How Can We Stop Global Warming?


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We Must Strengthen Our Temperature, Concentration and Emission Goals

(Revised 7-3-2010)

Dr. Michael Tuckson

This web page discusses the relationship between emissions, concentration and termperature for the weak aims, such as those before the US Senate, and even those proposed by the IPCC, and the necessary aims if we are to avoid catastrophe.

 Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia, melting 1940 -2005

Graphs and maps that show the relatively steady warming in the deep oceans, the oscillating warming in the atmosphere and surface oceans, its focus in relatively rural areas, the lack of recent solar warming, the poor correlation between cosmic rays and possible causes of warming, and the influence of the various greenhouse gases and dusts, can be found in .......   Basic GLOBAL WARMING Information

How Much Do We Have to Cut to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change?

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is now in early 2010 about 387 ppm and rising at 2 ppm per year. The IPCC in the past, including scientists from oil-producing countries, recommended 25-40 percent cuts in emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 in order to achieve a maximum CO2 concentration of 450 ppm so as to confine temperature rises to an estimated 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a concentration and temperature considered adequate to just avoid an Earth driven catastrophe. State of the World Forum is calling for 80 percent cuts in emissions by 2020. By 2005 the rise was already 0.8 degrees and causing about 300,000 deaths per annum Because of the Earth’s thermal inertia further temperature rise of about 0.5- 0.6 degrees is inevitable even if all emissions and forest clearing stopped ‘tomorrow’.

While previous IPCC goals were for a maximum of 450 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus an estimated 2 degrees temperature rise above pre-industrial temperatures, palaeo-climate research and modeling including slow feedbacks shows now that the global aim should be less than 350 ppm to achieve a maximum of 0.5 degrees rise.

The latest research on the geological history of climate by James Hansen and the NASA team shows that we must lower the atmospheric concentration to at least 350 ppm for ice stability and thus climate stability.

Temperature and Carbon Dioxide Relationship

Thus, we must lower emissions more than 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and continue to lower them to close to zero in the long term. Spratt and Sutton recommend lowering the temperature to only 0.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels based on a likely 30 year process of arctic ice disintegration, amazon fires and droughts. As temperature is thus now at least 0.3 degrees higher than desirable and CO2 concentrations at least 40 ppm higher than desirable, not only must emissions be drastically reduced but carbon dioxide must be captured by biological and technological means including biochar, tree planting, minimum-tillage farming, and probably engineering methods. 


The graph above Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions, showing firstly (data from EIA) the rise in emissions at a growth rate of about 3 gigatonnes carbon dioxide (3.67 times the weight of carbon) per decade from 1980 to 2000, doubling to about 6 gigatonnes per decade from 2000. (a tonne is a metric ton; a gigatonne is a billion or thousand million tonnes). It also shows the difference between a weak and strong emission reduction path. The weak path is that if the whole world followed the proposal being debated by the US Senate in late 2009/2010. The strong path is that of the minimum reductions required to eventually reach a concentration below 350 ppm, probably about 300 ppm, not much above pre-industrial levels. This latter aim is based on very recent palaeo-climate research by Hansen et al. (2008) and other research cited by Spratt and Sutton (2007).

In other words we need emission cut backs sufficiently severe to stop further rise much above the present 387 ppm and then lower it to at least 350 ppm and ultimately 300 ppm. Nevertheless, cuts and carbon capture programmes so far offered by nearly all governments will almost certainly fail to avoid temperature rises above 2 degrees, and thus risk catastrophe for the whole world. We do not know exactly when this could happen, but the global tipping stage could be fast approaching. That the evidence is a little uncertain means that we should take precaution and act now.

The cuts required may appear all but impossible but if you wish to save your children’s and grandchildren’s livelihoods, if not their lives, your culture and indeed your nation, you will have to act, and act now. It may appear ‘costly’ but the ‘cost’ of inadequate action is firstly price rises and severe inconvenience, then misery and death, at least for your descendants. But some actions or changes in behaviour such as sharing a car ride actually save money and increasing the efficiency of energy use has an economic gain if estimated over several years. To bring down emissions rapidly we must now use major behaviour changes and spread appropriate technology as quickly as possible with world wide government agreement or people's communication. 

Problems with the Data and Concepts

Be careful of the dates in the legislation being proposed in various countries. A 20 percent cut below 2005 levels (6.03 GtCO2) by 2020 for the USA is only about a 4 percent cut below 1990 levels (5.02 GtCO2), as carbon pollution has risen about 20 percent in the meantime. Compare this weak offer with major falls over this time in the Nordic nations. But the USA did not bring even a 4 percent cut to Copenhagen so our effort will have to double and become smarter.

Note also that some nations are offering cuts of say 50 percent below 1990 by 2050. This is far too late. By 2050 we could already be in a state of global warming beyond human control. We need promises and strategies for 2020 and in the meantime we can develop mopping up strategies for 2025 and 2030.
Unfortunately emissions are announced in two different ways, a difference that no one seems to comment on. For many years the predominant units were gigatonnes of carbon per year. The global emission figures rose ominously from 6 to 7 to more than 8 gigatonnes of carbon pr year (GtC/yr). This is the unit that climatologists and others have been using for several decades.

Recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been using a full carbon dioxide unit that is a multiplication of the old units by 3.67 that is the atomic weight of CO2 over the atomic weight of carbon. Now in their new unit total global emissions is about 31 GtCO2/yr which is about 8.45 GtC/yr in the ‘old’ units. Also the IEA refers to ‘billion metric tons’ rather than gigatonnes. To clarify things even further the USA’s EIA (Energy Information Administration) (not to be confused with the IEA!) helpfully refers to thousands of millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide (The USA’s emissions in 2008 was 7,282 MMT which is the same as 7.3 GtCO2 (based on the total weight of CO2) being about 24 percent of the global total.

Note that 1 ppm CO2 that is ppm by volume or 1 ppmv equals 2.1 gigatonnes of carbon or 7.7 GtCO2 in the atmosphere. The annual global emission rate in 2008 of about 8.5 GtC  is = 4 ppm, but the atmospheric concentration of CO2 rises at about 2ppm per year. The emission rate is about twice the rise in atmospheric concentration as about half is dissolved in the ocean and taken up by land processes.

Apart from the unit called carbon or carbon dioxide, we have carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), but again confusion reigns. CO2 or equivalent has several meanings as described by Shaun Chamberlin and friends. CO2e as used by IPCC and in the Kyoto agreement is the combined concentration of the six major greenhouse gases as if they were all CO2.  Carbon dioxide at 350 ppm is said to be equivalent to 445 ppm Carbon dioxide equivalent, but it seems to only be economists who use this term. What is going on?

Moreover, CO2e can also be thought of as the carbon dioxide concentration equivalent to the total effects of GHGs, including those of cooling effects such as aerosols, that is less than the 6 GHG CO2e. This ‘total effect’ figure is the one used by scientists now so watch out. It surely needs a better name, such as "GHG combined" and wider explanation. 

Return to a general account of global warming and climate change..  New Strategies to Stop Global Warming

Study the important science background .......

Thermal Inertia of the Oceans 

Surface earth system feedbacks 



Data sources: EIA, IEA   

  Copyright © 2009 Michael Tuckson.  All Rights Reserved 

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Các chiến lược mới để làm giảm nhẹ sự thay đổi khí hậu      

Semi-Random Slogans

Invite a denier to lunch

Eat less meat every day

Form a small climate group

Inertia will kill us, twice

Holiday on bicycles

Learn how to plant and nurture trees

Drain your rice fields sometimes 

Auction caps 

Grow and store carbon 

Write to a newspaper in a denier region 

Help the employees, not the fossil fuel owners

Read a book, not a newspaper, on the bus

350 not 450

Study tropical forest protection

Why are most deniers men?

Carbon tax before cap and trade

Look for a home closer to work

Write a new page for this website

Oppose lobbying

Put a new slogan on your bicycle or bag every day 

Study the latest climate science first

No air-conditioning before lunchtime

Drink just a little cow milk

Study Earth's thermal inertia

Learn how to teach

Send parts of this website to a politician

Grow and store carbon in houses 

Organize exchanges with Asian universities 

Grow crops not livestock

Rationing is equitable

Study thermal inertia in buildings

Practice dialogue, not argument

Behaviour before technology

Make a bicycle path plan

Don't use concrete

Drive a much smaller car

Study the denier claims

1.5 not 2.0

Don't use trees for offsets

Work with a bilingual person 

Eat even less meat every day

Support better democracy

Do deniers care for their grandchildren? 

Paint your roof white

Oppose advertising by polluting companies

Consume less, save money

Form an international group 

Help a politician to learn

Making cement emits CO2.

Education must be global 

Grow and store carbon in the soil

Fans, not air-conditioning

Lobbying is bribery

Study growing algae

Improve the school curricula

You can't read driving a car

Find dated photos of glaciers

Study which companies bribe political parties 

How do you entice a denier to want to learn?

Share your job with an oil driller

Plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere

Have you tried Tahini dip?

What do deniers understand?

Dress less formally in the heat

Design a more tempting commuter bus

Get to know a denier's children

Pay tax to fund retraining

Less clothing, not fans

Eat kangaroo meat 


Improve the university curricula

One is enough

Interview a climate scientist on video

Insulate your home

Open a wind turbine factory in a coal town

Study Earth feedback processes

300 not 350

Wheat is safer than rice

Take men's fashions up, and women's down

Use a condom in emergencies

Share some job-time

Protest forest destruction

Wear a cotton coat

Study tree plantations

Eat just a little cheese

Get to know a denier's grandchildren

Why do the rich want to grow?

Put on an extra jumper when its cold outside

Offer a new job to a coal miner

Adopt two

Join an NGO today

Political bribes, not donations

None is enough

Holiday close to home

Invest in a diverse plantation

Wear less in the heat

Talk to migrants about emailing home

Make compost

Promote eco-tourism for locals

Read more of this website

Ask a politician have they read James Hansen

Eat less cream

Jumpers are cheaper than gas

Arrange a climate debate

Build a thick-walled house

Study how to turn moderate deniers

Study fast growing trees

Hand out appropriate leaflets at railway stations

Study your local energy organization

Learn about the delights of veganism

Study Chinese

Practice walking

Shirts are enough in hot weather

Support rapid research on how to turn deniers

Try an IUD

Asians make blankets from cotton and kapok

Get to know your neighbours

Recycle jumpers and coats

Holiday by mass land transport

Drink red wine, not milk

Support rapid research on capturing CO2 from the air.

Hand out leaflets at bus stops

Men's legs are beautiful too

Talk to local government about recycling biological waste

Keep a stock of morning after pills


Adopt another one

When will the USA go metric?

Write and publish leaflets

Holiday on a sailing ship

Start a course on climate change and solutions

Exercise periodically when its cold

Farmers now support the Green party

Give a talk at the local school

Chocolate's great with soya cream

Climate crisis not climate change

Share a car with your neighbours

Study tipping points and irreversibility

Email government ministers

Form a climate group with your neighbours or friends

Read Climate Cover-Up

Study palaeo-climatology

Soon meat becomes less tempting

Improve your foreign language skills

Adopt a baby girl 

Write an article for your local newspaper

Read Storms of My Grandchildren (after reading some climate science such as on this website)

Take plastic packaging off at the shop

Climate emergency not climate crisis

Ask you government to make a good video on the climate emergency

Move your company to where your workers live

Invite your favourite denier to a vegan lunch

Ask the supermarket to turn off half the lights

Study carbon taxes in more than one nation

Join yours with other climate groups

Shop at dimly lit shops

Email people you know abroad

Ask a climatologist to explain the various! meanings of CO2e

Plant and nurture trees in your garden till its full

Learn about biochar

Study the bus routes in your town or city

Support James Hansen for the Nobel Prize for physics, peace or whatever.

Protest new oil exploration

Install a solar thermal hot water heater

Shop for food where the fridges have lids or doors

Plant 10 trees a month in neighbours' gardens and in parks

Ask your adult children what they think

Write a better letter to the newspapers

Organize a demonstration outside coal company offices.

Where are the Nobel prizes for Earth and social sciences?

Form a climate group at work

Give a talk at a school in a coal town

No children is best

Buy a glass of wine for a denier

Start an NGO

Support honest and intelligent politicians

Study short-term GHGs

Join a good political party

Give a talk at a school at an oil town

Study hire-purchase for solar panels

Stake out a coal energy factory

Don't export coal or oil

Work in a vulnerable area

Invest in geothermal

Live with a farmer family in the holidays and help them plant trees

Build a sailing ship

Give talks at the local town.

Hand out leaflets at another station

Video a debate

Move to a swinging seat in time for close elections



















 Michael Tuckson

The website author and publisher, December 2009.


Easy Summary


We must try to understand up-to-date climate science coming out over the last few years that warns of possible disaster. Ice shelves and sheets are melting much faster than before. Global temperatures are rising, with oscillations due to ocean oscillations. Natural causes are minor compared with pollution. This understanding must be spread by advanced adult education, especially among the powerful. As many readers as possible must spread understanding.


Denier leaders are funded by the fossil fuel, tobacco and similar corporations and/or are ideologues. Their arguments are always against, not considering pro and con, as with real science. They rarely call for better understanding, just attempt to confuse. None are climate scientists. Their motivation is salary and weak government, not salary and discovery. Either they do not care about their descendants or they do not understand the probable future.


We must put more emphasis on the short-term greenhouse influences such as methane. Carbon dixide must be captured from the atmosphere. Also we must lead with behaviour change before appropriate technology spreads. Birth control is important in some regions. Job-time sharing and retraining can reduce any unemployment resulting from mitigation measures. Mitigation must be coordinated globally by government and citizens in modern sectors. City pairing could be useful.