28 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Here is a climate article where the headline makes the exact mistake that the scientist quoted in the article warns about. The headline confuses human emissions with global atmospheric concentrations. This mistake is unfortunate because it obscures the real problem. The real problem is that our past emissions have done so much damage (generating natural system feedbacks) that even plateauing our emissions now is not enough. Atmospheric concentrations keep rising anyway.

    The headline reads: “Far From Turning a Corner, Global CO2 Emissions Still Accelerating”.
    It should have read: “Far From Turning a Corner, Atmospheric CO2e concentrations Emissions Still Rising”.

    In the article we see the scientist quoted.

    “Trenberth said it’s important to view the inventory’s data in the context of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

    “There are two key aspects of this that are often confused by the public—the greenhouse gas emissions and the concentrations. We measure…the concentrations quite well, but how they connect to the emissions is a tougher problem,” he said.

    “Under the Paris agreement, all the countries are supposed to report what their emissions are. The problem is under-reporting of various kinds,” he said, highlighting methane from fracking as particularly problematic.

    “We know that methane escapes from wells and pipelines, but it’s probably greatly under-reported how much is going into the atmosphere. And how good are China’s numbers on emissions?” he said.

    It’s more than ironic that the headline makes the mistake Trenberth highlights. However, the real story IS that atmospheric concentrations are still rising. And this IS what counts. Pointing to a flattening of claimed or estimated human emissions is almost beside the point when atmospheric concentrations are still rising. Either the claimed or estimated human emissions are incorrect OR (not XOR by the way) somehow we have already kicked off feedbacks which increase atmospheric concentrations despite us being able to plateau or slightly reduce human emissions.

    The combination of these factors indicates we are already in dangerous territory. We can reduce emissions, even significantly, and perhaps still see atmospheric concentrations of GHGs rise for decades or even centuries more. As the northern tundra and boreal forests warm, methane releases, boreal wildfires and peat fires all potentially expand. Self-accelerating climate change has already started. This seems to be what the data are telling us.

    “Though not being communicated, the alarming data above for 5 April 2016, looks like the state of the climate is set up for feedback runaway global climate.

    ??Runaway climate change is not a scientific recognized term, but it is by far the greatest danger of global warming. A runaway state is the result of greater climate change (locked in) commitment, plus many amplifying feedbacks that are caused (triggered) by global warming.

    If planetary feedback emissions are increasing to the extent of driving the increasing atmospheric GHG levels faster, because of added locked in commitment, for policy making we should consider that a state of committed climate change runaway exists (or at least an extreme zero tolerance risk exists). A sudden jump or accelerating global temperature increase at the same time makes the situation more definite. We are in that state in 2016.??” – Climate Emergency Institute.

  2. Correction:

    “It should have read: “Far From Turning a Corner, Atmospheric CO2e Concentrations Still Rising”.”

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