back to article UK climate expert warns of 3-5 degree warmer world by 2100

The current goals for limiting climate change to a two-degree rise in global temperatures will not be met, and the planet should prepare for twice that rise in temperature and maybe more according to Sir Robert Watson, former head of the IPCC and former Chief Scientific Adviser for the UK's Department for Environment, Food and …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Mushroom

The other elephant...

"I find it very hard to believe that we'd have an efficient low-carbon system without carbon-capture storage and/or nuclear power," he said.

Is carbon-capture storage actually possible on any real scale?

Bring on the nooclar! But here is the other elephant: nooclar has had some, shall we say, bad press.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: The other elephant...

Why shouldn't carbon capture be possible? A lot of the carbon comes from large fixed sources like power plants, where the carbon leaves via the smoke stack. You can't capture the carbon from the tailpipes of all the cars, but electric cars are certainly feasible and even if their electricity comes from a coal burning plant its carbon can be captured far more easily than from the tailpipes of a half billion cars.

The problem is that no one ON EITHER SIDE really wants to do it because it is a middle of the road solution which pleases no one. The oil/coal/electrical industry thinks it goes too far and is too expensive, with some believing regulation already went too far with the Clean Air Act 45 years ago. The greens think it doesn't go far enough as it doesn't force greater use of renewable energy, and some of them wouldn't be satisfied until everyone is using a bicycle for transportation and taking cold showers.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: The other elephant...

IANAScientist but this carbon capture thing just doesn't make sense to me. The carbon leaving the coal power station via the smokestack is not just lumps of solid carbon: it's chemically bound up in CO2 gas. The thing about gas is that it takes up a lot of room: too much to be able to hide it under the carpet. This means we'd need to chemically change it somehow into some other form eg a solid, and that would mean un-oxidising the carbon: this is going to take a lot of energy... my guess is that it would take approximately the same amount of energy as we got out when we oxidised the coal in the first place, plus extra to cover inefficiencies in the system... doh! See? It just doesn't add up (to me at least). I'll be very happy if someone cleverer than me (I've set the bar pretty low there) comes along and explains a way that carbon capture can work for real.

3
0

Re: The other elephant...

I think you're being slightly harsh on yourself. It is basically a problem of scale. There's nothing fundamentally complicated about cleaning the gas in smokestacks to get pure-ish CO2 and then compressing it and doing "something" with it. The same process - and similar processes for other waste gases - is already done. It's a solved problem. But the scale required to make an impression on global power generation is altogether bigger. It's an engineering and financing problem rather than a scientific problem.

The only place you've stumbled is in your guesstimate about the energy cost of doing it. It obviously will increase the cost per unit of energy production. But even the very worst estimates don't get anywhere near a negative output. But then ... nobody has actually attempted this at the scales required so the estimates are just estimates.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The other elephant...

What about the other report out last week that said global temperature's stopped rising 12 years ago, and haven't budged since.

Climate fanatics seemed to forget that one.

6
6

Re: The other elephant...

@ Martin Budden

Carbon capture isn't theory: It's practiced in Industry and has been for some time. Not on the scale needed at a power plant, but it works.

The principle is to capture the CO2 in the flume, before it is allowed to expand/escape into the atmosphere. This is currently the most efficient way to capture and filter CO2 available. There are alternatives, such as filtering the air (inefficient) or by removing CO2 before combustion (Take out the carbon leaving hydrogen which is then burned, forming H2O (another greenhouse gas, but one that scientists aren't worried about)).

What to do with it when it's captured is another matter. CO2 has uses, but inevitably it is released into the atmosphere. What is being discussed is how to store it long term, or how to turn it into something useful that doesn't escape into the atmosphere.

Google it: There's quite a bit out there on it.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: The other elephant...

"Bring on the nooclar! But here is the other elephant: nooclar has had some, shall we say, bad press."

Not so much nuclear in general with the bad press, rather just nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion on the other hand, should it ever function economically at a commercial scale, will get fantastic press coverage by all except for the most ardent of wind farm greenies.

1
0
Silver badge

@AC 13:00

You mean the one LP highlighted? Pretty much any study LP mentions is deeply flawed or plain vested interest lies unless Lewis just takes a single phrase out of context out of the study. If he quotes the whole study it won't take very much time at all to find the study has already been shredded by peer review.

1
2
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: @AC 13:00

Carbon-capture is extremely feasible. The plant you need to accomplish it is called, er, a plant. Every year the atmospheric CO2 concentration cycles by about 15ppm (average concentration is now 380ppm). This is because the mass of deciduous vegetation in the Northern hemisphere is greater than that in the Southern hemisphere. This tells you that if we could prevent all decay of fallen leaves, we would probably remove all CO2 from the atmosphere in less than 20 years! (Not, of course, a good idea to go this far).

So: genetically engineer or breed a common crop plant to grow more root than it needs, and to surround parts of its roots with something that will protect the root from decay for a long time after the plant dies (ie, is harvested). Interestingly, Wheat naturally does this to some extent. Its roots excrete tiny silica nodules, and the root inside the nodule does not decay for millennia. Some varieties of wheat do it much more than others. To start with, grow only those varieties. Selective breeding may well further increase the effect 10, even 100-fold. (Think of how we've shrunk a wolf into a Yorkshire terrier). GM might do a lot better still.

Or we could coppice lots of forest, and instead of burning the biomass for power, process it into a form of cellulose that's highly resistant to microbial attack and dump it into a deep ocean trench (from where nature will subduct it into the Earth's core). Such a form (nanocrystalline cellulose) does exist, and in fact has a lot of promise as a replacement for oil-based plastics.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: ...by removing CO2 before combustion...

Me thinks if one removes the C before combusting oil, gas, or especially coal, one has pretty much lost the point of the exercise.

0
0
Silver badge

Carbon Neutral

No energy generation is carbon neutral. You expend energy mining, manufacturing and transporting solar cells before they produce any energy. Same for every energy source.

Therefore the answer is not reducing energy use or so called "green energy" but carbon negative ventures offsetting the carbon being put out. Nuclear, solar and wind will reduce the amount going out but it's still going out.

0
7
Silver badge

Re: Carbon Neutral

Actually there are forms of energy generation that are carbon neutral. For example: Grow a tree, break off some twigs, let them dry out, rub them together really fast while blowing on them, and hey presto you have a fire which you can use to make a cup of tea. Later on when you fancy another cuppa: grow another tree... OK I never said it was practical.

Seriously though, burning waste biomass for electricity generation instead of just letting it rot is actually a carbon negative way of generating electricity. This is already being done with waste biomass from growing cane sugar. The lifetime energy output exceeds the up-front energy investment needed to build the furnace & generator, hence carbon negative.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Carbon Neutral

Please can we use the term "Resource", rather than "Waste". Yet, so much of this resource goes to waste, so there you are. Nearly all the by-products resulting from biological or material consumption processes can be seen as a resource, as bio-mass or in material recycling. Whilst we all need to be thinking broadly about our energy provision and consumption, I advocate greater efforts to capture this resource. I'm not really looking forward to carefully separating out 100% of my unused food for collection and bio-digestion, but I will bloody well do it if I am guaranteed it will generate some more carbon-neutral energy and perhaps reduce the appalling amounts of chemical fertilizer that we tip onto the land etc. Same goes for all the paper, glass and metal that I already diligently recycle. I'm not convinced this resource is being re-used to the max. This goes hand in hand with minimizing unused food of course.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Carbon Neutral

How do you harvest and get the waste do you get the biomass to the generating station ?

Using the internal combustion engine !

When will bearded, flip flop wearing lefties get it into their heads that the planet is 10x overpopulated to sustain our current resource use. No matter how many mud huts and bio toilets we use there are just too many of us.

0
3
Silver badge
Pirate

Too many of us?

Well volunteered! First suicide booth on the right, please. Oh, and remember to tick the box marked "Please use my body as bio-fuel after my death."

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Carbon Neutral

"How do you harvest and get the waste do you get the biomass to the generating station ?"

Whats the generating station made of? Recycled timber? No concrete and steel.

Ok growing a tree and burning could be neutral but only if we're living in said tree and didn't have to transport said wood so unless we're going back to living in trees it's not viable.

I'm sick to death of the city dwelling lefties who stick a solar cell on the roof and recycle their rubblish and then think they've saved the world and this entitles them to tell everyone how to live their lives.

News Flash! You've made SFA difference. Your solar cells used more energy mining, manufacturing and transporting them from China than they will ever return. When they don't work you switch back to coal/oil/gas/nuclear. Your recycled rubbish mostly gets dumped because it's cheaper to make stuff from new. Your protest protecting native forest has stopped selecting logging and has led to massive forestry monocultures of foreign species such as pine which poisons the soil so very little can grow to compete against it. You protest against wind farm blighting the scenery and dam blocking the waterways. You sit in McDonalds, drinking a "Fair Trade" latte and watching KONY 2012 on your iPad and think if everyone was like you, the world's problems would be solved.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Too many of us? @Red Bren

Tut tut, read your Thomas Malthus.

We are all DOOOOOOOOOMED.

That is of course unless you are super rich.

0
0

Or

Or, of course, it could be five degrees colder, and then we'd be really screwed. It's only conjecture, and one not even based on realistic assumptions. Just a minute, while I put some more coal on the fire.

10
8
Thumb Down

China has no targets as a developing country inside Kyoto. The USA has no intention to ratify it. Canada left the Kyoto protocol.

Yet the UK wants to try and heal the world of all its ills. We're a tiny island of little consequence in terms of CO2. Queue the news this week of the 'struggling' UK economy sending £2bn abroad to help fund questionable 'green' projects during a major recession.

Our government appears to have lost the ability of self preservation and is obsessed with wasting our finite resources on vanity projects with no benefits. That £2bn could have been spent on research within the UK.

17
4
Silver badge

Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

All these predictions have one fatal flaw: they make predictions based on the current state of the world and fail to recognise that people and technologies change all the time.

By 2050 Chinese will have all the aspirations of living in a clean world etc that westerners have now.

If the CO2/climate problems still stack up, the Chinese will be self moderating and will be putting huge effort into R&D.

It is absurd to think that the Chinese economy & industry will continue to grow at current rates forever. There are already signs of slowdown and signs that Chinese people want to have better environmental quality etc.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

Agreed, and the Chinese government is already making statements about climate change and has even started implementing a few policies, so your prediction about China becoming self-regulating is already becoming true. I get the feeling a lot of westerners don't realise how quickly China is advancing in many areas and assume China is still in the grips of the Cultural Revolution: it's not.

3
0

Re: Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

I somewhat agree, China is changing gradually. However I think these positive changes will only continue if their economy continues to grow. If they were to suffer from stagnation or unsatisfactory growth (which is considered to be less than 6% in China) then I would expect them to do whatever they feel is in their best interests to encourage growth.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

"All these predictions have one fatal flaw: they make predictions based on the current state of the world and fail to recognise that people and technologies change all the time."

And yet CO2 emissions globally have continued to rise for the last 150 years.

"It is absurd to think that the Chinese economy & industry will continue to grow at current rates forever."

Even if they don't that doesn't imply global emissions will stabilize or fall. You could have made the same argument 20 years ago about Europe and the US. Sure they stabilized, but China and India emerged to take up the slack. So globally CO2 emissions continued to rise. Now when China and India stabilize how sure are you that some other countries won't take up the slack? There's a lot of potential for emission growth in South America and Africa.

Also stabilizing global CO2 emissions is not enough. CO2 keeps rising even if CO2 emissions stabilize, just as stabilizing the flow rate of the tap keeps the water level in the bath rising.

3
4
Thumb Down

Re: Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

The fact that China is considered a developing nation and has no targets is exactly the problem. Self regulation won't help either - even if China (and India - look at their curve starting to go exponential...) stabilizes at per-capita CO2 levels similar to Europe, there are so many of them that they will dwarf the US and EU combined.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Long before 2100, China will be a first world nation

"By 2050 Chinese will have all the aspirations of living in a clean world etc that westerners have now."

And by then the Chinese will but their cheap shit from Africa or such despodic cellpool where you can pollute as much as you want and exploit the workers.

You've move the pollution. Problem not solved

1
1
Meh

Forgive me for not giving a rat's ar$e about this as I've just struggled to work in sub-zero temperatures and I sit at my desk shivering.

9
10
Anonymous Coward

err...

Try this mantra to warm you up:

Weather is not climate.

Weather is not climate.

Weather is not climate.

Weather is not climate.

8
3

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge
Big Brother

Winter ...

I had to hack my way through the snow yesterday

0
0
Anonymous Coward

ahem...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQlHaGhYoF0

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: ahem...

Or try this one:

A hurricane hitting New York is not climate

A hurricane hitting New York is not climate

A hurricane hitting New York is not climate

A hurricane hitting New York is not climate

2
0
Silver badge

Necessity is the Mother of all invention

The human being is capable of adapting to an extraordinary range of environments. There coukd possibly be some flooding and raising/lowering of the seas etc but knowing mankind we will simply become a little more creative and continue to survive as we have always done.

Will there be some losses, changes, destruction, of course there will but that just means we will have to get our fingers out and find new solutions......it's never stopped in the past...

Nature has a been evolving for quite a few years already and mankind evolving along with it. We are actually quite well versed in the rules of this game.

Its the usual syndrome of "PANIC, FEAR and DOOM". Capitilistic society can't allow for changes to be made, the few that have it all would risk losing some of their unusuable fortunes.......

3
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: Necessity is the Mother of all invention

Most of the worlds population lives near the sea, moving would be rather inconvenient, to say the least.

Also: We may be able to adapt to the physical changes, but if the food chain gets knackered by those changes, we're adapted, but starving which isn't much consolation.

1
2
Silver badge
Devil

Re: Necessity is the Mother of all invention

> Capitilistic society can't allow for changes to be made, the few that have it all would risk losing some of their unusuable fortunes.......

You have it ass backwards.

Capitalist society is the only one for which changes can be made. Whether some are rich is irrelevant.

Highly structured Oligarchist or Socialist societes, however, demand the status quo or change by central command. See how many people had to be offed in the Soviet Union or how much knowledge and life was lost during the so-called "Cultural Revolution", I would say only Greens of the more rabid sort would be into that.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

fortwivce ?

what is that supposed to mean? Only reference to it in Google is in this article. For none native English readers this is a tough one to figure out if it is indeed just a spelling error.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: fortwivce ?

sorry - none = non-native

0
0
Silver badge

Re: fortwivce ?

For 'fortwivce' read 'for twice'.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: fortwivce ?

Thanks, I thought it was some kind of English fort-whatever word like 'fortnight' that was spelled wrong, now the whole sentence makes more sense.

0
0

Re: fortwivce ?

It's meant to be two words - "for twice". Lots of typos in that piece. Did someone write it on a phone or something?

0
0
(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: fortwivce ?

It's Christmas party-time. These things happen. Hit the corrections button, please, if you spot any more.

C.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I'll be dead by then...

...bring me something I can care about.

2
8
Silver badge

Re: I'll be dead by then...

I take it you have no kids then.

0
0

Shirley

If CO2 causes global warming, why has the globe not got any warmer since 1998 even though emissions have increased every year since then?

CO2 emissions hit a new record this year. Meanwhile, the global temperature dropped this year and the year before.

9
9
FAIL

Re: Shirley not that meme again

You can easily cherry pick other periods since 1970 which show no apparent warming, yet global temperatures continue to increase, as this graph demonstrates:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/SkepticsvRealists_500.gif

6
3
FAIL

Re: Shirley not that meme again

OK, so you take a look at the global temperature graph http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/nhshgl.gif and feel free to cherry pick any dates you want and show me any time where we've had a rate of 3 degrees rise/century. Please let us sceptics know how many more decades of data we have to collect before we can all agree that these alarmist predictions (from models) just don't match up with real data (from thermometers).

9
3
Silver badge

Re: Shirley not that meme again

100. Obviously you have to wait 100 years if you want to disprove 3C warming in 100 years.

Trying to call it now using current rates of warming is unreliable.

1
5

Re: Shirley not that meme again

I said a rate of 3 degrees per century. Is that a concept too complicated for you? When you're driving a car I guess you have absolutely no idea what speed you're going until you have driven for an hour? Please re-read my post but substitute 0.3 degrees per decade in instead. Sigh....

4
3
Silver badge

Re: Shirley not that meme again

No-one predicts we should see 0.3 degrees per decade yet.

The models show about 0.2 degrees per decade, on average. Higher rates of warming are only predicted if GHGs keep rising.

4
4

Re: Shirley not that meme again

Well those models are looking a bit rubbish then aren't they! Why is the rate falling not rising? (Don't tell me the time scale is too short because you've only got 2 decades where the graph actually fits the model)

4
2
Silver badge

Re: Shirley not that meme again

Warming since 1970 is 0.164 +- 0.032C

Warming since 1998 is 0.04 +- 0.143C

There's no statistically significant slowdown there.

3
2

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums