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The Rise, Fall, and Return of 1.5°C in the Global Climate Negotiations

The Rise, Fall, and Return of 1.5°C in the Global Climate Negotiations

Joe Solomon

On December 16th 2009, two days before the Copenhagen Accord was issued, when there was still a scant sliver of hope for a legally binding treaty, the Prime Minister of Grenada Tillman Thomas took the microphone and called on world leaders to cement a deal with a 1.5 Celsius target.

1.5 degrees C doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in James Inhofe’s hot little hands, and folks like McKibben and Klein wouldn’t be resigned to 2 degrees if it was a whole bunch of well off white people who faced treading water, would they?

Am I a cynic

Or an all too realist?

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You are a racist and looking for an excuse to justify being that way. So now global warming is a race issue and the people who have worked the hardest to inform people about global warming and therefore have done the most to help Africa and the island nations are racists because they couldn’t control governments?

I suppose you’ve been out there organizing and educating and demonstrating for Africans faced with climate change? Right? I mean you being a realist and all. How real have you been? Or do you actually figure that criticizing people and activists solely because they are white the only thing necessary for you to do to roll back climate change?

You realist you.

You’re a dab hand at the ad hominem assumptions, dear.

As for who’s “done the most to help Africa and the island nations”

I’d imagine that to be those with live there.

But by your reasoning, that’s a racist thing to say, isn’t it?

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I was referring to being activists about global warming. The sentence was self explanatory -

Are you telling me that you couldn’t understand the reference to fighting climate change? Seriously? I am curious as to what you thought it referred to? If you could put that thought into words, it would be a revelation.

Btw would doing nothing in particular about climate change as it relates to Africa and the island nations qualify as being racist? I mean of course you do so much to help Africans in this regard yourself, I know that you wouldn’t be just like those who are so resigned to 2C change like those you criticize.

The logical deduction from your comment is that the folks who actually live in the crosshairs of climate change can’t be “activists” on the issue

That it’s “the white man’s (or woman’s) burden”.

But that would be racist to make such a claim, and since you’ve reserved the right to cast such aspersions, I won’t attempt to usurp your privilege.

I will say that your vitriol would be better aimed at the bastards who are driving us over the climate cliff, rather than at those who question the sacredness of your cattle.

But that’s a bit too rational for this here cyberspace, innit?

Hissy fits are just too goddamn self affirming.

Your turn

Are you irrational or what? The logical deduction is that those who are known worldwide and are preeminent activists on the issue are doing the most good for everyone. Big deal you are a racist. You aren’t the only one and there are plenty just like you on the other side of the coin. Somehow you feel like you are important by spouting racist comments? Well guess what? The racists on the other side are just as dumb.

I hope you’ll both be happy with each other. You each deserve nothing less than yourselves.
Oh and by the way…you forgot to notice that YOU haven’t done anything of note to help those Africans have you? Hypocrite .

The bastards who are driving us over the climate cliff are US. That is, every person in the world that uses in some form or other hydrocarbon-based energy to make life more comfortable. One can blame politicians and corporations all WE want, bur as users of the corporations’ products, WE only encourage them to produce more. Corporations could not exist without a market and WE are the willing market. Granted, corporations and politics are run by cynical bastards chasing a dollar, but do WE have to provide them with that dollar?

As for blaming climate change on different groups of people and different societies, all humans have made their contribution and a corrupt wealthy Nigerian is no different from a corrupt wealthy Chinese and is no different from a corrupt wealthy Arab and is no different form a corrupt wealthy Caucasian; and maybe some of US are not corrupt, just middle-class and striving to retain middle-class comfort with a comfortable future for OUR children. And in another 20 years there will be 2 billion more of US.

Once WE stop the blame-game then maybe WE can do something about it.

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Even 2 deg C is just hot air. Government efforts so far amount to barely more than zero. Positive feedbacks will push 3 deg C all the way up to 6 degC.

PNAC recommendations were intended to push the USA to full spectrum dominance. But it was to be dominance for oil, for profit and for greater Israel.

In an alternative world, the USA could have been a force for good. They had enough muscle to persuade the entire rest of the planet to take climate change head on. Countries could have signed onto it it for everyones benefit. All the satelite nations of the USA, e.g. Australia, UK, Canada etc would have backed it no problem. China and Russia could have been persuaded, given that the efforts were going to save the world.

But that is a lost opportunity. The USA and its “allies” have done everything in their power to deny, obfuscate and prevent action on climate change.

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There is no question that a 1.5C target would be much better with respect to the science than the 2C target which may put us past tipping points such as methane release from permafrost making limiting the temperature increase to 2C impossible. But, the 1.5C target would require emissions reductions that are twice as fast as the 2C target. Since we can’t seem to get countries to reduce emissions enough for the 2C target the 1.5C target would seem to be academic. What would be the point of setting the target if it is widely ignored in terms of actions? One even wonders if the 2C target has any meaning given the pledges that have been received. But in any case I am glad the poorer nations are still fighting for the 1.5C target because it makes clearer the reality of the threat we are facing in that 2C is much too high.

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Except that the mentality is that on the way towards 2C that everything will steadily worsen but somehow it will all remain basically tolerable if we just don’t exceed 2C.

I think that people will be getting petrified long before it gets to 1.5 C. I think that at 1C (or 2F for Americans) people will be ready to riot and a massive switch over to alternatives will take hold. At 3F people will feel desperate and try real hard to keep it below 4F.

I think most Americans think in terms of two degrees of temperature rise when actually 2C of temperature rise actually equals 4 degrees F (approx.) Four degrees F is so freaking hot! The polar Ice caps are melting when it is still below one degree F of climate change. We are already getting mega storms and when the storms hit with 2 F degrees of warming or 1C … something will have hit the fan then.

The islander peoples are correct in that 2C is too high and our goals should be to keep temps lower. The problem is that as we go slow (2C), the population keeps rising ever faster.

However the danger on top of that problem is that we’ve already delayed too long and that sudden unexpected changes will keep happening. A methane bomb from defrosting oceanic methane hydrates for example might kick in.

Bush/Cheney initiated more harm than we know. The delay of a decade and a half in doing something about climate change … is perhaps humanity’s worst hour.

The clock was at the eleventh hour but because Bush was appointed rather than Gore’s being allowed to win by popular vote, we didn’t start seriously thinking about climate change until now when the clock is already at nearly one o’clock (0.8 of 1C)

We still can make it. Africa could export solar energy from Saharan facilities. Wind Turbines could power city office buildings and Tidal electricity turbines could be the next generation hydropower instead of dams.

The will we is the real question? My guess is that we have to get real scared first. Unfortunately letting things get that bad is not such a good idea.

Desperate last minute last ditch fixes are never the best way to deal with any problem.

I guess if I were more rational, I’d flush this thread and move on to postures new

But I feel compelled to make some closing remarks on the subject of racism, which may be instructive - if not to you, then to others who may be browsing these comments.

I grew up in apartheid Miss’ssippi. My father was a member of the White Citizens Council. I lived in the belly of the beast, not to say that the rest of the country didn’t form the remainder of its body.

I saw the monster up close and personal, and I’ve spent the better part of this last half century determined to embody the antithesis of what I witnessed.

Does that mean I’m not a racist?

Of course I’m a racist. It’s the exceedingly rare white person who isn’t at some level. What matters is what we do about it. While acknowledging the imperfection of that effort, I will admit to being rather proud of it, hence my online handle.

You have no idea what I’ve done, and unless you’re saying I have to be Jesus on a stick to criticize the contradictions I perceive in others’ actions, it’s wholly immaterial.

Should I ask you for your resumé?

I’ll end by saying that, given my background, I make damn sure I have just cause to hurl that most acute epithet of “racist”, because to do otherwise enervates its impact.

You’d do well to emulate that example, although I have no illusions on that score.

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6C? At what population level? 6C is like 10 degrees F. TEN? … is that survivable for most people? Catastrophic failure of systems both agricultural and industrial plus civilization is toasted too. If it gets that high… lets just say that there won’t be much on cable in that day and age.

I think they know now. Their problem is the inherent incompetence of greed. They want to make a buck saving their own lives otherwise they aren’t interested…lol.

I think when it comes to setting a target the biggest consideration is the possibility of passing tipping points that will cause unstoppable global warming. The lower the target the less risk of passing tipping points the higher the target the greater the risk. This is why James Hansen recommends a target of around 1C. The 2C target is a legitimate target but it is very risky as important tipping points may be below 2C. With regard to stopping sea level rise the target has to be below 350 ppm. But first we have to stop the increase. According to scientists we seem to be committed to several feet of sea level rise no matter what we do but getting back to below 350 ppm for the long run is very important. It seems to me if you adopt the 2C target then you should prepare for up to 4C because there is no guarantee that you stop warming below 2C due to positive feedbacks. The idea that you can limit emissions to halt the warming to around 2C does not seem to have a good scientific basis. It might work but there is a good chance that it won’t.

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We happen to agree on all points. I worry that these politicians think that some unproven geoengineering scheme will save the day and allow them to keep using fossil fuels. If we are lucky scientists will actually come up with a way to remove atmospheric carbon safely that is… Without unforeseen consequences.

Even better would be a Manhattan project emergency effort to switch from fossil fuels to alternatives. It can be done quickly at least enough to keep things below 2C. Los Angeles could easily generate enough solar power from facilities out in the desert to be fossil fuel free at least during the day. Bring back electric trolleys etc. The whole southwest could solar during the day when 2/3 of energy is used. Wind offshore, mountain states and on the plains.

Hope so… At least the world has become aware of the problem now…that wasn’t the case under Bush.

Excuse me but your comments were racist. You aren’t the only one with such a background although mine is somewhat different . You made an unwarranted comment as if looking for a fight. Even now you don’t see it. You are not as unique as you think and racism comes from both sides or maybe you don’t actually mix as much as you think. There are hostile people who actively court racism on both sides and that is reality. I call it racism tag. Some jerk acts racist to some innocent person who was not being racist. They feel resentment and maybe show it to the next person on line. That person repeats the cycle and by the end of the day, that initial act of racism has spawned five others ! All people need to choose not to be racist because we all encounter racists of every color daily. We can’t let them get to us because then racism spreads. The truth … Keeps us free.

(Sigh … )

Some people’s kids …