Article 2: Objective
The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the
Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
The consensus of politics today is that there’s nothing to be gained from talking about climate change. It’s divisive, the electorate has more pressing concerns, and very little can be accomplished anyway.
In response to this evolving consensus, governments have counseled a new approach that backgrounds climate change and refocuses the discussion on adaption, sustainability, innovation (geo-engineering) energy security, and economic competitiveness.
This cannot work if we hope to avoid terrible consequences. Why not? It’s simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale.
However, People don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to believe it. They bring to bear an enormous range of psychological and behavioral defense mechanisms to avoid it. It sounds “extreme” and our instinctive heuristics conflate “extreme” with “wrong.” People display the same kind of avoidance when they find out that they or a loved one are seriously ill. But no doctor would counsel withholding a diagnosis from a patient because it might upset them. If we’re in this much trouble, surely we must begin by telling the truth about it.
So let’s have some real talk on climate change. For a start; inconvenient truths (Al Gore) well, throw this crap of political spin in the trash.
How much can global average temperature rise before we risk “dangerous” changes in climate? The current consensus answer is: 2 degrees C [3.6 degrees F] above pre-industrial levels.
The 2 degrees C number before we risk “dangerous” changes in climate has been around for over a decade and was reaffirmed by those gibbering, procrastinating free-loaders at the Copenhagen Accord.
In reality (far away from political correct climate summits) deciding on an “acceptable” level of temperature increase is plain lunacy. Who the hell are these buffoons kidding? We are already suffering the effects of increased temperatures!
Here’s a chart attempting to show, in simplified form, what amount of temperature rise will produce dangerous effects (the red zones) and what the 2 degrees C level means:…
2 degrees C is extremely dangerous! Stopping at 1 degree C is physically impossible (we can thank our past inaction for that). Indeed, stopping at 2 degrees C is now close to impossible. There is no longer any reasonable chance of avoiding “dangerous” climate change!
CO2 stays in the atmosphere for over a century; the atmosphere doesn’t care what year it arrives. (Though targets in the distant future are comforting to politicians, for obvious reasons.) When the total concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere rises, temperature rises. That is the correlation that matters!
The only thing that matters in limiting temperature rise is cumulative emissions, the total amount we dump into the atmosphere now! As right now, global emissions are rising, faster and faster. Between 2000 and 2007, they rose at around 3.5 percent a year; by 2009 it was up to 5.6 percent. In 2010, we hit 5.9 percent growth, a record. We’re not only going in the wrong direction — we’re accelerating in the wrong direction!
The thing is, if 2 degrees C is extremely dangerous, 4 degrees C is absolutely bloody well catastrophic!
One of the most uncertain areas of climate science today has to do with feedback — processes caused by climate change that in turn accelerate change. For instance, heat will melt the Arctic permafrost, which releases methane, which accelerates climate change, which melts more permafrost, etc.
Will hitting 2 degrees C trigger runaway positive feedbacks? YES without any doubt.
The notion of “adapting” or living with climate change is a farce. A climate in which conditions are changing that fast just isn’t suitable for stable human civilization (or for the continued existence of a majority of the planet’s species).
Oh, and by the way: According to the International Energy Agency, we’re currently on course for 6 degrees C [10.8 degrees F]. That is, beyond any reasonable doubt, game over.
So this is where we’re at: stuck between temperatures we can’t possibly accommodate and carbon reduction pathways we can’t possibly achieve. A rock and a hard place.