Yesterday I sketched out a scenario for what I expect from global warming between now and 2075. It’s obviously hypothetical, but I think it plausible.
The post has attracted a number of commenters, some positive, some negative. However, nobody has noticed or put together the two sentences that should be blinking red and jumping off the page. Of course, I cleverly separated them. Let’s put them side by side here:
- I expect warming (from all human causes) to be 2C over the course of this century
- I forecast warming of 0.5C through 2075
It will be an interesting end to this century. Yes, I think anthropogenic warming from all sources could plausibly be about 1.5C in the last 25 years of the 21st Century.
The proximate cause of all that is a dramatic increase in energy consumption that will continue to surprise us throughout the next 87 years. I’ve been detailing all of that for more than a year on my companion blog 3000 Quads.
This is what happened in the United States as we developed:
The world used about 523 quads in 2010. I believe that figure will grow to 3,000 quads every year by 2075 and will then stabilize at that level through the end of the century. I again used a ‘lower math’ approach to the calculations that brought me to that conclusion, again so nobody would accuse me of fiddling with the statistics.
I won’t repeat all of the work I did over there, although if you want to read the paper I wrote on it it is here. The calculations driving my projections are energy consumption per capita, population growth and growth in GDP per capita. I looked at a lot of numbers and I’m pretty satisfied that I came up with a reasonable answer.
I got some validation for my thinking this morning, reading a paper titled “Medium And Long-Term Scenarios For Global Growth And Imbalances.” On page 215 they quite simply state that by 2050 China will have achieved per capita income (not GDP growth) equal to that of the United States in 2011.
Now, China’s population is expected to have started the Development Decline by then and is variously predicted to drop from a high of 1.44 billion in 2030 to about 1.25 billion by 2050.
Americans used about 310 million btus per person per year in 2011. I think it safe to assume that Chinese people with the same income would be both pleased and able to do the same.
That would yield a total of 389 quads just from China alone. In 2050…
As it happens, I think China will persuade itself to go for a lower intensity lifestyle and the global total will be around 3,000 quads by 2075. But if I’m erring, I’m erring on the low side.
And I believe in my Lukewarm heart of hearts that right around 2075 our energy consumption and related emissions will actually begin to take the lead in forcing our climate–somewhat in the way activists are mistakenly describing current weather conditions.
This will have consequences.