Guy McPherson’s Climate Change — The End? Part 4

Here is the long-awaited fourth part of Guy McPherson’s climate talk at URI:

Summary for the impatient

  1. Guy destroys the climate change deniers’ argument that climate change ended in  1998.  That denialist reasoning is a classic example of cherry picking: focus on the dry land, ignore what happens in the oceans, and pick just the right time frame.
  2. Michael Jennings wrote: “Because of increasing temperatures due to GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions a suite of amplifying feedback mechanisms, such as massive methane leaks from the sub-sea Arctic Ocean, have engaged and are probably unstoppable.” Initiating this run-away process is commonly referred to as the firing of the clathrate gun.

Discussion for the tenacious

How is one to communicate science and uncertainty in the time of one-line memes?

Item # 2 is both daunting in its implications, controversial and fraught with uncertainty. This is what James Hansen has to say:

There are potential irreversible effects of melting the sea ice. If it begins to allow the Arctic Ocean to warm up and warm the ocean floor then we’ll begin to release methane hydrates and if we let that happen that’s a potential tipping point that we don’t want to pass.

Abrupt climate change has been seriously studied;  see here Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, a study by the National Research Council.

One of the papers to which Guy refers made quite a splash when it was published in 2013, but there are serious questions about the mechanism that could release the postulated amount of methane “either steadily over a period of 50 years or suddenly.”  The study mentioned above concludes:

Thus the release of 50 Gt C [giga tons of carbon] from the Siberian continental shelf in 10 years as postulated by Whiteman et al. (2013) is unlikely.

How should humanity respond to this uncertainty?

Clearly, Guy gravitates toward worst-case scenarios. Can you blame him when we know that scientists tend to err on the side of least drama and that bureaucrats are loath to “scaring the kids?”

The answer to this “conundrum” is actually not that complicated.  It’s known as the One-Percent Doctrine, attributed to one of the war criminals the current Department of Justice refuses to prosecute:

If there’s a 1% chance […], we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.

As we all know, the One Percent Doctrine only applies when The Corporate States of America and their congressional flunkies stand to gain. The same, of course, applies the Doctrine of Fairness taught in schools of Corporate Journalism and Marketing.

Follow these links for the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3