Well before mid century we will probably pass a threshold beyond which we’ll really regret having not curtailed the release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere in the form of Carbon Dioxide. The best case scenario for “business as usual” release of the greenhouse gas is that some of the carbon, or some of the heat (from sunlight) gets taken out of the main arena (the atmosphere and sea surface) and buried or reflected somewhere for a while, and this all happens on a slightly delayed time scale.

The reason we know this is a little thing called science. And, more exactly, physics. And physics is math embedded in reality (or reality draped on math if you like), so there’s also math. And here is the formula:

the formula

the formula

For instructions as to how to use this formula to understand the statements in the first paragraph of this post, including the data you need to do the calculations, visit this new item on Scientific American’s web site, Why Global Warming Will Cross a Dangerous Threshold in 2036, by climate scientist Michael Mann. He’s also got an article in the print edition of Scientific American, which I’ve not seen because I let my subscription lapse.

Comments

  1. #1 Herbert
    The Matrix
    March 18, 2014

    What’s the significance of the red and blue on the graph? Why is the baseline temp not at the bottom, but is at 57.6?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    March 18, 2014

    The blue and red extend above or below a baseline climatic average, and show anomalies, below or above said baseline.

  3. #3 Peter
    Australia
    March 19, 2014

    Interesting graph, at first glance the relationship seems to be clear and strong. I note the current level of CO2 is 399.49 ppm [which would place it bang on the top right corner of the graph] however, the temperature/baseline climatic average [if this graph is based on HadCRUT4 data], has remained [from a rough eyeball glance] lower for every subsequent year the graph has not be updated for. Could we see an identical comparative graph that goes to and includes 2013?

  4. #4 catweazle666
    March 19, 2014

    Looks like a bad case of “pause” denial to me.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 19, 2014

    What do you mean by “pause”?

  6. #6 See Nick Overlook
    March 19, 2014
  7. #7 Juice
    March 19, 2014

    Peter, the graph obviously goes to 2013.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    March 19, 2014

    This might address some of the questions.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics/Escalator_2012_500.gif

  9. #9 Peter
    Australia
    March 20, 2014

    Hi Juice,

    Each ‘dot’ along the horizontal axis represents 5 years.

    The last coloured bar in the graph is data for 2009.

    CO2 certainly rose above 390 ppm in 2011.
    The last year the CO2 graph covers is *perhaps* for the year 2009.

    Again, it would be good to see a comparative graph utilising up-to-date data…I don’t have the programs though.

    My Data:
    CO2 is here: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
    HadCRUT4 is here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT4.png

    Peter

  10. #10 Peter
    March 21, 2014

    Anyone have an up-todate graph? Greg?

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