Nobel IPCC Finalizes Out-of-Date Report, Next Due in 5 Years

IPCC outdated climate scienceHaving recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [search] is meeting in Spain Monday to finalize the landmark Fourth Synthesis Report on global warming. Scrutiny and criticism of the IPCC's processes is growing [ark | more/ark] despite their new found fame. The synthesis report may be badly out of date before it is even printed, past IPCC reports have been shown to be too conservative in their assessment of the climate threat, some current trends are already at the upper range of current IPCC projections, and even these conservative outdated findings will not be updated in 5 years.
The IPCC scientific process, like international and national government's policy making processes, is falling dangerously behind with what's happening to Earth's climate systems and what must be done in response. Consider that:

“The new report notably fails to take into account a batch of dramatic recent evidence, including the shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap, glacier loss in Greenland, a surge in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an apparent slowing of Earth's ability to absorb greenhouse gases… Taken together… these phenomena suggest climate change is be occurring faster than expected — and may even unleash “tipping points” that could uncontrollably accelerate the damage.”

The IPCC must get more involved in policy than generally concluding “to get ready for a warmer world and reduce emissions”. They must stop shying away from controversy, and resist relentless political pressure to water down drafts as they are finalized. Policy-makers need the best science truthfully and powerfully presented them, in order to set mid-term sizable emission reductions.
I concur that while the panel's caution and rigor has built awareness and given credibility to climate change, it is now “time for the IPCC to move to a faster and more assertive track.. The issue now is what to do and how fast it needs to be done.” And first and foremost is to build the case for immediate and mid-term emissions reductions, rather than putting off the pain. It is rather nonsensical to speak boldly of far-off 80% GHG reduction targets for 2050, when in fact we need ambitious yet achievable carbon and other GHG emission reductions of 25% by 2015 and/or 35% by 2020. The longer we wait, the more change and possibility of a truly catastrophic outcome.

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12 Responses

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Yup.
    A couple of examples.
    According to TNYT, 5% of the carbon being added to the active carbon cycle each year is from cement production. That's 420 million tonnes (Mt) per year. Since nobody is likely to discover a carbon dioxide-free way to manufacture cement, that amount will have to be offset. If done via sequestering biocoal (with 80% carbon) in abandoned mines or carbon landfills, that 525 Mt of biocoal per year.
    The second example is the world's ocean vessel fleet. Over 90,000 vessels produce about 2.7% of the carbon being added to the active carbon cycle, 227 Mt per year. Even if all these vessels ran on biodiesel or bio-bunker oil, there would still be the necessity of offsetting the black carbon produced (althugh filters could be installed for substantial loss in efficiency). Nobody knows how much carbon would have to be sequestered for this offset. I'll guess that 100 Mt of biocoal suffices.
    So to account for just these two sources, the world needs to bury 625 Mt of biocoal each and every year. I haven't accounted for the biomass to make the ocean vessel's biodiesel (or bio-bunker oil) and all I've partily treated is but 7.7% of the total…

  2. Demesure says:

    “a surge in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an apparent slowing of Earth's ability to absorb greenhouse gases.”
    I don't think the above claims are correct. Atmospheric CO2 increases at a near constant mean rate of 0,5%/year (+- 0,2% due to natural variation) for the last 2 decades.
    In the meanwhile, human CO2 emission has dramatically increased : 1%/year in the 90s, more than 3% after 2000 since Kyoto has failed to curve emissions. So the Earth's absorption rate hase increased (for the moment), not decreased!

  3. Congratulations are due Nobel Prize Winner, Al Gore and the IPCC scientists. By leading the scientific consensus on climate change, they favor a good enough future for our children. At least to me, the "powers that be" are in denial of reality and unwilling to openly express their understanding of Al Gore's concerns with regard to the ominous human predicament that is looming before humanity. That many too many politicians, economists and business people support a soon to become unsustainable global enterprise of endless big-business expansion, does not favor our children's well-being or safety, I believe. These leaders have pledged their primary allegiance and reverent devotion to the 'success' of unbridled economic globalization, regardless of the potential for eventual catastrophe that such a recklessly unrestrained and unrealistic pursuit portends. For them to ignore the scientific consensus and pose as if they are blind, deaf and mute in the face of a distinct probability of human-forced ecologic or economic collapse is incomprehensible.
    Plainly, what is necessary now is clarity of vision, intellectual honesty and courage as well as a willingness among leaders to begin "centering" their attention on the threat to humanity that is posed by the gigantic scale and patently unsustainable growth rate of the human population worldwide.
    The leaders in my not-so-great generation apparently wish to live without having to accept limits to growth of seemingly endless economic globalization, increasing per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers; their desires are evidently insatiable; they choose to believe anything that is politically convenient and economically expedient; and they act accordingly. But, despite all their shared fantasies and soon to be unsustainable activities, Earth exists in space-time, is relatively small and bounded, and has limited resources upon which the survival of life as we know it depends. Whatsoever is is, is it not?
    What worries me is this: our children are being taken down a “primrose path” and could unexpectedly be confronted with sudden threats to human and environmental health that are derived from converging global challenges, because their elders stubbornly remain in denial of human-driven, fulminating ecological degradation. One consequence of their elders' refusal to acknowledge humanity's predicament is that our children will likely have extraordinary difficulties responding ably to that with which they could soon come face to face; that is to say, they will not even know what “hit” them, much less why it is happening.
    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population

  4. Brian Thorpe says:

    Al Gore spun facts and made many misleading comments in his now infamous film; he deserves an OSCAR for not wanting facts to get in the way of a good story. A British judge has deemed it necessary to point out at least 9 errors when this film is being shown to schoolchildren in the UK, and also to give some opposing points of view.
    This whole global warming alarmist thing has now got a life of its own, it's behaving just like a new-age religion, with any unusual weather event being blamed on it. The climate's been changing ever since the earth was born, do you really think a little bit of extra C02 in the atmosphere is actually going to make much difference?
    Doesn't the fact that the global US temp has not increased for about the last 8 years make you stop and think perhaps CO2 is not the big temperature driver it's being made out to be?
    Mann's hockey stick graph of historical temperatures has been well discredited now, even though the IPCC reports still seem to be based on it. The earth has been warmer in the past than it is now, it's all part of the natural cycle of things; and it's looking like we'll soon be heading into a cooler spell.
    There is no consensus, the debate is NOT over, and there is no immediate threat to humanity.

  5. Dear Brian Thorpe,
    Perhaps you are correct; there could be no threats to humankind that are posed by growing endlessly the global economy, increasing indefinitely per capita consumption and propagating ad infinitum absolute global human population numbers on a relatively small planet the size of Earth. If someone will kindly point out how such unregulated production, consumption and reproduction activities of the human species can SUSTAINABLY continue to occur much longer in the finite world God blesses us to inhabit, then I am prepared to admit that I am out of my mind and, even worse, have lost touch with science itself.
    Let me make a promise to you. It is one I have made before. If the scientists like Russell Hopfenberg, David Pimentel, Albert Bartlett, Garrett Hardin and the 2000 scientists of the IPCC are proven wrong about pernicious human-driven climate change, no one will ever hear me speak again about human population numbers and the environment. The AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population will end immediately.
    It does appear to me that humankind will soon be struggling with global challenges that appear huge and probably difficult to overcome. It is pleasing how the membership of the EI community have been demonstrating a wondrous willingness to consider the global potential threats we are discussing and beginning to witness, the ones dimly visible on the far horizon.
    Always, with thanks,
    Steve
    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D.,M.P.A.
    AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

  6. ewoc says:

    Brian,
    Having debated this issue endlessly in various forums, it is clear to me that no amount of data will ever suffice for some. As Australia suffers through a “1000 year drought” (it was a hundred year drought a year ago or so); as the American Southeast runs out of water due to drought; and as the reservoirs of the American Southwest (see the New York Times Magazine three weeks ago) slowly dry up before our eyes (as well as weather anomalies across the globe that are breaking all records on a regular basis) we can rest assured that it is all a “natural cycle,” and that releasing the carbon stored in hundreds of millions of tons of fossil fuels over millions of years in the space of a hundred years or so will have NO significant impact on the atmosphere or the oceans. That makes alot of sense, doesn't it?
    Except that……almost forgot………isn't ocean Ph changing right now? Hasn't it already changed measurably (.1 change in acidity in the last several decades from carbon dioxide dissolving in sea water, creating carbonic acid, which later this century WILL cause much of the sea life that we rely on for food to diminish and/or completely disappear?)
    Brian, tell me how that is part of a “natural cycle” and you will get the big cigar award for the most clever climate change denier of the month. I promise.

  7. Adeimantus says:

    I visited here several months ago, sceptically inclined. I have read up on the issue since then, and you know what the only rational stance is? Uncertainty. Because, unlike your arrogance in suggesting, by your tone of writing EWOC, that AGW deniers are fools, I find that serious scientists, and a lot of them, are 'deniers', just as a lot of serious scientists are not. Conclusion: you can't be sure, since both sides have convincing arguments. It's OK you know to still campaign for reducing emissions to ERR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION, and I myself do my bit to lower my carbon footprint. But to give the impression that 'the debate is over' and that sceptics ignore evidence is to behave as an ideologue. The argument is not scientists versus laymen but good scientists versus good scientists, so as laymen you have to maybe lean to one side of the argument BUT without thinking you know you are right. Your position is one of faith

  8. ewoc says:

    And when, pray tell, does the scientific consensus become so overwhelming that you would describe it as something other than faith? Where do you think it is now? And are you the idealogue? Because I am mystified as to where your universe of sceptical scientists is.
    I am quite familiar with the scientists who continue their denial that the climate is warming because of human activity. Most of us who follow the issue closely know of them – I can rattle off the names to you in a few moments. I am not exxagerating when I state that they are a very small group indeed, and that many of them are funded by the fossil fuel industries. That's all been well documented for years – the information is out there if you care to read it.
    The only “rational”stance, in my view, is to take action to forestall the worst of what is likely coming our way due to our own inability to limit our consumption of nonrenewable resources that store the carbon of millions of years of geological and biological activity. Do you have any idea why that is, Adeimantus? Because if there was a 25% chance of a terrorist attack in the US, our govt would stop at nothing to prevent it – including torture and murder of innocent people. The IPCC tells us that there is a better than 90% chance that anthropogenic climate change is real, is happening right now, and will cause major problems for humanity, esp for the poor in developing countries, who are the least able to deal with it. Unless you are one of those who regards this body as a bunch of scientists conspiring with Al Gore to control the world economy, it makes sense to listen to what they are telling us – esp since their process is consensus based, and requires the consensus of OPEC nations that stand to lose $ from the transition to a less carbon intensive economy. When they are willing to sign on to a statement with better than 90% probability, that tells any “rational” person (to use your word) something.

  9. ewoc says:

    One more comment,
    Forget about the debate over AGW for a moment. I challenge any sceptic reading this blog to propose an alternative explanation for the change in ocean pH, a change that marine biologists tell us will eliminate much sea life (on which we depend for food, and the ocean ecosystem depends on, well, to exist!) later this century. Some of the changes are already noticeable, while at the current rate of ocean acidification major problems will be evident before mid-century. As in 42+ years from now. AND this assumes that the world does NOT move towards a greater reliance on dirty coal power, an assumption that is at odds with the current reality.
    No one can, in fact, make this case, because the causality has been proven without a doubt. THIS fact alone should be enough to convince us of the need for action. Unless you think we can replace the oceans with?????????????

  10. Are too many of our current leaders stuck in the throes of denying reality?
    Some of our leaders appear to be running away from real global challenges looming before humanity, as if they had seen a calamity in the making. Other leaders are promising pie-in-the-sky, "techno-fix" solutions for threats to human wellbeing and environmental health. Still others have apparently adopted the posture of an ostrich by placing their heads in the sand. Last but not least, we have a group of commanders of others who pose as hysterically deaf or blind and have become electively mute.
    These various means of denying what could be called "some stark aspects of reality" are not helpful to anyone, I suppose, except those in powerful positons and their minions. They keep their wealth, power and privileges by maintaining the status quo, regardless of the potential for catastrophic circumstances in the offing, circumstances already dimly visible on the far horizon. Many too many, soon to be erstwhile leaders of the human community have allowed unbridled self-interests to literally separate themselves from a meaningful regard for humanity, for life as we know it, for a future of children and coming generations, and for the maintenance of the integrity of Earth and its ecosphere.
    Thankfully, the human community is blessed with still other leaders, intellectually honest and courageous leaders, like UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Al Gore, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Professor Al Bartlett, IPCC Vice Chair Mohan Munasinghe, Dr. Ernst von Weizsaecker, John Guillebaud, US Senator Bernie Sanders, Paul Chefurka, David Wasdell, Jean Krasno, Joseph Baker, Dame Jane Goodall, Jeffrey McNeely, Seti Sastrapradja, Vivian Ponniah, Peter Salonius, Hazel Henderson, Peter Nobel, Mickey Glantz, Margaret Swedish, Emily Spence, Susan B. Adamo, John C. Feeney, Lester Brown, Gretchen Daily, Bill Rees, Richard Duncan, Pentti Malaska, Deborah Byrd, Jean Gilbertson, Scott Walker, Alex de Sherbinin, Anne Ehrlich, Ashok Khosla, Paul Hawken, Werner Fornos, Jean Francois Rischard, Jan Janssens, Raoul Weiler, Mathis Wackernagel, Emily Spence, David Blockstein, Dave Roberts, Joe Romm and no less than 2000 IPCC scientists. Who knows, these splendid people and emerging leaders among our youth could be ready to "square up" to the global challenges soon be confronted by humankind, perhaps in these early years of Century XXI.

  11. If empirical evidence from the great men, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri and Dr. Mohan Munasinghe, and their 2000 colleagues in the International Panel on Climate Change, regarding global warming, is not junk science, and not the hoax many people have assured us it is, then the political, economic and ecological ramifications of “staying the course” could be profound.
    If humankind chooses to continue doing what we are relentlessly doing now by overconsuming, overpopulating, and endlessly expanding production capabilities of the artificially designed human economy, our children could unexpectedly come face to face with colossal problems, ones involving the perilous breakdown of the global political economy or the dangerous degradation of Earth's frangible ecosystem services and limited resources, or both economic and ecologic collapse.
    We see and hear in the news day after day about national security and economic security. I can understand that attention is focused upon these things. They are vital. What is difficult for me to grasp is the failure of people to openly and adequately discuss environmental security. That is vital, too, I suppose.
    Let me add, in closing, that it will be pleasing to see expressions of concern for Earth's ECOLOGY be presented in the mass media as often as words of concern for the manmade ECONOMY. I am also expecting that such parity will eventually lead to ECONOMIC wealth being directed to ECOLOGIC maintenance, dollar for dollar. That is to say, every dollar from sustainable economic development would be matched with a dollar directed to ecologic protection.

  12. Adeimantus says:

    Steven's eulogising of the 'great men' of the IPCC says more about his mindset than the truth about global warming. Another faithful convert! How many years will you wait, somewhat like the Rapture-believing lunatics, without anything happening, before changing your mind? Ten, twenty, fifty years?
    Or perhaps there will be an accelarating effect and the world will face catastrophe. You'll have 'won', even though the vastly more likely cause will have been the sun!

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