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How Accurate Are Climate Change Predictions, Really?

Updated on August 23, 2018

Conversation and Challenge

"What would it take,” I asked fellow writer and climate skeptic jackclee, “to convince you that we have a climate problem?”

We’d been having an extended discussion in the comments of my article, Climate Change: How Much Time Do We Have? Jack responded:

Doc, the one evidence I need is for the various climate models to agree with reality. There projections has consistently over estimated the temperature rise. I just don't trust them considering how the models have such variables which are based on assumptions and the small tweak can cause large changes in the model outputs. In a few short years, we will see if these models are for real or they are contrived. Please revisit this in a few years. Take care.

Though marked by Jack’s customary civility, it was a frustrating response for me, as the article in which the conversation was occurring had gone to considerable lengths to examine how much time remains to us to take action on climate, concluding that in certain respects it is already too late. The least misleading answer to the question “How much time do we have?” was, I wrote:

None, really. We are late, and we just need to work not to get any later.

That was true, I had said:

  • Because it’s already too late for the victims of climate change to date.
  • Because climate change is insidious--as with tobacco smoking, the damage is often done before symptoms are evident.
  • Because global carbon emissions still seem to be increasing.
  • Because we are running out of time to avoid what is generally considered ‘dangerous’ warming.

So I tried to address Jack’s concern directly, citing data and discussions that show that, in fact, the observations are consistent with IPCC projections of temperature, as linked in the sidebar below.

Original Model-Observation Comparison Graphs

Source

Updated Comparison Graph, August 2016

Updated observation-model comparison, August 2016.  Graphs courtesy of RealClimate.
Updated observation-model comparison, August 2016. Graphs courtesy of RealClimate.

BEST update, to February 2017

Updated model-observation comparison, courtesy of Dr. Zeke Hausfeather of BEST.
Updated model-observation comparison, courtesy of Dr. Zeke Hausfeather of BEST. | Source

Although temperatures had been running lower than the central estimate of IPCC projections in recent years, they were, and are, still within the projected ‘envelope,’ as shown in the figure above and discussed at length in the linked articles.

Moreover, I added, there was and is a long track record in the scientific literature of successful predictions by climate models. It was collected and documented by Barton Paul Levenson (also linked in sidebar.)

I quoted Barton as follows below:

Global Climate Models have successfully predicted:

  • That the globe would warm, and about how fast, and about how much.
  • That the troposphere would warm and the stratosphere would cool.
  • That nighttime temperatures would increase more than daytime temperatures.
  • That winter temperatures would increase more than summer temperatures.
  • Polar amplification (greater temperature increase as you move toward the poles).
  • That the Arctic would warm faster than the Antarctic.
  • The magnitude (0.3 K) and duration (two years) of the cooling from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
  • They made a retrodiction for Last Glacial Maximum sea surface temperatures which was inconsistent with the paleo evidence, and better paleo evidence showed the models were right.
  • They predicted a trend significantly different and differently signed from UAH satellite temperatures, and then a bug was found in the satellite data.
  • The amount of water vapor feedback due to ENSO.
  • The response of southern ocean winds to the ozone hole.
  • The expansion of the Hadley cells.
  • The poleward movement of storm tracks.
  • The rising of the tropopause and the effective radiating altitude.
  • The clear sky super greenhouse effect from increased water vapor in the tropics.
  • The near constancy of relative humidity on global average.
  • That coastal upwelling of ocean water would increase.

Seventeen correct predictions? Looks like a pretty good track record to me.


Jack's response to that was indirect:

Doc, I came across this web site recently and would like you to comment -

(Jack's site is linked below.)

I will make a pledge to you.

You ask me what it would take to be convinced.

If the items in the forecast for 2015 and 2020 comes true as they projected, I will be convinced.

There were problems with that. The worst for me is that there is simply no point in convincing Jack (or anyone else, for that matter) sometime in 2020 or 2021. We need decisive action on climate, and we need it now.

But there are other issues, too. Some of the ‘predictions’ involve things that are really not all that relevant—global air conditioner sales, for instance. And what would the criteria for predictive success be? Surely it would be unrealistic to expect each and every point to come true precisely? For that matter, some of the projections are not couched very precisely. How could we decide whether or not they should be considered ‘successful’?

Noting all these problems—and, frankly, hoping to split up what looked like a daunting workload—I made a suggestion to Jack:

So, how about this: you and I make a project. We'll sort the predictions for this year (ie., predictions on the 2015 page of the site) that we want to assess--other than what I've done here, no looking ahead! (Full disclosure: I already looked at the case of Lagos, Nigeria, a bit.) Then we'll research them and compare what we find. We each write an article about it.

What do you say?

Jack accepted, and so the present article was born.

Sorting The "Predictions"

My first task was to read and sort the predictions on the 2015 ‘predictions’ page. (As of 2018 this site is unfortunately dead, so accessing the original is no longer possible.)

A tedious process of listing, winnowing, consolidation and tabulation eventually produced a more-or-less manageable list of 28 items. Fourteen of them were then eliminated ‘for cause.’ These items (with their original list positions and ‘cause for dismissal’) are listed in Table 1:

Table 1: Rejected 'Predictions'

Item Description
Original list #
Reason for rejection
Global air conditioner sales increase
2
Silly proxy. Sales can be affected by too many things besides climate. (But the projection did apparently come true, FWIW.)
Global emissions projections
4
Not actually a prediction, and a driver of climate, not a consequence of it.
Lake Mead dry by 2014, 10% chance
9
Too low a chance to count as a ‘prediction.’
Suna’a, Yemen, to run dry by 2017
11
Water situation serious, but civil war renders clear outcome relative to prediction impossible.
Various population projections
14
Not climate predictions, though growing populations do tend to use more energy.
Climate-driven migration in Nigeria
17
Civil conflict and weak governance make this impossible to assess.
Loss of climate measurement/observation capability
18
Not a climate prediction, though it makes climate study harder (and has occurred).
Rare earths shortages by 2015
21
Not a climate prediction.
Worldwide oil supply shortage of 10M barrels/day by 2015
22
Obviously a bad miss, but still not a climate prediction.
No ‘demand challenge’ to global energy supply in 2015
23
One more time—not a climate prediction.
Global energy prices to be unstable during 2000-2015.
24
Certainly, but no, not a climate prediction.
Solar energy predicted to be the least expensive source of electricity by 2016.
25
Not a climate prediction, but will comment briefly as ‘appendix.’
China to mine 25% more coal; consumption to reach 2.3 billion tons by 2015.
26
Not a climate prediction, but will comment briefly as ‘appendix.’
US agriculture suffers due to lack of pollinators, leading China to supply up to 40% of US vegetables
28
CCD—the epidemic of bee deaths—is still quite a problem, but hasn’t undermined US ag quite that badly. And the Chinese economy has grown in ways not well anticipated in 2006.
Table 1: Rejected 'Predictions'

The Rubric

That leaves 14 predictions to assess. But how to assess them? Not all were precisely quantified, and even when they were, available data aren’t necessarily sorted in such a way that direct comparisons can be made.

I fell back on classroom teaching experience to create a rubric to enable ‘grading’ of each prediction. Here’s what it looked like:

Predictions rubric

Quantitative:

  • 4—Prediction within 10%
  • 3—Prediction within 25%
  • 2—Prediction within 50%
  • 1—Correct sign
  • 0—Wrong sign

Qualitative:

  • 4—Outcome closely resembles prediction
  • 3—Outcome reasonably resembles prediction
  • 2—Outcome somewhat resembles prediction
  • 1—Outcome points toward possibility of prediction being realized, given enough time
  • 0—No resemblance between outcome and prediction

(1 additional point may be awarded in cases where outcome exceeds prediction--that is, where climate change is worse than predicted.)

With that in hand, I attacked the list of remaining predictions. Here are the results, item by item, and with a discussion of what I see as important points relating to each.

Assessing The Predictions

In all cases, the supporting web links for the prediction and outcomes will be found following the prediction and preceding the section describing the observed outcome.

Prediction #1:

Stanford computer models project a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal temperatures during the period 2010 - 2019. "The Stanford team also forecast a dramatic spike in extreme seasonal temperatures during the current decade [2010 – 2019]. Temperatures equaling the hottest season on record from 1951 to 1999 could occur four times between now [2010] and 2019 over much of the U.S., according to the researchers. The 2020s and 2030s could be even hotter, particularly in the American West."

The reality:

The US experienced significant heat waves in 2011 (“On a national basis, the heat wave was the hottest in 75 years”), 2012 (March brought “a remarkably prolonged period of record setting temperatures”), 2013 (regionally, in the Southwest “46 monthly record high temperatures were reached or broken, and 21 records for the highest overnight temperatures were reached or broken”), and 2015 (“triple-digit heat indices across a large swath of the U.S...”)

Interestingly, consideration of one obscure but telling statistic—the tally of ‘cooling degree days’—the top three hottest US summers occurred during the prediction period so far. In order, they are: 2011, 2010 and 2012.

Given that the prediction period ran from 2010 through 2019, and is thus only about half over, it is tempting to rate this prediction as a ‘5’—that is, the number of observed events matches the predicted number of events, for a ‘4’ on the quantitative rubric, plus a bonus point since there are still several years to run in the prediction period.

However, considering that there are serious definitional issues about just how geographically widespread and how long-lasting a heatwave needs to be to count, and considering my own biases, I reduced that to a ‘3’—“outcome reasonably resembles prediction.”

March 2012 heatwave.  Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory & Wikimedia Commons.
March 2012 heatwave. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory & Wikimedia Commons. | Source

Prediction #2:

Britain’s Met Office projects 2014 temperature likely to be 0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than 2004. “Here is the climate forecast for the next decade [2007-2014]; although global warming will be held in check for a few years, it will come roaring back to send the mercury rising before 2014."

The reality:

Once again, definitional issues cloud the picture a bit. Using the data set associated with Britain’s Meteorology Office, HADCRUT 4, one finds that 2014 temperatures were not 0.3 C warmer than 2004, but rather 0.117 C. (NASA’s data would have made that figure 0.20 C.) Clearly, less warming than forecast. On the other hand, the shape of the temperature curve does match the description given: “...global warming will be held in check for a few years [but will] come roaring back.”

Overall, I rate that as a ‘2’—“outcome somewhat matches prediction.”

It’s worth noting, though, that this is more a test of ‘the Met’s’ experimental long-term forecasting ability than of climate modeling; though the 10-year is very long for weather, it is very short for climate. According to Santer et al., the shortest period for which one might expect to see a statistically-significant warming trend is 17 years.

Prediction #3:

By 2015 10 million acres of national forests may be at high risk of uncontrollable, catastrophic wildfires... as much as $12 billion, or about $725 million a year, may be needed to treat the 39 million acres at high risk of uncontrollable wildfire by the end of fiscal year 2015.

The reality:

By September 25 of this year, over 9 million acres had in fact burned. By the end of October (the conventional end of the ‘fire season’, the number had reached 9,407,571 acres. Clearly that is well within the 10% envelope for a ‘4’. There aren’t yet comprehensive numbers on the cost of those fires, but on August 5, a Forest Service Report informed us that “For the first time in its 110-year history, the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is spending more than 50 percent of its budget to suppress the nation's wildfires.” That was not a result of one exceptional year, but rather a consistent trend in fire-fighting costs. The Service called for a change in the funding mechanism to reflect this reality, as ever-increasing proportions of the Service budget were being absorbed by fire-fighting costs, to the detriment of other functions. (The full report link is in the sidebar.)

Rating: 4 “Prediction within 10%.”

Washington State wildfires, 2015.  Image courtesy NASA & Wikimedia Commons.
Washington State wildfires, 2015. Image courtesy NASA & Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #4:

Water shortages projected for 36 states by 2013. Water managers in most states expect shortages of freshwater in the next decade [2003 – 2013]

The reality:

Unclear. Although the General Accounting Office publishes periodic surveys of state water manager expectations, they do not examine the actual outcomes. And among the responses of the water managers are survey responses that raise real questions about response quality. Apart from answers that were unresponsive—in 2014, the most recent such survey, Indiana and Ohio were both listed as ‘no response or uncertain’—there were instances that were simply not credible.

A notable example is provided by the states of Alabama and Georgia, which both report no concerns about freshwater availability despite the fact that they are, along with Florida, embroiled in a legal and political wrangle over the apportionment of freshwater flowing out of Lake Lanier, the sole source of most of Atlanta’s drinking water. The ‘tri-state water war’ has been before courts since 1990, and was the subject of a closed-doors meeting of all three governors as recently as June 2015.

In my view, if that is not cause for ‘concern’, then something is wrong with the definition of ‘concern’ in use. (To be completely clear, though, water problems in the Southeast are not a climate change issue—regional modeling does not project drought problems to be likely, as overall the region seems likely to become slightly wetter—but a policy and resource versus population issue.)

However, despite such concerns, the 2014 report has the number of ‘concerned’ water managers up by 4 to 40. And in the general media there were very serious water shortages reported for 7 states in 2015. (Of course, the current serious water shortages in California are too well-known to require a citation.)

Considering the information available, the outcome seemed ‘somewhat’ to resemble the prediction, for a rating of ‘2’.


Prediction #5:

Lake Mead’s water levels could drop below its water intake pipes by 2013. "Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy . . . said the authority is in a race against time to complete a new [third intake] system [or third straw] to draw water from deep in Lake Mead [Hoover Dam]."


The reality:

The Water Authority won their race, but not by much. The ‘third straw’ project is now complete, at an announced cost of $817 million, with another $650 million for a new pumping station. The level didn’t quite reach crisis levels: problems start at a level of 1062 feet, and the system as it was would have been shut down at 1050. This summer saw levels of a little over 1075. That margin of less than 14 feet may not seem small to some, but for context, consider the ‘old normal’: in 1983 Lake Mead stood at 1225 feet.

The outcome reasonably resembles the prediction, for a rating of ‘3’.

Hoover Dam, 2012, with the 'bathtub ring' showing low water level.  Image by Tony Webster, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Hoover Dam, 2012, with the 'bathtub ring' showing low water level. Image by Tony Webster, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #6 (related to #5):

Hydroelectric turbines at Hoover Dam could cease generating electricity by 2013. “After 75 years of steadily cranking out electricity for California, Arizona and Nevada, the mighty turbines of the Hoover Dam could cease turning as soon as 2013, if water levels in the lake that feeds the dam don't start to recover, say water and dam experts. Under pressure from the region's growing population and years of drought, Lake Mead was down to 1,087 feet, a 54-year low, as of Wednesday [September 8, 2010]. If the lake loses 10 feet a year, as it has recently, it will soon reach 1,050 feet, the level below which the turbines can no longer run.”

The reality:

Fortunately, the loss rate since 2010 did not continue uniformly, and although there is a small net loss, the turbines still turn—albeit with a 25% power loss. It’s worth noting, though, that hydropower in California is seriously affected by the ongoing drought and water shortage, with reductions of around 60%. As a linked story puts it:

California’s drought is just four years old. But the drop in the state’s hydroelectric production has been precipitous. Hydroelectric sources are projected to contribute just 7 percent of the state’s power this year, down from 23 percent in 2011.

Overall, the outcome was judged as pointing toward a later possibility of realizing prediction, for a rating of ‘1’.


Prediction #7:

Nearly half the world’s population will live in water-stressed countries by 2015. “By 2015 nearly half the world's population — more than 3 billion people — will live in countries that are "water-stressed" — have less than 1,700 cubic meters of water per capita per year, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and northern China."

Note the wording: this does not say that half the world’s total population will be water-stressed; it says that countries accounting for half the world’s population will experience significant water stress.

The reality:

This appears to be a solid ‘hit.’ Though definitive numbers for 2015 are not available, India and China are indeed both experiencing water stress at very significant levels, as has been the case for some time, and together account for close to 50% of global population. The story in the UK's Guardian newspaper, linked, tells the wider tale.

Rating: ‘4’.

Ladakh, India, 2014.  Image by Christopher Michel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Ladakh, India, 2014. Image by Christopher Michel, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #8 (related to #7):

By 2015 a number of developing countries will be unable to maintain their levels of irrigated agriculture. “In the developing world, 80 percent of water usage goes into agriculture, a proportion that is not sustainable; and in 2015 a number of developing countries will be unable to maintain their levels of irrigated agriculture...”

(This comes from the same 2000 report as item #7, and is not linked again.)

The reality:

The situation for irrigation is bad and getting worse in both India and China. Additionally, Africa has serious problems, though these arise from a whole network of reasons, from climate change to population growth to poor policy and migration.

Rating: ‘4’.

Prediction #9:

Mt. Kilimanjaro’s remaining ice fields likely to disappear between 2015 and 2020... if current climatological conditions persist, the remaining ice fields are likely to disappear between 2015 and 2020.

The reality:

Thankfully, ‘the snows of Kilimanjaro’ currently seem unlikely to disappear any time soon. This prediction would receive a clear zero, except for one thing: attention to the issue, prompted by the possibility that the prediction could come true, may have been crucial.

Initially, the observed loss of ice mass on Kilimanjaro’s summit was ascribed more or less directly to global warming. But further analysis showed that the loss was probably due to less precipitation falling at the summit, and that in turn this was not so much due to global changes, but to more local ones: deforestation on Kilimanjaro’s massive slopes had altered the local water cycle. Replanting those slopes seems to have helped increase precipitation, slowing (though not halting) ice loss:

...the massive tree planting around the mount Kilimanjaro could have been mitigated the ripple effects of the global warming.

Alarmed by the...Thompson study, way back in 2006, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete imposed a total ban on tree harvesting in Kilimanjaro region in a move aimed to halt catastrophic environmental degradation, including melting of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro.

As a result of the measures, the forest cover on the mount Kilimanjaro is slowly, but surely becoming thick.

Experts say the forests on Kilimanjaro's lower slopes absorb moisture from the cloud hovering near the peak, and in turn nourish flora and fauna below...

Given that ice loss has not been completely arrested and that warming continues, the outcome points toward a possibility that the prediction may become true in time, which rates a ‘1’.


Aerial view of Kilimanjaro, showing ice fields on Kibo peak.  Image by clem23, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Aerial view of Kilimanjaro, showing ice fields on Kibo peak. Image by clem23, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #10:

Computer model forecasts taking into account sea ice thinning and albedo effects project an ice-free summer Arctic Ocean between 2010-2015. “The Arctic Ocean could be free of ice in the summer as soon as 2010 or 2015 -- something that hasn't happened for more than a million years, according to a leading polar researcher. Louis Fortier, scientific director of ArcticNet, a Canadian research network, said the sea ice is melting faster than predicted by models created by international teams of scientists, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They had forecast the Arctic Ocean could be free of summer ice as early as 2050.”

But this 'prediction' needs more context. Note what is said in this story—(so-called) ‘IPCC models’ at that point (November, 2007) had been estimating that the Arctic sea ice would likely be gone at the annual minimum in September ‘as early as 2050’, but a new regional model by Dr. Maslowski, of the US Naval Observatory, had projected that a much earlier outcome was possible.

Note, too, that the 2007 minimum thoroughly shocked experts; they had been concerned by the record low of 5.6 million square kilometers (mean value for the month of September). Prior to 1990, only once had that value dropped below 7 million square kilometers, and never had it broken through 6 million square kilometers. But in 2007, the disturbing record clocked in 2005 was obliterated by a stunning 4.3 million square kilometer mean September extent--a full 1.3 million kilometers less than the 2005 record (roughly 23% lower). Dr. Fortier’s comment that ‘...it's probably going to happen even faster than that” should be read in the context of the shock the 2007 minimum provided.

Graph courtesy Dr. Larry Hamilton.
Graph courtesy Dr. Larry Hamilton.

It should also be noted that the newspaper story is almost certainly wrong in one respect. Though the identity of the ‘computer models’ referred to is never given in the story, it is undoubtedly the regional modeling of Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski, of the US Naval Observatory, as reported in the BBC story linked above.

Dr. Maslowski is directly quoted in another story from the same time:

Given the estimated trend and the volume estimate for October–November of 2007 at less than 9,000 km3, one can project that at this rate it would take only 9 more years or until 2016 ± 3 years to reach a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer. Regardless of high uncertainty associated with such an estimate, it does provide a lower bound of the time range for projections of seasonal sea ice cover.

So the projection, according to the scientist who made it, should be regarded as a “lower bound”, and the time frame is not 2010-2015, as the story had it, but 2013-2019. All that clarified, we're ready to look at the outcome.


The reality:

Dr. Fortier was wrong.

But consider the continuing decline of the sea ice—after 2007, the September mean has never again risen above 2005 levels. And in 2012 the September mean extent crashed to just 3.6 million square kilometers. (September of this month saw the fourth-lowest value in the record, with a mean of just 4.6 million.)

In that context, it is not so clear that Dr. Maslowski was wrong. The window for his ‘lower bound’ estimate runs until 2019.

The IPCC was wrong, too, or so it appears at this juncture. In 2007, they thought that we had until 2050 or so before the first ice-free Arctic summer. The sea ice crash we have seen since then makes that scenario highly unlikely; currently observers such as the National Snow and Ice Center’s Dr. Walt Serreze now think the likely year is sometime around 2030.

Dr. Fortier gets a ‘1’, even though the mainstream science would do better.

Eko-Atlantic City under construction, Lagos, Nigeria, 2011.  Image by omar 180, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Eko-Atlantic City under construction, Lagos, Nigeria, 2011. Image by omar 180, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #11:

Lagos, Nigeria projected to be at risk from sea level rise. "Nigeria will suffer from climate-induced drought, desertification, and sea level rise... Lagos, the capital, is one of the West African coastal megacities [along with Alexandria, Egypt] that the IPCC identifies as at risk from sea level rise by 2015.”

The reality:

Again, solid, comparable information is hard to come by, and the prediction itself is not very specific. But it is clear that Lagos is facing increased flooding, forming a serious threat to its infrastructure:

An increasingly important threat to the high population and large concentration of residential, industrial, commercial and urban infrastructure systems in Africa’s coastal megacity of Lagos is flooding. Over the past decade, flooding in Lagos has increased significantly, drawing increasing attention to the need for flood risk management.

It’s not as clear what proportion of this risk proceeds from sea level rise, as identified in the prediction, and what proportion from extreme precipitation and increasing storm surge (both expected consequences of climate change, in general) or from other causes, such as land subsidence (which can be either natural or man-made, and which results in localized ‘relative sea level rise.’)

However, it is noteworthy that the there’s a mega-project, underway since 2003 and now said to be nearing completion, intended to protect the city from sea-level rise—an 8-kilometer barrier dubbed the ‘Great Wall of Lagos.’ Not only that, an artificial island will be the site of a glittering new city center, financed entirely by private investment, and intended to become the “Hong Kong of Africa”. As usual, that is linked above, together with another, less enthusiastic take on the project. Not yet reality, but perhaps worth noting in passing, is that serious, widespread issues with both desertification and sea level rise continue to be projected for Africa.

Overall rating: ‘3’.

Adelie penguins.  Image by Jerzy Strzelecki, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Adelie penguins. Image by Jerzy Strzelecki, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prediction #12:

Projected extinction of Adélie penguin population around Palmer Station, Antarctica. “A small residual population [Adélie penguins] on Humble Island [near Palmer Station, Antarctica] may survive the climatic shift down the peninsula, [seabird ecologist Bill Fraser of the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (PAL LTER) project] guessed, but the overall prognosis is that in the next decade the Adélies around Palmer will be gone. ‘Their numbers are in catastrophic decline,’ Fraser said.”

(Unfortunately, the original link appears to be dead, and so is not linked.)

The reality:

The Adelies are not gone yet, though the decline in population continues. Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, which tolerate warmer temperature better, have been moving in in large numbers.

...it’s been a shock to see how drastically Adelie penguins have declined while gentoos have increased in the last 20 years.

I have linked some of the baseline research, from 1998, and including as one author Dr. Bill Fraser, who was mentioned in the prediction.

It would be great to see some hard numbers on the Adelie population of Palmer Station, to get a better feeling for how the trends are playing out. But it appears that the prediction is somewhere in the midrange: 2018 is probably too aggressive, but all sources discussing the population agree that the species is in trouble in the Palmer Station area.

Rating: ‘3’, “Outcome reasonably resembles prediction.”


Update on Adelie penguins, 7/2/16

A recent article on the prognosis for Adelie penguins, not just around Palmer Station, but around the whole Antarctic continent, stated that, as of 2013, the Palmer Station population had been reduced by about 80%.

The outlook for the species generally is not great:

by 2099, our projections suggest 78% to 51% (mean 58%) of colonies could experience declines, containing 64% to 39% (mean 46%) of the current abundance.

Luckily, while Adelies look to be vulnerable to decline, there are areas projected to serve as 'refugia', so complete extinction doesn't appear to be a risk--over the course of this century, at least. Of course, under any 'business as usual' scenario, warming will not stop magically when the 22nd century arrives.

Prediction #13:

Antarctic ozone hole will continue to expand through 2015. “Some existing agreements, even when implemented, will not be able by 2015 to reverse the targeted environmental damage they were designed to address. The Montreal Protocol is on track to restore the stratospheric ozone layer over the next 50 years. Nevertheless, the seasonal Antarctic ozone hole will expand for the next two decades [2000-2020] — increasing the risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia, Argentina, and Chile—because of the long lag time between emission reductions and atmospheric effects.”

(The source for this prediction is the same as #11, above, and is not re-linked.)

This is not really a climate prediction, either, but I consider it nevertheless because it bears in several ways on the current topic, aside from the fact that it was included on the website. Essentially, it’s an important environmental issue involving science, global policy, and numerical modeling of atmospheric processes, and one in which we can observe the outcome of an international treaty intended to mitigate human-induced damage to the atmosphere.

The reality:

Essentially, ozone loss has gradually stabilized since implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The lowest 30-day extent occurred in 2006, but this year saw the single largest one-day ozone hole on the record. Despite that, some thickening of the ozone layer has been observed, and scientific observers believe that recovery of the layer may have begun.

Rating: ‘4’.

Maps courtesy of DLR (German Aerospace Center.)
Maps courtesy of DLR (German Aerospace Center.) | Source

14. The prediction:

By 2015 the cost in lost income of degraded coral reefs is projected to reach several hundred million dollars annually.

The reality:

Again, one might wish for better numbers. But the worldwide decline of coral reefs is so serious as to merit an entire chapter in Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-winning book, The Sixth Extinction, and NOAA officials warned last month of a third-ever global-scale coral-bleaching event:

This bleaching event, which began in the north Pacific in summer 2014 and expanded to the south Pacific and Indian oceans in 2015, is hitting U.S. coral reefs disproportionately hard. NOAA estimates that by the end of 2015, almost 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs will have been exposed to ocean conditions that can cause corals to bleach.

The biggest risk right now is to the Hawaiian Islands, where bleaching is intensifying and is expected to continue for at least another month. Areas at risk in the Caribbean in coming weeks include Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and from the U.S. Virgin Islands south into the Leeward and Windward islands.

The next concern is the further impact of the strong El Niño, which climate models indicates will cause bleaching in the Indian and southeastern Pacific Oceans after the new year. This may cause bleaching to spread globally again in 2016.

Earlier, reported estimates put the annual value at risk at about $30 billion, and stated that the Caribbean might have lost 80% of its coral. This estimate dates from 2002, however, and so does not ‘confirm’ the scale of contemporary losses.

Considering the available information, while the value at risk remains uncertain, the estimates of total value imply that the prediction’s losses would amount to a few per cent of the total value. Given that loss rates are very high, it would seem to follow that the outcomes we see are ‘closely resembling the prediction,’ which would merit a rating of ‘4’.

Update, 3/19/17

The "third coral bleaching event" mentioned did indeed continue in 2016, and indeed intensified as the world saw a record-warm year on the strength of the ongoing anthropogenic warming trend in combination with an El Nino nearly as strong as that of 1997-98. Unfortunately, it appears to be continuing in 2017, as global temperatures have remained quite warm even after the El Nino ended.

The world has lost roughly half its coral reefs in the last 30 years. Scientists are now scrambling to ensure that at least a fraction of these unique ecosystems survives beyond the next three decades. The health of the planet depends on it: Coral reefs support a quarter of all marine species, as well as half a billion people around the world.

"This isn't something that's going to happen 100 years from now. We're losing them right now," said marine biologist Julia Baum of Canada's University of Victoria. "We're losing them really quickly, much more quickly than I think any of us ever could have imagined."

Even if the world could halt global warming now, scientists still expect that more than 90 per cent of corals will die by 2050. Without drastic intervention, we risk losing them all.


Israeli corals near Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba.  Image by Ludwig14, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Israeli corals near Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Image by Ludwig14, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Table of prediction ratings

Item Description
Points
Comments
US heat weaves, 2010-2019
3
Rating reduced due to definitional questions.
UK 2014 temperature
2
Underpredicted; technically weather, not climate
US Wildfire
4
 
US water shortages
2
Poor information on outcomes
Lake Mead water levels
3
$1.4 billion spent on remediation
Hoover Dam hydro generation
1
 
Global water stress
4
Definitive numbers not yet available
Agricultural irrigation at risk
4
 
Snows of Kilimanjaro
1
Human response to trend altered outcome
Louis Fortier over predicts ice-free Arctic
1
Mainstream climate science would do much better than Fortier
Lagos at risk for sea level rise
3
Large expenditures on mitigation of risk
Palmer Station Adelies extinct
3
 
Antarctic ozone hole extent
4
Model predictions appear to be accurate
Coral bleaching costs
4
Economic costs hard to document, but extent of coral loss is clear
Total points
39/56
 

How do you interpret those numbers? In school, that would likely be a D, or perhaps a C-; a pass, to be sure, but nothing to brag about.

But those numbers aren't grades. Consider that:

  • The most frequent rating was 4, the highest possible;
  • The least frequent rating was 0, which was never awarded;
  • The highest rating was given the same number of times (5) as the two lowest ratings combined.

Jack picked his predictions on this basis:

Doc, you missed my point about the far reaching projections of this site. The point is they are meant to scare and not based on anything real.

I think this exercise shows that however they may have been meant, they are indeed based on reality.

Rating
Times awarded
Points resulting
4
5
20
3
4
12
2
2
4
1
3
3
0
0
0
Totals
14
39

Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Temperature

I'm going to take the privilege of the tardy--for Jack published his Hub roughly six weeks before I wrote these words--and comment briefly on the three predictions that he addresses there.

1. Temperature increase. In part, I've already addressed this issue above when I cited the various model-observation comparisons that have been made. But let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Jack quotes Jim Hansen (not Michael Mann and Jim Hansen; in 1988, the former was still a humble physics undergrad at Yale):

If the current pace of the buildup of these gases continues, the effect is likely to be a warming of 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit from the year 2025 to 2050, according to these projections. This rise in temperature is not expected to be uniform around the globe but to be greater in the higher latitudes, reaching as much as 20 degrees, and lower at the Equator.

How does this stack up against reality? Jack doesn't really examine that, citing only a Daily Caller report on a single study which concluded that observed warming so far did not exceed natural variability over the last 8,000 years. But that says nothing about the prediction that was made.

But it's not a difficult question to answer: since 1988, the GISTEMP temperature record shows a total warming of 0.45 degrees Celsius, according to a standard 'least-squares' regression, or about 0.16 degrees C per decade. If we presume that warming continues at that same rate until 2025, then we would see 0.56 C; for 2050, that would be 0.96 C. What's that in Fahrenheit? Well, rounding up to 1 C for simplicity, that would be 1.67 degrees F, or a little more than half the 1988 estimate.

But before we conclude that climate science and global warming are nothing but bunk, perhaps we should look at what more recent science has to say? After all, 1988 was a long time ago in terms of scientific progress. And what more recent work has to say, too, is not difficult to answer, for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put forward estimates of future warming in each of its Assessment Reports to date.

The first came in 1990, and in line with the 1988 quote estimated a warming rate of 0.25 C per decade. Multiplying by the six decades to 2050, one reaches 1.5 C total warming, or 2.7 F, reasonably close to Hansen's lower bound. But by the Second AR, in 1995, new work had reduced that number to just 0.14 degrees per decade. Since that is 2.7 decades, we'd expect to see roughly 0.38 C--quite close to the 0.45 we've actually observed. By the time of TAR (2000) the warming rate had crept up to 0.16 C, and by AR4 in 2007, the best estimate had become 0.18 C. Clearly, work that is no more than 2 decades old is pretty close to reality in estimating global mean surface temperature.

GISTEMP record with trend.  Graph by author, using Woodfortrees.org online tool.
GISTEMP record with trend. Graph by author, using Woodfortrees.org online tool.

2015 Update

2015, powered by a strong El Nino, continues to set temperature records. With October data now in for several of the major datasets, the year is almost certain to set new records for warmest on record. As the Washington Post reports:

Earlier this month, Britain’s weather service, the Met Office, and NASA both stated that the Earth’s average temperature is likely to rise 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels for the first time by the end of this year. This milestone is significant since it marks the halfway point to two degrees Celsius, the internationally accepted limit for avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

More specifically, GISTEMP reported an October anomaly value of 1.04 C, the warmest monthly anomaly in their record, and the first to exceed a degree Celsius. (HADCRUT4 has not yet released their October value; September clocked in at 1.03 C, though their baseline is slightly different from GISTEMP and thus the numbers are not directly comparable.) The Japanese Met Office also reported a record-warm October. Even the UAH satellite record reported their warmest October ever, as reported by the 'skeptic' website Watt's Up With That.

Though there was never any statistical evidence that a true 'pause' in warming was taking place, the slowdown in warming rate seen through much of the 00s has definitively come to an end.

2018 Update

With the hindsight afforded by several more years' passing, we know know that 2015 was again supplanted as record-warm by 2016. Powered by a significant El Nino event in addition to the ongoing observed warming trend, that year was far and away the warmest in the instrumental record.


The surprise has been the failure to see much cooling as that El Nino waned. (The last comparable event in 1998 saw a marked cooling before temperatures once again rebounded.) In NASA's GISTEMP record, for example, 2017 actually surpassed 2015 to become the second-warmest year ever. And the current year, which began with a 'cooling' La Nina event, is on track to be 3rd warmest ever, and will be the warmest La Nina year ever.

Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Sea Level

2. Sea Level Rise (SLR). Jack quotes a 1988 report from the World Conservation Union, which states:

With the B-a-U [Business as Usual] Scenario, the best-estimate is that MSL [Mean Sea Level] will be 18 cm higher than today by the year 2030, with an uncertainty of 8-29 cm.

Jack doesn't examine that prediction, instead offering a graph showing SLR to date, together with the IPCC prediction with 3 unattributed 'expert' opinions. The IPCC prediction is for 12 inches of SLR, while the extrapolated present-day trend gives an estimate of 10.5 inches at that time. That's actually a pretty good fit; there is some suggestion of an acceleration in the record, though it is not statistically conclusive, and it wouldn't take much acceleration of SLR to reach the IPCC estimate. The other opinions are much higher--suspiciously located at 2 feet, 3 feet, and 4 feet, respectively.

One could look at the record to try and decipher who predicted what, and what the assumptions and margins of error associated with those projections might have been. However, I promised to be brief, so I'll simply compare the prediction quoted above with the record since 1988. And, as is turns out, SLR during the satellite period (1993-present) amounts to about 8 centimeters. Allowing for the 5 years previous to 1993 and the 15 years until 2030, that trend, extrapolated, would give approximately 16 cm of SLR--in good agreement with the 18 cm in the Conservation Union estimate.

U. of Colorado Sea Level Rise satellite data time series.
U. of Colorado Sea Level Rise satellite data time series. | Source

2018 Sea level update

In editing this Hub, I somewhat randomly noticed a curious thing in Jack's source, the 1990 World Conservation Union report. Buried in the text was this interesting passage:

With the B-a-U [Business as Usual] scenario, the best-estimate is that MSL [mean sea level] will be 18cm higher than today by the year 2030, with a range of uncertainty of 8-29 cm. The range reflects uncertainties in both the warming and the contributing factors to sea level. Most of the future rise comes from oceanic thermal expansion and glacier melt; the Antarctic ice sheet is likely to gain in mass and thus slightly decrease MSL, due to increased precipitation and hence greater accumulation rates.

--Environmental Implications of Global Change, 18th session of the General Assembly of The World Conservation Union, Perth, Australia, 1990.

18 centimeters above the 1990 level by 2030? How does that prediction seem to be coming along?

So I found an updated version of the combined satellite sea level record, shown below.

Combined satellite MSL record, per NASA (JPL)
Combined satellite MSL record, per NASA (JPL) | Source

Extrapolating backward from the beginning of the record in 1993 (using the observed trend rate of 3.22 mm/century), we can conclude that the rise to date has been roughly 100 millimeters (or 10 centimeters). Extrapolating forward 13 years, we find:

13 years x 3.22mm/year = ~42 mm (future rise)

+ 100 mm (observed rise)

= 14.2 cm (total estimated rise)

14.2 cm is quite close to the best estimate, and certainly well within the prediction interval of 8-29 cm. Add to that the facts that 1) the greenhouse forcings from 1990 to present turned out to be somewhat less than 'B-a-U', and 2) SLR is likely to accelerate as the increasing mean surface temperature is likely to increase glacier mass loss rates, the forecast accuracy is probably even better than the raw extrapolated number would indicate.

Jack's "Big Three" Predictions--Hurricanes

3. Hurricane frequency & intensity. Jack doesn't cite a specific source here, simply asserting that:

Another projection is that global warming will lead to drastic increases in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes.

Against this, he poses a reality in which:

1) "In the last 10 years, there has not been a category 3 or greater hurricane making land fall in the US", and

2) 'Category 5 storms happened in 1938 and 1960, before any global warming awareness.' (The latter is paraphrased, not an exact quote. Compare Jack's Hub.)

As it turns out, he is half right--cyclone intensity is expected to increase. The IPCC says almost nothing substantive about hurricanes until AR4 in 2007. Prior to that, the Third Assessment Report just says that one study:

…suggested that only small changes in the tropical cyclone frequencies would occur...

It goes on to offer estimates of a 10% increase for the Northern Hemisphere, and a 5% decrease in the Southern Hemisphere.

AR4, however, had much more to say, due to the improvement of numerical modeling capabilities:

...for a future warmer climate, coarse-resolution models show few consistent changes in tropical cyclones, with results dependent on the model, although those models do show a consistent increase in precipitation intensity in future storms. Higher-resolution models that more credibly simulate tropical cyclones project some consistent increase in peak wind intensities, but a more consistent projected increase in mean and peak precipitation intensities in future tropical cyclones. There is also a less certain possibility of a decrease in the number of relatively weak tropical cyclones, increased numbers of intense tropical cyclones and a global decrease in total numbers of tropical cyclones. [Emphasis mine.]

Yes, you read that right. Insofar as Jack's reality tests mean anything at all, they agree with the AR4 projection of fewer cyclones overall. Cyclone intensity will increase, according to climate projections, but frequency will probably decrease.

It's pretty doubtful that Jack's tests do mean much, though; why compare the category of 'global hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones' to 'Category 3 storms making US landfall?' Most cyclones do not make landfall, even in the Atlantic basin, where storm tracks make landfall more likely than in the Pacific or Indian basins. Obviously, there will be far, far fewer Cat 3 storms making US landfalls, rendering statistical comparisons meaningless. And the projections are mostly referenced to 2100, meaning that changes up to 2015 are unlikely to be noticeable, anyway. We wouldn't expect to see much, if any, difference just yet.

...And in conclusion--

So, let's sum up.

1) Regarding Jack's 'big three':

  • Observed temperature rises are in good agreement with models, and there is no evidence for the supposed 'pause' because its timespan is such that one would not expect to see statistically significant warming anyway.
  • Sea level rise is quite in line with the prediction Jack offered.
  • Jack was mistaken about what the IPCC actually predicted about tropical cyclones, leading his only evidence 'disproving' the IPCC claim actually to support it!

2) Regarding the more granular predictions Jack linked from the climate predictions site, they proved a more mixed bag. But as my detailed examination above shows, they are much more right than wrong overall.

3) Regarding Barton Paul Levenson's successful model predictions, the seventeen instances he cites and documents on his site stand unchallenged.

But the biggest picture 'prediction' remains that implicitly made by Roger Revelle and Hans Suess in 1957:

Where do you stand on the evidence about successful climate change predictions?

See results

Appendix

Solar power: In 2008 Rhone Resch, of the Solar Energy Industries Association, predicted that "... by 2016, we expect solar energy to be the least expensive source of electricity for consumers." It hasn't, quite, but has come much closer than most people realize. Solar energy is now about 70% cheaper than at the time of the prediction, and is roughly 1% of what it was in the 1970s. Around the world, solar energy projects are being bid in at prices comparable to fossil fuel generation such as coal and gas. For instance, in the summer of 2015, Nevada Power sought approval for two new solar parks. If approved,

The utility will be paying USD 46.00 per MWh for the output of SunPower’s Boulder Solar park and just USD 38.70/MWh for power from First Solar Inc’s Playa Solar 2 farm.

That's compared with average US residential electricity prices of 121/MWh.

Wind is already cheaper on average than new coal generation capacity, and like solar does not impose external costs associated with air pollution. These costs come in the form of increased incidences of respiratory diseases, including asthma, bringing economic losses for medical treatment and lost productivity.

Concerns expressed by Jack and others about 'expensive' renewable energy are quite simply outdated.

Chinese coal: In 1995, China's coal consumption was projected to reach 2.3 billion tons by 2015. By 2010, that projection had increased to 3.6 billion tons. The reality?

The 1995 projection missed badly, and even the 2010 projection was on the low side: actual consumption in 2014 was given as 3.87 billion tons--and at that, the number was down 2.5% from 2013. And more recently, it has been shown that those numbers were too low; as reported by the New York Times, the actual number for 2013 was 4.2 billion tons.

The good news, however, is that China has committed to ending the growth of carbon emissions, and has already taken dramatic steps to do so, from building the world's foremost solar manufacturing capability, and the world's largest renewable energy capacity, to creating a national carbon market to appropriately price the true costs of carbon emissions.

One is reminded of the meme--correct or not, I do not know--that the Chinese character for 'crisis' combines the characters 'danger' and 'opportunity.'

Comments

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    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 hours ago from Camden, South Carolina

      There just aren't any large areas where we are seeing ice growth--well, Antarctic sea ice covers a large area and has been expanding, but it's floating and doesn't contribute to SLR, and moreover is pretty much seasonal anyway, still largely melting out every summer. So it's an exception to my statement that doesn't affect the larger case that we've been discussing.

      So, yes, the overall effect is important, and the overall effect is very definitely negative. Again, I can corroborate that statement if you wish.

      "a huge rise in sea level...which we are not seeing."

      Well, we do in fact see a measurable increase. The current rate is greater than 3 mm per year, of which about half is reckoned to be due to ice melt, and half to thermostearic expansion of warming seawater. And there is some evidence of acceleration in that rate, as well--though admittedly the data are noisy.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      9 hours ago from Yorktown NY

      Sure, but what about places that are growing ice..? The overall net effect is what is important. Don’t you agree? If we lost ice in one region but increased in another region, due to climate change, or otherwise, it is a net zero. Yes, if we are only loosing ice across the board, then you would expect a huge rise in sea level...which we are not seeing.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      12 hours ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "The net effect is very small."

      No, it's not, not at a global scale. The Arctic is down very significantly:

      http://psc.apl.uw.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads...

      West Antarctica and Greenland are both losing mass at a good clip. So are the ice caps of the Canadian archipelago, and the overwhelming majority of terrestrial glaciers.

      East Antarctica is the sole area where ice has not been unequivocally declining. (Some studies had found decreases there, others not, and the error bars were usually quite large.)

      I can provide further links if you like. Let me know.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      21 hours ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      This would be more impressive if they also look at other areas where ice is increasing. To focus on areas where it is melting and not account for shifting of ice is also deceptive...don’t you think?

      We have been told this before and it turned out the ice shelf in the artic and antartica has been shifting all along.

      Some areas is always melting while other places are gaining...

      The net effect is very small. That is the amazing part of this. How is it that with all that is going on climate change and all and solar variations... the earth is amazingly stable for the last 10,000 years.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      24 hours ago from Camden, South Carolina

      An "observationally-driven discovery" reported from the current session of the American Geophysical Union conference--several East Antarctic glaciers are thinning and speeding up their flows to the ocean:

      https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46517...

      A "quite subtle" harbinger of increased future sea level rise, it is "only really discernible because of the new automated computer tools that will search through the millions of satellite images taken of Antarctica."

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 days ago from Camden, South Carolina

      You can't get on that bet now--it was originally made in 2007!

      But your basic argument is flawed in that it assumes that nothing has been happening, when in fact Arctic sea ice has been in persistent decline since 1979, when they started satellite monitoring. So the 'short period' part is kind of moot in this case.

      FWIW, sea ice extent is currently at its second-lowest for this date, behind only 2016:

      https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent/&time=2018-12-05%2000:00:00

      (I hope that link is correct.)

      Maybe you could get Dr. Romm to take a bet about 2030?

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      6 days ago from Yorktown NY

      2020? I will take that bet any day of the week.

      If there is one thing I learned about climate change in all the lectures I’ve attended. It takes a long long time...

      Nothing happens in short periods.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 days ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Since this set of Hubs is all about prediction, I was interested to see this subset of more falsifiable (and colorful!) competing predictions about mean global temperature:

      http://ohbwaa.blogspot.com/2018/10/climate-bet-sco...

      Several relatively high-profile bets have been made about warming trends since the mid-2000s, and there are now several results in. Short version: 'warmists' won 6 of 7 concluded bets, are currently winning the 3 now underway, with 2 further bets relative to timespans still in the future. (I.e., those bets, though agreed, have yet to 'start'.)

      In the comments, there's an additional bet ongoing which I think is interesting; it pits 'warmists' against each other. Joe Romm is betting on a 99% ice-free Arctic by 2020, with William Connelly, James Annan, and Brian Schmidt betting that that is too aggressive. Right now, it looks as if the majority--who are in line with most climate modelers on this question--are well-placed to win.

      (Though the high variability of Arctic sea ice cover and the potential vulnerability of today's thin ice cover mean that Romm will have a realistic (if long) shot well into the melt season of 2020. But I think it's fair to say at this point that if Romm does win, it will be winning on a bit of a fluke.)

      http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2007/12/got-an...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "it is hard to imagine we cannot deal with some warming even it is from our own doing..."

      It' more than just 'some warming'. It's hydrology, it's circulation, and it's massive disruption of the biosphere. It's reshaping the living environment. Yes, we are highly adaptable survivors. But that doesn't mean that what we are doing right now is in our own best interest, even if we manage to survive it.

      "As much as we think we have control over our environment, do we really?"

      Of course we don't. All we are doing right now is monkey-wrenching.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, you are right about the asymetric nature of these events but it is still a long time frame either way.

      If you buy into our evolutionary theory of life originated on earth and the progression of simple life form to humans...over billions of years, then you have to admit life is much more robust and we are more adaptible to harsh climates to survive and thrive over the many cycles of warming and coolings... now with our advanced technology, it is hard to imagine we cannot deal with some warming even it is from our own doing...

      I am appealing to your logical and common sense mind. It is easy to get lost in the minute details of scientific endeavors...but the underlying science is - The earth is HUGE and we are a small part of it. As much as we think we have control over our environment, do we really?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "it takes 100,000 years or so to go from ice age to normal...and back to ice again..."

      It's a side point, but while your statement is a reasonable rough approximation a) the actual cycle length has changed b) the cycle is highly asymmetrical, with deglaciations being much faster than glaciations, and c) cycles do not recur in a fixed fashion, since the Milankovitch cycles include 3 independent sets of periods which interact to affect climate on Earth. (Actually, I don't believe this aspect is fully understood yet.)

      More detail:

      Asymmetry and length of cycles:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age#Glacials_and...

      Understanding of Milankovitch forcings:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age#Variations_i...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, it's easy to assert that, but the scientific work doesn't support it--not as a blanket statement.

      Remember that we must be clear what we mean by general terms, such as "Earth". We needn't be much concerned about, say, the gross physical geography. It will be mostly unaffected by our foolishness (barring sea level rise, of course).

      But we do need to worry about biology. It is far more fragile, and far more essential to the functioning and even existence of human society. Even the geochemistry--the GHG burden of the atmosphere, or the pH of the oceans--we have already observably perturbed quite considerably: 40%+ in the former case, 30% in the latter.

      https://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/What+is+Ocean+...

      It's no use saying, 'It's a big planet, we can't change it." We already have, and we're not trying nearly hard enough to stop changing it further.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Because of the size of the earth, inertia and other considerations, the earth is not that fragile...the science does not support a drastic change globally. Even though God made the universe in 6 days, it takes 100,000 years or so to go from ice age to normal...and back to ice again...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      By walking lightly on the Earth God gave us...

      ;-)

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Perhaps, how did humans survive the last 100,000 years with no technology to speak of and merely on our intelligent brain and the survival instinct God gave us...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Yes, it is scary, and I didn't even get into everything. (For example, the projected spread of the aedes egyptii mosquito, which is the vector for dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya--our state is going to be having the sorts of problems with these that Florida has in places now.)

      Actually, the Charleston situation is worse than I remembered it--I was thinking the projection was for 2070 and onwards, but really it's for 2045.

      As for plausibility--and just talking about the sea level rise issue--the increase in flooding is a straight-forward result of relative sea level; there's no mystery about the history.

      Charleston is a case study in the regional report:

      "The main crosstown traffic artery in Charleston, South Carolina (U.S. 17 Septima Clark Parkway–crosstown), has historically been susceptible to flooding events (Figure 19.9, which illustrates with pictures of flooding on the Parkway and of crews building the Market Street drainage tunnel 140 feet underground). Charleston experienced all-time record high tide flood occurrences in 2015 (38 days) and 2016 (50 days). By 2045, Charleston is projected to experience up to 180 high tide flood events a year. The City of Charleston estimated that each flood event that affects the crosstown costs $12.4 million (in 2009 dollars). Over the past 50 years, the resultant gross damage and lost wages have totaled more than $1.53 billion (dollar year not specified). As a result, Charleston has developed a Sea Level Rise Strategy that plans for 50 years out based on moderate sea level rise scenarios (Figure 19.10) and that reinvests in infrastructure, develops a response plan, and increases readiness. As of 2016, the City of Charleston has spent or set aside $235 million (in 2015 dollars) to complete ongoing drainage improvement projects (Figure 19.9) to prevent current and future flooding."

      (Footnote numbers redacted for readability.)

      Note that they aren't even *trying* to plan for the worst case--they're just hoping that SLR is no worse than 'moderate' scenario, I guess.

      But, yes, it does look as if our planet can indeed change this much this soon.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      It sounds scary to me...can our planet change this much this soon?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Hi, Jack. Its general conclusions seem consistent with what I've seen before, so I suppose that translates most closely to "about right." But there's a lot of reading to do, and I really haven't even finished with the IPCC's SR 1.5 report yet. And now there's a new report from the UN--which agency I'm not sure--about the status of Paris commitments. I can't keep up!

      But I did read the section of NCA 4 that focuses on the Southeast. It's pretty sobering; under the RCP 8.5 scenario--which we're still more or less on track to follow, AFAIK--the most historic and picturesque city in our state, Charleston, would come to see significant nuisance flooding 180 times a year, which is basically every other day! (IIRC, that's for the last 3 decades of the present century.) Savannah, GA, wouldn't be that far behind. That's more than a nuisance; that's untenable.

      The productivity of outdoor labor--construction, agriculture, and more--would be seriously degraded due to the prevalence of heat waves.

      And, though it's not the most serious practical consequence in a way, I was shocked to see that our vast salt marshes will be almost completely gone--transitioning to mangrove swamps. Those landscapes are of great human importance in ways too varied and involved to try to explain here. But it is the most dramatic illustration that this place will, quite literally, become a different place--a radically different one.

      You may be interested to look at what may be in store for the Northeast, or perhaps some other region of interest. RealClimate has direct links here:

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018...

      In addition to the regional chapters, there are direct links to the FAQs, Executive Summary, and some other things, too.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      What is your assessment of the newly released climate change report issued by our government? Is it just about right, too little or too much?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I responded there. Hope that helps.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I just wrote a new article...perhaps you can pass these questions along to your circle of friends and colleagues...

      https://hubpages.com/literature/Some-Questions-For...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Further to the questions about wildfires, I just came across this piece, which has a nice interview with a young scientist about the factors that are specific to California. Quite interesting!

      https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13112018/califo...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I think that one of the impacts that's hard to really understand and appreciate fully is the biological dimension. Here's a story that deals with that briefly and accessibly:

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/humans-evolutio...

      ""It's a reshaping of the tree of life," said Sarah Otto, a University of British Columbia researcher, whose paper was published Wednesday by the London-based Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

      "Otto, a much-awarded and highly regarded theoretical biologist, says the activities and presence of human beings have become one of the largest drivers of evolutionary change everywhere on the planet.

      ""Human impacts on the world are not just local," she said. "They are changing the course of evolutionary history for all species on the planet, and that's a remarkable concept to ponder.""

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Doc, could it be young people are more prone to believe in climate change because they were forced to watch Al Gore’s documentary “”an Inconvenient Truth” and were scared out of their minds..."

      I doubt it. It's not realistic to think that any movie can determine the course of belief on any question for the rest of one's life. I had to watch a movie about gory highway deaths in 8th grade as part of driver ed., and I don't think it was a major influence on how I've been driving for the last 40-odd years.

      "We now now that film is an exaggeration don’t we?"

      No:

      https://skepticalscience.com/al-gore-inconvenient-...

      "While there are minor errors in An Inconvenient Truth, the main truths presented - evidence to show mankind is causing global warming and its various impacts is consistent with peer reviewed science."

      "The forest fires is another crazy argument. Are you saying we won’t have forest fires if not for climate change?"

      Of course not. But certain areas will have--are already having--more frequent and more severe ones, to our great loss.

      You may remember the original prediction on this, considered above in the Hub itself:

      "By 2015 10 million acres of national forests may be at high risk of uncontrollable, catastrophic wildfires... as much as $12 billion, or about $725 million a year, may be needed to treat the 39 million acres at high risk of uncontrollable wildfire by the end of fiscal year 2015."

      And that was a prediction that pretty unambiguously came true.

      "Forest fire and tsunami and volcanos and earthquakes is par for the course ... If some people decide they want to build homes in the middle of the woods, or on beach fronts, why are we not surprised that periodically, disaster will strike. These events has been going on for millennium... we cannot use that to claim climate change is our fault and therefore we must cix it somehow...even though we still don’t have a good handle on how exactly..."

      Well, dragging in "tsunami and volcanos and earthquakes," which have nothing much to do with AGW, is kind of irrelevant, don't you think?

      But while it is indeed reasonable to ask whether certain locations are wise ones from the point of view of fire risk, the increased *general* risk imposed on the American Southwest (including California) by climate change has been long recognized, including in the forecast quoted above. Therefore, we *do* have a useful step which we can take in order to help mitigate fire risk, which is to stop increasing the atmospheric burden of GHGs.

      Naturally, that wouldn't stop us from taking other relevant steps, like rationalizing insurance structures to discourage unnecessary risk, or adapting building codes in fire-prone areas to encourage fire-resistant buildings, or ensuring that evacuation routes are adequate--Southeastern states all do that now with regard to hurricane risk, but Butte County did not take such steps with regard to fire risk, even after their near-misses with wildfire in 2008--and so on and so forth.

      But it is worth noting that Paradise has been a town since 1877 or so, and it's never been wiped out before:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise,_California

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Oops, meant to include this link to what I think is a pretty good discussion of Zharkova & related matters:

      https://www.livescience.com/51597-maunder-minimum-...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Now for the more recent comments.

      1) I don't believe that Al Gore ever claimed that we'd never again see another extensive snow event in the US Northeast.

      However, that does bring up an interesting point, which is that the alteration of the Jet Stream--which seems to be affecting such events, and much other extreme weather--was an unexpected result in climate studies. It's still being figured out, but at this point it looks like the hypothesis that it's related to the shrinkage of Arctic sea ice cover--prominently associated with Dr. Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers, whom I mentioned on your Hub thread--may well be correct.

      For me, it shows that while the big picture is pretty well understood, there are still lots of significant details to be discovered.

      2 & 3) That's why papers should have science writers who have some understanding of the basics. That story conflates two completely different matters--one being the cooling in the thermosphere which we already discussed on your thread, and the other being tropospheric temperatures, which affect our experienced conditions.

      The first is totally irrelevant to greenhouse warming (or cooling, for that matter.) It's in a very high, very thin layer of the atmosphere above the stratosphere, which is strongly affected by solar wind (and not at all by greenhouse gases). The second is the ordinary atmosphere about which we talk all the time.

      And yes, atmospheric scientists understand this very well, and are indeed 'playing with a full deck.' (Unlike the writer of the story, whose scientific deck is plainly lacking some high cards.)

      "Then something like this come along that clearly demonstrate the effects of sunspots and in previous events of large volcanic eruptions such as the Indonesia event of 1815..."

      What's crucial in understanding the volcanic part of the story is being clear about time scales. Atmospheric scientists know very well that aerosols from major volcanic events can have a strong effect on global temperature. (Actually, this idea had already been suggested by none other than Benjamin Franklin, back in 1783!) However, they also know that this effect only lasts for a couple of years.

      This is related to one of the most famous examples of successful model prediction, in fact, and it comes from none other than our friend James Hansen. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, he realized that a wonderful natural experiment had just taken place. So he got busy and ran simulations of the event with an eye to predicting the effect on global temperature.

      His predictions turned out to be quite good:

      https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_0...

      (There's a link to the original paper on that page, too.)

      Turning to the question of solar influence, I've previously presented a lot of documentation that, contrary to repeated assertions from some, the mainstream science has spent a lot of time, energy and brainpower on teasing out the solar influence on climate. For instance, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, whom I linked on your thread, has spent a lot of time on that data in the course of his attempts to accurately characterize the Earth's energy budget.

      So there's a good understanding of the nature and magnitude of solar effects, and while the data from the days of the Dalton and Maunder minima is basically limited to counts of sunspot numbers, that seems to be a pretty good proxy for the change in solar energy. That's basically what Dr. Zharkova is looking at in her prediction of cooling.

      But, AFAIK, she's only looking at the input side of the energy budget. If the atmosphere were the same now as in 1715, it would be reasonable to expect that a reduction of the same magnitude in solar energy would result in a similar reduction in global temperature.

      But that isn't the case; the atmosphere has a GHG burden over 40% higher than back then. We have the means to calculate the resulting warming to a reasonable approximation, and it is precisely such calculations that lead climatologists to say that the result will be, not a cooling of the Earth, but a muting of the warming we would otherwise see.

      (And that's assuming that it comes about: it is, after all, a model projection which may or may not be correct. I don't say that with prejudice; I merely mean to note that anyone who is skeptical about mathematical climate models should certainly maintain their skepticism when it come to mathematical models of Solar circulation.)

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, could it be young people are more prone to believe in climate change because they were forced to watch Al Gore’s documentary “”an Inconvenient Truth” and were scared out of their minds...

      We now now that film is an exaggeration don’t we?

      The forest fires is another crazy argument. Are you saying we won’t have forest fires if not for climate change?

      Forest fire and tsunami and volcanos and earthquakes is par for the course ... If some people decide they want to build homes in the middle of the woods, or on beach fronts, why are we not surprised that periodically, disaster will strike. These events has been going on for millennium... we cannot use that to claim climate change is our fault and therefore we must cix it somehow...even though we still don’t have a good handle on how exactly...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, sorry, but I missed your comment from 5 days ago. I'll address it briefly, then your more recent comments in a separate post.

      "You are not being realistic as always, seeking the worst scenario possible..."

      Proper risk management calls for consideration of the worst scenario, and proper planning to forestall it. Certainly we are entitled to hope that it does not eventuate, but, famously, "hope is not a plan."

      "Polls have shown 50% of the population in the US reject the global warming projections."

      I believe I've shown repeatedly that that is incorrect. The ~50% figure, IIRC, applies to the question of whether or not poll respondents believe climate change will affect them personally. And if you look at the breakdown on that, you find it's strongly dependent on age, with ~75% of young adults believing that they will indeed be personally affected. And that's in line, more or less, with 'climate projections' in the sense that it's reasonable for a 70-year old to calculate that the odds are that they will die from some unrelated cause before climate change alters their life significantly.

      Though some will be wrong about that; it's possible some of the many reported "elderly" now missing in Magalia, CA, had that thought cross their mind at some point:

      https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/fires-in-califor...

      (And no, it's not scientifically defensible to try and blame all this on "forest management", as President Trump did. Remember, one of the original projections forming the basis of this pair of Hubs was in fact to do with wildfire in the US Southwest.)

      "We can have a serious discussion comparing the trade offs and do the cost benefit analysis of each of the various schemes to mitigate climate change.

      "Do you agree or disagree?"

      I agree. But it has to start with taking the mainstream science seriously, and not simply dismissing it a priori as 'alarmist' or 'unrealistic' simply because the implied conclusions are unpleasant, scary, or, yes, 'inconvenient' for vested interests.

      "We have not done the real assessment about how best to deal with climate change for the long haul...either man caused or natural or combination of both, we need to deal with it sooner or later. The ice age is a recurring event every 100,000 years."

      Well, there has in fact been quite a lot of research done on possible ways to mitigate the current rapid, human-caused warming, and I for one would welcome a turn toward that facet of the problem. We need action.

      But if you are going to argue on the one hand that we don't need to worry about AGW because the time scale is so long, with Antarctic melt taking possibly several thousand years, but on the other hand, we *should* be worrying about the next ice age, which might be tens of thousands of years off, I'd have to say that I don't find that a very coherent position, logically speaking.

      We need to deal effectively with the current crisis first, and worry about glaciations later. And, for that matter, the experience of dealing with AGW should provide a wealth of information relevant to dealing with possible cyclical global cooling. It shouldn't be too hard to add CO2 to the atmosphere if needed several millennia hence; the energetics of carbon reactions tend that way, as I understand it.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      So here is my take...

      On the one hand climate scientists tell us natural factors like the sun and planets and volcanoes have very small effects on our climate.

      Most if not all climate change or global warming is due to human avtivity of the 20th and 21th century...

      Then something like this come along that clearly demostrate the effects of sunspots and in previous events of large volcanic erruptions such as the Indonesia event of 1815...

      Which lead to global cooling the following year.

      What are we to think?

      Are these scientists playing with a full deck?

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      3 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, what do you think about this article?

      https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/16/a-mini-ice-age-coul...

      Do you agree with some of their claims? Especially sun spots or lack thereof will not save us from global warming...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, another one of Al Gore’s prediction going by the wayside.

      Snow is abundant...

      https://boston.cbslocal.com/2018/11/15/boston-weat...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      You are not being realistic as always, seeking the worst scenario possible,

      Polls have shown 50% of the population in the US reject the global warming projections. That is why it is not on the top of their concerns where as Healthcare, jobs and the economy rank highest, climate change down to number 8 or 9.

      The stone age comment is an exaggeration I admit but assuming we follow the suggestions by the IPCC and reduce our carbon foot print by 2050, we would impact a huge global population, especially in the rural areas of China and India and Africa. We in the US and western Europe would not be impacted as much but would certainly pay more for energy...

      The point about mitigation is the most important argument.

      We have not done the real assessment about how best to deal with climate change for the long haul...either man caused or natural or combination of both, we need to deal with it sooner or later. The ice age is a recurring event every 100,000 years.

      What else is instored for us, no one knows...

      We can have a serious discussion comparing the trade offs and do the cost benefit analysis of each of the various schemes to mitigate climate change.

      Do you agree or disagree?

      That seems to be the bottom line.

      The extremeist wants a drastic push to renewable energy like solar and wind...but not nuclear.

      The moderates want a wait and see attitude...

      The extremist on the right say it is a hoax and just a scheme for income redistribution.

      I guest you know which one I belong.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, I'm very disappointed. To speak bluntly, you seem to have fallen back into the rankest sort of denialism here. The facts to which I have pointed are not just rhetorical "arguments", they are scientific realities, and they are abundantly supported by the evidence of our daily headlines.

      (Oh, and by the way, it's simply not true that 50% of the population are "unconvinced" by those realities--for years polls have shown comfortable majorities accepting the science and wanting something done about the problem. And the long-term trendline seems toward increases in those majorities--despite billions spent on denialist propaganda.)

      To take your points in order:

      • The mainstream science has 'explained how the Earth warms and cools naturally.' I've written about that many times; would you like me to repeat that, too? I don't mind.

      • No-one is attributing 'everything bad' to humans. Period.

      • The problem with global warming is precisely 'humans living their lives'--since the current system does so based largely on the consumption of fossil fuels. We need to change that such that people continue to be able to live their lives, and the only way that that is possible is to take away the reliance on fossil fuels.

      • Nobody wants to take us 'back to the stone age,' least of all scientists--after all, such a return would mean an end to science itself. This is the silliest sort of conspiracy theory (not to mention a blaming of the messenger.)

      • You speak of humanity 'adapting and mitigating' over our existence. Well, the great bulk of that time was in fact the stone age. Agriculture and advanced technology both developed during a period of unusual climatic stability, called the Holocene. If anything takes us back to the stone age, it will probably be inattention to the problem of anthropogenic climate change. It's also worth remembering that we are on track to create climatic conditions that have literally never existed during our existence as a species--and of course, that also means that all our food crops have never experienced those conditions, either.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      You are repeating the same argument and it has not pursuade 50% of the general public. Why? Could it be your assumptions are flawed or at least not as dire as originally proposed?

      If you can explain how the earth warms during previous cycles when man was not living on earth, and how that is so different than today, perhaps more people would be sympathtic to your cause.

      Human history is brief in the big picture of our planet. By attributing everything bad to human activity, you are creating your own failure.

      I hope you take my advice to heart. The problem with global warming is not humans living their lives on this planet. It is with scientists and environmentalists with an agenda and they want to take us back to the stone age.

      The earth will warm and cool and humans are here to adapt and mitigate. That is how we dealt with this for millennium.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, I'm afraid you are being a little disingenuous here. Despite the false narratives presented by folks like Marc Morano, human causation of the observed warming is about as definitive as anything in science ever gets--and it's never entirely definitive, because science always leaves the door open for the possibility (however remote it may be in practice) that new evidence or insight may appear.

      To remind us all about some of the basics, let me review a bit of the history.

      Greenhouse gases and temperature: Tyndall first discerns the existence of what we now call "greenhouse gases" and their role in regulating global temperature in 1859; this role is mathematically modeled on a global scale in 1896 by Arrhenius. The resultant understand survives multiple challenges, and receives multiple expansions and extensions, beginning in 1905 and continuing through into the 1970s (and in lesser measure, up to today).

      Human GHG emissions: Arrhenius was also one of the first to consider the effect of human CO2 emissions due to fossil-fuel consumption, but the first paper to really focus on this was written by Guy Callendar in 1938. The so-called "Callendar effect" was challenged, but was demonstrated to be correct by Bolin & Eriksson (1959). You can read their paper here, if you like:

      http://climatepositions.com/wp-content/uploads/201...

      With your interest in projections and predictions, you will probably want to note their last section, which provides a projection range of increase in CO2 to the year 2000 of ~10-50% over preindustrial values. The Keeling Curve (measurements at Mauna Loa) shows the actual rise to have been close on the order of 32%--very close to their 'best estimate.'

      https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingclone/wp-...

      So, while as always there is in principle 'room for doubt' about the anthropogenic nature of the observed warming, in practice such doubts are not reasonable ones. And that strikes at the very root of your argument: since there really is very little room for scientific doubt that GHGs warm, or that humans have increased the GHG burden by over 40%, there is correspondingly little doubt that human activities are, in fact, warming the planet. Neither Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, or John Christy would disagree with that; they merely hold out hope that warming won't be as great (or as destructive) as just about everybody else thinks.

      That must be at best very cold comfort--and probably none at all--to scientists such as Dr. Parmesan, whose day job is characterizing and quantifying the actual destruction that's happening now.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      5 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I am saying she can feel the same whether it is caused by nature or manmade. The science has not proven definitively...

      So connecting the environment cause and effect just make them less believable. It is the shock value.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Thanks for commenting, Jack. But you seem to be inverting the causality that's described. Dr. Parmesan says she was depressed by what she was observing--the observations, the science, came first. The emotion came later. And there's nothing in there that suggests that the feeling was *driving* the science in any way--well, except for the reluctance to go back to one already-devastated field site.

      "...that by it self does not mean we are responsible for it."

      Of course. But our knowledge does not leave that fact 'by itself.' We know that our emissions *should*, based on well-established and authenticated theory, cause a warming Earth. So the fact that we actually observe a warming Earth is pretty good corroboration.

      "Survival of the fittest. Adapt or die out...isn’t that what evolution is all about?"

      Yes. But note that adaptation--first and foremost, control of carbon emissions--is precisely what I've been arguing for all along. And precisely for the reason you give by implication.

      Hope you are doing well this fall day!

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      5 weeks ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, you have captured the problem better than I ever will. These scientists has taken their own feeling and extrapolated to affect their own field of expertise. I have commented on this before. Every one of them believes in what they are doing and many of their measured results are consistent with a warming earth... however, that by it self does not mean we are responsible for it.

      The earth and its climate will change. Nature is harsh. Survival of the fittest. Adapt or die out...isn’t that what evolution is all about?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 weeks ago from Camden, South Carolina

      The issue of climate change is almost invariably addressed from the perspective of analytic thought (or at least something that pretends to be analytic thought.) Yet it's extremely emotional for many--and not least, researchers who confront its many facets in their daily professional lives. It can be difficult.

      https://grist.org/climate-energy/climate-depressio...

      "The ability to process and understand dense climatic data doesn’t necessarily translate to coping with that data’s emotional ramifications. Turns out scientists are people, too.

      "Climate scientists not only wade knee-deep through doomsday research day in and day out, but given the importance of their work, many also find themselves thrust into a maelstrom of political, ideological, and social debate with increasing frequency...

      "“I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.” “It’s gotten to be so depressing that I’m not sure I’m going to go back to this particular site again,” she says, referring to an ocean reef she has studied since 2002, “because I just know I’m going to see more and more of it dead, and bleached, and covered with brown algae.”"

      Well-worth considering, IMO.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Forgive me here, Jack, I'm going to speak bluntly.

      The IPCC isn't a 'political organization,' no matter how often you're told otherwise. There's a tiny standing staff, housed with the WMO, but all the writing is done by volunteers, who are always career scientists with expertise in the relevant fields, and their brief is to summarize the state of the current professional literature. This they do--quite visibly, as everything in any of the reports is cited to published literature, the vast majority of it peer-reviewed. (And all of WG I bibliography is peer-reviewed.)

      There is no 'tax' that will redistribute global wealth, nor is one envisioned. There are policies agreed by the member nations that intend to help less developed nations develop their economies. None of these policies significantly harm the economies donating, for the simple reason that contributions are voluntary; there is no mechanism for coercing payment. That is explicitly true under Paris, as well.

      And it's not true that 'none of the proposals would reduce global temperature significantly.' The Paris Accord would reduce projected warming from a probable 5 C--that's what we are currently on track for, if we don't implement the Paris pledges--to a probable 3 C. And that's highly significant, though inadequate. I know that Mr. Trump claimed otherwise when he announced the US pullout, but that is just another of the untrue things he has said. When people argue this point, they usually do sleight of hand, such as dividing the total cooling effect by their nation's contribution to emissions, to 'prove' that their country isn't 'the problem.' Obviously, the whole point is to mitigate *all* national emissions, by the best methods each nation can arrive at. (IIRC, the sleight of hand in the Trump speech was of a different type--the seemingly small reduction in warming was due to excluding the effects all previous IPCC agreements. That's equally bogus, since the whole point of Paris was to reach a master agreement that incorporated those previous efforts.)

      As for solutions, SR 1.5 approaches that question by laying out potentially workable 'pathways' that in simulations lead to warming below the relevant target (1.5 or 2 C, as the case may be.)

      It is for the member states of UNFCCC to decide what is the 'best way,' given their national circumstances. Not the IPCC. Not even the UNFCCC. It really is up to the nations and their political processes to decide on the best way forward. Obviously, solutions exist within a social and technological reality that will influence which are most effective, and obviously nations will influence one another in myriad ways as the history unfolds.

      As for 'natural or man-made', right now no-one is trying to deal with natural climate change, because the human signal is dominating climate over time. If we are able to control man-made warming, it may be that we later achieve finer control and are able to help modulate undesirable natural forcings. For example, over long spans of time, if we weather the current crisis (no pun intended there!) then we may be in a position to avoid future glaciations by stabilizing atmospheric CO2, or even by advanced solar radiation management.

      But that is very far in the future. Right now, the trick is to learn, *fast*, how to run a technologically advanced civilization without crashing the planetary biosphere.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, Thanks for the explanation. I will dig deeper but as I alluded to before, the UN and IPCC is a political organization. They are not interested in real science or how best to mitigate climate change. They are environmentalist extremist who wants to level the field by income redistribution. The tax will take from the rich countries and pay the poor countries. The fact that none of the proposals would reduce global temperature significantly should give everyone pause.

      Just what solution are they proposing? And is that the best way to deal with climate change, natural or man-made?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Typo in previous: SR 1.5 Chapter *5*, not *15*. (There is no Chapter 15.)

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      The Kelley article is a mess. While it is true that a new report came out Monday on the question of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees rather than 2 degrees, it is absolutely not true that this is not reflective of new knowledge. Many people have had concerns about the realism of the 2-degree benchmark for quite a while, and more vulnerable nations have been pushing for 1.5 rather than 2. This culminated in recognition of the desirability of a 1.5 limit in the Paris Accord language, even as 2 C remained the 'official' target, and as a result the IPCC was invited to report on how feasible and how effective such a target would be.

      Short version: it is now really hard to limit warming to 1.5 C--basically technically possible, but probably not from a standpoint of practical politics. Nevertheless, it would be very desirable to do so--to mention just the single most drastic difference, the report estimates that 1.5 would limit coral loss to about 30%, whereas 2 C will probably mean near-total elimination of coral reef coverage worldwide. Many other impacts (crop productivity, public heatlh, infrastructure loss) would be significantly lessened with 1.5 C as well, to the huge benefit of humanity.

      It is also absolutely not true that the focus on 1.5 C results from a failure of warming to manifest, as Ms. Kelly alleges, since as I've shown repeatedly, warming rates seen are consistent with what science has projected since *at least* the Third Assessment Report of 2001. (Actually, I think the SAR in the 90s already had it pretty much nailed, but that's OTOH and I'm not going to check right now.)

      It is absolutely not true that the report says that we will 'all die' in 2040, either. The report actually says that for almost all potential pathways to achieve 1.5 C, we need to achieve CO2 net-neutral emissions by 2050, and significant reductions much sooner. Nor does it say that if we fail to do so, we'll all die.

      If you'd like to see what the report actually *does* say, you can read it here:

      https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sr15/sr15_...

      It's not easy reading, by any means, but if you try it, you'll find a lot of things familiar, because I've been reporting the same results here as they've become available.

      A nit: there's a comment that "(The [IPSS], however, continues its unscientific and fearmongering objection to the cleanest form of energy, nuclear power.)" To get to the root of that, you have to follow three links which go back to the special report, Chapter 15. This 'fearmongering' appears to reflect a single sentence:

      "Nuclear energy, the share of which increases in most of the 1.5ºC-compatible pathways (see Chapter 2, Section 2.4.2.1), can increase the risks of proliferation (SDG 16), have negative environmental effects (e.g., for water use, SDG 6), and have mixed effects for human health when replacing fossil fuels (SDGs 7 and 3) (see Table 5.2)."

      So, let me translate that into plainer English:

      "Nuclear power will probably play a role in decarbonizing energy, but we have to be careful to avoid nuclear proliferation and to manage adverse environmental and health impacts."

      I don't know if you see that as "fear-mongering", but I sure don't. By contrast, consider Kelly's phrase "capricious sources of renewable energy".

      There's lots more to criticize, but to keep it brief, finally let me point out yet again that the IPCC doesn't do policy, which means that it doesn't set "goalposts." Policy is the result of practical politics, which is the bailiwick of the UNFCCC--the so-called "framework treaty." It's the UNFCC which directs the IPCC, a purely advisory body, and that includes the 'invitation' to produce SR 1.5 in the first place. What is done rests with the UNFCCC; so you won't find anything in SR 1.5 prescribing what the UNFCCC should do--just a description of what the choices might mean.

      As to the Lindzen, it's much more sophisticated. The first half or so is pretty unexceptionable, but then it goes off the rails into the seriously misleading--for instance, the dismissal of Arctic sea ice loss because the estimates of the rate of ice loss have been historically poorly-constrained, ignoring the patent fact that the qualitative prediction has been abundantly validated. (And, for that matter, the fact that most of the ice-loss rate estimates have been far too low!)

      I could critique it in detail, but it would be a lengthier and more tedious exercise than either of us would appreciate, I think.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, is this true?

      This article claims the IPCC has changed the goal post...

      https://amgreatness.com/2018/10/10/climate-changes...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, what do you think of this article -

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/10/09/richard-lin...

      It summarizes for me the state of affairs with climate change science.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "In a hot day, with the AC blasting, and other issues, it is easy to use up the battery."

      I need to speak with some humility here, but it's my understanding that the AC draws from 2-5 kW, whereas the battery size is 75-100 kWh. Driving at 60 mph, the X would exhaust its charge completely in something like 4-5 hours, which implies power consumption of ~ 20 kW, if I haven't made another silly error in calculation. So sitting stalled in traffic, you should be drawing no more than about 30% of the draw at highway speed, and possibly as little as 15%. (I'm allowing 5% for miscellaneous loads, such as audio and operating system.)

      So certainly traffic delay is something to be aware of, and take into consideration, but is it really quite as limiting as your niece allows it to be?

      Partly it's a matter of temperament, of course. Just the other day, I pumped 14+ gallons into the nominally 14-gallon tank of the Forester!--there's a gallon-plus reserve, but I don't know just how big the 'plus' is, as I've never yet run it truly dry. But perhaps your niece would not have allowed herself to cut it quite that close. (And women have reason to be more careful than men about such things, to be fair.)

      "This anxiety on the part of electric cars is real."

      Yes, certainly. But perhaps not as significant as novelty makes it; I can't help but wonder if it will diminish with practical familiarity. As an analogy, I recall being quite anxious about the reliability of ATMs when they first came into service. Now, of course, no-one thinks even once about using them.

      "Most people like my nephew, who just got a Model 3, use it strictly for commute to work which is only 20 miles each way. He has a gas car for long range driving."

      I don't know about 'most people.' There's a spectrum, from the 'commute only' folks like your nephew, to the cross-country Tesla trippers, which are a tribe (not sure how numerous!). I expect the distribution is normal-ish, meaning that most owners are in the middle somewhere.

      As an example, if I had an EV now, I'd be very comfortable driving it from here to, say, downtown Atlanta (259 miles). I wouldn't even have to change my pattern for the drive itself, as we nearly always stop for a brief break in North Augusta, SC. The only thing I'd need to do is know where the charging stations are nearby. (It looks as if 5 are very convenient to my route, though all 5 are across the river on the Georgia side.)

      https://evstationslocal.com/states/georgia/30999/

      On the other hand, if I were doing an extended road trip, I might still want to use a gasmobile for now--by preference, a nice hybrid.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Ack! Did you spot the gratuitous error? It's really only 5-6 doublings; not sure how I screwed that up!

      So, 8.28 years, not 11.04. Shocking, that the erroneous number was too conservative! But this is still just a very rough estimate anyway, so the big picture probably shouldn't alter much from the correction.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Just to follow up. My niece is understandable. If you know LA traffic, it is always bad.You can be stuck in traffic for hours... Those estimate of mileage is under normal conditions. In a hot day, with the AC blasting, and other issues, it is easy to use up the battery. This anxiety on the part of electric cars is real. Most people like my nephew, who just got a Model 3, use it strictly for commute to work which is only 20 miles each way. He has a gas car for long range driving.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Yes. And I'm glad you saw that; such straightforward metrics have a way of getting lost in the coverage, which has too often tended to be about Musk's foibles, IMO. The most fundamental reality is that Tesla has gone from nothing in 2003, to making the 4th-best selling car in America. They are outselling any other luxury car brand. It's a remarkable achievement; the overwhelming majority of all startups fail, and the auto industry is notoriously even harder than most sectors to crack.

      But ramping from zero to 300,000+ units per year in 15 years inevitably comes with teething troubles. I hadn't heard about the service issue, but it makes perfect sense; with the Model 3, first it was production, then delivery, and incipiently, apparently, service. It'll get solved.

      I like your statement about a 'long way to mainstream' because it made me think about the ways in which that is true, and the ways in which it isn't. Performance, I think, largely falls now in the 'isn't' category--with cars like Teslas, or the Volt and similar vehicles, range (the primary performance issue) is now pretty competitive.

      (I'm puzzled by your niece's range anxiety over an 80-mile round trip, by the way; the Model X (the CUV model) has a 238-mile EPA range rating for the smallest battery variant. I'd have thought a 3x safety margin would have been ample!)

      Of course, you are right that the charging infrastructure is still an issue. Here Tesla is doing more than anyone else that I'm aware of, but a buildout takes time and cash. And until the public has ample charging points, planning will still be indicated for EV drivers.

      The thing I look forward to as a prospective EV driver is the quiet. My trusty 2003 Forester is loud. It'll be great to hear music clearly in the car, and still be able to hear the phone ring! (Not to mention the quantum of driver fatigue due to the noise decreasing.)

      But 'mainstream' means more than what the car can do; it also means take-up by the public. And while there is clearly strong demand for the Model 3, its 300,00+ annual sales rate is a small fraction of the 80 million vehicles sold worldwide. It's true that the US is not the strongest world market for EVs; that distinction belongs to China, where 6.5% of auto sales for 2018 are forecast to be EVs, and where 1.1 million EVs are forecast to be sold this year.

      http://www.ev-volumes.com/country/china/

      The same source puts 2018 global sales at a forecast 2.1 million.

      http://www.ev-volumes.com/country/total-world-plug...

      So we are at something like 2.5% EV market share on a global level. At the most basic level, that is clearly 'a long way from mainstream.'

      But in terms of time? I don't see a global growth estimate in the article, and in any case I would expect a lot of variation across space and over time. But many of the country growth rates are into 3 digits, so for the sake of argument I'm going to assume 50% annual sales growth and see what falls out. That's a doubling time of 1.38 years, by the 'rule of 69'.

      So, for a naive 'back of the envelope' extrapolation, it's between 7 & 8 doublings to get to 100% EV auto sales. 8 x 1.38 = 11.04 That would put EVs well into the mainstream prior to 2030--sometime in the next decade, and hopefully well before either you or I are ready to stop driving.

      Of course, you can't count on exponential increases over time. This article gives some interesting perspective on that:

      http://steveboese.squarespace.com/journal/2015/12/...

      So, I'd say 'a long way' numerically, but perhaps not such a 'long way' in terms of time.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      I saw in the news that Tesla has produced 86,000 Model 3 in the last quarter surpassing their goal of 5000 per week.

      However, they also say, one problem is the lack of servicemen trained to repair these cars...along with many other infra structure related issues. All electric cars has a ling way to go before it reaches main stream

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      2 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      And on the electric vehicle front, Tesla's Model 3 sales continue to be limited by production, not demand--and as production has exploded, sales have followed, making the Model 3 the 4th-best-selling car in the US, behind only the Camry, Accord and Civic:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/10/03/the-elephant-...

      On present trends, I'd expect it to outsell the Honda models by year's end. (The Model 3 was only about 800 units behind the Civic in September, and 1300 behind the Accord. Meanwhile, Tesla's production and delivery capabilities continue to improve.)

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Jack, in regard to our recent conversation about the penetration of RE, have you seen this?

      For the first half of 2018, the US EIA is putting RE in a virtual tie with nuclear energy at about 20% of US electric generation:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/28/us-renewable-...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      3 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      And, on the issue of sea level rise, I've been warning people for a while that SLR was going to be degrading coastal real estate values. Now there are signs that that is starting to happen. Apart from edge cases, such as the unfortunate Charlestonian described in the story linked below, at-risk properties are still mostly appreciating in value--but not as fast as the market in general. It seems that some buyers are even asking for flood-risk discounts.

      https://www.nola.com/expo/news/erry-2018/08/a5662e...

      So far, this is pretty limited in extent and scope. But it's going to keep growing, in terms of risk levels, geographic extent, and public awareness. It's not the worst risk climate change imposes. But it's one of the most visible ones.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Correction: the $12.2 billion cost was just *Georgia Power's share* of the total cost. The complete bill is now around $24.1 for construction and financing.

      This story explains the share-vs-total issue, but predates the latest overrun:

      https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060067953

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I don't recall if it was on this thread or the companion Hub by Jack Lee that I commented that I had little faith in the estimate that the Vogtle nuclear expansion would continue to hold steady.

      And sure enough:

      https://www.myajc.com/business/economy/vogtle-cost...

      It was at $12.2 billion including financing costs; now we're at 13.3--presuming that this is the last overrun ever, which I doubt. (But presuming they finish, eventually *some* overrun will be last, and who knows? It *could* be this one.)

      Gotta take those "I told you soes" where you can get them. But this one doesn't make me all that happy.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Interesting, if a bit speculative:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/05/the-tesla-sme...

      It's quite clear that some folks who comment on this issue are, well, pretty unbalanced in their views on Tesla (for example, the guys who, when photos of Model 3s in temporary storage lots started to surface, immediately concluded that demand must be collapsing). But that doesn't require (shall we say) 'collusion'; there are Internet cranks of numerous flavors out there. But it's interesting that those same guys had pretty good visibility, seemingly well beyond anything the quality of their analysis would justify.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Further to the last comment, there's an update on the CT story showing the comparative sales figures of the Model 3 and various other vehicles. Most interesting to me was the last chart, showing the Model 3 in comparison to the other 10-best selling car models in the US. Yes, the 3 is among the top-10 sellers, holding down the #8 spot in a virtual tie (for now) with the Hyundai Elantra.

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/06/7-charts-tesl...

      It's selling about half the volume done by the leading models, the Camry and the Corolla. (Of course, the sales figures at present are limited by production, not demand.) Also striking is the fact that the 3 is by far the most expensive car on the list--it's about twice the price of the next-most expensive models, the Camry and the Accord. (Though that will drop to 50% more when the base model hits the streets.)

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I must confess that I misspoke--I meant the Bolt (the pure EV), not the Volt. (Does anybody else feel that having such highly similar names for GE's two most prominent electrics is confusing, or is it just me?)

      Still, I know what you mean. I think the range/recharge thing is a bit overblown, but it's not unreal, and certainly its present exigencies don't fit the 'road warrior' mentality. As the technology continues to advance, the issues will be progressively ameliorated, but as you say, for some people a hybrid will be a good fit in the meantime.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      I also think Hybrids like the Volt is the way to go at least in the next 5-10 years. The limited range and the long recharge time would make Tesla a less than ideal option for most people. Granted it is a nice drive. All indicators are that it is a fun car. However, most people need cars that just take you from A to B with little fanfair.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Actually, Tesla already hit 200,000. Reportedly, they strategically withheld deliveries in order for that to happen at the beginning of Q3 instead of the end of Q2 in order to maximize the number of customers who would receive the credit.

      "...is Tesla competitive with the other major car companies like GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota...?"

      In making gasmobiles, obviously not. But in making EVs, the question is, are GM, Ford, Honda and Toyota competitive with Tesla? ;-)

      Right now, only GM is even really trying in the arena of battery electrics (and the Volt is a vehicle to watch, IMO). And only Toyota has a strong EV history, with its hybrids. But the Model 3 is outselling the Prius something like 2-1 at the moment.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      I understand where you are coming from.

      The bottom line is - is Tesla competitive with the other major car companies like GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota...?

      Without the government subsidies which will be going away soon, as early as next year, assuming Tesla reach its production goals. After 200k cars per year, the subsidies gets Phased out...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "...they have not been producing the base model 3 at $35K price as yet."

      Correct, but that was apparently planned (and announced) all along. For one thing, the higher trim levels are more profitable, helping the cash flow situation to improve.

      "Many potential buyers are bailing out of the deposit and asking for the $1k back."

      There are uncorroborated reports that claim that, but I don't think that there is solid evidence that it's actually true. This report discusses it, and concludes that:

      "...the main takeaway is still that the demand for the Model 3 is absolutely insane.

      "At the planned production rate at the end of the current quarter, it would still take Tesla over a year to work through the backlog even if Second Measure’s cancellation rate is correct, which Tesla claims it is not."

      https://electrek.co/2018/06/04/tesla-model-3-reser...

      Certainly, Tesla has always expected some reservations to be cancelled, and in fact makes cancellation pretty easy.

      "It is hard to see how they can reach profitability any time soon."

      I don't know what you are basing that on, but Tesla is outselling competing models by huge margins--according to this story, taking about a 1/3 of the entire vehicle class market share!

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/01/tesla-model-3...

      And the reverse-engineering the Model 3 has shown that its cost structure is very healthy indeed:

      https://electrek.co/2018/07/16/tesla-model-3-teard...

      Now, that's just one product, albeit a crucial one. But they can sell as many as they can make--actually, more than they can make--and they are making 5,000 a week now, and still increasing. They are claiming margins now of 15%, and expect them to improve to 25%. (Per yesterday's earnings call). So in round numbers, that's currently about $7500 profit on each Model 3, or $37.5 million a week. And the cash burn rate has dropped, and continues to drop. Obviously, there's a lot more to it than that. Those who want to get right down into the weeds can try this:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/26/vijays-simtes...

      I don't care to get that far down the rabbit hole. But it looks to me as if there is a plausible path to profitability: increase production further, and keep containing costs. (After all, much of the huge cash burn over the last year has been developing the production capacity, and while there are still going to be serious outlays in that regard, there are, after all, now complete and functioning lines that do not have to be replicated in the near future. So costs should logically continue to decrease.)

      The market today sure seems to like what they see: the current quote on TSLA is over $349, up over 16%. I guess you see a bubble inflating further. And that would make sense, except that there is a suite of profitable products which are selling like hotcakes.

      As always, we'll see what happens. As I said before, I'm sure this won't be the last twist in the saga!

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Yes, I saw that but as I understand it, they have not been producing the base model 3 at $35K price as yet. Many potential buyers are bailing out of the deposit and asking for the $1k back. It is hard to see how they can reach profitability any time soon. I still think the stock price at $300 per share is way over priced. It is a bubble waiting to pop.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Another milestone in the Tesla story, and another painful one for shorts who failed to cash out prior to the earnings call:

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-results-s...

      It looks very positive for Tesla's future, but I'm sure it's not going to be the last metaphorical twist nor turn in the road!

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Lake Mead isn't in California; it's in Nevada, downstream from the Grand Canyon, and not too far from Las Vegas. The current drought in California isn't that bad, by recent standards; none of it is in the worst category of 'exceptional drought', and only the far southeastern corner is even in the next-worst category, D3 ('extreme drought'). By contrast, the 'four corners' area where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and converge, IS in exceptional drought (D4). Basically the whole Colorado River watershed upstream of Lake Mead is D3 or worse.

      http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

      However, the 2014 California drought probably *was* unprecedented. See, for example:

      https://oceanbites.org/was-the-california-drought-...

      I've seen the 20-year cyclic claim, too, but found no support whatever for it in historic data that I looked at. This graph is second-hand and 'broad brush-strokes', but if you can see cycles in there your eye is more sensitive to them than mine:

      https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/0...

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Is the current drought in CA unprecedented? I don’t know the answer but heard some say the drought happens on a regular basis every 20 years or so...given the increased population and water usage, you think the State could have planned better for water management.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Concerns about Lake Mead continue to deepen--unlike the lake itself. With the 'third straw' operational, they can now draw water right down to 'dead pool' level (the level at which Hoover Dam can no longer release water). But now water management officials are projecting significant probabilities of lake levels below 1020 feet (as compared with 'old normals' above 1200), and urging the most concerned states to come to a 'drought agreement' that would 'buy time' to find longer-term solutions. (No word on what those might be, though.)

      https://tucson.com/news/local/risks-to-lake-mead-c...

      Currently, the lake is at ~1077--doing a little better than in 2016, when the summer level bottomed out at ~1070, though not as well as last year.

      http://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "Elon Musk seems a bit unglued of late. Getting into a twitter war over the Thai soccer players rescue seems distracting... also, he seems to be spread too thin with running 3 companies..."

      I think those concerns have validity, but it the production ramp continues--and I think it will--then they probably are not of great significance. We'll see.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Really, I am just the opposite, I’ve been advising people to avoid the TSLA bubble in stock. They are way above valuation by any stretch. Also, I am not convinced they have solve the mass production problem. They cannot sustain this rate using robotics. The attempt at full automation is their weakness. Also, Elon Musk seems a bit unglued of late. Getting into a twitter war over the Thai soccer players rescue seems distracting... also, he seems to be spread too thin with running 3 companies...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "We will have to see if the model 3 fare as well."

      Yes, it has a new battery, redesigned from the cell level up. We know that one design consideration was to reduce very significantly the amount of cobalt needed, since that is looming as a possible supply 'pinch point', or at least an increasing expense. (Though not for BYD's batteries; they use a different chemistry!) And from that perspective, it is already a success.

      The question is, does it cycle as well? Some question whether that will be the case. Or is it possible that it cycles even better, as some others think? No-one outside Tesla seems to know, and maybe they can't be certain inside Tesla, either! But as so often is the case, time will tell.

      One thing is for sure about the Model 3, though, and that is that they literally can't build them as fast as they can sell them. (Though they're getting closer!) With 5,000 units out the door each week, and new estimates reporting ~30% profit per unit, I'm feeling much better about company prospects than I was.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      4 months ago from Yorktown NY

      That is very interesting. I also wondered how long and resilent will the battery on the Tesla last. It appears it lasted 300k miles before changing to a new battery and then at 400k.

      That is very impressive. The cost is still a factor for most. We will have to see if the model 3 fare as well.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      4 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      One expected advantage of EV technology is lower operating costs, including lower maintenance costs due to inherently simpler drive trains. So this story represents an early data point in that history. Tesloop reports on their experience with their most heavily-used Model S, which they have now operated for over 400,000 miles. While it racked up $19,000 in maintenance costs, that still compares favorably with estimated costs of ~$88,500 (Lincoln Town car) and ~$98,900 (Mercedes GLS class) over the same 400,000 miles.

      Obviously, all three vehicles are considered to be in the 'luxury' class.

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/17/tesloop-share...

      I think quite a few people will be keeping an eye on this issue. I know that I will.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      No, I don't think so. I think that we don't want to *lose* any more nuclear capacity for the reason you mention, and because it is good to have baseload capacity, even if the grid is becoming less and less reliant on baseload.

      However, new nuclear capacity is *much* more expensive and *much* slower to build than renewables, which are cheap and (to a considerable degree) modular. That makes them much more scalable than nuclear power. And while *existing* nuclear capacity is cheap enough, costing something like 3 cents a kilowatt-hour to operate if memory serves, *new* nuclear capacity in the US actually has an unknown cost.

      By that, I refer to the failed expansion here in South Carolina, which has cost $9 billion, and which will yield not a kilowatt of power, ever; and to the equally troubled Vogtle expansion in Georgia, which is now in year 10 of construction, is not expected to be completed until 2022, and is currently estimated to cost $25 billion to complete. I don't have a lot of faith in that estimate, due to the history of cost overruns so far, and due to the fact that financing is currently becoming more expensive, not less, with rising interest rates. There also appear to be rising political headwinds:

      https://thebrunswicknews.com/news/local_news/noel-...

      (Note that the arguments against Vogtle are all economic; there's not one mention of nuclear waste or accident in the piece.)

      So, the bottom line is, we really don't know how much new nuclear capacity in the US costs unless and until Vogtle gets built; there is now no other real-world, empirical metric.

      Meanwhile, renewable costs continue to fall. Onshore wind is now by most metrics the cheapest form of generation to build in the US on a kilowatt-to-kilowatt basis, and solar PV is competitive (and about 2/3 the cost of nuclear, as calculated by the EIA):

      https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_g...

      (Note that the EIA is not pro-renewable, and in fact has a long history of underestimating the deployment of renewable energy.)

      So, while nuclear power has a role to play in our energy mix, scaling it up sufficiently to address the carbon crisis is simply not possible.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      5 months ago from Yorktown NY

      My point is, if helping climate change is the main objective, shouldn’t we be supporting more nuclear power plants...after all it is the ultimate clean, renewable energy source. It is also competitive in price to existing power source.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      You mean a huge spike in electric rates?

      You made me curious; this article reports estimates of 1 to 1 1/2 cents a kilowatt-hour.

      https://energywatch-inc.com/indian-point-closing-i...

      According to this source, NYC residential rates are already north of 17 cents/kwh, so that's ~ a 6-11% increase. Big enough to be unwelcome, sure, but I wouldn't call even 11% 'huge'.

      And I bet, based on several factors, that the increase turns out to be less than that in practice. Let me know, if you happen to think of it, as things play out.

      (In general, by the way, I support keeping existing nuclear capacity operating, and support research into nuclear technology for the future.)

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      5 months ago from Yorktown NY

      In my area, the nuclear power plant Indian Point is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2 years. It will cause a huge spike in our electric utilities...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Another renewable energy milestone in the US, as wind plus solar reaches 10% of total generation, and all RE (including hydro) reaches 20%.

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/28/us-renewables...

      Some folks expected that 10% variable power would be highly destabilizing to the grid, but that has not been the case, as grid integration of variable power sources has been less difficult than anticipated. (Though it still an issue to which attention must be given, and increasingly so as penetration of variable renewables continues to increase.)

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Fortuitously, this just in:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/28/byd-powers-up...

      Batteries have been the most expensive part of EVs--but with mass manufacturing like this, battery costs can only continue to decline rapidly, bringing down EV prices with them.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "All electric will be more expensive even with rebates."

      For now...

      "I wonder how many will be sold..."

      I'll keep you posted, never fear! ;-)

      But don't forget, there are a few different ways to assess cost: up-front expense is one, but lifetime ownership & operation is another--and there, electrics may shine, depending upon the needs of the owner.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      5 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Thanks for the info. Volvo are not cheap cars to begin with. All electric will be more expensive even with rebates. I wonder how many will be sold...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      More on the evolution of mass-market EVs:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/27/volvo-says-xc...

      A lot of Volvo's American production will be just a couple of hours down the road from me in Charleston, SC.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      5 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Yes, we need to study it more. But no, it's not necessary to suspend all practical action in the meantime.

      After all, in the same article we read:

      "Though Shepherd said they can't point to one root cause that is responsible for the melt, it is in response to a changing climate.

      "Antarctica has very clearly become activated over the past couple of decades in a way that it wasn't before," Shepherd said.

      The study used 20 years of data from 24 independent satellite measurements, along with studies from more than 80 co-authors, and was prepared in collaboration with NASA and ESA.

      "We think this is the most authoritative estimate to date, and it shows a really clear picture," Shepherd said.""

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      6 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      Here is the statement that is eye opening...

      "This is a big increase in ice loss that needs to be understood and needs to be taken into consideration when we look to the future," Andrew Shepherd, lead author and a professor of Earth Observation University of Leeds in the United Kingdom said.

      So another word, we need to study this more...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Another worrisome study, this time a 'meta-study' that involved more than 80 authors. The main finding was that ice loss from the West Antarctic ice sheet has more than tripled, and is now contributing 0.6 mm/year of sea level rise, or 20-30% of the observed total rise.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/antarctic-ice-sh...

      That would help explain the fact that the rate of rise appears to be increasing.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Oops! The preceding comment was supposed to refer to a story in the MIT Review:

      https://www.technologyreview.com/s/609620/global-w...

      A worrisome story...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      “There are problems with climate models, but the ones that are most accurate are the ones that produce the most warming in the future.”

      Moreover, "...an emerging challenge is that the climate is changing faster than the models are improving, as real-world events occur that the models didn’t predict. Notably, Arctic sea ice is melting more rapidly than the models can explain, suggesting that the simulations aren’t fully capturing certain processes.

      "“We’re increasingly shifting from a mode of predicting what’s going to happen to a mode of trying to explain what happened,” Caldeira says."

      In other words, we are moving into a regime in which increasingly we are being overtaken by events.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "It is arrogant on the part of humans to think we can control it to the extent they think..."

      It's not arrogant to take accurate stock of the effects of our actions, and to choose actions that further our own best interests (which also implies conserving the biosphere, upon which we depend).

      It's responsible.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      7 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I guess we will have to wait and see what is a better prediction. Obviously, we have different opinions. Nature has a way of taking care of things... It is arrogant on the part of humans to think we can control it to the extent they think. we are just a blip in the long history of this planet. look at what is happening right now in Hawaii. Do humans have any control over that? not even close. When a volcano blows, we can only evacuate and get out of the way...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      "As we know for a fact, the polar bear population are doing just fine..."

      With respect, we don't know anything of the sort. The population trends for most subpopulations are unknown, and for some, even population size is uncertain. Several subpopulations are, however, thought to be declining, and the Southern Hudson Bay group, while stable in population terms for now, is observed to be in declining mean physical condition.

      http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/population-map.htm...

      I'd also point out that the logic of your response is questionable: a threatening condition does not cease to be threatening because *at present* the anticipated harm is incompletely realized. For example, a growing cancerous tumor is not rendered harmless because the patient suffering it is so far asymptomatic.

      "Animals and plants are well adapted to climate change because they are survivalists..."

      Not change like this. Remember that, as Elizabeth Kolbert pointed out, we are already at the warmer end of the temperature range experienced during the Quaternary Period of the last 2 million years or so. And remember too that the rates of change we are imposing are enormously faster than transitions between normal glacial and interglacial periods have been.

      "The idea that we are causing this calamity is absurd. The natural climate change has been going on..."

      A non sequitur: just because forest fire occurs naturally does not mean that humans cannot also be a cause, nor that human-caused fires are harmless. There are very, very solid and long-standing reasons for the mainstream understanding that humans are indeed responsible for observed warming.

      "...we are in a better position to deal with the changes because we have new technologies..."

      There is no known suite of technologies that would allow a better outcome for relying on pure adaptation, than on mitigating the problem of carbon pollution.

      "Ever since the 1970s, I have been taught our population explosion will lead to the death of humanity..."

      Because one prediction was (arguably) wrong does not mean that another must be, too.

      And I'd argue further that, had we not (mostly by good luck) experienced the 'demographic transition' from high to low fertility levels in most of the world, we'd be in a worse state than we are today, regardless of the technological advancements that you correctly point to. And we'd be set up for *much* worse outcomes yet, over the next few decades.

      Further, in general, at some point growth becomes untenable--certainly energy growth does, at least, as demonstrated here:

      https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/07/galactic-scale-...

      While our ability to adapt is indeed impressive, it becomes less so when we arbitrarily refuse to consider the least-cost options we have--in this case, mitigating carbon emissions.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      7 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc,

      "Polar bears and other iconic animals could be extinct by the end of the century if ocean temperatures continue to rise at the current rate, marine biologists warned Monday."

      It is statements like this that lends people like me to distrust scientists...

      As we know for a fact, the polar bear population are doing just fine, ever since An Inconvenient Truth documentary...

      Animals and plants are well adapted to climate change because they are survivalists...

      The idea that we are causing this calamity is absurd. The natural climate change has been going on since the formation of the earth all all life on earth since Noah...

      we are in a better position to deal with the changes because we have new technologies... we will survive and do very well and possibly help other species survive as well due to our conservation efforts.

      Ever since the 1970s, I have been taught our population explosion will lead to the death of humanity... due to shortages of food and water and natural resources...

      Well, here we are 50 years later and we are doing just fine...the reason, is our technology of food production and energy production...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      7 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Here's a story adding more support to the concerns about the biological effects of warming. Remember that Arctic and Antarctic waters have been extremely productive sources of food for both the biosphere at large and for humans, precisely because the cold waters are high in oxygen. That's why humans have sought them out for centuries now.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/oceanic-warmin...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      You're welcome; I hope it helped.

      "...in nature, everything you described has happened and will happen again with or without human intervention."

      'Natural' does not mean good. The mass extinction at the end of the Permian, which wiped out something like 95% of all terrestrial life, was entirely natural. The question only concerns 'natural vs. human' insofar as we can control or influence the outcome in order to further our own best interests.

      "...environment protection is directly tied to human well being, clean water, clean air...and non toxic waste..."

      The problem here is the innocent-sounding term "directly". Indirect effects, such as I considered in the previous comment, can be highly lethal--so it would only be wise to consider them.

      "CO2 in small or large quantities is still a gas that is needed for life on earth just like water and oxygen."

      True, but irrelevant for the argument at hand.

      "The current climate models are far from reality."

      No, they aren't. They are imperfect, as I (following the IPCC and the professional literature) have said many times, but they have a strong track record of useful predictions. I won't repeat it here, but specific instances are documented above in the body of the Hub.

      "...the time scale is also a huge element of this debate. As I pointed out earlier in past conversation, if the prediction are for the next decade, then we are screwed."

      We discussed this a couple of comments ago, so I'll only say here that I'm basically in agreement--and suspect that in terms of climate change commitment, we are indeed perilously close to 'screwed.'

      However, it's not a binary screwed/not screwed dichotomy. Thus, while the 'golden window' for mitigating carbon pollution may be close to closing (or conceivably closed already), there will be chances to avoid still worse harms for some time to come.

      It's a bit like a gambler on a serious losing streak: there is time to cut our losses, right up until the time when we are completely wiped out. It's an imperfect analogy, though; on the one hand, the gambler will know when all the money is gone, and that will follow fairly quickly from the fatal bet, whereas in our case the lag between the two may be very, very long. On the other hand, there is *more* certainty in the case of climate change, in that we know to a practical certainty that the longer we continue with business as usual, the worse the odds become. In the case of the gambler, there is by contrast a real (though small) possibility of a dramatic, improbable win that recoups everything. That is not a possible outcome of our present situation. Doubling down will not take us anywhere good.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      8 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Thanks for that long explanation but it does not change the fact that in nature, everything you described has happened and will happen again with or without human intervention.

      Read that again for emphasis.

      Therefore, what is environment protection is directly tied to human well being, clean water, clean air...and non toxic waste...

      CO2 in small or large quantities is still a gas that is needed for life on earth just like water and oxygen.

      Yes, the quantity is a factor since too much oxygen can kill us but that does not make them pollutants.

      I hope you see the difference.

      As a computer engineer, I look for real models that demonstrate reality. The current climate models are far from reality.

      Until they fix this, this debate will continue and one way or another, one side will prove to be correct.

      Finally, the time scale is also a huge element of this debate. As I pointed out earlier in past conversation, if the prediction are for the next decade, then we are screwed. If they are for the next 100 years, we have time to mitigate. If they are for a 1000 years, then it does not matter much.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Well then, Jack , let me lay out the logic of including climate protection within the wider category of environmental protection.

      Modern biology recognizes that life characteristically operates in 'ecosystems' of interacting organisms within a particular physical environment. Wikipedia has an extensive article on the subdiscipline of ecology tracing its essential concepts and its history, here:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecology

      For context, a convenient milestone: "The term "ecology" (German: Oekologie, Ökologie) is of a more recent origin and was first coined by the German biologist Ernst Haeckel in his book Generelle Morphologie der Organismen (1866)."

      I mention this because there is a misconception that an 'ecologist' is an environmental activist. If so, it is on his or her own time; an ecologist per se is a scientist (biologist) who studies the systems resulting from the interactions of organisms with their biotic *and abiotic* environment.

      Let's take the most obvious climate-related example, the Arctic sea ice. It is the whole or partial physical habitat for numerous species including traditional Inuit, Eskimo, and Sami people, besides whales, walruses, seals, bears, and not a few marine species down to the size of micro-organisms. It is obvious on a purely logical basis that significant changes to the quantity and quality of sea ice will have major repercussions for all of those organisms.

      It's also empirically observable today that decreasing ice cover is putting stress on populations of bears and walruses. There is no reasonable doubt that the ice is decreasing, nor that the decrease is due to a strong warming trend, nor that that warming is tied to human greenhouse emissions.

      But that's just the most obvious example. Another would be ocean acidification--closer to the classic concept of what I call 'toxic pollution' in a way, but still an example of biological threat via alteration to the characteristics of the physical environment.

      A third, on a smaller scale but still involving billions of dollars of economic value, is the threat to fruit and nut tree orchards from climatic warming: most such species require cold weather to set fruit. Without a threshold amount of cool winter weather, the trees will not blossom, and the farmers will see no income. That's not an existential threat to society per se (though it may be to the farmers, due to the practical difficulties of switching to another crop or form of livelihood.) But it's not an isolated problem; there are many forms of 'ecological service' that we receive from functioning ecosystems, which we depend on and yet are barely aware of.

      Take the example of declining populations of flying insects, which seems to be occurring on a global scale. A recent study quantified the drop in Germany in terms of biomass at 76% over 27 years, noting that "Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services... This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape."

      http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.137.../journal.pone.0185809

      What does this mean in practical terms for humans, you may well ask. (I'm picking up on your phrase "that affect all of us right now.") And the answer, which I find quite scary, is that we frankly don't know. We do know that insects are low on the food chain--that being not just an everyday colloquialism but a basic ecological concept--and that they have, historically, accounted for a large fraction of Earth's biomass (they are tiny, but astoundingly numerous). That means that a great many other species depend on insects for food--birds, obviously, and amphibians of all sorts, and many mammalian species, from bats to bears. Additionally, insects act as pollinators for many, perhaps most, species of plants (and some have very specific dependencies).

      So, it's logically possible that this decline could lead to a loss of a great many species of plants and animals--local or even global population extinctions on a massive scale. It's possible to imagine a pretty dead landscape, should we lose all those species.

      But what would that mean for humans? We'd probably suffer a serious loss of clean water, since the hydrological cycle would be greatly altered, probably by drastically increased runoff rates. We'd see more flooding, probably, for the same reason.

      Agriculture would be harder just for that reason, but what about pollination services? If we became largely dependent on artificial pollination, our productivity would surely suffer a drastic decline.

      And what would the impoverishment of the landscape mean for air quality? Surely there would be more dust; do you know about the American 'Dust Bowl' years, partially induces by inappropriate farming practices?

      It's hard to know where the indirect but potentially very large effects would stop, for the simple reason that, for all we have learned about the normal functioning of ecosystems, there is much more that we have yet to learn--especially when drastic perturbations to the environmental conditions are involved.

      Since you are a computer engineer, consider the analogy of corrupted code. What happens if you randomly delete a line? Obviously, the results can vary widely. Maybe it was just a comment. Maybe it was a conditional call to a subroutine that hardly ever needs to be invoked. Or maybe it was the closure of a processing loop.

      What happens when you delete 1% of the lines? 10%?

      Well, you get the idea. It's not a good idea to randomly poke at systems you depend upon, but don't understand in depth.

      "CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not pollutants."

      Sure they are. A pollutant does not have to be synthetic--nitrogen and phosphorus, which are naturally-occurring elements are subject to pollution regulations, too. Nor do pollutants have to operate by direct toxicity--nitrogen (comprising nearly 80% of the atmosphere!) pollutes water when it over-fertilizes plant life (usually in the form of toxic algal blooms, like the one that shut down the water system of Toledo, Ohio in 2014.)

      The important factor here is that being a pollutant is not an essential *quality* of a particular substance, but a result of its *quantitative* levels in particular contexts interfering with ecological functioning. (For example, atmospheric nitrogen is not a pollutant, but elevated nitrogen levels in agricultural runoff are, both practically and in law.)

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      8 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, you had me till the last paragraph. That is the difference between you and me. I treat them separately. Environmental protection is clean water clean air recycling... that affect all of us right now. I support those efforts totally.

      CO2 and other greenhouse gases are not pollutants. They are by products of life on earth the way we are accustomed to. It can be said by some extremist environmentalists that we humans just being here are a threat to the environment. By that logic, we should all comit suicide to save the planet. For who? This co opting of the climate change issue by the environmentalist is the huge problem in my eyes. They should not be linked. The climate change is a long term issue that requires careful deliberation. It should not be taken on to save the planet because the planet is going to do what it is going to do. Another ice age will come in 100,000 years. Can we control it? Or will we still be here?

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Thank for clarifying.

      "Do you think it is accurate then and now?"

      Hard to be exactly sure, given the multiple uncertainties involved, but I think it is (or was) largely accurate. Many of the scenarios in which we avoid the 1.5 C warming benchmark now involve either temporary 'overshoot' and/or technological drawdown of atmospheric CO2. So, inasmuch as Lynas didn't envisage such measures, then his statement may have been accurate, since now to achieve comparable goals we have to invoke more desperate (and perhaps infeasible) methods and tactics.

      "If we didn’t act with urgency as he proposed, what would happen?"

      Increasing damage to ecology, economy, and the security environment. Unfortunately, we don't really know where possible non-linearities in response may lie. The more dilatory we are, the more risk we run, and the worse the damage we must live with.

      "If things are as dire as predicted, and scientists and politicians are so positive in their belief..."

      Scientists, by and large, are. Politicians, not so much. And they are the ones who are the 'deciders' of policy.

      "We go to wars for much less..."

      Indeed. You'll find no shortage of folks advocating efforts comparable to the WW II commitment. But it's a lot easier to see weaker nations being conquered by a tyrant than to see most of the consequences of climate change--especially when there is an extensive and intense PR effort to obfuscate the latter issue.

      "...a different agenda such as environment protection..."

      Climate protection IS environmental protection. Not *all* environmental protection, of course--we must address toxic pollutants that don't directly affect climate, too. But climate is fundamental to the functioning of ecosystems all around the globe, as well as to human economies. So these 'agendas' really can't be separated.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      8 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I was using your quote from the book ....

      “My conclusion in this book... is that we have less than a decade remaining to peak and begin cutting global emissions. This is an urgent timetable, but not an impossible one. It seems to me that the dire situation that we find ourselves in argues no for fatalism, but for radicalism.”

      It was written in 2008 and now it is a decade later from where he made the statement.

      Do you think it is accurate then and now?

      If we didn’t act with urgency as he proposed, what would happen?

      How far should our society go to enforcing these strict limits on emission?

      If things are as dire as predicted, and scientists and politicians are so positive in their belief, then why woudn’t they act by force if necessary? ... for the greater good.

      We go to wars for much less...

      Unless they are not that sure,,, and that they are hyping it for personal gains, and that they are excercising their power to achieve a different agenda such as environment protection...

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      You're welcome, Jack.

      "...some part of the globe will become more hospitable to life."

      Probably not, at least in any humanly meaningful timeframe. While temperatures in Arctic and Antarctic regions may become more hospitable to humans and our commensals, it will take a very long time for other conditions to approach the biological and ecological wealth we inherited. And a lot of the latter will just be gone irreplaceably.

      Past 2 degrees of warming, there is precious little benefit anywhere.

      "Also, the predictions made in 2008 is now 10 years old. Have they materialized as he projected?"

      Ten years is too short; at a warming rate of ca. 0.17 C per decade, we're still in the "one degree world", as we were in 2008. However, the water stress stories I linked at the beginning of this subthread are vivid examples of long-predicted 'bad case' scenarios.

      "We can’t possiblly know what is going to happen in 10, 20, or 30 years..."

      As one who has often emphasized uncertainties, especially about what human society will choose to do over the next few years, I certainly agree. But we have some knowledge about the wisdom of our current course--or rather, the lack of wisdom. And the uncertainties that remain are not our friends, based on standard approaches to risk management.

      "Is it too late for any actions as he predicted?"

      I don't think he did make such a prediction; the whole last chapter of the book is about choices and actions, as summed up in the title "Choosing Our Future."

      But it's hard to know whether it is 'too late' already. Actually, there's no assurance that we'll be able to recognize 'too late' when and if it comes (if there even were a single such moment).

      Given that warming lags forcing, and that sea level rise and probably many other impacts lag warming, it's very likely that we won't. We'll recognize it only in the 'rear view mirror'--with enormous (and enormously futile) regret.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      8 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, thanks for these info. I read the 6 degree summary and there is one problem. It does not mention the benefits of a warming world. I can see all the negatives but there are also positives... some part of the globe will become more hospitable to life. If this happens gradually over centuries, people can migrate and adapt...

      The problem with climate chamge is not one sided.

      Also, the predictions made in 2008 is now 10 years old. Have they materialized as he projected?

      Is it too late for any actions as he predicted?

      I don’t think so...

      Another case of worst case scenario not coming to fruition.

      I guess that is why I am still a skeptic?

      We can’t possiblly know what is going to happen in 10, 20, or 30 years let alone 1 year.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      8 months ago from Camden, South Carolina

      A sort of update on the water-stress issue. Just ran across not one, but two reports of climate change-related water stress issues and the huge associated costs.

      1) Israel has reached unprecedented levels of water stress, and is planning a large increase in its desalinization capability:

      https://cleantechnica.com/2018/04/10/as-israels-fr...

      2) China's water stress amelioration effort, the $48 billion (so far!) South-to-north water diversion project, isn't achieving its goals (though it is, for the present, keeping the taps flowing in Beijing, which is certainly for the best).

      "...in the north, 11 provinces have less than 1,000 cubic meters of water per person per year [the threshold for 'water stress']... Eight have only half that... [including] four of China's five biggest farming provinces. They produce 45% of the country's GDP and generate half of its power. It is no exaggeration to say the future of China's economy is threatened by lack of water."

      https://www.economist.com/news/china/21740011-chan...

      Both cases are long-predicted consequences of climate change, and may be found in the literature going back quite a while. See, for instance, my piece on Mark Lynas's "Six Degrees", a book which came out in 2008:

      https://owlcation.com/stem/Mark-Lynass-Six-Degrees...

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