The 1C milestone

Just a quick post to highlight that – according to the UK Met Office – 2015 is likely to be 1oC above pre-industrial – well, 1oC above the 1850 to 1900 average. If you think that we should have a target of staying below 2oC, then this is something of a milestone; we’re halfway there. Or, are we?

Well, it depends on how you consider this. It’s taken us about 160 years to warm by about 1oC. This is associated with emissions of about 550GtC (550 billion tonnes of carbon, or ~2000 billion tonnes of CO2). Current emissions are around 10GtC/year. If we continue emitting as we are, we will double our cumulative emissions in about 50 years. If we continue to increase our emissions, it will be even sooner (H/T Aaron on Twitter). If we want to have a >66% chance of staying below 2oC, then we have a carbon budget of only about 250GtC (850GtCO2) from 2015, which we could reach in only 25 years at current emissions.

So, we might be halfway to 2oC in terms of temperature, but we’re much more than halfway there in terms of time. Of course, whether or not we should actually have a 2oC target, and an associated carbon budget, is a complex issue, but that doesn’t change that if we carry on as we are, the second 1oC will probably happen much faster the first.

[Update: Here’s the Met Office press release which I tried, and failed, to find before writing this – mainly because I looked at their blog, and didn’t think of looking for a press release.]

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98 Responses to The 1C milestone

  1. Tony says:

    The tools to mitigate CO2 will become better barring some serious catastrophe. Both technical in terms of alternative energy advancement and also communication and complexity like smart software.
    Also as soon as it IS considered a crisis social and political action can ramp up exponentially

  2. The lag in the system is complex and unhelpful, as most people don’t understand the momentum we’ve accrued and thus, as you say, how quickly we’ll reach 2C. They’re only just coming to terms with the fact 1C has an impact on the weather, never mind the dangers of a +2C world. Much more should be done to paint a picture of what 2C impacts will be. They scare me—and I doubt if I’ll even live to see them.

  3. …Tony being a perfect example.

  4. Tony,
    I love the optimism. However, even if true (and it is clearly partly true) it’s not an argument for simply waiting until it IS a crisis. We could aim to try and minimise the chance that it will become one. Also, there are some very good arguments as to why, if it does become a crisis, it will be much more difficult than you make out. Realistically, any major change in energy infrastructure will probably take decades. It is possible that if we carry on emitting as we are, we could warm by another degree within decades. If the damages are non-linear, then if we get to the point where it is obviously a crisis, preventing further damage becomes increasingly difficult; well unless we simply stop emitting GHGs, which will produce an entirely different sort of crisis.

  5. wheelism says:

    The Berkeley Earth team found that temps had risen by about 1.5°C as of a few years ago. Is this figure considered less accurate than the Met’s as regards the Paris talks?

  6. wheelism,
    I think that is when they were presenting land-only temperatures. I think their global is similar to HadCRUT4 from the Met Office.

  7. wheelism says:


  8. As a rough guide, the land surface is warming about 1.5 times faster than the global surface.

  9. lerpo says:

    ATTP: Would you have any issue with me referencing you by your name rather than handle in a slashdot submission?

  10. lerpo,
    No, I don’t have an issue with that. However, I’m not even sure what a slashdot submission is.

  11. wheelism says:

    Joe Romm points out that current commitments will lead to a 3.5°C total rise by 2100, and (as I read it) that we’re looking at a best result of 2.7°C if we can cement further action at the conference. I have to wonder if we truly have a chance at staying within the 2°C target.

  12. lerpo,
    That looks fine. Could use “physicists” rather than just “Physics”.

  13. wheelism,
    I think we’re at the crucial stage where it’s going to get harder and harder and it needs to be decided if the narrative is still about a 2oC target that we may no longer be able to keep, or that it becomes accepted that it’s getting harder and the narrative changes. I don’t know the answer. The issue with changing the narrative, is that it will seem like giving up. The problem with keeping it, is that it runs the risk of appearing unrealistic.

  14. lerpo says:


  15. If it’s done, it’s done 🙂

  16. pete best says:

    Thermal lag of the oceans means more warming is in the pipeline, around 0.6c more in total I thought. So 1.5c is guaranteed I assumed

  17. Pete,
    Yes, if atmospheric CO2 remains at 400ppm, or goes higher, then we’d expect at least a further 0.5 – 0.6oC.

  18. Joseph says:

    Yes, if atmospheric CO2 remains at 400ppm, or goes higher, then we’d expect at least a further 0.5 – 0.6oC.

    I was going to ask a similar question. So does your rate of emissions calculation assume that the CO2 ppm trend will continue at the same rate or is it expected to accelerate?

  19. bill shockley says:

    We can knock a chunk of that off by drawing down CO2 into the bio-sphere (100GtC). Soil has a large capacity for carbon. Hansen says 2C is a disaster and achieving 1.5C is totally possible from a physics/economics standpoint. He says we need a new political party, he wants to call it The American Party.

    Bernie has 30% of Democratic support according to polls and it’s early. He’s calling it a climate crisis. Bill McKibben says we’re turning a corner (to the left).

    If we get Bernie + a Democratic congress (could happen… see Canada) and we get a strong carbon tax started, that would be a lot of momentum. The carbon tax would gain popularity ($dividend$) and there would be no looking back.

    Best scenario: the above + Bernie knows who JHansen is and makes him climate czar.

  20. Joseph,
    Good question. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the airborn fraction will go down. I think the IPCC models suggest that it goes up slightly. In a sense, I think this is the reason why we expect the warming to depend linearly on emissions, even though it depends logarithmically on concentrations. As a rough estimate, therefore, we just need to know the cumulative emissions, not the actual atmospheric concentration. The transient response is (from the IPCC SPM top of page 17) is 0.8 to 2.5oC per 1000GtC. We’ve emitted 550GtC and warmed by about 1oC. Unless a big chunk of that is internal variability, or we’ve overestimated the aerosol forcing, the lower end of that range seems unlikely.

  21. It’s taken us about 160 years to warm by about 1oC.

    But it also takes about 5 minutes to warm 1C every morning at sun rise.

    Neither event appears very significant.

  22. TE,
    Oh, come on you’re better than that.

  23. Pingback: Here There be Dragons: The One Degree Threshold | Climate Denial Crock of the Week

  24. Chase Stoudt says:

    IPCC AR1 in 1990 predicted 1 degree C by 2025. Just food for thought.

  25. Tapani L. says:

    Sunrise can be a pretty significant event after a long, cold night. It’s a matter of perspective.

    What this has to do with global warming, I’m not so sure.

  26. anoilman says:

    Anders… people who suffer from cognitive dissonance tend to say things like that.

  27. Chase,
    Would be interesting to see what kind of assumptions were associated with that. Some of Hansen’s predictions were pretty close too, although his model had a slightly higher ECS (4.2C) than we know think is likely.

  28. ATTP – It is worth highlighting Professor Stephen Belcher’s comment in the Met Office statement:

    “We have seen a strong El Nino develop in the Tropical Pacific this year and that will have had some impact on this year’s global temperature. We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we’re set to reach the 1 °C marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory.”

    No equivocation here: “it’s clear”.

    You have used the 66% confidence level, but there is a risk that to save face for politicians, we shall see climate negotiators & diplomats segway towards “we can achieve better than evens [50%] chance of avoiding 2C”.

    What chance now of the1.5C that many of the most vulnerable countries have called for?

  29. Sam Taylor says:


    2% per annum emissions growth gives us, by my reckoning, until about 2032 with that carbon budget. That’s being optimistic and hoping that 1) India’s emissions don’t skyrocket in a similar manner to those of China 2) We don’t get any more unpleasant surprises about the Chinese actually burning 15% more coal than they said they did over the last decade or so.

  30. Sam Taylor is being optimistic, because his reckoning seems to describe a scenario where we keep following the Republican/WUWT/GWPF party line until about 2032 and then instantly shut off all our emissions and capture any emissions from melting permafrost, methane clathrates, megafires, etc.

    I’ve described the carbon budget problem by showing a range of more feasible scenarios which all have the same carbon budget but differ in when we peak our emissions:

    If we had peaked in 2011, we could slowly reduce emissions along the green curve. If you were to ski the green curve, it would be the bunny slope.

    Note that if we’d peaked in 2011, future generations would have the choice of emitting some CO2 after the 2040s. By waiting just a few years, we’ve already taken that choice away from them.

    If we wait until 2020 to peak, we’d have to reduce emissions 9% per year afterwards. That’s not a bunny slope, it’s more like a black diamond.

    We need to address the CO2 problem right now.

  31. DumbSci,
    Great figure, thanks. I agree. The longer we wait to start reducing our emissions, the more drastic the emission reductions will have to be if we do realise that there is some target we should be aiming to stay below. I really don’t think this message has sunk in yet.

  32. pbjamm says:

    I had so far managed to never learn your real name ATTP despite knowing it was out there on the interwebs. Alas the age of innocence is over. You will always be Wotts/ATTP to me!

  33. pbjamm,
    Sorry, I’ve rather given up on keeping it separate 🙂

  34. Ethan Allen says:

    Dumb Scientist (@DumbSci),

    Your ‘plot’ doesn’t go far enough, it looks like it’s about to break …
    Iribarren number
    (see animated gifs on the rhs if they don’t show up below)

  35. Richard Somerville at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography calls the graph @DumbSci linked to (or variants of it) the single most important thing people need to understand about the dynamics of the climate dilemma.

    It seems a trivially easy concept to grasp but we seem to be collectively sleepwalking right past it.

  36. Sam taylor says:


    Should’ve been more specific, I expect us to blow through 2C and keep on emitting until something (ff depletion or negative impacts from climatic change) starts forcing our emissions down. I do not believe our international political systems are capable of addressing climate change adequately. Too many free rider incentives, classic prisoners dilemma.

  37. @bill shockley says:
    We can knock a chunk of that off by drawing down CO2 into the bio-sphere (100GtC). Soil has a large capacity for carbon.

    Hopefully we can do this, but it is going to be a real stretch. About 40% (slightly less iirc) of the cumulative CO2 emissions to-date has been from changes to the biosphere – deforestation, soil carbon loss from agricultural processes, etc.) So, as ATTP mentions in his OP, say 40% of 550GtC total. So, there are some upper bounds on what we could feasibly reverse, absent plowing under all our farms and cities, etc., or the biosphere somehow suddenly becoming more carbon-philic than it was before the Anthropocene (why would this occur?).
    But for arguments sake, let’s say we can do 100GtC. That would be 2GtC per year for 50 years starting today, or some similar path. That is a monumental challenge when you try to make the math work as to how to achieve those 2 GtC/yr from the main strategies to do so reforestation, restoring grasslands and degraded grazing lands, and by modifying agricultural practices to build up soil carbon.)
    I am not down on the idea, just really skeptical of what we can hope for.

  38. Hansen says 2C is a disaster

    take notes BBD.

    Question. if we are at 1C and 1.5C is a done deal.
    might want to start adapting to the certainty of 1.5C.. since the science says it’s a done deal.

    That doesnt preclude action on mitigation..

  39. bill shockley says:


    There’s a big difference between a “challenge” and a “real stretch”, the latter sometimes referring to fantastical notions. Hansen’s claims are based on sound science, math and logic. IMO, he should be the starting point for climate science and policy discussion, not an occasional footnote. Here is his short discussion from his Dec., 2013 Asssessing Dangerous Climate Change with the noted references in the literature (approximately 20), many of which include the url links to the actual articles.

    Reforestation and Soil Carbon
    Of course fossil fuel emissions will not suddenly terminate. Nevertheless, it is not impossible to return CO2 to 350 ppm this century. Reforestation and increase of soil carbon can help draw down atmospheric CO2. Fossil fuels account for ,80% of the CO2increase from preindustrial time, with land use/deforestation accounting for 20% [1,170,172–173]. Net deforestation to date is estimated to be 100 GtC (gigatons of carbon) with 650% uncertainty [172]. Complete restoration of deforested areas is unrealistic, yet 100 GtC carbon drawdown is conceivable because: (1) the human enhanced atmospheric CO2 level increases carbon uptake by some vegetation and soils, (2) improved agricultural practices can convert agriculture from a CO2 source into a CO2 sink [174], (3) biomass-burning power plants with CO2 capture and storage can contribute to CO2 drawdown. Forest and soil storage of 100 GtC is challenging, but has other benefits. Reforestation has been successful in diverse places [175]. Minimum tillage with biological nutrient recycling, as opposed to plowing and chemical fertilizers, could sequester 0.4–1.2 GtC/year [176] while conserving water in soils, building agricultural resilience to climate change, and increasing productivity especially in smallholder rain-fed agriculture, thereby reducing expansion of agriculture into forested ecosystems [177–178]. Net tropical deforestation may have decreased in the past decade [179], but because of extensive deforestation in earlier decades [170,172–173,180–181] there is a large amount of land suitable for reforestation [182]. Use of bioenergy to draw down CO2 should employ feedstocks from residues, wastes, and dedicated energy crops that do not compete with food crops, thus avoiding loss of natural ecosystems and cropland [183–185]. Reforestation competes with agricultural land use; land needs could decline by reducing use of animal products, as livestock now consume more than half of all crops [186]. Our reforestation scenarios assume that today’s net deforestation rate (,1 GtC/year; see [54]) will stay constant until 2020, then linearly decrease to zero by 2030, followed by sinusoidal 100 GtC biospheric carbon storage over 2031–2080. Alternative timings do not alter conclusions about the potential to achieve a given CO2 level such as 350 ppm.

  40. bill shockley says:

    stephen mosher said:

    Question. if we are at 1C and 1.5C is a done deal. might want to start adapting to the certainty of 1.5C.. since the science says it’s a done deal.

    Indeed, Jeremy Jackson says the people in south Florida should start packing trunk to avoid the freeway rush. And the East Coast universities should start packing their priceless art treasures and moving them inland. He’s even more pessimistic about sea level rise than Hansen. Of course JJ is way out of his field of expertise.

    Hansen’s 2013 paper thought we could overshoot 1C by about 0.25C and then return there by late in the century, having stabilized at 350 ppm. I don’t know how much that would have changed now, 2 years later.

  41. Ethan Allen says:

    650% uncertainty? OMFG! Should be +/- 50% But is it one sigma or two sigma or they don’t know how many sigmas?

    There’s like only 27 instances of ‘uncertain’ in that particular reference (and zero instances of ‘reticent’).

  42. bill shockley says:

    Ethan, my impression is that Hansen has maintained strong and comprehensive discipline in his science (paying attention to assumptions and uncertainty). It’s a big reason for his longevity as an advocate. How does his decision to speak out in 1988 look now (he was strongly ambivalent at the time… it runs counter to his nature). What difference would it have made if we had listened to him then? Why do we still want to ignore him?

    (I have spoken the obvious and will now have to pay for it).

    they would not find me changed from him they knew
    only more certain of all I thought was true
    — R. Frost

  43. izen says:

    The average mean global temperature record is a purely symbolic metric. Its meaning is dependent on the knowledge and beliefs that people bring to it.

    It preaches to the choir for the climate activist/alarmist because they have the background knowledge that 1 deg C and ~8inches of sea level rise in a century is a large and rapid change that has reversed ~7000 years of cooling and falling/static sea levels. The fasted natural change in the thousand year transition from glacial maximum to interglacial optimum which is around 5 degC in a thousand years. (and several yards of sea level rise.)

    However for inactivists/lukewarmer a 1 deg C rise is an order of magnitude smaller than the day/night variation and much smaller than the difference between a warm day and a cold day in local weather conditions. Therefore it is a much smaller problem than perceived by the AGW Cassandras.

    For the hardline denialist of course the claim that there has been ANY human caused warming is part of a political hoax designed to install a NWO and autocratic control by international socialism. Those that pander to this false claim of warming are dupes of the climate conspiracy, fellow travelers of the ideologically driven fraud. (see Monckton, Lamar Smith, and WUWT for the examples of that constituency)

  44. Ethan Allen says:

    What difference would it have made if we had listened to him then? Why do we still want to ignore him?

    Define ‘we’ in your two questions. If by ‘we’ you mean humanity then you will have to ask humanity to answer those types of questions.

    Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.

    Sadly, it looks like humanity is rather determined to open that box.

  45. @izen

    Please leave use of the insult, ‘climate alarmists’, to those in denial. It’s the equivalent of calling someone a ‘climate liar’. ‘Warmist’ is innocuous by comparison as it’s a newly made up word with no inherent meaning.

  46. BBD says:


    Hansen says 2C is a disaster

    take notes BBD.

    I agree with him. Take notes, Steven.

  47. izen says:

    @-“Please leave use of the insult, ‘climate alarmists’, to those in denial.”

    Of course it is an insult. But we don’t get to choose the label our enemies apply to us. Unless you want to follow the denialists down the rabbit-hole of language policing.

    Better to embrace it and justify why alarmism is not unwarranted on the evidence available.

  48. bill shockley says:

    Ethan Allen,

    By not answering that loaded question, humanity is pointing the gun at themselves and firing or, in your preferred metaphor, opening Pandora’s box. I see we secretly agree.

    (I”m sensing that was too easy).

  49. bill shockley says:

    Hansen’s mitigation scenarios including emissions cuts beginning in 2013 and biosphere drawdown of CO2 between 2030 and 2080 keeping warming below 1.5C.

    From Assessing Dangerous Climate Change

    If wordpress had a markdown tag for images, these images could be embedded.

  50. bill shockley says:

    Hansen’s math:

    1C > 2C
    500 GtC > 1000 GtC

    Hansen’s logic:

    Don’t design a policy that guarantees disaster.

  51. @izen

    Well of course we don’t get to choose the labels people use against us. But embrace them? Are you kidding? ‘Warmist’ or ‘alarmed’, I don’t really have a problem with; but ‘alarmist’? Would you recommend describing ourselves as ‘liars’ or ‘fraudsters’ just because that’s what they labelled you?

  52. izen says:

    @-“Would you recommend describing ourselves as ‘liars’ or ‘fraudsters’ just because that’s what they labelled you?”

    I suspect you pose this as a rhetorical question, or one with a single obvious answer.

    But the actual answer is usually ‘Yes’.
    How else can you engage with a misapplied label and demonstrate the error of the attribution?

  53. lerpo says:

    Izen: “Better to embrace it and justify why alarmism is not unwarranted on the evidence available.”

    Alarmism is different from alarm. Alarmism is unwarranted by definition.

  54. Alarmism is different from alarm. Alarmism is unwarranted by definition.

    Yes, I think there is a difference between being alarmed about the possibility of something bad happening and trying to do something to avoid it, and being an alarmist.

  55. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before. An ‘alarmist’ is someone who (from the dictionary) “exaggerates a danger and so causes needless worry or panic”. Synonyms: ‘scaremonger’, ‘doom-monger’, ‘doom-sayer’.

    Given that our alarm is backed up by evidence, we are not exaggerating. And it’s not needless: the potential outcome is rightly worrying. I’ve not seen any panic yet.

  56. izen says:

    @-“Alarmism is different from alarm. Alarmism is unwarranted by definition.”

    Bit like denial, denialism and denier then.

  57. Vinny Burgoo says:

    johnrussell40, the other day you wondered whether the scientifically informed mainstream media might have been cowed into not writing realistically about the true future impacts of climate change by scare-quoted ‘skeptics’ who had successfully tarred such portrayals as alarmist. You then gave an example of the sort of realistic portrayal of climate impacts you’d like to see more often in the mainstream media: a thoroughly alarmist piece on conflict and climate change in The Nation by an art historian turned professional peacenik and West-basher, Michael Klare. Here it is:

    Selective quoting and dodgy summaries of the IPCC’s AR5 (which went out of its way, again and again, to stress that climate change is, at most, a minor factor in civil wars), the usual myopic twaddle about Syria, what looks like some dog-whistling about Israel, and a lot of pure hokum about Mali.

    Textbook alarmism.

    Back of the class. Do a bit more reading before you next lecture ‘the scientific community’ about what is and isn’t alarmism.

  58. numerobis says:

    Vinny: “In many regions, changing precipitation or melting snow and ice are altering hydrological systems, affecting water resources in terms of quantity and quality” — right out of the AR5 synthesis report.

    Are you unable to imagine that changing the hydrology will cause water conflicts?

  59. Vinny Burgoo says:


  60. BBD says:

    Well why are you throwing around accusations of alarmism upthread then, Vinny?

    It is *obvious* that ratcheting up climate impacts will exacerbate intra- inter-state tensions. Obvious. Denying this is ludicrous, credibility-destroying folly. Accusing people of alarmist for pointing out the obvious marks *you* out as a fool.

  61. BBD says:

    Should be:

    intra- and inter-state tensions

  62. snarkrates says:

    Numerobis: “Are you unable to imagine that changing the hydrology will cause water conflicts?”

    I think Vinny’s ability to imagine is as limited as his ability to comprehend. After all, there is precedent: Mark Twain famously said, “Whiskey is for drinking. Water’s for fightin’ over.” And T. Boone Pickens stopped drilling oil wells about 5-6 years ago and is instead buying up water rights.

  63. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Well why are you throwing around accusations of alarmism upthread then, Vinny?

    Because Klare’s article is alarmist.

    There’s a lot of sensible stuff in there about the potential for resource wars and every now and then he acknowledges that climate change is just one factor among many, but then he forgets such caveats and comes out with stuff like this:

    A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed [than ‘soaring temperatures and a substantial rise in global sea levels’]. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference—perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.

    I get the impression that his article is a rehash of things he has written many times before but with random climate change speculations bodged on to give it pre-COP21 topicality. For example, the section about the Brahmaputra. It’s possible that at some point China will divert some of the Brahmaputra’s flow and that this will cause problems downstream (as India’s Farakka barrage on the Ganges has) and that these problems might provoke a war with India, as Klare suggests. So far, so OK. Geopolitical pundits like Klare posit such plausible hypotheticals all the time.

    The trouble is, though, that current predictions for climate change’s impacts on the Brahmaputra are for increased flows throughout the year (e.g. Gain et al, 2011), so this particular ‘water wars’ hypothetical doesn’t belong in an article about climate change triggering conflict – if anything climate change would likely ameliorate that particular scenario. (And China diverting some of the Brahmaputra’s flow might ameliorate the currently expected boosting by climate change of destructive summer flooding downstream, thus reducing the risk of conflict. Will Klare ever speculate about that? Er, probably not. He’s a Peace Studies prof, so he’s only interested in war.)

  64. Vinny,
    So, you agree that it’s a possible outcome and yet you find an article about it alarmist because it doesn’t discuss quite what you would have discussed? Just for clarity “alarmist” typically refers to exaggerating so as to cause needless worry or panic, not discussing things we might genuinely want to be concerned about, but not every possible outcome.

  65. Vinny Burgoo says:

    You people are beyond help. You’re way too tribal. But one last try:

    A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees … worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare.


  66. You could drop the beyond help but, okay, guarantees is a bit too certain. You might want to reflect on the number of times you’ve unsuccessfully tried to show something to be alarmist 😉

  67. anoilman says:

    Risk Management;

  68. OPatrick says:

    Textbook alarmism.

    I would argue, rather, that your comment is a textbook attempt at highlighting supposed alarmism. You have exaggerated any genuine concerns far beyond credibility, made sweeping claims (including about sweeping claims) without evidencing them and selectively quoted, not by selecting quotes (how else can one quote but selectively in this sense?) but by eliding a key phrase.

    dodgy summaries of the IPCC’s AR5

    Here is the summary of the IPCC position in the article

     The IPCC report, however, suggested that global warming would have devastating impacts of a social and political nature as well, including economic decline, state collapse, civil strife, mass migrations, and sooner or later resource wars.

    These predictions have received far less attention, and yet the possibility of such a future should be obvious enough since human institutions, like natural systems, are vulnerable to climate change. Economies are going to suffer when key commodities—crops, timber, fish, livestock—grow scarcer, are destroyed, or fail. Societies will begin to buckle under the strain of economic decline and massive refugee flows. Armed conflict may not be the most immediate consequence of these developments, the IPCC notes, but combine the effects of climate change with already existing poverty, hunger, resource scarcity, incompetent and corrupt governance, and ethnic, religious, or national resentments, and you’re likely to end up with bitter conflicts over access to food, water, land, and other necessities of life.

    And here is a summary of the IPCC position in the WG2 SPM from AR5

    Climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks (medium confidence). Multiple lines of evidence relate climate variability to these forms of conflict.

    The term ‘devastating’ is not the language used by the IPCC, but I don’t think many would argue that it is inapt for describing the results of violent conflicts.

    [the IPCC AR5 report] went out of its way, again and again, to stress that climate change is, at most, a minor factor in civil wars

    Could you give examples of this stress on climate change being at most a minor factor in civil wars?

    the usual myopic twaddle about Syria, what looks like some dog-whistling about Israel, and a lot of pure hokum about Mali.

    Can you explain what in the brief discussion about the contribution of climate change to the stresses in Syria is myopic? Can you explain what the dog whistling about Israel is? Can you explain what is ‘pure hokum’ about the brief discussion of stresses that contributed to conflict in Mali?

    You people are beyond help. You’re way too tribal. But one last try:

    A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees … worldwide instability, insurrection, and warfare.


    That ellipsis hides an important phrase: “in the long run”. Isn’t it rather telling that in your attempt to paint a picture of alarmism you appear, whether consciously or subconsciously, to need to exaggerate the examples you choose?

  69. BBD says:

    Vinny doesn’t believe in physics, and is therefore beyond help.

  70. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Exaggeration, OPatrick? In a last-ditch attempt to help the tribe with its reading skills, I extracted the main message from something I had already quoted in full.

    I might try to help you with the other points later, although I suspect it would be wasted effort, but right now I have to go and mend a retaining wall damaged last night by a one-legged eighty-something on his way back from the pub in his grandaughter’s car.

    We can, of course, expect more such incidents hereabouts as climate change tightens its grip.

    1. The old man blamed his crash on the bendiness and bumpiness of the road. Extreme temperatures will warp roads, making them more bendy and bumpy.

    2. The old man also said he had been distracted by a temperature warning light flickering on the dashboard. Nuff said.

    3. The old man only had one leg and thus had trouble changing gears. According to the Guardian, climate change is linked to an increase in Type 2 diabetes (via migration or something); diabetics often need to have their feet amputated.

    4. The old man had been drinking. Climate change will make more people depressed (McMichael et al); depressives often self-medicate with alcohol.

    5. The old man was driving his granddaughter’s car. I can’t see a link to climate change in this one but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It will, no doubt, reveal itself in time (probably in the Guardian).

  71. Vinny,
    We’re not responsible for other people’s exaggerations. Spend some time monitoring the trash on the various denialist blogs, and maybe I’d take your concerns a bit more seriously. Thank you for them nonetheless.

  72. OPatrick says:

    Exaggeration, OPatrick?

    Let me repeat the context of that word: You have exaggerated any genuine concerns far beyond credibility. This is a standard ‘sceptic’ technique – take something there may be some genuine concerns about and exaggerate these concerns beyond credibility, then when people object to your hyperbole accuse them of defending anything that supports their side of the argument.

    Now, you claim that the AR5 report

    went out of its way, again and again, to stress that climate change is, at most, a minor factor in civil wars

    but I’ve been scanning chapter 12 of AR5 WGII, which seems the most pertinent section, and I can’t see these repeated stresses of this point. Did you mean things like this:

    In summary, there is justifiable common concern that climate change or changes in climate variability increase the risk of armed conflict in certain circumstances (Bernauer et al., 2012; Gleditsch, 2012; Scheffran et al., 2012c; Hsiang et al., 2013), even if the strength of the effect is uncertain. This concern is justified given robust knowledge of the factors that increase the risk of civil wars, and medium evidence that some of these factors are sensitive to climate change.[page 773]

    Or this:

    This chapter shows that climate change and climate variability pose risks to various dimensions of human security, which arise through diverse causal processes and which will be manifest at different scales. There is high agreement in the literature for this conclusion that comes from multiple lines of evidence. [page 777]

    Or this:

    In summary, climate change is one of many risks to the vital core of material well-being and culturally specific elements of human security that vary depending on location and circumstance. While there is much uncertainty about the future impacts of climate change on human security, on the basis of current evidence about the observed impacts of climate change on environmental conditions, climate change will be an increasingly important driver of human insecurity in the future [page 779]

    Or this:

    At very high levels of projected warming, all aspects of human security discussed in this chapter will be adversely affected (e.g., in high-latitude regions: Box 12-6). At high levels of warming, the rate of changes in environmental conditions in most places will be without any precedent in human history (New et al., 2011). Hence analysis concerning human security in those circumstances of very high impacts (as depicted in Table 12-4) is uncertain. Much of the current literature on human security and climate change is informed by contemporary relationships and observation and hence is limited in analyzing the human security
    implications of rapid or severe climate change. [page 779]

    But perhaps i am selectively quoting?

    There is, however, box 12-5 on page 773, which looks at the specific example of Darfur and concludes that the evidence does not support climate change being the primary driver of the conflict:

    All studies of this conflict agree that it is not possible to isolate any of these specific causes as being most influential (Kevane and Gray, 2008; Hagen and Kaiser, 2011; Sunga, 2011; Verhoeven, 2011). Most authors identify government practices as being far more influential drivers than climate variability, noting also that similar changes in climate did not stimulate conflicts of the same magnitude in neighboring regions, and that in the past people in Darfur were able to cope with climate variability in ways that avoided large-scale violence.

    Was that where your ‘repeated stressing’ comes from?

  73. Pingback: Going for the record | …and Then There's Physics

  74. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OPatrick, do you think that Klare’s article was alarmist? You have hinted that you do. Do you?

    If you answer that in the affirmative, I’ll dig out some quotes from AR5 WG2 Chapter 12 that might help you understand my ‘went out of its way, again and again’. If you don’t… Oh well.

    (Bonus question: Did the 1992 UNFCCC treaty designate climate change a threat to human survival? Quibbling about the meaning of ‘human survival’ wins negative points.)

  75. BBD says:


    Do you think that the potential threat from CC is alarming?

    If not, which bits of the science are you denying in order to pretend that all will be well?

  76. Vinny Burgoo says:

    The Five Stages of Alarmism Denial

    1. There is no alarmism.

    2. We don’t yet know whether it is alarmism or understatement.

    3. Alarmism exists but it’s got nothing to do with us.

    4. The alarmism is ours but it doesn’t matter/it’s a good thing.

    5. Our alarmism is a bad thing but there’s nothing we can do about it.

  77. Vinny,
    I really have no idea what you’re on about. Maybe you could slow down and actually explain yourself. This is, to be quite honest, getting rather irritating.

  78. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, you’re at Stage Three and have been for quite a while. BBD is probably at Stage Four.

  79. Vinny,
    What stage of denial are you at?

  80. OPatrick says:

    If you answer that in the affirmative, I’ll dig out some quotes from AR5 WG2 Chapter 12 that might help you understand my ‘went out of its way, again and again’. If you don’t… Oh well.

    That’s somewhat surreal. You will only support your claim that the article is alarmist if I first concede that it is alarmist.

    In most realms of interaction I’d assume you were making some kind of joke, but in the climate debate it’s often impossible to tell.

  81. BBD says:


    BBD is probably at Stage Four.

    You show me being alarmist and you can continue in this vein. If you can’t (and you can’t), then you had best stop.

    Now, I asked you a question which, predictably, you have dodged, so let’s try again:

    Do you think that the potential threat from CC is alarming?

    If not, which bits of the science are you denying in order to pretend that all will be well?

  82. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBD, some aspects are potentially alarming, yes.

    But anyway… We’re having unusually high winds here at the moment, which is obviously dangerous, but it also means that the roads are covered, for mile after mile, with free firewood. (If only I could be arsed to go out and collect some.) An overlooked benefit of climate change?

  83. An overlooked benefit of climate change?

    No, I suspect in this case it’s just weather.

  84. BBD says:

    BBD, some aspects are potentially alarming, yes.

    Then pointing to them cannot by definition be alarmist.

    So shitcan the rhetoric please.

  85. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Anything can be presented in an alarmist manner, including things that are potentially alarming.

  86. Vinny,
    Well then you’re using the word in a non-standard way. Typically it is taken to mean

    someone who exaggerates a danger and so causes needless worry or panic.

  87. snarkrates says:

    Vinny: “An overlooked benefit of climate change?”

    So, Vinny, I see you’re a “septic-tank’s half full” kind of guy.

  88. Willard says:

    > Anything can be presented in an alarmist manner, including things that are potentially alarming.

    Even then, your usage of “alarmist manner” begs a question that your “potentially alarming” switcheroo evades, Vinny.

  89. anoilman says:


    For kicks… why not read what the experts say about food production, this is an aggregate study of all the experts on food production;

    Click to access 2-van-der-Mensbrugghe-SFIFPRINOV2014DvdM.pdf

    We’ll be spending a lot more on food because CO2 will be killing plants faster than we grow plants.

    So, while that’s not alarming to me, its way more costly to poor people, and way way more concerning to people on the edge of starving.

    So who’s alarmed by all this.. Those crazy guys in the military. They are very alarmed.

  90. Vinny Burgoo says:

    snarkrates, properly functioning septic tanks are always full but I assume you are alluding to sludge levels, not liquid levels. If so, ITYM half-empty: ‘I see you’re a “my septic tank is half-empty of sludge” kind of guy.’ Not as snappy but more accurate as a metaphor.

    Does the amended metaphor apply? Probably. I haven’t had my septic tank emptied for at least ten years. Thanks for the reminder.

  91. snarkrates says:

    Vinny, Ah if only your reasoning were as easy to empty of sludge as your septic tank.

  92. anoilman says:

    snarkrates: I’m surprised Vinny’s not foaming at the mouth over those crazy dudes at the Pentagon. I mean he must think they are crazy and getting bad information or something.

    For some reason the Navy is very concerned, because there’s this thing called “Sea Level Rise”. It turns out those guys build naval bases near the shore! Who knew? ! ? I bet Vinny thinks the Navy should build its bases inland and stop being so alarmist.

  93. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Ouch! Ooh, the hurt, how it hurts!

    But to take your simile seriously…

    No. Sod it. You’re a tribal knob-end who has no idea what he’s talking about.

    (But thanks again for the reminder.)

  94. Okay, this isn’t going to end well if it continues, so I think that it shouldn’t continue.

  95. Pingback: If wishes were horses | …and Then There's Physics

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