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Aiming For 1.5 C Part II: This is Your Home

In achieving any kind of real progress toward an important end, it’s necessary to set goals that are difficult to attain. To aim further than you think you can go. And that’s even more important for a climate crisis that will produce catastrophic outcomes if we don’t set some very serious renewable energy, emissions reduction, and sustainability goals.

(This is your home.)

Because the important end that we are now trying to attain involves saving the future. Future prosperity, future vitality, future generations of human beings and living creatures. In the end it’s about the future of your home. For each 0.1 C of additional warming will bring with it more risk. More potential for increased harm.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Miami or Bangladesh. In Norfolk or Washington DC. In London or LA. In Calgary or Quebec. Where you live is where climate change is happening now. And where you live is where the future catastrophic impacts from climate change will be felt if we don’t do the necessary work.

In saying this, I can also say with confidence that we have a pathway out of this crisis. We have the renewable energy technology available now that is capable of replacing fossil fuel burning — so long as it is deployed on a mass scale. We have the ability to make our energy systems more efficient. We have the ability to change the way we manage lands and farms. And we can do all this — getting to net zero carbon emissions — without the kind of (post-Maria Puerto Rico-like) austerity invoking collapse of the global economy that the mongers of fear, uncertainty and doubt falsely say is necessary.

But to do this, to prevent catastrophe — not harm, because we are already going to see harm — we have to set our goals high. We have to try to achieve what might not be possible. And that’s why we aim for 1.5 C. Because this is your home. And we will employ every tool in our kit in our fight to save it.

Hat tip to Dr. Michael E Mann

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16 Comments

  1. wili

     /  July 13, 2018

    “Preparing for the health impacts of a fiery future”

    “Consider this: last year’s wildfires in Northern California produced the highest levels of pollution ever recorded in the area.

    In just two days, those fires produced as much pollution as all the state’s cars do in a year.

    Wildfire smoke is laden with particulate matter, which triggers asthma, worsens lung and heart disease, and is linked to premature births and low birth weight babies.

    And, as fires incinerate everything in their path — including plastics, paints and pesticides — they release toxins into the environment. In Sonoma County last year, for example, melted plastic pipes may have contaminated drinking water with benzene.

    The health impacts of wildfire travel long distances: smoke from last year’s Northern California wildfires was detected more than 500 miles away in Mexico. In 2002, smoke from fires in Quebec drifted down the U.S. East Coast, causing a nearly 50 percent increase in hospital admissions for respiratory disease…”

    https://www.sbsun.com/2018/07/10/preparing-for-the-health-impacts-of-a-fiery-future/

    A couple of my students did a project related to this for one of my classes. I required them to research and propose a policy change (or something similar) that could have a lasting impact on the world that related to GW. One student who worked with kids in a school in central Minnesota talked in class about how there was no warning to take kids inside when smoke from a distant fire became very thick at ground level in the area.

    I pointed out that, whether or not that fire could be traced to GW (I think it could, as it was one of the mega fires in Canada from a few years ago, iirc), the incidence of major fires was likely to go up with GW, so if she could convince the authorities to make a policy to issue official warnings in schools (at least) when air quality levels were predicted to be bad, that would fit the requirements. She did just that, and the proposal was accepted and the new policy is now in place at least in one county in central MN!

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  2. bostonblorp

     /  July 13, 2018

    Even if we (very likely) overshoot 1.5C we have to do everything possible to get back there. There’s a real danger in moving the goalpost out.. “well we missed 2C but 3C is where we draw the line!”

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Robert E Prue

     /  July 14, 2018

    So, in 5 or 10 years from now there’s not going to be much ice in the Arctic ocean during summer. How much of a blip in warming will that cause? What other effects will low summer ice have on the Earth’s climate system?

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    • rhymeswithgoalie

       /  July 14, 2018

      Ice cover reduces the flow of heat from the Arctic Ocean water to the atmosphere above it. More arctic heat means faster melt of landbound ice, plus the northern jetstream will have even less of an arctic vs. mid-latitude difference to power it around the planet. Slower, meandering jet stream means more stalled weather systems, which means longer droughts, longer storms, etc.

      Melting of ice takes heat, and when the ice is melted the ambient temperature goes up, the permafrost melts faster, and its CO2 and CH4 is released faster.

      I completely left out any ecosystem damage, invasion by mid-latitude predators, walrus cubs abandoned and starving and so forth.

      Good news: Oil tankers can take a short cut across the Arctic Ocean in summer. 😦

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    • bostonblorp

       /  July 14, 2018

      The albedo loss has resulted in warming equal to about 1/4 of all carbon emissions in terms of extra forcing.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/111/9/3322

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  4. Erik Frederiksen

     /  July 14, 2018

    William D. Nordhaus: ”A target of 2½ °C is technically feasible but would require extreme virtually universal global policy measures.” https://www.scribd.com/document/335688297/Nordhaus-climate-economics

    If he is correct, then given the absence of those “extreme virtually universal global policy measures”, we may be looking at a 3C world or even worse.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. mlp in nc

     /  July 14, 2018

    Leland Palmer
    Just FYI.
    Arctic News for 7/13/18 opens with figures on the extraordinarily rapid rise in the SST (about 2.5C/yr 1015-2018) of the west Svalbard hot spot in the last few years. I double checked today and found a SST of 15.9C, not too far off from their 16.6C). They use the word ‘exponential’, never good.
    http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/

    (In the later part of the post they use JAXA data to show a record low in sea ice volume, and though that not what the PIOMAS shows, the difference in the two is, taking measurement variables into account, not that great.)

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  6. wili

     /  July 14, 2018

    “How global warming is causing ocean oxygen levels to fall”

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-how-global-warming-is-causing-ocean-oxygen-levels-to-fall

    “Research shows that human-caused global warming is the principal cause of marine oxygen loss. Humans also play an additional role through the input of nutrients to the oceans in coastal regions, though the individual processes at play are not straightforward to disentangle.

    Warming affects the ocean and its dissolved oxygen content in several ways. Among other things, it influences the solubility of oxygen in the water. The warmer the water, the less gas that can dissolve in it.

    Until now, this process mainly affected the upper few hundred meters of the oceans, which have been in contact with the atmosphere most recently. This effect explains up to 20% of the total marine oxygen loss so far and about 50% of that in the upper 1,000 metres of the oceans.

    In addition, warming alters patterns of global ocean circulation, which affects the mixing of oxygen-rich surface waters with deeper oxygen-poor water. It also changes how quickly organisms metabolise and respire, which affects consumption of marine oxygen.

    Finally, there are indirect impacts of warming on upper-ocean nutrient supply and subsequent production and downward export of organic matter available for respiration throughout the ocean.”

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  7. Thank you Robert for your eloquent and heartfelt message. Hopefully your message will get beyond the “choir” who already understand what’s at stake to the “fellow travelers” who don’t realize just how serious our problem (predicament?) is. I also thank you for the wealth of information and science that you present, and your site has become a principal source of info for me in my various personal discussions with deniers and people who think this is the grandkid’s problem. However I also believe that the climate scientists who know as well as anyone what is happening should make the emotional appeals that our human limbic brain actually responds to, even if they are not comfortable or suited to that. When non-climate change scientists make these emotional arguments they are often nitpicked to pieces. In the end if we actually start working toward dealing with this problem on an emergency basis, it will have been the emotional appeals, not the scientific information, that carries the day. Sad, but most likely true.

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    • mlp in nc

       /  July 14, 2018

      +1.
      I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this. It’s a doubtful comfort, but for those of us fond of little lab mice, the psychologists, doing their best to explain the seemingly inexplicable, have found the mice are not doing any better than us.

      Sticking with the wrong choice. Rats do it, too. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180713111925.htm
      Sunk cost fallacy in mice, rats and humans. Jul 13, 2018. U. Minnesota Medical School
      Summary: New research has shown that mice, rats, and humans all commit the sunk cost fallacy.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. This heatwave comes hot on the heels (pun appropriate) of recent flooding in Japan. While I do not have the fugues I would imagine that due to Japan’s topography these temperatures would be accompanied by high humidity. It is noteworthy that counties with first world infrastructure are not immune from the increasing effects of climate change on weather such as heat and floods, or other phenomena such as sea level rise. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180715/p2g/00m/0dm/002000c

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