What should we do after we stop Global Warming?

The Keeling Curve using data up to 2150. Back in 2013 no one would have imagined that we could make it peak at only 512 ppm.

The Keeling Curve using data up to 2150. Back in 2013 no one would have imagined that we could make it peak at only 512 ppm. I think this is one of humanity’s greatest collective achievements. Which problem should we tackle next?

Sometimes I like to imagine having different problems to solve. Somehow problems we face right now seem very hard, whereas non-urgent problems, or other people’s problems  seem to have obvious solutions.

While musing on this I considered the possibility that we had collectively solved the problem of Global Warming and Climate Change. Even just imagining this lifted my spirits. And so I was able to wonder: what problem should be next? If we can solve that one, surely there is nothing we can’t do?

“Hang on!” I hear you say, “Before you go solving humanity’s next eco-problem, could you just explain how we solved the Global Warming ‘thing’?”. Sure.

Well it took a few years of the usual equivocation. But then in 2019 several events conspired to focus the minds of governments. Firstly there was the 40% reduction in the US grain crop and a similarly bad year in Russia. This was the first summer in which the North Pole was ice-free for months – and this somehow shocked people and changed popular sentiment – even amongst ‘right-wing’ media.

The previous bitter winter in Northern Europe had been followed by a summer heat-wave with temperatures of 45 degrees in Scotland. These twin seasonal extremes had killed thousands of people and left crops and livestock devastated. So when governments met in the blistering heat of the 2020 International Brighton Conference – some how everything came together. Governments competed with each other to show how radical they could be.

Things moved quickly. During the following summer a vast international flotilla created millions of square kilometres of fog-mist in the Arctic Ocean, reflecting the summer heat and tying the circumpolar winds as far north as possible. After two years, the arctic sea ice began to thicken and its summer extent began to grow back. Even the permafrost began to cool again as a the snow-line moved south.

In the developed nations, radical measures were finally accepted. Enforced car-sharing, compulsory insulation of houses, night time switch-offs and widespread tele-working reduced  carbon emissions by 30% in just three years. The results could be seen on the Keeling curve. Then the 2043 eruption of Mount Biggo-Wunno dramatically affected global temperatures for the next decade, and despite the devastation, helped moderate the warming in both hemispheres.

Of course this just slowed the rate of increase – it took the rest of the century to turn around the rising CO2 levels, see them stabilise at the previously unthinkably low 512 ppm, and finally fall for the first time in 2092. There were plenty of problems along the way – and plenty of consequences of climate change to cope with.

During the first decades of the century, our understanding of climate, weather and computing all evolved exponentially. Our ability to make informed decisions was transformed with the 2029 implementation of the devolved computing paradigm (DCP). Immediately meteorologists were able to run realistic models that could predict real weather 3 weeks in advance. And climate modellers found that they could finally predict the effects of specific policy actions in way that convinced politicians.

But the modelling revealed what we had already known one hundred years previously. Without anthropogenic interference, the Earth would have been drifting towards a new ice age. Now, having changed our lifestyles and geo-engineered specific solutions, could we really let that happen just because it was a ‘natural’ trend?

4 Responses to “What should we do after we stop Global Warming?”

  1. tombreyfogle Says:

    Good post, but in the fourth paragraph, please change the “USSR” to “Russia!”

  2. tekguyjeff Says:

    Always talk about the future. Dr Hansen made predictions (up to 14 years) which did not occur. Please send me any empirical evidence that there is a cause of Catastropic Global Warming. Thanks

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      Tekguyjeff,

      Hi.

      1. Your commenting on a 4 year old article! Get with it.
      2. Dr Hansen’s predictions made in 1981 now look pretty good: but the warming has been even larger. Look here

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

      to see how the predictions shape up.

      Mmmm. I am not quite sure what you are denying.

      Are you denying that there is global warming? Good luck with that: the data are in and the Arctic Sea Ice is melting.

      Or are you saying it is happening but has no cause? Wow. You believe that things’ just happen?

      Well if you look at more recent articles (2017) on this blog you will see a careful evaluation of the effects of carbon dioxide on the optical transmission through the atmosphere. The effects are real and measurable – or do you think the 500 gigatons of carbon dioxide we have put in the atmosphere so far have had no effect at all?

      Explain yourself!

      Best wishes

      Michael

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