However, I’m inclined to think that he isn’t a tosser, just naive (as someone said, I don’t think Tim understands the policy world very well). He looks a bit naive in his picture, doesn’t he? And that is a sure-fire way to tell. But maybe that is me being naive. Well, let me tell you and you can make up your own mind.
Assuming you can be bothered, go off and read his piece in Nature: 2 °C or not 2 °C? That is the climate question (you ought to; please don’t rely on my biased reporting of him :-). Tim has a laudable aim: he wants to ensure that global efforts to tackle the climate problem are consistent with the latest science. But alas he immeadiately goes off the rails, by talking about the
target to limit the global temperature rise to 2 °C above the average temperature before the industrial revolution…The target is linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which aims to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”
But note the rather weaselly words “linked to”. Where exactly is the scientific basis for 2 oC? Tim is very interested in making our politics consistent with the science, so why isn’t he mentioning it? Is he, perhaps, continuing the rather dishonourable tradition of pretending that because lots of people have taken 2 oC for granted, then it must have a solid basis? I don’t think it has such as basis, and have said so before.
Continuing, Target setters need to take into account all the factors that threaten to tip elements of Earth’s climate system into a different state… Well, Tim is a Tipping Points man, so it is no surprise to see him pushing his stuff. I still don’t believe it though.
But anyway, onto the pointless naive policy suggestions: I suggest that the UNFCCC be extended. The climate problem, and the political targets presented as a solution, should be aimed at restricting anthropogenic radiative forcing to limit the rate and gradients of climate change, before limiting its eventual magnitude… The 2 °C target would translate into a radiative forcing of about 2.5 Watts per square metre (W m−2), but to protect major ice sheets, we might need a tougher global target of 1.5 W m−2″. Wonderful: we can’t meet the existing targets, because we lack political will. So rather than actually address that problem, let us fiddle the targets around and make them harder to meet. That will certainly be useful. Somehow or another this is supposed to connect to regional initiatives, in a way that didn’t appear to make any sense but I didn’t bother thinking about much as it was too obviously doomed to be very interesting.
Update: on reflection, I’m being too kind to Tim Lenton. This kind of get-yer-face-in-Nature stuff is malign.