Stopping emissions will not stop the warming of our planet

Facts of the pollution level today

Record carbon emissions have lifted the Earth’s temperature about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, and the planet is on a path to exceed the UN-endorsed maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100. As a result, sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifying and glaciers and sea ice are melting. Scientists predict more freak weather, droughts and stronger storms.

Humans have already emitted more than half the greenhouse gases compatible with a 2-degree increase, UN scientists said Sept. 27. The implication of that is many fossil-fuel reserves need to remain unburned if the temperature goal is to be met.

“The coal lobby cast a shadow over the negotiations,”

said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program, at the World Resources Institute.

“It’s increasingly clear that unabated coal use is inconsistent with the goal of staying within 2 degrees.”

Do not look only to the bad guys

Of the 914 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere since 1986, the study published in the journal Climatic Change, analysed 89% of it was produced from burning the fuels the companies extracted, half was, a result of the rapid industrialization of the developing world. This should make us very weary for the growing economies in the East.

Looking at the top corporate carbon-emitters, their study shows that a massive amount of carbon emissions can be traced to a small number of corporations, suggesting that the blame should be on these large companies rather than Nations, but be aware that there is much much more to be taken into account. We should keep in mind that Heede and his research team their study did not examine carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation, agriculture or landfills.

Continuing warming even by stopping emissions


WorldSurfaceConditionsTemps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Science News of the Science Daily company wrote that even if carbon dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in Earth’s atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years, according to Princeton University-led research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study suggests that it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe.

The researchers simulated an Earth on which, after 1,800 billion tons of carbon entered the atmosphere, all carbon dioxide emissions suddenly stopped. Scientists commonly use the scenario of emissions screeching to a stop to gauge the heat-trapping staying power of carbon dioxide. Within a millennium of this simulated shutoff, the carbon itself faded steadily with 40 percent absorbed by Earth’s oceans and landmasses within 20 years and 80 percent soaked up at the end of the 1,000 years.

By itself, such a decrease of atmospheric carbon dioxide should lead to cooling. But the heat trapped by the carbon dioxide took a divergent track.

After a century of cooling, the planet warmed by 0.37 degrees Celsius (0.66 Fahrenheit) during the next 400 years as the ocean absorbed less and less heat. While the resulting temperature spike seems slight, a little heat goes a long way here. Earth has warmed by only 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global temperatures a mere 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial levels would dangerously interfere with the climate system. To avoid that point would mean humans have to keep cumulative carbon dioxide emissions below 1,000 billion tons of carbon, about half of which has already been put into the atmosphere since the dawn of industry.

The lingering warming effect the researchers found, however, suggests that the 2-degree point may be reached with much less carbon, said first author Thomas Frölicher, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton’s Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences under co-author Jorge Sarmiento, the George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering.

“If our results are correct, the total carbon emissions required to stay below 2 degrees of warming would have to be three-quarters of previous estimates, only 750 billion tons instead of 1,000 billion tons of carbon,”

said Frölicher, now a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

“Thus, limiting the warming to 2 degrees would require keeping future cumulative carbon emissions below 250 billion tons, only half of the already emitted amount of 500 billion tons.”

Scientific consensus

The researchers’ work contradicts a scientific consensus that the global temperature would remain constant or decline if emissions were suddenly cut to zero. But previous research did not account for a gradual reduction in the oceans’ ability to absorb heat from the atmosphere, particularly the polar oceans, Frölicher said. Although carbon dioxide steadily dissipates, Frölicher and his co-authors were able to see that the oceans that remove heat from the atmosphere gradually take up less. Eventually, the residual heat offsets the cooling that occurred due to dwindling amounts of carbon dioxide.

Logo of the United States Geophysical Fluid Dy...

Logo of the United States Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frölicher and his co-authors showed that the change in ocean heat uptake in the polar regions has a larger effect on global mean temperature than a change in low-latitude oceans, a mechanism known as “ocean-heat uptake efficacy.”
This mechanism was first explored in a 2010 paper by Frölicher’s co-author, Michael Winton, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus.

“The regional uptake of heat plays a central role. Previous models have not really represented that very well,” Frölicher said.

“Scientists have thought that the temperature stays constant or declines once emissions stop, but now we show that the possibility of a temperature increase can not be excluded,” Frölicher said. “This is illustrative of how difficult it may be to reverse climate change — we stop the emissions, but still get an increase in the global mean temperature.”

Let us remember

H.E. Mr. Marcin Korolec, Minister of the Environment of Poland and President-Designate of COP 19 and CMP 9 the host of the Warsaw conference said:

“We need to be prepared for nine billion people on this planet, as we all deserve a decent and secure life. By being creative, the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and ensuring better living standards. Where there is a will, there is a way!”

And also remember the other host, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UNFCCC her saying:

“COP19/CMP9 affords an opportunity to consolidate responses to climate change and to showcase the many ambitious adaptation and mitigation initiatives being implemented around the world. By scaling and speeding up action we prepare for a universal global agreement and move toward a safer future.”


1. The above story is based on materials provided by Princeton University.

2. Thomas Lukas Frölicher, Michael Winton, Jorge Louis Sarmiento. Continued global warming after CO2 emissions stoppage. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2060


Preceding articles:

Postponing once more


About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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12 Responses to Stopping emissions will not stop the warming of our planet

  1. Reblogged this on Ace News Services and commented:
    #AceEnvironmentNews says thanks for the follow Marcus and following you back and liked, also RB’d this article of interest across network, it will hit Facebook and 7 Twitter Sites. Great post. #SaveOurPlanet


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