Monday, March 3, 2014

Plans B and C

Slip sliding away
-Paul Simon

I have my dreams like everybody else
But they're out of reach
I said, right out of reach
-Pretenders (Mystery Achievement)


    Its becoming more clear that we are loosing control of the climate.   Not only are we unwilling to impose limits on CO2,  we are entering the tipping point era, where other feedback systems take the control out of our hands.

    A recent report on the arctic,  asserts that the ice free water - and the albino feedback- is now responsible for 25% of warming.  So, even assuming emissions stopped, and the air was scrubbed of excess CO2, this would continue to warm.

 .  Or put another way - remember all that stuff we didn't want to do, because the cost was too high?     

 Well..... add 25% 

  NASA study 

To measure the effect, Ian Eisenman of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and colleagues turned to data from NASA's CERES satellite. They found that the Arctic Ocean's albedo – the fraction of sunlight it reflects back into space – dropped from 52 per cent in 1979 to 48 per cent in 2011. That may not seem like much, but it means a big rise in energy absorbed – equal to 25 per cent of that trapped by the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the same period.

     Meanwhile, while  Hanson argues that a 1 degree target is more appropriate, and a common sense appraisal of the current weather anomalies make it clear that we have already gone too far.  Things are happening a head of schedule.    In Australia, they are experiencing the heat waves predicted for 2030.  See here .  Governments are already having to make hard choices about how to deal with the current climate.  See here for an interesting discussion of abandoning the coast of England and concentrating on saving London -  after their brutal winter storms.  

                At the same time, many climate scientists  appear to agree that 2 degrees is unachievable.    In a recent opinion piece in Nature Climate Change, climate scientists suggest  that while a focus on reducing emissions is needed, we can't ignore, the facts of current and future changes.

"Calling for swift and deep reductions in emissions, although essential, is not sufficient," said the scientists. "Confronting and managing the risks of high-magnitude warming will require a science-based policy narrative that honestly communicates these risks, accounts for potential policy failures and climate emergencies that may occur, and helps society weigh the adoption of mitigation and adaptation options that themselves pose significant risks, costs and uncertainties."

    They suggest that a singled minded  focus on 2 degrees, may blind us to the realities.  National Geographic 

Climate scientists first proposed the 2°C target in the mid-1990s as a way of giving substance to the commitment nations had made to address climate change at the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro. It was not until 2009 in Copenhagen, after the 15th annual session of negotiations around that goal failed to reach a binding treaty, that nations instead signed on to an accord pledging to work toward the 2°C limit.
Since then, the UCS scientists and colleagues wrote in their new commentary, "the foundation on which the 2°C target was built has steadily eroded." Not only have global carbon emissions continued to rise 3 percent a year, but the science has made more clear that human populations and natural systems face serious risk of substantial climate damage at warming less than 2°C, they said.
The scientists didn't spell out a different target in the new commentary, but instead, a different approach. They endorsed an idea borrowed from national security and defense planning, a framework for "climate security," that has been proposed by scientists at the London-based nonprofit EG3. This "ABC" approach says policymakers should aim for an "ambitious" target for reducing carbon emissions, while "building" for, or adapting for, greater warming than targeted, and engaging in "contingency" planning for future climate emergency.
Such an approach, the scientists said, would better communicate to the public the magnitude of climate risks the planet faces. It might increase public willingness to make necessary trade-offs, for example, to accept local impact on wildlife and ecosystems from the siting of renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines and large-scale solar plants, or to consider the risks of geoengineering for forced climate cooling. (See related "Video: The Tortoise and the Solar Plant" and "Mojave Mirrors: World's Largest Solar Plant Ready to Shine" and "Pictures: Seven Emergency Climate Fixes.")
The authors said it might also motivate "difficult but much-needed dialogue and planning" for the drastic measures needed to address "truly disruptive impacts." Two examples: relocation of development from floodplains around London after 2060 and the creation of water-efficient corn varieties for Africa, would require planning and investment now, they said. (See related "Quiz: What You Don't Know About Food, Water, and Energy.")

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