Climate ‘limits’ and timelines

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. 

Posted on October 16, 2019 by curryja |

by Judith Curry

Some thoughts in response to a query from a reporter.

I received the following questions today from a reporter, related to climate change and ‘timelines.’   These questions are good topics for discussion.

My answers are provided below

From your perspective, have the early warnings about how hot the Earth is getting turned out to be accurate? Have they been adjusted higher or lower than expected?

Early predictions of warming were 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Centigrade per decade are too high relative actual observations.  Further, blaming all of the recent warming on carbon dioxide emissions is incorrect, in my opinion.  Solar indirect effects and multi-decadal oscillations of large scale ocean circulations have been effectively ignored in interpreting the causes of the recent warming.

What is the best figure that explains how we will know when things are really irrevocably bad? Is it the 2ºC limit, as some have reported?

‘Bad’ is a value judgment, and regions are affected differently by climate variations and change.  Most of the so-called ‘bad effects’ of climate change relate to the natural variability of weather, and there is little to no evidence that extreme weather events have been worsening, against the large variations of natural climate variability.

The single adverse impact that is unambiguously associated with warming (whatever the cause) is sea level rise.  Since 1900, global sea level has risen about 8 inches.   There is substantial temporal and spatial variations of sea level rise, associated with large scale ocean circulation patterns, glacial rebound, weather and tides. Projections of sea level rise by 2100 beyond several feet require: implausible scenarios of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, climate models that have implausibly high warming sensitivity to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and invocation of scenarios of collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet associated with speculative and poorly understood processes.


The 2C limit relates to expectations for long-term (many many centuries) melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.  The issue of the 2C limit is better described as ‘planetary diabetes’ rather than extinction or other dire characterizations.  Another way of thinking about the so-called 2C limit is by analogous to a high-way speed limit.  If the speed limit is 65 mph, exceeding that by 10 or even 20 mph is not guaranteed to cause a crash, but if you exceed the limit by a lot, your risk of a fatal crash certainly increases.


How do the actions (or inactions) of the Trump administration, such as withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, affect that timeline? If Democrats win the government in 2020, would implementing the Green New Deal (if it even passed) be too little, too late?

The political actions of President Trump have essentially made no difference to this timeline.  Most of the signatories to the Paris Agreement are falling far behind in their commitments (the U.S. has been doing relatively well in terms of its emissions cuts.)  Any future success of the Green New Deal relies on both politics and technology.  Overwhelming Democratic control of the U.S. government wouldn’t necessary help with the needed technology developments.


1.5 C

Larry Kummer has a post today Did the IPCC predict a climate apocalypse? No.

Excerpts from the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C, Summary for Policy makers.

B1. Climate models project robust differences in regional climate characteristics between present-day and global warming of 1.5°C, and between 1.5°C and 2°C. …

B1.1. Evidence from attributed changes in some climate and weather extremes for a global warming of about 0.5°C supports the assessment that an additional 0.5°C of warming compared to present is associated with further detectable changes in these extremes (medium confidence). …

B1.3. Risks from droughts and precipitation deficits are projected to be higher at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming in some regions (medium confidence). …

B2. By 2100, global mean sea level rise is projected to be around 0.1 metre lower {4″} with global warming of 1.5°C compared to 2°C (medium confidence). …

B2.1. Model-based projections of global mean sea level rise (relative to 1986-2005) suggest an indicative range of 0.26 to 0.77 m by 2100 for 1.5°C global warming, 0.1 m (0.04-0.16 m) {4″} less than for a global warming of 2°C (medium confidence). …

B3. On land, impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction, are projected to be lower at 1.5°C of global warming compared to 2°C. …

B3.1. Of 105,000 species studied,9 6% of insects, 8% of plants and 4% of vertebrates are projected to lose over half of their climatically determined geographic range for global warming of 1.5°C, compared with 18% of insects, 16% of plants and 8% of vertebrates for global warming of 2°C (medium confidence). …

B3.2. Approximately 4% (interquartile range 2–7%) of the global terrestrial land area is projected to undergo a transformation of ecosystems from one type to another at 1ºC of global warming, compared with 13% (interquartile range 8–20%) at 2°C (medium confidence). …

B4. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2ºC is projected to reduce increases in ocean temperature as well as associated increases in ocean acidity and decreases in ocean oxygen levels (high confidence). …

B4.1. There is high confidence that the probability of a sea-ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer is substantially lower at global warming of 1.5°C when compared to 2°C. With 1.5°C of global warming, one sea ice-free Arctic summer is projected per century. This likelihood is increased to at least one per decade with 2°C global warming. Effects of a temperature overshoot are reversible for Arctic sea ice cover on decadal time scales (high confidence). …

B4.4. Impacts of climate change in the ocean are increasing risks to fisheries and aquaculture via impacts on the physiology, survivorship, habitat, reproduction, disease incidence, and risk of invasive species (medium confidence) but are projected to be less at 1.5ºC of global warming than at 2ºC.

Larry Kummer’s comments:

“Most of the findings in the SPM of this Special Report are of two kinds. First, stating that the effects of 1.5°C warming are less than those of 2.0°C warming. Pretty obvious, but it means little unless we know the effects of 2°C warming. It seldom quantifies the difference in effects from that extra 0.5°C warming, which is the key information necessary to know when assessing the cost-benefit of limiting the coming warming.

Second, there are more specific findings – bad but not disastrous – given at a “medium” level of confidence. The IPCC uses five levels of confidence: very low, low, medium, high, and very high. “Medium” is a weak basis for extreme measures to restructure society and the global economy. Especially since it is human nature to overestimate confidence more often than to underestimate it.”

JC note: with regards to IPCC confidence definitions, seem my previous post A crisis of overconfidence

“There is nothing in this Special Report justifying belief that the world will end, that the world will burn, or that humanity will go extinct. It has been misrepresented just as past reports have been (e.g., the 4th US National Climate Assessment). The disasters described the Climate Emergency and Extinction Rebellion activists are those of RCP8.5, the worst-case scenario in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment report – or even beyond it. RCP8.5 is, as a worst-case scenario should be, a horrific but not apocalyptic future that is improbable or impossible.”

JC note: with regards to RCP8.5, see my previous post What’s the worst case? Emissions/concentrations scenarios

JC conclusion

Bottom line is that these timelines are meaningless.  While we have confidence in the sign of the temperature change, we have no idea what its magnitude will turn out to be.  Apart from uncertainties in emissions and the Earth’s carbon cycle, we are still facing a factor of 3 or more uncertainty in the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2, and we have no idea how natural climate variability (solar, volcanoes, ocean oscillations) will play out in the 21st century.  And even if we did have significant confidence in the amount of global warming, we still don’t have much of a handle on how this will change extreme weather events.  With regards to species and ecosystems, land use and exploitation is a far bigger issue.

Cleaner sources of energy have several different threads of justification, but thinking that sending CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 or whenever is going to improve the weather and the environment by 2100 is a pipe dream.  If such reductions come at the expense of economic development, then vulnerability to extreme weather events will increase.

There is a reason that the so-called climate change problem has been referred to as a ‘wicked mess.’

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Mark Broderick
October 18, 2019 10:23 am

“Early predictions of warming at were 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Centigrade per decade are too high relative to actual observations. ” ?

Great post…..

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Mark Broderick
October 18, 2019 4:50 pm

It seems like a lot of small words are missing, even down in Kummer’s quotes.

Thomas Homer
October 18, 2019 10:36 am

“Cleaner sources of energy ” … can you define ‘cleaner’?

Are carbonated beverages ‘unclean’?

John McClure
Reply to  Thomas Homer
October 18, 2019 12:35 pm

– less wasted water
– less pollution
– more efficient
– cheaper
– etc.

See Personalized Energy video on YouTube

Reply to  John McClure
October 18, 2019 1:57 pm

define “pollution” , are carbonated beverages full of pollution?


If such reductions come at the expense of economic development, then vulnerability to extreme weather events will increase.

Probably the most pertinent point of the whole argument. Wealthy populations are more resilient than poor ones. Wealthy nations have the luxury of being able to worry about long term future of the environment.

John McClure
Reply to  Greg
October 19, 2019 6:00 am

Carbonation is a natural preservative. Anyone who thinks it’s pollution needs to understand the benefit.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
October 18, 2019 5:38 pm

Yes, carbonated beverages are unclean. That’s why you should drink Guinness.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  commieBob
October 18, 2019 10:11 pm


All that nitrogen! the new pollutant…

Don Perry
Reply to  commieBob
October 19, 2019 5:54 am

Guiness is naturally carbonated.

Reply to  Don Perry
October 19, 2019 9:56 am

That may be true but it is artificially nitrogenized. link

A typical nitrogenized beer contains about 70 percent nitrogen and 30 percent carbon dioxide.

Reply to  commieBob
October 20, 2019 9:09 am

Guiness uses that little canister in the bottle carbonize? nitrogenize? their bottled beer.
I believe the original Guiness Stout in the UK is still naturally carbonated and still served at about 60° F.

Kerry Eubanks
October 18, 2019 10:43 am

I’m not as certain that we even know about the “sign” of the change. Yes, there does appear to have been some very gradual warming since the mid-19th century end of the “little ice age.” We have absolutely no idea if this will continue or for how long. The earth’s climate system is chaotic. At very long time scales we can guess that there will be another ice age, and I think that is far more certain than the idea that the current (brief) warming trend will continue for any length of time. But that doesn’t mean it is a given.

I’ve made the point previously in response to a couple of blog posts that one of the fundamental tenants of Chaos Theory is that not only is the timing of a phase change (i.e. “tipping point” in alarmist jargon) not predictable, but the SIGN of the change also isn’t predictable.

Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
October 18, 2019 2:05 pm

Where do you get the sign of change being unpredictable? With the classic plot of the Lorentz attractor you don’t know when it will flip but you do know it start being attracted to the other attractor when that happens, it will not jump off the page a go to a new third attractor.

Similarly the next “tipping point” will be into a new glaciation, there will not be second deglaciation from Halocene optimum upwards. That is the fallacy alarmist are trying to suggest with their endless “tipping points” yet in millions of years paleo climate we have no reason to suggest that is a possible outcome.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Greg
October 18, 2019 4:53 pm

“Halocene optimum”

Clearly you play too many video games. 😉

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 19, 2019 12:46 am

Whenever the climate worriers use the term “Anthropocene” we should replace it with “Halocene”

Reply to  Greg
October 19, 2019 9:51 am

Greg: “…but you do know it start being attracted to the other attractor when that happens…”

The trace can chaotically alternate between both attractors.

Reply to  Kerry Eubanks
October 20, 2019 10:51 pm

Greenland Ice core records show that the sign of Climate Change has been negative for the last 3 millenia since 1000BC.

With the current Solar Minimum cooling is in evidence over the last 20 years. The current benign Holocene interglacial could end catastrophically like the last Eemian interglacial anytime this century, next century, this millennium. Then the world is likely to be back to real glaciation for the next 100,000 years.

Smart Rock
October 18, 2019 11:08 am

Having briefly scanned a few of the IPCC documents, I get the impression that “medium confidence” really means “rank speculation”.

Which is fine for publishing a piece of research advancing a new hypothesis, but not really appropriate for drawing conclusions that will be used to support policies of societal changes that will reshape the lives of hundreds of millions.

Reply to  Smart Rock
October 19, 2019 4:14 am

‘Medium confidence’ is defined as the midrange of the confidence levels, in other words 50/50 or ‘could be up, could be down‘.

That fact that governments are seriously looking at spending billions and destroying the life blood of the entire economy and lose about half of the agricultural yield and lose one of the most useful lines of products ever created and stop the entire global transport sector, based on ‘medium confidence’ really does make me wonder if governments have gone completely mad.

Anyway, last day in Thailand today so i’m a bit sad. Next posting South America! looking forwards to that one!
The world is such a beautiful place, go travel a bit and you might learn something!

October 18, 2019 11:28 am

JC dissappoints in that she concedes that there is some credibility to “climate science”.

Until the models can replicate the 1910 to 1940 warming exactly, there is no reason to believe in “climate science”. That period of warming was just the same as currently, without a significant amount of human made CO2. Then there is the failure to replicate clouds. NASA says there need a 100 fold increase in accuracy.

IMO, all funding should be stopped. The science is at a dead end. The monies should be spent on forth generation nuclear.

Reply to  EdB
October 18, 2019 11:58 am

climate (n.)

late 14c., “horizontal zone of the earth’s surface measured by lines parallel to the equator,” from Old French climat “region, part of the earth,” from Latin clima (genitive climatis) “region; slope of the earth,” from Greek klima “region, zone,” literally “an inclination, slope,” thus “slope of the earth from equator to pole,” from a suffixed form of PIE root *klei- “to lean.”

Ancient geographers divided the earth into zones based on the angle of sun on the slope of the earth’s surface and the length of daylight. Some reckoned 24 or 30 climates between Meroe on the upper Nile in Sudan and the mythical Riphaean Mountains which were supposed to bound the Arctic; a change of climate took place, going north, at a place where the day was a half hour longer or shorter, according to season, than the starting point. Others counted 7 (each dominated by a particular planet) or 12 (dominated by zodiac signs).

Change of temperature gradually came to be considered more important, and by late 14c. the word was being used in the sense “a distinct region of the earth’s surface considered with respect to weather.” The sense shift to “combined results of weather associated with a region, characteristic condition of a country or region with reference to the variation of heat, cold, rainfall, wind, etc.,” is attested by c. 1600. Figuratively, of mental or moral atmosphere, from 1660s.

Another victim of semantic progression. That said, Curry is effectively an originalist in spirit and practice, to meet the logical and practical prerequisite for science: limited frame of reference, observable, reproducible, and deductive.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  n.n
October 19, 2019 6:53 am

“That said, Curry is effectively an originalist in spirit and practice, to meet the logical and practical prerequisite for science: limited frame of reference, observable, reproducible, and deductive.”
Says you.
I see no evidence of any of that.
In 2005 she was quick to take the lead in trashing William Grey, when in fact he was absolutely right and she and her crew were absolutely wrong. She went out of her way to say very nasty things about a very good man who never said or did one word or one thing to deserve it.
She had a change of heart on a few things at some point, ostensibly when she came across the climategate emails.
We have seen her as one of the “skeptics” in congressional hearings, but her delivery is tepid and tentative, her points never made forcefully or backed up with any vigor, and she is fine with letting warmistas at the next table trash her and the people sitting next to her.
IMO, she is not an ally to the skeptical cause.
Someone was talking about skeptics shooting themselves in the foot the other day, and I disagreed strongly with the specifics of that criticism.
JC gives a clinic in how skeptical scientists (if she is one), shoot themselves in the foot.

Reply to  EdB
October 18, 2019 12:03 pm

Left out, of course, is the fairly high probability that there will be some benefit, perhaps overall net benefit for life generally and humans specifically from 1.5 to 2.0 degrees warming, should that occur. For example:

1. 10 to 20 people die from cold weather compared to each person who dies from hot weather (WHO statistics). This means warming will save lives.
2. Much of the land area of the Earth is in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, namely in Eurasia and North America, especially in Canada and Russia. This land has short growing seasons. Warming will lengthen those growing seasons and extend agriculture to areas currently too cold. More food will be grown.
3. CO2 is plant food and greening of the Earth is following its rise.

It is political agenda rather than science when only negatives are counted and positives ignored.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  kwinterkorn
October 18, 2019 4:59 pm

“2. Much of the land area of the Earth is in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere, namely in Eurasia and North America, especially in Canada and Russia. This land has short growing seasons. Warming will lengthen those growing seasons and extend agriculture to areas currently too cold. More food will be grown.”

It’s also possible that current “breadbasket” areas could become more like deserts. So it’s possible that on balance, the same amount of food will be grown. We just don’t know.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 18, 2019 5:22 pm

Those areas did not become deserts the last time temperatures were 2C above present, I don’t see why they would do so now.
Beyond that more CO2 allows plants to survive while using less water.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  MarkW
October 18, 2019 7:11 pm

Not only that but Mexico is not one big desert. Much of our food today is grown in Mexico. If our climate becomes more like Mexico it means *more* food for us, not less! Perhaps food of a different kind but we can adapt to that.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 19, 2019 6:21 am

“It’s also possible that current “breadbasket” areas could become more like deserts. So it’s possible that on balance, the same amount of food will be grown. We just don’t know.”

It is also possible that everything will be far better for life across all zones on the planet with more CO2 and higher temps.
This is the far more likely scenario, and the one that hundreds of millions of years of Earth history tells us will happen, given it has happened over and over again, and never happened the way alarmists suggest.
The only reason to be even slightly worried about these ideas comes from the notion that anything people do that changes the world will of course necessarily be only bad.
That nothing good could result, even though no one intended it or realized it might happen when FF began to be utilized as sources of energy.

During the HCO it was warmer than now.
The Sahara was a verdant semi-wooden savannah with many streams, rivers and large lakes.
And a warmer world is a wetter one due to higher evaporation from the oceans.
And these predictions are predicated on further increases in CO2, which is very well known to increase rates of plant growth, and cause them to transpire far less water, hence be able to thrive in ever more arid zones.

A warmer future is speculative, but the effects of CO2 on plant growth and water needs are now.
More evaporation from the surface of a warmer ocean is not a speculation.
Suggesting that deserts will occur outside of the belts surrounding 30° north and south latitude reveals a profound ignorance of why the Earth has these regions of semi-permanent high pressure which leads to deserts.

The planet is in an ice age, for crying out loud!
It has almost always been warmer than now.
Colder times have been worse for life and people in every way possible.
When it is warmer life and humans do better.
When there is more CO2 the biosphere expands.

Kwinterkorn noted that “It is political agenda rather than science when only negatives are counted and positives ignored”, and I agree that climate alarmism is entirely political in nature. But I disagree that “negatives are counted and positives ignored” is an accurate summary.
What is actually happening is that negatives are being dreamed up out of thin air, exaggerated, and then passed off as likely or certain, while the status quo case is ignored, and any positive outcomes or trends are not ignored but actively discounted, and anyone suggesting there might be any are vilified and attacked.

What is occurring is vile and despicable, and the a large segment of supposedly educated human beings are in the throes of a severe case of mass hysteria.
With the human condition improving by leaps and bounds year over year and decade over decade, someone saying that the future might only be fairly terrible, not completely awful, is not a moderate or a realist, they are suffering from a somewhat milder case of dementia.
Either that, or they know the truth but are too timid or uncertain to say what they know is true, and so water it down.

I have zero respect for anyone who knows that alarmism is uncalled for, but uses their time and position to try to convince skeptics to be less skeptical of CAGW.

Make no mistake, anyone who argues that CO2 concentration is the thermostat of the planet, or that a few degrees of warming is to be feared, is a warmista, and has their mind fixated on a belief that an hypothesis with virtually no evidentiary support, and a long list of reasons to be sure it is not the case, is nonetheless a fact.
The green new deal is an insane socialist fantasy list, and recipe for permanent takeover of the economy and every aspect of every life forever.
Anyone who does not reject it out of hand is either very dumb or on the far left fringe.

Just in case anyone is confused about any of that.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 19, 2019 6:55 am

“A warmer future is speculative, but the effects of CO2 on plant growth and water needs are not”.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
October 19, 2019 10:13 am

I would like to see contribution from an expert on that. I would expect land topology, natural wind patterns (e.g., Coriolis effect), water temperatures, and where the land was relative to large bodies of water play a much greater role in the pattern of rainfall than air temperatures.
If I am correct, then any loss of agricultural land to drought would not be a concern.

Reply to  kwinterkorn
October 18, 2019 5:44 pm

Benefits of increased atmospheric CO2 are never considered by the alarmists. One of the benefits is that fossil fuels make us richer, as does a warmer climate. That, in turn, means that we are much more resilient in the face of climate related disasters. As JC says,

If such reductions come at the expense of economic development, then vulnerability to extreme weather events will increase.

The public and politicians don’t seem to know that. Somehow the word has to be got out.

October 18, 2019 11:42 am

The audacity of those who really believe that they can set the temperature of the nearest planet has been staggering.
Ambition without limits.
Which is absurd, then even more absurd is the precision of the thermostat.
The accepted average temperature of the “Earth” is 288 Kelvin.
And a committee of bureaucrats thinks it can set it at range between 288 and 290. The higher target is the 2 degrees above an arbitrary number deemed good.
However the 1.5 K increase would be perfect.
Therefore, the temp should be set at 289.5 K.

Jean Parisot
October 18, 2019 11:44 am

The wicked problem associated with Climate Change is predicting the end of this inter-glacial with enough confidence and time to allow our society to adapt.

2degC and more CO2 aren’t problems, they are blessings.

Reply to  Jean Parisot
October 18, 2019 1:40 pm

Yes. Robust climate prediction and projection should precede any huge expenditures toward man-made climate “sculpting”.

This call to immediate climate action looks a lot like “market timing” by Wall Street stock-pickers. Some pickers may win by sheer luck, but more pickers lose by sheer luck. The most consistent winners invest broadly in a way which maximizes the odds for success whichever way the market (climate) swings.

Reply to  Jean Parisot
October 18, 2019 2:47 pm

“The wicked problem associated with Climate Change is predicting the end of this inter-glacial with enough confidence and time to allow our society to adapt.”

If so the continued increased use of the space environment will solve “the wicked problem associated with Climate Change”.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  gbaikie
October 19, 2019 6:43 am

JC starts out properly noting that “bad” is a value judgement, but ends up throwing up hands at the “wickedness” of the “climate change problem”.
She needs to get her story straight.
It is either a problem or fake. There is or is not a crisis. She thinks herself reasonable and balanced because instead of panicking she is expressing uncertainty over how bad the coming calamity will be.

So, bad is a value judgement, yes it is, she got that right.
What about wicked?
1: morally very bad / evil

2: a) fierce, vicious
-a wicked dog
b) disposed to or marked by mischief / roguish
-does wicked impersonations

3: a) disgustingly unpleasant / vile
-a wicked odor
b) causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble
-a wicked storm

4: going beyond reasonable or predictable limits : of exceptional quality or degree
throws a wicked fastball

IOW, bad on steroids.
A value judgement, but very much exaggerated.

Or maybe she is using the word in the Boston homme-boy vernacular definition”
1: Awesome, cool, far out, amazing

Note to self: ignore people who called climate change a “wicked problem”. May be lumped safely with anyone who says the words “super” and ” wicked” back to back in the intro to an essay.

Stephen Breuer
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 19, 2019 1:41 pm

Judith Curry uses the term ‘Wicked Problem’ in a specific technical sense. She wrote in 2012:

Contrast this to ‘wicked problems’:

“Wicked problem” is a phrase originally used in social planning to describe a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.

Rittel and Webber’s (1973) formulation of wicked problems specifies ten characteristics, perhaps best considered in the context of social policy planning. According to Ritchey (2007)[2], the ten characteristics are:

There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem (defining wicked problems is itself a wicked problem).
Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but better or worse.
There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly.
Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
The planner has no right to be wrong (planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate).
Seeking to generalize the concept of problem wickedness to areas other than planning and policy, Conklin identifies the following as defining characteristics of wicked problems:[3]

The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution.
Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.
Every wicked problem is essentially novel and unique.
Every solution to a wicked problem is a ‘one shot operation.’
Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.


Your analysis using the dictionary definition misses the point

Robert Beckman
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
October 20, 2019 4:09 am

I think she intends a variation on 3 – unpleasant and vile.

It’s turned people who ought to know better into clones of Chicken Little, while at the same time suggesting that there’s legitimately something to be concerned about – but without illuminating whether it’s a good outcome (next major glaciation averted), a bad outcome (in 12 years we all die – J/K!), a complicated outcome (humanity will perish, but we also prevented an ice age, Planet of the Apes), or nothing at all and this is a false alarm or we’re off by millennia.

It’s the idiocy around the problem (is there a problem? What is the problem?) that she finds evil, not the problem (or lack thereof) itself.

October 18, 2019 11:54 am

“Early predictions of warming were 0.2 to 0.3 degrees Centigrade per decade are too high relative actual observations. Further, blaming all of the recent warming on
carbon dioxide emissions is incorrect, in my opinion.”
See( ) for radiosonde evidence that the atmosphere obeys ideal gas law and no greenhouse effect is present. The Connollys have analyzed about 20 million radiosonde data sets covering the last 70 years and have concluded that “this work shows categorically that there is no greenhouse effect in our atmosphere, increasing greenhouse gasses increases absorption and emission equally causing no warming, the IPCC were wrong to assume recent warming was due to greenhouse gasses,and current climate model temperature projections are worthless.”

Reply to  DMA
October 18, 2019 1:03 pm

Because the radiosonde measurements have shown that the atmosphere is an ideal gas in thermodynamic equilibrium. And there was a paper by some guy that demonstrated that a gas in thermodynamic equilibrium cannot add more radiative forcing. I think the guy’s name was Albert Einstein.

Reply to  DMA
October 19, 2019 1:11 am

Yep. A clean kill of AGW.

October 18, 2019 11:57 am

“The single adverse impact that is unambiguously associated with warming (whatever the cause) is sea level rise.”
Doesn’t bother me at all.

The promised high temperatures get most of the headlines, but that is crazy. It’s not something that we can’t handle.

The real adverse impact is hardly ever mentioned. What if “climate change” was drought? It’s has happened before. Bye bye L.A. Of course, predicting rainfall is even further removed from certainty than predicting temperature.

Reply to  Toto
October 18, 2019 2:59 pm

“The real adverse impact is hardly ever mentioned. What if “climate change” was drought? It’s has happened before. Bye bye L.A. Of course, predicting rainfall is even further removed from certainty than predicting temperature.”

I think you could turn Sahara Desert into grassland. And it could be done economically. Or investment dollars could get a return on the investment. Main problem {or why it’s not being done currently, is political barriers.
Needless to say California could do something about any future water shortage.
Or though politics is currently a problem in California, it is not as large of a political problem as compared to greening the Sahara Desert.

Reply to  Toto
October 19, 2019 10:20 am

If CA spent their money on desalination plants and dams, instead of tilting at windmills, my respect for them would go up substantially. No, wait, I would actually have some respect for CA.

John McClure
October 18, 2019 12:03 pm

Great article, it debunks numerous misconceptions.

Jan E Christoffersen
October 18, 2019 12:07 pm

The 2-degree C limit originated with Hans Joachim Schnellnhuber of the Potsdam Institue and “was picked out of thin air” according to Phil Jones.

Why Curry would not point that out that non-scienific and meaningless fiction is puzzling.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jan E Christoffersen
October 18, 2019 12:34 pm

The 2ºC limit before really bad things are unavoidable has been a moving goal post number to begin with. It started out as a 3ºC to 3.5ºC in 1990’s as the temperature rate for that decade indicated the planet would get there by 2050. When they realized in the mid-2000’s the temp rises had near flat-lined, the goal post shifted to 2ºC. And when even 2ºC by 2050 looked questionable with the on-going hiatus to 2015, it shifted again to the 1.5ºC claim of unavoidable disaster around 2014-2015 after the 5th AR was released.

The only conclusion is science is not involved. It’s all message framing, marketing and propaganda. A massive, well-funded, organized, coordinated disinformation campaign being inflicted on a naive public for the pursuit of raw political power with the promise of vast sums of money flowing to those rich investors invested in the renewable energy schemes that aim to impoverish the broad middle class with high energy costs.

John Adams
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 18, 2019 3:24 pm

Are you thinking of Tom Steyer?

Robert Beckman
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 20, 2019 4:17 am

Disagree on your “only conclusion.”

It could have been that we learned something fundamental about agriculture, and so needed to change the benchmark to test against having learned that our previous benchmark didn’t tell us what we needed to know.

That’s not what happened, of course, but it could have, so it can’t be the only conclusion that it was chaff.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jan E Christoffersen
October 19, 2019 8:03 am

None of these numbers has anything scientific to suggest them.
As noted they are plucked from thin air and then passed off as some well understood factual limit to how much the GAST can increase without causing the end of the world, or some such malarkey.
The exact verbiage is altered somewhat to be more or less alarming by various groups and individuals.

What almost everyone is missing is that the idea that warming is bad, that we are at some goldilocks temperature regime right now, is ludicrous.
In fact, the newest meme is that we are at present in a de facto emergency, an actual climate crisis, right now, and the world is about to end. Alarmist scientists are not only not speaking up about this nonsensical assertion, they are implicitly endorsing it!
Michael Mann, the UN, and almost everyone who gets mainstream press coverage, speak up glowingly about, and have granted virtual sainthood to, a 16 year old end of world catastrophist doomsday monger, as well as her spiritual sister, Alexandria Ocrazio Cortex.

This article makes it sound like 1.5 or 2.0° refers to increases above present temps, but that is not how these numbers are used or what they refer to at all. They refer to increases over the preindustrial temp.
For a number of years it was generally agreed by warmistas that the amount of increase was at present about 0.8°C since about 1880 or so, but alterations have jacked this up on most time series’ graphs published by the climate mafia to well over 1.0°C.

By any objective reckoning, life is better off with a warmer temperature regime, especially given that the vast majority of any warming, if not all of it, has been via less extremes of cold, and not more extremes of hot. And most people call more moderate temps “more moderate”, not “hotter”
Things are getting better, but tragedy is on our doorstep?
I think few are aware that this mental break with reality has been noted to have been occurring for hundreds of years.

Nothing unusual is going on with the weather.
Nothing is changing at a faster rate than is know to be common over the historical time period.
All measures of human prosperity are on the rise.
The entire planet is greening up fast and deserts are shrinking.
Compared to years past, almost no one dies from even the worst natural disasters (which are now called “climate change”). Case in point: The strongest hurricane ever recorded in that part of the worst become stationary over a low lying archipelago inhabited by relatively poor people with not so fabulous infrastructure and not to terrific building codes, and sat and spun for an shockingly long time.
In the past, weaker storms, passing through places with less people, on higher ground, and affecting those places for a fraction of the span of time, have caused massive losses of life. But how many died in the recent hurricane which struck the Bahamas? 63 people.
And the storm impacted them for over a week.
In a week, more people are killed from traffic accidents in Florida alone.
It has been estimated that something like a hurricane heading for places in the US may result in less people dying, because for several days or more almost no one is on the road, or at work, or doing many of the other places where people die by the dozens every single day in a single state from mundane causes like slips and falls and other accidents.
People used to die from fevers, or small cuts, and every construction project had fatalities associated with the work.
Nowadays people in many countries are so safe a natural disaster can save lives if it keeps them inside for a few days.
In the US today, a person who reaches 60 years of age has more years of additional life expectancy than a 5 year old child did prior to the early 20th century…IOW for the vast majority of human history.

In the movie called “The Usual Suspects”, the character played by Kevin Spacey had lots of great lines, and one of the most memorable was when he concluded a particular amusing anecdote by noting “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
The greatest trick the warmistas have pulled, is convincing the world that warmth is a deadly catastrophe.

Joel O'Bryan
October 18, 2019 12:21 pm

“… but thinking that sending CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 or whenever is going to improve the weather and the environment by 2100 is a pipe dream.”

I wouldn’t use the term “pipe dream” to describe the thought that reducing fossil fuel CO2 emissions would change the weather or the severity of storms. Dr. Richard Lindzen was correct in calling such belief as “close to believing in magic.”

Jon Jewett
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 18, 2019 2:40 pm

Joel O’Bryan

“… but thinking that sending CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 or whenever is going to improve the weather and the environment by 2100 is a pipe dream.”

I had heard the term “pipe dream” for years before I really “grokked in fullness”. (That should really date me!) Becoming advanced in years, I had to have a body part replaced. Specifically, my right knee. I was in some pain and they increased my painkiller. The pain went away, but….. My experience of life became surreal. If you have had a vivid dream and awoke to remember it, the remembered dream experience is surreal. That is what I experienced on painkillers. I found it quite unpleasant.

I think that the term fits the catastrophic climate cultist because they seem to have a surreal grip on reality.

October 18, 2019 1:01 pm

Curry writes:
“Projections of sea level rise by 2100 beyond several feet require:” {Curry gives list of problem areas}

It seems to me that Curry has just said that predictions of up to and including several feet are fine. She writes that projections beyond that are a problem.

If I read this correctly, Curry is endorsing the models for up to and including several feet of SLR by 2100.
And all of this was written in the context of a discussion about a 2.0 degree rise.
Did I read this right?

Reply to  TonyL
October 18, 2019 2:59 pm

That’s not how I read it. i thought she was saying that those projections required implausible or impossible things to occur implying that much smaller SLR consistent with the last 150 years would be more likely and not threatening.

October 18, 2019 1:44 pm

Measured water vapor exceeds by 64% that calculated from feedback from UAH temperatures (27% if from HadCRUT4 temperatures) proving WV not CO2 drives average global temperature

October 18, 2019 1:51 pm

How about querying the postulate of dividing incoming solar by 4 instead of 2 as in forgetting half of the sphere is always in darkness?

Robert B
Reply to  Pablo
October 18, 2019 2:27 pm

Look at the area of a sphere v a disk.

The real issue is that no planet is like a real blackbody where the outgoing energy is dependent on an average temperature that is uniform and given by an energy balance. The moon is closer to a sphere of grey bodies but does store heat (only cools to 90k at the equator after two weeks of darkness). The Earth not only stores and spreads the incoming energy around the surface better, the change of phases of water ensure a narrower range of temperatures for most of the surface.

The real stupidity of the flat Earth approach is that modelling of effects GHG starts with needing to explain why the Earth is warming because of the atmosphere. There never was a good reason to go there while ignoring ocean circulation.

Tim Gorman
October 18, 2019 2:09 pm

“B3. On land, impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, including species loss and extinction, are projected to be lower at 1.5°C of global warming compared to 2°C. …”

I’ve never once understood this. Every single study I’ve seen have used lab results and not field observations. I give you Africanized bees and wild turkeys. The ranges of these two species have expanded tremendously over the past two decades while supposedly under stress from global warming. Somehow they have not only survived but thrived.

The biggest problem with studying the survivability of species has to be somehow excluding the natural cycle most live through. How do you determine what is going to happen to cicadas when they have a natural seven year cycle? Hawks, coyotes, and owls have the same kind of natural cycle in conjunction with prey animals like rabbits, squirrels, deer, and mice. When predators go up prey goes down followed by predators going down and prey going up. This is complicated even more by natural weather cycles, e.g. bad winters vs moderate winters.

I know you can allow for confounding variables but how do you know what the confounding variables are without field observations taken over a multi-decade period?

Once again, global averages tell you little about how insects and animals react on a regional basis. If global warming means milder winters then that *enhances* the survivability of most species, it doesn’t hurt it. Lower maximum temperatures will also enhance the survivability of most species, it doesn’t hurt it. A global average tells you nothing about what is going to happen in winter vs summer.

It’s apparent from most of these studies, including from the IPCC, that they assume the average global temperature going up means we are going to see the earth turn into a cinder – an assumption that simply cannot be made from a global average temperature. The average can just as easily be going up from a moderating environment – higher minimums and lower maximums. We could be heading into a Garden of Eden and those assuming the average can only go up by maximums increasing will miss it all!

October 18, 2019 2:09 pm

How do the actions (or inactions) of the Trump administration, such as withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, affect that timeline?

OMG, will folks pay attention and check their facts? Trump still has not “pulled out” of Paris. !!

He simply refused to stop paying massive amounts of taxpayer’s money into the UN Green Slush Fund with which they are attempting to install an unelected , unaccountable world government.

Robert B
October 18, 2019 2:29 pm

would implementing the Green New Deal (if it even passed) be too little, too late?

Should have been answered along the lines of “it would be plenty enough to create hell on Earth”.

Rick C PE
October 18, 2019 2:37 pm

“The IPCC uses five levels of confidence: very low, low, medium, high, and very high.”

When the IPCC abandoned traditional expression of confidence (as probability or percent) they revealed the political and non-scientific nature of their process. In their terms “very high confidence” equates to > 95%. Very low confidence equates to less than 5%. But this avoids stating the very low confidence as a very high confidence that whatever is being claimed won’t happen. But a layman looks at some dire prediction like 3 meters sea level rise by 2100 as quite likely even when presented as a very low confidence prediction. And of course medium confidence is seen as much more likely since its two whole confidence levels above the minimum – even though it actually means “could go either way, we don’t have a clue. Kind of like a weather forecaster saying the chance of rain tomorrow is 40 to 60%.

In all cases the naïve public sees only an ever growing list of negative consequences which all have some confidence attached by IPCC experts that they will happen. Here’s how the IPCC confidence levels should be understood.

Very High = Pretty sure it will happen
High = More likely than not
Medium = Haven’t got a clue
Low = Not very likely
Very Low = Pretty sure it won’t happen

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Rick C PE
October 19, 2019 8:35 am

All of these probabilities must be understood to be the opinions of highly biased individuals who have a lot to lose if alarmism were to go out of vogue, let alone be seen as demonstrably untrue or, God forbid, recognized for the deliberate heap of lies it is.
IOW…these are opinions by people who would never say so if they are or became sure there was nothing to worry about.
And the people with contrary opinions, though many, have been prevented from being heard in/on any print or broadcast media for several decades now.
Believing them is akin to taking car purchasing advice from a used car salesman with a colorful patchwork jacket named “Slim”.

October 18, 2019 2:48 pm

Here’s are easy predictions:

If we are lucky enough to see 1 degree more warming before the next downward trend, it will be >100 % positive. Crops yields would continue “up” from more favorable growing temperatures and longer growing seasons (on top of CO2 fertilization). Hurricane total energies will decline (based on a lower temp gradient between arctic and tropics). Severe Tornados will continue to decline (for same reason). Droughts will continue to decline (more moisture in the air. Droughts are worse in colder climates). Peak summer temperatures will continue to decline (# of days above 100, 90, 80 have been declining for 70 years…a lot). The Sahara will continue to shrink. The Arctic Ice cap may disappear for a few weeks at most…negative feedback from open waters under 6 months of dark skys guarantee ice most of the year. Greenland Ice will continue a slow decline (as it did in the first half of the 20th century). Sea level rise will not accelerate. Floods may get slightly worse. Projects for flood control should be accelerated. Winters will be less severe and heating costs will be significantly less. Winter icy road conditions will get better…lowering transportation equipment maintenance costs.

The last half century has been “THE BEST OF CLIMATE TIMES” in all recorded history. Thwre has been none of the freezing climate before 1800 and none of the searing dry heat of the 1930’s. We should expect more of the same good climate until solar and ocean cycles produce Dust Bowl conditions or “Summer without a Summer” conditions again.

75 years of this will make the world $80 Trillion richer…if we can keep the Climate Fraud Cabal out of our wallets.

Only IDIOTS would assume that Climate Variability is over…and trends over the last 70 years indicate no rapid temperature rise will result from CO2 effects.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  DocSiders
October 18, 2019 6:14 pm


John Tillman
Reply to  DocSiders
October 19, 2019 11:14 am

The Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm Periods were also in recorded time, and warmer, hence better, than now. The even better Holocene Climatic Optimum however was mostly prehistoric, although writing was invented towards its end.

October 18, 2019 3:28 pm

Where did this figure of 2C being the limit for conditions for all life on this planet come from. ? In common with most of the output of the IPCC, its just a guess mate.

Travel from the Island of Tasmania to the Northern city of Cairns will see a difference of way past a mere 2C.

As with all locations on Earth its the local temperature that matters. On a aircraft stopover at Dubai at midnight outside of the air conditioned dome it was incredibly hot to us, but the locals seemed to be coping.

World government seems to be the ambitions of the Greenies, so they try to scare politicians with this so called World temperature nonsense.

The UN IPCC goes along with it of course.


Serge Wright
October 18, 2019 3:46 pm

I would add that a GND, which is a call to socialism will cause far more emissions in the longer term. This is based on real world experience that shows how population growth slows to net zero when people need to provide for their own offspring in a capitalist society but rapidly increases under socialism where the state provides money and services based on family size. Thus, under socialism you end up rewarding people for having more children and you remove the cost constraints of having children in the self-funded capitalist model. We see this play out on smaller scales in the welfare zones of western countries, usually driven by single mother payments and long term unemployment benefits with provision of public housing, where family size is disproportially high, driven by the rewards of more free money and services.

Under a GND you could expect the USA to rapidly populate beyond 1 billion people and overall emissions would therfore increase by a much larger amount than retaining the status quo. Obviously there are other down sides of socialist totalitarianism such as complete loss of freedom and being forced into compliance by a big brother than abuses people by monitoring their every move and imposing punishments for any small breach as we see in China. Why anyone would seek for such a life is a mystery. It would be easier if we could just send all these people to China as part o a people swap program in exchange for those seeking freedom and capitalism.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Serge Wright
October 18, 2019 6:24 pm

Government subsidies might be an initial catalyst for larger families but as socialism drives the US into having more and more people living survival lifestyles, that will soon become a driving force as well for large families. It’s why pioneers in the American West had large families. It provided more total income to the family, a division of labor contributing to survival, and an offset to decreased longevity due to poor medical care (which would be the ultimate outgrowth of socialism). The overall growth in population would surge past what government subsidies would initially provide. Thus causing the slope of the downward spiral to increase even further!

Calvin Robisco
October 18, 2019 4:16 pm

B1. Climate models project robust differences

There is nothing “robust” about the IPCC models except they have been robustly wrong. “Robust” is a cheesy value-laden word with no actual meaning. Just more propaganda from robust trough suckers with a robustly evil political agenda.

The single adverse impact that is unambiguously associated with warming (whatever the cause) is sea level rise. Since 1900, global sea level has risen about 8 inches.

Since 17,500 years ago, global sea level has risen 450 feet. Big whoop. For all of the history of civilization, sea level has been rising. Now suddenly it’s a huge problem with “adverse impact”? The UN must kill all the cows, eliminate fossil fuels, institute global communistic fascism, and starve billions to death to allegedly stop something that has been happening continuously for 17,500 years? Because modern sophisticated highly evolved humanoids just can’t handle it? Mercy me. How pathetic we’ve become. Let’s all just flop on the ground and roll over, because NOTHING we can do will stop the seas from rising.

species… are projected… to lose over half of their climatically determined geographic range… to undergo a transformation of ecosystems… (medium confidence)

That’s just hooey. Pure hooey. Made up nonsense with no basis. For 99% of the last 240 million years the globe has been 10-15 deg C warmer than today. All the plant and animal species that ever lived since the end of the Permian Epoch have existed on a substantially warmer planet.

The END of the WORLD is not nigh, unless the alarmists take over, in which case expect Mayan blood temple high priests calling themselves “scientists” to proliferate like rabbits and stab everyone in the heart for sacrifice to their insanity.

Stephan Fuelling
October 18, 2019 9:18 pm

B4. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2ºC is projected to reduce increases in ocean temperature as well as associated increases in ocean acidity and decreases in ocean oxygen levels (high confidence). …

The ocean is acidic??? LOL!

Reply to  Stephan Fuelling
October 19, 2019 1:15 am

Nah. The Gretins lie.

October 18, 2019 9:28 pm

There are precedents for wicked solutions to hard problems. Well, maybe just one, infamous in our lifetime. The others are merely untoward.

October 19, 2019 2:36 am

We actually *literally* have no proof that the observed sea level rise is in relation to “warming” at all.

Time after time it turns out that soot and algae altered albedo of glaciers is at fault.

Michael Clarke
October 19, 2019 4:15 am

Check out the photos of Ft Dennison in Sydney harbor 1885, 1930 and 2016.

Don’t look at the water but look at the high tide mark just below the white rock that the Fort has as a foundation layer, prety ain’t it.
Blow up the photos and compare closely.
About 5cm (2″) in 131 years. Look really close and see which high water mark is the highest.

Geoff Sherrington
October 19, 2019 4:54 am

When you think deeply about it, you will realise that bombardment by advertising is widespread, concentrated, clever, designed for purposes and improved by feedback with focus groups etc. It is plausible that all of us are variously affected, so that there are no longer clear lines separating what is possible and what is not. Here, we even have a recent blitzkreig slogan “gamble responsibly”. Is that really possible?
The present kerfuffle about climate crises is little more than advertising. If you are wealthy, have funds you seek to multiply, know some smart lawyers, ad agencies and colleagues of similar bent, investing in this trendy movement has been very rewarding for some. Sadly, they care not a fig, it seems, about morals. They would not be investing if they knew of the failed science behind it all. Geoff S

Nicholas McGinley
October 19, 2019 5:31 am

Curry and Kummer are warmista lite.
Both make many assumptions and pass them off as beyond dispute.
In some ways this is insidiously worst than the full-throated alarmist babbling, in that some may take their brand of alarmism as the low end of the spectrum of what may happen, or what knowledgeable people understand to be the case.

October 19, 2019 7:21 am

There Is no sensitivity to CO2 as far as increasing temperature.

Kevin kilty
October 19, 2019 9:18 am

Overwhelming Democratic control of the U.S. government wouldn’t necessary help with the needed technology developments….

Statements like this make me wonder what goes on in Curry’s mind, and leave me thinking I should be every bit as skeptical of her as I am of any other climate scientist. She seems to be saying that Democrats are the source of progress.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
October 19, 2019 10:35 am

I wonder if she believes there are ‘needed technological developments,’ wrt climate.
But what is really fluffed over is that if India and China do nothing, there is f-all nothing any political party in the US can do about climate.

Alan McCaslin
October 21, 2019 7:14 pm

I just finished a book on how the U.S. middle class is/has been decimated by the offshoring of manufacturing.
We imported $2.3 TRILLION worth of manufactured goods in 2018. Radical environmentalism is number two
on my list of causes. Number one is Free Trade. During the course of my research, I uncovered a lot of very
disturbing facts the mainstream media will never publish. The average American is never told that the temperature record the climate change alarmists regularly reference is the NOAA/NASA-GISS surface temperature record compiled from weather stations. Data from 4,500 of the 6,000 global stations that NOAA
previously sampled were quietly dropped between 1989 and 1991 following GISS Director James Hansen’s
1988 testimony before Al Gore’s Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which became
the foundation for Al’s future political career. Oh, and those 4,500 stations were mostly in cooler, high-
latitude and rural locales, imparting a false warming bias to the record (Canadian stations dropped from
496 in 1989 to 44 in 1991). And the surface temperature record doesn’t correlate with the satellite record, which all those alarmists just ignore. It’s this kind of blatant manipulation of data and reliance on computer
models that can’t even project current temperatures if run from 1870 carbon dioxide levels without grossly
overstating theoretical vs. actual temperatures that have destroyed my trust in anything those so-called
“scientists” tell us about climate change. China burns eight times as much coal as we do, yet all I hear is
how Americans need to stop emitting carbon dioxide “to save the planet”.

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