Tame and Wicked Problems

Reiner Grundmann has a new paper on The rightful placeful of expertise. It’s rather long, but there were a couple of things I wanted to highlight, and it gives me chance to try and stress something I was trying to get at in this post.

The paper has a section where it defends of Science and Technology Studies (STS) against it’s critics, but then goes on to say Social scientists and especially those working in STS have long argued that facts and expertise are socially constructed. This is essentially an illustration of why STS gets criticised. If this doesn’t mean that there isn’t really an objective reality, then what does it mean, and why does it matter?

However, the bit I wanted to focus on was the discussion of Tame and Wicked problems. The idea is that there are some problems that are tame; we can find solutions, and we can implement them. Barring unforeseen circumstances, these problems can be solved. There are others for which there aren’t simple solutions; we can maybe influence them, but we can’t really solve them. Examples might be unemployment, public health, education, crime, etc. There aren’t really simple, or necessarily obvious, ways to address these issues, and we can never really get rid of them completely.

As you might imagine, climate change is also provided as an example of a wicked problem. The paper actually goes so far as to say [w]hat if the climate system is like the world economy, which is growing and shrinking independent of governments’ interventions?, which rather makes it sound like a suggestion that we can’t really influence the climate. I’ll assume that this isn’t actually what is being suggested, but it would be nice if this were clearer.

However, there is a fundamental difference between climate change and the other type of issues that might be wicked problems. While we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, it will accumulate, the climate will continue to change and the impacts will likely get worse. Barring some kind of as yet unknown technological fix, the best we can do at any time is stop it from getting worse. This would require us stopping emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. To use one of the examples in the paper, it’s a bit like unemployment increasing and us only ever being able to stop it from increasing further; we cannot get it to go back down again.

So, if we treat climate change as some kind of wicked problem that we can only ever manage and that will always be there, we’re essentially suggesting that we will continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, that the climate will continue to change, and that the impacts will continue to get worse. That seems like a very unsatisfactory way to deal with this issue, especially as there is actually a solution; stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere!

This is not to suggest that addressing climate change is going to be easy, and that there aren’t major political, societal, and technological factors that need to be considered. However, we do know how to stop anthropogenically-driven climate change; reduce our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere and ultimately get net emissions to zero. This may be difficult, there will be all sorts of hurdles in the way, but that doesn’t change that there is a way to address it. Arguing that we shouldn’t actively do so is essentially arguing for simply accepting that the impacts of climate change will continue to get worse.

I don’t really know where to go with this. This just seems to be another social scientist who doesn’t really understand that they’re discussing and hasn’t really bothered to spend much talking with those who do1. This is an important issue, and it’s clear that there are many factors to be considered. This will involve people from many different disciplines, with a range of different expertise. However, it’s still important that those who regard themselves as in a position to give advice as to how we should be dealing with this issue, at least have a decent understanding of the basics. Why should people take their advice seriously if it seems clear that they don’t?

1To be fair, it’s not just social scientist who can discuss, with confidence, something they don’t really understand.

Update:
It seems that some have interpreted my last paragraph as implying that social scientists, in general, don’t understand this, which wasn’t what I was intending (even though I can see why it might be interpreted that way). I do think this is a topic that should involve many different disciplines and that social, as well as physical and natural, scientists should be playing an important role. However, this still requires some understanding of the basics of this topic, which seems to be lacking in some cases.

Links:
The rightful place of expertise. (paper by Reiner Grundmann)
Being wicked.
The benefits of acting now, rather than later.
Less science, more social science.

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88 Responses to Tame and Wicked Problems

  1. BBD says:

    Framing climate change as a wicked problem is naughty 🙂

    As you say, it isn’t fundamentally intractable, just very difficult. But wicked casts a rhetorical shadow over the discussion.

  2. Willard says:

    AGW is first and foremost a business model problem:

  3. Ken Fabian says:

    I think “…only ever manage and that will always be there.” – does not necessarily mean – “we will continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere”. (Although we aren’t doing well at inducing a shift to zero emissions.)

    We can bring emission under control but still expect significant consequences to persist and to manage; we can and should argue for emissions control on the basis of avoiding worse consequences, not on the basis that the problem will be fixed and there will be no consequences.

    Expecting “…that the climate will continue to change, and that the impacts will continue to get worse” – seems clear to me, even with emissions under control; we should expect the climate to continue changing and expect that adaptation will be needed. Some consequences (like sea level rise) will be expected to continue to grow.

    The difference between fixing the problem and limiting the consequences may be large and significant but I’d like to see serious government interventions at least attempted before concluding “the climate system is like the world economy, which is growing and shrinking independent of governments’ intervention”.

    Despite 3 decades of knowing better that kind of intervention has not yet occurred – governments (like my own nation’s) going into international negotiations with strong anti-ambition, intending to come away with the lowest targets and least obligations to act. Even actively seeking allies in undermining and limiting the whole process. Here in Australia we are only just beginning to see indications of the collapse of climate science denial within mainstream politics – with denial and obstruction seen more widely as “extremist” and promoting action as reasonable. We are getting more ambition for a transition to renewable energy (in the electricity sector); the alarmist fears of economic ruin from committing to that transition no longer resonate.

    I think we are at or near a significant tipping point, where real ambition to have serious policy interventions is emerging and opposition to it is diminishing – but we need time to see if that can take us beyond slowing emissions growth to actual, significant reductions.

  4. Ken,

    We can bring emission under control but still expect significant consequences to persist and to manage; we can and should argue for emissions control on the basis of avoiding worse consequences, not on the basis that the problem will be fixed and there will be no consequences.

    Indeed, focusing on emission reductions doesn’t mean that there won’t be other issues to consider. However – as you probably accept – while emissions continue, the climate will continue to change and the impacts will continue to get worse.

  5. angech says:

    ATTP “As you might imagine, climate change is also provided as an example of a wicked problem. The paper actually goes so far as to say [w]hat if the climate system is like the world economy, which is growing and shrinking independent of governments’ interventions?, which rather makes it sound like a suggestion that we can’t really influence the climate. I’ll assume that this isn’t actually what is being suggested, but……”
    I am sure I saw a reference to Judith Curry saying exactly this only a few days ago. Will look it up if you think it relevant.
    Wicked problems seem to have a time component and a nightmare component, just when you think you have solved it the next time frame comes along. Hence will this nightmare never end song.

  6. At another level, without seeing/knowing Grundmann’s definitions for wicked and tame, the general definition isn’t just that we don’t know how to ultimately solve a wicked problem, but rather that we don’t know how to do so without breaking something else and having to iterate around to fix that, but that impairs solving the first thing, and lather, rinse, repeat.

    On that, I don’t think there is much arguing that climate is the mother of all wicked problems.

    I realize, that the key quote you wanted to highlight was

    [w]hat if the climate system is like the world economy, which is growing and shrinking independent of governments’ interventions?

    and as you say, which might suggest that we don’t even have any idea what to do even in the abstract, but even though we do, it is still wicked because we actually don’t seem how to do what we know we must do.

    I can quite easily imagine – counterfactually – a world where we were actually cutting emissions at 3%, 5%, 7%, 10%, pick a “crazy” number per year. And, simultaneously, the WMO and GCP were dutifully, accurately reporting annually that atmospheric concentrations and cumulative emissions and temperatures kept hitting new records, and the public and corporations and politicians would just throw up their hands and say “What is the point of this? You promised me a pony if I was good! Where’s my pony!?”… At even at these most basic cognitive heuristics bad-wirings, it is a truly wicked problem…

  7. I suspect Reiner Grundmann has something of a chip on his shoulder regarding climate science, having, arguably, read too much into the so-called ‘Climategate’ emails.
    https://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2012/05/interview-reiner-grundmann.html

  8. Willard says:

    Sometimes, there are simpler solutions than wicked problemists might presume:

    Jones challenges the classic conservation wisdom that we must first precisely understand the reasons for a species’ decline and then restore its habitat. Instead, he argues that scientists must tweak the limiting factors on a species’ population – food, nesting sites, competition, predation, disease – with practical fieldwork. “If there’s a shortage of food, you start feeding. If there’s a shortage of nest sites, you put up nest boxes. You don’t need endless PhD students studying a species for 20 years.” Conservation science, he argues, is often too remote. “Do you sit back and monitor a sick patient or do you treat them and see what works? A lot of species have been studied to extinction.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/26/its-very-easy-to-save-a-species-how-carl-jones-rescued-more-endangered-animals-than-anyone-else

  9. billbedford says:

    >While we continue to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, it will accumulate, the climate will continue to change and the impacts will likely get worse. Barring some kind of as yet unknown technological fix, the best we can do at any time is stop it from getting worse. This would require us stopping emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Good luck with that, especially the part where you have to get the Chinese and Indians onside. After all the effort they have put into industrialising they are likely to think that adapting to climate change is not going to be such a big deal.

  10. Steven Mosher says:

    willard, sounds like a pragmatist

  11. @billbedford

    Maybe stay on point? It makes it so much more interesting for the rest of the readers!

    He’s stating, quite evidently for all but dragon-slayer, what is required. Not the the easiness or difficulty in doing so. Capiche?

    The latter point is the hard/wicked part. But *what* needs to be done – getting emissions to net zero – is a lot more clear than “how do we stop crime?”, for instance?

    Grok the difference? (hint: the atmosphere doesn’t recognize “Chinese” CO2, etc.)

  12. Willard says:

    > specially the part where you have to get the Chinese and Indians onside.

    I started to collect these ClimateBall moves.

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Consider the current situation in France.

  14. I find this framing so utterly ridiculous. Crime, wars, unemployment, etc… all are problems that can be traced basically to the beginning of human civilization if not the beginning of life (if one is broad enough with one’s definitions). They also been recognised as problems and society as a whole has at least some will to resolve them. They are also so complex and multicausal that even the best minds don’t actually know how to do it. So yes, it is abundantly clear that these problems that have been with us since the dawn of time in spite of our efforts to solve them are, indeed, wicked in that sense.

    Global warming is a relatively recent problem, with a relatively simple cause, a relatively straightforward solution and for which there are few efforts to solve. Claiming it as a wicked problem is just silly. Is the most defeatist of attitudes. And what’s worse, is it’s own self-fulfilling prophesy.

  15. Steven Mosher says:

    “However, we do know how to stop anthropogenically-driven climate change; reduce our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere and ultimately get net emissions to zero. ”

    easier said than done

    However, we do know how to stop anthropogenically-driven climate change; Pull our emission of CO2 out of the atmosphere and ultimately get net concentrations to zero.

    See, easy to put it into words.

  16. David B. Benson says:

    In my opinion no so-called climate goals will be met. Doing so would requires a sacrifice which is not going to be accepted.

  17. Jeffh says:

    David, it is a sacrifice which would not have been so costly had we acted on the problem twenty years ago, but thanks to the fact that we are a species “uniquely unsuited to do a damned thing about climate change”, in the words of a Harvard psychologist, we have procrastinated and delayed and ignored and downplayed the problem. Clive Hamilton is correct in my opinion in his book ‘Requiem for a Species’. We are committed to going over the cliff. We simply cannot and will not think generations ahead, and this evolutionary programming condemns us to the serious consequenes of climate change. When I read comments from the general public on media sources like Yahoo! in response to articles about climate change it confirms my pessimism. Our species is in deep trouble, no matter how much empirical evidence there is that climate change poses a serious near term threat to our welfare and even survival. As a scientist I have spent the better part of the past 20 years confronting anti-environmental rhetoric. Despite the growing mass of scientific evidence that humans and nature are on an impending collision course, much of the general public greets this with a collective yawn. The forces of denial have won, and I am afraid that we need to own up to that. Doubt is the major weapon in their arsenal. They have known all along that they can never win with science, but they are also aware that they have never needed to. Manufacturing doubt is sufficient enough to keep us stuck in neutral.

  18. rust,

    At another level, without seeing/knowing Grundmann’s definitions for wicked and tame, the general definition isn’t just that we don’t know how to ultimately solve a wicked problem, but rather that we don’t know how to do so without breaking something else and having to iterate around to fix that, but that impairs solving the first thing, and lather, rinse, repeat.

    That’s not a definition I’ve seen before. It does seem that there are multiple interpretations of what “wicked” means. As far as I can see, there are problems that we can solve quite straightforwardly, and others that are much more complicated. I’m not convinced that simple framings like “tame” and “wicked” actually help, especially if someone claims that once something is placed in a category, that then defines the response, or lack thereof.

    Your point about reducing emissions without necessarily having a noticeable impact is well made. Having said that, the consumer doesn’t really care where their energy comes from. Our goal isn’t to emit CO2 into the atmosphere, but to generate energy. Of course, if the alternative is very expensive, then they will care, but if we could replace CO2 emitting sources with source that don’t emit CO2, then I would hope that many wouldn’t then complain if the impact of reducing emissions isn’t immediately obvious.

  19. Steven,

    However, we do know how to stop anthropogenically-driven climate change; Pull our emission of CO2 out of the atmosphere and ultimately get net concentrations to zero.

    No, that really isn’t solving anthropogenically-driven climate change, as I’m sure you well know.

  20. dikranmarsupial says:

    Climate change clearly is a wicked problem … apart from the climate science part, which is relatively straightforward and where the uncertainties, if anything argue clearly in favour of action to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The social, economic and political aspects are where the wickedness lies, but rather than deal with the real problem, it it is easier to pretend the problem lies with the science (and avoid confronting what our lack of action implies for our true values).

  21. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Social scientists and especially those working in STS have long argued that facts and expertise are socially constructed. “ [emphasis mine]

    drop a hammer on your foot and see whether gravity is socially constructed.*

    * undoubtedly borrowed from somewhere, but I can’t remember where.

  22. Dikran,
    It’s possible that this doesn’t mean that there aren’t facts, but that how we uncover them is a social process. This is true (almost obviously so) and is not always clear from what is said. It almost seems as though the suggestion is that the acceptance of these “facts” has some bearing on their significance. This may be true in a political sense, but it would be nice if there were ways to encourage people to accept facts, even if they are inconvenient. Maybe if there were some group of researchers who understood the relationship between science, technology and society, they could help to develop ways in which the public and policy makers could accept some things as true, even if these things imply actions that we might prefer not to take. Just a thought, mind you.

  23. dikranmarsupial says:

    Yes, I am reading a philosophy of science book at the moment, which is discussing similar issues. Personally it seems to me that there is an external reality that is independent of observers, so there are facts, but our understanding of those facts is influenced by anthropological (we are at the mercy of our physical and cognitive hardware) and social factors. That is why I would make a distinction between science as a process and science as the estimate and understanding of the facts. However, a correct understanding of a fact, e.g. gravity, or at least a good approximation is still a correct understanding, no matter how you arrived at it.

    Maybe if there were some group of researchers who understood the relationship between science, technology and society, they could help to develop ways in which the public and policy makers could accept some things as true, even if these things imply actions that we might prefer not to take.

    I think that would be the wicked problem to end all wicked problems, quite literally! ;o)

  24. billbedford says:

    >The latter point is the hard/wicked part. But *what* needs to be done – getting emissions to net zero – is a lot more clear than “how do we stop crime?”, for instance?

    You’re getting there…
    The corollary to your point is that problems are only easy/tame when you have the hubris to believe you have “The Solution™”. If half the world doesn’t share your belief then the problems will always be hard/wicked.

    I hope I don’t have to enumerate the mayhem caused to the world by solutions that start “All we have to do is…”

  25. Bill,
    There’s a difference between something for which we know the solution, even if achieving this would be difficult and complex, and things for which we don’t really have a solution. The point is that what we need to do to address AGW is known (getting net emissions to ~zero) even if we don’t know how we should do this, or if there are others that we need to take into account (as there are).

  26. Dave_Geologist says:

    I suspect Reiner Grundmann has something of a chip on his shoulder

    I also note that his blog post is dated mid-2012. Long after multiple independent inquiries had found no evidence of wrongdoing (other than rudeness, although there was of course the illegal GRU hacking and the subsequent (mis)handling of stolen goods). If he couldn’t be bothered to read the inquiry reports, he could have gone to SkepticalScience for a nice summary. Some of the reports may have come out after he wrote his initial drafts, but there’s no excuse for being so misinformed by 2012. If the paper is similar, he clearly Did Not Do The Research, and it deserved to be rejected four times, not three.

  27. Reiner Grundmann published a book called The Power of Scientific Knowledge in which he appears to compare climate science with race science used by Nazis. For example:

    Race science developed tools for the classification of races and individuals who were then identified for specific “treatment.” This knowledge was keenly taken up by several governments. In Germany these policies were taken to the extreme with the extermination policies in the Holocaust. In this sense race science was extremely powerful in practice. Due to this history, it is quite common for commentators to deny the contemporary scientific status that was held by eugenics and race science. In our view this is little more than wishful thinking.

    Climate science has made the case for anthropogenic global warming and spent much energy on providing proof in this respect. The debate has been immensely politicized but with little practical effect. GHG emissions are not falling in line with the scientific recommendations. In this sense, climate science has proven ineffective for policy making. It failed to identify the levers for action which could make a difference in practice.

    There is an eerie similarity between race science and climate science in that both see their services as essential for solving pressing social problems.

  28. Dave_Geologist says:

    I had a look at the Wiki definition of a wicked problem, which gives ten criteria (or six for application outside a planning context). Infuriatingly, neither it nor the primary literature says whether you need to satisfy all ten, some or only one of the criteria. Palm hits forehead and I ask myself why people question my low opinion of STS! Anyway, the six:

    1. The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution.
    2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
    3. Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.
    4. Every wicked problem is essentially novel and unique.
    5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a ‘one shot operation.’
    6. Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.

    So in this case we don’t need to know whether it’s all or some. WRT climate action, the answer is “all of the above”.

    1. Les gilets jaunes.
    2. Absent unicorn-driven CO2 drawdown, it’s with us for millennia, which is in policy terms indistinguishable from forever.
    3. There are economic, other environmental and social-justice trade-offs.
    4. We’ve only got one planet, and impacts are global.
    5. Sorta. For instance, the response to a fuel tax increase might be different in the USA vs. France vs. the UK
    6. We can’t change the laws of physics.

    Of course, just because a problem is wicked, that doesn’t mean we can’t, shouldn’t or won’t do something about it. And that even partial solutions are not a very, very good thing. Consider Wiki’s list of other examples: natural hazards, healthcare, the AIDS epidemic, pandemic influenza, international drug trafficking, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, waste and social injustice. Compare hurricane and tsunami prediction or life expectancy and morbidity today with that a hundred or a thousand years ago; the indefinite survival through retrovirals of HIV-positive people with the death sentence it was two or three decades ago; the successful suppression of flu epidemics through vaccination, year-in, year-out; less success on drugs but El Chapo; the START and SALT treaties; the extreme rarity of a TMI, Chernobyl or Fukushima compared to tanker sinkings or railroad-car or refinery explosions, which IIRC have in many cases killed more people in one incident than nuclear power has in its entire history; the spread of green and blue bins and the campaign against plastic microbeads; compare the life of the most downtrodden Western citizen with that of a 19th-century plantation slave, indentured labourer or serf.

    Hey, you know what? We’re pretty good at solving this wicked-problem stuff when we put our minds to it! Or at least greatly ameliorating it. Even the one which is most like climate change, but which they omitted, the ozone hole.

    WRT climate science, the answer is “none of the above”. Unless you trivialise it to the point where questions like “how much water is in this bucket” is wicked because it hasn’t got a yes-no answer. And “is there 1.27 litres in this bucket” is wicked because there’s some uncertainty in any measurement and it could be 1.270013 litres. Of course, as with all science there are demonstrably wrong answers (2 litres; CO2 is not a greenhouse gas; the CO2 increase came from volcanoes), as well as provisionally or approximately right ones.

  29. Clive Best says:

    The real problem is the solution or how to stop emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. In the same vein full employment is the solution to the problem of unemployment. Both solutions are easier said than done. Somehow we would need to convince everyone on earth to stop emissions of CO2. Doing that is indeed a wicked problem.

  30. dikranmarsupial says:

    It is hard to see how such rhetoric is acceptable in social science.

    I think the eugenics movement is a salutary lesson for science (and it is not denied in statistics, but understandably not advertised either), but I don’t see what is gained by this. The value of the science does not depend on the intentions of the scientists, it depends on whether it is correct, and how society acts on the science is not simply a scientific matter, but also a matter of ethics (especially in the case of race science), economics, politics etc. Those issues lie outside the remit of science.

    “It failed to identify the levers for action which could make a difference in practice.”

    That isn’t the job of climate science.

    STS seems a strange place.

  31. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks ATTP. Now I don’t feel guilty about commenting on the 2102 post having only skimmed it. Such spectacular ignorance. Not Even Wrong.

  32. Dave_Geologist says:

    Both solutions are easier said than done.
    True Clive. But in both cases, partial solutions are much, much better than no solution. And early solutions are much, much better than late solutions.

  33. Chubbs says:

    One common thread to all of the “wicked” problems is that they are someone else’s problem

  34. Joshua says:

    I think that climate change is a “wicked problem” because perceiving the problem is linked to mental processes that people tend to find difficult, specifically probabilistic reasoning about low probability/high damage risk over long time horizons, where individual action has little perceivsble impact, where the scale of the problem is not readily apparent in our daily experiences, where ideological identity threats are readily connected, etc.

    I think that climate change is relatively unique in that it is like a grab bag of decision-making biases in risk evaluation (like temporal discounting).

  35. Marco says:

    “If the paper is similar, he clearly Did Not Do The Research, and it deserved to be rejected four times, not three.”

    Let’s just point out that his paper was not rejected four times, but it most definitely was changed after its original acceptance – not mentioned at all anywhere, and the indicated acceptance date is not the date of the current version. To mention just one minor detail: the current version acknowledges in a footnote (3) that it is based primarily on “critical” sources. That acknowledgment was not present in the originally accepted version that was published online (which I sadly cannot find anywhere anymore – I think I printed it, but it may have been thrown out now). There were some other and considerable changes, too, including, IIRC, removing a suggestion that Jones was showing double standards in peer review in relation to a paper by Gavin Schmidt.

  36. JCH says:

    It’s wicked because the Chinese and the Indians are addicted and will wickedly refuse to stop.

    Being superior, we could solve it, of course.

  37. Chubbs says:

    As long as it’s someone else’s problem it is hard to build political consensus for a solution. Compared to the other problems listed in the blog: unemployment, education, public health, and crime; climate change is the most remote, and therefore, may end up the most wicked of them all.

  38. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks for the clarification Marco. But then why is he complaining? Wasn’t it just peer review working as it should, pointing out flaws which were corrected, at least the the extent that the paper finally got accepted somewhere. My own most cited paper was rejected at the first time of asking, with one of the reviews being very unfair IIRC. It was substantially rewritten (expanded with more evidence) and successfully submitted elsewhere..

  39. dikranmarsupial says:

    One of my best papers was rejected from three journals (reviews variable, some very good & constructive, others less so). Ended up a rather long paper due to the inclusions.

  40. Even though it’s initially frustrating, I’ve always found that my papers are substantially improved if I get a harsh referee’s report.

  41. The word “wicked” is unfortunate. Primary education is a wicked problem. You are just after finishing teaching them how to read and write, and a new batch of illiterate five-year-olds arrive! Reducing carbon dioxide emissions to zero will take 50-100 years, so for the time being this problem is wicked. That is a good thing to know, because wicked and tame problems are solved in a different way.

  42. In Boston, the adjective wicked has a completely different meaning.

    There’s also a difference between mathematically challenging and politically challenging.

  43. dikranmarsupial says:

    It isn’t difficult to think of papers that could have done with the reviewers being rather more harsh than they were, to the detriment of the author’s academic reputation.

    The label “wicked” might not help if it is perceived as synonymous with “insoluble”. I can see how some might want to promote the idea for reasons other than academic ones.

  44. Being a Bostonian used to using the term “wicked” as in “wicked good” (poor grammar intentional; I see in the Urban Dictionary the roots are traced to West Side Story), I note that it has acquired a third meaning. I remember Andy Revkin making a big deal of it, and don’t know if he was the originator or a promoter of the idea of the “wicked” problem. What it means is difficult, complex, even insoluble, given the variables of knowledge, problem solving, and human resistance. Here’s a recent podcast with the excellent Chris Hayes: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/exploring-wicked-problem-climate-change-andrew-revkin-podcast-transcript-ncna900526

    Here’s a longish extract from the beginning that I hope tempts a serious review of bias and prejudice, particularly coming from the pseudoskeptic arena:

    So, a little while ago, I retweeted an article about just some of the crazy climate chaos that’s been happening this summer. I mean, specifically, there were wildfires in Greece that were driving people to jump into the sea to escape them, and there were a lot of deaths there. And I retweeted it, and I said something like, “The crisis continues, it’s coming for all of us.” And someone that I follow on Twitter and really like, a writer that I really like, said something like, “It would be nice if the television news would tell us about this.” And I got a little defensive, I will admit, because I work in television news and have a little bit of a complex, I think, like a guilt … Frankly, like a guilty complex about how much we do or don’t cover climate. And I responded and basically said, “Look, when we have done it, when we do do climate, it is a palpable ratings killer, and so the incentives aren’t great.”

    This caused like a mini-uproar. I wouldn’t call it a full-fledged uproar, it was like an uproarlet. There was a little … There was, like, clickbaity articles about it, people were angry at me. I think there’s a little bit of breaking the fourth wall when you invoke ratings or you talk about that, and I understand why that frustrates people. I think one response is like, “Look, your job is to be a journalist and cover the news, and not just chase ratings,” and that’s true. It’s also true that attention, where attention flows in the current news economy creates a set of incentives. And that’s not even just true of commercial media or corporate media, which I think people really fixated on. Attention flows in ways that are often outside the control of those of us working to get people’s attention.
    ….
    But the other thing is particular to climate, which is that climate is a particularly difficult problem. It’s like this particular problem that has a bunch of attributes that are almost, if you designed a problem to invade us in all our weak spots, it would be this problem.

  45. Having myself driven Andy Revkin to intense dislike for years by saying he’s not good enough (and probably feeding trolls), and followed Chris Hayes, etc., I am listening to the dam’ thing. There’s a lot of intelligent analysis in there. What that says to me is that intelligent analysis isn’t going to get us there. On reporting, talking about Dave Roberts:

    It’s still a laughably insufficient ratio to the magnitude of the problem

    Arguing about if there is a problem is still happening, and the intention to sow doubt and delay has found many honest dupes. It’s dragon’s teeth! Interestingly, Cadmus was ” the bringer of literacy and civilization,”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon%27s_teeth_(mythology)

  46. The paper actually goes so far as to say [w]hat if the climate system is like the world economy, which is growing and shrinking independent of governments’ interventions?, which rather makes it sound like a suggestion that we can’t really influence the climate. I’ll assume that this isn’t actually what is being suggested, but it would be nice if this were clearer.

    Did people who follow the friends of Reiner Grundmann better notice any uproar about this sacrilege? I do not know his politics (I can guess given his holocaust comparison), but at least his tribe tends to claim that any minimal change of the American mixed socialist-capitalist system towards more humanity will lead to economic collapse and people having to eat their dog. Surely they would agree that the government can influence the economy.

    Also interesting that Reiner Grundmann compares global warming, which will only get warmer on human time scales* with phenomena that go up and down. Probably a coincidence.

    * There unfortunately do not seem to be enough proponents of geo-engineering to go back to the old temperature to stop sea level rise and save my place of birth.

  47. Willard says:

    FWIW, you might like:

    [Reiner] started his academic career with an analysis of the legacy of Marx’s theory for the understanding of environmental problems.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/sts-as-science-or-politics/#comment-101519

  48. Joshua says:

    Very much related to the question of whether science is socially constructed…

    Podcast discussion of the human “justification machine” – much of which is closely related to motivated reasoning, and, IMO the tribal aspect of the climate wars:

    https://art19.com/shows/the-ezra-klein-show/episodes/5bce189f-80ba-4893-bb53-7b82c90cdaed

    The dude being interviewed is the author of:

    https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Unpersuadables.html?id=umIjCQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

    Which I haven’t read, but at the risk of offending my “skeptical” friends looks rather interesting considering the climate wars (to make my “skeptic” friends feel better – in the podcast Storr is pretty relativistic about moral superiority).

  49. Harry Twinotter says:

    “Social scientists and especially those working in STS have long argued that facts and expertise are socially constructed”.

    I get nervous when statements like that get made. I sort of think I understand what this really means, but some seem to get the notion that scientific facts are somehow a product of human culture, and therefore scientific facts can be rejected just like a particular culture can be rejected.

  50. angech says:

    I have to take a small break and fix up issues in real life. Thank you for letting me comment so much this year. Happy Xmas to all here especially SM and DK and JC and host.
    Will try to read and not comment for a month but the will can be weak.
    Very therapeutic, blogging.
    Thanks Joshua, as well.

  51. Dave_Geologist says:

    The Unpersuadables is well worth a read Joshua. In places it may remind you of a Borat movie (WTF, have these people no self-awareness? Can’t they see how this will read?) The Monckton chapter is particularly illuminating, although I half-persuaded myself that it was a Poe and he was consciously taking the piss out of the interviewer.

  52. izen says:

    @-ATTP
    “… especially as there is actually a solution; stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere! ”

    That is not a solution, it is the end state the solution is required to achieve.

    The solution is to significantly reduce, at a rapid rate, the quantity of fossil fuels we (individuals -> global society) burn.
    That conflicts with the benefits to the individual and the economic system of increasing consumption of fossil fuels. Rather like the role of refined sugar, for a large majority of the global population fossil fuels are the cheapest and only way they can obtain the energy needed to live just above the subsistence (malnutrition) level.
    For a wealthy minority excessive consumption of fossil fuel is a key component of economic value and social status. As with obesity and diabetes the addictive consumption carries long term risks.

    The problem may be wicked, not because a desirable end state cannot be defined, (~zero CO2 emissions) but because the action required causes immediate harms, or loss of current benefit for a indeterminate future gain. Or more likely, reduced further deterioration.

  53. dikranmarsupial says:

    ““Social scientists and especially those working in STS have long argued that facts and expertise are socially constructed”.

    There obviously are elements of science that are “socially constructed”, for instance Ockam’s razor, which is the preference for simple explanations over more complicated one with the same explanatory power. This is a socially agreed guideline, with no firm rational basis AFAICS. However is is in accordance with common sense and has been found to be a very good guideline most of the time (c.f. Einstein’s “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”).

    However, the fact that there are some elements of subjectivity in science doesn’t mean that it is worthless or that you can discard any of it arbitrarily, but I suspect the above will be interpreted as meaning that by some.

  54. izen,
    That’s a fair point. Getting net emissions to ~zero is what’s required, but not really the solution (although, it is what I was meaning what we need to do to “solve” anthropogenically-driven climate change).

    The problem may be wicked, not because a desirable end state cannot be defined, (~zero CO2 emissions) but because the action required causes immediate harms, or loss of current benefit for a indeterminate future gain. Or more likely, reduced further deterioration.

    That is indeed an issue.

  55. Willard says:

    Wickedness is a bogus scientific concept. It basically defines a class of problem as not amenable to analysis. It escapes even systems theory by the uniqueness of the solution required. Appealing to wickedness is indistinguishable from appealing to ignorance.

    There’s only one thing that is wicked – art. Think about it. The solution must be unique, but it doesn’t really solve it, and it works only once.

    I’d call Poe if I didn’t know the authors seem dead serious. So I’d say they wickedly poed themselves.

  56. Willard says:

    Here’s something truly wicked:

    Kidding. There’s nothing wicked in suggesting that a Harvard professor may be a tad more conservative than portrayed by the Murdoch engine and other freedom fighters outlets.

  57. BBD says:

    Wickedness is a bogus scientific concept. It basically defines a class of problem as not amenable to analysis.

    Exactly, which is why I suggested in the first comment on this thread that it is really just a rhetorical trick to suppress discussion.

    There’s only one thing that is wicked – art. Think about it. The solution must be unique, but it doesn’t really solve it, and it works only once.

    I like that 🙂

  58. izen says:

    I would concede a ‘wicked problem’ is an ill-defined category. When it is used in the context of climate change it is most often a framing device to negate any discussion of policy choices.

    But problems do vary from simple to complex to intractable.
    If the policy actions required to meet the ethical benefit of solving one problem conflict, or directly contradict the policy actions that are also understood to be for the general benefit then choice becomes ambiguous.

  59. izen,
    Sure, but doesn’t that make the “tame/wicked” framing just too simplistic?

  60. izen says:

    I think that the “tame/wicked” framing is fashionable.
    It would be simplistic to call it a difficult problem, because the actions required to reduce CO2 emissions are in direct opposition to the requirement to increase energy consumption for the individual wealth and the collective economic health.
    Especially when the cheapest and easiest way to increase energy consumption with the least disruption to existing business models and national economies is to use fossil fuels.

    The balance of choice will shift if the costs of climate change are overtly higher than abandoning fossil fuels, or alternatives are significantly cheaper while still as easy and safe to transport and use as oil.

    Increasing societal resilience and adaption to the inevitable warming/sea level rise/ecological disruption will be the focus of policy activism until climate change damage exceeds renewable costs.
    If we are lucky.

  61. Joshua says:

    izen –

    until climate change damage exceeds renewable costs.

    I, for one at least, don’t know what thst means without a quantification of externalities.

  62. Willard says:

  63. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “I, for one at least, don’t know what thst means without a quantification of externalities.”

    It would take a lot of unpacking.
    Especially if you want to cost various externalities over different timescales.

    Perhaps a local historical example of how government resists regulatory change until it is forced upon them by an obvious cost of the failure to do so.

    In Dec 1952 in London there was the Great Smog. It shut down the capital and killed +4000 people. The Government resisted for 4 years, claiming existing measures were already reducing pollution as was the transition from solid fuel for domestic heating to gas and electricity. But eventually passed an act stopping the burning of coal in certain areas (smokeless zones) and tightening regulations on industry.
    This further reduced the level of industry in the area and placed a burden on domestic premises that had used solid fuels.
    But a specific set of circumstances had revealed the potential (external?) costs of failing to regulate the use of high sulphur coals exceeded the costs (economic and political) of banning and regulating a cheap source of energy used by a significant fraction of the population.

  64. Ken Fabian says:

    I’m of the opinion that we don’t need emissions pricing based on the expected costs of the externalities – something that will hard to quantify and will always have lots of room for disagreement – but rather, emissions pricing needs only to makes low emissions options lower cost than high emissions ones. That is, the purpose is not to include the costs of the externalities in the market price but to induce changes in future usage and investment choices.

    I suspect – but am really only guessing – that would be a lot lower carbon price than one intended to (as best as we can) reflect the full and true externalised costs.

  65. Joshua says:

    izen –

    If we say… “until the cost of climate change obviously and unambiguously exceeds the cost of renewables, at the level of how people live day to day,” then I would agree.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about “indeterminate future gain,” or I would add mitigation of indeterminate future loss. People just aren’t very good at making decisions on the basis of such concepts. At the point where it is obvious that we’re making decisions to mitigate imminent cost, or realize imminent gain, then we see how useless the wicked/tame framework is.

  66. Steven Mosher says:

    “Here’s something truly wicked:”

    ya willard, full blown anti science, and on twitter no less.

  67. @willard – Thanks for the pointer to Foreign Affairs article re: Nordhaus via Jason Hinckel (and an aside: really appreciate/prefer when you are “direct” in comments, etc., than Eli-lite vaguerisms. That’s me, but just saying… generally/genuinely appreciate regardless… )

    @Ken Fabian – I think the “carbon pricing” thing is a classic supply/demand, pricing-discovery thang in multiple dimensions, but as I understand it, on the displacement of high-emissions intensity options in favour of lower-emissions options – that’s basically the McKinsey curves. You start to get traction at the margin across these industries/applications as the carbon price goes up (over time). The SCC (present value of integrated future premature deaths, flooded basements, etc.) is quite separate, and there is no reason that the two arrive at the same “price” in theory, or by the same time. In other words, yes, a low carbon price delivers the largest and lowest-hanging and quickest displacements in terms of emissions-generating options, but there is no reason that has to be reflective of what the true SCC is. SCC has trouble even getting into the price-discovery. Especially temporally…

  68. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “People just aren’t very good at making decisions on the basis of such concepts.”

    My impression is that the future discount rate for the ethical value of an action is an order of magnitude greater than the economic future discount rate.
    And possibly non-linear.

    Meanwhile U.S. with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait ‘took note’ of the last IPCC report, blocking the climate conference wording that welcomed the science.
    It may not be the problem, but some of the actors, that are wicked.

  69. Willard says:

    > full blown anti science

    You mean, full-blown-anti-dismal-science-orthodoxy.

    Please keep your vilification straight.

    ***

    If only I knew when I’m vague and when I’m direct, Rust. I’m Eli-heavy, BTW. Unless he gained a few pounds since we met.

  70. Steven Mosher says:

    “You mean, full-blown-anti-dismal-science-orthodoxy.”

    ya ya, I went over their “new” no growth macro economic “model”

    flat earthers have the same kinda thing.
    so does pressure cooker Ned.

    It would be interesting to poll those types on things like JFK, vaccines, UFOs, GMOs and 9/11.

    Here is bettering to Lewandowski type correlations.

  71. Willard says:

    > I went over their “new” no growth macro economic “model”

    I responded to that comment in the other thread:

    Should be easy to show your homework, then.

    There’s nothing very sciency about anchoring one’s 2,5% discount rate with one as high as 5%.

    The response was the discount rates were empirical.

    I checked back, here’s what William says:

    The present version substantially revised both the historical growth estimates and the projections of per capita output growth. Future growth is based largely on a survey of experts conducted by Peter Christensen and colleagues at Yale University. Growth in global per capita output over the 1980–2015 period was 2.2% per year. Growth in global per capita output from 2015 to 2050 is projected at 2.1% per year, whereas that to 2100 is projected at 1.9% per year. The revisions are updated to incorporate the latest output, population, and emissions data and projections. Population data and projections through 2100 are from the United Nations. CO2 emissions are from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center and are updated using various sources. Non-CO2 radiative forcings for 2010 and projections to 2100 are from projections prepared for the IPCC Fifth Assessment.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/114/7/1518

    I see no 5% there.

    He mentions later on that he refers to discount rate when he speaks of the discount rate of goods, and that he calibrated his model to get a 4.25 return-of-investment, which represents a global average. He calls his approach “descriptive” and opposes it to Stern’s “prescriptive” approach, as if fixing the future rates to historical averages contained no prescription. I bet bankers would have appreciated we stuck to the rates of the 80s.

    The last paragraph is worth quoting in full:

    The reasons for the changes in economic estimates are important to understand. Data revisions have tended to increase measured output because statisticians “find” more output, and because of methodology changes. One important change has been from the movement among IAMs from market exchange rates (MER) (typical in models a decade ago) to PPP. As an example, estimated nominal world output in 2005 with MER was $46 trillion in the 2006 IMF database. In the 2016 estimate using PPP, world output in 2005 was $67 trillion, or 50% higher. Because damages are generally proportional to output, increasing output increases the SCC in a proportional fashion.

    An academic way to say that the modulz came half-way too short in a 10-years span.

  72. izen says:

    @-W/SM
    Are these wonderful Grroowwth rates achieved without any further slow-downs, recessions of depressions in the economic system ?

    Do economic models, like climate models, omit the effect of a financial collapse/volcanic eruption every few decades because we don’t know what, when, or how they are caused, even though the historical record indicates they are a regular feature.?

  73. Willard says:

    The 4.25 rate has been achieved by 50% more growth than expected, iZen.

    To give you an idea of the size of the capital growth required, divide your favorite rate by 32. For a 4.25 rate, that’s 7,5, which means that in seven years in a half, your capital doubles. If in 2005, it was 67 trillion, by 2012 it should have been 134, and by 2020 the world economy should be 268 trillion. Roughly speaking.

    I’ll let otters work out the size of the economy by 2100.

  74. izen says:

    @-W
    “I’ll let otters work out the size of the economy by 2100.”

    Of more interest would be the distribution.

  75. To give you an idea of the size of the capital growth required, divide your favorite rate by 32. For a 4.25 rate, that’s 7,5, which means that in seven years in a half, your capital doubles.

    What are you referring to here?

    Usually the heuristic is “The Rule of 72.(or~70)”.

    Years to double (anything) ~= 72/growth rate = 72/4.25 ~= 17 years. No? (1.0425^17 ~= 2, qed)

    Are you dealing with “capital” in some special/specific way? (and it doesn’t seem so, because I think you are referencing global GDP in those 2005, 2012 figures?)

  76. Willard says:

    > Years to double (anything) ~= 72/growth rate = 72/4.25 ~= 17 years. No?

    Thanks. Indeed it does, but only when people are paying attention. Otherwise you can tell them that you can double your capital every seven years with only a 4% return rate.

    I once got a teacher that told us he’ll make a mistake each and every single session. If we didn’t caught it, he’d tell us at the beginning of the next one. That got our attention.

    It became a ClimateBall gambit, if you will. When dealing with auditors, it’s quite useful. Once they jump on a nit they get stuck, like the proverbial monkey caught by his own unwillingness to let go of the banana.

    (No, I never got such a teacher – it’s a story I got somewhere, and I added the trick to my own arsenal decades ago. Should be the kicker to my next post, come to think of it.)

    ***

    > Are you dealing with “capital” in some special/specific way?

    I’m not even sure I’m understanding William’s numbers properly. Talking about money over time can get fuzzy fast. Check his table 5 – his 5% looks quite implausible to me, more so in fact than RCP8.5 could be:

    https://www.pnas.org/content/114/7/1518/tab-figures-data

    The point of my last comment was to distinguish two things – what he calls “growth in global per capita output,” which is based on expert’s estimates, and the “the goods discount rate,” which gets obscured by talking of discount rate simpliciter.

    That Nordhaus and Stern aren’t using the same concept of discount rate simply looked noteworthy.

  77. Willard says:

    Beyond economics, things get also murky. For instance, there’s this argument that planting trees is good, but grassland and wetland restoration is even better in some places:

    Not sure how this increases GDP.

    At some point there’s very little difference between Mother Nature and Magic:

  78. Dave_Geologist says:

    There are multiple trade-offs between grassland and trees Willard. Obviously the first thing to do (or rather not do) is don’t cut down or burn existing ones. I would also doubt the efficacy of ploughing up grassland for trees or clearing forest to plant grass. There’s usually a soil or climate reason why one rather than the other has established naturally, and the other probably wouldn’t grow well. In the case of the picture above, how long did it take to grow that root system? If it’s 500 years, that’s too slow if you want to draw down CO2 this century, and you’d be better planting trees. If it’s 5 years, I expect grass wins. Although you’d have to calculate the biomass per hectare. A tree has more per square metre, but trees have gaps between them and grasses don’t. Most of the commercial plantations in Scotland were established on acid grasslands underlain by peat. They plough it into ridges up to a metre high so they have somewhere dry to plant the saplings. I’ve traversed some of these doing fieldwork, and it’s a nightmare to go across the furrows, which are still there even with mature trees grown (the foresters didn’t care because they’d go in with heavy machinery and clear-fell). In the short term, oxidation of the drying peat probably makes that a carbon source, not a sink. Scotland has 1.2 million hectares of acid grassland, and only 2,000 hectares of other semi-natural grassland. Since that’s the only part of the UK with room to plant lots of trees, maybe it’s better to leave well alone and fund tree-planting elsewhere.

    I don’t buy into the soil ecosystem claim, at least not without more evidence. Trees have extensive root systems too, and mycorrhiza. There used to be a scheme here where people got grants to replace clear-felled alien fir or spruce with native trees like Scots Pine. That was for habitat and wildlife benefits – the alien trees were preferred commercially because they’re faster growing, which probably means they’re also better for carbon sequestration. Now that’s a wicked problem. Plant the alien trees and get a barren forest, or plant the native trees and get a biodiverse forest, but only until the faster warming adversely impacts the communities.

    Unsurprisingly, the accounting for carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services is difficult. The UK still seems to be working out how to do it.

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/methodologies/uknaturalcapitaldevelopingseminaturalgrasslandecosystemaccounts

    Some trees also offer another service, although that’s back into the 500-year timescale. A while ago I linked to a paper on the post-glacial establishment of a boreal forest. One finding was that bedrock and freshly eroded sediments like glacial till didn’t really weather until the climax pine forest had been established for 500 years. Barren as it makes the forest floor look, the pine-needle carpet favours acid conditions which accelerate weathering. Which of course accelerates geological CO2 drawdown.

  79. Willard says:

    Thanks, Dave. Knew this would interest you.

    The first perspective offered was from someone who studies the impact of using native grasses in Virginia for equine forage. He linked elsewhere to a study that shows how climate change may explain why Mongols withdrew from Hungary in 1242. The second comes from a guy who studies grazing (which seems to matter for places where planting doesn’t work) and underlines the importance of soil biology to change how agriculture is done in the US.

    Both come from Sarah Taber (I really should interview her some day), whom has been critical of the Food Climate Research Network’s “Grazed & Confused” report, if only because carbon capture is a bit more complex than rocket science. Her own pet topic is sequestering carbon with seaweed:

    Per acre, these “blue carbon” ecosystems can take up 20 times more CO2 from the atmosphere than land-based forests. The secret to their carbon-storing success lies not in the plants, but in the rich muck they grow in. As marine plants grow and die, their leaves, roots, stems and branches wind up buried in underwater sediments. These low-oxygen sediments can store carbon for decades or longer.

    https://oceana.org/blog/seaweed-could-be-scrubbing-way-more-carbon-atmosphere-we-expected

    Being a Canuck, planting trees to capture carbon makes sense. However it can become a prejudice. Forests ain’t everywhere. A whole lot gets burned down and release their carbon, like in California. Trees as a one-size-fit-all solution can themselves become a problem:

  80. Dave, if you click on the tweet, you will find many of your questions answered. No idea how well they are answered, this is beyond my expertise. But it may be better to think in terms of comparing soil and vegetation rather than grass and trees. There is much more carbon in soils than there is in vegetation.

  81. Willard says:

    Speaking of soils:

  82. Joshua says:

    Nothing to see here. Just keep moving.

    https://www.arctic.noaa.gov/report-card

    Good thing this is all a hoax wicked problem, or there might be reasons for concern.

  83. jacksmith4tx says:

    Joshua,
    I noticed the NOAA arctic report pointed out the exceptional changes in the biology of the arctic. I have a nagging feeling the the zooplankton and the microscopic food web is unstable, not good.

    Another scientist with another “wicked” problem, ocean plastic.
    https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-riddle-of-roaming-plastics/
    Check out the animation of ocean currents.
    “Ninety-nine percent of the plastic in the ocean is basically missing,” says Erik van Sebille, a physicist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands who’s at the forefront of plastic tracking research. “All the plastic that fragments, sinks, degrades—which is most of it—we have absolutely no idea about.”

  84. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks Victor and Willard. I’ll follow through when I have time. “There is much more carbon in soils than there is in vegetation.” Indeed. Hence ploughing up peat which stores thousands of years ‘worth of carbon to plant anything is probably a bad idea. Or, of course, thawing it, drying it out or letting it catch fire.

    One of the researchers I clocked on to in light of another thread (for something else marine geochemical) mostly works on the nutrient and carbon cycle impacts of seagrass, which IIRC is an important carbon sink as well as a vital habitat. And is threatened in many areas.

  85. Pingback: Five dimensions of climate science reductionism | …and Then There's Physics

  86. It is indeed messy when you have “pundits” and others using slangy terms that imply the opposite of their “official” or dictionary sense. But language has always evolved. It took me several decades to accept “data is” as common usage no longer attached to Latin syntax.

    Moving on, this is interesting (Jeff Masters, Wunderground final paragraph of link below):

    Uh-oh, the lawyers may be getting involved

    I attended the BAMS press conference on Monday in Washington D.C., and heard an interesting talk by an attorney with Earth and Water Law LLC. She told the audience that climate attribution studies are getting sufficiently confident in informing risk to the point where a line may have been crossed where lawyers will get involved. When a disaster strikes, and that disaster was more likely than not to occur due to climate change, we need to ask: did managers and builders who had a duty to protect people and property breach that duty by ignoring the new dangers? She called attention to engineering organizations like ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) and AlChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), which are now reviewing their standards due to climate change considerations.

    https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Seven-Billion-Dollar-Disasters-2017-Likely-Affected-Climate-Change

    I note also that two US “conservative” Supreme Court justices, John Roberts and the “infamous” Brett Kavanaugh seem to want to see the Children’s Lawsuit – https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/us/federal-lawsuit/ – go forward. They’re in their 50s, and appear to want to see how this plays out in our higher courts. Very interesting …

  87. Pingback: 2018: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

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