The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fallibility of Consensus Revisited


From an alarming article from a group called Carbon Equity with a hat tip to Eric Swanson.

6 comments:

AK said...

Sure looks like an inflection point to me. Do any of the models (IPCC or otherwise) predict an inflection point here?

Michael Tobis said...

Nope, that's the point of the graph.

We won't know for sure how important this is for a couple of years. Perhaps the curve will revert to the predicted slope, or even to the predicted line.

On the other hand, there is no denying that it has an ominous look. Barring an equally peculiar bounce back in the next couple of years, it's something that people who don't like the concept of 'tipping points" will have to account for.

This also reinforces my long held point that the consensus is more or less equally likely to understate as to overstate risks.

Understated risks being more severe than overstated risks, they should have more weight in our decisions.

AK said...

I don't get it. I would expect any valid climate model to be full of "tipping points". I'd visualize a vast network of them interacting in overlapping positive and negative feedback loops.

Isn't that the way the real thing operates?

Michael Tobis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Tobis said...

Nope, sorry. The short answer is that climate models don't act like that, and we don't know to what extent the world that we are modeling does.

That is a darned fine question, though. I'll try to ponder a better answer.

AK said...

Thanks, that would be great. It's pretty much the same as my first question in my post over at Wired.

BTW, it occurred to me that the timing is right for it to be caused by the war in Afghanistan. Wouldn't that be a screamingly "politically unacceptable" model?