Contrary to what you've been reading, the massive new IPCC report offers grounds for optimism on climate science and policy
The sixth fold per capita increase in coal use leaves me asking - what population estimate was used?
"Why is the IPCC spending so much time on a scenario judged unlikely and so little time on a scenario judged in line with current policies? This hasn’t been explained."
It *has* been explained. Many times, by many different people. The IPCC focuses on RCP8.5 and similar scenarios because that's how they make money. Their livelihoods depend on it. The IPCC lies, because liars really do prosper. (It's scientists in subsequent generations who will suffer.)
Not only has it been explained why the IPCC focuses on utterly implausible catastrophic scenarios, people have even proposed solutions. A little more than *15 years* ago, I proposed this potential solution, which I still think is something worth trying:
P.S. What I presented was a concept...it wasn't a "finished product." That is, the money involved, the parameters to be predicted, the participants and other aspects could easily be modified. For example, everything was based on 2029-2031. Those dates could be bumped to 2049-2051, since we've lost 15+ years by not doing anything to try to achieve more honest climate predictions.
I've been on the climate solutions side for decades, and am fully in line with your thoughts on scientific integrity regarding the models et al. Of course whenever I bring up the same questions you do I get the standard "I dont see a Ph.D behind your name" reply, which has some merit. But it's a nagging issue. How do we, as consumers of climate science, make heads or tails of some of climate science's main questions? Things like the differences in scenarios, the deltas between attribution and empirical science, the "relaxed" standards of attribution science, etc. I know it's a loaded question but I'm interested in your perspective. How do we as the public hold scientific claims and science accountable for what's being communicated?
Where exactly did the IPCC ever claim 8.5 was the business as usual scenario? When they first came out, it was pretty clear to me that was the worst case scenario. Some people later claimed it was business as usual, but I never saw any official statement to that effect.
Perhaps a summary of 4.5 would help. Especially since it is the most likely according to IPCC rather than 8.5 which even though extremely unlikely they talk most about.
Most people identified RCP 8.5 as an extreme, or worst case, scenario from the start. It was later that someone claimed it was the business as usual scenario. Most of the analyses I saw identified RCP 4.5 as the business as usual scenario, even though most modeling exercises used rcp 8.5. I would love to see an analysis to determine if RCP 8.5 is even physically possible at this point. My sense is that it is not.
I agree 100% that there is no likelihood of immediate risk for billions of people. There is a likelihood for increased flooding and displacement fort tens to hundreds of millions of people over the next two generations or so and more by the year 2100, but that is not immediate.
The claim that "the world is headed" for a low carbon future is extremely optimistic and not borne out by the evidence so far. So far, we have blown through the median IPCC estimate for CO^2 emissions every time. While the EU has mostly met its climate change goals, no one else has. The US has modestly decreased GHG emissions and China and India have massively increased theirs, though their per capita usage is still a fraction of the US emissions.
Staring at these graphs of carbon emission historically, it would take a real pollyannaish attitude to expect GHG emissions to start declining anytime soon:
China, India and Africa will all continue to increase their carbon emissions. There is no reason that they should have a standard of living lower than in the West. New technologies will probably help as time goes on but they obviously not being implemented fast enough today.
Interesting. I did do this twice already - I went for the source the panicking masses, journalists and gov told me they used and found out that the panic is not justified. Years ago I went on to read IPCC report myself. I got to the similar conclusions - especially after studying the science of modelling the weather/climate. Last year September 2020 I took a yearly reports of flu season prepared by the government agency called RKI (I live in Germany). I ready it and concluded that this and other more current reports do not justify their own experts opinions used to produce the gov. policies.
My conclusion on that is - the gov. still will try to have a reliable basic research in order to see where they are but they will reinterpret this for public consumption in order to reach own goals that have nothing to do with these that they claim they have (or else they would not be cutting down all the forests in Germany to build windparks).
I am sure there are other examples, big and small, in all other Western democracies. IPCC and Covid are two global 'emergencies' where panic and hysteria flooded us all.
Let us hope we find our ways. So far I do not see it here in Germany - they pull the plug on all the nuclear, coal and gas burning power stations w/o having anything to replace these in case of no sun + no wind situation and at the same time promoting electric cars which (surprise surprise!) use electricity. I wonder how this will go.
IPCC proposed banishment of fossil fuels would place most of the world’s population at risk. The oil derivatives and fuel manufactured from oil were the main reasons the world populated to 8 billion.
Fossil fuels are the gift to mankind that has allowed the healthy and wealthy countries to achieve prosperous growth, but the IPCC avoidance of the benefits to society, and just focusing on the negatives is irresponsible.
Great Job! My greatest fear is that media and governments will try to use this to justify government intervention in the global economy, doing untold damage to the Developing World. During the pandemic between 90 and 120 million people in the developing world have been plunged back into absolute poverty (living on less than $1.90 a day). This has not been caused by restriction or COVID itself, but rather the economic slowdown seen throughout the West- the loss of the export markets which they rely upon to sell their goods, and keep themselves buoyed from the most abject circumstances.
This is not to say that we should not act on climate change- far from it- the best thing Western governments could do (other than perhaps massively rebuilding their nuclear capacity) would be to honour the commitments they made at Paris to fund green innovation, but instead we get the same old tired solar and wind prescriptions which, being generous, have a contribution to make, but are simply incapable of acting as substitutes for fossil fuel power generation at anywhere near the scale necessary.
Transparency and honesty about what the science really says is core to our future. It is regrettable that the media have lost interest in understanding reality and truth in favour of headlines that sell well.
I think I read IPCC SREX (2012) on extreme events because of something you wrote - perhaps it was the time of "the terror" among the climate faithful when you were appointed as the climate writer for 538. A briefly held position, but educational for many reasons.
It's been bizarre ever since to read the certainty by the media and politicians that droughts, floods and storms are getting worse.
When I explain to the (small group of) people I know that the IPCC report said something completely different they nod in interest. Once more than a few weeks has passed, if the subject of climate comes up, they usually comment that I "don't believe climate scientists", or "don't believe in climate change".
Perhaps a fascinating study in human psychology - "propaganda only happens to other people" - but I appreciate you putting the effort in and making yourself likely unemployable at any other academic establishment from your current one as a result.