'Ditch the 2C warming goal': Researchers suggest society is striving for a misleading, unattainable climate goal

October 2, 2014 by Robert Monroe
Long-term global warming trend. Credit: NASA

As climate instability increases across the planet, limiting global surface air temperature increase above pre-industrial levels to an average of 2° C (3.6° F) has become a popular metric for success in the public eye.

But a pair of researchers at UC San Diego argues that the goal is a misleading one. Though it is a relatively tangible concept to appreciate, the standard does not correlate well to prescribed government actions such as limiting fossil fuel use or establishing carbon markets. It also provides fodder for those factions advocating little or no action on climate who use the recent flatlining of global air temperatures to argue that scientists' projections contradict reality.

"Scientifically, there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system than the growth of average global surface temperature—which has stalled since 1998 and is poorly coupled to entities that governments and companies can control directly," write authors David Victor and Charles Kennel in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Nature.

(Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are among many who have offered explanations for the apparent hiatus in surface since 1998, the year the planet last experienced a major El Niño warming event.)

The 2° C standard was introduced into climate negotiations as a target nearly ten years ago. But Victor, a professor of international relations at UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), and Kennel, director emeritus of Scripps, argue that the goal should be discarded because it is very likely to prove unattainable and leads to a lack of international cooperation.

"Because it sounds firm and concerns future warming, the 2 °C target has allowed politicians to pretend that they are organizing for action when, in fact, most have done little," the authors write. "Pretending that they are chasing this unattainable goal has also allowed governments to ignore the need for massive adaptation to climate change."

Also, they note, several planetary vital signs paint a truer picture of climate and should inform the setting of targets for climate action among governments. The authors note that 93 percent of the excess heat on Earth is absorbed into the oceans, an intake that would not be immediately evident in air temperature changes though its consequences are significantly longer lasting. They also observe that a region much more sensitive to climate change than the planet as a whole, the Arctic, has warmed considerably at a rapid rate since 1998. More direct measures of mitigation success than the temperatures people experience daily, they add, are the observations of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that several research centers around the world have made for many years.

"Patients have come to understand that doctors must track many vital signs—blood pressure, heart rate and body mass index—to prevent illness and inform care. A similar strategy is now needed for the planet," Victor and Kennel conclude.

The authors acknowledge that the political difficulties of selling society on a radical overhaul of the way it meets its energy needs requires a simplification of the issue that makes a temperature-based standard convenient. The complexity of other indicators and the lack of any other index with which to measure progress has allowed the air temperature threshold to establish itself as the benchmark of mitigation.

"A temperature goal does not tell what countries should do to achieve it," Kennel said. "When diplomats negotiate for a temperature goal, they do not know what they are signing up to."

Explore further: Study shows oceans vital for possibility for alien life

More information: "Climate policy: Ditch the 2 °C warming goal." David G. Victor& Charles F. Kennel. www.nature.com/news/climate-policy-ditch-the-2-c-warming-goal-1.16018

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Returners
1.8 / 5 (16) Oct 02, 2014
The U.S. is 15 trillion dollars in debt. I have shown in the past that by investing in wind and especially concetrated solar boiler technology it is possible to develop exponential returns in investment.

If 15 trillion hasn't killed us, then 16 trillion won't either.

By investing a full trillion dollars in Wind(East Coast) and Solar Power(S/S.W.), and re-investing all or most returns, I have shown that exponential growth in renewable systems is possible. The systems pay for themselves in 5 to 10 years, and last 30 to 50 years with maintenance, thus it is possible to double your investment every 5 to 10 years. With this strategy, a government owned energy company could pay off the Federal debt in 5 cycles of reinvestment (or less, since you can view it as compounding nearly continuously, but I only compounded every 5 to 10 years in this estimate).

Thus the 16 trillion could be paid off in 25 to 50 years, without raising taxes or cutting benefits.
Returners
1.6 / 5 (14) Oct 02, 2014
Oh yeah, because we wouldn't be shipping a trillion dollars per year to countries who hate us, to buy fuel which is consumed for one use and then gone forever, our economy would be much, much stronger, and you'd centralize our power and technology base, and re-focus our foreign policy on protecting "TRUE" allies, like W. Europe and Israel, instead of "strange bedfellows", like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Don't want a government owned energy company?

Fine, subsidize a hell of a lot more commercial, industrial, and residential wind and solar power.

However, be warned that increasing middle-men decreases effectiveness.

While residential panels remove middle-men in terms of ownership, they add middle-men in terms of production and installation.

Our economy needs to be research and production based.

It's one thing to have merchants and traders, but when half your economy is based on middle-men re-selling things at a higher price, something needs to change.
antialias_physorg
4.9 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
While I agree with the author that the 2 degree value is an oversimplification, and that science has better metrics to offer there is always the problem of conveying the information to the public. Because when it comes down to it (at least in nominally democratic nations) the public has to cast their vote for the politicians that get the job done.

Talking about oxygen saturation, CO2ppm, heat retention, etc. may be better from a scientific point of view - but the public doesn't know how to read these figures (most don't even know what stuff like 'ppm' is, much less have a concept of what it actually signifies even if they do). Educating the public does not mean plastering them with buzzwords. It measn giving out information that they can understand and relate to.
Eseta
Oct 02, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Returners
1 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2014
I've even shown that energy density from solar in the Desert S. West is so high that the U.S. could not only produce all of it's energy needs, but could sell the excess to Mexico and Canada.

Parts of Mexico also have massive amounts of solar available, but some parts it is less reliable in the tropics due to daily pops, which would cut into your solar productivity by between 1/4 and half of productivity.

At any rate, this would power both the U.S. and Mexican and Canadian economies, and we'd be net energy exporters of a renewable resource...for like the first time in a century or so.

Currently we export:
Lumber
Grains
Chemicals
some Cotton(I think)
Software
Intel Processors
Weapons

iPhones, though designed and sold by a U.S. company,a re actually imported since most of their components are made and assembled in China's Foxcon. Other Smartphones come from Japan, or a few U.S. companies (most of which have very little market share and are even losing money).

Import:
Oil, oil, oil
Eseta
Oct 02, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 02, 2014
Import:
Oil, oil, oil

"Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, dictating that US crude could no longer be exported, with a few exceptions.

This ban on domestic crude exports still stands today"
http://www.thenat...ican-oil
Returners
1 / 5 (10) Oct 02, 2014
Eseta:

Glass is as common as Sand. SiO2 and Al2O3 are among the most common molecules on the surface. Aluminum is ubiquitous to the point of being used in soda cans you throw away (or hopefully recycle) and used in paints and rocket fuel.

Using more iron and copper cannot be avoided. As you get larger industrial solar farms going, the energy pays for the processing of more metals, without further investment in fuel.

The U.S. has the largest, purest copper mine on Earth.

Iron must not be that limited, as the U.S. SINKS decommissioned transports and Navy vessels to make "artificial reefs" instead of recycling their massive multi-tens of thousands of tons of metal...at the request of the GREENS of all people.

Talk about silly, if you're really concerned about the supply of Iron, you should discuss this with your conservationist buddies, as they are the ones wasting it by the hundreds of thousands of tons.
Returners
1 / 5 (10) Oct 02, 2014
Import:
Oil, oil, oil

"Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, dictating that US crude could no longer be exported, with a few exceptions.

This ban on domestic crude exports still stands today"
http://www.thenat...ican-oil


There's a strategic reason for that: Use up the "enemy's" oil first, that way you're the last one with fuel.

Given the present economic and military power that is the right thing to do, since wind and solar cannot compete for MOBILE energy density, therefore military need to conserve fuel.

However, alternative energies were available 100 years ago.

Eseta:

Rossi's device has been proven to be at least 10 times more powerful net production than any known conventional power supply. The commercial device is currently already on sale. The residential one is supposedly needs some form of certification to be sold. A more optimized model can theoretically be 100 to 1000 times more.
Eikka
5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
If 15 trillion hasn't killed us, then 16 trillion won't either.


Fallacy of the heap. What happens to water at 99 C when you add 1 degrees more heat?

You simply don't know what effects on the economy an additional trillion in debt would have, or, at least I wouldn't trust you do based on your statements so far.

jscroft
2 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
Wait, you mean the data don't support our political agenda? Then collect DIFFERENT data, damn it!
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (10) Oct 02, 2014

...there is always the problem of conveying the information to the public.... when it comes down to it ([..for...] democratic nations) the public has to cast their vote for the politicians that get the job done.


Democracy is only a "problem" to the far left. The far left are useless without ability to control the masses.

Talking about oxygen saturation, CO2ppm, heat retention, etc. may be better from a scientific point of view - but the public doesn't know how to read these figures [....] Educating the public does not mean plastering them with buzzwords. It [means] giving out information that they can understand and relate to.


Yes, true, but the premise here is that 'had the public sufficient knowledge of climate change and it's potential environmental effects, they would voluntarily change their behavior wrt consumption of CO2 based energy. This notion even fails amongst AGW enthusiasts, so why would it work for the public at large?

....
Noumenon
1.9 / 5 (9) Oct 02, 2014
.... After all, oil consumption continues to rise because economies float on a bed of oil and coal. Economies must be strong to transition off of CO2 energy. So, it is not about convincing the masses of anything,.... it is about supplying alternative energy technology that the masses would want to use on account of it being in their best interest to do so.

The other fundamental error in logic that is made, is the presumption that it is possible to legislate the global thermostat to a desired setting. This is embarrassing naiveté. Global government fails to solve even hunger, poverty, and modern day genocide,... much easier problems by several orders of magnitude than controlling the global temperature.

The solution is not a political one,... it is a technological one. Adaptation and a global Manhattan'esque-Project for fundamental research for safe nuclear/fusion, hydrogen cells, etc,... is the only rational solution imo.
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2014
... A favorite argument by the political far left in the fight against terrorists, is that 'by bombing them, you only generate more of them'. With similar logic, you only generate more climate change 'deniers' and opposition to change, by bombing with the threat of global socialistic policies and the loss of liberty.

The far left must think it's also an "problem" and an obstacle in solving AGW, that the public has access to history.
TegiriNenashi
1.6 / 5 (14) Oct 02, 2014
Whom are the authors kidding? Apparently, global temperature records didn't get the global warming meme, hence the hiatus. This paper is just a clumsy way to move goalpost.
dstack
1.4 / 5 (10) Oct 02, 2014
With C02 now above 400PPM, RSS satellite data show's global temps tracking BELOW Hansen's zero emissions Scenario C. So C02 is not the planet's thermostat dial as advertised. Time to let it go.
Returners
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2014
If 15 trillion hasn't killed us, then 16 trillion won't either.


Fallacy of the heap. What happens to water at 99 C when you add 1 degrees more heat?

You simply don't know what effects on the economy an additional trillion in debt would have, or, at least I wouldn't trust you do based on your statements so far.


We have a trillion in debt every year or so, because we have an unbalanced economy and import more value than we currently export (either oil from the mid-east, or products from Japan and China).

By developing 100% energy independence we'd cut a huge portion of our trade deficit, and at the very root, which is ENERGY. That can only be a good thing.

Imagine how strong our economy would be if we became a net energy exporter, instead of having AN OIL VS GOLD PANIC every time something bad happens in the news...

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of being known as the nation with the worst net energy import to export ratio.
Anakin
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2014
Ahh.
So when the increasing temperature has stalled we must find another way of laying our hands on research founds.
Sounds legit imho
Just my 50p
teslaberry
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2014
If 15 trillion hasn't killed us, then 16 trillion won't either.


Fallacy of the heap. What happens to water at 99 C when you add 1 degrees more heat?

You simply don't know what effects on the economy an additional trillion in debt would have, or, at least I wouldn't trust you do based on your statements so far.



this is called keynsianism. the phallacy of control. more control is always the solution to the problem. yes, more control always works, until the accumulated weight of the system you built implodes upon itself , like the society that built the pyramids....
Returners
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
this is called keynsianism. the phallacy of control. more control is always the solution to the problem. yes, more control always works, until the accumulated weight of the system you built implodes upon itself , like the society that built the pyramids....


What is your solution to the remaining 10k per year murder rate and 30k per year attempted murder rate in the U.S.?

What is your solution to the 30k alcohol related automobile accidents and associated deaths per year in the U.S.

What is your solution to the kidnapping and rape/murder of female real-estate agents who are just doing their job? Or college girls walking home to their dorms?

We can't have every woman on college campus carrying a revolver (though that would stop kidnapping and rape I should think), but then you'd have the problem of some of them going ballistic and killing people, so they ban weapons on school grounds...even when they'd help the victims of non-weapon related crimes.
Uncle Ira
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2014
I don't know about you, but I'm sick of being known as the nation with the worst net energy import to export ratio.


How you feel about being the completely wrong about that? Look it up you couyon. It's easy to do. Just ask the google.
Returners
1.5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
I bet if Real-estate agents and college girls were armed with a 0.500 caliber revolver, and aimed at the murdering bastards' dicks, the kidnapping cases would go down dramatically.

It'd only take a few cases before the evil bastards quit attacking people.

News headline, potentially:

"Pervert attempts to kidnap/rape college girl: Gets a Blow instead.
It happened in broad daylight. The suspect approached *susie* and tried to force her into his car. Susie had other plans though. She pulled out her revolver and gave him a blow...blew his packed right off, that is...One shot to the family jewels was all it took to bring down *pervert paul*. Police showed up shortly thereafter and arrested the suspect, who gladly welcomed their aid. It was all caught on video tape...a dog, being walked down the street by another student, found the remains of his wiener and ate it before police could stop it..."-(News Anchor).

That would put an end to it for sure.
al_hopfer
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 02, 2014
Try this thought experiment.

According to tones of articles proclaiming this that and everything is due to Climate Change and its all bad....

Let's go back before humans burned so much coal and therefore deduct that there were no bad problems. None, because AGW did not yet exist.

Well, wait now. That can't be right. There have always been bad things happening on this planet.

So, therefore, Climate Change or AGW can in no way be responsible for everything that is bad today.

These articles must then have some kind of agenda. Gee.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2014
I bet if Real-estate agents and college girls were armed with a 0.500 caliber revolver
What you mean this?
https://www.youtu...USv1gJ7c
https://www.youtu...wYstCHmU

-You would have lots of women with broken wrists. Lrrrkrrrrrrrr do you know anything about ANYTHING??
Maggnus
5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
According to tones of articles proclaiming this that and everything is due to Climate Change and its all bad....
Let's go back before humans burned so much coal and therefore deduct that there were no bad problems. None, because AGW did not yet exist.
Well, wait now. That can't be right. There have always been bad things happening on this planet.
So, therefore, Climate Change or AGW can in no way be responsible for everything that is bad today. These articles must then have some kind of agenda. Gee.
Your tinfoil hat is in the second drawer to the right, under your picture of Dubya Bush.

It is simply amazing to me that your ilk has somehow convinced yourselves that the more qualified a person is to talk about global climate change, the less he or she actually knows. A simple thought experiment for you here, denier. Can you envision a position that is more arrogant than one that is held by a person with no degree in any field of climatology and goes against 97.3% of >>cont
Maggnus
5 / 5 (8) Oct 02, 2014
those who actually study the subject? Do you truly believe that you know something that hundreds of thousands of scientists, including climatologists, paleo-climatologists, geologists, chemists, physicists and even most engineers (Not Benni the pretend engineer) don't?

"people fail to grasp their own incompetence, precisely because they are so incompetent". In other words, people who know the least about a subject tend to think they know the most. Fits you to a T.
howhot2
5 / 5 (6) Oct 02, 2014
Researchers suggest society is striving for a misleading, unattainable climate goal
2C increase is just wishful thinking. It is almost certain to be 4-6C by 2100. 6C=10.8F increase globally (summer, fall, winter and spring). It will continue to increase, and will certainly cause a massive extinction event. Mankind will be leading the way on that one.

And as much as deniers like to deny; that is just a sober fact. Your kids are the last generation.

TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (9) Oct 02, 2014
...It is almost certain to be 4-6C by 2100...


I wonder how did you arrive to that number. Did you raise a moist finger into the air trying to get a feeling of apparent wind? Your experiment failed: temperature is not measured [or predicted, for that matter] that way.
runrig
5 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2014
Ahh.
So when the increasing temperature has stalled we must find another way of laying our hands on research founds.
Sounds legit imho
Just my 50p


There's nothing quite like the perception of deniers, who just see what they want to see.
Mind that *seeing* is rather limited when you inhabit the burrow.

http://www.climat...globally
runrig
5 / 5 (8) Oct 03, 2014
Try this thought experiment.

According to tones of articles proclaiming this that and everything is due to Climate Change and its all bad....

Let's go back before humans burned so much coal and therefore deduct that there were no bad problems. None, because AGW did not yet exist.

Well, wait now. That can't be right. There have always been bad things happening on this planet.

So, therefore, Climate Change or AGW can in no way be responsible for everything that is bad today.

These articles must then have some kind of agenda. Gee.


Let's get this right....
You are saying that because shit happenz anyway, AGW does not matter?

And the agenda is to publish the science. Full stop.
runrig
5 / 5 (7) Oct 03, 2014
Researchers suggest society is striving for a misleading, unattainable climate goal
2C increase is just wishful thinking. It is almost certain to be 4-6C by 2100. 6C=10.8F increase globally (summer, fall, winter and spring). It will continue to increase, and will certainly cause a massive extinction event. Mankind will be leading the way on that one.

And as much as deniers like to deny; that is just a sober fact. Your kids are the last generation.


How: Yep, I'm afraid you will be correct there. The more I read the science the more evident that becomes, coupled with the intransigence of the selfish
We must also factor in the increased population of humanity by then.
As well as climate related horrors there will be wars too.
runrig
5 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2014
...It is almost certain to be 4-6C by 2100...


I wonder how did you arrive to that number. Did you raise a moist finger into the air trying to get a feeling of apparent wind? Your experiment failed: temperature is not measured [or predicted, for that matter] that way.


http://www.indepe...272.html
TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (9) Oct 03, 2014
Did you read your reference? Since when "according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers" is equivalent to "almost certain" in the OP bold claim? Lewis&Curry are almost certain climate sensitivity is puny 1.5 degree, and studying climate is their profession.
runrig
5 / 5 (7) Oct 03, 2014
Did you read your reference? Since when "according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers" is equivalent to "almost certain" in the OP bold claim? Lewis&Curry are almost certain climate sensitivity is puny 1.5 degree, and studying climate is their profession.


OK, how about the IPCC, who are an organisation that collate the scientific findings on AGW.
From professional experts....

http://www.accuwe...18400212
Maggnus
5 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2014
Lewis&Curry are almost certain climate sensitivity is puny 1.5 degree, and studying climate is their profession.


.."there's nothing fundamentally wrong with Lewis & Curry (2014), but it does appear to have chosen the lowest possible change in system heat uptake rate, which then gives a low best estimate for the ECS. The range, however, is still quite similar to the IPCC range. Furthermore, this is just a single study and there are a number of things that such simple models really can't capture, many of which would indicate that these estimates are quite likely to be lower limits, rather than accurate values. " https://andthenth...d-curry/

Curry and Lewis both have quite a history of throwing up vague or demonstrably wrong claims, then running away when shown to be wrong.

TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (9) Oct 03, 2014
...Curry and Lewis both have quite a history of throwing up vague or demonstrably wrong claims, then running away when shown to be wrong.


Is this your idea what pier reviewers write? I can't pretend I have seen reviews in each and every science field, but in my area if you ever write something like this, it would be the last time your service was required for that publishing venue.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2014
Is this your idea what pier reviewers write? I can't pretend I have seen reviews in each and every science field, but in my area if you ever write something like this, it would be the last time your service was required for that publishing venue.
Only if it wasn't true.

Here, little tidbit for you. http://www.scienc...272.html

Oh, that's right, you still don't understand that volume does not equate with extent!
TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (9) Oct 03, 2014
Do you have the number? Because when you do you'd be rather disappointed how insignificant it is. It is not the first time when popular press blows up some minuscule effect out of proportion . In other words "...noticeable shift in Earth's gravity..." is just a fairy tail.

I'm repeating once again that error bars on gravity based measurements are huge. Comparatively, temperature and sea ice extent measurements have much much greater precision. If both temperature and sea ice extent show no change (or even slight cooling) in Antarctica, your gravity based measurement is just garbage. Maybe it snowed less this decade in this region, or there was some local tectonic activity.

Sorry, but global warming is on hold. Now, you may go cry to your mom to feel better.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (6) Oct 03, 2014
Do you have the number? Because when you do you'd be rather disappointed how insignificant it is. It is not the first time when popular press blows up some minuscule effect out of proportion . In other words "...noticeable shift in Earth's gravity..." is just a fairy tail.


The fact you are so willing to display your ignorance of science says much about you. That you are too dense to understand how much ice must be lost to show up on satilite measurements, especially considering the errors bars you trot out without thought or understanding, highlights your denialist mentality and your utter lack of scientific reasoning.

You don't know what you are talking about, and you are too wrapped up in your denialism to be able to understand that you don't know what you are talking about.

Watch the Cleese clip again. He is talking about you.
runrig
5 / 5 (8) Oct 04, 2014
Tegiri:
You imply that increased Antarctic sea-ice is caused by "slight cooling". Why do you not see that where freezing of salt-water is concerned that may not necessarily be the case.
You admit to some melt, even if you conflate it as being caused by geothermal heating. Plainly this is not the case for all the melting glaciers around the continent - but even should it be so then there would still be a source of fresher water to lie atop the ocean .... which can only freeze more easily in winter.
Stronger winds as a result of Antarctica's resistance to warming and the SH temperate zone warming is a detaT increase, a PJS increase, a storm strength increase. You do know that winds blow into LP, that Antarctica is a PV, therefore LP, that winds when stronger have a less convergent path into LP as surface friction is more easily overcome.
Winds will therefore have a larger offshore component, which in winter is frigid, this easily freezing the sea and blowing further out than hitherto until the melt/blow rate is in balance. I expect to see further increases in Antarctic sea-ice extent.
john_mathon
1 / 5 (7) Oct 04, 2014
Given that it is very likely the reason for this change of heart is the realization that 2xCO2=1-1.5C it is unlikely therefore we will ever see 2C temperature change. Given that this won't happen a change of goals is needed.

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