Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yet More on the Fate of the Planet

Via The Map Room and mapperz, here's another nice visualization of the calamity coming down the pike.

The image on the left anticipates increasing greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the century, which leads to a rise of just over 4C; the one on the right shows what'll happen if emissions gradually decrease - a rise of only 2C.

But obviously the warming, in either scenario, won't be uniform. The images really show how much more dramatic warming is forecast to be over land than over the ocean. Bear that in mind when you hear forecasts of like 4C warming by the end of this century: that's a global average, but it'll be considerably higher over land, which of course is where humans and cute baby elephants and things tend to live.

Meanwhile, talks in Copenhagen are hitting various sorts of predictable roadblocks:
China and the United States were at an impasse on Monday at the United Nations climate change conference here over how compliance with any treaty could be monitored and verified.

China, which last month for the first time publicly announced a target for reducing the rate of growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, is refusing to accept any kind of international monitoring of its emissions levels, according to negotiators and observers here. The United States is insisting that without stringent verification of China’s actions, it cannot support any deal.
If there's reason for optimism about the world's ability to do anything useful to slow our eminently foreseeable slide into global environmental devastation, it is this: if the US and China can just work out a framework for tackling the problem in a meaningful way, then Europe and Japan would surely follow; and just like that the countries producing a substantial majority of emissions will be on board. The rest of the world would not stand in the way (though OPEC would surely throw a fit).

If there's reason to be pessimistic about same, however, it's that the US and China would both have to agree to do something to meaningfully thwart global warming. For China, that would mean altering the model of industrialization that has brought them unprecedented and almost miraculous wealth in the last couple of decades, not to mention a growing role as a global power. For the US, it would mean overcoming the ossification of decline, including the extensive corruption of the political process and Versaillization of the political media, that appears to have compromised our ability to achieve any significant reforms on any front. In other words...


UPDATE: But here is some good news:
Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests and in some cases other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.

Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, is estimated to account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The agreement for the program, once signed, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions.
So it's good to hear some concrete good will come out of this meeting. And of course preserving ecosystems carries all sorts of environmental benefits along with it, beyond the increased absorption of greenhouse gases. But on the other hand:
A final agreement on the program may not be announced until the end of the week, when President Obama and other world leaders arrive — in part because there has been so little progress on other issues at the climate summit, sponsored by the United Nations.
Baby steps... Who knows. we may yet manage to cobble together a decent approach to global warming by the end of the century or so.


Climategate said...

The talks among 192 countries end Dec. 18, and developing nations say they’ll reject an accord to curb global warming that has no money.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has said $100 billion to $300 billion a year in climate aid is needed.

Envoys are debating delaying decisions on how climate funds will be named, how they will operate, and how the UN will work with the Global Environment Facility until the next UN climate meeting in Mexico at the end of 2010.

“We don’t even have the name, the function or anything: we have nothing,” Bangladesh’s Chowdhury said. “This is not a tolerant outcome.”

No, it certainly is not.

Richard said...

Considering that global warming will most likely hit developing countries the hardest, this is a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Deez said...

cute baby elephants
global environmental devastation

Good grief. More fearmongering. Grow up. Do you really think the "evil" oil companies are going to suffer one bit if this goes either way?

NOPE. They fund both sides of the arguement much like they fund both presidential canidates campaigns in a race.

How is this going go get paid for? Not by oil companies. Oh yeah, taxes. Billions and more billions...let's tack on another trillion in debt for science that is not credible.

Who will suffer? It's going to hurt the lower and middle class the most. It's a simple continuing erosion of wealth.

Most of the hot air that is being put in the atmosphere comes from politicians.

The money that evaporates will be even less productive than these bailouts... all at America's expense.

Climategate said...

So we are to mandate a costly cap and trade energy tax system in the name of saving the world? Sounds like "taxation without representation".

The President must believe that his noble intentions can override the rules of our constitutional system. Signing an international agreement that our own government would likely never ratify.

“We the People" govern, and without our approval Obama has no constitutional authority to bind the United States to any international agreement whatsoever.

Who here is going to spearhead the "Noah" program. That is the one where we allocate funds to build an ark for the impending second great flood.

Gus Snarp said...

@Climategate: You got to vote for two Senators, a Representative, and the President. You aren't guaranteed a win, just a vote. You have representation, and your Senators and Representatives must ratify all treaties and approve all taxes, so it is not, in any way, taxation without representation.

Climategate said...

@Gus: Your politics must be strictly moral and emotional with no basis for common sense.

This new "Treaty” will give the authority to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all nations that sign it. What do we do when their solutions are wrong? It's going to cause capital flight and job losses.

This "Constitution" says that it takes precedence over our Constitution, and you can’t resign from the "treaty" unless you get agreement from all the other state parties – And because we are the biggest paying country, they’re not going to let us of it.

You are right...I mispoke. This is a giant ass-fucking with no reach around.

Gus Snarp said...

@Climategate - So it's like the WTO then?

Climategate said...

The WTO can be anti-competitive, take jobs away and be constricting. However, it does not require $100s of billions in US tax dollars annually to run. The intentions of the WTO were also not hoax based.

This going to come out of your pocket. At the pump, in terms of goods and quality of life.

It's all based on the idea that we are melting, but if we can give up freedom and cash, they can undo all the damage and reverse the course of the Earth like superman. Call me a pessimist and at least give me a reach around.

Chachy said...

Look, if you deny that global warming does exists, your argument just has to be:

1. Global warming does not exist.
2. Any amount of money spent on global warming is therefore wasted. QED.

You don't need to get into weird conspiracy stuff about national autonomy. (A treaty!! Heaven forfend!)

On the other hand, if you believe global warming does not exist, you are ignoring the scientific consensus on the issue, so there's no reason to take your opinion seriously.

Anonymous said...

Chachy, nice argument against the economic side. Someone need their pacifier?

Climategate said...

No conspiracy just bureacratic nonsense and irresponsible policy, the result of which is severe. It's not fiscally or politically sound. Ignoring that is a big part of the issue. If this had no ramifications, there would be no opposition.

Read my first comment. You are right...It is weird! It's a simple cost/benefit scenario in which America loses based on something hardly credible and it is being rushed. Trying to discredit that fact is blind optimism and you don't want to acknowledge that. You don't care about what this means beyond your ideology.

Global warming may or may not exist. It is not man-made to the extent it justfies billions and loss of "autonomy" though. Those are REAL issues BTW. We will not melt in a mild climate pattern and what scientific consensus are you talking about? There are just as many studies debunking MAN MADE global warming and the whole premise has been shaky especially with this latest fiasco.

You sure it isn't ever going to cool off because global warming is now called climate change and we are worried about wild swings both up and down. In the 70's, they said were in for an ice age.

I guess your conspiracy theory is that "big buisness' is desperately trying to shoot holes in your cause. The data get's influenced both ways. And this isn't going to affect big buisness...it affects you and I.

Perhaps, incentivising enginering solutions through tax breaks and leading by example would be more palatable. This is bullshit... and it smells. So the question I will pose to you is...is it honestly worth it? Are you that sure? Personally, I think you've bought into the panic.

Anonymous said...

A signifigant way to reduce CO2 emmissions would be for you and your friends to stop breathing.

Andrew B said...

Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests and in some cases other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.

Does America get any credit for the enormous reforestation efforts we've had since the 1920's? I've undoubtedly answered my own question simply by asking it. Of course not.

Andrew B said...


Look, if you deny that global warming does exists, your argument just has to be: 1. Global warming does not exist. 2. Any amount of money spent on global warming is therefore wasted. QED.

No it doesn't. There is a simple argument I've already made here, and which your map CLEARLY depicts that none of the "solutions" being discussed (mainly "slowing the growth" of CO2 accumulation, which is just delaying the inevitable to the next generation) actually reverse the stated problem of the climate changing for the worse.

If the "solutions" don't solve the problem, they aren't worth pursuing and we still need actual solutions. QED.

There is no need to get into scientific arguments about global warming itself to dismiss all the "solutions" being proposed in Copenhagen.

Deez said...

Show me one of those cute maps that shows how the plantet will be saved and the trend reverse if we spend a billion dollars a swamp.

Climategate said...

I didn't even notice till today, but isn't it funny that the video of the earth warming on this page was produced by the Hadley Center, which is the Climate Research Unit whose computer models have been debunked thanks to the hero, er, I mean hacker?

The Hadley Center’s Hockey stick model includes the “fudge factor”. As Climategate leaked out, a group of scientists in New Zealand, who hadn’t “thrown out the raw data" used it and it has resulted in a graph that appears relatively flat.

So let's talk about scientific consensus. Consensus def: general agreement and, secondly, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its origin in a Latin word meaning literally to feel together. An opinion or position reached by a group as a whole.

So...are we not talking undeniable proof/fact are we? We are talking about speculation and "group" sentiment worth billions...We are talking about the "believing scientist" conclusions/opinions. So Chachy stating that my opinion is not relevant is he/she being unable to defend a poor/illogical posistion.

Additionally, what about the consensus of the dissenting scientist? Are they less signifigant than the other side? Are there less of them? Or do they just get less press?

These scientist are bought by big oil right? However, "your" scientist are pure of heart and not politically influenced. Climategate (not me, the incident) has proven that is 100% not possible. Sure, they don't care about grants.

And therein lies the contradiction...one set of scientist is ethical and the other is not. How do you (Chachy) make the distinction? As a result of "your sides" distinction, we are spending $100 Billions and a large politcal shift in power is occurring. Power can't influence scientist? I wonder how nuclear bombs and bio-weapons came into existence.

Lastly, at one point in time it was the "scientific consensus" that the earth was flat and was the center of the universe. If you disagreed with that, you were persecuted (we'll characterize that as overreacting). Fast foward to current day we are economically and politically overreacting to data, science and predictions that are not well understood. It's undeniable.


Chachy said...

Anon - Wouldn't work. Living humans are carbon sinks, and at death all that carbon gets re-released into the atmosphere or soil.

Andrew B - Some wealthy countries like Japan can afford to protect their resources and their standard of living by basically outsourcing their natural resource consumption: the forests get cut down in Indonesia instead of Honshu. That may be somewhat the case for the US, though as this chart shows, it's not like the US has been massively re-forested in recent decades. And given the massive transfer of wealth from the underdeveloped to the developed world that's been going on for the last few centuries, plus the fact that the developed world's GHG emissions will most adversely affect the poorest countries through global warming, it seems to me that a small subsidy to protect ecosystems in poor countries (still a FAR smaller subsidy than what we give away to oil companies every year) is not out of line.

As for Copenhagen, I don't think anyone believes this one conference is going to come out with a response to global warming that will comprehensively 'solve' the problem. The best outcome would be to start bending the curve, as they say, on emissions, so that the worst effects later this century aren't quite so bad. But I do agree with you that a lot more needs to be done, and I would favor a much stronger approach to the problem.

Deez - the "cute map" you're asking for is in this very post - the decreasing emissions scenario on the right.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting article on the breakdown on the demography of global warming skeptics. It skews heavily male, white, and a bit on the wealthy side, which is interesting. It would seem that the most privileged class of people in the country is least interested in upsetting the status quo. I can't say I'm terribly shocked.

Anonymous said...

"skews heavily male, white, and a bit on the wealthy side"... Statistically the more educated. Hmm.

George Soros said...

I love global warming!

Richard said...

I'd like to see views on global warming broken down by race. Asian-Americans are just as well educated as whites, but have a different cultural background. If there is a difference there, that would tell us something.

FYI, come to think of it, all the climate skeptics I've run across have been white males . . .

Climategate said...

Small subsidy? Chachy, you can't even acknowledge my last post and your posted article advocates your agenda at all cost.

Best case scenario, you are an idealistic gambler like the rest who advocate potentially bankrupting our country. We are going to fix healthcare, banking and now the environment. Um, but we can't afford it. Stomp, Stomp but I wanna! Look at this chart for Christ sake, you evil white person with a job. We need your money asap.

So now we are talking about rich white guys and you brought up oil companies again. Nice distraction. Let's play race against environment....jeez. I bet you are white.

Obviously, you've taken a cultural opposition. Time to conceed. Admit this is the wrong medicine for a illness we don't know we have at the wrong time.

Andrew B said...


That may be somewhat the case for the US, though as this chart shows, it's not like the US has been massively re-forested in recent decades.

I'm not sure what to make of charts like that. Its obvious to anyone who goes around the eastern US (north and south) and looks at it today, and at pictures from, say, circa 1920, that there has been massive reforestation as marginal farms have been abandoned back to nature. Same can be said for the north country in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, etc. You have to wonder what the basis of the ancient forest claims is in the absence of rigorous surveys. It would also, of course, depend on your beliefs concerning how populous American Indians were in 1491, and how intensively they used land for crops.

Climategate said...

"We are ready to get this done today but there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that is better for us to act rather than talk," Obama (Hurry up and Rush)

However...Obama may eventually become known as "the man who killed Copenhagen," said Greenpeace U.S. Executive Director Phil Radford. (TWAT???) Pollution cuts and the best way to monitor those actions remained unresolved. (Still we should get the money committed though, right?)

"The Plan"..so far
Rich (I guess we are rich despite this recession)countries will provide $100 billion a year by 2020to help poor nations reduce their carbon emissions. They will also pay out $30 billion from next year through 2012.

Nations should try to keep the global temperature increase before industrialization “below 2 degrees,” Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) HUH? Chachy, do you have a new map for how that is supposed to work?

Instead of buring coal or fossil fuels, we should just let them burn US dollars. It would probably be cheaper.

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