Why Mitigation Should Not Be the Climate Change Policy of Choice (Even if it’s a Real Problem)

AMS [American Meteorological Society] Policy Statement on Inadvertent Weather Modification Illustrates Fuzzy and Flawed Thinking on Public Policy

By Indur M. Goklany

The AMS has a new policy statement on Inadvertent Weather Modification (H/T to Prof. Roger Pielke, Sr., 11/4/2010). In this post I will not address its recommendations. I will, instead, focus on fundamental flaws in its two sections on mitigation and adaptation which, in my opinion, are related since they flow from a common misconception error in its policy “analysis” of global warming.

Below, I reproduce these two sections with changes in CAP-and-strikeout format that would have finessed these flaws. [CAPS indicate INSERTS into the text, and strikeouts indicate — well — strikeouts.] Also, I have inserted commentary in bold within square brackets where the rationale for my inserts and strikeouts is not self-evident.

As you can see from my inserts, strikeout and commentary, the AMS policy statement reveals fuzzy and, sometimes, fundamentally flawed, thinking.

2. Mitigation

Mitigation or avoidance, of these unintended impacts requires:

  • Application of new knowledge to curtail pollutant emissions and adverse land use changes and to mitigate their impacts.
  • Advancement of scientific and engineering understanding to elucidate the causes of atmospheric changes and to lay the foundation of knowledge for countering their adverse impacts.
  • A SHOWING THAT, AT A MINIMUM, THE MARGINAL GLOBAL BENEFITS OF ANY MITIGATION WILL EXCEED THE MARGINAL GLOBAL COSTS AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE OPPORTUNITY COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT MITIGATION. [COMMENT: Realistically, such benefit-cost analysis will have to be qualitative rather than quantitative. That is, not everything needs to be, or should be, reduced to a common metric such as dollars. In essence, benefit-cost analysis is shorthand for requiring a weighing of positive and negative consequences without using dollars (or anything else) as the common metric.]
  • A SHOWING THAT THE SAME LEVEL OF BENEFITS CANNOT BE OBTAINED MORE SURELY, EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY VIA ADAPTATION OR ENHANCED RESILIENCE. [COMMENT: See Is Climate Change the “Defining Challenge of Our Age? Energy & Environment 20(3): 279-302 (2009), particularly, Table 5. This paper shows that through the foreseeable future, the benefits from adaptation exceed the benefits from mitigation, and they cost less and are more certain to be obtained.]

Achieving these objectives requires, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

  • Documentation of anthropogenic weather forcings.
  • Process studies (both observations and simulations) of how such forcings affect meteorological conditions.
  • Simulations, USING VALIDATED MODELS, of the extent to which such local and regional forcings influence hemispheric-scale systems, such as the subtropical and polar jet streams, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNCERTAINTIES ASSOCIATED WITH SUCH SIMULATIONS.

3. Adaptation

Adaptation is necessary when impacts cannot be fully mitigated

[Comment: This reflects the conventional wisdom per most warmists that mitigation-to-the-extent-possible should be the policy response of first resort. If and only if that’s insufficient, should we turn to adaptation. But this is based on fundamentally flawed reasoning. First, consider if climate were to change but have zero impacts, then there would be no need for any climate change policies. Similarly, if the impacts of climate change were all positive, we would not be concerned about mitigation (i.e., reducing climate change) either, although we ought to try to make the most of the opportunities that climate change might provide. But the latter requires adaptation. That is, if all impacts are positive, we would be concerned with adaptation but not mitigation. What this tells us that the objective of climate change policies should be to reduce the net negative impacts (or net damages) from climate change by reducing its damages, taking advantage of its benefits, or a combination of the two. But there are two methods of reducing damages — specifically, through mitigation or through increased resilience (a form of adaptation) — and one method of taking advantage of opportunities, namely, adaptation. Thus, as a general matter we have to resort to both mitigation and adaptation, and we cannot a priori favor one over the other.]

[COMMENT CONT’D: Second, climate change impacts, in general, are heterogeneous with some impacts being positive (e.g., higher biological productivity or greater water availability or winter stress in some areas) and others being negative (lower water availability or greater summer stress in other areas). However, because adaptation can be tailored to each locality, it allows humanity to capitalize on the positive impacts while reducing its negative impacts. By contrast, mitigation reduces all impacts — good and bad — indiscriminately. Thus, once again, there is no reason to favor mitigation over adaptation. So how do we select which mix of mitigation and adaptation policies cost the least and provide the most benefit? One approach is discussed in the paper, Integrated Strategies to Reduce Vulnerability and Advance Adaptation, Mitigation, and Sustainable Development, Mitigation and Adaption Strategies for Global Change DOI 10.1007/s11027-007-9098-1 (2007). See Section 5.]

[COMMENT CONT’D: Essentially, the difference between mitigation and adaptation is analogous to a free market with individuals making decisions based on individual circumstances and centralized one-size-fits-all decision-making.]

[Now back to the AMS policy statement.]

Adaptation ALLOWS SOCIETY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE POSITIVE EFFECTS to the unavoidable components of unintended weather modification, WHILE REDUCING ITS NEGATIVE IMPACTS. IT requires, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

  • Consideration of environmental impacts of inadvertent weather modification as part of development and planning processes, e.g., crop adaptation, management practices, and water utilization.
  • Implementation of strategies to enhance depleted water resources in response to reduced precipitation (e.g., through desalination).
  • Evaluation and planning of public response to risks from inadvertent weather modification that can influence severe weather events.

 

Unfortunately, the fuzzy and flawed thinking on mitigation and adaptation noted above is the norm for climate scientists and not just for the authors of the AMS policy statement. It suggests that scientists as a group have no comparative advantage in policy analysis of climate change.

Why Mitigation Should Not Be the Climate Change Policy of Choice (Even if it’s a Real Problem):

AMS [American Meteorological Society] Policy Statement on Inadvertent Weather Modification Illustrates Fuzzy and Flawed Thinking on Public Policy

 

Indur M. Goklany

The AMS has a new policy statement on Inadvertent Weather Modification (H/T to Prof. Roger Pielke, Sr., 11/4/2010). In this post I will not address its recommendations. I will, instead, focus on fundamental flaws in its two sections on mitigation and adaptation which, in my opinion, are related since they flow from a common misconception error in its policy “analysis” of global warming.

Below, I reproduce these two sections with changes in CAP-and-strikeout format that would have finessed these flaws. [CAPS indicate INSERTS into the text, and strikeouts indicate — well — strikeouts.] Also, I have inserted commentary in bold within square brackets where the rationale for my inserts and strikeouts is not self-evident.

As you can see from my inserts, strikeout and commentary, the AMS policy statement reveals fuzzy and, sometimes, fundamentally flawed, thinking.

2. Mitigation

Mitigation or avoidance, of these unintended impacts requires:

  • Application of new knowledge to curtail pollutant emissions and adverse land use changes and to mitigate their impacts.

  • Advancement of scientific and engineering understanding to elucidate the causes of atmospheric changes and to lay the foundation of knowledge for countering their adverse impacts.

  • A SHOWING THAT, AT A MINIMUM, THE MARGINAL GLOBAL BENEFITS OF ANY MITIGATION WILL EXCEED THE MARGINAL GLOBAL COSTS AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE OPPORTUNITY COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT MITIGATION. [COMMENT: Realistically, such benefit-cost analysis will have to be qualitative rather than quantitative. That is, not everything needs to be, or should be, reduced to a common metric such as dollars. In essence, benefit-cost analysis is shorthand for requiring a weighing of positive and negative consequences without using dollars (or anything else) as the common metric.]

  • A SHOWING THAT THE SAME LEVEL OF BENEFITS CANNOT BE OBTAINED MORE SURELY, EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY VIA ADAPTATION OR ENHANCED RESILIENCE. [COMMENT: See Is Climate Change the “Defining Challenge of Our Age? Energy & Environment 20(3): 279-302 (2009), particularly, Table 5. This paper shows that through the foreseeable future, the benefits from adaptation exceed the benefits from mitigation, and they cost less and are more certain to be obtained.]

Achieving these objectives requires, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

  • Documentation of anthropogenic weather forcings.

  • Process studies (both observations and simulations) of how such forcings affect meteorological conditions.

  • Simulations, USING VALIDATED MODELS, of the extent to which such local and regional forcings influence hemispheric-scale systems, such as the subtropical and polar jet streams, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNCERTAINTIES ASSOCIATED WITH SUCH SIMULATIONS.

3. Adaptation

Adaptation is necessary when impacts cannot be fully mitigated

[Comment: This reflects the conventional wisdom per most warmists that mitigation-to-the-extent-possible should be the policy response of first resort. If and only if that’s insufficient, should we turn to adaptation. But this is based on fundamentally flawed reasoning. First, consider if climate were to change but have zero impacts, then there would be no need for any climate change policies. Similarly, if the impacts of climate change were all positive, we would not be concerned about mitigation (i.e., reducing climate change) either, although we ought to try to make the most of the opportunities that climate change might provide. But the latter requires adaptation. That is, if all impacts are positive, we would be concerned with adaptation but not mitigation. What this tells us that the objective of climate change policies should be to reduce the net negative impacts (or net damages) from climate change by reducing its damages, taking advantage of its benefits, or a combination of the two. But there are two methods of reducing damages — specifically, through mitigation or through increased resilience (a form of adaptation) — and one method of taking advantage of opportunities, namely, adaptation. Thus, as a general matter we have to resort to both mitigation and adaptation, and we cannot a priori favor one over the other.]

[COMMENT CONT’D: Second, climate change impacts, in general, are heterogeneous with some impacts being positive (e.g., higher biological productivity or greater water availability or winter stress in some areas) and others being negative (lower water availability or greater summer stress in other areas). However, because adaptation can be tailored to each locality, it allows humanity to capitalize on the positive impacts while reducing its negative impacts. By contrast, mitigation reduces all impacts — good and bad — indiscriminately. Thus, once again, there is no reason to favor mitigation over adaptation. So how do we select which mix of mitigation and adaptation policies cost the least and provide the most benefit? One approach is discussed in the paper, Integrated Strategies to Reduce Vulnerability and Advance Adaptation, Mitigation, and Sustainable Development, Mitigation and Adaption Strategies for Global Change DOI 10.1007/s11027-007-9098-1 (2007). See Section 5.]

[COMMENT CONT’D: Essentially, the difference between mitigation and adaptation is analogous to a free market with individuals making decisions based on individual circumstances and centralized one-size-fits-all decision-making.]

[Now back to the AMS policy statement.]

Adaptation ALLOWS SOCIETY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE POSITIVE EFFECTS to the unavoidable components of unintended weather modification, WHILE REDUCING ITS NEGATIVE IMPACTS. IT requires, AMONG OTHER THINGS:

  • Consideration of environmental impacts of inadvertent weather modification as part of development and planning processes, e.g., crop adaptation, management practices, and water utilization.

  • Implementation of strategies to enhance depleted water resources in response to reduced precipitation (e.g., through desalination).

  • Evaluation and planning of public response to risks from inadvertent weather modification that can influence severe weather events.

 

Unfortunately, the fuzzy and flawed thinking on mitigation and adaptation noted above is the norm for climate scientists and not just for the authors of the AMS policy statement. It suggests that scientists as a group have no comparative advantage in policy analysis of climate change.

Advertisements

51 thoughts on “Why Mitigation Should Not Be the Climate Change Policy of Choice (Even if it’s a Real Problem)

  1. Thank you Anthony, I agree very strongly. The benefits are KNOWN. For instance what would worldwide food, wood, cotton, wool, and even bio fuel production be today if we lived in a 280 ppm world, and everything else stayed the same? Yes, the benefits are KNOWN, continue to grow in a more linear pattern, while the warming and so far mostly THEORITICAL HARM decreases loagrithmically.
    I really wish someone with reach could do such a study.

  2. Not completely O/T ( I hope). On the subject of change of land use, the example given in the AMP paper is taken from a temperate area. Surely the drastic reduction in global tropical rainforest areas over the last 30 years or so has had a measurable effect on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? While the industrialised West is considered a target of opportunity by the WWF, CAGW, Fiends of the Earth, etc, has any serious scientific study been carried out on the effects of wholesale deforestisation in the tropics?

  3. Implementation of strategies to enhance depleted water resources in response to reduced precipitation (e.g., through desalination).
    Those of us who have been paying attention realize this is something to pursue regardless. Life-threatening droughts have naturally occurred long before “climate change” came along. Not only is there a great need for potable water, but also for irrigation, mundane tasks like washing and cleaning, and a host of other applications. There are also many areas with dropping water tables, requiring deeper wells, with the available well water by no means guaranteed to be usable as is. There are those who need water period, and those with inadequate reserves. Logically the course is clear, we need to develop more water resources, no matter what.
    Do we need a “climate change” bogeyman to prod us to action? The light has been turned on, we’re checking under the bed and in the closet. We’re just not finding that creature, so the kiddies just aren’t that afraid of it anymore. Don’t we have enough real monsters in the world worthy of taking precautions and actions against?

  4. What bothers me greatly is that the currently enforced mitigation – aka (un)sustainable energy generation – is essentially sabotaging our chances for adaptation – aka survival in a cooling climate when the damned lights start going out.

  5. “scientists as a group have no comparative advantage in policy analysis of climate change”
    LOL – there ya go! Politics in science, science in politics…. no comparative advantage.

  6. This reminds me of the old joke.
    An optimist is someone who believes that this is the best of all possible worlds.
    A pessimist is someone who fears that the optimist is probably correct.
    Thus the optimist (as defined) is fearful of the future because any change is bad whilst the pessimist is confident in the future because he feels he has little to lose. I love linguistic paradoxes.
    But the joke it not so funny when such a deep sense of insecurity within the “haves” in society can curtail progress. It is a fear that the MSM love to prey upon because, in the absence of real news, they can package any story to trigger the fear response. It is a fear that the rich and the powerful love even more because it justifies maintaining the status quo where they stay on top.
    Global warmers would have us believe that today’s climate is optimal and should be maintained at all costs, even if natural variation tries to change it and certainly if man does. So in this respect they are optimists about our current situation but therefore pessimistic about the future.
    Real scientists however know that the chances of this being the optimal climate are infitessimally small. Life on earth has been influencing climate for billions of years. Plants and sea life in general have removed CO2 from the atmosphere over time. This released the free oxygen which allowed animal life to develop and changed the global temperature. Were they “wrong” to do so. We are around to discuss this philisophical question because plants do not have governments to interfere with natural processes.
    We are intelligent beings. This gives us the power to influence our situation in a positive way. As individuals, as groups and as states this has often been done in a way that was opimtimal for the few at the expense of the many and it is this history that fuels the fear that the AGW proponents exploit. But, particularly in the last centuary, there are far more cases of science creating changes that the whole world benefits from.
    This is what we should be doing now in the case of climate. The climate changes naturally and, particularly at a local level, it can change due to human activity. The challenge is to use our better understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere to optimise at each location. Unfortunately I do not think our understanding of the science is good enough to do this yet but I am optimistic that it will be as long as the current AGWarmers do not stampede us into doing stupid things in an attempt to stablise the global average temperature: an impossible, meaningless and pointless objective.

  7. Let’s face facts, we are at the brink of losing our prosperity and freedom to green demagogues who rather see us dead than alive.
    I really think the time to put matters in a real clear perspective.
    The end of the Roman Empire wasn’t caused by eating and defecating populations.
    It was caused by the eruption of Krakatau in the year AC 546 and the volcanic dust that was distributed around the world after the eruption blocked the sun for a period of 18 months.
    During that time temperatures dropped, all plant growth stopped, people and animals starved like flies and the Dark Ages began.
    Through history, similar (Laki, Tamborra) but shorter lived events occurred and we call this period the Little Ice Age.
    All signs, low solar activity, cooling oceans, increased seismic and volcanic activity point at a new period of ice age conditions.
    http://www.jupitersdance.com/
    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/1989/JB094iB12p17371.shtml
    http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/bradley/bradley1992b.pdf.
    Today modern society with it’s power resources and technology would be able to survive a similar disaster that ended the Roman Empire but not if our power generation is based on wind, solar and crop based fuels.
    Therefore time has come to send a real clear message to the green traitors of human civilization.
    Mitigating CO2 emissions, studying cow farts and human excretion to “protect our environment” looks quite lunatic, especially now we know about the real threats that could end our civilization.
    The policies of our clueless political establishment almost beg for the re-establishment of the firing squad and the quillotine.
    Just to make matters clear, we are dealing with an “it’s them or us” situation here.
    And if you have any doubt about this claim, please read
    http://green-agenda.com

  8. The problem with this analysis is that it’s knocking down a straw man. It’s a straw-man because the real political issue that nobody wants to talk about is energy security. An analysis of that, not related to AGW, would be welcome. It’s the Elephant in the room, isn’t it?

  9. Anybody notice the shift:
    “Documentation of anthropogenic weather forcings.”
    Remember when we were told that weather is NOT climate? And “pollution” seems to be the new watchword. I thought we were supposed to fry to death.

  10. You missed one obvious resounding success of the environmentalist movement. That being the biannual reminder of our status as slaves in order to “save energy” (at least in most of the USA). I refer to “Fall Back”, “Spring Forward”, which was justified by claiming it saves energy. Perhaps it does, perhaps not. In any case, we ignore that forced adjustment (and the 1 hour of jet lag it imposes) at our peril. Especially if you work for a living, have kids in school, or any other activity which is governed by a clock. The consequences of ignoring this reset of our lives twice a year are dire indeed.

  11. “anthropogenic weather forcings”
    What the heck is an “anthropogenic weather forcing” – cloud seeding??? I think they’ve lost it over at the AMS (or at least the cabal that writing this tripe…the rank and file members probably have no say in the content).

  12. Robinson says:
    November 7, 2010 at 5:05 am
    “The problem with this analysis is that it’s knocking down a straw man. It’s a straw-man because the real political issue that nobody wants to talk about is energy security. An analysis of that, not related to AGW, would be welcome. It’s the Elephant in the room, isn’t it?”
    You might be right if energy security was a problem.
    Fortunately it isn’t.
    Maybe in the minds of the same people who promote the AGW scare with the argument that the introduction of wind solar and crop based fuels is needed anyhow because of peak oil?
    Maybe in the minds of people who think the USA depends on the Middle East for oil?
    The fact is that peak oil is not on the horizon for generations to come and some scientist who came up with the now proven theory of abiotic origin of oil and gas think we will never experience a peak oil situation.
    The fact is that the USA is already independent from Middle East oil as most imports come from Africa (Angola. Nigeria) and South America.
    The fact is that the USA sits on the biggest natural fuel resource in the world (oil, gas and coal) and could function entirely independent from any imports at the flick of a switch.
    The fact is that the US at this moment in time is an exporter of oil of oil products.
    Peak oil and energy independence belong in the same cabinet as Anthrop0genic Global Warming. You can find them under the P from Propaganda and the S from Scam.

  13. The whole statement by the AMS can be summed up succinctly as follows:
    Achieving these objectives requires…large amounts of Climate Ca$h to fund our costly and largely redundant research efforts. Please give us LOTS of Climate Ca$h. That is all.

  14. The Elite of the Earth believe that they are called upon by Nature (and Nature’s God?) to devise a solution to every problem encountered by the horde of humanity; the great unwashed, under-educated multitude; that it is only fitting and proper that their solutions be “Top-Down” remedies so that they can be properly implemented and managed. This belief is shared by “The Elite” of every people and nation on the planet, regardless of political system in place.
    (Sarc On)Mitigation is the natural, obvious remedy; no matter the problem. Little wonder it is being pushed by The Elite of every country on The Planet. Simply nothing else will do! Nada! Zilch! Nichts! (SarcOff)

  15. Once again we seem unperturbed as a population (not individuals) when poli-sci demagogues put stuff like this together. This is not a job for policy wonks at this level of consideration; I’m sorry but it is not even a job for scientists – these guys should stick to trying to figure out the science. This is a job for engineers and economists (certainly real world economists like Indur) engineers to report on what the possibilities and their costs are and economists to balance the cost benefit equation. Then call in the policy wonks and advise them on the most sensible and effective course. The lobbyist-activist types have only a destructive role to play.

  16. Robinson says:
    November 7, 2010 at 5:05 am
    The problem with this analysis is that it’s knocking down a straw man. It’s a straw-man because the real political issue that nobody wants to talk about is energy security. An analysis of that, not related to AGW, would be welcome. It’s the Elephant in the room, isn’t it?

    No there is no elephant – only a Green Agenda wearing a polar bear outfit.
    The entire world could be powered by nuclear power based on abundant thorium. Thorium based reactors are much safer than the existing nuclear power. However, even the existing nuclear power is far safer than claimed by the green agenda in the polar bear suit. The fallout from Chernobyl has not resulted in the huge problems that were claimed. That doesn’t stop ‘greens’ from chaining themselves to railway lines to try to prevent French recycling of nuclear fuel. They are convinced by their own iterative propaganda that nuclear power is unsafe.
    So there is a two pronged assault one prong is to prevent nuclear power plants by claiming they are unsafe; the other is to prevent fossil fuel plants under the claim of global warming and energy independence. Intentional or not the effect is to remove the fundamental supply of energy that makes current civilization possible. But energy supplies are only being removed from those countries who allow such protests and react letting them have an effect. It is notable that some countries are building power generation at a startling rate. What do they know, what do they expect and will they be more prepared for any eventuality?
    Are the greens and climate ‘science’ being used as ‘useful idiots’?

  17. One thing I do wish someone could explain to me:
    We’re told by the AGW crowd that worldwide precipitation will decrease and drought will be the order of the day.
    But we’re also told that warmer temperatures will lead to greater evaporation.
    Now, here’s the thing – I’ve always understood that what goes up must come down.
    So what gives here? Are we going to end up with the oceans above our heads?

  18. R. de Haan says:
    November 7, 2010 at 6:44 am
    You might be right if energy security was a problem.
    Fortunately it isn’t.
    ========================================================
    lol, you beat me too it again! One of the positive aspects of this CAGW/climate change/disruption debacle is to expose the lunatic energy policies of the west, specifically the U.S. For over a decade we were told to embrace great Quixotic ventures such as windmills and solar panels. One of the selling points was this would help us be less reliant upon other nations. REE anyone? The fact is, like oil, the U.S. is blessed with massive quantities of REE. The fact is, we are “dependent” on energy sources from other nations because we lack the fortitude to shout down the alarmists and insist on our energy sources come from our land. We can mine as much REE necessary, right here in the U.S. We can drill as much oil needed right here and off shore. We can build coal plants, nuclear plants, hydro-plants, oil refineries to the point of an overabundance of energy. We simply lack the fortitude to shout down the naysayers.
    Well, I should say lacked. If you thought this election cycle was tumultuous, wait until the next one! Mitigate that!

  19. How do you mitigate something that has been claimed with fraud and not proven to be true. Is mitigation not reserved for what is known? If climate change were a disorder it would be hypochondria.
    Should we mitigate flawed and fuzzy thinking on public policy. Wait, that is the purpose of elections.

  20. Indur M. Goklany says,
    “What this tells us that the objective of climate change policies should be to reduce the net negative impacts (or net damages) from climate change by reducing its damages, taking advantage of its benefits, or a combination of the two. But there are two methods of reducing damages — specifically, through mitigation or through increased resilience (a form of adaptation) — and one method of taking advantage of opportunities, namely, adaptation. Thus, as a general matter we have to resort to both mitigation and adaptation, and we cannot a priori favor one over the other.”

    ——————–
    Indur M. Goklany,
    Thank you for the valuable insight.
    Can you expand on the “resilience (a form of adaptation)” that you identify? Is this a reference to a wealthy, technically advanced and productive society being the most adaptive in the sense of being the most resilient?
    John

  21. @Curiousgeorge. Glad I’m not the only one who objects to clock changes. Energy-saving, indeed. Stuff and nonsense! There’s the same amount of daylight whatever the clocks say. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’d stick with GMT all year round if given the choice.

  22. JimBrock says:
    November 7, 2010 at 5:08 am
    Anybody notice the shift:
    “Documentation of anthropogenic weather forcings.”

    Yes, they ran the Federation Starship Climate1 into an asteroid and hijacked the Omega Class Weather Freighter, and are presently demanding mitigation ransom.
    The unintended consequences of caving in to their ransom demand are many, but the biggie is this:
    They decide how to force mitigate the weather, dictate what bio-modded crops are to be grown, and we all hope thier mitigation forcing doesn’t backfire, resulting in mass crop failures….amongst other things.
    Judging from the smashing success of their Climate Models ability to see through the bug-splattered window, the prospects of a head-on collision are very good (and remarkably bad for civilization).
    I can only hope that the Rice Growers in Calif. didn’t buy into thier madcap crop variety selection scheme, because it’s in real trouble this harvest.

  23. I see no mention of the risk of unintended consequences of fiddling with climate and weather – as if we understand perfectly how they work. Ha!

  24. Here goes, some black ops. dept. in the U.S. is using the so called green movement to save energy sources in the U.S. while using everyone elses. The payback is to Gore, his hundreds of millions.
    Everyone always forgets about Canada, the biggest single supplier of oil to the U.S.

  25. Indur M. Goklany has gone a long way in pointing out the shoulds and oughts of science, scientists and our organizations. The scientific method and its associated philosophy should give scientists a strong voice in the public discourse related to natural pheromone.
    “Unfortunately, the fuzzy and flawed thinking on mitigation and adaptation noted above is the norm for climate scientists and not just for the authors of the AMS policy statement. It suggests that scientists as a group have no comparative advantage in policy analysis of climate change.”
    I would suggest that the reason Indur M. Goklany found it necessary to write this essay and the Dr Lewis found it necessary to tender his resignation and publish is letter(s) is fundamentally the same. It is the hubris of a little knowledge and much ego that overpowers reason.

  26. Mitigation or adaptation?
    The coda from “The Last Tango” (solar activity):
    “At the time of writing, August 2009, we are already in a minimum of 700 days duration compared to an average 485 days per cycle, the longest for a hundred years. We do not know at this point how to determine the potential depth of cold we may face and are thus largely unprepared for a reversal of the prevailing weather trend. Our agricultural and energy security are already compromised by global financial problems, changes in land use, and shifting climate patterns. A severe cold period would have catastrophic repercussions, putting pressure on our energy systems and agricultural output combined.”
    (Jupiter’s Dance, G. Stevens, 28 August 2009)
    We are still experiencing minimal solar activity, over a year later.
    Think I’ll go shopping now; top of my list is a 10kVA diesel alternator, next some stainless steel and plastic tubing for exhaust and air intakes, then some empty 45 gallon drums for fuel storage…

  27. Unfortunately, the fuzzy and flawed thinking on mitigation and adaptation noted above is the norm for climate scientists
    because it has nothing to do with science.

  28. Thought experiment. Let’s assume that this new idea for mitigation is the correct thing to do, and see if it is a viable alternative to the tried and tested historical survival method, adaptation.
    1) In the first place mitigation requires that we know with a high degree of certainty how future climate will effect weather and the impact of this on specific geographic regions. Current computer models cannot achieve this for either global or regional climate as is admitted in IPCC AR4:-
    The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.
    This is followed by much hand-waving about “probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions…”e.t.c, which unsuccessfully attempts to circumvent the main statement.
    2) To achieve mitigation regarding reduction in levels of CO2 requires will take a long time and requires several things to come together to achieve it, these are:-
    All countries to agree to restrictions on CO2/other GHG emissions.
    All countries to agree to observers having access to be able to monitor said emissions.
    All countries to agree to penalties if targets are not met.
    All evidence points to achieving the above political agreement as impossible, especially with issue 1) showing that we don’t know what the future will bring.
    So mitigation fails as an option, leaving adaptation as the best way of ensuring mankind’s future whatever long-term weather/climate throws at us. Here’s hoping that sanity will prevail.

  29. They always try to jigger the language to control the message, as if, it isn’t the message that is flawed, but rather the way people perceive it. Let me assure you, IT IS THE MESSAGE THAT IS FLAWED.
    We see these communication tactics blamed for various setbacks in the agenda of many political groups. The great loss by the democrats in the recent election was blamed on the democrats not communicating their achievements effectively. While democrats feel what they did was a great achievement, the vast majority feel that what they did was an affront to their principals and their wallets.
    The people with the flawed message have a solution to their problem, change the wording they use to brainwash people with. They have no clue, too many people have woken up to their scams and the woken ain’t going to be sucked into their vortex anymore.
    The democrats, warmists, and even foreign governments seem to think that by just changing the wording they use to promote their position, people will buy what they are selling. A complete and total economic collapse has a way of getting people to think about exactly what is being said, and conker over the mind control tactics.
    Here is a perfect example of how foreign governments play in this arena. This is something that was not meant for the publics general viewing, but it’s hard to keep secrets with a modern Internet like ours.
    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/8303274/The-Israel-Projects-2009-Global-Language-Dictionary

  30. “AMS [American Meteorological Society] Policy Statement on Inadvertent Weather Modification”…
    ============
    So, it is our fault, but it was inadvertent?
    The “weather modification” has been proven?
    Weather has a base line, from which said “modification” can be determined.?
    Inadvertant consequences of the effort to mitigate said “weather modification”
    have been studied, and quantified?
    “Inadvertent Weather Modification”, just sounds like another name change to keep the funding flowing.

  31. To mitigate is to try and cross a bridge before there is a bridge to cross.
    To adapt is to cross the bridge when there is a bridge to cross.
    Now if there aint no bloody bridge to cross because of catastrophic climate change:
    To mitigate is to cry your bleeding eyes out and off yourselves in the mighty stream of dispear.
    To adapt is to always seek the high ground and work yourself around any and all obstacles.
    Hippies mitigate, real folk adapt. :p

  32. 1. First, let me set the record straight for Gary Pearse and others – I am not an economist, I am an engineer (and scientist). I like to believe this is as an advantage in many respects. I think one of the major differences between economists and social scientists (especially academic social scientists) on the one hand and engineers on the other hand is that – and this is subjective and the generalization could be biased by my experience – the former are happy to make assumptions to enable themselves to do all kinds of sexy calculations without really examining whether their underlying assumptions are themselves justifiable and whether other more robust assumptions may not have been more appropriate. Engineers on the other hand have to be much more careful. They are cognizant that it’s not good enough to be able to make sexy calculations – the underlying assumptions have to be justifiable because it serves no function to have a sexy calculation but have your bridge fall down or electrical system crash because of the assumptions.
    Also, when I was being trained, few engineers and scientists would use models to project results for conditions a few percent (at most) beyond the range of conditions used to develop those models. It would be considered a dereliction of duty to take a model developed, for instance, for a range of atmospheric CO2 concentrations between 315 and 390 ppm, and use it to pontificate on policies for situations when the CO2 concentrations are 700 or 1,000 ppm. Engineers and scientists are — or, at least, used to be — much more modest about their modeling skill. Something like this might have been done for fun (or even to get a peer review publication) but not if something real was at stake. Looks like such discipline is no longer observed by many climate change “scientists.”
    2. John Whitman : Can you expand on the “resilience (a form of adaptation)” that you identify? Is this a reference to a wealthy, technically advanced and productive society being the most adaptive in the sense of being the most resilient?
    RESPONSE: John, that’s precisely what I mean. I have a whole series of papers talking about this which are accessible at http://goklany.org/climate_change.html. In particular, check out: (a) “Integrated Strategies to Reduce Vulnerability and Advance Adaptation, Mitigation, and Sustainable Development,” Mitigation and Adaption Strategies for Global Change DOI 10.1007/s11027-007-9098-1 (2007), and (b) “Is Climate Change the ‘Defining Challenge of Our Age’?” Energy & Environment 20(3): 279-302 (2009).

  33. I. Goklany says:
    ————
    Unfortunately, the fuzzy and flawed thinking on mitigation and adaptation noted above is the norm for climate scientists and not just for the authors of the AMS policy statement.
    ————
    This continues the “I’m smart and climate scientists are stupid line.”
    The argument presented is not strong enough to demonstrate that his insights are better than theirs. He assumes for example that any climate change is bounded and that it will be possible to make choices and to change one’s mind about policy if conditions do not turn out as expected.
    Think of an asteroid on collision course with the earth. There is a 50% chance that it will hit the earth. If you act now you can deflect the asteroid and be certain it will not hit the earth. If you wait until the last minute you will not be able to deflect it because of it’s inertia.
    So the choices are: be certain about the outcome and possibly waste a lot of money.
    OR
    Spend no money, remain uncertain about the outcome and have eventually have no control over the outcome.

  34. Lazy Teenager says:
    “So the choices are: be certain about the outcome and possibly waste a lot of money.
    OR
    Spend no money, remain uncertain about the outcome and have eventually have no control over the outcome.”
    Thankfully, I have another option:
    Spend no money, remain certain about the outcome and have no delusions about having any control over the outcome.
    What’s more, I have the solid evidence of the billions of tonnes of buried coal to support my theory. And you have………a model?

  35. 1. LazyTeenager ,November 8, 2010 at 6:06 am, says:

    The argument presented is not strong enough to demonstrate that [Goklany’s] insights are better than theirs. He assumes for example that any climate change is bounded and that it will be possible to make choices and to change one’s mind about policy if conditions do not turn out as expected.

    RESPONSE: There is no reason to believe that climate change is unbounded. First, the dependence of temperature on CO2 concentrations is logarithmic. Second, CO2 has increased in the past without climate warming running away. Third, climate change impacts analyses using a global temperature increase of 4 degrees Centigrade from 1990 to 2085 don’t indicate that the world would be anywhere near ending despite the fact that most of these analyses ignore most of the increase in adaptive capacity that ought to take place in the future (2085 for those analyses) because of secular technological change and economic development that should take place under the economic assumptions which the same studies employed to develop their emission scenarios! [That is (a) they impose the climate of tomorrow (2085) “derived” from unvalidated models on (b) the world that is very much like 1990 (the baseline year), and (c) they still don’t show the world collapsing. For additional details, check out the papers, “Is a Richer-but-warmer World Better than Poorer-but-cooler Worlds?” and “ Is Climate Change the Defining Challenge of Our Age?” at http://goklany.org/climate_change.html.%5D Fourth, even the Stern Review’s own results don’t show that future populations will be worse off than current populations even though it exaggerates impacts, and considers market impacts, non-market impacts (i.e., public health and environmental impacts) and the threat of catastrophe – check out “Discounting the Future” at the same website.
    2. LazyTeenager ,November 8, 2010 at 6:06 am, says:

    Think of an asteroid on collision course with the earth. There is a 50% chance that it will hit the earth. If you act now you can deflect the asteroid and be certain it will not hit the earth. If you wait until the last minute you will not be able to deflect it because of it’s inertia.
    So the choices are: be certain about the outcome and possibly waste a lot of money.
    OR
    Spend no money, remain uncertain about the outcome and have eventually have no control over the outcome.

    RESPONSE: You are forgetting about opportunity costs (see the original post). First, if there is a 50% chance of the asteroid striking, that means there is a 50% chance that it won’t, which means there is a 50% chance that mankind would have wasted all the effort and resources expended on dealing with the asteroid. If it only cost a few bucks, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But if it cost billions or trillions then one has to ask: What else could mankind do with those billions (or trillions) other than deflect the asteroid? Can mankind expend those resources on other things that would provide as much if not greater benefits than would deflection? To properly answer these questions, one has to also ask questions such as: when do we have to take measures to deflect the asteroid and how long can we wait? Can more effective and/or cheaper be developed and deployed in the meantime?
    Your easy — pardon me, lazy – response does not necessarily lead to the most effective solution.
    In any case, your example is not analogous to the climate change situation – see the first part of this response.
    Finally, as noted elsewhere (Goklany 2009):

    According to the 2007 IPCC Science Assessment’s Summary for Policy Makers (p. 10), “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” In IPCC parlance, “very likely” means that its authors believe there is at least a 90–95% likelihood that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (AGHG) are responsible for 50-100% of the global warming since 1950, assuming that “most” denotes anywhere between 50–100%. In other words, anthropogenic GHGs are responsible for 45–95% of that warming.
    This means there is an up to 55% chance that resources expended in limiting global warming would have been squandered to little or no effect. Since any effort to significantly reduce global warming will cost trillions of dollars (see Nordhaus 2008: 82), that would be an unqualified disaster, particularly since those very resources could be devoted to reducing more urgent problems humanity faces here and now (e.g., hunger, malaria, safer water and sanitation) — problems we know exist for sure unlike the global warming bogeymen that may well be figments of the imagination (Goklany 2000, 2005, 2009a; Lomborg 2004, 2008)


    REFERENCE: Goklany (2009), Trapped Between the Falling Sky and the Rising Seas: The Imagined Terrors of the Impacts of Climate Change. Prepared for University of Pennsylvania Workshop on Markets & the Environment, draft, 13 December 2009. Available at the website noted above.

  36. From LazyTeenager on November 8, 2010 at 6:06 am:

    Think of an asteroid on collision course with the earth. There is a 50% chance that it will hit the earth. If you act now you can deflect the asteroid and be certain it will not hit the earth. If you wait until the last minute you will not be able to deflect it because of it’s inertia.

    *sigh*
    If it’s on a collision course then it will hit the Earth, there is no 50% chance, just a 100% certainty. At “the last minute” it is the asteroid’s mass that is the problem, not the inertia. Altering the trajectory would involve applying a force perpendicular to the direction of motion. To get the same amount of deflection, measured as a distance, you can use a small force while it is very far away, or a much larger force while it is very close.
    Also, you didn’t specify the mass, size, and composition of the asteroid. Little ones are “colliding” with the Earth all the time, small ones might just vaporize from the atmospheric friction or have so little remaining mass they are nothing to worry about.
    By the way, you might take note about how much we worry about asteroid impacts, as shown by humanity’s virtually complete lack of any capability whatsoever to “act now.”
    First, we have no proof CO2 is the causative agent of the “alarming” warming, as the research continues it’s been revealed as merely an early contender while other possibilities have emerged that could account for part to all of the warming, and that’s assuming there is warming beyond that to be expected from natural cycles that operate from several decades to many millenia in period length.
    Second, we have no proof the results of further global warming will be bad enough to warrant current efforts to prevent them, and it’s looking like the results of some more warming will be beneficial and desirable.
    You are arguing the Precautionary Principle, when we have neither sure knowledge of how bad the “impact” will be, nor are we certain we will be acting against the correct thing in any prevention efforts. Therefore, we can’t be “precautionary” against (C)AGW anyway. What we can do, is prepare for having to adapt if needed.
    And the best way to do that is have lots of wealth on hand, which means not wasting it on “precautionary” schemes that lack scientific proof and written guarantees that they will prevent from happening what they were intended to prevent.
    Your scenario specified certainty of the outcome. When you have documented proof of that certainty for (C)AGW, then you may make your “asteroid” comparison. At this rate, you’ll become LazySexagenarian while still waiting for it to materialize. 😉

  37. The looming disaster we must take Precautions against are the implementations of carbon surcharges going into the hands of governments which will use them to foist horrifically expensive substitutes on their captive populations which to date show every sign of disastrous “lack of skill” in providing stable power.
    The US electorate has just said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” With ever y indication that they really, really mean it, and will make sure it doesn’t happen.
    Hallelujah!

  38. On “Adaptation is necessary”.
    I have been thinking lately of the climate record in history. It is remarkable how much adaptation is evident in records of civilizations over the last couple of millennia. This is a point that has not entered much into the larger discourse on climate: Humans have been adapting for thousands of years to climate change. Since Homo Sapiens evolved prior to the last interglacial we can also infer some rather drastic adaptations before the advent of historical records. The need for adaptation is not at all novel — what is novel in the current circumstance is the potential to adapt to climate changes a priori, or in tandem with those changes, instead of in response to necessity imposed by unanticipated climate change. So what you propose here is not at all strange; it is the most natural thing. Pity the AMS didn’t have the wit to see it that way.
    History also shows civilizations that failed to adapt — and the disasters that ensued.
    It should be mentioned that one particular type of adaptation has always migration. Now, while there is migration in today’s world, I do not believe that there is any significant migration motivated solely by climate change. I think this may also be the first generation for which migration is only a marginal element of climate change — well, with the exception of migration away from sea level, assuming the Holocene interglacial lasts for another thousand years or so, which will have some effect on low-lying lands.

  39. R. Craigen
    Indeed, migration is one of mankind’s (and other species’) first adaptations to weather and climate. See here. And while human migration because of weather/climate considerations may be less than in times past, it is still essential for survival for much of the rest of nature: think migratory birds, etc.. In fact, National Geographic has a really neat TV program called the <a href="Great Migrations — well worth watching.
    The major reasons why migration among humans has declined are: (a) our technology has allowed us to be insulated from both climate and weather, and (b) institutions such as national boundaries and property rights discourage migration. Yet migration still continues, particularly in the wealthier countries where many people relocate to more equable climes, particularly once they retire.
    There is an excellent paper by Deschenes and Moretti
    which estimates that 8%–15% of the total gains in life expectancy in the U.S. from 1970 to 2000 may be because of migration from the cold Northeastern states to the warmer southern states
    . Of course, other factors reinforcing this tendency may be tax and cost of living considerations.

  40. R. Craigen November 10, 2010 at 10:10 pm
    “be certain about the outcome”??
    What you smokin’, dude? Stay well downwind, will ya?
    Since the entire edifice of “mitigation” rests on believing the “magic CO2 thermostat” works, an extraordinary and flimsy assumption, the only real certainty is the deflection of vast resources into wasteful and destructive technologies like windfarms, with concomitant deprivation and starvation of significant fractions of the Earth’s population.

Comments are closed.