Monday, April 23, 2012

Joe Romm — James Lovelock Finally Walks Back His Absurd Doomism

Famed scientist James Lovelock has always been in a category of one when it comes to global warming. See for instance my June 2009 post, “Lovelock still makes me look like Paula Abdul, warns climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors in the Stone Age.” That’s mostly because he doesn’t follow the scientific literature.
 Now that he has dialed back his doomism — alarmism is a wholly inadequate word for Lovelock’s (former) brand of unjustified hopelessness — the media and the deniers are just so excited. That’s especially true since Lovelock has now overshot in the other direction of climate science confusion and just keeps peddling nonsense.
Read it at Climate Progress
James Lovelock Finally Walks Back His Absurd Doomism, But He Still Doesn’t Follow Climate Science
By Joe Romm

While I agree that Lovelock's scenario was extreme, I think that his basic premise was and remains correct, namely, the earth is an ecological system of great complexity, with many factors influencing each other reciprocally through feedback. Therefore, it is misleading to conclude anything about the system as a whole only by studying a part in isolation, which most studies do.

We see evidence of this in the frequent reports that the pace is increasing more quickly than anticipated. Should we be concerned about unknown unknowns as as well as known unknowns? Definitely. The science of complexity is still in its infancy,and we aren't even all that good in predicting the weather.

3 comments:

jeg3 said...

The flatearth deniers may rejoice, but reality is another matter. All from the past year.

The Hansen model prediction from 1981 is on track:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

"Earth Warming Faster Than Expected"
http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/03/earth-warming-faster-than-expected.html

"Biogeochemical and ecological feedbacks in grassland responses to warming"
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1486.html

"Response of corn markets to climate volatility under alternative energy futures"
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1491.html

"Insights from past millennia into climatic impacts on
human health and survival"
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/13/4730.full.pdf+html

"Thawing permafrost 50 million years ago led to extreme global warming events"
http://phys.org/news/2012-04-permafrost-million-years-extreme-global.html

"Greenland may be slip-sliding away due to surface lake melt: study"
http://phys.org/news/2012-04-greenland-slip-sliding-due-surface-lake.html

reslez said...

We aren't that good at predicting the weather? Meteorologists routinely provide two week forecasts with high reliability. Weather satellites have made huge improvements possible with regard to prediction. Maybe you're confused by media hyping "the blizzard of the decade" to drive ratings?

Besides that weather prediction and climate forecasting and entirely separate fields...

Tom Hickey said...

There are still a lot of weather events that slip through resulting in disaster.