Earth is Cooking – Official

December 28, 2012

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IPCC report due for release late 2013, early 2014, and which has already been leaked (then pulled), makes for damning reading. One aspect that caught my attention was the amount of global Energy Gain in the most recent time frame, or put another way, the total Heat Content gained globally. In other words, more energy from the sun has been entering than exiting the top of the earth’s atmosphere …. Our planet Earth is in radiative imbalance, and has been for some considerable time now.

The IPCC report stated with “virtual certainty’, an energy gain of 273 ZJ in the period 1971 – 2010, and between 1993 -2010 that figure is 163 ZJ.

Now to explain; the Joule is a unit of energy or amount of heat.

1Joule is the work required to produce one watt of power for one second, or one “watt second” (W·s) (compare kilowatt hour). The zettajoule (ZJ) is equal to 1021 joules is equal to:

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 J

For reference, 1,000 ZJ is approximately the amount of energy required to heat the entire volume of water on Earth by 1 °Celsius.

So, lets look at the more recent 1993 -2010 figure of 163 ZJ. This is equivilent to every person on earth (population 6,973,738,433 courtesy of World Bank) turning on a total of 741 single bar 1kW heaters each continuously for one whole year ……or over the same time period 1993-2010, every person on earth turning on 44 single bar 1kW heaters each continuously …..  yikes, either way …….. Earth is cooking !.

OK fun over, and now to add some serious realism …

Adding up the Earth’s energy content

To calculate the Earth’s total heat content, it is necessary to measure the ocean heat content from the upper 700 metres. Then to compute atmospheric heat content using the surface temperature record and the heat capacity of the troposphere. Land and ice heat content are also included.

A time history of the energy going to heat the Earth requires differentiating the heat content using successive linear fits over short time segments. Eight years was chosen as it’s the longest period that still separates the dips due to the El Chichon and Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruptions (these cause short term cooling effects). The resultant energy imbalance time series is seen below:

Graph 1: An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950 (Murphy 2009)

Graph 1 shows that since the early 1970’s, the planet has remained in positive energy imbalance. This is consistent with the latest IPCC report (see below). Satellite measurements confirm that more energy is coming in than radiating back into space.

cumulative energy flux into Earth 1970-2010 (IPCC)

Graph 2 (replicated here from the IPCC draft in the public interest), shows the cumulative energy flux into the Earth from changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases, short-lived greenhouse gases, solar forcing, surface albedo caused by land use, volcanic forcing, and tropospheric aerosol forcing are shown by the coloured lines; these contributions are added to give the total energy changes (dashed black line).


Energy Balance 1970-2010 (IPCC)

Graph 3 (replicated here from the IPCC draft in the public interest), shows the cumulative total energy change is balanced by the energy absorbed in the melting of ice; the warming of the atmosphere, the land, and the ocean; and the increase in outgoing radiation inferred from the temperature change of a warming Earth. These terms are represented by the time-varying thicknesses of the coloured regions. The residuals in the cumulative energy budget are indicated by the difference between the red lines and the horizontal zero line.

This energy imbalance is what is causing global warming, and it is this culmative energy that I highlighted in the numbers game above.

This graph from the upcoming IPCC report is for me the most Damning rather than the famous ‘Hockey Stick’ graph often highlighted. It shows all the effects in one shot …….. that the Earth is in energy imbalance with increassing Energy Gain and by implication warming at an increasingly alarming rate, and our oceans are the primary heat sink (as expected). That the culmative effect is driven primarily by the basket of Green House Gases and is therefore caused by human activities, and not Solar Forcing as many sceptics claim. That the outgoing radiation is also increasing (as the Earth warms), and the consequential residual is in positive energy balance ……… In short ……. Earth is cooking.

Finally an extract from the forthcoming IPCC report :

“There is consistent evidence from observations of a net energy uptake of the Earth System due to an imbalance in the energy budget. It is virtually certain that this is caused by human activities, primarily by the increase in CO2 concentrations. There is very high confidence that natural forcing contributes only a small fraction to this imbalance “


Regular readers of Newtz Climate Change Blog will recognise the dangers of as little as a 2 Deg C global temperature rise in creating a tipping point that can lead to irreversible climatic effects, with the real danger of positive feedback impacts creating dangerous temperature rises. The fact that since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have already ‘locked in’ a 0.8 Deg C global temperature rise will be confirmed by the latest IPCC report due for release in 2013/14; the draft of which has already been leaked.

And yet, based on accumulated emissions; (the day to day build up of carbon), the scientific data is clear that we are on track for a 3.5 to 4 Deg C rise by 2020, and upto 6 Deg by 2050 based on locked-in accumulated emissions, with the irreversible consequences of a climate that will be almost impossible for most of the species of the planet to adapt to ( In my micro blog of ‘The Economics of Climate Change’ I discussed how the climate scientists have been largely confined by the realism of the economic cost to mitigate climate change and consequently have adopted the most optimistic trends to fit the affordable pathways given both the economic cost and the cost to compensate the poorer nations (as agreed recently at Doha).

Current UK spending to mitigate Climate Change is less than 1% of GDP, whereas, the reality is that nearer 2% of GDP is required to simply have a decreasingly limited chance of meeting the 2050 target of less than 550ppm (parts per million) CO2. My own calculations show over 5.6% is realistically required. The short sightedness of successive UK governments is further compounded by the belief that the cost to the UK is reduced by the locked in benefits of increases in energy efficiency until 2020. They still work on data showing an expected rise in GDP from 2009 of 2.0%, yet their own data and that of the World Bank show that infact it has effectively stalled at around £1.5 trillion and expected to slightly fall.

As an aid to understanding the difficulty of achieving the UK 2050 CO2 targets i have provided the full actual model (in MS Excel format) used to balance forcing issues of energy supply and demand in an attempt to achieve the UK targets ( Full ‘actual’ government backed data is provided to see if you can achieve or better the target and the cost to the economy for your effort (by the way …. good luck. If you can come up wit a solution that is less than 2% of gross GDP I’m confident that both the Treasury and DECC will be very interested !).

Of course, in order to legislate sufficient funding to tackle climate change, it is necessary to have ‘real’ economic growth and maintain a favourable credit rating (AAA minimum), so as to maintain cheap borrowing, both of which are currently under severe threat. Economically we are in a triple dip recession with little hope of return to significant growth in the next three years. Likewise, the UK credit rating is already at the time of writing under warning of downgrade by Standard & Poor. In my most recent micro blog ‘The Shadow Economy and the Missing Billions’, i described how egregious tax avoidance and tax evasion are costing the UK economy more than the total Health Spend (highlighting data from World Health Organisation and UK HMRC). The total calculated cost to the public purse is in the region of £60 billion, or remarkably a loss to the treasury of close to 4.2% of the total GDP. Further, by following an aggressive tax retrieval not only reduces the ‘Tax Gap‘ but makes for legitimate trading allowing world markets to act much more optimally and consequently stimulate world economic growth.

For too long, and too often in the name of deregulation, successive UK governments have promoted ideas that have undermined effective accountability and the supply of meaningful accounts so that a company can be properly appraised upon its true economic activity. This has only assisted to reduce tax revenue, curtail the ability to close the Tax Gap and consequently undermine our ability to fund effective Climate Change.

Weak government policies and tax fraud destroys the effectiveness of markets and suppress its capacity to operate at anywhere near optimum. The government needs to better support honest businesses that want to compete on a level playing field where abuse of the tax system plays no part in their success.

Such complex tax avoidance can be tackled by the creation of a general anti-avoidance principle, such that if any step is added into an otherwise commercial arrangement for the purpose of securing a reduction in a tax liability, then that step can be ignored or challenged for tax purposes by HMRC. In effect, this makes it clear that HM Revenue & Customs would have the power to over-rule any tax avoidance scheme designed to exploit loopholes and allowances.

But wait …, The House of Lords effectively created such an arrangement in the 1980s when ruling in two cases called Furness V Dawson and Ramsey. For more than a decade the tax profession believed as a result that if such steps were taken they could be knocked down by HMRC. However, statute law never confirmed this and as result the ruling of the House of Lords was eventually challenged and in 1996 in a further House of Lords ruling, called the Westmoreland case, the principles in the two earlier decisions were overturned. The result was a flood of tax planning from which, full recovery has not been made.

A general anti-avoidance principle would make clear that this was unacceptable and would put massive pressure on tax avoiders to reform their ways, and would create penalties for them if they did not.

The link then to Rangers FC (Oldco) was first suggested in my blog ‘The Shadow Economy and the Missing Billions’. In describing the illegitimate practises of tax evaders, it drew remarkable similarities to the Rangers Big tax case (FTT), and in particular the deliberate lack of transparency and deceitful accounting with the use of suppressed data and identity disguise. These aggressive practises culminate in uncertainty when pursuing these egregious activities. That uncertainty rested on the chance that either they will not be discovered to be tax avoiding or that if they are then the interpretation placed on the law that they seek to exploit is favourable to them. Such was the fine line that Rangers FC (oldco) faced in their 2:1 majority victory over HMRC in the recent tax tribunal case (FTT). (Note: HMRC have recently announced that they are appealing this verdict).

The business practice of Rangers FC (oldco)  has resulted in huge loses to the Treasury, alleged to be in excess of £70 million (with penalties), and does not account for an alleged previous debt write off by the previous owner in the region of £60 million through aggressive accounting practices. Nor does it account for the smaller tax case against them for deliberate non payment of around £15 million of PAYE and National Insurance payments. The small (wee) tax case was incidentally the reason for Rangers FC (oldco) being placed into administration and ultimately liquidation after the refusal by HMRC to accept the administrators CVA proposal.

The emergence of a newco Rangers FC is an opportunity for the new owners to demonstrate legitimate and honest governance and from the honest taxpayers point of view, a legitimate tax revenue generating concern that long term will pay its moral and dutiful taxes in full. In its own small way will help reduce the burden of honest taxpaying businesses, and help reduce the Tax Gap.

It was disturbing to learn then that back in May 2012 during the purchase of the assets of the oldco Rangers FC, that the current owners of the (newco) Rangers FC sought to transfer £40 million of brought forward tax losses to go into the Current Balance Sheet of the newco subject to HMRC approval. Thankfully this never materialised. It is important then that such companies remain under the scrutiny of bloggers such as Paul McConville and his excellent blog site ‘Random Thoughts Re Scots Law’ (


7.2 Degrees Fahrenheit

December 3, 2012

A New scientific report, ‘Turn Down the Heat’ claims the world is barreling down a path to hear up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people.

The following news article was published by the World Bank Organisation.

The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank.

All regions of the world would suffer – some more than others – but the report finds that the poor will suffer the most.

Turn Down the Heat, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, says that the world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius[1] (4°C) warmer world by end of this century and current greenhouse gas emissions pledges will not reduce this by much..

“A 4 degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2 degrees,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”

The report says that the 4°C scenarios are potentially devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher under and malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased intensity of tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

The Earth system’s responses to climate change appear to be non-linear,” points out PIK Director, John Schellnhuber. “If we venture far beyond the 2 degrees guardrail, towards the 4 degrees line, the risk of crossing tipping points rises sharply. The only way to avoid this is to break the business-as-usual pattern of production and consumption.”

The report notes, however, that a 4°C world is not inevitable and that with sustained policy action warming can still be held below 2°C, which is the goal adopted by the international community and one that already brings some serious damages and risks to the environment and human populations.

“The world must tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively,” Kim said. “Greater adaptation and mitigation efforts are essential and solutions exist. We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity.  But time is very short.”

The World Bank Group’s work on inclusive green growth has found that with more efficient and smarter use of energy and natural resources opportunities exist to drastically reduce the climate impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth.

While every country will take a different pathway to greener growth and balance their own need for energy access with energy sustainability, every country has green growth opportunities to exploit,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development.

Those initiatives could include: putting the more than US$ 1 trillion of fossil fuel and other harmful subsidies to better use; introducing natural capital accounting into national accounts; expanding both public and private expenditures on green infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather and urban public transport systems designed to minimize carbon emission and maximize access to jobs and services; supporting carbon pricing and international and national emissions trading schemes; and increasing energy efficiency – especially in buildings – and the share of renewable power produced.

“This report reinforces the reality that today’s climate volatility affects everything we do,” Kyte said. “We will redouble our efforts to build adaptive capacity and resilience, as well as find solutions to the climate challenge.” 

Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided summarizes a range of the direct and indirect climatic consequences under the current global path for greenhouse gas emissions. Key findings include:

  • Extreme heat waves, that without global warming would be expected to occur once in several hundred years, will be experienced during almost all summer months in many regions.  The effects would not be evenly distributed.  The largest warming  would be exptected to occur over land and range from 4° C to 10° C.  Increases of 6° C or more in average monthly summer temperatures would be expected in the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and parts of the United States.
  • Sea level-rise by 0.5 to 1 meter by 2100 is likely, with higher levels also possible. Some of the most highly vulnerable cities are located in Mozambique, Madagascar, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
  • The most vulnerable regions are in the tropics, sub-tropics and towards the poles, where multiple impacts are likely to come together.
  • Agriculture, water resources, human health, biodiversity and ecosystem services are likely to be severely impacted.  This could lead to large-scale displacement of populations and consequences for human security and economic and trade systems.
  • Many small islands may not be able to sustain their populations.

The report states that the science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed. The global mean temperature has continued to increase and is now about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels.

While a global warming of 0.8°C may not seem large, the report notes that many climate change impacts have already started to emerge, and the shift from 0.8°C to 2.0°C warming or beyond will pose much larger challenges.  But a global mean temperature increase of 4°C approaches the known historic level of change for the planet, which harks back to the last ice age when much of central Europe and the northern United States were covered with kilometers of ice and global mean temperatures were about 4.5°C  to 7°C lower. And this contemporary human-induced climate change, the report notes, is occurring over a century, not millennia.

Kyte said, “The Bank commissioned the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics to make a summary analysis of the latest climate science, as a means to better understand the potential impact of a 4°C warmer world in developing countries.”

Today, the Bank is helping 130 countries take action on climate change. Last year, it doubled its financial lending that contributes to adaptation. The Bank-administered US$7.2 billion Climate Investment Funds are now operating in 48 countries, leveraging an additional US$43 billion in clean investment.  Increasingly, the Bank is supporting action on the ground to finance the kind of projects that help the poor grow their way out of poverty, increase their resilience to climate change, and achieve emissions reductions.

[1] 4 degrees Celsius = 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit

%d bloggers like this: