Latest Climate Change Data

These are my notes from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory talk last night (prone to errors of interpretation):

The latest intergovernmental climate report will be coming out in January 2014.

2012 was the hottest year on record.

CO2 emissions were steady at 270 ppm before the steam engine. Now they are over 350ppm, haven’t been that high since 3 million years ago. We are on track for 750ppm, haven’t seen that for 34 million years, when Antarctica was created.

Clear link between atmospheric CO2 and temperature rise.

Emissions are 56% higher today than in 1991. Rio Earth Summit held in 1992. Kyoto Protocol in 1997. 2013 was the 18th meeting of parties to discuss climate change. Action is not being taken.

Historical emissions have committed us to warming consequences 25 years out. Effects from changes made now will be seen after year 2035.

California has pleged to not raise its emissions through 2020 as of legislation in effect January 2013, and an order by Schwarzenegger would reduce emissions by 80% in CA by 2020.

Warming planet raises deadly storm frequency and severity, increases both floods and droughts, increase fire danger risk, insect and pathogen outbreaks. As planet warms, permafrost thaw releases even more carbon as organic decomposition takes off. This is not accounted for in climate models, and raises carbon by as much as 20 percent.

Deadly weather, costing dozens of thousands of deaths, has been seen in Europe 2003, Russia 2010, Texas 2011.

50% carbon stays in atmosphere, 25% absorbed by forests, and 25% absorbed by oceans. Oceans are becoming more acidic, which destroys shells of sea creatures and coral reef habitats. Trees are keeping up with their share of absorption, but at what cost?

320 million trees killed in Katrina storm, equal to the net gain in US forests annually.

Climate ecnomist suggests taxing use of carbon minimum $20/ton (some suggest $100/ton) to encourage consumers to leave carbon in the ground and develop smarter alternatives. Get top 20 countries to agree to tax carbon for its real cost.

The top two emitters of CO2 are US and China. China’s coal alone is equal to our total emissions (we export some coal to China).

Geoengineering to cool the planet is like applying a 3,000 year bandaid. Need to leave the carbon in the ground.

There is 4 times more carbon in oil/coal reserves than our trees can soak up. More trees is not the answer.

The risks to our food supply are serious. Crops are growing in ideal conditions. Temp rise as little as 2 degrees can impact yields. Temp is projected to rise as much as 15 degrees with no action taken against carbon.

“If we don’t do something, the major export from some of these hungry countries will be violence.”


For more information, check out Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or UCTV, where you may find links to a video of the talk with climate scientists.