What Carbon Budget?
Orbital changes are responsible for the Milankovitch cycles that make Earth move in and out of periods of glaciation, or Ice Ages. In line with these cycles, July insolation has slowly decreased over the last 12,000 years. While insolation was at a peak some 12,000 years ago, temperatures rose only slowly at first, as the ice receded that was formed during the most recent Ice Age.
Some previous temperature reconstructions did suggest that a peak on temperature was reached around 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, followed by a decrease in temperature that continued until the industrial age. However, Samantha Bova and colleagues found that most of the records used in such reconstructions represented seasonal temperatures rather than annual ones.
They developed a method of evaluating individual records for seasonal bias and after adjusting for this, they found that the mean annual sea surface temperature has been rising steadily for the past 12,000 years, due to retreating ice sheets during the period from 12,000 to 6,500 years ago and, more recently, due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement calls for a global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts taken to ensure that the temperature doesn’t exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
So, what are pre-industrial levels? The ‘pre-‘ in pre-industrial means before, suggesting that pre-industrial levels refers to levels as they were in times before the Industrial Revolution started.
While emission of greenhouse gases did rise strongly since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the rise in emission of greenhouse gases by people had already started some 7,000 years ago with the rise in modern agriculture and associated deforestation. As this new study shows, the temperature has risen steadily since.
A recent post confirms earlier warnings that the temperature may already have risen by more than 2°C, and it looks even more that way when moving the baseline back 7,000 years. Moreover, this recent post again warns that the temperature rise is accelerating as tipping points are getting crossed, feedbacks are growing stronger and further heating elements are kicking, all interacting in non-linear ways to speed up the temperature rise.
So, where are those efforts that politicians pledged they would be taking?
What Carbon Budget?
Instead of making a genuine effort, most politicians and mainstream media keep telling people that there was a carbon budget to be divided among polluters, as if people should happily continue to consume the polluting products that are pushed by advertisers, for decades to come.
In reality, however, there is no carbon budget, there is no pollution budget. Instead, there is just a huge pollution debt to be paid and every minute of delay causes exponential growth of this debt and of the prospect of rapid human extinction and ultimately extinction of all life on Earth.
Furthermore, a reduction in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere isn’t the only thing that’s needed. There are many further lines of action that need to be implemented urgently, including efforts to reduce methane levels.
Ominously, high methane levels were recorded by the N20 satellite on the morning of January 20, 2021. The combination image below shows levels as high as 2636 ppb at 695 mb (panel left) and 2806 ppb at 487 mb (panel right).
High methane levels were also recorded on the afternoon of January 30, 2021. The combination image below shows that the SNPP satellite recorded levels as high as 2704 ppb at 487 mb (panel left), while the MetOp-2 satellite recorded levels as high as 2344 ppb at 469 mb (panel right).
High peak methane levels are very worrying; what makes it even more threatening is how much of the Arctic Ocean the images below show to be covered by high levels of methane levels. This supports fears expressed earlier, such as in this recent post, about methane’s present and future role in accelerating the temperature rise.