How We Have Mischaracterized Climate Risk

Reposted from Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

“The current thinking and approaches guiding this conceptualization and description have been shown to lack scientific rigour, the consequence being that climate change risk and uncertainties are poorly presented. The climate change field needs to strengthen its risk science basis, to improve the current situation.” – Norwegian risk scientist Terje Aven

For decision-makers, climate change is a problem in risk assessment and management.  Climate change is a risk because it may affect prosperity and security in a negative way, and because its consequences are uncertain.

Global climate change policy has been dominated by a specific strategy of risk management – the Precautionary Principle as a justification for setting specific targets for the elimination of manmade emissions of carbon dioxide.  In the early 1980s, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) became bullish on the idea that fossil fuels would produce dangerous climate change. The prospect of eliminating fossil fuels was congruent with UNEP’s broader interests in environmental quality and world governance. At Villach in 1985 at the beginning of the climate treaty movement, the policy movement to eliminate fossil fuels became detached from any moorings in the science – the rhetoric of precaution argued that we should act anyway to eliminate fossil fuels, just in case. This perspective became codified by the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Treaty in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Instead of framing the IPCC assessments around risk assessment, the IPCC reports narrowly framed its assessments to support the UNFCCC policies, focusing on dangerous climate change associated with fossil fuel emissions.  The torquing of climate science and the manufacture of a consensus around dangerous human-caused climate change not only oversimplified the scientific and social challenges, but led to the adoption of a “predict then act” strategy to manage and control, supporting decisions about elimination of fossil fuel emissions that were begun in the 1980’s.  The congruence of the IPCC assessments and UNFCCC policies enforces the belief that climate change is a simple or tame problem, with science trumping all practical questions and conflicting values and purposes. 

This strategy of risk management implies that climate change is a simple, tame problem of “dose-response.”  This characterization has led to the relative neglect of climate risk in formal assessment processes such as the IPCC.  It is only in their most recent assessment report, AR6, that a consistent risk framing of climate change was attempted (it will be interesting to see what this looks like in the forthcoming WGII, III reports).  As a result of the early adoption of a preferred risk management strategy, we are far from a complete assessment of full climate risk.

By characterizing climate change as a well-understood problem with a strong consensus, traditional risk management approaches assume that climate change can and ought to be rationally managed, or at the very least contained, and preferably eliminated.  However, the diversity of climate-related impact drivers and their complex linkages, various inherent and irreducible uncertainties, ambiguities about the consequences of climate change, and the unequal distribution of exposure and effects across geography and time, confound any simple or uncontested application of traditional risk management approaches. As a result, the policy process that has evolved over the past several decades is not only inadequate to deal with the risks associated with climate change, but has fueled societal controversies around climate risk.

Risk has often been characterized as some type of statistical expected value – the product of the likelihood of occurrence and the impact.  However, such a characterization is appropriate only for simple, or tame, problems.  Broader definitions of risk integrate specified consequences of an event or actions, a measure of uncertainty associated with the consequences, and the strength of the knowledge base that supports the assessment.

Accepting the IPCC’s assessments as the “best available” knowledge base is not inconsistent with acknowledging significant weaknesses in the knowledge base in context of climate risk analysis.  An important element of characterizing risk is evaluating the strength of the knowledge base.  Concerns about strength of the knowledge base are raised by people questioning aspects of the IPCC’s assessment that are used to infer climate risk.  The IPCC approach is based on judgement of the available evidence and agreement among experts.  More sophisticated knowledge characterizations for risk management (Aven 2017b) include:

  • the degree to which the assumptions made are reasonable/realistic – growing concern about the focus on implausible emissions scenarios RCP8.5/SSP5-8.5.
  • the degree to which data/information exists and are reliable and relevant – the historical and paleo data base is inadequate for a full, global characterization of natural climate variability on multi-decadal to millennial time scales
  • the degree to which there is disagreement among experts (including those from different environments) – attempts to suppress disagreement and alternative perspectives among experts
  • the degree to which the phenomena involved are understood and accurate models exist – concerns about the fidelity and utility of climate models.
  • the degree to which the knowledge has been thoroughly examined with respect to unknown knowns (i.e. others, but not the analysis group, have the knowledge) – neglect of the unknown knowns associated with natural climate variability.

The politics of international climate governance has produced systematic biases in the kinds of expertise and evidence that are deemed appropriate for consideration. (Lucas)  The UNFCCC and IPCC have characterized climate change as an environmental and economic problem, and geoscientists and economists have dominated the assessment and policy making process.

However, the issues with the current CO2 increase and warming are social, not environmental. The Earth has undergone geological periods of higher temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations, during which life thrived.  Characterization of climate change as an environmental problem has downplayed the cultural and political dimensions of the issue. Many social scientists have argued that the disciplinary constrictions imposed by the IPCC and UNFCCC have neglected many important insights arising from a wide range of expert and unaccredited sources.

A risk assessment for a problem such as climate change – with high levels of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity – must include the following elements (King et al. 2015):

  • Clarify objectives of the risk analysis – the dangers or values at risk
  • Take a holistic view of all relevant factors
  • Identify the biggest risks – the plausible worst-case scenarios
  • Be explicit about value judgements

Values and dangers

One of the biggest problems associated with climate change risk assessments is that there is no simple way to articulate danger associated with a warmer climate.  However, in attempting to build political will for the international treaties, the adverse impacts of fossil-fuel driven warming have been exaggerated – severe weather/climate events, sea level rise and many adverse ecosystem, health, economic and geopolitical impacts, with all of their complex causes, were confounded with fossil-fuel driven warming.  Further, the risks from fossil fuel emissions have not been placed in the appropriate context of other global and regional risks.

A key element of risk assessment is to judge whether activities are acceptable, tolerable, or intolerable.  Activities are tolerable if they are considered as worth pursuing for the associated benefits. For tolerable risks, efforts for risk reduction or coping are welcomed provided that the benefits of the activities are not lost.  Burning fossil fuels has historically been considered a tolerable risk.  Genuinely intolerable risks include existential threats – such as portrayed by the earth-impacting comet in the move Don’t Look Up – or “ruin” problems.  For less dire threats that are considered intolerable, notwithstanding the benefits, risk management should be focused on banning or phasing out the activity creating the risk or, if that is not possible, to mitigate or fight the risk in other ways or to increase societal resilience.

How to draw the lines between “acceptable”, “tolerable” and “intolerable’’ is one of the most controversial tasks in the risk governance process for complex risks. Ambiguity results from divergent and contested perspectives on the justification, severity or wider meanings associated with a perceived threat (Stirling 2003).  Climate change risks have been characterized as acceptable, tolerable and intolerable by different individuals and constituencies – clearly an ambiguous situation.  “Ambiguity” means that there are different legitimate viewpoints from which to evaluate whether there are, or could be, adverse effects and whether these risks are tolerable. Ambiguity results from divergent and contested perspectives on the justification, severity or wider meanings associated with a perceived threat (Stirling 2003).

Subjective value judgments are inherent both in identifying what constitutes a risk, and in deciding how much we care about it. All formal climate change risk assessments are structured by underlying values and normative goals that are sometimes explicit but often hidden. These values include societal attitudes to the intrinsic value of nature, misperceptions of risk, and implicit judgements on the acceptability or aversion to inequality in society.   

Judgments of intolerable risks from climate change relate to mistakenly conflating the slow creep of global warming with consequences associated with extreme weather and climate events, concerns about inequitable risk exposure to poorer populations, and concerns about future generations.

Climate change risk includes elements of both incremental risk (e.g. the slow creep of sea level rise) and emergency risk.  Emergency risks are associated with extreme weather events; technically these are weather risks and not climate risks, even if global warming could be shown to incrementally worsen the weather hazard. Weather risk can become climate risk if global warming causes the event to exceed a vulnerability threshold that otherwise wouldn’t have been exceeded by the weather event. Attempts are also made to assess incremental costs/damages associated with extreme weather events.  Such assessments are very challenging to make against the background of natural weather and climate variability.  

Removing the risk from most extreme weather and climate events from the consequences of global warming diminishes the perceived urgency for reducing fossil fuel emissions. Mischaracterizing incremental risks as urgent has led to policies that are not only costly and suboptimal, but also arguably reduce resilience.  The poorest populations would benefit far more from access to grid electricity and help in reducing vulnerability from extreme weather events, than from reductions to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Moralizing surrounding the issue of climate change has regarded the climate change problem as a simple, righteous values choice:  Are you for the planet or against it? This moralizing neglects to understand that people engage in activities which are of value to them that happen to emit carbon as a byproduct. Further, this narrow moralizing systematically excludes important ethical values, such as improving the lives of the billion people presently living in unacceptable poverty or protecting other aspects of the environment.

The question of intergenerational equity (concerns about the grandchildren) is of special importance as there is a lag between the emissions of greenhouse gases and the occurrence of the damage.  There is no simple way to decide what duty of care we owe to future generations, but the IPCC’s socioeconomic pathways for the 21st century all have the world being better off by 2100, even under the most extreme emissions scenarios. 

With this context, we need a broader ethical debate about what the consequences of climate change will be for what we humans have reason to value so that we can take credible actions to protect them.  This requires an equally careful consideration of beneficial as well as adverse consequences.

Holistic view of plausible worst-case scenarios

The IPCC assessments have focused on the likely range of warming, sea level rise and other impact drivers.  As I have discussed in many previous blog posts, the IPCC scenarios of 21st century climate do not provide a holistic perspective on 21st century climate change – they neglect a range of plausible scenarios of solar variability, volcanic eruptions, and multi-decadal to millennial natural internal variability.  Their interpretation of extreme weather and climate events is drawn from data since 1950 – ignoring longer historical data sets and paleo climate data sets.

The bottom line is that the IPCC has not provided a complete set of plausible scenarios of 21st climate change outcomes.  While models can be useful for understanding complex systems, factors that fall outside the consideration of a model should not be ignored. When a system is impossible to model in a meaningful way, scenarios may be developed to imagine its possible future states.

In addition to the risks associated with increased CO2 concentrations and the risks of rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels, there is a need to recognized that natural climate variability and change along with extreme weather and climate events have equally important societal impacts. Further, human-caused climate change also includes emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases and aerosol particles plus land use changes. 

For the first time in the AR6, attention is given to identifying worst case outcomes, beyond its misguided focus on the implausible RCP8.5/SSP5-8.5 emissions scenarios.  The AR6 treatment of sea level rise is exemplary in this regard, clarifying the strength of the knowledge base associated with different extreme scenarios.  The AR6 focus on regional climate change rightfully pulls away from the previous strategy of climate model generated scenarios as being adequate for this purpose, with a growing emphasis on physically-based storyline scenarios.  The historical data record, especially when it extends back into the 19th century, is arguably the richest source of extreme weather and climate scenarios for the 21st century.

How to assess the plausibility of scenarios involving a high level risk is a topic that has received too little attention.

Transition risk

Social amplification of risk can occur via responses to perceived outcomes, either in anticipation or in reaction.

The UNFCCC in its urgent drive for NETZERO emissions ignores transition risk. Consequences of a rapid transition to renewable energy include the economic costs of the transition, adverse environmental impacts associated with wind and solar energy and biofuels, impacts of the intermittency of renewable energy on energy reliability and cost, more complex and extensive electricity transmission infrastructure with a larger number of failure nodes, decrease in energy security, the extensive need for rare earth minerals and the associated changes in geopolitics.  These consequences of the transition are associated with a fairly solid knowledge base, leading many people to be more concerned about transition risks than they are about the more uncertain risks from climate change itself, with a far weaker knowledge base. The debate is then between tolerable but potentially unnecessary imposition of risks from the rapid transition away from fossil fuels, versus the highly uncertain impacts from climate change that are assessed as ranging from acceptable to intolerable by different individuals, countries and organizations.

The biggest risk from a rapid transition away from fossil fuels is arguably an opportunity cost – we are at risk of squandering our resources on effort that may not change the climate in a meaningful way, so that we do not have resources available for better solutions that improve human well-being in both the short and long terms.  Further, we are ignoring other risks that are arguably more important to near-term human well being that could be more productively addressed with the same resources.


The UNFCCC is promoting a solution to an exceedingly complex, uncertain and ambiguous problem, without the context of an adequate risk assessment that references the wider ethical issues and political and practical feasibility. As a result, we have neglected to truly understand the the climate system and the broader causes of vulnerabilities of human and natural systems, and to systematically and broadly evaluate the feasible policy space.

The end result is that after 30 years of the UNFCCC/IPCC, we are fixated on the minutiae of greenhouse gas emissions levels and the abstract and impossible problem of constraining atmospheric CO2 concentration – while ignoring natural climate variability and drastically simplifying the human side. As long as the current situation prevails, the IPCC’s assessments of anthropogenic climate change and the UNFCCC recommendations for action will remain seriously inadequate.

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Peter W
February 22, 2022 10:19 am

I will be interested to see what the plans are for mitigating the risks of the Milankovitch Cycles.

Reply to  Peter W
February 22, 2022 10:59 am

Or how many billions Putin poured into the climate change movement to ensure Europe was dependent on Russian gas. And Biden got elected.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Leo Smith
February 22, 2022 12:01 pm

You were already dependent, that much is clear. Even at 400% mark up, you can’t get enough of the stuff.

Reply to  Leo Smith
February 22, 2022 2:04 pm

Uhh, no Putin got Trump elected, and Trump paid him back in spades, constantly making excuses and lying to cover up Putin’s world-disrupting activities, including messing with the 2016 election. Trump is and was Putin’s bitch.

Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 2:41 pm

Or just what everyone in your social circle reckons?

Reply to  Mr.
February 23, 2022 7:23 am

Well, how about Trump congratulating Putin yesterday in a media interview for invading Ukraine? That and that alone makes Trump a traitor, but he made zillions of other statements covering Putin’s ass, congratulating Putin, saying that the US needs a Putin right now, etc. etc.

Everybody knows this but for the stupid Trumplican True Believers, who close their eyes and ears and sing “nananananana!'” in order to drown out obvious reality.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:31 am

Trump didn’t CONGRATULATE him. He merely noted that Putin took advantage of his tactical opportunities.

Go to the doctor and have him clean the wax out of your ears.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 24, 2022 5:48 pm

Yes he did congratulate Putin for his “genius” in invading Ukraine.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 12:44 am

No, he didn´t congratulate. Putins move was genius, even if it´s not what we wished for. He waited for Germany to close 3 of it´s last 6 nuclear reactors so Germany would be in an extremely vulnerable state and dependent on russian gas. Germany will have to bend, at the latest next winter when they´re about to close the remaining 3 reactors. Then germans will have the choice to freeze or let the gas through Nord Stream 2. People like you underestimate Putin and that´s why we´re in this situation now. Trump was right, Putin is a genius. Maybe an evil genius, but still. Trump did not congratulate him, but he aknowledged the very smart move.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 7:23 am

What were his exact words, Duane? Please be sure to include the full context.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 3:44 pm

Keep hearing that argument but what Putin needed most was tight energy policy to drive up the cost of oil and gas, Trump did the opposite so it seems Putin did a pisspoor job of control?

As I’ve noted, Biden energy policy is so bad it could be written by Putin?
Or by me, as Biden has dramatically helped the Alberta oilsands too?

Thanks Joe

Rational Db8
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 22, 2022 5:21 pm

Trump was vastly harder on Russia than Biden has been – or for that matter than Obama-Biden was either. The claims that Trump was in any way helping Putin are beyond absurd at this point – all the evidence shows clearly that it was Hillary and a very corrupt government weaponized by Obama-Biden against their political opponents which were entirely responsible for creating and foisting the Trump-Russia Collusion hoax on everyone.

It was a massive soft coup attempt that started by trying to win the election by Hillary, and then trying to get Trump out of office with utterly bogus and totally partisan impeachments. All while massively blocking Trump’s ability to function as president and implement his agenda – the agenda of the American citizenry.

As to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the ‘precautionary principle’ – we know that excuse doesn’t remotely hold water either. If these people were really operating on the precautionary principle, well, we know that there are roughly 20 times as many people killed every year by cold as there is by heat. We know that it’s far more likely for there to be another period like the Little Ice Age, or, worse, for the current interglacial period of this ice age we live in to end. In other words, the risk of colder temperatures is far greater than any proposed risk of AGW. Yet those saying they’re pushing AGW ‘mitigating efforts’ because of the precautionary principle aren’t doing anything to try to mitigate the possibility of a massively harmful and far more likely shift to colder temperatures.

So that excuse doesn’t hold any water at all. It’s nothing more than a massive power play, trying to gain control of every minutia of people’s lives.

Reply to  Rational Db8
February 23, 2022 7:28 am

Utter bullshit. Trump never did anything that Putin did not want him to do. Trump gave away the names of US and NATO intelligence agents working in Russia to the Russian ambassador, inside the Oval Office no less. Trump defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine back in 2014 and cheered Putin again yesterday for another invasion of Ukraine. Trump claimed that Russia never tried to interfere with the US election in 2016 when all 17 US intelligence agencies and the intelligence oversight committees in both the House and Senate, whom Republicans controlled at the time, stated emphatically that Putin interfered in 2016.

On and on and on .. but only the purposefully ignorant – i.e. stupid – Trumplicans fail to acknowledge Trumps treason and malfeasance in office. The worst President in US history by fast proportions, even made Jimmy Carter look great by comparison.

Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2022 11:51 am

“Trump never did anything that Putin did not want him to do.”

Yet despite repeated requests you have never produced any actual evidence, only repeated hate-filled diatribes and unsupported assertions.

Reply to  TonyG
February 24, 2022 5:53 pm

This is not a trial, it’s a comment thread. I do not have to replicate here decades of Trump’s malfeasance in sucking up to Putin, who financed Trump’s recovery from six serial bankruptcies. And Trump’s treason when in office, three examples of which I cited in this thread but you are too stupid to acknowledge.

Do you own damn research and open your eyes if not your mind.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 7:31 am

Long on claims, long on insults, short on any support, Duane.

“Do you own damn research and open your eyes if not your mind.”
Now you sound like a climate believer. You don’t actually have the evidence so you claim it’s because the other person isn’t “doing the research”.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:37 am

Trump put sanctions on on the pipeline that Biden promptly cancelled when he took office. Is Biden Putin’s bitch?

Let’s see, you are talking about Brennan, Clapper, Schit, Pelosi, and Swalwell – all proponents of the claims against Trump – claims that have no been found to be false.

Why don’t you join the rest of us in 2022?

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 24, 2022 5:55 pm

Trump never put any sanctions at all on Russia … indeed Trump refused to enforce Congressional sanctions on Russia, which were enacted by overwhelming majorities of Congress when they override Trump’s veto.

Boy you guys are the most ignorant folks in the nation!

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 23, 2022 7:25 am

Biden is beside the point. He is just an elected President. Trump is a traitor to America. Sold the US out to Putin repeatedly, again as recently as yesterday afternoon when he literally congratulated and cheered Putin for invading Ukraine.

Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 7:49 am

Sure, there was nothing weak or traitorous about our glorious Biden executed flight from Afghanistan, right CNN fanboy?

Reply to  Tno
February 24, 2022 5:56 pm

Trump made the decision to bug out from Afghanistan. Biden declined to override Trump’s decision. Fact.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:38 am

Was that why Trump attacked and killed Russian troops in Syria? Because Trump had sold out to Putin?

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 24, 2022 5:57 pm

Stating a lie does not change that it is a lie. My god you are delusional. Seek help immediately.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 7:32 am

Stating a lie does not change that it is a lie.

Right back at ya

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:10 pm

You need to provide some evidence to support your libel. Citing the MSM is not evidence. Citing Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Eric Swalwell or Chuck Schumer is also not evidence, nor is citing anonymous witnesses evidence. After more than 6 years of accusations, over $30 million wasted on Muller’s report and thousands of pages of trash, not one page of evidence has been found. Not one witness has come forward.

Pull your head out of your fundamental orifice and open your eyes to the facts. Trump was the best president in several decades, if not generations.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 24, 2022 5:49 pm

Oil has nothing to do with Putin’s insane quest to conquer Ukraine and destroy NATO.

Only True Believer Trumplican idiots and traitors think otherwise.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 10:28 pm

Putin took Crimea with barely a finger wag from Obama, then did nothing during the four years of Trump’s administration, and now is taking Ukraine with barely a finger wag from Biden. Sounds to me like you’ve got the Trump/Putin bitch thing backwards Duane.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
February 23, 2022 12:12 am

As I recall, the limp-wristed appeasement brigade in the EU were shaking their handbags/purses at Russia & saying profound thing like, Russia has no historic links with the Crimea, having apparently never heard of the Crimean War between Britain & France, opposing Russian expansion (sounds familiar?) in the late 19c. These bureaucrats are so well informed on history, we should fully accept the idea that we should be governed & ruled over by such wise & knowledgeable people – NOT!!!

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
February 23, 2022 7:30 am

Bullshit again. Obama and the rest of NATO and the EU imposed crippling economic sanctions on Russia for that, which are still causing huge amounts of pain to Russia and their population. Russia only survives that now because of the high oil prices current today, which is a result of COVID not any particular political leader in the US.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:40 am

Obama and the rest of NATO and the EU imposed crippling economic sanctions on Russia”

They did? The sanctions didn’t do very much crippling based on Russia’s current cash reserves, oil/wheat revenues, and its military capability as is being currently demostrated.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 24, 2022 5:58 pm

Russia was virtually bankrupt until the recent runup in oil and gas prices. My god you are ignorant of basic facts

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 12:53 am

So, why did Biden lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2 that Trump put in place? Because he´s Putins bitch? Biden gets played hard by Putin. Biden is a weak, weak “president”.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 12:50 am

Is it called sanctions to sell parts of the US uranium supply to Putin? Did that hurt Putin?

Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2022 4:52 am

Duane, you are too dim to understand you are dim.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
February 24, 2022 5:59 pm

I am bright as a shining star compared to you. I actually deal in proven facts not True Believer worship.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 4:32 pm

I’m astounded that anyone frequenting this site could be so completely out of touch with the world. Anyone who ever believed that Trump was anything like the pastiche of lies the MSM portrayed him as has lost touch with reality.

It was Trump in power that kept Putin in his place, in the same way he kept the Wahhabists out of the picture when he confirmed Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and perfected the first treaties between Israel and the Arabs. He also set in motion the return of troops from Afghanistan (which Biden botched) and stopped Russia’s pipeline to Germany among a great many other things.

It was the Biden family receiving influence peddling rewards from the Ukraine where you need to be looking. Oh … and stop watching CNN, it has rotted your brain.

Reply to  Rory Forbes
February 24, 2022 6:02 pm

I am astounded at the abject ignorance and refusal to face facts as are you and the Trumplican True Beluevers at WUWT.

I am not a True Believer in anything, be it warmunism or Trumpism – two sides of the same ignorant coin.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 8:31 pm

I’m neither a Trumplican nor and American, but I am sentient and able to spot the BS from your daily diet of CNN. The only actual evidence we have from that corner of the world is Hunter Biden and family’s dealings in Ukraine. There has never been any evidence connecting Trump with Putin. However, there is lavish evidence of the Clinton connection proving everything blamed on Trump was done by her and her campaign, you gullible fool.

Trump derangement syndrome is a terrible burden to carry … but from now on I’ll judge everything else you write accordingly. You’re on the wrong side of history, chum and very confused. If Trump was still the acting president, Putin would wouldn’t have tried what Biden has given him … the keys to Kiev.

Reply to  Duane
February 25, 2022 12:37 am

Right… Every time Biden is in the white house Putin takes a piece of Ukraine. It´s pretty clear who´s Putin´s bitch.

Reply to  Peter W
February 23, 2022 4:51 am

Or gamma ray bursters….

Tom Halla
February 22, 2022 10:24 am

This issue does look like a confluence of the Precautionary Principle and bureaucrats exhibiting Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.
I would argue that the regulators never knew the inherent science, and the Precautionary Principle encourages their stalwart ignorance. And leading a jihad against greenhouse gasses gives them considerable power.
The fact that people like Gina McCarthy are repeatedly appointed to high positions demonstrates the appointers have no interest in the purported science behind their actions.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 22, 2022 1:55 pm

Back when the Precautionary Principle bandwagon started a student brought up the need for it concerning a fishery. I pointed out that it was “guilty until proven innocent” which I had read from a legal account. Example– “…human actions would be considered harmful unless proven otherwise.” Restrepo, V. R., et al. 1999. The precautionary approach: A new paradigm or business as usual? pp. 61-70, IN, Our Living Oceans, Report on the status of U. S. living marine resources. NOAA Techical Memorandum. NMFS-F/SPO-41.

Notice NOAA. The fishery proved to be in good shape.

Rational Db8
Reply to  H. D. Hoese
February 22, 2022 5:26 pm

The Precautionary Principle is an utterly bogus excuse anyhow – if they were really using it, they’d be pushing far harder to mitigate any chance of temperatures turning colder, rather than fighting possible warming.

After all, far more people die from cold, and it’s far more likely that we have serious problems with a shift to colder temperatures than it is that we ever have problems from warmer temperatures. Throughout history, ever time the Earth is warmer than present day temps, life – including mankind – absolutely flourishes. For example, the Medieval Warm Period, Roman Optimum, Minoan Warm Period, and Holocene Optimum. Every time the Earth is colder than present day temps, life – and mankind – absolutely suffer with massive starvation, pandemics, mass migrations, wars, and death. Examples, the Little Ice Age, the Dark Ages, etc.

So if they really cared about the Precautionary Principle at all, they’d be looking for ways to be sure things don’t get colder – not worrying about possible beneficial warming.

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 22, 2022 11:45 pm

The use of the Precautionary Principle is related to the failure to assess complex risks.

It is a version of Pascal’s Wager. Pascal’s argument was that the payoff from disbelief in Catholicism was so great that no rational person would choose it. The costs of adherence if its false are small, but the cost of eternal damnation if its true is huge. Therefore believe.

The logical problem reveals itself if the enquiring observer then asks, and what about Islam? Which is also only mildly inconvenient, and which also promises eternal damnation to disbelievers. This is analogous to the limited resource problem in climate – in the form that the resource, belief, can only be applied to one religion.

Similarly the PP in climate matters fails to ask what the opportunity cost is off all the measures its advocates demand. And it also doesn’t consider all the other pressing potential problems which could lay claim to the same resources.

It is an argument used when one cannot show that making the danger from global warming a rational priority for the use of limited resources, rather than, for instance, improving living standards to limit the possibility of pandemics, getting ready to deal with a rogue asteroid…. etc

There are a huge number of threats to us which are of low probability, just as there are huge numbers of religions. Many of them have very large payoffs. But we only have resources to mitigate some of them, so we need a sense of priority.

In Pascal’s case this would force him to decide which religion, if any, was the most believable, and how probable it was to be true. Which was exactly the argument he was trying to avoid.

In the case of global warming, it would force the alarmists to argue about how great the threat is, and whether its greater or lesser than some others, and how the limited resources we have should be spent to reduce our total risk in a sensible way. Again, its exactly the argument they are seeking to bypass. They know how they want to spend the limited resources, and are trying, by the use of the PP, to prevent anyone from enquiring about how rational a use this is.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  michel
February 24, 2022 8:46 pm

Of course that is all true … but in essence the Precautionary Principle is simply a sophisticated way of saying, “just in case”. Since we and all other fully informed people already know that AGW is highly unlikely by any measure. It’s clearly just a means to bilk the general public of vase sums of money to be directed to a wealthy elite who claim to be be investing it in a ‘Brave New World’ … a new beginning or some other euphemism for globalism … one world government — communism.

I’m reminded, too, that the Precautionary Principle was the driving rational behind most of the nonsense measures; supposedly to stop the Wuhan flu.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 23, 2022 12:25 am

Ah, the Precautionary Principle, the chief tool/weapon with which to beat freedom & democracy. Don’t do or say anything that might criticise or offend somebody somewhere!!! Personally, I think that at the very least we in the UK, have a veritable cabal of official “offence” takers, looking for “justice” (snigger), the preservation of right over wrong (guffaw), & of course, all those big fat cheques just waiting to be cashed in to ameliorate the pain they have suffered!!! Cynical little old me!!! I remember watching a fascinating programme about business in the USA years ago, & how many businesses both large & small, held a “slush- fund”, err, sorry, compensation fund, simply because it was cheaper to pay off some plaintiff than to face a veritable bottomless pit of legal costs & lawyers fees that would otherwise ensue. It was frequently said by those businesses that if they didn’t have to regularly upgrade their “slush-fund”, they could invest more in improving their products & services to the public!!!

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Alan the Brit
February 24, 2022 8:55 pm

The Precautionary Principle was also the basis for mom’s admonition — “don’t run with those scissors or that stick could put your eye out” and other warnings which, if followed, would have ended human evolution from the trees to space flight before it began. It’s the difference between a patriarchy and a matriarchy (had humans ever had one). Making decisions based on worst case scenario, especially when the worst case is entirely hypothetical, generally leads to disaster. It’s why the enemy tries to infect your population and allies with disinformation.

February 22, 2022 10:26 am

Yeah, we need to ignore the temperature and start screaming about environmental destruction and loss. The planet had no real trouble at all getting rid of 10x the CO2 we’re currently putting out when it was A WHOLE PLANET. 50% destroyed now…

Reply to  Prjindigo
February 22, 2022 11:00 am

I think you need to review your medication..

Joao Martins
Reply to  Prjindigo
February 22, 2022 1:12 pm

… we need to ignore the temperature and start screaming …

… And what if you shut up instead of scream?…

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Joao Martins
February 23, 2022 12:38 am

Surely, wouldn’t screaming produce more CO2 pumped into the atmosphere, the very opposite of the warmista’s mantra??? Having said that, not so long ago some “expert” scientifcky types were proposing to protect the atmosphere from pollution by pumping chemicals into the atmosphere to block out sunlight to prevent warming, thereby interfering with the atmosphere!!! The logic is infallible-ish!!!

Reply to  Prjindigo
February 22, 2022 9:49 pm

I didn’t notice the 50% of the planet destroyed … I must be in the good half so not my problem 🙂

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Prjindigo
February 24, 2022 9:17 pm

What are you basing that nonsense on? Clearly you’ve never cracked a science text, a geography text or even a good history book. From whom are you getting your facts besides your local crack addict?

Steve Case
February 22, 2022 10:28 am

Climate change is a risk because it may affect prosperity and security in a negative way, and because its consequences are uncertain.

 It may affect prosperity and security in a positive way, and there is already evidence of that. NOAA and NASA have nice pages on the greening of the earth due CO2 missions 

Then there’s this quote:

“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” – Timothy Wirth, former Senator from Colorado and UN Bigwig

The end result is that after 30 years of the UNFCCC/IPCC, we are fixated on the minutiae of greenhouse gas emissions levels and the abstract and impossible problem of constraining atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Yes haggling over the hottest year month ever by a hundredth of a degree should be getting old, but the media continues to beat the drum.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Steve Case
February 22, 2022 10:42 am

… but the media continues to beat the drum.

They are on retainer to be alternate drum beaters.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Steve Case
February 22, 2022 10:36 pm

The media have been beating the “end of the world” drum since the media first crawled onto land and started breathing air.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
February 23, 2022 12:43 am

Fear creates power, the peeps clamouring for someone to lead them to safety from a scary story instigated by that particular someone. Wasn’t that H.L. Mencken who said something like that? Nothing has changed for millennia, just the bogeyman changes with time!!!

February 22, 2022 10:38 am

I appreciate Dr. Curry’s more nuanced discussion of climate risk assessment, but her post also fails the same test that the UN and the warmunist community also fails – it considers only the risk, or rather probability of something happening as a negative consequence, and does not consider “negative risk” – or the probability that benefits will be realized, counterbalancing the negative consequences.

Risk analysis is of little use – what is required is Risk-Benefit Analysis.

Risk-Benefit Analysis is never one sided. The risk of doing some particular act, must be weighed against the risk of NOT doing that particular act. And the risk of consequences arising from some particular act must be weighed against the benefits arising from that same act.

Economists and investors do this all the time – they consider not just the cost of doing something, but they also consider at the same time the cost of NOT doing something else. They refer to this as the “opportunity cost”, or the cost to the investor of not putting their money somewhere else. If I put all my investment capital in real estate, it may create very good returns now, but that also means I am not putting all or some of that capital into other opportunities (such as government bonds, or commodities, etc. etc.) that, perhaps in the long run, would produce a better return or a lower risk of loss or other benefits to the investor.

The very real benefits of increased CO2 in the atmosphere are clearly understood – in terms of greater biological productivity, since carbon is the base of the entire planet’s food chain and bio-mass. Ditto with warmer atmospheric temperatures – someone might experience a loss due to higher sea level, but someone else is certain to benefit from a longer growing season. Those alternative benefits must be quantified and compared to the negative risks to evaluate the net risk or benefit.

It seems pretty obvious that most living plants and creatures, on a megatons of biomass basis across the entire planet, do better with warm air than with cold air.

Letting warmunists define the basis of the analysis by completely ignoring the benefits of higher CO2 and warmer temperatures is a travesty of sound science and true risk/benefit analysis.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 10:49 am

Part of the problem, as demonstrated by Chauncey Starr, is that people tolerate risk in proportion to the subjective perceived benefit. When the MSM constantly ignores benefits, and bombards the public with scare stories that reinforce the perceived risks, it distorts reality and causes those with neither the time or inclination to analyze the situation, to assume that there is more risk than is true, and that there are no compensating benefits. The MSM is doing society a serious disservice — once again!

Steve Case
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 22, 2022 2:16 pm

The MSM is doing society a serious disservice — once again!

The MSM is doing society a serious disservice — BY DESIGN!

Rational Db8
Reply to  Steve Case
February 22, 2022 5:50 pm

Unfortunately Trump had it exactly right – the mainstream media very much is the enemy of the people because of how massively they misinform and lie to people – including lying by omission.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 10:57 am

Exactly. There are no risks, only benefits, from global warming (should it occur). There are, however, enormous risks, costs, and dangers from ending fossil fuel use. The warmista analists are the existential threat to the planet.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
February 22, 2022 2:10 pm

Well, there certainly ARE risks associated with global warming. Looking at it from a species perspective, there are certainly species that predominate in cold climates or at very high altitudes in mountainous regions that may see population declines due to global warming, such as it may be. But the overwhelming biomass on the planet benefits from warmer air, which means a longer growing season for green plants which provide the base of the food chain for all other creatures that live on the surface and in the air. Ditto with sea life, a few may lose, but the majority will win.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Duane
February 23, 2022 12:49 am

As has taken place throughout millennia!!! That b’stard Mother Nature, how dare she adapt & change to changing circumstances, she should just roll over & die, none of this adapting to change nonsense!!! Sarc as usual!!!

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:27 pm

Your entire premise is back-ass-ward. The likely direction of evolution is towards warm climate animals and plants adapting to the cold of an ice age, not the reverse. The likelihood of the present interglacial lasting too much longer is between slim and none … and Slim has no chance at all. Change is the default condition of our atmosphere … and probability points towards the next “climate change” will be further cooling.

Richard Page
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 12:03 pm

‘Negative risk?’ You mean reward, right? As in the psychological risk/reward idea? Since when did hard science use soft science terminology to define a potential problem? Oh yes of course – that’ll be the ‘Mickey mouse’ science for liberal arts students courses, like climate science, that have been popular for the last few years.

Reply to  Richard Page
February 22, 2022 2:08 pm

Engineers and business managers and investors all deal with Risk-Benefit analysis all the time, with “negative risk” = benefit. Nothing liberal artsy about that at all.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 2:40 pm

And these leading business managers make news releases that are heard by the voting public equal in strength to the activist releases? No way. Again, we see a big part of the problem. It is the filtering of information, with repression of anti-activist material. I have no solution for this filtering, other than the generality of better education. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
February 23, 2022 7:33 am

It is not the role of investors to educate the masses. It is their role to invest wisely, for their own benefit, or the benefit of those who trust their money with them to invest.

Alec Rawls
Reply to  Richard Page
February 22, 2022 5:32 pm

The standard terminology (from finance) is upside risk (gains) vs downside risk (losses).

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Duane
February 22, 2022 1:00 pm

Against speculative future costs there is abundant empirical evidence of the overwhelming human benefits derived from fossil fuel use of which CO2 is by-product that so far has been observed to be beneficial to the biosphere.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 22, 2022 3:16 pm

The corollary is that termination of the use of fossil fuels would result in global mass impoverishment, war, famine, pestilence, and disease. There would be excess (needless) deaths in the hundreds of millions, possibly billions. The environment would get looted and trashed. Those outcomes are predictable, obvious, and evident. It would be an Oil-ageddon, a Netzero-pocalypse.

Has that real risk been included in the accounting?

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 23, 2022 12:58 am

Duane should also remember that there is no global warming any more, it’s name change, to Climate Change, was deliberate & calculated to cater for the concern that modest temperature increases might stop & head in the opposite direction, just as they did in the earlier part of the 20th century, then they changed again & started warming in the 1970s. Anyone got any idea what the next stick/scary story is being fabricated in the wings when CC has run its inevitable course???

Reply to  Chris Hanley
February 23, 2022 7:36 am

Correct. But again, the narrative in the popular media and the government completely ignores the benefits derived to date, ongoing, and very likely in the future from use of fossil fuels to power a world wide economy. And also to ignore the benefits of a warming earth. The Earth most certainly IS warming, but at a very gradual rate that is typical of interglacial periods, knowing that at some time in the future the planet will enter another glaciation period, which will be a complete disaster for the human species.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Duane
February 24, 2022 9:35 pm

The Earth most certainly IS warming, but at a very gradual rate that is typical of interglacial periods

Completely wrong! On a geological time frame this planet has been steadily cooling since the Holocene Thermal Optimum, ~8,000 years ago. The present mild warming since the coldest period since then (the LIA) is a minor blip on the radar. This interglacial is already long in the tooth. Do refer to facts instead of the MSM you seem to favour.

February 22, 2022 10:41 am

Climate change is a risk because it may affect prosperity and security in a negative way, and because its consequences are uncertain.

The exact same thing can be said about asteroids, gophers and political parties. But when you stop and think about what all these risks actually affect, it’s only for humans. The earth really doesn’t care and neither does the rest of the biosphere.

One must wonder why the only species that can use their reasoning to adapt refuses to do so.

Reply to  Doonman
February 22, 2022 11:04 am

One must wonder why the only species that can use their reasoning to adapt refuses to do so.

Perhaps the species in question used their reasoning wisely

Reply to  Redge
February 22, 2022 9:52 pm

I think it’s more like they created too many over-educated idiots who needed something to worry about. If it wasn’t doomsday worries it was how they look or feel #METOO.

Paul Penrose
February 22, 2022 10:41 am

The climate has always changed, and it will continue to do so whatever we as a species do. Of course we have an effect on the planetary environment, but it’s small in magnitude compared to natural variability. The most rational course of action is to continue to learn about how nature works, and improve our technology so that we can adapt to whatever comes next. Resiliency is the key to our survival, not tilting at the windmill of trying to control the climate.

February 22, 2022 10:46 am

The fact that politics chose sides of controversial science where only one side can be right is the real problem since the side that chose wrong is in control of the science and too obstinate to admit fault. The same applies to masks, vaccines, nuclear energy and much more.

Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 10:54 am

And yet the planet continues to warm, sea levels continue to rise, and atmospheric CO2 levels continue to climb. How is that being “mischaracterized,” Judith?

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 11:45 am

These are only occurring on a very short time scale. The seas were higher in the past (, CO2 is much lower than it was before and temperature is almost at its lowest ever as it has been going down for millions of years.

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 11:54 am

If I might be allowed to answer for Judith, it is being “mischaracterised” in terms of quantity. The warming of the planet, if it occurs at all, is right on the limits of the noise threshold that we can measure; the rise of sea levels and CO2 levels are both in line with the well-understood warming due to our emergence from the “Little Ice Age”. Therefore no cause for alarm.

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 12:02 pm

And yet the planet continues to warm, sea levels continue to rise, and atmospheric CO2 levels continue to climb.

Nothing we do will change that.

jeffery p
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 12:08 pm

What makes you believe any of those are “problems,” Barry? None are unprecedented. Past climate was warmer, the atmosphere has had much more CO2 and sea levels have been higher. The world kept turning.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 1:16 pm

“And yet the planet continues to warm …”.
What ought the planet be doing?

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 1:43 pm

But they aren’t rising as fast as some of the clowns who have the same views as you thought.


They are rising about as they have for almost 200 years.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 3:15 pm

Gee Barry, you are on the No 1 global science site (see awards in the marginal pane) with half a billion visits and contributions of articles and comments from scientists, engineers, economists, etc. from every corner of the globe.

For your sake and reputation, have a ‘take’, . Your stuff is unthinking official talking points for dummies (lazy ones at that) that we see here many times in any day from any number of activist sites.

It’s clear you are not science literate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be. You have a step up over empty-headed shouting political activists just by being here! Use the time researching the topics, issues, critiques. A survey of all the resources on this site is a good start. Ask any questions you like and on this site you’ll get answers from several people. Hey, here’s an experiment! Ask if anyone has a simple explanation for Einstein’s E=mc^2 or, or how do we measure the distance to galaxies, or how do coral islands keep pace with rising sealevel (SL has risen 120m since the end of the glacial maximum 15k years ago).

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 3:50 pm


Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 23, 2022 11:58 am

Not likely, Pat. Too verbose.

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 9:53 pm

And yet few share your concern

Reply to  LdB
February 23, 2022 4:51 am

Problem is, too many of those who choose to do so are in a position to screw the rest of us.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 22, 2022 10:47 pm

“And yet the planet continues to warm”
Are you saying that the high temperatures are getting higher, or the low temperatures aren’t getting as low, or both, or something else? Sorry to make you think Barry.

Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 23, 2022 11:57 am

“And yet the planet continues to warm”

Hey, Barry,
What temperature is the correct temperature?

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Barry Anthony
February 24, 2022 11:06 pm

And yet the planet continues to warm, sea levels continue to rise, and atmospheric CO2 levels continue to climb.

Except, geologically speaking, the planet is NOT warming. It has been cooling steadily since the Holocene Thermal Optimum. This interglacial is already in its dotage.We have far more to fear from imminent cooling.

Sea levels have risen proportionally to the gradual withdrawal of the ice sheets that once stood a mile thick well into Europe, Asia and the USA. This interglacial will have long ended before it rises much further.

Fortunately for life on Earth CO2 levels are increasing gradually because for millions of years this planet has been hungrily sequestering that precious gas and would have thoughtlessly starved all life of it.

How is it you warmunists never actually learn any science?

Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 11:01 am

Much as I admire Judith, in my opinion she is overthinking this.

The IPCC self perpetuates via the myth of risky future climate ‘disasters’. They have no reason to become more reasonable about ‘climate risk’, and every reason to become more shrill. See AR6 WG1 SPM for proof. And that is what will be their undoing. CMIP6 worse than CMIP5 (e.g. less ECS convergence, still producing a non-existant tropical troposphere hot spot, predicting a foot of US sea level rise in the next 30 years, when even the unfit for purpose NASA sat alt says at most 4 inches,…).

Meanwhile, all their past ‘climate risk’ predictions have proven wrong despite proclaimed ‘consensus’ and ‘high confidence’. Wrong is wrong.
Sea level rise is not accelerating.
Arctic summer sea ice has not disappeared.
Oceans have not ‘acidified’ because they are buffered.
Children still know snow.

The Keeling curve shows that all the COPs thru 26 have failed despite ever increasing IPCC shrillness. That doesn’t matter in the real world, only in John Kerry’s imagined world.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 11:29 am

It’s only a mater of time before the IPCC’s work is more widely recognized as the most harmful and costly fake science ever conceived.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
February 22, 2022 11:59 am

Most politicians respond to risk analysis and uncertainty analysis within time-frames they can relate to, and they like to be seen as doing something about perceived problems by voters, whether real or not. Saying that climate risk is imaginary is not useful to them if a significant part of their voters don’t believe so. Judith analysis is important from their point of view which is why she is called to Congress and Senate testimonies.

From the climate science point of view this is all irrelevant, but climate science became irrelevant a long time ago. Nobody is going to be convinced by climate evidence at this point. Nearly everybody is already convinced one way or the other.

Ron Long
February 22, 2022 11:02 am

Listen to the politicians/actors/professors etc howling about CAGW. Their position has nothing to do with “risk management of climate”. They want to change the culture of the entire planet to accept an energy-poor lifestyle while they fly around and lecture everybody. This whole CAGW scheme is one of establishing Authority and Control, followed by taxes and carbon credits. I will not sit idly by and watch schemes to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, especially since we are too low to endure another glacial cycle in this Ice Age we live in.

John Bell
February 22, 2022 11:19 am

OT a bit but related, I found this thru John Stossel:

Paul Johnson
February 22, 2022 11:27 am

In the name of Green Energy, the Biden Administration has induced a sharp rise in fossil fuel prices that will drive up inflation and interest rates. Rising rates will kill most “renewable energy” projects, which depend on low long-term interest rates to achieve even paper profitability.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Paul Johnson
February 22, 2022 2:46 pm

Consider that the current Department of Labor (or is it Treasury) Consumer Price Index, the one that gets widely published and analyzed, does not even include food or fuel costs. Yet that CPI is showing a severe and widespread inflation. Imagine if the government would be honest with us and include those costs in the index – the political consequences would be enormous.

J Mac
February 22, 2022 11:35 am

There is no climate risk. There is no need for mitigation. Stick to the facts.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  J Mac
February 22, 2022 3:05 pm

Thank you. I was trying to think
of a way of saying this. I would only add that the “lukewarmers” aren’t helping things with their carefully worded decent. They need to get a spine and say plainly, there is no evidence that CO2 causes any harm.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
February 22, 2022 3:55 pm

I think they can say CO2 produces some warming but that it is completely beneficial and has only produced positive outcomes to date and there is no evidence of future problems.

The only unrealistic and idiotic viewpoint is that CO2 will destroy us.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
February 24, 2022 11:25 pm

The slowly increasing CO2 is merely offsetting this planet’s propensity for sequestering the stuff, as it has been doing for millions of years. The next ice age could easily draw it down below the lower limit for green plants. Earth doesn’t respond to the limited, 30 year budget of IPCC bookkeeping. It keeps score in ages, epochs, periods, eras and eons.

The only way CO2 is going to destroy us is if the planet swallows up the last of it in its free, gaseous form.

February 22, 2022 11:37 am

Well done Judith. This is excellent. Now you need to take the next step and rewrite it making it much shorter and in the most basic language possible. Your writing is crystal clear and to the point. It makes perfect sense to WUWT readers and that is a good thing. But what is more important is to make this information available and understandable to the average Joe Blow. The fellow who probably won’t read an article this long or with such eloquent phrasing. It needs to be direct, to the point and short. You have taken a giant step forward.

Reply to  Bob
February 22, 2022 2:54 pm

Needs to be in cartoon or comic book form for the likes of Griff to grasp the message.

And even then – ??????

Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 11:55 am

One huge omission in factors at play that would simplify ambiguous aspects is a dynamic time frame dimension. The risks aren’t a stationary dartboard. As Judith mentions, we do have long time series for extreme weather events that we can provisionally remove from the list of risks from climate change since there seems to be no exacerbation of them from added CO2 or dT.

We have no choice but to accept these events and we should ensure adequate protection and mitigation procedures now. We can keep an eye out for signs of change of risk, of course.

For events not chronicled with long times series data, we can milepost the concerns. For example, in the late 1980s, anomaly forecasts using models turned out to average 300% too hot in the first decade of the new millennium, and a decade later NASA’s modeler Gavin Schmidt, in the face of 7yrs of cooling after the 2015 el Niño had interrupted the earlier18yr ‘Pause’, stated that “models are rrunning away too hot and we don’t know why ”

This is the first admission by a very major member of the so-called Team that dCO2 may not be a significant Control Knob for temperature. His former boss, J Hansen says a 30yr cooling period going forward can’t be ruled out. Therefore a prudent risk assessor should consider the climate risk to be only a third of what science had been worried about essentially because of a much greater natural variability factor (which we have to accept let alone tolerate ).

This comment is getting long, so I’ll just mention it’s time to include the Great Greening, expanded habitat (tiger population is up 30%), drought proifing and bumper crops have more than doubled over the past 35yrs, largely due to CO2 fertilization courtesy of fossil fuel burning. I think we have enough to balance risk and rewards of “climate change”, although climate cooling has made itself part of the risks.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 22, 2022 2:53 pm

Gavin Schmidt knows why the models are too hot. Because he and his colleagues and fellow climate scientists don’t want to admit that they don’t either know or understand fully why the climate behaves as it does, or how it works. Having painted themselves into a corner now for over 40 years with extreme and untenable policy recommendations as a result of the catastrophes they predicted, they can’t just quietly sit down and shut up gracefully while admitting to their ignorance or failures.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
February 22, 2022 10:33 pm

I recently was on Schmidt’s where he was trying to explain away the CMIP6 models’ divergence from the reality of observations. There I ran across his graph, which to my untrained eye shows him arbitrarily ignoring the “hot” models then graphing the mean of the rest – all to make it look better.
It reminded me of this classic Dilbert cartoon where the the climate scientist throws out all the model runs that “don’t look right”. Hilarious!

Reply to  B Zipperer
February 23, 2022 4:48 am

Thanks for posting this chart. ‘screened by their transient climate response” does sound dodgy, to say the least.

Alec Rawls
February 22, 2022 12:08 pm

The only actual climate danger always has been and always will be global cooling, and with the sun having dropped into what is likely to become a prolonged quiescent phase that danger could well be imminent.

This is the glaring omission from the consensus/IPCC risk estimates. They do not even consider the possibility of global cooling. I am surprised that Judith does not mention this biggest of all omissions.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Alec Rawls
February 22, 2022 4:02 pm


The only think we know for certain is a descent into glaciation
Not in anybody’s lifetime or our kids but it’s the only sure thing.

The true existential threat

February 22, 2022 12:14 pm

Risk assessment and risk reduction is easy.
Risk = likelihood x consequence.
Determine actions to reduce risk.
Carry out risk reducing actions.

If no Climate Change
Likelihood of a school in the Australian bush being destroyed in a fire – likely
Consequence of school being destroyed by fire – severe.
Risk of school being destroyed by fire – extreme.

Obvious risk reduction action is to strategically clear vegetation around the school and any important roads in the town.

If Climate Change
Maybe the likelihood would increase but the consequence and level of risk would still be the same.
The strategic clearing of vegetation would still be the best risk reduction action.

February 22, 2022 12:19 pm
jeffery p
February 22, 2022 12:50 pm

I think we’re getting sidetracked by discussing the science. This debate isn’t about science.

Further, you can’t persuade with facts and reason if a person’s opinion isn’t based on facts and reason.

Bill Everett
Reply to  jeffery p
February 22, 2022 1:57 pm

There never seems to be any concentration on the minute size of the human contribution to the CO2 level. It currently is about 1/476th of one percent of atmosphere. I am not sure how accurately the OCO-2 satellite is measuring global CO2 levels but I see only a small amount of interest in its use so far. Considering how much atmospheric CO2 is being cited as a cause of climate change I would think that the means of measuring CO2 across the Earth’s surface would be the cause of greatly increased research to determine the origin and impact of increasing atmospheric CO2 and whether steps to counter any of its effects are needed. Further, isn’t about time to use the pattern-like rise in the Earth’s temperature to predict future warming? According to that pattern this century will experience only forty years of warming which will probably only result in about one to one-and-a-half degrees of temperature rise.

Richard M
February 22, 2022 2:22 pm

Much ado about nothing.

The reason climate is even an issue is because it aligns with the goals of academia. These folks hate free market capitalism mainly because they are ignorant of how it works. This hatred is always looking for a way to attack its enemy. Climate policy is a way.

The world’s bureaucracies are also constantly looking for a crisis to increase their power. Just look at Canada and the nonsensical claims coming from the government to justify their tyrannical actions.

These two forces found a common goal with climate change/global warming.

They could care less about risk management. They will stifle all debate and attack anyone who gets in the way of their agendas. They’ve also got enough crony capitalists on board to keep the ball rolling.

There is no climate problem. The boundary layer short circuits almost all the warming potential from DWIR. Calling it an “unknown known” won’t change a thing as agenda driven science will ignore the real facts as long as possible.

February 22, 2022 4:09 pm

When the problem was poorly understood a management trick is to survey people. Ask them for their estimate of costs, benefits and probability

Subtract cost from benefits and multiply by probability. Chose the option with the highest positive value.

Maybe someone has done this. However it could be that windmill’s and solar panels were chosen simply because they were an alternative, without any serious analysis.

February 22, 2022 4:15 pm

Humans should welcome climate change. The current warm period has made civilization possible.

Further, our domestication of fire was a necessary step to live outside the tropics and allows us to survive anywhere on earth and potentially off earth.

No other creature on earth has domesticated fire. Other animals use tools. None use fire intentially.

Larry Brasfield
February 22, 2022 6:04 pm

It’s touching to see the issue of risk assessment dispassionately discussed. If our so-called leaders were intelligent and concerned with the general welfare, Ms. Curry’s contribution would be considered, if such perspective had not been adopted long ago. Sadly, we do not have leaders; we have would-be drivers of sheeple, interested in gaining power without regard for the health of the society upon which they feed, as parasites. The prevailing perspective, pushed in the same way as propaganda has been fed to the masses for many decades, is designed to keep the sheeple stupid on this risk issue. Nothing so rational as Ms. Curry’s view is going to be allowed to impede use of the “climate scare” as a tool in furtherance of that evil cadre’s ends.

Jeff L
February 22, 2022 6:55 pm

I wish everyone in the world was as rational as Judith … we would have a whole lot less problems :))

Smart Rock
February 22, 2022 7:37 pm

If anyone is going to do risk analysis, they should start by analysing the risks that will arise (and are already starting to appear) from the race to “net zero” including adoption of nearly total electrification powered by wind and solar. That’s a really risky venture, and it will lead to bad things happening.

John Furst
February 23, 2022 5:36 am

Dr. Curry…

Thank you. An excellent article on policy outrunning appropriate, best scientific knowledge.
The same problem stated in “The Alignment Problem” by Brian Christian, but a current massive misuse of precious taxpayer funds rather than a future one.

But this still gets us back to the problem of fixing/finding science truths, real costs and policy priority decisions–stonewalled by media, scientific communities and mostly Western governments!

The damage to Western economies is immense, current and permanent. The forced comprehensive removal of reliable, low cost energy sources BEFORE equally capable substitutes destroyed and is destroying essential infrastructure that took over 100 years of construction and improvements. Removed or closed generators, mines, pipelines, transmission lines and more CANNOT be recovered, at least at a cost as low as continued operations.

The USA had the most robust, multi-sourced energy system in the world with the highest reliablility, availability and stability at the lowest cost. And it necessarily PRECEEDED industrial development making possible historic economic growth.

At one time the largest economy in the world that produced and innovated for it’s own citizens and improved the health and success of the rest of civilization, has now been relegated to a downward spiralling economic and civil morass.

The issue still becomes one first having a credible, honest scientific communities and media that allow for truth and facts that provide for the best policy decisions.

Your article helps..thanks again.

February 23, 2022 10:24 pm

Very good but with some riders that need to be addressed.

  1. There is a very large unstated assumption being made in this risk analysis. That assumption is that the climate in the base year is optimal. It follows from that assumption that any alteration to the base year settings must necessarily result in sub-optimal outcomes. This assumption is totally invalid and has no basis in fact. Pick any year you want and demonstrate that year’s climate was optimal. You can’t, neither at the local level nor at the global level.
  2. Hence, one has to consider that there may be both benefits and costs of any changes to climate. Upside risks are not even mentioned in the above discussion. If all we ever did was consider the downside, nobody would do anything and we would still be swinging through the trees. Sensibly, a Cost-Benefit Analysis is needed at a minimum.
  3. One also needs to consider Cost Effectiveness i.e. which strategies give the biggest ROI and at which point do the marginal costs exceed the marginal benefits and it is not worth expending any more.
  4. The real way of measuring economic cost of anything is Opportunity Cost i.e. what opportunity has to be foregone when resources are spent on something else e.g. subsidising solar farms instead of health care or schools or defence. This has to be included in any proper economic analysis.

This all presupposes that econometric models are any good at assigning costs and benefits and making forward projections: they aren’t.
This all presupposes that we have good, credible, unsullied scientific data collected over a sufficiently long time: we don’t.
This all presupposes that we have a good, credible, and unimpeachable scientific model of our climate’s drivers and mechanisms: we most definitely do not.

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