Hansen’s 1988 Scenario C against Transient Climate Response in IPCC TAR 2001

In a recent comment at Cliscep Jit made the following request

I’ve been considering compiling some killer graphs. A picture paints a thousand words, etc, and in these days of short attention spans, that could be useful. I wanted perhaps ten graphs illustrating “denialist talking points” which, set in a package, would be to the unwary alarmist like being struck by a wet fish. Necessarily they would have to be based on unimpeachable data.

One of the most famous graphs in climate is of the three scenarios used in Congressional Testimony of Dr James Hansen June 23 1988. Copies are poor, being copies of a type-written manuscript. The following is from SeaLevel.info website.

Fig 3 of Hansen’s Congressional Test June 23 1988

The reason for choosing this version rather than the clearer version in the paper online is that the blurb contains the assumptions behind the scenarios. In particular “scenario C drastically reduces trace gas emissions between 1990 and 2000.” In the original article states

scenario C drastically reduces trace gas emissions between 1990 and 2000 such that greenhouse forcing ceases to increase after 2000.

In current parlance this is net zero. In the graph this results in temperature peaking about 2007.

In the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) 2001 there is the concept of Transient Climate Response.

TAR WG1 Figure 9.1: Global mean temperature change for 1%/yr CO2 increase with subsequent stabilisation at 2xCO2 and 4cCO2. The red curves are from a coupled AOGCM simulation (GFDL_R15_a) while the green curves are from a simple illustrative model with no exchange of energy with the deep ocean. The transient climate response, TCR, is the temperature change at the time of CO2 doubling and the equilibrium climate sensitivity, T2x, is the temperature change after the system has reached a new equilibrium for doubled CO2, i.e., after the additional warming commitment has been realised.

Thus, conditional on CO2 rising at 1% a year and the eventual warming from a doubling of CO2 being around 3C, then at the point when doubling has been reached temperatures will have risen by about 2C. From the Mauna Loa data annual average CO2 levels have risen from 316 ppm in 1959 to 414 ppm in 2020. That is 31% in 60 years or less than 0.5% a year. Assuming 3C of eventual warming from a CO2 doubling then the long time period of the transient climate response

  • much less than 1C of warming could so far have resulted from the rise in CO2 since 1959
  • it could be decades after net zero is achieved that warming will cease.
  • the rates of natural absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere are of huge significance.
  • Calculation of climate sensitivity even with many decades CO2 data and temperature is near impossible unless constraining assumptions are made about the contribution of natural factors; the rate of absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere; outgassing or absorption of CO2 by the oceans; & the time period for the increase in temperatures from actual rates of CO2 increase.
  • That is, change in a huge number variables within a range of acceptable mainstream beliefs significantly impacts the estimates of emissions pathways to constrain warming to 1.5C or 2C.
  • If James Hansen in 1988 was not demonstrably wrong false about the response time of the climate system and neither is TAR on the transient climate response, then it could be not be possible to exclude within the range of both the possibility that 1.5C of warming might not be achieved this century and that 2C of warming will be surpassed even if global net zero emissions is achieved a week from now.

Kevin Marshall

Excess and Covid-19 death rates

Last month the Daily Mail had an article on excess deaths against Covid deaths over 12 months for 30 countries. This was based on a more detailed article in the Economist. What I found surprising that the countries making the headlines here in the UK for Covid deaths – UK, USA & Brazil – were well down the list in terms of excess deaths per 100,000 population. Since then the Economist has extended the data set to include 78 countries and the cities of Istanbul and Jakarta. The time period also varies, from around 180 to 400 days, though mostly for about a year.

Given this limitation. there are number of observations that can be made.

  • Overall the 78 countries account for well under half the global population. Notable absences from the Economist data set are China, India, Indonesia (except Jakarta), Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
  • Total excess deaths are around 50% higher than than reported Covid deaths overall. That is 3.64 as against 2.43 million.
  • Excess deaths are slightly negative in a small number of countries. Most notably are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Philippines. Is this a cultural issue or a policy issue?
  • The worst country for excess deaths is Peru with 503 deaths per 100,000 for the period Mar 30th 2020-May 2nd 2021. Even allowing for the longer period, Peru is well above any other country. Covid deaths at 62,110 are just 38% of the excess deaths.
  • Next on the list with excess deaths per 100,000 and covid deaths as a percentage of excess deaths in brackets are Bulgaria (433, 53%), Mexico (354, 45%), Russia (338, 20%), Serbia (320, 24%), Lithuania (319, 43%), Ecuador (319, 34%), North Macedonia (304, 50%), Czechia (300, 81%) and Slovakia (270, 64%). Britain and USA, for comparison, are respectively 26th (180, 126%) and 25th (182, 93%).
  • All countries in the top 10 are either in Central / South America or Eastern Europe. Of the top 20, only South Africa (14th) and Portugal (20th) are outside these areas.
  • If countries are separated in excess death rankings by geography, maybe comparisons should be made between similar countries? In Western Europe the five large countries are Italy in 23rd (197, 74%) Britain in 26th (180, 126%), Spain in 28th (170, 100%), France in 37th (126, 125%) and Germany in 57th (63, 155%). Why should Germany be so much lower on excess and Covid deaths? Might it be that the Germans lead in following instructions, whilst the Italians & Spanish ignore them and the British tend more to think rules apply to people in general, but with many worthy exceptions for themselves and their immediate peers?
  • Peru not only has the highest excess death rate in the world, but some of the most draconian anti-covid policies. Could it be that some of the high excess deaths are the result of the policies? In Brazil, where lockdown policies are determined at state level, in some areas people are both deprived of a means to earn a living and get no assistance from the state.

There are many ways to look at the data. The Economist excess and covid deaths data gives far more insights than just crude deaths totals. Superficially it would suggest that problem areas are not, like early last year, in Western Europe, but in the Eastern Europe & South America. With the lowest death rates in the Far East, globally there are huge disparities that cannot be explained by differences in policy responses. It is more likely cultural factors play the greater role, although it is perfectly understandable why policy-makers would poo-poo what strongly suggested by the data. Moreover, with a lack of data from much of the world, and likely under reporting of Covid deaths in many countries, the true scale of the pandemic is likely vastly understated.

Kevin Marshall

Why not a 3rd Scottish Independence Referendum post deal with rump UK?

Today the Scots Nats might win an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, without the necessity of support from the greenies. It could even be an SNP majority without the support of Alex Salmond’s Alba party. If that were to occur there would be a strong mandate from the Scottish people for a second referendum on Scottish Independence, despite in 2014 it being abundantly clear that the Independence Referendum was a once in a generation decision. If the same time span between referenda on EU membership were adhered to then another would not be due until 2053.

However, those interested, like me (a) maintaining a union more than three centuries old and (b) not wanting to deliver the Scots into penury and tyranny, must concede that the SNP will continue their puerile political tantrums until they get way. Particularly if they get their overall majority the British Parliament might have to concede this or face having to annul a SNP referenda, like the Spanish with the Catalonians a few years ago.

More importantly, there are parallels with the 2016 EU Referendum, particularly around leavers being deceived and the alleged harms of a no-deal exit. As Scotland is far more closely bound to the UK than the UK was to the EU, any exit without a deal would be far more damaging than a no-deal Brexit. The major items to consider are

  • Continued use of pound sterling and any say by Scotland in the running of monetary policy.
  • Any continued subsidies by the UK of Scotland, as under the current Barnett formula or a program to wind them down.
  • Implicit subsidies of the UK in purchasing Scottish renewables, along with continued membership of the National Grid.
  • Fishing rights.
  • Trade deal to prevent a hard border with the rest of the UK.
  • A deal that includes taking on Scotland’s fair share of UK national debt.
  • At least advanced negotiations to join the EU, with encouraging signs from Spain (who fear Catalan & Basque separation) and Belgium, who fear a split between the Flanders & Wallonia.
  • The right of regions with a major “no” vote to have a separate vote to remain part of the UK. This was claimed for Scotland as part of the UK on the EU Referendum vote, so why not Southern Scotland and Shetland?
  • A Scottish constitution that ensures separation of the executive, legislature and judiciary. Alex Salmond’s recent tribulations suggest that the distinctions may have become blurred in a devolved Scotland.
  • Uncertainties leading to an exit of businesses and people from Scotland.

In fairness to the people of Scotland, given all the vast uncertainties and emotions in such a campaign, it would be best to timetable third referendum after about two years. Prior to this, the people of the rump UK should have a vote on any deal on future relationships with Scotland, particularly on borders, currency, UK national debt and subsidies to a foreign power. Thus the Scots can see whether they will be leaving with a deal or no deal, hard border or not etc. etc.

Kevin Marshall