Lessons for 2013 from climate science and observations in 2012
David Spratt • BZE discussion • 4 February 2013


Global  fossil  &  cement  emissions     9.5±0.5PgC  in  2011,  54%  over  1990   ProjecBon  for  2012:  9.7±0.5PgC      58%  over  1990  

Uncertainty is ±5% for one standard deviation (IPCC “likely” range) Source: Peters et al. 2012a; Le Quéré et al. 2012; CDIAC Data; Global Carbon Project 2012

Global  carbon  dioxide  emissions  



Emissions  growth  in  2011     China  responsible  for  80%  of  global     emissions  growth  

For comparison, Germany emitted a total of 0.2PgC in 2011 Source: CDIAC Data; Le Quéré et al. 2012; Global Carbon Project 2012

Emissions  growth  2000-­‐2011      


coal  +4.9%,     oil  +1.1%   gas  +2.7%   cement  +6.9%   flaring  +4.3%  
(not  shown)  

Share of global emissions in 2011

Source: CDIAC Data; Le Quéré et al. 2012; Global Carbon Project 2012


Top  4  emi>ers  in  2011     covered  62%  of  global  emissions  

China  (28%),  United  States  (16%),  EU27  (11%),  India  (7%)  

The growing gap between EU27 and USA is due to emission decreases in Germany (45% of the 1990-2011 cumulative difference), UK (19%), Romania (13%), Czech Republic (8%), and Poland (5%) Source: CDIAC Data; Le Quéré et al. 2012; Global Carbon Project 2012


World  average  per  capita  emissions  in  2011     1.4tC/p  

China  1.8tC/p,  United  States  4.7tC/p,  EU27  2.0tC/p,  India  0.5tC/p  

Chinese per capita emissions are almost equal to the EU27, and 36% higher than the global average Source: CDIAC Data; Le Quéré et al. 2012; Global Carbon Project 2012

Emissions  heading  to  4-­‐6.1ºC  “likely”     increase  in  temperature  by  2100  


Linear interpolation is used between individual datapoints Source: Peters et al. 2012a; Global Carbon Project 2012;

A  4-­‐degree  warmer  world?   •  New  World  Bank-­‐commissioned  report  warns  the  world  is   on  track  to  a  “4°C  world”  by  2100  and  “as  early  as  2060”  


•  "We  are  expecBng  in  the  next  50  years  for  two  to  three   degrees  more  warming”   —  Prof  David  Karoly,     ABC  News,  12  Jan  2013   •  “4  to  6°C  warming  over     pre-­‐industrial  Bmes  by     the  end  of  this  century”   —Dr  Pep  Canadell,     CSIRO   •  Climate  InteracBve  >>  


Eocene     peak  

Climate  past  and  future     Lessons  for  2C  and  4C  warming  

PETM  natural   greenhouse  event  at   55  million  years  ago.  
This  is  a  graphical  interpretaBon  by  of  aspects  of  recent  paleo-­‐climate  research  by:     Hansen, J. E. and M. Sato (2012). “Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change” in “Climate Change: Inferences from Paleoclimate and Regional Aspects”. Berger, Mesinger and Šijači (eds), Springer, Vienna, 2012.  

AntarcLc  glaciaLon  ~  34  million  years  ago…  



Relative temperature

Eocene     peak  

Around  34  million  years   ago,  glaciaBon  of   AntarcBca  at  tail-­‐end  of   protracted  upper  Eocene   cooling.  

Northern  hemisphere  glaciaLon  ~  4.5  million  years  ago…  



Relative temperature

Eocene     peak  

Around  ~4.5  million  years  ago,  northern  hemisphere  glaciaBon.   Associated  with  the  rise  of  the  Panama  Cordillera  which  isolates   the  Pacific  from  the  AtlanBc  oceans  and  leads  to  intra-­‐oceanic   circulaBon  (Gyres)  which  introduces  warm  currents  and  moisture   to  the  North  AtlanBc  –  resulBng  in  increased  snow  fall  and   formaBon  of  ice  in  Greenland,  LaurenBa  and  Fennoscandia.  

During  Pliocene,   atmospheric  CO2   values  fell  from  ~410   ppm  to  ~  300  ppm  

The  last  million  years…  


Climate  swings   between  ice  ages   and  warm     inter-­‐glacial  periods   over  last  million   years.   CO2  between  170   and  300  parts  per   million.  


Relative temperature

Carbon  dioxide   and  methane   over  last   500,000  years

The  last  10,000  years  –  the  Holocene  


Relative temperature

Peak   Holocene   temp.  



Peak  of  Holocene  (over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD)  


Holocene:  aper  the   last  ice  age,  relaBvely   stable  temperatures   (+/–0.5C)  and  sea-­‐ levels  over  last  10,000   years  –  the  period  of   human  civilisaBon  

Todays  temperature  is  above  the  Holocene  maximum    
CO2  level  today  (2011)  is  393ppm  but   “thermal  inerBa”  (delay  as  ocean  mass   warm)  means  temperature  will  increase   further.   Temperatures  have  risen  ~0.83C  since   1900  and  are  now  above  peak  Holocene.  



Relative temperature

Peak  of  Holocene  (over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD)   Global  average  temperature  now    above  peak  Holocene  

2  degrees  –  goodbye  to  Greenland  ice  sheet…  
When  climate  system   reaches  equilibrium,   present  level  of  CO2  will   produce  >2C  of  warming   with  feedbacks…  



Relative temperature

Peak  of  Holocene  (over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD)   Global  average  temperature  now  above  peak  Holocene   2C  of  warming  over  pre-­‐industrial:  consequence  of  current  level  of  greenhouse  gases  

…  which  is  sufficient  for  large   parts  of  Greenland  and  West   AntarcBc  ice  sheets  to  be  lost,   leading  to  at  least  a  25±10  metre   sea-­‐level  rise  over  Bme  

“Goals to limit human-made warming to 2°C.. are not sufficient – they are prescriptions for disaster” — Dr James Hansen

Relative temperature



Peak  Holocene:  over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD   Global  average  temperature  now  ~0.6C  above  peak  Holocene   2C  of  warming:  consequence  of  current  level  of  greenhouse  gases  

4  degrees  –  goodbye  to  AntarcLc  ice  sheet  
Best  present  emission  reducBon   commitments  by  all  governments   (if  implemented)  will  sBll  lead  to   4  degrees  of  warming  by  2100…    
Relative temperature




Peak  of  Holocene  (over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD)   Global  average  temperature  now  above  peak  Holocene   2C  of  warming  over  pre-­‐industrial:  consequence  of  current  level  of  greenhouse  gases   4C  of  warming  over  pre-­‐industrial    

…and  likely  loss  overBme   of  all  ice  sheets.  No  ice   sheets  on  planet  =  70   metre  sea-­‐level  rise  over   Bme…  


Relative temperature


Peak  of  Holocene  (over  last  10,000  years  up  1900AD)   Global  average  temperature  now  above  peak  Holocene   2C  of  warming  over  pre-­‐industrial:  consequence  of  current  level  of  greenhouse  gases   4C  of  warming  over  pre-­‐industrial    


Period   Last  glacial   maximum  

Years  ago   20,000  years   ago  

CO2  ppm   170  ppm  

Temp  (2010   base)   –5C  

Sea  level     120  m  lower   5-­‐15  m  higher   25±10  m   higher  

Eemian  inter-­‐ 120,000  years   280–320  ppm   +0.5–1C   glacial   ago   Mid-­‐Pliocene   3  million   years  ago   Pliocene   (northern   hemisphere   glaciaBon)   Today   Oligocene   (start  of   southern   hemisphere   glaciaBon)   2-­‐4  million   years  ago     365–400  ppm   +1C   410ppm   falling  to   300ppm   450ppm   CO2e   32–34  million   CO2  levels   years  ago   fell  below   ~750ppm   +1C  ~  0  

2+???   +3C  

???   70  m  higher   before   glaciaBon  


ArcLc  (floaLng)    sea-­‐ice  record  melt  in  2012   •  11.83  mill.  sq.  kms  of  sea  ice  lost  20  March–16  September   •  Half  1979–2000  average  area:  51%  to  24%  in  2012   •  Two-­‐thirds  of  ice  area  loss  in  the  last  12  years   •  Process  is  acceleraBng     •  The  sea-­‐ice  is  also  thinning  rapidly  








80%  of   summer  sea-­‐ ice  volume   lost  since   1979:  16,855   cubic  kms  to   2012:  3,263   cubic  kms  ice     Half  of  loss  in   last  7  years  

•  How  soon  before  there  is  an  ice-­‐free  day?   •  UK  parlt  Environment  Audit  Commiuee    (15  January  2013):   “observaBons  and  modelling  supported  the  view  that  the   end-­‐summer  sea  ice  would  remain  unBl  at  least  2030”  but   this  is  based  on  modelling  that  is  decades  behind  reality…  

Cambridge  Professor     Peter  Wadhams’  scenario…   •  Summer  sea-­‐ice  “all  gone  by     2015”or  2016  except  perhaps     small  mulB-­‐year  remnant  north     of  Greenland  and  Ellesmere  Is.     •  By  2020  ice  free  season  lasts  at  least  a  month     •  By  2030  ice-­‐free  period  has  extended  to  3  months.   •  Sept  SST  already  elevated  6-­‐7°C  over     conBnental  shelves.   •  Offshore  permafrost   to  shrink  back  &     vanish  over  ~10     years     •  Forecast  for  4C  by     2100  occurs  by  2060  


ArcLc  amplificaLon    


•  ArcBc  amplificaBon  now  3x,    moving  to  x3.5–4   •  3  months  of  ArcBc  summer  free  of  sea-­‐ice  will  increase   regional  temperature  ~  2C….     •  and  global  temperature  by  ~  0.5C   •  1  month  ice  free  will  increase  global  T  by  ~0.2C  


MelBng  over   Greenland  ice  sheet   shauered  the   seasonal  record  in   the  modern  era,  4   weeks  before  close  of   the  melBng  season  

ReflecLvity  of  GIS  at   high  elevaBons   involved  in  the  mid-­‐ July  melt  event  (97%   surface  melBng),   declined  to  record   lows  


Could  the  Greenland  ice  sheet  survive    if  the  ArcBc  were  sea-­‐ice-­‐free  in  summer  and  fall?     •  “…not  only  is  ice  sheet  survival  unlikely,  but  its   disintegraBon  would  be  a  wet  process  that  can  proceed   rapidly”  —  James  Hansen   •  The  Bpping  point  for  Greenland  revised  down  to  1.6ºC   (uncertainty  range  of  0.8-­‐3.2ºC)  above  pre-­‐industrial   (Robinson  et  al,  Nature  Climate  Change  2:429–432)   •  Paleo-­‐climate  record  shows  Greenland  ice  sheet  formed   at  less  than  400ppm  CO2  and  we  are  there  now   •  IMHO  Bpping  point  for  Greenland  has  already  been   crossed…  but  we  will  only  know  it  retrospect!  



How  quickly   is  Greenland   ice  sheet   melLng?       Not  data  over   a  long  enough   period  yet,   but  Hansen’s   musings…     If  Greenland  ice  mass  loss  rate  is  exponenBal:   •  A  10-­‐year  doubling  Bme  (green  line)  would  lead  to     1  metre  sea  level  rise  by  2067  &  5  metres  by  2090.     •  A  5-­‐year  doubling  Bme  (red  line)  would  lead  to     1  metre  sea  level  rise  by  2045  &  5  metres  by  2057.    


Western  AntarcLc  Ice  Sheet     is  warming  nearly  twice  as  fast  as  previously  thought  —  an   increase  of  2.4C  in  average  annual  temperature  between   1958  and  2010  


Global  Sea  Level  Rise  Scenarios  for   the  United  States  NaBonal  Climate   Assessment,  NOAA  (2012)  

•  US  government  looks  at  2-­‐metre  SLR  by  2100  scenario   •  U.S.  Army  Corps  of  Engineers  updated  guidance:     “a  credible  upper  bound  for  21st  century  sea-­‐level  rise   would  not  exceed  2  meters”   •  While  Australia  sBck  to  a  max.  to  2100  of  1.1  metres  !!  

Permafrost   •  PosiBve  permafrost  carbon  feedback     “will  change  the  ArcBc  from  a  carbon     sink  to  a  source  aper  the  mid-­‐2020s     and  is  strong  enough  to  cancel  42–88     per  cent  of  the  total  global  land  sink”.     •  Tipping  point  for  the  large-­‐scale  loss  of     permafrost  carbon  is  around  8–10ºC     regional  temperature  increase.     •  ArcBc  amplificaBon  is  X3.5–4  so  around  a  2–2.5C  increase  is   enough.  Feedbacks  would  drive  T  higher.     •  Philippe  Caias:  “A  global  average  increase  in  air  temp.  of   2ºC  and  a  few  unusually  hot  years  could  see  permafrost   soil  temperatures  reach  the  8ºC  threshold  for  releasing   billions  of  tonnes  of  carbon  dioxide  and  methane”.  




KEY  LESSON  FROM  ARCTIC  IN  2012   “As  the  system  changes,  we  must  adjust  our     (understanding  of  the)  science”     in  Climate  Progress,  13  September  2012  


Gulf  stream   wobble     •  Record  rains   in  Europe   •  Extreme  cold   snaps  in   Europe  and   USA   •  Magnifying   the   Superstorm   Sandy   impact  

ArcLc  warming  and  mid-­‐laLtude  weather   •  “When  the  Polar  Vortex  —  a  ring  of  winds  circling  the   ArcBc  —  breaks  down,  this  allows  cold  air  to  spill  south,   affecBng  the  eastern  US  and  other  regions…  resulBng  in  a   warmer-­‐than-­‐average  ArcBc  region  and  colder   temperatures  that  may  include  severe  winter  weather   events  on  the  North  American  and  European  conBnents.”   —  Dr  James  Overland,  NOAA   •   Increased  wave  amplitude  “would  cause  associated   weather  pauerns  in  mid-­‐laBtudes  to  be  more  persistent,   which  may  lead  to  an  increased  probability  of  extreme   weather  events  that  result  from  prolonged  condiBons,   such  as  drought,  flooding,  cold  spells,  and  heat  waves.”   —  “Evidence  linking  ArcBc  amplificaBon  to  extreme   weather  in  mid-­‐laBtudes,”    Francis  et  al  GRL  39:6  



ConnecLng  the  dots…  Superstorm  Sandy…   Dr  Bob  Corell,  Dr  Jeff  Masters  and  Dr  Kevin  Trenberth…   “We’ll  probably  never  know  the  exact  point  when  the   weather  stopped  being  enBrely  natural.  But  we  should   consider  Sandy—and  other  recent  extreme  weather  events   –  an  early  taste  of  a  climate-­‐changed  world,  and  a  grim   preview  of  the  even  worse  to  come,  parBcularly  if  we   conBnue  to  pump  more  carbon  polluBon  from  smokestacks   and  tailpipes  up  into  the  atmosphere.”   “It’s  Bme  to  stop  asking  when  climate  change  will  arrive.  It’s   here,  and  we  need  to  move  aggressively  to  curb  carbon   emissions  while  also  preparing  for  a  changed  world.  We  are   at  nothing  less  than  a  criBcal  juncture.”      

Australia…     2009  Victorian  fires…  2011  Queensland  floods  and  ….   And  now  2013  naBon-­‐wide  heat  wave…   •  Extreme  in  spaBal  extent  and  duraBon   •  Highest  naBonal  daily  maximum  40.33°C  (7  Nanuary  2013)   •  Houest  2-­‐day  period  on  record.   •  NaBonal  mean  temp  records  at  32.22°C  (January  7)  and   32.32°C  (January  8)   •  Sequence  of  naBonal  average  temp  above  39°C  of  7  days;     11  days  straight  of  naBonal  average  above  38°C   •  Record  maximums  in  Hobart,  Sydney,  many  more   •  Seven  of  houest  20  days  in  the  climate  record  in  2013   •  Sept–Dec  2012  average  Australian  max  temperature  highest   on  record.  Anomaly  of  +1.61  °C   •  70%  of  conBnent  recorded  temps  >  42°C  between  1–14  Jan  



In first 14 days of January, 70% of Australia experienced a 42C+ day


A  T100  (1-­‐in-­‐100  year  event)  value  in  a  4C-­‐warmer  world   “Temperature  extremes  reach  values  around  50C  in  large   parts  of  the  area  equator-­‐ward  of  30  degrees…  Projected   T100  values  far  exceed  40C  in  Southern  Europe,  the  US  Mid-­‐ West  by  2090-­‐2100  and  even  reach  50C  in  north-­‐eastern   India    and  most  of  Australia    


PM  Julia  Gillard  in  2013   •  "And  while  you  would  not  put  any  one  event  down  to   climate  change  ...  we  do  know  that  over  Bme  as  a  result  of   climate  change  we  are  going  to  see  more  extreme  weather   events”                  [Note  problems  with  this  formulaBon  –  see  Trenberth]     •  “Landscape  to  moonscape”      …  “a  perfect  storm”   Compare  this  to…   •  Victorian  fire  and  Queensland  flood  responses  from   poliBcians  where  climate  change  was  not  menBoned   •  Victorian  Royal  Commission  into  bushfires  excluded  climate   change  from  terms  of  reference!   •  David  Karoly  told  2009  “4  degrees”  conference  in  paper  on   Black  Saturday  that:  “We  are  unleashing  hell  on  Australia”  

Jeff  Masters,  Weather  Underground…  


“The  climate  has  shiped  to  a  new  state  capable  of   delivering  rare  and  unprecedented  weather  events”   “Climate  is  what  you  expect;  weather  is  what  you  get.  I  like   to  think  of  the  weather  as  a  game  of  dice.  Mother  Nature   rolls  the  dice  each  day  to  determine  the  weather,  and  the   rolls  fall  within  the  boundaries  of  what  the  climate  will   allow.  The  extreme  events  that  happen  at  the  boundaries   of  what  are  possible  are  what  people  tend  to  noBce  the   most.  When  the  climate  changes,  those  boundaries  change.   Thus,  the  main  way  people  will  tend  to  noBce  climate   change  is  through  a  change  in  the  extreme  events  that   occur  at  the  boundaries  of  what  is  possible.”        

Dr  Kevin  Trenberth,  US  NCAR…  


“It’s  not  the  right  quesBon  to  ask  if  this  storm  or  that  storm   is  due  to  global  warming,  or  is  it  natural  variability.   “Nowadays,  there’s  always  an  element  of  both....  there  is  a   systemaBc  influence  on  all  of  these  weather  events  now-­‐a-­‐ days  because  of  the  fact  that  there  is  this  extra  water  vapor   lurking  around  in  the  atmosphere  than  there  used  to  be  say   30  years  ago.”  

Prof  David  Karoly  


“What  we  have  been  able  to  see  is  clear  evidence  of  an   increasing  trend  in  hot  extremes,  reducBons  in  cold   extremes  and  with  the  increases  in  hot  extremes  and  more   frequent  extreme  fire  danger  days.”   "What  it  means  for  the  Australian  summer  is  an  increased   frequency  of  hot  extremes,  more  hot  days,  more  heatwaves   and  more  extreme  bushfire  days  and  that's  exactly  what   we've  been  seeing  typically  over  the  last  decade  and  we  will   see  even  more  frequently  in  the  future.”   Prof  Ross  Garnaut   “The  failure  of  our  generaBon  on  climate  change  miBgaBon   would  lead  to  consequences  that  would  haunt  humanity  to   the  end  of  Bme.”  


What  we  should  say…  ConnecLng  the  dots…   “In  Australia  and  around  the  world,  people  are  experiencing   record  temperatures,  heat  waves,  bush  fires  and  flooding.     This  extreme  weather  is  what  climate  change  feels  like,  and  it   will  get  worse  if  we  conBnue  to  burn  fossil  fuels  such  as….     When  we  live  through  a  47C  day  in  Victoria  (2009),  or  15  days  in   a  row  over  35C  in  Adelaide  (2008),  or  experience  eight  heat   waves  in  one  Perth  summer  (2012),  or  the  naBonwide  record   extreme  heatwave  in  Jan  2013,  we  are  experiencing  the  future.   When  we  experience  the  extreme  flooding  of  2010  and  2011  in   northern  Australia,  or  weuest  summer  on  record  in  Victoria  in   2010-­‐11,  we  are  experiencing  the  future.   If  we  do  not  act,  most  of  Australia  will  experience  extreme   temperatures*  of  more  than  50  degrees  this  century.  


The  “giving  up”  paradigm   •  We  are  heading  to  4   degrees   •  How  can  we  adapt  to  4   degrees?    (We  can’t!)   •  2  degrees  is  “all  but   impossible”  to  achieve     What  isn’t  said…   •  2  degrees  is  also  a   catastrophe   •  We  can  get  back  to  a  safe   climate   •  It  will  take  extraordinary   measures    


David   Roberts’   TEX  talk  

“A  4C  future  is  incompaBble  with  an  organised  global   community.”  —  Prof.  Kevin  Anderson    

425 400 375

CO2 with 6%/year Emissions Cut and Reforestation (a)


350 325 300 275 1850







Hansen’s  350ppm  until 2060 scenario   (b) 600 until in   6%  annual  reducBon  2045 CO2   until 2030 until 2020 emissions  starBng  2013  plus   500 100  billion  tonnes  of   400 reforestaBon  between  2031   and  2080  reduces  CO2  to   300 <350ppm  by  end  of  century.   1850 2000 2150 2300 2450

Effect of Continued BAU Fossil Fuel Emissions

CO2 (ppm)

WGBU/Potsdam  2C   scenario   Annual  reducBon  in  CO2   •  3.7%  pa  starBng  in  2011   •  5.3%  pa  starBng  in  2015   •  9%  pa  starBng  in  2020  

CO2 (ppm)


“Real   clothes  for   the   emperor”   Kevin   Anderson   PDF  

“…  it  is  difficult  to  envisage  anything  other  than  a   planned  economic  recession  being  compaBble  with   stabilisaBon  at  or  below  650ppmv  CO2e.”     —  Kevin  Anderson  &  Alice  Bows  2008  


Are  we  heading   over  a  cliff?   Jorgen  Randers   Paul  Gilding   Graham  Turner   Paul  &  Anne  Ehrlich   David  Roberts   George  Monbiot   Naomi  Klein  


RevisiLng   the  ‘Limits   to  Growth’   scenarios   aner  40   years  

“A  40-­‐year-­‐old  model  and  forecasts  of  the  global  economic   and  environmental  system  –  that  many  had  relegated  to  the   ‘dustbin  of  history’–  appears  to  be  standing  the  test  of  Bme   surprisingly  well.  The  insight  and  messages  of  The  limits  to   growth  stand  as  a  warning  of  potenBal  global  collapse  –   perhaps  more  imminent  than  generally  recognised.”   —  Graham  Turner,  CSIRO,  2012  

Limits  to  growth:  collapse  or  managed  change?   •  AcceleraBng  growth  cannot  last  forever   •  Increasing  polluBon  and  ecosystem  degradaBon,  and   •  DepleBng  non-­‐renewable  resources  leads  to…   •  Increased  costs  of  extracBon  and  loss  of  capital  investment   for  other  sectors  as  resources  deplete   •  Climate  change  impacts  on  water,  crops,  food,  where  to  live     •  ConBnuing  down  this  path  will  lead  to…   •  Overshoot  and  collapse   •  So  change  in  behaviour  and  technology  required   •  Choice  is  collapse  or  managed  decline  (new  soluBons)   •  But  soluBons  and  implementaBon  delay  because…   •  All  decision  are  made  in  a  context…   •  And  the  context  influences  the  decisions  


The  context  of  society’s  decision-­‐making  today   •  Post-­‐war  growth  and  prosperity  paradigm   •  “Happiness  via  conBnued  economic  growth  based     on  fossil  fuels”   •  Modern,  deregulated  capitalism,  based  on:     •           “efficiency”  of  market  soluBons   •           “self-­‐correcBng  ability”  of  democraBc  governments   •           “benefit”  based  on  increasing  affluence   •             increased  “public  welfare”  through  trade  &  globalisaBon   •  That  is…    The  industrial  revoluLon  paradigm   •  But  this  is  now  a  world  of  systemic  unsustainability   •  OverconsumpBon,  social  isolaBon,  poorer  mental  health…     •  &  mulB-­‐systems  crisis  (climate,  ecosystems,  resources,  etc)     •  So  civilisaLon  is  on  the  brink  of  collapse    


“A  new  paradigm  for  climate  change”   Anderson  and  Bows,  Nature  Climate  Change  2:639–64   “Put  bluntly,  climate  change  commitments  are  incompaBble   with  short-­‐  to  medium-­‐term  economic  growth  (…  for  10  to  20   years).  Moreover,  work  on  adapBng  to  climate  change   suggests  that  economic  growth  cannot  be  reconciled  with  the   breadth  and  rate  of  impacts  as  the  temperature  rises  towards   4  °C  and  beyond  ….  Away  from  the     A new paradigm for microphone  and  despite  claims  of     climate change 'green  growth',  few  if  any  scienBsts     W working  on  climate  change  would     disagree  with  the    broad  thrust  of     this  candid  conclusion.    The  elephant     in  the  room  sits  undisturbed  while     collecBve  acquiescence  and  cogniBve     dissonance  trample  all  who  dare  to  ask  difficult  quesBons.”    
opinion & comment
results on CTI available with current data are unlikely to be awed by major problems due to STI uncertainty. ❐
Vincent Devictor1*, Chris van Swaay2, Tom Brereton3, Lluís Brotons4,5, Dan Chamberlain6, Janne Heliölä7, Sergi Herrando4, Romain Julliard8, Mikko Kuussaari7, Åke Lindström9, Jiří Reif10, David B. Roy11, Oliver Schweiger12, Josef Settele12, Constantí Stefanescu13, Arco Van Strien14, Chris Van Turnhout15,16, Zdeněk Vermouzek17, Michiel Wallis De Vries2,18, Irma Wynho 2 and Frédéric Jiguet8 1 Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, UMR CNRS-UM2 5554, Montpellier 34095, France, 2 Dutch Butterfly Conservation, PO Box 506, 6700 AM, Wageningen, The Netherlands, 3 Butterfly Conservation, Wareham, BH20 5QP, UK, 4Catalan Ornithological Institute, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, 5Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya, 25280 Solsona, Spain, 6 British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK, 7Finnish Environment Institute, PO Box 140, Helsinki FIN-00251, Finland, 8 Conservation des Espèces Restauration et Suivi des Populations-MNHN, Paris 75005, France, 9Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund SE-223 62, Sweden, 10 Institute for Environmental Studies, Charles University in Prague, 128 01, Praha 2, Czech Republic, 11Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK, 12 UFZ, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Community Ecology, Halle D-06120, Germany, 13Museu de Granollers Ciències Naturals, E-08400 Granollers, Spain, 14Statistics Netherlands, PO Box 24500, 2490HA The Hague, The Netherlands, 15SOVON Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology, 6573 DG Beek-Ubbergen, The Netherlands, 16Department of Environmental Science and Department of Animal Ecology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Czech Society for Ornithology, 150 00, Praha 5, Czech Republic, 18Laboratory of Entomology,Wageningen University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH, Wageningen, The Netherlands. *e-mail:



1. Devictor, V. et al. Nature Clim. Change. 2, 121–124 (2012). 2. Hijmans, R. J. et al. Int. J. Clim. 25, 1965–1978 (2005). 3. Hagemeijer, W. J. M. & Blair, M. J. e EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds: eir Distribution and Abundance (T. & A. D. Poyser, 1997). 4. Settele, J. et al. BioRisk 2, 33–72 (2009). 5. Albert, C. H. et al. Persp. Plant Ecol. Evol. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.ppees.2011.04.003 (in the press). 6. Lindström, Å. et al. Ecography (in the press). 7. Loarie, S. R. et al. Nature 462, 24–31 (2009). 8. Godet, L., Ja ré, M. & Devictor, V. Biol. Lett. 7, 714–717 (2011). 9. Kampichler, C. et al. PLoS One 7, e35272 (2012).


We thank Cécile Albert for stimulating comments on the importance of intraspeci c variability and its consequences. We also thank Francisco Rodríguez-Sánchez and colleagues for initiating this thought-provoking discussion.


Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows

How climate change science is conducted, communicated and translated into policy must be radically transformed if ‘dangerous’ climate change is to be averted.
ith the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development now over, it remains unclear how much attention policymakers, businesses and the public paid to scienti c analyses of climate change. A question also remains as to how impartial, objective and direct scientists were in presenting their evidence; politicians may well have le Rio without understanding the viability and implications of proposed lowcarbon pathways. We urgently need to acknowledge that the development needs of many countries leave the rich western nations with little choice but to immediately and severely curb their greenhouse gas emissions1,2. But academics may again have contributed to a misguided belief that commitments to avoid warming of 2 °C can still be realized with incremental adjustments to economic incentives. A carbon tax here, a little emissions trading there and the odd voluntary agreement thrown in for good measure will not be su cient. Scientists may argue that it is not our responsibility anyway and that it is politicians who are really to blame. e scienti c community can meet next year to communicate its latest model results and reiterate how climate change commitments and economic growth go hand in hand. Many policymakers (and some scientists) believe that yet another year will not matter in the grand scheme of things, but this overlooks the fundamental tenet of climate science: emissions are cumulative. Long-term and end-point targets (for example, 80% by 2050) have no scienti c basis. What governs future global temperatures and other adverse climate impacts are the emissions from yesterday, today and those released in the next few years. Delaying an agreement on

meaningful cuts to emissions increases the risk of exposing many already vulnerable communities to higher temperatures and worsening climate-related impacts. Yet, behind the cosy rhetoric of naively optimistic science and policy, there is little to suggest that existing mitigation proposals will deliver anything but rising emissions over the coming decade or two.

Hope and judgement

ere are many reasons why climate science has become intertwined with politics, to the extent that providing impartial scienti c analysis is increasingly challenging and challenged. On a personal level, scientists are human too. Many have chosen to research climate change because they believe there is value in applying scienti c rigour to an important global issue. It is not surprising then that they also hope that it is still possible to avoid dangerous


© 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

Changing  the  context:  acLon  at  emergency  speed  &  scale   •  Time  is  short,  the  crisis  is  now   •  There  is  a  chance  for  a  beuer  world,  but  in  short  run  it  is…   •  A  choice  between  2  dystopias  (discomfort  now  or  more  later)   •  Some  very  significant  social  and  economic  disrupBons  now   while  we  make  the  transiBon  very  quickly   •   Or  a  state  of  permanent  and  escalaBng  disrupBon  as  the   planet’s  climate  heads  into  territory  where  most  people  and   most  species  will  not  survive   •  Our  task  now  is  to  chart  the  “least-­‐worst”  outcome;   •   This  will  not  be  painless,  and  people  will  need  to  acBvely   understand  and  parBcipate  in    some  personally-­‐disrupBve   measures,  but  they  will  do  so  because  they  have  learned   that  the  transiBon  plans  are  both  fair  and  necessary,  and  the   other  choice  is  unspeakable    


ScienLsts  stand  up   •  “The  scienBsts  have  lost  paBence  with  our  carefully   constructed  messages  being  lost  in  the  poliBcal  noise.  And   we  are  now  prepared  to  stand  up  and  say  enough  is   enough.”  —  Prof.  Kevin  Anderson   •  “We  need  a  (sort  of)  global-­‐scale  effort  on  this  that  is  akin  to   preparing  for  a  war,  actually.”  —  Prof.  Mau  England   •  “We  are  not  dealing  with  it  (climate)  in  terms  of  the  danger   that  this  represents:  it’s  like  a  war.”    —  Dr  Daniel  Pauly.   •  "We  have  a  crisis,  an  emergency,  but  people  don't  know   that  ...There's  a  big  gap  between  what's  understood  about   global  warming  by  the  scienBfic  community  &  what  is  known   by  the  public  &  policymakers.”  —  Dr  James  Hansen   •  “Virtually  all  of  us  (scienBsts)  are  now  convinced  that  global   warming  poses  a  clear  and  present  danger  to  civilizaBon.   —  Dr  Lonnie  Thompson  


Our  tasks:  “A  sober  assessment  of  our  situaLon”   •  Make  the  poliBcs  fit  the  science,  don’t  water  down  the   science  to  fit  the  poliBcs   •  Tell  the  big  story,  set  out  to  fully  solve  the  problem   •  Courageous,  consistent  public  leadership  for  a  safe  climate   •  Understand  that  policy  is  an  outcome  of  power,  not  a   means  of  achieving  it   •  Common  goals   •  Local  mobilisaBon,  united  acBon   •  Connect  to  conservaBve  voters   •  Making  climate  an  issue  about  now,     not  the  future  (connect  the  dots)   •  Honesty  about  our  task   •  Flexibility  and  opportunity  



“We  respond  well  to  an  emergency,  but   global  warming  is  an  emergency  too.”    
–  “The  Age”  editorial,  16  January  2011    

"This  is  an  emergency  and  for   emergency  situaBons  we  need   emergency  acBon.”   —  UN  Secretary  General,  Ban  Ki-­‐moon,  November  12,  2007  

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