Some make light of the fact that the Japanese have announced the CO2 level at their Antarctic station (Syowa) exceeded 400 ppmv (part per million by volume) this year.


It’s unlikely we’ll see levels below 400 ppmv again in my lifetime, or yours.

We need to reduce how fast it’s rising, and we need to do it now. That of course raises the question, just how fast is it rising? I’m not talking about the instantaneous rate, which can vary for a lot of reasons. I’m referring to the persistent rate, apart from short-term fluctuations (for whatever reason).

Here’s the data from the Mauna Loa atmospheric observatory, with the seasonal cycle removed:


It’s surprising how well this fits a quadratic function of time:


The residuals from this quadratic fit don’t really show signs of persistent trends, but of fluctuations which aren’t necessarily persistent:


This argues that the quadratic trend is about as much as we can be confident of, in terms of long-term trend. If so, then the present rate of “persistent increase” is about 2.24 +/- 0.09 ppmv/yr, and it continues to accelerate at about 0.012 ppmv/yr/yr.

We can also estimate the rate of increase by a lowess smooth with a suitably chosen time scale. I get this, for the rate of increase itself:


According to this estimate, the current rate is about 2.26 ppmv/yr.

We can also look at the rate (per year) based on the month-to-month differences. This shows that the rate has been increasing over time (which we already knew), and a linear fit to the rate is statistically significant:


This estimate suggests increase at 2.3 ppmv/yr, but with a large uncertainty (+/- 0.6 ppmv).

All in all, the evidence suggests that the present long-term rate of CO2 increase is right around 2.25 ppmv/yr. Alas, there’s no sign of any slowdown in atmospheric CO2 growth; quite the contrary, it’s continuing to accelerate. Although there are brief episodes of faster and slower growth, the best estimate — so far — is near-constant acceleration.

Many nations claim that they have reduced their CO2 emissions rate. But there’s absolutely no evidence that it has had any impact on planet-wide CO2 increase. Not even a little bit. There’s not even any sign we’ve slowed down the acceleration.

Which bodes ill, not for the planet, but for the life that inhabits it. In particular, us. Making light of it is deplorable.

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38 responses to “400

  1. Yes, nations claim reductions but global levels don’t reduce or stabilise and not even the rate of increase has reduced. There are a few possible reasons for this. The most likely (IMO) is that those countries that have reduced emissions within their borders, have simply moved some emissions off-shore by manufacturing or mining less themselves, so moving emissions to other, developing, countries. The other possibilities include inaccurate estimates and omission of some growing sources of emissions from official estimates – e.g. I think air travel/freight and, perhaps, sea travel/freight is not included. There might also be a weakening of sinks. Whatever the reason, it’s the proportion of carbon in the air, globally, that matters, so a constantly increasing number is worrying regardless of what individual countries claim to be doing.

    What is not often reported is that CO2e levels are already way above the supposedly safe limit of 450 ppm CO2e. Last I checked, the level was 485 ppm and rising. There was some agreement on phasing out some of those minor gases, fortunately, though it will not be done quickly enough and some INDCs already included such phasing out.

  2. It’s still a few years premature to declare that the world now completely beyond 400 ppmv CO2, never to return to below for a long time. (Note this comment applies to anytime during a year, not to such aggregate measures as annual averages. Additionally, all 2016 values of CO2 discussed here are still preliminary–subject to final quality-control review and possible small adjustments early next year.)

    To say so is to forget about the higher northern latitudes and the increasing amplitude with northern latitude of the seasonal cycle of CO2. For example, the Barrow, Alaska observatory (BRW) measures an annual maximum (April/May) to the following minimum (August) variation of 15 to 16 ppmv (and similarly for the Alert, Nunavut, (ALT) site), whereas the Mauna Loa observatory (MLO) measures such seasonal variation of about 6 ppmv. (More southerly sites have even smaller annual amplitudes.)

    Consequently, it is virtually certain that the high Arctic will see a CO2 minimum below 400 ppm next summer and very likely below 400 ppm the summer after that. I estimate that it may be as late as 2020 before there is a CO2 seasonal minimum definitively above 400 ppm in the high Arctic.

    The Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab has an interactive Data Visualization tool (IADV) at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/dv/iadv/ where such details can be explored. It’s surprising just how far south from the high Arctic you can go before a below 400 ppm minimum for next summer becomes unlikely. (You can get a quick visual appreciation of the large latitudinal ranges of seasonal variation from the 132 month (2003-2014) movie at “Select Measurement Program and Plot Type” > “Carbon Cycle Gases” > “Latitude Distribution (multiple sites)” from the IADV page.)

    But regardless of whether it’s 2019, 2020, or even 2021 when we pass the real “Never again below 400 ppm–year-round, world-wide” mark, it is virtually certain that within 5 years afterward we will have blown past the “Never again below 410 ppm–year-round, world-wide” mark, and within 5 years after that …. (In 10 years past the 400 mark it is virtually certain to be more than 410, but I hope at least a bit less than 420.)

    On the other hand, if one restricts to just annual means, where the high spring-time swings in the field of regional variations–over time and all latitudes and longitudes (or reasonable samplings thereof)–compensate the low autumn swings, then it is probable that next year and afterward there will be no annual means below 400 ppmv. In fact, BRW’s annual mean for 2016 is virtually certain to be above 400 ppm; it only had 3 month averages (Jul,Aug,Sep) below 400 ppm in 2016, and these departures below were smaller than all of the first 5 months above 400, while the running mean for Oct is already well above 400 and Nov and Dec are sure to be even higher.

  3. Reblogged this on Anmerkungen und Beobachtungen and commented:
    Das Problem ist nicht, dass wir bei 400 ppm oder bei 398 oder bei 402 liegen, das Problem ist, dass wir die CO2-Menge in der Luft weiterhin erhöhen – und dass wir die Rate, mit der wir erhöhen, auch weiterhin erhöhen. Verdammich.

  4. Actually, there does appear to be a hint of a drop in the rate of increase in graph 5 (the lowess smooth). Nothing very definite, since there are larger fluctuations in that same graph in the past, but given that, as Mike says, some nations have reported/estimated drops in emissions, it is possible that it could be real, and could be the beginning of a real ‘bend’ in the curve. We shall see.


    Also interesting (and possibly provocative for some):


    • The apparent flattening at the end can largely be explained by climatic variability influences, both enhancing the rate around the 1980s and 90s (notwithstanding Pinatubo dip) and dampening the rate of the past decade. As far as I’m aware economic inventories are consistent that the period from the late 90s/early 2000s has seen the largest CO2 emissions growth in history. A plateau over the past couple of years doesn’t change that.

      • I don’t see that. First, if your ‘climatic influences’ were responsible, we should see a rate increase over the last couple of years, not a flattening. Or so I infer, based on what you wrote.

        Second, I’m confused by the statement about the potential ‘plateau’. Of course it doesn’t change the characterization of “the period from the late 90s/early 2000s”–presently. That’s pretty much a tautology. But if the plateau turns out to be real, or even turns to decline, then you’d have a breakpoint ca. 2014.

        There is no statistical evidence, yet, that that is the case. But there is also no evidence, yet, that it isn’t. Hence, “We’ll see.”

      • Looking at actual estimates, the latest year available is 2014, which is described as a ‘near stall’ in emissions growth–0.5%. That followed a 2-year period of slow growth (1%), prior to which emissions had been rising at 4% or so. So the graph we’ve been talking about seems pretty consilient to me. (Which begs the question, if so, then how far back does the correlation hold?)

        Click to access jrc-2015-trends-in-global-co2-emissions-2015-report-98184.pdf

      • First, if your ‘climatic influences’ were responsible, we should see a rate increase over the last couple of years, not a flattening.

        A rate increase has happened over the last few years. The most recent 3-year and 5-year average growth rates at Mauna Loa are about 2.5ppm/yr.

        It doesn’t show at the end of Tamino’s smooth because that trajectory is still being influenced by the persistent La Nina years of 2007-2012 during which time 3-year and 5-year averages dropped to about 2.0ppm/yr

  5. One issue is that the CH4 to CO2 equivalency of ~24 is based on a 100 year time period. Here we are looking at warming and feedback processes on a year to year or decade to decade basis, so the CH4/CO2 equivalency is ~84; and the atmosphere is at just over 560 CO2e. That matters because of tundra melt and other feedback processes including sea ice melt, tundra melt, and changes in ecosystems. Even if CH4 from thermally decomposing clathrates does not reach the surface, that puts more carbon into the biosphere, and some of that carbon gets into the atmosphere. This is not in the models.

    Concentrations of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere are controlled by biologic ecosystems, and not atmospheric oxidation. Bio systems are very sensitive to temperature, However, the guys that wrote the early IPCC models were fascinated by atmospheric chemistry.

    They were, what my wife would call “air heads”. And yes, in the early 1990s, I was doing air modeling, and we left out all the critters.

  6. I think your quadratic analysis is too simple for the full time frame but looks reasonable after 1980.

    If a quadratic applies then c = a t^2 gives dc/dt = 2 c/t. Note c is the CO2 anomaly, ie CO2-280. So if we plot dc/dt against c/t we should see a straight line with slope 2. But we don’t. There appears to me to be a distinct change point (afraid I can’t prove this) at about the point for 1980. Taking a slope after this (i removed a decade of the data badly affected by volcanoes in 86 and 92) I get a slope of 2.3 so nearly quadratic. However for the data before 1980 the slope is far higher, 7 or more. Both lines have correlation coefficients over over 0.95.

    Before 1980 I do not see that it is possible to fit a simple polynomial, c =a t^n; an exponential perhaps. A similar analysis treating growth as exponential dc/dt = a c, gives pre 1980 growth as 3.9% and post 1980 as 1.2%.

    By way of explanation I would suggest that the oil shock of the mid seventies and significant changes in energy efficiency occurred at about that time. The good news is that although we still have acceleration it looks to me to be less than I previously thought and you suggest. I would welcome more skilled analysis from yourself if you find these points of interest.

    PS for the time origin I used 1888. Your analysis suggested about 1880 . I chose a little later to force an intercept at zero for my post 1980 data.

    • MD, first fit a linear. Then a quadratic. Then check the t-stats on the coefficients and do a partial-F check on the added (quadratic) term. If it passes, a quadratic is justified. In fact, that’s the best way to do a polynomial–keep adding terms until they no longer make sense. That would eliminate a lot of the 5 and 6 term polynomials deniers like to use.

      • Fitting a quadratic to this data is works because the time frame is limited. however we can also look at co2 emissions data from cdiac over 250 years. This is clearly not quadratic (quartic or exponential more likely) and should match atmospheric data function. This leads me to infer that the atmospheric data may look quadratic but it is not. I think you can see change points more clearly in the emission data as well. Again an indicator that a quadratic is insufficient to describe the co2 increase.

  7. Apologies for an exponential result my growth rates are wrong. Should be about 2%. I read one of my graphs incorrectly. Please ignore

  8. It’s a shame that the people who care most about this topic usually strongly oppose nuclear power, which by any objective measure is hands down the best technology available for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

    • m: nuclear … by any objective measure is hands down the best technology available for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

      BPL: I can’t imagine what objective measure you’re using. First of all, nuclear generates a fair amount of CO2 due to the vast amount of cement used in nuke plant construction. Second, it’s expensive, takes years to deploy, generates hazardous wastes, and is sometimes subject to catastrophic accidents. I’ll take renewables, thank you very much.

      • My concern about nuclear-as-climate-solution is that there’s just no way it can scale up in time. IMO, the chief obstacles are persistent financing problems (a much worse issue than one would think) and a skilled workforce at least an order of magnitude smaller than the need. Nuclear power will be part of the mix for the foreseeable future, but will be a role player, not a silver bullet–again, IMHO.

      • David B. Benson

        Barton Paul Levenson — At least two separate studies, one of those being the ICC WG3 report, find that nuclear power plants tie with wind turbines as having the lowest lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of all studied generator types. Incidentally, wind turbines require vastly more concrete per kilowatt actually generated than do nuclear power plants.

      • “Second, it’s expensive, takes years to deploy, generates hazardous wastes, and is sometimes subject to catastrophic accidents. I’ll take renewables, thank you very much.”

        It’s about the same (UK) price per kWh as PV, and cheaper than offshore wind. It’s much cheaper than tidal lagoon and tidal stream. It’s about the same price as new coal, and cheaper than CCS coal. So yes it’s not cheapest, but its in the middle of the pack, is also dispatchable, very reliable, has a small physcial footprint, and the lowest carbon footprint of everything except onshore wind (which is marginally better) (12 vs 10g CO2/kWh – number from US National Renewables Lab summary and normalisation of many LCA studies.).

        Yes it takes ages to start, but the _only_ sucessful examples of non-hydro decarbonisation so far as France and Sweden, who both did it in under 20 years using nuclear. Nuclear deployments have been an order of magnitude faster than renewables deployments so far, just because you get an awful lot of energy out the end when your plant is done. I used to think it was ‘too late’ for nuclear, but having seen the numbers and history so far, I’ve changed my mind: it clearly can be very effective indeed.

        Yes it makes nasty waste, but not very much of it, and storage is technically simple, as covered in another post. If you make some IFRs (the Russians have a full size one runing since 2014) you can burn your 4%-used uranium to get much less (~85%-used) and much shorter-lived waste. Ruining the whole planet with climate change, just to avoid a bit of nuclear waste storage is a terrible deal, and an abject failure to correctly compare risks.

        Yes, but it’s still the safest generation technology known per MWh, even with those accidents, and coal has put out an order of magnitude more radioactive materials whilst working normally. Hydro has the same problem of potentially catastrophic accidents, and that’s happened a couple of times too. Everything has risks. Nuclear’s have been subject to very detailed examination and are known to be very small. I would like to see some updated numbers for large-scale PV to see if it is safer than nuclear yet (back in 2010 when PV was mostly rooftop it wasn’t, because fitters fall off roofs ocaisionally). I would expect ground-mount PV to possibly get down to the safety level of nuclear, but I’ve not seen anyone do the numbers yet.

        And finally, the big problem with renewables-only currently is that it doesn’t actually solve your problem. Because you still have to use some gas in current practical systems, you end up with 180gCO2/Kwh. With some nuclear too you can get down to 50gCO2/Kwh; nearly 4 times better. Maybe we can improve on those numbers in the future, but it’s a big risk to take with your one planet. Use stuff you know will work.

      • Nuclear power is carbon neutral across its lifecycle to exactly the same extent renewables are. Please don’t take my word for it though. If you think the IPCC is a credible organization, you might be interested to see what they have to say on the matter. https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_annex-iii.pdf [See the table on page 1335 (7 of 28)]

        Large nuclear powerplants generally take about 4-5 years to construct. This is about how long they take to build in places like China and South Korea, and that’s how long it used to take to build them in the US. Depending upon the regulatory framework in place in the nation in which they’re being built, construction time (and building cost) can be increased infinitely.

        Renewables (wind and solar) are considerably more expensive than nuclear power. It might be hard to tell sometimes because of all the direct and indirect subsidies they receive, but that reality is eventually impossible to mask. The high cost of renewables is why nations like Germany and Denmark have the highest retail prices for electricity on the planet. The relatively low cost of electricity from nuclear power is why France has rather inexpensive electricity (especially for a nation with an almost totally decarbonized grid, a feat no grid that relies heavily on wind and solar has ever achieved). http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/images/2014.11.18/chart2.png

        See here also to see an analysis of the relative system costs associated with various electricity generating technologies conducted by the OECD and NEA: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf (see the tables on pages 9 & 10 of 19).

        Nuclear fission does generate byproducts that have to be handled with care. Thanks to e = mc2, an equation highly relevant to the physics of nuclear fission, it doesn’t take much m to generate a lot of e in a nuclear reactor, and so there isn’t a lot of waste produced to generate a lot of e either. All the nuclear waste (most of which is just unused fuel) ever produced by US nuclear reactors would fit comfortably on an American football field stacked to a height of about 2 meters. Here’s a picture of all the nuclear waste ever produced by the Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant over 28 years of nearly continuous operation: http://i.imgur.com/XIuSf37.png Not exactly a big deal, in the scheme of things. And handily for nuclear power, essentially all of its waste is solid and can be 100% contained.

        Lots of hazardous waste is created in the manufacture of solar panels and windmills. See here for but one example: https://web.stanford.edu/group/sjir/pdf/Solar_11.2.pdf

        There have been exactly three serious accidents at a commercial nuclear power generating facility. Of those, only one resulted in fatalities (around sixty of them). That’s it for the entire history of nuclear power. Nuclear power has the smallest death footprint of any energy technology ever devised. http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/update-of-death-per-terawatt-hour-by.html

        One major advantage nuclear power has over wind and solar is the fact that nuclear doesn’t require covering vast expanses of landscape with power farming kit. To give you a sense of the scale of energy farming required to power modern civilizations with renewables, give this e-book by the late Sir David MacKay a leaf through: http://www.withouthotair.com/

        In my experience, people in the anti-nuclear, 100% renewables camp are mirror images of climate deniers. Evidence and facts simply will not move them, and they don’t hesitate to invent their own factual universe to insulate their cherished beliefs from reality.

      • Re nuclear. It’s unlikely that anything will sway minds, either way. But this is from an article in Nature:

        According to Sovacool’s analysis, nuclear power, at 66 gCO2e/kWh emissions is well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, which emit 960 gCO2e/kWh, and natural gas-fired plants, at 443 gCO2e/kWh. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, at 32 gCO2e/kWh, and six times as much as onshore wind farms, at 10 gCO2e/kWh. “A number in the 60s puts it well below natural gas, oil, coal and even clean-coal technologies. On the other hand, things like energy efficiency, and some of the cheaper renewables are a factor of six better. So for every dollar you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms,” Sovacool says. Add to that the high costs and long lead times for building a nuclear plant about $3 billion for a 1,000 megawatt plant, with planning, licensing and construction times of about 10 years and nuclear power is even less appealing.

        No energy infrastructure is zero carbon but so-called renewables looks to be lower carbon than nuclear and simply using less energy is probably much the fastest route to lower emissions. It’s remarkable that that isn’t pushed as the main strategy.

      • Chris O'Neill

        nuclear generates a fair amount of CO2 due to the vast amount of cement used in nuke plant construction.

        Not as vast as the vast amount of cement used for wind generator foundations.

        All academic anyway of course. In 25 years we will be within striking distance of 2℃ of global warming, if not already there.

    • The question that I’ve never been given an answer to from nuclear advocates is this: if there is a massive build-out of nuclear in an attempt to avoid catastrophic climate change, what happens if that attempt fails? In that event, do you expect all nuclear countries to be able to somehow safely wind down their nuclear reactors and safely store all of their nuclear waste for millennia? We have 400-odd reactors now and that worries me. With perhaps a multiple of those in future, the worry level rises considerably.

      • David B. Benson

        Mike Roberts — The repository problem for nuclear wastes from nuclear power plants is a technically solved problem. The obstacles in the USA are entirely political.

      • David, I was referring to nuclear societies that are becoming unstable due to climate change (if nothing else), if nuclear is tried out but turns out not to be a silver bullet (for a variety of reasons). Would the technical solution be implemented in such societies? Heck, there is only one such society that has any kind of implementation now and it’s fingers crossed that it works. It is just crazy (IMO) to keep talking about solutions that are supposedly known but still aren’t being implemented when we probably have the resources to do so as solutions that are in our back pocket to be whipped out at a moment’s notice.

        And that is just dealing with the radioactive waste. There are other risky areas that would represent dangers as societies weaken or destabilise.

        Regarding emissions, there are emissions in all phases of nuclear facilities, including the mining and refining of fuel, the building of the plant, the operating of the plant, the decommissioning of the plant and the storing of the spent fuel. Perhaps there are designs and fuels that have lower footprints but they remain in the trial or wishful thinking stage at the moment. All of those emissions would have to be countered in some way.

      • “If there is a massive build-out of nuclear in an attempt to avoid catastrophic climate change, what happens if that attempt fails?”

        Not quite sure what you mean by ‘fails’. You mean if we get civilisational collapse anyway, with various failed states? Well, I think the point is that you need to compare your risks properly.
        Some waste storage vs. massive climate change.

        Nuclear waste is one of the few problems that deals with itself over time, so eventually it’ll just decay enough that you really don’t care. Climate change keeps getting worse until you decarbonise. In the meantime the existing storage is very simple and safe – incredibly so in comparison to climate change. You leave it in swimming pools for 20 years or so, then stick it in dry casks, eventually moving to underground storage (although this part has proved politically very difficult everywhere apart from Finland). The pool+casks part has been done in very many places around the world with no real problems and zero deaths over 60 years. Even if everyone went away and stopped monitoring it it’ll just sit there. If civil order has collapsed, then this is one of your smaller problems. Just leaving it alone will be fine.

        The point is that your chances of not getting to this state of collapse are enormously increased by using some nuclear power as well as renewables. An awful lot of people who know anything about the energy system will tell you that not using it makes an already large problem _much_ larger especially in high-latitude countries, and I find them convincing. Renewables-only is probably _possible_, but it’s so much harder and (at least currently) much more expensive (due to higher system costs (storage, transmission). So far it’s been much slower too.

        Just look at Germany as the canonical example of doing this wrong: billions spent replacing perfectly good nuclear power stations with renewables, resulting in an electricity system that’s still 50% coal/lignite, and a CO2e/kWh that has barely changed in 20 years, and that’s before electrifying heat and transport too. As this very post points out: the only thing that actually matters is whether you moved the dial on GHG emissions.

        I wouldn’t advocate an all-nuclear system (although it would at least work with existing technology for a knowable amount of money), but I do think people who insist that it shouldn’t be used at all are losing sight of the actual problem: GHG emissions.

      • Well, Wookey, I think you’ve simplified the waste problem way too much but there are other issues with nuclear infrastructure in a world where climate change has become catastrophic and where, because of that and for other reasons, some/all nuclear states become unstable.

        I think people are looking for all sorts of silver bullets when by far the simplest way to reduce our impact quickly is to be more efficient and less wasteful in our use of energy. Unfortunately, that would entail some perceived sacrifices and some lifestyle changes, which is probably why so many people look for a silver bullet instead.

        Nature will sort this out for us in the end.

    • marmocet, I consider myself among the people who care “the most” about AGW, and I’m not strongly opposed to nuclear power. I think modern NP designs should be considered for inclusion in the carbon-neutral energy mix, subject to the same cost/benefit analysis as every other source should be: that is, taking all costs and risks into account.

      • See my reply to Barton Paul Levenson.

      • Marmocet, your reply to BPL is a quick’n’dirty version of the kind of cost/benefit analysis we’ll need to do in much more detail, and iteratively, on the way to a carbon-neutral society. I want to focus on your initial comment on this thread, however. You appear to associate concern about AGW with political environmentalism:

        the people who care most about this topic usually strongly oppose nuclear power

        Are you aware that’s a rhetorical tactic used by professional disinformers to polarize an issue that affects everyone in the world, whether we call ourselves environmentalists or not? It suggests that your strong a priori preference for nuclear power over renewable energy may be more about culture war than about finding the most cost-effective way to mitigate AGW. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • @Mal Adapted My comment is supported by empirical research. http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/4/2/mapkia-episode-49-where-is-ludwick-or-what-type-of-person-is.html

        As I said and as the Cultural Cognition Project research demonstrates, those who express the most concern about global warming also tend to oppose nuclear power. Those who express great concern about global warming and

        Want more evidence on that note? Virtually ever major environmental group opposes nuclear power. As far as I know, only the Breakthrough Institute endorses it. The Green Party opposes nuclear power. And the Democratic Party, the one that likes to trumpet its environmentally friendly credentials, is generally hostile to nuclear power.

        As to my “quick and dirty” analysis, I’m certainly not going to write a book on the subject here. I simply don’t have the time. Sorry. I supported my claims by providing links to credible sources. Feel free to chase them up and dig deeper into the matter yourself. (I will get back to you on Mr. Sovacool though. Suffice it for now to say that he is to nuclear power research what Christopher Monckton and Anthony Watts are global warming research.)

        My position regarding nuclear power, which is that it is the best tool of all the ones currently available for making deep, rapid GHG emissions reductions, is based on a priori and a posteriori knowledge. I don’t have any emotional attachment to nuclear power, just as I don’t have emotional attachments to hammers or table saws or any other tool. I only care about them to the extent that I want the best tool for the job.

        Here’s some more quick and dirty analysis for you so you too can start to perform your own a posteriori assessment of the energy options on the table.

        Here’s how quickly France scaled up nuclear power following their implementation of the Messmer Plan in 1974: http://i.imgur.com/bbnv3wr.png

        Compare that with what Germany managed with renewables since the 2000 start of its campaign to deploy them en masse (I have the chart that with data up to 2012; you can get the latest chart from the link in the image): http://i.imgur.com/ZwqqoM5.png

        Keep in mind when you look at the “Biomass” wedge of German renewables that “Biomass” means for the most part burning wood. German and other EU nations’ “Green Energy” policies have been responsible for a huge surge in the demand for wood pellets as fuel for electric power plants. http://reports.climatecentral.org/pulp-fiction/1/ I’ll leave it to you to decide whether cutting down and burning trees on an industrial scale is sound environmental policy.

        Now take a look at the carbon intensity per kilowatt hour of electricity in France, Germany and other selected jurisdictions: http://canadianenergyissues.com/everyunit/germany_cipkcompare.php

        If the US simply copied what the French did in from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s, the GHG intensity of US electricity would drop by about 85%. That alone would achieve a ~27.5% reduction in total US GHG emissions relative to 2014 values.

      • Marmoset,

        Your claims about Nuclear power are false. You need to read more peer reviewed data and less blog posts.

        If you want to support nuclear power you need to address the primary contentions of those who oppose nuclear. According to Jacobson 2009, the decisive issue about nuclear is its very long lead time to build out. According to your IPCC citation above, the average build time for a nuclear plant is 9 years, not 4-5 as you claim. The build time for a wind or solar farm is 1-2 years. Those times do not include planning and permitting times. That is 1-2 years for wind and solar plants and 5-9 years for nuclear. That means that if we were to decide today to build out nuclear it would be 10-20 years before the plants began to come on line. Wind and solar will be online at least a decade before nuclear. Your graph of French nuclear does not include any planning or construction time and leaves a false impression. Current plants under construction in the US and Europe are years behind schedule and grossly over budget. These plants were intended to show that the nuclear industry could build new plants cheaply and on schedule. Another fail for the nuclear industry. Generation III “safe” plants have been described by nuclear engineers as “unbuildable”. Builders in China are building unsafe generation II plants.

        This peer reviewed paper lists many reasons why nuclear cannot be used to power the world. They include lack of 15000 sites to locate reactors world wide, lack of critical materials like niobium, zirconium and beryllium, lack of uranium and many others. Jacobson has addressed all similar issues for renewable energy. Please address all these issues before you claim others are not considering the facts.

        It is not necessary to review the grave environmental concerns about nuclear plants, they are uneconomic. Current plants operation and maintenance costs alone are greater than wind and solar costs including their build out. Claiming spent fuel pools are safe after enormous amounts of radiation were released into the environment at Fukushima from the pools is dishonest.

        Your claim that environmentalists are blind to reason is false. You need to look in the mirror to see the person who does not accept the facts of the situation.

      • Chris O'Neill

        This peer reviewed paper

        published in “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists”, impact factor 0.69 “is a nontechnical academic journal” that “is no longer published by SAGE”.

        “Peer reviewed” might mean the paper has some quality but this really is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

      • Mike Roberts,

        Derek Abbot has over 11,000 citations according to Google Scholar. Your ad hominem complaints would be better addressed at someone with less stature. You have not addressed his claims at all, so I presume you cannot. I do not see you replying with any peer reviewed data at all (indeed, no data at all). I note that you have not mentioned Jacobson, whose paper that shows nuclear is not desirable has over 600 citations.

        I could cite many other papers that demonstrate that nuclear power is impractical, but it is unnecessary. Nuclear is uneconomic. It cannot compete without great subsidies against wind and solar. Nuclear plants around the USA are shutting down because they cannot make money.

        People like those here that criticize Wind and Solar to promote nuclear are not helping solve AGW. Peer reviewed data do not support nuclear. If you want to support nuclear fine, make whatever arguments you want, but do not slander WWS.

        Uninformed comments about nuclear like these are why Real Climate bans nuclear comments.

      • Michael Sweet, I don’t know what you are on about. I don’t make ad hominems and have not done so here. The only reference to Derek Abbot here is in your comment.

      • Chris O'Neill

        Your ad hominem complaints

        Whoa! Someone’s a bit sensitive.

        In the, hopefully likely, event that your response was actually intended for me and not your addressee, Mike Roberts, I didn’t make any ad hominem complaints. In fact, you’re making another logical fallacy, the appeal to irrelevant authority.

        My point was that if you’re going to complain about people putting up non-peer reviewed publications because this means they don’t have credibility then you really ought to put up publications whose “peer review” really amounts to something substantial. Otherwise you’re just throwing stones in a glasshouse. If you want to make a point relying on peer review status then it’s much better to rely on Jacobson’s paper.

      • michael sweet

        Mike Roberts:
        I am sorry, my previous post was intended for Chris O’Neill.

        Derek Abbott’s web page is here: http://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/

      • @Marmocet:

        @Mal Adapted My comment is supported by empirical research. http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/4/2/mapkia-episode-49-where-is-ludwick-or-what-type-of-person-is.html

        As I said and as the Cultural Cognition Project research demonstrates, those who express the most concern about global warming also tend to oppose nuclear power. Those who express great concern about global warming and [truncated?]

        Hmm, a blog post purporting to show r = 0.47 isn’t especially probative. Virtually ever major environmental group doesn’t strongly correlate with the people who care most about this topic either, certainly not if you count the Breakthrough Institute as an environmental group (I don’t). The Green Party can’t be said to represent anyone but its pitifully few members, and while Democrats may be three times more likely than Republicans to care “a great deal” about climate issues, saying that the Democratic Party is generally hostile to nuclear power is pretty weak, don’t you think? We’re all entitled to your opinion, but so far you’ve failed to support your initial claim that the people who care most about this topic usually strongly oppose nuclear power.

        As for your confident assertion that by any objective measure is hands down the best technology available for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, that may or may not turn out to be true by the time the transition to carbon neutrality is complete. I’ll keep my eye on it though.

        FWIW, I now think you probably aren’t here to wage culture war, not resolutely at least. With that, I’m done with this topic.

  9. Have you tried adjusting for known climatic influences – ENSO, volcanic – as you’ve done with temperature series? I suspect you’d find a higher current rate, because much of the past decade has been weighed down by negative ENSO behaviour.