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2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1

Posted on 4 January 2020 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Dec 29, 2019 through Sat, Jan 4, 2020

Editor's Pick

There Is No Safe Global Warming

Australia Bushfire - Shutterstock

Australia Bushfire - Shutterstock

Safety is something we all crave. It’s human nature.

And so perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve spent the past decade or so outlining what a “safe” level of global warming is. Language reflecting the conception of “safe” global heating abounds in scientific literature, climate negotiations, and the press. The Paris Agreement enshrined the idea that 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as pretty safe. Advocacy from small island nations and others has made a compelling case that 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would be safer still, allowing, at least, for their continued existence. At various times, each of these levels of heating have been called a “guardrail,” “defence line,” and “buffer zone.” On one side, dangerous climate change. On the other, something we can figure out and adapt to if we play our cards right.

Recently, the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold appears to have won out as our best bet for safety. And over the next decade, the world will decide its fate of whether it can limit heating to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures. But we don’t have to wait to find out if that level of heating is safe because the answer is right in front of us. Spoiler: It’s not.

There Is No Safe Global Warming by Brian Kahn, Earther, Gizmodo, Jan 4, 2020

Articles Linked to on Facebook

Sun, Dec 29, 2019

Mon, Dec 30, 2019

Tue, Dec 31, 2019

Wed, Jan 1, 2020

Thu, Jan 2, 2020

Fri, Jan 3, 2020

Sat, Jan 4, 2020

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Comments 1 to 3:

  1. "Safety is something we all crave. It’s human nature."

    Nope. Quite a few people crave danger. This is probably a factor in all the crazy climate denialism. They are happy to take a risk with the whole planet. Some of the science underpinning risk taking:


    The economist William Nordhaus claimed 4 degrees is the safe limit above which human casualties become serious. The trouble is we don't know this with any certainty, and his views are contested, and  even a 1.5 degree world could lock in 4 degrees, it cant be ruled out given the understanding of tipping points, so I can't see any safe limit. By the time one is mathematically defined with precision it will probably be too late.

    Jonathen Franzen says "We haven’t fixed climate change for 30 years, so we may as well give in to the fact that everything is screwed." This just seems intellectually lazy and defeatist.

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  2. " And over the next decade, the world will decide its fate of whether it can limit heating to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial temperatures."

    We have to reduce carbon emissions by an average of 15% every year just to have a 50/50 chance of staying below the 1.5C limit. The world isn't doing that.

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  3. "On one side, dangerous climate change. On the other, something we can figure out and adapt to if we play our cards right."

    That thinking is the root of the problem. I appreciate the author is not using it as an excuse for a reduced level of corrective action - but many people do unjustifiably use the adaptation option as an excuse.

    The We who are Benefiting face almost none of the consequences. And the ones facing the consequences may not be fortunate enough to have a scientific discovery magically allow them to 'adapt'. And even if they did, they would never 'get back' many of the resources that their predecessors Disappeared (like the extinctions of forms of life).

    The current generation needs to adapt to the reality that materialistic consumerism has no future.

    The Truth is that "On one side there are current day people who would have to work a little harder, less artificial assistance, and enjoy their life a little less, limiting what they do to activities that are not wasteful or harmful (with the more fortunate giving up some of their fortune and opportunity in order to sustainably improve the lives of the less fortunate), so that a current generation finally breaks the cycle of creating more harmful consequences that future generations of humanity will have to try to deal with. On the other, the future generations who can do nothing to get even with their selfish harmful predecessors."

    The National Building Codes of the more developed nations require a 98% or better chance of a structure surviving the possible impacts that could happen to the structure. That means less than a 2% chance of any part of a structure failing.

    Humanity's future environment should have an even lower chance of "Being Compromised", if the leadership of the current generation cared to think about it and lead based on that understanding.

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