So no one I know who is serious denies anything about what the consensus is about global warming.
But then again I know of virtually no one in the alarmist community who recognizes anything about what I’ve written here today.
Maybe I don’t go to enough cocktail parties. Sure.
But who, I ask, really is the denier here?
Here are some facts are about the climate that are part of the consensus:
- The planet has warmed about at about 0.7 degrees centigrade over the past century. Who is denying that? It ain’t me.
- Carbon dioxide has been demonstrated to be a greenhouse gas. Who is denying that? It ain’t me.
- Our basic climate understanding (i.e. the models) indicate that if we doubled CO2 from pre-industrial levels (which were close to 280 ppm, we are very near 400 right now) then temperatures, knowing what we know about carbon dioxide, should double. The 0.7 increase does seem to be in line with that (mostly, I have seen, even among alarmists, “concern” that this number ought to have been larger). Hence if we continue to double CO2 over the next century, the planet will warm by 1 degree centigrade, all else equal. Who is denying that? It ain’t me.
But that’s about where the real scientific consensus ends, and certainly where the major disagreements begin.
Because as others have pointed out countless times, only to be slandered as anti-science lunatics, in order for us to need to roll back industrial civilization, in order for us to rapidly impose decarbonization, in order for us to retreat to the pre-civilization gift economies that so many folks seem to long for, one would have to demonstrate that:
- When CO2 concentrations increase, the planet will warm by much more than the basic greenhouse gas theory indicates. So, the climate models believe that there are positive feedback loops which will amplify the impacts of 1 degree of warming into something closer to 6 degrees of warming. There is absolutely no settled science here.
- Call this step 1a: we have to assume that even with our limited knowledge that we have any capability at all of modeling something as complex as climate – with really only 100+ years of data using measurements (even if all of those measurements are correct) and at best another 1000 years or so using temperature proxies (assuming no problems with those things). We’ve discussed this in the past in terms of how it compares to macroeconometric modeling. Let’s just say this is little more than a guessing game.
- Then we are going to have to assume that all of the warming that we have observed (and model) comes from humans. Of course it is almost surely true that humans are the reason why CO2 concentrations are higher today (there are some legitimate folks who do not think this is necessarily true, but ignore them). And by extension we’d have to argue that all of the potential future catastrophically bad warming will be solely because of human activities.
- Then we have to know, with some degree of certainty, exactly what will happen to the Earth as it warms. And we will have to argue that as this happens over the course of decades or perhaps a century-long time scale that the challenges will prove un-over-comeable. So, we’d have to draw linkages between warmer climate to rising seas (easy enough), expanding malarial ranges (almost as easy), changes in farm productivity (sort of easy) and so on.
- But not only that, we have to know with some degree of certainty that these changes caused by warming, are not only tough to deal with, but are catastrophically bad.
- But not only that, we have to know with more than some degree of certainty that rolling back industrial civilization is the way to best deal with (5).
- All of this is assuming of course that in nowhere along the way is anyone motivated by political or ideological reasons either on the science or policy side, so that we actually could be having a serious entertainment of the inquiry. But I’m a 9 foot tall Nobel Prize winner if that is true. I keep coming back to this thought.
I am skipping many steps, but this is neither a climate site nor an environmental economics site.
The reason for today’s post is not all of that, it has been said by smarter and more thoughtful people than me many times and they still have been dismissed as cooks, cranks, anti-science deniers.
One need not disagree at all with what the scientists truly understand yet vigorously reject the conclusions drawn by folks who hold themselves as the paragons of science, truth and reason.
Here is the latest illustration.
*Featured post photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabon on Unsplash