Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Eiffel Tower is Dark!

The news media is in high gear in anticipation of the IPCC summary for policymakers that will be issued tomorrow. I think I will have to go into hiding for a couple days or my blood pressure will go through the roof. Leave it to the French to darken the Eiffel Tower to reflect the seriousness of the event.

So about 12 years ago, in my Environmental Economics course at Tuck, I had a "skeptic" in to class to discuss climate change -- Robert Balling. Now in the interest of balance, I also invited to the class Donella Meadows (Limits to Growth) and she did attend. It was one of my all time favorite class sessions. The students who were there probably still do not realize how lucky they were to see Balling and Meadows square off -- and agree on much of the science, but not on the policy implications!

So it sounds like one of the news bytes will be that mankind is "very likely" to be a cause of some (how much?) of the warming we have observed. Twelve years ago, Balling, a skeptic, would have agreed to that. I remember him going through the data, with a focus on moderate warming, especially at night and in winters, and more rainfall generally. That, he said is global warming. The question then, and now, is what we should do about it.

So the IPCC summary will try to make a big deal out of the "very likely" language, and all the media will try to use it to say that all skeptics have been discredited. I don't know of any skeptics who deny the theory of climate change (i.e., the causal relationship to CO2) or indeed any who would not agree that some of the warming we have observed in the last 100 years is "very likely" due to human influence.

That is just not the point.

It will be interesting to see the spin if, as I expect, the expected temperature increase and expected sea level increases both fall from previous expected values. How do you spin that into more of a crisis?


Anonymous said...

so what IS the point?

Anonymous said...

I recently saw in chart form within the "Environment Section" of a childrens almanac, the change in worldwide temperatures over the course of a couple of hundred years. One of the most interesting bits was that from 1900 to 1950 the average worldwide temp actually dropped. It then rose a bit after 1950 to 2000. My point is, if all this hype about global warming is due to emissions, wasn't the time before 1950 when industry really "cranked up" and emitted tons daily into the atmosphere. It wasn't until about 1950 that electric precipitators were installed and widely used in pulp and paper and steel mills; and certainly no power robbing devices were installed on autos during that time that supposedly "protect" us from whatever. So there Al Gore; this is inconvenient info!

Mike Fox, Bridge 2006 said...

Prof. Hansen,

I thought this was really interesting considering that it was published by an one of the world's preeminent climatologists. I still find it amazing that so many people would rather believe someone as uneducated on the subject as Al Gore, who is clearly nothing more than a simple, attention-craving opportunist using this global "crisis" to inject himself into the public consciousness. Additionally, I don't see any end in sight for this alarmism due to the fact that many individuals, including Al Gore, numerous scientists, and big business, now benefit economically from global warming. It really is a sad state of affairs. As she says in the theme song of An Inconvenient Truth, Melissa Ethridge really does need to wake up.
Here's the real inconvenient truth for Al Gore:

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