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Chris Korda
Winning the war on the future.
Interests: Rapid climate change (coming soon to a planet near you), C++, object-oriented design, music composition and theory, VJing, traveling, writing, history, philosophy, dada, antihumanism, voluntary population reduction, de-evolution, species holocaust.
Recent Activity
For weeks now there I have been observing a persistent SSTA with peaks near or above +12°C (!) southeast of Svalbard, via the Earth map ( Have such severe anomalies been observed previously in this location or is it unprecedented? Can anyone comment or provide context? A side note: this anomaly prompted me to contact Cameron Baccario (developer of the Earth map) and suggest that it might be time to consider extending the SSTA gradient. Currently it's impossible to visually distinguish between a (mere!) +6°C anomaly and a +12°C anomaly. It's not obvious what color could come after white (violet? green?), but recalibrating the existing scale seems even more problematic. I vaguely recall that other climate maps have encountered similar problems lately. Is there an accepted methodology for dealing with "gradient creep"?
Toggle Commented Aug 29, 2015 on Arm's race (and a storm) at Arctic Sea Ice
For you to infer from my attempt to correct a factual error that I don't support your work, well that would be, to my way of thinking, a rather odd way of looking at it. On the contrary, it should be seen as proof that I care enough about your work to bother correcting it.
Dave, The Fatih Birol quote is erroneous, not because it was incorrectly reported, but because Birol actually misspoke. The IEA's position is that the current trend is towards 6 degrees Celsius by 2100, not 2050. In an April 2012 Guardian interview, IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said "On current form ... the world is on track for warming of 6C by the end of the century." This unfortunate error was widely repeated and has caused considerable confusion as explained here: Of course this isn't exactly a reprieve since six degrees C would destroy civilization regardless of whether it occurred in 2050 or 2100. Still it's best to be as accurate as possible because mistakes provide more fodder for deniers. Also, I must again respectfully object to focusing on AIM 6.0 and MiniCAM 4.5 (or more correctly RCP6 and RCP4.5) instead of RCP8.5. It doesn't make sense to discuss the IEA's assessment while dismissing RCP8.5, because RCP 8.5 is in fact synonymous with the IEA's assessment, until at least 2035. The other IPCC scenarios are merely wishful proposals, as I explained in my comment on "How To Think About The Future (Redux)."
Dave, I've been following your blog for over a year now, patiently waiting for a suitable opportunity to comment. That opportunity has finally arrived. There are two fundamental sources of climate scenarios. One you're obviously already familiar with: the IPCC and its related bodies. The IPCC is an international consensus, and thus its scenarios reflect what all the nations of the world can agree is plausible and politically palatable. More importantly, the IPCC scenarios assume good faith: nations are presumed to respect international protocols and meet their agreed emissions targets. Consequently the IPCC tends to produces best-case scenarios. This inherent optimistic bias is exacerbated by the IPCC's scientific component, because the language of science is generally cautious, understated, and conservative. Exaggeration is considered a serious crime in science, second only to faking data. The other source of climate scenarios is the International Energy Agency (IEA) and its US equivalent, the Energy Information Administration (EIA). These agencies have a very different approach. Essentially they forecast emissions by totaling up all the energy "plays" that fossil fuel corporations (or their state counterparts in command economies such as China's) already have on the books. This is possible because energy companies routinely plan ten to twenty years ahead, which they're obliged to do because energy plays necessitate strategic planning, infrastructure and investment on a monumental scale. Energy infrastructure is so expensive and depreciates so slowly that once it's in service or even beyond the planning stage, it's essentially guaranteed to remain in service for its lifetime. Put simply, you don't build a supertanker (or a port, or a pipeline) and then decide not to use it. To summarize the difference between the two sources of information, IPCC projections represent what nations say they're going to do, while IEA projections represent what energy companies are actually in the process of doing, i.e. the facts on the ground. The most recent projections from the IEA and EIA are both based on the same data: The 2011 Integrated Energy Outlook (IEO2011). In its simplest form, "The IEO2011 Reference case projects about 1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035" (US EIA IEO2011, p. 143). This is equivalent to following the IPCC's worst-case RCP8.5 scenario until 2035, as this annotated version of the RCP8.5 emissions graph demonstrates: Contrary to your out-of-hand dismissal, RCP8.5 represents what the world's energy companies and equivalent state actors are actually in the process of doing, until at least 2035. This was discussed extensively at RealClimate on October's open thread. IPCC's 2007 AR4 presented several scenarios, and in practice we tracked or exceeded the worst scenario (A2). Similarly AR5's scenarios other than RCP8.5 are merely wishful proposals, due to the IPCC's structural biases outlined above. One might wonder from which nations this additional teraton of fossil CO2 will emanate. Inconveniently, the emissions growth will come from non-OECD countries, especially China, and mostly from burning coal, as demonstrated by IEO2011 figures 115 and 116, reproduced here for convenience: In other words, in CO2 terms, America is already a sideshow. China, India and other non-OECD countries plan to increase (NOT decrease) their fossil fuel consumption in order to approximate an OECD standard of living, and we're in no position to dissuade them, other than by setting a good example, which we're consistently failing to do. For more on this subject see my blog (Metadelusion): One also might wonder what temperature change the additional teraton of CO2 commits us to. Estimating this accurately turns out to be a non-trivial undertaking, which may partially explain why AR5 doesn't include any temperature data, unlike AR4. With the assistance of RealClimate contributors, I have attempted to project the temperature change that would result from each of the RCP scenarios, using the method outlined in Hansen et al.'s 2011 paper "Earth’s energy imbalance and implications". The results are available here:
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Oct 17, 2012