AR5 Discussion at Steve Easterbrook’s

Steve Easterbrook has an excellent, accessible summary of the IPCC AR5 summary document. (Odd that such a thing should be needed, but this is a good one). The comments are interesting too.

William (Stoat) is quibbling with the “science says something about policy” angle. It’s an interesting and not unimportant sideshow. The main act, though, shows that if we believe in the 2 C target, we can no longer comfortably avoid a carbon negative global commons.

Let’s be clear. This means that ANY COMBINATION OF

  • nuclear power
  • renewables
  • conservation

is as of now inadequate under any economically realistic scenario.

I don’t think anybody ought to be surprised. When we said Copenhagen was the last chance to avoid 2 C, we were not exaggerating.


  1. Policy prescriptions in a science document? Sometimes that's unavoidable, isn't it?

    A fever in a human becomes increasingly dangerous when it reaches a threshold generally agreed as ~41 degrees. Above that temperature it becomes increasingly imperative to check the fever, pretty much mandatory at ~42 degrees.

    If a patient's ideological or religious convictions are such that they'd rather not treat such a fever, does that mean the appearance of critical care information in a clinical guide is inappropriate?

    What about the folks who'd prefer to keep medical care and their personal convictions separate? Should the convictions of those who don't want to be given advice shape the information presented to everybody?

    Expecting the IPCC to have nothing to say about choices is to be selectively precious about purity and principles, seems to me. Dangerously so.

    Should we choose a specially selected jury composed of people who are ignorant of climate science to tell us what we might choose to do? How does that make any possible sense?

  2. I've mentioned this before, but I think that Thomas Lovejoy's proposal will be integral. He claims - and I have every reason to agree with Lovejoy, although I am not aware that he has published this? - that roughly 40% of accumulated excess CO2 is from biological sources; "three centuries of destruction and degradation of modern ecosystems", about 200-250 billion tonnes of carbon.

    Lovejoy: "So it should be possible to actually do planetary scale ecosystem restoration and bring a significant portion of that CO2 back and into living systems...

    ... There's at least 50ppm that could come out of the atmosphere with planetary scale ecosystem restoration... over a 50 year period... Half a billion tonnes (of carbon?) per year through reforestation and managing forests more effectively from this perspective, another half a billion tonnes a year through restoring grasslands and degraded grazing lands... and the third half billion tonnes a year through managing agro-ecosystems in ways that will encourage them to build up carbon in the soils rather than leak it...

    ... And we can do all that an still feed the 2 billion extra people this planet is going to have..."

    Now, I wish I had a paper where he lays this out explicitly, because it seems to me that he only "removes" 75 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere out of the 200+ billion that came from biologic sources, so how can it remove ~ 40%? (Amongst other questions...)... But I think he is more credible than Savory...

    But I am pretty certain this has to be a major part of the solution if we have to reverse course. (Where it gets stick is probably turning things like golf courses back to nature etc. - we'll have the same push back...)

    Here is a .

  3. Indeed. Biochar, irrigated afforestation of desert boundaries, etc. etc. Methinks we need even more: We need billions of people to "return to nature" and (1) work the soil (2) don't multiply. That is, integrate into a double sense anthropogenic carbon sequestration machine. Strong motivation: Food sovereignty.

    But methinks this motivation is not enough. What is needed is a total turnaround of human perception. Sort of a spiritual revolution. Forget Descartes, forget Pascal. Existentialism is ridiculous nowadays (show me your thrower). (Question to a theologian: If Homo Sapiens goes extinct, will there still be heaven and hell? Will Jesus and the Holy Virgin still hover above the Earth?) We need to get the heads out of the clouds (be it religion or space travel dreams or neoliberal economics) and get the feet back on the ground.

    My best hope for that is Buddhists, for some have some direct affinity to nature (e.g. Thai forest monks), plus, this century poses 2 hindrances to the Mahayana: (1) Not carbon negative, no bodhisattva (2) Not carbon negative, no sangha. --
    I might in a few years have worked out some philosophy to deepen that motivation (e.g. Emptiness is not the Middle Way) to make clear that eco-logical re-ligion is essential for enlightenment, and then gather a billion followers as a fake 3rd Buddha, hmmm, but possibly I'm too mortal for that. 🙂

  4. Aye.

    This sounds so difficult, but in a way it isn't. Affinity to nature is the key. Nature, however it came into existence, is beyond marvelous and into astonishing. To what forces or truths we owe the awesome serendipity of existence itself is currently, and I suspect may always remain, mysterious and inaccessible to our primate reasoning capacities. But however coldly and accidentally you view life, you may cherish and respect it all the more.

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