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Messages - GeoffBeacon

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Science / Re: Carbon Cycle
« on: November 03, 2020, 08:07:04 AM »

I agree but I'm searching for ways to test the 'official' view.

e.g. On this twitter thread.

Science / Re: Carbon Cycle
« on: November 03, 2020, 07:13:24 AM »
For 2°C:

Can 232 GtC (851 CO2) of soil carbon be used to update remaining carbon budgets in SR15, Ch 2, Table 2.2?

For 50% chance in Table 2.2, budget to keep below 2°C is 1500 GtCO2 (less Earth System Feedbacks less emissions since 1/1/2018).

Taking 851 from 1500 gives 650 GtCO2 (less Earth System Feedbacks less emissions since)

Earth system feedbacks include CO2 released by permafrost thawing or methane released by wetland. These in Table 2.2 given as 100 GtCO2 for  a 1.5°C rise, but will  be more for 2°C rise.
Guess 150GtCO2?

Emissions since date in SR15 (1/1/2018) about 100 GtCO2?

That gives remaining carbon budget of 650-150-100 = 400 Gt CO2.

That's a remaining budget of 53 tonnes CO2 per human for 2°C rise.

Crude but this it at all realistic?

How much does non-CO2 climate forcing reduce this?

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020/2021 freezing season
« on: November 02, 2020, 05:13:25 AM »
Is this relevant here?


Thank Ken.

That's very informative.

Thanks kassy & Ken.

Ken  you may be right saying

"Our goal though would be to decrease the forcings over time and bring the temperatures down to avoid losing too much of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets"

But that obscures the point I am making.

Less than 10% of the heat from a short period of forcing is stored on the surface. This heat  dissipates in a few years.

About 90% of the heat from the same short period of forcing is stored as ocean heat content. This heat dissipates slowly over centuries so heating from short lived agents (esp methane) increases ocean temperatures for centuries.

You are right in saying "no changes in forcings would result in stable energy exchanges and no increase in temperatures". That's when the Earth reaches equilibrium but the Earth is many centuries from equilibrium.

In the case of surface temperatures, your explanation more-or-less holds because the Earth's surface radiates to space fairly quickly - but this leaves 90% of the heat in the ocean.

Ocean heat is increasing much quicker than any heat at the Earth's surface where Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) is measured.

Warmer seas cause more ice melt. Isn't that a worry in the Arctic and more recently in Antarctica?

Speeding up ice melt causes feedbacks due to changes in albedo.

I worry about other feedbacks too.

What is happening to subsurface temperatures in the Arctic Tundra, for example?

Ken Feldman,

Thanks for mentioning the article by Lynch et al. It is a good example of what worries me.

It addresses the peak temperature target of the Paris Agreement and avoids an issue that may be important. An example ...
Imagine two scenarios, which stay within the 1.5C limit:

(A) Global surface temperature rises to the 1.5C limit immediately and remains there until 2100.

(B) Global surface temperature rises steadily to 1.5C just reaching 1.5C  in 2100.

Both are Compliant with the Paris Agreement.
(A) heats  the Earth more than (B).

Is the difference important?


Lynch et al. say
Sustained SLCP emissions result in stable forcing. Eventually, if maintained indefinitely,this results in no additional warming

Surely they mean "no additional rise in the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST)".

Not the same thing as "no additional warming"

What are the other differences?

Sea-level rise?

Feedbacks triggered?

Thank you, Ken Feldman and kassy for those very helpful comments.

IPCC SR15, did address, sea-level rise, as you say, Ken - but probably not enough.

However, it didn't seem to bring out the long-term effect on sea-level of methane's short-term heating.

Also, this whole UNFCCC/IPCC process doesn't seem to have considered the benefits of a couple of decades of a slightly cooler Earth in the time before a peak temperature is reached.

Just posted: Cut methane emissions soon, Sea level, methane and a false assumption

I'd still like to know if anyone agrees/disagrees.

I'm trying to write a piece for my blog about the lack of appreciation of this problem.

Methane's heating effect on sea-level is very different to its effect on global temperature.
It is much more worrying.

I think it's unknown to many, especially policy makers.

Am I wrong?

Kassy, Thanks I meant to follow up with references but got distracted.

Methane forcing is 58% of CO2 forcing calculated from numbers in Figure SPM.5
IPCC AR5, WG1,Summaryfor Policymakers

Methane has ... a half life of 9.1 years

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting
for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence).
IPCC AR5, WG1,Summaryfor Policymakers

It is very likely that there is a substantial anthropogenic contribution to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s. This is based on the high confidence in an anthropogenic influence on the two largest contributions to sea level rise, that is thermal expansion and glacier mass loss.
IPCC AR5, WG1,Summaryfor Policymakers

Also ...

Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases.

Increased importance of methane reduction for a 1.5 degree target

Very Strong Atmospheric Methane Growth in the 4 Years 2014–2017: Implications for the Paris Agreement

Am I right in thinking that it is commonly believed that limiting GMST is THE means of limiting sea level rise - and as methane is less important for peak GMST, it can't be important for sea level?

This belief is surely false.

Policy and solutions / Methane emissions, sea levels and temperature
« on: July 10, 2020, 09:35:44 PM »
Reasons for cutting methane emissions No 1: Sea level rise

Methane concentrations in the atmosphere cause a sizable proportion of climate forcing. (58% of CO2 forcing, IPCC AR5).  This forcing heats the Earth causing a rise in Earth's heat content.

Methane has a short lifetime, with half life of 9.1 years. After it decays the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) soon reverts to a value which does not contain much impact from methane's warming because the temporary "methane heat" in the surface layers is radiated into space.

According to IPCC AR5 (WG1 SPM), 90% of the "methane heat" remains, as Ocean Heat Content (OHC) [including the latent heat difference between ice mass and melt water?]. This remaining heat dissipates over a few centuries.

Increased OHC and melting land ice are the main drivers of increasing Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL).

Since methane is a significant part of current climate forcing, it is also a significant part of OHC and land ice melting: It is a significant part of increasing GMSL.

The long-lived part of the heat from methane forcing is thus a large proportion of increasing GMSL.

In short,

The rise in GMST from methane currently in the atmosphere lasts decades or so.
The rise in GMSL from methane currently in the atmosphere lasts a century or more.

Is this well understood? Did the Small Island Developing States miss this point when they pushed for a temperature limit. Crudely:

Methane emissions & Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

SIDS asked for a limit on GMST of 1.5C to limit sea levels.

Methane is short-lived with a short-lived effect on GMST.
    … Its effect on peak GMST is only significant near peak.

But, methane heating increases sea level for centuries.

The SIDS got the wrong target …
          Methane emissions will help to drown them.


Should cutting methane now be a top prioity?

Reasons for cutting methane emissions No 2: Its effects are quick and so buys time

Science / Re: 2020 Mauna Loa CO2 levels
« on: March 18, 2020, 07:37:00 AM »
Coronavirus and atmospheric concentrations of CO2

Scripps Oceanography geochemist Ralph Keeling said fossil fuel use would have to decline by about 10 percent around the world and would need to be sustained for a year to show up clearly in carbon dioxide levels.

History has shown that carbon dioxide levels typically resume their climb quickly as normal economic activity rebounds. If there is any benefit of the coronavirus event in terms of slowing the pace of climate change, it could be the changing of people’s travel and work habits in ways that lead to sustained reductions in fossil fuel use. Only those kinds of long-term systemic reductions will change the trajectory of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, Keeling said.

What does it take for the coronavirus (or other major economic events) to affect global carbon dioxide readings?


However, UK emissions of CO2 have remained lower after 2007/2008 crash.

UK's carbon footprint.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: February 07, 2020, 08:11:38 PM »
gerontocrat, that's good.

If they reject cars, they should be able to live in decent cities, towns and villages that are suited to them.

That is cities, towns and villages without cars.

They are so much cheaper and pleasanter and don't screw the climate.

For and economist-friendly note, see The parable of the smoking carriages.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: February 07, 2020, 06:57:05 PM »


Our societies have reorganised themselves around the reality of pervasive personal transport.

Environment Commissioner Ripa di Meana got the sack for commissioning a report which showed that car-free living is very much cheaper. It's obviously much pleasanter.

If we do the sums, we really are left with the choice

Cars to drive or planet to live in.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: February 06, 2020, 11:44:36 PM »
In IPCC SR15, there is a discussion of the Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (SSPs), which create estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from different assumptions about the way we might change aspects of our lives.

These estimates of emissions can be tested with climate models to see how the climate goals of the Paris Agreement might be be met.

SR15 says
outright reductions in travel demand (e.g., as a result of integrated transport, land-use and urban planning), figure much less prominently.

Does this mean the authors of the SSPs have not dared ask us to give up our cars?

Cars have carbon footprints that soon exceed remaining carbon budgets.

Surely this means:

We can have cars to drive or a planet to live in.

But not both.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: January 05, 2020, 12:13:08 PM »
CMIP models

A few years ago scientists at the UK Government department, DECC, told me

1. Am I correct in thinking that some of these feedbacks were not used in the models that calculated the “remaining carbon budgets” – as used in the IPCC AR5? [That’s the CMIP5 models]
That’s correct, the models used vary in what they include, and some feedbacks are absent as the understanding and modelling of these is not yet advanced enough to include. From those you raise, this applies to melting permafrost emissions, forest fires and wetlands decomposition.

I have been told some of CMIP6 models do include these feedback effects. Is there a succinct summary of this progress?


Recently have asked Did 2019 really bring us an unusual number of wildfires? and said:

In total, 6.735 megatonnes of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere by wildfires between 1 January and 30 November 2019. This value fits with the gradual declining trend in global total fire emissions since 2003, related to changing land management practices and use of fire in the tropics.

(Being data only up to 30th November 2019, the “gradual declining trend in global total fire emissions” may be outdated.)

For me this raises an interesting question about climate models. Consider

1. Climate change increases the propensity of wildfires through local droughts and weather conditions.

2. “Land management practices and the use of fire in the tropics” decrease the global total fire emissions.

Wildfire questions

What sort of “land management practices” is meant here?

How do climate models separate these two effects?

If they are separated, what policy lessons can be learnt?
e.g. Does it help to cut down forests so they cannot burn? &etc.?

Is there something wrong with the assessment from Copernicus?

Other feedbacks

Any other important feedbacks missing?

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: August 27, 2019, 04:21:02 PM »
I've been trying to find out whether increased wildfires are in the CMIP models
account for forest fire feedbacks. I wrote Carbon Footprints & Wildfires just before the Amazon Headlined.

My latest score is


Corrections and improvements welcome.

Greenland and Arctic Circle / Re: What's new in Greenland?
« on: July 08, 2019, 08:39:50 PM »
Is this sand from Greenland the right sort of sand?

Is the world running out of sand?
Builders like angular sand of the kind found on riverbeds. Sand, sand everywhere, nor any grain to use, to paraphrase Coleridge. A textbook example is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper. Despite being surrounded by sand, it was constructed with concrete incorporating the “right kind of sand” from Australia.

High buildings have high embodied carbon.
Let's build low wooden ones.

Policy and solutions / Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 13, 2019, 02:22:41 PM »
In this thread I am asking for what might be called science-informed moral judgement. I suppose, it's obvious I'm struggling to express it in the best way. I think I did better than above in a recent email:

A representative remaining carbon budget ...

Different judgements can be made of what quantity  is a reasonable
total GHG emissions budget for people living now. A personal judgement
will depend on things like:

1) What  you think the consequences are
2) How Earth saving technology will develop
3) How much you care about the future
4) Whether mitigation is a lost cause.

Notes ...

(1) is often described in terms of global mean  surface temperature but
this is just an imperfect proxy for horrid things happening
(2) depends on things like the confidence in things like BECCS
(3) is personal morality
(4) is how much you believe Guy McPherson.

Not precisely determined ...

Clearly a representative remaining carbon budget is not something
that can be precisely determined: It is a mixture of science, morality
and personal judgement.

Despite these difficulties, I believe that a quantified figure would be
very helpful for planning - even if the quantity was simply an average
of "expert" opinions.

My judgement is 64 tonnes CO2e.

I'd still like to hear more.

Policy and solutions / Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 11, 2019, 12:41:12 PM »
I'm skeptical of the whole concept because I've lived in that carbon budget.  It's unwelcome in society.  Any hail mary ideas

Any idea how I can make a sensible comment on the York Local Plan, which is promoting planet threatening lifestyles?

I'd like to say the York Plan is encouraging citizens to emit too much CO2 (&etc) but without a meaning for "too much" I'm stumped.

Policy and solutions / Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 10, 2019, 03:42:41 PM »
  360 gigatonnes / 7.7 billion = 46.75 tonnes remain for each person on earth.  At the global average of 5.25 tonnes per annum, that's a shade under 9 years before the world population would need be carbon neutral.

Thanks. Adding 30% to your CO2 figure gives a reference personal carbon budget of 60 tonnes CO2e.

I wonder if talking about 1.5C target is actually counterproductive.

Agreed. Perhaps I should not have mentioned 1.5C but I wanted to show what influenced my estimate. GMST is only one of the influences on my judgement - and it can be a misleading measure.

Policy and solutions / Re: A reference personal carbon budget
« on: June 10, 2019, 10:41:46 AM »
It's not really an estimate I've done myself, but I thought it was more like 100 tonnes. I mean, that's hard enough to achieve for the rest of my life (I'm 45), but 63 tonnes would be even more difficult, especially for children in the west that are still in the midst of their process of total consumer conditioning.

It should be accepted that those stuck in societies where budgets are routinely greatly exceeded cannot cut their GHG emissions without changes in their societies. For example, taxes are collected by governments for activities, which cause emissions. Wars are a good example.

Although this measure has strong implications for morality, it has a local context. Aubrey Mayher recognises the international context in the principle of Contraction and Convergence.

My interest is town planning and how local communities can be designed so that they are "environmentally sustainable".  An early stage of this is identifying schemes which are claimed to be sustainable but actually have terrible footprints. Another is the creation of an Institute of Enhanced Town Planning to design lifestyles that are sustainable.

The reference personal carbon budget could be a useful measure in this context but to be useful it must be quantified.

I'm hoping for further estimates, which avoid the McPh***** route of none left give up.

Neven, I suspect my footprint is worse than yours (perhaps not by much if I discount my share of UK government activities) but although this is relevant, the urgent task is to discover pleasant ways of living that do not cause climate chaos. The hope is that the less "developed" world might be persuaded to adopt similar and avoid doing the damage we have done.

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?

Science / Re: The Science of Aerosols
« on: January 26, 2019, 12:09:35 AM »
Whether or not this paper is alarmist about aerosols my question remains (perhaps with slightly less urgency):

But do we now have? :

1.Cars - very, very, bad from the start.

2.Beef & lamb -  very bad from the start.

3.Fossil fuel power - very bad but we worry about losing the initial cooling.

4.High buildings - bad but the embodied CO2 comes from "industry" so some initial cooling.

5.Planes - not so bad but we worry about losing the initial cooling.

6. Trees - where can they be planted to avoid the aerosol warming effects?

Point 6 is relevant to BECCS.

Science / Re: The Science of Aerosols
« on: January 25, 2019, 01:19:15 AM »
I'd describe myself as an activist. Rarely successful but I keep trying. Climate change is clearly most important but on this I am a voice amongst many but I try to pass on what I discover to like minds and to decision makers (politicians & related) that I seek out.

(I hope that wasn't to self centred but it might help any response.)

I have an uncomfortable feeling now that decision makers haven't much of a clue (or any sort of a clue) as to the current state of the climate - even those honest and clear minded enough to put aside the "I don't like it so I don't believe it" effect. I also have some problem with the climate science community (OK, that's another thread) and this paper by Rosenfeld et al. causes me some angst.  Partly because it suggests Hansen's Faustian bargain may be much worse. Hansen raised this issue in 1990 in  Sun and dust versus greenhouse gases: an assessment of their relative roles in global climate change, Nature 346 713–9 Later he wrote in the Huffington Post

The principal implication of our present analysis probably relates to the Faustian bargain. Increased short-term masking of greenhouse gas warming by fossil fuel particulate and nitrogen pollution represents a 'doubling down' of the Faustian bargain, an increase in the stakes. The more we allow the Faustian debt to build, the more unmanageable the eventual consequences will be. Yet globally there are plans to build more than 1000 coal-fired power plants (Yang and Cui 2012) and plans to develop some of the dirtiest oil sources on the planet (EIA 2011). These plans should be vigorously resisted. We are already in a deep hole—it is time to stop digging.

A report in Science Daily says of Rosenfeld et al.

For a while now, the scientific community has known that global warming is caused by human made emissions in the form of greenhouse gases and global cooling by air pollution in the form of aerosols.

However, new research published in Science by Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Daniel Rosenfeld shows that the degree to which aerosols cool the earth has been grossly underestimated, necessitating a recalculation of climate change models to more accurately predict the pace of global warming

Question 1: Does this mean that Hansen's Faustian bargain has just got much worse.

Question 2: Why has it taken 30 years to find this out?

Question 3: Will any of this get through to policy makers?
(Internet search of BBC and UK: nothing on Rosenfeld. Similarly WAPO & NYT)

As an activist I'm interested in what the policy implications are. I've been campaigning against
cars, planes, high buildings and beef&lamb for climate reasons - for many years now. An naturally have campaigned for renewable energy. I've been campaigning for trees and the use of wood.

However, for some time I have had in the back of my mind Attribution of climate forcing to economic sectors by Unger et al. Figure 2 shows the progression of cooling/warming from different activities

As far as I can see, this shows on road transport (mostly cars), household biofuel, animal husbandry (beef & lamb particularly?) warm the Earth early on but industry (inc cement and steel manufacture?), biomass burning, agricultural waste burning and shipping have medium to long term cooling effects before warming starts.

Additionally, Unger has criticised policies for planting trees to slow climate change. From the Nature Blog

According to Unger’s latest findings, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by trees heat our climate. It’s controversial because it’s a new idea, modeled by Unger, and there are lots of ways to run a model.

Unger has also expressed the view that aviation is much less of a problem than many think and has a significant cooling effect before it turns to warming. I haven't the reference to hand (a saved link broken) but found this

"From the point of view of the general public, there's been a level of anxiety that people feel recently about their carbon footprint when they go to airports," Unger said. "We should be feeling that way when we turn on our car ignitions."

"Attribution of climate forcing.." is now almost a decade old and the latest findings from Rosenfeld seem to have substantially increased estimates of the cooling before the warming starts. As we have short term as well as long term problems, this is worrying

But do we now have? :

1.Cars - very, very, bad from the start.

2.Beef & lamb -  very bad from the start.

3.Fossil fuel power - very bad but we worry about losing the initial cooling.

4.High buildings - bad but the embodied CO2 comes from "industry" so some initial cooling.

5.Planes - not so bad but we worry about losing the initial cooling.

6. Trees - where can they be planted to avoid the aerosol warming effects?

Sadly the "I don't like it so I don't believe it" effect kicks in." and there is
a reluctance to accept that stopping mass car ownership is a priority.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: January 14, 2019, 11:36:18 PM »

[Electric buses] are too expensive for municipalities to buy enough to serve all the populations and locations that need them.

We must change the nature of "the locations", so that they are served by nearby transport hubs. In addition we should travel less.

Mass car ownership is not compatible with saving the climate.

This attempt at sustainable living for motorists failed miserably.

Derwenthorpe was meant to be sustainable and have a low carbon footprint but it achieved a planet-destroying footprint of 14.52 tonnes CO2e per resident per year. This was worse than the average for York as a whole, which was still planet-destroying at 14.30 tonnes CO2e.

World average emissions of CO2e are now about 7 tonnes CO2e per person per year. This racks up a planet-threatening 100 tonnes of CO2e in fifty years – even if emissions steadily declined to zero during that time (OK, this is optimistic.). Emissions from Derwenthorpe and the rest of York are more than twice the world average.

We must show the world living without cars can be cheap, pleasant and won't screw the world up.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: November 13, 2018, 09:08:10 PM »
Michael Mann has been interviewed on  BBC World today - but not on BBC's UK output. Here are twitter links. (I don't know how to get direct links to the video.)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Walking the walk / Re: Top climate-friendly actions
« on: October 12, 2018, 12:17:03 PM »

Urban Planning is key to climate.

I think Europe has a much bigger chance (though not big at all) of reducing the number of cars on the roads, than we in the US.

It's not just about cars on roads we must get away from car-based living. I've just found this piece on about one of my heroes from the seventies, Victor Gruen:

The father of the American shopping mall, the Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen, envisioned the mall as a sort of European-style town center for the American suburbs. He saw malls as climate-controlled Main Streets, with post offices, supermarkets and cafes, set amidst larger complexes with schools, parks, medical centers and residences. You’d hardly need to drive at all. Gruen found cars repulsive.

But only part of Gruen’s vision caught on: the climate-controlled gray box, famous for encouraging car culture rather than stopping it. In 1978, the elderly Gruen railed against what his idea had become.

“I would like to take this opportunity to disclaim paternity once and for all,” he said. “I refuse to pay alimony to those bastard developments. They destroyed our cities.”

The article goes on to describe how in some places Gruen's vision is coming true:
Malls are dying in some places, yes, their too-expensive-to-remove corpses littering the landscape. But in other places malls are becoming “lifestyle centers” much like what Gruen envisioned. And some are going beyond that, turning into entirely different things: apartment complexes, churches, schools. Down the road, urban planners see even more uses: farms, performance venues, pop-up event spaces.

I pray that the current breed of urban planners will be much better than the ones in the 20th century.

Urban Planning is key to climate.

Walking the walk / Re: Top climate-friendly actions
« on: October 11, 2018, 12:47:53 PM »
Top climate friendly action is to get rid of most cars.

Starting now we should be building car-free developments with local employment - particularly food production. Since we have so few years to solve the climate not even electric cars are any good - with their enormous embodied carbon and the unavailability of clean electricity.

I've been pushing car-free living since the 1970s. Then because a car-free town is a better town. Now because cars are at the centre of planet destroying lifestyles.

Currently I'm suggesting that we have car-free additions to existing villages, towns and cities as a start.

See Garden Cities and Green Evolutionary Settlements

Walking the walk / Re: Top climate-friendly actions
« on: October 08, 2018, 10:42:02 PM »

Thanks. You are right about Murtaugh and Schlax.

The nonsense started with Wynes and Nicholas

Walking the walk / Re: Top climate-friendly actions
« on: October 08, 2018, 12:20:14 PM »

That paper by Wynes is peer reviewed nonsense.

Yes, that paper by Wynes is peer reviewed nonsense. Worse, because it was peer reviewed and from an academic source the MSM took it seriously. My take on it was Population is a planet emergency but …. This included:

The estimates of the emissions from having an extra child used a method developed by Murtaugh and Schlax. This is the method:

–1– Assign half of a child’s emissions to each parent

–2– Add one quarter of the emissions of each grand-child

–3– Add one eighth of the emissions of each great-grand-child

–4– …and so on.

As the number of descendants increase the carbon emissions add up to a very large amount – even though for each descendant the share of their emissions is diminishing. Wynes & Nicholas considered carbon emissions in ‘developed’ nations (average lifetime 80 years), it is possible to see that their estimate of the carbon cost of having an extra child is about 4,668 tonnes CO2e – over 46 times the individual budget (100 tonnes CO2e) for avoiding “dangerous climate change”.

One flaw in this argument is the assumption made by Murtaugh and Schlax that future generations will have carbon emissions similar to the initial parents.

I consider seriously Billhook's comment on Grist that the population debate is a dog whistle against real climate action

The reason is the sheer routine stupidity of the cases made for Population being a significant factor in resolving global warming.
Look how many years how many commenters have continued pushing the same routinely debunked arguments - while ignoring all of the cogent arguments for actual climate action - and you have something other than a serious widespread honest concern.

What you have is somebody's propaganda effort, predictably using shills, bots and anyone they can get to parrot the chosen memes.

From where I stand there is a fairly clear explanation of this, which is that public opinion is being programmed to see massive future famine casualties in developing countries as 'inevitable', and 'due to the coloureds overbreeding' and 'nothing the US should change course over', such as by taking emergency climate action by SSA geoengineering.

Billhook was commenting on a talk by Kevin Anderson mentioned by J4onian in a previous comment. I'm not sure where Kevin Anderson says this but J4onian quotes him as saying:

Population is a complete red herring in regards to 2°C budgets.

Even more so in regards to 1.5°C budgets, which are not physically possible any more--partly because we've been delayed by people lying about this and other red herrings.

Kevin Anderson's video is well worth watching.

Consequences / Re: Conservative Scientists & its Consequences
« on: October 04, 2018, 04:56:28 PM »
A pity they didn't do a precis - say two pages of one-liners. It would be, I think, a very powerful document. I don't think I dare.

I really wish you would G..

Yes please. I'd add too many expletives.

Policy and solutions / Re: UN Climate Agreement - Paris 2015 and beyond
« on: September 07, 2018, 12:14:25 AM »
"EIA has great data this morning:
1) 2017 carbon emissions down 0.9%;
2) 2017 emissions 14% below 2005 levels;
3) Total carbon emissions from gas higher than coal;
4) Petroleum top emitter, responsible for 46% of total emissions.”

Are methane leaks properly estimated and counted ?
"Methane emissions of this magnitude, per unit of natural gas consumed, produce radiative forcing over a 20-year time horizon comparable to the CO2 from natural gas combustion" So not really much progress in the power sector.

Are "imported" emissions counted?
"One-quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the manufacture of products destined for export – and are not accounted for in most nations’ climate policies."

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: August 29, 2018, 06:03:28 PM »
do you have numbers regarding the average carbon footprint of a motorist, and by EU countries (mainly UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy)? and what is the car emission share within the overall carbon footprint of an average citizen?

That's an interesting piece of homework you have set me. I can't answer it easily. I might try more seriously in due course. But here is some fragments:

1. CO2 from driving a car is often given in gms CO2 per km. These are tailpipe emissions and don't include the CO2 emitted in extracting, processing and transporting the fuel. I picked up a figure of 10% for this somewhere. So for these cars, I have made these estimates using emissions data from the Department for Transport and UK average car miles from Drivers' annual mileage rates drop to new low.

2) The CO2 from manufacturing a car is large. These figures come form Mike Berners Lee in What's the carbon footprint of ... a new car? and Average age of cars on the road in the United Kingdom (UK) between 2000 and 2016*:

3) The combined result, which is dependent on assumptions you can see above, is:

However, having a car is an indicator of affluence and there is a relationship between car ownership and affluence as the Stockholm Environment Institute noted in their report on Derwenthorpe:
the richest 10 per cent of households nationally consuming three times more carbon for household energy and travel than the poorest 10 per cent.

One consideration is that they tend to live in places that require more daily travel but there are many other reasons. Worldwide it's the affluent that are ruining the climate as this Oxfam infographic shows:

Clearly, more work needed but I feel confident that building new homes for motorists is contrary to UN Resolution 42/187 and so it is now against planning regulations in the UK.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: August 28, 2018, 07:12:03 PM »
The carbon footprints of most motorists are enormous. In incorporating UN Resolution 42/187 in to the new National Planning Policy Framework, have the UK Ministry of Housing banned building new homes for motorists?

Can motorists really achieve sensible lifestyles that don't screw the climate?

There is a study by the Stockholm Institute in York that did some carbon footprinting of a 'sustainable' housing development. Let down by their personal travel, the average footprint was over 14 tonnes CO2e per year. That's surely climate destroying.


Science / Re: Comparison: forcings from CO2, CH4, N2O
« on: August 27, 2018, 02:27:57 PM »
 I've just written "Cheating with temperature"  It argues that using temperature as a measure in the Paris Agreement was too vague. It should have specified limits to GHG emissions.

This is relevant to TeaPotty
The whole point of this thread's argument is about Ned's claim that CH4 will be insignificant in future decades.

Not all the bad things that are caused by climate change depend directly on temperature. For example sea level rise. In discussing the paper mentioned by AbruptSLR, Myles R. Allen et al. (2018) I say

One of the authors, Dr Michelle Cain, explains in , that since methane has a lifetime of about 10 years it does not contribute much to long-term temperature rise and the goal of the Paris Agreement.

However, the temporary warming caused by methane will have gone somewhere: A higher surface temperature for a decade or so will cause some of the heat to be lost to space but some of the warming will have contributed to melting ice sheets and a much larger amount will have warmed the oceans, raising sea levels.

In Emission metrics and sea level rise, Sterner and Azar, discuss sea level rise caused by short-lived pollutants, such as methane. Their conclusions show that methane is many times worse than CO2 – for sea level rise even though it does not affect log-term surface temperatures greatly.

Perhaps the Small Island Developing States must agree with Myles Allen, who thinks methane emissions from current meat production is not much of a problem:

“We don’t actually need to give up eating meat to stabilise global temperatures,” says Professor Myles Allen who led the study (meat production is a major source of methane). “We just need to stop increasing our collective meat consumption.”

But the Small Island Developing States might worry about our meat consumption (especially beef and lamb) because it causes significant sea-level rise through enhanced methane emissions – although it doesn’t affect long term average global temperatures much.

And echoing TerryM's
I think it's rather axiomatic that the best way to prevent future forcing is to cut back on present forcings, preferably using the most efficient methods.

I worry that

short term heating can cause the feedbacks discussed in Lowe & Bernie’s paper mentioned below

Are there any papers that expand on "the worry that short term heating can cause feedbacks"?

The politics / Re: The Media: Examples of Good AND Bad Journalism
« on: August 10, 2018, 07:02:08 PM »
Example of bad journalism from a last year - but the impression may remain.

I do believe we have a population problem but I came across this fairly recently

A teacher with no children goes on several big flights a year. She has a lifestyle far more sustainable than a family of 5, no matter how little they travel.

This idea came from a press release from Lund University The four lifestyle choices that most reduce your carbon footprint, which said “having one fewer child would save 58.6 tonnes per year.”

This was repeated in many main stream papers, e.g. The Guardian, The Telegraph.

Although having children, is bad for the planet, it's not as bad as "driving an average car a distance of 1000 kilometers every day of the year. All your life." 

What was missed out of most (or all?) of the journalism was that  the effects of having children in "advanced" countries (USA,Canada, Europe &etc) was very, very, very much worse than in poor countries.

I know this topic has many different angles but the journalism was terrible - swallowing whole the muddle of the original paper.

See Population is a planet emergency but …. This took me far too long to write, hindered as usual by a way round pay walls.


This was on the BBC front page this morning as well... briefly. At least awareness of these dire possibilities is starting to reach the mainstream, even if it's rapidly displaced by politicians choosing unfortunate wording.

Yes, the BBC downgraded 'Hothouse Earth' piece  by moving it to the back pages quite quickly.

On the BBC Six O'clock News today Zeb Sones and Richard Shukman were saying this (At about 16m30s):

Zeb Soanes:
The scientific community has reacted cautiously to a new study which warns that the world is at risk from dangerous levels of climate change the could make some areas of the planet uninhabitable. The paper by a team at the University of Stockholm predicts that as global warming gathers pace it will become impossible to control but while many other researchers acknowledge the threat posed they say the predictions in this latest report a very much a worst case scenario our science editor David Shukman has been weighing up the arguments.

David Shukman:
At a time of multiple heat waves from California to Britain to Japan an apocalyptic vision of an overheated future, what's called a hothouse Earth has caught the imagination. The scientists argue that natural features of the planet help to keep it cool. The oceans and the forests absorb much of the carbon dioxide released by cars, factories and power stations and without them the gas would into the atmosphere and raise temperatures further but it's  suggested if there's damage to these natural buffers a series of dominoes would suddenly fall. The frozen soils in the arctic releasing methane, the melting of the ice sheets accellerating, weather patterns shifting and whole region becoming hostile to life. So how plausible is this?

Individually each of these processes is physically possible but taken together the idea of a cascade of impacts triggering runaway warming is more extreme than many other studies of climate change. It goes far beyond the carefully drafted assessments of the United Nations.

Privately some scientists not involved in the study regard it as speculative - technically feasible but much less likely the more established forcasts for the future climate. Even so, many in the field say the research is a reminder that the planet is definitely getting hotter than that urgent action to cut the gas is the course of warming is needed to limit the damage.

"some scientists" ? Any guesses?


Just found your very helpful answer


A Consumption-Based Greenhouse Gas Inventory of San Francisco Bay Area Neighborhoods has

The carbon footprint of the average S.F. Bay Area household (Figure 1) is 44.3 metric tons of CO2  equivalent gases per year (16.3 tons tCO2e per person). This compares to about 50 metric tons for the average U.S. household.

HADCRUT4 and the Paris agreement

There is an interesting article on Carbon Brief  Permafrost and wetland emissions could cut 1.5C carbon budget ‘by five years' describing a paper in Nature Geoscience

This work is, of course, very welcome. Getting a better grip of the size of some of the feedbacks missing from the CMIP5 models will (or should) be important to policy makers.

However, I note they use the HadCRUT4 temperature measure, which ignores the Arctic with its faster rising temperatures. HADCRUT4 is also a mix of sea surface temperature and temperatures measured a metre or so above the land surface. Land temperatures are rising significantly faster.

HADCRUT4 does not include the temperature of the oceans below the surface. This is the main driver for sea level rise.

So this paper does not easily translate to an estimate of the full nasty effects of raised temperatures on land or - something that was important in the Paris agreement- the drowning of the Maldives.

Californian Emissions

At 429 million tonnes CO2e, that's 10.86 tonnes per Californian. I would have assumed much worse.

Is there a catch? Are these just production emissions not consumption emissions?

I'm pleased to report the UK Committee on Climate Change is getting more open about this issue.

Where was the steel made for all those cars in California?

I'm still fiddling with figures for a submission to the York Local Plan. Note for writing up in English:

Carbon Clock (Guardian) says remaining carbon budget in CO2e for 2°C is 736 Gt CO2e

World population is 7.6 billion

So that's nearly 100 tonnes CO2e each

Global Carbon Project says CO2 emissions in 2016 were 40+ Gt (including land use change)

Increase by 25% to get 50 Gt CO2e /year

That's 7 tonnes per person which will last 14 years.

A bit longer if reductions happen soon.

Anything seriously wrong?

gerontocrat.   Thanks. That's helpful.

I am writing a submission to th City Of York's Local Plan. I can't quite believe what I've just written.

As I write this (8th July 2018), the Guardian's Carbon countdown clock gives the remaining catbon budget for staying below 2C as 736.5 billion tonnes of CO2e (CO2- equivalent) considerably less than in the diagram. That's just over 100 tones CO2e for every person on Earth. For a temperature rise of  1.5C the remaining CO2e budget is under 2.2 billion tonnes CO2e or 0.3 tonnes for every person on Earth.

Is this sensible?

Science / Re: Carbon Cycle
« on: June 25, 2018, 02:33:47 PM »
I'm trying to find out the extra heating that comes adding an extra tonne of CO2 (& CH4) to the atmosphere. 

I think I'd like the answer in joules/sec, with perhaps the immediate change and some sense of the decay function. (CO2 - not much decay? CH4 - almost disappearing after a decade or so?)

Anyone know of an easily accessible source?



I think I see these terrible events in a better perspective now.


Very impressed by the Obama Era video of Joshua Landis.

Has he said more recently?

Historically, France and Britain seem to have set the scene for the continuing disasters.

Did they realise what they were doing?

Were there particular individuals responsible? - or is that a stupid question?


I know it's absolutely forbidden to say any particular events are caused by climate change but do the dust and thunder storms happening in India have any CC connection.

Brilliant. Best I've heard him do.

The politics / Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« on: March 09, 2018, 03:53:21 PM »
Humanitarian aid has its problems, because it's often used to dump surplus food (so the manufacturers don't lose money) and kills local agriculture. Humanitarian aid is also often used as leverage between warring factions, and it stimulates corruption.

The Pollution Tax Association is a very small group - me and some friends.  We pay a (much too small) self-imposed carbon tax and give to charity from time to time.

Long before the current fuss, we have had doubts about "official" charities and the way the money gets spent.  The cash we have in the bank isn't enormous but we wondered if there was a way to get it direct to individuals. e.g. Choose a terrible situation (easy). Identify a few individuals, more or less randomly (harder) and send a small donation (difficult?).

Is there any charity, without enormous overheads that could do this?

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