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Earth Science

Global Temperature Set To Reach 1 Degree C Over Pre-Industrial Levels (metoffice.gov.uk) 735

Layzej writes: Based on data from January to September, the HadCRUT dataset shows 2015 global mean temperature at 1.02 degrees C (±0.11 degrees C) above pre-industrial levels for the first time. The Copenhagen Accord recognizes "the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius (PDF)." Physicist Ken Rice points out that the next degree Celsius may be closer than we think. "It's taken us about 160 years to warm by about 1 degree C. This is associated with emissions of about 550GtC (550 billion tonnes of carbon, or ~2000 billion tonnes of CO2). Current emissions are around 10GtC/year. If we continue emitting as we are, we will double our cumulative emissions in about 50 years. If we continue to increase our emissions, it will be even sooner.
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Global Temperature Set To Reach 1 Degree C Over Pre-Industrial Levels

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  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:17PM (#50894315)

    ... if you let my wife fiddle with the thermostat.

    • ... wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat because when she came home the house felt cold so she turns it up to 90.

  • Thermometer accuracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:25PM (#50894435) Homepage
    How accurate were the thermometers they used in pre-indistrial times? Even now most temperature sensors are +/- 1 Degree C or worse. For a few quid you can get something that is accurate to +/- 0.2 degrees, provided you have it installed properly and it's only guaranteed that accuracy for the first few years after it's made (Sensirion sht75 for example)
    • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:32PM (#50894525)
      We're talking about 1880-s - at that time they were able to measure hundredths of a degree. With regular mercury thermometers.
    • It doesn't matter, on average. Let's say we know thermometers are off +/- 1 degrees. Maybe because the thermometer, maybe because of human error eyeballing the mercury, whatever. However, assuming it's as likely to be over as under (and there's been extensive research on that as well), the bad readings will more or less cancel each other out.

      If you only had one reading, for instance, you could really only say what the temperature was +/- 1 degrees. If you have a million, you could say you know almost for
    • The error of any single measurement is larger than the error of an average of them.

      For a measurement with error sigma, the error of the mean, aka standard error, [onlinestatbook.com], is sigma/sqrt(n). It shrinks in proportion to the square root of the number of measurements.

    • They may have been very accurate in past centuries if the individual thermometers were calibrated by comparing it to another thermometer that matched the freezing and boiling points of water precisely. Today scientific thermometers are calibrated to international standards or ASTM E2847.
    • The problem with pre-industrial times (which I will define as "before 1900", even though by 1900 we had a lot of industry), wasn't the thermometers, it was the lack of thermometers scattered throughout the world. Now we have thousands of them all over the world, but before 1900 sometimes measuring temperature in the southern hemisphere involved scooping a bucket of water out of the ocean and sticking a thermometer in it. Measurements were scattered and questionable. It wasn't until 1950 that we really built
  • A Good Thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Also known as one degree warmer than the Little Ice Age.

  • So is this milestone due to an increase in current temperatures, or a decrease in temperatures in pre-industrial times?

    • by Layzej ( 1976930 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:49PM (#50894739)
      Here is a 10,000 year view of global mean surface temperature: http://cdn.zmescience.com/wp-c... [zmescience.com]

      There was a slow cooling for about 6000 years, followed by an abrupt change in trajectory over the last century. The warming over the last century has been attributed to fossil fuel emissions.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:37PM (#50894583) Journal
    After we start investigating every single motor vehicle manufacturer out there and find out how many of them (all of them?) have been cheating emissions testing to meet mandates, how much CO2 and other 'greenhouse gasses' humans are actually responsible for.

    Oh, and all you climate change-deniers out there? Get yourself a CPAP mask, hook it up to the tailpipe of your car, and see how healthy it is for you to breathe that. Regardless of 'global warming' being a thing or not, isn't it time we started moving away from internal combustion engines? And burning coal? Even natural gas isn't that great in the long run. Time to grow up, everyone, and stop using these baby technologies that are poisoning us regardless. Redesign fission power plants so they're safer, operate them safer, build lots of them. Continue to develop fusion technology until it's practical. Better electric storage technologies so plug-in electric vehicles are more practical. Keep researching and developing high temperature superconductor technology, to eventually improve the efficiency of electric vehicles (and everything else that uses lots of power). Solar and wind to fill in the gaps while we're working on all the above (and by the way how would high temp superconductors improve solar?). Don't know about you but I'd welcome a motorcycle with a 500 mile-on-a-charge range and a superconducting powertrain, that would out-perform the best superbikes currently available.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @03:06PM (#50894903)

      I agree that moving away from IC engines would be good for the enviironment, and I agree that motor vehicles are a significant contributor to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gasses, but lets get this into persspective:
        The entire transportation sector only accounts for about 27% of the total man-made greenhouse gas (MMGG) emissions:
      http://www3.epa.gov/climatecha... [epa.gov]

      Of that 27%, Road transport accounts for 72%,
      http://www3.epa.gov/climatecha... [epa.gov]
      the rest is aviation and marine. That means about 19% of all MMGG is road vehicles.
      From http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/clima... [epa.gov]
        About 23% of that 19% is from heavy duty vehicles (so 18 wheelers etc are responsible for 4.37% of all MMGG), which means that all the millions of family cars on the road are actually only responsible for 14.6%.
      Clearly we need to target electricity generation (31%) and industry (21%) long before just beating up on car drivers more.

    • Regardless of 'global warming' being a thing or not, isn't it time we started moving away from internal combustion engines? And burning coal? Even natural gas isn't that great in the long run.

      That sounds nice, but we don't have decent replacements for those things yet. We should of course keep working on them, and one day they'll arrive... but as it stands, we're going to be burning coal 50 years from now, regardless of all the hand waving.

  • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:46PM (#50894683) Homepage
    ...can we continue emitting as we are for 50 years?

    If we continue emitting as we are, we will double our cumulative emissions in about 50 years. If we continue to increase our emissions, it will be even sooner.

    We all know the oil reserves will be severely depleted by 50 years from now if we just keep the current consumption rate. I doubt we can just keep the pace at which we are emitting greenhouse gases for 50 years. Before we reach the 50 years milestone, the oil price will skyrocket and consumption will collapse.

    • Although scientists don't have a great track record of predicting the end of "peak oil" ... it does seem to me that we're on track to phase out the burning of fossil fuels as a primary means of energy production.

      Without any legislative interference, we're going to find "supply and demand" will dictate a change of course in coming decades, if localized pollution issues don't dictate it in some cases first.

      What we DO know is that the major oil companies have been investing larger and larger amounts of money t

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      We all know the oil reserves will be severely depleted by 50

      Since the largest single source of anthropogenic CO2 is from coal, which is the most rapidly growing source of energy in the world and will remain abundant well beyond the next 50 years, running out of oil doesn't actually matter. Especially since our climate policy is about left-wing political prerogatives and not actual emissions, so we exempt all of the largest and fastest growing coal burners from limits, guaranteeing any CO2 emissions we might prevent ourselves will be matched and far exceeded by othe

  • Again, so what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by kwbauer ( 1677400 )

    So warmer than the early 1800s which were colder than the early-to-mid 1400s?

    The only reason for claiming that the early 1800s are the correct zero-point is to support a (false) claim that the only reason for the change can possibly be industrialization.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      So you are saying that CO2 has no effect on warming? Really? Hint: If you are scientifically illiterate, it doesn't help for you to goatse your ignorance all over slashdot for people to point at and laugh.

      CO2 is the main driver of warming. Without human activity, CO2 levels would be decreasing, as the natural sinks for CO2 are greater than the sources. We know it's industrial CO2 emissions which are driving warming. We know this. You simply stating that it's erroneous is pathetic, as you have no evid

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @02:55PM (#50894809) Homepage

    ...but what a load of hogwash. Today, we are one entire degree warmer than "pre-industrial temperatures", which they define as around 1850. Coincidental, I'm sure, that the "Little Ice Age" ended around 1850, meaning that they could hardly have picked a colder point in time. I should certainly hope that we are warmer than that! The Little Ice Age saw the largest glacier extents for thousands of years, devastating many communities as they were inexorably covered with ice [www.ccin.ca].

    Note, also, the temperature graph in that article - a lot more than one degree drop from temperatures a couple of centuries before, which brings us to the next point. They label today's temperature range as "uncharted territory", despite the fact that the planet was almost certainly warmer than this during the Medieval Warm Period, and before that during the Roman Climate Optimum [dailycaller.com].

    The rest of the TFA is all about beating the panic-drum.

    • Interesting: So if the warming we are presently observing is NOT the warming we expected (as an inevitable consequence of increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gas) when would we expect to see that warming come into effect?

      And doesn't your theory actually make the problem worse (since we have some sort of natural warming plus nobody has explained the mechanism whereby adding greenhouse gases causes zero warming (despite the obvious thermodynamic problems). So according to you that heat must be bunc

    • the planet was almost certainly warmer than this during the Medieval Warm Period, and before that during the Roman Climate Optimum

      Yeah, try looking the actual study [landscapeonline.de] next time, rather than conservative rags or biased blogs. Nowhere does it claim to offer data for the whole planet; rather, it looked only at tree fossil remains in a specific area in Sweden. Claims that this somehow demonstrates anything about the planet as a whole are the worst kind of cherry-picking.

      Speaking of, remember your dark implication that picking 1850 as the reference point "just happened" to coincide with the end of the Little Ice Age, and this was chosen deli

  • What's a "Global" temperature?
  • recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius

    There is no such scientific view. I admit there is a consensus that humans have caused some degree of warming and I even agree with that. But to blandly claim without a bit of supporting evidence that there is a consensus on what temperature range is best for us is ridiculous.

    What makes it worse is the lack of support for a temperature increase that small. There are a lot of countries that simply aren't on board with curbing human activities enough to avoid the cutbacks that are claimed to be necessary f

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @03:43PM (#50895343)
    While it is pithy and simple to set a target temperature goal, like 2C, i think it misses the overall implications of a changing climate. As the Nature article today on slashdot points out, even a mild temperature change could possibly do something like turn the entire Middle East extremely humid making it basically uninhabitable. Something this trivial, like a local increase in moisture over a relative small region, could provoke war, even nuclear war.

    There could be a change in ocean currents, or moisture content/cloud cover of other regions, or any number of other effects from relatively small changes in temperature that in themselves aren't dangerous but human reactions to them could actually be a 'doomsday' level.

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