Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Support

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest MeWe

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

The never-ending RCP8.5 debate

Posted on 27 December 2019 by , ATTP

This is a re-post from ATTP

I think my New Year’s resolution is going to be to not talk about RCP8.5. However, I think I will briefly summarise the state of the never-ending debate. I thought we’d reached a bit of a breakthough when Zeke Hausfather and Justin Ritchie posted an article suggesting that [a] 3C world is now “Business as Usual”, but it seems to have degenerated once more. David Wallace-Wells also has a follow up article pointing out that our climate future doesn’t look as bad as it once looked. If you’re interested, Pietro Monticone has a summary of the state of the debate.

The basic idea is that current emission projections (from the International Energy Agency) suggest that emissions won’t rise much between now and 2040. If you then make some reasonable assumptions and project these to 2100, you find that we will probably follow something close to an RCP6 pathway which will probably lead to warming of between 1.9oC and 4.4oC, with a best estimate of around 3oC. In other words, current policy suggests that business-as-usual is closer to RCP6, than to RCP8.5 (which has often been regarded as a business-as-usual pathway).

So, the basic message seems to be that we’re heading towards a world where the climate impacts might not be as apocalyptic as they could have been. Good news, in some sense. However, there are a great many uncertainties associated with these projections. Even though we may be heading towards a 3oC world, we can’t rule out that we’ll still end up in a >4oC world.

This is where I have some problems. Some are interpreting this as suggesting that we’ve essentially limited warming to ~3oC, which completely ignores all the uncertainties associated with these projections. Similarly, some are arguing that we should pay no attention to studies that use RCP8.5, which completely ignores that we still can’t rule out levels of warming typically associated with RCP8.5 (>4oC, for example). From a climate modelling perspective, RCP8.5 is simply a concentration/forcing pathway. Even if it’s now higher than is likely along business-as-usual pathway, it is still a useful pathway for investigating the higher levels of warming that are still possible.

I think it is good that we may have ruled out some of the worst case impacts, but we’re still potentially heading for a world that has warmed by more than 3oC (potentially even 4o – 5oC). Also, despite the confidence of some energy analysts, we have still yet to peak global emissions. A number of quite high-profile climate scientists (Richard Betts and Ken Caldeira) are still pointing out that given the uncertainties associated with socio-economic projections, and potential carbon cycle feedbacks, we really can’t yet completely rule out an RCP8.5 concentration pathway.

I do think it’s become very unlikely that we will follow such a high concentration pathway, but I also think that this current narrative has been poorly framed, and that some will use it to argue that we don’t really need to do much more about climate change. I do worry that in 10 years time we’ll be having a similar discussion – “yes, emissions may have continued rising through the 2020s, but – trust us – they’re just about to peak”. I hope I’m wrong.

Links:
A 3C world is now “Business as Usual” – Breakthrough Institute article by Zeke Hausfather and Justin Ritchie.
We’re Getting a Clearer Picture of the Climate Future — and It’s Not as Bad as It Once Looked – Article by David Wallace Wells.
RCP8.5 issues & comments – summary by Pietro Monticone.

0 0

Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

Prev  1  2  

Comments 51 to 76 out of 76:

  1. nigelj@50

    "Alarmists who exaggerate the science are very frustrating, and do more harm than good, like the mirror image of the hard core denialists. There are a couple over at realclimate.org"

    At realclimate?! That's disappointing. I hope you mean commenters rather than contributors!

    0 0
  2. Nick Palmer @51, definitely commenters. The website articles remain a beacon of sanity.

    0 0
  3. nigelj@51

    I think I've expressed before that I respect your views. Although we differ slightly I think both of our  points are view are reasonable enough, as are we, that I think both of us could change or modify each other's position with suitable new credible evidence - at least I hope so.

    Having said that, may I ask a favour? I would appreciate you (or any other SKS'er) doing a 'reality check' on this short 7 comment thread on one of 'Climate Adam's' Youtube videos. I would like your opinion on whether I or Steven Barlow (or both of us) went too far, and whether our assessments about each other, and our views, were reasonable.. Thanks in advance.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kJvKgOqWrc&lc=UgywrnJct_lMB_vKWXx4AaABAg

    0 0
  4. Nick Palmer @53, yes we see at least some issues the same way, and I respect your views as well.

    I looked at the video, and read Barlows comment and your comment, and your debate between yourselves.

    Overall I find your views the most credible. Thats the short answer.

    I don't see that you were being overly insulting. You called him a fanatic just to get his attention, perhaps borderline insulting. Having got his attention, you could have been clever and then said sorry didn't mean to be too abrasive :)

    But Barlow made some good points as well. Like a lot of issues the truth looks like it maybe somewhere in the middle between you guys, on some of this at least.

    The thing is Barlow is an ecologist and I've noticed these sorts of people catastrophise about climate change a lot, probably to be expected as they fall in love with nature a bit. I actually respect that, but the risk is they loose objectivity and Barlow has.

    Barlow is confused about the state of the science way back then. The state of the science in the 1970's and 1980's was definitely too uncertain for us to conclude we were warming the climate and should do something. The AGW signal was only confirmed in the early 1990's and even then it was not clear what the hell we should do. We had to have some real world evidence of some actual warming like this, plus detection of AGW,  to confirm the theories.

    But by the mid 1990s it was very clear we had a problem, and that it was serious enough to justify robust mitigation, and that we had some good mitigation options.

    It's absurd of Barlow to say models in the 1970s were accurate, so action should have been taken back then. We only know they were accurate with the passing of time since then.

    Regarding Barlow claiming the risks were downplayed for decades and hes claiming virtually a cover up. This is a thorny issue. I dont really think they have been on the whole. We just didn't know enough back then. It's not like the link between smoking and cancer which was quite compelling at even an early stage, so using scare tactics did make some sense.

    However I do think the IPCC reports "lowball" some things a bit in recent years as I've mentioned. Whether this is political pressure or scientists being conservative is an interesting question.

    Maybe I sit a little bit between you and Barlow on the whole thing. But my bottom line is if scientists put scary scenarios in front of the public, and they should, these scenarios need some pretty good evidential basis. They cannot just be speculation full of endless "what ifs".

    Regarding the Australian bushfires. I dont think Climate Adam was hyping things. They definitely look very concerning. Yes more area was burned in the past but this latest fire seaon has just started. Its not unreasonable to suspect we are heading towards an absolute record setter, and climate change is a factor in it (which you did mention).

    Of course your area calcs look robust to me and it was useful to mention those.

    This is a tough one for me. I've sometimes done the same sort of thing as you. The hyper alarmists have sometimes made wild, exaggerated hand waving claims on various things and I have criticised their views and been labelled a luke warmer as a result which is so frustrating.

    However in these posts I always mention that I think climate change is deadly serious and why, to try and get across that I'm not minimising the problem, but that we just need accuracy. I also make a point of posting alarmist science where I think it does actually have a robust basis.

    Sorry for a rather nuanced reply but I'm just being honest. Hope it helps a bit.

    0 0
  5. nigelj @54 (and others),

    Discussions regarding what global leadership was aware of and understood in the 1970s should be based on a comprehensive understanding, particularly regarding what is required to develop sustainable improvements for humanity.

    It is not correct to believe that “The state of the science in the 1970's and 1980's was definitely too uncertain for us to conclude we were warming the climate and should do something.”

    In the 1960s global leadership understood that increasing atmospheric CO2 due to fossil fuel use was a concern. The 1972 Stockholm Conference compiled what was understood to be going wrong and what required expanded understanding of the directions of development and corrections required to sustainably improve the future of humanity. The report included the concern about increasing atmospheric CO2.

    Perceptions of success that rely on harmful and unsustainable activity, like fossil fuel use, are undeniably unsustainable. Fossil fuel use is making the future worse. That has been understood for a long time. The fact that such a fundamental undeniable understanding is still not generally understood in the powerful and supposedly more advanced populations today indicates that the developed socioeconomic-political systems over-developed in the wrong direction. They require significant correction, not a continuation of Kumbaya-style compromising in an attempt to have 'everyone get along with everyone allowed to believe what they want and behave as they wish'.

    The identified concern about fossil fuel use in 1972 should have been sufficient to result in global leaders cautiously restricting the pursuit of increased benefit from fossil fuel use, especially by already more fortunate people, until more was understood about the consequences. There was plenty of discussion by global leaders about it in the 1970s, even though more focus was put on concerns that more immediate threats to humanity like the ozone layer impacts, tobacco use, and vehicle safety.

    Increased pursuits of benefit from fossil fuels since the 1970s by people who were already living better than basic decent lives has tragically strengthened the resistance to correction. Powerful people who unjustifiably benefited more from continued and increased global use of fossil fuels almost certainly hoped would that increased resistance to correction would develop.

    Efforts by undeserving powerful wealthy people to raise doubts about 'climate science and the required corrections' and to discredit climate scientists (and the related scientists in fields affected by climate change), increased when global leadership was starting to responsibly restrict the continuation of that harmful behaviour by undeserving powerful people. The undeserving powerful people collectively mobilized their resistance. Their actions included:

    • getting political-minders involved in writing IPCC reports to push the wording as far away from supporting the need for corrective action as they could get away with. And they mobilized misleading marketing to popularize misunderstanding and unjustified doubt.
    • A coordination of actions to create the Climategate Scandal (theft of emails, the effort to comb through them for nuggets to abuse in misinformation programs, and the development and distribution of the misleading marketing).
    • Fighting to have national leadership restrict the science being publicly developed and presented. The Harper-led Conservatives in Canada selectively muzzled scientists and redirected federal research funding away from improving understanding of the negative impacts of climate change when they had the power to do so. The Bush and Trump led USA acted in similar ways, as have similar groups in other places around the planet (including Putin's Russian group).

    There is an identifiable global political faction that is a significant part of the problem, being deliberately correction resistant, being as harmful as they can possibly get away with. And it is correct to identify the 1970s as a point in time when that collective started to 'globally coordinate their efforts against the expansion of awareness and improvement of understanding of the corrections that climate science (and other sciences) had identified are urgently required to stop making the future worse'. There is little doubt that what has developed today is more harmful to the future than what had been developed by the 1970s, in spite of it appearing that RCP8.5 is no longer the likely rate of making the future worse.

    What is now required, and will be required at all future 'Nows' and was required in previous 'Nows', is leadership responsibly limiting how much worse the future will be, and actually acting to help sustainably improve the future. And that limiting of the harm done to the future, and helping improve the future, now includes justifiably 'reducing' the perceptions of superiority of those who unjustifiably significantly increased their benefit from the use of fossil fuels since the 1970s. The more recently the benefits have been obtained, and the wealthier the beneficiary is, the more the perception of superiority deserves to be lost.

    That may be unpopular. And it may anger many people. But it is undeniably the correct understanding.

    Compromising awareness and understanding to 'get along with people who are harmfully unaware or have developed a harmfully incorrect belief/opinion' is not helpful. There are many issues where diversity is to be embraced. Awareness and understanding regarding climate science is not one of them.

    The use of fossil fuels makes things worse. A possible exception would be fossil fuel use as a temporary transition measure to raise a desperately poor population up to a starting level for sustainable development.

    An improving future requires an end to the harmful climate change impacts of fossil fuels use, the sooner the better. And the most fortunate need to be leading the correction, including wealth from fossil fuel use being exclusively used to assist the desperately poor sustainably improve their life circumstances. And any more fortunate person that can be shown to be resisting that effort deserves a serious loss of status.

    0 0
  6. One Planet Only Forever @55, I just disagree that back in the 1970s and 1980s humanity was aware of the climate problem with some degree of certainty sufficient to do something. This is from a related article on the Stockholm conference in the 1970's:


    unchronicle.un.org/article/stockholm-kyoto-brief-history-climate-change

    "In a section on the identification and control of pollutants of broad international significance, the Declaration raised the issue of climate change for the first time, warning Governments to be mindful of activities that could lead to climate change and evaluate the likelihood and magnitude of climatic effects.The UN Scientific Conference also proposed the establishment of stations to monitor long-term trends in the atmospheric constituents and properties, which might cause meteorological properties, including climatic changes. Those programmes were to be coordinated by WMO to help the world community to better understand the atmosphere and the causes of climatic changes, whether natural or the result of man's activities."

    This is clearly saying there might be a problem, but more work is needed to figure it out.

    In addition I did physical geography at university in the 1980s and the textbooks definitely did not say there was a serious climate problem being caused by industrial emissions that is known to cause a lot of warming etc. They accepted its likely that industrial emissions would have an effect, but the world was in a cooling period and this created some uncertainty. The majority of the science at the time did predict warming, but we were stuck having to see if this actually happened. We needed that real world certainty to confirm the predictions. 

    But by the early 1990s we were much more sure.

    Agree about the rest of your comments.

    0 0
  7. Nigel @56,

    I do not dispute that the average person in the 1970s was not being made aware of the concern about fossil fuel use. Actually, that is the point of my comments.

    Global Leadership (primarily in politics and business) failed to responsibly expand awareness and improve understanding and apply that learning to limit the harm being done to the future of humanity and help develop lasting improvements for humanity. In particular there has been a failure to cautiously responsibly limit the pursuit of fossil fuel profiteering while better understanding of the magnitude of the harm was developed. The worst among the wealthy and powerful took the damaging approach of fighting against limits on the risky harmful activity, claiming the need for more certainty and trying to mislead the public. That harmful flawed behaviour has occurred regarding almost every popular and profitable harmful unsustainable activity that humanity has ever developed.

    The Stockholm Conference and the coordinated global development of better understanding since then are evidence that in the 1970s global leadership was aware and understood of many issues that had the potential for serious risk of future harm, including climate change due to fossil fuel use.

    The wealthy and powerful knew about the potential problems in the 1970s. How they behaved is my point, and is a valid criticism by anyone regarding any of the many unsustainable and harmful developments that have occurred since the 1970s. Being aware of the potential for harm, the collective global leadership (all of the wealthy and powerful) should have tried to keep the already more fortunate people from trying to become even more fortunate through the increased use of fossil fuels until more was understod about the consequences. If that had happened the future for humanity would be less harmed than it is today and there would be less resistance today to any corrections that are still required.

    0 0
  8. OPOF @57, the best that can be said is wealthy and powerful knew there 'might' be a problem in the 1970's. But the problem wasn't clear. There was nothing to act upon. You are stretching the precautionary principle a long way.

    Did the wealthy and powerful try to stop research into the problem? Or hide its significance? There is definitely evidence the oil companies thought there was a problem in the 1980s but were not upfront with the public. So the public were denied full information. However I doubt it would have lead to action, because it was just modelling at that stage, and there were no significant rising temperatures.

    I think evidence of climate change hardened up around 1990 and that is when the wealthy and powerful really marshalled their forces, in a strong campaign of denial like a loose federation of various interests preaching from the same hideous song book.

    0 0
  9. nigelj @58,

    A pretty clear presentation regarding the understanding of the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful prior to 1985 is the following blunt statement made in the 1987 UN Report "Our Common World".

    "25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management."

    That was a polite-political way to say what the rich and powerful were aware of and what the worst among them were doing. And that was not just realized in 1987 (or in 1985). That was an observation regarding a history of behaviour.

    And that type of unacceptable behaviour by the harmful among the rich and powerful continues today, risking a worsening of the current day potential future that appears to only be as bad as RCP6.0. Humanity would have been on a much better path if there had been responsible leadership that did not allow risky harmful and undeniably unsustainable behaviour to continue to increase, especially not allowing already rich people to get even richer from it.

    The efforts to raise doubt about the risks were already starting at the time of the Stockholm Conference. The people willing to personally benefit through actions that are likely to be harmful to others have always been a problem. The future of humanity requires that problem to be sustainably solved.

    The efforts to expand awareness and improve understanding and apply that learning to develop sustainable improvements for humanity led up to the Stockholm Conference and also triggered the efforts to fight against limits being imposed.

    The basis for the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals includes the detailed understanding of the planetary boundaries of human impacts as presented in 2009 by Rockstrom et.al. in "A Safe Operating Space for Humanity". Of the 10 identified Planetary Boundaries, Biodiversity Loss and Nitrogen Cycle impacts were already exceeding the sustainable impact limits (as the research for the 2009 book was done). And Climate Change impacts had already reached approximately 2/3 of the sustainable planetary impact limit, and RCP6.0 significantly exceeds that limit.

    But global leadership was well aware that very significant harm was being gotten away with. The 2009 report was not a shocking new revelation. And the 1987 "Our Common Future" makes that abundantly clear.

    0 0
  10. Nigelj @58,

    Another way to respond to "But the problem wasn't clear. There was nothing to act upon."

    The significance of the issue to the future of humanity was not in question.

    Claiming more needed to be known before acting is like saying that new structural systems and materials should be used without detailed understanding of their acceptability. And claiming that someone other than the ones wanting to benefit need to do the research into the potential unacceptability. In fact, it is like claiming that research to determine the safe use of the system or materials is not required up-front (I am indeed stating that your argument is defending actions that have a significant risk of harmful consequences being allowed before the consequences are reasonably understood).

    That is what you are arguing as a defence. And the undeniable reality of how harmful it is to allow actions to not be restricted 'because not enough is known about them to be sure they should be restricted' is understandably absurd, potentially repugnant (Absurd and Repugnant are the technical terms used in ethical arguments).

    My point remains that the power players of the 1960s and 1970s were already fighting against being responsibly restricted, to maintain their understandably undeserved status and opportunity to increase their status.

    Sustainable Development awareness and understanding was and continues to be a response to that absurd and repugnant reality. And it can undeniably be claimed to be divisive. There is undeniably a helpfully correct side of expanded awareness and improved understanding, and a harmful side needing to be helpfully corrected or governed and limited.

    0 0
  11. nigelj@54 wrote: "However in these posts I always mention that I think climate change is deadly serious and why, to try and get across that I'm not minimising the problem, but that we just need accuracy"

    100% yes!! It's the lack of accuracy in the rhetoric that motivates me to take on 'difficult' people, both denialst or doomist or left or right and all of the various combinations. I try to explain to the hyper-alarmists that their overblown rhetoric is actually a significant problem to getting the public on board and get labelled by themn as denialsist or a 'concern roll'. It's frustrating because I know that any undecided more reasonable readers who may be following can be turned away from the sensible middle path by the prejudice and misinformation on display

    Thank you for taking the time to 'judge' the Barlow/Palmer contretemps. I must say I have never been so insulted by someone who is nominally on 'our side' before and that is why I needed a little confirmation that it wasn't me who had gone too far down a path...

    I accept what you say. It's interesting that you sense that Barlow is/was an ecologist type. In my own 'environmentalist career' I started out completely believing the imminent tales of ecological doom spread by such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth - indeed I was a local groups FoE 'coordinator' throughout the 90s. I very much thought that modern society had us on a one way irrecoverable trip to ecocidal hell with the job of our organisations being to slow down the damage as much as possible while fearing the worst would happen. In one sense I go a little easy on Steven Barlow and others like him because I (kind of) was like him several decades ago - I know his arguments well because they were also close to mine before I wised up (I think) a little...

    I came to see that there were sufficient people who cared to make a difference and I've seen many initiatives succeed in increasing recycling, protecting areas of wildlife, specific threatened species, certain types of air and water pollution etc and all without 'crushing capitalism' - which is unfortunately, an ideology that some 'extreme ecologists' get driven towards.

    Are there still large ecological problems? Sure, and climate change will have many large impacts if we don't get on top of it, but the years have made me more optimistic about how the human race can handle big problems, once it is aware they are genuine and not over-hyped, as many things have been in the past.

    The extreme ecologist Barlow's of this world, who use 'fear porn' in their rhetoric in a bid to scare the public towards their favoured solutions - in Barlow's case I suspect he is deep down a Back to Eden type - are no doubt sincere in what they believe, but they then go on to believe that their back to nature/abandon industry methodology is the only solution. I mentioned earlier on that there were 'sufficient' people who cared enough to forego the trappings of civilisation to 'save the world' but I have come to believe, at least in the West, that that figure is only about 20-25% of the general population. Try and impose policies that threaten the lifestyles, ambitions and aspirations of the large amjority too much and one will probably come up against what the President of the Finance and Economics Committee of my then government explained would be (metaphorically) a lot of angry people with swords fighting back!

    That is why I reject the increasingly extreme rhetoric that Greta Thunberg, and her back seat driver advisers, are drip feeding out to the public that we have to drop fossil fuel use almost overnight - see the link...
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/10/greta-thunberg-and-20-youth-climate-activists-call-davos-attendees-abandon-fossil

    I accept the view of many economists that such draconian action would immediately precipitate the world into a colossal mother of all global economic crashes. I think that's why IPCC targets allow for continued (but steeply reducing) use of fossil fuels as late as 2050. I think that is sensible. It's hard not to see, because of this relatively new development, that behind the Thunberg speeches that there is more than a hint of some politically minded influencers trying to engineer the destruction or hobbling of capitalism.

    I worry that if such extreme action gets validated and taken on board by her many followers that the great mass of the population will be repulsed by it in short order.

    In my view over-hyping dangers, calling for extreme and immediate one dimensional 'solutions' runs a grave risk of immunising the public against more measured action, and in this respect I think it a comparable to (or possibly greater, these days) problem than out and out denialism, which I think has recently moved into a new phase. In public fora and media they less and less actually deny the science directly any more but instead focus on cherry picking extreme media statements by alarmists and polticians, and innacurate 'shock horror' journalism, which they then knock down to smear the actual science in the minds of the public by proxy.

    0 0
  12. Nick Palmer:

    When lots of people call you a "concern troll" you need to consider if they are correct.  

    Anyone who says Greta Thunberg is using "extreme rhetoric" is a concern troll.  Greta constantly cites the IPCC reports when she speaks.  When you ignorantly call the IPCC "midballing" you demonstrate you do not know what you are talking about.  Read more of the background material.

    0 0
  13. "When lots of people call you a "concern troll"
    Hardly anyone has - about two in 30 years... - stop making stuff up!

    0 0
  14. michael sweet@62 "Anyone who says Greta Thunberg is using "extreme rhetoric" is a concern troll. Greta constantly cites the IPCC reports when she speaks"

    Where in the IPCC reports does the IPCC call for total divestment and ceasing of investment in fossil fuels right now?
    Greta's latest heading for, later this month, the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    "We demand that at this year's forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions, and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies, and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels," the op-ed declares. "We don't want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021, we want this done now—as in right now.""

    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/10/greta-thunberg-and-20-youth-climate-activists-call-davos-attendees-abandon-fossil

    0 0
  15. Nick Palmer at 61: "[I] et labelled by themn as denialsist or a 'concern roll'(sic)". 

    Tamino says to you here "You seem WAY too eager to accept the one number that will make the bushfires unprecedented, while ignoring the testimony from so many experts (including firefighters and scientists who specifically study bushfire) and from people who lived through both times in Australia."

    It is rare for Tamino to comment to posters in this way.  

    Greta Thunberg is the most successful climate activist in the world today by a lot.  She was Times Person of the Year.

     

    You are a concern troll.  

    0 0
  16. OPOF @60

    "Claiming more needed to be known before acting is like saying that new structural systems and materials should be used without detailed understanding of their acceptability. And claiming that someone other than the ones wanting to benefit need to do the research into the potential unacceptability. In fact, it is like claiming that research to determine the safe use of the system or materials is not required up-front (I am indeed stating that your argument is defending actions that have a significant risk of harmful consequences being allowed before the consequences are reasonably understood)....That is what you are arguing as a defence. "

    I dont think you can compare structural design and testing new materials to our use of fuels in the past. In the 1970's we had already been using fossil fuels for decades, and along comes some information that they could be a problem, but it was very preliminary information. It didnt look like enough to stop using fossil fuels, especially as 1) the agw thing was uncertain back then 2) there were no well developed alternative fuels, and 2) it was unclear if warming was a danger. Arrhenius claimed it was a benefit (erroneously as it turns out).

    We just didn't have much to go on back then, regardless of the interests of powerful people.  And yes of course some of them always try to downplay environmental problems.

    I agree about the precautionary principle as a useful tool, but you do need a fairly clear threat to use it, otherwise we would not get out of bed in the mornings.

    Remember what we had in the 1970s, a hypothesis that industrial emissions could lead to warming with no atmospheric experiment to really back it up. We literally had to wait to see if the atmosphere warmed, and if this could be attributed to CO2. J Hansen established there was a problem around 1990 and so I think that was the time to act. Bear in mind we still arent 100% sure of the risks, so have to still apply the precautionary principle. Getting that through to people is still frustratingly difficult.

    However your argument is thought provoking, and a force to be reckoned with.

    0 0
  17. Nick Palmer,

    I read your exchange with Steve Barlow and you look like a denier.  Barlow's position is much more reasonable than yours.  I note that you do not support your claims with citations and ignore Barlow's citations there also. 

    Using a review on SkS by Nigelj as support for your claims is not a substitute for citing peer reviewed papers.

    0 0
  18. Nick Palmer @61, yeah I agree that the exact middle ground people we need to win over get turned off by hyper alarmism. But we do need "evidence based alarmism" to motivate people to change. So its a nuanced juggling act.

    Barlows tirade of insults were way over the top and probably reflect his general frustration over the climate issue, that I think we all share. I find insults like that hurtful but I've come to realise its not me at fault.

    You mentioned "I came to see that there were sufficient people who cared to make a difference and I've seen many initiatives succeed in increasing recycling, protecting areas of wildlife, specific threatened species, certain types of air and water pollution etc and all without 'crushing capitalism' - which is unfortunately, an ideology that some 'extreme ecologists' get driven towards.....The extreme ecologist Barlow's of this world, who use 'fear porn' in their rhetoric in a bid to scare the public towards their favoured solutions - in Barlow's case I suspect he is deep down a Back to Eden type - are no doubt sincere in what they believe, but they then go on to believe that their back to nature/abandon industry methodology is the only solution."

    Agreed totally. I contribute a few comments over at RC and there is a certain character over there who promotes exactly this anti capitalism back to nature simplicity thing, and we have "locked horns" many times and its become divisive. I have received the same insults and worse than you received from Barlow. The guy in question means well, but just doesn't think things through.

    However there is room for a half way house, to the extent of more recyling, some frugality, less waste etcetera. My position is that capitalism is a good system, but is certainly causing some intractable problems, and its inherent in the current form of capitalism. But rather than "throw the baby out with the bath water", we need to somehow modify capitalism to work more sustainably without killing the good parts of capitalism. There are obvious ways to do this, but this is probably not the right thread for it.

    Of course all this enrages the back to eden types who want a simple sort of utopia that is a clean break from the current system. But such a thing is massively problematic. Eg:  if we stop using industry and large scale electricity generation, we have to burn wood. Where does a global population of 7.6 billion people get enough wood?

    Don't be too hard on Greta. Bright girl but remember her age.

    0 0
  19. Michael Sweet @65 , I don't accept that NP is concern trolling.

    Typical definitions of a concern troll "A concern troll is a person who participates in a debate posing as an actual or potential ally who simply has some concerns they need answered before they will ally themselves with a cause. In reality they are a critic."

    NP is clearly already "allied to the cause" because he is unequivocal in his worries about global warming and criticises denialists. Genuine concern trolls are somewhat more limited and nuanced in their acceptance (if any ) of AGW.

    How is NP demanding scientific accuracy and scientific sense being a concern troll? That would make all scientists concern trolls.

    You are seeing monsters under the bed :) Its because the denialists have us all on edge.

    0 0
  20. Nigelj,

    It is off topic to continue that discussion.  I have had my say.  Read the link to Tamino.  I agree with Tamino.

    0 0
  21. Michael Sweet @70, yes Taminos description of the vapor pressue thing is convincing. I've pretty much had my say too.  The media have screwed things up by saying unprecedented without being clear what they mean, but saying things were worse in the 1970s doesn't help much either because its too early in this fire season to compare.

    0 0
  22. To anyone who clicks on the Tamino response link "You seem WAY too eager to accept the one number that will make the bushfires unprecedented, while ignoring the testimony from so many experts (including firefighters and scientists who specifically study bushfire) and from people who lived through both times in Australia""

    Firstly, I did NOT ignore 'testimony' - we were arguing about media reports and how they misrepresented things to the crucially important general audience by tending to imply that the 'unprecendented' nature was that of acreage. Tamino seemed to think that I was unaware that inamongst the hype and exaggeration that there were some voices that were legit. He didn't seem to appreciate how the public sees these things.

    Secondly, I also was not 'accepting the one number' either which, if Mr Sweet had looked to my next comment responding to Tamino, he would have seen this  NP: "The point is that it isn’t just one number. There are multiple examples to see. See my reply to Philippe which includes the paper from which the data came: Appendix D P377 onwards...
    https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=scipapers "

    I really think that if Mr Sweet sincerely thinks that "Barlow's position is much more reasonable than yours" then he ought to re-evaluate his views. Mr Barlow is one of the sort of waay over the top extremists that are one of the two major motivators behind the denialist propaganda (the other being hard right wingers trying to sabotage hard left wingers piggy backing on the science to spread their ideology).

    Just to clarify - I am a significant fighter of denialist deceit and delusion but I will also always take on extremist alarmists and doomists too, and their 'mirror image' rhetoric. I consider both to muddy the waters and cause the public to be more confused about what the science actually says. There is nothing that makes the general public more likely to reject the sensible scientific middle ground between the two extremes than some plausible sounding (at the time) extreme prediction from the past that completely fails to manifest. Continuing public confidence in the science is rather more fragile than many appreciate. Probably the most prominent example of a scientist over-prognosticating was that of Paul R Ehrlich in his book 'The Population Bomb' in 1968 who famously wrote "[i]n the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now". I read it back then and I got misled by it for some considerable time. Perhaps that explains part of why I am now so critical of those who hype things up too much...

    I have to say that 'doomists' tend to be harder to deal with, as they seem so convined of their extremism that they often regard anyone who tries to moderate their views and bring them back down to earth as almost some sort of traitor to their extreme cause.

    0 0
  23. nigelj @66,

    Claiming there was insufficient evidence to limit the activity is the type of harmful correction resistant argument that so effectively and harmfully delayed corrective action regarding tobacco (the fight over tobacco started in the 1950s). And it is used to fight against correction of many harmful popular and profitable activities.

    I argue that the collective impact of everyone's action is building the future of humanity. That is undeniable. It is also undeniable that the future of humanity is more important and requires more precautionary leadership than any buildings in any nation. And fossil fuel use was more harmful than tobacco, in many ways that were clear well before more detailed understanding of the climate change impacts were developed.

    To protect the future from the harm of popular and profitable activity, leadership has always had to responsibly limit what is done if there are uncertainties until those uncertainties are adequately understood and addressed.  Good business and political leaders have always understood that. What needs to be understood is how the less responsible harmful people gain control rather than good responsible people. That problem was happening before more detailed understanding developed. And the ability of those people to win has not been limited by the increased understanding.

    0 0
  24. OPOF @73, I've always been concerned about claims from lobby groups that there is insufficient evidence relating to some emerging problem. I've even made submissions to the powers that be arguing the lobby groups are wrong. Their position is often a delaying tactic, and of course they still use it with the climate issue when we have now got plenty of evidence. However with the climate issue in the 1970s it looks to me like there really was insufficient evidence! 

    We could argue about the 1970s forever and it would require a lot of time consuming digging. I get your main point.  I won't be commenting on  the past history further.

    0 0
  25. Nick Palmer @72 says " Just to clarify - I am a significant fighter of denialist deceit and delusion but I will also always take on extremist alarmists and doomists too, and their 'mirror image' rhetoric."

    I'm firmly in the same camp. And make no apologies for it. Although Nick, some advice, be careful you dont start to nit pick over the issues.

    The link to Taminos comment was damn frustrating because it didnt even say it was Tamino responding and there was itallic type all over the place. Very hard thread to follow, bad graphics. 

    Our media said areas burned were unprecedented. That's simply not true and they presented no evidence. However its typical media hype to sell copy.

    But the denialists are being stupid saying the 1970s were worse. Its too early this fire season to tell, and apparently the huge areas burned back then included mostly grasslands, judging by a comment made today by eclectic on the "intense conversation" article.

    Its so hard unpacking all of the ridiculous claims made.

    0 0
  26. OPOF@73 wrote "It is also undeniable that the future of humanity is more important and requires more precautionary leadership than any buildings in any nation"

    I actually am not disagreeing with  the 'precautionary principle'. Given the potential risks identified by some of the science back, then my feeling is that a thorough risk/benefit analysis would have showed that action was justifed long ago because of what the consequences might be - it's a version of Pascal's wager but some proof existed of God/climate change!

    We don't need proof that our house is going to burn down to buy insurance...

    0 0

Prev  1  2  

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



The Consensus Project Website

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)


© Copyright 2021 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Privacy | Contact Us