Conspiracy Debunked

A video which debunks the claims that the hacked CRU emails give evidence that claims of anthropogenic global warming are just a global conspiracy. Worth a watch.

NASA Animations

NASA’s Scientific Visualisation Studio has some cool information on their site, but two ones I found today were of particular interest.

The first is an animation based on the output of the best of our current climate models, showing what would have happened if we had not enacted the Montréal Protocol banning the emission of CFCs into the atmosphere. The period covered includes actual data collected since 1978 and modelled data from 2009 forward to 2065, showing a side-by-side view of what is happening on the left, and what would have happened without the treaty on the right. Have a look here.

The second animation show the changing extend of Arctic sea ice based on actual satellite observations since 1979. It’s frightening how much it has changed in the last 30 years. That animation can be viewed here.

Rudd Sells Out

On Monday, the Climate Change minister, Penny Wong, announced that Australia will aim to cut emissions by 5-15% over 2000 levels. This was widely greeted by derision and a complete cop-out on what many see as one of the central reasons for Labor’s election last year.

The Government’s cuts of between 5 and 15 per cent below 2000 emissions levels are an admission it has given up on an ambitious global climate change agreement coming out of the UN talks next year. Figures in the Garnaut review clearly show that Australia, along with other developed countries, would have to take on cuts of at least 25 per cent to get an agreement in Copenhagen that might have a chance of saving the Great Barrier Reef.

The UN’s scientific body believes the 2020 target for developed countries should be cuts in the range of 25 and 40 per cent below 1990 emissions to keep the global temperature rising above two degrees and avoid dangerous climate change. This, along with slowing the emissions from developing countries, is required to keep global greenhouse gas concentrations at about 450 parts per million and achieve an ambitious climate agreement.

As mentioned previously, the UN’s 25-40% targets are almost certainly too low to remain under 450ppm, so Australia’s 5-15% effort really is pathetic.

Rudd repeatedly said that he wanted Australia to be a leader in climate negotiations, in stark contrast to his predecessor, Howard, who wanted nothing to do with climate change at all. Rudd’s first act as prime minister was to ratify Kyoto, leading many to hope that finally we had someone in charge who was going to take the threat seriously. Unfortunately, it seems that this is no longer the case, and Australia will most definitely not be a leader on the global stage.

Our only hope now is that Obama comes forward with an aggressive US target and that Rudd then feels comfortable in raising Australia’s game. In a nice change from the orthodox, Obama has appointed a Nobel physics laureate as his energy secretary. No more oil/coal guys in charge!

We're Screwed: Now It's Official

So my semi-serious post on how I think we’re screwed when it comes to climate change may not be so wide of the mark after all. The latest information coming out of the Poznan Conference, reported by both The Guardian and Nature, makes the point that the latest IPCC report is based on scientific information from 2005 at the latest, and that all the published papers since 2005 have shown that climate change is proceeding much faster than the IPCC report suggests.

The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned silence as [Kevin] Anderson [an expert at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University] pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000 have risen much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the coal-fuelled economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by politicians and campaigners are fanciful at best, and “dangerously misguided” at worst.

In the jargon used to count the steady accumulation of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s thin layer of atmosphere, he said it was “improbable” that levels could now be restricted to 650 parts per million (ppm).

All our current efforts are based on trying to stabilise at 450ppm and even that’s proving “too hard”. Now it seems that we’ve almost no chance of staying under 650ppm, virtually guaranteeing a 4C rise in global temperatures.

What’s worse is that calculations seem to indicate that for every decade we delay CO2 reductions result in higher temperatures:

Each decade that the global peak [of CO2emissions] is delayed, the temperature increase goes up by .4 to .5 degrees. According to this model, an eighty percent reduction by mid-century delivers 1.4 degree of warming with a peak in 2015; 1.8 degrees if the peak is in 2025; and 2.4 degrees with a peak in 2035. In other words, there is a penalty for delayed action.