"The Wisdom of Inaction"

A few posts down, I discuss Tom Friedman’s New York Times’ column about the apparent death of cap and trade. Here is another Times column that has a different take on the subject that I think is about right. The final paragraph talks about the “wisdom of inaction.” That is smart and here’s why.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) offers the hypothesis that carbon dioxide (CO2)is the driving force governing our climate. This is primarily based on climate forecast models. We are early in a five-year period of time when we can test that hypothesis on the real atmosphere.

If those of us who believe the IPCC greatly overstates and oversimplifies the effects of CO2 on the climate are right, we should see significant cooling by 2013; 2015 at the latest. And, that cooling should last for a number of years. There are three reasons why cooling should occur:

  1. The very long solar cycle and the lack of sunspots in recent years. A number of scientists believe this alone is enough to cause cooling in about three years. Some scientists believe that there is roughly a three-year lag between dearth of sunspots and resulting cooling. 
  2. The (warm) El Nino has flipped to a (cool) La Nina in the Pacific.
  3. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation has flipped into the cool phase (after 20+ years in the warm phase).
If these three conditions do not cause cooling then it is likely the IPCC is right and major actions are needed. If the cooling occurs, we can continue to do research and try to improve our ability to forecast the future state of the climate. 
We can afford to wait. There is nothing about ‘global warming’ the calls for immediate drastic action (world temperatures are falling at the moment). At this moment, inaction is wise. 

2 thoughts on “"The Wisdom of Inaction"

  1. About a year ago an excellent paper was published (Lean&Rind, Geophys. Research Lett. 36, L15708, 2009) showing how the sun's forcing will indeed cause a pause in the global warming caused by anthropogenic forces between 2014-2019. This prediction is not from using climate models, it is done by using projections of past world-wide temperature trends. Essentially the anthropogenic forces will be masked by a cooling sun. The scary part is that this means that from 2020 onward we will see an accelerated warming period.
    What is more impressive about the article is the precision with which global temperatures from 2000-2005 are predicted using data from 1970-1999. This shows that the method is quite accurate and the future predictions are quite robust.
    I can email you a copy of the article if you don't have a subscription and are actually serious about understanding climate change.