A comment by David G. Victor and Charles F. Kennel in the new issue of Nature has sparked controversy. Victor and Kennel are openly calling for world leaders and scientists to “Ditch the 2 °C warming goal.”
They refer, of course, to the worldwide focus — from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emissions-mitigation report to “nearly every policy plan to reduce carbon emissions” from the European Union’s to the United States’ (and individual U.S. states’, including North Carolina’s) — to keep “global warming” from going beyond 2 °C pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
Why ditch the goal? Because it’s time to “face reality”:
Politically and scientifically, the 2 °C goal is wrong-headed.
It gets better. They explain why the goal is a failure on both counts:
Politically, it has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. Scientifically, there are better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system than the growth of average global surface temperature — which has stalled since 1998 …
Yes, the Inconveniently Long Pause (they call it a “troubling pause”) has become increasingly hard for scientists — whose basic skills should include the ability to state a hypothesis and test it to see whether it can be proven — to ignore, pretend away, or even influence emotionally.
I refer, of course, to these (the graphs are from March, meaning the period without global warming is even longer than shown):
It’s good to see a discussion over how to address the problem. The data are simply against the hypothesis, which is good news considering all these governments’ approaches to addressing the hypothesized problem have very real and immediate negative economic consequences. There’s no sense in imposing these great costs on ourselves for nothing.
One thing that’s troubling, however. That phrase “better ways to measure the stress that humans are placing on the climate system” sounds an awful lot like question-begging, something good science shouldn’t do (i.e., you can’t measure “how bad it is” until you establish that “it is”). It almost sounds as if the assumption is that global warming is (and therefore, massively expensive government interventions should be) despite data that it is not and they therefore should not.
Reading further … yep:
Failure to set scientifically meaningful goals makes it hard for scientists and politicians to explain how big investments in climate protection will deliver tangible results. Some of the backlash from ‘denialists’ is partly rooted in policy-makers’ obsession with global temperatures that do not actually move in lock-step with the real dangers of climate change.
New goals are needed. It is time to track an array of planetary vital signs — such as changes in the ocean heat content — that are better rooted in the scientific understanding of climate drivers and risks. Targets must also be set in terms of the many individual gases emitted by human activities and policies to mitigate those emissions.
Translation: Governments need a broader swath of data to manipulate to make it seem as if hamstringing their economies (including, most importantly, enriching green cronies) is necessary to save the planet from warming, since the planet itself is being such a trucculent “denialist”: