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Copenhagen / Countdown (1) Potpourri

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 5:57 PM GMT on November 21, 2009

Copenhagen / Countdown (1) Potpourri

I have been more than occupied with getting ready for the Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen in December. The University of Michigan will have more than 40 members in its delegation, and our students have successfully raised enough money to go. Here is the first of many thanks to a variety of units at the University of Michigan and to Wunderground.com. Next week we will launch a special COP15 web page. It will be, primarily, student driven.

I was interviewed earlier this week about what I expected to happen in Copenhagen and what we should strive to accomplishment.

We already know several important things – there will be no U.S. climate legislation by the time we go to Copenhagen. You might recall that the US House passed the Waxman-Markey Bill in the summer. The Senate is developing their bill, which I can’t imagine before late in the winter or early in the spring. Then, with reconciliation of the House and Senate bills, the mid-term elections – well, I imagine that the machinations of legislation and lobbying will push climate change legislation close enough to the mid-term election that it will languish next to health care and Afghanistan and the economy. I think that there will be climate legislation, but I bet that it will be early in year 4 of the Obama administration, with its passage dependent on what Obama’s re-election looks like. (Uncharacteristic political prediction there.)

You already know that on Obama’s trip to Asia that China and U.S. agreed to table many issues of climate change. The realities of complex problem solving reveals its many heads. One of the reasons that the problem appears intractable is that there is so much focus on the long-term reduction goals. This comes at the expense of making progress on the near-term issues that would really matter in the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases - mitigation .

It is my opinion that we must focus on doing those things that build the base for the future. I don’t think it is possible to determine the end game, but it is essential to start down the path to manage our greenhouse gas emissions. As has been stated and restated, more efficient generation, transmission, and use of energy both reduces emission and saves money. Strategies and policies to “scale up” the actions of individuals should be incentivized and codified – that is, put into building codes. Not only should efforts to improve efficiency be accelerated, but policies to turn more efficient use of energy into actual greenhouse gas reductions are required. If we just use more energy because we can afford to use more energy, then it will not help to mitigate climate change.

Efficiency offers a strategy for reducing emissions, but it does not span the problem. We must make the investments in technologies that support development of viable non-fossil fuel sources of energy. We need investments in transmission infrastructure that both reduce stunning inefficiencies in electrical transmission and allow the transmission from energy rich areas to energy consumers - for example, wind-generated electricity from North Dakota or West Texas to Chicago or Dallas. Imagine the savings that would occur, even in coal generation, if the coal was not moved a thousand miles or across the ocean before it was burned.

As essential as technologies that improve the generation and use of energy, we must also develop technologies that allow us to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and that prevents carbon dioxide from combustion from ever getting into the atmosphere. We cannot rely on the terrestrial biosphere and the ocean to remove, safely, atmospheric carbon dioxide. We have to accept that our imperative for economic growth will lead to more emissions in the next decades. We have to invest to develop technologies that allow us to manage our waste – to manage the climate.

We have to accept that our present “built-in” warming and new emissions will cause warming and lead to sea level rise and change the usual ebb and flow of fresh water. This means that we would benefit from planning for the eventuality of the disruptions to the routine that will come from these changes. The scientists and engineers of the world are often drawn to projects such as sea walls, dikes and levees, floating cities, dams, lakes, tunnels and canals. Some prescient governments are already planning, if not making infrastructure expenditures in anticipation of predicted changes in the climate.

When I was doing my process-based analysis of climate change in India this past summer, the geo-political elements of the problem struck me. Bangladesh is often listed as one of the most vulnerable countries because it is low lying, crowded, and poor – that is, it will be highly impacted by sea level rise and more damaging storm surges associated with tropical storms. From another perspective, Bangladesh has very little domain over the rivers that supply its fresh water. The head waters of these rivers are in the high Himalaya and are controlled by more wealthy, larger countries. Plus, the seasonal cycle of snow, snow melt and rain will, with a high degree of certainty, change. It is hard to imagine that we have the political stability and the political and societal will to address these problems far in advance. An amazing outcome of a meeting like Copenhagen would be policies that link development and climate adaptation together with negotiations of super-national management of water resources.

While we have the means to address many of these problems in a substantive way, the rationalist in me doubts that we will move quickly in this direction. Therefore, greenhouse gases will continue to accumulate for some decades. Success in Copenhagen will be that we start to utilize and value efficiency in a systematic way, that we provide the marginal investments in technology and infrastructure improvement, that we don’t simply defer another 10 years, another 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

I will end this blog with some comments about the week’s news. First I watched with wonder as the publication of a new study about breast cancer screening became conflated with the efforts to reform the U.S. health care system. (I will state as a person privileged with a good job and presumably good health insurance, I have seen 15 years of deteriorating coverage, decreasing access to doctors, and startling denials and mismanagement of claims. I have hired someone to deal with my insurance company. This is a problem that needs addressing!) That said, I was watching the hyper-vigilant reporters and pundits and experts with the benefit of no sound at the gym. They reminded me of guppies in a fish tank waiting for food to be sprinkled into the water, where they would attack, shred, spit, and spew, and turn it all into a mélange of waste. The use of information and knowledge by society to align with what we believe and want simply, well , it is parsed into our growing tribalism.

It’s not just climate change.

We go into the meeting in Copenhagen with such an interesting set of circumstances. We have those who juxtapose this week’s weather and this year’s “climate” with the reality of global warming. We have the bizarre coincidence (I presume) of the hacking of the email of the Climate Research Unit and the viral chum-fest that spreads across the web. (RealClimate: The CRU hack ) We have new lows in northern sea ice in November (that seems important to me), and a new paper that shows record highs have been occurring a rate twice as fast as record lows.

I hope you have fun with it all.

r


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

Reader Comments

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172. AWG8OMG
1:12 AM GMT on December 08, 2009
Well, with the new EPA statement that CO2 is a pollutant, carbon taxes, socialized health care, and a resultant certainty of the demise of the U.S. dollar; I'm leaving MN and going south. I can't afford to live here any longer, my wife will lose her job as a customer service rep for a small insurer, heating bills will sky-rocket, and I (being a senior citizen) will be mercifully eliminated from the system by a "slight pin-prick", not to mention I am a veteran (terrorist). You all just keep arguing and explain yourselves to your offspring. H***! They can't even get a seven day forecast correct around here. Forecasting of AWG is just that much more bovine scatology. Yes, in a former life I was well-educated professional, but now just trying to live out my life without being screwed six ways from Sunday by the U.S. government and the U.N. It's a real pleasure reading this blog. Keep up the dialogue, someone may actually learn something.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
169. Ossqss
4:18 AM GMT on December 03, 2009
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Greenland lost 1,500 cubic kilometers of ice between 2000 and 2008. Or 360 cubic miles. That's not trivial at all. And I have the link from a scientific journal to back it up.

Link

The trend of annual losses, which averaged almost 200 cubic kilometers of ice, showed evidence of acceleration during this period.

So what do you call a refusal to believe in fact and scientific evidence?
\\\

LoL, this! Please tear it up for me. Greenland?




Perhaps you could help me understand this item also. Please tear it up for me :)

Climate gate analysis
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
167. martinitony
2:53 AM GMT on December 03, 2009
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Greenland lost 1,500 cubic kilometers of ice between 2000 and 2008. Or 360 cubic miles. That's not trivial at all. And I have the link from a scientific journal to back it up.

Link

The trend of annual losses, which averaged almost 200 cubic kilometers of ice, showed evidence of acceleration during this period.

So what do you call a refusal to believe in fact and scientific evidence?


From your link:
"Sea levels are rising globally by 3 millimetres on average."
If 1000 millimeters are a little over three feet, doesn't this mean it would take about 300 years for sea level to rise about 3 feet or about a foot over the next hundred years?
This assumes that the trend the article refers to continues.
Is my arithmetic correct?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
165. Stanb999
2:15 AM GMT on December 03, 2009
Quoting cyclonebuster:


Despite the evidence!
What more evidence do you need all the ice on Greenland melted into the sea? LOL!


Must I post the link to the web cam again? It's not melting at any extent that matters for more than 5000 years.


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
163. Stanb999
2:09 AM GMT on December 03, 2009
Quoting cyclonebuster:
Is this a religion?


Belief despite the evidence is religion. ;)

For instance when I pointed to the study about ocean life. You found the genuflect at the end and the rest was lost on you. For instance the pictures on the side bar where they showed the results of the max. Co2. You should have been questioning how those photos were relevant at all. But instead you commented as I would have expected.

So the data was lost in your zeal for POOF!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
157. Stanb999
12:38 AM GMT on December 03, 2009
Quoting cyclonebuster:


You can see the carbon cycle here very clear as the seasons come and go. Burning more carbon would just add more Co2 to the atmosphere.




I'm really sorry your religion is falling apart... I bet you feel like the Greeks at Delphi. Sometimes evidence is lost in interpretation. ;)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
155. martinitony
7:28 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
Cyclone, doesn't the carbon deposited here by dying things like plants just decay and become CO2 and methane? Doesn't heat get released during the decaying process? Wouldn't the net effect of burning these carbons as fuels versus letting them just decay be about a zero sum as far as putting CO2 into the atmosphere? I know that a small proportion of the carbons would get deposited, but I think most just decays,doesn't it?
Remember, I am not a scientist and have never even taken biology, but I suspect that there is a natural cycle of photosynthesis, oxidation and release of CO2 and other elements back into the atmosphere.
Why wouldn't only burning new carbons maintain an equilibrium?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
152. martinitony
7:08 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
Cyclone or anyone, what if humans only burned new carbon? What I mean is carbon or carbon compounds made from recently grown things. Examples would be wood, ethanol and other alcohols made from crops or algae or whatever.
Would we still be pouring too much CO2 into the atmosphere?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
149. Stanb999
4:18 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
Quoting cyclonebuster:
“The oceans absorb much of the CO2 that we release to the atmosphere,” Ries says. However, he warns that this natural buffer may ultimately come at a great cost.

“It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems, he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state.

“The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”

Seems to me that DOWN is better in that article you posted Stanb999!




Yeah, what you posted was opinion. Look at the wording.... I guess, Could be, long term won't matter.

I posted the facts from the study it showed it would take a tremendous increase in co2... Which if we burned all the oil,coal,trees and all other organics... Can't happen.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
148. martinitony
4:16 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
Regarding the Australian senate:

The Senate, where Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government does not hold a majority, rejected his administration's proposal for Australia to become one of the first countries to install a so-called cap-and-trade system to slash the amount of heat-trapping pollution that industries pump into the air.
The 41-33 vote followed a tumultuous debate in which the conservative main opposition party at first agreed to support a version of the government's bill, then dramatically dumped its leader and switched sides after bitter divisions erupted within the party.
The new leader, Tony Abbott, said Australia should not adopt an emissions trading system before the rest of the world.
"The right time, if ever, to have an ETS is if and when it becomes part of the international trading system and that is not going to happen prior to its adoption in America," he told reporters after the vote.


Now I wonder how the US senate is going to vote.
Looks like Copenhagen is turning out to be a big waste of time, money and of course jet fuel. But, hell, the Climategate lobby has plenty more cash to burn.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
147. martinitony
4:04 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
If you wonder why Climategate, you might want to follow the money.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB40001424052748703939404574566124250205490.html
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
146. mnborn
1:21 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
(proud member of MINNESOTANS FOR GLOBAL WARMING)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
145. mnborn
1:19 PM GMT on December 02, 2009
Has anyone out there thought beyond 50 years from now that we will have used up almost all available oil & will not be pumping emissions out at the current rates any longer? lol, warming will turn to cooling...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
143. Stanb999
11:12 AM GMT on December 02, 2009
Link

Seems it takes about 7 times the current amount of co2 to affect marine life negatively and then it's just a few specie. Most are unaffected or their shells are improved. Who would have thought that organisms that evolved under conditions of higher co2 would be able to tolerate higher co2.....

So "boom" to worries about ocean acidification. In fact it seems that at 3 times the current levels of co2 ocean organisms are affected positively or not at all. Kinda like plants.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
142. martinitony
10:48 AM GMT on December 02, 2009
Yeah, you guys are right. AGW is a certainty and I shouldn't pay any attention to the guy behind the curtain.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
140. Patrap
3:31 AM GMT on December 02, 2009
Quoting JFLORIDA:


And none of that has been shown to have occurred, AND the conclusions have been reproduced independently AND mach the Narrative accounts. Meanwhile the Skeptic side has NO affiliated research institutions of any prestige or record. AND has nothing to even compare to the narrative account.

And WE are the ones fooled?


touche' JF

Throw out all the numbers from all the research and just look closely at the physical changes.
Somethings bad amiss.

But I bet the next post will not concur.
Im 50 and seen many with my own Eyeballs.

The waysiders are just CLucking as they always do JF.

All cluck,no stuff..LOL
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
136. martinitony
9:56 PM GMT on December 01, 2009
Quoting cyclonebuster:
You all need to listen to NASA on this not CRU!


Truth is, Cyclone, you will be the last one to acknowledge the truth about what has happened. You and the rest of the world were convinced by people who cheated and lied. They avoided the facts and the arguments that might cast any doubt on their theories. Therefore, you have been turned into a bigot just as parents over years can turn their children into racists.

It all doesn't prove AGW is false, but think of what you and others might have thought had the science and facts been presented fairly.

Now, you choose the facts that most favor the bias you have just as a racist would choose the facts and circumstances that would support his beliefs. I know you really believe in AGW,but the truth is, you shouldn't and wouldn't be so sure had you not been so indoctrinated.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
134. martinitony
9:09 PM GMT on December 01, 2009
Mann will be investigated at Penn State.

http://www.usnews.com/blogs/paper-trail/2009/11/30/penn-state-will-investigate-climategate.html
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
133. Stanb999
8:58 PM GMT on December 01, 2009
Cherry picker and chief of CRU, Phil Jones steps down...

Hmmm.... Must be more to the story than a few poorly worded e-mails.

Link




Told you SO.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
131. martinitony
1:47 PM GMT on November 30, 2009
Quoting presslord:


no more unGodly than fighting disease...


I am probably agnostic although I might scream Oh God when things get pretty bad. My point was not to suggest that God has anything to do with this topic. JFLORIDA brought up the issue of religion and I just wanted to point out that others may have a dramatically different viewpoint when it comes to religion and this topic.

Trying to tame the Sun, if necessary, in my view, would be no different than building shelter to avoid the elements.

Someone else posted that man must eventually go to other planets to solve these problems. I agree with that. The other solution would be total control of almost every aspect of human life to sustain life here. Unless catastrophe such as war or plague eliminates huge portions of the world's population, very bad things have to happen in the next hundred years no matter global warming. It is difficult to imagine a life on Earth with a human population of 20 or 30 billion.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
128. presslord
1:10 PM GMT on November 30, 2009
Quoting martinitony:


And what if you are wrong and it's nature, the sun and its cycles? Would it be ungodly, no matter what religion, to believe you could control, should control, what nature, God, choses to do?

The arrogance of the liberal can never be underestimated. Such arrogance is never questioned and does not allow the answer "I don't know" or "I might be wrong."


no more unGodly than fighting disease...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
127. martinitony
1:06 PM GMT on November 30, 2009
Why doesn't Congress do the following or some reasonable such study?

1. Choose an unbiased panel of scientists in several fields. This could be done by making sure none of them had published papers having opinions on the matter nor received money for work on the matter and state that they have no bias. Climatology, physics, chemistry, biology, botany etc. All fields would have representation so that all could draw upon the expertise they don't have.
2. The panel in a short period of time, perhaps a few days , would decide on methods and the required proof. Example, prove AGW using approved data and science( I assume this would be fairly detailed and complicated). The opponents must disprove the proof.
3. The proof team would have a specified period, say 30 days , to gather and present its data and science to prove its set of statements. A set of statements might be:
a. There is a warming of the Earths climate.
b. The primary cause of the warming is CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions.
c. The cause of these emissions is humans.
d. If nothing is done ______ will happen which would cause these catastrophic events.
e. This is what should be done to avoid the catastrophe.
4. After the proof team presents its side, the opponents would have 30 days to put its side together and then present it.
5. The panel would then have 30 days to put together its judgment on the matter and present it to Congress.

The teams would be assembled by those in Congress who support or oppose. For example Nancy Pelosi might choose a team leader, perhaps Hansen and Inhofe might choose the other team leader.

What's above is just an idea for a fair method that Congress could use and then react to. It seems as though something like this would settle the issue.



Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
126. martinitony
11:18 AM GMT on November 30, 2009
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Lets put it on the table cyclone.

It is Un Christian, Anti humanistic as well as Un Islamic, anti Jewish, Anti Hinduism as well as Un Buddhist to not consider the creation/environment respectfully and honestly.

In short from the majority of moral perspectives it is grossly unethical not to. It is greed, arrogance and selfishness beyond scope.

As different as we are individually I think will agree on that.



And what if you are wrong and it's nature, the sun and its cycles? Would it be ungodly, no matter what religion, to believe you could control, should control, what nature, God, choses to do?

The arrogance of the liberal can never be underestimated. Such arrogance is never questioned and does not allow the answer "I don't know" or "I might be wrong."
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
125. Stanb999
10:15 AM GMT on November 30, 2009
JFLORIDA

Repeating fallacy many times.... Doesn't make you any more right.

By the way..... your religion is on the way out.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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