Archer, Rahmstorf – The Climate Crisis

David Archer, Stefan Rahmstorf – The Climate Crisis (2010)

A scientific summary of the IPCC AR4.

Recommended: Yes. I have four levels of confidence in this: 1) I have high confidence in their understanding of past and current climates. The more I read of the bombastic claims of the climate skeptics, the greater the contrast becomes to the supposed alarmist scientists, who are sober and open about their uncertainty. (Activists and politicians are a different matter.) 2) I have a bit less, but still high, confidence in the ability of their models to portray the range of outcomes we risk facing, all of which is both plausible, and seems to have a precedent in past climate changes. 3) I have low confidence in their list of specific dangers, (so and so number of species extinct, etc.), partly because that’s the wrong level of thinking about this problem, except as part of a big picture that apparently hasn’t been assembled yet. The real problem is the range of uncertainty involved in changing a dynamic system we don’t understand, not particular outcomes. 4) And I have no confidence in their suggested solutions, both on a technological and an economic level. It’s all sunshine. Apparently we can solve this problem by hardly spending any money at all. Let’s just put up a few solar panels, switch to electric cars, etc. MacKay, Richter, and Smil, all mention major challenges that this book (and possibly also the AR4) doesn’t even address. There’s no solution to be found here, only wishful thinking, and they’re overreaching by even trying.

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