The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Emissions vs concentrations

A lot of people seem able to spend a great deal of time on the greenhouse issue and still miss the most basic features of it.

Greg Pollowitz, whom I highlighted earlier as a real gentleman, is every bit as much a scholar:

The Cancun deal commits all countries to keeping temperature rise below 2C (3.6F) by reducing emissions. Rich countries have agreed to consider an extension of the Kyoto Protocol while poor countries will sign up to emission cuts for the first time. There are also a series of key decisions on setting up a green fund to help poor countries cope with climate change and halting deforestation.

Well, this seems doable, at least according to this new NASA model.

Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming

So a country can double its CO2 emissions and satisfy the Cancun accord? Historic!

Um, no. At least not the way you think.

9 comments:

bluegrue said...

In case you are wondering where the 1.64°C per doubling of CO2 comes from, here's the NASA press release and the abstract at AGU. Bounoua et.al. found a cooling effect of their plant model of 0.3°C globally (0.6°C over land) in a model, that shows a global warming of 1.94°C for doubled CO2, i.e. the model itself is at the low end of the IPPC range for climate sensitivity.

Michael Tobis said...

Yes, it is interesting watching how people respond to this study!

But it is also interesting how Pollowitz misses the point about, um, all of it.

Anna Haynes said...

Hey Tobis, O/T but can you maybe open a thread please for discussion of the latest Benshi post?
(Beating Up the Nerds: The Profession of Science has a Full Scale Public Relations Crisis)

(I want to make the point that medical science isn't climate science, and so to tar the latter with the former's failings is obfuscatory. But there being no comments thread there, I must bite my tongue (or fingers))

Lou Grinzo said...

Welcome to the "stock vs. flow" problem the peak oil camp has been fighting for a long time.

(Briefly: People assume that if you have "a lot" of oil reserves then you're OK. High reserves are necessary but not sufficient for OK-ness, of course, since we have to be able to extract oil from those reserves "fast enough" to prevent high prices -- as in much higher than today's price -- and the economic chaos that would ensue.)

bluegrue said...

I've only seen coverage citing Lewis Page's article about this, so far, and that one seems to be passed around mainly in "skeptic" circles. Is there any coverage not based on The Register? After all, Lewis Page has done an artful job in hiding the low climate sensitivity of the underlying GCM. He only quotes the 1.64°C number - without ever mentioning either the magnitude of the cooling effect or the comparison value of 1.94°C - but does stress that over land you go a further cooling of 0.3°C.

And yes, as others before him Pollowitz misses the point.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I think you're going to have to apologize to Judith Curry one again. I think she's jumped two sharks this time.

Steve Bloom said...

Has anybody read the paper itself? A comment over at Climate Progress said that the model run was for 350 to 700 ppm over 30 years, which is not exactly comparable with standard sensitivity.

dhogaza said...

"I think you're going to have to apologize to Judith Curry one again. I think she's jumped two sharks this time."

Wow. Just wow.

OK, she did devote one day to debunking decades of work by many scientists, so she's only claiming to be Einstein, rather than an idiot savant ...

Steve Bloom said...

And she doesn'ty seem to have bothered asking people in her department who would know. This must be difficult for them.