54 Comments
author

I’m watching as well. I haven’t seen any solid explanations but this has been proposed https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-022-01568-2

Expand full comment

I was thinking how it compares to 1997 El Niño...

Expand full comment

Thanks, Tonga may also be part of the explanation...

Expand full comment

I usually read the WG1 reports that, altho are slanted to support the political narrative, focus on science. When I read SR1.5 I couldn’t believe how many times the word “equity” was mentioned. It was authored by a mix of the 3 wg authors. Notions of equity are not really relevant to science I would say.

Expand full comment

Roger, now you are giving scholarship and balance a great name. I would like publish it on several International and National energy and environmental groups, 20 or so.

Would you like to get more exposure within these communities? Frankly, we could use some of thought leadership skills.

Expand full comment
author

Yes, thank you!

Expand full comment

I always find it fascinating that the transformational change the IPCC advocates is almost solely focused on the European Union and the U.S. I may be mistaken, but I've yet to see significant and substantive pressure put on China and India.

Expand full comment

Transformational change requires narrative control and for all and any effects of “climate change” to be bad.

A statistical impossibility.

And yet I await posting of a link to an official peer reviewed paper from, say, the Potsdam Institute, published in the Grauniad stating some aspect of change has turned out to be good.

Not holding my breath.

Roger continues to be feel he can be a little bit pregnant.

Expand full comment

Clearly, it is NOT my expertise either! Thank you for sharing the link to the article, which I attempted to read. I found it extremely difficult and, among other things, I wonder why so much scientific writing must be so obscure! It very much caused me to endorse the idea that, as lay people, we have to have a very active, disputatious scientific community, constantly commenting on each other's work and then a good number of writers who can translate the dispute into more common language for those of us that are interested but not, NOT, experts. All that being said, a couple of statements in the almost-incomprehensible article, struck me:

* "The residence time in the atmosphere, τa, is well known and estimated to be 5 years, the residence time in the sink, τs, is not well known.

* We, thus, refute the claim of the climate-skeptics-skeptics [6] that individual carbon dioxide molecules have a short life time of around 5 years in the atmosphere. However, when they leave the atmosphere, they are simply swapping places with carbon dioxide in the ocean. The final amount of extra CO2 that remains in the atmosphere stays there on a time scale of centuries. Their flawed reasoning is that the adjustment time (relaxation time) is the mass perturbation in the atmosphere divided by the flux balance, τ=ΔAFn+−Fn−, (10) and, so goes the reasoning, while fluxes can be great (and the residence time short), the balance is close to zero and the relaxation time can then approach infinity. Anthropogenic carbon would, thus, be able to stay a long time in the atmosphere. (??? I REALLY did not understand this).

* "We conclude here by summarizing the major findings of this analysis using a first-order-kinetics two-box model: (1) The adjustment time is never larger than the residence time and is less than 5 years. (2) The idea of the atmosphere being stable at 280 ppm in pre-industrial times is untenable. (3) Nearly 90% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide has already been removed from the atmosphere."

As one might say -- HUH??? the last quote "seems" contrary to the first but I am virtually certain I am simply not understanding something.

Thanks gain! I am an energy nerd and find this stuff irresistable, except that I am also no mathematician.

Meanwhile, I would note that most 'popular' coverage ignores the nuance of a difference between resident time and adjustment time. I am not even sure that the infamous bathtub systems dynamics model acknowledges this distinction. And, I remain confused; except that my non-scientific side definitely resonates to an idea that there isn't a time in history when something natural was in equilibrium. We learn early the adage that nature abhors a vacuum. I suspect that it similarly abhors equilibrium. Everything is in motion, always. At least at the sub-atomic level. So how could one have an equilibrium? And, then, of course, there's those pesky ice ages, and volcanic eruptions and other things that disturb someone's sense of equilibrium.

Expand full comment

Thank you. I agree with your technology position. The emissions, not so much (with all due respect, of course). One only has to visit a farm in the midwest to see the massive amount of fossil fuels that are used. The fertilizer alone makes quite a contribution, but I see the equipment used for planting, harvesting, and maintaining the land and cannot imagine electrifying that machinery that would allow a farmer to reach the same level of production. Imagine the size of battery necessary to provide enough power sufficient traction to climb out of a mudhole or up-and-down rolling topography during a 18-hour harvest day. It would be an interesting problem to calculate how much energy would be needed to recharge those batteries over night, and what that would do to a utility's load curve.

Nor can I imagine the materials (steel, minerals, etc) that would be necessary to replace all of that equipment, especially when taken in the context of competition for those commodities in the midst of replacing all of our current fossil electric power facilities. After all of the excavation, there would be little land left to farm (hyperbole, of course.)

I'm in my 70s, and I agree with your question about lifespans. Just remembering standing in line for a polio shot, or the transition from tubes to transistors is amazing, and on to printed circuits makes it even more so. I believe this progress, that is, the progress of technology, is an underlying foundation of your Iron Law because it assures continued economic growth.

I look forward to your posting on "degrowth."

Expand full comment
May 18, 2023·edited May 18, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

On a predecessor to the IPCC, the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases, one involved scientist explains that its main accomplishment "was to provide official auspices for a more activist group of experts." (https://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2007/11/01/ipcc_beginnings/). That was the precedent.

Expand full comment
author

Interesting!!

Expand full comment
May 18, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

History is full of examples of transformational change.

The Great Leap Forward is an all time favorite.

I’m sure the current crop of cadres can outdo that body count.

What could go wrong when you attempt to change energy systems that have developed over centuries and that sustain life for billions.

Can’t hurt to try right?

Expand full comment
May 17, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

Dr. Pielke -- I have another question. How do we know about the length of period CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere. It appears 'widely' accepted that this is a very long time but I am not sure what the foundation for this conclusion is. Can you (or one of the commenters here!) help enlighten me. I'm almost always interested in 'how we know what we know', more than the knowledge itself, which is mostly just musing on what it is we went looking for and found a way to observe!

Expand full comment
author

This is not my expertise, but my understanding is that the relevant timescale is not necessarily the residence time of each CO2 molecule but the time for the carbon cycle to adjust to the increased concentrations, which is a long time in the context of changes to the Earth's energy balance

See: https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/25/2/384

Expand full comment
May 17, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

Another excellent piece. More confirming than new. I find 'transformation' overused and under-comprehended. Perhaps most important to me, is that the term implies a serious misunderstanding of how things came to be the way they are. Almost everything has evolved to its current state and that state is not stable; it is still evolving. Because many of our means of observing things -- such as the economy -- come from the state, I think we have become to believe that the thing observed, itself, has come from the state. I am quite confident that, whatever 'it' is, it has not come from the state. It has emerged from this stew of myriad individual/organizational decisions and actions, along with the resources -- which include policies, being used or blocking those decisions and actions.

Over half a decade ago I wrote about transformation in the US electricity arena for a project called the 51st state. You can sort of find out about it here https://sepapower.org/51st-state-next-steps/ You can't find my paper - they appear to have taken them down but I am happy to share it with anyone that wants to peruse it. It's 20 pages, which was the page limit for submissions. Just ping me here and I will send it along. It was a competition and my paper didn't win for a variety of reasons, not the least because I took an evolutionary approach and SEPA and its judges wanted a fast answer. Which was never going to happen and did not happen. Anyway, I'm not surprised with what you have uncovered about IPCC motivation or desires. Nor will I be surprised by the pushback on these goals that is already underway and that we will end up someplace few foresaw and even fewer like wholeheartedly.

Expand full comment

The following appears not to be relevant to the IPCC: https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.03098

Please comment.

Expand full comment
May 16, 2023·edited May 17, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

IPCC Reform? Who are you kidding? Next stop: CO2 monitoring and lockdowns.

Expand full comment
May 16, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

A very thought-provoking post, and I thank you. These are the questions I would ask:

1. Much is made of the need for “deep reductions in GHG emissions.” Is this a realistic or even practical goal? “Deep reductions” imply radical change in behavior. Would not a planned emission strategy based on longer-term targets be more acceptable, and more within the terms of your Iron Law?

2. Is “net zero” even a realistic target? One of the principal benefits of energy is that it lifts people out of poverty. Frankly, is the developed world selfless enough to allow the billions across the world to allow such a thing to happen? If so, shouldn’t we define as “net-zero” as the target after population growth stabilizes?

Expand full comment
author

Thanks!

Some replies:

1. I am a fan of energy technology production and retirement targets -- inputs rather than outputs. Emissions are a consequence of actions, and it is much more straightforward to manage inputs rather than outputs.

2. Yes, it is realistic, but it is a huge undertaking. It's like asking in 1920 if average human lifespans can increase to 70 years. Would have seemed impossible at the time, and yet . . .

Expand full comment
May 16, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

We used to have a local talk show radio host who frequently said, "Tell me where you sit before you tell me where you stand". It seems like this may be a good description of many in the scientific community who have transitioned from research and exploration to advocacy of their own findings,

Expand full comment
May 16, 2023Liked by Roger Pielke Jr.

Degrowth is not a goal that will work for the vast numbers of people who live in the poor nations of the world. The availability of abundant energy and growth are the only things that will bring these nations out of poverty. Degrowth is a policy for the rich nations, and it is not even suitable for these nations. It is a policy based on "soft energy" which encompasses so-called "renewable energy". It will only serve to keep the poor of the world mired in poverty and cause even the wealthy nations to regress and retrench. We need zero-carbon alternatives that are firm, dispatchable and available 24/7/365. In my opinion, nuclear energy fills the bill. Abundant zero-carbon energy ultimately will serve to eliminate poverty, promote social justice and protect the environment.

Expand full comment
author

The world couldn't "degrow" even if it wanted to. I'll have more n this soon!

Expand full comment