Friday, March 13, 2009

Sir Nick lashes out

Nicholas Stern, former UK chief economist and lead author of the Stern Report, gave a keynote at the Copenhagen conference. He lacerated politicians for failure to act on scientists' warnings.

Another fine quote came from The Tyndale Center's Kevin Anderson, who said "...scientists have lost patience with our carefully constructed messages being lost in the political noise. And we are now prepared to stand up and say enough is enough."

It will be up to the politicians attending the December conference now.

I'm not sure I live in the same world as the politicians who are behind the reported difficulties in crafting this year's climate bill, or those working on watering down what is possible for the US to sign up to in December. I certainly have no basis of shared knowledge on which to have any serious inquiring discussion with the folks behind the recent denialist conference in New York, the the hundreds of industry lobyists reportedly trying to water down the climate bill.

We live in different worlds.

I've said it before, and I will say it again: if we really want to find out what several degrees of AAT increase can do to global food security, environmental security, and international security, well, this is the way to go about it. I'm prepared, as prepared as I can be, but I've been a military man, an emergency service worker in military or civilian rescue teams, and a self-reliant homesteader for much of my life. I know I can do my part.

I just don't want to have to, again because of experience. I've been part of the response to the kinds of incidents we will get.

Do these people really believe that this many hundreds of thousands of serious, sober, diligent scientists, with all of the inclination scientists have to avoid politicians and public noteriety, would somehow manage to delude ourselves into some mass "AGW conspiracy." You'd have to be somehow beyond normal reality, in some form of delusion, religious, political, ideological, to believe that. Because the scientists are deadly serious, even terrified, of what is going to happen.

Coming out of the other side of the coming decades of climate destabilization, what will we do with the denialists and the feckless politicians? Will we go easy on them? ExxonMobil is already in court, answering for its support of Heartland and Greening Earth and other denialist shops. Will that kind of litigation peter out? I don't think so, especially if the Inupiat case goes in favor of the village. More to come. Much more.

This from the Guardian report on Copenhagen:

"In the conference centre that will also host the December UN negotiations, experts at this week's meeting presented a string of new studies that suggested global warming could strike harder and sooner than expected.

They said carbon emissions have risen more in recent years than anyone thought possible, and the world's natural carbon stores could be losing the ability to soak up human pollution.

The conference also heard that:

· A 4C rise could turn swaths of southern Europe to desert.

· Sea levels will rise twice as fast as official estimates predict.

· Modest warming could unleash a carbon "time bomb" from Arctic soils.

· A failure to cut emissions could render half of the world uninhabitable.

· Rising temperatures could kill off 85% of the Amazon rainforest.

Several experts at the conference warned that temperatures are likely to soar beyond the 2C target set by European politicians, though they are reluctant to say so publicly. "The 2C target is gone and 3C is difficult. I think we're heading for 4C at least," one said.

Oxford University yesterday announced that it would hold a conference in September to discuss the implications of a rise of 4C or more"


Steve said...

The science of climate change is in it infancy. It is important, if you believe in scientific rigor, to listen to the scientists on all sides of this issue. The recent conference on climate change in New York was attended by hundreds of prominent scientists whose view about AGW do not mirror Al Gore's. Please give your students the complete picture so that they can form their own opinions.
One way to look at the "danger" of climate change is to compare the recent $50 trillion dollar haircut to the world's economy to the $9 trillion dollar best estimate of the cost of adapting to global warming. Given a choice, if we could have saved that $50 trillion, we would have $41 trillion left over after fixing the damage of global warming. It is important to keep the issue of global warming in perspective. It must be viewed in the context of other perhaps much more serious problems which pose much graver threats to mankind. Our decisions about renewable energy should be made based on the predicted depletion of fossil fuel resources. It is not necessary to stop using them and in fact we should be expanding oil and gas exploration in the US to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, since there is no immediate alternative to its continued widespread use.

Mick said...

I do present elements of what these people say to my students, but as many of their ideas are so easily falsified, the presentations don't last long.

Easily falsifiable: CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. This is, frankly, laughable at this point. But since we can easily demonstrate in the lab that it is a greenhouse gas, I go over those experiments.

Easily falsifiable: 2008 was a "warming reversal." Just take the following data set, and graph it, or better, do a regression analysis of AAT and CO2 on year:

Year Global AAT CO2
1998 0.492 367.94
1999 0.3089 369.04
2000 0.2774 370.46
2001 0.4054 372.36
2002 0.4598 374.92
2003 0.4719 377.03
2004 0.4478 378.43
2005 0.5223 382.2
2006 0.54 382.94
2007 0.55 383
2008 0.48 385

Either the graph or the analysis, to any reasonable statistician, shows exactly how ridiculous it was that denialists jumped on the slight drop in 2008 AAT (attributable to La Nina) to pretend that global warming has "stopped".

By the way, if you don't happen to know how to run this simple analysis, should you be trying to publish your ideas on climate change so widely? Isn't that irresponsible of you?

Easily falsifiable: Sea level is not rising. Read the recent Guardian article on how Bjorn Lomborg misrepresented (cherry-picked) the data.

Honestly, these guys in New York are either the sort of idiosyncratic-but-passionate advocates there are in every public argument, from quack medicine to racism, or they taken money from ExxonMobil and other firms, laundered through front companies and foundations, to spread their propaganda.

When I go through a few of these items in class carefully and show the students the real numbers on each one, they're fairly outraged at the chicanery of the denialists, and then we get back to the real science.

Steve said...

If your students are convinced by your chart that the world is in peril we are in worse trouble than I thought when it comes to future generations being able to deal with the mess we have created. Ten years does not make a difference to the climate. Your chart shows a correlation between CO2 and temperature, not cause and effect. As I understand it temperature levels have preceeded CO2 rise in the past.

You missed the point in my earlier post. Climate change has been studied for only a few decades, not long enough to base public policy decisions like blanketing Maine's mountains with tax payer funded wind turbines, for a minuscule reduction in overall energy use.

To repeat, the estimate of the cost of responding to the results of climate change is $9 trillion spread out over many years. The ongoing worldwide economic collapse has a current price tag of $50 trillion projected to grow to $100 trillion. In dollar terms climate change is not even on page one of the most serious issues facing this planet.

You are the one standing on the "irrefutable science" soapbox. I have made no claim to have perfect knowledge. Please don't make assumptions about my ability to analyze issues. One of the marks of a great scientist is the desire to be dis-proven. I don't get that sense about you.