February 28, 2007
GCRIO Program Overview
Our extensive collection of documents.
Archives of the
Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 3, MARCH 1996
OF GENERAL INTEREST
"Economic and Environmental Choices in the Stabilization of
Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations," T.M.L. Wigley (UCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO
80307), R. Richels, J.A. Edmonds, Nature, 379(6562), 240-243,
Jan. 18, 1996.
(See News, this Digest issue--Mar. 1996.) Working Group I of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has constructed a set of hypothetical
time-paths of anthropogenic emissions over the next few hundred years, by which
prescribed levels of CO2 stabilization could be achieved at various attainment
dates. The IPCC time-paths all show the rate of increase in emissions dropping
immediately in response to immediate attempts to mitigate emissions.
This paper analyzes the implications of achieving the same ultimate
stabilization level by allowing emissions to increase along the "business
as usual" pathway for as much as several decades, followed by a sharper
drop than assumed in the IPCC scenarios. The overall cost to achieve
stabilization could be lowered by delaying emission reductions until existing
capital stock has reached its planned lifetime, and until better technology is
available, presuming that appropriate research, development and
demonstration is begun immediately. In addition, "no regrets" (no net
cost) measures for reducing emissions should be adopted immediately. The
ultimate level of stable CO2 attained eventually would be the same as with the
IPCC approach, and the climate impacts are not likely to differ much, but the
overall economic cost could be much lower. (See next entry.)
"Carbon Dioxide Emissions," A.J. McMichael (Dept. Epidemiol.,
London Sch. Hygiene, Keppel St., London WC1E 7HT, UK), Nature, 379(6568),
764, Feb. 29, 1996.
The convening lead author of the health impacts chapter of the IPCC Second
Assessment criticizes the previous paper, faulting the benefits portion of the
cost-benefit analysis presented.
Three related editorials in Clim. Change, 32(2), Feb.
"Policy and Global Change Research. A Modest Proposal," R.D.
Brunner (Ctr. Public Policy Res., Campus Box 330, Univ. Colorado, Boulder CO
80309), 121-147. The mandate of the U.S. Global Change Research Program to
produce "information readily usable by policymakers" is incompatible
with the program's current emphasisdeveloping comprehensive predictive
models. This conflict threatens stable public support for the Program. Proposes
an alternative national program based on decentralized policy teams that would
disaggregate problems of global change geographically, periodically integrate
policy-relevant knowledge for various decision-makers, and compete for
continuing support from the federal government on that basis. This alternative
would expedite progress, consistent with the policy mandate, and help to
maintain public support for the Program.
"Global Comprehensive Models in Politics and PolicymakingEditorial
Essay," P.N. Edwards (Program in Science, Technol. & Society Bldg. 370,
Rm. 111, Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), 149-161. This extensive comment on
the previous paper first reflects on the role of comprehensive models,
distinguishing between earth system and integrated assessment models. Such
models serve an important political purpose by encouraging the formation of an "epistemic
community" of scientists, policymakers and others with compelling interests
in global change, even if they do not serve the immediate needs of policymakers.
Analogy to the "limits to growth" debate of the early 1970s shows that
models can also acquire political significance as purely heuristic guides to
complex phenomena. Finally, regional or local policies are discussed as an
alternative to comprehensive national and international global change policy.
"Editorial Comment," R. Byerly Jr., 3870 Birchwood Dr., Boulder CO
80304), 163-164. Briefly comments on the previous two editorials, finding
agreement with portions of each.
"Indices of Climate Change for the United States," T.R. Karl
(Natl. Clim. Data Ctr., 151 Patton Ave., Asheville NC 28801), Bull. Amer.
Meteor. Soc., 77(2), 279-292, Feb. 1996.
This paper, which augments work reported in the premier issue of Consequences
(Global Climate Change Digest, Prof. Pubs./Of General Interest/General
and Policy, June 1995), concerns the problem of summarizing and presenting a
complex set of multivariate, multidimensional changes such that they can be
understood and used in policy decisions. Two indices of climate change are
developed and analyzed. The Climate Extremes Index, based on an aggregate set of
conventional climate extreme indicators, supports the notion that the climate of
the U.S. has become more extreme in recent decades, although the magnitude and
persistence of the changes are not large enough to conclude that the increase in
extremes represents a climatic trend. The Greenhouse Climate Response Index (of
indicators that measure changes in climate) has a positive trend consistent
with, but not proof of, an enhanced greenhouse effect.
"Consequences of Climate Warming and Lake Acidification for UV-B
Penetration in North American Boreal Lakes," D.W. Schindler (Dept. Biol.
Sci., Univ. Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2E9, Can.), P.J. Curtis et al., Nature,
379(6567), 705-707, Feb. 22, 1996.
Observations from 20 years of whole-lake acidification experiments in
northwestern Ontario show that climate warming and lake acidification both lead
to declines in the dissolved organic content of lake waters, allowing increased
penetration of solar radiation. Some changes in aquatic ecosystems that have
been attributed to lake acidification may in fact have involved increased
exposure to UV light. In clear, shallow waters, climate warming and/or
acidification can be more effective than stratospheric ozone depletion in
raising the exposure of aquatic organisms to biologically effective UV
"Impact of the Montreal Protocol and Its Amendments on the Rate of
Change of Global Radiative Forcing," S. Solomon (Aeronomy Lab., NOAA, 325
Broadway, Boulder CO 80303), J.S. Daniel, Clim. Change, 32(1),
7-17, Jan. 1996.
Ozone depletion is believed to cause a net radiative cooling in the
stratosphere and at the Earth's surface. This paper's calculations show that
ozone depletion from halocarbons in the 1980s significantly slowed the rate of
total anthropogenic radiative forcing during that decade. The rate of ozone
depletion should decrease as the effects of the Montreal Protocol are realized;
calculations show that this will cause a pronounced increase in the decadal rate
of anthropogenic greenhouse forcing of the next few decades, perhaps to levels
unprecedented in this century.
"Can Renewable Energy Sources Sustain Affluent Society," F.E.
Trainer (Professional Studies, Univ. New S. Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia),
Energy Policy, 23(12), 1009-1026, Dec. 1995.
Although renewable energy must be the sole source in a sustainable society,
this analysis of renewable options reveals major difficulties when conversions,
storage and supply are considered for high latitudes. Consequently, renewable
energy sources will not be able to sustain present rich world levels of energy
use; a sustainable world order must be based on acceptance of much lower per
capita levels of energy use, much lower living standards, and a zero growth
economy. Advocates a move to a "radical conserver society," in which
it is possible to live well on far lower, constant levels of per capita energy
Guide to Publishers
Index of Abbreviations