Limiting global warming is not enough

Jul 04, 2013

So far, international climate targets have been restricted to limiting the increase in temperature. But if we are to stop the rising sea levels, ocean acidification and the loss of production from agriculture, CO2 emissions will have to fall even more sharply. This is demonstrated by a study published in Nature that has been carried out at the University of Bern.

The ultimate objective of international climate policy is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. To do this, are to be stabilised at a level that is acceptable for humans and for the environment.

This climate goal is commonly expressed as an increase in the global mean temperature by a maximum of two degrees since pre-industrial times. This general direction is recognised by the majority of the world's governments.

But now, a study carried out by based in Bern shows that the focus on the alone is by no means enough to meet the ultimate, overarching objective – to protect the climate system from dangerous anthropogenic interference.

This is because, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 1992, the comprises the "totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere and their interactions". The Framework Convention also calls for the sustainability of ecosystems and food production. All of this can scarcely be realised by the two-degree target alone.

Six targets proposed

This is why Dr. Marco Steinacher, Prof. Fortunat Joos and Prof. Thomas Stocker are proposing a combination of six different specific global and targets (Figure 1) in their work, which has just been published in the "Nature" journal.

They say that a target is "neither sufficient nor suitable" to avoid further damage that is relevant for communities and . These include in particular: , ocean acidification – which threatens coral reefs – and production on agricultural land.

Realistic development paths

The main culprit in relation to these environmental changes is the emission of the greenhouse gas CO2, which is produced when fossil fuels are burned. The researchers have now used extensive model calculations to show which levels of CO2 emissions would still be allowable in order to meet the proposed combined targets.

The basis for the calculations is provided by a wide range of greenhouse gas scenarios that are based on realistic economic trajectories. "We can now show which total CO2 emissions would be tolerable in the coming decades in order to meet each and every one of the additional climate targets – for example stable production on agricultural land and limitation of ocean acidification", says Marco Steinacher, the leading author of the study.

And the researchers ask the crucial question of what would be required in order for all of the climate targets to be met. Their unambiguous answer is that CO2 emissions have to be lowered even more radically than provided for by the two-degree target (Figure 2). "When we consider all targets jointly, CO2 emissions have to be cut by twice as much than if we only want to meet the two-degree target", explains Steinacher.

The objective of limiting proved particularly challenging and is achievable only through a massive reduction in the emissions of CO2.

Important basis for informing policy

The three researchers, all of whom are members of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern, recommend that further studies of this type be carried out. However, further relevant climate targets need to be set out by policy makers and by society, they say.

"Ultimately, the magnitude of environmental changes we are able to cope with and the amount of risks we are prepared to take is a social and political question. But the constant rise in CO2 emissions is increasingly limiting our options to act", says Fortunat Joos.

The climate physicists emphasise the fact that it is important for political decision-makers to link different climate targets to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in a quantitative manner.

According to the study, in the future more detailed simulations will have to be carried out which inform about local and regional consequences of climate change. For example, these include extreme occurrences such as flooding and heatwaves. However, we do not yet have sufficient computing power to operate the complex Earth System Models needed for such probabilistic simulations.

The study was made possible by using the "Bern3D-LPJ" Earth System Model developed at the University of Bern. The model is able to simulate a large number of important physical and biogeochemical processes and their interactions on a regional scale.This information is needed to formulate many additional climate targets – for example to prevent the acidification of the oceans in the Tropics.

The Bern Model is so efficient that it only took a few weeks to calculate the roughly 65,000 simulations needed for the study. From this rich set of simulations, the researchers have estimated probabilities of meeting specific climate targets. This is not possible with most of the other Earth System Models currently in existence.

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

More information: Marco Steinacher, Fortunat Joos, Thomas F. Stocker: Allowable carbon emissions lowered by multiple climate targets. Nature, 3. Juli 2013, doi:10.1038/nature12269

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User comments : 19

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Grallen
4 / 5 (17) Jul 04, 2013
I don't know why we would accept any change in our climate...

Positive or negative. Any instability is bad for us economically and possibly a threat to our survival.

I don't mean to sound like I'm asking for something from sci-fi, but we need to learn how to protect and manipulate our climate safely, as soon as possible. The end goal needs to be planetary climate control that can counter anything(including natural disaster) if we plan to keep living on this rock.
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (15) Jul 04, 2013
I don't know why we would accept any change in our climate...

Some variability is inevitable (there are other factors than humans... get a large enough volcano eruption and you may have to deal with a bit of a drop in overall temperature). It's sensible for us to have a system that can cope with climate within a reasonable margin without having to constantly fiddle with it (while protecting the ecosphere to stay within that margin).

but we need to learn how to protect and manipulate our climate safely

That's a bit of a poser as we don't have another ecosystem to experiment on. And I've never heard of any large scale engineering project that worked on the first try as expected (without exhaustive testing of all parts). If we mess up our climate with geoengineering then we're well and truly f*ked.

And I am very certain we cannot consider all possible side effects beforehand. There will be unintentional consequences - and those may be beyond our ability to repair.

ryggesogn2
1.9 / 5 (17) Jul 04, 2013
we need to learn how to protect and manipulate our climate safely,

Who will pay for the failures?
"Thirty-five deaths in the infamous Lynmouth flood disaster came only days after RAF rain-making experiments over southern England, it has emerged. "
http://news.bbc.c...6880.stm

Maybe if ALL inputs to climate are identified and quantified, such attempts may be made or it will be discovered there is nothing we can really do to control climate.
Noumenon
1.6 / 5 (38) Jul 04, 2013
"Anthropogenic interference" is a unavoidable consequence of human existence. That dopy phrase presupposes a planet without advanced life first, then considers the negative effects of advanced life as artificially added and even separable. There not. Therefore that phrase is meaningless potato salad.

There is no way to prevent our need of energy, and it is economically irrational to force a more expensive energy source into play while a cheaper one lies existing underground. In fact "we" are increasing our use of coal and oil, as the world population increases and 3rd world economies grow.

We have not shown ability to live without the conveniences of modern energy nor live while our human nature is suppressed, nor can "we" Prevent wars or genecide or famine, therefore, the relativity much harder task of controlling the climate is fantasy. We will have to adapt to the climate and the climate system will have to adapt to us.
Noumenon
1.5 / 5 (39) Jul 04, 2013
I have as much confidence in man artificially planning societies and economies (communism and socialism), as I do controlling the global thermostat, which is to say none at all.
VendicarE
3.3 / 5 (15) Jul 04, 2013
"Who will pay for the failures?" - RyggTard

The same people who have been paying for the never ending series of failures that have come from your political liedoeology.

"Thirty-five deaths in the infamous Lynmouth flood disaster came only days after RAF rain-making experiments over southern England, it has emerged. " - RyggTard

That is some effective Rain making technology from 1952.

If it exists and is real, then why aren't corporations using it to end droughts?

Are they worried about flooding?

Morrrrrrrrrrron.

VendicarE
3 / 5 (15) Jul 04, 2013
"I have as much confidence in man artificially planning societies and economies " - NumenTard

As we watch American Society collapse and burn due to lack of adequate regulation and planning, we scratch our heads and wonder how with people like NumenTard, it managed to survive as long as it did.

ScooterG
1.9 / 5 (22) Jul 04, 2013
"Limiting global warming is not enough"

In other words, we need to perpetuate the environmentally-based gravy train because so many have come to rely on it for their income - it's "too big to allow to fail".

Neinsense99
3.3 / 5 (14) Jul 04, 2013
greenhouse gases are to be stabilized at a level that is acceptable for humans
Nature journal is well known with its http://www.nature...37c.html - actually the only technology which could replace the fossil fuel consumption from long term sustainable perspective - so that the role of this journal is restricted just to lobbying of otherwise useless and infective research of "green" technologies.

Reality is also known for it's ignorance of cold fusion viability. But that's fine, as you made sure to cancel your subscription to it long ago.
VENDItardE
1.4 / 5 (18) Jul 04, 2013
STOP IT !!! Stop it right now ! The game is over, the jig is up, fini, kaput. Find a new source of money and try doing some honest research for once in your pitiful life.
LEVI506
2.1 / 5 (18) Jul 04, 2013
Climate science is like the parable of the elephant and the blind. Feeling the tail, the elephant was like a rope the side of the elephant like a barn and the leg, like a tree. Climate scientists are flying blind. They can't explain the anomalies, so just ignore them. They don't keep the funds coming. Like the hypocrite Gore, it's all bout "me" and what I can get from crying the loudest.
Noumenon
1.5 / 5 (35) Jul 04, 2013
"I have as much confidence in man artificially planning societies and economies " - NumenTard

As we watch American Society collapse and burn due to lack of adequate regulation and planning, we scratch our heads and wonder how with people like NumenTard, it managed to survive as long as it did.



American society produced the greatest economy and standard of living known to human history, and to this day all nations rely on it. America will collapse and burn only in proportion to encroachment of government, which proves itself incompetent to predict the simplest of events, much less ability to plan.
Noumenon
1.5 / 5 (33) Jul 04, 2013
. Like the hypocrite Gore, it's all bout "me" and what I can get from crying the loudest.


And in so doing he is a walking example that egoism and not collectivism is the real force which should be used to clean up emissions, i.e. technology and capitalism, rather than government control.
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (17) Jul 04, 2013
"Who will pay for the failures?" - RyggTard

The same people who have been paying for the never ending series of failures that have come from your political liedoeology.

"Thirty-five deaths in the infamous Lynmouth flood disaster came only days after RAF rain-making experiments over southern England, it has emerged. " - RyggTard

That is some effective Rain making technology from 1952.

If it exists and is real, then why aren't corporations using it to end droughts?

Are they worried about flooding?

Morrrrrrrrrrron.


The above is the typical response of the ignorant AGW Alarmist turd,
who does nothing to limit its own CO2 emission,
would kiss the behind of its Vicar Gore who burns over 20 times the energy of the average US household
and would blindly support their clueless "scientists" in Geo-engineering the planet.
Yep, these are the ignorant turds who would save us.
deepsand
3.6 / 5 (14) Jul 05, 2013
we need to learn how to protect and manipulate our climate safely,

Who will pay for the failures?

Who pays for failures to act?
deepsand
3.1 / 5 (15) Jul 05, 2013
"Anthropogenic interference" is a unavoidable consequence of human existence. That dopy phrase presupposes a planet without advanced life first, then considers the negative effects of advanced life as artificially added and even separable. There not. Therefore that phrase is meaningless potato salad...

We will have to adapt to the climate and the climate system will have to adapt to us.

Utter nonsense.

Man has the ability to adapt to the systems upon which he is dependent for his survival in a manner that does not make those systems incapable of supporting him.

Those systems possess neither the means nor the willingness to accommodate man to the extent that he might desire.
deepsand
3 / 5 (14) Jul 05, 2013
"Limiting global warming is not enough"

In other words, we need to perpetuate the environmentally-based gravy train because so many have come to rely on it for their income - it's "too big to allow to fail".

Why do you bother with such inane ramblings about something that is beyond your desire to comprehend?
deepsand
3 / 5 (14) Jul 05, 2013
Climate science is like the parable of the elephant and the blind. Feeling the tail, the elephant was like a rope the side of the elephant like a barn and the leg, like a tree. Climate scientists are flying blind. They can't explain the anomalies, so just ignore them. They don't keep the funds coming. Like the hypocrite Gore, it's all bout "me" and what I can get from crying the loudest.

Only to those who share your blindness.
deepsand
2.8 / 5 (15) Jul 05, 2013
"Who will pay for the failures?" - RyggTard

The same people who have been paying for the never ending series of failures that have come from your political liedoeology.

"Thirty-five deaths in the infamous Lynmouth flood disaster came only days after RAF rain-making experiments over southern England, it has emerged. " - RyggTard

That is some effective Rain making technology from 1952.

If it exists and is real, then why aren't corporations using it to end droughts?

Are they worried about flooding?

Morrrrrrrrrrron.


The above is the typical response of the ignorant AGW Alarmist turd,
who does nothing to limit its own CO2 emission,
would kiss the behind of its Vicar Gore who burns over 20 times the energy of the average US household
and would blindly support their clueless "scientists" in Geo-engineering the planet.
Yep, these are the ignorant turds who would save us.

Time for your mommy to wipe the feces from your mouth and change your diaper.

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