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Climate Change Prediction Challenge Results

Updated on October 12, 2016


When Doc Snow and I started this debate, we had no idea where this would take us. After one month of the publishing of Doc Snow's hub, in conjunction with the COP21 Paris meetings, I decided to check in and review the results of the polls.

-December 2015


As with all online polls, the results are not scientific. It is just a snap shot of a small number of readers from all over the country and gauges their reactions to our presentation.

The question we try to address is How accurate are climate change predictions in 2015?

The implication of the answer has real consequences such as the Paris COP21 meeting by world leaders to address this crisis.

If the predictions by climate scientists are accurate and true, as a global unit, all of us need to sign on with all hands on deck to avert disaster.

If, however, the past predictions have fail to materialize, it is irresponsible to put the world community into such panic and commit huge resources to combat something that might or might not happen.

COP21 Paris Meeting Results

My summary of the result of this global meeting in Paris. After reading the summary of the agreement, I must admit that I am somewhat disappointed even as a skeptic. I would assume the strident supporters of climate change would also be disappointed.

  • One year waiting period (pending individual countries elected officials agreement)
  • Compliance of agreements are optional.
  • Huge transfer of payment from Developed nations to Developing nations.
  • 5 year assessment period to see how things are progressing.

Even Dr. Hansen called this agreement a sham.


The two hubs are created by myself and Doc Snow. There are three polls within the hubs. One in Doc Snow's hub and two in my hub. The final poll results after one month of publish is the following.

Here are the final results:

A total of 352 read my hub.

21 voted in the first poll and 22 voted in the second poll.

1 swayed (change opinion from skeptic to hoax).

21 stay the same (11 - believe, 5 skeptic, 5 hoax).

A surprise is that 1 of the 21 actually voted to indict the skeptic. I put it in as a joke and someone actually believe it is a good idea. Does that person believe in free speech or is it only free if it is politically correct? Is there no room for dissent?

Doc Snow's poll:

I 'm not sure how many read Doc's hub but I will assume an equal number did as instructed. However, there were only 11 that voted. 10 were for Doc's opinion and 1 dissent.


Since less than 10% of people who read the hub actually voted, it is hard to draw any sound conclusions. It is clear that most people are firm in their believes and cannot be swayed by any facts or presentation. That is what I expected before this debate started. Needless to say, Doc Snow and I are included in this camp.

Based solely on the polling results, I would have to give the upper hand to Doc Snow. Congratulations for a well written hub.

On the Forum debate, there were a total of 94 postings. Most of them are between Doc Snow and myself. There were many issues discussed and it was very fruitful from my perspective. I've learned more about the climate debate and how it is viewed from both sides. There are many side issues related to climate change such as environment protection, energy production and transportation and solar activities and public policy regarding energy credits, population and even terrorism.

Even though we were not swayed by the other, we agree to check back from time to time to see the progress of this topic. Regardless of what we do as humans, the earth and the sun has it's own path.

Some Parallels...

In our discussion on Climate Change, we came across some parallels in past events. One example is the ozone hole and another is the Y2K bug and the sinking of the Titanic. Another one is the dot com boom of the late 1990's.

In the case of the dot com, many companies jump on the band wagon of the rising internet business. Some businesses adopted the dot com logo or name and expected to gain name recognition and reap profits. They fail to materialize for the most part. What went wrong?

In the global warming studies, almost every scientific study jumped on the band wagon and adapted their research to fit the climate change scenario. There were international and national organizations that came about as a result. Government grants and private charity donations are also the source of major funding. At every turn, some problem or issues of the day are being drawn and tied to the climate change phenomenon.

The problem is not everything is about climate change. The solutions proposed may not fit the bill. In fact, some extreme proposals might do more harm than good. What should we be doing?

The answer is obvious. Let the scientists go back to study basic science. Let them improve their models so that future predictions will be more accurate. Let all countries discuss the various way to mitigate climate change. Perhaps, it is better to relocate out of sea coasts to higher grounds just as an example of a long term plan. Don't denigrate people with different opinions or ideas. Let the truth come out. Stop the influences of environmental extremist groups on climate change discussions. "If your only tool is a hammer, everything else look like a nail."


What I learned from this experience.

  • It seems that many more people will read a hub but less than 10% will actually take the time to vote in the polls.
  • It is hard to tell how many actually read the hubs from beginning to end and also hard to determine if people read both hubs in detail before voting.
  • A popular poll is not scientific by definition.
  • It is also hard to know if anyone try to vote more than once.
  • A snapshot in time is never the less valuable to gauge public opinion and interest.

My conclusion is that most people are committed to their beliefs and very difficult to sway. Even with facts and charts, they will stay in their comfort zone. I do hope to raise some curiosity in some so that they will pay more attention to what they are told by climate scientists. The science is very complicated and the average person must rely on some experts. However, that does not mean we should throw common sense out the window.

A Youtube video on the Pause


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    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I came across this article this morning.

      Something to think about...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I think the predictions are from Gore's documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth". His 10 year predictions was made for 2016 and they are not anywhere close to what we see today. That is a main problem with these long term dire predictions. That is why new predictions are on the time frame of 25-50 years. Why is that I wonder? If they can't predict 10 years accurately, why would they be better for 25 or 50 years?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Oh, wait--there's a link to the Rush Limbaugh website that I initially missed:

      "He's palling around with Laurie David of Curb Your Enthusiasm, who is the husband of Larry David, who drives the Prius and then flies the GV. Larry David says, "You know, Al is a funny guy, but he's also a very serious guy who believes humans may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.""

      The quote seems to be legit, as it appears a number of other places, but Laurie David is nobody's 'husband'--being, as her Wikipage implies, a 'nice Jewish girl.' Whether that little error was just an error, who knows? But be that as it may, I still don't see much testability in the statement.

      First, it's third-party, and clearly an informal description, so it doesn't have any rigor to start with.

      Second, it includes an important qualifier: "humans MAY have only 10 years…"

      Third, the phrase is ambiguous: it may very well mean that there is a 10-year window for constructive action, rather than the process of 'frying-pan-ization' will be complete in 10 years.

      Fourth, just what does "a total frying pan" really mean? That life is driven extinct by sheer heat? Or maybe just that it's really hot by historical standards, say, 1 C above the 1850-1900 mean? Because if it's the latter, we just did that:

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I agree, the next few years will be interesting.

      But I'm a bit puzzled; the article mentions a 10-year window, but that number is not found anywhere in the CBS piece cited as source. Where did Limbaugh get that from?

      It wasn't in AIT; I attended that myself.

      Also, both pieces describe a "worst-case" scenarios or consequencs (singular or plural). For instance, from the CBS piece:

      "If the pace of pollution continues, Gore's projections for carbon-dioxide levels are off the charts within a few decades.

      Among the worst-case consequences: A new ice age in Europe, and massive flooding of regions in India, China and elsewhere that could make refugees of tens of millions of people."

      But that suggests that more than one "case" is in potential play.

      My bottom-line reaction: if I wanted to write a Hub about Mr. Gore's alleged predictions, as I did about the ones we looked at, then I'd need a whole lot more specificity to make any kind of assessment.

      FWIW, the CBS piece is here:

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I heard on the news this morning about Al Gore's predictions for 2016. Just wondering your reaction to this.

      The next few years will be interesting indeed...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      It does apply to climate predictions as well as long term weather predictions. They are both similar. Let me give you a simple example. Suppose Climate is due to A, B and C. A is human activity, B is natural cycles and C is the Sun activities. Suppose you produce an accurate model of A and predict future climate based solely on A. Now 20 years later, you find your prediction is off the mark. It turns out B and C had an effect that your model did not account (and in fact could not account in the case of C). What dii you do?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Yes, short-term weather forecasting is pretty good, but that's not what we were talking about. Recall your words: "Long range weather prediction is a poor science…"

      So we were talking about *long-term weather* versus climate.

      As you say, the butterfly effect is a big, big problem for the former. But it doesn't apply to forecasting climate, because you are only concerned with 'average' conditions and their evolution over time, not with highly specific trajectories over that same span.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I have to disagree with you on this. Short term weather prediction is actually pretty good. You can get forecast almost 5 days ahead and come close to reality. The further out you go, the butterfly effect takes hold and the predictions are much harder if not impossible. That is why climate science over years is so difficult. It is impossible to account for actions of the earth (earthquakes, volcanos...) and the Sun...Any predictions that does not include them will miss the mark.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Long range weather prediction is a poor science. Long term climate prediction is even harder."

      My understanding is that it's the other way around. The (short version) reason is that with climate, you don't need to get all the short term details right, just the mean trajectory of events. With long-term weather forecasting, by contrast, you *do* have to get those details right. In a sense, the latter problem is inherently more information-rich.

      "Thanks, I had a great New Year so far."


      "Wish you and the family the same."

      Many thanks!

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      I was vacationing in Quebec City Canada. We had a great few days until the last day driving home in a winter storm. There were a few inches of ice and snow all the way back to the US border. It was 10 degrees in the morning driving out of Quebec.

      Long range weather prediction is a poor science. Long term climate prediction is even harder.

      Thanks, I had a great New Year so far. Wish you and the family the same.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Good to hear from you, Jack, and I hope your New Year is off to a good start. We were at the lake, which was in flood due to the torrential rains experienced by a good chunk of the country in the last couple of weeks, and it was so warm that we turned off the heat, which was a distinctly odd thing to be doing on December 27th.

      "They fail to account for natural variations that are outside the norm. Thus, their model no matter how complex, is not a representation of reality."

      A crucial point, but I think you are incorrect. One of the central tests in model validation is that the climatology produced by the models does match observations--for example, in the linked information, they talked about realistic El Nino cycles, monsoons and so forth. For the most part, models meet these kinds of tests well (though there are areas where they do less well, and where work to improve is naturally ongoing.)

      But the system--the climate system itself--is too complex and mathematically chaotic for the exact course of weather events to be reproduced. There are attempts to use real-world 'boundary conditions' as input to try to do what amounts to large-scale, long-term weather forecasting. In fact, one of them was made by the UK Met Office, and was included in the predictions I wrote about in my Hub. Since that's now a ways back, let me include a link for readers who may have missed that:

      In the Hub, the Met effort was ranked a partial success, in that it got the general shape of the temperature curve right, but was significantly off in the amount of warming and timing of events. Earlier, the Keenlyside et al. paper from 2008 made a long-term forecast using observed sea-surface temperatures, which didn't work out well. RealClimate updated that story late in 2015:

      So the short answer would be, more or less, that they are trying to do something like what you ask, but it's a whole lot harder than you might think. That doesn't imply, though, that the climatological valid results that we do have are in doubt, or not useful. We had no way to really know that 2014/2015 would mark a spectacular end to the so-called 'hiatus' period. But we did have a way to be pretty darn sure that an end to it would come--as I said repeatedly in numerous places.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      BTW, this is called "regression testing" and it is done all the time in computer programming. Any large complex computer system undergoes extensive regression testing even when a minor change is made to the algorithm and coding. The testing is also improved by adding to the various test cases that arises over time. You will be surprised by how many "bugs" are found this way...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, sorry for the delay response. I was away on a trip for the holidays. I took a look at the links you provided. This is very interesting but it misses my point regarding the "incompleteness" of current models. They fail to account for natural variations that are outside the norm. Thus, their model no matter how complex, is not a representation of reality. I wish they would go back and change their models in such a way as to account for past events(that we have records and data for) and re-run the models so that the projections will be more aligned with the "real" events. Once that is in place, any future projections will naturally be more "realistic". Do you ever wonder why they don't do the obvious? Perhaps they don't like the answers. Just a thought. Happy New Year!

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, modeling experiments are going on constantly. That includes different approaches and (I believe) parameterizations. Some are aimed at 'discovery' of some real world aspect of things, while others are more methodological, seeking to improve model performance.

      I don't know if you looked at the AR5 "model evaluations" chapter, but that gives a lot of information on the efforts up to that point. I know work is ongoing.

      Just as an example, I'll try a quick Google Scholar search, just for you:

      (Search terms, "climate model" & "improved")

      (Result, 5,810 results in 2015.)

      Top result:

      "Abstract: The Community Atmosphere Model Version 5 is run at horizontal grid spacing of 2, 1, 0.5, and 0.25°, with the meteorology nudged toward the Year Of Tropical Convection analysis, and cloud simulators and the collocated A-Train satellite observations are used to explore the resolution dependence of aerosol-cloud interactions. The higher-resolution model produces results that agree better with observations, showing an increase of susceptibility of cloud droplet size, indicating a stronger first aerosol indirect forcing (AIF), and a decrease of susceptibility of precipitation probability, suggesting a weaker second AIF. The resolution sensitivities of AIF are attributed to those of droplet nucleation and precipitation parameterizations. The annual average AIF in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes (where most anthropogenic emissions occur) in the 0.25° model is reduced by about 1 W m2 (30%) compared to the 2° model, leading to a 0.26 W m2 reduction (15%) in the global annual average AIF."

      What is the point of that, you ask? Well, most of the work is like that--highly technical, not 'political' in any straightforward way, and aimed at improving model performance mostly through incremental change.

      By the way, what do you mean by 'parameters?' There could be some confusion lurking in that terminology. In the jargon, 'parameterization' refers basically to using bulk descriptors to allow reasonable computability, or to get around resolution problems. Here's what they had to say about in in AR4:

      Should be of some interest to you as a computer guy, I'd think.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, what's to prevent them from going back and re-run the models with different set of parameters and see what happens. That's all I'm basking.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Doc, with all due respect, the models are not tracking weather."

      Yes, that is what I'm telling you. They aren't, they were never expected to, and trying to get them to do so is a different problem than trying to predict what the climate will do in response to CO2 forcing.

      I don't know how many different ways there are to say this. But let me try one more.

      Each climate model run is like an alternate world. It has its own 'weather history'. They are all different because they are initialized slightly differently. There is no way to know in advance which of those numerous runs will best approximate the actual trajectory that the real-world weather follows.

      (I'm sure that there's a climate model run in the CMIP 5 ensemble that is pretty close to the real world history, but I've never seen individual runs broken out separately.)

      There are efforts to do very long-term weather forecasting--you'll probably recall that one of the predictions I looked at was the first attempt at a 10-year forecast by UK Met--but it's a different (and much harder) problem.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, with all due respect, the models are not tracking weather. The models are designed to track global warming based on some "assumptions" which may or may not be true. It is inexplicable why some scientists will not accept the possibility that they over state some assumptions and missed or under state other factors. The el nino effects are a factor just as the sun dimming over the last few years are all contributing factors. As extreme as you may think recent weather patterns are, they are not unique to our world. There have been extreme weather patterns all thru out history. We are just better at predicting them with advanced technology and warning systems.

      Think about this. Computer models are a tool to be used for prediction. The only reason they exist is if it works. We already have had over 20 years of models. The data are there. All it takes is for the scientists to go back and re-adjust their models to fit and account for new factors that were missed. How difficult is that? I much rather they admit they are baffled and want to research more than to make claims they know what is going on and we the people are just not smart enough to see it.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, that's the point. They aren't failing to 'track reality,' they are failing to track *weather*. And they were never designed nor expected to track weather, so framing that as a 'failure' is not appropriate.

      The appropriate frame is that they track *climate*--that is, the 'average' warming that results from considering the many possible temperature trajectories that reality could have taken, and which various model runs evince. As I showed in my Hub, when you consider that metric, the agreement of models and observations is quite reasonable.

      Since the climate scientists have been saying all along that that was the correct way of looking at it, what would you have them do?

      As to the 5 year wait, you already know my opinion: we've delayed action too long already, and further delay is dangerous. But here's a shorter test: observe what happens over the next year. There's a pretty good chance, based on the behavior of the temperature record during the '98 El Nino, that we'll see 2016 at or near a new temperature record, following the one that 2015 is about to set. And it's fairly likely that that will be true in all 5 datasets, meaning that both satellite data sets, UAH and RSS, will also show a record warm year. That would mean a temporary end to Lord Monckton's '18-year pause.'

      It's also pretty likely that the El Nino will bring some very damaging weather at various points, which will serve to remind us that flooding is something to respect and yes, fear, whether it's driven by El Nino or by increasing water vapor content due to global warming.

      2017 will not be as warm, in all likelihood. An El Nino raises planetary temperature, but that very process also raises the outgoing radiation, cooling the surface a bit. So 2017 will probably be 'just' the eighth- or tenth-warmest year on record. (Actually, that's conservative; both 1999 and 2000 tied for fifth-warmest year following the big El Nino of '97-'98 in the GISTEMP data. 2001 then set a new second-warmest record, and 2002 tied 1998.) But whatever the post-Nino sag, you can be sure that Monckton and company will herald it as a new 'pause.'

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, with regard to point 3, if I was a climate scientist, I would want to know why my model is not tracking reality and want to fix it so that at least the last 15 years or so match up with reality. That way, any future projections will have a better chance of being correct. Instead, they seem to want to double down on their predictions and claim the worst scenario. In my mind, I think the next 5 years will be sufficient to determine the seriousness of climate change if any and I want to see what happens before committing all resources.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      It's tripe. The ratio of information to rhetoric is extremely low. I gave up about 10 minutes in, but by that point all he had said was that:

      1) There's a period of 18 years, 9 months for which in the RSS dataset, there is a 0 trend.

      2) UAH and RSS data are 'most reliable.'

      3) Some 'warmist' sources have said that 'pauses' of 15 years might be signs that one should 'worry' about the climate models.

      My commentary:

      1) is true but misleading; 2) is probably false; 3) is true but misleading.

      Expanding, 1) RSS is ONLY dataset which displays a zero trend for this period. Why present only the outlying data?

      2) The thermometric data are well-known to require 'homogenization' to account for changes in environment, location, or procedure which inadvertently introduced biases into the data. What's less-well known is that satellite data require analagous procedures to account for orbital decay, instrument degradation over time, and possible calibration errors. Plus, they are inherently a much less direct measurement of temperature: they actually measure microwave brightness, which must be mathematically processed to arrive at temperatures at various altitudes in the atmosphere. (And at that, their product is 'averaged' over several vertical kilometers of atmosphere.) RSS and UAH are not in good agreement over the 'pause' period. Ergo, there is good reason to question the idea the 'satellite data are best.'

      3) Yes, some statements were made that say that a 'pause' of more than 15 years might be reason to worry about model accuracy. However, the definitive paper on this so far is Santer et al 2011. There's a PDF here:

      They found that:

      "Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length

      are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric


      So the RSS 'pause' of not quite 19 years is 1) unique to that data set; 2) not that much longer than the Santer "minimum" span; and 3) defined by beginning with the largest El Nino in the modern record (unless and until the present one turns out bigger). That is a good sign that the pause is not statistically robust.

      And one last point: climate model runs are not *expected* to reproduce the exact details of weather over time, because each features its own internal 'weather'. So when the claim is made that failure of model runs to reproduce the pause is some sort of failing, the only failure on display is that of the claimant to understand the nature of climate versus weather.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I came across this youtube video on global warming and I would like your reaction.

      It talks about the reason for the pause and it hi-lights the problem with the climate models...

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Personally, I don't think there's much doubt about China taking action; they are doing too much in that regard already, and the economic and public health toll that they pay yearly is high--that's known to be a matter provoking anti-government sentiment, which the Party takes very seriously. India is making strides in the area of clean energy, too, but there there is also the stated intention to build quite a lot of coal capacity, and--unlike China--no commitment to eventual absolute reductions.

      The GCF framework does include provision for adaptation as well as mitigation, if that makes you feel any better about it. For long-term benefit, both are needed.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      I agree with your link article in the assessment that China and India are the two unknowns. Since they contribute a large portion of the gases, it is hard to know if they will comply with their reduction targets.

      I'm pessimistic about the funds being used wisely even if GCF is involved.

      Personally, I would prefer the funds be used to mitigate some areas to adapt to climate change. Rather than focus on reducing emissions, I prefer to provide clean water, health and medicine and education opportunities to the third world population. In the long run, that will improve their livelihood.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "The vast funds will end up lining the pockets of dictators and corporations and do little to help."

      Well, that remains to be seen. But there is what looks to be an open, independent payment mechanism, at least for the part of this transfer that goes through the Green Climate Fund. The GCF is an independent body, existing to administer the disbursements of the money. So it doesn't go to the UN at all, nor to government general accounts. Disbursements are for specific projects. Of course, there may still be attempts to hijack the money, but they are not just going to shovel the funds into general revenues, so at the least, attempts to steal will require some sophistication and effort on the part of the thieves.

      "I am somewhat surprised that you seem to support the agreement and not take the view of Dr. Hansen."

      Climate scientists are often caricatured as suffering from 'group think,' but the reality is that they come in many political and religious shades. A considerable diversity of opinion on this agreement exists:

      I often find myself in agreement with Gavin Schmidt. He's a very smart fellow--no disrespect to Dr. Hansen intended, of course.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, thanks for the extensive explanation. You have more faith in the International organization than I do. A clear example is the UN. They have done very little to settle world disputes in many parts of the world. It is full of corruption and abuses.

      On the transfer of payments, I agree it is a bigger burden for advanced nations to assist developed nations but the problem is who is in charge. The vast funds will end up lining the pockets of dictators and corporations and do little to help.

      I would put more trust in the Red Cross and Catholic Charities than the UN or IPCC or Environmental extremist groups.

      I am somewhat surprised that you seem to support the agreement and not take the view of Dr. Hansen.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 2 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Thanks for summarizing, Jack. I'm not sure I'd give myself the edge, based on poll results--seems pretty much a wash, to me, but thanks once again.

      A couple of comments on the Paris Agreement. First, the transfers to developing nations aren't a bug, they are a feature. They've attracted a lot of negative comment on news sites where I've been following the story, but it's not surprising--this has been a feature of the talks all along. And I believe it is justified both morally and practically. Let me lay the logic out.

      The hard logic of the carbon budget we have remaining to us implies that developing countries cannot follow the same development path that developed countries did--if they did, we would end up with emissions vastly greater than we can tolerate. But developing nations are, understandably, not content to condemn themselves to second-, third-, or fourth-rate economic status forever. Therefore, in exchange for action to limit their emissions, they want assistance in the development process. (There's more to say, but that's the gist of it.)

      The developed nations have been in agreement with this principle for a long time, but the haggling over the details and amounts of assistance has been prolonged and intense. It took this long to be able to reach an agreement--basically, six years, since the original timetable called for an agreement in Copenhagen in 2009.

      Part of the difference seems to be that the dramatic drops in the price of renewable energy make sustainable development seem much more financially practical than it did in '09--for instance, this presentation, sourced to Bloomberg, shows solar PV costs dropping on the order of 50% in cost during that period:

      Be that as it may, it's crucial that development occur in a way that is not carbon-intensive. That means a lot of change, technologically, administratively and financially. The developing countries can't foot the entire bill, and morally ought not to have to do so.

      (A current case study would be Vietnam, which is planning to add something like 20 GW of coal plants, and minuscule amounts of of solar and wind. Their INDC calls for reducing emissions in 2030 by 8% *compared with projected emissions under 'business as usual' conditions. There is, however, a conditional clause saying, in essence, 'help us out here and we'll up that reduction to 25%.')

      I think the 'one year waiting period' for ratification is unfortunate, but not unique to this agreement. I'm pretty sure that's just par for the course with complex multilateral treaties.

      I think that the compliance issue is not well considered on the part of critics. If you assume that the problem is a real one, and not a 'scam' as hard-line deniers continue to insist, then what penalty would be effective to motivate if the natural consequences of failure do not? To put it another way, would you rather see your nation's environment, biodiversity and agricultural security permanently damaged, or endure a few years of economic sanctions?

      I like the 5-year reviews. That's where compliance is monitored, and enables the consequence of 'naming and shaming' (which can also have practical and financial consequences, though these are extrinsic to the agreement itself.) It's needed--for instance, in the case of my 'native land', Canada, essentially no practical action was taken on the Kyoto commitments even as the nation developed a massively-emitting industry, the Alberta oilsands. The predictable result was utter failure to achieve the Kyoto goals, culminating in formal abandonment of them. Under the Paris Agreement, that can't happen without explicit recognition that that is what is going on--no-one will be able to plead ignorance.

      It remains to be seen whether and how much all of this will help. But I think that it is much better to have this agreement than not. Complete inaction would be essentially a total failure of rationality at the species level, and would be extremely dangerous, in my view. With the agreement, we have a unanimous acknowledgement of the problem, of our responsibility for it, and a unanimous agreement on an action plan to begin to address it. It's not an adequate plan, but it at least puts our feet on the path of action, and not just continued dithering. The hope is that, as we go forward, we will see our way clear to more effective strategies.

    • Paramita Mallik profile image


      Very informative hub,thanks for sharing


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