"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Friday, April 6, 2007

What about the other 11%?

Commentary on the WGII SPM on Slashdot spans the usual gamut from snarky through self-importantly clueless to insightful, and as usual for nontechnical articles the comment moderation system is not especially helpful. My impression that the balance of Slashdot opinion was moving in the wrong direction is not confirmed this time; it seems to be about 25% informed and 75% ill-informed, with the ill-informed split evenly between worried, unworried, and more or less misguided difference splitting (a.k.a. Broderism).

One presumably skeptical question seemed genuine and insightful enough, though. What does "consistent" mean? It's stated that 89% of the observational records showing significant change are "consistent" with warming. Does this imply that 11% are "inconsistent"? What does this mean for the "consistency" of the record as a whole?

I think we'll be hearing this question again.

I didn't see any answer in the SPM. Did I miss it?


Dano said...

80:20 rule strikes again.



inel said...

Consistency, consensus, probability, uncertainty … all these words tie in with contrarians' desire to prevent action to combat climate change by sowing doubt amongst non-scientists. This is easily done by making unwitting members of the public believe that science deals with facts and facts must be 100% correct before we act, and in this case scientists cannot provide 100% proof that climate change is happening nor 100% proof that any changes are due to human activity therefore we should not act.

The word "consistent" comes up many times in both SPMs this year. Ho-hum. Here we go again … :-(

Indications that are inconsistent with warming do not mean warming is not happening, just as indications that are consistent with warming do not prove that warming is happening. These are just inputs in the form of evidence to be assessed.

The record is completely consistent within itself in that it lays these points out clearly, without covering up the points of inconsistency (!), so that policymakers are able to make their own informed judgements.