Carbon Limit Underestimate as Climate Deaths Start

Climate change death has startedAs climate change caused deaths surge [ark | moreark | search], the world's leading climate scientist is urging the European Union to urgently reconsider their atmospheric carbon dioxide target [ark] of 550 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. Dr. James Hansen warns this target — which informs global policy efforts — must be slashed to 350 ppm [ark] if “humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed”. Unfortunately the world is already at 385ppm. Meanwhile the recently completed UN meeting of world governments in Bangkok has agreed upon an agenda for talking about more talks [ark], following upon the victory of the Bali roadmap which, you guessed it, agreed that more talks were desirable.
The growing awareness that carbon levels have already overshot limits that will lead to certain severe impact does not mean we should give up. Whether concentrations are stabilized at 350, 450, 550 or higher is yet to be determined and will have grave impacts upon the habitability of the Earth. What is clear is that humanity must strife for virtually zero carbon emissions — which means no coal or primary forest logging — while pursuing activities that remove carbon from the atmosphere. To do otherwise means avoidable climate change caused deaths already estimated at 150,000 per year, half in Asia [ark], will only intensify exponentially. What we do now and in the short to mid term has never been more important in determining the course of human history and the Earth's ecological and evolutionary trajectory.

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17 Responses

  1. Ray says:

    Glen, I simply don't know where to start.
    Why do all these guys preface a threat with the word could…or might? Because they have no clue!
    Malaria is not a tropical disease, it had killed many in northern climates until we started using DDT to curb the disease. Cold weather historicaly kills many, not only humans but all thing die during cold periods.
    Even the head of the UN meteorlogical society conceded the world has stopped warming since 1998, CO2 appears, in view of that, a very minor player in climate drivers.
    And for what its worth we have essentually no control over the carbon cycle…or climate.
    An ice cold beer will solve global warming just like it has since they discovered beer.

  2. ewoc says:

    Dear Ray,
    Yes, you have consumed the Koolaide. Bravo!
    Let's start pumping even MORE carbon into the atmosphere from fossil sources, so that things can warm even more, and we will be living in the best of all possible worlds. I always wanted to live in a tropical climate anyway, and after seeing Jurassic Park I'd love to be able to raise dinosaurs in my back yard for fun.
    Better yet, let's bring back widespread use of DDT if we really want to create a Paradise on Earth. Who needs raptors, anyway? Perhaps you want to drink some malathion on camera to prove that it is good for us. Are you old enough to recall that one?
    By the way, where did you get the idea that we have “no control” over climate? That would imply that no matter what we do, we cannot affect the composition of the atmosphere enough to influence climate at all. That is an incredibly ignorant position to hold, irrespective of your sources of information. Even those who still consider themselves sceptics on catastrophic AGW (those who have academic degrees not ordered through the mail, that is) do not advocate this position any longer. They simply maintain that the changes in climate we are, and will see over the rest of this century due to human activities will not occur to a degree worth worrying about, not that humans are “incapable” of influencing climate. You are out on a mighty skinny limb here, and the wind is blowing.

  3. I am interested in garnering blog reader opinion regarding how to address trolls such as Ray. Should this list be more tightly moderated to remove comments by those seeking to disrupt discussion of the severity of issues and required solutions? I am conflicted on the matter and seek additional feedback.

  4. Ray says:

    A disruptive troll? I post polite arguments counter the the positions held at this site.
    Can there be a more healthy approach to contentious issues?

  5. Wentz Chesson says:

    “virtually no carbon emissions” Do you Glen practice this? No lights in your house? No car? How 'bout heating and cooling your house?
    lead by doing bro.
    wc

  6. zephyr says:

    Dr. Barry wrote:
    …..I am interested in garnering blog reader opinion regarding how to address trolls such as Ray. Should this list be more tightly moderated to remove comments by those seeking to disrupt discussion of the severity of issues and required solutions? I am conflicted on the matter and seek additional feedback…..
    Before I convey my personal opinion on this increasingly demoralizing matter, I am going to conduct an informal survey on same among about ten people in my life ranging in age from early 20's to late 50's. I will be back shortly with the results.
    Meanwhile, I hear you, Glen.
    Best,
    zephyr

  7. Terry Lewis says:

    Goverments should take a bigger stand on the issues of climate change and actually think about the future generations that will have to endure the possible intolerable extreme weather conditions.
    Big corporate companies should play a big part of getting the emmisions down, such as producing hybrid cars at a reseanable price.
    There are too many thing that can be done by governments and companoes alike and it's v frustrating to see any postiive help from them!!
    Sorry for the ranting on!

  8. PeterW says:

    Hi Glen,
    Maybe you should publish a comment rule that states:
    “Climate Ark will no longer publish comments that repeat common climate skeptic unproven challenges to the current science of anthropogenic global warming. If you truly believe your information can challenge the science, Climate Ark respectfully requests you publish your findings in a respected peer reviewed scientific journal.”

  9. Dr. Glen Barry says:

    Nice one Ray, but au contraire, the content of this site is well grounded in the ecological sub-fields of Conservation Biology, Landscape Ecology, Earth Systems, Climatology and Political Ecology. There has been extensive study of humanity's impacts upon the Earth and predictions regarding likely outcomes. Admittedly we often look at worst case scenarios precisely because they are not well reported upon and potentially are catastrophic. Have you Ray read widely in any of these fields?
    Dr. Glen Barry

  10. Rich Lawrence says:

    Dr. Barry,
    I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that you have one of the best sites out on the internet. Your treatment of the subject matter is always buttressed by the latest scientific findings. Regarding folks like Ray, there is no way to stop them from posting their opinions, which is all that they have, opinions. As far as their opinions relate to science, they don't. It is better described as wishful thinking. Nothing more. So long as there are interests making money off the exploitation of resources, there will be well-paid “experts” saying whatever they need to say to justify the continued exploitation and profit machine. Just take a look at the behavior of the tobacco industry if you want an excellent example of that.
    Please don't waste any valuable time responding to their nonsense; simply adopt the tactics that the anti-tobacco lobby successfully used: continue to point out the facts and scientific findings and you will eventually derail the spin campaign of the anti-environmentalists. Remember, at the bottom of all this we are dealing with mentally handicapped people, no different than the crack addicts that abandon everything to get their fix. In this case, that fix is money/increasing profits and they can't get enough of it no matter how much they obtain; they will always want more. And, just like the crack addict, they will destroy everything and everyone around them to get that fix.
    Even assuming for the sake of argument that climate change is not caused by human activity, the deficient reasoning of the anti-environmentalists is quite apparent for two reasons: 1) Climate change IS occurring, regardless of the cause, and our current infrastructure is inadequate to deal with it in its present state. Here in the US, the lessons of Hurricane Katrina are forgotten and we have made no effort to bolster our infrastructure to prevent the issues we faced after the storm. As the climate moves more and more out of equilibrium, we need to be soring up the infrastructures to withstand these changes. Why are we not doing this? The answer is always the same: it's too expensive, it will cut profits and slow economic growth. Back to that money fix again. 2) The current economic system is based on unlimited growth, more profits, greater expansion. One of the basic laws of science is thermodynamics. You can only get out of a system what you put in, to state it simply. To base unlimited growth on a limited resource violates that law and, as ANY scientist will tell you, if any theory conflicts with the law of thermodynamics, so much for the theory.
    Again, keep up the great work and thanks to you and all the others for devoting your time to this effort.
    Regards,
    Rich Lawrence

  11. Ray says:

    Glen, Yes, enough to know you cherry pick(sour and moldy) then write such things with a very jaundiced eye and very little knowledge of history or information gathered outside your sequestered click.
    Never has man been more prepared to deal with catastrophe than the present. There is smaller percentage of people starving, dying from disease, political turmoil, or natural disasters than ever before. An outbreak of contagious disease any where in the world is now met with stock piled vaccine aboard an airliner. People suffering the wrath of mother nature… typhoons earthquakes fires can expect and indeed receive prompt aid any where they happen with little regard for political boundary's.
    Hurricane San Calixto killed 27,000 in 1780, We lost between 6 to 12 thousand during the one that hit Galveston in 1900, and due to early warning and poor res ponce we lost only 1800 with Katrina.
    20-40 million people starved to death in China during the 1950's and 60's by bad government policy and natural disasters. They have since learned to store water and are attempting to modernize the economy and begrudgingly the government.
    Genghis Kwan, Stalin and Hitler killed millions…Sadam killed 40,000 Kurds and ended up swinging from a rope. The world increasingly shuns bad rulers or governments.
    Black plague killed whole societies, small pox, typhoid fever, measles. Now even a whiff of epidemic brings out the bio geeks looking for ways to staunch it.
    Air quality, our streams, lake purity overall have steadily improved for the past three decades.
    In addition, there is no sound correlation between global warming and hurricanes or for that matter global warming and disease. We do know that cold kills many more of all things than warmth. Argo's robots have had their palms to the forehead of the oceans for 5 years?…no heating. Satellite temperature readings never have shown significant heating and the UN's very own Michel Jarraud, said it was likely 2008 will be cooler than average, if the forecast holds true, global temperatures will not have risen since 1998.
    There exists citations or reference to all I have claimed.

  12. ewoc says:

    Ray,
    I googled Michel Jarraud. This is what I got, for starters (I cut and pasted this directly, so there was no editing involved):
    The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues a summary of its fourth report concluding for the first time that global warming is "unequivocal." The authors of the report also conclude that there is a 90 percent likelihood that greenhouse gases produced as a result of human activities have been the main cause of global warming since 1950. In its last report (see January 22, 2001), the panel made the same assessment, but with a confidence level of only 66 to 90 percent. The 20-page summary, meant for policymakers, will be followed by four technical reports that will be completed and published later in the year. The panel's conclusions are based on "a three-year review of hundreds of studies of past climate shifts; observations of retreating ice, warming and rising seas, and other changes around the planet; and a greatly expanded suite of supercomputer simulations used to test how the earth will respond to a growing blanket of gases that hold heat in the atmosphere," the New York Times reports.
    Partial list of conclusions –
    Global temperatures will increase 3.5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit if carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere attain levels twice that of 1750, before the Industrial Revolution.
    Concentrations of carbon dioxide have reached a level not seen during the last 650,000 years, and the rate of increase is beginning to accelerate.
    Even a moderate warming of the global climate would likely result in significant stress to ecosystems and change longstanding climate patterns that influence water supplies and agricultural production.
    Sea levels will likely rise between 7 and 23 inches by 2100 and continue rising for at least the next 1,000 years.
    "It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent."
    The panel expects that precipitation will increase at higher latitudes, while rainfall will likely decrease at lower latitudes. Semi-arid subtropical regions could see 20 percent less rain.
    Oceans will absorb billions of tons of carbon dioxide which will form carbonic acid, thus lowering the pH of seawater and harming certain kinds of marine life such as corals and plankton.
    If the level of greenhouse gases continues to grow, average temperatures by the end of the century could reach temperature not seen since 125,000 years ago when ocean levels were 12 to 20 feet higher than they are now. Much of that extra water is currently locked in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, which are beginning to melt. While there is evidence that the glaciers and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic could flow seaward far more quickly than current estimates predict, the climate change panel did not include this in its assessment because it is forbidden by its charter to engage in speculation. According to Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, "the speed with which melting ice sheets are raising sea levels is uncertain, but the report makes clear that sea levels will rise inexorably over the coming centuries. It is a question of when and how much, and not if."
    The harmful consequences of global warming can be lessened if governments take prompt action.
    Again, for the umpteenth time, one cool year is not a trend. You are repeating the same stuff that the right wing blogosphere turns around and around, like a coin that is caught in a spin dryer.
    yes, we know that this is the best of all possible worlds. Ice sheets are not in fact melting, and glaciers worldwide are in fact growing. It's all part of a vast liberal conspiracy led by Al Gore, who intends to profit from global warming alarmism and is able to convince 1200 scientists at the IPCC to do his bidding, for he controls their grant budgets. Doesn't he? Now I am getting really confused……..
    By the way, the fact that there have been vast improvements in public health over the last 200 years and massive economic growth since WW II does not logically argue for the inevitable continuation of those trends, in light of what is actually happening globally right now. And the statement that “satellite temperature readings never have shown significant heating” is absolutely contrary to the facts. But I don't think you get your opinions from peer reviewed journals………..

  13. PeterW says:

    Hi Glen,
    All I'm saying is that I'm getting sick and tired of hearing the misinformation of people like Ray. It isn't helpful, it wastes time and most of all it's nauseatingly repetitive. There's definitely nothing new. I'm sure most people have read this stuff all over the internet. Climate Ark does not need to reproduce it.
    Ewoc has a lot more patience than me. I can't argue with people like Ray anymore because they don't listen. They just go on and on and on spouting crap.
    Sorry for the rant.

  14. Dr. Glen Barry says:

    Agreed, there appears to be a consensus. I had posted this elsewhere and reproduce it here:
    The existing moderation policy, that has always been in force but rarely enforced, will now be more fully implemented. It reads:
    Post must be “broadly on topic, not spam, and civil”. Be broadly on topic is interpreted as meaning in response to the posting, and civil as not making personal attacks.
    In addition, as has been suggested, Climate Ark will no longer publish comments that repeat common climate skeptic unproven challenges to the current science of anthropogenic global warming. If you truly believe your information can challenge the science, Climate Ark respectfully requests you publish your findings in a respected peer reviewed scientific journal.
    Differences of opinions and challenging of posts are as always appreciated. But repeated statements of well debunked skeptic myths will not be published.

  15. PeterW says:

    Thanks Glen 🙂

  16. ewoc says:

    Ray,
    One more thought before I/we bid you adieu – what happens if you are wrong, and we (our species) are in fact in a nasty global predicament? Has the thought ever occurred to you?
    Speaking for myself, I have been tracking the science of AGW since the 1980s and often wished that the scientific community would realize that they were wrong and that the data would show that it was not a real threat. I have some news for you, Ray. They didn't, and it is.
    I imagine you will be singing the same tune throughout your life. Ideology has a remarkable ability to morph reality for a while, or at least it seems that way to its adherents. Best of luck creating that reality. You'll need it eventually.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    It is inevitable that we will use the lights in our house, heat or cool our houses depending on the weather conditions, and have to drive a car at some point throughout a day or week. I would like to suggest a few other ways I found that can help reduce or offset the carbon emissions we inevitably make in our day-to-day lives. As simple as some of these may sound, they can make a real difference. Start to use your own reusable grocery bags instead of paper or plastic grocery bags; Grow your own herbs instead of buying from the grocery store and using more plastic bags; Buy locally (from farmers markets); Drink tap or filtered water rather than purchasing bottled water; Walk or take your bike as often as you can.

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