[Marxism] Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Oct 8 10:11:19 MDT 2018


Dennis Brasky wrote

<https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html?module=inline>

"Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world 
economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the 
damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion. But while they conclude 
that it is technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to 
avoid 2.7 degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically 
unlikely. "

In full below, since behind pay wall. Fateful in the extreme, and 
information which is coming at us with increasing urgency, as is this 
from a widely-read capitalist policy journal, sent last week by Louis 
Proyect https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/12/why-growth-cant-be-green/. 
Given their access to information, even given their venality and 
capacity for denial, I have no doubt that those who sit in boardrooms 
and think tanks and seats of power are well-aware that capitalism is 
without vision and that the jig is up. They may run and take all of the 
common wealth that they can carry with them, and they may have become 
arrogant and blatant about it, but they cannot hide. We may perceive 
ourselves as at an inert stage, but we're also in a time of rapid change 
and great prospects. Rather than sitting paralyzed and hopeless with 
fear, I assure myself again that complete divestiture/extirpation of 
capitalism, a drastic turnaround to socialism, is possible and even 
probable and the only way to avoid that fate. I don't accept that we 
have created a monster that we no longer control. How could we simply 
slump in torpor over our collective stupidity and "concede that, 
although technically possible, it may be politically unlikely?" We don't 
really have the prescience or the hubris to draw that conclusion. As a 
species endowed with foresight, the capacity for eloquent, articulate 
communication and an astonishing history of accomplishment through 
collective action, standing on the shoulders of fantastic forebears, how 
can we not re-create our means of sustenance and re-join nature? Acting 
together, every by-god one of us is a potential hero.

Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040
By Coral Davenport
Oct. 7, 2018

INCHEON, South Korea — A landmark report from the United Nations’ 
scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the 
immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and 
says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at 
a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide 
world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and 
wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period 
well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

The report “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,” said Bill Hare, an 
author of previous I.P.C.C. reports and a physicist with Climate 
Analytic, a nonprofit organization. “We were not aware of this just a 
few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world 
leaders under the Paris agreement, the 2015 pact by nations to fight 
global warming.

The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the 
current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees 
Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, 
inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty. Previous 
work had focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were 
to rise by a larger number, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), 
because that was the threshold scientists previously considered for the 
most severe effects of climate change.

The new report, however, shows that many of those effects will come much 
sooner, at the 2.7-degree mark.

Why Half a Degree of Global Warming Is a Big Deal

It may sound small, but a half-degree of temperature change could lead 
to more dire consequences in a warming world, according to a sweeping 
new scientific assessment. Oct. 7, 2018

Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy 
within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage 
would come at a cost of $54 trillion. But while they conclude that it is 
technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to avoid 2.7 
degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically unlikely.

For instance, the report says that heavy taxes or prices on carbon 
dioxide emissions — perhaps as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 — would 
be required. But such a move would be almost politically impossible in 
the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest 
greenhouse gas emitter behind China. Lawmakers around the world, 
including in China, the European Union and California, have enacted 
carbon pricing programs.

President Trump, who has mocked the science of human-caused climate 
change, has vowed to increase the burning of coal and said he intends to 
withdraw from the Paris agreement. And on Sunday in Brazil, the world’s 
seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, voters appeared on track to 
elect a new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he also plans to 
withdraw from the accord.

The report was written and edited by 91 scientists from 40 countries who 
analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies. The Paris agreement set out 
to prevent warming of more than 3.6 degrees above preindustrial levels — 
long considered a threshold for the most severe social and economic 
damage from climate change. But the heads of small island nations, 
fearful of rising sea levels, had also asked scientists to examine the 
effects of 2.7 degrees of warming.

Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several 
decades in the future will arrive by 2040, and at the lower temperature, 
the report shows. “It’s telling us we need to reverse emissions trends 
and turn the world economy on a dime,” said Myles Allen, an Oxford 
University climate scientist and an author of the report.

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution 
must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent 
by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity 
source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 
7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 
20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as 
much as 67 percent.

“This report makes it clear: There is no way to mitigate climate change 
without getting rid of coal,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at 
Duke University and an author of the report. Image President Trump has 
vowed to increase the burning of coal and said he intends to withdraw 
from the Paris agreement.

The World Coal Association disputed the conclusion that stopping global 
warming calls for an end of coal use. In a statement, Katie Warrick, its 
interim chief executive, noted that forecasts from the International 
Energy Agency, a global analysis organization, “continue to see a role 
for coal for the foreseeable future.”

Ms. Warrick said her organization intends to campaign for governments to 
invest in carbon capture technology. Such technology, which is currently 
too expensive for commercial use, could allow coal to continue to be 
widely used.

Despite the controversial policy implications, the United States 
delegation joined more than 180 countries on Saturday in accepting the 
report’s summary for policymakers, while walking a delicate diplomatic 
line. A State Department statement said that “acceptance of this report 
by the panel does not imply endorsement by the United States of the 
specific findings or underlying contents of the report.”

The State Department delegation faced a conundrum. Refusing to approve 
the document would place the United States at odds with many nations and 
show it rejecting established academic science on the world stage. 
However, the delegation also represents a president who has rejected 
climate science and climate policy.

“We reiterate that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris 
agreement at the earliest opportunity absent the identification of terms 
that are better for the American people,” the statement said.

The report attempts to put a price tag on the effects of climate change. 
The estimated $54 trillion in damage from 2.7 degrees of warming would 
grow to $69 trillion if the world continues to warm by 3.6 degrees and 
beyond, the report found, although it does not specify the length of 
time represented by those costs.

The report concludes that the world is already more than halfway to the 
2.7-degree mark. Human activities have caused warming of about 1.8 
degrees since about the 1850s, the beginning of large-scale industrial 
coal burning, the report found. Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got 
Answers to Your Questions.

We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 
often-asked questions with some straightforward answers. Sept. 19, 2017

The United States is not alone in failing to reduce emissions enough to 
prevent the worst effects of climate change. The report concluded that 
the greenhouse gas reduction pledges put forth under the Paris agreement 
will not be enough to avoid 3.6 degrees of warming.

The report emphasizes the potential role of a tax on carbon dioxide 
emissions. “A price on carbon is central to prompt mitigation,” the 
report concludes. It estimates that to be effective, such a price would 
have to range from $135 to $5,500 per ton of carbon dioxide pollution in 
2030, and from $690 to $27,000 per ton by 2100.

By comparison, under the Obama administration, government economists 
estimated that an appropriate price on carbon would be in the range of 
$50 per ton. Under the Trump administration, that figure was lowered to 
about $7 per ton. Image The World Coal Association disputed the 
conclusion that stopping global warming calls for an end of coal use. 
CreditKevin Frayer/Getty Images

Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group funded by the 
libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch, has made a point of 
campaigning against politicians who support a carbon tax.

“Carbon taxes are political poison because they increase gas prices and 
electric rates,” said Myron Ebell, who heads the energy program at the 
Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry-funded Washington research 
organization, and who led the Trump administration’s transition at the 
Environmental Protection Agency.

The report details the economic damage expected should governments fail 
to enact policies to reduce emissions. The United States, it said, could 
lose roughly 1.2 percent of gross domestic product for every 1.8 degrees 
of warming. Image A wildfire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest in 
California last month. The new I.P.C.C. research found that wildfires 
are likely to worsen if steps are not taken to tame climate 
change.CreditNoah Berger/Associated Press

In addition, it said, the United States along with Bangladesh, China, 
Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam are home to 
50 million people who will be exposed to the effects of increased 
coastal flooding by 2040, if 2.7 degrees of warming occur.

At 3.6 degrees of warming, the report predicts a “disproportionately 
rapid evacuation” of people from the tropics. “In some parts of the 
world, national borders will become irrelevant,” said Aromar Revi, 
director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and an author of 
the report. “You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 
and one million people, but not 10 million.”

The report also finds that, in the likelihood that governments fail to 
avert 2.7 degrees of warming, another scenario is possible: The world 
could overshoot that target, heat up by more than 3.6 degrees, and then 
through a combination of lowering emissions and deploying carbon capture 
technology, bring the temperature back down below the 2.7-degree threshold.

In that scenario, some damage would be irreversible, the report found. 
All coral reefs would die. However, the sea ice that would disappear in 
the hotter scenario would return once temperatures had cooled off.

“For governments, the idea of overshooting the target but then coming 
back to it is attractive because then they don’t have to make such rapid 
changes,” Dr. Shindell said. “But it has a lot of disadvantages.”


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