Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs)[Up, Down]
I want to trace two rhetorical developments and one bit of (what might be called) enlightenment:
1) Four reports from Joeri Rogelj in 2009, 2012 and 2014(2);
1) Four reports from Joeri Rogelj:
Aside from rugged good looks and an unforgettable name, and having a speciality which is (to me) at the very centre of the issue (namely: quantifying the necessary), his CV tells us that he spent three years in Rwanda. So: possibly a nerd but almost certainly not a wuss.
1) In 2009, before Copenhagen, in Halfway to Copenhagen, no way to 2°C (.pdf) Joeri is saying (quite unequivocally):
To constrain global warming to within 2°C, developed countries would need to cut their emissions to 25–40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 50–80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the best available scientific analyses.2) By 2012 the message in 2020 emissions levels required to limit warming to below 2°C (pay-wall) has modified to a rather more ambiguous:
Finally, if the long-term climate goal would be strengthened in 2015 to 1.5°C, the 41-47 GtCO2e per yr window for 2020 might still preserve the option of achieving this goal, contingent on major technological breakthroughs in transportation or non-CO2 mitigation options or on a low-energy-demand future. Present emissions are slightly above 50 GtCO2e per yr (ref. 33). Global emissions would therefore have to peak and decline before the end of this decade to land in the 41-47 GtCO2e per yr window in 2020. In contrast, present unconditional emission reduction pledges would lead to global emissions in 2020 of 55 GtCO2e per yr (central estimate ref. 9) and thus do not constitute a robust path for limiting global temperature increase to below 2°C.3) Earlier this year, 2014, we get The Emissions Gap Report from UNEP with Joeri's involvement:
These two statements are about side-by-each in the 13-page Executive Summary (that's 13 pages summarizing 62 pages):4) Recently The Guardian notes another paper by Joeri et al:To stay within the 2°C limit, global carbon neutrality will need to be achieved sometime between 2055 and 2070.Clear it ain't! Not even close.
The Guardian headline is "Cutting carbon pollution is the key to curbing global warming" which is such a total no-brainer ... (Doh?!)
The bottom line is that the horizon for action has apparently receded from ~2015 to 2020 and thence to sometime after 2055. I say 'apparently' advisedly. If you are able to and if you do read all of these reports carefully and take the time to digest and reflect and appreciate you can see that the authors all know that VERY SERIOUS ACTION IS REQUIRED BEFORE 2020. Any lesser degree of attention can leave an ignorant and stressed-out reader (such as myself) thinking that, say, there is still time to dither with the highly-paid consultants of the UNFCCC.
2) A recent essay by James Hansen, Iowa Roots: Speaking Truth to Power: (& on his site)
I was at a meeting of activists, real ones, active ones, ones that are moving, where several people were (unapologetically) unaware of James Hansen's history with the issue; and where another discounted all of what Hansen says because he supports nuclear energy.
The first ⅔ (1,700 words) of his essay is an eloquent presentation of Fee & Dividend carbon pricing: "While a tax would depress the economy, a fee with 100% of the money distributed to the public spurs the economy. After 10 years national employment increases 2.1 million jobs! The simple explanation is that honest pricing of energy makes the economy more efficient."
Then he segues into nuclear energy with, "Finally ... there are other requirements. The crucial technical need is abundant affordable carbon-free electricity generation," and goes on at length (750 words).
How could I live through these times and not pick up on what was going on? Have no idea that the likes of David Brower & Dave Foreman were on the go? Doh! What a fricken' dunderhead.
[The OED is unclear on the etymology of 'dunderhead'. My Dutch friend Vince explained it to me as the third fallback row of dikes in Holland (behind two rows of front line).]
1986 Rainforest Road Show (sometime well before the 'first' book by Bill McKibben).
Dave Foreman, Confessions of an eco-warrior (excerpts).
This final image is unrelated. It's from Luc Besson's recent film 'Lucy' which I want to remember.