Climate change – The new questions

The science was settled ten years ago, but it takes ten years to filter through. The economics, however, lag. We’re starting to have some good answers to “how much will it cost”. The answer, probably, is that it will cost one hell of a lot more to let climate change hit us, than it will to do something about it.

And by “one hell of a lot more”, we’re talking tens of trillions of dollars. Possibly hundreds.

Getting that message across is the next step, coz if it takes ten years for this answer to filter its way through to voters… that’s ten years more emissions and ten years closer to the tipping points, whereupon the cost really start to go up.

Anyway, this week’s editorial:


Climate change editorial – the new questions

The debate about climate change has moved on from ‘is it happening’, to the much harder questions of ‘how many emissions are too much?’, ‘how much is it going to cost?’, ‘what to do about it?’, and ‘who should pay?’ Last week saw an Institute of Policy Studies workshop to bring together a broad range of experts to address these questions. We will summarise some of this policy debate over the next few weeks.

The first question is what to do about it? Reducing net emissions is the answer, but how much is needed? The EU set an increase of two degrees Celsius as a dangerous level not to be exceeded. Can we keep to that? We have already had a 0.6 degree Celsius increase over pre-industrial levels, which doesn’t leave us much room to move.

We are already at a concentration of 425 ppm of carbon dioxide equivalent (including the effect of other greenhouse gases) and climbing at more than 2.5 ppm each year. How much more is too much? The size of response of the climate to greenhouse gases is uncertain, so we cannot say what level of emissions is safe. However, that uncertainty has been well studied and we can say that, for example, a rise of greenhouse gases to 500 ppm will imply a 70% chance of exceeding the 2 C target. A rise to 450 ppm will mean a 50% chance. These percentages are themselves uncertain, but it is clear that there are big risks with any increase of emissions.

Stabilising greenhouse gases at 500 ppm by reducing emissions seems technically feasible. The barriers are political and behavioural and they are substantial but stabilisation at 500 ppm still gives high risks of severe impacts. Stabilising at 450 ppm looks hard, but may be necessary to give us a fair chance of avoiding the worst effects.

A final note – delaying action means that by the time we start cutting emissions, there will already be more carbon in the atmosphere. Thus delay requires much harsher cuts. The time to start was yesterday. Is starting today going to be good enough?

Ah, f’it, kittens:

19 thoughts on “Climate change – The new questions

    1. Re: I agree with your editorial

      Animals = animals.
      People = people.

      Dressing them up is a little too close to the whole Doctor Moreau thing.
      “Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
      “Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
      “Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
      “Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
      “Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”

      1. Re: I agree with your editorial

        Tats < -- Not a Man.

        First says: “Not to wear silly outfits; that is the Law. Are we fucking nuts?”

        (i agree with your philosophy btw but am feeling facetious today)

        1. Re: I agree with your editorial

          Rhi < --- not a man either. (Barely wears clothes, loves eating the flesh of other things…)

          Are we not men? We are DEVO
          *Welcome to the silliness of Friday.*

          1. Re: I agree with your editorial

            You know, when I was at school all the boys said that DEVO stands for “Do Every Virgin Over.” My ex reckoned it was short for “Deviants.” (he was Australian).

            Then I found this which provided me with entertainment for at least 10 minutes and cleared that little nagging question right up.

            (yay friday)

          2. Re: I agree with your editorial

            My last ex would call me a “freakin’ devo” if I suggested anything even vaguely interesting.But then he was from Hamilton…

          3. Re: I agree with your editorial

            You’d better. There’ll be trouble else.

            Where are we congrating tonight after work? I have Other Work at 7, but I’d still like to catch up.

      1. Heheh thanks ! Open source pets all the way !

        Hes a bit of a character actually and constantly adorable ( the opposite of our other cat who is very sleek and black a little grumpy – more like Dylan Moran !)

          1. There is definately is nothing wrong with Dylan Moran but when you imagine Dylan Moran as a cat living with a cat who acts more like a red panda it can get a bit crazy at times

            Also ive friended you back ! Ill have to lure you over to my cupcake business and baking blog when its all up and running !

          2. i *do* find baking intensely alluring…

            have you got any of the silicon bakeware? i have a cake tin one and it’s brilliant, still contemplating getting the muffin pans.
            [veering sharply towards the kitchen]

          3. I have silocone cookie sheets (great for everything from baking to grilling stuff on ) but i really want a bundt pan one because those things are just so evil to bake otherwise .

            I saw wilton silicone cupcake liners in spotlight and was tempted but then thought it might be better to get a muffin set !

            Ive picked mine up at Freedom but was kind of put off as they were pricey – do you have a good affordable option ?

          4. is the bundt tin the wibbly circular one? because that’s the one i have.

            mine was a present, i look at the muffin tins when i am in the supermarket – they don’t seem to be cheaper than $15 wherever you go.

          5. I paid i think $45.00 for my cookie sheets ! I think ive been conned !

            And yes the wibbly circular one is the bundt tin , im currently using vintage metal ones which end up amazing .. or a complete disaster !

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