As previously noted the Copenhagen climate change summit achieved nothing. It never really mattered.

It bothered me that i didn’t back up my claim that it was already too late, and that we were committed to an unstable future climate. This prompted me to go back and find some of the papers i read last year / earlier this year. Here’s the abstract from the one that stuck in my mind:

The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming of 2.4°C (1.4°C to 4.3°C) above the preindustrial surface temperatures. The committed warming is inferred from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of the greenhouse forcing and climate sensitivity. The estimated warming of 2.4°C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if GHG concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels but without any other anthropogenic forcing such as the cooling effect of aerosols. The range of 1.4°C to 4.3°C in the committed warming overlaps and surpasses the currently perceived threshold range of 1°C to 3°C for dangerous anthropogenic interference with many of the climate-tipping elements such as the summer arctic sea ice, Himalayan–Tibetan glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet. IPCC models suggest that ≈25% (0.6°C) of the committed warming has been realized as of now. About 90% or more of the rest of the committed warming of 1.6°C will unfold during the 21st century, determined by the rate of the unmasking of the aerosol cooling effect by air pollution abatement laws and by the rate of release of the GHGs-forcing stored in the oceans. The accompanying sea-level rise can continue for more than several centuries. Lastly, even the most aggressive CO2 mitigation steps as envisioned now can only limit further additions to the committed warming, but not reduce the already committed GHGs warming of 2.4°C.

On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead – V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng

My guess is that we are more likely to attempt amelioration through doing something (increasing the amount of particulate pollution) than nothing (reducing the level of emissions). The consequences of which will perhaps postpone the inevitable by a few years and end up exacerbating the situation in the long term.

The real message from Copenhagen is that capitalism is alive and well. It’s quite happy to take the planet to the brink if there’s money to be made in so doing.

The fight is probably over. Time to come to terms with living in a dying age.


2 thoughts on “COP-out-15

    • An island nation might actually be a benefit… admittedly one where the majority of the population lives on a flood plains / river deltas might not be ideal!

      My feeling is that the decline in quality of life will be gradual in the North (at least until the Arctic ice is gone, at which point… who knows) and more rapid in the South. As the desserts expand the number of people displaced will get large very quickly, and the people will head north into Europe, North America, etc.

      The further north you go the shorter the growing season, poorer the soil quality, and availability of land. All of which suggest a population decline is in our future.

      As we’re heading into the unknown (the climate has never really changed this rapidly during our short tenure) i don’t think anyone can say with much certainty what the best course of action will be, or where will be least affected.

Wise words...

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