Uncertainties attend the predictions of climate science, as the scientists themselves are careful to acknowledge. Reluctant policy makers use this uncertainty to support a “wait and see” response to climate change. Prominent American economists Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman in their recent book Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet are scathing in their condemnation of such a response. They translate “wait and see” as “give up and fold” and call it wilful blindness.
Their own response to the uncertainty surrounding climate predictions is to ask what the worst case scenario looks like.
Here’s what you get: about a 10 percent chance of eventual temperatures exceeding 6 ° C, unless the world acts much more decisively than it has.
This isn’t a figure they’ve made up for themselves. It’s based on IPCC prediction ranges and on the International Energy Agency’s interpretation of current government commitments.
It’s clearly a catastrophic scenario, but with a 10 percent chance of happening it must play a prominent part in our thinking and planning. We take out fire insurance on our homes with a much lower than 10 percent chance of their burning down. It’s called prudence, and most of us don’t think twice about the precaution of insurance.
Continue reading “Climate Shock”
At long last: John Cook from Skeptical Science rejoins the Climate Show team for the first show of 2013. He hooks up with Glenn and Gareth to review Australia’s big heatwave, and stays around to dig into the new Greenpeace report on dirty energy, discuss Obama’s inauguration speech and Boris Johnson’s climate blunder, the latest scary news on sea level rise and the implications for the future. Plus much much more…
Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.
Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Continue reading “The Climate Show #32: a Cook’s tour of the Aussie heat”
This year’s NZ Prime Minister’s Science Prize — worth $500,000 — has been awarded to a team of scientists working on climate-related issues at the joint Otago University and National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Centre for Chemical & Physical Oceanography. The team carried out ground-breaking research on using iron to fertilise phytoplankton growth in the southern ocean, and its effectiveness at removing carbon from the atmosphere. Team leader Professor Philip Boyd commented:
Around the world, there is a growing lobby, which includes influential people like Bill Gates, for using geo-engineering to claw back some of the carbon dioxide humans are emitting. Our research has shown that adding iron to the ocean is not going to be an effective way to do that.
You can hear Professor Boyd talking about the research in episode #6 of The Climate Show, and Professor Keith Hunter, co-director of the Centre was interviewed in Climate Show #16. “It’s the top prize in science in the country and it’s an outstanding award for science at Otago,” Hunter said today. The centre plans to spend most of its winnings on a state-of-the-art phytoplankton culture facility in Dunedin. Other members of the team were Dr Evelyn Armstrong and Dr Kim Currie of NIWA’s research unit, Associate Professor Russell Frew, Dr Sylvia Sander, and Dr Robert Strzepek (all of Otago University), Dr Cliff Law, NIWA principal scientist, and Dr Rob Murdoch, NIWA’s general manager of research.
The 2011 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist prize was awarded to Dr Rob McKay, a world-leading glacial sedimentologist at VUW’s Antarctic Research Centre for his work using marine sedimentary records and glacial deposits to reconstruct Antarctic climate over the last 13 million years.
The full list of winners is available here. Congratulations to all.
A valuable review, Climate Science 2009-2010, has just been published by the World Resources Institute. It’s a summary of major peer-reviewed research in climate change science and technology during those two years. Aimed at policymakers, the NGO community, and the media, it offers succinct summaries of the findings of a wide array of scientific papers, a short discussion of the implications of each paper, and brief overviews along the way of where the research is pointing.
It’s 48 pages in length, not a quick read but tailored for easy comprehension for anyone with a general lay understanding of climate science. A sample list of some of the findings is provided at the start, but the full survey is well worth reading through. The range of papers is a reminder of how much scientific work is being done and how the full picture is built from many studies and a great variety of detailed investigations. The review is restrained in its drawing of implications from the studies, often pointing to the need for further investigation and certainly not hyping any of the results. Nevertheless it’s apparent that the recent research continues to reveal grim prospects for humanity as emissions continue to rise.
Continue reading “Not a pretty picture: recent science summarised”
This guest post is by Simon Terry, Executive Director of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand. The risk rating on stratospheric sulphate injection went up another notch on the basis of material presented at a recent geoengineering symposium in Australia organised by the Australian Academy of Science, while the existing climate change risks did not get any better. The event made a useful contribution to the understanding down under of so called ‘geoengineering’ and delivered some perspectives that will be useful internationally, including a review of sulphate injection that raised a new issue: is it completely reversible? More on that below.
While not exactly the “southern hemisphere perspective” that was billed (as the contributors barely exceeded Australia’s borders), it nonetheless delivered strong presentations and discussion — partly as a result of most speakers being specialists in the field related to each technique reviewed but not technique proponents themselves.
Continue reading “Geoengineering down under: Is Stratospheric Sulphate Injection Completely Reversible?”