Posted by: jackslife | June 17, 2009

Climate Change Projections for Real?

Rod has a post up about some new climate change projections.  I always wonder how seriously to take these.  It’s hard to know if they are anywhere even remotely close to accurate, not to mention to what degree the human contributions to this are really responsible for the problem, as opposed to just natural cycles of climate change.  I am by no means a head in the sand type when it comes to environmental issues, but I am a natural sceptic who mistrusts the science community’s ability to accurately forcast things like this.  If the projections are correct though, it looks like we are in for some hot summers.

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Responses

  1. The projections certainly have some unavoidable error. However, they test them on historical data – enter the climatic factors (eg solar radiation, ocean activity, etc) for, say, 1980, and see if the projections match what actually happened. To my knowledge those sorts of tests have gone very well.

    Regional projections are not easy, as they get into ocean and wind currents, which can be changed by warming…..the projections you hear for your region are probably the most likely consequences, it’s hard to calculate their exact probablility and severity.

    In general, though, the idea that humans are causing the Earth to warm is very widely accepted (97% of publishing climatologists – google Doran and Zimmerman 2009). There is no known natural cycle that can explain the warming, especially since 1970. Let me know if you hear otherwise (in a peer-reviewed article, not from somewhere like the Heartland Institute).

    A great starter to learn some climate change stuff is the Summary for Policymakers in the recent IPCC report (free online) – it’s not as technical as the rest of the report. The Encyclopedia of Earth is also very good.

    Would you like to come check out my blog, which has to do exclusively with climate change, especially how it relates to ideas such as credibility and risk management? Link is on my username. Thanks!

    • Hey, thanks for the comment. I will certainly check out your blog. As I said, I’m not one of those who will vehemently deny climate change science, I just happen to be skeptical of dire apocalyptic warnings of all kinds. I also am very supportive of measures that will lead to more environmentally responsible behavior, so I don’t doubt that there is some level of human contribution to the issue.

      Thanks again for the comment and I look forward to perusing your corner of the blogosphere. Thank you for the reading recommendation for the IPCC report as well.

  2. Being a natural skeptic is fantastic. That’s the true quality of a scientist. However, there is a fine line between skepticism and denial.

    Being a skeptic means that it takes a lot of evidence to get you to change your mind.

    Being a denialist means that you will never change your mind, regardless of evidence.

    A lot of global warming “skeptics” seem to fall into the second category….

    But no apologies are needed for your natural skepticism. It is a good thing. You seem willing to change your mind based on evidence, but it will take convincing evidence. There’s nothing wrong with that.


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