Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It's all so hummy. . .

And if you ever had to clean up after a sick bunny you will know that it takes a lot to make Tonstant Wabbit fwow up. Roger Jr is being all too twee again. Michael Tobis linked to the latest, and to give Benny Peiser his due, even Benny could not stomach the act.

It's hard to know where to start, so Eli will start at the beginning. Roger leads off with the usual, which Michael also notes, that we gotta adapt, but he slips in the sly one

And by adaptation I don’t simply mean adaptation to the marginal impacts of human-caused climate change. . . I mean adaptation to climate, and as such, a concept much more closely related to the original notion of sustainable development.
which basically means he doesn't think that man made climate change is gonna be very much or very bad, but we gotta adapt. To what is not quite clear
Unrestrained emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will no doubt have effects on the global earth system, including the oceans, atmosphere, and land surface. There is a chance that these effects could be relatively benign, but there is also a chance that the effects could be quite severe. I personally lean toward the latter view, but I recognize that there is ample scientific knowledge available for people to selectively construct any position they’d like along this spectrum. I have little expectation that climate scientists, despite their notable work alerting the world to the risks associated with unmitigated emissions, have much prospect for accurately predicting the evolution of the global climate system (and especially its regional manifestations) on the time scale on which decisions related to mitigation and adaptation need to be made. In fact, I think there is a very good chance that some enthusiastic climate modelers will overstretch their claims and hurt their own cause. Even so, I have concluded that it is only prudent to establish some cost to emitting carbon (a global carbon tax is the theoretical ideal).
This paragraph is a huge ball of internal contradictions, but never mind. Clearly Roger doesn't agree with the IPCC reports, all three of them, which forecast that man is significantly affecting climate (WGI), that these changes are going to have very bad effects (WGII) and what is necessary to deal with this situation (WGIII).

Benny pointed out that the cost of adaptation is not zero but at least 150 billion/year and that Roger is handwaving. But Roger is doing more than handwaving he is showcasing a basic denialist position (we don't really know enough to be certain of anything and certainly not enough to take action) while putting a fig leaf in place to defend himself later. The only reason he thinks taking action is necessary is because he personally thinks the effect of man made climate change could be severe, but in the preceding paragraph he said that the effects of man made climate change would be marginal. What is Roger adapting to?

The dear lad has certainly changed his tune from just a year ago

Eli: 3. Do you believe that any level of GHG CO2 equivalent mixing ratios would be so dangerous/costly as to be avoided through serious mitigation. If so where (My answer is 550-600 ppm, although to avoid that action will have to be taken almost immediately. In this I differ significantly with Tol and Nordhaus on when we have to start although not the end point.)

Roger:450, though likely not in the cards. 550-600 also unlikely. As you know I don’t think that this is the best way to frame the problem or think about action. It is a little like saying, would you prefer a poverty rate of 10% or 8%? Well, lower is better, the question is how do you get there? Not by arguing about ideal poverty rates I’d say. The stabilization rate we get will be the result of many individual policies justified on their own merits, not a top down target, which is exactly as policies are in fact developing around the US and elsewhere.
The relax and enjoy it version of climate science **.
Eli 4. What level of GHG mixing ratios can be dealt with through adaptation? (My answer is 450-500 at most but there will have to be mitigation to prevent the mixing ratio from rising above this. )
4) Poorly posed — adaptation will occur whatever the level of CO2 is - 950? Yes. 1500? Yes. Much adaptation is needed at 380 ppm. Adaptation and mitigation are not trade-offs but complements. Adaptation is needed at any levels of GHG concentrations. See our recent Nature piece.
UPDATE: In the comments, Roger Pielke Jr. writes:
To answer your last question - at _no level_ is only adaptation sufficient. Clear enough?

Now go stalk a carrot for a while.
Which was as clear a statement on this issue as could be wished.

Eli took a lot of abuse on your behalf, dear readers, to nail the liver mousse to the wall. Recently, Jon did the same. There's a lot of bluster in Boulder. When will this sink in?


Flavius Collium said...

Where's the reasonable adaptation "vs" mitigation debate/musings blog?

It isn't at Roger Jr's place, but it at least talks about it.

I wrote "vs" since it's of course not directly such a question. There has been and will be some adaptation (and suffering) anyway, it's a degree and balance issue.

I also mean by reasonable something actually honest and not one of those "we're gonna have to adapt anyway so mitigation is a waste" simpleton things...

It's a hard and not simple question.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with talking about adaptation unless it is used to drown out talk of mitigation.

but in one regard, the talk of adaptation is really a side show. Humans will adapt, whether anyone talks about it or not. (What did we ever do before the RP
s of the world came along and told us we "need to adapt"? good grief, it's a wonder the species ever survived)

And the idea that any money spent on mitigation is money that could have been spent on adaptation (the poor, or other things) is simply a red herring.

my god, we have spent $1 trillion (so far) on a war that was unnecessary by any measurement standard and I hear almost nobody complaining about THAT.

These people who say we can't do both are just being disingenuous.

bigcitylib said...

"The only reason he thinks taking action is necessary is because he personally thinks the effect of man made climate change could be severe, but in the preceding paragraph he said that the effects of man made climate change would be marginal. What is Roger adapting to?"

And, since he "personally believes" this even though he also thinks the models can't predict worth spit, what are the grounds for his belief?

All very confusing.

Brian Schmidt said...

I will, unusually, defend one part of RPJr's opus. I don't think he means "marginal" human impact in the sense of "not severe" but in the sense of much less than the overall impact of climate on human society.

His thesis is that we are badly adapted to climate, that humans should abandon all places that can suffer from hurricane or flood damage, and that AGW-impacts are penny-ante in comparison to regular climate impacts (the sensitivity analysis thing). Also, none of this abandoning would cost any money, and we don't need to do much about AGW.

I might be exaggerating slightly, but it's the basic idea.