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Earth Science

IEA Warns of Irreversible Climate Change In 5 Years 1105

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
iONiUM writes "As a follow up to the previous slashdot story, there has been a new release by the International Energy Agency indicating that within 5 years we will have irreversible climate change. According to the IEA, 'There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400bn (£250.7bn).'"
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IEA Warns of Irreversible Climate Change In 5 Years

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  • So (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sithkhan (536425) <sithkhan@gmail.com> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:36AM (#38008976)
    As 60% of the energy usage is all the third-world countries, the answer is obvious.
    • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

      by syousef (465911) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:39AM (#38008996) Journal

      As 60% of the energy usage is all the third-world countries, the answer is obvious.

      I can guess what you're going to say, but no the answer is not obvious.

      Short of a major disaster (worldwide epidemic, nuclear war, asteroid strike), none of which would benefit the planet in the long run, I don't see how we're going to recover. Here in Australia they just passed a carbon tax - as if we can just tax the problem away.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:43AM (#38009026)

        Actually, a carbon tax might work, if it applies to imported goods as well. Of course, China would scream bloody murder.

        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Megaflux (1803738) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @03:56AM (#38009790)
          Actually if you would put the tax in ratio with the population, the US would scream bloody murder
      • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

        by justforgetme (1814588) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:49AM (#38009054) Homepage

        Carbon taxes on industry can work, in theory, when the tax amount makes production infeasible, which it never does and when the tax is actually asked for and not bailed away, like it usually is.

        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by thelamecamel (561865) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @06:05AM (#38010414)

          Without a carbon tax, industry has no incentive to reduce their emissions. With a carbon tax, they have a small financial incentive to do so. Therefore they will pick the lowest hanging fruit to save some money, in the process lowering their emissions. While there is still low-hanging fruit (e.g. now, coming from where there's no incentive not to emit CO2), a carbon tax can reduce a nation's emissions without forcing large changes in how things are done.

          I vaguely remember that a month or two ago, a mine in Queensland (possibly the one owned by the Indian who threatened to pull out of Australia if the carbon tax went through) worked out how to reduce their emissions by 30%.

          The other effect is that the added cost of coal power due to the carbon tax/trading scheme makes gas somewhat more financially viable and renewables significantly more financially viable.

          It's a very neat theory, and it's easy to see how it will affect businesses either gently (with a low price on carbon) or eventually reshape industries (with a high price).

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by flaming error (1041742) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:59AM (#38009122) Journal

        > none of which would benefit the planet in the long run
        The planet is a big iron ball that doesn't give a damn what we do. The ones who care about epidemics and war are us humans, who are by and large causing the problems ourselves.

        Although this is not politically correct to say, the fewer humans there are the better off the rest of the biosphere will be.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY [youtube.com]

      • Here in Australia they just passed a carbon tax - as if we can just tax the problem away.

        Well, it's not a tax -- it's an Emissions Trading Scheme, but with a fixed-price set on permits by the Government for the first three years of its operation. Even in those first three years, permits are still able to be traded and sold as in any ETS, rather than CO2 emissions being directly taxed (as is the case in a carbon tax).

        Once it starts being a fully-fledged ETS, incidentally, there are two separate non-governmental bodies that should hopefully ensure that CO2 reduction targets are set independently

    • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shompol (1690084) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:46AM (#38009408)
      A single nation, US of A releases 25% of world's greenhouse gases. "Third world" is not even in the picture here. US beats everyone even in emissions per dollar of economic activity. I don't remember the book name, but here's a world map I found: http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=299# [worldmapper.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afabbro (33948)

        A single nation, US of A releases 25% of world's greenhouse gases. "Third world" is not even in the picture here. US beats everyone even in emissions per dollar of economic activity.

        So you're saying 75% of the problem is the rest of the world...

        If you think the third world is not part of the problem, then you're just a half-educated college student pumping your fist in the air.

        You can twist stats however you want - "emissions per dollar of economic activity" is a nice one - but the reality is that the U.S. is not the sole cause of the problem.

        For example, turn off every power plant and factory that is not at U.S. emissions standards (China, etc.) and the whole climate change problem si

        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by toriver (11308) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @03:52AM (#38009768)

          No, he is saying that a country with 5% of the world's population is responsible for a disproportionate 25% of emissions, and should try and mend their ways.

    • by beh (4759) *

      Exactly!

      60% of the energy is being used by the 90% living in the third world countries...
      40% of energy consumption is by us 10% of the people in the 'developed' world.

      Interesting how this looks when you start adding numbers of people...

      Indeed obvious, where we need to start, isn't it?

      And that is before trying to calculate energy consumption in third world countries to have them produce stuff for 'us'...

  • It's human nature. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:43AM (#38009024)

    I don't expect changes to be made. Capitalistic culture has no thought of the future; people are selfish and will sacrifice their descendants to make things just a bit easier and more profitable to themselves.

    I'm kind of curious to see how the world will end up by the time I die.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:02AM (#38009138) Journal

      Tell you what - take a tour of what used to be the USSR some time... the vast majority of the ecological damage there [wikipedia.org] (esp. what used to be the Aral Sea) was done by a decidedly non-capitalistic government, hell-bent on a 'glorious revolutionary future'.

      Or, you can drop the sophomoric and faux-intelligent 'OAMG teh capitalizm is teh nexus of 3vilz!' act.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        And USSR industry, while deeply socialist on personal level, was also deeply capitalist on organisational levels. Competition between companies for government contracts has been bloody - just look at their Mikoyan&Gurjevich vs Sukhoi competition on the market of fighter jets. It makes Lockheed Martin VS Boeing look communist (as in real meaning of the word, "let's share the wealth") in comparison.

        And while saying that, he is in fact correct. One of the major reasons why capitalism needs to be moderated

    • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @03:04AM (#38009524)
      Spot on.

      One of the main reasons for the global warming denial is that it will be profitable.

      Specifically, shipping over the Arctic. [informaglobalevents.com]

      Of course, the same thinking about profits also leads to the thinking that all of the side-effect damage is "not my problem".

      But, for now, the greed factor wants to encourage global warming, because the less ice over the North Pole area, the better the ships will be able to operate.

    • I don't expect changes to be made. Capitalistic culture has no thought of the future; people are selfish and will sacrifice their descendants to make things just a bit easier and more profitable to themselves.

      Spot-on; however, if it was possible to become a billionaire by substantially reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, within 30 years the discussion would be about the dangerously-low levels of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere. Create a profit motive and watch innovation flourish, but allow entrenched wealth to buy politicians and watch progress grind to a halt.

      • by mpe (36238)
        Spot-on; however, if it was possible to become a billionaire by substantially reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, within 30 years the discussion would be about the dangerously-low levels of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere.

        That would be 200 ppm the point at which a mass extinction event is likely to happen due to failure of photosynthesis. It's only once you get above 1 part per thousand that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is no longer a limiting factor for photosynthesis.
  • old news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sanzibar (2043920) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:45AM (#38009036)
    we are past the point of the last Irreversible claim... and the one before that... and the one before that...
    • Re:old news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:42AM (#38009378) Journal
      You got modded troll, but you made me curious, because I seemed to remember hearing these before, too. Doing a google search of "global warming irreversible YYYY" I came up with these:

      From 2009, Obama has 4 years to save the world [examiner.com]
      From 2009, global warming is now irreversible, study says [npr.org](also discussed on slashdot [slashdot.org])
      From 2006, The End of the World As We Know It; THE world has already passed the point of no return on global warming [smh.com.au].
      From 2005, past the point of no return [independent.co.uk].
      Also from 2005, Global warming irreversible [ummah.com].
      From 2004, Damage from warming becoming irreversible [commondreams.org].
      From 1989, We have a 10 year window to fix the problem [newsbank.com].

      What do you think of that?
      • Re:old news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @04:38AM (#38010000)
        I think they are all correct. Saying a trend is irreversible does not mean you are going to see the final effects of the trend immediately. Anyone who says "well the catastrophe hasn't happened yet, therefore they must be wrong" has a serious problem with logic.
  • In other words (Score:4, Interesting)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:51AM (#38009066)

    There will be irreversible climate change. The corporate powers that profit from the status quo have more than enough money to continue confusing the issue for centuries to come. Short of a major catastrophe (i.e. millions dead in first world countries), nothing will ever break through the wall of propaganda to awaken the masses.

    Cue deniers coming in to lie about how all the world's climatologists are in a conspiracy being funded by Big Solar or whatever.

  • what will happen: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @01:51AM (#38009070) Homepage Journal

    this will turn into a discussion assigning political blame, and nothing but a lot of hot air will be generated (pun intended)

    what should happen:

    blame should be set aside, and fixing the problem should be talked about. seed the ocean with iron to create phytoplankton blooms to suck out CO2 and sink to the ocean floor? it has flaws. so strategize some other ideas. yes, some will have anxiety about doing such major ecosystem altering activity when we aren't sure of every infinitesimal outcome... missing the whole goddamn point about what is already happening to the climate. penny wise, pound foolish. it's time for dramatic action, not hand wringing

    look: natural, manmade, whatever: obviously the climate is changing, only complete idiots still insist it isn't. so the most compelling, overarching argument is: we have a vested economic interest in keeping our environment the way we are used to it. so we can talk about a price point about what we are willing to invest to keep the thermostat where it should be. so find the price point and fit a plan of action. end of discussion

    we are homo sapiens: we don't evolve fur, we kill animals and wear their hides. we don't look for berries, we slash and burn and make the berries grow where we want them. and we don't get used to a hotter earth with more violent storms. we put our hands on the thermostat, and put the earth in the climate zone we like

    we are homo sapiens: we don't adapt to the environment, we adapt the environment to us. we aren't fatalistic spineless scatterbrains. this whole climate change topic is really just an engineering problem, with currently not enough engineers working on it, and too many talking heads and other assorted nitwits involved. roll up the sleeves and get to work

    • You think the political blame is bad now, just you wait until we start playing around with geoengineering concepts. I say that because it's still not entirely certain how big of an impact CO2 has on climate. That's because our data collection is tiny compared to the rest of Earths history and thus a baseline doesn't really exist. But when nations start playing around with geoengineering, that's when the real international finger pointing will occur. Unfounded or not, there will be demands for financial repa

    • by Warwick Allison (209388) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @07:15AM (#38010666) Homepage

      Your faith in science is excellent. However, you're basically saying it is somehow easier to collect a vastly dispersed gas rather than to stop producing it.

      Climate control engineering is far far beyond human capacity in time to solve this. The things that are well within our power are utility-scale solar thermal power and electric automobiles. These simple, existing technologies are completely sufficient. They just need to be built. To do so will have far less risk and lower cost than fanciful planet-sized umbrellas and other science fiction dreamery.

      More importantly, when someone builds them, you can believe it, unlike when someone tells you they are going to research climate control, "clean coal", or other distractions. Don't believe anything but real action.

      Buy wind power (at a premium) RIGHT NOW. Contact your electricity provider and ensure they too are taking it seriously. You can act now. It's only 20% or so extra in Australia (and expect that gap to close with the Carbon Tax).

      Or do nothing and be a pathetic loser.

  • by Phleg (523632) <stephen@touset. o r g> on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:03AM (#38009148)

    So what are any Of you going to do about it? Continue to point fingers at China? The third world? Oil companies?

    How about accepting that you can't change others, and instead set examples yourself. I moved into the city, leave my A/C and heat off whenever possible, bicycle for 95% of my trips (including commuting), grow as much of my own food as I can, and buy the rest locally and in-season whenever possible.

    2 years ago, I was doing none of that. Now my personal energy footprint is a fraction of what it had been. Perhaps not as much as is needed, but it's something, and none of it has honestly even been hard.

    So again I ask: what are you going to do about it? What will you or have you changed about your lifestyle to help avert global disaster?

    • by rssrss (686344) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:25AM (#38009276)

      Put a pool in my back yard, and look forward to floating through the hot afternoons.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:39AM (#38009358)

      I take the bus whenever possible (average 1000 mi of driving per year), use energy efficient bulbs and appliances, turn off everything when its not in use, buy local food where possible, and got good insulation so I can turn down the heat in non-bedrooms during the night, never use AC in my house (don't even own one), and only use it in my car in short bursts to cool it down after it's been baking in the sun all day.

      But all of that is nothing if we don't get political change as well.

      The powers that profit from the status quo are devastatingly effective at propaganda. Nothing you change about your own lifestyle will make a difference if they convince a hundred million of your neighbors that you're just some stupid hippie to be laughed at and ignored.

  • by Jartan (219704) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:07AM (#38009172)

    Carbon emissions are a real problem. We don't need a bunch of zealots claiming the sky is falling unless we do things their way.

    With the third world getting ready to ramp up energy production the idea of conservation is a pipe dream. China is already ignoring us and the rest will do the same.

    We need to globally spend trillions of dollars on energy research and we need to do it yesterday. It's the only answer left.

  • by ad454 (325846) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:12AM (#38009192)

    Built a cheap portal to an alternative Earth that is 85 million years in the past, in order to colonize it.

    Or wait for the rapture.

    Because the above choices are more realistic than expecting the human race to put short-term greed aside to save the planet.

    Ask a bunch of people if they would be willing to receive a billion dollar now, in exchange to blowing up the Earth 200 years in the future, you would be surprised how many of them would say yes. That is the problem with the human race.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:12AM (#38009196)
    Don't worry, according to Family Radio, the world will end several times before then.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @02:17AM (#38009214)

    ...there's no point in resisting but every point in positioning for survival.

    This will mean competition for space in the lifeboat, so to speak. That will mean willingness to let competitors die off, to use violence to save our own countries, and do things which are unfashionable.

  • Let's face it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday November 10, 2011 @03:16AM (#38009582)
    Let's face it, CO2 emissions will drop as soon as we run out of fossil fuel. And not a minute before that. There are no two ways about it. On the whole we are a greedy kind of breed and we will always rationalise reasons for doing the wrong things. So we'd better get used to this.

    Viable alternatives to fossil fuel will emerge as soon economics allow this. Remember when oil prices boomed a couple of years ago? Suddenly all kinds of research boomed as well. But the oil price all of a sudden stabilised to a level we perceive as fine and dandy.

    I don't believe in a well organised conspiracy of oil producing countries as that would require much more intelligence and cooperation than portrayed by any kind of existing governing body. Instead I believe that almost everyone in the energy market is acting in the best possible interest of their limited awareness. Oil prices rise, alternative research boosts, oil prices drop, alternative research slows down, ... Repeat until oil is finished. Expect a fluctuation in oil price in the near years to come.

    I don't see developments going in any other significant direction in the current way the world is governed. And I don't expect world government to change any time soon. Who or what would be powerful, charming and effective enough to change mankind's nature? It would require a disproportional amount of concentrated power to achieve such a thing, which after having saved our civilisation will inevitable start at exploiting it.

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