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Global Warming and Climate Change is REAL: The 4th National Climate Assessment

ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.

Columbia Glacier - Before (2009) and After (2015)

It Is Worse Than We Thought!

The bottom line of the 4th National Climate Assessment, a report mandated by law, is that we can no longer prevent significant erosion of our way of life and spending many billions of dollars 1) repairing the damage and 2) preventing further damage. It, my readers, a done deal. While you, if you are my age, may not suffer the consequences, your children will. The challenge now is stopping if from getting even worse. But with idiots like Donald Trump in charge, it will get even worse.

In other hubs (which I need to update with this latest information) I provide proof of and an explanation for why global temperatures are increasing at an increasing rate. In this hub I will present the probable impact on America because of climate change based on the results of 4th National Climate Assessment.

Overview

To paraphrase a couple of sentences in the initial summaries: "The impacts of climate change are already being felt across the country and the world. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities." In other words, damage has already been done and more is going to happen regardless of what the world does in trying to mitigate it.

Economically speaking, the Assessment states that:

"Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century." (of which we are already 19 years into)

It is an interconnected world (regardless of Donald Trump's efforts to isolate America) which makes it more vulnerable to climate change. The report says:

"Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders."

The world, save America, if trying hard to fix things, but, according to the latest report, it isn't near enough. In America, our carbon footprint is actually growing for most of 2018 according to the DOE/EIA Monthly Energy Report. The U.S. Carbon Footprint HAD been falling dramatically for the previous 11 years. Again, from the Climate Assessment:

"While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades."

What is going to happen to our water under climate change? The 4th National Climate assessment suggests is will happen:

"The quality and quantity of :

available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment."

Next to consider is health. Not a great story here, either:

"Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable."

Then there are the America's and the world's ecosystems. The report says:

"Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable."

Agriculture will be the first major area to feel the impact of higher temperatures. In fact it already is as damage is mounting from the wild fires, extreme temperatures which already are reducing yields, violent weather, etc.

"Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on range lands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability."

Note, food security is already a major problem in the United States before climate change.

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After agriculture, our infrastructure is the next most vulnerable feature in America. And it is already crumbling. And, it is not going to stop, not for decades or more, even IF Congress finally decides to funds rebuilding it; that is already a given. From the report:

"Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being."

Specifically, our oceans are going to rise and they are not going to stop rising, that is what the informed opinion of hundreds of scientists after having been vetted by Trump appointed bureaucrats.

"Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values."

Finally, consider Recreation and Tourism. Kaput, for the most part!

"Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways."

So goes the the 4th National Climate Assessment's summary.

The Case for Human-Caused Global Warming

The science regarding whether humans are the cause of the current rapid rise in average global temperatures is settled - and the verdict is We Are!! So what is the problem, why isn't the world moving forward to try to prevent the undeniably devastating outcome if the world does nothing? Because those in power in the United States, from President Trump on down, don't believe in science, especially climate science.

Worse, they have actively reversed almost every measure Presidents Obama and Bush took to help reduce America's carbon footprint; an effort that was show much success.

The following charts clearly show what is driving the rise in global temperatures.

It should be clear to anyone that the annual increase in average global temperature anomaly (as measured by changes from the 1880 - 1910 baseline). In addition to simply increasing each year, it is obviously increasing at an increasing rate.1 Using the formula on the chart, in 1881, the temperature anomaly was increasing at rate of .00014 °C per year. Today, 139 years later, it is increasing at a rate of .01964 °C. That means temperature anomalies are accelerating at a rate of .00014 °C per year2. That is extremely alarming.

If this rate continues for another 80 years, to the end of the century, that means the global anomaly will be approximately +2.9 °C, well above the 2 °C threshold where scientists say irreversible damage to the earth's ecology and the human social structure.

I don't think anyone but the most die-hard global warming deniers does not think the world's temperature is rising at an alarming rate. But many deniers who admit, grudgingly, that the heat is increasing, deny vehemently that it is caused by humans, otherwise known as AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming. So what proof that humans are causing the current rise in temperatures?

Well, our study looked at just that question. The deniers claim that there are "other" causes for the changes we see - and they are right, sort of. The next two charts breaks down the changes in temperature anomalies into to groups; natural and human. The further broke those down into their constituent parts:

Natural Causes

  • Orbital Cycles
  • Volcanic
  • Solar

Human Causes

  • Greenhouse Gases (GHG)
  • Aerosols (from burning or similar activity)
  • Deforestation
  • Ozone

In there report, the authors offer an interactive graphic so that one can look at the results of their analysis in detail. I present just three of those charts 2. The first one looks at natural causes and the second at human causes.

The natural causes chart clearly shows that these variables do indeed contribute to global warming, but not by much. In fact, it is the combination of volcanic and solar that gives the slight upward tilt in the trend line. Orbital factors appear to be lowering the temperature a tiny amount. Clearly, Natural Causes cannot be why we see such a dramatic rise in global temperatures.

The elephant in the room then must be Human Causes, that is all that is left. And indeed it is, specifically GHGs. In addition, changes in ozone is also adding a little to an increase in temperature. On the other hand, the net effective of land use changes and aerosols are decreasing temperatures.

Land use is complicated. For instance, cities increase local temperatures as does deforestation. Irrigation, however, lowers local temperatures. Right now, the balance, the net effect, is to lower global temperatures overall. That won't last, unfortunately, as deforestation continues to grow (which has the added effect of not cleaning CO2 out of the air). Ironically, the burning of the forests like what has been happening in the Amazon effectively lowers local temperatures for the reason to follow. As it turns out, changes in ozone and land use roughly cancel one another out.

Aerosols naturally lower temperatures because they block the sun's energy and reflects it back up to space. Of course aerosols are no answer to global warming either because of how harmful they are to humans (think LA or Beijing smog). In year 2000, aerosols accounted for about -.42 °C, lowering global temperatures.

At the same time, in 2000, GHGs contribute about .89 °C, which makes them the elephant in the room.

The estimated net increase from all human drivers, in 2000, is .47 °C. Add the contribution from natural drivers, then the estimated anomaly in 2000 is roughly .83 °C. The observed is .61 °C3 (while in 2000, the observed is lower than the estimate, move over a couple of years and they become equal).

I hope there is now no doubt left in anybody's mind that 1) global temperatures are increasing and 2) humans are the primary driver.


1 The formula you see is for the curved trend line superimposed on the temperature anomaly curve. While you may not be able to read it, the formula for the trend line is a "power function"; in this case to the square. This means that the global average temperature is increasing as the square of the number of years from 1880 increases.

2 The charts are my approximation of what they have since I don't have access to the actual data. So, while the exact numbers are probably incorrect, the shape is pretty close; close enough to make my point.

3 Keep in mind the charts are in °F, not centigrade.

The Changing Climate

Global climate is changing rapidly. Global average temperature has increased by about 1.0°C from 1901 to 2016 (1.07°C by 2019, 1.5°C by 2034, 2°C by 2052). As you just learned, there is no credible natural explanations for this amount of warming except emissions of greenhouse gases. Natural solar (such as sunspots) and the orbital Milankovitch cycles have little impact. Most of that 1.0°C increase has occurred in the last 40 years. And as we also saw, this increase is accelerating.

A one degree increase may not sound like much until you consider the following:

  • In the last 10,000 years, where humanity has flourished, the temperature varied within a range of -0.35 °C and .03 °C
  • For the last 200,000 years, which encompasses the whole of human history, it has always been colder than it is today.
  • The last time the earth was more than 2 degrees above the 1880 - 1901 baseline AND where CO2 was 400 ppm or higher, human life could not have evolved.

Further, CO2 levels varied from 180 ppm to 300 ppm; it now stands at over 400 ppm, higher than it has been in millions of years. Even more scary, there is no end in sight!

1.07 Degrees Celsius

I stated that the increase in global temperatures is accelerating. As proof, consider:

  • From 1880 to 1960, the average global temperature increase at a rate of 0.0039 degrees C per year for 70 years.
  • From 1960 to 2000, the average increase was 0.009 degrees C per year, 2.25 fold increase in 40 years.
  • From 2000 to 2018, the average is now 0.022 degrees C per year, another 2.4 times increase in 18 years
  • The current rate of acceleration of temperature anomalies is approximately .0007 degrees C per year per year and it has taken on an exponential shape

Increased heat waves around the world have been predicted to increase as the earth heats up, and they are. Consider:

  • Between 1900 and 1980, the number of heat waves was flat at about 0.24 heat waves per year (meaning there were many years, and sometimes decades, where there were no recorded heat waves).
  • Between 1980 and 2000, the average jumped to 0.5 heat waves per year.
  • And now, between 2000 and 2020, it has skyrocketed to 2.9 heat waves per year!!!
  • The number of heat waves, like global temperature increases, is rising exponentially.

Consider the following table as well built from a graphic made by the Visual Capitalist.

Excerpts from the Visual Capitalist at https://www.visualcapitalist.com/stunning-graphic-earths-temperature-22,000-years/

YearDegrees Different from 1961 - 1990 Average °CApproximate Temperature °F (for our American readers)Comments

20,000 BCE

-4.3

49.8

- Boston under 1 mile of ice; glaciers stopped at NY City

19,500 - 18,000 BCE

-4.3 to -4.1

49.8 - 50.1

Earth slowly warms

19,500 BCE

-4.2

49.9

Humans begin to spread from Africa to Australia

18,500 BCE

-4.1

50.1

Earth's orbit changes allowing more sunlight at the poles

18,000 BCE

-4.1

50.1

Ice sheets start to melt and temperatures stop increasing

17,250 BCE

-4.05

50.2

CO2 levels start increasing

16,500 BCE

-4.0

50.3

Rate of temperature begins to increase

16,500 - 13,750 BCE

-4.0 to -3.0

50.3 - 52.1

Glaciers finally start retreating from NYC

13,500 BCE

-3.0

52.1

It took 4,000 to increase .3°C but only 2,500 years to increase 1°C

12,500 BCE

-2.0

53.9

Only 1,000 years pass for the next 1°C increase

12,200 BCE

-1.9

54.1

Ice sheets start withdrawing from Chicago

11,500 BCE

-1.6

54.6

Humans settle in Abe Hureyra (modern day Syria)

11,500 BCE

-1.6 to -2.0

54.6 - 53.9

Glacier melt cools the ocean which cools the air

9000 BCE

-1.0

55.7

Global temperatures increase another degree and farming develops for the first time

8800 BCE

0 (14.61°C)

57.5

Global temperatures reach the 1961-1990 baseline

8500 - 8300 BCE

0.2

57.9

Cattle domesticated and ice sheets withdraw to Canadian border

6250 BCE

0.5

58.4

Seas rise to modern levels

3100 BCE

0.5

58.4

Temperatures begin to decrease

1200 BCE

0

57.9

Temperatures level off

900 CE

0

57.9

Temperatures start decreasing again

1650 CE

-0.4

56.8

Little Ice Age then temperature begin to increase slightly

1750 - 1880 CE

-0.3

57.0

Industrial Revolution begins

1910 CE

-0.3

57.0

and CO2 level start to increase rapidly

1961 - 1990 CE

0

57.9

Baseline for this table

2000 CE

0.4

58.2

Northwest Passage opens for first time in history

2016 CE

0.8

58.9

Present day for the table

2019 CE

0.83

59.0

Today - a 0.83°C rise in less than 43 years!! (it use to take 1000s of years to increase that much)

2100 CE Low

1.2

60.0

Massive action now

2100 CE Medium

2.0

61.1

Optimistic Scenario

2100 CE Do Nothing

4.15

65.0

Status Quo

Deceptive Numbers

Now 65 °F (the status quo estimate by 2100) doesn't seem very hot, does it? Not until you compare it to this. The average temperature for the United States is just 58.7 °F1, which is roughly equal to today's global average.

Consider if you live in Miami and assuming you could find a dry spot (most of it will be under water), your summers might average 93°F for the highs, instead of the current 87°F. The lows might average 84°F, instead of the current 78°F. Those are heat wave temperatures and the difference is crucial.

The reason so many people die in heat waves (in the tens of thousands in the last big heat wave in Europe and Middle East) is it doesn't get cool enough at night for the body to lower its core temperature. At those temperatures, all outdoor work must stop and everybody will have to find air conditioned environments, especially at night, to survive. Under the status quo scenario, Miami will be experiencing a "permanent" heat wave during the Summer and periodic heat waves during the Spring and Fall.

1 If you average the average temperatures for Omaha, NE (51.7), Los Angeles, CA (66.2), Seattle, WA (52.6), and Portland, ME (46.3)

Emission Scenarios

The above scenario assumes governments react NOW with massive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not just stop its growth. Nobody thinks that will happen, especially in the age of Trump. But what are the possible outcomes?

The IPCC's 4th Assessment Report supposes four different responses (with a few variations) to AGW and then proposes likely outcomes. The table below outlines the four scenarios.

IPCC Emission Scenarios

IPCC AR4 (2007)

 Economic EmphasisEnvironmental Emphasis

Global Response

A1 (rapid economic growth; variants A1T, A1B, A1FI: possible outcomes 1.4°C - 6.4°C)

B1 (global environmental sustainability; possible outcomes 1.1°C - 2.9°C)

Regional Response

A2 (regional economic development; possible outcomes 2.0°C - 5.4°C)

B2 (regional environmental sustainability; possible outcomes 1.4°C - 3.8°C)

 

 

 

A1

These scenarios are of a more integrated world. The A1 family of scenarios are characterized by:

  • Rapid economic growth.
  • A global population that reaches 9 billion in 2050 and then gradually declines.
  • The quick spread of new and efficient technologies.
  • A convergent world - income and way of life converge between regions. Extensive social and cultural interactions worldwide.

There are subsets to the A1 family based on their technological emphasis:

  • A1FI - An emphasis on fossil-fuels (Fossil Intensive - the Trump plan).
  • A1B - A balanced emphasis on all energy sources.
  • A1T - Emphasis on non-fossil energy sources.

A2

This scenario are of a more divided world and are characterized by:

  • A world of independently operating, self-reliant nations.
  • Continuously increasing population.
  • Regionally oriented economic development.
  • Low emissions

B1

The B1 scenario is about more integrated world more integrated, and more ecologically friendly and is characterized by:

  • Rapid economic growth as in A1, but with rapid changes towards a service and information economy.
  • Population rising to 9 billion in 2050 and then declining as in A1.
  • Reductions in material intensity and the introduction of clean and resource efficient technologies.
  • An emphasis on global solutions to economic, social and environmental stability.

B2

This scenario is of a world more divided, but more ecologically friendly and is characterized by:

  • Continuously increasing population, but at a slower rate than in A2.
  • Emphasis on local rather than global solutions to economic, social and environmental stability.
  • Intermediate levels of economic development.
  • Less rapid and more fragmented technological change than in A1 and B1.

One Great Place to Find it All

Climate Impact In the Best Case Scenario - B1 (1.1°C - 2.9°C)

In 2014, it was predicted that in the best case scenario, B1, where the world makes a determined effort to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining rapid economic growth, that temperature increases will be limited to 1.1°C - 2.9°C above preindustrial levels. That is quite a range with catastrophic consequences at the upper end. But even at the lower end, damage is occurring. Worse, we are already passing by the 1 degree mark making breaking the 1.5°C threshold a certainty in 15 years (2034), if not sooner. Passing the mid-point of 1.8°C is only a decade later and the current projection for surpassing 2.0°C, where permanent, irreversible damage begins to occur, is in 32 years (2051). What are the chances of that? Over 95% (that was a 2017 estimate).

So what does it mean to live in a 1.1°C world? Well, you are living in it now. What we are seeing are (say, compared to 100 years ago):

  • Hurricanes have become stronger and develop more rapidly; Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian is the most recent example. In 1918, of the named storms, 65% are Tropical Storms, 23% were Cat 1 & 2, and 13% were Cat 3, 4, and 5. While in 2018, those percentages change to 66%, 18%, and 16%, respectively (based on 7 year moving average)
  • As warmer oceans lead to more higher volumes of atmospheric water vapor, violent weather has become more frequent. The frequency of tornadoes has increased from 492 tornadoes per year from 1950 - 1959 to 1184 tornadoes per year from 2010 to 2018 - a 241% increase!1
  • Covered earlier is the increased frequency of deadly heat waves. From 1900 to 1980, the number of heat waves was flat at about 0.24 heat waves per year. Boy, what a difference a couple of decades make! Between 2000 and 2020, the rate of heat waves has skyrocketed to 2.9 heat waves per year!!! AND, it is growing exponentially.
  • There are two things driving sea level rise today, 1) melting ice over Greenland and Antarctica and 2) a warmer ocean which makes it expand. The sea level rise from the mid-1800s on has been faster than the last 2,000 years. Between 1901 and 2010, it rose 0.19 meters or roughly 1.7 mm/yr. But, over the last decade or so, the rate of increase has doubled to around 3.4 mm per year; reflecting the rapid rise in temperatures and melting of sheet ice. Already, impacted towns have started to move to higher ground or, in a couple of cases, have already moved to get away from the encroaching sea.
  • Temperatures are increasing at least twice as fast at the poles than in the rest of the world. Because of this, the Greenland ice sheet, most of which is above the arctic circle, has just about reached the tipping point. It is now melting four-times faster than it had been just a few years ago. In the past, a phenomenon such as the North Atlantic Oscillation helped keep things stable by periodically reversing course. During positive cycles it cooled Greenland and ice could accumulate, in negative cycles it warms Greenland and melts the ice. The last reversal, the melting only "paused", there was no accumulation. Currently, the Greenland ice melt is contributing about 0.03 inches (0.8 mm) per year to sea level rise!

Then the worst case of the best case scenario is 2.9°C.

  • Atmospheric CO2 will pass 500 parts per million (ppm), which last happened 16 million years ago, and the temperature was between 5 and 8°C higher (13)2



1 This is a decrease from the periods 1990 - 1999 and 2000 - 2009 which were 1221 and 1288, respectively.

2 Numbers in parentheses are page numbers from The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells.

The Next Best Case Scenario - B2 (1.4°C - 3.8°C)

The difference between this case and the B1 scenario is that most nations go all in on trying to reduce CO2 in a hurry, i.e., regionalization. The world is not on this, or the previous path yet. Even if the rest of the world was, the United States, under Donald Trump, would force a B2 type of situation. Because Trump is actually reversing America's contribution to helping the environment, the temperature range should probably be shifted up.

As we saw in the discussion above, trying to keep temperatures below 1.4°C is essentially impossible. Likewise, the chances of keeping the increase to 2.0°C is almost impossible. So, what will happen when the earth scoots past 2.9°C and approaches 4.0°C?

  • Whole regions of America, Africa, Australia, and parts of South America (north of Patagonia) and Asia (south of Siberia) would be rendered uninhabitable by direct heat, desertification, and flooding. (6)
  • A green Sahara and tropical forests transformed into fire-dominated savannas (12)
  • 400 million people will suffer water scarcity (12)
  • Major cities in the equatorial band will become unlivable (12)
  • In the northern latitudes thousands will die each summer from heat waves; 32-times as many heat waves in India, each lasting 5-times as long, exposing 93-times as many people as today. (12)
  • There will be eight million more cases of dengue fever each year in Latin America and face an annual food crisis (13)
  • Damage from floods will grow 30-fold in Bangladesh, 20-fold in India, and 60-fold in the UK (13)
  • Deaths from heat will increase 9% (13)
  • Certain places will see six, simultaneous climate-driven natural disasters; globally the cost will exceed $600 trillion annually
  • Conflict and warfare might double
  • There will be permanent food shortages over much of the globe (15)
  • The Alps will be arid (15)

The Most Likely Scenario (If Trump Remains in Charge) - A2 (2.0°C - 5.4°C)

This conclusion is reached for two reasons. One is that Donald Trump is firmly opposed to doing anything that reeks of environmentalism; going so far as to reverse policies to help the environment. This automatically makes any solution a "regional" solution.

The other is that if America focuses on economics over lowering CO2, much of the world will have to follow, regardless of the evidence that the point-of-no-return is right around the corner. By the time others realize they will have to bite-the-bullet - it will be too late.

So, around 5.4°C we get:

  • Sea levels may rise 50 - 75 feet above today’s levels (13)
  • Whole regions of the earth will be uninhabitable (39)
  • The earth will be wrapped in “two globe-girdling belts of perennial drought” (55)

The Worst Case Scenario - A1 (1.4°C - 6.4°C)

This case probably will not happen because, regardless of the self-destructive tack that Donald Trump takes (especially if he is reelected) some parts of the world will do the right thing and do what is necessary to reduce their contribution to the on-coming catastrophe. Europe seems to be quickly coming to this realization - fortunately.

Besides all of the things that will happen in the scenarios above, this is in store for you as we pass 6°C.

  • Summer work in the lower Mississippi valley will be impossible (40)
  • People in the United States, east of the Rockies would suffer more from heat than anywhere else in the world. (40)
  • New York would be hotter than present day Bahrain (40)

After 7°C:

  • In earth’s equatorial band, it will be impossible to for humans, or any other animal for that matter, to live because the body cannot get rid of its own heat. Humans, after a few hours outside, “would simply be cooked to death from both inside and out.” (39)
  • Sea levels may rise 100 - 130 feet above today’s levels (13)


Epiloge

Much of the above IS going to pass, how much is up to the world leadership and, in those countries who can elect their leaders, the people. Much is baked in. As you saw, a whole host of bad things are happening NOW. In a decade, more reversible damage WILL happen, we simply can't stop it.

Most experts think we can, with a lot of sacrifice and hard work, prevent temperatures rising more than 4.0°C by 2100. BUT, keep in mind much damage that occurs after 3.2°C becomes irreversible, e.g. the ice packs will melt completely and oceans will rise a lot. That is because after this point, positive feedback loops kick in and with each cycle, things get worse.

What is frustrating and sad is human's ability to stop this from happening is small - we aren't built to anticipate a future that we can't really see well. Two things might go a long way to helping, One is technological (and may be expensive) and the other biological (and relatively inexpensive).

The latter is two-fold: 1) stop deforestation and 2) plant lots and lots, billions, of fast growing trees. The former is figuring out away to take carbon and methane out of the air and put it back into the earth. This last thing is critical, in my view, because I just don't think humans have it in them to get to net-zero carbon emissions without it.

It is up to us.

© 2019 Scott Belford

Comments

Arthur Russ from England on October 02, 2019:

Thanks for the tip Scott; I shall wrap it up here (for now), with one last point to Jack.

Jack, yep, if you’ve been following events since Global Warming was first highlighted as a serious issue 11 years ago (2008) the predictions have consistently fallen short of reality because the current Global Warming trends is not a linear line, it’s a curve e.g. the effects are getting worse exponentially (quickening up); as the latest startling reports show.

Yes, China is currently heavily dependent on coal, because it’s transitioning from an Agricultural based economy to an industrial based economy while trying to simultaneously switch from dependency on fossil fuels to Renewable energy. But the fact remains that the USA burns double the amount of fossil fuel per head of population than China.

Also, if you’d bother to view the videos I gave links to in my last response, you will know that because China is rapidly moving away from fossil fuels (a lot quicker that the USA) that the Use of coal in China will be half of what it is today within 20 years and continue to decline at an increasing rate until they reach or exceed their Paris Agreement target of 80% reduction by 2050.

In other words, unless the USA starts to take Climate Change serious, within a few short years (as China reduces its dependency on coal, with the continued rollout of Renewable Energy) the USA will once again produce more CO2 than any other country in the world.

As regards the rural areas of China, if you’d been keeping up with recent developments, China’s National Grid (Super Grid, Smart Grid), based on the technologies developed in Europe, is fast reaching out to connect the rural areas to Renewable Power; not that the rural areas (which tends to still be more agricultural) uses much coal compared to the industrialised areas of China anyway.

Scott Belford (author) from Keystone Heights, FL on October 02, 2019:

As Doc Snow and I found out previously, you are now experiencing Jack's well known aversion to accepting facts.

He will play this "Why Mommy?" game forever.

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on October 02, 2019:

Appreciate the extensive data. Guess you kissed my point about not everyone is on board with the extreme climate change predictions...as you well know, it has missed the mark in the past.

In the case of China, they are very much dependent on coal for their energy source. Some of the rural areas, cannot survive without coal. It is life and death for those peasants.

Arthur Russ from England on October 02, 2019:

Jack Lee, if the world continues to burn fossil fuels unabated like it did in the past, then there isn’t going to be a long future for humans in which to burn fossil fuels; that is the whole thrust of this article by Scott, if you read it e.g. we are heading towards a mass extinction within the lifetime of our children.

So it’s not just an academic argument, it’s a stark reality which most of the world (except America) is aware of, and which most of the world (except America) is trying to advert.

Besides, it’s not just the UK, it’s the UK, Europe, India, China, and most of the world (except America) who are trying to make ‘best efforts’ to move away from fossil fuels, and switch to Renewable Energy.

China is the biggest country in the world, and therefore currently produces more CO2 emissions than any other country, 29.34% of the world’s total emissions, but the USA is the 2nd worst offender, at 13.77% of the world’s total emissions. In comparison, India only accounts for 6.62% of the world’s emission.

The reason the USA fares so badly is that it is one of the worst countries for burning fossil fuels per capita (per person) in 2017:-

• USA (population 0.327 billion) emits into the atmosphere, 15.7 metric tons of CO2 per person per year.

• China (population 1.386 billion) emits into the atmosphere, 7.7 metric tons of CO2 per person per year.

• UK (population 66 million) emits into the atmosphere, 5.7 metric tons of CO2 per person per year.

• India (population 1.339 billion) emits into the atmosphere, burns 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per person per year.

In spite of the fact that the USA population (0.327 billion) is a quarter of the size of China’s (1.386 billion), the USA emits almost half as CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year than China.

In spite of the current status, China is the world leader in wind power, with the largest installed capacity of any country in the world.

China is installing new wind turbines at a rate of about 2 an hour; compared to the UK’s effort of just 1 new turbine per day. So while China has to still rely heavily of fossil fuels while its switching to Renewable Energy (a process that does take time), every day that passes China (like Europe) is becoming less and less dependent on fossil fuels as it increases its capacity of Renewable Energy:

In 2017 (latest full data), Renewable Energy accounted for 28.2% of China’s electricity as follows:-

• Hydro power = 18.6% (mainly due to the Three Gorges Dam, which is the world’s largest dam).

• Wind power = 4.7%

• Thermal = 1.9%

• Solar power = 1.8%

• Biomass = 1.2%

Also, like the UK and other countries around the world, China is committed to ban fossil fuel cars by 2040.

Likewise, India is committed to the Paris Agreement, and is making best efforts. Their progress isn’t as impressive as China’s, but they are making progress, and they are far more committed to making that Progress than the USA is.

Getting back to your original point; taking a negative attitude e.g. doing nothing because you think it’s pointless, or because you’re in denial of Global Warming (like Trump and many Americans) only dooms the world to an impending disaster; while making best efforts to do something (like most of the world), then we still stand a chance of mitigating against the worst effects of Global Warming.

So it’s not that ‘the world’ is intent on burning fossil fuels for a long time, because most countries in the world are committed to weaning themselves off of fossil fuels at the earliest opportunity; it’s only America (in accordance with Trump’s policies) that is intent on increasing its use of fossil fuels.

China's Renewable Energy Push: https://youtu.be/Mo3DGtdL7zA

A tour of the Three Gorges Dam in China: https://youtu.be/TDiaDiOVMY0

2017: China Banning Non-Electric Cars (significant, as a third of all cars in the world are sold in China) https://youtu.be/VVZe1hQmJxE

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on October 02, 2019:

Good for the UK. What about India and China?

They combined are 35% of the World’s population.

You are pursuing something that is an illusion.

The world will be burning fossil fuel for a long long time.

Arthur Russ from England on October 01, 2019:

Jack Lee, in the UK:-

• 20 years ago less than 2% of the UK’s electricity was from Renewable Energy.

• In 2013, 14.9% of electricity was from Renewable Energy.

• In 2015, 25% of electricity was from Renewable Energy.

• In 2017, 27.9% of electricity was from Renewable Energy.

• In 1st Quarter (Jan-March) of 2019, 35% was from Renewable Energy.

Currently only 4.6% of road transport uses Renewable Sources; but that figure is growing exponentially each year.

40% of all UK rails are now electrified, covering 60% of all rail journeys by electric trains. With the remaining 40% of (diesel) trains likely to be predominantly replaced with hydrogen trains rather than electric because rolling out hydrogen trains (new technology) is an easier, cheaper and quicker green option to electrifying the remaining 40% of rail track.

Britain is currently the fourth greenest power generation country in Europe and the seventh worldwide.

World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm (in the UK): https://youtu.be/TgRPjCQn7Tw

Europe is Planning to Build an Artificial Island in the North Sea that will Provide Renewable Energy to 80 million people by 2027:- https://youtu.be/lXBsGKA4NMo

Scotland is doing even better than England:-

• In 2015, 59% of Scottish electricity was from Renewable Energy, of which they exported 28.9% (as surplus energy).

• In 2018, 74% of Scottish electricity was from Renewable Energy.

Scotland's Hydrogen Strategy: https://youtu.be/XBJAM1epr5c

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on October 01, 2019:

Arthur, after all that, what percent of total electrical energy is produced by renewable sources? What percent of auto and trucks and trains run on renewable sources?

I will be shocked if it is 20% or higher.

The only exception being nuclear. France is the leader here with over 70% of electric generation from nuclear power.

Arthur Russ from England on October 01, 2019:

Jack Lee: that is where your knowledge is lacking, of progress being made in Europe and China.

The strategy being deployed across Europe, which is also being replicated in China, is as follows:-

• Renewable Energy mix, including Wind, Solar, Hydro, Thermal, Wave Power, Tidal Power, Green Renewable Gases, Biomass etc.

• Smart National Grids.

• Pan European Super Grid.

• Energy Storage e.g. batteries, hydro and hydrogen etc.

#1: Each country within Europe has its own National Grid, and in the past few years these National Grids have been upgraded to ‘Smart Grids’.

A ‘Smart Grid’ can take electricity from all sources of where it’s being generated and seamlessly distribute it to wherever it’s needed, when its needed e.g. surplus solar power from the solar panels on the roofs of private homes being fed into the National Grid. Very much like how the ‘cloud’ works on the Internet.

#2: Over the past few years all the National Grids across Europe have been interconnected with each other to form one ‘Super’ National Grid e.g. so that surplus electricity from Spain can be fed to England as and when needed, and vice versa.

#3: Yes, you can’t predict when the wind will blow or when the sun shines. But one certainty is that it is always windy in the coasts around Britain, and it is almost always sunny in Spain during daylight hours. Therefore, northern countries like Britain and southern European countries like Spain sharing their energy resources ‘mitigates’ against some of the uncertainty.

Also, wind and solar are NOT the only Renewable Energy in the mix, more reliable Renewable Energy includes Hydro, Thermal, Green Renewable Gases, Biomass, Wave and Tidal etc.

• Norway has an abundance of Hydro Power.

• Britain has several Hydro Power Stations on standby for peak demand.

• Sewage and food waste are being increasingly used in the UK to produce Renewable Energy (as a reliable energy source).

• Scotland is at an advanced stage of Research and Development in using Wave and Tidal power as reliable Renewable green energy sources of the future.

#4: Although banks of batteries are being installed on the National Grids as storage of surplus ‘Green’ electricity, they are not the only means of storing surplus energy. In Britain, Electric Mountain in Wales (a hydroelectric power station) plays a vital role in the UK’s energy mix. And more recently, Scotland is at an advanced stage in Research and Development for using hydrogen to store surplus electricity as the battery of the future.

You mention the gas power station in Palm Springs that can fire up in 10 minutes from standby when needed. In the UK, the Electric Mountain (hydro plant) used as backup on the British National Grid is from nil power to ‘FULL’ power (when needed) in 10 seconds, and can provide full power for 5.5 hours in any 24 hour period; producing as much electricity as any LARGE Power Station.

The Electric Mountain, Wales (backup system, hydroelectric power station):- https://youtu.be/McByJeX2evM

The European Super Grid (This video is 10 years old, so everything mentioned in the video has now been done): https://youtu.be/SQWzyNVhpVU

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on October 01, 2019:

Arthur, what you are missing is that solar, wind are not reliable for mission critical energy needs. When I visited Palm Springs Ca where they have wind farms since the 1990s, I was told and shown a gas power plant that was built as a backup. This plant will fire up in 10 minutes in case the wind is too slo