Botkin’s Testimony on Climate Change

Have we discussed climate change enough yet? <grin> Here’s something worth a look: Daniel Botkin’s May 29 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Technology. I agree with much of what he says. Here’s a excerpt from the 29-page transcript:

1. I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a
variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the
characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental
changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.

2. My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes
incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they
deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting
their lack. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen
usually think.

3. HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about
that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the
warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is
normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it
seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.

9. What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a
reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports
overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not
contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that
an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity
are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.

6 Comments

  1. So, the question is…do we assume that his observations are correct and go about business as usual (on the assumption that human activity has little or nothing to do with climate change) and hope that the earth simply reverses the trends naturally and everything works out…or do we take the stance that human activity has had a substantial impact and can be reversed by changing our ways? We certainly hope that the trends are reversible but how on earth can we gamble that the earth will take care of the problem on it’s own?

    • I say we need to work toward being more resilient — in forests, cities, states, and nations. On his GPS show last weekend, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Kiribati’s president, Anote Tong, about “an island nation in the Pacific Ocean that 100,000 people call home, could be uninhabitable just 30 years from now thanks to rising sea levels.” Nothing humans can reasonably do will stop sea-level from rising — even stabilizing CO2 emissions at current levels, if that were to magically happen. The 2007 IPPC report stated that global temperatures will continue to rise for centuries, even if CO2 emission are stabilized. We need to be ready for change. Focusing primarily on reducing CO2 emissions is foolhardy.

  2. I must have something better to do than educate myself on this, but …

    It’s too bad he cites Christy’s balloon work as the reason for summarily dismissing warming predictions as “way off the reality.” It seems there are other indicators that models do line up with, and plenty of debate about the use high atmosphere temperature changes to assess climate change (http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2014/02/20/mcnider-and-christy-defend-inertia/). Botkin’s failure to acknowledge this makes me ‘skeptical’ of everything else he says.

  3. JohnH

    No need to beat a dead horse – Everyone of your objections to Christy’s and Botkin’s and many others facts were countered in great deal in this previous thread http://forestpolicypub.com/2014/05/21/supposition-or-science-global-warming/

    JerryG

    None of us disagrees with your statement “We certainly hope that the trends are reversible but how on earth can we gamble that the earth will take care of the problem on it’s own?” We can’t. But as we discussed in this thread http://forestpolicypub.com/2014/05/23/what-actions-should-be-taken-to-counter-global-warming-and-what-are-the-consequences/ None of us seems to have “The Answer” at any level of specificity to be incorporated into an action plan. Serious unintended consequences have resulted from the rush to save the NSO without sufficient science. The risks of unintended consequences are much greater from rash efforts to combat global warming than for the NSO. If you have an action plan that can be implemented or can tell us who you would trust to come up with such a plan please contribute to the thread on that very subject at http://forestpolicypub.com/2014/05/23/what-actions-should-be-taken-to-counter-global-warming-and-what-are-the-consequences/

    The disagreement between scientists about innumerable details such as the “the use high atmosphere temperature changes to assess climate change” certainly indicates that we are lacking sufficient science to take effective action. Consider this data which clearly shows significantly higher temps at significantly lower CO2 levels over the past 9,000 years. http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c01901ead3a7a970b-pi

  4. “None of us seems to have “The Answer” at any level of specificity to be incorporated into an action plan. The risks of unintended consequences are much greater from rash efforts to combat global warming than for the NSO.”

    An answer and plan – http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/ (‘Rash?’)

    Consequences – http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/reduce-emissions/economics-climate-factsheet.html

    And here’s what YOU can do – http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/ 😉

  5. JonH

    I agree with many of the concepts presented in your first link, but imho, it is not an action plan. It is a statement of noble environmental objectives/goals to reduce our foot print. But achieving those objectives requires a detailed plan. Developing a detail plan requires detailed knowledge that tells us which actions have the most bang for the buck. Without a plan it is just feel good words. The devil is in the details. I am not ready to turn the keys to the kingdom over to the Union of Concerned Scientists and say “do whatever you think is necessary and I am willing to pay whatever figurative or literal price you think is necessary.” Are you?

    The second link seems to be based on a lot of assumptions. Some of those assumptions are contrary to some science (i.e. evidence showing temperatures not being linked to atmospheric CO2). Until we can explain the inconsistencies, we really can’t make such dire predictions with any degree of certainty. In a previous post it was pointed out that things have been hotter at various times over the last 9,000 years than they are now. Scientists can’t even agree as to how much influence the sun has on our climate. The CO2 people say next to none while others disagree. There are just too many gaping holes in our knowledge for me.
    Are there more certain events that we need to be preparing for?
    –> “Historical auroral records suggest a return period of… 150 years for very extreme storms,” it reads, adding that “The geomagnetic storm risk is projected to peak in early 2015”. Consider the loss of lives from a 5 month electrical outage in an age when very few people are equipped to survive two weeks without a trip to the grocery store:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10103492/Solar-storm-could-leave-Britain-without-power-for-months.html
    http://rt.com/news/solar-storm-earth-electricity-391/

    The third link reveals nothing that I am not doing within reason.

    We agree that we need to figure this out but we are just going to have to agree to disagree as to whether or not we have sufficient knowledge to take drastic action without shooting ourselves in the foot.

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