Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just because the greenhouse effect is easy to understand doesn't mean anthropogenic global warming is an emergency.

In the midst of a generally thoughtful and appropriately skeptical pro warmest think peace the author says:

We know that our climate is changing and that humans bear responsibility for that because the greenhouse-gas effect is relatively easy to understand. But beyond that we know frighteningly little, as the litany of failed predictions produced by our best climate models demonstrate. Our planet’s climate is immensely complex, and it’s proving nearly impossible to anticipate what might happen when a few factors—like greenhouse gas concentrations—are adjusted. There are so many variables in the system, and so many relationships between those variables (many of which we aren’t yet aware of), that it’s no wonder we can’t correctly model the future.

Again, most of this is unobjectionable but that first sentence is a whopper.  So we know that germs cause cancer because the germ theory of medicine is easy to grasp? Or we know that sprinklers cause thunderstorms because the phase change nature of matter us easy to understand? Obviously simple test tube theories about one small component of the atmosphere tell us little about what is going to happen in a complex, chaotic mega system.

And that's assuming that the  writer understands why the greenhouse effect behaves the way it does in the first place (it's not what you think) or that he knows that the greenhouse impact of each successive doubling of CO2 halves. Sadly, the average lay-hysteric never gets beyond the gap jawed credulousness of Ezra "we're all gonna burn" Klein.

Which isn't sufficient for an informed opinion.

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