The IPCC has just issued a report that details the numerous bad outcomes of a global +1.5 degree Centigrade (+1.5C) of warming versus the catastrophic outcomes from a +2C e.g. a further 70-90% decline of coral reefs at +1.5C versus more than 99% loss at +2C. Crucially, the IPCC report is a consensus and hence conservative document, and its propositions are probabilistic. Dauntingly, the IPCC Report says that for less than +1.5C coal burning must cease by 2050 but also declares that the terminal CO2 pollution budget for a 66% chance of avoiding +1.5C will be used up in 10 years. Humanity and particularly young people must revolt with zero tolerance for coal-burning climate criminals epitomized by pro-coal Australia and Trump America.
The lengthy Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on “Global warming of 1.5 °C”  includes a 34-page Summary for Policy Makers . Because the IPCC Reports are international consensus documents, they present a more optimistic picture. Accordingly it is useful to consider the consensus statements of the “Global warming of 1.5 °C” report in relation to blunter prognostications of leading climate scientists.
For the benefit of readers I have reproduced below 7 key bits of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers with my succinct comments appended.
B4.1. There is high confidence that the probability of a sea-ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer is substantially lower at global warming of 1.5°C when compared to 2°C. With 1.5°C of global warming, one sea ice-free Arctic summer is projected per century. This likelihood is increased to at least one per decade with 2°C global warming. Effects of a temperature overshoot are reversible for Arctic sea ice cover on decadal time scales (high confidence).
[Comment. A sea-ice-free Arctic Ocean every 10 years on average at plus 2C means devastation of Arctic ecosystems and species. Such a massive decrease in Arctic Ocean albedo (reflectivity) creates a disastrous positive feedback loop successively involving more light-absorbing, black, ice-free sea, more solar energy absorption and further increased warming (the so-called “albedo flip”). Dr James Hansen and colleagues (2007): “Palaeoclimate data show that the Earth’s climate is remarkably sensitive to global forcings. Positive feedbacks predominate. This allows the entire planet to be whipsawed between climate states. One feedback, the ‘albedo flip’ property of ice/water, provides a powerful trigger mechanism. A climate forcing that ‘flips’ the albedo of a sufficient portion of an ice sheet can spark a cataclysm. Inertia of ice sheet and ocean provides only moderate delay to ice sheet disintegration and a burst of added global warming. Recent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions place the Earth perilously close to dramatic climate change that could run out of our control, with great dangers for humans and other creatures” .
A recent summary of Arctic sea ice loss states: “ As early as 2030, researchers say, the Arctic Ocean could lose essentially all of its ice during the warmest months of the year — a radical transformation that would upend Arctic ecosystems and disrupt many northern communities. Change will spill beyond the region, too. An increasingly blue Arctic Ocean could amplify warming trends and even scramble weather patterns around the globe” . Dr James Hansen et al. (2008): “Stabilization of Arctic sea ice cover requires, to first approximation, restoration of planetary energy balance. Climate models driven by known forcings yield a present planetary energy imbalance of +0.5-1 W/m2. Observed heat increase in the upper 700 m of the ocean confirms the planetary energy imbalance, but observations of the entire ocean are needed for quantification. CO2 amount must be reduced to 325-355 ppm to increase outgoing flux 0.5-1 W/m2, if other forcings are unchanged. A further imbalance reduction, and thus CO2 ~300-325 ppm, may be needed to restore sea ice to its area of 25 years ago”  i.e. not just cessation of fossil fuel burning and methane (CH4) release but massive and horrendously expensive carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will be required to restore the Arctic sea ice found at circa 300 ppm CO2 [6-8].
B4.2. Global warming of 1.5°C is projected to shift the ranges of many marine species, to higher latitudes as well as increase the amount of damage to many ecosystems. It is also expected to drive the loss of coastal resources, and reduce the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture (especially at low latitudes). The risks of climate-induced impacts are projected to be higher at 2°C than those at global warming of 1.5°C (high confidence). Coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by a further 70–90% at 1.5°C (high confidence) with larger losses (>99%) at 2ºC (very high confidence). The risk of irreversible loss of many marine and coastal ecosystems increases with global warming, especially at 2°C or more (high confidence).
[Comment. The report predicts essentially total destruction of coral reefs at plus 2C. The IPCC report is consonant with that of top coral scientists who declared (2009): “Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded 320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached 340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. Recovery was dependent on the vulnerability of individual reef areas and on the reef’s previous history and resilience. At today’s level of 387 ppm [410 ppm in 2018], allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niño events. Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events. In addition, the progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae” . Coral reefs provide ecosystems for a huge range of marine life, including nurseries for 25% of ocean fish, and are of economic importance to about 1 billion people .
As succinctly summarized by the 2017 “World scientists’ warning to Humanity: a second notice”: “We have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century” . This is massive ecocide and speciescide leading to terracide (Biosphere and biodiversity destruction) that has resulted in the present man-dominated era being described as the Anthropocene. One can only endlessly repeat that we cannot destroy what we cannot replace, and further, that it is not ours to destroy .]
B5. Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.
[Comment. The IPCC Report did not provide any estimates of annual avoidable mortality due to climate change. It is already estimated that 0.4 million people die from the effects of climate change each year [13, 14]. However this may be an under-estimate because climate change disproportionately impacts Third World people in tropical and sub-tropical countries in which 16 million people die avoidably from deprivation each year . However it gets worse. Thus several top climate scientists have estimated that only about 0.5 billion people will survive this century if climate change is not requisitely addressed, this translating to about 10 billion climate change-related premature deaths this century (at an average of 100 million per year) .
Also ignored by the IPCC Report is the long-term health consequence of exposure to pollutants from carbon fuel burning. Thus the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 7 million people die each year world-wide from air pollution, with about half dying from indoor pollution (e.g. from heating and cooking fires ) and about half due to outdoor pollution (e.g. fine carbon particulates and nitrogen oxides from vehicle exhaust or from coal-fired and gas-fired power stations ). Thus pollutants from the burning of Australia’s world-leading annual coal exports can be estimated to eventually kill about 75,000 people annually , and pollutants from burning the coal exported from the proposed giant Adani Carmichael coal mine in Australia will eventually kill 1.4 million Indians .]
C1.3. Limiting global warming requires limiting the total cumulative global anthropogenic emissions of CO2 since the preindustrial period, i.e. staying within a total carbon budget (high confidence). By the end of 2017, anthropogenic CO2 emissions since the preindustrial period are estimated to have reduced the total carbon budget for 1.5°C by approximately 2200 ± 320 GtCO2 (medium confidence). The associated remaining budget is being depleted by current emissions of 42 ± 3 GtCO2 per year (high confidence). The choice of the measure of global temperature affects the estimated remaining carbon budget. Using global mean surface air temperature, as in AR5, gives an estimate of the remaining carbon budget of 580 GtCO2 for a 50% probability of limiting warming to 1.5°C, and 420 GtCO2 for a 66% probability (medium confidence).
[Comment. The IPCC Report asserts a 420 Gt CO2 terminal CO2 pollution budget for a 66% probability of avoiding a +1.5C temperature rise, but the IPCC Report also asserts that annual CO2 pollution totals 42 Gt CO2 i.e. that at present rates of pollution the 420 Gt CO2 terminal CO2 pollution budget for a 66% probability of avoiding a +1.5C temperature rise will be exceeded in 10 years.
However this IPCC analysis ignores the reality of disproportionate national contributions to historical and current CO2 pollution. Thus it has been estimated several years ago on the basis of 2009 estimations of the terminal CO2 budget that simply on the basis of present rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution measured in Gt CO2-equivalent per year (i.e. including contributions from other GHGs , notably methane, CH4) many high polluting countries (e.g. Australia and the US) have already used up their terminal CO2 pollution budget and are stealing the residual “entitlement” of all other countries [19-21].
Various expert climate scientists and science-informed analysts have concluded that exceeding the +1.5C limit (and possibly exceeding the +2C limit as well) is not a matter of if but when. Thus paleoclimate and earth scientist Dr Andrew Glikson (2018): “According to the U.N. report, mean global land-sea temperatures have already risen above 1°C and the planet could pass the 1.5°C threshold as early as 2030 [12 years’ time] if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current level and no effective CO2 down-draw measures takes place… [indeed] talk of restricting mean global temperatures to any particular figure, such as 1.5oC or 2oC above preindustrial levels, ignores the scientific evidence as to how the atmosphere behaves. The “Paris target” of 1.5oC is meaningless since: (1) no mechanism is known to arrest amplifying feedbacks from rising above this limit, and (2) no plans for draw-down of atmospheric CO2 appear to be at hand, the $trillions required for such endeavour being spent on the military and wars” .
Similarly, climate scientists Benjamin Henley and Andrew King (2018): “Global temperature is rapidly approaching the 1.5°C Paris target. In this study, we find that in the absence of external cooling influences, such as volcanic eruptions, the midpoint of the spread of temperature projections exceeds the 1.5°C target before 2029, based on temperatures relative to 1850–1900” .
p style=”font-weight: 400;”>Science-informed climate analyst David Spratt (2018) : “Is there a carbon budget remaining for 1.5°C? No, from a sensible risk-management viewpoint, there is no carbon budget for 1.5°C without including a lot of “negative emissions”, that is, drawing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to reduce the warming. “We have no carbon budget left for the 1.5°C target and the opportunity for holding to 2°C is rapidly fading unless the world starts cutting emissions hard right now,” says Prof Michael Mann. Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf of Germany’s PotsdamUniversity considers that we are now “in a kind of climate emergency” and that at least 1.5°C is “locked in”. (“Locked in” means that the warming will occur for the present level of emissions in the absence of large-scale carbon drawdown and/or solar radiation management.) Three other senior Australian scientists to whom I have spoken agree with the 1.5°C figure articulated by Mann and Rahmstorf. Some think it is likely to be somewhat higher” .
Indeed the IPCC in its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) stated (2014): “Emissions ranges for baseline scenarios and mitigation scenarios that limit greenhouse gas concentrations to low levels (about 450 ppm CO2-eq, likely to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels) are shown for different sectors and gases in Figure SPM.14” . However according to Professor Ron Prinn (from100-Nobel-Laureate MIT) in 2013 we may have already reached 478 ppm CO2-equivalent [26-30].
The German WBGU (2009) and the Australian Climate Commission (2013) have estimated that no more than 600 billion tonnes of CO2 can be emitted between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 if the world is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise [31, 32]. Australia has a climate criminal policy (supported by both the ruling Coalition and the Labor Opposition) of unlimited coal, gas and iron ore exports, and it can be estimated that exploitation of Australia’s huge resources in these areas would mean exceeding the whole world’s 2009 terminal CO2 pollution budget by a factor of 3 . Similarly, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered is 105 times that of CO2 , and the 50 Gt (billion tonnes) CH4 in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf that is predicted to be released in coming decades  is thus equivalent to 50 billion tonnes CH4 x 105 tonnes CO2-equivalent/tonne CH4 = 5,250 tonnes CO2-e or about nine (9) times more than the world’s terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget. We are doomed unless we can stop this massive Arctic CH4 release .]
C2.2. In electricity generation, shares of nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) are modelled to increase in most 1.5°C pathways with no or limited overshoot. In modelled 1.5°C pathways with limited or no overshoot, the use of CCS would allow the electricity generation share of gas to be approximately 8% (3–11% interquartile range) of global electricity in 2050, while the use of coal shows a steep reduction in all pathways and would be reduced to close to 0% (0–2%) of electricity (high confidence).
[Comment. The problem with nuclear power in the context of a carbon economy is that the overall nuclear cycle from mining uranium or thorium ores to safe disposal of waste (including old power stations) involves considerable CO2 generation from cement manufacture and fossil fuel burning. The CO2 pollution from the nuclear cycle increases as rich ores are depleted and resort is made to low-grade ores. Thus physicist Dr Mark Diesendorf: “Other experts… have reported an increase in [CO2] emissions from 117 g/kWh for high-grade ore to 437 g/kWh for low-grade ore. For comparison, the life-cycle emissions from wind power are 10–20 g/kWh, depending upon location, and from gas-fired power stations 500–600 g/kWh. So depending on your choice of analysis, nuclear power can be viewed as almost as emissions-intensive as gas” . Very expensive and yet to be commercialised fast breeder reactors make highly efficient use of limited uranium ore resources because “the fast reactor “burns” and “breeds” fissile plutonium” [37, 38]. However a nuclear power-based “plutonium economy” is a toxicological, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons proliferation, security and human rights nightmare.
Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) has similarly failed to be applied commercially on a large scale and there are valid concerns about long-term security of sequestration that might be reversed by natural disaster (e.g. earthquakes) or malice. Various kinds of technologies have been developed for removing CO2 from the atmosphere or from power station exhaust, but the cost of removing CO2 is at best the same as the profit from coal burning in the first place i.e. intergenerational justice demands cessation of fossil fuel burning .
The IPCC’s notion that natural gas would be “approximately 8% … of global electricity in 2050” is a disturbing take on “zero GHG emissions by 2050”. Methane (CH4) (about 85% of natural gas) is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account. Methane leaks (3.3% in the US based on the latest US EPA data and as high as 7.9% for methane from “fracking” coal seams; a 2.6 % leakage of CH4 yields the same greenhouse effect as burning the remaining 97.4% CH4). Using this information one can determine that gas burning for electricity can be much dirtier than coal burning greenhouse gas-wise (GHG-wise). While gas burning for power generates twice as much electrical energy per tonne of CO2 produced (MWh/tonne CO2) than coal burning, and the health-adverse pollution from gas burning is lower than for coal burning, gas leakage in the system means that gas burning for power can actually be worse GHG-wise than coal burning depending on the degree of systemic gas leakage. Gas is dirty energy and a coal-to-gas transition simply means long-term investment in another carbon fuel and delaying urgently required cessation of carbon fuel burning . Notwithstanding the science, under Obama the US had a massive coal to gas transition with extensive use of fracking. In climate criminal Australia there has been massive application of fracking and Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter, is set to become the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). ]
C3. All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on the order of 100–1000 GtCO2 over the 21st century. CDR would be used to compensate for residual emissions and, in most cases, achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5°C following a peak (high confidence).
[Comment. A Carbon Brief analysis of the IPCC 1.5C Report agrees: “What is clear is that very rapid emission reductions coupled with large-scale deployment of negative emissions are needed if the world wants to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C” . However carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is very expensive , and the ever-growing need for CO2 drawdown is a huge, imposed and inescapable burden on our children and future generations [41-44]. The “1000 GtCO2 [removal] over the 21st century” is greater than the German WBGU’s 2009 estimate that no more than 600 billion tonnes of CO2 can be emitted between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 if the world is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise .
The expressed need for atmospheric CO2 drawdown raises the question not properly addressed by the IPCC of what would be a desirable level of atmospheric CO2. In 2018 the atmospheric CO2 reached a peak of 412 ppm and in 2016 global warming (assisted by an El Nino event) reached +1.2C. The atmospheric CO2 has been increasing in a quasi-linear fashion for the last 4 years . The IPCC evidently settles for no more than a level of circa 430 ppm CO2, this corresponding to an average global warming of 1.5C  and a level expected from extrapolation of 21st century US NOAA Mauna Loa atmospheric CO2 data in about 2028 i.e. in about 10 years’ time .]
D5.3.Global model pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C are projected to involve the annual average investment needs in the energy system of around 2.4 trillion USD2010 between 2016 and 2035 representing about 2.5% of the world GDP (medium confidence).
[Comment. This IPCC estimate of an expenditure of $2.4 trillion between 2016 and 2035 ($0.12 trillion per year) required to limit global warming to 1.5°C can be compared to estimates of damage-related Carbon Price and hence of inescapable Carbon Debt. Thus Dr Chris Hope (from 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University, UK) has estimated a damage-related cost of carbon pollution as $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent . The IPCC’s estimate of annual CO2 pollution of 42 Gt CO2 (see C1.3 above) corresponds to an inescapable Carbon Debt  that is increasing each year by $8.4 trillion i.e. avoidance of +1.5C gives a Benefit/Cost ratio of $8.4 trillion/ $0.12 trillion = 70 to 1. However World Bank analysts have estimated that annual GHG pollution properly taking land use and methanogenesis into account is 64 Gt CO2-equivalent  that corresponds to an inescapable Carbon Debt that is increasing each year by $12.8 trillion i.e. avoidance of +1.5C gives a Benefit/Cost ratio of $12.8 trillion/ $0.12 trillion = 107 to 1.
What prevents the governments of high polluting countries from making such modest investments to avoid +1.5C when the Benefit/ Cost ratio for Humanity is about 100 to 1? The short explanation for this deadly and criminal inaction is One Percenter neoliberal greed with attendant corruption and mendacity. A useful suggestion would be a global social contract that determines that politicians and corporate leaders who presently ignore the dire warnings of the international scientific collective and fail to act in this worsening and deadly climate emergency will ultimately be held to account judicially for their depraved indifference.
This part of the IPCC Report implicitly raises the generally ignored matter of historical and continuing Carbon Debt that can be measured by the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) it has introduced into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century [48, 50]. Thus the total Carbon Debt of the world from 1751-2016 (including CO2 that has gone into the oceans) is about 1,850 billion tonnes CO2. Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent , this corresponds to a Carbon Debt of $370 trillion, similar to the total wealth of the world and 4.5 times the world’s total annual GDP. Using estimates from Professor James Hansen of national contributions to Historical Carbon Debt  and assuming a damage-related Carbon Price in USD of $200 per tonne CO2-e , the World has a Carbon Debt of US$370 trillion that is increasing at US$13 trillion per year, and Australia has a Carbon Debt of US$7.5 trillion (A$10 trillion) that is increasing at US$400 billion (A$533 billion) per year and at US$40,000 (A$53,000) per head per year for under-30 year old Australians . One wonders when the utterly betrayed young will revolt (non-violently one hopes) . ]
The 2018 IPCC Report is a dire warning to world governments that we are badly running out of time to contain a global warming of 1.5 °C. However at the present +1.C -1.2C it is it is already apparent that the World is suffering from global warming-exacerbated hurricanes, precipitation events, fires, biodiversity loss, and droughts. TropicalIsland Nations and tropical coastal regions are already suffering devastating storm surges from warming-induced sea level rise and more energetic hurricanes.
The IPCC Report makes it clear that based on present behaviour the world has only about 10 years before the +1.5C limit is exceeded. Indeed the remorseless annual increase in atmospheric CO2  and in fossil fuel use (notably in the electricity sector)  begs the question of when the world is actually going to substantially commence the processes of atmospheric CO2 drawdown and cessation of fossil fuel burning that, according to the IPCC Report, are both required in order to avoid exceeding +1.5C [1, 2]. Indeed it gets worse because, for example, the IPCC’s own AR5 Report (2014) regards “450 ppm CO2-eq, [as] likely to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels”  while a top atmospheric GHG expert estimated that in 2013 we had already reached 478 ppm CO2-equivalent .
A sensible, science-based position is that in the absence of requisite emergency action it is realistically too late to avoid a catastrophic +2.0C global warming but we are obliged to do everything we can to make the future “less bad” for our children and future generations. Science-ignoring, climate criminal neoliberal politicians and corporate leaders who refuse to act in this worsening climate emergency must be resolutely and implacably held legally accountable by existentially threatened Humanity.
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Dr Gideon Polya taught science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/australian-complicity-in-iraq-mass-mortality/3369002#transcript
) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ; Gideon Polya: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/home ; Gideon Polya Writing: https://sites.google.com/site/gideonpolyawriting/ ; Gideon Polya, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Polya ) . When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .