Coming climate clouded but present panic pretty plainRichard Treadgold | October 4, 2012
Well, which is it?
Will it be a nightmare or not?
In comments, I cited a statement by Jim Renwick from a few months ago. He said:
I feel a kind of morbid fascination with this stuff. It’s a really fascinating science issue – and I’m really interested to find out what’s going to happen to the climate and how much ice is going to melt and what’s the temperature in 2020 going to be and all the rest of it. It’s intriguing, it’s my bread and butter but you know what I feel is – I look at this and say jeez we’re really doing this, we’re doing this experiment, we’re really playing this game with the Earth, we’re gambling with millions of lives and I sort of feel disgusted with myself that I find it interesting from a scientific point of view. It’s certainly interesting, but it’s more than interesting — it’s a very dangerous game we’re playing.
I was illustrating a comment that only a few climate scientists of the alarmist school venture to tell us we’re destroying the world. Most of them are more cautious, almost as though they’re setting up for the long-term defence that they were never really converts to that alarmist view of climate change they claim is the consensus.
The reader Simon said this:
Jim [James Renwick] would be one of the most knowledgeable people about climate in the country and he is openly admitting that we don’t know how it will turn out. People who think they can describe the climate with a simple set of equations are kidding themselves. An alternative popular skeptic meme is that because the climate is complex we will never understand it so we shouldn’t bother trying and just keep on doing what we are doing. I would argue the precautionary principle that we should be careful and hedge our bets. Humans are twiddling the knobs of a complex non-linear system and there may (or may not if there is some negative feedback loop) be consequences, particularly to less adaptable flora and fauna.
So it’s a fair point: Renwick’s admitting ignorance, not saying the science is settled.
Trouble is, it’s the kind of ignorance that appears to contain devastating knowledge, don’t you think? For he describes a “morbid” fascination with climate change (global warming!). He says: “Jeez,we’re really doing this,” as though it’s daring and dangerous. In fact he finishes by saying: “it’s a very dangerous game.”
So, he doesn’t know what will happen, yet he calls it a dangerous game as though he knows what could happen. Further, as though he wants people to believe in a dangerous outcome to this “experiment”.
He takes two large bites of this small cherry of ignorance, I think. If he doesn’t know, he shouldn’t talk about fearing some dangerous result. Because if he did know, he wouldn’t be saying that he doesn’t.
Finally, with so much evidence refuting the likelihood of disaster, why should our policymakers lean towards expense, disruption, self-denial and fear rather than confidence in the continued beneficence of our wonderful planet?