What are the chances?

14 04 2014

Mark Cochrane

Mark Cochrane

Another guest post from Mark Cochrane on the IPCC’s latest offering.


The final volume of IPCC Assessment Report 5 (AR5) from Working Group III: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change has been released by the IPCC. Press release here.

Although 2ºC is a somewhat arbitrary number, it is a level of warming that everyone with any involvement in the study of climate change and its impacts has agreed would be absolutely foolhardy to exceed before 2100 for human civilization. It’s not that the world would suddenly end but it is just so completely obvious that the negative consequences would be so unavoidably large that even Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and the U.S can agree that we do not want to go there. The only question is whether or not the human species is capable of any level of concerted action to avoid it.

wg2coverIn order to have a better than 50% chance of avoiding an average global temperature increase greater than  2C, the following guidance is given:

“Climate policies in line with the two degrees Celsius goal need to aim for substantial emission reductions,” Edenhofer said. “There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual.”

Scenarios show that to have a likely chance of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius, means lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent compared with 2010 by mid-century, and to near-zero by the end of this century. Ambitious mitigation may even require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The question obviously arises as to whether or not we can afford the cost of attempting to avoid what we certainly cannot afford to experience? Well, 235 authors and 38 review editors from 57 countries, together with nearly a thousand contributing or review experts, citing work from 10,000 scientific papers give us some insight there as well:

“Many different pathways lead to a future within the boundaries set by the two degrees Celsius goal,” Edenhofer said. “All of these require substantial investments. Avoiding further delays in mitigation and making use of a broad variety of technologies can limit the associated costs.”

Estimates of the economic costs of mitigation vary widely. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption grows by 1.6 to 3 percent per year. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this growth by around 0.06 percentage points a year. However, the underlying estimates do not take into account economic benefits of reduced climate change.

If we cannot afford to invest such a paltry amount in the future then we have definitely reached the ‘limits to growth’ in collective human intelligence.

In any case:

1) Delaying action just increases the costs. Waiting until 2030 increases the estimates to 4% GDP.

2) The ongoing economic costs of climate change likely already exceed the proposed costs for mitigation activities by several-fold (e.g. link, link).

Mitigating activities are like trying to turn a fully laden oil tanker. Small rudder changes early on will do a lot more than large changes later on. Right now every decade sees global emissions levels not only going up but growing at increasing rates. This is like the captain of the Titanic spotting the iceberg and calling ‘full ahead’ to speed up their date with destiny.


Australia’s collapse has begun…….

14 04 2014

deTocquevilleAlexis de Tocqueville is quoted as saying “It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth”.  This is plainly true of the Australian public also.  They elected the current government on the biggest pack of lies ever seen assembled in one place.  In fact, Abbott has set a new world record: 25 broken promises in 150 days. Two days before the election, Abbott promised:

“I can assure your listeners that there will be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions …”



“Government urged to target seniors, families in budget cuts by economics group Macroeconomics” is one of the latest banners on ABC News online.

In its annual pre-budget forecast, Macroeconomics has backed the numbers in the Government’s most recent fiscal update handed down in December.

The group is urging the Government to target the middle and upper classes with cuts to assistance to seniors and families with children, as well as corporate welfare.

A director at Macroeconomics, Stephen Anthony, has told AM the government must act quickly.

“We would say to the Government to cut hard and cut early in your term,” he said.

Any regular reader of this blog will know where the Australian economy is heading; however, 99% of the readers of the ABC’s website will not.  What on Earth will they make of this?  It’s not like Australia has become another Greece.  Yet.

To be sure, governments everywhere must know what we know.  Limits to Growth are here, Australia is as good as out of oil, the Climate is already affecting our bottom line, and revenue is going down whilst expenses are going up…… a recipe for bankruptcy.  But instead of coming clean and telling the public exactly why they want to cut everything, they stir the pot and foster riots and revolution.  Are they mad?  Have they not seen what happened in Egypt, Syria, Turkey when you piss the people off…?

hockeyJoe Hockey (our so called Treasurer for any overseas readers) apparently said “In 2050, there will be only 2.7 people of working age to support each Australian aged 65 years or over, compared with five working age people per aged person in 2010, and 7.5 in 1970. As the population ages, the total participation rate will fall – despite the increase in the participation rate among older Australians.”  He needs to read this….  it would be inconceivable for someone like Hockey to know, let alone acknowledge, that the world population is set to start collapsing within just 11 years from now.  I doubt there will be many people aged 65 and over in 2050 without the hi-tech medicine we currently take for granted – especially if they keep cutting health funding – or the cheap and abundant food covering supermarket shelves……

If anyone wants an example of why politics is mostly form over substance, look no further than Joe Hockey’s actions on entitlement spending.  Instead of grandstanding for their filthy rich supporters, Abbott and Hockey should come clean and tell the people how it really is….. but they won’t because it would put an end to their own gravy train, and we can’t have that now can we…  A typical Australian worker would need a lump sum superannuation balance of up to $5.6 million to get the equivalent of Joe Hockey’s lifetime pension of $166,400, which the Treasurer is guaranteed when he retires…..  The hypocrisy is beyond words……