Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Five climate arguments

The point of my recent Five climate futures post was to introduce the idea of future climate scenarios and their likelihood. To recap - how likely is each scenario and how do we know? 
  1. Unambiguous warming.
  2. Ambiguous warming.
  3. No change.
  4. Ambiguous cooling.
  5. Unambiguous cooling.

The short and obvious answer is that we have no idea. I estimated percentages based on how many there are. I know the estimates are illegitimate in any scientific sense, although I received only one challenge in the comments. Ah well.

The point is this – how do you estimate the likelihood of these climate scenarios using credible arguments? As far as I can see, there are five basic climate change arguments commonly encountered in the public domain. 
  1. Science with no predictive track record
  2. Appeals to authority.
  3. Rhetorical emotional appeals.
  4. Images – ice crashing into the sea etc.
  5. Abuse – overt, covert and parody

The debate is packed with nuances such the political use of exaggerated risk to control behaviour, but which of these arguments enables us to choose between the five climate scenarios do you think?

Well abuse can be fun and in my view has a useful place in the climate change debate, especially parody. If nothing else it holds before our tired eyes the absurdities of current energy policies and how we stumbled our way into this mess.

So let us humanise the whole debate and accept a more personal and emotional role in our own beliefs. Here are the crucial questions whereby I think we may get to grips with how little we know and how much we rely on authority :-

Which future climate scenario is your best guess?

Which argument supports your choice?

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4 comments:

Paddington said...

1. Unambiguous warming, supported by the basic physics.

Sackerson said...

I don't know, and would like to discover the facts and construct a predictive model - you know, like real scientists do.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - nobody knows how to fit the basic physics together at this level of complexity. It's one reason why the models don't work.

Sackers - we have yet to discover all the facts - that's one of the relevant facts.

Paddington said...

Let me preface the rst of my comment with my conclusion - it is too late to reverse the process, and our political leaders are scientifically somewhere in the 16th century. That being said, there is at least one physicist who agrees with me: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/02/nation/la-na-tt-climate-change-skeptic-20120802