Elephants, forests and the Wright brothers

Tropical forests are in the news. The Global Canopy Project has announced its Vivocarbon Initiative, an effort to encourage a rapid reduction in the felling of tropical forests. The GCP study forest canopies, and judging from the back page of their Forests First In The Fight Against Climate Change (PDF) describing their new campaign, they have a lot of fun doing it. Their point is simple, and supported by the IPCC WG3, Stern and others:

“Tropical rainforests are the elephant in the living room of climate change. It is unwise for politicians to arm wrestle over rising aircraft emissions when just the next five years of carbon from burning rainforests (20% of global GHG emissions) will be greater than all the emissions from air travel since the Wright brothers to at least 2025. Forests must come first in efforts to mitigate global carbon emissions because carbon capture or nuclear technology will make no major impact on reducing emissions before 2030, whilst we can tackle deforestation now, without the need for inventing new and expensive infrastructure.

IPCC WG3 SPM headline: we can afford it

The Working Group 3 Summary For Policymakers is easily the least readable of the three SPMs released this year:

“In 2030 macro-economic costs for multi-gas mitigation, consistent with emissions trajectories towards stabilisation between 445 and 710ppm CO2-eq, are estimated at between a 3% decrease of global GDP and a small increase, compared to the baseline. However, regional costs may differ significantly from global averages (high agreement, medium evidence).

Polar opposites

Interesting reading: on the one hand, Christopher, Lord Monckton, Britain’s most famous climate crank, is exposed as, well, something of a crank in a profile in The Observer, while James Lovelock comes on a bit strong in the Times Online.


‘Well,’ he says, breezily, ‘for a few years, the temperature will continue to rise, but nowhere near as fast as the alarmists would wish it to rise. Then solar physicists suggest that in the next solar cycle but one, and a solar cycle is about 10.6 years, there will be a considerable cooling of the Sun. And the panic will disappear.’ Hey presto.


If you want to get some idea of what much of the Earth might look like in 50 years’ time then, says James Lovelock, get hold of a powerful telescope or log onto Nasa’s Mars website. That arid, empty, lifeless landscape is, he believes, how most of Earth’s equatorial lands will be looking by 2050. A few decades later and that same uninhabitable desert will have extended into Spain, Italy, Australia and much of the southern United States. “We are on the edge of the greatest die-off humanity has ever seen,â€? said Lovelock. “We will be lucky if 20% of us survive what is coming. We should be scared stiff.â€?

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair‘s now annual Green Issue includes an excellent profile of Myron Ebell, the man behind the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s sceptical effluvia. Worth reading if only for the phrase:

Many of the skeptics are curmudgeons: old, bald, and bitter. But not Myron Ebell.

Old, bald and bitter. Who can they mean…?

IPPC mitigation report released

The Summary for Policymakers of the IPPC’s Working Group 3 Report is now available from the IPCC web site. It says we have to take early action, but that the cost is affordable. Reports at the BBC, Reuters, Guardian (UK) and New Scientist. More from me when I’ve had time to read it.
Link to PDFs: WG3 SPM, WG2 SPM, WG1 SPM. Full WG1 report (index of pdfs).

Of catheters and climate

It’s tough in Bangkok. There’s a deadline to meet, a summary for policymakers to agree on, and a lot of arguing to do. Reuters AlertNet puts an interesting spin on events as delegates struggle to finalise the IPCC Working Group III report:

At the Bangkok meeting, governments have proposed hundreds of amendments to the main document, a 24-page summary for policymakers dealing with the science and estimated costs of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“If you try to debate the thing word by word, nuance by nuance among 180 people, then you just don’t get anywhere. So the strategy is to push these things into small groups and then have the small groups report back,