62 Comments

Wow - great but humbling tool to use next time someone tries to argue that this is a natural aberration in global temperatures...

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Dec 1, 2023Liked by Andrew Dessler

I always refer people to this XKCD plot. Stretching out the time axis really helps clarify the issue! https://xkcd.com/1732/

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Nov 15, 2023Liked by Andrew Dessler

I like the plot with the fossil-fuel band. Regardless of your beliefs about how fast the world can wean itself off fossil fuels, it will just be a blip on the screen in terms of geological timescales. Emissions from fossil fuels started around 1850 and the endpoint is up to us, say 2100 or 2150 depending on how pessimistic you are, e.g. 250 to 300 years. Not very long but still too long.

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Good article, but I disagree with the end. We won't solve this at the ballot box. Half of our leadership denies climate change entirely. Those who recognize it advocate for a Green New Deal, the politically acceptable idea that with renewable energy we don't need to change our consumption habits. We do. We are also coming extremely close to agricultural disaster. When food becomes far more expensive than it is now, which it will soon, millions of people will be in dire trouble for mere daily survival. It will drive economic melt down and social unrest. This before food starts disappearing from shelves. 23 billion dollar climate disasters in the US alone this year, corrupted courts, a senate controlled by the dumbest clowns ever and a very real time element here. We have been voting for the lesser of evils forever. Time up. Time to strike, boycott and hit the streets, risk your life and security. To not risk it in this way is to guarantee losing it.

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"solve at the ballot box."

Here in New Zealand we have just had a general election. The outgoing government had introduced a range of climate friendly policies including a price on carbon which was recycled into policies that helped people get off fossil fuel addiction.

The new government is throwing all of that on the bonfire.

Are we screwed ?

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You lost me in the final paragraph. It felt like you were saying "Don't worry, everything will be fine. We will solve this with a time traveling wildebeest who speaks fluent Mandarin." Our politics is as broken as anything I can point to in our society (and that includes homelessness). Voting won't solve climate change because voting, while important, is only a tiny fraction of the political system function. And that system is dynamically fought over in ways that will take a generation to overcome.

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Great analysis, except for the part about solving this at the ballot box. We've been trying to do that for a generation, with very little to show for it, and now we're poised to re-elect a climate denier to the WH. There is no urgency by the electorate... messaging has fallen on deaf ears. How about a scientists march on Congress? Or a mass scientists' walkout? Something radical/unusual that will galvanize public opinion.

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As long as we are looking at the "hockey stick," any thoughts on whether there is movement or discussion about adopting the flatter version proposed by Osman and Tierney et al. as the consensus version? https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/11/scientists-extend-and-straighten-iconic-climate-hockey-stick/

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Yes, but approximately zero% of the discussion of what to do to reduce net emissions of CO2 include taxing it. If we do not tax CO2 emissions, we either will not meet the 2 degree target of will do so at enormously higher, growth inhibiting costs. And even if we DO adopt the very best net emissions reduction politics tomorrow, cost of previous emissions will still continue to rise for decades.

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The Climate Brink

This is actually my reply to Jeff and his very valid points about The Ballot box, so it is going to be posted on its own:

We better get to The Ballot Box, where and while, we still can and we better have *one* issue in mind in 2024.

There is nothing that anybody on this thread cares about (immigration, abortion, tax policy, Social Services, Healthcare...) will have any hope of being resolved in your favor, if an authoritarian government gets in charge of this country.

It's been said that when the United States sneezes, the rest of the world gets pneumonia. And authoritarians in charge of the United States, would be like a MRSA infection in the lungs!

An authoritarian Administration in the White House, under the command of Donald J Trump, would have a domino effect on democracies all over the world.

Everything in a given country would depend on the whims of the "strong man" in charge. Scare quotes because authoritarians are not truly strong people. They are scared to the point of paranoia that if they are not in charge, they will be revealed as the weaklings they truly are and be destroyed.

As far as the specific topic

of this thread, DJT has already made himself clear about how he feels about the futures of the rest of us: "What do I care about climate change?! I won't be around for it!"

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The traits that have allowed Homo sapiens to conquer the world will cause our demise. We always want more and politicians promising less of anything except taxes are unlikely to be elected.

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Are you sure your citation for the plot is correct? I'm looking at the Clark article, including the supplementary information, and seeing only plots of CO2 and sea level, not temperature. I'd like to show your plot to my students but I'd need to be sure I can defend it if challenged.

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I very much like the very big picture framing here.

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Sadly, ballot box is not enough. Fossil emissions are projected to continue increasing through 2050, even with optimistic scenarios, and then there is 30+ years of committed warming/climate inertia. We have authoritarian rule in several major oil producers, and oil/coal interests sponsor both parties in US House and Senate. Even this week an oil exporter is hosting the COP, and was using it to make oil deals.

We have to outflank or defeat or buy off those fossil interests.

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Andrew, can you share the source of the data for the temperature change by year. I am most interested in finding the source data for the period during the industrial age so I can overlay that data on top of the global emissions for the same period of time. So any directions or referrals you can give me would be appreciated.

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There is every reason to despair about the future (— although, I must say that according to my research despair is not reasonable but rather accepting it as another phenomenon of life seems to be a more reasonable stance.)

In any case, the future does seem to be set in stone. You might be writing that “We still largely control the fate of our climate” but what you mean by that phrase is basically that we still have the capability to control the fate of our climate. Or, to put it even more concretely, you mean that the fate of our climate can still be controlled.

That might be true. But does this mean that the future is not set in stone? Not necessarily. Because if the fate of our climate will be controlled or not, is something that can be assessed. Just like we do not address the problem now, my research has also convinced me that we are not going to address the problem anytime soon either.

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