I’ve posted on this before and I suspect this isn’t the last time I’ll discuss this. There appears to be a concerted effort to de-emphasize the importance of the sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2 in determining the extent and impacts of probable warming and other changes to our climatic system.
Michael Tobis, proprietor of Only In It For The Gold has another in a series of guest posts at And Then There’s Physics. He has a companion post up at his own blog. At his own blog he goes even further, saying that global warming is ‘just a symptom’ and that ‘we’re obsessing over a number, sometimes even to the exclusion of the patient’s health.’
Then tell your friends to quit obsessing about it.
Over at ATTP, Tobis starts by criticizing the nature of models used by economists to estimate costs and benefits of future climate change, saying they’re inadequate. He cites Dave Roberts (formerly a ranter at Grist, now writing more polished work at Vox), who whipped up an ‘uncertainty loop’ showing the questions that in a sane world should be answered prior to determining policy. Here it is:
Because we don’t know the answers to any of those questions, there is a fair bit of uncertainty in determining what the global response to human contributions to climate change should be.
Tobis is dissatisfied with this. He thinks our policy responses should be part of the feedback loop. And to be fair, most ‘Business As Usual’ scenarios completely neglect to incorporate the policy measures already enacted, ranging from emissions trading and carbon taxes to the dramatic growth of solar and wind power, not to mention policies that have actually worked, like China’s push for hydroelectric power, both in China and places they do business. But I don’t think that’s what Tobis means.
Tobis is specifically advocating taking action before we know the extent of the problem we face. This is a legitimate option–Judith Curry has been writing about acting under conditions of uncertainty for years on the other side of the fence. If Tobis hadn’t written volumes
criticizing–no, not criticizing, trashing her for the crime of existing on this planet–they might have a good discussion on the subject.
But then Tobis begins the herculean effort of unsaying what science has been saying about sensitivity for almost 20 years. After all, the IPCC has said in several of its Assessment Reports that atmospheric sensitivity, along with the contribution of clouds, remain the most important scientific questions to be answered regarding climate change.
Tobis writes, “Before climate change became obvious, when it was merely a prediction, the sensitivity was a good thing to focus on. …The real sensitivity we care about is damage per unit of carbon emitted. That damage is caused directly by climate change, not by GMST.”
I saw you palm that card, Tobis. You are trying to take impact assessment out of the realm of science and into the realm of fantasy. Instead of using data to determine what climate change will do you want to invent a social cost of carbon, attribute any weather event that causes damage or injury to climate change, add in bogus numbers from the ‘acidification’ of the oceans that have been labeled junk science and dictate your policy aims, already decided long ago, to the rest of the world. And I predict with some confidence that you will neglect to factor in the social cost of reducing carbon.
Tobis criticizes economists for using a model that is too simple to capture the myriad contributors to and effects of climate change. He wants to add another factor to the uncertainty loop.
But while removing scientific measurements from the equation he wants to replace them with the scare stories Klimate Kultists have been pushing at the world for the last two decades.
Klimate Kultists already ignore the fact that globally, drought has actually decreased in the past 100 years, although the decrease is not statistically significant.
They ignore the fact that the EPA says ‘there is no discernible trend’ in heatwaves in the U.S. for the past century.
They ignore the fact that tropical storms show no increase in either frequency or impacts.
They ignore the fact that destructive tornadoes show no trend over the past 50 years.
And perhaps most pertinent, they ignore the fact that in a century where the Klimate Kultists think sea level rise will be 1 meter, with 15% of the century already behind us we have seen 47 thousands of a meter. In a century where the Klimate Kultists fear temperature rises of up to 6 degrees Celsius, with 15% of the century behind us we have seen perhaps 0.19 degrees Celsius in elevated temperatures.
It’s no wonder that Tobis is agitating for removal of science from policy making. And it’s no wonder that he wants to airbrush sensitivity out of the policy debate. This chart, appropriated from Jo Nova’s site, shows what has been happening to estimates of sensitivity as scientists continue to study it: