"Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors."

-Jonas Salk

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dizzying Array of Climate News

All the Running You Can Do To Stay in the Same Place

Of course, now that there's a heat wave in DC and NYC, global warming is back on.

In other big climate news:

Mann re-re-re-re-re-re-vindicated.

Ho hum.

Jones also re-re-re-re-re-re-vindicated.

160 bloody page report

Can we stop now?

Big league pundits have been discussing AGW this week:

It all seems based on an absolutely ludicrous claim in WGIII (quoted at p 17 in AR4 WGII SPM) that by 2100 global warming will have a total cost of 3% of GDP (not compounded annually, total). This is, as far as I am concerned, indistinguishable from noise; this is an annual compounded hit of 0.03%. Based on a 40 hour week, we can all just work an extra 36 minutes a year, send the proceeds to places like Bangladesh, and call it a wash.

I really wish I believed this but I don't. So there is some SPM level stuff in AR4 that's totally complacency-provoking. If it's true, we really ought to find something better to worry about. Unfortunately it really doesn't look true. On the one hand, so much for the idea that IPCC is alarmist. On the other hand, so much for the idea that IPCC is uniformly good.

The answer from the punditry to Manzi is not to call the absurdly small cost into question, but to say that we should take drastic action anyway, even though the risk is trivial.

TB does a better job answering Manzi.)

The Dutch have reconsidered IPCC.

Press reports are wildly, spectacularly inconsistent, as the press tries to spectacularize a sober, unspectacular, genuine critique into a crisis or a triumph.

Lou Grinzo, in email, shrugs:
Honestly, these days I'm happy if the mass media can spell "IPCC" correctly.
On the other hand

The Guardian has, with a flourish, issued a pile of fetid middle-of-the-road bilge as if it summarized anything. This is at least a wonderful who's who of them what say nothing and get quoted for it. Hulme, Curry, RP Jr., Ravetz. This Pearce de resistance (as in Fred Pearce) may make you lose your lunch. Don't read it within an hour of eating.

Anyway, "climategate" apparently has changed "everything". Stop the presses. Please.

The Friends of Science

are still hoping to get something immensely complicated and ineffective through the US congress, because shoveling huge amounts of money to some corporate interests at the expense of others and adding vast layers of bureaucracy would be better than nothing if it led to a tiny reduction in carbon emissions.

Or they could just try the Republican plan, which is to cripple the economy quickly in the interest of electoral gains by simple straightforward idiocy. That would probably be more effective in reducing emissions in the short run.

Moderation in All Things, Especially Human Decency

Keith Kloor's until-recently promising efforts to establish a middle ground for reasoned conversation, as well as recent efforts by David Brin, are quickly overrun by the familiar horde of flying monkeys. In related tragicomedy Keith has decided that I am an extremist, which is tedious in the extreme. On the other hand it seems to be increasing my notoriety, which will help once I have a book to flog, I suppose.

Unfortunately, as a diligently reasonable middle-of-the-roader, Keith is unable to accept the idea that the right target for carbon emissions is the same as the right target for mugging little old ladies. I am sure he is looking to split the difference.

If this journalistic moderating impulse were alive during the days of Lincoln, I figure we'd now have slavery Monday through Wednesday every week and on alternate Saturdays. (*)


Meanwhile, today, this very day, amid all this light comedy, an additional eighty million tons of fossil CO2 are being released into the biosphere. Tomorrow's emissions are predicted to be similar.

And to all of you in the eastern time zone

I hope your AC holds out. Welcome to Texas.

(*) In case you think I'm being overly facetious here, consider that they actually tried something like that.


John Mashey said...

re: SPM on 3%...
You may recall Mashey Summarizes Carbon urgency.

1) Read pp.180-183 of the AR4 WG III.
See caption on Fig 3.3.

2) I talked to Bert Metz when he was out here ~2008 and asked him how they got their numbers for GDP growth projections. A: they use the "standard" numbers, like World Bank, DoE, IEA ... i.e.,. they try to not to invent their own.

3) if you go back and read, you may note I've been on a campaign for a while to point out that the (X% loss from climate problems) is almost irrelevant if the basic assumptions are wrong. *I* think Aryes & Warr, or Charlie Hall are much more likely to be closer to reality than the happy projections based on the last 100 years of increasing fossil fuel use.

4) BUT, the problem is in the standard economic projections.
I don't think the IPCC can easily say: "We reject them..."
However, I hope the next round can more strongly consider the (minority) view of the relationship of GDP to energy...
Because on the current path, we're headed for the path where people put up dikes against the sea using shovels. I have yet to see a convincing that GDP/person can grow anything like the standard scenarios, which imply something like 6-15X higher GDP/person in 2100.

bigcitylib said...

Does Texas have 110 per cent humidity?

Michael Tobis said...

Not literally, but the closer you get to Beaumont the more humid it gets.

Central Texas has two kinds of weather, dry heat and moist heat. It depends on which way the wind is blowing.

manuel moe g said...

from Tobis' post "Unfortunately, as a diligently reasonable middle-of-the-roader, Keith is unable to accept the idea that the right target for carbon emissions is the same as the right target for mugging little old ladies. I am sure he is looking to split the difference."

This is not strictly true. Kloor would just like to first vet the old ladies before setting a cap and trade on muggings. ;-)

Why are the so-so-so-balanced so-so-so-reasonable also so-so-so-laughable?

jg said...

"Pearce de resistance" -- once again your humor hit me like a sucker punch.

Deech56 said...

Michael, reading through the Kloor thread was depressing, except for Brin coming back with what he really meant - the resulting pearl clutching and fainting was quite impressive. What was noteworthy (I think in that thread, and I think brought up by Dr. Curry) was the Air Vent "who are you" (paraphrase) thread. My impression was lots of engineers, and that is why this article caught my eye.

When working with these multidisciplinary groups, I have observed a definite cultural difference between scientists and engineers. Basic scientists seem to be very comfortable with ambiguity and the unknown. Applied engineers, however, depend on and expect established knowledge and certainty.

Therrin (Ben S) said...

Republicans hold no monopoly on economy-crippling legislation.

William M. Connolley said...

Nice post, thanks. I gave up on KK a while back.

afeman said...

They got bupkis!

Sing it!


Brian said...

Maybe MT already knows this and I'm missing the subtlety, but the right target for old lady mugging isn't zero - that target requires a police state that even old ladies would find undesirable.

OTOH, the right target for emissions is a trend line to zero and then to negative emissions by 50-70 years from now.

I don't know how you can get negative old lady muggings, unless you count old ladies running around and punching out teen hoodlums.

Michael Tobis said...

Brian, hairs well split.

Still I like Caldeira's mugging formulation and intend to keep using it. We would certainly be a lot better off if we aimed for zero than if we didn't aim for anything at all.

Or, I can split them back/

Regarding the mugging, what amount of mugging is optimal, if it isn't zero?

You are mentioning practical tradeoffs with other goals (police power, expense of perfect security) not the mugging-specific optimum.

Also, after all, the in the very long-term limit, the target for any cumulative human perturbation on the planet must be zero.

I'd rather not split the hairs at all. Mugging - bad. Carbon emissions - bad. Close enough for present purposes.