FROM SCIENCE…TO ART…TO HYPOTHETICALS

The new RCPs are not projections, probabilities, prophecies or pathways – they might possibly be potentialities.

Guest essay by Barry Brill

The IPCC begins with science:

“In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”[1]

For its third and fourth assessment reports, it relied upon SRES scenarios or storylines in lieu of predictions:

‘Futurology’ the study of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. There is a debate as to whether this discipline is an art or a science[2]says Wikipedia.

The fifth assessment has moved on to pure hypotheticals in the form of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs):

“Four RCPs were selected and defined by their total radiative forcing (cumulative measure of human emissions of GHGs from all sources expressed in Watts/m2) pathway and level by 2100. The RCPs were chosen to represent a broad range of climate outcomes, based on a literature review and are neither forecasts nor policy recommendations[3]”.

RCPs start with some conjectures about 2100 outcomes, and eventually aim to work out “pathways” back to the present day. The storylines have not yet been written, but the IPCC is co-ordinating extensive modelling work to develop “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs)” with suitable narratives tying the SSPs to the RCPs.

This “working backwards” stratagem has previously worked quite well for the IPCC, where the Summary for Policyholders (SPM) is published first and then the peer-reviewed science is amended to fit. Now the climate outcomes are written first, and the ‘futurology‘ is later devised to fit.

Unlike the SRES of AR4 there is no suggestion that the RCPs are “projections” – which the dictionary describes as[4] as “an estimate of what might happen in the future based on what is happening now” and “an estimate of future possibilities based on a current trend”.

So RCP climate outcomes in 2100 are not forecasts or predictions or projections. Nor are they (yet) potential pathways.

What can they be? Could they be described as prophecies or soothsayings – or maybe even wishlists?

It must be remembered that the IPCC has been careful not to claim that any of the four RCPs are probable, or even slightly more likely than an infinity of alternative future possibilities. In a SMP that offers percentage likelihoods in most paragraphs, confidence levels for RCPs are conspicuously absent.

The “representatives” were evidently chosen quite arbitrarily and aimed only at ensuring a good spread. Back in 2000, the SRES Scenarios “represented the full range of driving forces and emissions excluding only the outlying “surprise” or “disaster” scenarios in the literature”. The range of the RCPs is much wider, covering the entire span of the scenario literature, inclusive of outliers. In addition, each RCP includes provision for Land-use and Land-cover Change (LULUC).

The categories are “representative” of a huge range, bounded only by the imaginations of those who have contributed something to the literature over the years. The “representatives” have nothing at all to do with real possibilities or statistics or science.

Likelihoods can’t be improved by taking a mean or a median. Each RCP is heterogeneous and was developed by a separate independent consultancy. Each of them already has assumptions about socioeconomic, technology and biophysical futures that differ from the others, and the gap will widen as each team invents and combines different demographic, policy and energy storylines to improve plausibility for its own predetermined outcome.

Any policymaker (or journalist, for that matter) who wishes to rely upon any hypothetical AR5 climate outcome, will first have to choose a RCP.

On perusing the characteristics of the RCPs (see Table 1) one senses that the 4.5RCP comprises the “base case” – which is accompanied by higher (6.0) and lower (2.6) bands, in the usual way.

The inclusion of “surprise” and “disaster” outliers demanded an add-on in the form of the remarkably large 8.5RCP to cover the extremes – those low-probability high-impact events set out in the Table 12.4[5] presented to the Royal Society.

Table 1: Characteristics and Effects of the WG1AR5 RCPs

image

*Anomalies are calculated with respect to 1986-2005.

**There is no close SRES equivalent to any RCP, but these old narratives provide starting-points for the new evolving storylines.

Naming rights

In the new system the IPCC no longer claims any special insight into the likelihood of high future temperatures. While it opines on the impact of certain cumulative emission levels, those levels are purely hypothetical and unrelated to real world happenings.

This is a step in the right direction. Hyperbolic media articles can no longer claim that doomsday outcomes are ‘projected‘ by the IPCC, even as the extreme end of a range. The 8.5 RCP is unmistakably a “what-if?” or “let’s pretend” speculation.

However, as the narratives are filled out by the IPCC’s joint modeling committee (the JIIC), reverse-engineered pathways will emerge and there will undoubtedly be claims that those pointing to the high-end concentrations are more plausible.

To set up the skewing and spinning process, the IPCC has bestowed a brief description on each RCP:

2.6 sees radiative forcing peak at 3.1W/m2 around 2050 and reduce over the second half of the century. That reduction requires new carbon sinks (either the biosphere or geo-engineering) and therefore new technologies.

4.5 assumes total radiative forcing is stabilized before 2100 by a range of technologies and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

6.0 assumes total radiative forcing is stabilized after 2100 without overshoot by a range of technologies and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

8.5 is characterized by ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions and represents those scenarios in the literature leading to high concentration levels (“tipping points”).

IPCC commentators are already referring to 4.5 and 6.0 as “carbon-constrained” and 8.5 as the sole “business as usual” (BAU) case. This unvarnished propaganda is quite likely to appeal to the less discerning members of the alarmist media.

Let us assume our descendants in 2100 find that radiative forcing is at 2.6 or less. What are some of the pathways they might see leading back to 2013?

(i) One or more of the CMIP5 key assumptions were wrong;

(ii) The transient climate response (TCR) was close to 1°C;

(iii) Western fertility rates transferred to Africa and South Asia;

(iv) BRIC economies went into a Japan-type long recession;

(v) Doubling world food supply reduced CO2 concentration rates;

(vi) Energy intensity in the developing world declined in line with income;

(vii) Coal usage ceased as natural gas became ubiquitous and cheap;

(viii) A new energy technology (eg Thorium reactors) became dominant;

(ix) A new CCS or other geo-engineering technology removed CO2 from the atmosphere.

Of this selection, I would have thought the ninth was the least probable. But it suits the IPCC agenda to spin 2.6 as “the geo-engineering case”.

Whatever else the new SPCs may deliver, they have already obscured the reduction in IPCC futures caused by the acceptance of lower climate sensitivity ranges. Not for the first time, the IPCC has found a trick which hides the decline.

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54 thoughts on “FROM SCIENCE…TO ART…TO HYPOTHETICALS

  1. Most eloquent and enlightened post – thanks.
    Soothsayers or illusionists is the closest fit – it is over, let it be and move on to the next big politically inspired fear all ye morally corrupt politicos and your sycophantic camp followers,

  2. The emissions scenarios are extremely high to begin with. At the current rates of increase of amospheric CO2, its unlikely to even reach 800 ppm by 2100. At current rates of increase, it will take 120 years (2133) to get to 800 ppm. And this is BAU!

  3. Waiting for Oldberg to arrive – with his many elaborate distractions in every other sentences ….

  4. With the 50:1 ratio of CO2 in ocean vs atmosphere it is not possible to get to 1100 ppm. We don’t have that much “fossil fuel”.

  5. “Representative Concentration Pathways” – AGW Newspeak in its very essence and probably as much an exemplar of the genre as anything else I have seen or heard since I first heard the word “denier” used in bilious anger.

  6. For those activists who claim “skepticism” on AGW, but still support the World Empire (“UN”) as a political solution, be honest with yourselves for a change.

    The World Empire (UN) stated ability to tax and it’s authority to regulate economic activity will come from greenhouse gas taxation and controls:

    UN Decrees “Carbon Budget” for Humanity

    “[T]he UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formally called for humanity to submit to a planetary “carbon budget” supposedly aimed at stopping potential future temperature increases. The UN “budget,” based on the findings of its widely ridiculed Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), would drastically limit man-made CO2 emissions — and therefore energy use and economic activity — by empowering a global climate regime to rule over humanity.

    “Limiting the warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions alone with a probability of >33 per cent, >50 per cent, and >66 per cent to less than 2°C since the period 1861–1880, will require cumulative CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic [man-made] sources to stay between 0 and about 1560 GtC [gigatons of carbon], 0 and about 1210 GtC, and 0 and about 1000 GtC since that period respectively,” the summary claims. “An amount of 531 [446 to 616] GtC, was already emitted by 2011.”

  7. The IPCC isn’t just using RCP’s for fanciful future scenarios. They are feeding them into modelled hindcasts and presenting the the 1860-2013 portion of those hindcasts as ‘historical’ which by any intelligent interpretation means the actual instrumental record.
    The SPM graph, SPM.10 depicts this so-called historical record as a conveniently precipitous rise with a hike of 0.33 C between 2000 and 2010. At the time it was paraded at the IPCC press conference it had no caption explaining the historical portion was a hindcast leaving all who watched it convinced that global warming hasn’t paused but has gone from 0.2 C/decade to 0.33 C/decade.

    More information on this can be found in this article:

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/andrew-cooper-ipcc-using-differing-graph-versions/comment-page-1/#comment-60173

  8. Furthermore, crucial details of what might lead to these concentrations were published only recently (population, income), with other crucial details (energy, agriculture, transport) not expected until next year.

  9. Its worse than I thought. I plotted the Mona Loa CO2 since 1958, and extrapolated it out 100 years. By 2100, the CO2 would be at about 600 ppm, at the current rates of increase.

    I used an exponential trend line, and the r2 is 0.9854.

  10. A factor in the scenario plausibility that has, in my opinion, been underappreciated is the effect of finite resource constraints on fossil fuel availability: As known reserves are depleted new reserves will, in most cases, be harder and more expensive to find and more expensive to extract, slowly pushing prices higher over time. This will inevitably make fossil fuels progressively less competitive with other energy sources as the future evolves. It is my opinion, based on a review of projected fossil fuel reserves and resources, coupled with energy-demand estimates and likely technology evolution, that something on the order of the rcp 45 scenario is about the greatest fossil fuel use we can ever expect to see. This will cause CO2 concentrations to peak in the latter part of this century or, optimistically, early next century, followed by a slow decline (not by “stabilization”). This process will only be slightly influenced by any governmental efforts at “carbon control”. The rcp 85 scenario is, IMHO, almost physically and economically impossible. Since this conclusion will obviously be controversial I would encourage others to look at the matter more carefully and to help bring it to the attention of the policy-making community.

  11. If they took the current state of the climate as the end of a pathway and tried to work back to the beginning of the twentieth century, I wonder if they would guess that there were a couple of world wars involved? I think it unlikely that the next hundred years wont throw up a couple of suprises as well.

  12. Keith Jackson says:
    October 20, 2013 at 10:14 am
    Since this conclusion will obviously be controversial I would encourage others to look at the matter more carefully and to help bring it to the attention of the policy-making community.

    Most controversial part being that it flies in the face of what we are witnessing.

  13. I propose that the following disclaimer be placed on every page of the next IPCC report-

    These potentialities are intended for entertainment value only.*

    *ref- Today’s Horoscope, from King Features Syndicate

  14. Compare modern electrical systems to those in 1900’s. Compare Cars and aircraft.

    Undoubtedly technology can and will revolutionise ourr energy use and production in the next 100 years. Inproved nuclear technology, for example thorium reactors. What has been a tragedy is that nuclear research has been throttled over the last 30 years by short sighted government policy and the dreaded greens.

    We now live in the most technologically sophisticated and educated era. To try to predict what technology in 100 years will be, and its influence on the world, seems to be rather foolish.

  15. Keith Jackson, I have also wrestled to understand the RCPs in that context. The former ‘BAU’ SRES scenarios like A1B expressly assumed no fossil fuel availability or consumption constraints these land between RCP4.5. and RCP6. For there to be any consistency, the same presumption should apply.
    There are any number of serious studies and books on peak fossil fuel production including my own, based on geophysics and past production histories. Lots of hard information. They use three projection methods. Hubbert logistic or gamma functions, Hubbert linearization, or probit transforms. Prof. Deffyes (Princeton geologist) books, or Rutledge Caltech presentations) give details. Even given data uncertainties (e.g. past flared gas, future fracked shale from known deposits with no drilling yet (England gas, China gas and oil), they all conclude that global production peaks will be reached by or before mid century for oil (first), coal ( second) and natural gas (third, with most uncertainty). That says even RCP4.5 may be above business as usual for what can actually be produced ( at sharply increasing cost) when geophysics is necessarily included rather than ignored as it was for the SRES.
    Couple that with GCM oversensitivity, and CAGW is not what we should be worried about. Energy yes. climate consequences, no.

  16. Les Johnson says:
    October 20, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Many assumptions. One being humans are the cause of CO2 rise. If not, no matter whether BAU or not, CO2 levels will be whatever they are for their own reasons. And what will it cost to avoid BAU, even if somehow we did influence CO2 levels, and furthermore those higher levels actually were a bad thing? It seems the cure is far worse than the supposed disease.

  17. Thanks for this excellent deconstruction of IPeCaC-speak.

    “(viii) A new energy technology (eg Thorium reactors) became dominant;”

    The Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik made news earlier this year by predicting (projecting?) commercial fusion energy by 2050 & covering about 20 to 30% of Europe’s power needs by 2100 (includes de rigueur genuflection toward the One True Gas):

    http://www.ipp.mpg.de/ippcms/eng/pr/publikationen/fusion_e.pdf

    Since c. 1955, fusion power has always been about 30 years in the future. Maybe in two more such periods, it will actually arrive, ie c. 2073. The engineering problems do IMO not appear insurmountable.

  18. Excellent article. It is really good to see that even the IPCC has given up any claim to science in these scenarios. But, clearly, the IPCC was unable to take the next step in thought and tell us what these scenarios are. Apparently, they are nothing. They are produced to make good copy for ignorant reporters who will reproduce the chart and then mindlessly explain that it means disaster.

  19. Right, so. Fututology (Gogo Zoidberg) is about possible, probable, and preferable futures; and it’s use was to prophesy doom. The hypotheticals are about possible or probable futures; and it’s use was to prophesy doom. And the projections are about possible or probable futures with the disclaimer: “Runecasting is for entertainment purposes only. But if you don’t do something Right Now, the Runes have prophesied doom.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m failing to see a difference here. Hopefully a Futurologist can come by with some Hydromancy and tell me if it’s probable my future self will find it.

  20. Jquip says:
    October 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

    The history of future forecasting is generally pretty funny, but there are occasional flashes of brilliance. Sci-fi writers have often done better than the pros. Discounting the self-proclaimed clairvoyant C. W. Leadbetter in 1913, the first book featuring atomic power was H. G. Wells’ 1914 novel “The World Set Free”.

  21. Bloke, I have posted elsewhere on how misleading the MSM and ‘offical’ commentary around horizontal fracking of source shale rock is, even though it is making a major transient difference in the US. Thatnwillmformoil last about 10’yeqrs, for natural gas perhapsmbetween 20 and 30. Not longer due to recovery rates and decline curves.
    Rather than repeat all the details, one example. The ENTIRE US tight (shale) oil technically recoverable reserve newest upward revised 2013 EIA estimate is 29Bbbl. Half of that is the Monterey shale, where horizontal drilling is not generally possible because of folding and faulting (which fact the EIA buries in an obscure table in a separate footnoted report). By comparison, the remaining TRR of the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia is 65Bbbl. Ghawar Production started in 1949, and peaked in the 1970’s. Annual production declines as watercut rises with EOR as the Saudis try to prolong field life to squeeze out every last drop. Saudi Aramco now projects exhaustion (not the peak, rather then end) for sometime before 2040. That one field presently supplies 6% of the world’s total oil production. Then entire, forever, total US maybe someday at some price shale oil TRR is half of that one Saudi field.
    There is as much bad information out there about the future of oil and gas as there is about CAGW. I am well aware that many here disagree. Unlike climate science where the readers here have dug into the details under Anthony’s able leadership, it would seem that with respect to fossil fuel geophysics many have a lot to learn. Good starting sources include Simmons, Twilight in the Desert, Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak and Beyond Oil, or my own books which take on this subject in larger contexts (carrying capacity in the case of Gaia’s Limits, MSM and political spin the the case of The Arts of Truth). Most of the counter arguments are seriously flawed. See, for example my post on Maugeri’s Harvard paper on future oil availability posted at Climate Etc on 2/1/13 titled Another Hockey Stick, http://Www.judithcurry.com/2013/02/01/another-hockey-stick/. Drove Willis nuts, but he never came back with any counterfacts as one would ordinarily expect from someone of his high caliber.
    Regards

  22. I think the answers to the purposes of the IPCC report lay with what is going on at the same time with other NGOs like UNEP, UNESCO, and especially the OECD. In my new book I detail the economic, social, and political transformations globally being carried on via education and changing mindsets and the ability to think rationally at all under the banners of Green Growth and Sustainability.

    Yesterday I listened to the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria at the most recent OECD Forum saying that AGW and the need for a new kind of economy merits a push to take control of institutions directly. Prime among those are of course K-12 schools and higher ed. Institutions that virtually everyone passes through for an extended period of time that are far more subject to the OECD and UNESCO because of the poorly understood nature of accreditation than most people understand.

    The most recent IPCC report then may be fictional but it is buying time for the real purpose of the report: the supposed Great Transition. Found the links to the initiative in one of the OECD’s Idea Factory reports.

  23. This IPCC thing has degenerated into a fire and brimstone sermon. An age old pastime, imagining doom for all humankind because you resent the fact that that the world is passing you by.

  24. So RCP climate outcomes in 2100 are not forecasts or predictions or projections. Nor are they (yet) potential pathways.

    What can they be? Could they be described as prophecies or soothsayings – or maybe even wishlists?

    ….am I allowed to say “bullsh*t” on WUWT?

  25. The decision to do pure hypothethicals is probably the most defensible approach. In defense planning under reagan for example all of our scenarios were pure hypothethicals. that alllows for building systems that are resilient to various fundamentallly unpredicatable futures. We planned and made decisions under the hypothetical of a two front war. One in the fluda gap and the other on the korean peninsula.

    Planning for climate change is not fundamentally different than what we did to defend our country. Of course nobody foresaw the real threat all our scenaros were wrong. Still tge fact that the future was unknowable didn’t freeze us into inaction.

  26. Milodon: “The history of future forecasting is generally pretty funny, but there are occasional flashes of brilliance.”

    ‘Precognitive Dream’ starting on page 60 of Broca’s Brain by Carl Sagan: (With an absurd ellipsis excision, excerpted from Google Books)

    “However, suppose the relative had in fact died that night. You would have had a difficulty time convincing … me that it was merely coincidence. But it is easy to calculate that if each American has such a premonitory experience a few times in his lifetime, the actuarial statistics alone will produce a few *apparent* precognitive events somewhere in America each year. … Such a coincident must happen to *someone* every few months. But those who experience a correct precognition understandably resist its explanation by coincidence. ….

    … precognitive dreams — are typical of claims made on the boundary or edge of science. An amazing assertion is made, something out of the ordinary, marvelous or awesome — or at least not tedious. It survives superficial scrutiny by lay people,and, sometimes, more detailed study and more impressive endorsement by celebrities and scientists. … The other explanation often applies when the phenomena are uncommonly subtle and complex, when nature is more intricate than we have guessed, when deeper study is required for understanding; Clever Hans and many precognitive dreams fit this second explanation. Here, very often, we bamboozle ourselves.”

    Never forget there’s a glorious difference between a raw number of hits, and the rate between hits and misses. Or even knowing why a hit was a hit. eg. My favorite fortune telling story of all time is the guy that foresaw an airline crash in July. That the plane that crashed had red in its insignia. Came to pass. But then, most airline crashes happen in July, and 70% of the insignias contained red at the time. And the advance knowledge of that was why he made his prediction.

    That guy is my minimum bar for what a scientist needs to beat.

  27. Steven Mosher says:
    October 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Reagan Administration war planning did foresee other scenarios besides Fulda Gap & Korea.

    After the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing, the administration used the phrase “war against terrorism” to promote legislation to freeze assets of & otherwise combat terrorist groups.

  28. Jquip says:
    October 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    IPeCaC’s clairvoyants are losing out to precognitive dreamers & odds-counting schemers, failing to clear your minimum bar.

    They’re losing more than half the time, so dart-throwing would do better than these violators of the law of averages.

  29. Steven Mosher: “Planning for climate change is not fundamentally different than what we did to defend our country.”

    Sure, in defense hypotheticals we ruminated about how we would attack ourselves with gas warfare. In Climate hypotheicals we ruminate about how we would attack ourselves with gas warfare.

    Of course, the point in defense planning is to encourage robustness by increasing the number tools we use, being more discerning with their placement, and building infrastructure that would be more resistant to changing warfare conditions.

    In Climate change we’re all about increasing fragility, removing redundancy, outlawing the tools we use, and refusing to build infrastructure to assist defense. And discernment of placement, while valid, is vetoed by finding three hairs from a North Cambrian Barking Squirrel.

    So sure, it’s all about gas warfare. But all similarities cease there.

  30. Steven Mosher says:
    October 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    There is no scientific justification for “planning for climate change”, & what we’ve done so far has been far worse than doing nothing.

    The climate will get warmer over the next 30 to 100 years, get colder or stay about the same. It’s far cheaper to adapt economically to these minor fluctuations than it is to try to control the climate, a system far more complex than simply counting CO2 molecules as they grow from three per 10,000 in dry air to four to possibly five in future & imagining from the increase catastrophic results not only not in evidence, but actually falsified by real observations.

  31. Call me a cynic, denier even, but if the IPCC and its associated scientists can’t or won’t put their names to a mainstream scenario – with limits – and impacts – well what is their purpose? All this scenario building is fine – if one reads the blogs one finds more accurate predictions than the mainstream. So the alarmists won’t “predict” but will “paint alternative possibilities”. Big deal.

    In my world they need to say what they think, give a prediction and the key indicators that that prediction is right or wrong, and accept the result. In the real world we have endless obfuscation and the misuse of language. To date the IPCC has broadly been unable to demonstrate a factual and [accurately] measured set of results which support its theories. Its previous predictions have not come to pass.

    This is now in the political and even quasi-religious domain now so don’t expect scientific rigour. But demand it all the same.

  32. milodon: If you haven’t heard of the, sadly defunct, monkeydex: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=82275

    “…Raven, a female chimpanzee who, in 1999, “picked” a portfolio of 10 stocks by throwing darts at a board arrayed with the names of more than 100 Internet companies. MonkeyDex, an indexed fund based on Raven’s picks, wound up ranking among the top Internet funds that year with better than 200% growth. Since then, the phrase “dart-throwing chimp” has stuck in the lexicon of financial analysis as a knock on the “expert” analysts who were outperformed by Raven — and pretty much anyone else who makes a living by prognosticating.

    … Had Raven been employed at a Wall Street mutual fund, her performance would rank her as the 22nd best money manager in the country, outperforming more than 6,000 Wall Street pros, according to the Internet Stock Review, creators of the MonkeyDex “

  33. Jquip says:
    October 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Didn’t know about the chimp, but I did follow the stock-picking career of Adam Monk, a capuchin monkey in Chicago.

  34. “The new RCPs are not projections, probabilities, prophecies or pathways – they might possibly be potentialities.”
    ==========
    If you want to go philosophical at least explain your starting point,
    ie: what is a RCP ?

    And why would I bother to look up its definition rather than just hit another thread/blog ?

  35. RCP
    Yet another acronym for making stuff up?
    I have a doom by co2 fantasy for the loons at the IPCC
    As atmospheric concentrations of co2 continue to rise, citizen freeze in their homes as poverty prevents them purchasing the needed fuels.Other infrastructure fails due to fantasy planning.
    These citizens get very nasty toward unelected parasites operating under the UN banner who feel it is their right to lie to,cheat and steal from, their fellow citizens.
    As the “projections”, the RCP’s are revealed as self-serving klepto-speak these same citizens exact their retribution.
    Now this is a doom by co2 model, that will most likely happen.

  36. It’s either going to get warmer or it’s going to get colder. Getting significantly colder is a MUCH worse scenario and therefore the one to plan for hoping it doesn’t happen, (too soon…)

  37. So, hypothetically, the Representative Concentration Pathways give indications that there are possible potentials that we are, perhaps, and bearing in mind that we are in a coupled non-linear chaotic system which renders all long-term predictions moot, facing, among other alternative futures, doomed?

  38. So, hypothetically, the Representative Concentration Pathways give indications that there are possible potentials that we are, perhaps, and bearing in mind that we are in a coupled non-linear chaotic system which renders all long-term predictions moot, facing, among other alternative futures, one in which we might be doomed?

  39. Steven Mosher says:
    October 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    The decision to do pure hypothethicals is probably the most defensible approach. In defense planning under reagan for example all of our scenarios were pure hypothethicals. that alllows for building systems that are resilient to various fundamentallly unpredicatable futures. We planned and made decisions under the hypothetical of a two front war. One in the fluda gap and the other on the korean peninsula.

    Planning for climate change is not fundamentally different than what we did to defend our country. Of course nobody foresaw the real threat all our scenaros were wrong. Still the fact that the future was unknowable didn’t freeze us into inaction.

    Thank you for providing a provocative point for discussion, Steve!

    In my capacity as a public health scientist, I serve as a subject matter expert on bioterrorism (BT) for the US government. I’ve contributed to the defense of the country since the old Soviet Union “germ warfare” era. In this work, there is a ton of hypothetical “visioning” that we always do, pushing the envelope to the point of extreme science fiction.

    We have to balance “assurance” (keeping the public safe, no matter what the cost) and “resilience” (acknowledging that we will take a hit & sustain mortality, but ensuring the survival of society and government systems). The public tends to like assurance, but budgetary restraints always push us towards a more resilient model. Also, in BT, assurance can involve risky vaccination campaigns that carry substantial health hazards. Sometimes it is better to watch, wait and prepare.

    Climate change is much like BT. There could be a substantial threat, depending upon circumstances…however, the size & complexity of the problem means that there is only so much we could do to counteract the threat. We could only substantially reduce atmospheric CO2 by drastically reducing all fossil fuel consumption, and that is too high of a price to pay, considering most of the worst damage is likely to be a “real-estate play” (flooding coastal areas etc.).

    Sorry if that sounds callous, but I don’t see anything in the data that warrants all-out war to protect ourselves from a raging, rapidly changing climate.

  40. All assume a linear (and potent) connection between CO2 levels and temperature. How about a few hypotheticals that are based on a CS of <1? I think that implodes the whole sham.

  41. Brian H says: “How about a few hypotheticals that are based on a CS of <1?"

    Can you just imagine the SPIN they'd have to sell if that was proven to be true? "No, no, no! We always meant to say global cooling! A software virus in our models was producing upside charts, Joe Romm's dog ate the raw data and the trees in Yamal grow inside out – who knew?"

  42. Guest essayist Barry Brill concluded,

    “. . .

    Whatever else the new SPCs [¿RCPs?] may deliver, they have already obscured the reduction in IPCC futures caused by the acceptance of lower climate sensitivity ranges. Not for the first time, the IPCC has found a trick which hides the decline.

    . . .”

    – – – – – – –

    Barry Brill,

    A very well down presentation on the RCPs. I very much appreciate the understandable approach. Thank you.

    As to your concluding paragraph, I suggest that the IPCC has refined what science is (to conform to logical positivist / post modern metaphysic & epistemology) and it is no longer concerned with what it considers an obsolete / inferior Feynmanian kind of view of science. While many critics have been exclaiming that the IPCC is just politics and not science, it has undercut objective seeking science with a subjectively subservient science.

    The only fundamental counter to their redefinition of science is a refocus on the metaphysics and epistemology. The IPCC as politics diversion actually provides intellectual cover for continuing promulgation of their redefinition of the concept of science.

    John

  43. Steven Mosher says:
    October 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    The decision to do pure hypothethicals is probably the most defensible approach. In defense planning under reagan for example all of our scenarios were pure hypothethicals. that alllows for building systems that are resilient to various fundamentallly unpredicatable futures. We planned and made decisions under the hypothetical of a two front war. One in the fluda gap and the other on the korean peninsula.

    Planning for climate change is not fundamentally different than what we did to defend our country. Of course nobody foresaw the real threat all our scenaros were wrong. Still tge fact that the future was unknowable didn’t freeze us into inaction.

    No fundamental different? You are joking right? Please tell me so.

    There is going to be no “change in our climate” you fool. “Building” huge systems? Right…., huge systems to control whatever climate might throw at us? Where the hell have you been man? We no longer have the ability to “build” more systems, can’t even maintain the road, bridge and utility systems any longer let alone your pie-in-the-sky flexible global climate control system.

    And you had a hand in building/designing our military jets I believe you have said before?
    I am now quite concerned.

  44. Am I reading the table right when I see that even the most outlandish estimate of CO2 concentrations results in a “Mean Sea Level Rise” of about 2 feet (0.63m)? So much for the Doomsayers screams about 20 ft rise and Florida under water. Is this another case like the ice-free Himalayas? (Damn that decimal point!)

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