The nature of uncertainty on keystone questions @ClimateReality #ActOnClimate #keepitintheground

Waldo Canyon Fire. Photo credit The Pueblo chieftain.

Don’t be mistaken. Fossil fuel companies know that they have trillions of dollars of assets that need stay in the ground if we are to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They sow doubt to affect policy. A common strategy is to emphasize the uncertainty of predictions about the future.

However, it’s getting harder for them to overcome what folks are seeing happen around the world. Extreme events, increased flooding, longer and deeper droughts, were all predicted by the models and they are happening around us now, not in some distant future.

We are altering the climate and introducing uncertainty into the future. Planning for uncertainty from water to finance is a new and necessary challenge for government. Policy must include mechanisms to move greenhouse gas emissions in the necessary direction. The fossil fuel industry can’t be allowed to continue to pollute the atmosphere without paying a cost.

Here’s a look at the Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty and a rebuttal of Bret Stephens column in The New York Times from Andrew Revkin writing in Pacific Standard. Click through and read the whole article, here’s an excerpt:

[Bret] Stephens quoted me one more time, then built his capping thesis. “Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong,” he wrote. “Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.”

It’s not a terribly fair statement of reality. Those serious about climate change have long been clear about the nature of uncertainty on keystone questions: How dangerous is climate change? What do we do about it? Those are laden with value judgments and require debate well beyond science, which simply delineates risks.

And, as I noted in my tweeted message to him before his column ran, his critique of the environmentalists could be used against those proclaiming the certainty of disastrous economic outcomes from policies aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions or boosting communities’ capacity to handle climate hazards. One doesn’t have to look far for examples.

Please consider coming by the Community Building at Thornton’s Community Park on May 16th. I’ll be speaking about the climate crisis as part of the Climate Reality Project. Children are welcome. We’ve already baked in a lot of uncertainty about the future for them. The presentation revolves around three questions: Should we act; Can we act; and, Will we act? I’ll bring you up to date on the engineering effort around renewable energy.


What: Climate Change is Water Change: Colorado Update
Where: Thornton Community Park Community Building (Near the swimming pool), 2211 Eppinger Blvd, Thornton, CO 80229
When: Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

About the Climate Reality Project:

With glaciers melting, seas rising, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record coming this century, the threat of climate change has never been clearer. But with solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions becoming more affordable and accessible every year, neither has the way forward. And with 195 countries signing the historic Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gases the world is finally united in working to seize the promise of renewables and create a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future powered by clean energy.

What’s in the way? Powerful fossil fuel companies and their government allies spreading fear and misinformation.

Led by Vice President Gore and CEO Ken Berlin, we’re here to change that. We connect cutting-edge digital media, global organizing events, and peer-to-peer outreach to share the truth about climate change and the solutions in our hands today with people everywhere. And with our more than 10,000 Climate Reality Leader activists building support for pro-climate policies at every level, and millions joining us to accelerate the global transition to clean energy, we have the chance to stop climate change and together create a future we can be proud of. We’re not about to waste it.