IPCC Scientist Says Climate Change Likely to Accelerate More Quickly and Be More Damaging Than Predicted
14 February 2009
Without decisive action, climate change this century is likely to accelerate at a much faster pace and cause more environmental damage than predicted, according to Professor Chris Field of Stanford University, and a leading member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years. We don’t want to cross a critical threshold where this massive release of carbon starts to run on autopilot.—Chris Field
Field gave his presentation, entitled “Carbon-Climate System and the Terrestrial Biosphere” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago during a symposium titled, “What Is New and Surprising Since the IPCC Fourth Assessment?”
We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge upsurge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal. If we’re going to continue re-carbonizing the energy system, we’re going to have big CO2 emissions in the future. As a result, the impacts of climate change will probably be more serious and diverse than those described in the fourth assessment.
In the fourth assessment, we looked at a very conservative range of climate outcomes. The fifth assessment should include futures with a lot more warming.—Chris Field
Of particular concern is the impact of global warming on the tropics. Tropical forests are essentially inflammable, according to Field, but if they dry out just a little bit, the result can be very large and destructive wildfires.
According to several recent climate models, loss of tropical forests to wildfires, deforestation and other causes could increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 10 to 100 parts per million (ppm) by the end of the century. This would be a significant relative increase, given that the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently more than 385 ppm.
It is increasingly clear that as you produce a warmer world, lots of forested areas that had been acting as carbon sinks could be converted to carbon sources. Essentially we could see a forest-carbon feedback that acts like a foot on the accelerator pedal for atmospheric CO2. We don’t exactly know how strong the feedback could be, but it’s pretty clear that the warmer it gets, the more likely it is that degradation of tropical forests will increase the atmospheric CO2.—Chris Field
For the fifth assessment report, Field said that he and his IPCC colleagues will have access to new research that will allow them to do a better job of assessing the full range of possible climate outcomes.
What have we learned since the fourth assessment? We now know that, without effective action, climate change is going to be larger and more difficult to deal with than we thought. If you look at the set of things that we can do as a society, taking aggressive action on climate seems like one that has the best possibility of a win-win. It can stimulate the economy, allow us to address critical environmental problems, and insure that we leave a sustainable world for our children and grandchildren. Somehow we have to find a way to kick the process into high gear. We really have very little time.—Chris Field
Drivel. And more desperate drivel...
Posted by: Stan Peterson | 14 February 2009 at 10:57 AM
Stan Peterson idiocy and desperate idiocy...
Posted by: Treehugger | 14 February 2009 at 11:06 AM
Dear Chris Field:
It's ever more embarrassing to watch IPCC scramble for new, more hysterical reasons to shriek Global Warming!! But you need to take a look at the latest Pew Poll on Policy Priorities (January 2009.) Global Warming comes in dead (deader than ever) LAST.
Let's hope that along with the avalanche (note climate reference) of science disproving AGW, you, IPCC, GCC, RC, and other enviro sites will read this poll and assign AGW its appropriate place at the bottom of your editorial process.
Basically Chris the poll shows that hey, NOBODY is listening to the fear-driven alarmism of your message. But there is redemption. The NEW message. Global Energy Independence. Freedom to produce our own energy and limit pollution and grow jobs and NOT be dictated to by religious minimalists. That's the REEL change coming your way Chris! Get on board or get outta the way.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 14 February 2009 at 11:16 AM
The Pew Poll result only reveals that people are willing to swallow any bit of blather that excuses them from being concerned about the real problems the planet is facing. I know its easier to believe the folks at the Heartland Institute (recipients of hundreds of thousands of REAL$$$ from Exxon and the same folks who are paid to tell you smoking doesn't cause cancer) than it is to look at the work of actual climate scientists but perhaps you should give it a shot instead of showering us with brain-dead patter.
Posted by: drivin98 | 14 February 2009 at 01:18 PM
The UN IPCC is a political body spitting out reports that are designed to support a predetermined political agenda.
As for Al Gore:
Gores film An Inconvenient Truth is full of lies. Not exaggerations. Not errors.
Al Gore air brushed out the little ice age and the medieval warming periods from his graphs in AIT. We wouldn't want people knowing that the earth was two degrees celsius warmer than it is now during the medieval warming period. Somehow man survived without the use of central cooling. Gore left off the little ice age because he wouldn't want to demonstrate that the warming trend he talks about began at the end of an ice age.
He also stated that sea lever would rise by 20 feet by the end of the century. Even the UN IPCC (harldy conservative on this issue) estimates only 4 to 36 inches.
Gore also suggested that the Aral Sea has dried up because of global warming. In actuality it has been drained for the irrigation of cotton crops.
Gore claims that for the first time ever, a significant number of polar bears had drowned. First of all, they can swim around fifty miles. Secondly, the researchers at one of America's most respected think tanks the Competitive Enterprise Institute tracked down the study Gore was quoting and found that only four polar bears had drowned during severe storm conditions.
Furthermore, he quotes a quickly debunked paper suggesting there is a 100% consenus among scientists that athropogenic global warming is real. Here are a few scientists who must have missed the memo:
It is worth noting that a UK Court ruled that AIT contained many errors and should not be shown in public schools without a warning about the errors.
I find it interesting that Al Gore talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. He jets around the world in his private plane. He rides around in gas guzzling limousines, and has a compound so wasteful of energy that it needs its own power grid. His houseboat more than likely isn't that energy efficient either.
I suppose conserving energy and fighting global warming is for the little people. Let the peasants drive the small dangerous energy efficient cars, I'll drive what I want.
Al Gore was worth about $2 Million Dollars when leaving office and is worth over $100 Million now. He's laughing all the way to the global warming bank. It's a pity some are too gullible to see it. As one of my favorite SNL characters might have said "global warming has been bery bery good to him."
By the way, the flat earthers were the ones who refused to debate. "The debates over, we have a consensus." Sound familiar? If anyone is a flat earther, it's Al Gore.
Everyone who has seen An Inconvenient Truth should view The Great Global Warming Swindle in order to get a more balanced view of the true state of the science on this issue.
You may view it by visiting:
It is the first video listed.
Dash RIPROCK III
Posted by: Dash RIPROCK III | 14 February 2009 at 01:27 PM
Is there anyone here who would like to dissent on any of the following statements?
1) We release gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually (eg. about 3 billion tons, just from coal, just in the US, in 2007 -EIA)
2) We are unearthing and releasing into the atmosphere carbon that has been stored in the depths of the earth for millions of years as fossil fuels.
3) Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are rising every year.
4) Historically, CO2 concentrations and global temperatures are very closely correlated.
5) CO2 is a known greenhouse gas, which is to say, it transmits visible light like that radiated from the sun, but absorbs IR radiation, like that radiated from the earth.
Clearly, these facts are not proof of anything, but the kind of proof you can construct in mathematics is really not something that science can offer. I'm particularly curious to know how Reel$$ thinks AGW is being "disproved".
Posted by: Nat Pearre | 14 February 2009 at 02:17 PM
The warming period of the middle age was limited to the north atlantic it was not a global warming like what we are fearing right now.
The Great Global Warming Swindle is certainly no more honnest than Al Gore, they try to make people believe that all the warming we are seeing right now is only due to solar variations when these solar variations account for only 30% at best of the warming. There is clearly exageration in the movie of Al Gore but they are for the right fight when the exageration of the AGW naysayer are for the bad fight.
Posted by: Treehugger | 14 February 2009 at 03:45 PM
NO there is lots of evidence that the MWP was worldwide. Speakling of "Global Warming" there is no evidence that the Southern hemispheres has warmed at all sice the 1960s. And now the Northern hemispherr has not warmed since 1998 after warming between1979 and 1998. A period of 19 years. The decade of cooling is fully half as long as the AGW warming espisode and gives no sign of changing, but growing increasingly cooler. Unlike the AGW warmist religious nuts, we scientists attribute that to natural periodic oscillations and will in due course the weather will warm once again. And then cool, and then warm, and then cool...
Only Chicken Littles think each turn portends disaster. Unless... they have ulterior motives and are just doing it cynically for more taxes and power.
Posted by: ExDemo | 14 February 2009 at 05:17 PM
There is no point in debating with faith-based believers in their pre-determined "reality." This should not be a debate but an examination of evidence to make reasonable decisions. Some people seem to think balance reasoning means listening to two sides, even when one has no factual basis. No point in arguing with them.
Real$$, while I may disagree with you about global warming, I do agree that energy independence will get us to the same place. Therefore, why debate the outcome when we could be discussing ways to get there?
Posted by: JMartin | 14 February 2009 at 05:22 PM
Every one of your statements is either false, irrelevant, or only half correct.
The naturral CO2 fluxes dwarf mankinds contribution by multiple orders of magnitude rendering them true, but irrelevant. Any effect is minor and tertiary.
CO2 is being eaten out of the atmosphere as rapidly as we re-add it, by Plants. As we slacken, as out technology improves, they will eat it back to the stunted plant environment that AGW nuts think of as "normal". Then we will wish it were there.
We "terrible" North Americans already sequester all we produce and then some CO2 from Eurasia. Go pester some that don't clean up their own messes, and leave us alone. We already did our part.
Your view of atmospheric radiation theory is too poor and simplistic to bear discussing. Learn what reality is and then we can have an intelligent discussion.
Posted by: ExDemo | 14 February 2009 at 05:39 PM
I believe that climate change is a fact. Everyone needs to get more educated on ways to clean up our environment to prevent global warming from spiraling out of control. A really great book that gives a lot of great insight on the subject matter is a book titled, "Agenda for a Sustainable America," by John Dernbach. This is a must read book for anyone who cares about America's future.
Posted by: bookluver321 | 14 February 2009 at 05:44 PM
The debate is necessary because "the debate is over" was foisted upon the public before they heard the other side. A freshman psyche student knows that *shaming* is a favorite tool of behavior modifiers and cults - like, unfortunately, AGWs. Anthropogenic warming is a fumbled attempt to shame the population into drastic measures that enrich a minority (e.g. carbon traders) and promulgate an anti-industrial political agenda.
Global Energy Independence on the other hand calls for positive, science-based actions to transition from fossil fuels to electrification and alternatives. No shaming. No doctored or gussied up data to fit the agenda. Just the hard and difficult facts that reliance on fossil energy addicts people and nations to single point energy resources (foreign oil & gas.) And the monetary and political ramifications are crippling at multiple levels of society.
Global Energy Independence demands new forms of energy and pollution controls (NOT CO2)that free people from one more cause of conflict. And it means directing funding not to more "proof" for shaming (AGW) but at solutions addressing the real issues of sustainability.
In short, the blame and shame game does not fly. The "let's be self-reliant" and end one reason for global conflict game does. Other social benefits (health, jobs, environment, etc) are a part of the same message. THAT is the Inconvenient Truth.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 14 February 2009 at 05:51 PM
Intellectually I believe in AGW.
Instinctively I am not so sure (and Gore’s BS certainly did not help).
I firmly believe that the instinct to disbelieve is wishful thinking, but I am slipping.
I list (arbitrary) odds that parts of this issue are “true”.
95% - All earth is actually warming; 1980 – 1998, 95%, 1998-2008, 80%
97% - GW is due to CO2 increase
97% - CO2 increase is primarily man caused
85% - It is NOT too late ALREADY, to significantly help
80% - US is able to forge effective measures if “committed”
90% - US WILL commit to effective reduction if/when GW becomes undeniable
50% - A fully committed US will be ABLE to reduce CO2 emissions to safe levels
30% - A US reduction of CO2 emissions will lead to effective global reductions
90% - Attainable global reductions of CO2 will prevent GW catastrophe
7.4% - Mathematical Product
Each item can be argued and they might not add up linearly, but I think this shows that there is real reason to doubt that we will see this through to avoid catastrophe on our present path. 8% chance that we should attack CO2, is not good.
The first 3 items represent “is AGW true” and that subtotal, 90%, is rather high so I think this listing might be biased in favor of AGW.
So we should ask, are we aiming in the right direction. If you do not have the range to get to the green over the pond, re-aim left or right.
But if we are not on the right course, will a little left or right help here?
Posted by: ToppaTom | 14 February 2009 at 08:07 PM
Reel$$, have you taken your pills lately? The world's scientific community are coordinating some kind of conspiracy to enrich a trading minority with some anti-industrial political agenda? Time to call your doctor.
Posted by: Marcus | 14 February 2009 at 09:03 PM
Good to see that your "Debunker's Manual" is not wasted on you. Too bad that the ideas in it are ANCIENT, outdated, old and OVER! Even the psychologically impaired decode your old skool "conspiracy" tactics as the pathetic attempts of the out of touch.
Get with it man! Your old world is OVER. Children can see through your old fashioned debunkery. Children! You need a new manual Marcus. Trouble is it'll be useless before the ink is dry. That's how fast and easy it is to disassemble your psyops. LOL
Posted by: Reel$$ | 14 February 2009 at 11:14 PM
Tropics all over geological history of Earth were of essentially same climate: hot and moist. Two things “thermostabilizes” tropics: enormous amount of solar radiation does not allow tropics to cool, and exponential increase in water evaporation over oceans with even slight temperature increase does not allow temperature in tropics to increase somehow significantly.
Periods of much cooler and much warmer global climate in the past were just expansion and contraction of tropical zones, with corresponding expansions and contraction of subtropics and temperate zones.
It is very well possible that if Earth climate will warm substantially, cold polar regions will contract substantially, and their ecosystems will change dramatically. Warming and drying of tropics is physically impossible.
Posted by: Andrey Levin | 15 February 2009 at 01:19 AM
I suggest folks read the recent book by someone who has NOT, until fairly recently, had anything more than a cursory interest in the subject of AGW. That author is the award-winning Canadian war journalist / military affairs columnist: Mr. Gwynne Dyer.
During his career, he has been in the CDN, US, and UK navies. He produced the 7-part TV series, doc film: "WAR". It's no surprise he is well-connected with western military leaders and strategists.
Roughly 2 years prior to starting this book, Mr. Dyer became aware that military strategists had begun factoring in global warming into their long term scenarios and plans. That's what they're paid to do. As professionals in the field of national security threats, they must separate and distinguish the credible threats from baseless or spurious claims that come along.
Seeing such strategists placing stock in IPCC global warming scenarios, Mr. Dyer decided to conduct his own research in the form of interviewing a variety of scientists, poiticians, military strategists, and economists.
The book is called: "Climate Wars".
Buy it, borrow it, get it at the library... but read this book.
Post your comments on his "Scenario 4: Northen India, 2036", or "Scenario 7: Wipe Out". Here's an excerpt:
"It was a much simpler global society now: 300 million people speaking only two major languages, English and Russian, clustered around the shores of the Arctic Ocean (although those shores, after 70 metres of sea-level rise, would have been unrecognizable to their great-grandparents). There were scattered habitable parts of the world further south, like the Britsh archipelago, Newfoundland, and mountainous interior of British Columbia..."
Posted by: Shane Ervin | 15 February 2009 at 06:39 AM
1st : I am scientist to so cool down please.
2nd : where are the sources of your statements, I'd like to check if they are serious whicj I doubt
3rd : if AWG is a conspiracy why are mountain glacier collapsing evrywhere ? because earth is cooling ?
4th : if AWG is a conspiracy why sea level is going up steadily?
5th : if AWG is a conspiracy why is ocean getting more acidic ?
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 10:47 AM
The military are an interesting source of information because they evaluate risks coldly without emotion or political bias, so their sources are serious in general because they cross check them, which doesn't mean they can't be wrong sometimes.
Not only the Pentagon study risks associated with AWG very seriously they also look at risks associated with peak oil very very very seriously...
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 10:52 AM
For those who say that the earth is cooling since 1998, I am wondering where they take their sources, here is a link that shows steady increase of global temperature until 2006.
Source : Nasa Godard Institute for Space Studies
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 11:53 AM
Instead of lecturing on others with your "scientfic background" which I seriously doubt about, I encourage you to post your sources for your brutal statements, I have serious doubt about their reliability...just my feeling of scientist
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 11:57 AM
"Nat, Every one of your statements is either false, irrelevant, or only half correct."
Well that sounds like it should be an easy thing to demonstrate. I numbered them for just that reason.
"The natural CO2 fluxes dwarf mankind's contribution by multiple orders of magnitude (...). Any effect is minor and tertiary."
In annual averages, the North Americian biosphere absorbs 1.7 +/- 0.5 Pg(carbon) per year.
America alone releases about 6 billion metric tons of CO2.
6E9 tons = 6E12 kg = 6 Pg. #CO2 * 12/44 = # C, so we release 1.63 Pg(carbon) per year. What's your definition of "multiple orders of magnitude"?
In addition, Canada and Mexico are included in the first study but not in the second. Also, the first study is now 15 years old. I suspect (but do not have data) that less land is lying fallow today than it was 15 years ago, which would drive down carbon uptake, not to mention the droughts wracking the US South-East, where much of that uptake takes place.
"CO2 is being eaten out of the atmosphere as rapidly as we re-add it, by Plants. As we slacken, as out technology improves, they will eat it back to the stunted plant environment that AGW nuts think of as "normal". Then we will wish it were there."
I thought you just said our contribution had no effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations...
"We "terrible" North Americans already sequester all we produce and then some CO2 from Eurasia. Go pester some that don't clean up their own messes, and leave us alone. We already did our part."
I am "us". I think we should be world leaders, not world whiners waiting for Europe and China to develop the necessary technology and manufacturing capacity and sell it to us.
"Your view of atmospheric radiation theory is too poor and simplistic to bear discussing. Learn what reality is and then we can have an intelligent discussion."
Clearly I simplified the relationships between EM radiation and CO2. I did so for purposes of brevity. As I suspect everyone on this board knows (at least as far as I know what reality is) those relationships are not binary, but the effect is real. Perhaps you would like to shed some light on why CO2 is not in fact a greenhouse gas... or why there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect? [Caution: That was a strawman... don't fall for it.]
Posted by: Nat Pearre | 15 February 2009 at 01:34 PM
Like you I am conviced that ExDemo who presents himself as a scientist, just claim facts that are not true and for which he has no serious or reviewed or even proven reference.
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 03:41 PM
The facts are that there is a clear consensus amongst scientists about percentage of man made CO2. And that is about .02% of the total .0385ppm CO2 atmosphere or .00077 percent.
Obviously people who resort to using units of mega and gigatons hope that most people will be awed by the apparent size, rather than the actual percentage of Earth's real atmosphere. Man's contribution to global CO2 is hardly worth mentioning - unless you are a misanthrope.
Posted by: sulleny | 15 February 2009 at 05:33 PM
Please provide a link to the fact you bring up so that we can check it is scientifically serious (which I doubt).
Thanks to understand that we can not buy whatever statement from AWG naysayer that are not backed by data, given their bias toward the easy path that consists in denying and doing nothing
Posted by: Treehugger | 15 February 2009 at 06:02 PM