If you’ve been wondering where the official 2o C ceiling on temperture increase came from, Phil Jones enlightens us.
From the Climategate 2.0 collection, to a European Peoples Party officials who is trying to eliminate skepticism from the EPP’s position paper on climate, Phil Jones describes the origin of the 2o limit:
The 2 deg C limit is talked about by a lot within Europe. It is never defined though what it means. Is it 2 deg C for the globe or for Europe? Also when is/was the base against which the 2 deg C is calculated from? I know you don’t know the answer, but I don’t either! I think it is plucked out of thin air. I think it is too high as well. If it is 2 deg C globally, this could be more in Europe – especially the northern part. A better limit might be maintaining some summer Arctic sea ice!
The e-mail exchange is below:
date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 17:00:04 +0200
from: “Christian Kremer (EPP)”
subject: RE: EPP Document on Climate Change
to: “‘Phil Jones'”
Thanks alot for your comments. You are right about the sceptics (I’d rather call them
deniers) and I am currently trying very hard to keep a phrasing in the text which accepts
the scientific consensus. I think it is not credible to call for tough measures to limit
emissions when at the same time questioning the scientific basis. And in many aspects,
IPCC reports were quite conservative in their estimations and certainly not alarmist.
Concerning the 2 ∞ C limit: from my point of view, it is 2 ∞ C increase globally in
comparison to pre-industrial times. A colleague of yours from East Anglia University
an interesting article on the “tipping points” which gives an indication that the 2 ∞ C is
rather at the upper end if we want to avoid dangerous climate change (especially as far
Arctic Sea Ice is concerned) but already that will be hard to get…and to set a goal below
450 ppm equivalent seems to me too unrealistic to put forward. The uncertainty of
course iswhat additional warming the reduced albedo from complete absence of Arctic Sea Ice
produce and how this would influence other positive feedbacks such as the melting of
Greenland ice sheet. As far as I understand (and I also follow the realclimate website)
insecurity about the behaviour of melting ice sheets is extremely high?
Deputy Secretary General
European People’s Party
From: Phil Jones [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2007 6:40 PM
Subject: Re: EPP Document on Climate Change
There is not a lot wrong with the science part of your document (the first 10pp).
It is, after all, based on the IPCC Reports from earlier this year. There will be
one more, a Synthesis one, in Valencia in November.
A few thoughts
1. p38-39 It may seem undeniable, but I can assure that there a lot of vociferous
skeptics out there. They aren’t all retired and some of them seem to have influence
through writing op-ed pieces in newspapers. A lot of the public in Britain seem
to believe that there is disagreement amongst the scientists. There have been
surveys in Britain that show this. I know it first hand from talking to my neighbours
in the village I live in! There is very little disagreement by the way, but perhaps
we not all talking consistently.
The skeptics are gearing up, I believe, for a large assault on the science in thecoming
months. There is nothing to worry about. It just distracts us from doing the work
we ought to be doing. They just try to discredit by slinging mud hoping some will
stick. Apologies for talking in English cliches!
p46-47 The 2 deg C limit is talked about by a lot within Europe. It is never
defined though what it means. Is it 2 deg C for the globe or for Europe?
Also when is/was the base against which the 2 deg C is calculated from?
I know you don’t know the answer, but I don’t either!
I think it is plucked out of thin air. I think it is too high as well. If it is 2 deg
globally, this could be more in Europe – especially the northern part. A
better limit might be maintaining some summer Arctic sea ice!
Recall that I said that whatever we do now, will not have any effect until 2040.
Perhaps you can get this point in somewhere.
p87 carbon (dioxide missing).
p125 no idea where you have got last 65000 years from.
I think this may come from the fact that CO2 and CH4 are much higher than they
have been for the last 650000 years. Recent post IPCC work now extends
this back 800000 years.
p158-163 Try to get across the concept of greater variability of precipitation
patterns. My neighbours have difficulty with this. They ask, how can I
say East Anglia will have more floods and more droughts. This is exactly
what happens if you have more variable precipitation, which is far more
important than changes in the average rainfall.
Finally, perhaps you need to make more of the Greek fires. I know
some may have been started deliberately, but the conditions made them
worse. There might be some monetary costs of these (in addition to the human
as well as saying what resources will be needed to replant and how long
it is going to take (>30 years probably) to get the forests back.
At 14:20 05/09/2007, you wrote:
Dear Mr Jones,
Again I would like to thank you very much for your contribution in Ioannina in July. I
think it was very important for the participants to be confronted with the scientific
evidence which currently is available. I skipped my summer holiday for some reading
the issue and I am now certainly even more worried than I was before.
Enclosed you find the new draft document on climate change. I am still waiting for
comments from some people (so this version is only preliminary) but I would be very
happy if you could have a quick look on it (especially as far as the scientific
situation is concerned). If you have any changes or additions, please let me know.
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Deputy Secretary General
European People’s Party