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The Forum > Article Comments > The limits of climate models > Comments

The limits of climate models : Comments

By Peter Ridd, published 17/12/2010

Climate models use crude parameterisations for the really important things and should be treated with caution as long as they do

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Eminently sensible stuff, Professor Ridd.

But as I have said umpteen times on this forum, it really shouldnít matter if we canít accurately, or even in a generalised manner, tell what the anthropogenic release of carbon might be doing to the climate. We should just be erring on the side of caution regardless!

There is potential for enormous strife if we just keep doing what we are doing. No one can deny that. We donít know if all this extremely rapid release of fossil carbon will lead to a massive release of methane from the tundra and seabed, or whether more water vapour in the atmosphere will be a much more significant factor than more clouds, or indeed as you point out; whether more clouds would have a net cooling or heating effect on the planet. But for as long as there is the possibility of massive climate change, or of any significant climate change, we should just damn well be doing everything that we can to get the bejeezuz off of our addiction to fossil fuels!

Sceptics should be in exactly the same camp as the ardent climate-change worriers in fighting for a global switch away from fossil fuels. Only the ardent denialists need not be in this camp. But then, no one can possibly be a credible denialist because none of us can possibly assert that anthropogenic global warming is not real or significant.

Quite apart from climate change, we need to develop clean energy sources anyway, in order to prevent a massive peak oil upheaval, and then peak coal event, and in order to just come into balance with our resource base and environment and embrace the essential philosophy of sustainability.

In fact, if we just leave out climate modelling, and climate change altogether, there are still absolutely compelling reasons to wind down our rate of fossil fuel usage.
Posted by Ludwig, Friday, 17 December 2010 2:20:26 PM
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Great stuff Peter, it is really good to see an academic trying to tell the truth, as he sees it, rather than follow the dictates of the gravy train. Keep wrestling with that truth, you may do some real good for us all.

Ludwig, for heavens sake mate, the time to give up fossil fuel will be when it is proven to cause some detriment. If anything, global warming, if it occurs, will improve the earth for habitation, with vast areas of tundra opened up for farming.

Of course greenie ratbags hate this idea, do you?

There is no point in having a major catastrophe now, by pricing carbon based fuels out of the market, just to avoid a possible future catastrophe if or when we reach peak anything.

Bill Gates in recent times, has shown us again that major breakthroughs come from one, or a few people think privately, not by billions of government spending. I can spend my income much more wisely than can this or almost any other government. WE don't need a carbon price at any cost.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 17 December 2010 4:49:54 PM
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A sane, sensible and well-written piece. Thanks very much.

For Ludwig: I rather agree with 'Hasbeen'. If there are powerful and compelling reasons to abandon the use of fossil fuels, quite apart from alleged AGW, let's hear about them. I agree that that we in Australia should be looking for alternatives to oil, because we have to import it, and it seems likely to get more expensive as time goes on.

But unless you can show the CO2--->catastrophic warming link powerfully, let's leave coal out of it. It's what runs our electricity system, and will do so for decades to come.
Posted by Don Aitkin, Friday, 17 December 2010 8:56:31 PM
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Nice to hear a voice of sanity. Here's another one that actually made its way on to the BBC.

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/its_just_weather_or_else/

Things are looking up -- and I mean that in a weather sense, of course, not a climatic one. Heaven forbid!
Posted by Jon J, Saturday, 18 December 2010 7:34:47 AM
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<< Ludwig, for heavens sake mate, the time to give up fossil fuel will be when it is proven to cause some detriment. >>

Oh heavens no, Hazza!!

This is exactly the crux of my point.

We dare not wait until there is proof, or even very strong evidence, that climate change is real before we act, because by then it would be TOO LATE (if it isnít already)!

Crikey, what is wrong or illogical about erring on the side of caution??

Canít you see the critical flaw in yourís and Donís argument Ė you congratulate Peter Ridd for explaining about just how complex climate modelling is and how impossible it is for us to get proof of anthropogenic climate change or of the absence thereof, but you are demanding proof before we act!!

<< If anything, global warming, if it occurs, will improve the earth for habitation, with vast areas of tundra opened up for farming. >>

My goodness!

Firstly, you can not assert that AGW will have a net positive effect. It might have, but we just donít know.

And secondly, for the enormous ecological change that would necessary for the Siberian and Canadian tundra to become climatically suitable for farming, just imagine the enormous ecological upheaval that would have to occur, across the globe, with massive extinctions of plants and animals, complete changes from desert to rainforest and vice-versa, and the death and displacement of thousands of millions of people!

If the tundra was to become productive, the net effect for humanity would be hugely negative.... in all probability.
Posted by Ludwig, Saturday, 18 December 2010 9:18:56 AM
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A price on carbon will be a big pusher to get off fossil fuel. The system has got to be made viable to look into alternatives.
Clean up the air and it could have more benefits than is known about.
Nature can only take so much, and human manufacture has overstepped the limit. So clean up your own act, and don't wait to be told to.
Posted by 579, Saturday, 18 December 2010 9:51:46 AM
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