Saturday, October 13, 2018

IPCC keeps feeding the addiction

The IPCC just released its report Global Warming of 1.5°C. Things aren't looking good and instead of providing good advice and guidance, the IPCC bends over backward in efforts to keep feeding the addiction.

The Paris Agreement constitutes a joint commitment by all nations of the world to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C. The IPCC should have honored this commitment by explaining that the situation is dire and by pointing at action to be taken to improve the situation.

Instead, the IPCC bends over backward to make it look as if temperatures were lower than they really are, in an effort to make it look as if there were carbon budgets to be divided, and polluters should be allowed to keep polluting until those budgets had run out. This is like saying that drug junkies who cause damage and are deeply in debt, should be handed over more OPM (other people's money, in this case the future of all people and other species).

In reality, there is no carbon budget to be divided, there is just a huge carbon debt to be repaid. The urgency and imperative to act is such that progress in one area cannot make up for delays elsewhere. The best policies should be implemented immediately, and everywhere across the world.

Use of terms such as trade-offs, net-outcomes, off-sets, carbon budgets and negative emissions is misguided and highly misleading. Policies based on giving and trading in permits to pollute are less effective than local feebates, i.e. policies that impose fees on sales of polluting products and then use the revenues to support rebates on the better alternatives sold locally.

Here are twelve instances where the IPCC is misleading:
  1. Changing the baseline set at the Paris Agreement
    The Paris Agreement is clear that pre-industrial is to be used as baseline. The IPCC defines pre-industrial as the multi-century period prior to the onset of large-scale industrial activity around 1750, and then proceeds to use as baseline 1850-1900, a period when the Industrial Revolution had long started. This compromises the entire Paris Agreement and thus the integrity of us all. Temperatures in 1900 may well have been 0.3°C higher than pre-industrial, as depicted in above image in the light blue block. Add up the impact of further warming elements and it may well be that people have caused around 2°C of warming already and that we're facing warming of more than 10°C by 2026.

  2. Misleading calculations and wording
    The IPCC suggests that warming caused by people is 1.0°C (±0.2°C), likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052. To reach these numbers, the IPCC used misleading calculations in efforts to downplay how dangerous the situation is, as discussed further below. As an example of misleading wording, the IPCC says it has high confidence that 1.5°C won't be reached until 2030 if warming continues to increase at the current rate of 0.2°C per decade. Sure, if warming was 1.0°C and if the temperature rise was indeed increasing by 0.2°C per decade and if that rise would continue at 0.2°C per decade, yes, then it would take 25 years for warming to reach 1.5°C. But the reality is that warming is already far more than 1.0°C and that it is accelerating. That makes it misleading to associate high confidence with the suggestion that warming will not reach 1.5°C until 2030. The suggestion of a straight line (linear trend) is misleading in the first place, since warming is accelerating. The suggestion of a straight line is even more misleading when making projections into the future and when qualifications such as high confidence are added.

  3. Ignoring the importance of peaks
    Daily and monthly peaks are obviously higher than annual averages, and it's those high peaks that kill, making it disrespectful toward past and future victims of extreme weather events to average that away. The image on the right shows that in February 2016, it was on average 1.70°C warmer than in 1900 (1885-1914 i.e. a 30-year period centered around 1900), while the higher latitudes North had anomalies of up to 15.1°C. The IPCC failed to warn people, who mostly live on land on the Northern Hemisphere, how high anomalies were in February 2016. Conservatively, the magenta block at the top of the bar in above image shows a rise of 1.62°C for February 2016. Note that this is the rise from 1900, i.e. before adding 0.3°C for the rise before 1900, and before adding further adjustments as discussed below.

  4. Cherry-picking the baseline period
    The image on the right shows that, for a baseline of a 30-year period around the year 1900, the temperature rise to 2016-2017 was 1.25°C. When adding a further 0.3°C rise for the rise before 1900, warming was well above 1.5°C in 2016-2017. Yet, while first defining pre-industrial as the multi-century period prior to the onset of large-scale industrial activity around 1750, the IPCC then uses 1850-1900 as baseline, a period when it was relatively warm, i.e. warmer than in 1750 and warmer also than in 1900. It was warmer over 1850-1900 due to increasing livestock numbers and forests clearing, while huge amounts of wood were burned, all contributing to large emissions of black carbon, brown carbon, methane, CO, etc., which caused additional warming during this period. So, this period was relatively warm. There was little impact yet of the sulfur aerosols that started coming with burning fossil fuel from 1900. Choosing this period enabled the IPCC to beef up the temperature for its baseline and then draw trends that looks flatter than they would have been if drawn from pre-industrial, to suggest that global warming was only 1°C and that 1.5°C would not be reached until somewhere between 2030 and 2052.

  5. Changing the data
    The U.K. Met Office's HadCRUT dataset goes back to 1850. The IPCC used this dataset, but actually changed the data, by averaging the data with datasets that showed a similar rise for the years after 1900, but that showed higher warming for 1880-1900. This enabled the IPCC to further beef up the average temperature for the period 1850-1900 and then draw a linear trend from 1850-1900 that looks even flatter.

  6. Cherry-picking the type of data
    To further support its suggestions, the IPCC uses water surface data for ocean temperature, but uses air data for temperatures over land. When selecting datasets with more consistency and using air temperatures globally, the temperature rise is 0.1°C higher.

  7. Not using new techniques to estimate values for missing data
    The IPCC chooses not to use new techniques to estimate temperatures where data are missing. Less data are available for the Arctic, and this is precisely where temperatures have risen much faster than in the rest of the world. When values for missing data are included, the temperature rise is another 0.1°C higher.

  8. Leaving out 2016
    The IPCC says the Special Report is an assessment of the relevant state of knowledge, based on the scientific and technical literature available and accepted for publication up to 15 May 2018. Yet, the IPCC says that global warming is currently increasing at 0.2°C per decade, as if the high temperatures in 2016 didn't occur. To arrive at 0.2°C, the IPCC used the period of 2006-2015 and used data from a specific dataset, and then rounded down the value. By contrast, NASA data show a rate of increase of 0.3°C over 2006-2015, 0.4°C over 2007-2016 and 0.4°C over 2008-2017. Failure to properly address acceleration of future warming is further discussed in the point below. 

  9. Failure to properly address dangerous developments
    The IPCC fails to point out that carbon dioxide reaches a maximum in warming the atmosphere some 10 years after emission, which means that the full wrath of global warming due to the very high emissions of carbon dioxide over the past decade is yet to come. While temperatures could rise very rapidly over the coming decade, the IPCC keeps talking about carbon budgets, without properly addressing tipping points such as the decline of the snow and ice cover that will result in huge albedo losses, jet stream changes, more and more extreme weather events, and more. The IPCC fails to point out the danger of destabilization of sediments containing methane in the form of hydrates and free gas. Furthermore, the IPCC fails to properly address the aerosol warming that will occur as sulfur emissions decrease and other aerosols increase such as black carbon, brown carbon, etc. The IPCC fails to mention the water vapor feedback, i.e. the increase of water vapor in the atmosphere that will occur as a result of these developments. Since water vapor itself is a potent greenhouse gas, this will speed up the temperature rise even further. These developments could lead to a potential global temperature rise (from 1750) of more than 10°C by 2026, as illustrated in the image at the top.

  10. There is no carbon budget left
    Instead of pointing at the dangers, as it should have done, the IPCC makes it look as if there was a remaining carbon budget that should be divided among polluters, as if they should continue polluting the world. The IPCC creates this illusion by interpreting the thresholds set at the Paris Agreement as averages over a 30-year period, while ignoring the acceleration of the temperature rise. It should be obvious that there is no such budget. Instead, there's only a huge and very dangerous carbon debt. There is no room for trade-offs or offsets, and terms such as negative emissions are also inappropriate. All efforts should be made to cut emissions, including ending current subsidies for fossil fuel and livestock, while at the same time great effort should be taken to remove carbon from the atmosphere and oceans. And even then, it's questionable whether any humans will be able to survive the coming decade, which will be critically dangerous for all species on Earth.

  11. Suggesting polluting pathways
    The pathways suggested by the IPCC keep fossil fuel in the picture for many years, while highlighting non-solutions such as BECCS. The IPCC makes it look as if coal-fired power plants could continue to operate, by burning more biomass and capturing carbon. The IPCC makes it look as if transport could continue to use internal combustion engines, by burning more biofuel. Instead, clean & renewable energy has many benefits, including that it's more economic, so air capture powered by such facilities would make more sense than BECCS. Furthermore, electric vehicles should be supported now, rather than in the year 2050. It makes sense to stop fossil fuel subsidies, and to support better diets, to plant more vegetation and to support ways to add carbon and nutrients to soils and oceans, such as with biochar and ground rocks. Many technologies have been proposed, e.g. refrigerators and freezers are now made that do not use gases for cooling. The IPCC should not have used pathways that are wrong in the first place. Instead, the IPCC should have pointed at the policies that can best facilitate the necessary transitions, because the scientific evidence is overwhelming and it's the right thing to do.

  12. Not pointing at the best and much-needed policy tools
    The IPCC report fails to point out that imposing fees on polluting products is the most effective policy instrument, the more so when the revenues are used to support rebates on better alternatives supplied locally.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.

Prof. Peter Wadhams and Stuart Scott discuss the IPCC Global Warming of 1.5ºC report

Extended version of above video

Paul Beckwith on baseline, methane and more

Stuart Scott talks with Prof. Peter Wadhams on Arctic sea ice

Magnificent work by Stefanie Steven

[ budget ]
Proper analysis would have pointed at what the best action is to improve the situation.

However, the IPCC does not do that. Instead, the IPCC keeps stating that there was a carbon budget to be divided and consumed, while advocating non-solutions such as BECCS and while hiding the full extent of how threatening the situation is.

A quick word count of the IPCC report Global Warming of 1.5°C (SPM) shows paragraphs full of words such as budget (1st image right) and of non-solutions such as BECCS (2nd image right).

At the same time, it fails to mention biochar, meat or local feebates. It fails to mention the huge threat of feedbacks and tipping points such as methane hydrates and Arctic sea ice, instead making it look as if all that could only pose potential problems over longer timescales.

This is indicative of how much the IPCC is part of the problem and part and parcel of the wilful destruction of life itself that is taking place so obviously all around us.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) might as well change its name to IPCD (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Destruction).

It's not as if people weren't warned.
The danger was described back in 2007: Total Extinction.
The mechanism was depicted back in 2011: Runaway Global Warming.
And still, in 2018, the IPCC sadly keeps on feeding the addiction.


• IPCC special report Global Warming of 1.5°C

• Paris Agreement

• How much warming have humans caused?

• Climate Plan

• Feedbacks

• Extinction

• Can we weather the Danger Zone?

• How much warmer is it now?

• 100% clean, renewable energy is cheaper

• Fridges and freezers that don't use gases

• Negative-CO2-emissions ocean thermal energy conversion

• 'Electrogeochemistry' captures carbon, produces fuel, offsets ocean acidification

• Olivine weathering to capture CO2 and counter climate change

• Biochar group at facebook

• Aerosols

• IPCC seeks to downplay global warming

• Blue Ocean Event

• What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

• Ten Dangers of Global Warming

• AGU poster, AGU Fall Meeting 2011

Monday, October 8, 2018

What Does Runaway Warming Look Like?

The forcing caused by the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases is far out of line with current temperatures. A 10°C higher temperature is more in line with these levels, as illustrated by the image below.

Carbon dioxide levels have been above 400 ppm for years. Methane levels above 1900 ppb were recorded in September 2018. Such high levels are more in line with a 10°C higher temperature, as illustrated by the above graph based on 420,000 years of ice core data from Vostok, Antarctica, research station.

How fast could such a 10°C temperature rise eventuate? The image below gives an idea.

Such runaway warming would first of all and most prominently become manifest in the Arctic. In many ways, such a rise is already underway, as the remainder of this post will show.

High Arctic Temperatures

Why are Arctic temperatures currently so high for the time of year?

As warmer water enters the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, there is no thick sea ice left to consume this heat. Some of this heat will escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, as illustrated by above  image showing very high temperatures for the time of the year over the Arctic (higher than 80°C latitude).

Above image shows that Arctic temperatures are increasingly getting higher during Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Similarly, above NASA image shows that Arctic temperatures are increasingly getting higher during Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

As the Arctic warms up faster than the rest of the world, the Jet Stream is becoming more wavy, allowing more hot air to move into the Arctic, while at the same time allowing more cold air to move south.

Above image shows that the air over the Beaufort Sea was as warm as 12.8°C or 55°F (circle, at 850 mb) on October 2, 2018. The image also illustrates that a warmer world comes with increasingly stronger cyclonic winds.

The images above and below shows that on October 2 and 7, 2018, the sea surface in the Bering Strait was as much as 6°C or 10.7°F, respectively 6.4°C or 11.6°F warmer than 1981-2011 (at the green circle).

As temperatures on the continent are coming down in line with the change in seasons, the air temperature difference is increasing between - on the one hand - the air over continents on the Northern Hemisphere and - on the one hand - air over oceans on the Northern Hemisphere. This growing difference is speeding up winds accordingly, which in turn can also speed up the influx of water into the Arctic Ocean.

[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]
Start of freezing period

Here's the danger. In October, Arctic sea ice is widening its extent, in line with the change of seasons. This means that less heat can escape from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere. Sealed off from the atmosphere by sea ice, greater mixing of heat in the water will occur down to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, while there is little or no ice buffer left to consume an influx of heat from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, increasing the danger that warm water will reach the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and destabilize methane hydrates. 

Rising salt content of Arctic Ocean

It's not just the influx of heat that is the problem. There's also the salt. Ice will stay frozen and will not melt in freshwater until the temperature reaches 0°C (or 32°F). Ice in saltwater on the other hand will already have melted away at -2°C (or 28.4°F).

The animation of the right shows salty water rapidly flowing through the Bering Strait.

With the change of seasons, there is less rain over the Arctic Ocean. The sea ice also seals the water of the Arctic Ocean off from precipitation, so no more fresh water will be added to the Arctic Ocean due to rain falling or snow melting on the water.

In October, temperatures on land around the Arctic Ocean will have fallen below freezing point, so less fresh water will flow from glaciers and rivers into the Arctic Ocean. At that time of year, melting of sea ice has also stopped, so fresh water from melting sea ice is no longer added to the Arctic Ocean either.

Pingos and conduits. Hovland et al. (2006)
So, the Arctic Ocean is receiving less freshwater, while the influx of water from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is very salty. This higher salt content of the water makes it easier for ice to melt at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. Saltier warm water is causing ice in cracks and passages in sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean to melt, allowing methane contained in the sediment to escape.

[ click on images to enlarge ]
The image on the right, from a study by Hovland et al., shows that hydrates can exist at the end of conduits in the sediment, formed when methane did escape from such hydrates in the past. Heat can travel down such conduits relatively fast, warming up the hydrates and destabilizing them in the process, which can result in huge abrupt releases of methane.

Heat can penetrate cracks and conduits in the seafloor, destabilizing methane held in hydrates and in the form of free gas in the sediments.


peak methane levels as high as 2859 ppb
On October 2 and 7, 2018, peak methane levels were as high as 2838 ppb, respectively 2859 ppb, as the images on the right shows. Methane levels over the Beaufort Sea have been high for some time, and have remained high at very high altitudes.

The threat is that a number of tipping points are going to be crossed, including the buffer of latent heat, loss of albedo as Arctic sea ice disappears, methane releases from the seafloor and rapid melting of permafrost on land and associated decomposition of soils, resulting in additional greenhouse gases (CO₂, CH₄, N₂O and water vapor) entering the Arctic atmosphere, in a vicious self-reinforcing cycle of runaway warming.

A 10°C rise in temperature by 2026?

Above image shows how a 10°C or 18°F temperature rise from preindustrial could eventuate by 2026 (from earlier post).

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.


• Temperature Rise

• Mean Methane Levels reach 1800 ppb

• Why are methane levels over the Arctic Ocean high from October to March?

• Blue Ocean Event

• Feedbacks

• The Threat

• Extinction

• Aerosols

• How extreme will it get?

• Climate Plan