Open letter to Dr Rajendra Pachauri

Skip to first unread message

John Nissen

Mar 9, 2009, 4:41:08 PM3/9/09
to geoengineering,, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter
Hello all,
Originally a draft of this letter was posted to the Climate Intervention group, but seems to have been blocked, so I am sending it to the Geoengineering group now.  Peter Read and Stephen Salter will be at the Climate Congress this week, and have offered to draw Dr Pachauri's attention to this letter.
However we would welcome more people to put their names to the letter, especially if they have credentials in the field of climate-related science or engineering.  We would particularly welcome Brian Launder and Tim Lenton to add their names, assuming they are in agreement with the sentiments of the letter.  I know that both are very much concerned about the retreat of the Arctic sea ice and are also sympathetic to geoengineering.
If you have any particular comments for Dr Pachauri, please let me know.
Best wishes,
Open letter to Dr Pachauri v3.doc

Ken Caldeira

Mar 9, 2009, 5:04:26 PM3/9/09
to John Nissen, geoengineering, <>, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter

Do you want to discuss how adaptation fits in? Seems like an omission. 

Some taxonomies begin

Emissions reduction

If you want to propose a new taxonomy people may look to see where the usual stuff fits in. 


Ps. I think things aimed towards political action are generally best sent to the georngineering group. 

Sent from a limited typing keyboard
<Open letter to Dr Pachauri v3.doc>

Ken Caldeira

Mar 9, 2009, 5:13:42 PM3/9/09
to Ken Caldeira, John Nissen, geoengineering, <>, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter
It might also help to ask for something specific -- like a more prominent analysis of intentional climate intervention in the next round of ipcc reports 

Of course, by then we may have already lost much of the arctic 

Sent from a limited typing keyboard

Sam Carana

Mar 9, 2009, 7:02:33 PM3/9/09
to geoengineering
I just posted the Open Letter, adding my name, at:

I'll wait to see if more people add their names, before publishing it

Sam Carana

John Nissen

Mar 9, 2009, 7:11:20 PM3/9/09
to Ken Caldeira, geoengineering,, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter
Hi Ken,
Yes, some taxonomies begin as you say, "emissions reduction, adaptation and geoengineering", but I find John Gorman's three-way split much more helpful in pointing out, to Dr Pachauri et al., that the whole of their focus is on one part of the solution, and the other two parts involve quite different types of geoengineering - that for carbon stock management and that for cooling (which I dubbed "heat transfer and radiation management" so as to include things like ocean mixing as well as SRM).
The missing part of the analysis is the use of this last type of geoengineering for cooling other regions besides the Arctic.  It might become necessary for cooling the Antarctic, for retaining Himalayan glaciers, for protecting coral reefs, etc.  And then it might be used more generally for the direct halting of global warming - thus saving on all adaptation costs!
Geoengineering then becomes an amazingly positive thing.  We don't have to allow global warming to continue up to two degrees or more.  We do not have to allow millions of people to suffer even more than they have already from less than one degree (see Wikipedia:
But the first priority must surely be to use geoengineering to cool the Arctic and save the Arctic sea ice.  This is the central message.
BTW, I hope this comes across in your geoengineering session!  I wish I could be there.
Best wishes,

Andrew Lockley

Mar 9, 2009, 11:37:26 PM3/9/09
to, Ken Caldeira, geoengineering,, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter
This will be very newsworthy if the letter is issued soon, and publicised well, so I stress the need for people to act quickly.  Please keep me updated and I will do all I can to spread the news (I'm off to the conference, and will be doing all the press work I can).  Please ensure that the letter, and its signatories, are published on the web to allow checking.

It's interesting to note that the IPCC is struggling to classify geoeng.  In its glossary, it doesn't mention 'solar radiation management' as geoeng, but in WG3 Ch11,(too rushed to check refs) such approaches are considered.  It's very difficult to have an intelligent discussion of a field which the IPCC doesn't clearly classify.


2009/3/9 John Nissen <>

John Gorman

Mar 10, 2009, 3:58:21 AM3/10/09
to Ken Caldeira, John Nissen, geoengineering,, Tim Lenton, Peter Read, Stephen Hugh Salter
We cant adapt if we dont know what we are adapting to. At last people are coming to realise that emmissions reduction alone will leave us with a situation that we cannot adapt to. It's probably just catastrophy.
If we now get practical and do some sensible research and planning at all levels, scientific, political, and in engineering we should be able to come up with a realistic plan.
My suggestion would be that we should aim for a Zero sea level rise for a start.
John Gorman
----- Original Message -----

Albert Kallio

Mar 10, 2009, 10:39:37 AM3/10/09
to,, John Nissen, Geoengineering FIPC,,,,
Zero sea level rise is impossibility given that every glacier is accelerating in Greenland and there is little guarantee that the Arctic Ocean sea ice can remain behind Greenland.
99% of the glaciers in Alaska are melting, only 1% is accummulating. The right setting is whether there is moderate sea level rise, or massive losses of the ice sheet and glaciers.
Rgs: Albert


Subject: [geo] Re: Open letter to Dr Rajendra Pachauri
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2009 07:58:21 +0000

Bonnelle Denis

Mar 10, 2009, 11:10:51 AM3/10/09
to,,, John Nissen, Geoengineering FIPC,,,,

Is glacier acceleration really unavoidable?


Geoengineering projects - I mean, anything at a rather big scale which tries to deal with greenhouse gases consequences rather than reducing their emissions - are mainly targeting the open space, the atmosphere or the oceans. I haven't heard of underground projects.


For the purpose of mountain hydroelectricity production, hundreds of km of tunnels have been dug, even in rather hard rocks, around 1 m in diameter, and these investments are profitable, i.e., such tunnels weren't unaffordable.


Why couldn't we dig similar tunnels under the accelerating glaciers, in order to collect the more and more abundant water which is lubricating their basis? Such tunnels could be dug from the coast towards the glacier upstream direction, and have small upwelling branches every 10 km or so, in order to make the glacier bottom drier and more frictional. At the exit, a pump would draw a rather large water flow away to the sea.


In addition, this flow could collect some heat from the surrounding rocks (especially if it is dug at some depth under the sea level) and, in the long term, this could help to cool these rocks down, i.e. to create a thermal barrier against the geothermal heat flow. This would additionally help to protect the glaciers against melting and slipping towards the open sea.


I don't know whether this is part of the solution, but if nobody had thought about it previously and if you don't regard it as stupid, maybe it is worth studying further.


Best regards,


Denis Bonnelle



De : [] De la part de Albert Kallio
Envoyé : mardi 10 mars 2009 15:40
À :;
Cc : John Nissen; Geoengineering FIPC;;;;
Objet : [geo] Re: Open letter to Dr Rajendra Pachauri


Albert Kallio

Mar 10, 2009, 3:40:24 PM3/10/09
to,,, John Nissen, Geoengineering FIPC,,,,
The mountain glaciers are simply melting away in many cases. It is more dynamic and larger ice caps and ice sheets that discharge ice due to constant stream of water lubricating under or the meltwater-filled within moving glaciers that gets heavier, lubricated, slippery.
Glacier acceleration is unavoidable. I had a discussed with David de Rothschild in the past to pump water out but it is quantitatively difficult as the amount of moulins and crevasses keep increasing at faster rate anyone could install and maintain pumps to extract water.
If someone wishes to e-mail Dr. Pachauri the letter, I have it. Its is better as a hard copy. 
Julia Slingo and the climate modellers, "the computer machinists" or "number crunchers" have come up this dramatic discovery that goes now to the decision-makers in Copenhagen - which is equally shaking to the past years experiences of: sudden losses of sea ice, burning of Australia or drying of the Amazon, world wide coral bleaching and thawing of permaforst soils in the Arctic.
Rgs, Albert

Carbon cuts 'only give 50/50 chance of saving planet'

As states negotiate Kyoto's successor, simulations show catastrophe just years away

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

Monday, 9 March 2009



Scorched earth: drought and famine could ravage the world despite emissions cuts


The world's best efforts at combating climate change are likely to offer no more than a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below the threshold of disaster, according to research from the UK Met Office.

The key aim of holding the expected increase to 2C, beyond which damage to the natural world and to human society is likely to be catastrophic, is far from assured, the research suggests, even if all countries engage forthwith in a radical and enormous crash programme to slash greenhouse gas emissions – something which itself is by no means guaranteed.


The chilling forecast from the supercomputer climate model of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research will provide a sobering wake-up call for governments around the world, who will begin formally negotiating three weeks today the new international treaty on tackling global warming, which is due to be signed in Copenhagen in December.


The treaty, which is due to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, is widely seen as the Last Chance Saloon for the community of nations to take effective action against the greatest threat the world has ever faced. But the Met Office's new prediction hits directly at the principle guiding all those hoping for an effective agreement, with the European Union in the lead: that of stopping the warming at two degrees Centigrade above the "pre-industrial" level (the level of average world temperature pertaining two hundred years ago).

Today, world average temperatures stand at about 0.75C above the pre-industrial, and many scientists and politicians agree that further increases have to be stopped at 2C if catastrophic impacts from the warming are to be avoided, ranging from widespread agricultural failure and worldwide sea level rise, to countless species extinctions and irreversible melting of the world's great ice sheets.


But the Hadley Centre's simulation indicates that even if global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas causing the warming, were to be slashed at a very high rate the chances of holding the rise at the C threshold are no better than even. The scenario, prepared for Britain's Climate Change Committee, the body recommending the UK's future carbon "budgets", visualises world CO2 emissions peaking in 2015, and then falling at a top rate of 3 per cent a year, to reach emissions of 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.


At the moment, global emissions are thought to be rising at nearly 3 per cent a year – so turning that into a 3 per cent annual cut would be a gigantic slashing of what the earth's factories and motor vehicles are pumping into the atmosphere. There is as yet nothing remotely like that on the table for potential agreement in Copenhagen, and if a deal of this ambition were to be done, it would be regarded as a triumph.


Yet even with that, the Hadley Centre research suggests, the chances of keeping the rise down to about 2C by 2100 would be only 50-50. Furthermore, the simulations suggest that there is a worst-case scenario – about a 10 per cent chance – of the rise by the end of the current century reaching, even with these drastic cuts, a level of 2.8C above the pre-industrial, which is well into disaster territory.


With any action that is slower than the scenario above, the likeliest outcome is a much higher eventual temperature – and in fact, the model indicates that each 10 years of delay in halting the rise in global emissions adds another 0.5C to the likeliest end-of-the-century figure. So if emissions do not peak and start to decline until 2025, we can expect a 2.6C rise by 2100, and if the decline only begins in 2035, the figure is likely to be 3.1C – even with 3 per cent annual cuts.


These new figures suggest quite unambiguously that the world is on course for calamity unless rapid action can be taken which is far more drastic than any politicians are so far contemplating – never mind the general public.


If action is sluggish or non-existent, the model suggests that climate change is likely to cause almost unthinkable damage to the world; under a "business-as-usual" scenario, with no action taken at all and emissions increasing by more than 100 per cent by 2050, the end-of-the-century rise in global average temperatures is likely to be 5.5C, with a worst-case outcome of 7.1C – which would make much of life on earth impossible. "Even with drastic cuts in emissions in the next 10 years, our results project that there will only be a 50 per cent chance of keeping global temperatures rises below 2C," said Dr Vicky Pope, the Met Office's Head of Climate Change Advice.


"This idealised emissions scenario is based on emissions peaking in 2015 and changing from an increase of 2-3 per cent per year to a decrease of 3 per cent per year. For every 10 years we delay this action another 0.5C will be added to the most likely temperature rise. If the world fails to make the required reductions, it will be faced with adapting not just to a 2C rise in temperature but to 4C or more by the end of the century."



Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2009 16:10:51 +0100
Subject: RE: [geo] Re: Open letter to Dr Rajendra Pachauri

John Gorman

Mar 11, 2009, 4:15:33 AM3/11/09
to geoengineering
Actually I did mean exactly zero.
I am not saying I know this can be achieved but I think it probably can. Just think of the implications of 1-2 metres rise for coasts you know-as well as to Bangladesh and the Maldives. --and is the 1-2 metres correct now? in 2007 the IPCC was saying 40 cms. What will the consensus be next year?
I believe the whole philosophy of "adaptation" is wrong. It leaves far too many uncertainties. The philosophy should be to preserve the global climate as it has been throughout recorded history.-if this is in any way possible.
Is it?
well just to look at Albert's point about the greenland glaciers/icesheet. yes it looks like disaster now and this is what has made the IPCC people up thir estimates. This is what "saving the Arctic is all about" we heve to stop this loss and emissions reductions alone wont do that.
more anon
John Gorman
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 3:36 PM
Subject: Re: [geo] Re: Open letter to Dr Rajendra Pachauri

Hi Albert,
That is nit-picking.  Of course John didn't mean exactly zero sea level rise. 
But do you support the letter - would you like me to add your name?  If so, what would you like me to put under your name - just the Frozen Isthmus stuff - or "adviser to..." - or some academic qualification? However, note that version 4 has already been emailed to Dr P.

Beyond Hotmail - see what else you can do with Windows Live Find out more!
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages