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Forecast Uncertain at Copenhagen Conference’s End

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Posted on Dec 18, 2009
polar bears

Whither the bears? Things weren’t looking so great as the Copenhagen climate summit drew to an end.

The world leaders who showed up for the final stretch of the Copenhagen climate summit, perhaps assuming that their lesser representatives would have paved the way for a relatively easy finale, were in for some long hours and tough talks lasting into the night. Things didn’t go as planned, it seems, and rifts between countries weren’t being resolved in time Friday to strike the deals they sorely needed to make.  —KA

Update: The New York Times has filed this report, describing some drama that went down Friday, as well as the pared-down agreement that the assembled leaders eventually reached.

The Guardian:

Enter Barack Obama. All week long, negotiators at the Copenhagen summit have been expressing hope that Obama would harness his personal charm and his authority as leader of the world’s biggest economy to ease the divisions between rich and poor, and old and new superpowers, and come to a deal.

Air Force One touched down in Copenhagen at around 9am yesterday morning, and Obama immediately went into a huddle with 18 other world leaders. But there was one significant absence. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, sent his vice minister for foreign affairs, He Yafei, in his place.

Amid the sense of rising dread, the United Nations machinery moved ahead, opening the gathering of world leaders which was supposed to be a showcase for a global action plan to keep the world from warming beyond 2C.

The air of desperation was almost palpable. “I implore you,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN-general, pleading with world leaders to find a way out of the chaos. Exercise your conscience, he said. You hold the fate of future generations in your hands. “It will be your legacy for all time.”

But the leaders seemed incapable of thinking of the global good. Instead, the second fissure of this summit - China versus the industrialised countries - opened up even further.

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My3Cats's avatar

By My3Cats, December 19, 2009 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad saner voices have made themselves heard. Wildflower, Ouroborus, etal., thank you.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, December 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

US position at Copenhagen: It looks like the world is
going to hell so we’ve decided we’re just going to let
her go.  However, we do intend to get all you folks
some nice hand baskets.

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By wildflower, December 19, 2009 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

RE C.Curtis.Dillon: “That’s OK, you guys.”

You’ve stated it well, C.Curtis.Dillon.  Must admit this is the first time I’ve heard The “It Will Make Things Better” argument. I’ll have to add it to the list:

It’s too expensive to save the planet.
It’s takes too much time and effort to stop global warming.
Hey, those scientists aren’t the bosses of me.
Not happening in my lifetime, so what do I care.
If I can’t see it, hear it, smell it, then, it doesn’t exist.
Old King Coal, Father EXXON and FOX News know best.
Global warming will make things for better for us all.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, December 19, 2009 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

Jesus fucking Christ; Copenhagen ended with the U.S.,
China, Brazil, and every “leading” economy telling
the rest (the majority) of the world to fuck itself!
So, we’re going to just go on as we have been and
screw everybody else.
The irony is; we’ve just signed our own death warrant!
Can we bend over and kiss our own asses goodbye? Can
or cannot; it’s a done deal.
Can you picture an alien race landing on the future
earth (devoid of humans) and scouring records of our
history in the ruins of our civilizations and shaking
their heads at our blatant stupidity?
If you can’t then your too stupid to understand!

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, December 19, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

If energy is at a minimum and gasoline is running out, shouldn’t exorbitant Christmas lighting by cities and individual homes “shows of lights” that squanders energy be a thing of the past?  Is the energy crisis only a crisis for Back Street’s Populace? or what?

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, December 19, 2009 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

The title of this article is an oxymoron. Perhaps this reveals that Truthdig is actually The Weather Channel?

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, December 19, 2009 at 3:50 am Link to this comment

That’s OK, you guys.  It looks like your political allies are going to cover your ass by doing nothing of significance about global warming anyway.  The science behind all the predictions means nothing compared to profits and corporate greed.  Count on the political leaders of the world to do essentially nothing but generate cover for their economic buddies.  So it really matters little whether global warming is real or not.  We will face the future, whatever it may be, with no meaningful action.  Only I suggest those of you who are religious start praying real hard that CO2 and global warming are a hoax.  If not, hell on earth is a real possibility.

As for the crap about warming being good ... ask someone who is from a place which is already hot about the prospects of things getting even warmer.  Ask someone from a low-lying island or country how they feel about the water continuing to rise even higher than it already has.  And ask one of the billions ... with a “b” ... what they think about warming and their primary source of water, glaciers, disappearing.  I would suggest you know not what you suggest when making comments like that.  Instead of mindlessly mouthing the crap being shoveled by those who are benefiting from burning fossil fuel, how about doing some simple research and reading before you stick your foot in it.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, December 18, 2009 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There’s even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half. Overall, the risk of sea-level rise from global warming is less at almost any given location than that from other causes, such as tectonic motions of the earth’s surface.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes down—not up—the more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature rise—a dubious proposition—future increases wouldn’t be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Indeed, one overlooked mystery is why temperatures are not already higher. Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world’s average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees. The important thing about doubled CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas) is its “forcing”—its contribution to warming. At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn’t been uniform—warming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don’t explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn’t account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Niño and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.

Is there any point in pretending that CO2 increases will be catastrophic? Or could they be modest and on balance beneficial? India has warmed during the second half of the 20th century, and agricultural output has increased greatly. Infectious diseases like malaria are a matter not so much of temperature as poverty and public-health policies (like eliminating DDT). Exposure to cold is generally found to be both more dangerous and less comfortable.

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My3Cats's avatar

By My3Cats, December 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Interesting . . . I ask for evidence so that I can examine and reflect on it. Then Big B assumes that I’m “the dim american (sic) public….” It’s fascinating to me that when one asks a question, another assumes that the questioner is a wildcats (sic) ass or a noodle… or ...

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By Big B, December 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

Blackspeare, you are attempting to inform the dim american public that global warming can, and has in the past, caused ice ages.

You would sooner stuff a wet noodle up a wildcats ass. But you would probably have more success with the noodle.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, December 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

Starcats——do I detect an air of skepticism?  You really should question why the USEPA has refused to release it’s world temperature data collected from numerous satellite sensors.  They are being sued under FOIA to release that data.  What are they afraid of——could it be that global warming is slowing as my data shows???  Nah, can’t be that——the US Gov’t/EPA would never do something so underhanded.

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My3Cats's avatar

By My3Cats, December 18, 2009 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

“There is evidence that the system has slowed by as much as 25-50% already.”

And where is this evidence? Links, sources, please.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, December 18, 2009 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Global warming will not go on forever. The earth has ways of cooling itself off such as the shutting down of what is known as the deep-sea conveyor or the Global Thermohaline circulation better known as the Gulf Stream. The gulf stream is surface water that is heated in the equatorial Atlantic ocean and heads north along the American eastern sea board as a river of very warm and salty sea water. Once this water reaches the north Atlantic around Greenland it cools and sinks due to the increased density of cooler water. This warm water flow is the reason why western Europe generally has fairly mild winters Once the water sinks it travels back towards the equator along the sea floor only to be heated again and the cycle continues. As Greenland’s ice sheet melts, the fresh water from Greenland’s glaciers pools on the ocean surface. Freshwater is not as dense as salt water. This freshwater on the surface of the north Atlantic slows the deep sea conveyor by obstructing the sinking of gulf stream water that has made it north and thus cooling begins.  There is evidence that the system has slowed by as much as 25-50% already. The deep-sea conveyor is a way of earth periodically cooling itself. When the Thermohaline conveyor stops an ice age begins.  As the ice age takes old, Greenland’s glaciers once again build up and allow the Gulf Stream to once again flow and the ice age comes to an end.  The length of time between Gulf Stream flows is the determining factor between a major or minor ice age.

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