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Friday, October 25, 2013

Five climate futures

As I see it, there are five possible global climate temperature scenarios for the next five years. Apart from the unexpected that is! 
  1. Unambiguous warming.
  2. Ambiguous warming.
  3. No change.
  4. Ambiguous cooling.
  5. Unambiguous cooling.

Scenarios 2, 3 and 4 are where various misguided enthusiasts claim we are at the moment. Climate science is too inexact in its definitions and too saturated with political exigencies for a neutral observer to distinguish between them. Not that there are any neutral observers in this debate.

Even so, what may we say about the coming five years with some degree of confidence? Obviously we have to guess, but if we are able to get over the idea that this has much to do with science, then we may get somewhere.

Commonly observed traits of human behaviour are what guide us through the climate debate which in my view is mostly driven by global political ambitions, middle class anxieties and an undue respect for authority. Even so, it is surely possible to get away from the failures of climate science and take a look at human nature.

Scenarios 1 and 2 should ensure the political and intellectual survival of mainstream pro-AGW climate narratives. The other three, namely 3, 4 and 5 will obviously cause increasingly severe problems for the mainstream narrative.

If we assume that all five narratives are equally probable, and we have no science to tell us otherwise, then there is a 60% chance that the mainstream pro-AGW narrative may fail very badly indeed. It depends of the resilience of the narrative which is undoubtedly powerful for both political and emotional reasons.

On the other hand, there is a 40% chance that it will succeed politically and intellectually, at least for that five year period.

Not that these percentages should be taken too seriously, but we have to make sense of climate change somehow and the mainstream science isn’t getting us anywhere. Most of it is far too speculative as a basis for energy policies which one way or another will end up being driven by the real world.

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Paddington said...

The devil is always in the details. What is the reasoning that leads to equal probabilities? This seems to be the default for humans, even though is is almost always incorrect.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - there is no reasoning leading to equal probabilities, but maybe we know how many scenarios there are politically.