Climate change: 97% certainty still not enough?

Hurricane Harvey produced a twelve-foot storm surge along parts of Texas and rainfall totals exceeded 40 inches in many parts of Houston.

Scientific American reports that while “extreme weather does not prove the existence of global warming,” we can still reasonably assume “climate change is likely to exaggerate it.”

Is There a Strong Link between Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change? (Scientific American)

Hurricane Harvey dragged the debate over climate change to the forefront again. What are we still debating? And how does that ongoing debate affect government response?

As long as there’s doubt about the effect of human activity on climate change we should not implement legislation.

the head of the EPA does not support the view that climate has changed in response to human activity

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” Scott Pruitt said. “So no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

Read more here: EPA Prevents Scientists From Speaking About Climate Change at Conference (NY Mag)

Consistent with Pruitt’s view, the EPA has prohibited its own scientists from giving presentations on climate change. Recently, EPA scientists were scheduled to speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed event but were forced to cancel the talk.

some scientists outside the government agree: predictions of warming have been “greatly overstated”

John Christy is a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who testified at a congressional hearing on climate change. Christy used a detailed and data-driven look at the models used to predict human-activity effect on global climate and found, among other things, that the model for temperature trends did not accurately predict recorded temperatures.

Christy requests independent “Red Teams” to help Congress to gain an unbiased view of climate change, that goes beyond the climate panels that Christy believes to carry a confirmation bias. Christy sees these scientists as protecting their own theories, and not open to analysis of their own data.

even if there is evidence of human-activity generated change, how much will it cost to stop future damage?

A report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that stabilizing greenhouse-gas emissions would cost about $13 trillion through 2030. It also said that reducing emissions would reduce the rate of economic growth (because of higher energy prices).

A report from the International Energy Agency said that switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy will cost $44 trillion between now and 2050.

Read more here: How Much Will It Cost to Solve Climate Change? (MIT Technology Review)

There is no uncertainty, except in public opinion.

97% of scientists agree: human activity has affected climate change

A survey of climatologists (fact-checked by Politico) shows that 97% think that global climate change is occurring and that human activity is the primary cause. And, with more publications—and greater expertise in climatology—there is an increased percentage of scientists that confirm the human activity component.

and 97% agreement means agreement: this is way science works

In science, we come up with a hypothesis, test it, and publish results in peer-reviewed journals. This leads to modifications of hypotheses, which leads to more tests, more peer-review and so on. The preponderance of replicable, well-run studies can lead to conclusions that ultimately can be used by policy makers.

“Science” is not a set of facts but a process or method that helps us to discover information and then determine the level of confidence we might have in that information.

“Science” is a moving, changing body of information that does its best to be accurate enough to act on.

despite the public’s indecisiveness, there is consensus among associations

the World Health Organization calls global warming “among the greatest health risks of the 21st Century.”

American Meteorological Society, The Geological Society of America, American Medical Association American Chemical Society and many others have come out with statements that support the conclusion: human activity has affected climate change. Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.


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