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Are there any real solutions to escalated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?

Do We Really Have the Time and the Tools to Fix Climate Change?  BY Rachel Smolker, Truthout, October 11, 2018 

As part of the Paris agreement, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was asked “to provide a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 [degrees Celsius] above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.” That report was released on October 8.

The report’s “Headline Statements” are divided into four main sections: 1.) “Understanding Global Warming of 1.5 [Degrees Celsius]”; 2.) “Projected Climate Change, Potential Impacts and Associated Risks”; 3.) “Emission Pathways and System Transitions Consistent with 1.5 [Degrees Celsius] Global Warming”; and 4.) “Strengthening the Global Response in the Context of Sustainable Development and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty.”

What the Report Says and Does Not Say

In the first chapter, the IPCC points out that human activities have already caused about 1 degree Celsius (1°C) of warming, and that we will reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 at the current pace. They state that what has already been emitted into the atmosphere will result in ongoing warming, sea-level rise and other effects for “centuries to millennia” (even in the absence of ongoing and future emissions), but that the emissions to date on their own will not raise temperatures to 1.5°C. So, the good news then is that reaching and sustaining net zero emissions, even at this late stage in the game, would “halt warming on a multi-decadal time scale.” The IPCC also concludes that impacts generally would be less at a 1.5°C stabilization than a 2°C stabilization.

These numbers are convenient for discussion, but realistically, the atmosphere is not like the thermostat in our living room, where we can simply dial and set in order to heat the house to some desired level. We are not in control for the most part. It is also worth keeping in mind that the IPCC has consistently underestimated the pace and magnitude of global warming. It is probably safe to say that this is still the case. Feedbacks and “tipping points” are not some distant thing to avoid, they are already happening, and their trajectory is impossible to predict. They include things like soil respirationmelting permafrost, warming and acidification of the oceans and loss of ice. The IPCC has shifted its assessments of the warming potential of methane to consistently use the 20-year timeframe comparison with CO2 [carbon dioxide], and revised upward the quantity of methane released by livestock, just as one example. There are most likely some major sources of emissions we are not even aware of. Further, there are some major sources of emissions we are aware of, but have been granted exclusion from consideration, such as the vast quantity of emissions from military activities. ……….

Can We Overshoot the Target and Clean Excess Carbon Out of the Atmosphere?  The IPCC uses “integrated assessment models” for their analyses. Those models plug in a suite of assumptions about changes in energy production and use, land use change and other factors, and then use those to provide trajectories (pathways) to a goal — in this report, either 1.5°C or 2°C of warming. Those trajectories are not always straight lines from here to there. Many — in fact, most of them — involve exceeding thresholds for greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere in the near term, with the intention of somehow later removing the excess. This is called “overshoot.” It is an extremely risky proposition. Earlier drafts of the report did not even evaluate models that did not include overshoot to some degree. Fortunately, the final draft does evaluate pathways without or with limited overshoot.

Enabling overshoot is especially problematic because there is currently no technology available for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere…………

Ultimately, it is increasingly clear that the real solutions to climate change are not global-scale techno-fixes, but rather the locally adapted and locally controlled solutions that people have been pushing for decades, including preventing buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure, protection of lands, respect for rights of humans and nature. The ruthless pursuit of corporate wealth and power and economic growth at all costs stifles those local, grassroots solutions from reaching fruition. ……….


October 13, 2018 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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