We are doomed!

We are doomed! I kid you not. We are doomed!

This is how the onehundredmonths.org campaign page looked like in its heyday:

The button “Read the report” goes to the New Economics Foundation where you can download the 100 months – Technical note document that explained the urgency (my emphasis):

O M G, they made a calculation!

It states that according to the CO2 emissions at the time when the document was created, “atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will begin to exceed a point whereby it is no longer likely we will be able to avert potentially irreversible climate change”.

But, hey, wait a minute. 100 months from August 1, 2008 … that is the beginning of December 2016.

That is 21 months ago…

Aaaaaarrrrrrghhhhh. We are already 21 months overdue!?!?

We are doomed! I kid you not. We are doomed!

The man behind the onehundredmonths-campaign is Andrew Simms. He has a Guardian blog: 100 months to save the world. This blog starts with the post The final countdown, published on August 1, 2008 at exactly 00.01 BST. In that post, it was explained that “time is fast running out to stop irreversible climate change”, we “have only 100 months to avoid disaster” and “we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change”.

Okay, that was in 2008, but what happened in the meanwhile? We could as well averted that danger in those 100 months, no? Didn’t we have that wonderful Paris Agreement in December 2015 that saved the world? Well, no. If we walk the path of the Paris Agreement, then we are in for more than THREE degrees warming by 2100!

More than three degrees?!?! That is well above the 2 °C limit proposed by the onehundredmonths-campaign.

We are doomed! I kid you not. We are doomed!

Okay, I have to keep breathing and stay calm. Maybe I can find some more information on the current homepage of the onehundredmonths-campaign? There might be some reasonable explanation of what has happened. This is the current homepage:

No explanation there.

Then over to the “100 months”-directory at the New Economic Foundation, the same place where also the Technical note resided. Maybe some explanation would be available there. This is what happens when I go to that page:

Ooops. Gone. I start to spot a pattern here.

What about the twitter account of the campaign? Last post is dated February 4, 2013.

Sigh.

Simms also has a Twitter account. Me, blessed with an evil mind, went looking for posts specifically at the end of November 2016 and beginning December 2016. There are posts on Brexit, Trump, the Austrian politics, the Amazon rain forest, energy and so on. But for some reason not a peep about that deadline that passed.

His personal twitter account and the campaign facebook account are also amazingly tame for someone realizing that we may already be well past the point of “irreversible climate change”…

A leopard doesn’t change its spots. When I went back to that “100 months to save the world” Guardian blog, I noticed that the last post was dated December 22, 2016. Just after that supposed tipping point was passed. The post is titled What can a medieval climate crisis teach us about modern-day warming? It is a rather confusing read. The onehundredmonths-campaign is also mentioned:

The next in this particular series of articles will be the last. It began 100 months ago with the objective of charting action in a crucial period to address potentially catastrophic climate change.

Strange, no article was posted since December 22, 2016. Maybe it is on its way?

Then the moment supreme:

Back then, we proposed that with conservative estimates, this was the period of time before it was no longer “likely” that we would stay below a temperature rise of 2C. For the last of the series I will be asking a range of people what our chances are now, and what it will take to stay the right side of that line, and go further to meet the Paris commitment of keeping to a maximum 1.5C rise.

Huh? He proposes a new goal post (1.5 °C) and glosses over the fact that his old goal post (2 °C) wasn’t reached yet. Wasn’t there a deadline that was crossed at the actual moment he published these words? According to his original post that he linked to, we should stay below 2°C to avoid disaster/tipping point/runaway climate change and this is obviously not the case. So shifting the goal post to 1.5 °C is a meaningless move, yet a brilliant diversion. It suggests that a 2 °C rise is averted and we could now evolve to a 1.5 °C rise. He would be a good politician.

Maybe he didn’t know that we the current Paris agreement isn’t going to limit to 2 °C, let alone 1.5 °C? Not so, he has a new booklet/pamphlet ready (article published July 2018): How did we do that? The possibility of a rapid transition. It is a collection of inspirational stories of how we did transitions in the past, so we can do that now too.

Here he explains the Paris Agreement in detail (my emphasis):

The latest international agreement on climate change signed in Paris in 2015 proved far more ambitious than many had expected, aiming to hold global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, and at least “well below 2°C”. But even 2°C requires emissions reductions well beyond what many climate scientists, economists, NGOs and commentators believe is likely on current trends, or judge as economically viable. Current national pledges leave us on course for warming of up to 3.4°C, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and only then if fully delivered. UNEP says they ‘will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster’.

Yet another deadline for avoiding disaster. But most importantly, he definitely knows that limiting to a 2 °C rise is currently not feasible (not even close). He also should realize that these hundred months are over (already 20 months at the moment he proposes the booklet/pamphlet), but somehow he seems to fail to reach a conclusion from that.

Now what are the consequences if we don’t do that rapid transition (my emphasis):

It points to the need for uncommon actions, transformation and rapid transition. Not just in response to the threat of climate change, but to other, often closely related, crises in food systems, forest and marine ecosystems and stresses to water and biodiversity that further imperil us.

Even more crises…

We are doomed! I kid you not. We are doomed!

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7 thoughts on “We are doomed!

  1. manicbeancounter

    I like to look at how the calculation of 2C of warming is calculated.
    From a Skeptical Science post by Dana1981 “Pre-1940 Warming Causes and Logic” I obtained a simple equation.

    ΔTCO2 = λΔF = λ x 5.35 x ln(BCO2/ACO2)
    Where A = CO2 level in year A, and B = CO2 level in year B.
    I use λ = .809, so that if B = 2A, ΔTCO2 = 3.00

    Pre-industrial levels CO2 levels were 280ppm. 3C of warming is twice that, and 2C of warming is when CO2 levels reach 444 ppm. From the Mauna Loa CO2 data, average CO2 was 386 ppm in 2008 and 404 ppm in 2016. Nowhere near?
    What about the other greenhouse gases? The IPCC AR5 based its calculations on 2011 when CO2 levels were 390 ppm. The AR5 WG3 SPM (pdf) states in the last sentence on page 8

    For comparison, the CO2-eq concentration in 2011 is estimated to be 430 ppm

    Given the assumptions prediction of 2C of warming being surpassed in late 2016 was correct. It just takes an inordinately long time for the actual warming to reveal itself. To be accurate one has to assume that 100% of the warming since around 1800 is due to the increase in GHG levels, something that the Sks article contradicts. Problem is that by this calculation the 1.5C warming threshold was breached sometime in the 1990s. But if I quote the full sentence, more is revealed.

    For comparison, the CO2-eq concentration in 2011 is estimated to be 430 ppm (uncertainty range 340 to 520 ppm)

    There is still plenty of wriggle-room to claim the 1.5C threshold has not been passed. Just change the assumptions and the forecast will still fit.

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    1. trustyetverify Post author

      Interesting analysis! There seems to be still a lot of wiggle room to reach the 1.5 threshold.

      However, I don’t think that is the issue here.

      1. Simms started an emotional campaign of “100 months to save the climate” (the projected global temperature should be kept below a 2 °C rise)
      2. he engaged himself finding partners and convinced people to spread the word
      3. at the end of the 100 months period, it became abundantly clear that projected temperature increase would not stay below 2 °C (and even projected to be 3.4 °C). He was aware of this since he wrote about it
      4. he abandoned the campaign and instead of admitting that the campaign failed, he doubled down, went quiet about the failed 2 °C prediction and proposed a new threshold. Even when the new threshold was absurd since the 1.5 °C threshold can not be reached before first the 2 °C threshold would be reached, which isn’t the case looking at the current trajectory

      So Simms didn’t reached for the 1.5 °C threshold because there was still wiggle room to reach it, but he wanted to proceed despite the failed campaign.
      He didn’t have much other choices. If he continues to pursue the 2 °C goal (or even loosen it to for example 3 °C), then he had answer for his previous statement “we only have 100 months to save the climate”. Then he had to admit that the campaign failed or that the his previous 2 °C threshold was unrealistic. The only way forward is to forget about the previous goal and adopt a tighter threshold and/or to up the ante. That is what he did and it allowed him to go forward.

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      1. manicbeancounter

        You have make some considered comments here. I do however think that Andrew Simms is just following the consensus rather than trying to save face. I noticed than in IPCC AR5 and beyond there were some new or changed assumptions that Simms has fallen in line with.
        1. Before 2013, warming included the effect of other GHGs like methane. After they were netted off against the cooling effect of aerosols.
        2. Before AR5 warming was on the full climate sensitivity being reached. After it was on warming to 2100, with full ECS taking a 100 years or more to be reached.
        3. In AR5 2C of warming scenarios were based on emissions going to zero and then negative.
        But I still cannot understand how the 1.5C warming can be reached given the assumptions made.
        My post on the pingback below is nearly 4000 words, but is broken down into a number of sections.

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        1. trustyetverify Post author

          The change of assumptions by the IPCC is an interesting find. It is possible that he got inspired by these changing assumptions of the IPCC, but I didn’t see him make that connection. The only explanation that I found why he went from a 2 °C increase threshold to a 1.5 °C threshold is the very ambiguous explanation in the “What can a medieval climate crisis teach us about modern-day warming?” article:

          Back then, we proposed that with conservative estimates, this was the period of time before it was no longer “likely” that we would stay below a temperature rise of 2C. For the last of the series I will be asking a range of people what our chances are now, and what it will take to stay the right side of that line, and go further to meet the Paris commitment of keeping to a maximum 1.5C rise.

          It makes me think that he followed the announcement at the Paris agreement of trying to pursue a 1.5 °C limit and this gave him the opportunity to justify the shift from one (not reached) goal to another (even stricter) goal.
          The point of my post then is that it is a meaningless gesture to aim for a 1.5 °C increase when he knew from his own experience that a 2 °C increase is currently not achievable and even was aware that an increase of 3.4 °C is expected when looking at the pledges of the Paris agreement. Basically, glossing over the failed prediction and adopting the new goal allowed him to keep the momentum going. If the truth would be communicated, chances are that the public gets discouraged.

          There is also the rebranding of the Paris Agreement as being about limiting the increase to 1.5 °C, withholding the information that the pledges will lead to a 3+ °C. This is not an isolated case. I see it happening more and more in climate communication. Probably used for the same reason.

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  2. Pingback: Why can’t I reconcile the emissions to achieve 1.5C or 2C of Warming? | ManicBeancounter

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