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Topics - GeoffBeacon

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Policy and solutions / A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 10, 2019, 06:53:35 AM »
The world is dependent on activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions. These make the Earth's climate worse. The relationship between emissions and the "badness" of climate has not been expressed simply enough for most people to easily follow.

One useful concept is remaining carbon budget. This is used in different forms. One example is the remaining CO2 budget for a 66% chance of keeping the mean surface temperature of the Earth below a 1.5C rise since pre-industrial times. This was estimated in IPCC SR15.

I'm skeptical of

  • The use of global mean surface temperature. There is too much scope for interpretation and we should be more interested in the consequences for life on Earth (floods, droughts, heat deaths &etc.).
  • There are other important measures that are not directly related to GMST such as ocean heat content or global ice volume.
  • The way the basket of greenhouse gases is compiled by international protocols is problematic.
  • Climate models. e.g. missing feedbacks.

However, when lobbying policy makers and policy influencers we need something straightforward to say. For this we a reference figure for a global greenhouse gas budget. To make it personal, it is best expressed by dividing the total budget by the world's population.

It should be expressed as CO2e to account for other GHGs. It should not to be tied to a particular GMST. It should simply be the quantity of GHGs that every human can reasonable emit.

Reasonableness is a personal judgement but it opens up the possibility of discussion. e.g.
  • "Is your estimate high because because you think the consequences of a  2.0C rise are bearable?"
  • "Is your estimate low because you believe extra feedbacks  will cause strong forcing?"

Reasonableness is a personal judgement but perhaps "experts" carry more weight. Different "experts" will likely have different estimates but a consensus figure will be useful.

It could be called the reference personal carbon budget.

My estimate based on IPCC SR15  is 64 tonnes CO2e.

What's yours?

P.S. At a recent conference I said
We each have a personal budget 64 tonnes CO2e left, and this development is for people emitting 15 tonnes CO2e/year. We must find a better way.

Was that reasonable?

Policy and solutions / What should we have as individual carbon budgets?
« on: December 28, 2017, 02:41:32 PM »
The Guardian's remaining carbon budget divided by Worldometer's current world population gives a remaining carbon budget per person in the world as 99.9 tonnes CO2e for a 2°C target

To have a good chance of keeping global warming under 2°C, there is only a finite amount of carbon pollution the world can emit – this amount can be thought of as a fixed budget amount, or quota.

Our countdown clock shows one estimate of how long it will take to reach an amount of greenhouse gas emissions beyond which 2°C of warming will be likely.

The Global Commons Institute has proposed Contraction and Convergence, which recognises that developed countries need time to cut their emissions. This means taking a bit more than a fair share of emissions. So

In different countries, what should reasonable individual remaining carbon budgets be?

Related questions..

1) Should we just give up on a 1.5°C target?

2) Since there has been arguments about what measure of temperature is relevant should targets carbon budget targets be linked to another measure like, say the accumulation of heat that Neven shows on his Arctic Sea Ice Blog?

3) Is it helpful to divide budgets according to activity. e.g. Buildings, transport, food and government?

4) Are current estimates of remaining carbon budgets believable?

The rest / Censorship by the good guys
« on: November 25, 2017, 04:06:30 PM »
In comments after the Guardian article How soon will the 'ice apocalypse' come? I repeated selections from AbruptSLR's post and Neven's comment.  This was soon replaced by

This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

Stupidly, I kept no copy but this is a rational reconstruction:

On my favourite climate website the Arctic Sea Ice Forum, I asked for comments on this article. Here are some excerpts:


Regarding Tamsin Edwards' criticism, I would say that it is irrelevant whether we know, as a proven fact, that human activity has caused the Amundsen Sea Embayment, ASE, marine glaciers to cross their tipping points, as climate models combined with field observation make an almost certain fact.  For example:

1. Proistosescu & Huybers (2017) demonstrate convincingly that since 1750 anthropogenic activity has slowly been increasing the heat content of both the Tropical Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean; ...

2.  There is no serious doubt that human activity caused the ozone hole over Antarctica, which accelerated the westerly wind velocities into a 'sweet spot' for promoting the increased upwelling of relatively warm circumpolar deepwater,...

3.  It is my opinion that human activity has accelerated surface ice mass loss from Greenland (including due to both decreased albedo from air pollution and from increased surface temperatures), which most likely caused a 'cold spot' in the North Atlantic, which most likely has somewhat slowed the Meridional Overturning Circulation, MOC....


Tamsin Edwards is an apologist for climate risk denial, like a good Brit phlegmatically adding a couple of big paving stones to the road to hell.

I would call the Guardian's response censorship. Is censorship getting worse or am I just waking up?

Most of my websites are banned in Morrisons' supermarkets, even my old site Auntie Jayne solves Your Poem (See “Oops” for Auntie Jane on Morrisons website). Most other websites are available even protest sites like Making Workers Pay or The Canary, a left wing site which The Sun has accused of spreading fake news. With most of my other sites blocked, this looks personal – but why?

I have some other examples of censorship from those I would normally think of as on-side. 

Has anyone else had these experiences?

I've long been worried about the arguments of Ray Pierrehumbert and Myles Allen about short lived climate pollutants[SLCPs]. These seem to imply that  SLCPs, such as methane and black carbon, are only important when global temperature is near its peak.

One worry is that the short term rise in global temperatures induces feedbacks - e.g. increased CO2 emissions from stored soil carbon. Another is that since the time of "the peak" is not known with certainty, we won't know when to start cutting back on SLCPs.

However, I have recently become aware that the short term warming can increase the heat stored in the Earth, e.g. heat in the oceans and in the latent heat of melted ice. (I vaguely remember a comment here some time ago about latent heat and what might happen when the ice is melted from various regions.) I have come across  Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases by Ramanathan et. al.

The “significance” includes:
Our study shows that short-lived GHGs contribute to thermal expansion of the ocean over much longer time scales than their atmospheric lifetimes. Actions taken to reduce emissions of short-lived gases could mitigate centuries of additional future sea-level rise.
Peak temperature arguments appear to say that bad things happen when global temperatures reach a certain threshold but their severity is independent of the path taken too reach that threshold.

This implies that a 2°C increase in global temperatures brings the same problems independent of the heat stored lower in the oceans or how much of the ice caps have melted.

How big is the stored heat and are there consequences other than sea level rise?

Does the emphasis on peak temperature sideline other important measurements?

Should we look for other measurements to supplement global temperature targets?

Policy and solutions / Town & country planning for climate mitigation
« on: January 29, 2016, 07:41:43 PM »
We need very different lifestyles to combat climate change. 

However, if some become low carbon and their neighbours do not, life is harder so I am interested in town and country planning which makes low carbon living easy and pleasant.

One example living in car free neighbourhoods. Some proposals to bring this about are in A market in prototype neighbourhoods

Any other ideas?

Policy and solutions / Is de-growth necessary? Is it possible?
« on: October 26, 2015, 03:19:18 PM »
I did some rough and ready calculations using production estimates (GDP and GWP) and rates of reducing for the carbon intensity of production. These crudely model carbon emissions in a way that economists do using the Kaya identity.

I also (optimistically) assumed that there will be carbon extraction from the atmosphere (using BECCS?) by mid century as the IPCC postulate.

The simplistic question is: Can the IPCC's remaining budget be eked out by reducing the carbon intensity of production until the negative emissions of geo-engineering save us? Or must global production (and consumption) fall?

Following Carbon Brief, I calculated the remaining carbon budget as 115 tonnes CO2e per person in the world. I believe building a UK bricks and mortar is about 100 tonnes CO2e and running the average car is about 4 tonnes per year.

Kevin Anderson's stuff is a good start but I think a wide discussion of how we live our lives is necessary.

Policy and solutions / Good videos again
« on: March 13, 2015, 12:20:39 PM »
Some while ago I asked for information on good videos on climate change. Thanks to those that replied. I've just found a new one and the blog softwar suggested a new topic. So her is


It's good and has a similar message but different style to


I think now's the time to look for others.

P.S. I've put the underscores in the URL's to stop them trying to play every time the page is loaded - Is this sensible?

Science / Woods and Trees: Embodied carbon and albedo
« on: February 01, 2014, 06:05:23 PM »
Should we count wooden things (e.g. wooden furniture, wooden houses) as sequestered carbon. The Ice Database on embodied carbon in building materials says

The following extract was taken from A. Amato "A comparative environmental appraisal of alternative framing systems for offices' 1996, Reference 1: ‘There are counter arguments against taking sequestered CO2 into consideration. in measuring embodied CO2, what is being sought is the CO2 burden to society which consequent upon society's use of a particular material. The deduction of a CO2 value sequestered by the material during its manufacture from the total embodied CO2 burden is not appropriate just because a material is deemed renewable and is surely only appropriate when a world wide steady state has been achieved between consumption and production, i.e. it has achieved sustainability.

Renewability does not automatically confer the attribute of sustainability to a material. if we consider the world resource of timber and its consumption as a complete system, then clearly much greater quantities of timber are being consumed than are being replenished at present, most being consumed as fuel in third world countries. Thus, in terms of anthropogenic CO2 resultant from the worlds use of its timber resource, more is being released into the atmosphere than is fixed by the renewal of timber in new plantations and by natural seeding. it therefore appears that the sequestered CO2 argument is only applicable where a steady state has been achieved.

...Finally, it seems a somewhat dubious practice to credit timber benefit of sequestered CO2 without taking into account the methane emissions resultant from the disposal of timber.

Methane, like CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but it is estimated as being 24 times more potent than carbon dioxide as stated previously. It is emitted in the UK, mainly from landfill waste, animals, coal mining, gas pipe leakage and ofishore oil and gas operations. Methane is produces as timber bio-degrades in landfill sites. '

Does this mean it is not possible to use wood for carbon sequestration?

A new house is about 80 tonnes of CO2: .  This suggests building in wood may be beneficial but Amato implies that it would be less valuable as sequestration than, say, Baufritz claim:

Safeguarding our world has always been at the heart of the Baufritz philosophy. Using only timber, installing the best thermally efficient windows and because our construction process is so energy efficient, has ensured our homes have earned the accolade “carbon positive” : they lock away more CO2 than is emitted during their manufacture, transportation and construction.

Science / Climate science and UK Government and political institutions
« on: December 21, 2013, 04:28:44 PM »
I have received this letter from Greg Barker, the UK Climate Change Minister, via my MP. Comments welcome.

Thank you for your letter dated 25 October to Ed Davey, enclosing  correspondence from your constituent Mr Geoff Beacon about missing feedbacks in climate models and a video entitled 'Last Hours'.  I am replying as this matter falls within my portfolio.

Scientists and policymakers alike are well aware that there are missing feedbacks in the current generation of Earth system climate models. However, most of these feedbacks are considered to have potential effects over century-long time scales and cannot be reliably quantified at present. There is, though, on-going research work by many institutes, including the Met Office Hadley Centre, to develop better understanding of these feedbacks and thus be able to incorporate them the latest climate models.

The target limit of 2°C above pre-industrial for future global warming, as advocated by the UK and other parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is considered likely to minimise future risks of any climate change escalation resulting from feedbacks in the climate system such as large-scale release of methane. Achieving the 2°C limit will require major and sustained cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions.

On the particular issue of a climate feedback from thawing Arctic, the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change’s (lPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) report on the physical science  released in September 2013, concludes that this is likely to be a relatively slow  feedback that should be considered over century time scales (Chapter 6, p76) In  case of ocean methane hydrates, the time scales are of the order of centuries to millennia   (Chapter 6,  p76). For this century, current models suggest carbon models from thawing permafrost is likely to be relatively modest, even for the IPCC's worst case (RCP8.5) representative concentrations pathway (Chapter 6, p56).

Your constituent also refers to a newspaper report on Alaskan permafrost degradation. I understand from science experts in my Department, that temperatures in Alaska were quite  stable up to the mid-1970s, then rapidly increased (by about 2.2°C) and remained stable at that level until about 2006, when they started to fall quickly. These temperature changes may be due to the influence of changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) cycle, superimposed on the warming effect from rising greenhouse gas concentrations.

 “Last Hours” is video presentation speculating that further anthropogenic global warming of about 5°C may lead the world towards a future mass extinction, possibly analogous to mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago when a similar rise in temperature is to have occurred. The trigger for this future extinction is speculated to be massive releases of methane from frozen hydrate deposits in the ocean and permafrost in the tundra. It further claims this process is already being observed in the Arctic. However, further studies suggest other factors were responsible for the late Permian mass extinction when conditions on Earth were very different to those at present. Also, the AR5 report concludes that atmospheric methane concentration observations do not currently show any significant increase over the Arctic region (Chapter 6, p77) and that a 5°C  represent the top end of the projected temperature range for a ‘high emissions'  representative concentration pathway (RCP8.5).

 In conclusion, the UK Government fully recognises the need for urgent global action to based on the best available scientific evidence and the UK is at the forefront of efforts to secure a global deal on emissions reductions that minimise the risks of dangerous climate change in the future.

I hope this information was useful.

Yours ever,

Gregory Barker

Science / A list of missing feedbacks
« on: October 18, 2013, 11:02:56 AM »
I have been asked to provide information on missing climate feedbacks to my MP. I hope this a good place for to compile a list. Please help. Starting with a
  • more forest fires
  • melting permafrost
  • increased decomposition of wetlands

See also my letters and response with the UK Committee on Climate Change:

Policy and solutions / Will carbon capture and storage work?
« on: August 08, 2013, 11:51:21 AM »
I've been pessimistic about CCS but Ive just been pointed to this competition entry (and I voted for it):

Spontaneous Conversion of Power Plant CO2 to Dissolved Calcium Bicarbonate

At < $30 a tonne it seems a snip. 

I have also heard about "Smart stones" to extract CO2 from the atmosphere by dropping olivine in coastal waters with strong tides. See

Are there any flaws in these schemes.

I've found good short videos effective in explaining climate change and climate policy issues.

Here are links to two I've found recently, which I will use to send to policy makers. I would be grateful for others.

1. We need to talk about consumption. (Says we've been told a lie on the UK's carbon emissions)

2. The Story of Cap & Trade . (Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme)] [url][/url]

Science / Earthquakes and climate change
« on: May 06, 2013, 05:10:46 PM »
In the blurb about Bill McGuire's book it says

An astonishing transformation over the last 20,000 years has seen our planet flip from a frigid wasteland into the temperate world upon which our civilisation has grown and thrived. This most dynamic episode in Earth history saw the crust bouncing and bending in response to the melting of the great ice sheets and the filling of the ocean basins; triggering earthquakes, spawning tsunamis and provoking a lively response from the world’s volcanoes. Now there are signs that human-induced climate change is encouraging the sleeping giant beneath our feet to stir once again.
Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes

What do we think? Will unloading the polar regions of hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice each year have much of an effect on the Earth's crust soon?

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