokesman Darrell Latham said the panel had vindicated CCRU’s call for due process and fair procedure.

                      “The report should not have been used for planning purposes,” he said.

                      “It was not a sufficiently robust document nor was it fit for that purpose, hence the panel’s many recommendations for additional work to be done.”


                    • Macro

                      Exactly! Based upon a review which included Willem de Lange who is in absolute denial of CC and SLR. The CCRU also wanted such idiots as Kesten Green!
                      No surprises wrt to the outcome of the review. It was stacked from the get go.

                • Lloyd

                  There might be some money for the true-blue Pakuranga electorate home owners of Bucklands Beach.

              • Bill

                I have to agree with you Macro. Whether the over-egging is deliberate or accidental, it’s in no way useful. We’re in the shit. End.

                Having said that, I also think it’s useless and dangerous to be offering up unfounded optimism (false hope). That thought’s got nothing to do with your comment, but I think it’s worth throwing in anyway.

                • Colonial Viper

                  And the people talking about what we need to do by 2050 to avoid 2 deg climate change?

                  • Bill

                    You know what my basic thoughts are (they’re based on the analysis of Kevin Anderson)

                    Relying on the positive or optimistic side of the science (ie – low climate sensitivity), we still have a very slim chance of holding temperature rise to around 2 degrees – if we instigate large reductions in fossil use right now with the aim of getting to zero carbon energy by 2040 for the west alongside a 2025ish peak for the rest of the world that then gets to zero by 2050. Simultaneously we need to be drastically reducing emissions from land use (they won’t ever be zero).

                    A well nigh impossible task – but only “well nigh”. And if we do all the above and 2 degrees is exceeded, then we will have achieved the least amount of warming possible. Any target that is in any way less ambitious is absolutely going to be overshooting 2 degrees C of warming. And anything that relies on BECCS or any other such like ought not to be relied on.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      well, we have to get off capitalism and consumerism ASAP and find a different value system to run modern society on…

                      I think 3 deg C to 4 deg C warming was baked in pre-2000. However if we can do everything humanly possible to avoid going over that, it would certainly be very helpful to the rest of the species on the planet.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I’m also baffled by all this talk that we have x gigatonnes of carbon emissions left in the 2 deg C “budget” that we can still burn.

                    • Bill

                      I’m also baffled by all this talk that we have x gigatonnes of carbon emissions left in the 2 deg C “budget” that we can still burn

                      It’s pretty simple stuff. CO2 results in warming but uncertainty surrounds the calculation of exactly what degree of warming results from what level of CO2. (There are many contributory factors or interferences- some positive and some negative)

                      If we wanted to say that we certainly won’t go over 2 degrees of warming, then we should have said so some years back and stopped burning fossil. But we didn’t.

                      If we wanted to say we have a 50/50 chance of not going over 2 degrees, then we should also have said so some years back and stopped burning fossil. But we didn’t.

                      If we look at the CO2 in the atmosphere today and allow for the uncertainties that surround climate sensitivity – the complex interplay of various components that contribute to warming and the incomplete knowledge we have on some of those components – then the very best we can say – by swinging away to the most optimistic possible scientific interpretation of the situation – is that there is an outside chance of not going over 2 degrees if only ~1300Gt of CO2 is released from across all sources between 2011 and 2100.

                      We’d burned through about 15% of that total by 2015 or 2014 btw.

                      edit – Obviously, the potential of ‘tipping points’ is necessarily excluded from the above.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      OK so that’s the theory. I think we will sail past 2 deg C in the next 10-15 years primarily based on GHGs we released in the 80s and 90s. That’s why I don’t get the concept that we can keep burning for a few more years yet.

                      And I have to wonder, who in their right mind tolerates a 50/50 chance of their children’s home burning down? Apart from the human race, with this one planet that we have.

                      The GHGs we released in the last few years will continue raising the temperature until near the end of the century, with the delayed warming due to the thermal inertia of the planet’s seas.

                    • Bill

                      It’s not a theory so much as taking empirical evidence or knowledge and then applying it to a complex reality – so necessarily setting a whole set of caveats around that application or transfer. (ie -probabilities or ‘odds’)

                      We might sail through 2 degrees pretty soon…or later. Or we might not. There are probabilities or odds attached. shrug

                      The GHG we release will keep warming the planet into the future – yup. That’s why bio-fuel isn’t an option as a substitute for fossil – it still produces CO2.

                      Way I analogously look at CO2 concentrations, is that I can casually pick up a hot ember that drops out my fire and toss it back on the flames without getting burnt. But if I hold on to it while I “finish what I’m saying”, then I get burned. Same with CO2. Those levels have to come back down from a peak “in a timely fashion” – ie, before they have an effect. So, no burning of bio-fuels holding those levels up there.

                      I’m not sure what the time lag is – I hear different suggestions, which given the uncertainty that surrounds so much of the science, that makes sense to me. I’ve heard as low as ten years, but who knows?

                      Intuitively, I’d be tempted to suggest that as the pace of the end result of warming picks up ( ie, as the rate of actual warming increases) that the lag time diminishes. So whereas there may have been a lag of some 30 years a couple of decades back, the lag might be considerably less now. Like I say, it’s just my intuition speaking. I don’t understand physics well enough to say. (So, simplistically and ignoring ambient temperature and what not, is the lag on a boiling pan of water the same for increasing the water temperature from 10 degrees to 20 degrees as it is for raising it from 70 degrees to 80 degrees?)

  2. Garibaldi 2

    Thanks CV .The issue of rapid cc needs to be raised often. People have become so turned off by the topic and it’s like it’s no longer a problem. I can’t get over how the av person doesn’t give a rats arse about it. If you bring the subject up anywhere it is immediately dismissed as something that ” might be coming one day but it’s not a problem yet”. They seem impervious to the fact that it is happening now and accelerating. Are they being wilfully dumb or are they just too scared to admit that we have to radically change our western lifestyle? I think it is a bit of both.

    • Reddelusion 2.1

      It’s pure game theory, no matter what I or NZ do it won’t make a difference, so why change, and or free rider syndrome, ie west makes all the sacrifice other don’t or vice versa. Unless there is a coordinated government response at global and local level I just can’t see how any real change will get traction, hence all hope for a scientific solution

      • b waghorn 2.1.1

        some one has to lead , and being a small relatively wealthy country we would be the best place to experiment on.

        • Bill

          The posts have been written quite recently – propositions that would have NZ hit zero carbon from transport in the 2030s.

          But the posts have been essentially ignored.

          It seems that even readers/ commenters at ‘ts’ don’t want to play with workable ideas when they’re put up shrug

          • b waghorn

            I am but a tiny cog , and the only tool i have for change is my vote . Tbh i think humans are going to ride this bad boy (cc that is ) till the end ,what ever that is .
            There is only one solution that can probably stop cc , but i’ll leave that dark thought unspoken, mean while i’m going enjoy life and make those close to me as happy as possible.

            • Colonial Viper

              Hi b waghorn, that is the point I think, live as human and as loving a life that you can for as long as you can.

            • Bill

              You have much more than a vote at your disposal. And the proposals made in the posts absolutely would work if applied – and aren’t dark in any way, shape or form.

              Maybe you should read them. Use google advance search to search the standard. Search term – free petrol.

              • b waghorn

                i read them Bill mostly they baffled me (not your fault) , but mostly i look at my fellow man and think , if this is the peak ,why did we aim so low.

                • Bill

                  Shame you didn’t pipe up with what was baffling you. Seriously.

                  I do try to make posts I do on AGW as concise and as clear as possible. Explaining and stripping out the bullshit takes space, but is so ubiquitous in pieces on AGW, that it has to be reiterated so that readers know why I’m using the numbers I use.

                  Or maybe you mean they were comprehensible enough, but given the situation we’re in, you’re baffled that we seem to be so bloody lackadaisical?

      • Bill 2.1.2

        It’s not ‘game theory’. Posts have been done that explain why NZ is fairly unique and how NZ could get to zero carbon (from transport related energy) in the space of a generation. The follow up, encompassing entire energy system hasn’t been put up yet, but will be.

  3. Snowboarder Sam 3

    [For those who want to understand why this person’s comment is ignorant of some climate change (and snow formation) basics, I have placed a mod comment at the end of their watery attempt at sarcasm – CV]

    It appears the so-called settled™ séance is changing its theories / holy commandments yet again: it’s supposed to be high ‘summer’ up in the northern hemisphere yet it’s snowing in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Russia, Alaska (where over 1 metre of ‘global warming fallout residue’ has fallen this week alone), Canada, north-western USA, Greenland and Iceland (see map of last 7 days recorded snowfall in link below). Remember, the experts™ said – in 2001 – that winter snow would become “a rarity” for the children and yet, in 2016, it’s snotting down even in summer… d’oh!

    Meanwhile, here in the southern hemisphere, Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu was closed (again) today due to whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and… snow! Another half-a-metre of freshies – on top of the two-and-a-half metres already accumulated this winter – is expected to fall during the next 24 hours.

    Apparently carbon dioxide and methane now cause EPIC snow seasons. Who’da thunked!


    [A couple of things. You do realise that heavy snow requires a lot of water in the atmosphere to freeze, right? Oceans and land temps are well up at the moment which means that the atmosphere is much wetter. When it gets cold enough to snow – as it still will for the moment – then massive dumps of snow can occur because of this. Especially as normal patterns of cold air flow from the polar regions are disturbed high up in the atmosphere. But average higher land temps mean that snow is only going to settle late and disappear much earlier. CV]

  4. Okay the CH4/O2 rave ………………
    I sent out a question to as many ‘climatologists’ or whatever you want to call people who might have an idea, that I could find … a while back – as to the actual real time forcing factor of CH4 over CO2, taking the major point that we have to ignore any aging of the CH4 , as for the foreseeable future CH4 is increasing in the environment, not growing old and ‘dieing off’
    Some of the replies range from 150 to 300 depending on concentrations? One said it might spike to 1,000 ppm CO2e,.
    Even the IPCC say over something like 20 years it is 80 ppm CO2e
    ‘We’ are at something like 1.8 to spikes of 2.1 (at least)
    Giving us a conservative reading of around 300 ppm CO2e now.
    If the extinction events in the past were driven by a massive methane burp we might not be able to tell, as the fossil remains will look like CO2 ?
    There is enough stored/trapped CH4 just beneath the fast thawing ice caps, that are the methane clathrates, to make our contribution look like a wick to a pallet of TNT

  5. Another hair brained thought I came up with …
    We have risen CO2 from 280 ish ? to 400 in several hundred years, in the past extinction events this has taken an ‘alarming’ 10,000 years ? So that means if our rise to 400 had been slower there would have been a gradual release of CH4, which there hasn’t yet, we could be facing a rush of 9,000 years worth of CH4, just in catch up.
    In the past the planet might have sat at 300 ppm CO2 for 1,000 years, and during that time X amount of ice would have melted, maybe leading to some CH4 release, then the planet might have sat at 320 ppmCO2 for several thousand years, and so on, by the time it hit 400 ppm there would have been no ice left.
    That is what we are playing catch up to, we have several thousand years worth of ice melt, that has never been there in the past when there has been a 400 ppm CO2 to 800 ppm CO2e environment.
    But not to panic, we have a political party that understands all this.

  6. johnm 9

    A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams review – climate change writ large
    The warning this book gives us about the consequences of the loss of the planet’s ice is emphatic, urgent and convincing

    Becoming a world authority on sea ice has taken Peter Wadhams to the polar zones more than 50 times, travelling on foot and by plane, ship, snowmobile and several nuclear-powered submarines of the Royal Navy.

    Nonscientists who read his astonishing and hair-raising A Farewell to Ice will agree that the interludes of autobiography it contains are engrossing, entertaining and, when one submarine suffers an onboard explosion and fire while under the ice, harrowing.

    Any reader should find the science of sea-ice creation and the implications for us all of its loss – explored and explained here with clarity and style – beautiful, compelling and terrifying.

    Wadhams thanks Ernest Hemingway for his title.


    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      As far as I can tell, an ice free Greenland is almost guaranteed at around 2 deg C to 2.5 deg C global warming. That’s about 5m-6m of sea level rise due to the lost ice alone.

      The only question is whether it will take 40 years or 400 years for all that ice to melt.

      I also understand that the Earth has undergone sea level rise of at least ~3m/century (one foot per decade) multiple times before in the paleo-record.

  7. Colonial Viper 10

    Greenland loses 9 trillion tonnes of ice in the last 100 years. One trillion of it in just four years between 2011 and 2014.


    • johnm 13.1

      HI RA

      Yes, modern civilisation is doomed. Fossil fuels will peter out and climate change will get worse and worse 🙁 I agree with you: Don’t have children, they will inherit a dieing civilisation which will die! It will be horrific don’t condemn others to this sad demise. We thought we were Olympians above mere physical limitations: but we were and are wrong! 🙁

      • johnm 13.1.1

        This stuff was supposed to only happen in SCI FI movies with lots of oohs and ahs! Most of us can’t really believe it’s happening really! The Earth is about to boot our collective asses into history. Probably the dinosaurs felt the same way!!

  8. 44 south 14

    Nothing can or will be done to stop runaway climate change.
    No one will vote for anything that makes their lives tougher, harder; nor will many even embrace voluntary frugality.
    Events will overtake debate, scapegoats will be sought, violence will follow.
    By 2020 is my bet. As Mr Cohen says “there’s a mighty judgement coming but I could be wrong”.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      I’m picking things won’t get seriously out of hand for another 10 years. Wait until the general populations of the ‘developed western nations’ realise how deep in the hole we are. Clinton, Trump, Farage and Le Penn are going to be little pussycats compared to who is coming.

      • johnm 14.1.1

        I hope you’re right! 🙂 It’s a progressing situation and sooner or later I don’t want to be bothered by this stupid irrelevancy general public will come to a sickening realisation: My ass and my family’s ass is on the line here: panic stations. Again: How could this happen to us!? Mike Hoskings and Paul Henry never intimated this including our tin money god J Key! This is obviously alarmist terrorist BS go back to sleep folks. What a cheek the natural world has threatening us this way!

        • Colonial Viper

          Yes then it will be how much money do we need to spend to set it right, as if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet cares one whit about our pretend digital money in pretend electronic accounts.

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  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago