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# Are Warmers confident that they can solve global warming without the cooperation of Non-warmers?

Are Warmers confident that they can solve global warming without the cooperation of Non-warmers?

• We are already outside of the window were will have any chance of avoiding major consequences.
This is not a black and white issue the effect of global warming  is proportional to our emissions.
The inertia between co2 and warming is such that the next thirty or forty years of warming are already locked in . Many metrics point to looming major change ahead that we are not prepared for now let alone what will result if we dont change course in that time. We can not solve global warming we can just hope to avoid the worse possible future. The wind is slowly backing The realists are gaining ground on those who are resisting change. We can but hope this continues.

Personally I think the delay has been to long
I am in the process of reducing my personal emissions as low as I can get them and setting up somewhere comfortable, isolated and safe  for the long bumpy ride ahead .

• The warmers already won. The transition to renewable energy has become inevitable due to the large market the warmers created, which drove the prices down due to economies of scale. It will still take until 2050 until the transition is finished in the industrial countries, but there is no way to stop the economic forces any more.

Faster would still be better, but the main battle is won, even if that is not visible to everyone yet. CO2-is-life has lost.
• edited September 2016

It is a fascinating question and interestingly phrased

I would make two comments It is quite clear that people who actively deny or seek to endlessly “concern troll” the scientific literature/consensus have absolutely no idea that they come from such a small constituency – seemingly exclusively drawn from the US right wing think tanks.

Their comments online show a devastating lack of self-awareness, as Victor points out the argument has been won and in fact the world moves on (and continues to warm)

And secondly and perhaps more interestingly it is clear (to me) that climate change hits at the very idea of “American exceptionalism” and hence their ability to solve the problem all on their own. Maybe climate change is simply a proxy argument that highlights America’s ever increasing “irrelevance” to the rest of the world

an experience that, coming from the UK, allows us a unique insight into

• "Are Warmers confident that they can solve global warming without the cooperation of Non-warmers?"

__________________

Assuming that 'warmers' are those who accept the scientific consensus on the reality, causes and potential seriousness of global warming and that 'non-warmers' are those who reject some or all of these things, then yes, global warming is still solvable.

Momentum in important decision making tends to eventually swing in the direction informed by the evidence, marginalising those who reject the evidence and rendering their cooperation unnecessary.  For example, NASA didn't need the cooperation of the Flat Earth Society to put people on the moon.

• Anyway, what's the alternative? It's obvious the deniers are not going to cooperate, so we'll just have to do it without them anyway.
• The warmers already won. The transition to renewable energy has become inevitable due to the large market the warmers created, which drove the prices down due to economies of scale. It will still take until 2050 until the transition is finished in the industrial countries, but there is no way to stop the economic forces any more.

Faster would still be better, but the main battle is won, even if that is not visible to everyone yet. CO2-is-life has lost.

I think that the foundations of climate science denial are built on the belief that to accept climate responsibility will lead to an unacceptable and damaging economic burden - and economic fears are still more immediate, pervasive and influential than any climate fears. Power to choose our direction is disproportiately in the hands of commerce and industry and that sector has been disproportiately opposed to strong climate policy; those choices are not dependent on the validity of climate science but on perceptions of how climate policy impacts costs and profitability more directly and economic conditions indirectly. In many ways economies are seen as far more fragile and in need of protection than our physical environmental systems.

I am coming to think that the most significant thing RE can do is shake that foundation of belief that climate responsibility is an unbearable economic burden - irrespective of whether RE can ultimately achieve all that we require. The assured support, based on economic fear, for the fossil fuel status quo and it's politics of denial, doubt and delay is being eroded. The political impact may initially exceed those on emissions, yet with the status quo disrupted the opportunity for more transformative policy can be opened up.
• edited September 2016
That's a good point, Ken. The price of renewables is dropping each year, in some places quite dramatically.

One thing I don't completely agree with is that business is strongly opposed to mitigation. The fossil fuel dependent businesses, yes. But that isn't necessarily energy distributors and generators - a lot of which are making the shift to renewables. It's more the coal companies, oil companies and, say, aluminium smelters that consume vast amounts of energy.

Businesses want some certainty more than being opposed to mitigation. Many of them are dealing with climate change in their own way. It's the flip-flopping by government that businesses don't like - at least here in Australia. (Here businesses and the main business groups were quite prepared to accept the carbon pricing system, and did. What they don't like is having to switch from a carbon price to no carbon price and back again. It badly affects their ability to plan.)

The last thing most businesses would want is delay by government to the point that it had to suddenly place onerous burdens on businesses and taxpayers. That could be disastrous for many businesses. They'd rather gradual change and consistent policies.
• edited September 2016
Speaking of price of renewable, IEEFA make a good point in one of their latest posts.

The US$24.20/MWh tender for 350 megawatts of solar in the Middle East shows the price of solar dropping by 20 percent from US$30/MWh in five months and down now two-thirds from the US$58/MWh tender awarded just 20 months ago. (Here’s the story that appeared in The National, the government-owned news organization in Abu Dhabi, and here’s some follow-up elaboration by Bloomberg News). This is real, and the rate of change is accelerating, not slowing. The question now for the coal industry: How can seaborne thermal coal compete with solar at US$24/MWh?

It can’t, really, and the direction and trend of solar is clear and certain. Wondering if solar grid parity in any particular region will hit in 2015 or 2025 is irrelevant when the alternative is building new 40-year-life coal plants that take five years to commission and then are only justifiable if you assume no carbon price  and no restrictions on water and air pollution over the project life.

IOW, even if renewables don't quite have grid parity in some cases at the moment, that still doesn't make new coal stations a reasonable option even on purely economic grounds.

So to argue for more coal and less renewables, deniers are now going to have to admit they are wanting the costlier option, and admit the "effing hippies" are wanting the option that makes more business sense.
• edited September 2016
"One thing I don't completely agree with is that business is strongly opposed to mitigation."

Sou, I have to disagree. Generalising is always going to be, to some extent, wrong, but I think opposition to strong climate action still dominates within the organisations that collectively represent and lobby for the interests of commerce and industry - such as, in Australia, the Business Council of Australia and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I think these do reflect the priorities as well as views of the broader business community.

Whilst statements of climate science denial and direct opposition to climate action have become untenable and some positive sounding statements in favour of it in principle have been seen I think that in practice opposition persists in the business community's most influential lobbying efforts. It can include open support for the fossil fuel industry, as in the key climate policy objective (!) of "Drive growth in our energy resources development and export" (BCA) which may reflect an excess of influence of that sector but may also be a backhanded recognition that the flow of royalties from it's continuing growth insulates the wider business community from taxation demands - and opposition to greater taxation demands has stronger support than climate action does. But obstructionism can also be disguised and hidden within their lobbying priorities and in the many caveats that come between their stated, in principle support and the policy requirements for their support in practice. Certainly the submissions such organisations continue to make contain so many opportunities to justify opposing strong climate action as to render their statements of support for it meaningless in practice.

I tend to cynicism when such business and industry representative bodies make formal statements of acceptance of the need for strong action and claim to desire consistent policy whilst they simultaneously find fault with most policy in practice and have histories of active support of strong lobbying in opposition and obstruction of those counted as the most effective, like carbon pricing. If energy producers are coming to embrace the transition - and I'm not convinced the statements along those lines are very heartfelt - again I suspect it's because of RE intrusion is seen as likely to accelerate and have widespread community support and this will happen regardless of any opposing lobbying efforts. But I seriously doubt those opposing efforts have stopped - rather, the focus is turning to network reliability and RE is being re-cast as the villain in that narrative.
• edited September 2016
Um, all my paragraphs appear to have disappeared in previous post - I composed elsewhere and pasted it in whole. I'll use the preview next time.

I just found the edit option!
• This is one important step.
Tesla has hinted that they will have an inverter that allows you to feed power from your car back into the grid .https://electrek.co/2016/09/21/tesla-energy-executive-talks-next-gen-inverter-hints-at-upcoming-vehicle-to-grid-capacity-for-tesla/

• Ok, but why would you want to? Is that actually going to be the best way of getting stored power back into the grid?
• Not necessarily the best.. The issues we face do not have a magic fix we need a full suit of technology to replace hydrocarbons  not just one  .
It is one more way to compensate for the intermittent generation  of solar and wind.
it is also a move forward for the smart grid . As we shift to transport based on electricity we will also create a massive battery bank to help manage the peaks and troughs in generation from wind and solar .

Not every country has the hydro resource we have here in NZ. Tidal power has not really worked anywhere as yet due to long term reliability issues. Geothermal shows promise if you have  the geology  . Nuclear is a little to expensive when you add in the risks and decommissioning. Anything that makes wind and solar more able to power our civilizations  is a step towards our future .
• The batteries of electrical vehicles is storage capacity that is almost free because it is there any way.
• In answer to the initial question - if opposition to climate action ("non-warmers") persists within mainstream politics at levels we've been enduring to date then probably the answer would be no, we can't succeed at preventing dangerous climate change. If RE and storage price trends continue they will mitigate a lot, but we need zero to below zero emissions and unless the whole package can be exceptionally cheap those goals could exceed what simple market economics of cheaper than Fossil Fuel energy can achieve; we still need strong, persistent and undivided commitment to achieve the most effective policy to go the whole way.  My point above is that RE pricing trends can undermine the economic fear foundations that have fed the politics of denial and obstruction and made it such a potent mainstream political force. Denial will become increasingly untenable - almost there already IMO - as the climate more consistently exceeds the bounds of previous variability but obstruction, excessive compromise and the proliferation of demands for "essential" exceptions will be a lot harder to force out of the mainstream to the unacceptable fringes. So it won't be a matter of success in spite of doubt, deny, delay politics, but of success due to it's collapse and conversion of it's most influential voices to real commitment to climate action.

I suspect that because of the strong overlaps and political identification of support for climate action with preference for RE versus identification and support for nuclear overlap with opposition to strong climate action within mainstream politics, the largest body of political support for nuclear for climate has not been able to be mobilised in an effective manner whilst the strongest existing pro-RE support base for climate action has resisted it's inclusion; a lose-lose combination for the sincere advocates of nuclear for climate. Despite my own misgivings about massive global expansion of nuclear it may well prove an important element of a global solution should the hopes for RE to fully replace FF's fail to be realised. The collapse of obstructionism morphing into actual commitment to fixing the problem by that "side" of politics is probably a prerequisite to mobilising the existing latent support nuclear for climate options require to be achieved and lead to more effective advocacy for it. But that collapse and conversion will also support enable RE growth at scales, with levels of foresight and planning that are unachievable within a mire of deeply conflicted climate and energy politics.
• Maybe I'm missing something but from global news reports it looks to me like we're too late for "preventing dangerous climate change" - For decades it was a race for slowing down the rate of change that would inevitably result from our Grand Geophysical Experiment.  Now we're fighting for future survivability, with the tempo of locally radical (infrastructure and life destroying) changes increasing with every year.
• edited September 2016
Depends what you define as dangerous, and what you define as too late. We could, theoretically, still manage the 1.5 degree limit. The catch is that we aren't going to actually do it, basically because nobody can be bothered no matter how much they like to talk about it.

I agree with the people who say we should still aim for it. The reasoning is that no matter what target we aim for we are likely to overshoot, because of bureaucratic/political inertia and vested interests. People will naturally tend to take the results of the science and then mangle it to better fit their preconceptions.

There was a good example of this recently when the UK government was given a report on the fracking industry. The report made it very clear that fracking was only a responsible option under very strict conditions (which it spelled out). The minister more or less ignored the conditions and claimed the report had said fracking was a responsible option. No worries, mate. You can see where that is heading.

Anyway, if we aim for 1.5 and overshoot we may still end up under 2. If we aim for 2 and overshoot, things will be a lot rougher. So even if 1.5 is (to use the technical term) bullshit, it may still be very useful bullshit.
• Are Warmers confident that they can solve global warming without the cooperation of Non-warmers?
Are tobacco-cancer connectionists confident they can solve the problem of 2nd hand smoke without the cooperation of tobacco-cancer connection deniers? Are anti-asbestosists confident they can solve the problems of asbestos exposure without the cooperation of asbestos harm deniers? Are anti-HFCists confident they can solve the problem of the ozone hole without the cooperation of HFC deniers?

H'mmm. Good question. But as you can see from the above examples, there are other strategies available than relying on the voluntary cooperation of the willfully ignorant.
• The other thing is that the definition of dangerous climate change depends on how many of your descendants you're worried about. The Convo has an article today, pointing out that longer term processes mean that 2 degrees by 2100 does not mean 2 degrees by 2600 or later.

Current emissions could already warm world to dangerous levels: study

The new paper recalculates this sensitivity again – and unfortunately the results aren’t in our favour. The study suggests that stabilisation of today’s CO₂ levels would still result in 3-7℃ warming, whereas doubling of CO₂ will lead to 7-13℃ warming over millennia.

The actual paper is over here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature19798.html

The short version is that for longer term stability we need to continue negative emissions until the CO2 level drops back below 350 ppm.

• edited September 2016
Maybe I'm missing something but from global news reports it looks to me like we're too late for "preventing dangerous climate change"

CitizensChallenge - Perhaps I should have said to prevent catastrophic climate change or constrain the damage?

Jgnfld - I think the tobacco, HFC's and asbestos examples haven't had the breadth and depth of political resistance and reluctance that Fossil Fuels have managed to secure on their behalf. The scale of use, the celebrated economic benefits (as long as the externalised costs are not counted) and depth of economic dependence that has developed that makes going "cold turkey" economically dangerous means that we have Presidents and Prime Ministers, Political Parties and Parliaments, Industry Associations and Captains of Commerce devoted to opposing strong climate policy in ways that those other problems did not. As long as obstructionism has that level of organised and effective support it will be as much luck as the intent of those who do want it to achieve a low to zero emissions transition - ie only extraordinary advances in low emissions technologies that make it the universally cheapest option will take the energy transition out of the hands of policy makers.

Except I think that such advances as we're already seem will help undermine the economic alarmist foundations that the reluctance and resistance is built upon. And we have to expect climate consequences to become more common and obvious which will make doubt, denial and delay less politically tenable.
• It took about 50 years to break the (political) stranglehold of tobacco all told, but break it we did. I well remember the reports of how the South would be "economically devastated" if tobacco were reigned in. Dealing with acid rain was also supposed to cause economic devastation. HFCs were economically devastating to deal with as well.

Re. externalization: No one is suggesting "cold turkey" that I know of. It took more than a century to build ourselves into the present pass, it will take  many decades to build our way out.

One thing to remember however is that global warming's costs are externalized to voters and to governments directly over time. You seem to agree with this. When the costs get high enough, action will ensue. Consider what happens to subsidized flood insurance when the water gets high enough to affect ever larger areas and send the fund into ever more massive debt. Voters and governments will act at that point.

Ken Fabian said:
Maybe I'm missing something but from global news reports it looks to me like we're too late for "preventing dangerous climate change"

CitizensChallenge - Perhaps I should have said to prevent catastrophic climate change or constrain the damage?

Jgnfld - I think the tobacco, HFC's and asbestos examples haven't had the breadth and depth of political resistance and reluctance that Fossil Fuels have managed to secure on their behalf. The scale of use, the celebrated economic benefits (as long as the externalised costs are not counted) and depth of economic dependence that has developed that makes going "cold turkey" economically dangerous means that we have Presidents and Prime Ministers, Political Parties and Parliaments, Industry Associations and Captains of Commerce devoted to opposing strong climate policy in ways that those other problems did not. As long as obstructionism has that level of organised and effective support it will be as much luck as the intent of those who do want it to achieve a low to zero emissions transition - ie only extraordinary advances in low emissions technologies that make it the universally cheapest option will take the energy transition out of the hands of policy makers.

Except I think that such advances as we're already seem will help undermine the economic alarmist foundations that the reluctance and resistance is built upon. And we have to expect climate consequences to become more common and obvious which will make doubt, denial and delay less politically tenable.

• The other thing is that the definition of dangerous climate change depends on how many of your descendants you're worried about. The Convo has an article today, pointing out that longer term processes mean that 2 degrees by 2100 does not mean 2 degrees by 2600 or later.

Current emissions could already warm world to dangerous levels: study

The new paper recalculates this sensitivity again – and unfortunately the results aren’t in our favour. The study suggests that stabilisation of today’s CO₂ levels would still result in 3-7℃ warming, whereas doubling of CO₂ will lead to 7-13℃ warming over millennia.

The actual paper is over here: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature19798.html

The short version is that for longer term stability we need to continue negative emissions until the CO2 level drops back below 350 ppm.

There are already several articles about this newly published paper which state quite clearly  - and with quotes from e.g. Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt - that the conclusions regarding the warming are most likely wrong:

Andrew Frreedman on Mashable - http://mashable.com/2016/09/26/2-million-years-climate-history/#Y2vqgkHpdkqr

Craig Welch on NatGeo - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/global-warming-study-13-degrees-is-wrong-climate-change/

Gavin Schmidt on RealClimate (not directly about the paper) - http://www.realclimate-backup.org/index.php/archives/2016/09/why-correlations-of-co2-and-temperature-over-ice-age-cycles-dont-define-climate-sensitivity/?wpmp_switcher=desktop

• Craig Welch on NatGeo - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/global-warming-study-13-degrees-is-wrong-climate-change/
"... It has also been known for a long time, from analysis of ancient air bubbles trapped in Antarctic and Greenland ice cores, that atmospheric levels of CO2 fluctuated naturally during the ice ages—and that they were tightly correlated with local air temperature above the ice. Snyder’s time line confirms that correlation between CO2 and temperature at the global scale and over two million years.

Her mistake, the critics said, was in the simplistic way she used that correlation to infer the Earth’s sensitivity to CO2—not only in the past but also in the future. Her conclusions simply didn't make sense, they said. The reason is that much of the variation in temperature during the ice ages was caused by factors other than CO2. ..."

• Ok, so tell that to the editors of Nature. IOW, there are also obviously some reviewers who think she made a decent case.
• Contrail Chook, reviewers make errors, individual papers should always be interpreted with much suspicion. It is the scientific literature as a whole that leads to scientific progress, many single papers are wrong. Quite often so obviously that if the paper is not somehow influential (like a Nature paper or one that gets into the press) scientists normally do not even go the extra mile and write a response.

The arguments of Gavin Schmidt are strong and convincing. The computation of the climate sensitivity was only a side thought of this paper. The main work was something else, they say quite good and innovative and too technical to be of interest to the press. The reviewers were likely experts on that and not on how to estimate climate sensitivity.
• Ok. So leaving aside the quantitative estimates in that paper, and just taking the likely effects of longer term processes on top of the short term (<2100 AD) processes, I still get the impression that longer term stabilisation of temperature would still require CO2 levels at (for instance) 2600 AD to be lower than at 2100 AD for the same global temperature.

Does that make sense?
• Yes, the Earth System Climate Sensitivity (ESS) is larger than the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS). The melting of the ice sheets (and changes in vegetation) will make global warming larger.

The reason to normally use the ECS in the public debate is that the CO2 concentration 2600 AD will be lower than 2100 AD. We do not have the economic fossil fuels reserves to keep the CO2 concentration high the entire time (millennia) the ice sheets are melting. (There will be a lot of melting in our life time, which is a problem for sea level rise, but not yet that much for making the Earth darker and absorb more sun.) Plus people find it hard to think beyond 2100; society will be very different then. If you think very long-term and beyond 2100 the climate sensitivity to use would be somewhere between ECS and ESS. The ESS and the peak CO2 concentration combined would be a too high estimate because the CO2 concentration will go down.
• edited September 2016

looking at this sort of issue - i.e. an outlier paper written I presume in good faith

and then stepping back a bit

isn't this what you should expect - with all the many scientific papers written about climate science, some outliers

after all the earths temperature does not progress in straight lines, why should science

surely - and in deference to the "not even wrong" meme these "wrong" papers simply add to the cannon of knowledge that humanity accumulates about our planet and as such have a place

even if it forces us to restate what we do know

• Some times I get the idea that the realist blogs are over eager to jump on any outlying paper from climate hawks as a measure of their impartiality.
We witnessed the same reaction to Hansen et al 2016 with many respected commentators dissing or discounting his effort.
This is not necessary a bug  just an indication of their effort to be truly impartial.
Such outlying papers are valuable within the scientific community to air alternative ideas but outside of it they have the ability to be used against the scientific community by the denialists

• Griff said:
Some times I get the idea that the realist blogs are over eager to jump on any outlying paper from climate hawks as a measure of their impartiality.
We witnessed the same reaction to Hansen et al 2016 with many respected commentators dissing or discounting his effort.
This is not necessary a bug  just an indication of their effort to be truly impartial.
Such outlying papers are valuable within the scientific community to air alternative ideas but outside of it they have the ability to be used against the scientific community by the denialists

presumably this is a particular feature of climate science - in that it is being done under such a microscope that the natural ebb and flow of ideas is distorted

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