Showing posts with label richard-muller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label richard-muller. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bucket brigade - better than watching the house burn

Climate change deniers who patrol the second defensive line, the moat, agree that the planet is warming but they dispute that the cause is human greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).  They say that there is not enough evidence to support this view and governments should not act until there is more evidence. This is just a delay tactic, and fortunately it has been ignored by nearly every government on the planet many of which have spent the past two decades enacting policies and plans that have started their transition to low-carbon economies. Examples of recent action are shown on the Transformation tab above.

Richard Muller is the latest scientist to support the view that human generated GHGs are the main forcing element behind the current warming. He argues, as many others have, that when you compare the few vaguely plausible explanations for changing climate - greenhouse forcing, solar forcing, aerosol forcing, big changes in albedo - one fits the data MUCH better than any of the others. That one is greenhouse gases.

It's like a race between the contenders, and GHG has lapped the field twice to come in well ahead of the pack. This is not enough for some people, they want GHGs to win the race at the speed of light before they'll accept the evidence. 

Paul Fisher put it like this:
If a house is burning down and I suggest a bucket brigade, slow and cumbersome as it might be, there is no value in pointing out the chances of it working are slim unless you have something better to use in replacement. Simply allowing the house to burn down is not a useful solution. It is, at least, time to stop pretending the house isn't full of bad wiring that should be replaced, even if we can't agree there are already sparks and the walls are smoking.

UPDATE: David Potter points out that the bucket brigade metaphor is similar to Roosevelt's words in WWII:
Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose....
 USA President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 11 March 1941, on lending resources to the UK

The Transformation tab reports examples of progress towards a low-carbon future. Here's the latest snippet.  

The following countries have banned single-use plastic bags:  China, Bangladesh, South Africa, Botswana, Italy, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Other countries have cut usage dramatically by imposing a fee: Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Bulgaria and Wales. Single-use plastic bags generate greenhouse gases in their manufacture and pollute the environment when discarded.  Source: The Conversation and PlanetArk.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The castle walls are breached

The defensive walls of the Denier citadel were breached today by Richard Muller's announcement that he is no longer sceptical about climate science.
Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

This particular 'road to Damascus' moment carries weight because Muller was outspoken in his criticism of aspects of the temperature record and he attracted significant funding from the Koch brothers (fossil fuel billionaires who fund climate change deniers). Arch-denier Anthony Watts took the extreme step of cancelling his vacation and imposing a three-day silence on his blog in readiness for the BIG announcement. Perhaps he was preparing his next line of defence, or gathering forces for a new defensive position. He has already reneged once on his commitment to accept Muller's findings. This latest announcement backs him into an even smaller corner.

To many who work in the field, Muller's latest announcement merely brings him up to date with where the science was in the mid 1990s.
At this rate, Muller should be caught up to the current state of climate science within a matter of a few years!

This  event has me thinking of those wonderful defensive structures - the medieval castles of Europe and the Middle East.

Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire, Dyfed, Wales, is a great example. Like most castles, it was constructed in a location with natural defences. Kidwelly was originally a timber castle built by the Normans about 1100 on a prominent ridge overlooking the river Gwendraeth.

Over the centuries it was rebuilt in stone and embelished with new defensive features.

For more than 400 years Kidwelly Castle provided a safe place for citizens to retreat when attacked and  housed garrison forces that could sally forth to attack mauraders and fight rivals. Its river, moat, steep berm leading to castle walls, towers, gates, parapets and other defensive features made it relevant and effective.

If an outer defence was breached, the defenders moved back to the next line of defence. If it came to the worst, defenders could withdraw to a single tower where they could hold out in the hope that relief forces would come to their aid.

Climate change deniers have the same approach to defending the Denier citadel. Here are the defensive lines around the citadel.
  1. The outermost defence is an earth berm where the mass of defenders rattle their spears and chant, "It's not warming! It's not warming!"
  2. The next line of defence is the moat where the defenders shout, "It's warming but it's not us! It's the sun! It's water vapour! It's a natural cycle! It's a squirrel!"
  3. Then there are the outer walls of the castle, where diminished defenders run to and fro shouting, "It's warming, we did it, but it's not a big problem. Warm is nice, CO2 is good for plants, Greenland was lovely in the medieval warm period."
  4. Then there is the inner wall of the castle, where the handful of remaining defenders stumble around muttering, "Yes, it's warming; yes human activity is the cause; yes, it will be horrible - but mitigation is too hard/expensive, so let's plan to adapt instead."
As each defense is breached, some of the defenders have their 'road to Damascus' moment and become advocates for action. Others fall back to the next line of defence. A few lost souls remain forever in No Mans Land crying in the wind, "It's not warming!" and "Look! It's a squirrel!"

Time passes and by 2050 the Denial citadel will be as irrelevant as the ruin of today's Kidwelly Castle. However, while Kidwelly Castle leaves a beautiful monument to the necessities of past culture, the relic of the Denier Citadel will be a monument to shame.

UPDATE: Anthony Watts's response to the Muller announcement was, "Look! It's a squirrel!" Maybe he thinks that's a useful tactic at any of the the defence lines - the berm, the moat, the outer and inner walls. Maybe he will still be shouting "It's a squirrell!" when the last defenders are holed up in the last tower. Or maybe he has joined the lost souls in No Mans Land, crying out for relevance.


The Transformation tab reports examples of progress towards a low-carbon future. Here's the latest snippet.  

Bangladesh is installing nearly one thousand domestic solar systems every day. Over nearly two decades Grameen Shakti has set up a rural network to supply and maintain small solar systems that are affordable. By the end of 2012 it will have installed a total of one million solar systems and has expansion plans to install five million systems by 2015. Source: RenewEnergy.