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Limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees now looks impossible


May 31, 2011

Last year at the UN climate change talks in Cancun, it was agreed that cutting emissions sufficiently to limit the world's temperature increase to 2°C would require a far‑reaching transformation of the global energy system. To limit the world's temperature increase to 2°C, it was agreed that the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would need to be limited to around 450 parts per million of carbon-dioxide (CO2). Sadly, the International Energy Agency has just released figures indicating that energy-related CO2 emissions in 2010 were the highest ever, reaching 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt). This means that to achieve the 2020 target, where emissions must not be greater than 32 Gt, emissions will need to rise less over the next ten years in total than they did between 2009 and 2010.

"Our latest estimates are another wake-up call," said Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA who oversees the annual World Energy Outlook, the Agency's flagship publication.

"The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2ºC target is to be attained. Given the shrinking room for manœuvre in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal agreed in Cancun."

The IEA estimates that 40% of global emissions came from OECD countries in 2010, but OECD countries only account for 25% of emissions growth compared to 2009. Non-OECD countries - led by China and India - saw much stronger increases in emissions as their economic growth accelerated.

That said, OECD countries emitted 10 tonnes of CO2 per capita on average, compared with 5.8 tonnes per capita for China, and 1.5 tonnes per capita in India.

In terms of fuels, 44% of the estimated CO2 emissions in 2010 came from coal, 36% from oil, and 20% from natural gas.


Per capita measurements are worse than useless, but not as useless as the graph posted with this article.

\"Economic value of fossil-fuel consumption subsidies...\" Why?

Grimsby Bruce

The UN, The Int\'l Energy Agency and a handfull of other self-serving crooks have perpetrated one of the greatest hoaxes ever seen by the world, Global Warming..


Shame on Gizmag for publishing this kind of political/junk science. Stick to technology.

Mark in St. Louis

I have two words "Climate Gate" After conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organized resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more the scientists appointed by the United Nations at University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit could not prove any correlation between CO2 (green house gases) and climate change. These scientists manipulated evidence, had private doubts about whether the world really is heating up, suppressed evidence, fantasized about violence against prominent Climate Skeptic scientists, attempted to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), and plotted how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. After all of this the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could prove NO CONNECTION between CO2 and climate change.


From a technology standpoint, Gizmag authors should be smart enough to know that all humanity working together could not raise or lower global temperatures.

Archaelogists tell us that in the distant past, the entire earth was a tropical rain forest. If man did not cause that bout of \"global warming,\" why do today\'s \"experts\" think we caused this one (if indeed global temperatures are increasing)?

Proponents of global warming tout computer models based on data from worldwide temperature sensors. Really? How many centuries have those stations been in place? For that matter, how long have accurate thermometers been in existence?

Gizmag: Challenge us with technologically new and unique ideas. The proponents of global warming are already challenging the gullibility of people around the world. Don\'t sully your reputation by joining them.


Love how you are willing to sell your scientific soul for a political what? Climate change and global warming is impossible to be affected at present by MAN... a scientific place such as yours should not take a political stance - especially when fraud and other misrepresentations are tied in with the theory - shame on you

Macho Slavich

Folks, this is a science and technology blog where we stick to reality. Please save the Alex Jones/Tea Party conspiracy talk for somewhere else. Science has declared human-caused global warming to be reality, just like evolution and gravity. Please don\'t accost Gizmag for reporting on all three.


Whether we could heat up the climate or not, it doesn\'t really matter. What matters is the fact that our planet has limited resources but the growth of population, the extensive consuming of natural resources and the pollution is exponentially growing. Do your math.

It will definitely led to crisis. Depending on your age you could see it in your life, or you would die sooner. Maybe the latter is more lucky.

Iván Imhof

@ Jed: Get informed about \"climate gate\".

@ bgstrong: Don\'t be a hater

@ AllenH: No one is saying Earth was never hot like in the past, the problem is that it is getting hotter faster than it did before (over decades instead of thousands of years) and adaptation of species won\'t be able to keep up and there could be collapse of ecosystems. Sure life on earth will go on, but it\'ll be a rough ride. Obviously those sensors haven\'t been in place for a long time. Don\'t be obtuse. But they use many other techniques to determine history of climate (ice core samples among them). Lighten up a bit.


Wow! A lot of tin hat wearing, because its far easier to believe that 10,000s of scientists are working to hod wink the entire planets population. Maybe should hang out on fringe conspiracy websites.

Matt Thompson

I am constantly amazed at the backlash people present about global warming. It is a fact and it is now too late to prevent. Whether it is entirely man-made or not is not the real question. The problem is we need to do something to stop it or a great deal of change is going to happen and it appears to be accelerating. What is certain is that man-made pollution and carbon emissions are contributing if not causative and can be halted to at least limit the damage but no one in the US seems to actually care. The two worst offending nations are China and the US. But, China recognizes the problem and is getting into alternate/renewable energy in a big way. But the US is in denial about the problem.

Richard Borschel

I love this website, and admit this is my first time ever to comment. And, it took a BS global warming post to annoy me enough to do so. Gizmag should be embarrased to have this crap on their website.


CO2 is a gas of life. Pollution is soot, oxides of N or S and CO. Those irresponsible politicians and self-serving scientists are going to divert enormous resources to waste. Let the modern warming move gracefully to the next sun-driven little ice age.


For all you \"experts\" in the so called myth of global warning. WHAT IF THE SCIENTISTS ARE RIGHT? Would you risk this on your great grandchildren?

Jim Carwardine

Wow, suddenly we were magically transported to 2006.

Todd Dunning

It\'s nice to see that the $89 million dollars spent by the Koch Industries claiming that global warming isn\'t real, wasn\'t wasted.

There are plenty of semi-literate Americans listening to talk radio, watching fox news, and visiting conspiracy websites who feel they must protect the profits of the fossil fuel industry because the worlds scientific community must be conspiring against them.

I realize that when the anti-(you name it) comments are the first 3 or 4 posted that they are coming from trolls, but the later comments that express ignorant opposition, are probably from real people who are bewildered by the stuff they don\'t fully comprehend.

Perhaps they haven\'t noticed that the denier comments are only coming from people in the continental U. S., (1.4% of the earths land surface).

We live in one of the most temperate zones on the planet, (as the rest of earth becomes uninhabitable, billions of people will be coming here to survive), so most of us are not experiencing the climate changes as dramatically as the those people living closer to the poles and equatorial zones. This makes our uneducated population an easy mark for anti global warming propaganda, and the $89 million dollars spent dispensing the misinformation was just a drop in the bucket compared to the continuing profits being made by the fossil fuel industries.


\"Would you risk this on your great grandchildren? \" Sure would! I don\'t have children, won\'t have children and really, I hate children, so I will never have grandchildren! And by then I\'ll be dead anyway! Why would I care?


Humans are so arrogant, and stupid at the same time. How thick does someone have to be to think that changes to our lifestyle could possibly make a noticeable difference to the climate - grow a brain greenies - nothing\'s going to make 6 billion people live in the dark, give up transport, and switch to eating uncooked veggies. Nothing can be done about warming, and it\'s highly unlikely to matter one iota. That\'s why it\'s called \"Evolution\". Stuff changes. Life adapts. Sorry to bruise your ego, but you\'re just a stack of cells, nothing more.


Uumm? Who said that \"global warming\" was necessarily a bad thing? It will make much more of the earth habitable AND spread the load of the people more evenly around the earth! It will also allow us to grow more food over a greater area of the world. Also to you cool aid drinking GW believers when did science become a consensus? The debate is far from over and that\'s amongst the scientists them selfs! Last but not least to anybody who does not believe that this is pure politics your going to be in for a sad surprise when your find that your life is reduced to nothing more then that of a surf while the ruling elite do as they please and continue to pollute the earth and blame you for it. Oh and CHINA is doing something about it\'s pollution? That is one of the most poison spewing countries on earth, what are they doing that we aren\'t so far ahead of the curve clean wise that we aren\'t all ready doing? O.K. I feel this turning into a rant so I\'ll stop now. :-)


I don't want to live in a overpopulated over-polluted world, even now at close to 7 Billion. Whether you don't believe or do believe that global warming is a concern, there are a host of concerns out there that relate entirely to this subject in turn. What will happen when 2 billion Chinese and Indians take up Western ways and technology? I hope they do it in a smarter way, I know the Chinese already have a ten year plan in place to be Green, and command economies of scale like theirs can accomplish things without the internal political bickering that is paralyzing us in the west.

I don't read actual papers by scientists who are against the Global Warming Phenomena, just differ on the time it would take, and I don't want to end up on the short end of that scale. So what you are saying here is f**k the future generations we are raising? They better invest polar jackets in case the next Ice Age is upon us, or we become a barren hot hell, who knows? At least I will not be around...

Jake Dhillon

Unfortunately, if Global Warming caused by man were true, we would never know it because those who propose it are constantly caught out using disingenuous hyperbole and sometimes outright lies...well the end justifies the means if your standards are fluid.

I still want to see the data on what those naughty Vikings were doing back in the est. 800-1200 A.D. to cause the temperatures to be 2 degrees warmer than it is now, making Greenland green and grapes to grow in London. I suspect they were using to many CFCs in their deodorants etc...

I believe that the solar cycle will in the end calm down and the planet will cool a little bit. Just because it is warming now does not mean it will move in that direction forever, and vice-versa. Of course then we will spend $Trillions on the Global Cooling problem.

Carbon Dioxide, as pointed out, is not a poison unless you breathe only it. Plants love that stuff. Some good will come of it.

Regardless of the whackos running around \"chicken little\" style we are moving in great directions with regard to taking care of the planet which is good for all of us. More Nuclear Energy will help big time, and what a great day it will be when we can wean ourselves from the petroleum teat located in all the countries opposed to everything we stand for.

Dr. Veritas

@ AllenH \"Archaelogists tell us that in the distant past, the entire earth was a tropical rain forest.\"

Archaelogists study human society not pre-history climate.

Paul Ensign

Phil - here is some science for you: The polar ice levels, unchanged since measurements began in 2002:

And Phil, polar ice also makes a delicious addition to a nice pitcher of Kool-Aid.

Todd Dunning

Even if the socialist activists trying to panic everyone into accepting socialism happened to be right about AGW, there is no evidence that the results would be on average bad. Vast currently arctic planes opened to high intensity agriculture. The first world\'s current farmland\'s yield won\'t decline unless Government Action prevents the simple solutions of powered irrigation, and switching crops to those that better suit the new conditions from being implemented.


Global warming from man-made Co2 or not, I say bring on the carbon ecconomy. It makes Nuclear Power so much more attractive. Nuclear electricity is the future for low carbon baseload power into the 22nd century.


Because everyone in field understand imprecise physic. Law of Thermodynamic wasn\'t right at first place, everything down stream won\'t get right. First conversion of energy need to understand more its relation to photosynthesis, atmosphere pressure and earth

Tw Tan

None of their other predictions have occurred, what makes anyone think this is acurate. It is all based on a model that has proven less that accurate. Besides, it is all a theory, and predictions are only guesses.


I say fuck it. Let it get hot. I\'m sick of winter already.

Marco Pang

Another wake-up call, another chance to hit \"snooze\" and go back to sleep, apparently. Or get down to making more babies to add to the vast uneducated masses perhaps... Sigh. It\'s our curse to live in interesting times, I guess. Shame about the \"I don\'t understand it, so it\'s not true\" company we have to keep though.


This article and the whole fuss over Global Warming makes me think about Malthus\'s essay on overpopulation. Malthus thought that overpopulation would be checked by disease or famine, which is preposterous with regard to today\'s technology. However, we shall not overlook the possibility that overpopulation will be checked by something. That\'s because with limited energy on the Earth (the Law of conservation of energy: energy is not created nor destroyed but transformed from one state to another, which is a law of physics.) there must be a limited amount of living things our planet can support. When fossil fuels are utilized for production, the Earth core is losing energy. Therefore, climate changes and natural disasters will occur to kill living things to restore the energy lost to the Earth core, where fossil fuels are derived. When you take something from \"someone\" you must give it back. On the other hand, solar energy does not come from within our planet, so it should be safer to use. However, when we think on a cosmic scale, that solar energy is transferred from one system to another. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Sun will perish one day because it is constantly tranferring part of itself to other systems. In my opinion, research should be conducted to find an alternative energy resource other than fossil fuels or solar energy to really conserve our species in the future. That is a cosmic perspective not limited on the laws we perceive on our own planet. Whether Global Warming is real or not is not so important with respect to the conservation of human species after all. We should be more focused on researching on terra forming technologies that create habitable environments for our future generations.


The following is excerpted from the preface of \"Not Even Wrong\"; illustrated edition; published by Basic Books; written by Peter Woit

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli was known for his often less than polite criticism of the work of some of his colleagues. He would sometimes exclaim \"wrong\" (falsch) or \"completely wrong\" (ganz falsch) when he disagreed with someone. Near the end of his life when asked his opinion of an article by a young physicist, he sadly said \"it is not even wrong\" (Das ist nicht einmal falsch). The phrase \"not even wrong\" is a popular one among physicists, and carries two different connotations, both of which Pauli likely had in mind. A theory can be \"not even wrong\" because it is so incomplete and ill-defined that it can\'t be used to make firm predictions whose failure would show it to be wrong. This has been the situation of not only super-string theory, but, also, Man Made Global (fill in the favorite theory d\' jour) from its beginnings to the present day. This sort of \"not even wrong\" is not necessarily a bad thing. Most new theoretical ideas begin in this state, and it can take quite a bit of work before their implications are well enough understood for researchers to be able to tell whether the idea is right or wrong. But there is a second connotation of \"no even wrong\": something worse than a wrong idea, and in this form the phrase often gets used as a generic term of abuse. In the case of super-string theory, the way some physicists abandoning fundamental scientific principals rather that admit a theory is something of this kind: worse than being wrong is to refuse to admit it when on is wrong.

Myron J. Poltroonian

I\'m absolutely horrified at the number of climate sceptics that have commented on this article. Common sense seems to be lacking. If you are a climate sceptic, would you not at least agree with Iván Imhof that the earth is over-populated and that there are limited resources? The latter MUST concern everyone with common sense.


I am also horrified by the same. I would so happily turn the anecdote about Wolfgang Pauli (contributed by Myron J. Poltroonian) AGAINST the somewhat limited views of the climate skeptics (I am absolutely sure Wolfgang Pauli did not mean climate change, it was just mis-appropriated that way - so it is fully acceptable to turn the edge: not even wrong, sceptics). In the eighties when NASA initially established CO2 rise and global warming there was no objection to the FACT of science. You see the rise of objectors only after filthy politics became involved: money can BUY truth you want to believe. Go and create your already Hitler\'s propaganda man Gobbles observed it does not matter what is true: what matters is how many times you repeat the opinion. With ultra-con network you have the medium. It is more convenient for powerful interest to keep chugging away as usual and deny or it would \"destroy American economy\" ha?.

If you need your dose of counter-rant, you can go here:

Even if nothing was really happening, which is, most sadly, not the case and all of us face extinction if chugging as usual goes on, consider ONLY ocean acidification.

You have a decade MAX to do anything about it. After the decade is over and chugging on continues NO CORAL REEFS. Forget about Australian coral barrier...



Bob Hanks

Good post.

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