Climate Craziness of the week: "We Have Five Years to Stop Building Coal Plants and Gas-Powered Cars"

Written by Stephen Leahy at “motherboard”

Here’s the frightening implication of a landmark study on carbon emissions: By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again, unless they’re either replacements for old ones or carbon neutral. Otherwise greenhouse gas emissions will push global warming past 2˚C of temperature rise worldwide, threatening the survival of many people currently living on the planet.

Every climate expert will tell you we’re on a tight carbon budget as it is—that only so many tons of carbon dioxide can be pumped into the atmosphere before the global climate will overheat. We’ve already warmed temperatures 0.85˚C from pre-industrial levels, and the number rises every year. While no one thinks 2˚ C is safe, per se, it’s safer than going even higher and running the risk that global warming will spiral out of our control completely.

Last year, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report established a global carbon budget for the first time. It essentially stated that starting in 2014, the carbon we can afford is up to around 1,000 billion tons of CO2. In other words, our cars, factories, and power plants can only emit 1,000 billion tons (1,000 Gt, or gigatons) of CO2 into the atmosphere if we want to have a greater than 50/50 chance of keeping our climate below 2˚C of warming.

Even considering that humanity pumped 36 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere last year alone, 1,000 Gt still seems like a big budget. It might even seem like we have room to spare.

Maybe not.

New research shows that we may not have been paying attention to the entire CO2 emissions picture. We’ve only been counting annual emissions, and not the fact that building a new coal or gas power plant is in reality a commitment to pumping out CO2 for the lifespan of a given plant—which usually ranges from 40 to 60 years. These future emissions are known as a carbon commitment.

A new study has tallied the carbon commitments from all existing coal and gas power plants by looking at their annual CO2 emissions and current age. The study assumes an operating life of 40 years. A 38-year old coal plant will have far smaller future CO2 emissions, and thus smaller carbon commitment than one built today. The study, “Commitment accounting of CO2 emissions,” determined that most new power plants that went online in 2012 have a very large carbon commitment—19 Gt of CO2.

Read the rest here (if you dare)

Update: belated h/t to Steve Mosher.

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September 12, 2014 4:09 am

Seems like wishful thinking-
“Only 11 of the 144 original parties to the Kyoto Protocol have thus far signed an extension”

September 12, 2014 4:11 am

Just one mention of the “N” word, in the main article, as something to avoid.
I mean gee, if we build nuclear plants instead of coal plants, wouldn’t this allow new houses to be built without upsetting their carbon budget, without all the handwringing and sacrifice?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
September 12, 2014 4:26 am

I’m just re-reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series for the umpteenth time.
Their future worlds are full of atomic devices, even wrist watches!!

Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 4:34 am

I’ve got a little tritium light on my keychain – just to annoy my green friends 🙂

Chuck L
Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 5:15 am

Classic, the prequels written by Brin, Bear, et al are also worthwhile reads.

Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 5:41 am

Wonderful stories, all of them. Remember Multivac, now called the internet.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 5:47 am

A favorite of mine, read many times over. One of his other series, I believe it was the Robot series, told tales of the first 50 worlds colonized by humans. One of these worlds, Solaria, was a world where human interaction was taboo and being in the presence of another human was very discomforting. People lived alone and all communications were done via video phone. How prophetic.

Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 5:58 am

I used to read a lot of Asimov, still read it from time to time. I could never quite believe his robots though. I mean, if some corporation build a hideously expensive first generation superhuman AI, they wouldn’t give it a nice set of peace and love laws, the prime directive would be “I’ve just spent 100 billion dollars on you you f*ck, I want a return on my investment!”.

Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 12, 2014 6:25 am

Funny Paul, I just read it too. Many yrs ago when I bought it (the full trilogy in one book), I started & found it boring. But when I tried again just a month ago, it was quite intriguing. So I got Bear’s latest addition, it was also good.

Michael 2
Reply to  Paul Homewood
September 14, 2014 8:25 am

Asimov’s Foundation series, which I adored as a younger man, also explores the distinction between a predicted future and an engineered future. If you know what the future is supposed to be you can then engineer it, or steer it, and thus prove the prophecy (calculations) correct.
It includes a recognition that no matter how carefully you model the future, it will eventually drift for unforeseen reasons. He modeled group behavior with some degree of precision but recognized that no computer program can anticipate individual behavior (that of the “Mule” if I remember right).
Wow. 30 or 40 years ago I read those books and still remember the “Mule”.

September 12, 2014 4:13 am

My internal jukebox instantly started playing David Bowie when reading this 🙂
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

Jimmy Finley
Reply to  Espen
September 12, 2014 5:49 pm

Espen: Lots of readers here, apparently, but no fans of great rock. Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – epic. And the guy writing this breathless crappola is “squawking like a pink monkey bird”, why, he’s bustin’ up his brains for the words to his dire warning. Below someone lists many of the “five years ’til doom” warnings – there must be hundreds of them by now. Time passes, and guess what, we still have five years ’til doom. Is there no memory in this system? Is there no ridicule? Are there no jail sentences for the fraudsters? “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” made more sense than this reality.

September 12, 2014 4:20 am

Pure fantasy, but it may justify the financial support

Sweet Old Bob
September 12, 2014 4:29 am

The author is kennel blind….

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
September 12, 2014 7:50 am

Interesting… Didn’t know what “kennel blind” was: “Kennel Blindness is a ‘disease’ which renders a breeder incapable of seeing faults in his own dogs.” Golly, how perfectly appropriate. Thank you for that.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
September 12, 2014 4:32 am

Never mind five years, whatever happened to Prince Charles’ “100 months”?!?

Reply to  The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
September 12, 2014 6:10 am

5 years = 60 months

John West
September 12, 2014 4:40 am

“While no one thinks 2˚ C is safe”
What’s safe? Were there no tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, or storms before human induced climate change?

M Courtney
September 12, 2014 4:47 am

Clearly imperialism rearing its ugly head again.
Most of the committed infrastructure is in the West. This is forcing the Third world not to develop.
The author should double-check with UNESCO.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  M Courtney
September 12, 2014 9:20 am

The only thing the First World seems perfectly competent at is shooting itself in the foot. If they say to the Third World “Sorry, too many coal plants as it is” then the Third World is going to wonder if it can’t find the money elsewhere to improve its lot. You know, some country with a lot of US dollars floating about, who’d love the chance to help create a new market for all the doodads they’re dying to sell…can you say “China”? Sure you can.

September 12, 2014 5:08 am

“While no one thinks 2˚ C is safe”
Most of the papers that I have read has found that up to 2C is actually beneficial. It’s only after 2C that negative affects allegedly kick in.

Reply to  MarkW
September 12, 2014 6:16 am

Furthermore, if a 2 K rise is beneficial, then it would stand to reason that some additional headroom would exist before conditions came back to be comparable to our current temperature.

michael hart
Reply to  LeeHarvey
September 13, 2014 2:51 pm

Wouldn’t it be great if the climate whiners and whingers would actually flat out state what type of permanent climate they really wanted? Then they could be told that they can’t have it, and it would save everybody a lot of time and hassle.

Reply to  LeeHarvey
September 13, 2014 5:35 pm

Keep in mind they’re talking about a global average. There is more than one way to raise it; temps don’t have to be getting hotter at the top. The average will go up if it’s just not getting as cold during the winter.

September 12, 2014 5:16 am

“Otherwise greenhouse gas emissions will push global warming past 2˚C of temperature rise worldwide, threatening the survival of many people currently living on the planet.”
Living without a roof over your head will threaten your survival much more acutely.

September 12, 2014 5:16 am

“Read the rest here (if you dare)”….Reading the headline was really enough. Reading the exposed text reveals that this is just more baseless, senseless, alarmism produced without even the support of meaningless models. Whatever he is smoking, he should cease.

September 12, 2014 5:25 am

Lies, lies, more lies, followed by some lies.
And nobody in the MSM ever seems to call them on it.
That needs to change. There are enough lies in two paragraphs that if I were his employer I’d seriously consider sacking him. He should be ashamed. But he’s not.

James Bull
September 12, 2014 5:42 am

The number and speed of these doom and gloom reports seem to be in direct proportion to how close we are getting to the next international bun fest, payed for by us long suffering tax payers.
James Bull

Bernie McCune
September 12, 2014 5:45 am

This IPCC budget of 1000 Gtonnes seems to be pulled out of someone’s butt. And clearly even recent huge annual emissions of up to 36 Gt are not all going into the atmosphere. And with higher CO2 atmospheric content there is some counter effect due to global greening. There is another counter effect if the global oceans begin to somewhat cool and absorb CO2. These people act like the whole process is fixed to rise while all processes (even human based processes) are very dynamic and fluctuate up and down. Might we even expect that even this steady upward atmospheric CO2 increase could level out over the next 100 years? Or even fall? WUWT?

Reply to  Bernie McCune
September 12, 2014 6:29 am

It will fall Bernie, as it always follows temp with a lag time. cooling temp will lead to cooling oceans and absorption of CO2 will increase. If the sink exceeds the source, it has to decline

Bernie McCune
Reply to  latecommer2014
September 12, 2014 7:22 am

I agree. As you might have guessed, it really wasn’t much of a question!

michael hart
Reply to  Bernie McCune
September 13, 2014 4:31 pm

Wherever they pulled it from, Bernie, they may as well put it back there because China is going to carry on.

September 12, 2014 5:47 am

Look, we all know these people are complete idiots. The fact that they are not institutionalized is a testament to the propaganda of the various states of the world. The governments have pushed this lunacy to achieve complete and utter control over the masses that they detest. This is political warfare.

September 12, 2014 5:49 am

Reminds me of the early part of the 20th Century:
The first Soviet Five Year Plan was introduced in 1928. Joseph Stalin (Uncle Joe) set the workers high targets. He justified these demands by claiming that the Soviet Union would not be able to defend itself against an invasion from capitalist countries in the west.
Why does this enter my mind when I read this WUWT article?

more soylent green!
Reply to  ConfusedPhoton
September 12, 2014 8:40 am

If you ever get the chance to read the Gulag Archipelago, you’ll find many examples where the Soviets destroyed industry by setting production goals very high and not budgeting the time or money to repair the machinery. The Moscow Water Works is an example, the railroads are another.
The Soviets appointed people with politically-pure ideology, and no relevant experience to run factories or railroads. These people set high goals because they wanted to show the superiority of the Soviet system. They also believed themselves to be smarter and more capable than the men they replaced.

Reply to  more soylent green!
September 12, 2014 11:38 am

The quota system likewise made industrial products bizarre to the point of being international laughingstocks. I had a prof who did her masters in economics at Moscow. She tried to move the lamp on her desk and couldn’t budge it. When a male friend succeeded in moving it, they found it had been filled with lead. The lamp quota had been by weight. A Soviet-made vise I had in a timber camp in Africa was snapped. The steel was brittle. And a brand-new, out of the box wind-up clock simply didn’t work. And don’t get me going on the snow-plows for Ouagadougou…

Reply to  ConfusedPhoton
September 12, 2014 10:02 am

Let me guess:
Because you are relatively well versed in history?
(would this past as an answer?)

September 12, 2014 6:21 am

I dare them to say that in the political ads now. Just add it to the list of post-election claims of mandate.

September 12, 2014 6:22 am

If they shut down coal plants without any replacement, the grid will fail in the dead of winter, and some will die.
They know this beforehand. Therefore it is not a miscalculation. It is murder. If many die, it is mass murder.
I think we should use the Alarmists hyperbole. I have been accused of killing my grandchildren, because I want a warm house in the winter at a reasonable price. To that I respond they speak of murder 100 years in the future, but I am speaking of mass murder this winter.
Politicians get nervous even when a word like “miscalculation” is attached to their name. Tell them they will not be let off so easy, this time. They know the consequences beforehand, so the word is “murder.”

Reply to  Caleb
September 12, 2014 10:45 am

I wonder when there will be a ban of wood heating? I have an infinite supply out here in the hinterland based on the 4 or 5 cords I use for heating each winter – the cost – a small amount of gasoline and oil, and my sweat.
Can someone explain to me how changing from a high density energy source (coal) to a low density energy source (wood pellets) reduces CO2 output from British Power Plants?
(Rhetorical question, of course it doesn’t, it just reduces emissions from trees that will be prevented from turning into “fossil” fuels a few thousand years from now. What a complicated web we weave … )
It seems someone is making a lot of effort to plant an anti-fossil fuel seed in ill-educated people. That will make a lot of fossil fuel available down the road for … ?
“What’s in It
Anthracite coal is a hard shiny high carbon coal that burns very hot and produces little flame. And while it may be sold in several sizes, such as rice, pea or chestnut, it is of a consistent composition: coal. Wood pellets on the other hand, may contain a number of ingredients, such as hardwood or softwood sawdust, cardboard, other varieties of biomass, and some type of binder such as wax or glue. When buying wood pellets it may be advisable to check the ingredients listed on the bag, or question the dealer.
Heat Output
When comparing heat output/pound or ton, anthracite coal is the clear winner. The BTU rating for hard coal will range between 22 and 30 million BTU/ton. Because of their varied composition, the heat from a ton of wood pellets may range from about 17.5 to 19.5 million BTU/ton. If you take an average BTU rating from each fuel, coal produces about 7.5 million more BTU/ton than pellets. If expressed as a percentage; it equates to 40 percent more
Read more :
Well, it’s stopped snowing so I am off to cut some firewood.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 12, 2014 12:15 pm

Wayne, wood pellet burning is more emissions efficient if the material is harvested from the dehydrated wood pellet tree.

DD More
Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
September 12, 2014 12:29 pm

Ponder this,
Kilowatthour generated per unit of fuel used:
1,842 kWh per ton of Coal or 0.9 kWh per pound of Coal
127 kWh per Mcf (1,000 cubic feet) of Natural gas
533 kWh per barrel of Petroleum, or 12.7 kWh per gallon
The current record holder for the [manpowered watts/]Hour Record is Ondrej Sosenka and the website has an estimate of his average wattage during his Hour Record at 430 Watts! If Ondrej’s bike were attached to a bicycle generator and it was super efficient, Ondrej would have been generating enough power to light up 7 60-Watt light bulbs! Since I pay about 10 cents/kWh, if I were to pay Ondrej for the energy he produced over the hour he was pedaling he would have almost earned a whole nickel (430 Watts • 1 hour = 430 Watt-hours = .43 kWh)!
So a pound of coal will get you 900 watts of power and the world record (2011) of human power 430 watts (your results will be less).

Reply to  Caleb
September 12, 2014 12:29 pm

Caleb – You are not familiar with the Soviet/Stalin model which is rapidly being adopted by the UN and other western political entities.
“They” want the grid to fail. “They” want horrible suffering. Then they will have a “show trial” and force out the existing energy management and install a new gov’ment. monopoly to “save the people”. This progression never fails as long as the left controls the press and the education system, and is thus able to tell the world who the bad guys are.

Anarchist Hate Machine
September 12, 2014 6:24 am

Well if they’re so worried about CO2 emissions then they’d better find a way to stop all those insects, ocean outgassing, and volcanoes from spewing all that CO2 into the air – those which dwarf human emissions

Reply to  Anarchist Hate Machine
September 12, 2014 7:43 am

Volcanoes no. Oceans are net absorbers and eat up over a quarter of what the throw out ( land biosphere another quarter ).
Try again but get informed first.

Reply to  Greg Goodman
September 12, 2014 11:48 am

Stratovolcanoes, yes. CO2 is one of the most common gasses, along with H2O and SO2. Now, as to total volume discharged on a global scale, I don’t know.

Janice the Elder
September 12, 2014 6:25 am

Reading the comments on Motherboard was entertaining. I notice that the comments are already closed.
CAGW Rules:
1) When the models are against you, argue the data.
2) When the data are against you, argue the models.
3) When both are against you, call the other people names, and cry.

September 12, 2014 6:27 am

“Carbon commitment” —
1) each power station built is committed to emitting X amount of CO2 in its lifetime (unless taxed into submission)
2) each human being built is committed to exhaling X amount of CO2 in its lifetime (factor them in too!).

September 12, 2014 6:30 am

More sheer jibbering lunacy. Reminds me of computer scientists (I can criticise them, I’m one too) predicting computers will be smarter than people in N years. They started in the 1950s with 5 years. Then it became 10, now it’s (take your pick) 20, 50,… . At least computer scientists had the sense to stretch out the estimate when it didn’t come true and even today google search, with all the billions thrown at it, is just as dumb as the very first text searchers, only faster. (I was searching for some local news and I typed “baby killed in accident”, so google offered me “best deals for baby killed in accident”, “bargain prices for baby killed in accident”, and so on. Some gee whiz A.I. going on there!) But climate scientists are more stark raving insane than that, they keep on trotting out “5 years” as if we don’t remember the past 20 times they pulled the trick. Put ’em all in the padded room where they won’t hurt themselves, or us.

Reply to  Ron House
September 12, 2014 11:50 am

I may have my facts wrong, but didn’t the Japanese through MITI bet the farm on A.I. and took it on the chin when it didn’t pan out?

Leon Brozyna
September 12, 2014 6:32 am

Once upon a time … isn’t that the way the fairy tale starts? Anyway, once upon a time, we had ten years before disaster would hit. Then, Mr. Gore foretold of an ice-free Arctic in five years … so much for that fairy tale. Now Mr. Leahy’s piece is setting out another five-year plan. Well, if Mr. Leahy intends to stop building coal plants and gas-powered cars in five years, that’s his choice. Just don’t impose that choice on others.
Meanwhile, snow in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, with more to come … and it’s still summer. Could be a preview of another really long cold winter. No wonder the alarmists have cut their calls of disaster down to five years … try to create a stampede that’ll destroy industrial civilization (and the deaths of several billion).

Mark Bofill
September 12, 2014 6:48 am

Two things.
1) – Then give up right now, pack it up and go home. China says it will set an absolute cap on emissions from 2016, but emissions will continue to grow until 2030. Please cease and desist heckling the rest of the world until you have persuaded China to change course. (Reuters, China plan to cap CO2 emissions seen turning point in climate talks)
2) –

no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again, unless they’re either replacements for old ones or carbon neutral. Otherwise

There is no world government. Most of us don’t want one, me included. Make rules for the world when you find the brains, balls, and force to conquer the world. Until then, piss off. But I mean that in the nicest possible way though.

September 12, 2014 6:53 am

Because the left never created anything other than hysteria they assume coal and gasoline even a thousand years from now. It never occurs to these nutbags that techology isn’t static. I’m sure some alarmist in the 1800’s was ranting about how the continuous use of steam would kill us all.

Reply to  LogosWrench
September 12, 2014 8:04 am

Actually, it was a “coal shortage” and a large push for more efficiency. The result was MORE coal use, not less. An economist named William Stanley Jevons looked at it and came up with ‘Jevons Paradox’. Since greater efficiency results in less cost per use you get more total uses. Net increase in consumption.
“The Coal Question:”
Then gigantic deposits of coal were found in North America and Australia and… the issue of English coal efficiency subsided for a while 😉 But there was a ‘panic’ of sorts over a coal shortage in the UK. Just when the Crown and friends owned control of it. (Look up “coal tax post”. Movement of any coal was taxed to the Crown. AGW is, IMHO, just The Crown writ large pining after those old Coal Tax Posts also writ large…)

Tim OBrien
September 12, 2014 6:53 am

So the usual “If we just live in teepees like our Neolithic ancestors we’ll be happy” hippie stuff. Bull.

Reply to  Tim OBrien
September 12, 2014 10:38 pm

Yes, this is the culmination most of the Baby Boomer attitudes and philosophies; but just remember almost every one here is a Boomer – so don’t expect too much gratitude for pointing out the source. (:

September 12, 2014 7:28 am

ignorant and terrified is now way to go thru life …

September 12, 2014 7:46 am

Makes a convenient political point therefore its a ” landmark study”. LOL

September 12, 2014 8:03 am

Well so let’s start and use the next 5 years to build all the power plants and cars we’ll need til the year 2100; should be doable. It’s a bit silly but if we gotta do it for the climate I guess we have no other choice. Just build 500% overcapacity.

September 12, 2014 8:16 am

Are the researchers willing to stake their lives on this study? Because their policy rec would condemn millions of people to death.

September 12, 2014 8:28 am

Was it not the Soviet Union that perfected “The Five Year Plan“. Maybe we can look to history for some lessons regarding this approach.
Jus’ sayin’

September 12, 2014 8:35 am

We could convert all our coal plants to biomass even though the latest UK Department for Energy and Climate Change has concluded that the burning of wood generates more CO2 than the coal it replaces. It is very expensive though. The subsidies amount to hundreds of millions (to INCREASE carbon emissions!!!!). Still the ignorant consumer has a deep pocket.

September 12, 2014 8:49 am

I swear, it’s tulip-mania all over again. “Carbon”. “Forcing”. “Deniers”. Hysteria. It’s quite literally insane.

September 12, 2014 8:59 am

“Five Year Plan” reminds me of a joke from the communist era. A legend said that Good King Wenceslas would return in the hour of his county’s direst need. When he was seen returning, someone told him about the new five year plan, whereupon he turned around to leave and said, “I’ll be back at the end of the five years.”

September 12, 2014 9:07 am

Reading the referenced article by Leahy at “motherboard” made me curious and ask “exactly how CO2 are we going to put in the air if we burn ALL the fossil fuel PROVED reserves?
To answer the question I looked up the reserves (BP fact book), converted them to CO2 (my reference library cross checked with the EPA), and estimated the total: 3 510 gigatons. If 50 % of the CO2 is taken from the air by the carbon cycle then 1 755 gigatons will be the total added to the atmosphere when we run out of PROVED reserves. This is equivalent to 223 ppm, which yields 623 ppm total CO2 concentration.
This is 2.25 times pre industrial. Or double the content in the 1960’s. So the question in my mind is fairly straightforward: what’s the transient response to doubling? If the figure is 1.5 degrees C, the implications are very interesting. If TCR is 1 then we don’t seem to have such a huge crisis regarding emissions. I’ll let the experts debate TCR over the next 20 years and wait to see what happens to the figure.
If you want to I can put the excel sheet in table format in my blog.
Regarding the ability to expand oil and gas reserves above proved…I think we have some. However, as you know I’m really worried about the oil reserves.

Leon Brozyna
September 12, 2014 9:10 am

Another thought …
Anytime I hear from someone that I must hurry to do something, my alarm bells are set off. Someone’s trying to drain my wallet … don’t think, do as we say, there’s no time, hurry and save the planet.
So, environmentalists do in fact have a communications problem … they’re increasingly sounding like con men.

September 12, 2014 9:42 am

I should have quit reading at “landmark” study…. I hate that word, right up there with “unprecedented” and “models”.

Reply to  Brad
September 12, 2014 12:03 pm

“Pristine” and preserving “forever.”

September 12, 2014 9:44 am

“We Have Five Years to Stop Building Coal Plants and Gas-Powered Cars”
The only existing carbon free energy source that could operate at the necessary scale would be nuclear.
It would be physically and financially impossible to build enough nuclear power plants fast enough to eliminate all coal fired power plants and gas powered vehicles in five years even if you could eliminate all environmental regulations and other political/regulatory/legal red tape yesterday.

September 12, 2014 9:46 am

We’ve already warmed temperatures 0.85˚C from pre-industrial levels, and the number rises every year. While no one thinks 2˚ C is safe, per se, it’s safer than going even higher and running the risk that global warming will spiral out of our control completely.

Are they saying the entire 0.85˚C was caused by man as we came out of the Little Ice Age? So we did cause most of the 1910 to 1940 warming. I never knew, this is news to me.
I think that a 2˚ C rise is safe, and will be net beneficial.

Systematics and Biodiversity – Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010
Kathy J. Willis et al
4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
How do the predicted climatic changes (IPCC, 2007) for the next century compare in magnitude and rate to those that Earth has previously encountered? Are there comparable intervals of rapid rates of temperature change, sea-level rise and levels of atmospheric CO2 that can be used as analogues to assess possible biotic responses to future change? Or are we stepping into the great unknown? This perspective article focuses on intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppmv, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity. We argue that although the underlying mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were very different (i.e. natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.
Carlos Jaramillo & Andrés Cárdenas – Annual Reviews – May 2013
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests: A Historical Perspective
There is concern over the future of the tropical rainforest (TRF) in the face of global warming. Will TRFs collapse? The fossil record can inform us about that. Our compilation of 5,998 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and the Paleogene. We analyzed the paleobotanical record of South America during the Paleogene and found that the TRF did not expand toward temperate latitudes during global warm events, even though temperatures were appropriate for doing so, suggesting that solar insolation can be a constraint on the distribution of the tropical biome. Rather, a novel biome, adapted to temperate latitudes with warm winters, developed south of the tropical zone. The TRF did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.

September 12, 2014 9:59 am

“We Have Five Years to Stop Building Coal Plants and Gas-Powered Cars”

Why do all these deadlines always moving forward keep coming and going? I find it all so boring now.

Moscow-Pullman Daily News – 5 July 1989
“governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.”
[Noel Brown – New York office of the United Nations Environment Program]
The Vancouver Sun – May 11, 1982
Lack of such action would bring “by the turn of the century, an envi-ronmental catastrophe which will witness devast-tation as complete, as ir-reversible as any nu-clear holocaust.”
[Mostafa Tolba – Executive director of the United Nations Environment Program]
New York Times – November 18, 2007
…..The IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, an engineer and economist from India, acknowledged the new trajectory. “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late,” Pachauri said. “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”…..
Guardian – 1 August 2008
Andrew Simms
The final countdown
We have only 100 months to avoid disaster. Andrew Simms explains why we must act now – and where to begin
…Because in just 100 months’ time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change….
Independent – 20 October 2009
Gordon Brown: We have fewer than fifty days to save our planet from catastrophe
……..Copenhagen must be such a time.
There are now fewer than 50 days to set the course of the next 50 years and more. So, as we convene here, we carry great responsibilities, and the world is watching. If we do not reach a deal at this time, let us be in no doubt: once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement, in some future period, can undo that choice. By then it will be irretrievably too late….
Guardian – 12 March 2009
……The current financial slump would be “nothing” compared to the “full effects which global warming will have on the world economy,” he said.
“We have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change,” Prince Charles added…..
National Post – 2009?
… In the summer, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon insisted “we have four months to save the planet.”…
Guardian – 3 November 2009
We only have months, not years, to save civilisation from climate change
…….Lester R Brown is president of Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Guardian – 8 July 2008
100 months to save the Earth
There isn’t much time to turn things around. And today’s G8 announcements on climate change set the bar too low
……The world’s climate experts say that that the world’s CO2 output must peak within the next decade and then drop, very fast, if we are to reach this sort of long term reduction. In short, we have about 100 months to turn the global energy system around. The action taken must be immediate and far reaching……
[John Sauven – Greenpeace]
WWF – 7 December 2009
12 days to save the planet!
…“The world has given a green light for a climate deal. But the commitments made so far won’t keep the world under 2° of warming, This has to change over the next 12 days. …
[WWF-UK’s head of climate change, Keith Allott]
Guardian – 18 January 2009
We have only four years left to act on climate change – America has to lead’
Jim Hansen is the ‘grandfather of climate change’ and one of the world’s leading climatologists…..
“We cannot now afford to put off change any longer. We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.”
The Star – Mar 24 2009
‘We have hours’ to prevent climate disaster
…Recently, Prince Charles has said we have only an estimated 100 months. Unless the world comes together and negotiates a meaningful agreement to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions nine months from now – at the Copenhagen meeting of the United Nations climate conference in December – another 90 months won’t help. We have hours to act to avert a slow-motion tsunami that could destroy civilization as we know it.
Earth has a long time. Humanity does not. We need to act urgently. We no longer have decades; we have hours. We mark that in Earth Hour on Saturday….
[Elizabeth May of Canadian Green Party]
Address at New York University Law School – September 18, 2006
Al Gore
Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several “tipping points” that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization.
Scientific American – Mar 18, 2014
By Michael E. Mann
Why Global Warming Will Cross a Dangerous Threshold in 2036
If the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that many scientists think will hurt all aspects of human civilization: food, water, health, energy, economy and national security. …
Irish Times – 14 April 2014
Former president Mary Robinson said this morning global leaders have “at most two decades to save the world”.
Independent – 28 June 2010
Scientists ‘expect climate tipping point’ by 2200
…“We are certainly capable of committing ourselves to an emissions trajectory that make 1,000 ppm in 2200 almost inevitable if we make the wrong decisions over the next 20 years,” Dr Allen said….

more soylent green!
September 12, 2014 10:06 am

Well, I already have a car. My wife does too. So go ahead and put out a ban on new gas-powered vehicles unless they are a replacement. Same with power stations. We have so many coal plants that we can replace the old ones with newer, more powerful plants to emit much less.
We’ve got ours, you try and get yours. What about the world’s poor? What about the people with no electricity, no running water, no hospitals? People living on subsistence farming? Too f’ing bad for them, I guess.

September 12, 2014 11:12 am

If it gets warmer (the omens are it’s geting colder anyway), one thing is sure: it won’t be because of CO2:

September 12, 2014 11:24 am

More apocalyptic claptrap from the climate kooks.
I am reading a book covering the history of apocalyptic movements. The climate obsession movement is following nearly every step of the traditional apocalyptic movement. It is now in the blow-off, true believer rant phase, long past the stage where people actually believed the prophecies.

Roger Dewhurst
September 12, 2014 1:05 pm

Some simple arithmetic.

Reply to  Roger Dewhurst
September 12, 2014 3:17 pm

Oh Lordy mine, somebody discovered exponential functions.
The standard response is of course
and, Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations.
(Hint: Free markets; supply and demand)

September 12, 2014 4:25 pm

The only practical solution is for enviroloons, er, noble greens like Stephen Leahy to sacrifice themselves so that others may live. I would suggest sticking their heads in a big bubble of CO2 as a last gasp attempt to sequester some carbon. The rest of us will no doubt be better off thereafter.

September 12, 2014 6:29 pm

If we don’t make it in 5 years, they’ll give us another 5 years. Or 11. Or 3. Or whatever.

September 12, 2014 8:29 pm

not paying attention? WTF
“New research shows that we may not have been paying attention to the entire CO2 emissions picture”.
It appears that is ALL scientists at the CSIRO ARE “paying attention to” Try to get a paper on what their charter and salaries are actually paid for – yeah good luck with that.
All you see are papers on CC utter bloody nonsense.
During the week i thought there would be all the normal excellent exhaustive research on the wood Paulownia – NOT A BLOODY SCRAP . It seems the only thing these august, well paid and well equipped public servants are churning out is more CC diatribe.
Note to Tony Abbott, tell these boofheads to Get BACK to the WORK you are paid for, or pink slip ’em on Monday…

Geoff Sherrington
September 12, 2014 10:56 pm

The referenced Motherboard site claims “Surprisingly, it appears the Australia is a pioneer here, despite recently rolling back its pioneering carbon tax. Thanks to wide-spread adoption of solar energy on homes and business the country’s electricity use is in steep decline. ”
I am an Australian. I can read many searches that show that only a few % of Australian electricity comes from solar and wind. Yes, the % is increasing with massive subsidies, but the present extent is way, way too small to influence oversupply directly. The oversupply at present is more than 10%.
There is an oversupply partly because consumption has dropped as prices have shot up. This is for several reasons. a. Large industry like aluminium smelting is packing up and going elsewhere. b. Home and small business consumption has dropped because domestic electricity bills have risen 10% p.a. over the past 8 years. c. There has been a carbon tax adding some $550 p.a. to the average household. d. Electricity suppliers have invested hugely in gold-plated poles and wires to accommodate the dirty quality of electricity from scattered weasel sources like solar and wind. e, Prices have risen because of the subsidised cost of renewables, which are performing poorly at about 7 times the cost of electricity from coal. f. Supply availability is artificially high because of backup fossil capacity needed to replace renewables when they do not work.
Fortunately, people have now gained a better ability to see drivel for what it is, namely, like the junk that is on this Motherboard site.
I have only disdain for the suckers who go for heavily subsidised rooftop solar. They are bludging on their non-solar mates by accepting subsidies.

September 12, 2014 11:32 pm

Five Year Plans were carried out in China under Mao’s Great Leap.
The supposed shift to a “low carbon economy” has been called “The Great Transformation.” So when we see it must be done in Five Years, that’s a clue.
Top-down transformations of the economy, and of agriculture, are known historically to cause incredible disruption and death. Also, there are known Maoists in the EU and the UN.
Remember that organic agriculture only supplies 1% of the food in the US, because it is so expensive and unreliable. The USDA and the EU from have signed agreements with China to shift to organic and “sustainable agriculture” over the next Five Years. Now why would any one sign agricultural agreements, for Five Year plans, with a country that does not admit or permit discussion of the real causes of the starvation of 45+ million people during the Great Leap Forward?!

September 13, 2014 1:37 am

Keep your eyes and ears open for the next “thing” that will bring the apocalypse. It should be available any day soon…

September 13, 2014 5:08 pm

Here’s an even crazier idea. Let the greens eat and breath so they all get morbidly obese (>500 pounds) and die, then when they are buried they will lock up that carbon.

September 15, 2014 7:50 am

Five years? what a dumb, sophomoric attempt to panic the weaker minds into stampeding in totalitarian rule. These people are nuts.

Doug Proctor
September 15, 2014 1:16 pm

Since the US and the EU are reducing their emissions but China, India and Africa are increasing their emissions, is it time to back off on badgering Americans and Europeans and focus on Chinese, Indian and African governments, companies and ordinary citizens?
The best bang for the buck says the IPCC and Al Gore and Paul Ehrlich should be harassing the developing world these days. If we really have only 5 years to save the planet, it is time for direct action against the major “polluters”.
But if the last Russian incident serves as a good example, such world saving might not go well.
Is it not time to stop preaching to the choir, but speak to the key destroyers of Earth, China et al? There will be no change in the emissions outcome without their intense involvement. And if they don’t cooperate, no carbon tax, capture or overall reduction policy in the developed world will be meaningful.

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