1°C warming is actually 2°C warming

Earth as a whole has warmed about 1°C since 1850-1900. And the goal of the Paris Agreement is to forestall 1.5°C or at least 2°C of warming. What is easy to overlook is that these numbers represent an average.

Oceans comprise 71% of earth’s surface and take longer to warm than land. They have indeed warmed about 1°C. Since 1979 land surface temperature – which affects us most directly – has risen about double that of ocean surface temperatures. According to NASA, since the year 2000, land temperature changes are 50% greater in the U.S. than ocean temperature changes; two to three times greater in Eurasia and three to four times greater in the (Ant)Arctic.

So when scientist discuss “preventing 2°C of global warming” they are really talking about forestalling around 3°C to 6°C warming on most land surfaces.

Figure: Warming in 2 RCP-scenario’s. Source: IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report

The Arctic warms fastest; a phenomenon known as ‘Arctic amplification’ (see figure above). This is also supported by paleoclimatologic data: In the early Eocene (54-48mln years ago), while sea surface temperature at the tropics was about 6°C warmer, at the poles it was about 14°C warmer.

Different places and surfaces warming at different speed will have huge consequences. For example, the just mentioned reduction of the difference between temperature at the tropics and the poles, the ‘Equator-to-pole surface temperature gradient’ (from e.g. 28°C now to 20°C), has been linked to changes in ocean circulation, behaviour of the jet stream, and the shifting of the Intertropical Convergence zone (ITCG) – determining a.o. Sahel rainfall, tropical storm activity and Californian drought.

3 thoughts on “1°C warming is actually 2°C warming”

  1. *The Ultimate Doom Post | Not for capitalists over 40*
    ► 50% of animals gone since 1970
    ► 99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.
    ► 97% of Tigers gone since 1914.

    ► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.

    ► 90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.

    ► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.

    ► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.

    ► 80% of Antarctic Krill gone since 1975.

    ► 80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    ► 60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.

    ► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.

    ► 50% of Human Sperm Counts gone since 1950.

    ► 80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.

    ► 50% of Forest Bird Species will be gone in 50 years.

    ► 40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.

    ► 40% of ocean phytoplankton gone since 1950.


    ► Ocean plankton declines of 1% per year means 50% gone in 70 years, declines of more than 1%/yr are likely.

    ► Ocean plastic is killing bacteria that make 10% of our oxygen.





    ► Ocean acidification doubles by 2050, explodes by 2100.


    ► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.

    ► 70% of Marine Birds gone since 1950.

    ► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.

    ► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

    ► If you are 15 years old, emissions went up 30% in your lifetime.

    ► If you are 30 years old, emissions went up 60% in your lifetime.

    ► After 30 years trying, solar and wind are < 3% of total world energy use.


    ► Solar panels produce 90% of power rating 15% of time

    ► Wind turbines produce 90% of power rating 25% of time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og2H7ZxkiMA | DW 12 min

    ► Claire Fyson said emissions must go down 50% in 10 yrs to avoid 1.5° C.

    ► The Insurance Journal said they must go down 50% in 10 yrs to avoid 3.0° C.

    ► Stefan Rahmstorf said emissions must go down 100% in 20 yrs to avoid 2.0° C.

    ► Hans Schellnhuber said 5 of 13 major hothouse tipping points start below 2.0° C.

    ► When these 5 points are triggered, they trigger the other 8.

    ► This results in runaway hothouse, which can't be stopped or reversed once started.

    ► But we are also headed for runaway mass extinction, which can't be stopped or reversed once started.

    ► 10,000 years ago humans and livestock were 0.03% of land vertebrate biomass.

    ► Today humans and livestock are 98% of land vertebrate biomass.

    ► Human/livestock food production caused 80% of land vertebrate species extinctions.

    ► Petrochemical use grows 7X faster than human population.

  2. The 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970. etc is all based on the “Living Planet Index” which over emphasizes changes in small populations. You can even have a huge fall in the living planet index, say, 50% or even 90%, and an increase in overall population if several small populations consolidated vanished and one large population increased.


    The 10% of oxygen is for a single microbe that is responsible for 10% of our oxygen but it didn’t say it would vanish. It said in laboratory experiments the amount of oxygen it produces can be reduced somewhat in the presence of plastic. All they said about the real world is that “It is possible that some Prochlorococcus are already affected when in close proximity to plastics,” There is no risk at all of us running out of oxygen – even if all photosynthetic life stopped producing it, which is impossible, there is plenty in the atmosphere for thousands of years.



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