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World Bank on Climate: "Turn Down the Heat" - Is It Really This Bad?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Mega reports on climate change are piling up almost as fast as the extreme unprecedented weather events. The latest by the World Bank is just another summary of conservative consensus climate science. Impacts are already worse than stated, but fortunately, solutions could be easier than are commonly understood.

As incredible as it sounds, the effects of climate change are worse than the World Bank Report says in its latest report: "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4 degree C world Must be Avoided," a summary of the latest findings in climate science.  Much of this work is based on 1998 climate change scenarios and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consensus position from 2007. Because science takes years and years to happen, a lot of this research is based on a world where Kyoto was still a part of the deal. But in our world today, instead of working on climate pollution emissions reductions, we are now emitting more than was imagined in the 1998 worst-case scenario. Even though much of the work in the World Bank Report is the latest and greatest, it is still largely based in research on one of the "middle-of-the-road" climate change scenarios.

This is why these consensus reports are so dangerous. It's not that they project global catastrophe, it is that those projections are based on a consensus opinion. Whenever you get more than one specialist of any kind agreeing on a position that satisfies more than that one specialist, the result is almost always a group opinion that is watered down. So alone, the scientific consensus on climate change is not as extreme as any of its given parts. It's easy to agree on the middle-of-the road scenario now that the "best-case" scenario is so obviously a pipe dream.

The consensus opinion includes the solutions as well as the impacts. What the latest forward-leaning findings are now reporting is that treating climate pollution using existing technologies will be no more difficult than supplying Earth with clean drinking water every day. This is hardly a path that destroys our economies. These existing technologies are things like efficiency improvements, electric and hybrid vehicles, fluorescent light bulbs, wind, solar, wave, tidal, carbon capture and storage (CSS), carbon sequestration and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), natural gas combined cycle (NGCC), saline aquifer sequestration, mineral  sequestration, oil field disposal - the list is a mile long.   


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