When I was younger (which could be any time in the recent past, actually), I was posting here that world temperatures had already increased due to warming by a number of around .85 c (or 1.5 F). That number was based on a lecture I viewed on Youtube by my go-to expert on such matters. That would be Dr. Guy McPherson. That presentation was from 2014 and based on data from a few years earlier. If you haven’t been reading in the relevant places, here’s what the numbers mean: for virtually all of human existence, the average temperature of earth stayed stable. It began taking off during the industrial era due to the burning of fossil fuels at scale, so current average surface temperatures are now 1c over what they were a couple decades before Thoreau started writing Walden. Remember, the lofty goal arrived at during last year’s COP21 meeting in Paris was to limit warming to NO MORE than 2 C.
It turns out that we buzzed past 1 c of warming relatively recently. Additionally, we are pumping record amounts of c02 into the atmosphere. Also, the heating is adding moisture (evaporated from the surface) to the upper atmosphere, exacerbating the Greenhouse effect of the extra carbon (along with the methane coming from the Arctic). This was the piece from the Robertscribbler article I posted that I didn’t explain very well. The point being made is that COP21 goal has already been baked in–it takes a few years for all that extra carbon dioxide to make it to the upper atmosphere, but it will get there within the next 5-10 years. When it gets there, we’re at 2 c REGARDLESS of what we do to mitigate carbon in order to satisfy the toothless limits of the COP21.
A week or so ago, Dr. McPherson put all of this in context in a post titled “How Hot, How Fast?” The whole article is well worth reading, but these are the go-to points on best case/worst case on warming:
- The most-rapid scenario starts with the current 1 C above baseline and adds about 3 C from loss of global dimming plus 1 degree from moistening of the upper troposphere (to avoid counting the feedbacks twice), plus 11 C from Arctic methane, for a total of 16 C above the 1750 baseline by November 2024. That’ll be inconvenient, as it is much warmer than Earth’s global-average temperature at any time during at least the last 2 billion years (i.e., 2,000,000,000 years). The loss of global dimming is guaranteed by the temperature rise resulting from moistening of the upper troposphere or the rise in atmospheric methane. Civilization will not persist beyond 2 C above baseline, which translates to at least twice that temperature rise within the interior of large continents where grains are grown (thus sustaining civilization)
- At the slower end of the abrupt-climate-change spectrum is 1 C currently, plus 1 C from loss of global dimming, plus 1 degree from moistening of the upper troposphere, plus 5 C from Arctic methane, for a total of 8 C above the 1750 baseline by November 2034. As above, the loss of global dimming is guaranteed by the temperature rise resulting from moistening of the upper troposphere or the rise in atmospheric methane.
I am waiting for someone in the pundit class to bring these factoids to the debates. The climate arguments are not being treated as seriously as questions about abortion and birth control (extinction IS a means of population control) or military prowess or whether we can trust Putin. And nobody–not the COP21 conference or the IPCC–is factoring in methane release, a huge feedback loop that threatens to end life as we know it. I don’t know what a political answer to NTHE would look like. But I would like to have this little puzzler on the mind of the public as they start pulling levers.
To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, events are in the saddle and ride mankind. Or to quote my friend Kevin Hester:
Brace for impact.
Last thought–if you’re interested in the best lecture you can see on the climate crisis (and how it hooks into economic collapse), my FB bud Guy McPherson is seeking speaking engagements in the coming months. He can explain these things better than I could.
He has a compelling message about what’s coming for the planet and how we might want to address it. He is a proponent of the ‘Gift Economy’ and is not seeking Hillary Clinton Level speaking fees. He doesn’t charge money for his tour (probably couldn’t in most cases anyway), but he needs to cover expenses. He’s created a fund for getting his message out because he’s more interested in getting his message out than he is in making money. Drop some paper in the cup so he can keep working. Thank you.