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Working the CO2 Budget: Planning to Avoid Climate Catastrophe

Otherbasic global warming topics

* Quick Summary
* CO2 and immediate effects
* Working the Climate CO2 Budget(you are here>
* More Climate CO2 Budget
* Getting to Complexities

(Don't wait for a more favorable climate, someday...) :-}

Background Basics

The budget limit:

The following was said in 2012 by

Here are the three numbers you shouldn’t forget: 
  • 2 degrees C — Almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2 degree C (3.6F) rise would be unsafe. We have already raised the temperature .8 degrees C,  and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30 percent more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, the climate dice are loaded for both devastating floods and drought.
  • 565 gigatons — Scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees. Computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 levels now, the temperature would still rise another 0.8 degrees above the 0.8 we’ve already warmed, which means that we’re already 3/4s of the way to the 2 degree target.
  • 2,795 gigatons– The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a team of London financial analysts and environmentalists, estimates that proven coal, oil, and gas reserves of the fossil- fuel companies, and the countries (think Venezuela or Kuwait) that act like fossil-fuel companies, equals about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain 2 degrees of warming.

This budget has been pretty well accepted by science as agreeing with 2 degrees C of warming, and 2 degrees of warming is seen as the maximum before probable major risks.  It does NOT guarantee that major problems will not be provoked before we get there.  It simply has become the accepted boundary between "ouch" and "wow".

The Running rate:

The EPA provides the following that shows US carbon footprint by year:

this is edit target The following is a good reference ath the EPA site, but because of current politics the original may disapear. Link: Image of page:

List of emissions of "all" countries as of 2013 emissions estimates.

EDGAR (database created by European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) released 2013 estimates. The following table lists the 2013 estimate of annual CO
emissions estimates (in thousands of CO
tonnes) from these estimates along with a list of emissions per capita (in tonnes of CO
per year) from same source.

Country CO
emissions (kt)[12]
Emission per capita (t)[12]
 World 35,270,000 -
 China 10,330,000 7.4
 United States 5,300,000 16.6
 India 2,070,000 1.7
 Russia 1,800,000 12.6
 Japan 1,360,000 10.7
International transport 1,070,000 -
 Germany 840,000 10.2
 South Korea 630,000 12.7
 Canada 550,000 15.7
 Indonesia 510,000 2.6
 Saudi Arabia 490,000 16.6
 Brazil 480,000 2.0
 United Kingdom 480,000 7.5
 Mexico 470,000 3.9
 Iran 410,000 5.3
 Australia 390,000 16.9
 Italy 390,000 6.4
 France 370,000 5.7
 South Africa 330,000 6.2
 Poland 320,000 8.5

So, the annual carbon footprint of the world's humans is about 35 GigaTons of CO2.  About 5 GigaTons of that is from the U.S.

Consequence of budget vs. run rate:

Combining the carbon budget from tells us that if we were to keep on at 2013 footprint, we would use up 565 GigaTons in 565/35 = 16 years.   That would mean that if we did nothing for 16 years, we would have to immediately shut off all use of fossil fuels to prevent expected catastrophic warming.

Frog in the Pot

Image result for frog in the pot

Quoted from the Wikipedia:

The boiling frog story is a widespread anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually, such as climate change.[1]
Evidence is that the water has to be heated VERY SLOWLY for this the frog not to jump out of the pot. So, you can take the story as metaphorical, or just recognize that we do have a very slow phenomena relative to heating of pots.

One of the issues not stressed often enough is that the heating of the earth that results from CO2 in the atnosphere takes years and years.  The CO2 blanket that we  create now will cause this heating to take place for centuries before the CO2 might get reduced enough to stop the heating, or the heat get to a new balance point at a higher temperature.

It is very possible for us to set in motion the end of civilization, even though the actual catestrophic effect might not take place for decades.  In this case, the budget and run rate says we could go for 16 years, and then shut down our use of fossile fuels, and we will be teetering on the edge of distruction, for which we might have to wait many decades.

Taking various actions:

Of course, we don't have to be so silly as to wait 16 years before we get seriously started on fixing the situation.  Here are some results of changing annual CO2 run rates.  The nice thing is that seriously making a change right now prevents us from having to make major changes later.

working_the_climate_co2_budget.txt · Last modified: 2017/10/27 07:37 by admin