This is one of a series of posts I hope to write over the summer based to some extent or other on a recent presentation by Kevin Anderson: Professor of Energy and Climate Change, University of Manchester, Tyndall Centre.
Here are the links to the lecture (no visual for the first 60 sec), the transcript of the lecture (pdf), the powerpoint slides he used (pdf) as well as the Bows and Anderson 2011 report Beyond ‘dangerous’ climate change: emission scenarios for a new world.
If anyone can illustrate that Anderson has got this wrong I’ll be grateful and not a little relieved. But I’m not interested in any school playground type stuff that relies on ‘my dad is bigger than your dad’ type arguments – which is all I’ve come across on the net. It seems no-one is prepared or able to directly challenge Andersons figures and analysis.
Meanwhile, if I’ve misconstrued anything he has been saying, then likewise, I’d appreciate the heads up
Finally, anybody attempting to run an AGW denialist argument on these posts will be banned. Them’s the rules. You don’t have to like them. You’ve been warned.
Most of the world’s governments made the following commitment by signing up to the Copenhagen Accord.
To hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.
Well, science is telling us that by about 2050 the mean global increase in surface temperature will be around 4 degrees Celsius. And that’s not taking into account any potential tipping point such as a run away arctic ice melt or methane bubbling up from the arctic tundra boosting that mean surface temperature even higher. And we, quite simply, don’t survive even that optimistic non-tipping point scenario.
When considering a minimum increase in mean surface temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, the cooling effect of the planet’s surface waters has to be taken into account, meaning that average land temperatures will be somewhat higher…up around 5 – 6 degrees Celsius.
So New York could possibly experience higher temperature ranges in the order of 12 degrees C above it’s current hottest temperatures (and possibly for extended periods) while Europe might well experience periods of temperature about 8 -10 degrees C above those of the 2003 heat wave that killed 20 – 30 000 people.
None of this is based on new information or new scientific data. The sudden focus on 4 degree C and 6 degree C futures by even conservative institutions, the likes of the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, comes down to is one simple fact. We were lied to.
Major reports that scientists compiled from raw data – the reports that tracked future warming trends and that governments set policy by, were (please excuse the pun) cooked.
Here’s just some of the ways of how that was done.
So thanks to scientists compiling reports that were rosy, and inadequate policy being formulated on the back of those unrealistic reports, we find ourselves staring down the barrel of a 4 degrees C future. But that’s only if we manage to peak global emissions by 2020 and reduce them at 3.5%p.a. thereafter. But whatever…it’s not a scenario we survive anyway…crop yields plummet at plus 4 degrees Celsius and much of our technological infrastructure ceases to function.
According to the orthodox interpretation of the available scientific data, if we were to have just a (roughly) 50/50 chance of avoiding 2 degrees C warming (and science considers 2 degrees C warming to be ‘dangerous’ or ‘extremely dangerous’), then China, India, Africa etc would have to peak their emissions by 2025. Their annually increasing rate of emissions would need to be in the order of 3.5% (it’s currently higher than that) in the lead up to 2025. And they would have to cut emissions thereafter by 7% p.a. (not economically viable according to the economists). And on top of all that, the west would have to cut its emissions to zero. And that’s impossible. But better than that – the west would have had to have achieved that impossibility by 2010.
So back in the real world, I’ll end this post with a quote from Anderson’s presentation (some punctuation altered for readability)
…. just to give you a handle, this is the sort of reductions that we need to see in the wealthy parts of the world . This is for an outside chance of 2 degrees C. We need to have about 10% p.a. – if not a bit more than that really – from energy. So we need about a 40% reduction in the next three years in our energy consumption. That’s all of our energy consumption. Not just the bits you want to measure. That includes planes, that includes ships – 40%. A 70% reduction by 2020. And basically be completely decarbonised by 2030 – fridges, planes, ship, cars. Everything we do…projectors, power systems… everything – decarbonised – to give a little bit of space for the poorer parts of the world to help them develop and improve their welfare. So that’s what we have to try and do. And we’ll all say that’s impossible. But the question I was asked – which you probably can’t see at the back is – was, well… “Is living with 4 degrees C temperature rise by 2050 to 2070 – Is that any less impossible?…
And so…over to you.