The uncertain legacy of Copenhagen

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:39 PM GMT on December 22, 2009

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The Copenhagen (COP15) climate summit is over, and leaves an uncertain legacy. What was accomplished in Copenhagen was far outweighed by what was not accomplished. While the final Copenhagen Accord affirmed that we must hold the warming of our planet below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 to avert dangerous climate change, no timetable for accomplishing that goal was specified. The promises made by the various nations at the summit would likely lead to a 3.9°C warming of the planet, according to an analysis by MIT's Sustainability Institute. Copenhagen did demonstrate that the hype preceding the talks was not undeserved--the stakes involved are huge, and we have an epic political battle on our hands that will afford high drama in 2010. Probably the best summary of the political battle at Copenhagen was posted by author Mark Lynas on the UK Guardian's web site. The title of the article was, "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room".

The leaders for greenhouse gas reductions
While the Copenhagen Summit made it clear that the coming battle will feature the U.S. and China, the voices of two tiny island nations--Tuvalu and The Maldives--will be important as well. When ranked by percentage of population located near the coast at an elevation of ten meters or less, the top five spots are held by small island nations with more than 90% of their population in this Low Elevation Coastal Zone--the Maldives, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands (McGranahan et al., 2007). The very existence of these island nations are threatened by sea level rise due to climate change. The leaders of Tuvalu and The Maldives brought considerable attention to their plight at the Copenhagen conference, and President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, in particular, has made his tiny country a force to be reckoned with in the coming battle.


Figure 1. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world's first underwater cabinet meeting on October 17, 2009, in order to dramatize the threat sea level rise poses to their country.

The leaders against greenhouse gas reductions
Canada has joined Saudi Arabia as a leading voice against efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases. According to The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which is published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe, Canada ranks second to last in climate policy and in overall efforts to tackle climate change, among the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Canada's national statement at COP15 featured no commitments of money or targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Canada also lobbied to change the "base" year from when emission reductions should be computed from 1990 to 2006. Croatia was the only other country to support Canada's position. The notorious political pranksters The Yes Men dramatized Canada's position by issuing a phony press release during COP15 claiming that Canada had come to its senses and was now going to work toward a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, the type of cut scientists say is necessary if we are to avoid dangerous warming of more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Canadian reporters immediately recognized the news release as a hoax. Canadian politics is heavily dominated by the fossil fuel industry, and Canadian reporters immediately saw the impossibility of the Canadian government performing an about-face on climate policy.


Figure 2. The top ten and bottom ten performing countries on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe to rank the efforts to combat climate change of the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. The ranking system factors in three scores: the emissions level (CO2 per primary energy unit, primary energy unit per GDP, and primary energy unit per capita); the emissions trend (whether emissions are rising or falling), and a subjective rating of the nation's national and international climate policy. Tall bars indicate a higher ranking, and thin bars represent a poor ranking. None of the 57 countries were doing enough to keep global warming below 2°C, so the top three spots on the list were left blank. Image credit: Germanwatch.org.

Comparison with the battle over CFC regulations and the ozone hole
On June 28, 1974, Sherry Rowland and Mario Molina, chemists at the University of California, Irvine, published the first scientific paper warning that human-generated chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could cause serious harm to Earth's protective ozone layer (Molina and Rowland, 1974). They calculated that if CFC production continued to increase at the going rate of 10%/year until 1990, then remain steady, CFCs would cause a global 5 to 7 percent ozone loss by 1995 and 30 - 50% loss by 2050.

They warned that the loss of ozone would significantly increase the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet UV-B light reaching the surface, greatly increasing skin cancer and cataracts. The loss of stratospheric ozone could also significantly cool the stratosphere, potentially causing destructive climate change. Although no stratospheric ozone loss had been observed yet, CFCs should be banned, they said. A huge international political battle ensued, one that eerily echoes many of the same themes as the battle over global warming. In a 1984 interview in The New Yorker, Dr. Rowland concluded, "Nothing will be done about this problem until there is further evidence that a significant loss of ozone has occurred. Unfortunately, this means that if there is a disaster in the making in the stratosphere we are probably not going to avoid it." These prophetic words were proved true the very next year with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Speedy action to save the planet from potentially disastrous loss of the ozone layer was realized with the swift implementation of the Montreal Protocol two years later, though.

As was the case with the battle over the CFCs and the ozone layer, I expect it will take a obvious imminent climate change disaster to motivate governments to take strong action. I believed in September 2007 that such an event had occurred, when the Arctic ice cap lost more than half of its area, compared to levels observed in the early 1950s. I was astounded at the nonchalance the event earned in the press and among politicians. But, in hindsight I should not have been surprised, since the stakes are very much higher than the battle to ban CFCs--now we are talking about the fossil fuel industry, the very basis for our modern industrialized society. A very big, very obvious disaster in the making will probably be needed to motivate strong enough action to make a major difference in CO2 emissions. Our climate is certainly capable of generating such an event in the coming decade. Unfortunately, if we wait until a disaster is obviously imminent, we will have far less time to prevent a climate disaster than we had for the ozone depletion crisis. The lifetime of CFCs in the atmosphere is 50 - 140 years, but a substantial portion of the CO2 put in the air stays for thousands of years. According to the 2007 IPCC report, "About 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years."

References
McGranahan, G., D. Balk, and B. Anderson, 2007, "The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones", Environment & Urbanization, 19(1), 17-37.

Molina, M.J., and F.S. Rowland, "Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalyzed Destruction of Ozone", Nature 249, 810-812, 1974.

Next post
Have a great Christmas, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on Monday (at the latest).

Jeff Masters

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Let's hope that is NOT the case, as you may see highs near 45F/lows near 32-38F in Miami.

Whoa! I live north of Grothar and that means colder for us. Is that for real? Drak, if still on..a possibiltiy?

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Quoting Grothar:


Hey Bord, I don't like those low temps. It really does look like a blast is coming. When do they think they will know the exact timing of the fronts? I know you keep track more than I. I know that you called the Nor'easter last week, days before there was any media hype. Keep us posted on this one.


Forecast Discussion out of NWS Miami, FL indicates 2 fronts will pass through FL. The first is a pussy-cat, passing through on Tuesday or early Wednesday. The second one is a lion, expected next Sunday.

There is a very large pool of bitterly cold Siberian/Arctic aid bottled up behind a stationary front from Vladivostok, Russia to the NW Arctic. The second batch is pooled up behind a stationary front positioned from Southern Alaska, into NW Canada.

The first Arctic front is getting ready to move into the US tomorrow. The air is cold, -10 to -20F air from N Canada. Nothing out of the ordinary, for Canada. Your first cold front for Tuesday/Wednesday will bring temps about 5F below normal.

By 1-2-10, a major L will develop over Alaska and move southward into NW Canada by 1-5-10. This is called a "Polar Vortex", because these storms will force the SECOND batch of Siberian air into Canada. Temps right now are in the -40 to -50F range. Cold, serious cold.

Computer models dump a portion of this Arctic air into the US later this week, Friday through Sunday. Next Sunday, expect highs in Miami in the mid 50's and lows in the 42-48F range. IF the ECMWF computer models are correct, a LARGE chunk of cold air will move over 2/3Rd's of the US. Let's hope that is NOT the case, as you may see highs near 45F/lows near 32-38F in Miami.

We will know by Wednesday/Thursday coming how much Siberian air will feed into the US.

Link below the NWS Miami, FL Hazardous Weather Outlook, 8:54PM EST, 12-27-09:


Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Hi Matt...Is artic air moving into Indiana rare during winter?


well it depends on the magnitude. we see sub zero temps a couple times each winter.

hey btw haha
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Quoting tornadodude:
from NWS Indy forecast discussion:

HIGH PRESSURE WILL THEN BUILD IN AND PROVIDE A DRY DAY TUESDAY.
CHANCES FOR SNOW RETURN ON WEDNESDAY INTO FRIDAY. ARCTIC AIR THEN
MOVES IN FOR NEXT WEEKEND.



Hi Matt...Is artic air moving into Indiana rare during winter?
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from NWS Indy forecast discussion:

HIGH PRESSURE WILL THEN BUILD IN AND PROVIDE A DRY DAY TUESDAY.
CHANCES FOR SNOW RETURN ON WEDNESDAY INTO FRIDAY. ARCTIC AIR THEN
MOVES IN FOR NEXT WEEKEND.

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1633. Grothar
Quoting Bordonaro:


I was just being a wise-guy, please stich around! What is the NWS update on colder weather for later this week in the NOLA ara.


Hey Bord, I don't like those low temps. It really does look like a blast is coming. When do they think they will know the exact timing of the fronts? I know you keep track more than I. I know that you called the Nor'easter last week, days before there was any media hype. Keep us posted on this one.
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It just sticks in your kanukanogen that I am right!
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1630. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


How about stewardesses


They are called Flight Attendants now. One must be politcally correct!
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Quoting Grothar:


aggregate!!!!!!!:P


How about stewardesses
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1628. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Alright you smarty gaflukanooen...what is the longest word you can type on the left side of a regular keyboard?


aggregate!!!!!!!:P
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Quoting Grothar:


That would be consensual. LOL


Alright you smarty gaflukanooen...what is the longest word you can type on the left side of a regular keyboard?
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1624. Grothar
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


So are you saying a consensus is between two….and a consensuses is between more than two?


That would be consensual. LOL
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1622. Grothar
Quoting RTLSNK:


I looked up the word "consensus" in my Webster's Concise Desk Dictionary of over 125,000 words and their meanings Edited by P. H. Collin. I don't know who P.H. Collin is really, but he/she must be pretty smart if he/she knows the meanings of over 125,000 words. Your spelling of "consensus" is of course correct. Consensus, (noun), generally agreed opinion. I am attempting at this time to check with P.H. Collin about the plural of consensus, but I am not sure he/she stays up this late. I'll get back with you on that one.
:)


HE did not write the book, he is the editor of the book, as he is with numerous other books in many different languages. It is not unusual for someone to know more than 125,00 different words. I am sure if he were asked some of the words in the dictionary, he might not know the meaning. Anyone who has studied other languages knows who he is.
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1621. Patrap
December 22-26, 1989: Arctic Outbreak

The most significant cold spell of the century for the Deep South. New Orleans experienced 64 consecutive hours at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and a total of 81 out of 82 hours below freezing. A total of 15 hours were below 15 degrees with the lowest reading of 11 degrees on the morning of the 23rd. A low temperature of 8 degrees was recorded at Baton Rouge. Snow and sleet paralyzed transportation systems where as much as two to four inches of snow accumulated in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. Snow and ice covered the ground in New Orleans. The greatest impact was on breakage of water pipes in homes and businesses. Over 100 fires resulted in the New Orleans area within a 24 hour period due to a loss of water pressure and improperly utilized heating sources. Ice formed over shallow lakes and waterways where commercial fishing took heavy losses. Five weather related deaths occurred in the service area during this rare Arctic outbreak.
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Nana...you are an expert in language!
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1619. Patrap
Usually we get what Houston Gets,but depends on angle of the trough,or if a GOM Surface Low rides South of one,below NOLA..we can get clobbered behind it.

Like in Dec 23-25 89,..Low of 11f the 24th and 50 Hours under freezing was BAD.

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Quoting Grothar:


It is consensuses.


So are you saying a consensus is between two….and a consensuses is between more than two?
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1617. Patrap
You dont wanna play Poker.

Unless you got cash.

We got plenty of Casino's here and in the USMC in the Middle of the Atlantic..well,I learned very fast.
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Quoting Patrap:
English Grammar on a Sunday Night..?

Sheesh...

Im playing hooky.


I was just being a wise-guy, please stich around! What is the NWS update on colder weather for later this week in the NOLA ara.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
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Quoting Patrap:
English Grammar on a Sunday Night..?

Sheesh...

Im playing hooky.


could play poker...
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1613. Patrap
English Grammar on a Sunday Night..?

Sheesh...

Im playing hooky.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1612. Grothar
Quoting RTLSNK:


I looked up the word "consensus" in my Webster's Concise Desk Dictionary of over 125,000 words and their meanings Edited by P. H. Collin. I don't know who P.H. Collin is really, but he/she must be pretty smart if he/she knows the meanings of over 125,000 words. Your spelling of "consensus" is of course correct. Consensus, (noun), generally agreed opinion. I am attempting at this time to check with P.H. Collin about the plural of consensus, but I am not sure he/she stays up this late. I'll get back with you on that one.
:)


It is consensuses.
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Quoting Grothar:


Where were you at the time?


I was a figment of everyone's imagination. I never existed until November 26th, 1983(My Conception Day). But never born until August 11th, 1984.

I read about this snow event from the book 1001 questions about the weather. Speaking of which, it also claims Miami saw a few snowflakes on the Christmas of 82(I believe). And I can't forget about Orlando's White Christmas of 89.

I wonder if snow was the norm here during The Little Ice Age and Murander Minimum?
Member Since: May 26, 2007 Posts: 47 Comments: 1213
Quoting Grothar:


That's just your opinion!!!! LOL


Grothar, I used "spell check" to check the spelling. And I know that you're not looking forward to temperatures in the 40's, possibly 30's in South Florida.

It will be interesting to see how much of the Arctic dumps into the US the first 10 days of Jan 10.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
A singular consensus would be considered an opinion. A consensus needs more than one.
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1608. RTLSNK
Quoting Grothar:
Let us see if we can arrive at a consensus on the blog. Is the person in the picture a man or a woman? Now remember, a consensus is not an established fact, just an opinion expressed the majority of a group. Therefore, one need not feel compelled to withhold their opinion, lest it be attacked by others who have an opposing consensus. Anyone know how to form the plural of consensus, that would be a true revelation.


I looked up the word "consensus" in my Webster's Concise Desk Dictionary of over 125,000 words and their meanings Edited by P. H. Collin. I don't know who P.H. Collin is really, but he/she must be pretty smart if he/she knows the meanings of over 125,000 words. Your spelling of "consensus" is of course correct. Consensus, (noun), generally agreed opinion. I am attempting at this time to check with P.H. Collin about the plural of consensus, but I am not sure he/she stays up this late. I'll get back with you on that one.
:)
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1607. Patrap
Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident

(In compliance with Executive Order 12546 of February 3, 1986)
Table of Contents

Volume I



e. The lack of roundness of the segments was such that the smallest
tang-to-clevis clearance occurred at the initiation of the assembly
operation at positions of 120 degrees and 300 degrees around the
circumference of the aft field joint. It is uncertain if this tight
condition and the resultant greater compression of the O-rings at
these points persisted to the time of launch.

6. The ambient temperature at time of launch was 36 degrees
Fahrenheit, or 15 degrees lower than the next coldest previous launch.

a. The temperature at the 300 degree position on the right aft
field joint circumference was estimated to be 28 degrees plus
or minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the coldest point on the
joint.

b. Temperature on the opposite side of the right Solid Rocket
Booster facing the sun was estimated to be about 50 degrees
Fahrenheit.


7. Other joints on the left and right Solid Rocket Boosters
experienced similar combinations of tang-to-clevis gap clearance
and temperature. It is not known whether these joints experienced
distress during the flight of 51-L.

8. Experimental evidence indicates that due to several effects
associated with the Solid Rocket Booster's ignition and combustion
pressures and associated vehicle motions, the gap between the tang and
the clevis will open as much as .017 and .029 inches at the secondary
and primary O-rings, respectively.

a. This opening begins upon ignition, reaches its maximum rate of
opening at about 200-300 milliseconds, and is essentially complete
at 600 milliseconds when the Solid Rocket Booster reaches its
operating pressure.
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1606. Grothar
Quoting Bordonaro:


And its consensus!!


That's just your opinion!!!! LOL
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Quoting TBPauly:


Yep. And reading some accounts of that, they (the Air Force mets) thought the lows that morning would be even lower then they were.


Correct me if I am wrong…but Pres. Bush II first act as President, was sealing the records of former Presidents Reagan and his father from the Freedom of Information Act.
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Quoting Chicklit:

No offense, but I think the name is 'Pat.'
And it's concensus.


And its consensus!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting TBPauly:


Yep. And reading some accounts of that, they (the Air Force mets) thought the lows that morning would be even lower then they were.


wow, that was one tragic day..
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1602. TBPauly
Quoting tornadodude:


The Challenger, right?


Yep. And reading some accounts of that, they (the Air Force mets) thought the lows that morning would be even lower then they were.
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Quoting Grothar:


Hey, the woman in your picture looks just like the woman in my picture. What a coincidence.


That lady is my Aunt Bethany!

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Quoting TBPauly:


It sure has. January 28, 1986 was one such day... famous for a much more tragic reason.


The Challenger, right?
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1599. Grothar
Quoting Patrap:
Mack-o Beer is How much in Kroner?


GOM IR Loop


The current exchange is about 5.8 Kroner to 1 dollar, therefore a Mack-o would be about $5 or 29 Kroner (Norwegian) (More depending on where you are)
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1598. Patrap
Yeah..

Go at throttle up..


Space Shuttle Challenger that Morning.

Launch Pad pre-Launch








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1597. TBPauly
Quoting weatherbro:


If models are already going that low, I would not at all be surprised if Florida sees all-time record low temps! If not this one, then the one behind it. Orlando stuck in the 30's despite full sunshine? It's happened before.


It sure has. January 28, 1986 was one such day... famous for a much more tragic reason.
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Thanks KOG! Can you put up the model run showing the N Pole view? Thanks.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
1595. Patrap
Mack-o Beer is How much in Kroner?


GOM IR Loop
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A black and white photo taken on January 19, 1977 of a woman named Yvonne Berry cleaning snow off of the windshield of her car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center

There. Those belong together.
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1593. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Bordonaro:
00Z GFS run is going on as we speak. Day 1 done and 15 to go.
takes about an hr for complete run update
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 163 Comments: 52257
1592. Grothar
Let us see if we can arrive at a consensus on the blog. Is the person in the picture a man or a woman? Now remember, a consensus is not an established fact, just an opinion expressed the majority of a group. Therefore, one need not feel compelled to withhold their opinion, lest it be attacked by others who have an opposing consensus. Anyone know how to form the plural of consensus, that would be a true revelation.
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1591. Patrap
Gilda Radner SNL

.."Nevermind"..

ps.
I was 17 in 77 and well,the eyebrows and Hair was hard to tell sometimes,..LOL

Yeah,No men wore wide lapels in 77,.

Right,..Double LOL
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Quoting hurricane23:


It's still early, but this has the potential to be like what your graph shows. The high is of polar origin, and those are the ones that can give southern florida very cold temps. We'll see how the models do over the next few days.

Adrian


If models are already going that low, I would not at all be surprised if Florida sees all-time record low temps! If not this one, then the one behind it. Orlando stuck in the 30's despite full sunshine? It's happened before.
Member Since: May 26, 2007 Posts: 47 Comments: 1213
00Z GFS run is going on as we speak. Day 1 done and 15 to go.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting charlottefl:
A black and white photo taken on January 19, 1977 of a woman named Yvonne Berry cleaning snow off of the windshield of her car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center

The wide lapels were a dead give-away.
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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