ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. There is a Firm Scientific Consensus that People are Causing Major Changes in the Earth’s Climate.
This Consensus was and Still is Opposed by a Major Disinformation Campaign
At First, This Took Advantage of Lingering Scientific Uncertainty when this uncertainty still Existed
It Continues in the Absence of Significant Scientific Disagreement
Or Else It Argues that it’s too Expensive to Do Anything.
The Kyoto Protocol was Negotiated and Came into Effect
Legally Binding on Parties
US and Australia Refused to Join Kyoto Regime.
European Union and Some US States and Some Multi-National Firms are Taking Strong Precautionary Measures.
Kyoto Targets are not rigorous but are not being Met
Copenhagen Meeting in December 2009 agrees on broad objectives but not on binding targets for emissions reduction.
Climate as an Exemplar of a Science-Intensive Issue of International Affairs
Scientific Discoveries Put Issue on Agenda
Scientific Advice is Integrated into the Diplomatic Process
International Cooperation (Functionalism) is Needed to Manage a Global Issue
New Alliances are Formed
Nations Still May Decide not to Join – Sovereignty Still Controls
Politics Determines the Ultimate Outcome – But Nature’s Laws are Inexorable: Inaction has Unavoidable Consequences
Hard Constraint on Decisions: Pay Now or Suffer Later
Outline Possible Futures
Point out Areas of Ignorance
Dictate What is ‘Dangerous’ or ‘Too Risky’
Trade Off Climate vs. Other Costs and Risks
Make Judgments under Uncertainty
First, The Science
Natural Greenhouse Effect
The Sun’s Rays are Converted into Heat at the Earth’s Surface
Heat is Reradiated into Space and Temperature Equilibrium is Achieved
If the Earth were Bare Tumbling Rock, its Temperature would be about –18C (0F)
Natural Greenhouse Gases (Water, CO 2 , Methane) Absorb Reradiated Heat and Reradiate Some of it Back to Earth, Raising the Equilibrium Temperature to ~15C (55F)
There’s Only One Earth, so We Can’t Do a Controlled Experiment – and the Future Hasn’t Happened Yet So Detection, Attribution, and Prediction All Depend on Models
How Do Climate Models Work?
Identify the Physical Principles underlying Climate (These are Well Known)
Incorporate them into Computer Models that Simulate the Workings of a System that Includes the Sun, the Atmosphere and the Oceans
Check that they ‘Post-Dict’: i.e., Reproduce Data Known from the Past
So What’s the Problem?
Climate is a Non-Linear System with Lots of Feedback Loops
Representation of Geography Requires that the Earth be Split into 50 km Squares – Not Enough to Produce Adequate Detail
Climate Involves Phenomena that span a Wide Range of Scales – from Clouds (1 km) to Oceans (10,000 km)
BUT THE MODELS ARE GETTING VERY MUCH BETTER at dealing with these and other issues
Models Must Include Human Contribution in Order to be Able to Explain Past Records of
Average Temperatures in the Past at Many Time Scales
Ocean Heat Content
Regional and Altitude Temperature Patterns
Alternative Models (Sunspots, the ‘Iris’ Effect of Clouds) are NOT Consistent with the Data. This is the Basis for the IPCC’s Conclusion (90% subjective probability) that Global Warming is Real and Anthropogenic CO 2 is an Important Contributor
Impacts of Climate Change
Increased Average Temperature (1.4-5.8C)
Increase in Strong Hurricanes, Droughts, Floods
Sea Level Rise
Glaciers are Melting
Impact on People and Ecosystems
Glacier-Fed Rivers (Mekong, Indus, Yangtze) Have Less Water and Maximum Flow Before Farmers Need Irrigation Water
Insect-Borne Disease Spreads: Malaria, Dengue
Coasts Flood and Islands are Submerged
Heat Waves Damage Agriculture, Health
Extinctions: Biodiversity Can’t Adapt Fast Enough
Regional Impacts: Developing Countries Bear the Brunt of Climate Change
Tropical Areas are Already Hot
Effects on Last Slide Affect Developing Countries Disproportionately
Adaptive Capacity is Less
Less Money for Dikes, Infrastructure
Less Technical and Managerial Capacity for Adaptation and Research
This will Change U.S. Geography – Although No one Is Sure Exactly How
Regional Impacts: Europe
Longer Growing Seasons
Health Impacts from Heat Waves
Inland Flash Floods
More Frequent Coastal Flooding
High Temperatures and Drought
Less Water for Agriculture
Regional Impacts: Africa
Lack of Capital and Technical Capacity
Climate Variability and Drought Hurt Agriculture
Decreased growing season
Decreased Arable Land
By 2020, 75-200 Million People Under Water Stress
Yields from Rain-Fed Agriculture (Most African Smallholders) Reduced by Up to 50% by 2020
Regional Impacts: Asia
Glacier Melting Increases Flooding, Changes Hydrology so Rivers Flow Before Farmers Need Irrigation
Major Investments in Water Storage will be Required
Lower Water Availability will Affect up to a Billion People by 2050
Risk of Coastal Flooding
Crop Yields Could Increase 20% in East and SE Asia, Decrease 30% in Central and South Asia by 2050
Diarrheal Disease to Increase in East, South and SE Asia
Possibility of Major Sea Level Rise
Collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet
7 meter sea level rise
Melting of Greenland Ice Sheet
5 meter sea level rise
Melting recently measured to be much faster than previously thought
Melt Water Sinks via Moulins and Lubricates Interfaces Between Glacier Ice and Earth at its Base, Speeding Glacier Flow
Plugs Melt and No Longer Hold Back Glacier Flow
This Would Happen to Florida if the Antarctic Ice Sheet Melts
Another Outside but Scary Possibility: Changes in the Thermohaline Circulation that Warms Europe
We Don’t Yet Know
Ecosystem and Health Vulnerabilities
Possibility of Major Climate Change (e.g., a Much Colder Europe)
Possibility of Abrupt Climate Changes (Years Rather than Centuries)
Costs of Mitigation
It’s Also Possible but Unlikely that the Impact of Global Warming will be Minor or Even Beneficial. Would You Like to Take this Risk? Or Would You Prefer to Take Precautions?
Turning the Battleship
Reduce Use of Carbon-Intensive Sources of Energy
Use Renewable Sources
Capture Greenhouse Gases
Increase the Earth’s Reflectance
New Technology Will Help
Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Plug-In Hybrid Cars
‘ Smart Grid’
‘ Smart Houses’
But There’s Plenty to Do with Technology that is Ready or Nearly So
The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
1988: Formation of IPCC, >2000 Scientists Advising the UN
Comprehensive, 3-volume Review of Evidence Every 5 Years:
Science, Impacts, and Human Dimensions
Percent Scale to Indicate Uncertainty
1995: ‘Balance of Evidence’ Favors Human Role
2001: ‘Detectable’ Anthropogenic Change
2007: “Human Effect ‘Very Likely’
90% Subjective Probability
Attacks on the IPCC Reports
A Minority of ‘Climate Skeptics,’ a Few of them Scientifically Qualified, Argue that the Danger from Global Warming is Minor or Non-Existent
Generous Backing from the Fossil Fuel Industry Allows them a High Profile
Their Criticisms of the ‘Mainstream Position’ Did Not Hold Up
New Scientific Evidence Has Eroded the Position of the Climate Skeptics, although they have not Stopped Repeating Discredited Arguments
What Began as a Legitimate Scientific Argument Evolved into a Major Disinformation Campaign that is Still Underway
Scientists Struggle to Overcome Well-Orchestrated Campaign of Ignorant or Malevolent Criticism
Binding Targets for Developed Country Parties: 5% Below 1990 Levels by 2012
No Binding Targets for Developing Country Parties
‘ Clean Development Mechanism’: Get Credit for Emissions Reductions by Paying for Emission Savings in Other Countries
Seen as First Step: Little Net Emissions Reduction because Increased Emissions in Developing Countries Compensate for Decreased Emissions in Developed Countries
Underlying Ethical Issue : Who Should Pay the Costs of Precautionary Measures?
Developing Countries Argue for More Time: the Advanced Countries Put the CO 2 into the Atmosphere
LDC Annual Contribution has only just Caught Up with OECD Countries’
LDC Aggregate Contribution Catches up in ~2100
OK, But We’re All on the Same Planet – and China is Now the #1 Emitter
US Senate (1998) Refuses (95-0) to Ratify Kyoto Protocol Unless LDCs Agree to Conservation Targets. Newly Installed Bush Administration Abandons Kyoto Protocol on the Grounds of Damage to Economy ‘ Inadequate Science.’ Little Net Reduction in Emissions Refusal to Try to Improve Kyoto Furiously Resented by Europeans
Kyoto Entered into Force,
EU Has Instituted a Mandatory Trading Regime, and EU Members have Instituted Domestic Measures so as to Reach 2012 Targets
UK and Germany have an Advantage Because of Special Circumstances: UK Shrank Inefficient Coal Industry, Switched to Natural Gas. East Germany Closed Massively Inefficient Industry.
Targets, However Modest, are Now Out of Reach for Nearly All Other Countries, Given 1990s Economic Boom.
US Target Would Require 30% Cut in Energy Use.
Policies for Reducing Emissions
Regulated Emissions Reduction
Market-Based Policy Instruments
Carbon Tax (i.e., a Tax on CO 2 Emissions)
Economically Logical but Politically Difficult
Emissions Trading (not formally a tax)
A Cap-and-Trade Bill (Waxman-Markey) has Passed the House, is Pending in the Senate
Passage Not Assured: Impact is Especially Heavy on States Dependent on Coal for Power
Post-Kyoto Regime Now Being Negotiated
How is the Cap to be Set?
By Science? by Politics? or Both?
How are Allowances to be Allocated?
By Auction? By Past CO 2 Emissions?
Are there to be Escape Clauses (‘Off-Ramps’) if Carbon Credits Become Too Expensive?
Are International Transactions Allowed?
‘ Joint Implementation’? ‘Clean Development Mechanism’?
How Will Free Riders be Dealt with?
Impose a ‘Border Adjustment’ on Imports from Non-Participating Countries? (It’s in the House Bill.)
This may or may not pass muster with WTO, and Would Threaten a Major Trade War
Existing Emissions Markets
European Union, 2005
Teething Troubles: Price Collapse in 2006 from Over-Allocation
Internal Corporate Programs (BP)
Voluntary Multi-Corporation Programs
Chicago Voluntary Exchange
Technical Post-Kyoto Issues
Collaboration on Technology Development
Carbon Sequestration is Particularly Important, Since China and India Have Huge Coal Reserves
Forests as Carbon Sinks
Credit for Planting Forests
Credit for ‘Avoided Deforestation’?
How to Verify?
Who Gets the Money?
‘ Geoengineering’: Fertilizing the Ocean to Increase Carbon Capture by Plankton
This May be within the Resources of Wealthy Individuals