Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: The Threat of Irreparable Harm

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Climate State

Date Posted:

March 22, 2016

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We made a video discussing some of the main points in our “Ice Melt” paper[1]. The main point that I want to make concerns the threat of irreparable harm, which I feel we have not communicated well enough to people who most need to know, the public and policymakers. I’m not sure how we can do that better, but I comment on it at the end of this transcript.

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  1. David Bennett Laing March 25, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    This analysis is quite compelling, but in my opinion, it is weakened by three factors. First, it is heavily dependent on theory, and many of its conclusions are based on assumptions about the behavior of Earth systems, such as the AMOC, that have a good theoretical basis but little or no hard evidence and could therefore be wrong. Second, there is no recognition of the important role played by volcanic activity in natural systems. Explosive volcanoes are known to cool Earth by creating aerosols, which increase Earth’s albedo. Less well known is the fact that effusive volcanism is almost invariably associated with global warming, probably due to halogen emissions, which thin the ozone layer and thus allow increased irradiance by solar ultraviolet-B radiation. The correlation between effusive volcanism and sudden warming is well-represented throughout the geologic record, notably in the GISP2 ice cores, but also by the warmings associated with major basaltic volcanism from LIPs (Large Igneous Provinces) such as that of the end-Permian and the PETM. Third, the assumption that carbon dioxide causes warming has never been proven by experiment. Angstrom’s 1900 experiments disproving the relationship remain the only experimental evidence regarding this important assumption, and they were sufficient to extinguish scientific consideration of the matter for 38 years. Earth is a highly complex system, of which our understanding is poor. In studying it, we would do well to take a more empirical approach and to rely much less on theory. Finally, the misuse of science to foster alarmism is unprofessional, to say the least.

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