IPCC | Learning by Proxy

The IPCC Has provided a damning report. Are we ready to act yet? Or will Ego continue to get the better of us?

In 1988, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) came together to create a body to which membership was open to all countries of the UN. The body was mandated to provide objective scientific information relevant to understanding human-induced climate change. This body was called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


In 1988

The GDP of America was 8.87 Trillion dollars that of China was USD 406 Billion.

By the end of this year, more than half of all industrial emissions of carbon dioxide since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution will have been released since 1988 — the year it became widely known that these emissions are warming the climate.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists


They released their first report in 1990 and based on that report, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was created. This in turn resulted in the meeting in Kyoto and the Kyoto Protocol.

They knew back then that the 'Business as usual’ approach was not going to be okay. That global greenhouse emissions would increase temperatures by 0.3 Degrees per decade over the new century.

In the meantime

Emissions from the United States

Source: Climate Action Tracker

Emissions from China

Source: Climate Action Tracker

Emissions from India

Source: Climate Action Tracker

The US seems to have arrested the growth of greenhouse emissions since 2000 and has even started bringing it down since 2008 when Obama took over as president. One must keep in mind that this was enabled by a one-word miracle "Outsourcing".

America outsourced almost all of its production and industrial activities to China. So the Chinese growth in emissions is in a big was an American consumption story. Nevertheless, Chinese emissions were half that of America in 1990 and how they are almost double that of America.

In the meantime, India's emissions have grown 3 fold as well. We are at the level at which China was in 1990.


The problem with Climate Action

Often the assumption is that climate change is something regarding which governments are not willing to take action because they do not want to hurt their businesses and slow down growth. This could not be further than the truth.

If today, the entire world decided that by 2025 every single Watt of electricity on this planet was to come from renewable sources, what do you think would happen? Business would go down? Or would solar panel factories be opened in every state of every country?

The problem with taking climate action comes down to this thing called EGO.

The precipitous rise you see in the chart above from 1945 (just after the second world war) to 1998 was perpetrated by the USA and Western Europe in huge parts - perhaps a good 80% of it. Their economies were able to grow while they polluted with total disregard for the environment and used the cheapest source of fuel (Coal) to do this. London used to suffer from smog regularly in the post-war years. [Watch The Crown on Netflix]

All that production and productivity (read pollution) made them some of the richest nations in the world. Banking on old-world colonialism (UK) and neo-colonialism (USA), they were able to extract preferential trade agreements often at the point of a gun.

As the cold war came to an end in 1989 with the fall of the USSR, the power of the nation was no longer measured by the number of phallic nuclear missiles they possessed but by a number called the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Race

In the 1990s both China and India joined the race and undertook "liberalisation".

Now.

India soon joined in and there has been this race to get to the top and be the country with the largest GDP. China has made great strides towards achieving it but the cost has been tremendous as well.

India, China and many other nations in the world willingly got sucked into this ego race of achieving a large GDP number often at the cost of the environment. The westerners managed to set the rules and make everyone play by them. But now, the consequences are apparent.

As IPCC realised that there were terrible consequences to pursuing this GDP war, India and China were only getting started and they did not want to be disallowed from increasing their GDP effortlessly by "Climate Regulations". This ego war has entirely defined the last 30 years of our climate response or the lack thereof.

So what now?

The first scientist to measure carbon dioxide’s potential to absorb heat was an American woman, Eunice Foote, in 1856. She filled one glass cylinder with carbon dioxide, and another with air, and set them out in the sunshine. Her scientific brief, published in the American Journal of Science and Arts, recorded the temperature in the carbon dioxide-filled cylinder as rising much higher than in the one with air.

Ever since, scientists have been steadily building confidence in the idea that humans are changing the climate by dumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The advent of supercomputers has given researchers massive computer simulations of the climate system, recreating the interactions between oceans, land, and the atmosphere to detect humanity’s role in global warming. The science has been right most of the time. After analyzing 17 climate models designed between 1970 and 2007, researchers found the majority of the predictions were “indistinguishable from what actually occurred.”

[...]

In the IPCC’s latest assessment report (AR6), the first section of which was published on Aug. 9, scientists sent a clear signal of growing confidence in their findings. Comparing the text with that of the first piece of the group’s previous assessment report (AR5), from 2013, “low confidence” statements fell from about 20% to 6% of the total number of confidence statements, while the portion of statements expressing “high confidence” rose from 36% to 56%.

Source:

Quartz

After years of saying that climate change is "most likely" man-made and pussyfooting around the evidence, the IPCC is finally in a place where it is saying that this link is unquestionably real. This report is not just about science, it is about politics. Since it is an intergovernmental panel, all of them need to sign off on it.

For this to happen - we had to have two states in America suffer fires and floods at the same time; 14 others continue to burn and 4 others continue to be pummeled by cyclones. We also needed the most catastrophic floods that Western Europe has seen in a long time and for China itself to be hit by floods.

What did they finally say?

It concludes with “high confidence” that the plans countries so far have put forward to reduce emissions are “insufficient” to keep warming well below 2°C, the goal enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. While unsurprising on its own, it is surprising for a document that had to be signed off on by the same government representatives it condemns.

The last time global temperatures were comparable to today was 125,000 years ago, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is higher than anytime in the last 2 million years, and greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than anytime in the last 800,000 years.

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the global climate system since pre-industrial times” (the last IPCC report said human influence was “clear”). Specifically, the report blames humanity for nearly all of the 1.1°C increase in global temperatures observed since the Industrial Revolution.

Climate change is happening faster than previously understood, and the likelihood that the global temperature increase can stay within the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C is extremely slim.

The more emissions increase, the less they can be offset by natural sinks—and in a high-emissions scenario, the loss of forests from wildfires becomes so severe that land-based ecosystems become a net source of emissions, rather than a sink

Methane, particulate matter, aerosols, hydrofluorocarbons, and other non-CO2 gases that don’t linger very long in the atmosphere (just a few hours, in some cases) but exert a tremendous influence on the climate while they do.

Climate sensitivity is a measure of how much the Earth responds to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. For every doubling of atmospheric CO2, temperatures go up by about 3°C, this chapter concludes.

Although instances of drought are expected to become more common and more severe, wet parts of the world will get wetter as the warmer atmosphere is able to carry more water. Total net precipitation will increase, yet the thirstier atmosphere will make dry places drier.

Warmer water expands, contributing significantly to sea level rise, and the slow, deep circulation of ocean water is a key reason why global temperatures don’t turn on a dime in relation to atmospheric CO2. Marine animals are feeling this heat, as scientists have documented that the frequency of marine heatwaves has doubled since the 1980s.

Cities, in particular, will warm faster as a result of urbanization. Global warming extremes in urban areas will be even more pronounced, especially during heatwaves. Although global models largely agree, it is more difficult to consistently predict regional climate impacts across models.

Our climate is already different compared to the early or mid-20th century and we’re seeing big changes to mean temperatures, growing season, extreme heat, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation, and Arctic sea ice loss. Expect more changes by mid-century: more rain in the northern hemisphere, less rain in a few regions (the Mediterranean and South Africa), as well as sea-level rise along all coasts.

Source:

Quartz

We have contributed to this crisis and there is little hope of escape if we continue down the path we are on - even if that involves cutting back by paltry amounts as promised in Paris. In a couple of decades - no more seafood! Mediterranean desert and rich people in America prepare to swim in your cities. You can read the full report here.

Source: IPCC

Here is the thing. The people in the tropics have had to suffer wild temperature swings, as it is, for decades now. In Delhi, it is normal to have a 15-degree difference between high and low in a day and up to a 35-degree difference between summer highs and winter lows. This is not true of the countries closer to the poles - Today.

They will get a taste of what it is like if the temperatures keep rising. This is already evidenced by the events unfolding at this moment. They are not infra-structurally or physically adapted to deal with these wild swings. They will DIE.

The days of climate consequences hurting only the poor are over; It is coming for the rich countries. It is time for the ostrich to get its head out of the soil or die as the water washes in and suffocates it to death.

Weather Jujitsu

Jujitsu is a form of martial art where you use the power of the opponent against them. For a century man has had the arrogance to think that man could control nature. The most physical expression of this is Dams. China has 98,000 dams. Yeah, that is not a typo!

While’s it’s difficult to link any one extreme event to global warming, the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published Monday (Aug. 9) says that rainfall and floods seen as “once in a decade” events are going to become increasingly more frequent. In east Asia, the IPCC predicts with high confidence that heavy rainfall will increase in frequency and intensity.

[...]

According to a report commissioned by the National Climate Center, part of China Meteorological Administration, mean temperatures in the country were above normal in every season in 2020. Meanwhile, the annual rainfall for the whole country in 2020 ranked as the fourth-highest since 1951. The heavy rainfall caused extreme floods across southern, central, and eastern China. As a result, water levels at the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric plant, located in central China and completed in 2009, rose 6.5 feet above its flood-prevention level.

One of the dams that collapsed this year, the Xinfa dam in Inner Mongolia, was “well constructed and prepared very well (for floods)” said Mohammad Heiderzahad, an associate professor of civil engineering at Brunel University in London. Heiderzahad, who is a dam engineer himself, explained that even so the dam collapsed quickly despite having two spillways and an emergency bottom outlet, which allows for water to be released safely when a dam is in danger of overflowing.

Source: Quartz

The tools that we employed to control nature are going to be used against us by nature. This is not going to be pretty to watch. There is one thing that all of us can be certain of; we will be having hotter summers, colder winters and more and more flooding events across the world.

Growing trees and plants have taken up about a quarter of all fossil fuel emissions since 1960, with the Amazon playing a major role as the largest tropical forest. Losing the Amazon’s power to capture CO2 is a stark warning that slashing emissions from fossil fuels is more urgent than ever, scientists said.

The research used small planes to measure CO2 levels up to 4,500m above the forest over the last decade, showing how the whole Amazon is changing. Previous studies indicating the Amazon was becoming a source of CO2 were based on satellite data, which can be hampered by cloud cover, or ground measurements of trees, which can cover only a tiny part of the vast region.

The scientists said the discovery that part of the Amazon was emitting carbon even without fires was particularly worrying. They said it was most likely the result of each year’s deforestation and fires making adjacent forests more susceptible the next year. The trees produce much of the region’s rain, so fewer trees means more severe droughts and heatwaves and more tree deaths and fires.

Source: The Guardian

The shareholder value that was created by burning fossil fuel will be spent repairing cities and attempting to keep people alive. All of this is because we can measure our success only in terms of GDP.

As George Carlin put it - "The planet was there for Billions of years before we humans showed up, and it would probably be here for Billions more after us. The planet is not dying, WE ARE." I think it is high time we start talking about climate in those terms. The planet will not suffer, we will.

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