It’s the end of the world as we know it – or not


Published on November 14, 2020 |
By Steve Hanley

November 14, 2020 by Steve hanley

It’s 1987 and REM has just released their proto-dystopian classic “It’s the end of the world age we are it”. Fast forward 33 years and the prediction of that song is rightly said by researchers at the Business School of Norway. “According to our model, humanity is beyond the point of no return when it comes to preventing melting of parafrost using greenhouse gas reductions as a single tool,” said lead author and professor emeritus of climate strategy Jorgen Randers told AFP. “If we want to stop this melting process then we have to do something other than that – for example, suck CO2 from the atmosphere and store it underground and make the Earth’s surface brighter.”

The following synopsis is included in this study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The possibility of no return to the climate system has been discussed for over two decades. A point of no return can be seen as a threshold that, once exceeded, fundamentally changes the dynamics of the climate system. For example, by triggering irreversible processes such as melting of permafrost, drying of rainforests or acidification of surface water. More recently, Lenten et al. Summarized the global situation and cautioned that thresholds may be closer to time than typically believed.

The purpose of this article is to state that we have identified a point in our climate model ESCIMO with no return and it is already behind us. ESCIMO is a “Reduced Complexity Earth System” climate model, which we run from 1850 to 2500. At ESCIMO, global temperatures continue to rise to 2500 and beyond, regardless of how fast humanity cuts man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The reason for this is a cycle of self-sustained melting of permafrost (due to methane release), lower surface albedo (by melting snow and ice) and higher atmospheric humidity (due to higher temperatures). The cycle begins with global warming of just 0.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.

Standing tall in deep doo doo

The message is clear. We humans have already unfit the earth for human habitation. We don’t know it yet. Warm temperatures since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – which may seem minor to the average observer – have opened Pandora’s box of cascading results that will devastate us all. Heartfelt announcements by corporate leaders and financiers about reducing carbon and methane emissions? too little too late. Promises to achieve net zero by 2050? Useless postures designed to reassure the mindless mind. As Paul Simon once sang, “We work in our jobs. Take our salary. Be true, when we slip, we close the highway. “

Researchers used their model to see what would happen if emissions stopped today and were reduced from 2500 to 2100 as reported by Ecowatch. In the first scenario, the temperature would still rise around pre-industrial levels to around 2.3 ° C. Over the next 50 years, the conifer will resume in 2150. By 2500, the world will be about three degrees Celsius warmer and sea level will rise by about three meters (9.8 feet). In the second, the temperature and sea level will cease at one place, but the rise in temperature will be much faster.

According to the ESCIMO model, climate change could have been avoided if humans had stopped burning fossil fuels between 1960 and 1970. To prevent temperatures and sea levels from rising, we must remove at least 33 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. [Note: the likelihood of removing that much carbon dioxide before the end of 2020 is absurdly remote.]

Push back and brickbats

The authors of the study, Jorgen Randers and Ulrich Goluke, independently accept the climate model they use and encourage other scientists to take their research as a starting point and follow along. Climate scientist Richard Bates of the University of Exeter says, “This paper can be cited in support of a clearly misleading message that it is now ‘too late to avoid catastrophic climate change.” That the model used by the IPCC is far more sophisticated and complex. “The study is not strong enough to make such a frightening message credible,” he said.

The ESCIMO model is not very complex and does not accurately reproduce atmospheric and oceanic circulation systems, says meteorologist Michael Mann of Penn State University. “While such models may be useful for conceptual contexts, their predictions should be taken with great skepticism. Much more realistic climate models that address the large-scale dynamics of the ocean, atmosphere, and carbon cycle do not produce dramatic changes made by these authors based on their very simple models. It should not be taken with just salt grains, but a whole amount of salt should be equal to salt, ”Mann told USA Today.

Fuel for fire

Mark Maslin, a professor of climate science at University College London, noted some benefits from the study, which he says has warned that zeroing global carbon emissions by 2050 is only the beginning of actions that can be effectively tackled by climate change Will be required for . But there is a negative aspect to such simplified studies that cannot be ignored. The general public does not consider the process of scientific investigation sufficient to understand such subtleties. Such reports provide ammunition for climate denialists who claim that all climate scientists are Charlatans who are associated with fear to boost their careers.

“To be frank, the paper is nonsense that should not pass in any competent peer review,” says Zeke Hausfader Gijmodo, a climate scientist and energy systems analyst. “This is an interesting thought experiment, but its results should be taken with extreme skepticism until more complex semantic systems models yield similar results.”

Hausfather and his colleague Glenn Peters wrote an article in Nature earlier this year that begs their fellow scientists to stop publishing the worst case scenario. “All of us – from physical scientists and climate impact modelers to communicators and policy makers – should stop presenting the worst case as the worst. Overcoming the possibility of extreme climate impacts can make mitigation difficult, which In fact. It can lead to defeatism, as the problem is perceived to be out of control and unreasonable. Under pressure, it can result in poor planning, while a more realistic range of baseline scenarios will strengthen climate risk assessments. . “

Climate Model and Compass

It is most accurate to argue about which climate model is most important to our attention – the Earth is hot and may soon be too hot to support human habitation. Whether it is in 50 years or 500 years is irrelevant. If we had found a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sixty years ago, when the effect of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere was first known, we could have easily avoided facing today’s crisis. But we did not and now this task is very difficult. How do we move from listening? Here’s how I hold a writer in the most respect.

“A climate model is like a compass. It is a guide, a tool, but it is no substitute for the human mind. Now we argue over whose climate model is more accurate, the sooner we exist as a species. There is only one solution to the challenge of climate change. Stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. full stop. Nothing else matters. And the time to find alternatives to fossil fuels is today, not tomorrow. We are running against the clock and we are lagging behind dangerously.

“One thing is for sure. It will work together with the whole of humanity to win the battle. Unfortunately, in countries around the world, the movement to showcase the ‘other’ is gaining popularity and this has led to fewer and fewer collaborations There is a possibility. We have the power to leverage our collective intelligence, but would we like to use it while there is still time? There is no compass or climate model on Earth that can answer that question. “Can we Will you be able to protect your little lifeboat located farthest from the universe? “We’ll see,” see Zen Master.

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Tags: Climate Change, Global Weirding, Michael Mann, Norwegian Business School, Zeke Hossfather

About the Author

Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his homes in Florida and Connecticut, or the eccentricity elsewhere that may drive him forward. You can follow him Twitter But not on any social media platform run by rogue suzerain like Facebook.

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