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The Guardian’s “100 Months To Save The World”

October 2, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Eight years ago, the Guardian launched its “100 months to save the world” campaign, a series of monthly posts by Andrew Simms.

The basic message of that first article was that we were all doomed unless we transformed our economy to look something like Cuba’s.

It is worth emphasising that this was not 100 months to get some sort of climate agreement. In Simms’ own words:



Because in just 100 months’ time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change. That said, among people working on global warming, there are countless models, scenarios, and different iterations of all those models and scenarios. So, let us be clear from the outset about exactly what we mean.

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere today, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, is the highest it has been for the past 650,000 years. In the space of just 250 years, as a result of the coal-fired Industrial Revolution, and changes to land use such as the growth of cities and the felling of forests, we have released, cumulatively, more than 1,800bn tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, approximately 1,000 tonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth’s atmosphere every second, due to human activity. Greenhouse gases trap incoming solar radiation, warming the atmosphere. When these gases accumulate beyond a certain level – often termed a "tipping point" – global warming will accelerate, potentially beyond control.


In other words, if we did not take action to immediately start cutting emissions, within eight years it could be too late to do anything about it.


The “100 month” figure was, apparently, not just plucked out of the air, as Simms goes on:


So, how exactly do we arrive at the ticking clock of 100 months? It’s possible to estimate the length of time it will take to reach a tipping point. To do so you combine current greenhouse gas concentrations with the best estimates for the rates at which emissions are growing, the maximum concentration of greenhouse gases allowable to forestall potentially irreversible changes to the climate system, and the effect of those environmental feedbacks. We followed the latest data and trends for carbon dioxide, then made allowances for all human interferences that influence temperatures, both those with warming and cooling effects. We followed the judgments of the mainstream climate science community, represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on what it will take to retain a good chance of not crossing the critical threshold of the Earth’s average surface temperature rising by 2C above pre-industrial levels. We were cautious in several ways, optimistic even, and perhaps too much so. A rise of 2C may mask big problems that begin at a lower level of warming. For example, collapse of the Greenland ice sheet is more than likely to be triggered by a local warming of 2.7C, which could correspond to a global mean temperature increase of 2C or less. The disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet could correspond to a sea-level rise of up to 7 metres.

In arriving at our timescale, we also used the lower end of threats in assessing the impact of vanishing ice cover and other carbon-cycle feedbacks (those wanting more can download a note on method from But the result is worrying enough.

We found that, given all of the above, 100 months from today we will reach a concentration of greenhouse gases at which it is no longer "likely" that we will stay below the 2C temperature rise threshold. "Likely" in this context refers to the definition of risk used by the IPCC. But, even just before that point, there is still a one third chance of crossing the line.


So, what has happened to emissions of CO2 since 2008? Simms recognised that the West had to lead the way:


Deflecting blame and responsibility is a great skill of officialdom. The most common strategies used by government recently have been wringing their hands and blaming China’s rising emissions, and telling individuals to, well, be a bit more careful. On the first get-out, it is delusory to think that countries such as China, India and Brazil will fundamentally change until wealthy countries such as Britain take a lead.



Well, since 2008 UK emissions have fallen by 22%. Unfortunately, though, the rest of the world’s emissions have risen 9%, utterly dwarfing our tiny little saving.




You could say that it is delusory to think that countries such as China, India and Brazil will fundamentally change, regardless of anything we do!


Plainly then, if Mr Simms is right, we should all be on the verge of climageddon by now .


Tomorrow, we’ll look at the state of the climate to see if he was right.

  1. October 2, 2016 4:01 pm

    Oh no not another tipping point. We have had so many of those in the last decade and the tradition continues. I am guessing that having survived all those other now or never end of the world scenarios we will also survive this one
    The great thing about tipping points is that each one that comes along logically cancels the previous tipping points. And so the “this time for sure” tradition continues along with that of the ice free Arctic.

  2. Vernon E permalink
    October 2, 2016 4:03 pm

    Thus proving, yet again, that there is absolutely no forensic correlation between the trace concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the so-called greenhouse warming effect. QED

  3. John F. Hultquist permalink
    October 2, 2016 4:28 pm

    I often wonder about the authors of these things. In this case the name is Andrew Simms.
    Some, such as Paul R. Ehrlich (re: Population Bomb – 1968) just seem to go on, and on, and …
    Others, Patrick Moore comes to mind (ex Greenpeace) appears to have learned and changed from his younger self.

    Andrew Simms appears to be of the former mold, and now is known (somewhat) for writing books and spending other people’s money. [ ]

    • John Palmer permalink
      October 2, 2016 6:43 pm

      Good grief… this lot must comprise most of the Grauniad’s remaining readers – and their pals and relatives!

      But… their huge, hopefully wasted, funding from the Green Finance Machine makes the jaw drop.

      Millions and millions from these virtue-signallers with more (capitalist-derived) money than they know what to do with.

      He Ho!

    • Billy Liar permalink
      October 2, 2016 7:27 pm

      He apparently ‘co-founded the climate campaign’ which, funnily enough, appears to have gone missing off the internet.

      Climageddon averted!

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      October 3, 2016 7:27 am

      Perhaps we should start a list of “the hundred best predictions of the end of the world as we know it”? We would need something shorter – the Simms Sensation Prize?

  4. AlecM permalink
    October 2, 2016 6:13 pm

    It takes a special kind of eejit to write for the Grauniad……

  5. Joe Public permalink
    October 2, 2016 6:26 pm

    So Paris COP21 is superfluous, and Morocco COP22 might as well be cancelled.

  6. October 2, 2016 7:04 pm

    Even assuming that Simms really believed his tipping point theory, his incompetence should get him removed from all technical reporting and the Guardian should print an apology for employing idiots and their fear of disaster reporting.

    Of course this applies to a lot of other doom-merchants (the clown-prince and the megakm2- arctic-ice-man come immediately to mind). Sadly a doom-headline sells better than one saying that all is well!

  7. CheshireRed permalink
    October 2, 2016 7:04 pm

    That graph is devastating as it reveals the delusional futility of the UK’s Climate Change Act in all its glory. We’ve taken leave of our senses.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 3, 2016 1:04 pm

      I don’t think it is ‘us’ in the broad sense since we were never asked to vote on the Climate Change Act. Parliament took leave of its senses – bar 3 I think – when they all voted for it, Tory, Labour and LibDem together.

  8. October 2, 2016 7:21 pm

    Eight years ago Simms wrote, “In the space of just 250 years… [mankind has] released, cumulatively, more than 1,800 bn tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.”

    Let’s check that. One ppmv of CO2 weighs about 8 Gt (8 bn tonnes), and almost exactly half of all the CO2 we put in the atmosphere is promptly absorbed by the biosphere (“greening” the planet) and the oceans. Eight years ago Mauna Loa CO2 levels were around 386 ppmv, and 250 years before that they were at about 280 ppmv. The difference is 108 ppmv. That means mankind must have emitted about 2 x 8 x 108 = 1728 Gt. So that’s about right.

    He also wrote, “Currently, approximately 1,000 tonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth’s atmosphere every second, due to human activity.”

    CO2 levels are going up about 2 ppmv per year, due to release of about 2 x 8 x 2 = 32 Gt CO2/yr. Divide 32,000,000,000 tonnes / (365.25 x 24 x 60 x 60) = 1014 Gt/second. So that’s about right, too.

    But then he he went off into the weeds. He wrote, “Greenhouse gases trap incoming solar radiation, warming the atmosphere. When these gases accumulate beyond a certain level – often termed a ‘tipping point’ – global warming will accelerate, potentially beyond control.”

    That’s unscientific nonsense, pure superstition. It is the exact opposite of the truth.

    Due to the absorption spectrum of CO2, and the fact that its main absorption lines are already saturated, anthropogenic CO2 has a logarithmically diminishing effect on temperatures. So, for example, to get as much additional warming effect as we got from the last 120 ppmv CO2 (i.e., by increasing CO2 from 280 to 400 ppmv) will require approximately 120 x (400/280) = 171 ppmv of additional CO2, i.e., an atmospheric CO2 level of 571 ppmv CO2, which probably won’t be seen until near the end of the 21st century, at earliest.

    Additionally, powerful negative feedback mechanisms make it progressively more difficult to increase CO2 levels and temperatures. The faster we add CO2 to the atmosphere, the faster various natural mechanisms remove it.

    What’s more, much of the modest and unquestionably beneficial warming we’ve seen over the last 250 years is almost certainly natural, as the earth recovered from the Little Ice Age. So the earth is unlikely to see even that much warming during the 21st Century.

    In other words, even if the warming effect of climbing CO2 levels exceeds the cooling effect of apparently declining solar activity, which is by no means certain, there’s still really nothing to worry about.

  9. October 2, 2016 7:31 pm

    Latest news from Mount Doom (aka the BBC World Service), where the all-seeing Lord Harrabin reigns supreme, totally unrestrained it seems by the BBC Charter, is that the politburo are turning their attention to aviation, another reason why Paris is worthless, which will be a bit tricky for the private-jet Climaterati such as Leo and Al, but they are dwarfed by the BBC entourage, i.e. Lord Harrabin and his army of ring-wraiths (aka BBC environment correspondents and “science” presenters).

  10. Broadlands permalink
    October 2, 2016 7:39 pm

    “In other words, if we did not take action to immediately start cutting emissions, within eight years it could be too late to do anything about it.”

    The IPCC: “Carbon dioxide capture and storage could be used to reduce emissions of fossil-fuel power plants. The technology could be important for ambitious mitigation targets, but it’s not yet been demonstrated at large scale.

    Cutting emissions? Once again, these people do not have a clue that it is virtually impossible after somehow reaching zero emissions to lower atmospheric CO2 to save the planet. This is simply because the amounts involved are much too large for any technology operating at the “global” level to accomplish. Just one ppm of CO2 is two petagrams, the equivalent to 2000 million metric tons. Going back to 1987 and 350 ppm is 100,000 million tons… to capture and bury. Eight years? Hundreds to thousands of years, if at all. And, CCS costs have been estimated at ~$250 per ton. Do the math.

    Delusional indeed. We need to come to our senses… especially the “ambitious” IPCC mitigation “team” and those they advise.

  11. BLACK PEARL permalink
    October 2, 2016 7:50 pm

    Keep rubbing the salt in Paul …. Have you sent a link to the BBC ‘so-called’ Science section for a comment ?

    I see they now want your post code before you can comment on their HYS on any reports they put up.

    A Forced £145.50 for a TV licence for something I rarely watch

  12. October 2, 2016 8:07 pm

    Paul, do NOT read the following article from AEP, it may spoil your holiday:

    • A C Osborn permalink
      October 3, 2016 11:12 am

      Isn’t it interesting how the DT has stopped any kind of commenting.
      CB got masses of support in the comments and AEP was slated as being completely out of touch.

  13. October 2, 2016 9:17 pm

    ‘if Mr Simms is right’ – or else he may have to try and get a proper job.

  14. DreadUK permalink
    October 2, 2016 9:59 pm

    My garden is flourishing. We have to cut the grass twice a week compared to once a week 25 years ago. Bushes that barely grew for 20 years are now beyond recognition and require trimming regularly. Anecdotal observation? Isn’t science based on observation?

    Mind you, we live at, arguably, one of the most polluted parts of the UK, if not the planet, Dartford. The Dartford Tunnel is a blight, add to it the convergence of the A2 and M20, and it’s proximity to London and you might get an idea of how unpolluted your part of the UK is.

    However, despite all the emissions from diesel transportation, our plants are going wild.

    CO2 is not a pollutant, it’s not the enemy, it comprises some 0.3% of all atmospheric gases, of which man contributes 3%. We are talking Homeopathic levels of atmospheric anthropogenic contribution, but I’ll damn well bet few ‘illustrious’ climate scientists who support AGW would trust a Homeopath to treat their prostate cancer.

    So why do they insist homeopathic levels of CO2 will destroy the world rather than cure it?

    I’m no scientist, but I really think these guys ought to examine their priorities.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      October 3, 2016 2:06 pm

      “I’m no scientist, but I really think these guys ought to examine their priorities.”

      They do….it’s called a bank account.

      Don’t feel bad, many ‘climate scientists’ are not scientists either.

  15. Don B permalink
    October 3, 2016 12:24 am

    “The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere today, the most prevalent greenhouse gas…..”

    Apparently he had not learned that water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, with about 75 times the concentration of CO2, and has the ability to absorb more outgoing long wave radiation than CO2.

  16. tom0mason permalink
    October 3, 2016 5:57 am

    The vast majority of CO2 rise since the dawn of time has been and always will be natural. Human impact on the CO2 rise is negligible. Theory says I’m wrong, observation show theory is in error!
    Just look at the official graph of CO2 levels, yes it rises but within the rise are times when the rise rate changes (1991-93, 96-96-98, etc.). Oddly during those times humans did not stop emitting or significantly change there use of fossil fuels!
    With CO2 levels nature rules not man.

    Also note that the upper atmosphere CO2 (above the topopause) cools the atmosphere AND filters out the sun’s IR at those frequencies that excites CO2!
    So how is the lower atmosphere CO2 warmed when the upper atmosphere has filtered the majority of specific frequencies that would warm the CO2? See for atmospheric COOLING by CO2.
    And see for why CO2 below the tropopause is less active.

  17. Tim Hammond permalink
    October 3, 2016 7:16 am

    We should all embrace this, not criticise!

    We didn’t do enough, and now it’s too late to do anything.

    That means we can stop worrying and stop trying. Isn’t that the logical position?

  18. Malcolm Bell permalink
    October 3, 2016 8:04 am

    As always, too much to say. But basically have all these people forgotten what Jim Lovelock taught us: that the global system is self correcting? Where in the climate modelling do they parallel his “Daisyworld” lesson?

    All the models are based on the assumption of positive feedback – output errors add to input signals and so cause bigger errors. It is the foundation of warmist culture. In the real world and in real science systems negative feedback (output errors are subtracted from input signals and so are corrected out) prevails in the end albeit sometimes, as with oxygen, a new stable state may be entered, provided that stable state does not damage the foundation state.

    In the meantime they all ignore the only problem we have – exploding population. They mention growing cities as a cause but never ask why they are growing.

    And — is it just me but somehow I cannot believe we have cut our CO^2 emissions in truth; I think st best we have just exported them with our manufacturing industry and electricity generation to other countries and the pretend to be holier than thou!

  19. Malcolm Bell permalink
    October 3, 2016 8:23 am

    Of course I missed Paul’s point. The article was published eight years ago so according to the Guardian, we are now done for, finished, caput.

    Forgive me, but has something happened that I did not notice? Have I drowned or starved to death? Am I now in heaven? If so it doesn’t seem any different to life on Earth eight years ago. All the same messes and ugly human behaviour killing each other but very pleasant in my back garden.

  20. October 3, 2016 8:37 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”
    However, when others are paying the tab you can be consistently wrong and continue to make ever more ludicrous projections with no consequences as the media shove everything down the memory hole!

  21. October 3, 2016 8:55 am

    Back in 2012, responding to Met Office and other tripe like the above, I wrote to the Met Office and asked what the “correct” or “ideal” planetary temperature is. They replied on Oct 9th 2012 as follows –

    “There is no way to truly say what the ideal temperature and ideal amount of atmospheric CO2 for Earth would be, partly because our understanding of the Earth system is incomplete and partly because of the way the Earth system adapts and changes in response to changes in its composition”.

    So none of the alarmists know, or indeed can know, what the temperature “ought” to be. By simple logic it is therefore evident that we cannot know, within broad limits at least, what it “ought” NOT to be. It therefore follows that they cannot know in which direction it would best be shifted (as if they could control it anyway).

    So were they to be successful in either depressing or increasing the temperature it is impossible to know if it were to be the “right” thing to do. Just as likely to make things worse. No rational policy for trying to control the planet’s temperature is possible. By their own admission.

    Their efforts are driven primarily by a deep psychological fear of any kind of change, and in addition by an even deeper desire to keep the job, keep getting the governmental financial support, or to maintain membership of their tribe. Or perhaps to sell books.

    Only stasis can mollify this fear. It is very similar to holding any other kind of unsubstantiated belief, not supported by empirical evidence.

    • richard verney permalink
      October 3, 2016 10:26 am

      It is a tactical ploy to keep the public ignorant of key and basic facts.

      Al Gore claims that the planet is running a temperature, it has a fever. most people do not know that the planet is presently in the midst of an ice age and is therefore cold, not hot. Al Gore’s claim would be seen as farcical if the general population knew the key facts.

      I frequently comment upon the fact that ‘we’ are never told what is the ideal temperature for the planet, what is the ideal amount of CO2 for the planet? Keeping the population in the dark about these important and most fundamental of facts is part of the tactics since if these facts were to be revealed no one would be concerned about cAGW.

      Everything we know about life on planet Earth on all time scales informs us that the planet is presently way too cold. Ditto with CO2; there is far too little CO2. Given these facts, if by some happy chance increasing levels of CO2 was to cause some warming then that would be a win win scenario (the balance of evidence does not support the contention that CO2 drives temperature, but of course all the data sets are not fit for scientific scrutiny/evaluation and therefore one cannot wholly rule out the possibility that the addition of CO2 will bring some small temperature increase).

      Any schoolchild considering known key facts would readily conclude that the planet is cold and more warmth would be beneficial. Consider:
      1. Man can trace his ancestory back to Africa (Ethiopia/Sudan) which is warm. The only places where man can inhabit without adapting himself or his environment is some sparce areas of the planet; tropical rain forests 9lost tribes of the Amazon etc) or perhaps some places in Australian outback. We wear clothes not because of modesty but because it is way too cold for us to live where we live. Ditto the reason why we build houses (the modern equivalent of a cave0 and have central heating (the modern equivalent of a campfire).
      2. All large land based animals (elephant, hippo, rhino, giraffe etc) are in warm climes. The only large animal at the poles is the polar bear and this is only possible because it does not feed off the land, but rather the sea. All arctic animals are small compared to their cousins in warmer climes.
      3. What is the strategy of animals in the Arctic. Answer; not to face the harshness of the cold. Those that can migrate (birds and elks etc) migrate south so as not to experience an Arctic winter. Those that cannot migrate bury themselves in the ground and go into a near death state for 6 months so as not to experience the harshness of winter.
      4. Bio diversity is at its greatest in warm wet environs such as tropical rain forests and least in cold arid climes such as Antarctica.
      5. Although man can trace his distant ancestors back 3 to 4 million years (lucy, eve etc), and modern man back perhaps 200,000 to 250,000 years, all advances in skills and civilisation have occurred since around the starting of the Holocene (the present benign warm period of the present intergalcial that started circa 14.000/15,000 years ago).
      6. All advanced civililisations are temperature dependent, eg Egyptian the Minoan then Greek then Roman then Northern Europe. There has not been an advanced civilasation from a cold climate, and to the extent that there was one 9the Vikings) this was during the Viking Warm Period/Medieval Warm Period!
      7. Stonehenge was built slightly after the Great Pyramids. It is no coincident that men in the cold climate of Wiltshire could only place a few large stones one on top of another whilst the Egyptians could build the Great Pyramid that is so remarkable that even today we do not fully understand how it was built. Egypt had a warm benign climate such that people had time to learn skilss, writing etc and pass these down from father to son. In the cold climate of Wiltshire the fundamental skill set was survival and they had no time to develop wider skill sets because battling the cold harsh environment was a daily chore.
      8. If one goes back further in time, the time of the Dinosaurs then animals grew really big because it was a time of warmth and plenty.
      9. Plants evolved in conditions when CO2 was over 3000ppm. We can see as CO2 levels have increased to 400 ppm the globe has greened notwithstanding manmade deforestation. Additionally, we inject warm CO2 enriched air into commercial greenhouses because CO2 and warmth is good for plants.

      As I say, any schoolchild would readily appreciate that the planet is way too cold and more warmth and more CO2 would be a good thing. However, this key fact is always ignored and the public deliberately kept ignorant of this.

    • October 3, 2016 6:22 pm

      +bobski, you got the deep psychological fear part right, but I don’t think it’s limited to something as conceptual as change. Runaway warming and hell-and-brimstone are just too close for coincidence. Add the fear of social disgrace for sinning and the match gets even closer. Throw in some punishment for those who reject the faith, a wrathful god, a couple of miracles involving solar panels and kale, and hey presto, there’s your new religion.

      • October 4, 2016 10:22 am

        You wrote: there’s your new religion.

        Absolutely. And not only that but there HAS to be a problem. If there isn’t one, one must be invented especially if you’re a politician, or a heavily financed “scientist” of the type that could care less about science’s reputation, or how can you possibly justify your existence?

        The worst aspect is the fathomless gullibility of the hoi polloi who seem to actually believe that politicians can control the temperature of a PLANET to tolerances of + or – 1C

  22. richard verney permalink
    October 3, 2016 9:56 am

    Well, since 2008 UK emissions have fallen by 22%.

    Where is the evidence/data supporting that claim?

    I know that we have been in a ‘recession’ since the financial crisis and that the UK has been de-industrialising since the 1960s, but I sceptical as to the accuracy of that claim. With an ever expanding population, it sounds wishful thinking to me.

  23. joekano76 permalink
    October 3, 2016 10:36 am

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

  24. Robin Guenier permalink
    October 3, 2016 11:42 am

    For me perhaps the most interesting thing about the 100 months campaign is Andrew Simms’ assertion that “it is delusory to think that countries such as China, India and Brazil will fundamentally change until wealthy countries such as Britain take a lead … real international leadership, removing the excuses of other nations not to act.” It’s a common response to arguments that UK’s CO2 reduction actions are pointless in a world where developing nations, responsible for over 65% of emissions, have no serious reduction plans: as argued here for example. And of course we have taken a lead since August 2008 – not least by passing the Climate Change Act. But, as Paul comprehensively demonstrates, the world isn’t interested.

    It’s an attitude that reflects an arrogant, neocolonial, “white man’s burden” attitude that has no place in the modern world. Were a right-wing voice to express such a view, it would be quickly (and probably correctly) denounced as racist. But this was in the Guardian!

  25. October 3, 2016 11:46 am

    Manbearpig returns under new name!!!!!

  26. October 3, 2016 11:49 am

    Reblogged this on Lolathecur's Blog Below are two very important entries from the "Jewish Encyclopedia". Read them VERY CLOSELY. and commented:
    Manbearpig is writing under psuedonym of Andrew Simms. 😉

  27. October 3, 2016 6:47 pm

    I would like to ask a serious question about tipping points. Because of feedback mechanisms, CO2 can supposedly cause the climate to tip into runaway warming. But the other major greenhouse gas, water vapour, has never done so, even in the Minoan period when average global temperatures were a couple of degrees higher than they are now. What is the essential difference between CO2 and H2O that makes one a peril and the other not? If runaway warming is possible, why hasn’t it happened already?

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