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April 5, 2024 | Famous Climate Scientist Heats Up Debate with a Bold Prediction

Hilliard MacBeth

Author of "When the Bubble Bursts: Surviving the Canadian Real Estate Crash"

James Hansen is an 83-year-old climate research scientist that became known in the 1980s for making accurate predictions about global temperature increases. Now, he forecasts that warming is happening even faster than he expected.

Will policymakers listen to Hansen this time?

His latest paper, a 33-page peer-reviewed report that was published in November 2023, covers a myriad of related topics about climate change, including possible remedial actions to stop the worst impacts.

But a key conclusion of the paper – “Global Warming in the Pipeline” — is his (and his co-authors) bold claim that the current rate of change in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could cause temperatures to increase by about 4.8 degrees Celsius after CO2 doubles. That degree of warming would change the planet in a dramatic way, as it makes it possible that both of the large ice sheets, Antarctica and Greenland, could partially or completely melt, leading to sea level increases of 50 meters or more. The title “Warming in the Pipeline” hints that a large amount of warming is already likely even if immediate action to limit emissions is taken.

You can access the paper at Oxford Academic.

The Earth’s Energy Imbalance (EEI) causes warming as the earth absorbs more energy from the Sun than it radiates out to space. The earth will keep getting hotter until that imbalance is resolved. About 90 percent of the excess warming has gone into the ocean so far.

And the idea that 4.8 degrees is “baked in the cake” comes from the analysis of periods when large changes in atmospheric CO2 occurred, going back in geological time over the last 66 million years — the Cenozoic era after the extinction of the large dinosaurs.

The recent CO2 increase has been very substantial in comparison to previous cycles and has occurred 100-200 times faster than during any previous era. These gains have happened since the industrial era began in England in 1800 when coal burning was introduced for industrial applications. CO2 levels at that time were about 280 ppm (parts per million) and today are measured at an observatory in Hawaii at 425 ppm, an increase of about 50 percent.

Hansen is now saying that 1.5 degrees of warming will arrive this decade, and that 2 degrees is expected before 2050.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts a temperature change of 3 degrees Celsius after a doubling of CO2 and doesn’t believe that would cause drastic changes. That panel completes a comprehensive scientific assessment every 6 to 7 years. The Fifth Assessment in 2014 provided the basis for the Paris Agreement and the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

The public and politicians are likely to accept the more conservative predictions from the IPCC.

As Hansen states, “A climate characterized by delayed response and amplifying feedbacks is especially dangerous because the public and policymakers are unlikely to make fundamental changes … until they see visible evidence of the threat.”


Hilliard MacBeth


The opinions expressed in this report are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Richardson Wealth or its affiliates. Assumptions, opinions and estimates constitute the author’s judgment as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice. We do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this material, and it should not be relied upon as such. Before acting on any recommendation, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The comments contained herein are general in nature and are not intended to be, nor should be construed to be, legal or tax advice to any particular individual. Accordingly, individuals should consult their own legal or tax advisors for advice with respect to the tax consequences to them, having regard to their own particular circumstances.. Richardson Wealth is a member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Richardson Wealth is a trademark by its respective owners used under license by Richardson Wealth.

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April 5th, 2024

Posted In: Hilliard's Weekend Notebook

One Comment

  • Ian Mackinnon says:

    Could this too be climate change. Earth’s axis precesses because its axis of rotation resists being changed by gravitational forces of the sun and moon. Gradually, precession will cause the seasons to reverse in their respective hemispheres, so that in the north, summer will begin on what we now call December 22.
    Could this be climate change. Our wandering geomagnetic pole is moving north-northwest at 55km per year. When I began my flying career (1972) the City of Halifax was at 26 degrees west declination, today Halifax is at 16 degrees west declination. Ten degrees in 50 years. The ESA, European Space Angency’s mission SWARM is dedicated to solving the most mysterious aspects of our planet, the magnetic field.
    The magnetic field has an immeasurable impact on our everyday life. Our magnetic field is constantly changing. In fact, we have a dent in our magnetic field call the South Atlantic anomaly and our magnetic field is weakening faster than previously believed. That’s not good! We could end up looking like planet Mars, barren. Review the geomagnetic storm in Quebec 1989, the lights went out in 90 seconds. What will this mean for our future electrified planet upon the next event. (Please see ESA site for magnetic field). Climate change such a broad topic and a carbon tax is not going to solve our problem with climate change. I’m not so sure this is just about a carbon foot print, lots involved with this topic. And my understanding is, it’s not carbon dioxide that control world temperature, its temperature that control carbon dioxide concentration. All food for thought. I never miss a week of Howe Street. Great site!

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