Friday, September 20, 2013


by John Davies

A linear trendline shows steady growth in the annual increase in CO2 levels, despite promises to reduce emissions.
Furthermore, recent increases show a worrying trend illustrated in the graph by a 4th order polynomial trendline.


The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event which will end most human life on Earth before 2040. This will occur because of a massive and rapid increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the air which has just accelerated significantly. The increasing Greenhouse Gas concentration, the gases which cause Global Warming, will very soon cause a rapid warming of the global climate and a chaotic climate.

Immediately before the Industrial Revolution, in 1750, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air which had been stable for millennia, the main Greenhouse gas, was 280 parts per million, but in 2013 it is likely to average 395 parts per million. It has been increasing at an increasing rate since 1750.

In 1960 the carbon dioxide concentration was 315 parts per million and in the 1960’s the concentration was increasing at 0.8 parts per million per year, in the 1980’s at 1.6 parts per million and from 2003 until 2011 inclusive it rose at 2 .0 parts per year.

In 2012 it rose 2.39 parts. Between July 2012 and July 2013 atmospheric carbon dioxide increased in concentration by 3.35 parts, by far the largest 12 month increase ever.



When there have been large anomalous increases in the past, though nothing like this, there has been a rapid return to near normal but this is probably slightly different. The most likely growth in the calendar year 2013 is likely to be about 2.85 parts per million, a calendar year record , but much below the growth from July 2012 until July 2013. The growth for 2012 and 2013 is likely to average out at about 2.62 parts per million, a record for a two year period.

Again, looking to the past, when there has been a rise in concentration like we will have had in 2012 and 2013 the rate of increase in concentration diminishes for a couple of years before rising again. I would expect the rise in concentration in 2014 and 2015 to average 2.55 parts per million before rising at an increasing rate thereafter assuming the world carries on with business as usual. Nevertheless this average rate is faster than we have yet witnessed except for the 2012 and 2013 period. This rate of increase is much faster than that which preceded the greatest ever wipe out of life on earth 249 million years ago.

There is a significant uncertainty about the above growth rate in the near term, with a chance of a higher and lower growth rate though the above forecast is the most likely outcome.

There must be a small chance that this is really the start of a very fast runaway event. Should the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2013 be greater than about 3.1 parts per million then the world will probably have entered a very fast runaway event.

It is even more absolutely critical that carbon dioxide concentrations from August 2013 onwards are rising at a slower rate than between July 2012 and July 2013 otherwise the world will have entered a very fast runaway Greenhouse Event. Carbon Dioxide concentrations will almost certainly be rising at a slower rate from August 2013 onwards.

The runaway greenhouse event, or a very fast runaway Greenhouse Event is probably just starting, and can only be stopped by an immediate response. The danger is that it will very rapidly run out of our control. I think the net negative feedback to greenhouse gas emissions is just starting to diminish. It is not clear whether this is because the sinks are absorbing less carbon dioxide or a form of positive feedback is starting probably a bit of both.

The rising carbon dioxide levels will probably lead to rising global temperatures from about 2015 onwards which will cause more climatic disruption, especially severe droughts, and thus more carbon emissions almost certainly before 2020.

This is going to occur at a time when the Arctic Ocean will probably become free of sea ice leading to a different set of runaway events which will coalesce with the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This will lead to societal collapse after rising global temperatures have caused severe droughts and a global famine at some time prior to 2040, but probably much sooner in about 2020 or in the 2020’s.


The absolute priority is that the world’s public and politicians are told about the rapidly increasing rate of carbon dioxide concentrations in the air which will cause a runaway Greenhouse Event, both in the media and in social media. The gravity of the situation needs to be accepted and all nations agree to co-operate to solve the problem.

There needs to be a world conference at which all nations agree the grave situation that the world is facing and that urgent and drastic action is essential. They need to accept and agree that all nations will cut greenhouse gas emissions to an accepted and equal low level of emissions per person. This will mean that only nations with very small emissions per person like the Central African Republic will not need to make any emission cuts. The rate of increase in Carbon Dioxide needs to be cut to 2 parts per million per annum by 2015 onwards. The arctic needs to be cooled so that the sea ice does not all melt before the end of the Arctic Summer.

Reducing the rate of carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere will be astoundingly difficult. Emissions must be cut drastically, but this will lead to a reduction of Sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere, which might cause temperatures to rise and more carbon to be emitted from biomass as droughts become more severe. The solution is to try the relatively easy route and then use geo-engineering as necessary. This involves huge societal changes, a more egalitarian society and a smaller global economy, but if it is not done almost everybody will die.

Secondly, a group of scientists needs to be formed under the authority of the United Nations to formulate geo-engineering technologies, to go together with cuts in emissions, to reduce the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, such as planting forests, and to cool the arctic to save the arctic sea ice.

The immediate priority is to accept the gravity of the situation and that all nations and peoples will co-operate to solve the problem.

These measures will give humanity a chance of saving civilization.


  1. The codes are wrong in program to keep Earth alive.
    And on taking notes from above I copied; without seeing, "This rate of increase is much faster than
    "... 'we have yet witnessed'-I thought that was in there but it wasn't.. This begs a question of time.
    This article has the most unassailable evidence of the extinction upon us and is well written. The analysis is perhaps a little optimistic. About man.
    The best we can do is to alter economic code ethic.
    And put full forethought into benefiting that which best has chance to mend Earth's open systems of Nature and to get world economy aligned to do so.

  2. Good article. But I don't really like posts that put dates on famine and death.

    1. As the old saying goes, "What may be done at any time will be done at no time." Putting in dates may help with the sense of urgency that is so necessary for the human species to take positive action for its/our own survival.

  3. There is no chance that the world can come together and make these kind of changes. I think our only hope is geo-engineering. I blame the environmentalists for giving us hope that there was ever any other kind of solution. So now the conservatives won't admit that global warming even exists, because they think the only solution is giving up carbon, etc. And no one is seriously working on geo-engineering that might possibly save us. It is just as likely to destroy us- but we are doomed anyway in the long run- so why not take that chance, and if nothing else go out with a fight?

    1. Go out with a fight indeed. Yes there are things we can do other than renewables, the CSIRO in Australia has developed a highly reflective roof paint which could act to replace the effects of the melting ice and snow, but the most important thing for us to do is to go out fighting. If we are brave enough and there are enough of us, we may even win. I have locked myself on to mine machinery twice at a very large export coal mine. We can march, we can sit in the offices and banks of the fossil fuel industry. We can blockade their projects to slow them down and send them bankrupt. We must target coal, unconventional (fracked) gas and tar sands as priorities. We must get our money and the money of institutions out of these projects. We have to do it now, and to trust, like David Suzuki does, in the power of the Earth to recuperate once we have stopped causing the major damage of carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Go to for your nearest group.

  4. If the world replaced cars for bicycles we might have a chance. But I don't hold much hope there even though it would create a much better, healthier world. Australia and NZ are the only countries in the world to criminalise bicycle riding though mandatory helmet laws. Up to 80% drop in utility riding in both countries. Now when you go for a riding, the police bully you off a your bike. In Brisbane and Melbourne we can even get bike share working because of these laws. I implore everyone to get behind bicycle advocacy. Vancouver is attempting to criminalise it too as well as Saudi Arabia. The car industry needs to go no cyclists. More roads need to become bike paths. Fuel should only be used for emergency services and public transport. Instead we burn it up on non essential trips. Imagine how much we'd save on road maintenance and Type-2 diabetes.

  5. An update here:

    My comment (awaiting moderation): We are losing a major carbon sink as the forests - and indeed, all perennial vegetation on earth - is dying. It is being poisoned by tropospheric ozone. Ozone is invisible so most people don't even realize that the background level is inexorably rising. The persistent concentration is now at or over 40 ppb, in even very remote locations far from precursors - and that is the point at which plantlife becomes damaged when it absorbs ozone through the stomata. Ozone is a highly reactive gas that injures leaves and needles, causing plants and trees to shortchange root systems in order to repair the damage, making them more vulnerable to drought and wind. Perhaps the worst effect is that cumulative damage weakens natural immunity towards disease, insects and fungus. These biotic epidemics are typically blamed for massive forest decline but in fact that are opportunistic attacks on dying organisms. Commercial crops are reduced, everything from coffee to bananas to citrus and maple syrup. Annual crop yield and quality loss is measured in the billions of dollars worldwide, including essentials such as wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans.

    People should be extremely frightened by this accelerating trend. We cannot survive without trees.

    Links to research here:

    1. Excellent article, Gail, I agree that ground-level ozone should be reduced. As I said before, the Climate Plan that I propose could most rapidly and effectively accomplish such necessary shifts by imposing fees on polluting products (and facilities), and then using the revenues to fund rebates on local sales of the better products.

  6. We can leave the fossil-fuel (and even nuclear) industries behind and even reverse the flow of carbon into the atmosphere using artificial photosynthesis

    but no magical solutions can save us from our continued criminal overpopulation of our planet and equally criminal refusal to face up to the need for population law.

    John Kennard