In 2015 it is starting to appear as though the Lukewarmer view of climate change is winning. At least if what I read out there reflects a) reality and b) the political state of play.
Remember the Lukewarmer position can be characterized very succinctly (and has been by Steve Mosher on more than one occasion): Given the over/under bet on atmospheric sensitivity to a doubling of concentrations of greenhouse gases at 3C, Lukewarmers will take the ‘under.’ We don’t quarrel (much) with the science–believe it or not, Michael Mann has said many true things about climate science and climate change–I hope some day he extends that rigorous honesty to his own work product…
The last year has been full of papers analyzing observations of our climate that indicate that sensitivity is not only below 3C, and not only below my own estimate of about 2.1C, but around 1.7C.
It’s not that I am claiming that Lukewarmers have finally climbed to a position of respectability.
Scientists have questioned the Consensus view of the various aspects of global warming and it would appear that their findings and analysis will carry weight going forward.
I’m arguing that they should be acknowledged for their contributions.
We have been reminded once again that climate science is even now discovering very basic and important elements that need to be considered, such as the impact of black carbon or the varying effects of aerosols. But the core message–that temperatures are rising and our emissions of greenhouse gases contribute to this warming–is not really questioned. The questions remain ‘how much’ and ‘so what?’
I personally think that the ‘how much’ is answered best by ‘more than we would really like’ and the ‘so what’ by the reply ‘for most of my readers the consequences will be minimal, but for those in the developing world it will pose a big problem–not their biggest, but certainly enough to make their climb towards a developed status much more difficult.
What I haven’t seen are the hundreds of papers being released with the ‘It’s Worse Than We Thought’ motif. There are some, of course. But not the incredible flurry that characterized previous years.
It’s not that the political faction of the Klimate Konsensus has abandoned their struggle. They are still harassing their opponents, from Congressional inquiries into funding to psycho-babble-analysis from pseudoscientists like Stefan Lewandowski.
But to say now in 2015 that atmospheric sensitivity may well turn out to be less than 3C is now, if not acceptable, at least no longer absurd.
What that means going forward is that the people who are arguing with Lukewarmers will gradually quit being the legitimate holders of the Consensus (which is dramatically different from the Kilmate Konsensus), and start to include many of the skeptics with whom we’ve gotten along so well during these last years in the wilderness. This is something Steve Mosher has been finding out over the past two years–when arguments over politics and process get put aside, much of the consensus position is sound.
At least those disagreements will be more good-natured, as most skeptics are overall much more congenial in conversation than the lunatics who have been carrying sandwich boards pronouncing our doom…