Monday, October 03, 2016

The time to act is now, and yes that means politics

This article published in Nature Climate Change last February has received scant attention, to the world's detriment.

Differences between carbon budget estimates unravelled

Joeri Rogelj,    Michiel Schaeffer,    Pierre Friedlingstein,    Nathan P. Gillett,    Detlef P. van Vuuren,    Keywan Riahi,    Myles Allen    & Reto Knutti

Nature Climate Change 6, 245–252 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2868
The authors' state "Current CO2 emissions are about 40 GtCO2 yr−1, and global CO2 emissions thus have to be reduced urgently to keep within a 2°C-compatible budget."

Let me put these numbers in context. A ceiling of 590 GtCO2 will be reached in less than 590/40 years, that is June, 2031. That is pretty darn close.

Here are things that will make this deadline date move closer to us, most significant first:
- the Supreme Court ditches the Clean Power Plan (but at least that seems unlikely)
- the GOP retains control of both the House and the Senate and remains firmly opposed to additional measures reducing carbon emissions (unfortunately, this seems quite likely, although the Senate might flip for 2016-2018)
- weak adherence to the Paris accords

Here are things that we can do to make this deadline move further into the future:
- vote for progressive Democrats at the local, state, and federal level
- fight hard for redistricting to win back the House after the 2020 census
- start talking NOW with your friends about the importance of climate change as an issue
- give money to candidates who will make a difference and give until it hurts.

and this is probably the most important thing
- convince our legislators that decarbonizing the economy must be a priority in local and state spending for the foreseeable future.

I am assuming that each of us is doing what we can individually to make our family carbon footprint as small as possible, so take that to heart.

In my opinion, the politics of global warming is the battleground of the next decade. We should join with our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock and support their fight [1], and stand side by side with Bill McKibben [2]:

"If we’re going to have a chance of dealing with climate change, it means mobilizing in ways that we haven’t in a very long time. And one of the points of writing this first piece for the New Republic this year was to demonstrate that at least that was possible. If you go look at how America mobilized during World War II, the industrial might that we brought to bear, and then you do the calculations, it’s at the outside edge of possible that we could, in the short time that we have, build enough solar panels and wind turbines. But it’s going to take the same kind of focused effort."

"We literally can’t build anything else and stay within those limits—no Dakota pipeline, no new coal mines in Australia, none of the things that our political leaders—I mean, Justin Trudeau in Canada two days ago green-lighted a massive LNG project on the British Columbia coast. In the light of this new climate data, it’s completely clear that these things, we just can’t do. We can’t drain most of what’s in the fields that we’ve already got in production. But as that dwindles, we have to be replacing it, day by day, with renewable energy instead."

If the carbon lobby and its servants in the GOP can delay for the next decade, then we are doomed and will sail past the 2°C mark, past 3°C and beyond into a punishing hell of warming for those who survive our foolishness.

The time to act is now. #putapriceonit and #keepitintheground. Act now #orleg.

[1] Taking a Stand at Standing Rock, DAVID ARCHAMBAULT II. AUG. 24, 2016

[2] As Earth Reaches Frightening CO2 Milestone, Bill McKibben Calls for War on Climate Change, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016,

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