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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Climate Progress blog: Uncharacteristically blunt scientists

Climate Progress Archive for "Uncharacteristically blunt scientists"

M.I.T. joins climate realists, doubles its projection of global warming by 2100 to 5.1 °C

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change has joined the climate realists. The realists are the growing group of scientists who understand that the business as usual emissions path leads to unmitigated catastrophe (see, for instance, “Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7 °C warming by 2100 on current emissions path” and below).

The Program issued a remarkable, though little-remarked-on, report in January, “Probabilistic Forecast for 21st Century Climate Based on Uncertainties in Emissions (without Policy) and Climate Parameters,” by over a dozen leading experts. They reanalyzed their model’s 2003 projections model using the latest data, and concluded:

The MIT Integrated Global System Model is used to make probabilistic projections of climate change from 1861 to 2100. Since the model’s first projections were published in 2003 substantial improvements have been made to the model and improved estimates of the probability distributions of uncertain input parameters have become available. The new projections are considerably warmer than the 2003 projections, e.g., the median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1 °C compared to 2.4 °C in the earlier study.

Their median projection for the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2095 is a jaw-dropping 866 ppm.


Projected decadal mean concentrations of CO2. Red solid lines are median, 5% and 95% percentiles for present study: dashed blue line the same from their 2003 projection.

Why the change? The Program’s website explains:

“Blame global warming” for higher temperatures — Chief forecaster at National Meteorological Center of China

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

In a story headlined ” ‘Blame global warming’ for higher temps,” China Daily (!) reports:

Global warming is to blame for the recent temperature rises across China, an expert from the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said on Friday.

“Spring has come early in some areas of East and Central China this year, and it’s because of global warming,” Yang Guiming, the center’s chief forecaster, told China Daily.

James Hansen: “Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet”

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Our nation’s top climate scientist, NASA’s James Hansen, has submitted a blunt op-ed, “The Sword of Damocles,” to The Observer. He makes many points worth underscoring, such as:

How can [the public] distinguish top-notch science and pseudoscience — the words sound the same? Leaders have no excuse….

The dirtiest trick that governments play on their citizens is the pretense that they are working on “clean coal” or that they will build power plants that are “capture ready” in case technology is ever developed to capture all pollutants….

The German and Australian governments pretend to be green….

The full piece is below. Remember, it is aimed at the UK. He has issued many similar challenges to this country’s leaders (see links at end):

AAAS: Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is holding its annual meeting, so you can expect a flurry of climate announcements — though not as much as at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (see here and here). The Washington Post and AFP are reporting:

It seems the dire warnings about the oncoming devastation wrought by global warming were not dire enough, a top climate scientist warned Saturday.

Okay, this is what I’ve been saying for a few years now, but it’s good to hear more and more leading climate scientists besides James Hansen and John Holdren being blunt with the public on this (see links below for others who are now telling it like it is). In this case, it’s Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, who said

“We are basically looking now at a future climate that’s beyond anything we’ve considered seriously in climate model simulations.”

The source of Field’s concern — what else could it be but our old nemesis, amplifying carbon cycle feedbacks:


Link to Climate Progress archive page on Uncharacteristically blunt scientists:

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