So says Krugman. He means, of course, that the scientists are predicting disaster but no-one is listening. Or rather, that people listen but then find doing anything too inconvenient. Since this happened over fishing I find it not at all odd. But Krugman’s basic premise – the sense that we’re hurtling toward catastrophe but nobody wants to hear about it or do anything to avert it. And here’s the thing: I’m not engaging in hyperbole – is twaddle. This *is* obvious hyperbole. The prognosis for the planet has gotten much, much worse in just the last few years. – no, I don’t think so. You could argue that things haven’t got any better, and there are a few areas where things look worse – the glacial contribution to future SLR may be higher than expected for example. But “much much worse”? I don’t think so. “About that same” would be closer, were you to look at, say, projected temperature changes. And thanks to sterling work from the likes of James and Julia we now know that the “long tail” of very high climate sensitivity is unlikely. So that is good, isn’t it?
What’s driving this new pessimism? Partly it’s the fact that some predicted changes, like a decline in Arctic Sea ice, are happening much faster than expected. – oops, K is rather badly out of date. You could say that in late 2007. In late 2008 it was distinctly iffy, and now it is iffier still (yes I need to wrap up the sea ice for the year. I will, I will. Maybe K would like to take on the bet for next years extent?
I don’t think the tundra feedback is as exciting as he thinks, but it isn’t really my thing. Nor is the South West drying, but I think Science may be over-egging it a bit (I find If these models are correct, the levels of aridity of the recent multiyear drought or the Dust Bowl and the 1950s droughts will become the new climatology of the American Southwest within a time frame of years to decades baffling – there is no sign of a sudden change in the results presented, just a long slow drying).
So K is puzzled: In a rational world, then, the looming climate disaster would be our dominant political and policy concern. It could be that we don’t live in a rational world (evidence: cars kill far more people than terrorists but we aren’t about to declare an undying war on cars). But another possibility is that the evidence for a looming disaster is weaker than K thinks.