12 years to go for planet Earth, one more baloney on global warm­ing

Manila Times - - Opinion - yen­mak­abenta@ya­hoo.com

prophecy, but it was her mis­for­tune never to be be­lieved on her pre­dic­tions. And this in­cluded a prophecy about the siege and fall of Troy.

In con­tem­po­rary times, the United Na­tions In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change ( IPCC) can surely claim the ti­tle of Cas­san­dra of our day. No or­ga­ni­za­tion and no­body has made more dire pre­dic­tions about the world and hu­man­ity than it has. No one has seen its fore­casts fall flat more of­ten than it has. And no one has been ready to pre­dict more even af­ter be­ing dashed by re­al­ity.

Last Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 7, the IPCC was back to its old tricks. It is­sued the lat­est grimmest warn­ing to hu­man­ity that it could put into words.

(Since I have writ­ten dur­ing the past three years on the cli­mate change (global warm­ing) de­bate, I believe I owe my read­ers a com­ment on the lat­est IPCC re­port to show that there is a sen­si­ble way to re­spond other than this apoca­lyp­tic re­port.)

The re­port is so grim and dire, it will force ev­ery­one — cli­mate alarmists, cli­mate de­niers and cli­mate skep­tics — to won­der whether they will still be around when its Cas­san­dra-like prediction comes due in 2030. Or whether they would care whether the prediction comes true or not.

Dire warn­ings

In sum­mary, ac­cord­ing to the IPCC re­port, the world’s lead­ing cli­mate sci­en­tists warn that there are only a dozen years for global warm­ing to be kept to a max­i­mum of 1.5° C, be­yond which even half a de­gree will sig­nif­i­cantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, ex­treme heat and poverty for hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple.

The au­thors of the land­mark re­port say that ur­gent and un­prece­dented changes are needed to reach the tar­get, which they say is af­ford­able and fea­si­ble al­though it lies at the most am­bi­tious end of the Paris agree­ment pledge to keep tem­per­a­tures be­tween 1.5° C and 2° C.

The half- de­gree dif­fer­ence could also pre­vent corals from be­ing com­pletely erad­i­cated and ease pres­sure on the Arc­tic, ac­cord­ing to the 1.5° C study, which was launched af­ter ap­proval at a fi­nal ple­nary of all 195 coun­tries in In­cheon that saw del­e­gates hug­ging one an­other, with some in tears.

“We must re­duce green­house gas emis­sions to net zero or face more floods,” said the panel.

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the mo­ment and we must act now,” said De­bra Roberts, a co- chair of the work­ing group on im­pacts, the IPCC Work­ing Group II. “This is the largest clar­ion bell from the science com­mu­nity and I hope it mo­bi­lizes peo­ple and dents the mood of com­pla­cency.”

Pol­i­cy­mak­ers com­mis­sioned the re­port at the Paris cli­mate talks in 2016, but since then the gap be­tween science and pol­i­tics has widened. Don­ald Trump has promised to with­draw the US — the world’s big­gest source of his­tor­i­cal emis­sions — from the ac­cord. The first round of Brazil’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on Sun­day put Jair Bol­sonaro into a strong po­si­tion to carry out his threat to do the same and also open the Ama­zon rainforest to agribusi­ness.

The world is cur­rently 1° C warmer than prein­dus­trial lev­els. Fol­low­ing dev­as­tat­ing hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and for­est fires in the Arc­tic, the IPCC makes clear that cli­mate change is al­ready hap­pen­ing, up­graded its risk warn­ing from previous re­ports, and warned that ev­ery frac­tion of ad­di­tional warm­ing would worsen the im­pact.

Sci­en­tists who re­viewed the 6,000 works ref­er­enced in the re­port, said the change caused by just half a de­gree came as a rev­e­la­tion.

Sea- level rise would af­fect 10 mil­lion more peo­ple by 2100 if the half- de­gree ex­tra warm­ing brought a forecast 10- cen­time­ter ad­di­tional pres­sure on coast­lines. The num­ber af­fected would in­crease sub­stan­tially in the fol­low­ing cen­turies due to locked- in ice melt.

Oceans are al­ready suf­fer­ing from el­e­vated acid­ity and lower lev­els of oxy­gen as a re­sult of cli­mate change. One model shows marine fish­eries would lose 3 mil­lion tonnes at 2° C, twice the de­cline at 1.5° C.

Sea ice- free sum­mers in the Arc­tic, which is warm­ing two to three times faster than the world av­er­age, would come once ev­ery 100 years at 1.5° C, but ev­ery 10 years with half a de­gree more of global warm­ing.

‘ Time is run­ning out’

Cli­mate alarmists and ac­tivists have been sent into parox­ysms of de­light by the new re­port. They feel newly weaponized for the cli­mate de­bates to come.

For­mer US Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore Jr., the des­ig­nated pope of global warm­ing, warned that “time is run­ning out” af­ter the re­lease of the UN spe­cial re­port un­der­scored the 12- year dead­line to head off cli­mate calamity by rad­i­cally trans­form­ing “all as­pects of so­ci­ety.”

“The re­port will en­cour­age the de­vel­op­ment of new tech­nolo­gies, which is im­por­tant,” Mr. Gore said in a state­ment. “How­ever, time is run­ning out, so we must cap­i­tal­ize and build on the solutions avail­able to­day.”

The IPCC called for achiev­ing “net zero emis­sions” by 2050 in or­der to limit the rise in global tem­per­a­tures to 1.5° C.

Such a goal that would re­quire tril­lions of dol­lars to achieve ” rapid and far- reach­ing tran­si­tions in land, en­ergy, in­dus­try, build­ings, trans­port, and cities,” in­clud­ing us­ing un­proven tech­nolo­gies to re­move car­bon diox­ide from the air.

“The next few years are prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant in our his­tory,” said Roberts.

“Lim­it­ing warm­ing to 1.5° C is pos­si­ble within the laws of chem­istry and physics but do­ing so would re­quire un­prece­dented changes,” said Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC Work­ing Group III.

The re­port drew dire head­lines such as CNN’s “12 years to stop cli­mate catas­tro­phe,” and The Washington Post’s “The world has just over a decade to get cli­mate change un­der con­trol, UN sci­en­tists say.”

An­other cli­mate tip­ping point

If the ac­tivists have been roused by the re­port, the skep­tics and de­niers have also been gal­va­nized into ac­tion.

Crit­ics dis­missed the 12- year dead­line as an­other ar­bi­trary “cli­mate tip­ping point,” as Cli­mate De­pot’s Marc Mo­rano put it. “That is not sub­stan­ti­ated by science and re­al­ity.”

For­mer Ge­orge Tech at­mo­spher­ic­sciences pro­fes­sor Ju­dith A. Curry de­scribed the re­port’s con­clu­sions as the “same old, same old,” based on ques­tion­able cli­mate mod­els and not “new science or bet­ter ways of as­sess­ing un­cer­tainty.”

“Even with er­ro­neous at­tri­bu­tion of ex­treme weather/ cli­mate events and pro­jec­tions us­ing cli­mate mod­els that are run­ning too hot and not fit for pur­pose of pro­ject­ing 21st cen­tury cli­mate change, the IPCC still has not made a strong case for this mas­sive in­vest­ment to pre­vent 1.5 C warm­ing,” she said on her Cli­mate Etc. blog.

RealCli­mateS­cience. com’s Tony Heller ticked off past failed pre­dic­tions of glob­al­warm­ing dis­as­ter, such as a 1989 IPCC warn­ing that “en­tire na­tions could be wiped from the face of the earth” by ris­ing seas un­less global warm­ing was re­versed by 2000.

He posted a video Sun­day on YouTube ti­tled, “( Al­ways) Ten Years Left to Save the Planet.”

“Ev­ery 10 years, cli­mate sci­en­tists say we have 10 years left to save the planet,” Heller said. “Some­times they want to save it from global warm­ing, other times they say they want to save it from global cool­ing.”

NASA cli­ma­tol­o­gist Gavin Sch­midt called the me­dia hype of the re­port as “nei­ther cor­rect nor help­ful.”

“Mak­ing bet­ter de­ci­sions on emis­sions is al­ways go­ing to be help­ful — whether it’s now, in 5 years or in 20 years,” Sch­midt tweeted.

I was pleased to find among the many items in my files a long es­say by Charles Krautham­mer on the sub­ject of cli­mate science. He blasted the pre­dic­tions and claims of the IPCC as pro­pa­ganda. But sadly he passed away ear­lier this year.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, Krautham­mer wrote an es­say pub­lished by the Washington Post ti­tled, “The myth of set­tled science.” It was a dev­as­tat­ing take­down of the sci­en­tific pre­ten­sions of the IPCC sci­en­tists. They never came out to re­fute Krautham­mer’s opin­ion which was swiftly joined by the views of many sci­en­tists who view cli­mate science as a “pseudo science.”

Catas­tro­phe in 2030?

The re­port’s re­lease is ex­pected to en­er­gize the an­nual UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence, sched­uled for De­cem­ber in Ka­tow­ice, Poland, which marks the dead­line for na­tions im­ple­ment­ing the 2015 Paris agree­ment.

The 12- year time­line of the IPCC re­port will come around in year 2030. Will mother Earth dis­in­te­grate from all the heat and all the flood­ing. Will the Philip­pines be one of those is­land na­tions that will be sunk by the sea- level rise?

This is the haz­ard of deal­ing with the bo­gus science of the IPCC and the fear- mon­ger­ing and im­pre­cise lit­er­a­ture of the IPCC; it forces us to talk in apoca­lyp­tic terms, the same way we talk of Ar­maged­don.

My in­stinct is to dis­miss out­right the new IPC re­port. I believe the Philip­pines should not fund a del­e­ga­tion to the meet­ing in Poland in De­cem­ber. We should dis­solve the Cli­mate Change Com­mis­sion and save money. And then if global catas­tro­phe tran­spires, the com­mis­sion will dis­ap­pear any­way along with the en­tire coun­try and all of us.

As for me, I hope I will be around to see events un­fold in 2030. In the evening of my life, I hope to see a) IPCC fi­nally de­con­structed by the United Na­tions, and b) our Philip­pine is­land world re­silient as ever to ev­ery nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

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