Climate Catastrophe Called Off?

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Perhaps Gaia will not suffer a fever after all.

How much the world will warm as a result of adding greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, to the atmosphere depends on climate sensitivity. Climate sensitivity is generally defined as how much the average global surface temperature will increase if there is a doubling of greenhouse gases (expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents) in the air. The most recent report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates climate sensitivity at 3 degrees Celsius, with a range of uncertainty from 2 to 4.5 degrees. In addition, according to the IPCC there is some non-negligible probability that temperatures could be even higher.

Now there is a new unpublished study by climate researchers at Oregon State University that suggests that the climate is considerably less sensitive to a greenhouse gas doubling than the IPCC estimates. From the abstract [PDF]:

Assessing impacts of future anthropogenic carbon emissions on Earth's systems and human welfare is impeded by uncertainties in our knowledge of the equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Previous studies suggest 3 K as the best estimate, 2 to 4.5 K as the likely range and non-zero probabilities for much higher values, implying the possibility of unavoidable catastrophic climate changes in the coming decades. Here, using extensive syntheses of land and ocean surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum in combination with model simulations, we estimate a significantly lower median (2.4 K), reduced uncertainty (1.4-3.5 K likely range), and <5% (0%) chance of sensitivities larger than 4.2 K (6K), suggesting little possibility of catastrophic climate changes in the immediate future (emphasis added).

The goal of U.N. negotiations over limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases is to keep any future increase in global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. If this study is correct that the climate is considerably less sensitive to increased greenhouse gases in the air and that catastrophic temperature increases are improbable, this goal will be a lot easier to achieve.

According to the authors, the study is in press at Science. We will see if the new paper survives peer-review. See Cato Institute fellow and climatologist Patrick Michaels' more extensive discussion of this new study here. It will be very interesting to see what happens with this study.

Note: I will be reporting from the U.N.'s next climate change conference of the parties (COP-17) in Durban, South Africa in early December.

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  1. Is neglible a climate science term I don’t know, or a misspelling?

    Speaking of climate science, I am at a point where any study on either side of the belief regarding warming is highly suspect. And I doubt I’m alone on that. I don’t know how they overcome their credibility problem at this point.

    1. FofE: Fixed. Thanks.

    2. killing the Earth. The deserts of central and southwest Asia were once forests — ancient empires cut down the trees and let the topsoil wash off into the Indian Ocean. In North America a squirrel could go tree to tree from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and spawning salmon were so thick in rivers and streams that you couldn’t row a boat through them, and the seashores were rich with seals, fishes, birds, clams, lobsters, whales. Now they’re deserts populated only by seagulls eating human garbage, and nitrogen fertilizer runoff has made dead zones in the oceans…

      How to Survive the Crash and Save the Earth
      by Ran Prieur | December 19, 2004
      http://ranprieur.com/essays/saveearth.html

      The earth is not dying, she is being murdered. And we know who is killing her and we have their names and addresses. ~Utah Phillips

      1. “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for Ya’ll have knocked her up.”

        The Funkadelics

      2. The deserts of C and SW Asia, Africa, and North America were created/vastly expanded by the actions of PRE-INDUSTRIAL mankind. Kind of hard to link that to Human CO2 emmisions.

        And last time I checked there was as much if not more tree cover in the US today than there was when Europeans first settled here.

  2. According to the authors, the study is in press at Science. We will see if the new paper survives peer-review

    Sounds like it already did.

    1. Well, there’s going to be a few resignations before it gets published.

    2. Yeah. “In press” usually means that it has been accepted (which means the peer review has already been done) and is simply in the queue for appearance in some future dead-tree version of the journal.

      Of course, once it appears, there will be a whole new round of peer review. Hopefully.

  3. When people have no money and when economies are in crises, nobody is going to spend their spare cash on global warming.

    1. fortunately energy cos, sitting on piles of cash, ARE spending on renewables.

      http://www.businessweek.com/ma…..92011.html

      1. Uh, no. the energy companies are spending the money the government has taken from you and given to them on green energy boodndogles.

        Their not stupid enough to spend a dime of the money they actually earned on that shit.

  4. Here, using extensive syntheses of land and ocean surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum in combination with model simulations,

    Sounds like they’re using the Standard Climate-Panic Methodology, here. It will be interesting to see if they can win a game as the visiting team, so to speak, by having their recontstructions and models stand up to attack.

  5. 1.6, 2, 4.5, 7, what’s the difference? Ban all fossil fuels. Why chance it?

    [/sarcasm]

  6. The study is obviously racist.

  7. But … but … 99% of all scientists believe Global Warming Climate Change Catastrophe Belief TM is true! Or 97%. Or 93%. After excluding the fake scientists working for oil companies, who can’t be objective, since they are getting paid by oil companies, unlike the noble real scientists getting paid with stolen taxes. Or it’s whatever percentage is pulled out of their asses to indicate that dissent should not be tolerated, because science is decided by a democratic counting of votes, not by who is, you know, RIGHT.

    1. Consensus Is Science.

      1. Islam is the one true religion.

    2. because science is decided by a democratic counting of votes, not by who is, you know, RIGHT.

      It bears repeating.

  8. OT This is the 36th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. God rest her crew.

    1. Have a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter in her honor.

    2. Reminds me of the joke about the gay Irish sitcom – Edmund Fitzgerald and Geral Fitzedmund

  9. Sounds like some scientists have figured out it’s time to jump off of the climate catastrophe train. Expect to see many more studies backing away from the doomsday scenario.

  10. Previous studies suggest 3 K as the best estimate, 2 to 4.5 K as the likely range and non-zero probabilities for much higher values, implying the possibility of unavoidable catastrophic climate changes in the coming decades.

    Most distributions for estimates are fairly symmetrical. I would be surprised if there aren’t non-zero probabilities for lower values of K too, but those lower values are unlikely to get reported.

    1. There are several causes of asymmetric distributions including but not limited to approaching a hard bound (see Feldman-Cousins for one treatment), uncertainties on a input that enters non-lieararly, and asymmetric uncertainties on the inputs.

  11. Speaking of the U.S. fashion industry, a handful of the few big-name designers. However, you must not forget Marc Jacobs. His designs are generally free, but the product is designed themselves. For example: Marc Jacobs Handbag, Marc by Marc Jacobs Handbag. In fact, his decks Marc by Marc Jacobs also stand out in the fashion industry. Marc by Marc Jacobs Bags as many types of styles, has also been sought after by many big Hollywood stars.

  12. If we all fart in jars, all that methane will be sequestered and won’t get into the atmosphere. Number 2 jar, tight fitting lid – green technology.

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