The Tipping Points Have Tipped – Against Humanity

Now that we know that the tipping points are tipping against us — warmer surface temperatures are driving carbon (mostly as methane) into the atmosphere — we can understand why the global temperature increase looks like a “hockey stick” — with a sharply rising nature.

The sad truth is that the so-called “Anthropocene” was very brief — about the length of the Industrial Revolution that was built on fossil fuels.

Now that we have unwittingly ended the Anthropocene, the era when we took control of Earth’s climate, we find that we are entering the post-Anthropocene, where humans have lost any ability to control even carbon emissions, because the positive feedback loops we unleashed have taken over.

Fig. 1. Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.


James Hansen and Makiko Sato

For decades we have reported/updated the global temperature record, showing the calendar-year annual-mean temperature, usually with the 5-year running-mean included. I submit that the graph below is not only more beautiful, but more informative and it can be usefully updated every month rather than once a year.  The 12-month running-mean takes out the seasonal cycle just as well as the calendar-year mean and includes the calendar-year mean (black squares).  The 11-year running mean does a pretty good job of taking out solar cycle variability and shorter-term variability such as the Southern Oscillation.

Year after year we see the corporate-controlled press writing optimistic stories about new technologies that will supposedly allow reduced emissions. And a worldwide recession is said to have reduced direct emissions for a time. But direct emissions no longer matter much — see curve below . . . the overall annual increase in atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases is increasing at an increasing rate, just as the temperature profile above is.