Predicting the Future: Zero Visibility Possible

September 15, 2009 at 11:30 am

Yesterday I began collecting examples of the outrageous hyperbole that now dominates the topic of global warming in the popular media.

What strikes me most is the tone of certainty with which people are making pronouncements. These folks sound as though they have access to a crystal ball whose reliability has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.

They know what the future holds. They know how a fundamentally unpredictable system such as Earth’s climate is going to behave if we fail to reduce C02 emissions. They know the results will be catastrophic. They know, well before it has transpired, that humanity will have a last chance to avert disaster. They know, before future generations are even born, that those generations will be powerless to affect their own fates.

Right. And if the fortune teller down the street could actually predict the future, she’d buy a lottery ticket, collect her winnings, and abandon her tacky storefront.

Far too much of what is being published about global warming is utter nonsense. It’s a waste of readers’ time. The media needs to get a grip. Wild-eyed, apocalyptic predictions about the future are not news. They amount to overwrought speculation – nothing more.

So here’s the list I compiled yesterday, as I worked my way through a few days’ backlog of reading:

  • “We are rapidly losing time and options to save ourselves from the worst effects of catastrophic climate change.”- Canadian politician, Bruce Hyer
  • “If we have a catastrophic failure to reach an agreement…at the end of that process there will be full climactic destabilization.- Tim Flannery, Chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council
  • “To maximise our chances of preventing runaway climate change…we need a binding international treaty and the last chance we have to get that within the timescale of the physics of the planet is the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December.” - Franny Armstrong, UK filmmaker
  • “Two degrees is where we trigger runaway climate change: two leads to three, three to four, four to five, five to six … by which time it’s about over for life on earth. In other words, our elected leaders are giving us — at best — a coin-flip chance of avoiding catastrophe.”- Franny Armstrong, UK filmmaker
  • The people who came before us didn’t know about climate change and the ones who come after will be powerless to stop it.” - Franny Armstrong, UK filmmaker
  • “…which gives us, at best, only a 50/50 chance of avoiding runaway global warming….CO2 levels must be reduced to below 350 parts per million to avoid climate catastrophe…required to avert catastrophic climate impacts…” - Amy Atwood, Center for Biological Diversity
  • “I write about the human migrations that will result from future environmental collapse of our continent in my forthcoming book, North American Ark, but most people, I believe, already share a vague sense of some overwhelming danger…My main point is that climate change is very real and is already causing disastrous, irreversible and extensive environmental change right here in North America.” – Giles Slade, author
  • “A deal is not just desirable, but an imperative…on a par with the fight against terrorism…the effects on the planet could be catastrophic. Worse still, there is a sharply increased risk they will create vicious cycles that cause runaway climate change…” – David Miliband, UK Secretary of State

..

hat tip to a gent named Tom Nelson, who collects these stories from far and wide and shares them here

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