Sunday, December 17, 2017

ATTP: What if ? Earth's Climate Sensitivity Number.

Today at ATTP, an informative blog run by a real scientist that I like visiting, I found a post that’s worth sharing because his topic ‘Climate Sensitivity’ is a prime example of a few items on my "Review of our dysfunction public climate science dialogue" list.  
1) Uncertainties vs. known Physical Certainties --- 2) Map vs. Territory Problem --- 4) “Seepage.”

Here’s a portion of his posting.

I recently wrote a post about the Brown & Caldeira paper which suggests that climate sensitivity may be on the high side of the range. Rather predictably, Nic Lewis has a guest post on Climate Etc in which he looks at the Brown & Caldeira analysis and claims that global warming will not be greater than we thought.

I think this claim is simply wrong. Even if he has found some issue with the analysis in Brown & Caldeira, that still would not justify a claim that global warming will not be greater than we thought. …

The debate, in my view, therefore should not really be about whether climate sensitivity could be high, or low, but what we should do in case it is high (which, to be clear, is not to say that people shouldn’t study this). …

Unless one assumes that climate sensitivity is very low and ocean acidification will have no adverse impacts (and there’s a word for those who think this), I can’t see a scenario under which we shouldn’t be thinking about how reduce our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. The irony, I think, is that what probably leads people to avoid considering ways to reduce our emissions (big government, too much regulation, interfering in the market,….) is precisely what we will get if climate sensitivity does turn out to be high and we decide, in the future, that we need to rapidly reduce our emissions. This doesn’t seem very sensible.

I agree with him, but think there’s something else about the GOP's obsessive focus on ‘Climate Sensitivity’ that’s worth recognizing.

         This hyper-focus on establishing an exact (unrealistic but its what Republicans demand) climate sensitivity number is that we don’t have the understanding to know what it means. The difference between 1.5 and 2 or 2.5? There are under informed guesses at best, we can point at some rough temperature estimates, but what does that really tell us about how our living environment will be reacting to those temperatures?

All we really know for certain, is the changes we have observed over the past half century!  Along with a promise that those changes will be accelerating. What I don’t understand is, why that hasn’t been enough?

From an Earth Centrist’s perspective what we have been witnessing is terrifying enough and tells us all we need to know.  Namely, our society’s infrastructure and circulation arteries are in very deep dodo already.  If we don’t put on the brakes it will continue until a complete breakdown of our biosphere as we know it occurs.  Our survival depends on this environment, this biosphere that supplies all we know and love.  How can humans treat it with such ignorant contempt?

Actually, you don’t even need to be an Earth Centrists, having a sober respect for Math should have been enough. I’m sure some remember Albert Allen Bartlett and his valiant efforts to explain the simple unassailable mathematics, “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy” 1969, “The Essential Exponential For the Future of Our Planet” a collection of essays by Professor Bartlett (2004). YouTube preserves many of his lectures.

Albert Bartlett - The Silent Lie
Sep 26, 2013 by GrowthBusters

This clip is from an interview conducted in 2005 for the documentary GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. We're sharing much more of the interview than the film could include, to honor the celebrated physics professor Albert Bartlett, who passed away on 7 September, 2013. This interview is featured in the Conversation Earth radio and podcast series at

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See (part 1 of 8)
Published on Jun 16, 2007 by wonderingmind42

I introduce this video to my students as "Perhaps the most boring video you'll ever see, and definitely the most important." But then again, after watching it most said that if you followed along with what the presenter (a professor emeritus of Physics at Univ of Colorado-Boulder) is saying, it's quite easy to pay attention, 
because it is so damn compelling.

Because we are contriving a time squandering big deal out of something that's chump change to the greater reality barreling down on us.

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