We’ve another climate change report out from the Federal Government. This is the one that Congress asks the executive to prepare every four years. And it’s this which is driving the headlines of another 3 degree warming by 2100 and so on. Yes, Aiee! We All Die!
Sadly, this report is wrong. Anyone believing this more worrying predictions made will also be wrong. For there’s an error in the report itself. And even more of an error in the reporting about the report. The error being they’re simply using the wrong prediction about the future as the basis for their work.
Do note what I am not saying. I am not saying that climate change is all a crock. Nor am I trying to insist that it’s not us humans causing it, that climate changes all the time, nor even that what the Hell who likes cold winters anyway? No, I’m making a simple statement of fact here. The report is using the wrong prediction about the future.
But that’s not going to stop everyone having conniption fits:
The United States already warmed on average 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century and will warm at least 3 more degrees by 2100 unless fossil fuel use is dramatically curtailed, scientists from more than a dozen federal agencies concluded in their latest in-depth assessment.
The 13-agency consensus, authored by more than 300 researchers, found in the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment makes it clear the world is barreling toward catastrophic ― perhaps irreversible ― climate change. The report concluded that warming “could increase by 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century” without significant emissions reductions.
Nope, it isn’t:
The government quietly dropped a sweeping report on Friday that found the fingerprints of climate change on everything from infrastructure to the economy and warned that the world is already experiencing the effects, with more damage to come.
The timing of the report’s publication—at 2 p.m. ET on the Friday after Thanksgiving—was viewed by critics as a possible maneuver by the Trump administration to sidestep national attention on the crisis.
USGCRP further decided that NCA4 would focus primarily on RCP8.5 and RCP4.5 for framing purposes,
That’s the mistake.
In simple terms we’ve a number of guesses – sure, informed, people have tried hard but they’re guesses – about what the rest of the century is going to be like. How rich will everyone be, what sort of technology will they be using and how many of those people will there be? We need these three so that we can work out what emissions are going to be. For, obviously enough, we’re saying that emissions cause the climate change therefore we need to know how many emissions to work out how much climate change.
Again, obviously enough, to get to this scenario we need to have a pathway – the way that global economy is going to develop over this time. We’ve got a number of these, older ones from the SRES, newer “RCPs”. And they’re using RCP 8.5 as their top end here. Their middle estimate includes RCP 8.5 as a possible pathway and then applies a probability to it actually happening.
Here’s the thing, RCP 8.5 isn’t going to happen. Just won’t. Because we’ve already taken the actions which mean that it won’t.
RCP 8.5 assumes that we never do make solar PV cheap. That we never build windmill farms. That we don’t curtail our use of coal. In fact, it assumes that we have more people than we’re going to using more coal for a greater portion of energy needs than humanity ever has done. Now look around the world. Coal companies going bust left and right, the plains packed with PV, the mountains sprouting birdchoppers – RCP 8.5 just isn’t going to happen. Never. The probability of it doing so is zero. We’ve already done the work to make sure that it doesn’t happen.
Yet here we have a report assuming that it will – to get those top end figures – or that it might to get the medium ones. That’s a mistake, an error.
In simpler terms the report from the Feds is assuming that we’ll never do anything about climate change. That’s what the RCP 8.5 pathway means. Yet we’ve already done quite a lot about climate change so RCP 8.5 will never happen. To assume it will is therefore an error.
Note again that this is nothing at all to do with the wider climate change debate. RCP 8.5 will not happen therefore any report assuming it will or might is wrong. Be useful if the people feeding us climate change reports woke up to this simple fact, no?