Next-to-Maybe-Last Chance

July 9, 2014

painting01_081022_sshFog and a warm breeze this early Wednesday on California’s north coast — and warm is not like in hot, but more like in not-so chilly.
And so it goes.

Short and literary-dramatic, direct and to the point — yesterday from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “We know that we are not on track, and time is not on our side.”
Pitching a new United Nations-backed report outlining ways to cut CO2, he did convey urgency to a most-desperate dilemma.

(Illustration found here).

The report, put together by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group established by Ban in 2012, attempts to rekindle hope the world’s temperature can be kept below a break-point, a cutoff where supposedly life on the planet would be shitty, way-shitty.
Accordingly, the report…emphasizes three key pillars: energy efficiency, low-carbon electricity and fuel switching. It also outlines steps countries can take to meet internationally agreed target of limiting the increase in global mean surface temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

However, the secretary-general might be explaining to deaf ears — there’s been tons of similar reports over the last few years, but still the environment is getting hotter and hotter. No one ihas yet to really be frightened, except maybe climate scientists.
Some highlights off the UN report from Aljazeera:

The report, prepared for the United Nations by experts from leading research institutes from 15 countries, challenges the idea that the world can’t avoid breaching a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperature — many climate scientists have warned that an increase of 3 to 4 C is now inevitable.
Moreover, they suggest defeatism on the 2 C limit target would contribute to dithering by heavily industrialized countries most responsible for climate change — the United States, China, India, major European economies and rising economic powers like Brazil and South Africa.
“We do not subscribe to the view held by some that the 2 C limit is impossible to achieve and that it should be weakened or dropped altogether,” the authors of the report from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) wrote.

The report said the concept of inevitable climate change above 2 degrees Celsius is potentially toxic to the success of global negotiations, which faltered at the last major global summit, the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
If countries act as though nothing can be done, they might be unwilling to take the kind of ambitious action necessary to reduce emissions to 2 C, above which there will be “grave and irreversible harm” done to humans and our planet.
Or, worse, the worst polluters could attempt to reach consensus on a target deemed easier to reach, the report said.
“The political risks of jettisoning the 2 C limit are also significant,” the report stated.
“If the world fails to mobilize in support of the 2 C limit or if countries try to weaken it there will be no realistic prospect for the international community to agree to another quantitative target.”
While more optimistic than recent grim reports from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which foresee a planet and human civilization mutilated by climate change, the scientists behind the DDPP stressed the urgency of action.
“The issue is to convince the world that the future is as important as the present. Paris 2015 may well be our last hope,” said Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s top economist.

Climate Central talked to Jeff Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and one of the leaders of the new report, and the time being wasted: “We’ve just about exhausted the carbon budget. The world is unfortunately engaged in a massive gamble.”

There are still many unanswered questions about whether the world’s governments will be able to gather the political will to push these kinds of projects forward.
Sachs said the goal of the current project was to show the feasibility of staying within a 2°C limit and that scientists working on the project specifically avoided discussing contentious issues of development, historical emissions and equality that have slowed international climate negotiations in recent years.
The report is timed to be available to world leaders who will attend a climate summit at the UN in September and a major round of climate negotiations in 2015.
It could be guidance to show governments what a 2°C world would look like and why it matters, but not exactly how to get there.
“What would be an amazing breakthrough is to get governments to look at the carbon budget and to understand how tight it is,” Sachs said.

Don’t look good, though, when this kind of shit gets any exposure to the inescapable lightness of being bat-shit crazy. Also on Tuesday, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Heartland Institute’s Ninth Annual Conference on Climate Change:

Just because the vast majority of environmental scientists agree that climate change is serious and man-made, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another side of the story.
And that story will be told often during panel discussions and speeches with approximately 600 attendees expected, according to conference promoters.
Panels with titles such as “The Social Cost of Carbon” and “Combating Climate Myths with Science Facts” will compete with “Who Benefits from Alarmism?” and “The Right Climate Stuff.”
Inside The Heartland Institute and the conference, the argument against the existence of dangerous climate change has only begun.
“There are no more excuses for those who say, ‘the debate is over’ concerning climate science,” institute communications director Jim Lakely said in a recent missive.
“The debate will be happening next week in Las Vegas, and you can watch it all with a click of a button.”

Read some background on Heartland DeSmogBlog, including this: Sin City is a fitting spot for the world’s most anti-science front group to convene its friends who deny the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is real and a grave threat to our future.

The future is already here.

(Illustration out front found here).

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