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)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Climate Sensitivity is not the Central Issue

I am totally conventional on the climate sensitivity number and yet I am totally disgruntled about climate modeling.

Climateprediction.net is an effort to run a very large suite of related models rather than putting too much weight on one. Good idea. But they have concluded that the sensitivity can be very high.

I don't believe them, but it really doesn't matter very much.

I don't believe them

I am quite convinced that the Allen et al "climateprediction.net" work is nonsensical. I do not have the clout to win this point, nor do the people who agree with me, or I should rather say, with whom I agree. Even the community, and certainly the press, is putting far too much emphasis on unrealistic scenarios.

Many and probably all of the really scary projection climateprediction.net outcomes are likely based on models that can be a priori rejected on their fidelity to historical climate. Their rejection criteria are too lax and that is all there is behind the alarming results so widely claimed for their experiment.

Much as I believe that the future of climate modeling is in systematic exploration of parameter space rather than in addition of processes to monolithic monster codes, and hence I begin with philosophical agreement with their ideas, their conclusions serve only to to understate and obfuscate the legitimate accomplishments of the climate modeling field. It is my understanding that if they weighted their results by model fidelity to observations the spread would be greatly attenuated.

It Doesn't Matter Much

I am also convinced that in the large matters are much more serious than they are taken to be; an equilibrium atmosphere-ocean mean sensitivity between 2.5 - 3 C per CO2 doubling, which I take to be a fairly reliable estimate (> 50%) on current evidence, is just a number. It's what that number implies on the ground that is the issue, and there it's pretty much anybody's guess.

I believe this latter problem (local impacts) can be usefully if not completely resolved in principle, but I don't believe it will be resolved in practice. This tends to discourage me from persisting in my current efforts. There are far more important questions to address.

Does any of this matter to mitigation policy? We already know that net carbon emission is a bad idea. The mitigation world needs to leave climatology alone.

Does sensitivity matter to adaptation policy? Only indirectly, as a measure of model consensus.

Can we build better models, such that adaptation-relevant projections become reliable? I think so, but I also think we won't make an adequate effort anytime soon. If we just do more of what we have been doing and slap it on bigger machines we will get the same result; not as bad as the climateprediction.net people claim, but not good enough to affect regional scale planning.

The bulk of what people think about ought to be mitigation at the global scale. Places with specific climate vulnerabilities ought to shore up their defenses. Maybe climate science will have something more to say, but for now just think "2.75 C" and move on to what to do about it, please?


Another Scientist Steps Outside the Box



Here's what Andrew Weaver has to say about it:
Stepping into a political fray is almost unheard of for a scientist, especially one of Weaver's stature. As one of the world's pre-eminent climate scientists, he was part of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that collates and interprets climate change data for the world's governments and a lead author of its seminal assessment reports.

But so "incensed" is he by what he calls Prime Minister Stephen Harper's war on science and scientists, by the government's questioning of climate change and by the obstructionist positions the Tories have taken on the issue internationally, he felt he had no choice.

"I have historically refused to actually say anything like I've said to you," he continued. "But I recognize that (climate change) is the defining problem for humanity, and I recognize there's only one leader in Canada who's actually dealing with it."

In Keeping Our Cool, Weaver outlines in a comprehensive way what climate change is, why it's real, what causes it and what obstacles politicians and industrial interests place in the way of countering it. Throughout there are diagrams and tables that attempt to present graphically what he admits is an inherently complicated truth.

But this has always been one of Weaver's strengths. Without ever dumbing the issue down, he keeps it as simple and understandable as he can.

He agrees the crux of his book comes down to a single alarming sentence on page 28: "People have simply no idea how serious this issue is."

It's so serious, he said, that unless we reach a point where we stop emitting greenhouse gases entirely, 80 per cent of the world's species will become extinct, and human civilization as we know it will be destroyed, by the end of this century.

"Climate scientists who grapple with this every day ... we see where it's headed. We understand it very well.

"I think the public needs to know, straight in their face, that you can give up on civilization as we know it. This is what I'm trying to get across in the book. Do we actually give a s--- for future generations?"
OK? Let's not quibble about numbers. This isn't about numbers. It is about a simple fact.

We must stop emitting greenhouse gases entirely.

Update Followup musings here.

29 comments:

pmiddents said...

Weaver sounds like a man cut from the same bolt of cloth as Hansen.

Thank God for both of them.

CoRev said...

I agree with you on the models, but then you blow it by making this nonsensical general statement. "We must stop emitting greenhouse gases entirely."

Please, please clarify it. Otherwise, my only nonsensical response is: OK, you stop breathing first!

Michael Tobis said...

Breathing is not a net emission; food is a biofuel.

Michael Tobis said...

Comment from a reader, somewhat edited to remove unnecessarily contentious language which was, I believe, misdirected in any case.

"Do we actually give a s--- for future generations" Asks Weaver.

Stephen Harper was just returned to power on Oct 14, but again with a minority. Neither Weaver's editorialising, nor his book, was widely disseminated in the media. So it is hard to say what the opinions of Canadians really is, regarding climate change.

A resounding "maybe we care" is still a "we don't care" though, in effect.

I have a real problem with ... those who must wish to keep everyone stupid and undereducated on the risks of climate change. They were earlier, before the financial crisis, out in full force, and almost wholly unopposed, in the Canadian media this election. After the financial crisis all talk on climate change and mitigation was censored.

Chris Colose said...

Mauri Pelto said in a RC comment, "Temperature is not the only measure to consider in examining climate sensitivity. Sea ice extent, Greenland Ice Sheet melt extent are additional measures that are exceeding model expectations."

I agree. I think there's a bit too much emphasis on this idea of a "global mean temperature change." What does that mean to someone living in Tokyo? Georgia? New York City? Greenland? Are any of these places "globally-averaged places?" and why is temperature the only thing they'd be interested in? People want to know what the changed chances are of extremes, how precipitation will change, how humidity will change, if they will be flooded, etc. Policy makers are interested in ecological losses, effects on tourism (coral loss, etc). Telling someone the climate sensitivity is 0.8 K/W/m2 or 1 K/W/m2 is not extremely informative

Walt Bennett said...

"We must stop emitting greenhouse gases entirely."

Since that won't remotely happen: what's your backup plan?

Michael Tobis said...

Well, of course it will eventually happen. The only question is whether it is before or after the fossil fuels are all dug up.

Again, I am talking about net emissions, so I am definitely in favor of capture and sequestration as the least disruptive scenario. This allows for a net absorption, i.e., cuts greater than 100%.

My "backup plan", presuming trivial emissions restraints and insignificant sequestration in the next few decades, is a global catastrophe. Why, what's yours?

Walt Bennett said...

We will burn every last drop of oil and we will probably sift through sands for tar and other sources.

"Global catastrophe' is the most worn-out song in the juke box. Tell me how well that argument plays with people who are simply trying to make ends meet, or who need access to energy.

Cheap alternatives are the only possible way to alter that paradigm.

Backup plan? How about primary plan? Technology. Engineering our way forward.

Please name for me any nation on the planet which will agree to slow or reduce its economic growth in the name of "reducing emissions." My answer: zero.

And even if perhaps the U.S. was foolish enough to "lead the way", the result would be that other nations would continue to emit increasing amounts of CO2, giving them an economic advantage over the U.S. and utterly negating the effort to "avoid catastrophic levels of CO2".

When we finally get into the real world, it might be possible to have a lucid discussion about what is feasible and what the potential benefits would be.

Backup plan? Move to higher ground, and as far north as possible. I consider it more likely than not that we will need serious adaptive measures, no matter how "well" we do at "reducing emissions."

By the way: I am a "warmer". I accept the high probability that CO2 emissions are warming the planet and will likely cause significant warming.

However, the current "solutions" being pushed by Bali and so forth will not actually solve anything, but they will attempt to transfer vast amounts of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations.

Michael Tobis said...

Walt, you do a good job of encapsulating the tragic foolishness with which our generation is planning to saddle the ages.

Let's presume for the sake of argument that the Hansenite view is approximately correct. This is, I hope you will admit, entirely independent of your argument and is simply a matter up to physical reality to decide. So let's presume we live in a universe where it is true.

Obviously there is something unaccounted for in your reasoning, since it is (under the hypothetical) absolutely guaranteed to produce an undesirable outcome.

Walt, we can argue whether the hypothetical is true, I suppose. But the sort of realism you propose is pretty much a matter of accepting defeat long before it is necessary.

Walt Bennett said...

Michael,

Let's attempt to have that lucid discussion which is simply impossible to have at any other site, in my experience. I'm game.

If the Hansenite view is approximately correct, and I will stipulate that such a supposition is likely to be correct, then we have already passed the tipping point or soon will, based on simple economic inertia.

You did not address my specific points, and I would like it if you would, specifically: which nation will be the first to commit to slowing or reversing economic growth in the name of "reducing emissions"?

I gave you my alternative to the apocalypse: engineer our way forward. We should be sinking massive resources into carbon capture and not sequestration but re-use. If we can capture carbon and re-use it as a fuel, we can possibly control background CO2 levels at some point in the future. I won' go too far with that speculation other than to note its possibility.

Technology and adaptation are almost certainly going to be required. If we can get real about the dim prospects for "emissions reduction" as any sort of safe bet for solving this dilemma, we can place the resources where it makes sense to place them.

Michael Tobis said...

Walt, perhaps you'd like to introduce yourself and make some claims about what you know and don't know, specifically about engineering. If you propose a lucid discussion, perhaps you'd be willing to say what it is you propose to be lucid about.

If you are looking to find someone to argue against engineering, it won't be me; I have two engineering degrees in EE and Systems Engineering,

I am not sure what your question "which nation will be the first to commit to slowing or reversing economic growth in the name of reducing emissions" means or why you think I ought to have a ready answer.

I see this as conflating two questions. The first is about emissions. Clearly nations that take on emissions constraints believe that doing so is a positive benefit in the long run. The Dutch certainly have been making a good showing. Of course, they obviously stand to be among the biggest losers in a sea level rise scenario.

Which nation will abandon "growth" first? That's perhaps a better question. Arguably, it has already been done by Bhutan.

Linking the two ideas in a formal national policy? I have no idea. I acknowledge that I hope it may happen that people everywhere see the coherence and necessity of these ideas before rather than after a great crisis.

Steven Horrobin said...

The language in this exchange appears millenarian, and apocalyptic. How do you account, then, for the fact that, while we worry about an increase in atmospheric CO2 from 370ppm to 450 or perhaps (as no one has suggested) 1500, the average CO2 in phanerozoic (being, of course, the history of all life on earth) atmosphere lies in the region of 2500-3000 ppm?

The Permian event aside, the fact that life flourished during all the phanerozioc ages with vastly greater than current atmospheric CO2 is surely suggestive of the situation being far from apocalyptic. No?

Further, as is correctly noted, Greenland glacial retreat is taken as a strong sign of global warming, yet a recent study (http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/grnlndice.htm) has shown that an exactly similar dramatic event occurred in the 1920s and 1930s.

Strangely, while arguing that this somehow demonstrates that the situation is even more alarming, the authors of the study don't even bother to remark on the fact that the primary thing this appears to suggest is that such glacial retreat is neither unprecedented, nor even outwith living experience. After all, the sequel to the 1920-1940 event was cooling and reglaciation to the mid 1960s.

Now of course you can say that this does not take into account the global temperature rise, but, as you have agreed in the above exchange, the latter is only one of several indicators, another of which is the glacier retreat, which, ex argumentum, thus means the retreat of 1920-1940 must have been quite independent of global warming!

Walt Bennett said...

Michael,

It took you only three posts to pull rank and basically tell me to shut up.

As you wish.

Michael Tobis said...

Saying what you know and how you know it and where you come from is not "pulling rank".

It seems to me that the whole point of a pro-engineering position is to value knowledge.

Michael Tobis said...

Steven, interesting approach. Please stay tuned.

David Lewis said...

I have always questioned the emphasis on computer projection in the climate debate. Well, since about 1987. The discovery of the ozone hole showed the modellers what happens when an entire scientific discipline lets itself be lulled into relative complacency because computer amplification of what they know leads them to believe they know what they don't, i.e. what will happen in the future.

The modellers left ice crystals in the stratosphere out of the models because they did not know ice crystals were in the stratosphere even though the first Antarctic explorers had observed unique very high clouds there. The models said no damage should be visible at that time, i.e. around 1986, before Farman published. They even programmed the NASA processing computers analysing the data coming in from the satellites to ignore but archive any observations showing radically low ozone levels because the models showed these to be "impossible". By the time you are doing this you are asleep at the switch. After the ozone hole was observed from Farman's ground station, NASA went over the archived data and they realized they had been observing but ignoring it for years. They put ice crystals into the models and the ozone hole duly appeared.

So we have this experience for climate modellers to consider.

I'm not with those who say there is nothing a model can tell us, but I'd say keep in mind it is a "dim crystal ball". Sherwood Rowland published his critical view just before the discovery was confirmed saying it was his opinion that a lot of researchers would rather stay in their labs working on fleshing out yet more tiny detail rather than speaking out with the alarm commensurate with what they already knew.

Hansen's work shows where his mind is going. He's researching the history of the planet. As he says all the feedbacks are in those records, you are looking at what happened as greenhouse gas levels changed. The clouds and aerosols are in there. You are not looking at some computer projection of the necessarily imperfect present state of knowledge and wondering why one groups work varies from anothers or why some dramatic observation was not predicted and how to tweak a model so it will be. His research has him saying it looks like 450 ppm is the borderline between an ice free planet and one with ice, and he's warning anything like "safe" levels of greenhouse gases must be taken to be less than what is in the atmosphere now. This is a radically different view than what has been taken by the public to be what the "best science" is, which is derived from the modelled projections of ranges of temperatures by certain dates. Its confusing the public and delaying appropriate action, says Hansen. I agree.

People who say all this adds up to we must stop emitting greenhouse gases entirely don't actually mean that.

Greenhouse gas composition of the atmosphere is a result of titanic movements of gases into and out of the atmosphere. What humans have done is disturb a balance that normally changes the composition slightly each year to a situation where the change is happening thousands of times faster. So humans have got to reduce their emissions until the rate of change not only stops but goes in the other direction for a while. Moving the rate of change to zero used to be thought to involve reducing fossil fuel caused carbon emissions by more than one half globally but recent apparent changes to the capacity of the planetary system to absorb the gases may cause revisions to that understanding. One half global translates into more than 90% in a place like North America, due to no one really believes China will ever do anything unless we accept their right to a per capita emission rate the same as ours and we emit so much more than anyone else we'd have to cut more, so sometimes it seems like the easiest way to get this point across is to say get rid of all fossil fuel caused emissions.

Michael Tobis said...

David, I'm with you for the most part, but your description of the ozone hole story doesn't quite ring true to me.

Your idea that modeling could have confirmed the Rowland/Molina ozone depletion hypothesis confuses me. Only observations can confirm a hypothesized mechanism.

Net emissions have to get very close to zero; there is no other way to stabilize the situation. As you point out, they may have to go below zero for a while. So I don't see what you are disagreeing with.

My own opinion is that better climate modeling is probably possible in principle, but in practice it is beyond the abilities and resources of current practitioners.

David B. Benson said...

Steven Horrobin --- The early sun was faint. At various times there was too much global warming (so-called greenhouse) gases; the oceans expressed hydrogen sulfide. See Peter Ward's "Under A Green Sky".

Much the same will occur at around 1000 ppm (hotter sun now). Read Mark Lynas's "Six Degrees" or Joe Romm's "Hell and High Water".

david lewis said...

My point is not that modelling could have confirmed Rowland and Molina, in fact it did. Models showed it was a serious problem that should be dealt with by eliminating production of the chemicals responsible. The problem was that the scientists couldn't agree that any damage at all had been observed prior to the discovery of the ozone hole. The debate over when production of the chemicals should stop hinged on the theory itself and on the predictions of the models. As you say, only observations can confirm, the ozone hole was the confirmation, and only then were teeth put into the international agreement the Montreal Protocol was revamped to be.

Re GHGs. I was not disagreeing with anyone on that point. I thought I was explaining something to one of your commenters.

In general I was making the point that we shouldn't rely on the models so much when we try to think about how bad things are going to get. I am pointing to the historical studies of Hansen saying pay attention: he's warning all this talk about 450 ppm being some borderline beyond which "safe" climate change turns dangerous, i.e. all this talk about the 2 degree limit being "safe" has turned out to be "a recipe for global disaster"

I don't think I disagree with you at all. I'm just bringing up that time when hysteria broke out in the scientific community because they underestimated how bad things could get how quickly by believing too much in their model predictions. Its really the only experience we have in predicting what the future holds as the atmosphere is changed. Caution is what that example urges us to practice, and I'd say caution means restoring the composition of the atmosphere to the 325 - 350 ppm Hansen is saying.

Michael Tobis said...

Steven;

You seem to be taking the position that the changes we are seeing are not outside the regime of natural variability. This is a classic doubters' pose but it strikes me as little more than a pose.

The rate of increase of CO2 is not within natural variability, and the evidence that CO2 is a primary control on climate is practically incontrovertible.

I am not speaking of ice as an indicator of warming but as a possible consequence of warming. To argue that we haven't begin a period of anthropogenic warming is based on little more than some desperate sleight of hand.

Stylistically, reaching for the natural variability straw is not drastically different than blaming the economic collapse on overlax lending rather than on bank excesses following irresponsible deregulation. Yes, perhaps it made matters worse and perhaps it acted as a trigger mechanism, but it's a tiny proportion of the mess no matter how you look at it.

You point to a bit of scientific press release, as if I had not begun this thread by complaining about the whole process. It's getting to the point where the spin is more important than the science. Indeed, identifying mechanisms and time scales for decay of ice sheets has developed some practical importance. So if we see it happening without much forcing it makes the prognosis grimmer under the huge forcing we anticipate.

This can be seen by the doubters as having it both ways: when something is naturally variable the alarmists say things are unstable and yet when something is not naturally variable they argue that things are without precedent. In practice, nothing prevents either argument from carrying weight in one situation or another.

Regarding whether life can survive 8x CO2, it evidently can. This leaves open at least four questions of substance: 1) how long it takes ice sheets to break up under such circumstances (shorter than we used to think; currently not well-constrained) 2) how rapidly ecosystems can adjust (unknown, but rapid change promotes aggressive and genetically poor edge species vs benign and diverse niche species) 3) how rapidly human infrastructure can adapt (we have set up; a system wherein goods are mobile but people are not; the consequences may be disastrous if even a few populated areas become unihabitable) and 4) how long ocean geochemistry will stay disequilibrated such that ocean life is severely impacted by acidification (likely long enough to kill most vertebrate species in the ocean.)

I wonder, then, how this picture can be altered by one or another story of regional variability in the past.

Not all the carbon may be removed from the ground. If sequestration is ruled out for one reason or another, the economic value of the remaining fuel is negative and we shouldn't touch it.

This means we aren't as wealthy as we might have thought, but pretending the case is otherwise will only make matters worse.

Dano said...

I haven't visited in a few days and made my way thru this thread with anticipation after I saw the faint beginnings of an interesting discussion between walt and mt.

Alas, the all-too-typical happened.

Too bad.

Best,

D

Michael Tobis said...

Dano, naw. There was never much chance of anything worthwhile.

The funny thing is he seems to be gearing up to make a CCS argument, not realizing that I have already risked my virtual neck arguing for CCS over on Grist.

In other words, there wouldn't be much debate. I agree with him in substance (though very much not in style!) on what he is mostly going on about, but since he's looking for a confrontation rather than a conversation he wasn't even going to notice.

This is what modern politics has sunk us to.

Maybe President Obama can put something in the water supply to calm these guys down to the point where they see we are not their enemies?

I guess not. (Sigh.)

davidlewis said...

The Economist says $2.5 trillion was shoveled out worldwide onto the banks in the last few weeks just to unfreeze capital markets. Its because the Great Depression after 1929 happened, its causes were studied, and the theory on what to do when conditions like what caused that seem to be at hand, that incredible solutions like that were all ready to go, and are being tried out. The economists agreed "its the end of the world", they sold their solution to governments, and we all stood by astonished as they handed over $trillions to the industry that caused the problem.

People concerned about climate might find something that would cheer them up in all this: civilization has acted on a scale that would put a big dent in the climate problem, right in front of us all, even though it was on another issue, i.e. the mere "end of the world" that the economists identified.

Unfortunately, on this analysis, it is the end of the world. We would need to experience planetary ecological collapse once, and then, millenia from now, it would be easier to convince everyone that certain roads were the wrong ones to go down.

That Monbiot column you've linked to up there is worth reading. Thanks. Its worth asking the type of questions he asks, i.e. what is the long term outlook for power and fertilizer? Its worth noting that the UK government does not seem to be concerned.

I'm not sure on his economic analysis at the beginning of his article but I think he's onto to something in the middle:

"One of the fastest spreading memes is the proposal for a Green New Deal: a Keynesian package of environmental works designed to boost employment and channel public investment"

When the current global economic crisis erupted into the $2.5 trillion payout I started the most serious examination of economics I've ever done. I'm only at the beginning of my study. I recommend the study to anyone concerned about climate.

Krugman, NY Times blogger, Nobel economist, who wrote the introduction to the new edition of Keynes' The General Theory, states it was the massive investments caused by the eruption of WWII that finally got the world out of The Great Depression, not the New Deal measures Monbiot writes of. Krugman writes, in that introduction to Keynes' book, when discussing the Keynesian policies Monbiot says did the job

"that's not quite what happened".

It doesn't really matter for the purposes of Monbiot's point, except for this: the New Deal was the bandaid, while the solution was WWII. WWII was external to economic policy, the economists just supplied theory and tools to governments coping with it. Climate is external in the same way WWII was, and as we press the economists to come up with the plans to deal with it, this is an argument.

We've just been dismissing economists saying it is their theories leading to endless growth that are killing the planet, when it may be that their theories have some use. Take a look at this assessment of the fundamental insight into economics that Adam Smith had, as stated by Krugman: "each individual is led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention". Doesn't that sound like what we need, if the end was a solution to the climate problem?

Its an argument that is out there, and it isn't surprising to hear something like it is gathering steam in the UK. There is a growing chorus emanating from the type of economists who are likely to be growing in influence in Washington as Obama takes over, for massive public expenditure, and its time for climate campaigners to prepare even more than they already are prepared to do to make the case as to where those massive expenditures should go.

Krugman, when discussing the work of Keynes, especially "The General Theory", says "It transformed the way everyone, including Keynes’s intellectual opponents, thought about the economy".

This is the task we face today. We need to transform the way everyone, including our opponents, think about climate.

Michael Tobis said...

Thank you David, for a very thoughtful submission; I am honored that you chose to put it here. For future reference, the Monbiot article in question is here.

AdamW said...

It's also here if you want his references.

Walt Bennett said...

Michael,

You were wrong to accuse me of seeking confrontation.

Your proposals were illusory and dishonest, and when I insisted that you address specific questions, you obfuscated.

Now we see more and more warnings that the inertia is already built in to reach dangerous levels.

Do you think we are going to come to a dead stop tomorrow?

In ten years?

Please. It was you who did not want an honest discussion.

As Dano noted, there was a chance for one. But it takes two to tango.

I came ready. You simply dug in.

Michael Tobis said...

I am for the conventional wisdom, which would be to slow down as quickly as feasible, which in turn would probably mean peaking in 2020 and an 80% cut by 2050.

I am not sure what you are advocating, at all. It seems to be "enjoy the next few years because that's all we get". Is that right?

Why don't you summarize your position?

You mistook me for "pulling rank" when I was simply stating that I am an engineer by training and inclination, hence not opposed to engineering solutions. You claimed I ducked the question and that was the last I heard from you. As far as I am concerned that was a misunderstanding; if there was any avoidance it wasn't from me.

So, Walt, if you have something interesting to say, by all means say it.

While I reserve the right not to post things I find excessively rude and/or redundant.

So far you have not come close to either. On the contrary, you haven't really stated what you want to convince others of very clearly. By all means go for it.

Walt Bennett said...

Michael.

What I advocate is honesty. Hansen is still going around saying that we have a chance to avoid 450 ppm, if we stop building coal plants that do not capture and sequester.

That is not happening and will not happen. Let's be honest about it.

If the Bali accord leads to an actual treaty, I believe that China and India will not agree to significant reductions, and thus the treaty will fail to solve the problem. What it will certainly do is raise the cost of energy for participating nations, thus shifting the balance of economic power to those very nations which refuse to comply. Since these are two of the most populous nations on the planet, they have a real incentive to grow, most likely at the expense of developed nations.

We need to talk honestly about that.

You are an engineer: My plan is to engineer our way forward, to learn how to manage atmospheric CO2 levels. I know the argument: that's most easily done on the production end, and of course it is. But the problem is, if we place all of our resources in the basket of placing a penalty on carbon usage, we incur all of the pain while achieving none of the benefit.

We need to be honest about that.

In short: we risk everything if we do not examine how CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere through human means. Be it managing plant life or running massive machines, and I've seen good ideas for both, we cannot afford to overlook this avenue. The CO2 is going to find its way up, of that we can be sure. Even Hansen concedes that mostly all of the available oil will be used.

So...looking at the unfolding scenario and the solutions being proposed, how could any rational person see any possibility at all of success?

Walt Bennett said...

Interestingly, you seemed to be inviting me to continue the discussion...by myself?