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« Oh Godlee | Main | The walrus and the ecoperson »
Wednesday
Oct012014

Off target

Anthony reproduces a Nature editorial that suggests that nations should abandon the 2°C target that has allegedly focused political responses to global warming in recent years.

Bold simplicity must now face reality. Politically and scientifically, the 2°C goal is wrong-headed. Politically, it has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. 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.

As the full article points out, the whole point of the target was that above this level things became dangerous, although authors David Victor and Charles Kennel suggest that the precise dangers concerned were somewhat unclear. As I recall it was supposed to be flood and drought and hurricanes and the like, but perhaps my memory is failing me.

But that's beside the point. Victor and Kennel rather skip their way around what is going to happen to the dangers if we decide to follow their suggestions and take on some other measures of global warming - ocean heat content being one suggestion.

Reading between the lines one might draw the conclusion that the target and the dangers that were said to lurk beyond it were simply a political fairytale that helped in the endless task of herding the populace towards Nirvana.

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Reader Comments (42)

Yeah that ocean heat content is quite scary. Its about 3C down there and if it ever turns over we're bound to dangerously heat up ? ?

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

Captain Schettino, what are you doing in the lifeboat?

I'm err, I'm just testing the seats are comfy.

So not abandoning the good ship Global Warming?

Absolutely not! The ship is completely water tight. Any leaks are rumours put about by buoyancy denialists.

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Incidentally, if the Americans call buoys 'booees' how do they pronounce buoyancy?

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Yep. As the temperature is not cooperating, let"s chose someting else. Ocean heat content is hard enough to measure, so let's pick this. If that starts not cooperating, we coild choose again. Number of yellow butterflies for example...

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSven

1998: OMG. Temperatures will be rising at .2C per decade and we will reach 2C of dangerous warming in 100 years,

2014: OMG. Temperatures are rising at 0C per decade and we will reach 2C of dangerous warming in 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 years,

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Oooh, it looks like our scary target of less than 2°C increase in average surface temperature is never going to be achieved whatever we do. The problem is, we can measure earth's average surface temperature: I know, let's pick a target based on something we can't measure and we'll never be able to measure. That ought to do it.

What a pathetically transparent attempt to move the goal posts.

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Their problem is that with Hermann Harde showing that CO2 warming is almost half what they said PLUS the feedbacks are much less, it's beginning to look like we couldn't get more that 2C even if we pulled out all the stops. In other words, we've already achieved less than 2C.

On a slightly different subject sceptics might be interested in the way I've approached this article:
Origin of British & West European Languages and the conclusion that "English" is about 8000years old.

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:57 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

No, No, No. They shouldn't be allowed to move the goal posts.

Never let them forget 'their' 2 degree C threshold.

Oct 1, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Sounds like jumping from one folly to another. They abandon the metrics because the problem doesn't show in the metrics. IOW they'll be fishing around for anything that will show what they want to see.

also they want to focus on what govs can do not what should be done. The old story of the drunkard looking for the home keys where there's light and not where he might have lost them.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:01 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

At RealClimate they are arguing to keep the 2C target.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

We are now reaching the very interesting point in the development of a prophetic cult when there is divergence between the senior staff of the enterprise and those at the coal face.

The senior staff are now starting to get cold feet. They see, like the senior guys in the various end of the world cults, that this has all been prophesied a bit too close in time, and they can see that its going to go all pear shaped if it doesn't happen, the heavens do not open, and the great pooh-bah does not descend. So they start to back off.

This is the cue for the coal face guys to get ever more fanatical and put on plays about killing deniers, forecasting ever more apocalyptic outcomes, and be absolutely sure that the end is coming. We have only five more years to avert warming of 10C. This is the point at which families split up and stop talking to each other.

Eventually the time will come when all that will be left is a few little splinter groups, still hanging on to some adjusted belief in the apocalypse, but we are a bit away from that just now and have to go through a prolonged bout of extreme and increasingly fanatical enthusiasm from the workers.

In revolutions, this is what leads into the terror phase, and the leaders with their wits about them quietly escape across the channel to come back with Talleyrand when things have calmed down.

Fayette, Fayette, thou'rt bought and sold
And sold is thy happy morrow;
Thou gavest the tears of pity away
In exchange for the tears of sorrow.

Backing off as fast as he could, but the troops behind him were raging for blood.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

'Reading between the lines one might draw the conclusion that the target and the dangers that were said to lurk beyond it were simply a political fairytale that helped in the endless task of herding the populace towards Nirvana'

That is SO cynical Mr Montford. You are now an honorary member of the Ghostbusters team.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Will any western country have the psychiatric resources required to cope with the surge in mental health issues that will arise as the current generation of eco-loons enters its autumn years realising how futile their lives have been?

These people are getting ever more desperate as nature refuses to co-operate with their big lies. Let's just hope the next fad isn't claiming that the world's population is already too large.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

The two degree target was entirely an invention of that creepy institute in Postdam, a city of Cold War fame. It was politically useful for its director, J. S. But we haven't heard much from them recently. I am not sure if in this case no news is good news. http://m.spiegel.de/international/world/a-686697-8.html

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

As I recall it was supposed to be flood and drought and hurricanes and the like, but perhaps my memory is failing me.

<sarc> Sorry Bish, Climate Change is already causing drought down here in NZ, the models told us so it must be true - http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10568966/Drought-lengthened-by-climate-change</sarc>

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterIanM

"At RealClimate they are arguing to keep the 2C target.

Oct 1, 2014 at 8:03 PM | "

Of course, Rahmsdorf is in their famous there-is-no-pause-mode. To accept the Nature proposal is to accept the fact of the pause. But we all "know" that the only reason for the "pause" is the 1998 el nino. Don't we?
Quite funny, the catch 22 for them, actually...

Oct 1, 2014 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSven

"when in reality they have achieved almost nothing"

Ahhhh, the inconvenient reality of having squandered untold billions has been eclipsed by the greater inconvenience of no warming, a fact 'they et al.' should be celebrating loudly. Instead the ever deafening silence, broken by the whisper of this editorial in Nature.
I always wondered what shape the inevitable climb down would adopt.

Listen next for a collective sigh of relief or can one hope instead for the silent majority baying for personal (don't waste time on institutional) accountability?

Nb.
Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005

“The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”

Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 7th May, 2009

"Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried."

Oct 1, 2014 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

I liked one of the early comments at WUWT. Let's keep the 2 degree target if they agree to scrap rain at the weekends..

Oct 1, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

As I recall it was supposed to be flood and drought and hurricanes and the like, but perhaps my memory is failing me.
---------------------------------------------------------
Don't forget locust plagues, boils and premature hair loss.

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:19 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

I'm not sure what is more stupid-
* setting a 2C temperature target
* thinking that we can 'take action' to achieve that target
* or deciding to replace that target with a vague unspecified and even more meaningless one.

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:31 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This kind of thing worked in every other period of history, but from the 2000s onwards every hysterical and drivel-filled 100% guaranteed warning from these imbeciles is recorded forever on the internet.

They can't make it go away.

Best of all, they are the ones who used the internet to threaten anyone who disagreed. That's all recorded too.

What did the Climategate email say? "If it doesn't warm they'll probably kill us?"

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

The fatuous +2C target is one of the more visible disgraces of the climate scarers. 18 years of not even rising towards it causes no rejoicing in their ranks, but instead we see there frantic searching for other totems to keep the scare somewhat more credible amongst the ill-informed, the gullible, and the vulnerable. Not to mention the avaricious, the ruthless, and the plainly demented.

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:42 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

So are we are going to be deluged in a general tidal wave of honesty about how those higher temperatures were supposed to bring about the downfall of life as we know it Jim, but it was wrong? I don't think so.

It would keep Retraction Watch busy until the 25th century.

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

They have already succeded and the temperature hasn't risen for 18 years.

Oct 1, 2014 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

Life certainly is a lot easer when you can base your 'research' on the tails you lose head I win method .
Must dash I am off to the shops , while I am there I may get myself a PHd in climate 'science' as I understand their very easy and cheap to get with little quality control and less effort involved .

By the way anyone want to bet that the 'new measures ' will not be so badly or broadly defined as to make it certain that they will be 'found ' no matter what ?

Oct 1, 2014 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

"Ahhhh, the inconvenient reality of having squandered untold billions "

Not squandered. Trillions of dollars in free carbon credits were handed out to big business. The hysteria is caused by the fact that their value is directly related to the rise in global temperatures.. Currently bugger all.

The wind turbine market is simply there to bolster belief in carbon trading. It is otherwise idiotic as we know.


Carbon credits bring Lakshmi Mittal £1bn bonanza

LAKSHMI MITTAL, Britain’s richest man, stands to benefit from a £1 billion windfall from a European scheme to curb global warming. His company ArcelorMittal, the steel business where he is chairman and chief executive, will make the gain on “carbon credits” given to it under the European emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The scheme grants companies permits to emit CO2 up to a specified “cap”. Beyond this they must buy extra permits. An investigation has revealed that ArcelorMittal has been given far more carbon permits than it needs. It has the largest allocation of any organisation in Europe


http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/article192167.ece

Oct 1, 2014 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

Moving the goal posts is all they're doing. Same modus operandi.

Oct 2, 2014 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

"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."

Hmmm. So you can't control average global surface temperature with legislation (!) but maybe you can control ocean heat content? What a bizarre line of reasoning.

Oct 2, 2014 at 12:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

This is a pretty insidious development. We are probably now moving to the policy imperative driven by the insistence of activists that we have to stop using fossil fuels... because.

One famous proponent of that argument is Roger Pielke Jnr.

God help us.

Oct 2, 2014 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

"there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system"

Yes in this post normal science (i.e. pseudo-science) age something you can measure physically might give you the wrong "answer". I am sure the climate "scientists" will come up with some abstract concept so it can't relate to the real world.

How else will they get their money! How will they pay for their ivory towers and pensions! Think of all those poor souls not capable of doing real work!

Oct 2, 2014 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Let's see if an inconvenient question gets through?
Adam Gallon says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. 2 Oct 2014 at 2:16 AM Where did the 2C limit come from, what peer-revued papers? - See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/10/limiting-global-warming-to-2-c-why-victor-and-kennel-are-wrong/comment-page-1/#comment-603721

Oct 2, 2014 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

The reason they prefer ocean heat content is because that chart is 100% controlled by alarmists, unlike the satellite records which put a slight brake on the relentless Giss & Hadley upwards adjustments so that they have to cool the past (eg they have now all but eliminated the original cooling period from 1945 to 1975 that caused the earlier ice-age scare). Argo ocean records however have been steadily edging ever upwards since their first iteration when they had showed unexpected cooling. Never has there been any cooling adjustments anywhere because only warming is ever 'expected'.

Oct 2, 2014 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

There is such limited data for and knowledge about ocean heat dynamics, that Alarmists would love to shift the focus there.

Just imagine, it would be just like the shennigans surrounding the manipuations - I mean "adjustments" - made to the atmosphris data that we have all grown to know and love. Except the new possiblities for ocean data simply defy imagination. You want 2 degrees? You got it. You want 10 degrees? you got it.

Actually, due to the energy carrying capacity of the oceans, we will have Alarmists proclaiming a 0.01 degree increase in global sea temperatures, as abosolute proof we are doomed. In some bizarre twist of logic, they might even then try to translate that back into "implied atmospheric warming", as in " the observed 0.01 degree in ocean temperatures is equivalent to a 5 degree increase in atmospheric temperatures!!!"

You can see the attractions. For a snake oil salesman that is.

Oct 2, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

"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."

In other words, something else they can tax. Besides which, they have to find something to replace original sin, so they can keep us in line.

Oct 2, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Politically, it has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing.

The qualification "almost" (i.e. almost nothing) is important. One achievement of the campaign against climate change has been to help terrorist movements.

Briton wanted for £1 billion fraud used to ‘finance terror’ by ripping off Italian government through scheme designed to combat global warming. Daily Mail 24 September 2014

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2768348/Briton-wanted-1-billion-fraud-used-finance-terror-ripping-Italian-government-scheme-designed-combat-global-warming.html

Oct 2, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

It's another case of moving the goal posts and hoping nobody notices. The way global warming morphed into climate change and now climate disruption or whatever reminds me of an aging rock star desperately reinventing herself every few years. I’ve written a skit on it here:

http://jonathanabbott99.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/the-mothers-of-reinvention/

Oct 2, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

It is all becoming SOOOO like the salesman who talks his way into your sitting room and then starts spraying an aerosol around..
Homeowner: 'What is that..?'
Salesman: 'Its anti-elephant spray..'
Homeowner: 'But there aren't any elephants...'
Salesman: 'SEE..? It works..!'

Oct 2, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

So once again skeptics are proven right:
The 2.0oC target is unscientific and silly.

Oct 2, 2014 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

So blowing £42B on moronically inefficient bloated subsidy suckers isn't taking action then?

I also note the phrase "Politically and scientifically" but no mention of any applied science or engineering. Funny that?

It's as if things get done by "scientists" (and I am trained as one so this isn't an empty jest).

Oct 2, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Micky H Corbett,
You make an imp[ortant and seldom discussed point:
Science of itself solves very little.
Scientists gather facts and describe problems/realities.
Engineers solve problems.
We are spending vast amounts of money on climate scientists.
Nearly nothing on engineering.
Why?
Because there is no cliamte crisis to engineer a solution for.
Because the climate community's ideas, like CO2 sequestration, windmills, solar panels, arbitrary temperature goals, arbitrary reductions in CO2, are all non-feasible or plain stupid.

Oct 2, 2014 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter

Exactly. It's something that came up on a discussion board with Richard Drake.

It doesn't matter if 100% of scientists agree on AGW. What matters are the opinions of people who put this theory into practice in the real world. Climate scientists are fundamentally unqualified to talk about application unless then have in fact worked in an applied field.

Kind of takes the wind out of the sails when you realise it. We've wasted billions on listening to advice from the wrong part of the chain.

Oct 3, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Precisely, Micky. And it's not just engineers - people who know about almost any practical field of endeavour (farmers, arborists, builders - the list goes on) repeatedly said that this was a load of shite.

But, hey, what would they know? Some nerd doing Playstation on the Earth's climate is much wiser than them, apparently.

Oct 4, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

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