Public criticism

I came across an article about media and the game of climate change denialism. The basic message is that the media should better reflect the nuances in the climate change debate and should avoid presenting it as a debate between two extremes.

One issue I have with this basic argument is that it comes across as a please stop criticising us type of suggestion. Well, that just seems a little pathetic. Another I have is that it often involves claims that they agree with the mainstream position, and that they’re simply discussing aspects about which there is still valid disagreement. Well, if this is true, and yet the criticisms continue, maybe they should consider that they’re not making this clear. If they think the criticisms are unfair, maybe they should find a better/clearer way to make their arguments. Alternatively, if they believe that they’re making their arguments as carefully and as clearly as possible, maybe just ignore the critics.

However, what really caught my eye about this article (which I didn’t find all that bad) was the comment below, which would seem to indicate that the author doesn’t really get the nuance quite as well as they claim to.

The IPCC shows four Representative Concentration Pathways, which yield temperature increases of 0.3 to 1.7 degrees C (RCP 2.6) to 2.6 to 4.8 (RCP 8.5) in the 2081 to 2100 period. Not only does this demonstrate the uncertainty, but the IPCC itself says “Many impacts [of climate change] can be reduced, delayed or avoided by mitigation.”

Yes, we can reduce, delay, or avoid the impacts by mitigation, but this is essentially the point. It’s really unlikely to just happen by chance; it’s what we should be discussing. I don’t think the IPCC is suggesting that it will simply happen; it’s suggesting that it could happen if we actually decide to do something.

The first part of the above comment, however, indicates a confusion about the Representation Concentration Pathways (RCPs), a mistake I’ve also seen Matt Ridley make. The uncertainty in our future emission pathways is not really the same as, for example, the uncertainty in climate sensitivity. The uncertainty in climate sensitivity indicates that we don’t know precisely how much we will warm for a given change in anthropogenic forcing or, equivalently, a given change in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Climate sensitivity is a property of the system and the uncertainty simply indicates that we don’t know what it actually is. Other than trying to better constrain our understanding there is nothing we can do to influence what it actually is.

The different RCPs (or emission pathways), however, illustrate different possible future pathways. We may not know what pathway we’ll actually follow, but we can certainly influence what it will be. In some sense we’ve already done so, as the lowest pathway is probably no longer possible, and we’re probably unlikely to follow the highest because it’s pretty clear that doing so would potentially lead to severe climate impacts.

The discussion that many think we should be having is about whether or not we should be doing something more to influence what future pathway we actually follow and, if we should, what that should be. We will, of course, only follow one pathway and we could choose to leave it entirely to chance and hope that the one we actually follow doesn’t lead to severe climate impacts. However, that is still something worth discussing.

So, it seems rather ironic that an argument that most of the namecalling is a consequence of ignoring the nuance in the climate debate, seems to then completely miss the nuance. I’m largely in favour of reducing the prevalence for name calling, but I don’t think that that includes avoiding criticising what others choose to say publicly and I do think that the onus is really on those who make public arguments to do so as carefully as possible. Rather than complaining about the tone of the debate, maybe people should simply try to improve their own arguments, stop their namecalling, and see if others follow suit?

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39 Responses to Public criticism

  1. Something that I didn’t make clear in the post, but will do so here, is that there is still an uncertainty in how we associate an emission pathway with a concentration pathway (due to uncertainties in the carbon cycle). However, that still doesn’t change that we can influence what pathway we actually follow and that this is one of the key issues that should – IMO – be discussed.

  2. Physics: “The different RCPs (or emission pathways), however, illustrate different possible future pathways. We may not know what pathway we’ll actually follow, but we can certainly influence what it will be. In some sense we’ve already done so, as the lowest pathway is probably no longer possible, and we’re probably unlikely to follow the highest [RCP 8.5 pathway] because it’s pretty clear that doing so would potentially lead to severe climate impacts.

    The RCP 8.5 pathway is what the mitigation sceptical movement is fighting for. Thus we should model it to inform the public what would happen if all world leaders would say that climate change is a Chinese hoax (Trump), not even the natural greenhouse effects exists (Tim Ball, WUWT), it is not clear whether the world is cooling (Eric Worrall, WUWT), CO2 is life (Happer), global warming has stopped because snowball (Inhofe).

    This is what these American extremists want so we need to know the consequences, even if most likely the world will ignore these fools.

  3. Andy Skuce says:

    It’s telling that he regards the “leave it in the ground” position as an extreme, politically motivated one. Even under the lowest expectation of climate sensitivity and most benign carbon cycle feedbacks, we just can’t burn all the carbon resources. As for it being political, it is a position endorsed by the Governor of the Bank of England and the CEOs of some large oil companies among other institutions of global capitalism such as the IMF and the IEA.

    Moreover, there is the false implication that uncertainty means we need to wait and see. On the contrary, the fact that we cannot rule out the worst outcomes of what would be an essentially irreversible process means that uncertainty is a driver, not a damper, of the need for prompt action.

  4. Magma says:

    I was just about to make the same point Andy did. While Michael Lynch is a very moderate or temperate example of a ‘lukewarmer’, a look at some of his other columns, comments, and tweets strongly suggests an inherent bias in favor of the North American oil and gas industry.

    “The public debate seems to focus on the extreme views of ‘climate change is a hoax’ to ‘fossil fuels must be left in the ground’ neither of which is a valuable attitude.”

  5. Jai Mitchell says:

    ATTP,

    Re: uncertainties in Carbon Cycle.

    your statement above, “uncertainty in how we associate an emission pathway with a concentration pathway (due to uncertainties in the carbon cycle)” is rated as ‘somewhat true’. What would be more correct would be:

    “underestimation of concentration pathway values, when correlated to emissions pathways, by at least 17% through 2050 and, since we have already passed the >1C warming threshold, will likely be greater than 50% through this period and over 200% by 2100.”

    you already wrote about the lack of warming soils present in ANY of the concentration pathways and, in another location, you wrote about the current models used to predict Arctic warming grossly underestimating regional changes in temperature, frozen soil degradation and sea ice loss.

    reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrKOpPJIbXA
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v540/n7631/full/nature20150.html

    see also: how the study above uses best-case scenario: https://robertscribbler.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/rates-of-soil-carbon-loss.png?w=480&h=309

    note: 35 PG carbon is equivalent to 200 GT CO2 emissions

  6. Willard says:

    > your statement above, “uncertainty in how we associate an emission pathway with a concentration pathway (due to uncertainties in the carbon cycle)” is rated as ‘somewhat true’.

    By whom?

    Citation needed.

    ***

    > The basic message is that the media should better reflect the nuances in the climate change debate and should avoid presenting it as a debate between two extremes.

    Goldilocks sends her wishes:

    Author Christopher Booker characterizes this as the “dialectical three”, where “the first is wrong in one way, the second in another or opposite way, and only the third, in the middle, is just right.” Booker continues “This idea that the way forward lies in finding an exact middle path between opposites is of extraordinary importance in storytelling“. This concept has spread across many other disciplines, particularly developmental psychology, biology, economics and engineering where it is called the “Goldilocks Principle”.

  7. Susan Anderson says:

    Jai Mitchell, that video on soil emissions is an outstanding example of straightforward communication of technical material. Thank you. repeat link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrKOpPJIbXA

  8. Victor,
    Yes, I wasn’t suggesting not modelling it, just that it seems unlikely that we will actually follow it (well, unless the the carbon cycle feedbacks are quite different to what we expect).

    Andy,

    It’s telling that he regards the “leave it in the ground” position as an extreme,

    True, although I guess we could find a CCS technology that means we don’t need to leave it all in the ground in order to reduce emissions.

    Jai,
    Isn’t that essentially the same point; we can’t exactly associate an emission pathway with a concentration pathway?

  9. Jai Mitchell says:

    ATTP,

    Indeed, however it is time to ‘call bullshit’. meaning, the abrogation of duty to report painful and difficult information under the guise of ‘uncertainty’, when the polarity (and scale) of the likely impacts is now extremely well documented, borders on deception AND cowardice. (not by you)

    in the communication of risk uncertainty, it is absolutely necessary to include the scale and polarity of ‘likely’ and ‘unlikely’ potential impacts. I understand that a significant portion of these have been Vetoed by member states, I recall Saudi Arabia removing the dialogue of what >4C would look like, however WE must no longer mince words with mealy mouthed failure on the side of ‘least drama’ when, what has become clear today, the global carbon cycle feedbacks produced under RCP 8.5 will be approximate to the entire anthropogenic emission profile under RCP 8.5 (and work, in addition to these factors to reduce ocean sinks and OH/CH4 Sinks – further exacerbating near term warming and significantly raising annual atmospheric fractions of emissions).

  10. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Suit.

    [Mod: Thanks, fixed.]

  11. BBD says:

    As I read it, the whole article is predicated on a misrepresentation of attribution in AR5:

    Most mainstream scientists seem to have no problem with acknowledging the uncertainties surrounding climate change science, including the IPCC. Take this statement from their recent report: “It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.” “More than half” is better than less than half, but it’s not the same as saying the science is ‘absolutely settled’.

    And:

    To summarize, climate change is real and human activity is partly responsible.

    AR5 (emphasis added):

    It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.

    The only thing that is absolutely settled is that this article engaged in selective quotation from AR5.

  12. russellseitz says:

    V.V. & J.M. : The trouble with invoking the precautionary principle is that it is often comminutive in its iterative effect.

    It may seem merely prudent to presume worst-case outcomes for individual paramrter ranges , but Iteration is a powerful concept that cuts both ways : when ,of necessity, a lot of 95% IPCC “highly probables” are strung together to enable complex models to run, the cumulative certainty of their outcome is subject to exponential decay.

  13. T-rev says:

    >and we’re probably unlikely to follow the highest because it’s pretty clear that doing so would potentially lead to severe climate impacts

    I like your optimism, or denial, depending how you look at it I guess 🙂 Isn’t that the path we’re currently on ? Inertia alone would indicate we would be more likely to stay on it rather than change direction even slightly, let alone the drastic changes needed . eg What politician says, well, we need to stop flying, so no use building this airport, we’ll spend the funds on building renewables instead, or, instead of this extra ring road to reduce car congestion, we’ll build these new cycle ways ? and any that did will be without a seat in the next election.

    Staying under 1.5 and 2 is now impossible (by that I mean if there was a 50% emisisons drop tomorrow, sure … but that’s fanciful). Even if by some Dues ex machina we started taking it seriously (by seriously I mean actions), and rolled out renewables etc at triple the rate we are now, it won’t make a substantive difference. Even if we magically decarbonised the entire electricity grid, (no one has any idea how it would work in practice as our electricty demands are way too high) that’s still only a 25% or so emisisons reduction and we haven’t even touched the taboo of Oil or Gas, so now we electrify the grid to use e cars, putting aside their isn’t enough resources on the planet to do that, if we commited today, 40 years to roll it out ? As Susan Krumdieck puts it

    >Business leaders recognise that the biggest risk to their business is energy transition. **The most popular concept of this transition involves a substitution of renewables for fossil fuels and development of elusive tail-pipe technologies like carbon-capture and storage.

    This concept is comforting and simple. But it is also profoundly wrong.

    There is no way to achieve an energy transition without completely reworking every aspect of our infrastructure, industry and economy to vastly reduce energy demand. Changing the global economy to nearly eliminate the use of fossil fuels is a “wicked problem” – a problem with no known solution**

    [Dr Susan P Krumdieck is Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Advanced Energy and Material Systems Lab, University of Canterbury, New Zealand]

    http://low-emission-future.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/can-engineers-change-world-energy.html

  14. T-rev: “I like your optimism, or denial, depending how you look at it I guess🙂 Isn’t that the path [RCP8.5] we’re currently on ? Inertia alone would indicate we would be more likely to stay on it rather than change direction even slightly, let alone the drastic changes needed.”

    The situation may look bleak when it comes to federal politics in America for the next 4 years, but a lot is going on other levels in America and more importantly in the rest of the world (Paris agreement, technological changes).

    Thus I agree with Physics that RCP8.5 is no longer realistic, even if some people are fighting to make it happen.

    http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2016/11/climate-nightmares-in-america-dreams-in.html

    On optimistic days I expect that the political power of Oil and Coal will soon be broken by cheap renewable energy. Then the political landscape will radically chance. Even in America the public is already there.

    The corruption in Washington is slowing the transition, but soon sun and wind can pay bigger bribes than coal and oil.

  15. BBD says:

    Victor V

    The corruption in Washington is slowing the transition, but soon sun and wind can pay bigger bribes than coal and oil.

    They have some way to go yet.

  16. BBD, have some patience, every problem looks difficult until it is suddenly solved. Global investments in sun and wind are already larger than those for other ways to generate electricity.

    That coal and oil companies are still worth a lot because of all the assets on their books they will not be able to sell is a big economic problem. The G20 is working on making these financial risks more transparent in the hope the value of these companies goes down slowly rather than burst in a costly bubble.

  17. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Kudos on an excellent OP. I especially like, and wholeheartedly endorse, your concluding admonition:

    Rather than complaining about the tone of the debate, maybe people should simply try to improve their own arguments, stop their namecalling, and see if others follow suit?

  18. Jai Mitchell says:

    With all due respect to Dr. Krumdieck,

    “Changing the global economy to nearly eliminate the use of fossil fuels is a “wicked problem” – a problem with no known solution”

    That statement is doubly false: a “Wicked Problem” is not one that has no known solution, it is one that has feedback mechanisms contained within its structures that changes the nature of the problem, making it much more difficult to solve — Climate change is Definitely a “wicked problem”

    However, a Wicked Problem is NOT a problem that has no known solution AND The implementation of programs and structures for the rapid decarbonization of the Earth’s energy system DOES have many wonderful and viable solutions, HOWEVER, NONE of the viable solutions (at this late hour) are market based. And so, to some, the possibility of a war-footing economy with total societal mobilization under a command and control economic infrastructure including nationalization of massive swaths of industry and the appropriation of resources (and deficit spending equal to ~1/3 of national GDP per year for over a decade) are so foreign of concepts, their very existence (in 1935-1945 period) so suppressed in the public mind, that MANY do not even conceive of this potential reality (even though it is now our only possible solution to limit long-term warming, absent stratospheric Global Dimming geoengineering, to prevent a 4C world by 2070.

    yes, it is really that bad, ask me how.

  19. John Hartz says:

    Directly related to the OP and this discussion…

    An obstacle in communicating climate change science is that policymakers ultimately are interested in the risks to people and the ecosystems that society depends on, O’Neill said. Most scientific studies, however, focus on future changes to the climate system and stop short of the consequences to human populations.

    “The science related to how climate change will affect society is improving every year, but we still have fewer studies than we’d like that project, for example, how many people might die from extreme heat and where, as opposed to just projecting how many heat waves there might be,” O’Neill said.

    “That’s hard because these risks are affected not just by climate change, but also by how vulnerable or resilient a society is,” he said. “These kinds of challenges of assessing future risk make it even more important that we’re clear on how expert judgments are made.”

    The fire through the smoke: Working for transparency in climate projections, Press Release, Princeton University, Jan 4, 2017

  20. John Hartz says:

    Here’s the url for the Princeton news release I cited in my prior post. I thought I had embedded it correctly into the title, but alas had not.

    http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S48/22/47I51/index.xml?section=newsreleases

  21. Bob Loblaw says:

    Not understanding uncertainty in the future climate caused by uncertainty in climate sensitivity vs. uncertainty in emissions pathways is analogous to not understanding the uncertainty in bank account growth caused by by uncertainty in interest rates vs. uncertainty in how much money you’ll put in your bank account.

    Classic fail.

  22. izen says:

    @-Jai Mitchell
    “NONE of the viable solutions (at this late hour) are market based. And so, to some, the possibility of a war-footing economy with total societal mobilization under a command and control economic infrastructure including nationalization of massive swaths of industry and the appropriation of resources… ”

    So at least the 2 ‘extremes’ of “it’s a hoax” and “leave it in the ground”, can agree on the consequence of responding to climate change.

    A NWO global government. The suppression of capitalism and liberal democracy. The nightmare of one side and the best aspiration of the other is something like the global imposition of the Chinese praxis.

    “Leave it in the ground”, is really the mainstream ‘Goldilocks’ position. The other end from the “It’s a hoax” position is probably someone like Macpherson. The Forbes article is a transparent attempt to shift the Overton window from the mainstream to a place a little closer to “It’s a hoax”.
    However it is targeted at the mainstream, not the hoax extreme. They would reject the article for quoting the IPCC, even selectively. That from the ‘Hoax’ extreme automatically disqualifies the writer for granting ANY legitimacy to the UN agenda 21, socialist conspiracy to impose tyranny on the free Nations and individuals for which the IPCC is a Trojan horse.

    Improved, more nuanced, communication of the science is unlikely to shift that POV.

  23. Something that always impressed me about Hansen, Johnson, Lacis, Lebedeff, Lee, Rind, and Russell’s global warming projections paper from 1981 is not only the compactness of its model, and its simplicity, but the really basic calculations it was based on, and especially its projections regarding fossil fuel emissions (“Projections into the 21st Century”) and its Figure 6 which looks very like the RCPs of today.

    There really is a lot of good scholarship out there, compiled over 60 years. I wish journalists and people were more aware of it.

  24. Keith McClary says:

    “… the media should better reflect the nuances in the climate change debate and should avoid presenting it as a debate between two extremes.”

    This is a pet peeve of mine. The IPCC is a consensus view of scientists who think it either overestimates or underestimates the problem. But the media almost always present it as a debate between the (underestimating) “sceptics” and the consensus. We hardly ever hear from scientists (usually better qualified than the “sceptics”) who are worried about positive feedbacks not taken in to account in the IPCC consensus. The media say they include “sceptic” views in the interest of “balance”. We should demand that they give equal coverage to the other side of the consensus.

  25. Marco says:

    Keith, Michael Tobis had a relevant cartoon for that:

  26. The graph of Michael Tobis should have a second small peak to the right of the big one and those should the people that should be debating the climate “sceptics” in news outlets that only care about clicks & misinformation and not about quality & democracy.

  27. The “Most informed opinion” label is much too wide. It’s a single data point; whereever James Hansen is currently standing.

  28. russellseitz says:

    While Tobis’ cartoon identifies the major salients in persuasion , this found graph illustrates the public response to them:

    [Mod: I think you provided a link to the directory on your computer, not a link to the file on the internet.]

  29. Jai Mitchell says:

    -izen

    agreed, however, as the climate catastrophe unfolds, the discourse will also necessarily shift. The growing acceptance of the scientific reality is shifting strongly in the last year alone. In 3 years now only the most wild-eyed fanatic will continue to believe that it is NOT a reality. In the end, you can’t bet against physics and win.

    It is my sincere belief that, as it was with the bombing of pearl harbor, that a series of climate events will occur in the near term, kicking us in the pants and shifting our visceral reaction from ‘wait and see’ to ‘oh my god, what about me and my children’. When that happens we will see a collectivist movement, on par with the WWII mobilization, and these efforts to build out public transportation, EVs decentralized food production, massive production facilities of renewable energy equipment, their transport and installation within a purveyance of a National Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Authority will be seen as the least painful option. (it will actually massively increase the wealth and benefit of the middle class – as it did during WWII).

  30. But, as observed by MIT climate and hurricanes expert Kerry Emanuel in a talk I heard him give in Wayland at a UU church a couple of years back, even frogs know to jump out of a pot which is being slowly increased to the boiling point. He’s not so sure about people.

  31. JCH says:

    White men can’t jump.

  32. Harry Twinotter says:

    “So, it seems rather ironic that an argument that most of the namecalling is a consequence of ignoring the nuance in the climate debate, seems to then completely miss the nuance. ”

    I think most of the nuance-missing is intentional. It seems to me the anti-science media misrepresents the science whenever they think they can get away with it.

  33. izen says:

    @-Jai Mitchell
    “It is my sincere belief that, as it was with the bombing of pearl harbor, that a series of climate events will occur in the near term, kicking us in the pants and shifting our visceral reaction from ‘wait and see’ to ‘oh my god, what about me and my children’”

    It is my sincere hope that it does not take a Peal Harbour, or worse, scale event to prompt a revolution in attitudes. There are some hopeful signs that smaller(?) incremental impacts can move opinion. It is… interesting to see the Chinese governance forced to respond to popular pressure over the smog pollution. Like the UK in the 1950s they are discovering that unregulated use of coal is unacceptable. With fossil fuelled private transport not far behind.

    While the US and its sycophants may resist the rising level of opposition to CO2 forced climate modification, I suspect that as more Nations (BRICS, Scandinavia) adopt a policy of actively dealing with CO2 emissions, those that resist will become globally disdained pariahs. If Trump survives for a full term he may find that free trade is replaced by tariff wars, but directed at him and enterprises that fail to adopt the zeitgeist.

    Perhaps the most likely driver forcing political change over the next few years will be something that is difficult to directly link to climate change and is much a matter of chance. Major hurricanes that hit a populated coast are random events. But AGW has biased the odds with warmer water, more humid air and higher sea levels. When the Western Pacific and the Caribbean are hit 3 times in a year, rather than once every 3 years, minds may change.

  34. Ken Fabian says:

    Echoing Victor V, I’m hoping the most significant consequence of cheaper, more ubiquitous Renewable Energy may be political. Most significantly, by introducing serious division in the broad working consensus within the peak, collective lobbying of commerce and industry of consistent opposition to strong climate action. I don’t think the climate politicking has ever been driven by concerns about the quality of climate science; climate science denial and doubt has been a consequence of real, but exaggerated economic fears.

    Here in Australia the early signs of that are the shifts away from outright climate science denial revealed in more consistent “in principle” statements of acceptance of the climate problem and the need for appropriate policy. Unfortunately there are several big steps between accepting the need for action in principle and cessation of their opposition to virtually every serious policy proposal in practice. The example of The Business Council of Australia’s “in principle” statements and having the maximisation of growth of Australia’s energy – ie fossil fuel – exports as a key climate change policy (I’m not joking!), shows just how large the shift from this and similar influential lobby groups actually needs to be to be more than a more PR palatable cover for continuing opposition.

  35. The problem with allowing markets to pursue wind, solar, and storage to deal with climate change, even though these technologies will eventually triumph and dominate the energy landscape, is that it will not happen fast enough to avoid locking in for (at least) centuries terribly damaging consequences for climate. These technologies must deploy faster than they are being deployed in order to meet the COP21 goal of complete decarbonization of the electricity sector by 2050. Moreover, it is a moving target, as some — if not most — authorities are planning to decarbonize transportation where they can by electrifying it.

    The only alternative to doing this is a big cut in consumption, not only of energy, but of goods. Naturally, that means an economic contraction. It needn’t have been this way if the transition were started sooner, but it wasn’t. Either way, as Kevin Anderson of Manchester University points out in one of his talks, climate change, especially abrupt change, and especially, as a study by Anthoff, Nicholls, and Tol found, sea level rise of +2 meters, will cost US$1.1 trillion in damages, and overall costs, according to Anderson are on the order of USS$5.3 trillion, by 2100. The point is that the loss of this wealth, even discounted, will imply an economic contraction.

    So, either way …

  36. hypergeometric says: “The problem with allowing markets to pursue wind, solar, and storage to deal with climate change, even though these technologies will eventually triumph and dominate the energy landscape, is that it will not happen fast enough to avoid locking in for (at least) centuries terribly damaging consequences for climate.

    Yes it should go faster. But the good thing about the technological revolution is that it makes the extreme worst-case scenarios less likely. It also means that a Trump administration fighting the technologies of the 21st century is predominantly hurting the American economy, while the delay in emission reductions will be limited to a few percent. That changes the politics. Although I fear they are not sufficiently rational and interested to act in the best interest of America. They are mostly interested in filling the pockets of their cronies.

  37. I would just suggest, in a nod to my profession, that there is really no sensible way of ascertaining whether or not any given act, here, “makes the extreme worst-case scenarios less likely” or not. It is important to realize that the nice linear projections produced by the IPCC for policy-making purposes are long term, and heavily averaged abstractions. This means they are functions depicting expected values. In reality, because the question is one of risk management, policies should rather be based upon the probability of extremes and their attendant losses, whether unneeded mitigation on the low end, or insufficient mitigation on the high. The basic fact of the entire climate discussion is that there is so much more room upwards, for things to go wrong, than there is downwards, for things to be okay. To the degree the investment has not been made, by governments, and, specifically, the U.S. government, means that distribution is more like a uniform one than one which has a probability mass concentrated someplace so reasonable risk assessments are possible.

    Sea level rise is just the most evident version of this, where SLR is projected by the IPCC in a nice linear way out to 2100, and is completely neglected beyond that point. In fact, historical data shows, SLR increases as a step function. Yet, whether in Boston or Miami, people are planning for the linear profile.

    I see no evidence that even, given the great strides of solar technology and wind, and storage, which I wholeheartedly support for many other reasons, these will come online at a rate that will matter. Indeed, I agree with Kevin Anderson of Manchester University that, frankly, the only thing that can get us under the +2C limit is a planned, global economic recession.

    BTW, my “many other reasons” for supporting solar and storage, in particular, is I believe, following the thought processes of Buckminster Fuller and Herman Scheer, that political power follows who has control of energy resources, and decentralizing control of energy means returning political power to the people.

  38. Keith McClary says:

    hypergeometric says:
    “These technologies must deploy faster than they are being deployed”

    According to this “we won’t meet the climate warming goals set by the Paris Agreement unless we speed up the spread of clean technology by a full order of magnitude”.
    The problem with very rapid deployment is that if the energy payback time is T and the growth rate is 1/T then the net power produced (during the growth phase) is zero.

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