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The uncertain legacy of Copenhagen

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

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."

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

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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1038. Grothar
Quoting taistelutipu:
Merry not so white christmas from Germany. We had foehn, a warm wind blowing from the south, this morning and 7°C. Now all the snow is gone. I'll let you know what the ex-nor'easter dumps on us here in Central Europe.
Quoting taistelutipu:
Merry not so white christmas from Germany. We had foehn, a warm wind blowing from the south, this morning and 7°C. Now all the snow is gone. I'll let you know what the ex-nor'easter dumps on us here in Central Europe.

God Jul! Hvordan har du det? I går hadde vi vor Glögg, og nå kan jeg ikke spasere.
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Merry not so white christmas from Germany. We had foehn, a warm wind blowing from the south, this morning and 7°C. Now all the snow is gone. I'll let you know what the ex-nor'easter dumps on us here in Central Europe.
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I still cry at Bambi...
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1035. Patrap
Our Kids,18 and 17 took us to see that Weds here in NOLA.

Was a real fine Disney Movie.
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The Princess and the Frog
Running Time:
1 hr. 35 min.
Release Date:
December 11, 2009
MPAA Rating: G
Tiana is a young woman dreaming of owning her own restaurant in Jazz Age New Orleans. One night she wishes upon a star, and a talking frog appears on her balcony, claiming to be a prince. If she will give him one kiss, says the frog, he will turn human again and she will be richly rewarded. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned, and Tiana discovers that it's not easy being green. The two hop into the bayou together to seek out an ancient priestess who may hold the key to de-frogging them both.

Three Good Reasons

* 1 After originally planning to go entirely digital, Disney is back to making hand-drawn animated films, and they've brought the directors of "Aladdin" and "The Little Mermaid" to lead the way.
* 2 Randy Newman, the composer who made people laugh and cry in the "Toy Story" films, has created some jazzy original tunes for this Broadway-style musical.
* 3 The 1920s New Orleans setting lends itself to some true visual magic, complete with streetcars, murky swamps, gorgeous old mansions, and of course, quirky wildlife.

Bet You Didn't Know
If Prince Naveen reminds you strangely of the Jonas Brothers, it may be because animation supervisor Randy Haycock showed different sketches of the prince to his daughter and asked her to pick out the most handsome ones. More about The Princess and the Frog on Yahoo! Movies
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Thanx P4! And yes that is odd how its moving south east. Weird pattern this year.
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1032. Patrap
Merry Christmas to the wunderground community.

So, in they went, all three together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age; for he was only thirteen days old. Then they worshipped him and offered him the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. The child took all three offerings and then gave them a closed casket. And the three kings set out to return to their own country.
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1029. bassis
Merry Christmas to all the wise weather watchers who educate me all year long. Thank you for all the great info and the spirited debates that stay very loving all year long
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Our Nor-easter spinning out in the ATL looks to be a double-barreled system now! My guess is its gonna raise cain in Europe!
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Whos gotta link to the ECMF?
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Ho Ho Ho! Merry White Christmas from Arlington, TX!!!
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Nice greeting with good reminder in my in-box this morning:

CERT Membership:

**Amessage from Greg St. James**

Happy Holidays to each of you. I hope you have a safe and peaceful time with friends and family. It has been, and continues to be; my privilege to be associated with such a fine group of people as CERT and Fire Corps. You have all demonstrated a true commitment to each other, to our mission of service, and to your country.

You have my thanks, my appreciation, and my admiration.

Be safe, be well, and please spare a moment over these next days to remember all those who serve: military, police, fire, EMS, and all who are away from their families and in harms way.

Here’s to you, and here’s to a bright and productive New Year!

With warmest wishes,

Greg St. James
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue
Montgomery County CERT / Fire Corps
101 Monroe Street, 12th Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850
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Joe Bastardi this morning.

FRIDAY 8:30 A.M.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE NORTH POLE (The latest AO forecast is a gift for lovers of nasty winter weather from the Plains east!)


The coldest opening two weeks to any year since the 1980s is on the way for the major industrial areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It's that simple. While most were tucked into their beds settled down for a long winter's nap, I was busy looking back at nasty openings to January that can compete with what I believe is coming for Europe, the eastern part of North America and the Far East. I can't find any, though admittedly I cherry picked from years I remembered. It will GO BEYOND the already cold idea I had not only for the United States, but the for the big three energy consuming areas, and it may rival anything we saw back in the time of the "coming ice age"... the 1970s. This is for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole; I am not yet forecasting ice floes into the Gulf (lol).

A couple of notes here, then I will post later today again. 1) The upper low associated with the nasty storm that is hitting the nation will roll through the Midwest to the Middle and north Atlantic states with a clipper type light snow Sunday through the Midwest and into the East Sunday and Sunday night. There will be a lot of 1-2 inch amounts, locally 4, from the Mason-Dixon Line north all the way to the coast with this as it comes through.

And the other idea... the GFS is ranked last for later next week as we may once again see a demonstration of its inability to handle two streams. Far more likely is the Euro solution which is close to what I am describing in previous posts.

Thanks for reading. Ciao for now.
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A merry Christmas holiday to Wunderbloggers around the world. The Midwest storm (I said one was going to hit every week!) is heading toward Southern Ontario, likely to give us rain, freezing rain (mostly to our east), and a freeze-over and some snow on top of that. Some strong winds are to be expected too.

El Nino is now, by my own observations, in hyper-drive. The warm east Pacific pool has reached 31C, and the cut-off of the Humboldt Current by the El Nino pool at the coast of Chile has warmed by 2C in five days. The north end of the pool at the equator is quickly accelerating toward the Galapagos Islands, so we could expect the Humboldt's "head current" to be completely cut off by El Nino this winter.

I will be working on my blog shortly. I wasn't able to access the Internet yesterday for unknown reasons.
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Merry Christmas TornadoDude and all WUers,

Santa brought me the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits, CD/DVD Set -- yea! -- just what I asked for!

And my better half added a lap desk, because he's tired of seeing me twist around to post in WU!
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Treetops glisten, but storm snarls Midwest holiday
By Tim Talley, Associated Press Writer 9 mins ago

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Merry Christmas everyone!
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Christmas Miracle: Church's Window Saved

Wed Dec 23, 12:01PM PT - ABC News 1:38

After an ABC News report, a church no longer has to sell stained glass window.
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Just a drive-by...

*atmo smiles at imagining Flood spelling that out for the vet in Dallas*

I see the preliminary reports total 15 nadoes for yesterday. Thoughts and prayers for those that had Christmas Eve damage to their home (and I know some are actually destroyed).

Totals could go up as survey finds nado signatures and some could be removed as multiple reports are deemed to be from the same nado (possible).

Last, Merry Christmas, WU-fam!
(or whatever is appropriate for your particular reason for the season)

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Morning everyone... Merry Christmas.. Ho Ho Ho and all that other Holiday Cheer stuff :)





Humor in Comments
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Preliminary Extended Forecast Discussion

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Morning 451. Not sure what this storm is going to do for Central PA. It is strange that PennDot has been out all night to treat the roads, but so far no precp around Harrisburg. You will probably get all rain.
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My ol' Hippo Head says Merry Christmas.. as do I.

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Merry Christmas to all
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1009. unf97
Merry Christmas to you Storm!
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1008. unf97
O.K. That squall line must be weakening as it advances eastward.

Have a wonderful Christmas day aquak. I will be headed back home tomorrow morning.
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1006. aquak9
hi unf, merry christmas (from the mother of a girl on the DEAN'S LIST - best christmas gift!!)

no rain here- not really expecting any. Torn watch counties skipped us, just breezy.
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1005. unf97
Good morning

Merry Christmas aquak!

That squall line that came through here in Tally should be nearing you back at home in Jax. Is it raining there yet?
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1004. aquak9
ooops- and from Florida's NE coast- blue sky to the east, gray to the west. clouds do not look s threatening- but they are high scud, and moving fairly rapidly--

expecting wind, little to no rain.
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1003. aquak9
gift basket from Cafe Du Monde...

I am a lucky dog.
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1001. unf97
Merry Christmas everyone!

Many blessings and cheer to all this Christmas morning!

I am spending Christmas today with family in Tallahassee. Squall line cam through here around 3 a.m. Gusty winds and periods of heavy rain, but no reports of severe weather. That squall line now moving eastward toward back home in Jax at this hour.

Cooler weather from here on through the weekend. A disturbance is forecast to bring a chance of rain to this region Saturday night/Sunday morning time frame. I have not seen the latest models on this, but am curious how much moisture will get pulled north by this feature, along with the thickness values. Umm...

Well, have fun everyone and be safe out there!

Merry Christmas!
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1000. IKE
Quoting peejodo:

Merry Christmas Ike
How far from PensacolaDoug are you?

70-80 miles.
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Quoting IKE:
Picked up about 1.20 inches of rain from this latest system...here in the Florida panhandle.

Currently 51.6 degrees outside.

Merry Christmas. A new decade is around the corner.

Merry Christmas Ike
How far from PensacolaDoug are you?
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Quoting PensacolaDoug: Merry Christmas
Glad to hear those tornados missed you. I'm hoping for some rain out of the activity that appears to be encroaching on Orlando from the SW. I'm about 35 miles NE of Orlando and we still need rain.
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997. IKE
Picked up about 1.20 inches of rain from this latest system...here in the Florida panhandle.

Currently 51.6 degrees outside.

Merry Christmas. A new decade is around the corner.
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Merry Christmas! Squall line came thru about 6:30 last eve. Dumped rain for 10 mins and a little gusty, Two Tornado warnings, one went about 10 miles to my west the second about 15 miles to the east.
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I think the SPC went a bit light on the Florida Peninsula, convection forming just to the west, when a line of storms bends like the way it is right now, rotating storms are a good bet. A tornado watch may be needed for Central Florida very soon.
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994. BtnTx
Merry Christmas Everyone!
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Christmas has arrived,..but some have not the resources, many of us do.

We can help this family..

Contact presslord or myself and lets make a difference.

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... and to all, a Goodnight.

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Quoting ryang:
Merry Christmas all!!!!!!

you too!!!!!
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Quoting Patrap:

Nola Roux say's those are some nice Uptown Kitty's fo sho..!

And a Merry Christmas to them and you..!
Go MacBook!
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Thanks, Pat...and Nola Roux!!
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Thanks for the plot. Note the policy column. I keep saying that China actually has a pretty good policy on how to attack the problem (reduce energy intensity) and the reviewer agrees.

The US is pathetic. The enviro-hypocrits keep up there high carbon life style while doing their best to kill alternative energy (Fienstein's bill). The right is clueless.

My $15,000 to reduce home energy use to less than $100 a month during the hot Texas sumers (not including the solar hot water, WHICH WILL NOT PAY OUT) through run tackle block things like insulation and windows will pay out in 11 years.

America needs to reduce energy intensity period. Lest the Chinese become even MORE cost competative!

"What is your carbon footprint and what are you doing to reduce it" (question asked by my 11 year old daughter to a panel of "experts" at a Focus the Nation event in January 2008). Huge footprints and doing nothing (except for the IPCC scientist).

America is pathetic WRT energy. And being in the extraction industry drill baby drill, although its going to be necessary to meet demand, ain't going to get us there by a long run.

America, when the power goes out (or is all generated by coal), you only have yourselves to blame.

On both sides of the political aisle.

China is doing the correct thing and will whip our behinds in the future (it is the best policy to reduce CO2 short term while maintaining prosperity).
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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