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Earth Science

Global Investment Firm Warns 7.8 Degrees of Global Warming Is Possible (vice.com) 292

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A leading British global investment firm has a warning for its clients: If we keep consuming oil and gas at current rates, our planet is on course to experience a rise in global average temperatures of nearly 8 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. This would make Earth basically uninhabitable for humans. Although this is the darkest scenario we've seen so far, there's reason for cautious optimism: the new projections point out that it's unlikely investors will simply ignore this risk, meaning that our present level of fossil fuel consumption could decrease. Still, by current climate research standards, this is a pretty wild number. It is four times as high as the "safe limit" for increasing temperatures caused by climate change, internationally recognized to be around 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Schroders, the British investment firm which controls assets worth $542 billion, released this forecast as part of a range of potential scenarios in its "Climate Progress Dashboard" in late July.
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Global Investment Firm Warns 7.8 Degrees of Global Warming Is Possible

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  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:02AM (#54982441) Homepage Journal
    Antarctica Conglomerate shares split, in related news.
    • Yeah, sounds like several US securities and law violations that may need to be prosecuted in there...
  • Investors are precisely those who IGNORE climate change! It is because of investors that we are in this mess.
    • by kyrsjo ( 2420192 )

      It depends. It pays off to alter your investments to avoid being negatively impacted by climate change, or to gain a positive impact (shipping in the far north), or to position yourself to build new infrastructure to avoid / compensate for climate change.

      That doesn't mean you can't also invest in things that are bad for the climate. I.e. if you invest in coal - which makes it warmer, and also in companies building AC units - which makes it possible to live where one now have more extreme temperature highs,

  • An investment firm? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:05AM (#54982469)
    What do they know about climate change? If they are so concerned about it, how about invest in projects to combat it.
    • If they are so concerned about it, how about invest in projects to combat it.

      They're in business to make money, so this could be their way of trying to do that. They need something in which to invest in order to act (or function) and someone has to be willing to pay for such a project before they can do that, because it has to be profitable.

    • by JoeRobe ( 207552 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:37AM (#54982649) Homepage

      I don't know about this particular investment firm, but investment and insurance firms are actually quite well equipped to think about risk, which is really what climate change is about from a financial perspective. They inherently need to be able to think rationally about climate predictions, assess the statistics/uncertainties behind them, and come to conclusions about where and how to invest in the long run. For example, what's the risk/reward for an investment firm to invest in an African company if there's an X% chance that company's location will be uninhabitable in 50 years? Or if climate change leads to social/political instability in the area?

      For insurance companies, climate predictions tell them how much risk is involved in, for example, real estate purchases on the Florida coast as sea levels rise and extreme weather events increase in frequency.

      For them it's all about probabilities - what is the probability that climate scientists are qualitatively right, and if they are, what are the chances of the particular predicted consequences being accurate (and how accurate). Actuaries crunch those numbers and advise their companies to make risk/reward decisions based off of them. One of the hardest parts about these predictions isn't the actual environmental impact, but the social consequences of it, which can have massive financial impacts.

      In terms of what the companies know specifically about climate change, I'm guessing they have scientific consultant teams that provide the expertise they need.

    • by trg83 ( 555416 )
      More than likely they will just take up the buying of selling of carbon credits and derivatives. Create your market, then exploit it!
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Exactly. Why are we listening to what random non-scientists say might happen?

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      What do they know about climate change? If they are so concerned about it, how about invest in projects to combat it.

      ... and then people will accuse them of having an ulterior motive, hyping climate change in order to boost their investments. You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

  • by bromoseltzer ( 23292 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:17AM (#54982539) Homepage Journal

    If we're on our way to a lethal +8C world, that's bad news. But the world is a reflexive system. If we kill ourselves off at +4C, say, human greenhouse gas production ceases, and (after a long lag) the world finds a new stable point without us. So there's a tendency for the world to self-correct. On the other hand, there may be positive feedbacks (tipping points) that push us all the way to a Venus scenario. The moral is, it's a complex non-linear system, and straight line extrapolations are almost certainly wrong when they go far beyond historical experience.

    • I'd bet longer on -8C.
      • >The ever-increasing output of our parent star says you're wrong.

        The logical 'bet' is 100% on 'planet toasted to a crisp', though I think there's still some debate as to whether it will actually be absorbed by the Sun or not.

        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          Either way if you actually look at the long term it will be very cold indeed, "toasted to a crisp" is pretty short term if looking at the whole of existence.

          • >Either way if you actually look at the long term it will be very cold indeed,

            Good point... but temperature is more or less relative, right? So even if the eventual state of the universe is a near-0K homogeneous quantum foam everything should be 'lukewarm', because nothing will be relatively hot or relatively cold.

            • by green1 ( 322787 )

              Now we get in to philosophy rather than science... if the temperature drops and nobody is around to feel it, is it still cold?

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:46AM (#54982695) Homepage

      Don't forget, the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs essentially torched most of the plant life on earth dumping quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere + heat far greater than we could ever manage short of nuclear war. Yet the earth still recovered.

      However that doesn't mean we can't cause temperatures to rise beyond which agriculture becomes impossible over a large proportion of the leading to mass famine and war.

      • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:56AM (#54982753)

        The more appropriate extinction event to compare with is the End-Permian Extinction [theatlantic.com]. That was caused by essentially burning fossil fuels, because lava got in contact with much of the then-existing seams of coal.

        Right now we are adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster pace than the volcanism did back then, and we are less likely to accidentally leave rich coal seams untouched.

        • by jcr ( 53032 )

          we are adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster pace than the volcanism did back then,

          Got figures on that? That's a pretty bold claim, there.

          -jcr

        • The more appropriate extinction event to compare with is the End-Permian Extinction [theatlantic.com]. That was caused by essentially burning fossil fuels, because lava got in contact with much of the then-existing seams of coal.

          Right now we are adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a faster pace than the volcanism did back then, and we are less likely to accidentally leave rich coal seams untouched.

          Not even close buddy. Lol.

          The world back then was mostly tropical before the traps started and the lava flows extended thousands upon thousands of kilometers. It burned through coal and forests at an almost Continental level. Scientists say not only did it warm over 14C but acid rain hit and killed as much plant and marine life as the temperate surge. While acid rain is prevalent in places like China today it is not nearly so bad it kills all plant life.

          I would even argue (since this is slashdot a real scie

          • I would even argue (since this is slashdot a real scientist can please correct me if I am wrong), that the recent medieval warming period was hotter than today!

            Or was it? [skepticalscience.com]

            Records show farms in Greenland by the Vikings and wineries in Scotland

            Even if this was true (I'm not quite sure of the current interpretation of the historical record), this is a very select part of the world. The global average includes more than just two or three places that bothered to take some records.

            Maybe not 8C warmer for sure, but yes warmer than today's weather by far.

            Hell, no.

      • It also didn't manage to kill all mammals which didn't have modern technology to help them survive inhospitable climates... Or even clean water.

      • by Mjlner ( 609829 )

        Don't forget, the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs essentially torched most of the plant life on earth dumping quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere + heat far greater than we could ever manage short of nuclear war. Yet the earth still recovered.

        ...ahem... And the dinosaurs recovered quite well, did they?

    • If we're on our way to a lethal +8C world, that's bad news. But the world is a reflexive system. If we kill ourselves off at +4C, say, human greenhouse gas production ceases, and (after a long lag) the world finds a new stable point without us. So there's a tendency for the world to self-correct. On the other hand, there may be positive feedbacks (tipping points) that push us all the way to a Venus scenario. The moral is, it's a complex non-linear system, and straight line extrapolations are almost certainly wrong when they go far beyond historical experience.

      We would survive fine. True the deserts of Africa are already close to inhabitable but most of the land in Russia, Canada, Alaska, Nordic countries, New Zealand, and maybe even Antartica once the glaciers melt away will go from Tunda/Tiagra to continental. There are large land masses today that are in the chilly boreal or tundra zones which are poor farming with anything besides berries which will soon be able to grow wheat and maybe even corn and other crops

      • So working to preserve the veritable paradise that we have is not worthwhile because migrating everyone to Russia to grow and subsist on berries and wheat is a "fine" alternative...
      • Yep, more land on earth is uninhabitable because it is too cold than the area uninhabitable because it's too warm.

        In fact, some of the hottest places on the earth are fairly densely populated (Las Vegas, Dubai) whereas the coldest places are very loosely populated with small contingents of crazy scientists.

    • Except it doesn't work that way, vis-a-vis the planet Venus; there is a point at which the trend goes into a runaway condition, even if human civilization magically ceased to exist.
    • > If we kill ourselves off at +4C

      Seriously?

  • We're getting less cold. Take a look at figure 6.3 on page 287 [nytimes.com], you'll see the max temperatures peaked in the 1920s and 1930s, and we're quite a bit lower than that now. What's changed is we're not getting as cold at night as we used to get; our low temperatures are higher - making the daily average higher. Kind of changes things, doesn't it?
    • by JoeRobe ( 207552 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:02AM (#54982787) Homepage

      What you're seeing there in the 20's/30's is the dust bowl that wreaked havoc on the central US during that time (high heat, vast drought). It is really interesting to see that. But it was a regional effect. Globally the story is different.

      A related important point was well explained recently by NYT: extreme high temperature events are increasing in frequency.

      https://www.nytimes.com/intera... [nytimes.com]

      • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:19AM (#54982875) Journal

        What you're seeing there in the 20's/30's is the dust bowl that wreaked havoc on the central US during that time (high heat, vast drought). It is really interesting to see that. But it was a regional effect. Globally the story is different.

        Really? I'd love to see that, because, just like this graph from teh American Institute of Physics [aip.org] pretty much all 20th century tempurature records have a big warming throughout the 203s and 30s, then switched to cooling through the 40s to mid 70s.

        A related important point was well explained recently by NYT: extreme high temperature events are increasing in frequency.

        https://www.nytimes.com/intera... [nytimes.com]

        That is the claim, but the report the NY Times uses states the exact opposite. Look at that "leaked" report, and check page 287. The number of extreme high temperature days has not increased; it's the average lows that have increased. That raises the average, but if anything it points to a lessening of the extremes of tempurature. Lows aren't as low, and highs are slightly less high.

        • by JoeRobe ( 207552 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:43AM (#54982999) Homepage

          The point of the NYT article is that the data clearly says that hot weather extremes have been increasing and cold weather extremes have been decreasing. That's not really debatable, it's hard numbers.

          I'm currently looking for global daytime temperature trends and will update soon. The US data, while interesting isn't necessarily speaking to global trends, and the warming/cooling trends are highly inhomogeneous. In fact the graph you point to specifically says that the Southern Hemisphere didn't see that cooling.

        • by JoeRobe ( 207552 )

          Here's what you asked for - a detailed analysis of diurnal trends globally (and northern hemisphere, and US):

          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com... [wiley.com]

          The important data (in my opinion) is in Figure 1(a). Note that the Tmax time derivative (K/decade) is positive globally and for all seasons in the NH. The Tmin time derivative is more positive than that of Tmax, which is saying that the nights have been warming more quickly than days. But both have been rising.

          The second major point is shown in Table 1. The Tmax

    • I don't want to be overly critical because honestly I'm not certain what your trying to argue but I'm not sure why you think there is a difference. I'm not exactly ringing the dooms bell but even I can see the faulty logic in this statement. If you take a window of time and have warmer lows during that window the average temperature for that window will be warmer than previous years. If over the course time this trend continues you will be demonstrating that additional energy (in the form of heat) has in

  • That is like 1.8 degrees more than Kevin Bacon.
  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:36AM (#54982645) Homepage

    Investment firms are neither notable climate experts nor are they noted for their devotion to selfless ethics. Follow the money. I'll bet that they have huge positions in "green" companies and/or renewable energy, and they are hoping to drive those markets higher.

    Alternatively (or maybe additionally), they may think that this will get them more publicity than standard advertising, and hence a lot of new clients who believe that your investment strategy can save you from an uninhabitable planet.

    • The push for renewables depends on there being just the right amount of global warming. There has to be enough to warrant abandoning fossil fuels. But if there's too much, then there's not enough time for us to wait for renewables to improve in scalability and cost and for battery technology to advance enough so it can help even out renewable production inconsistencies. The best solution in that case is for us to replace fossil fuel plants with nuclear plants ASAP.

      So it's doubtful an investment firm p
  • by pahles ( 701275 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:38AM (#54982653)

    Schroders, the British investment firm which controls assets worth $542 billion, released this forecast as part of a range of potential scenarios in its "Climate Progress Dashboard" in late July.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @08:49AM (#54982713) Journal

    1. Notice that lots of people are making decisions based on the Global Warming hype, and that it's still believed by many but out of the news cycle for a few months.
    2. Put together investment vehicles based on its expected effects. Sell a few to establish a low current price.
    3. Publish a new global warming warning, bringing people's attention to the issue, spurring interest in the investment vehicles, and raising their price.
    4. Point out that their price is rising, getting more people to buy them. Sell a few more but not enough to bring the price back down.
    5. Profit!
    6. Get a bubble going, with the price ramping up exponentially.
    7. Once the bubble is inflated, sell off a bunch more, dumping the inflated paper and taking the money off the table. (Maybe buy some puts while you're at it. Do that through a different organization to avoid raising claims of securities fraud.)
    8. BIG PROFIT!
    9. Once the bubble collapses, exercise (or sell) the puts.
    10. STILL MORE PROFIT!

    This kind of thing has been going on for centuries. See _Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds_.

    Using global warming as the driver has the advantage that governments are strongly bought-in to the idea and prosecuting a securities fraud based on it would also discredit the idea they're trying to push. So if the investment vehicles are not obviously fraudulent in some other way, things that could actually be expected to actually increase in value if catastrophic global warming did occur, the operators of the scheme would have more than just plausible deniability. They'd be doing exactly what financial service companies are supposed to do (identify or create investments that would pay off in an expected situation and sell them to those who expect that situation so THEY can profit if they're right) and expected to do (promote their product with publicity).

  • So we're now taking prophetic science advice from an investment firm?
    We're taking science advice from a firm that makes economic forecasts
    We're taking sceicne advice from a company that doesn't even take responsibility for their predictions because the responsibility is on the consumer

    Of course my investment firm likes to call me up with great economic forecasts... they just so happen to coincide with businesses they've been paid to promote or have their own interests in. With full disclosure, of cours
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:01AM (#54982781)

    In the few comments here so far there's a lot of naysaying. I totally sympathize with that, given that big business a) is often talking out of its ass when it comes to science and b) is largely responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in. But I still think that what Schroders is doing has real value.

    First, because the warnings are about disastrous financial losses, and are coming from a respected member of the club, the conservative business types, (who have a history of laughing at climate change and shrugging it off), are much more likely to take the matter seriously.

    Second, when I did a quick Google search I didn't find any other meta-models like this that start at various end points, work backwards to today, and project various scenarios based on what we're doing at this moment in time, and what we could and might do between now and an X degree increase. I think this approach will lead to a better grasp of the problem, a more vivid imagining of the consequences, and a greater will to change, among the non-technical and non-scientific types who are currently making the decisions we'll all have to live with.

    Third, it's a conservative voice pointing out that even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions deeply and swiftly, we're still in for a LOT of fallout from the long-tail effects of what we've already pumped into the atmosphere. That's an observation that IMHO tends to be under-represented in the media coverage of AGW.

    The Vice article sensationalized this, 'cause that's what Vice does. But Schroders' admittedly self-serving blurb [schroders.com], is somewhat more matter-of-fact in tone. On balance, I feel that this 'dashboard' is a good thing.

  • The War Is Over (Score:4, Informative)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:08AM (#54982813)

    I notice Slashdot is the latest science/tech site to fall before the coordinated onslaught of relentless, right wing Global Warming deniers. Sensible people hardly ever bother commenting on Global Warming stories anymore. And increasingly, summaries getting posted are drawn from stories several iterations removed from original sources.

    Oh, well. Technology marches on, and thanks to China, the cost of solar is now so low we're only a few storage innovations away from watching corporations that have been funding GW deniers either adapt or crash and burn.

    • > notice Slashdot is the latest science/tech site to fall before the coordinated onslaught of relentless, right wing Global Warming deniers.

      Slashdot has always been more or less stable rational source of opinion due to unique balanced system of moderation that stood the test of time.

      You are talking complete nonsense.

  • Because thats how you get people to ignore global warming.

    Meanwhile we had a 1.5C increase in the last 250 years: http://berkeleyearth.org/data/ [berkeleyearth.org] (I like those guys because of Richard Muller who is not afraid to change sides if the data contradicts his theory)

    This here only talks about the recent findings:
    http://berkeleyearth.org/berke... [berkeleyearth.org] (2014-2015ish)

    They estimate that there could be another 1.5C increase within the next 50 years, so 7.8 is completely ridiculous as that would mean almost double that.

    sourc

    • Any ~8C scenario is necessarily going to involve such events as oceanic CO2 outgassing, thawing permafrost releasing methane and/or massive release of seabed methane. These things haven't happened yet because ~4C increase in temperature is a prerequisite for them. Hence it's nonsensical to argue that there would be only ~2C until 2050 or so, simply because that's what precedes the really catastrophic events.
      • Unless you can argue precisely and based on the collected data why such an event should only, and apparently suddenly, occur after more than 4C warming, I will stick to the assumptions and predictions of established climate science until new evidence becomes available.

  • Just because they want to consider a hypothetical scenario does not mean there's a scientific basis for it. Of course 10 degree C increase is possible in the event of some dramatic natural events.

    Such wild swing in temperature anywhere near +6 C, let alone more, within the next few centuries is extremely unlikely, however.

  • Thinking this through in unrealistic, amateur scientific method...

    Labrador is so tough that that Bear guy was pulled out while filming an episode because the temperature swing melted the fiord's ice and the chopper had no safe place to be. So, if Labrador was to be 14 degrees warmer, well;

    - Ice maybe from November to March?

    - Summers around 90F? Hmm, interesting.

    -Permafrost/tundra gone. Massive insect population growth. The midges and whatnot are already unbearable, so this would be salt in the wound that is

  • There's no reason to worry. As we speak Trump and Kim Jong Un are working on a plan to solve Global Warming once and for all!
  • If they actually gave a rats rump about anything other than making a profit, and IF they actually believe the alarmist statements they're making - they would ensure their $.5 Trillion investment portfolio excluded those companies making the problem worse.
    Also, like any amount of money will matter if the prediction of 8 degrees is realized. Sorry, but currency will fold long before that point.
  • it's unlikely investors will simply ignore this risk

    I wish I were optimistic enough to agree with this, but I think history shows pretty clearly that investors tend to favor solid near-term monetary gains over avoiding ephemeral long-term loss.

  • A global investment firm....nuff said! They'll make a killing initially on the lDIOTS that fall for this garbage, take the money and run when it falls flat on it's rear!
  • is selectively posting only extreme results of computer modeling of the future/

"What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite." -- Bertrand Russell, _Sceptical_Essays_, 1928

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