Climate Feedback

A simple climate model to the rescue

Robert Corell, chairman of the Washington-based Climate Action Initiative, recently illustrated the appeal of a remarkably simple modelling tool by giving reporters a direct answer to a difficult question: What is the impact of the international climate commitments announced thus far? Citing results from C-ROADS (for Climate Rapid Overview and Decision-support Simulator), Corell suggested that we are headed toward warming of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Corell was speaking at a news conference held by the United Nations Environment Programme to release a compendium of the research that has come out since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its fourth assessment in 2007. It’s a useful contribution to the dialogue, but reporters, like politicians, are often looking for simple answers.

The predictable result was media coverage suggesting that the UNEP report found that current commitments are vastly insufficient to solve the problem. Technically true, perhaps, but the results from this particular model are just a tiny part of the larger compendium, which hardly got a mention. In effect, Corell accidentally hijacked the news conference.

We decided to take a look at the model itself, and the result came out in this week’s issue of Nature. It turns out that this tool, which we first encountered at a global warming war game last year, has gone viral in the admittedly small world of international climate negotiators.

One place where the model isn’t being rolled out, at least not publicly, is at the US Capitol. Indeed, the global warming debate there seems oddly disconnected from global warming itself. When US Senator John Kerry stepped up to the podium to discuss the newly released climate bill on Capitol Hill Wednesday, he summed up the situation in one word: security.

“Economic security. Energy security. National security.”

Climate security? Sure, there’s that too, but Democrats are now making their pitch to a different audience that is at least as concerned about the jobs, fuel bills and troops deployed overseas. The first people at this press conference to go into details about what global warming actually means – including rising seas, droughts and volatile weather – were soldiers. Representatives of all of the major environmental organizations were present, but they were not at the podium.

Not new, of course, but it does say something important about the selling power of global warming in the United States. Democrats know they have the votes from environmentalists, but that’s not enough. The question now is whether they can make an alternate case for action. For an update on the current state of play, check Nature’s latest online new briefing.

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    John Paily said:

    Earth and its environment are vital to life and its existence. But our knowledge of the environment is wanting. There is a huge cry about carbon emission and global warming. Just as human body maintains its temperature, earth is designed to maintain her temperature. Every life on earth works to help nature maintain her temperature and sustain life. The only exception is human being. We humans out of ignorance of truth of nature, has been unilaterally increasing the temperature of earth and interfering into earth functioning to maintain her equilibrium. Consequently temperature of earth is increasing at alarming rate. A temperature increase invariably means disorder in the enclosed system increases. We are experiencing the misbalanced nature in the form increased natural catastrophes. The only way for humanity to survive is to know the Truth of Nature and yield to it.

    When we speak of climatic models, we fail to take to note that it is energy cycle of nature in which we exist. The earth and its energy cycle have two simultaneously coexisting phases. When west awakes to sunlight and goes into disorder, the east sleeps to darkness and goes into order. These cycles and its working is the secret behind nature and its existence. All the problems of the world could be linked to breaking up this time or energy cycle. Modern world needs to review the very foundation on which it exist and functions. One must underline that it lacks the truth of nature, its interrelationship and oneness and its functioning. If the world has survive it has advance to know the truth of nature.

    More about nature and its functioning from quantum particulate level is written in the site “awakening to truth” http://sites.google.com/site/awakeningtotruth

Comments are closed.