Note to Denialists: Climate Change is Irreversible

Global warming graph

Joe Romm of Think Progress points out that, among the other things they are completely wrong about, the political opponents of climate science also think that we can go backwards by cutting carbon emissions.

This notion that we can reverse climate change by cutting emissions is one of the most commonly held myths — and one of the most dangerous, as explained in this 2007 MIT study, “Understanding Public Complacency About Climate Change: Adults’ mental models of climate change violate conservation of matter.”

…The fact is that, as RealClimate has explained, we would need “an immediate cut of around 60 to 70% globally and continued further cuts over time” merely to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 – and that would still leave us with a radiative imbalance that would lead to “an additional 0.3 to 0.8ºC warming over the 21st Century.” And that assumes no major carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, which seems highly unlikely.

We’d have to drop total global emissions to zero now and for the rest of the century just to lower concentrations enough to stop temperatures from rising. Again, even in this implausible scenario, we still aren’t talking about reversing climate change, just stopping it — or, more technically, stopping the temperature rise…

We all need to understand that it’s too late to prevent global warming, and that climate change is happening now. It’s irreversible (except over thousands of years). All we can do at this point is try to minimize the amount of warming, and develop plans to cope with the effects of climate change on our economy and way of life. But our political system thrives on myths, and the truth is still getting shouted down.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh is claiming contrary to basic physics that “carbon in the atmosphere may actually be making things cooler, not warmer.”

  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on April 2, 2013 - 2:21 pm

    UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh is claiming contrary to basic physics that “carbon in the atmosphere may actually be making things cooler, not warmer.”

  2. #2 by brewski on April 2, 2013 - 5:05 pm

    Why is it that you insist on quoting sources which are six degrees separated from the source?

    Your post looks like this:

    YOU ==> Media Matters ==> Rush Limbaugh ==> The Economist ==> Ka-Kit Tung and Jiansong Zhou in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Why don’t you just go read the actual source and not be the lazy uneducated unthinking uncritical ignorant I-couldn’t-get-in-to-SLCC upisdownist that you are?

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on April 2, 2013 - 5:32 pm

    It’s not necessary to read a scientific paper to know that Rush Limbaugh is wrong. ;-)

  4. #4 by cav on April 2, 2013 - 5:38 pm

    Please, not to overlook the plethora of scientific evidence that Rush and his ilk are full of it.

    Soupy-Sales had more credibility.

  5. #5 by Larry Bergan on April 2, 2013 - 6:00 pm

    If Rush Limbaugh dies tomorrow, they will start playing compilations of past shows for ten more years.

    I have to say though. The weather this year in Salt Lake has been as normal as it can get. Even the April showers arrived exactly on time.

    Of course last year was the complete opposite.

  6. #6 by Larry Bergan on April 2, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    I get it now!

    Richard’s scary chart was posted on April fools day.

    We’ve been had.

  7. #7 by cav on April 2, 2013 - 9:14 pm

    It’s half chart and half aroused trans-vaginal probe, it is.

  8. #9 by cav on April 16, 2013 - 5:17 pm

    The future of life (as we know it) is uncertain!

    Not necessarily a proponent of the status quo.

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