Judith Curry, my Climate Blogger of the Year for 2014, has a post up about Eija-Riitta Korhola’s remarkable article regarding the change of course Korhola thinks is necessary to combat, not just climate change, but the other environmental issues that face the planet. Both Curry’s reaction and Korhola’s article are worth the time spent reading and digesting them and I recommend you read both. (Curry found the article via Roger Pielke’s site–as Korhola praises the Hartnell Dialogues which Pielke participated in, Pielke’s enthusiasm is almost as great as Curry’s–and mine, for that matter.)
Update: I continue the conversation over at 3000 Quads.
Judith’s unbridled enthusiasm for finding a like-minded soul that will be hard to discredit echoes perhaps the feelings most of us who are arrayed against the Consensus regarding climate policy felt when Judith herself started blogging. As a respected climate scientist, we lukewarmers and many skeptics felt that having her join forces against the Green Blob that managed to combine mechanical and maniacal messaging that demonized us would be enough to tip the scales against what we felt (and most still feel) works against coherent action on behalf of our planet. We didn’t anticipate how virulent the reaction would be against Dr. Curry, that the same people who slimed us unceasingly would be perfectly happy to use the same tactics against her. I only hope that they don’t do the same thing with Korhola. Vain hope, I’m pretty sure.
But this post isn’t about Curry or Korhola. It is about their description of the climate issue as ‘wicked.’ That is a characterization I wish to take issue with. I disagree.
A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. I don’t believe climate change is any of these.
To begin with, we have all the tools we need to reduce anthropogenic emissions by whatever percentage we need, should we agree on the necessity. France got to a total of 85% non-emissive energy consumption through nuclear power in 20 years. The top 5 emitters of greenhouse gases could do the same and they account for almost 60% of global emissions. If supplemented by efforts that are already ongoing to continue expansion of hydropower and other renewables the problem would not be difficult or impossible–it would be solved with current technology and no required innovation.
What I believe creates the impression of ‘wickedness’ is the continuous addition of changing requirements and political non-sequiturs by different parties to the Consensus, one of which is the demonization of both nuclear power and hyroelectric power. If you take those two off the table, meaningful progress on emissions is not just wicked, it is impossible. Bring them into the room and the issue is not even controversial–it is routine.
Another Consensus creation is the differentiation in what is asked of developing versus already developed nation states. Not that there shouldn’t be a difference–there should. But it shouldn’t be bilateral. Each country should have a different set of goals and assistance, where required, should be country specific, as opposed to block grants handed out by one authority in strict percentages to all needy countries. China is now the largest emitter of CO2. Heck, it emits 30% of all greenhouse gases. What China needs to do and what it requires from richer countries is vastly different than what is required from, say, Kenya or Nigeria.
Although the Consensus paints skeptics as a roadblock to progress, in truth it is their redefinition of the problem and their wrong-headedness in acceptance of potential solutions that in fact hampers movement towards a simple solution.
And although their attempt to create false conditions to make climate change not just wicked but insoluble is wrong-headed to the point of insanity, one can look at the Consensus and say they actually are trying to achieve something else…
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