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Pehaps you were being ironic, but don't cheer just yet: this sword is double-edged. The gap between climate models and the results found in studies of paleoclimates in the (distant) geologic past is one of the key dichotomies in paleoclimate science. Climate scientists shuffle their feet a lot when it comes to the error range of the CO2 concentration levels found when reconstructing geologic paleoclimates, particularly once you move beyond ice-records. This error range forms the key problem for solving the dichotomy: the foundation of correlating (and attributing) paleoclimate temperatures to past CO2 concentrations remains shaky.

While it's true the gap has been narrowing - something is still very wrong, it's just not clear what is. One option is that modern CO2 sensitivity estimates are far too low, which would be horribly bad news, or alternatively, proxies used to reveal paleaoclimate conditions render unreliable results - which would be horribly inconvenient for the hundreds of studies that already have been done. Or, as the article mentions, there's a factor in play not fully realised, such as the role of methane. Which makes the message of the PNAS article the more relevant.

Full disclosure time: I provide PR for a climate change research collaboration that pursues, amongst others, the development of climate proxies that provide greater accuracy of CO2 in the geologic past. Also, the first author of the research publication reported on by The Atlantic was a fellow student when we were still playing in the sandbox at university (though he might only remember me with some effort).

by Bjinse on Tue Aug 7th, 2018 at 10:30:37 PM EST
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Could the rate at which the change is occurring this time be a confounding problem?


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 01:39:26 AM EST
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While there are estimates and calculations, we don't really know as the rate of change observed today has not been observed back in the geologic record due to scaling issues. From the top of my head, the most precise results from ocean sediment cores gives us data at the millennial scale.
by Bjinse on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 07:39:41 AM EST
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If they focused exclusively on CO2 ( = 1) effects on global climate while ignoring the effects of methane (x10) and nitrous oxide or N2O (x 300) then the "unreliable results" become inevitable.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 04:04:31 AM EST
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The ignoring is not deliberate, the science toolbox is empty. People are actively looking for a reliable paleo-methane proxy, but it's only at the very beginning. I don't know if or what's happening on N2O. There's a reason why geosciences is constantly compared to six blind men touching an elephant...
by Bjinse on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 07:58:44 AM EST
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Well the good news is that we're planning this lovely big experiment to work out the parameters. The bad news ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 10:02:05 AM EST
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Given, for instance, how bad the wildfire & drought problems have become in recent years and given the powerful positive feedback loops seemingly in operation it would seem that the appropriate thing for climate scientists to agree is that the only sane approach is an all out mitigation of all the known factors in the hope that the end result will be a planet that is salvageable. And they need to state that we don't know how bad things will get or how quickly.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 9th, 2018 at 11:47:22 PM EST
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There is the circumference of earth.

Currently there are a finite number of instruments placed on land and in particular seas to measure their heat, volume of specified gases, and their rates of change in a specified period. Satellites launched by government and commercial enterprises, too, periodical transmit images to document latent topographical changes in a specified period.

This latent data is generally understood to convey predictive knowledge of climatology, while life on earth stews in filth.

Factor analysis is not well understood.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 12:16:55 PM EST
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It was the cheery thought that led me to link to the "we are all going to die" tweet.
by generic on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 04:14:00 AM EST
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This may be true, but generally it's a bad idea to experiment on your own biosphere in the hope that you'll be able to build an accurate model of it in a century or two.

The models may not be perfect, but continuing to pump CO2 into the atmosphere is still fucking suicidal. In policy terms, uncertainty about the exact point when suicide becomes inevitable is a side issue.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 10:39:41 AM EST
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Same structure as currently existing Brexit: all the experts think it's a bad experiment to carry out, because even if the effects are unpredictable there's bugger all chance they're not going to be horribly bad.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 11:54:06 AM EST
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I've never been a fan of misplaced precision.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Aug 8th, 2018 at 12:02:19 PM EST
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Even an accurate model is not a predictive model due to all those damn Lorenz Butterflies flapping their wings in India preventing or causing hurricanes in Texas.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Aug 9th, 2018 at 04:29:22 PM EST
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