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Climate Change – What We Knew and When We Knew It

Posted on 21 February 2017 by greenman3610

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections

Models long have been targeted as a weak link by those steadfastly refusing to accept mainstream climate science.

But a review of their actual performance paints a different picture.

This month’s original “This is Not Cool” video by independent videographer Peter Sinclair offers strong evidence supporting the value of climate models in helping forecast global warming. He weaves together a string of archival televised presentations, classroom lectures, congressional testimony, and one-on-one interviews in relating how climate models frequently have provided valuable insights into coming developments only later seen by direct observation.

It will come as no great surprise to the professional climate modeling community, but the testimonials in the video suggest that those dismissive of the mainstream climate science may have to find a new target for their barbs.

Sinclair in the video uses his familiar blend of new and decades-old footage to document numerous important cases in which climate models called things right, ranging from the “whole warming of the earth that’s occurred over the last few decades” to the more rapid warming of the Arctic and of continental interior regions, and faster warming of night than of daytime.

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. Great video. I've noticed for some time that the denier-skeptics, when they accept that some warming has actually ocurred, always frame it as 1) scientists noticed warming 2) scientists looked for a cause, 3) scientists settled on excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Which is basically in reverse order of what actually happened.

    The reality, that scientists correctly predicted today's conditions decades in advance, is a very powerful argument that scientists really do know exactly what they are talking about when they make climate predictions decades to centuries into the future and we should take those predictions very seriously.

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  2. Great video!

    But it makes me wonder about the priorities of climate care. It shows a trickle of somewhat soft initial indications has segued into a torrent of firm and ever-hardening “facts” (I do not wish to get into a discussion of Karl Popper’s Empirical Falsification). The scientific evidence has for years pointed to increasing urgency for action on climate care, but politically the powers of denialism hold the field.

    If presenting the scientific reality could win the day, that day would have been long ago. I have no objection to pointing out and defending the reality; it keeps on winning small victories all the time. But in no way can these small victories bring the climate crisis under control.

    What can?

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  3. Dcrickett@2: Also on Peter Sinclairs 'climate crocks' website, I was fascinated by something pollster Ed Maibach said.  After detailing the substantial public preference, as polled, for climate action in the U.S., he mentioned that the public, by and large, doesn't know that their neighbors hold the same opinions that they do (see at the 2 min mark of that articles video).  They've been conditioned to 'suffer in silence' with their climate concerns, and not rock the boat.  The fossil propaganda doesn't just preach against climate action, but encourages its believers to loudly proclaim that those who don't hold similar views are socialists or worse.  So, to keep the peace, a majority of Americans simply hope somebody else will broach the subject, and never rise up to realize that all their friends and neighbors hold the same view.  Here possibly is a way forward:  destigmatize 'alarmism'.  The message must be pushed that 'we are all alarmists now' (or, at least, a healthy 70% of us) and thus encourage people to end their climate silence.

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  4. I like the last line... "Are you serious?"

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  5. Excellent video by the way.  Hats off to Peter.

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  6. But scientists do one major mistake. They consider objects (measurements) as separate from each other. Scientists create an independent observer with thoughts and assume there is common view. In fact this world is just measurements or sounds. Everything in this world is just thoughts (measurements). The number of measurements in the substance increase so the substance starts heating up. All our measurements are based on this planet (meter, kilogram, second) and not related with our senses (periodic table of elements). We don't align our activities (waves) with the sun and moon so our minds get disturbed and disturb environment. Without aligning our clock and calendar with sun and moon and our activities with the cardinal directions i.e. movement of our planet we can not solve climate and extreme weather.

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  7. What needs to be done to bring the climate crisis under control ? Those who are responsible must be forced to pay the bill. It is a simple as that. For me, the most essential question in the climate debate is: who is going to pay for this ? Fossil fuel companies keep on funding climate change denial for this reason: they think they will get away with it in the end. They will cash the profits and the population will be presented the bill: climate adaptation, mitigation, geo-engineering. Or even worse: we will all pay in the shape of an unprecedented disaster, we will all participate in a gigantic lottery with only losers.

    If only …

    If only it is possible to make a damage claim against the fossil fuel industry, backed up by the scientific evidence that has been around for about 30 years. If only fossil fuel companies could be made to understand: you, the polluters are going to pay no matter what. And the longer you delay climate actions, the higher the bill will be. The alternative: to start collaborating NOW in a plan to evolve towards a carbon neutral society as soon as possible.

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  8. Richard Muller has a record of conflict with climate scientists and for many, many years he was a soulmate of deniers like Anthony Watts. In the end, he stood up to be counted when he was confronted with the evidence. 

    Whatever about the past, he is very, very good in this video, quite the star in fact.

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  9. It was easy to see Hitler and the Nazis as evil people, go to war, and justify killing them to save millions from their ovens. So why don't we look at the people in power, both corporate and governmental, who are knowingly setting policies and making decisions that are turning the planet into a giant oven that will kill billions (of our species and others) and do the same? This is life and death and happening faster that we want to accept. For all it's intelligence, our species is incredibly stupid. We study the laws of nature, then knowingly defy them; we study history, then knowingly deny it. Perhaps in the long run, this may be bad for us, but good for the Earth. 

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  10. Great little video. Should be required viewing in school science classes.

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  11. @7 bvangerven,

    You asked, "What needs to be done to bring the climate crisis under control ?"

    There are at least 6 published ways:

    Project Drawdown


    Restoring The Climate White Paper

    Another, this one from the IPCC, 9 years old and still not acted on:

    How to cut greenhouse gasses and minimize global warming

    Another one:


    Another one:

    How Nuclear Power Can Stop Global Warming


    Commonland - 4 returns from landscape restoration

    I even did one myself which draws a little from all of the above.

    Can we reverse global warming?

    Believe me I am nowhere near a “best climate scientist”. But I can read what the best scientists and engineers out there are publishing. We can do this and at a profit. Not the scientists fault. Many scientists have proposed plans from all sorts of fields with workable ways to solve AGW. It’s almost ridiculous how many great economically sound ways there are to solve this. What lacks is the will, not the means.

    You then asked, "For me, the most essential question in the climate debate is: who is going to pay for this ?"

    Which is a fair question, if it would be prohibitively expensive. Doesn't need to be though. Most those above plans yield net increases in profits rather than costs. You should be asking why won't the powers that be allow me to earn a profit while fixing the climate. That's a far more rational question. A question I really can't answer. I have a few educated guesses, but this website is not the place for speculation.

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  12. @11


    In some of your links the costs are discussed (f.i. How Nuclear Power Can Stop Global Warming) and it appears that the costs are substantial.

    In some of your links (f.i. How to cut greenhouse gasses and minimize global warming) it is proposed to put a tax on carbon e.g. exactly what I propose: let the polluters pay.

    For the projects that can fund themselves (e.g. that generate a higher profit than the cost, like FARMING A CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION) I doubt that they can be deployed on a large enough scale to lead to a substantial decrease in atmospheric CO2.

    My statement is: the heart of the problem is financial, not that scientific/technical solutions are lacking. Any undertaking that wants to replace the entire energy infrastructure of the planet (largely based on fossil fuels) with a new one (based on renewables or nuclear power) is bound to cost enormous amounts of money.

    You seem to believe that we can solve the problem without tackling the polluters. Even if this were possible this is a slippery slope. It is a power struggle. If we start from the viewpoint that the polluters don’t have to pay up for the damage they are causing, we will end up giving them extra subsidies to maintain the status quo.

    Far-fetched ? It is what is happening in Europe at this very moment. CO2 emission rights are given to companies based on how high their estimated CO2 emissions were in the past. Instead of leveling the playing field – a sound principle of the free market – the opposite is happening. New companies that want to produce in a clean way are put at a disadvantage!

    And of course: the political will to change is lacking – because the support of the population for action is lacking – and this is because fossil fuel companies keep on funding climate change denial – and that is because they still believe they will get away with it.

    I believe we need to fight that fight. Only if fossil fuel companies get the message: “you will be held accountable, no matter what”, they will be inclined to change their course.

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  13. How to deal with climate change? In my opinion, it requires a range of things, with no one simple answer.

    The best way of at least changing behaviour is arguably a carbon tax, as others above argue, for reasons that it solves several problems. It is a disincentive for using fossil fuels, the polluter pays, and the income stream can be used for renewables or subsidies.

    Cap and Trade is just too susceptible to dubious practices, in my view. Forced regulatory controls on fossil fuel companies is technically ideal, but would be so divisive it probaly isn't going to happen.

    Regarding the best renewable energy, I dont think you can rule anything out as it depends on individual countries. Some suit wind, some may have to resort to nuclear.

    It's all expensive, but various authorities have suggested 1-2% of gdp per year, which is not impossible by any means.

    Carbon sinks like soils could be very useful, but require considerable global changes in farming techniques and this would be unlikely to happen overnight, yet it would be absurd to dismiss something like this either. It just seems commonsense that you would combine renewable energy, with promoting various carbon sinks. However somebody has to decide what split you have between the two.

    But will it all happen? Because of slow progress, a rapid transition to renewables is now needed, and electric cars etc. It's technically possible in my view, but is a massive undertaking, and difficult in slow moving democratic governments, and with people so uncertain about the whole thing and all the denialist propoganda. And it needs to happen across many countries.

    You almost need a war time "command and control" economy, and that would be resisted for ideological reasons. So humanity has a big headache, because while an answer is theoretically plausible, it is complex to implement and the politics are daunting.

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  14. There is another important issue. Assume we do nothing, or close to nothing about climate change, and it proves to be serious, possibly more rapid than expected etc, and this is entirely possible.

    The blame game will start, and the division and hatred could be on a scale that humanity has never expereinced before. It will drive liberals and conservatives to war, and different generation to war, and I mean the real type of war, where people get killed.

    All the more reason to solve the problem, before it escalates out of control.

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