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Trump administration refuses to consider that 97% of climate scientists could be right

Posted on 29 May 2018 by dana1981

Last week, the Washington Post obtained a White House internal memo that debated how the Trump administration should handle federal climate science reports.

The memo presented three options without endorsing any of them: conducting a “red team/blue team” exercise to “highlight uncertainties in climate science”; more formally reviewing the science under the Administrative Procedure Act; or deciding to just “ignore, and not seek to characterize or question, the science being conducted by Federal agencies and outside entities.”

In short, the White House considered ‘debating’ established climate science, casting doubt on scientists’ conclusions, or just ignoring them. Accepting and/or acting on the findings of the scientific experts is not an option they’re willing to consider.

Katharine Hayhoe?@KHayhoe

So according to this memo, the administration considered 3 options--(1) framing reality as being up for debate; (2) developing their own view of reality; or (3) ignoring reality--and went with option 3.

Interesting that "accepting reality" was not an option. 

Climate denial is very expensive

Meanwhile, a paper published in Nature last week concluded that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures would save more than $20tn as compared to a temperature of 2°C. The carbon pollution cuts needed to achieve the 1.5°C target would cost about $300bn more than efforts to meet 2°C. In other words, the economic benefits of the more aggressive target would outweigh its costs by a factor of about 70-to-1.

Current international climate policies will only limit global warming to about 3–3.5°C global warming, and America’s policies are “critically insufficient” to meet either the 2°C or 1.5°C targets. Under the Trump administration, the US has no plans to try and cut its carbon pollution, and in fact the administration has been taking every possible step to undo established climate policies and increase pollution from the coal and oil industries, even though global warming will especially hurt Trump country.

Basically, taking aggressive action to curb global warming would save the world a lot of money, and it would especially benefit the economies in southern, conservative states. But it wouldn’t be good for the fossil fuel industry, and the Trump administration has prioritized short-term corporate profits above all else, including American welfare and lives.

Ignoring experts is stupid

There’s a 97% expert consensus that humans are causing global warming, and the scientific research is clear that the consequences of continued rapid climate change could be devastating for the economy and for all species on Earth.

The case for the Trump administration approach – ignoring and casting doubt on the conclusions of climate science experts – is that of a bad gambler. It’s not a 100% consensus; maybe the less than 3% of climate contrarians are onto something. Perhaps the experts are wrong and climate change won’t be so bad.

If the stakes were something inconsequential like a Trump steak, that would be fine, but it should go without saying that betting the future of humanity and life on Earth on a less than 3% long shot is a bad idea. The stakes could not be higher. Prudent risk management dictates that we should be taking serious steps to mitigate the chances of such a disastrous outcome. That’s why Americans buy home and auto and health insurance. It’s why fewer than 17% of Americans today are smokers, down from 42% in 1965.

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. "There’s a 97% expert consensus... betting... humanity... on a... 3% long shot is a bad idea... Prudent risk management dictates that we should be taking serious steps...That’s why Americans buy... insurance"  There is another way of illustrating the 'long shot' Republicans are taking:  I downloaded (from here & here) the Vostok ice core temperature record and calculated the century-by-century temperature change in Antarctica going back 400,000 years.  This meant throwing out some data and duplicating others to get time intervals of between 80 and 140 years, i.e. around a century.  The result was 3,670 data points representing temperature change/100 years, for each century going from ~1800AD to ~400,000BC.  The average was 0.0C, as you might expect.  The standard deviation was 0.34C, and its a normal distribution, not skewed in any way.  The 20th century temperature change was 0.8C, so the probability that change was 'natural' is 2% (=1- erf[{0.8/0.34}/2] ). 

    But Vostok is just one place on Earth.  It likely is much more variable than the Earth overall.  I looked at the last 27 centuries of Vostok, and the 20 centuries of the Pages_2k tree ring database, to evaluated how much more variable Vostok is.  I got a standard deviation of 0.9C for Vostok station and 0.08C for Earth overall. If you use half the standard deviation I got for Vostok as a conservative value for Earth, or 0.17C, then the likelihood that the 20th century temperature rise was natural, based on the last 400,000 years of natural climate-change data, is 0.0003% (=1- erf[{0.8/0.17}/2] ).  Clint Eastwood said something in 'Dirty Harry' that should be said to Trump and the GOP: "Do ya feel lucky, punk?  Well, do ya?"

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  2. Human activity is warming the climate. Get the debate back to basics:

    CO2 absorbs IR energy, we are burning fossil fuels, CO2 is increasing, the world is warming, and solar activity is stable. Like Ubrew says the probability of warming being natural is almost infinitely remote.

    The rest is confusion, detail, and noise.

    America might also think of its southern border. Climate change is very probably going to increase illegal border crossings. Latin America and Mexico are considered at moderately high risk from climate change.

    Because of the huge influence of the fossil fuel and business as usual lobby, the science will always be infested with dissenting voices. Despite this, the IPCC has had a pretty consistent message, because its so strong and well researched even the doubters can't silence it.

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  3. With Trump you have a guy who is clearly very dismissive of mainstream scientific views, and consensus positions, and a guy who tends to believe in conspiracies and pseudoscience as below:

    The problem is it looks like he is prepared to take huge gambles over policy, including totally dismissing majority scientific opinion,  to score points over opponents he despises, or people that he has vendettas against. Look at the absurd Obama birther thing and the way he is trashing Obamas policies, even when at lest some of them obviously make practical sense. 

    I don't know where this will all end, but I would bet serious money none of it will end well.

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  4. Oh heck, what's the point of talking about Trump and the useless republican congress. That's all anyone does these days, and its what he wants.  

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  5. Suggested supplemental reading: 

    In an internal memo, the White House considered whether to simply ‘ignore’ federal climate research by Chris Mooney & Juliet Eilperin, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, May 23, 2018

    Emails show cooperation among EPA, climate-change deniers by Ellen Knickmeyer, AP/Washington Post, May 25, 2018

    Emails show climate change skeptics tout ‘winning’ under Trump by John Bowden, The Hill, May 29, 2018

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  6. The EPA has now become the environmental destruction agency. It's like something out of George Orwells novel '1984', for example The Ministry of Truth is really the ministry of propoganda. List of the ministries in 1984 here. 

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  7. “ Moreover, as I show, the consensus among publishing scientists is demonstrably not 97%. Instead, five surveys of the peer-reviewed literature from 1991 to 2015 combine to 54,195 articles with an average consensus of 99.94%. “

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  8. The sad truth is that climate change is not about the science anymore. It is about politics.
    And this is how it should also be adressed by the people advocating to do things to stop it.

    Just pointing out the numbers or coming up with scientists is not enough, one needs to play the game that the "anti- camp" is playing.

    They do not care about the data or the 97% scientists that agree with the global warming issues. They see and take care of it as a political point.

    (and sadly this is the case with many other things as well)

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  9. I might point out that the 97% seems to include several once active scientists on the 3% side who are now retired, or no longer with us.  It's not a case where any new information has emerged that would sway the majority to reconsider the minority argument.

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  10. Jim Powel's new peer-reviewed study puts the scientific consensus on human made global warming at 99.94%

    => The Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming Matters

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  11. Sir Charles @10

    The paper you link to is "just" a response to our teams's response to Powell's comment on Cook et al. 2013. As outlined in our paper (Skuce et al. 2017) - which Andy Skuce wrote about here - we don't agree with Powell's approach to determine the consensus. His final rejoinder doesn't change that.

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  12. Regarding the  supposed 99.94% consensus study. The related article makes the claim that the public realise that sometimes eccentric dissenting voices in science turn out to be correct, so its important to have a "complete consensus" and they believe the climate change consensus is actually very close to complete at 99.94% (something it appears may or may not be the case)

    I suppose this is all true "in an ideal world". However with complex science  its unlikely to me that absolutely all scientists would agree, and you also get a few cranks. With contentious science you would get a few  people with hidden agendas and funding. The public probably realise this, and would if anything be suspicious if the consensus was actually 100%. It would look too much like a stitch up job.

    I think anything above 90% would be generally seen as a powerful consensus by the public, although nothing will persuade the hard core denialists. The important thing is to publicise the consensus studies to raise public awareness, regardless of the precise figure. We know its over 90% and the Cook study finding 97% is a rigorous and wide sort of study.

    Of course if it really is 99.4% great. Right now many people I know think scientific opinion on the climate issue is about equally divided 50 / 50, and that is the problem because it suggests considerable disagreement.

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  13. I read you say president Donald Trumps gvt does not acknowledge 97% of what scientists say

    have you also considered that secular people are spiritually dead and do not aknowledge the glaring facts of a created hand that brought this world you see into existence 

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please comport your comments to the topic of the thread you place them on and in compliance with the Comments Policy here.  Comments addressing religion fall under the category of ideology.  This venue deals with matters surrounding the scientific evidence for climate change.  Thanks!

  14. In America about half of scientists believe in some form of god or higher power. And they are telling you we are altering the climate.

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