Eli Rabett on the APS “Draft Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate”

This is from Rabett Run. The American Physical Society (“APS”) is working on a draft statement on climate change. Compared to other scientific organizations (and my own primary society, the American Statistical Association), it’s sure taking them a long time.

My criticism of the draft statement is the lack of urgency. Given that damage to the climate through emission of greenhouse gases accumulates and remains, this is a serious omission and I would strongly recommend inserting the second paragraph of the previous statement at the end of the current draft

“The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”

The evidence that the damage will persist for centuries is inherent in every model of the carbon cycle from the simplest to the most complex, and dealt with by the IPCC WG1 reports. The reason why urgency is needed at every point is explained by Stephen Gardiner in a Perfect Moral Storm

“the presence of the problem of moral corruption reveals another sense in which climate change may be a perfect moral storm. This is that its complexity may turn out to be perfectly convenient for us, the current generation, and indeed for each successor generation as it comes to occupy our position. For one thing, it provides each generation with the cover under which it can seem to be taking the issue seriously – by negotiating weak and largely substanceless global accords, for example, and then heralding them as great achievements – when really it is simply exploiting its temporal position. For another, all of this can occur without the exploitative generation actually having to acknowledge that this is what it is doing. By avoiding overtly selfish behaviour, earlier generations can take advantage of the future without the unpleasantness of admitting it – either to others, or, perhaps more importantly, to itself.

(Emphasis added.)

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This entry was posted in carbon dioxide, Carbon Tax, chemistry, citizenship, civilization, climate, climate change, climate education, diffusion processes, ecology, environment, fossil fuel divestment, geophysics, meteorology, methane, NCAR, NOAA, oceanography, open data, politics, Principles of Planetary Climate, rationality, reasonableness, risk, science, science education, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, sea level rise, solar power, testing, the right to know, time series, WHOI, wind power. Bookmark the permalink.

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