"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, January 25, 2008

Climate Models: Best Hope of Policy Gradualism

There's much to consider in Ray Pierrehumbert's latest posting on RealClimate, "The Debate is Just Beginning on the Cretaceous". For now I'd like to focus on Ray Ladbury's comment #22. Ray L says something much like I've been saying, though he expresses it somewhat differently. Logically, I have argued that the less you believe the models, the more you should support vigorous (ok, ok, I'll say it, "draconian") policy to restrain emissions.

Here is how Ray L explains it:
Excellent post as usual. The seeming glee that denialists sieze upon any result that could be interpreted as calling model results into question has always amused me. The empirical data are sufficient to establish that warming is occurring. The fact that nobody can construct even a semblance of a scientific model that explains these data without anthropogenic CO2 being the driver establishes convincingly the cause. And the paleoclimate is sufficient to establish that the consequences of rapid, significant warming can be severe indeed. The models are the only tools we have that could LIMIT how much we should be concerned. Right now it is the models that are suggesting scenarios by which we could limit the consequences of climate change without significantly harming our global economy. If the models are wrong, the upside risk of climate change cannot be limited, and arguments for draconiam measures are strengthened rather than weakened. That is why I keep telling responsible skeptics that the models are the best friends they have.

1 comment:

David B. Benson said...

Yes, draconian. So far nobody in power seems to have received the word.