As all the international climate conferences come and go, with thousands of people flying to exotic locations, global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase. In fact, the atmosphere is being hit with increases on the increases. Anderson tells us:

"In 2009 to 2010, the beginning of the economic downturn, global emissions went up by 5.9%. I think that's higher than at any point [since] the industrial revolution. And even the following years, 2010 to 2011, went up by about 3.2% and this year [2012] probably a little below 3%, maybe 2.6%, we haven't got the final data on that yet."

A great mind, Professor Albert A. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus from the Department of Physics at the University of Boulder laments a glaring inability of Americans, and most humans, to grasp the simple mathematics of numbers that increase themselves. In a video posted as "the most important video you'll ever see", Bartlett explains how "logarithmic" increases work. The 5.9% increase in 2009, for example, was almost 6% bigger than the previous year, which was let's say 3% higher than the year previous, and so on. It's like compound interest from the bank.

Bartlett gives us this simple formula: if you have a number that increases regularly, you can find the doubling time by dividing the increase into 70. So if we say emissions are increasing by an average of 3% per year, the carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere would be doubled in just 23 years. If we start at our current level, around 393 parts per million, and keep increasing emissions as we are, the atmosphere would theoretically hit a toxic 786 ppm in just 23 years. In reality, it doesn't work like that, because our oceans currently absorb at least 40% or our emissions, becoming more acidic in the process. I can't predict our doubling time, but the IEA and others suggest we will go well over 450 parts per million by 2050.

Returning to Kevin Anderson, he points out our infrastructure commits us to emissions for decades. Every new airplane sold, and every ship is expected to last at least 30 years, burning whatever they burn. Buildings, inefficient as they are, may last centuries. Each new power plant opened is likely to keep on burning for at least 50 years, often longer than that.

We have already built more carbon capacity than the atmosphere can ever hold, with a climate suited for human survival. This leads me to conclude not another single fossil fuel based power plant should be opened anywhere in the world. Of course that's not fair to developing peoples, so we need a plan to shut down coal and oil-powered plants in North America and Europe to make room for electricity in China, India, Africa, and so on.

It is this commitment from long-lasting infrastructure, coupled with the already overloaded atmosphere, that dictates we only have about five years at best to change directions, or suffer a climate catastrophe beyond our current comprehension. Only a giant power-down by wealthy consumers (that's most of us) could possibly save us. That would include stopping recreational shopping for consumer goods that carry so much embedded energy use. And really, Anderson says, our best and possibly only hope for survival is an economic crash, or at least a planned "recession".

Remember Professor Tim Garrett from the University of Utah, following an interview on Radio Ecoshock, published a peer-reviewed paper saying exactly the same thing: the dynamics of energy in this civilization, poised against limitations in our atmosphere, show that only a deep and prolonger economic crash could really guarantee a safe climate.

At any rate, the good news, such as it is, is this: you and I have the ability to change our deadly course. We can cut our energy and consumption drastically. That's the front-line strategy that Kevin Anderson advocates. He tried to live it. Anderson does NOT fly around to climate conferences. He conserves energy personally, despite the disbelief of relatives and friends.


Kevin Anderson has brought up the new study from a most unexpected source. The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the generally conservative giant accounting company, is titled" "Too Late For Two Degrees?" Joe Romm at has an excellent summary posted November 6th, titled " Study: We're Headed to 11 degrees F Warming and Even 7 Degrees F Requires 'Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate of Decarbonization".

The main conclusion in the PricewaterhouseCoopers study reads:

"Our Low Carbon Economy Index evaluates the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy that is needed to limit warming to 2oC. This report shows that global carbon intensity decreased between 2000 and 2011 by around 0.8% a year. In 2011, carbon intensity decreased by 0.7%. The global economy now needs to cut carbon intensity by 5.1% every year from now to 2050. Keeping to the 2oC carbon budget will require sustained and unprecedented reductions over four decades.

Governments’ ambitions to limit warming to 2oC appear highly unrealistic."


"We have passed a critical threshold – not once since 1950 has the world achieved that rate of decarbonisation in a single year, but the task now confronting us is to achieve it for 39 consecutive years….

Even to have a reasonable prospect of getting to a 4°C scenario would imply nearly quadrupling the current rate of decarbonisation."

Joe Romm reminds us, our speaker Kevin Anderson has already written about the 7 degree Fahrenheit increase in global mean temperature:

“incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4°C [7°F] would be an interim temperature on the way to a much higher equilibrium level”

I'd like to just keep reading out Joe Romm's excellent if horrifying article, but I'll leave that up to you, except for this from Joe:

"Such a world would likely mean:

* Permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest, parts of the Great Plains and many other regions around the globe that are heavily populated and/or heavily farmed.

* Sea level rise of some 1 foot by 2050, then 4 to 6 feet (or more) by 2100, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter

* Massive species loss on land and sea — perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity.

* Much more extreme weather

These will all be happening simultaneously and getting worse decade after decade. A 2009 NOAA-led study found the worst impacts would be 'largely irreversible for 1000 years.'

In such a world there would be little prospect for feeding 9 billion people post-2050 given current dietary, economic, and agricultural practices. The word “adaptation” simply doesn’t apply in any meaningful sense."

Other evidence is pouring in from all quarters that we are headed to the high side of climate predictions. Consider this release November 8th from the U.S. Snow and Ice Date Center.

"Future Warming Likely to Be On High Side of Climate Projections, Analysis Finds" November 08, 2012


I know I shouldn't be surprised the climate is spinning out of control. After all, the Swiss re-insurance company Munich Re warned the 2 degree alleged safety limit was "no longer attainable." But that was published in a periodical called Insurance Daily.

Perhaps like me, you missed it. A continuing message from Kevin Anderson is we've all been led astray by a general fog coming from a combination of convenient climate science, reports from governments, the United Nations, and the conferences that continued with big language and no results, as emissions continued to rise.

No wonder the public doesn't know. As Kevin Anderson will tell us, those who do know, are conspiring to keep us from the awful truth.

Anderson goes on to list a host of climate and economic reports coming from governments, big institutes and universities that use obviously false low-ball numbers for greenhouse gas emissions.

The famous British Stern Report in 2006, for example, used an emissions level growth of .95 percent per year. The actual rates for that period from year 2000 to 2005 were more than 3 times higher than that. Stern had access to the latest figures. Anyone could find them on the web. Why didn't he use the actual facts? Using lower numbers have helped a number of agencies and governments achieve much more palatable predictions, leaving lots of time for Western societies to make small changes while adapting. Quite the opposite was true based on the real numbers. Counting the growth of emissions from China and the developing world, the developed West and Japan were, and are, entirely out of time to slowly reduce emissions. As Anderson calculates, to preserve a relatively safe climate below 2 degrees, the emissions of the developed countries had to drop to zero by 2010.

I won't list out all the official reports from Britain, Europe, and America that used phony low emissions figures, plus wild overestimates of all kinds, to get results that pleased the sitting politicians and big business board members. Kevin Anderson gives you all the details on that in this speech.

Just as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche supposed it takes some ideas a long time to penetrate society, comparing it to the time light takes to arrive from distant stars, our public dialog is missing this critical fact that Anderson reveals again: we are heading toward a catastrophe that cities, agriculture, and civilization cannot survive.