Thursday, May 6, 2021

Climate Emergency and Harlan Howard's "three chords and the truth”

It has been widely reported Harlan Howard defined country music as “three chords and the truth,” and it could also be a motto for the climate emergency. In 2019 Johan Rockström, one of the climate scientists I most respect, claimed he was misquoted by Gaia Vince's May 18, 2019 article in The Guardian regarding effects of a 4 C world above preindustrial 1850 baseline. Vince first wrote Rockström said "It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that." The Guardian, at Rockström's request, changed that to "It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate eight billion people or maybe even half of that." The correct number could have reasonably been a billion based on founding director of the Potsdam Institute Hans Joachim Schellnhuber's quote by Paddy Manning in a July 9, 2011 article in The Sydney Morning Herald: "in a 4 degree warmer world, the population ' . . . . carrying capacity estimates [are] below one billion people.'"  Are we to believe this different analysis between the founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research -- Schellnhuber --  and current director Rockström? Maybe, but it looks suspicious.  With the stakes this high, and soon to get much higher, this inconsistency is unhelpful, even if it was 100% honest.  

In other words, the urgency will be interpreted differently if a 3.2+ to 4 C world zone, with 3.2+ noted as "most likely scenario" by 2100 at Datawrapper citing  "warming predictions according to Raftery et.al, 2017," means a billion humans survive at 4 C [above preindustrial] Earth versus 4 billion. It's important because of speed of change, and scale, needed to remove carbon emissions. Dave Borlace, citing a 2019 IPCC report, noted below "It's actually more like about 5 degrees Celsius higher [ . . . . ] within 80 years or so at our current trajectory."

The site worldometers.info notes Earth's current population is nearly 7.9 billion. 

This was not the first time Schellnhuber was silenced. In my August 25, 2018 post I praised his YouTube presentation as "clear-thinking," "revealing," and "wise." In the "revealing" part I quoted him, "It's all about agency, about who could turn this crisis into a solution. [ . . . .] The CEO of Shell once told me 'The climate problem is real but it is completely intractable. You can not solve it. So, let's get rich quick before the world ends, huh?'" After I wrote this, YouTube noted "Video unavailable."  Was this video removed because of what Schellnhuber said about a CEO of Shell?  I don't know.

Anyway, out of respect for Rockström, I posted updates on the four times I used the original quote about a 4 C world, "It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that.":



Two Items from New IPCC Report, "Sky Whale" Poem, and New Book (Dave Borlace, citing the September 24, 2019 IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climatenotes "It's actually more like about 5 degrees Celsius higher [ . . . . ] within 80 years or so at our current trajectory.");

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