Don’t tell Hansen

Because Kevin Anderson says that it is “improbable” that levels could now be restricted to 650 parts per million (ppm). Which blows Hansens target 350 out of the water. Not that it requires a luminary of KA standing to do that. Quite why the grauniad is using breathless climate-snuff-porn prose to report the bleedin’ obvious I don’t know – perhaps it really is true that people read the papers for titillation rather than news. Those with appropriate access can read what looks to be like the source paper (which begins with something I’ve been saying for a while, but he gets to say it in a nice academic place and dressed in nice academic prose: In the absence of global agreement on a metric for delineating dangerous from acceptable climate change, 2oC has, almost by default, emerged as the principal focus of international and national policy.).

But the reason for writing this is not to lay into Hansen, but to lay into Anderson (or at least the Anderson reported by the grauniad – I didn’t hear his talk and for all I know he didn’t say the nonsense they attribute to him. But I fear otherwise). Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media headlines and the corporate promises, he would say, carbon emissions were soaring way out of control – far above even the bleak scenarios considered by last year’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate change had been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very, very bad. is just wrong. As they note lower down, atmospheric CO2 is increasing at somewhere between 2-3 ppm/y, at a level of 380, which is to say well below 1%/y, which is the basic scenario that many climate models are fed with (more old stuff refers).

Someone must know where there is a pic comparing current CO2 levels against SRES starting in 1990 or somesuch (there is one in IPCC ’92 fix Ax.4 but the scale is so small you can’t tell anything useful from it… by eye, its says 2008 CO2 under is92a will be about 400 ppm).

Or perhaps we care about emission more than actual CO2 levels?

Wiki says that emissions were 8.4 GtC in 2006 (and if you find numbers nearer 30, remember you have to convert by (32+12)/12 = 44/12). IPCC ’92 fig A.3.1 thinks that the range of possible emissions might be between 7 and 11 (doing it by eye and using the Beano christmas activity book as a ruler). I suppose emissions went up in 2007, but I doubt they went over 11 GtC, so the idea that we are over the most pessimistic projections is tosh. Is92 looks to be about 9 GtC in 2007, from the graph, so at a guess we’re about on the line.

Someone has produced pretty pix of this recently… where?

[Update: some of the pix are at, and there is more at, inclusing inconclusive discussion of how much we should care -W]

[Update: also (saperlipopette!). From which perhaps the major point is… see how hard it is to tell which line we’re on -W]

10 thoughts on “Don’t tell Hansen”

  1. The figures I have seen for anthropogenic emissions in 2007 CE are

    1.5 GtC from deforestation

    8.5 GtC all other sources, principally fossil fuels

    10 GtC total


  2. Since August the world economy has sucked. We can anticipate that emissions will be lower in 2008-9 than in previous years. The interesting question is whether the sinks are becoming less efficient.


  3. William, I guess You refer to GlobalCarbonProject here:

    and see the slide 7 – they comment, that:

    “Current emissions are tracking above the most intense fossil fuel scenario established by the IPCC SRES (2000), A1FI- A1 Fossil Fuel intensive; and moving away from stabilization scenarios of 450 ppm and 650 ppm.”

    Maybe IPCC92 has different emission (concentration) paths?
    Still, methane concentration is stabilized for about 8 years, so everything is fine 😉 (just joking)

    [They say its above, but it looks like its within the A1F1 red to me. I’m not sure how worried we should be by this directly: as I said, actual atmospheric concentrations are still increasing by less than 1%/y; and as Eli points out, 2008 is probably going to show a much smaller increase than 2007 -W]


    MT informed:

    But Belette commented, so what is the point? 🙂


  4. Hello William,
    This may seem off topic but it may be the only effective solution.

    I am sure that your group will find some interest in my wind project.

    My esteemed friend Dr. Paul Curto recently ran his own numbers on my project.
    Paul has among other things, worked as a NASA patent evaluator.
    These are his results;

    To whom it may concern:
    My colleague, Mike Fallwell, has produced an extraordinary invention that shows great promise as a breakthrough in wind energy technology. His idea of using a glider flying on a tether at near right angles to the wind, much as a sailboat tacks at an angle to the wind, takes advantage of the flight characteristics to amplify the power extracted from the air mass. Simply stated, a typical windmill is slaved to a cross section of the air mass limited by the diameter of the blades. An aerial wind system, running on a tether, is limited by the product of the wingspan and the length of the tether that is used to traverse the air mass.

    Typical wind turbines, like those from Vestas, have a diameter of 80 meters and produce 1.8 MWe. They take up nearly a square kilometer of land and rise nearly 110 meters in height. Most of the components are built abroad and shipped for assembly here to the US from Vietnam, China, Denmark, and Germany. Each one costs well over $4 million. The energy costs, without subsidies, range from 4 to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

    The commercial scale version that would compete with wind farms might have a one kilometer flight range and a 40m winsgpan. Such a system would produce 4 MWe at 8 m/s (~15 MPH) average windspeed). This may sound unremarkable, but the actual ground speed of the wind would be half that of the wind at the altitude of the glider. The standard wind turbine would be stuck on the ground, where the windspeed may be below 4 m/s, and is only producing at a few hundred kilowatts at the same time.

    In production sufficient to build just one typical wind farm, the 4 MWe Fallwell Flyer configuration would cost probably less than $400,000, or $100 per kilowatt. Its annual output at a typical wind site would have a much higher capacity factor than a Vestas system, at least 60%. It would average over 5000 hours at peak power each year, or 20,000 MWHe annually.

    Therefore, its capital cost would be 20 times less than a Vestas and its energy cost as much as 40 times less — less than two-tenth of a cent per kWhe.

    Alvin Weinberg once bragged that nuclear power would be too cheap to meter. This time, it may be true, but the creator is Skypower — The Fallwell Flyer!

    –Dr. Paul A. Curto
    CCLLC Senior Consultant
    Potomac, MD 20854
    web site:

    Shouldn’t all the options be explored?
    Mike Fallwell

    Just a few days ago the FAA made a ruling that these systems
    would be classed as permanent structures
    that can be treated like any other wind turbine.


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