Climate Change


Today I want to talk about Climate Change, and specifically the “Remaining Carbon Budget” referred to by Greta Thunberg later in this interview. I will read the transcript of what she said:

“In the latest IPCC reports, it says clearly that if we are to have a 67 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees in global temperature rise, we had on Jan. 1, 2018, 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide left to emit, and now that number is already down to less than 360 gigatons,” she says. “And that is what people don’t get. They see me as an apocalyptic guru who just says, ‘We are all going to die.’ And what I say is just please listen to the scientists.”

So I looked up the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) and found this statement:

“In line with the recent IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) has updated its Carbon Clock.

“In 2015, with the Paris Climate Agreement, all nations around the world set themselves the goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C (preferably 1.5°C) compared to pre-industrial levels. An ambitious goal.

“The Special Report of October 2018 presents new figures: The atmosphere can absorb no more than 420 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 if we are to stay below the 1.5°C threshold. However, since around 42 Gt of CO2 is emitted globally every year—the equivalent of 1332 tonnes per second—this budget is expected to be used up in just over nine years. The budget for staying below the 2°C threshold, for its part, of approximately 1170 Gt, will be exhausted in about 26 years.”

So, for the better result, we have only NINE YEARS — that’s 2028, when I’ll be 85. For the barely acceptable goal, we have 26 YEARS — past my lifespan, but my grandson, Horace, will just be entering his 30’s.

Need I say more on this Important issue? Yes, I can’t hold back.

There are at least FIVE primary responses competing for PUBLIC OPINION.

  1. Our POTUS, and presumably his Base of 40-some % of Americans, believe Climate Change is a HOAX, perpetuated either by the Chinese, or American Leftists. Therefore, we should continue business-as-usual, seek maximum growth in the economy, drill-baby-drill, burn-baby-burn.
  2. Some portion of Americans believe there is Climate Change, but that it is not man-made and thus cannot be changed by human actions. God will take care of us; he promised so, after the Great Flood with Noah. He gave us the earth to have dominion over it.
  3. A smaller portion agree that it is man-made and caused by our Industrial Revolution and the resulting increased burning of fossil fuels, but that a technological FIX will arrive IN TIME, so everyday people don’t need to worry about it. The engineers and scientists will rescue us in time. Converting to Solar and Wind energy, planting several trillion trees, building resiliency, increasing our conservation and efficiency, painting our roofs and parking lots white, deploying reflective particles in the upper atmosphere, carbon capture and removal, etc. — these and other forms of physical technology will more than solve the problem.
  4. An even smaller portion of the populace believe that radical life-style changes are also essential — call these, “social technology.” We need to produce less, consume less, share more equitably, minimize air travel, welcome refugees, etc.
  5. An unknown segment of society believe that the world will end VERY SOON with Armageddon beginning with nuclear war in the Middle East. Therefore, preparing for the RAPTURE, is all they need to do.

Well, I would like to dispute #1 first: our POTUS is a proven liar, fact-checked by the Washington Post. By 10th of June, 2019, Mr. Trump made 10,796 false statements in only 869 days of his presidency. Still, a lot of Americans believe everything he says.

#5 represents only a small fraction of the world’s population, I hope.

#3 alone — physical technology — is not enough, in my opinion.

#4 — social technology — together with physical technology, on the scale of WW2 mobilization/rationing and wide public participation — are what Greta Thunberg, I believe, and I, personally, think is necessary.

#2 is disputed by 99% of climate scientists. I will read this article from The Guardian, 25th of July, 2019:

‘No doubt left’ about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts

The scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99%, according to the lead author of the most authoritative study on the subject, and could rise further after separate research that clears up some of the remaining doubts.

Three studies published in Nature and Nature Geoscience use extensive historical data to show there has never been a period in the last 2,000 years when temperature changes have been as fast and extensive as in recent decades.

It had previously been thought that similarly dramatic peaks and troughs might have occurred in the past, including in periods dubbed the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Climate Anomaly. But the three studies use reconstructions based on 700 proxy records of temperature change, such as trees, ice and sediment, from all continents that indicate none of these shifts took place in more than half the globe at any one time.

The Little Ice Age, for example, reached its extreme point in the 15th century in the Pacific Ocean, the 17th century in Europe and the 19th century elsewhere, says one of the studies. This localisation is markedly different from the trend since the late 20th century when records are being broken year after year over almost the entire globe, including this summer’s European heatwave.

Major temperature shifts in the distant past are also likely to have been primarily caused by volcanic eruptions, according to another of the studies, which helps to explain the strong global fluctuations in the first half of the 18th century as the world started to move from a volcanically cooled era to a climate warmed by human emissions. This has become particularly pronounced since the late 20th century, when temperature rises over two decades or longer have been the most rapid in the past two millennia, notes the third.

The authors say this highlights how unusual warming has become in recent years as a result of industrial emissions.

“There is no doubt left – as has been shown extensively in many other studies addressing many different aspects of the climate system using different methods and data sets,” said Stefan Brönnimann, from the University of Bern and the Pages 2K consortium of climate scientists.

Commenting on the study, other scientists said it was an important breakthrough in the “fingerprinting” task of proving how human responsibility has changed the climate in ways not seen in the past.

“This paper should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle. This paper shows the truly stark difference between regional and localised changes in climate of the past and the truly global effect of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions,” said Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London.

Previous studies have shown near unanimity among climate scientists that human factors – car exhausts, factory chimneys, forest clearance and other sources of greenhouse gases – are responsible for the exceptional level of global warming.

A 2013 study in Environmental Research Letters found 97% of climate scientists agreed with this link in 12,000 academic papers that contained the words “global warming” or “global climate change” from 1991 to 2011. Last week, that paper hit 1m downloads, making it the most accessed paper ever among the 80+ journals published by the Institute of Physics, according to the authors.

The pushback has been political rather than scientific. In the US, the rightwing thinktank the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is reportedly putting pressure on Nasa to remove a reference to the 97% study from its webpage. The CEI has received event funding from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and Charles Koch Institute, which have much to lose from a transition to a low-carbon economy.

But among academics who study the climate, the convergence of opinion is probably strengthening, according to John Cook, the lead author of the original consensus paper and a follow-up study on the “consensus about consensus” that looked at a range of similar estimates by other academics.

He said that at the end of his 20-year study period there was more agreement than at the beginning: “There was 99% scientific consensus in 2011 that humans are causing global warming.” With ever stronger research since then and increasing heatwaves and extreme weather, Cook believes this is likely to have risen further and is now working on an update.

“As expertise in climate science increases, so too does agreement with human-caused global warming,” Cook wrote on the Skeptical Science blog. “The good news is public understanding of the scientific consensus is increasing. The bad news is there is still a lot of work to do yet as climate deniers continue to persistently attack the scientific consensus.”

I’m probably preaching to the choir on this, but if you enjoy this podcast, I hope you will indulge me from time to time to quote authoritative sources that you can look up and verify. There were numerous links within the article in The Guardian which you can click on and examine the underlying evidence. (

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