Science, risk and morality

We start wars following the infamous One-Percent Doctrine:

If there’s a 1% chance […], we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.

To avoid climate chaos we demand 99% certainty. Scrape away the the thin varnish of reasonableness and what you get is a clear view on neo-colonialism, racism and assorted ism-itis.

You are better off reading the abstract of this paper than the main stream media rendition of this paper. Here it is:

Abstract. There is evidence of ice melt, sea level rise to +5–9 m, and extreme storms in the prior interglacial period that was less than 1°C warmer than today. Human-made climate forcing is stronger and more rapid than paleo forcings, but much can be learned by combining insights from paleoclimate, climate modeling, and on-going observations. We argue that ice sheets in contact with the ocean are vulnerable to non-linear disintegration in response to ocean warming, and we posit that ice sheet mass loss can be approximated by a doubling time up to sea level rise of at least several meters. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield sea level rise of several meters in 50, 100 or 200 years. […] Recent ice sheet melt rates have a doubling time near the lower end of the 10–40 year range. We conclude that 2°C global warming above the preindustrial level, which would spur more ice shelf melt, is highly dangerous. Earth’s energy imbalance, which must be eliminated to stabilize climate, provides a crucial metric.

Here is the non-technical bottom line of the paper:

We conclude that the  2°C global warming “guardrail”, affirmed in the Copenhagen Accord (2009), does not provide safety, as such warming would likely yield sea level rise of several meters along with numerous other severely disruptive consequences for human society and ecosystems.

Do we know this with certainty?  No, but we know it with a certainty that suffices to start the next war following the One-Percent Doctrine:

Sorry, but if this is too technical maybe you should read this editorial Atlantis awaits: melting ice and rising water for coastal cities

There are more papers that argue that 2°C global warming is unsafe.

Petra Tschakert, Coordinating Lead Author of IPCC Climate Change Report, says the two degree limit will not prevent climate catastrophe; the UN Target of two degree limit for temperature rise is “utterly inadequate.”

The paper is here. and the following is the abstract:

Abstract. An average global 2°C warming compared to pre-industrial times is commonly understood as the most important target in climate policy negotiations. It is a temperature target indicative of a fiercely debated threshold between what some consider acceptable warming and warming that implies dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and hence to be avoided. Although this 2°C target has been officially endorsed as scientifically sound and justified in the Copenhagen Report issued by the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2009, the large majority of countries (over two-thirds) that have signed and ratified the UNFCCC strongly object to this target as the core of the long-term goal of keeping temperatures below a certain danger level. Instead, they promote a 1.5°C target as a more adequate limit for dangerous interference. At COP16 in Cancun, parties to the convention recognized the need to consider strengthening the long-term global goal in the so-called 2013–2015 Review, given improved scientific knowledge, including the possible adoption of the 1.5°C target. In this perspective piece, I examine the discussions of a structured expert dialogue (SED) between selected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) authors, myself included, and parties to the convention to assess the adequacy of the long-term goal. I pay particular attention to the uneven geographies and power differentials that lay behind the ongoing political debate regarding an adequate target for protecting ecosystems, food security, and sustainable development.

The science is as clear as it’s going to get until it’s too late. The real problem is that within the current capitalist system there is no solution. Forget about cap-an-trade, carbon taxes, and all gimmicks that supposedly will adjust the market. And how about the corruption of our fantasy democracy?

But the problem is not just special interests, lobbyists and corruption. And courageous political leaders could not turn the situation around. Because that’s not problem. The problem is capitalism. Because, given capitalism, it is, perversely, in the general interest, in everyone’s immediate interests to do all we can to maximize growth right now, therefore, unavoidably, to maximize fossil fuel consumption right now – because practically every job in the country is in one way or another dependent upon fossil fuel consumption.

There will continue to be attempts to:

include and expropriate the entire surface of the Earth including most of the forests, soils, fields, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, mangroves, marine algae and oceans to use them as sponges for industrialized countries’ pollution.

Capitalism cannot be reconciled with science, risk and morality, and there will be no just transition without system change.

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