World on track for nearly 11-degree temperature rise, energy expert says

The Washington Post reports: The chief economist for the International Energy Agency said Monday that current global energy consumption levels put the Earth on a trajectory to warm by 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, an outcome he called “a catastrophe for all of us.”

Fatih Birol [PDF] spoke as as delegates from nearly 200 countries convened the opening day of annual U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

International climate negotiators have pledged to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. The Earth has already warmed 0.8 degrees Celsius, or 1.4 Fahrenheit, so far, according to climate scientists.

According to the IEA’s most recent analysis, heat-trapping emissions from the world’s energy infrastructure will lead to a 2-degree Celsius increase in the Earth’s temperature that, as more capacity is added to the system, will climb to 6 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.

Unless there is a shift away from some of the fossil fuel energy now used for electricity generation and transportation, Birol said, “the world is perfectly on track for a six-degree Celsius increase in temperature.

“Everybody, even the schoolchildren, knows this is a catastrophe for all of us,” he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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  1. According to calculations released by the U.S. Department of Energy, global carbon output in 2010 wasn’t just a little higher than the year before. In 2010 the world saw a whopping 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2009. All told, that means there were 564 million more tons of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere last year than the year before. If that level of increase continues then in 11 more years total greenhouse gas emissions will have doubled. 6% compounding means a doubling in 12 years. We are not talking end of century here before things get serious, most folk reading this will have to deal with any outcomes. I imagine the road to Damascus will get a little crowded.