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Climate Change Problems Will Be Solved Through Economic Growth

"How bad will climate change be? Not very."

GlobalWarmingPetarVeinovicDreamstimePetar Veinovic"It is, I promise, worse than you think," David Wallace-Wells wrote in an infamously apocalyptic 2017 New York Magazine article. "Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century."

The "it" is man-made climate change. Temperatures will become scalding, crops will wither, and rising seas will inundate coastal cities, Wallace-Wells warns. But toward the end of his screed, he somewhat dismissively observes that "by and large, the scientists have an enormous confidence in the ingenuity of humans....Now we've found a way to engineer our own doomsday, and surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another."

Over at Scientific American, John Horgan considers some eco-modernist views on how humanity will indeed go about engineering our way out of the problems that climate change may pose. In an essay called "Should We Chill Out About Global Warming?," Horgan reports the more dynamic and positive analyses of two eco-modernist thinkers, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and science journalist Will Boisvert.

In an essay for The Breakthrough Journal, Pinker notes that such optimism "is commonly dismissed as the 'faith that technology will save us.' In fact, it is a skepticism that the status quo will doom us—that knowledge and behavior will remain frozen in their current state for perpetuity. Indeed, a naive faith in stasis has repeatedly led to prophecies of environmental doomsdays that never happened." In his new book, Enlightenment Now, Pinker points out that "as the world gets richer and more tech-savvy, it dematerializes, decarbonizes, and densifies, sparing land and species." Economic growth and technological progress are the solutions not only to climate change but to most of the problems that bedevil humanity.

Boisvert, meanwhile, tackles and rebuts the apocalyptic prophecies made by eco-pessimists like Wallace-Wells, specifically with regard to food production and availabilty, water supplies, heat waves, and rising seas.

"No, this isn't a denialist screed," Boisvert writes. "Human greenhouse emissions will warm the planet, raise the seas and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. Cataclysmic—but not apocalyptic. While the climate upheaval will be large, the consequences for human well-being will be small. Looked at in the broader context of economic development, climate change will barely slow our progress in the effort to raise living standards."

Boisvert proceeds to show how a series of technologies—drought-resistant crops, cheap desalination, widespread adoption of air-conditioning, modern construction techniques—will ameliorate and overcome the problems caused by rising temperatures. He is entirely correct when he notes, "The most inexorable feature of climate-change modeling isn't the advance of the sea but the steady economic growth that will make life better despite global warming."

Horgan, Pinker, and Boisvert are all essentially endorsing what I have called "the progress solution" to climate change. As I wrote in 2009, "It is surely not unreasonable to argue that if one wants to help future generations deal with climate change, the best policies would be those that encourage rapid economic growth. This would endow future generations with the wealth and superior technologies that could be used to handle whatever comes at them including climate change." Six years later I added that that "richer is more climate-friendly, especially for developing countries. Why? Because faster growth means higher incomes, which correlate with lower population growth. Greater wealth also means higher agricultural productivity, freeing up land for forests to grow as well as speedier progress toward developing and deploying cheaper non–fossil fuel energy technologies. These trends can act synergistically to ameliorate man-made climate change."

Horgan concludes, "Greens fear that optimism will foster complacency and hence undermine activism. But I find the essays of Pinker and Boisvert inspiring, not enervating....These days, despair is a bigger problem than optimism." Counseling despair has always been wrong when human ingenuity is left free to solve problems, and that will prove to be the case with climate change as well.

For more background, see my article, "Is Degrowth the Only Way to Save the World?"

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century."

    I haven't read his article, so I don't know what exactly he claimed. But just for the young kids who think they'll live forever and time is an endless plane that extends from horizon to horizon, it's already 2018 which is almost 20% of the way "to the end of the century". We should be well along the way to uninhabitable and inhospitable. If we aren't, is the "uninhabitable" going to take place in the last three months of the century?

    It's claims like these that actually hurt the arguments for climate change.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The progression will be exponential. It's like you didn't even see The Day After Tomorrow.

  • Hugh Akston||

  • Red Tony||

    + some friends of mine

  • mtrueman||

    "We should be well along the way to uninhabitable and inhospitable."

    Because 18 is almost 20.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Check it out, y'all, mtrueman knows what numbers are.

  • mtrueman||

    I know bullshit when I see it, too.

  • Sevo||

    "I know bullshit when I see it, too."

    Well you *should* know bullshit; you shovel it on a regular basis:
    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself."

  • Greg F||

    I know bullshit when I see it, too.


    Unfortunately he, like Tony, doesn't know science when they see it.

  • mtrueman||

    "doesn't know science when they see it."

    No need to see it. 19 out of 20 scientists agree that 18 is almost 20.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    30 Helens agree that it isn't. Which number is bigger there?

  • Aloysious||

    Eighteen is almpst nineteen.

    What is so deep about this number 19? [redacted] That number 19, when you have a nine, you have a womb that is pregnant, and when you have a one standing by the nine, it means that there's something secret that has to be unfolded.
  • BigT||

    Maybe a calypso tune?

  • ||

    We should be well along the way to uninhabitable and inhospitable. If we aren't, is the "uninhabitable" going to take place in the last three months of the century?

    Have you been to the Arctic Circle? Death Valley? Cleveland? Not. Habitable.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    To be fair, he said "as soon as the end of this century". His statement allows for it to be much later, like when the sun starts dying.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...surely we will find a way to engineer our way out of it, one way or another.

    It's like Wallace-Wells didn't even see Geostorm.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Most of the CAGW people don't even believe in CAGW. If they did, the so called climate scientists wouldn't live in anything larger than a 500 sq ft apartment, wouldn't own a vehicle - even a Prius, and wouldn't care about marginal political issues.

    Put this way, if a giant meteor was going to strike Earth in the next 75 years - guaranteed - nobody would care who was President, abortion rights, transgender bathrooms, women in STEM or whether bump stocks were banned. All attention - rightly so - would be on meteor mitigation.

  • Tony||

    What if half the American political scene denied that the meteor existed?

    I'd guess that most scientists are smart enough to know that individual action is insufficient to solve the problem. I'm really sorry that there is no solution that doesn't involve big government, but the longer you people put off solving it, the bigger the government will have to be. And I'll be here to say I told you so.

  • Red Tony||

    Well, Past Me, I'd guess that the scientists would get more respect if they practiced what they preached. Like Ed Begley, Jr. He gets respect from climate change deniers because HE ACTUALLY WALKS THE WALK to some degree. Al Gore shows through his actions that he doesn't really care about his impact on the environment. Those that do the things they say EVERYONE should do, of their own volition, are generally the ones that are more respected.

    It's called revealed preferences. That econ class you take in fifteen years? Take it now.

  • Brian||

    Looking forward to it.

    I keep hearing that only government can solve global warming, and I keep waiting for it. Any day now.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    What is interesting is that any "solutions" that government ever comes up with will hurt the ability of the free market to solve the problem (which is the whole point of this article).

    Also, the solutions that government disciples want to implement are highly regressive, greatly hurting the poorest among us. All solutions that they propose will almost certainly widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. So... which is their real priority? Solving the poverty gap, or regulating CO2?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The priority of those in power is to stay there, and getting rid of a useful crisis is as likely to hinder that goal as to further it - you can't get re-elected on "I'm Fighting to Solve X (For the Children)" if X isn't a problem anymore.

  • Microaggressor||

    Creating more poverty is a feature, not a bug. It gives them more justification to agitate for redistribution. Over time it will slay the beast of capitalism, and won't that be paradise?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    You show them where it is, and the model that will accurately predict where it will be in 75 years. We can do that.

    I'm still waiting for a climate model that resembles something close to accurate.

    Did you believe the hype that said NYC would be partly under water by 2012?

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    Of course he did. He believes what he's told to.

    Tell you what he didn't do: educate himself on the subject by reading books, peer-reviewed articles, etc. Facts scare Tony as much as cousin-fucking redneck Republicans. (But not as much as libertarians.) Tony prefers his views predigested.

  • Rhywun||

    That bigger government you want intends to spend billions or maybe trillions of dollars, most of it going to cronies, in order to achieve a barely-measurable reduction of 0.17C by the end of the century. Oh, and most of us will be living in for-real poverty. Well, except for government and its cronies.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Al Gore?

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    I'm really sorry that there is no solution that doesn't involve big government

    No, you're not. You lie in bed every night consumed by fever dreams of just how big that government could be. Preeeecious governmentsessss. It will punish our enemies!

  • Maddow's Fleshlight||

    I'd guess that most scientists are smart enough to know "that individual action is insufficient to solve the problem"

    Not for their conscience.

  • Longtobefree||

    What if there was no factual evidence of the meteor, or that the meteor was on a collision course with earth? What if it was just a computer model suggesting there MIGHT be a meteor. The model would assume the existence of the meteor, some kind of meteor that instruments could not accurately detect, and proceed to calculate the damage from the inevitable hit on earth. What then?

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    What if the creator of that model refused to provide the model's code. Or data set?

    Nah, that wouldn't happen. No one in their right mind would believe that.

  • El Oso||

    'And I'll be here to say I told you so.'

    God, I hope not...

  • El Oso||

    'And I'll be here to say I told you so.'

    God, I hope not...

  • El Oso||

    'And I'll be here to say I told you so.'

    God, I hope not...

  • El Oso||

    'And I'll be here to say I told you so.'

    God, I hope not...

  • El Oso||

    God, I hope I don't repeat myself...

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Oh go ahead, it's what the climate alarmists do all the time.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

    Hockey stick.

  • JWatts||

    "What if half the American political scene denied that the meteor existed?"

    Then the other half would spend their own money to mitigate the issue. If it take $500 per year to mitigate it, and the results are catastrophic, why doesn't the half that believes this pony up $1,000 each?

  • WoodChipperBob||

    Because then the evil deniers will get richer at the expense of the people fixing the problem.

  • BigT||

    What I find ironic is that the solution for global warming, race relations, gun violence, transportation, and sexual slavery is the same thing: More money - taken from those who work to produce it.

    When you have a hammer.....

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    it, the bigger the government will have to be. And I'll be here to say I told you so.

    No you won't, because you'll have been killed by Climate Change.

  • ||

    What if half the American political scene denied that the meteor existed?

    So, half the American population disbelieves or entirely gives up and the other 98% of the world's population, which includes the largest polluters, is rendered entirely helpless? Kinda sounds like we need a meteor to thin the herd. One of those hypothetical 'What if' scenarios where some people are going to die no matter what.

  • Sevo||

    "I'm really sorry that there is no solution that doesn't involve big government,"
    Gee, shitbag, maybe one day you're learn that an assertion is not an argument.
    Maybe.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...the best policies would be those that encourage rapid economic growth.

    Nope. If the poor aren't suffering under the weight of rising energy costs, then your policy ain't battling Climate Change.

  • Tony||

    That's nice. So why does the side of the spectrum that ranges from techno-optimism to outright climate change denial insist that we can't actually improve technology to deal with the problem if that improvement involves solar panels and windmills?

    And one supposes that as long as some form of the human species remains in 100 years the optimists will declare victory. But climate change is ongoing, and tell that to the species that are already gone and the humans already affected.

  • MarkLastname||

    Wind mills and solar panels are less efficient than alternatives, that's why we shouldn't be artificially boosting investment in them. Just because we could make great advances in the efficiency of Rube Goldberg machines doesn't mean there aren't many more useful things that could be done with the resources.

    And why don't you try selling your ideology to people who have benefitted from economic growth that wouldn't have happened if environmental regulations had been more stringent? Or to the people who are poor because of how stringent they are?

    The privation that will be induced by environmental regulations will almost certainly exceed the (generally negligible) amount prevented by it. The argument amounts to little more than 'we have to destroy civilization in order to save it.'

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Solar is very efficient and wind is less efficient and intermittent than fossil fuels without all the subsidies fossil fuels get and have for decades.

    Solar is literally free energy from the Sun for as many hours of sunlight that you get each day. The cost comes in capturing that solar radiation and converting to electricity. Batteries are currently the weakest link in solar being the most efficient energy resource on this planet that we have the technology for.

    We should not be propping up solar above the market demand but we are propping up fossil fuel costs, which does not create a fair free market for solar. Communities could also pool their power generation rather than ship it over vast distances losing energy along the way.

    Wind is great for providing reduced nighttime energy needs over daytime peaks. My solar/wind setup gives me a surplus almost every day.

  • Greg F||

    Solar is very efficient and wind is less efficient and intermittent than fossil fuels without all the subsidies fossil fuels get and have for decades.


    Please show us these mysterious fossil fuel subsidies on a per unit of energy basis.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I'm more interested in this supposed intermittency of fossil fuels. Like, without subsidies, oil and gas would be unavailable for months at a time?

  • Greg F||

    You have it backwards. It is wind and solar that is intermittent. Again, please show us these mysterious fossil fuel subsidies on a per unit of energy basis.

  • Chumby||

    A surplus to batteries or to a grid that is mostly energized by fossil and nuclear?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    "So why does the side of the spectrum that ranges from techno-optimism to outright climate change denial insist that we can't actually improve technology to deal with the problem if that improvement involves solar panels and windmills?"

    Who is saying that you can't have windmills or solar panels? By all means, we should improve those technologies.

    But you have to admit that taxing or banning coal or internal combustion engines will surely harm the poor far more than the rich... right?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Tony will fight to the last breath to save the strawman from extinction.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Straw can't grow in an uninhabitable region.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Strawmen do sequester some CO2, so maybe if he builds enough of them we just might lick this thing!

  • ||

    Strawmen do sequester some CO2

    Not when you immediately set them on fire, they don't.

  • Chumby||

    I favor placing the strawman inside a wickerman first then lighting the spray from a chlorinated fluorocarbon paint can to set it ablaze.

  • Ron Bailey||

    T: Please click through and read Boisvert's article.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Your faith in half-witted and corrupt politicians to enact effective political policies that will result in a favorable scientific outcome is admirable.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    The climate has always been in a state of change. This was true way before humans were on the planet.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Considering the world started as a molten ball and will end as a frozen cinder, I'm guessing somewhere in there there will be some climate change.

    I think Alaska used to be in the southern hemisphere, so that too might have an impact on climate measurements.

  • Zeb||

    True and irrelevant.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    It is relevant when people think it's caused by human activity.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Not to say humans don't contribute. But absent of human contribution, you will still have climate change.

  • Zeb||

    I don't think anyone who has even a little bit of curiosity will claim that climate hasn't always changed over time.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    True and relevant because the hockey stick denies it has changed. Greenland never had farms and the Thames never froze over.

  • Zeb||

    Wasn't the hockey stick a graph of CO2 concentration? Not temperatures in the North Atlantic region.

  • ||

    No - it's a graph of temperature (the famous Michael Mann one, anyway).

    It's a major distraction, though, all around, because if you project back 1,000,000 years, you see several "hockey sticks" at strikingly regular intervals.

    The "real" issue is not that the hockey stick exists, it's that according to the pattern of the last 1,000,000 years, we should have returned to global glaciation several thousand years ago. It may well be that "anthropogenic global warming" started with the Agricultural, not the Industrial, Revolution, and is why the globe isn't covered with ice right now.

    Or maybe not. The thing that doesn't mesh well with politics is that there is still a lot of uncertainty. It may be just that whatever has been going on for the last million years is over now, and a warmer planet is the "new normal," and it doesn't actually have anything to do with human activity at all. Or maybe it started with the Neanderthal deforestation of Australia. We just don't know right now.

  • Greg F||

    No - it's a graph of temperature (the famous Michael Mann one, anyway).


    Mostly tree rings. As any plant physiologist will tell you tree ring growth is a function of at least temperature, moisture, soil conditions, and sunlight. So 4 unknowns. It took a physicist turned climate scientist to claim with a straight face they could derive the temperature from tree rings. This is what Tony calls an "expert".

  • Chumby||

    And then they measure the rings as seen on an actual wooden hockey stick?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Close, so close. They measure the rings on Michael Mann's wooden hockey stick.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    So, what do you think the end of the world fad will be around 2050?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Snakes?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Global shrinkening?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    I WAS IN THE POOL!

  • BigT||

    Population decline due to low birth rates. Humanity is doomed.

  • Microaggressor||

    Extra-terrestrial immigration crisis?

  • Rat on a train||

    We won't live past y2k38.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    As a long time coder, that one worries me most. Luckily I'm going to be too demented to be employed by then, so I've got that going for me.

  • Chumby||

    Is Hale-Bopp coming around again?

  • Zeb||

    parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century."

    Conveniently putting the timeframe beyond his own lifetime, and that of most people alive today. It's easy to make predictions on what will happen after everyone alive now is dead.

  • mtrueman||

    I would only listen to a scientist's prediction if it inconveniently falls within his lifetime.

  • Microaggressor||

    I would only listen to a scientist's prediction if it was supported by the scientific method, like having been tested in a lab.

  • mtrueman||

    " like having been tested in a lab."

    Except that the earth is not a lab. Ooops!

  • Maddow's Fleshlight||

    "like having been tested in a lab."

    oops.

  • mtrueman||

    Except the earth is not like a lab. There's dirt everywhere.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's unfortunate that there are politicians who want to wrest control of humanity through bone-headed legislation now because the sun will explode in a billion or so years.

  • ||

    I would only listen to a scientist's prediction if it inconveniently falls within his lifetime.

    And rampantly womanizing and hammered out of his gourd.

    He shows up to give 'The World Is Ending' speech stinking drunk and getting slapped in the face by every woman within arm's reach and I'm pretty convinced that, at the very least, his career is over.

  • Zeb||

    David Wallace-Wells is a journalist.

    A scientist making a prediction that cannot be tested in his lifetime is not doing very good or useful science. I'm not saying no one should make predictions about the longer future.

    But how about some climate predictions about what is likely in 5 or 10 years? Then we can come back and see how they turned out while most of us are still alive. Then we might actually learn something. Making catastrophic predictions about 100 years in the future has no utility to anyone alive today except to stir up fear.

  • Billy Bones||

    I still have never seen one iota of "proof" that climate change will be detrimental to human kind. We have places on Earth that were once tropical rain forests that are now desert (Middle East. I mean where did all that oil come from). Going to lose coastal cities. So, I claim that we may be better off without places like DC, NYC, and LA. And we'll just build new coastal cities where the new coast ends up. It's not like DC isn't built on a swamp or half of Manhattan is not artificially built. And let's say we "solve" climate change. So what? What are our plans to stop moon from leaving Earth's orbit (which will destroy live on Earth)? How about stopping Yellowstone Basin Supervolcano from erupting? That will destroy most life on Earth. Even if we stop all that, how about Sol burning out? The human race is doomed here on Earth, period. There is always some apocalypse waiting around the corner to destroy the human race.

  • mtrueman||

    "And we'll just build new coastal cities where the new coast ends up. "

    How many cities will we have to build and who is going to pay for it? And why bother if the human race is doomed?

  • Ron Bailey||

    m: Please click through and read Boisvert.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The people rich enough to want a waterfront view. So... Barbara Streisand.

  • Sevo||

    "How many cities will we have to build and who is going to pay for it? And why bother if the human race is doomed?"

    Who do you think paid for the cities we now live in, you imbecile?

  • mtrueman||

    "Who do you think paid for the cities we now live in, you imbecile?"

    It's all these new cities that'll need paying for. And we're not even finished paying for these waterfront cities our would be saviours are ready to abandon.

  • Sevo||

    "It's all these new cities that'll need paying for. And we're not even finished paying for these waterfront cities our would be saviours are ready to abandon."

    I'll bet you imagined (or wished) there was a point it that word salad.

  • mtrueman||

    "How many cities will we have to build and who is going to pay for it? "

    You must have some vague notion of the answers to these questions if you're seriously behind this scheme.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Now I'm totally confrused...who's the would-be savior in this scenario?

  • Chumby||

    Jim J. Bullock. Circle gets the square.

  • Zeb||

    Cities are rebuilt constantly and continuously. It's not as if one day all of a sudden NY will be under water. If it starts to become a difficult place to live and do business because of sea level rise or giant shark-tornados or whatever it's going to be, then people will start building new stuff somewhere else.

  • ||

    No. No major city has ever been able to adequately deal with rising waters and sinking land.

  • El Oso||

    Let's just say that 'climate change' is about as much a problem has it ALWAYS has been....

  • Aloysious||

    Optimism is a breath of fresh air, today.

  • Longtobefree||

    Until a computer model has been found to be correct for the initial portion of its projection path, I will continue to believe that man is not capable of destroying the planet.
    This little tidbit from the sixties shows my point; wrong then. wrong now.

    Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in the administration, urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public's attention.
    There is widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, Moynihan wrote in a September 1969 memo.
    "This could increase the average temperature near the earth's surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit," he wrote. "This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter."

  • Longtobefree||

    Although I sometimes wish he had been right about the Washington part.

  • JWatts||

    "and derange the weather, and the resulting heat, flood and drought will be cataclysmic. "

    It's amusing how, before global warming was a political axe to grind, that the scientific predictions for global warming indicated a net positive for warming. In particular, since global warming will be warmer at the polls than at the equators, the temperature differential will decrease due to global warming. Since the differentials will be less and winters will be milder, severe weather should theoretically decline. Also, the additional latent heat in the atmosphere would increase both evaporation and plant transpiration which will result in a wetter Earth all around.

    Granted, there were bound to be regional effects and some areas might end up drier, but most should end up wetter.

    What happened to all of those earlier theories? This should all be basic physics, not something you have to model to determine.

  • mtrueman||

    "This should all be basic physics, not something you have to model to determine."

    I think the earth's atmosphere is a lot more complex than you're willing to give it credit for. Normally, I would have thought that science writers would find some excitement there, but Ron doesn't seem to want to recognize this. Instead we get assurances that some non-defined 'technology' will save us.

  • BigT||

    Technology is not needed to solve a problem that isn't happening. Ron is just reminding the chicken littles that we can adapt and overcome, as we have in the past.

  • mtrueman||

    " Ron is just reminding the chicken littles that we can adapt and overcome, as we have in the past."

    Ron doesn't know what the future holds in store for us. I'd take his assurances that 'technology' will save us with a grain of salt.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Normally, I would have thought that science writers would find some excitement there, but Ron doesn't seem to want to recognize this. Instead we get assurances that some non-defined 'technology' will save us.

    And yet we're assured that taxing and spending on... something will definitely save us.

  • mtrueman||

    "And yet we're assured that taxing and spending on... something will definitely save us."

    You should be careful about accepting anyone's assurances about what the future will bring. It remains unknown.

  • Greg F||

    You should be careful about accepting anyone's assurances about what the future will bring. It remains unknown.


    Yet we are expected to believe what climate scientist say based on models that have failed to predict the future.

  • mtrueman||

    Models are just models, imperfect representations of how we view reality. They are not crucial to understand the underlying science.

  • Greg F||

    Models are just models, imperfect representations of how we view reality. They are not crucial to understand the underlying science.


    Nonsense.

  • mtrueman||

    You evidently have trouble with science. It's based on observation and measurement. We cannot measure and observe the climate of some future date. It doesn't work like that.

  • Chumby||

    So you are saying ignore the model because it is wrong and just trust the preconceived end result of the model as fact. That sounds very scientificey. I have to design a sludge pump tomorrow. The piping isn't in (that will happen in the future) so I can't measure what the pump will do. Yet, I can use equatio...models to predict what the pump will do. And amazingly, when it is all built, it will perform within about two percent of what I predict.

  • mtrueman||

    Sludge pumps are not as complicated as the earth's atmosphere, thus much easier to model. It's the complexity of the atmosphere that makes it hard to model rather than the dishonesty of the scientists, I believe.

  • Greg F||

    You evidently have trouble with science.


    LMAO ... Let me correct your previous statement. Models are the language of science.
    F=MA is a model. If we know 2 of the 3 variables we can predict the 3rd. Open any science book and it is filled with equations (models).

    It's based on observation and measurement.


    Which involves numbers. The numbers by themselves are meaningless.

    We cannot measure and observe the climate of some future date. It doesn't work like that.


    Really? We can't observe the future? I am shocked! Of course we can't you dumb shit.

    Before I drop a ball from a building I can calculate how long it will take to hit the ground. The force it will hit with. The velocity at impact. I can do this with a model. So I can predict what will happen to the ball at "some future date". That is science. It is the ability to predict from initial conditions what will happen at some time in the future. If the data that you gather at some future date fails to match the model then the model is wrong.

    It might perhaps be useful to watch Richard Feynman explain what science is.

  • mtrueman||

    Why isn't there a working model for the earth's atmosphere? Is it because climate scientists want to deceive us? This seems your take on the matter.

  • Greg F||

    Why isn't there a working model for the earth's atmosphere?


    For a variety of reasons including but not an extensive list.
    1. Don't have the computing power, not even close.
    2. The data is too sparse in all dimensions.
    3. The climate system is a coupled (ocean-atmosphere) non-linear chaotic system. Chaotic systems are sensitive to small changes in the input conditions.
    4. The water (most important greenhouse gas) cycle is not understood.
    5. Clouds are to small to model in a state of the art GCM due to the resolution. It's like trying to measure the width of a hair with a hard stick.

    Is it because climate scientists want to deceive us?


    Did you get nothing from Mr. Feynman's lecture? Why did it take 20 years for Robin Warren and Barry Marshall to convince the medical community that most ulcers were caused by H. pylori? Why did Max Plank say "science progresses one funeral at a time"? It is because scientist are people and people are not objective. That is why we have the scientific method. The history of science is filled with examples where the established scientist cannot accept their life's work was wrong.

    This seems your take on the matter.


    No, it is your simplistic and ignorant false dichotomy of a rather complicated issue.

  • mtrueman||

    You seem to have a sound grasp on the difficulties of modelling the atmosphere. Why then do you go to so much trouble to pick out deficiencies in the current models and blame them on the scientists? You believe in a conspiracy, don't you? Your words: "Yet we are expected to believe what climate scientist say based on models that have failed to predict the future." Who is doing this expecting? Passive voice gives you a way to weasel out of that question, but you might as well spill it. Are the Chinese involved?

    "The history of science is filled with examples where the established scientist cannot accept their life's work was wrong."

    Climate science is a new field. I'm not sure it existed more than a few decades. It's not an established science, as you pointed out yourself we are learning lots of new things about the troposphere, the oceans and what not. A scientist can be wrong, no sin in that, but what's relevant, in the end is whether or not their ideas can be supplanted by a superior theory, like the ulcer guy, but I've yet to see anything to beat the greenhouse effect. If you've got one, a Nobel prize may be in the cards. Beats whining about the failures of models you know perfectly well are imperfect.

    Sorry, I didn't follow your link. Don't take it personal but time is money.

  • Greg F||

    Sorry, I didn't follow your link. Don't take it personal but time is money.


    And ignorance is cheap. You choose ignorance.

  • mtrueman||

    I know Richard Feynman and his fine works. I'm not missing anything. I didn't mean to offend you by not following your link. I said sorry once, I'll apologize more abjectly if that's what you're looking for, now that you seem to have no other response.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Who doesn't want to admit the atmosphere is complex? Surely not the climate modelers, who just recently incorporated cloud over into their models, before that it was humidity they had skipped over, and coming up is the interaction between aerosols (smoke) and cloud cover leading to a surprise chilling affect.

    But it's ok their models don't match current reality or the past 15-20 years, because they are only modeling the future. Who cares about modeling the past when you can just change what you want and cherry pick the rest?

  • mtrueman||

    "But it's ok their models don't match current reality"

    Neither do your TV weatherman's predictions, often enough. Because they are only based on models, a drastic simplification of reality. Over the past 15 - 20 years, scientists have been predicting increased temperatures and rising oceans. These things have been both observed and measured. That's not cherry picking, but follows from the well accepted heat trapping character of CO2 and other such gases.

  • Greg F||

    Over the past 15 - 20 years, scientists have been predicting increased temperatures and rising oceans.


    The oceans have been rising for over 10,000 years and the temperature has been going up since the end of the Little Ice Age. CO2 wasn't significant until about 1950.

  • mtrueman||

    "CO2 wasn't significant until about 1950"

    So now it is significant? What exactly are you going on about? Do you understand the notion of greenhouse gases? That they trap heat in the atmosphere? And that CO2 is one of them?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and is responsible for the fact that the Earth isn't a giant snowball.

    But CO2 has largely maxed out its effect, almost totally blocking the frequency ranges where it matters. You can only close that window once.

    Climate response to further increases in CO2 is expected to be logarithmic. Ever diminishing effects from each increment of increase.

    The predictions of doom come from H2O, not CO2; The very slight warming the CO2 causes is expected to increase the atmosphere's humidity, and H2O is a greenhouse gas, too, blocking a range of frequencies that the CO2 hasn't already closed off.

    And then the warming from the added water is expected to cause even more warming, which causes more water to evaporate. The models assume the climate system has an extremely strong positive feedback mechanism built in, on the verge of thermal runaway, so that even a tiny amount of added warming from more CO2 will cause a huge final effect.

    This makes the models VERY sensitive to the assumed level of feedback. If they're off even a little, it makes a big difference.

  • Greg F||

    Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and is responsible for the fact that the Earth isn't a giant snowball.


    Water accounts for about 95% of the greenhouse gas. Water is the reason the Earth isn't a giant snowball.

  • Greg F||

    "CO2 wasn't significant until about 1950"

    So now it is significant?


    Go argue with the IPCC. It is what they claim.

  • mtrueman||

    "Go argue with the IPCC. It is what they claim."

    Do you think they are lying, that it is, still in fact, insignificant?

  • Greg F||

    Do you think they are lying, that it is, still in fact, insignificant?


    No dumb ass.
    1. You argued rising temperatures were evidence.
    2. I pointed out that they have been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age.
    3. The IPCC asserts that that around 1950 is when CO2 became significant.

    What you failed to grasp was "rising temperatures", prior to about 1950, that you thought was evidence is not supported by the IPCC. That is because prior to around 1950 the CO2 concentrations had not significantly risen above pre-industrial levels. IOW, you are to stupid to even know what the IPCC has claimed while at the same time claiming to believe those same scientist. Aren't you special.

    I guess because you think time is money, you wouldn't want to spend any of it actually knowing what the IPCC say but would rather make it up. We could call it mtrueman's math less theory of climate.

  • mtrueman||

    "1. You argued rising temperatures were evidence."

    Rising global temperatures are something observed and predicted by climate scientists. I never argued that this was 'evidence' for anything. That's your word. No need to put it in my mouth.

    I can't understand why you believe in climate models that tell us that temperatures were rising in the pre-industrial age, yet don't believe in models that predict rising temperatures in the future. It just seems so dishonest and self-serving. If you think it's all a hoax, Chinese or otherwise, just say so. Have the courage of your convictions, however much you fear they are laughable.

    "you are to stupid to even know what the IPCC has claimed while at the same time claiming to believe those same scientist. Aren't you special."

    I have many personal faults. If you prefer to talk about them and forget about all this climate business, go ahead.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I'll give you three simple empirical reasons why I think alarmists are deliberate liars.

    1. Greenland ahd farms and cattle ranches 1000 years ago, during the Medieval Warming period. That's why it's called Greenland, duh. The Hockey stick is flat -- no MWP. The Thames froze over, so did rivers all over northern Europe, yet that cold period is also absent from the hockey stick. And yet in spite of there being no farms or cattle ranches in Greenland now, we are told that now is the hottest time in the last 1000 years.

    2. We hear constant pitiable cries about death of corals, primarily from rising oceans, yet 15,000 years ago, the oceans were some 400 feet lower than now; that's how the Siberians crossed into North America. Yet corals are millions of years old and seem to be pretty darned close to the ocean surface, certainly not 400 feet deep.

    3. Their damned models predict we should have been warming far more over the last 20 years than we have. The few times they try to explain this, it comes form redefining what the older temperatures were, not their models. This is completely ass-backwards.

    There are a zillion other simple demonstrable reasons for thinking the climate alarmists are chicken littles crying wolf, and any curious person can find them with Google.

    Any time they want to address these problems in an honorable way, I will pay attention. All they have done is lie, obfuscate, and equivocate.

  • Zeb||

    You might want to work on your points 1 and 2. There are some good questions in 1. But one easy response is that temperatures in the North Atlantic region are not necessarily good representatives for the global average.

    And shallow water coral reefs are thousands of years old, not millions. The ones that exist today have mostly been formed since the last glaciation.

    I'm pretty agnostic on this subject. But I'd like to see good arguments against the catastrophists, both because I like optimism and because whatever the truth about climate change, I am convinced most attempts to do something about it will do more harm than good.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The hockey stick claims to represent global temperatures. The Medieval Warming Period has been shown to include Africa.

    The age of any individual coral is no more relevant than the age of any individual human. To say humans have been around for 100-200,000 years has zilch to do with any individual lifespan.

    The zealot claim is that corals are going extinct because oceans rising an inch or two. They are full of it.

    Your excuses just prove my point about excuses.

  • Zeb||

    They aren't excuses. I want your arguments to be strong. So I'm pointing out places where they might not be. If I'm wrong, you can correct me or just ignore me. But as I said, I'm not taking a strong position. I simply have other things I am more interested in, so I don't have time to learn enough about the subject to have an informed opinion (though that doesn't seem to stop most people).

    Regarding the coral, I guess I misunderstood what you were getting at. I haven't heard the claim that corals will go extinct because of sea level rise. I have heard about ocean acidification potentially making it impossible for them to build reefs in the future. I have no idea how valid that is. But there have been much higher concentrations of CO2 in the past and coral still exists, so it seems unlikely.

  • mtrueman||

    As Zeb says, global is a tricky concept. Greenland is an island, not to say that its climate over the years isn't worthy of study, but it doesn't negate the hypothesis that burning fossil fuels makes the climate warmer.

    I think ocean chemistry rather than depth is where I'd place my money when it comes to coral deaths. My own personal experience is with the profusion of jellyfish on beaches. These creatures thrive in environments toxic to other kinds of fish, and others who until recently inhabited these waters. Also ocean chemistry holds the answer, I believe.

    They're models, just simplifications of how we conceive reality. This is science. Look at the predictions and if they bear out, you have to accept it unless you can come up with something better. Chinese hoax isn't going to convince anyone who's not already convinced.

  • mtrueman||

    My favourite jellyfish anecdote, by the way, could do with a recounting. The famous novelist of the first half of last century, Evelyn Waugh (a male man of the English persuasion, author of Brideshead Revisited etc.) was down in the dumps, contemplating suicide. He decided to swim out into the sea and never return. But along the way, he was stung by a jellyfish which proved so discomfiting that he changed his mind, turned around and swam back to shore. Eventually he died of old age.

  • Chumby||

    But the fact that Greenland was much warmer than during the proliferation of fossil fuel use proves that the climate changes (warms significantly) without them. Maybe the issue is that the models throw out the real data, such as this, that doesn't fit the narrative and thus when used for predictions those predictions fail.

    And when the predictions haven't worked out those getting paid to make them should have been fired. And those worshiping them should have been sacrificed to the volcano god.

  • mtrueman||

    Climate scientists have for decades now been predicting higher global temperatures. Their predictions have been born out through observation and measurement. That's not the mark of failure in scientific pursuit, but success.

  • Greg F||

    Climate scientists have for decades now been predicting higher global temperatures.


    Which is meaningless. The temperature is either going to go up/down/stay the same. Since it was already going up it was a safe bet till the beginning of the century when it stayed the same.
    Lord kelvin:

    I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind.


    It's the numbers that matter.

    Their predictions have been born out through observation and measurement.


    No they have not. They predicted the tropical lower troposphere would warm faster than the surface. It has not. The models are warming 3 times faster. More hurricanes and extreme weather, nope. The UK would not see any more snow, wrong again. There would be 50 million climate refugees, there are zero.

    That's not the mark of failure in scientific pursuit, but success.


    It's the mark of someone who is ignorant of how science works.

  • mtrueman||

    "Since it was already going up it was a safe bet "

    It's more than a safe bet, it's science. Increasing CO2 levels should lead to increased temperatures, and increased temperatures are indeed measured. What more do you want?

    "They predicted the tropical lower troposphere would warm faster than the surface. It has not."

    What? Scientists predicted something but something else turned out to be the case? I smell a Chinese hoax all over this.

    "climate refugees, there are zero"

    Zero in Houston, I give you that.

    "It's the mark of someone who is ignorant of how science works."

    You really don't give a shit what the science says. Why bother with the pretense?

  • Greg F||

    You really don't give a shit what the science says. Why bother with the pretense?


    mtrueman projecting once again.

  • mtrueman||

    "mtrueman projecting once again"

    No. I'm accusing you of being a poseur. I see through your pretense.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Stasis is the statist paradox. On the one hand, they act as if society cannot change without statists seeing through the fog and guiding humanity. On the other hand, they pretend that society got to where it is on its own and needs their guiding hand to restore the past.

  • Zeb||

    And that's why we have progressives and conservatives.

  • Oha Nueba||

    I am highly sckeptical. Why? Because Climate Change is something that has ALWAYS happened, and right now we at so close to the tipping point, where we simply cannot go back, no matter what we do. The gravity of the issue is tremendous. Yes, a carbon tax would help as a free-market solution, but it is too little too late. Without overarching, huge government spending, and a WWII-type "mobilization" (to quote Jill Stein), we ain't done nothing. I think that capitalism is powerful, certainly, but I also think that there are forces greater than money at play, such as social and health forces, because "survival of the fittest" is truly the basis of capitalism, wherefore I think that regardless of makes the policy, whether a red or ble government, or a "corporation", I believe that without first educating the public adequately through the latest developments in pedagogu, and secondly spending on energy-efficiency and solar energy, we are going nowhere. In other words, I am a postmodernist environmentalist, not an eco-modernist like Pinker, who most scholars do not take seriously anyway. Without first, therefore, overcoming the social and socioeconomic, sociolinguistic, and geopolitical barriers, among others, we ain't headed nowhither, my friend.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "and right now we at so close to the tipping point, "

    That's the point that bothers me about it. The models have the climate's response to CO2 pegged so high, that the climate would have to be on the very verge of thermal runaway. A few badly timed volcanic eruptions, and the Earth would become Venus.

    Now, the Sun has been gradually getting brighter, so I suppose you can't rule out the possibility that we're just at that moment in the planet's history when it was due to flip and become another Venus. But what a coincidence if we were, out of all those billions of years.

    But the other explanation would be that they have the feedback pegged too high, that there are negative feedback mechanisms they're neglecting to count. Clouds blocking the Sun when it gets humid, plant growth driven by CO2 changing the planet's albedo, things like that.

    Really difficult to model things like that.

  • Greg F||

    ... and right now we at so close to the tipping point ...


    Kind of like fusion ... it's always just X years away.

  • Chumby||

    The rapture is almost here. Send me your money and you will be saved.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    For climate scientists to make the predictions they make about the change they've measured, they must have a solid data set for times in the past.

    If you use that historical data-set to seed any of the climate models being used to forecast global warming, do any of those models accurately predict the last decades climate?

    Heading off on a different tangent - Has anyone done a statistical analysis of climate scientist's compensation before and after climate change became a thing?

  • DrZ||

    Modern nuclear.

  • Space||

    Agree.

  • Space||

    It is great seeing a growing number of atmospheric scientists and physicist downplaying "apocalyptic" narratives that the public has been fed for decades. Lowered estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity & transient climate response over the last decade along with ECS above 4.5C degrees ruled out, are the reason. Discussion of uncertainties about clouds cosmic rays, aerosols, solar radiation, etc. have increased and hopefully we can improve backcasting of climate models.

    The recent EIA global map of future energy growth, show emissions drops in USA & EU will do little against a tsunami of emissions growth that will emerge in developing nations. There is no political solution as no country will commit economic suicide by violating the "Iron Law of Climate Policy". The solution will necessarily come from applied sciences, engineers and new technologies, just like when Paul Ehrlich's apocalyptic estimates of global starvation were rendered invalid by Borlaug's scientific breakthrough in agriculture.

  • mtrueman||

    "It is great seeing a growing number of atmospheric scientists and physicist downplaying "apocalyptic" narratives "

    Knowing what we know about the dishonesty of atmospheric scientists, they are obviously toadying up to the Trump admin. Don't let them fook you.

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