Let us suppose for the moment the climate works according to the ‘sensitivity-forcing’ paradigm.
Consider the effect of sensitivity on the 2C threshold used in international climate negotiations. If the climate orthodoxy wishes to initiate policy action against climate change, sensitivity needs to be high. But if sensitivity is too high political action is impossible.
Richard Tol pointed out a while back, a strict 2C target would mean “build[ing] 4,000 new nuclear power plants before 2030” and “convinc[ing] China and India not just to stop building coal-fired power plants, but to abandon” built ones. As Kevin Anderson puts it, ‘pointless despair’ is the end-result.
Almost as a throwaway Tol stated that the 2C target could be accommodated if climate sensitivity were low.
To date, numbers for climate sensitivity and low sensitivity are not exactly in play in the domain of policy. The activists keep policymakers cooped up in the pressure-cooker of possible catastrophe, feeding them simple numbers like ‘2C’, ‘350’ and so forth.
But with global temperatures not going up rapidly, what if they awaken to the low numbers?
I am not sure climate negotiations has considered the meaning of this yet. They could finally stop, in the words of David Roberts, blowing lots of smoke up a lot of asses, and craft treaties that comply with ‘the science’. What a relief that could be. The treaty obligations need not be a guaranteed drag on economies. Developing countries can scale back on ‘renewable’ energy subsidy-gobbling monsters, developing economies can build large-scale coal plants, and island nations can adapt knowing they are not going to drown two days later.
In other words, low climate sensitivity would mean Lomborg. It would be a consensus the world can agree to.
The above must sound fantastical. Climate activists do not operate in a world where they would let a little science get in their way.
As far-fatched as it sounds, the real heretical implications lie in the climate debate itself. Outside the unreal charade of emission negotiations, low sensitivity would mean blowing smoke up asses would get increasingly difficult. If and when low-sensitivity estimates are accepted it will not be, as ATTP dreamily imagines, that skeptics and lukewarmists finally accepted the logic of climate alarmists. The outcome would rather be the opposite: the ground would shift toward skeptics and the Lindzen/Curry/Lewis school. It would be Joe ‘Dustbowl’ Romm left looking crazy, if that was possible.
With Tamsin Edwards’ latest article in the Guardian, the radical implication finally dawns on ATTP:
So, I think it’s unfortunate that Tamsin appears to have framed it in this way, as it – IMO – adds undue legitimacy to the Lukewarmer position, and largely misrepresents the alternative.
Nuccitelli rubs his eyes, he cannot believe what he sees:
… by putting ‘lukewarmers’ in the middle of her imagined spectrum, between deniers and mainstream climate scientists, she made them seem like the moderate middle ground. … She’s shifting the Overton window to put ‘Lukewarmers’ in the middle of the spectrum when actually they’re on the low (overly optimistic) end.
That’s right, Nuccitelli. If the world (ever) grasps implications of low sensitivity, it’ll be the alarmists who get pushed out the Overton Window. Believe me, it will be easy doing it to doom-mongers and 10:10 video makers who cannot get simple things straight.