Young people's burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions

James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, Karina Von Schuckmann, David J. Beerling, Junji Cao, Shaun Marcott, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Michael J. Prather, Eelco J. Rohling, Jeremy Shakun, Andrew Lacis, Pete Smith, Gary Russell, Reto Ruedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Global temperature is a fundamental climate metric highly correlated with sea level, which implies that keeping shorelines near their present location requires keeping global temperature within or close to its preindustrial Holocene range. However, global temperature excluding short-term variability now exceeds +1°C relative to the 1880-1920 mean and annual 2016 global temperature was almost +1.3°C. We show that global temperature has risen well out of the Holocene range and Earth is now as warm as it was during the prior (Eemian) interglacial period, when sea level reached 6-9m higher than today. Further, Earth is out of energy balance with present atmospheric composition, implying that more warming is in the pipeline, and we show that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated markedly in the past decade. The rapidity of ice sheet and sea level response to global temperature is difficult to predict, but is dependent on the magnitude of warming. Targets for limiting global warming thus, at minimum, should aim to avoid leaving global temperature at Eemian or higher levels for centuries. Such targets now require "negative emissions", i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air. If phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized. In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions today place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 have minimal estimated costs of USD89-535 trillion this century and also have large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-616
Number of pages40
JournalEarth System Dynamics
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2017

Fingerprint

temperature
fossil fuel
Eemian
climate effect
Holocene
sea level
interglacial
warming
forestry practice
climate forcing
young
carbon
air
bioenergy
reforestation
cleanup
agricultural practice
soil fertility
energy balance
ice sheet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., Von Schuckmann, K., Beerling, D. J., Cao, J., ... Ruedy, R. (2017). Young people's burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions. Earth System Dynamics, 8(3), 577-616. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-577-2017

Young people's burden : Requirement of negative CO2 emissions. / Hansen, James; Sato, Makiko; Kharecha, Pushker; Von Schuckmann, Karina; Beerling, David J.; Cao, Junji; Marcott, Shaun; Masson-Delmotte, Valerie; Prather, Michael J.; Rohling, Eelco J.; Shakun, Jeremy; Lacis, Andrew; Smith, Pete; Russell, Gary; Ruedy, Reto.

In: Earth System Dynamics, Vol. 8, No. 3, 18.07.2017, p. 577-616.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hansen, J, Sato, M, Kharecha, P, Von Schuckmann, K, Beerling, DJ, Cao, J, Marcott, S, Masson-Delmotte, V, Prather, MJ, Rohling, EJ, Shakun, J, Lacis, A, Smith, P, Russell, G & Ruedy, R 2017, 'Young people's burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions' Earth System Dynamics, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 577-616. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-577-2017
Hansen J, Sato M, Kharecha P, Von Schuckmann K, Beerling DJ, Cao J et al. Young people's burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions. Earth System Dynamics. 2017 Jul 18;8(3):577-616. https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-577-2017
Hansen, James ; Sato, Makiko ; Kharecha, Pushker ; Von Schuckmann, Karina ; Beerling, David J. ; Cao, Junji ; Marcott, Shaun ; Masson-Delmotte, Valerie ; Prather, Michael J. ; Rohling, Eelco J. ; Shakun, Jeremy ; Lacis, Andrew ; Smith, Pete ; Russell, Gary ; Ruedy, Reto. / Young people's burden : Requirement of negative CO2 emissions. In: Earth System Dynamics. 2017 ; Vol. 8, No. 3. pp. 577-616.
@article{65fbb2e4e8614dff805ef1155df2c6fc,
title = "Young people's burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions",
abstract = "Global temperature is a fundamental climate metric highly correlated with sea level, which implies that keeping shorelines near their present location requires keeping global temperature within or close to its preindustrial Holocene range. However, global temperature excluding short-term variability now exceeds +1°C relative to the 1880-1920 mean and annual 2016 global temperature was almost +1.3°C. We show that global temperature has risen well out of the Holocene range and Earth is now as warm as it was during the prior (Eemian) interglacial period, when sea level reached 6-9m higher than today. Further, Earth is out of energy balance with present atmospheric composition, implying that more warming is in the pipeline, and we show that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated markedly in the past decade. The rapidity of ice sheet and sea level response to global temperature is difficult to predict, but is dependent on the magnitude of warming. Targets for limiting global warming thus, at minimum, should aim to avoid leaving global temperature at Eemian or higher levels for centuries. Such targets now require {"}negative emissions{"}, i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air. If phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized. In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions today place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 have minimal estimated costs of USD89-535 trillion this century and also have large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.",
author = "James Hansen and Makiko Sato and Pushker Kharecha and {Von Schuckmann}, Karina and Beerling, {David J.} and Junji Cao and Shaun Marcott and Valerie Masson-Delmotte and Prather, {Michael J.} and Rohling, {Eelco J.} and Jeremy Shakun and Andrew Lacis and Pete Smith and Gary Russell and Reto Ruedy",
note = "Support of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program was provided by the Durst family, the Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment, Jim and Krisann Miller, Gary Russell, Gerry Lenfest, the Flora Family Foundation, Elisabeth Mannschott, Alexander Totic and Hugh Perrine, which is gratefully acknowledged. David J. Beerling acknowledges funding through a Leverhulme Trust Research Centre Award (RC-2015-029). Eelco J. Rohling acknowledges support from Australian Laureate Fellowship FL12 0100050. We appreciate the generosity, with data and advice, of Tom Boden, Ed Dlugokencky, Robert Howarth, Steve Montzka, Larissa Nazarenko and Nicola Warwick; the thoughtful reviews of the anonymous reviewers and several SC commenters (SCs are short comments published in response to the discussion version of our paper); and assistance of the editor, James Dyke.",
year = "2017",
month = "7",
day = "18",
doi = "10.5194/esd-8-577-2017",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
pages = "577--616",
journal = "Earth System Dynamics",
issn = "2190-4979",
publisher = "Copernicus Gesellschaft mbH",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Young people's burden

T2 - Requirement of negative CO2 emissions

AU - Hansen, James

AU - Sato, Makiko

AU - Kharecha, Pushker

AU - Von Schuckmann, Karina

AU - Beerling, David J.

AU - Cao, Junji

AU - Marcott, Shaun

AU - Masson-Delmotte, Valerie

AU - Prather, Michael J.

AU - Rohling, Eelco J.

AU - Shakun, Jeremy

AU - Lacis, Andrew

AU - Smith, Pete

AU - Russell, Gary

AU - Ruedy, Reto

N1 - Support of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program was provided by the Durst family, the Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment, Jim and Krisann Miller, Gary Russell, Gerry Lenfest, the Flora Family Foundation, Elisabeth Mannschott, Alexander Totic and Hugh Perrine, which is gratefully acknowledged. David J. Beerling acknowledges funding through a Leverhulme Trust Research Centre Award (RC-2015-029). Eelco J. Rohling acknowledges support from Australian Laureate Fellowship FL12 0100050. We appreciate the generosity, with data and advice, of Tom Boden, Ed Dlugokencky, Robert Howarth, Steve Montzka, Larissa Nazarenko and Nicola Warwick; the thoughtful reviews of the anonymous reviewers and several SC commenters (SCs are short comments published in response to the discussion version of our paper); and assistance of the editor, James Dyke.

PY - 2017/7/18

Y1 - 2017/7/18

N2 - Global temperature is a fundamental climate metric highly correlated with sea level, which implies that keeping shorelines near their present location requires keeping global temperature within or close to its preindustrial Holocene range. However, global temperature excluding short-term variability now exceeds +1°C relative to the 1880-1920 mean and annual 2016 global temperature was almost +1.3°C. We show that global temperature has risen well out of the Holocene range and Earth is now as warm as it was during the prior (Eemian) interglacial period, when sea level reached 6-9m higher than today. Further, Earth is out of energy balance with present atmospheric composition, implying that more warming is in the pipeline, and we show that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated markedly in the past decade. The rapidity of ice sheet and sea level response to global temperature is difficult to predict, but is dependent on the magnitude of warming. Targets for limiting global warming thus, at minimum, should aim to avoid leaving global temperature at Eemian or higher levels for centuries. Such targets now require "negative emissions", i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air. If phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized. In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions today place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 have minimal estimated costs of USD89-535 trillion this century and also have large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.

AB - Global temperature is a fundamental climate metric highly correlated with sea level, which implies that keeping shorelines near their present location requires keeping global temperature within or close to its preindustrial Holocene range. However, global temperature excluding short-term variability now exceeds +1°C relative to the 1880-1920 mean and annual 2016 global temperature was almost +1.3°C. We show that global temperature has risen well out of the Holocene range and Earth is now as warm as it was during the prior (Eemian) interglacial period, when sea level reached 6-9m higher than today. Further, Earth is out of energy balance with present atmospheric composition, implying that more warming is in the pipeline, and we show that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated markedly in the past decade. The rapidity of ice sheet and sea level response to global temperature is difficult to predict, but is dependent on the magnitude of warming. Targets for limiting global warming thus, at minimum, should aim to avoid leaving global temperature at Eemian or higher levels for centuries. Such targets now require "negative emissions", i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air. If phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction. In that case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized. In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions today place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction if they are to limit climate change and its consequences. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 have minimal estimated costs of USD89-535 trillion this century and also have large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85025096615&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.5194/esd-8-577-2017

DO - 10.5194/esd-8-577-2017

M3 - Article

VL - 8

SP - 577

EP - 616

JO - Earth System Dynamics

JF - Earth System Dynamics

SN - 2190-4979

IS - 3

ER -