Top climate scientist debunks Lomborg in the Washington Post
They chose one of the top climate scientists in the country — Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I count her a friend, having interviewed her for my book and having spent a couple of days in Florida with her giving joint talks — she on hurricanes and climate (with her colleague Peter Webster), and me on climate solutions.
I recommend anything she writes (here is a great piece on the science and politics of the hurricanes and global warming debate [PDF]). You can read the whole piece debunking Lomborg, “Cooler Heads and Climate Change,” here. One point in particular bears repeating:
Lomborg’s attitude toward risk is also troubling. He focuses only on the middle range of the panel’s projections, dismissing the risk from the higher end of the range. But if the risk is great, then it may be worth acting against even if its probability is small. Think of risk as the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen and the odds of it happening. A 10-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 is not likely; the panel gives it a 3 percent probability. Such low-probability, high-impact risks are routinely factored into any analysis and management strategy, whether on Wall Street or at the Pentagon.
The rationale for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide is to reduce the risk of the possibility of catastrophic outcomes.
Indeed, and many of us feel the odds of a 10°F total warming by 2100 — which would be a historically unprecedented catastrophe — far exceeds 3 percent, because of the dangerous carbon cycle amplifying feedbacks that current models typically ignore.
Curry is right and Lomborg is wrong — the time to act is now.