My view, as I have mentioned before, is that climate change is real and probably in large part due to humans but that it will have both positive and negative effects of uncertain size, making both the size and the sign of the net effect uncertain. The view expressed by most climatologists involved in the controversy and by most commenters in the media, on the other hand, is that the net effect will be negative and somewhere between substantial and catastrophic. Why am I willing to reject their expert opinion in favor of my less expert opinion?
I don't think anyone has yet disputed the point of the post, which was that the Dessler book is so bad that the fact it is used as an elementary textbook, now in its third edition, implies that the field it is in is in bad shape and its claims about climate change should not be relied on.
Another problem with the cost calculations for sea level rise is 100 years is a very long time in practical terms. Nearly every building in the flooded areas will have been replaced in that period, and since a gradual sea level rise will be obvious the entire time it is happening, entire cities can easily shift to higher ground in a gradual way, or even be lifted up as Chicago once was.
I was planning to get in on the climate change debate by first learning about climate science in an actual textbook for college students. I figured it was the best place to start to get a good grasp of what climate science is and what it actually says about the global warming, all without the biases you usually see in the media. There goes my plan…
I am not sure where I should start now.
Not all climatologists are inclined towards alarmism. Rather the contrary. I have not been involved in the world of climatology for 15 years but back then it was quiet common for climatologists to be what would today be called climate sceptics while at the same time doing research that indirectly benefited an alarmist narrative because that was the kind of research that the paymasters wanted.
I did write a Substack post about my (very limited) experiences as a climatologist last year:
Once upon a time....
A short history of Climate Change:
In the beginning (1970's or so) there was Global Cooling. The earth would be getting cooler and then colder. Great Men (this was pre Woman's Lib) espoused plans to paint the Arctic black to increase heat absorption and help melt the ice. As well as other idiotic schemes.
Alas and alack the earth began to warm up. The good news was none of the idiotic schemes were put into practice.
Thus Global Cooling became Global Warming. The Arctic would melt. London would be underwater, NYC would be underwater, or most of it. There would be an end of skiing and snow would be a thing of the past.
Alas and alack none of this happened.
Soooo the Grand Poobah's decided too rebrand. What had been Global Cooling and then Global Warming became Climate Change and thus the reason for, well, everything.
A very hot summer? Climate Change. A very cool summer? Climate Change. A warm winter? Climate Change, A very cool summer? Climate change? Floods? Climate Change. Droughts? Climate Change. A lot of hurricanes? Climate Change. Fewer hurricanes? Climate Change. More tornadoes? Climate Change. Fewer tornadoes? Climate Change. Earthquakes? Probably Climate Change.
Normal weather and\or rainfall patterns? Climate Change, just not quite yet.
Old expression is that proof is in the pudding and so far none of the dire predictions have even remotely come true.
The National Park Service put up signs at Glacier National Park 20 years ago warning that the glaciers would be gone in 20 years. They had to take them down because the advancing glaciers were knocking them down. Mt. Everest would be barren in 30 years. Oops a slight miscalculation. Make that 300 years. Maybe. There is still snow. Turns out Global Warming (i.e. Climate Change) can lead to more snow as well as less snow. Sort of, maybe, it depends...
None of the major or minor predictions have come remotely close to happening. Just like all of the population predictions.
What is most interesting is that no one has confronted Algore(one word) or Greta about failed predictions and pushed them on it.
The motto for Climate Change should be: Any day now, any day...it's a commin any day now, any day.
Do you know Judith Curry's work? Worth to examine, I think: https://judithcurry.com/2023/03/11/climate-uncertainty-and-risk-table-of-contents/
Dessler lives in Texas. Texas is hot. I would wager he has never been cold in his life, not *really* cold. Born in Houston, educated at Rice, M.A. Ph.D at Harvard (okay, it gets cold there, but not terribly so), worked on Wall Street (same for NYC), two years at NASA, 9 years at U of Maryland, now he teaches at TAMU.
People write about what they know, and what he knows is heat.
I agree with you that the climate change "debate" is well past the point where most of the contributions are reliable. Of course that's been true for a long time, and the bad faith contributions *probably* started with those paid by the oil industry. In any case, there's plenty of mud on all sides of this debate.
On the other hand, I think you need to stop narrowing your focus to direct effects on human beings living in the United States. Also, I see little point in beating a drum that says "(some) people who want to reduce climate change effects are mistaken or lying". We know that. Or at least, those of us who care about truth know that; the rest of us "know" that spokespeople for their own tribe are 100% accurate, just as the other tribe's spokespeople are 100% selfish liars. :(
I'd love to see what your formidable intellect came up with if you tried to evaluate all the evidence. You might well get farther than I have. (I've pretty much given up, since knowing the truth seems unlikely to have any effect on political decisions.)
If doing that, I'd pay attention to all the effects. Ocean acidification seems to be the effect most commonly ignored, both in estimates of likely consequences and in proposals for mitigation. If it merely (sic) reduces human-useful marine food production to zero, or by some lesser but still significant amount, then it should be considered with your computations of potential crop yields. If it also significantly impacts the amount of atmospheric oxygen - that's a rather different calculation. (And no, I don't mean just *statistical* significance.)
But experts agree that going with the group is good.
Wouldn't overestimating the effects of global warming be a good thing to accelerate action? Sure, temperature and water levels rising might actually take 200 years instead of 100 years as currently predicted (not real numbers, just illustrative), but the risks of underestimating the effects seem much worse (potential global catastrophe) than overestimating them (moving to carbon neutrality/energy independence faster). These are pretty complex systems and I would expect that humans won't do an amazing job understanding and quantifying, just like we are pretty bad at modelling and understanding complex macroeconomics systems. There is also the argument that underestimating the effects can fuel a quite dangerous narrative that politicians and media groups can use to push an oil-industry agenda, hampering even more the speed at which we transition.
I have a distinct memory of pictures in a grade school textbook from the late ‘80s showing Florida progressively disappearing. I can’t remember the years given for the various pictures, but I’m pretty sure much of Florida was supposed to be underwater by now. Would love for someone to dig up these older models that were sold to impressionable children like myself as fact. Climate science is above my head, but it’s become pretty clear it’s above the heads of the climate experts as well, especially when they’re presenting their models and predictions.
1. I was a DOE Global Change Fellow in the 90s.
2. >That analysis that obviously
You are missing an "is" there.
3. This kind of post is great and important except for when you say things like a meter of sea level rise is not an issue. I read your and others comments, and you seem to have this bizarre idea that people have built along the coasts with the idea that storm surges could be a full meter worse. Have you ever been to the coast? Did you not watch what Sandy did to NYC? Your arguments would be so much stronger if you didn't act like things are are clearly severe consequences are negligible. I love to promote your general thinking, but I'm embarrassed by that sea-level-rise dismissal. (Not that we can't do adaptation - see The Netherlands - but you're not calling for adaptation -- just calling it no big dea.) https://www.mattball.org/2023/03/a-note-to-my-friends-also-wo-tribe.html
4. Ocean acidification, as noted. I expect you'll come up with some reason that doesn't matter.
5. We can really do without Florida. Let's be honest. https://www.mattball.org/2021/11/the-world-of-tomorrow.html
6. Also as noted, many if not most of the people who take the "other side" of the climate change discussion are paid shills. Many of the others just fall into the right-wing ecosystem and just sit around bitching about "the left." I'm a fan of Bjorn Lomborg but for a while, he was the darling of the right, which kept him from being taken seriously, which was really a tragedy.
Good post. However aren’t increased deaths in winter primarily associated with viral infections?