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Leonard Hyman & William Tilles

Leonard Hyman & William Tilles

Leonard S. Hyman is an economist and financial analyst specializing in the energy sector. He headed utility equity research at a major brokerage house and…

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New Models Suggest Much Faster Global Warming

New climate models now project even faster global warming than previous work. The models were developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Princeton, NJ), the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, CO) and six other international computational centers. If correct, these new studies give world leaders far less of a “runway” to avoid even more serious climate degradation.

Older climate change models predicted that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would produce global temperature increases of between 2.5-5 degrees C. The new models suggest that previous estimates were too conservative, and that doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will produce 5 degrees C. or more of global warming in the future.

Climate scientists are not sure why the new models project far higher temperatures. That question may be answered after researchers run the international, cooperative Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), which will go over the models with the proverbial fine tooth comb, run five simulations and possibly do 23 more models. Unfortunately, CMIP is running a year late.

These models will be key inputs for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report scheduled in 2021. Panelists are already asking questions of the modelers. If the more aggressive climate change models look convincing that will put additional pressure on the IPCC to say something more urgent. And that in turn will require at least the appearance of a timely reply or response on the part of politicians.   Related: Trump’s Offshore Drilling Boom May Not Happen Before 2020

We can’t predict whether CMIP affirms the eight climate models or instead reveals a computer glitch that challenges the work of top climate researchers. Those results are not likely to be available for a year or more. Nor can we predict how much contradictory “research” will suddenly appear on the internet. We would focus instead on politics.

Even in advance of confirmation, though, these new climate projections are significant. One of the Democratic candidates for president, Jay Inslee, is making climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. These models certainly bolster his case and ultimately will suggest the need for faster action. Environmental activists and movements throughout the world will also have more compelling evidence with which to press politicians for additional remedial action, too. 

We believe the climate debate—and its attendant policy and business risks— will intensify if it appears that the global climate outlook is deteriorating at an accelerated rate. It is not unlikely even that more aggressive calls for remedial action will be incorporated into political campaigns here and abroad.

And perhaps needless to say, for climate change deniers it’s about to get even hotter.

By Leonard Hyman William Tilles for Oilprice.com

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  • Nick Ladney on April 29 2019 said:
    The headline say "New evidence...". A computer model is t "evidence", it is a prediction. If as accurate as every other prediction (e.g. Dr. James Hansen in 1988 - New York will be under water in 20 years; Carl Sagan 1990 - “The planet could face an ecological and agricultural catastrophe by the next decade if global warming trends continue.”) we have nothing to worry about.
  • David Mayfield on April 29 2019 said:
    If correct...models suggest...not sure why...the appearance of...can’t predict...contradictory “research”...focus instead on politics...suggest the need...if it appears...deniers...

    I love a good story about "settled science".
  • Gregory Barton on April 29 2019 said:
    CMIP has consistently overstated climate sensitivity to CO2. Why should we believe them now? Do we need this sort of propaganda in an industry publication?
  • Leonard Hyman on May 01 2019 said:
    Let's start at the beginning. The headline says "new climate models", not "new evidence."

    Next, the story is not about the virtues of the model, or the need to construct models in order to explain complex events, but rather about the political and economic implications of the fact that the new models produce results more worrisome than the old models. That's a fact, whether the models are right or wrong.

    That brings me to my third point, that people and politicians will make judgments influenced by the new models. They will assess risk based on these models, and whether the costs of mitigation against an event that could but might not happen are worth the expense. That's an insurance policy, by the way. Most of us have insurance.

    As to whether industry publications should cover this sort of news, they are precisely the news outlets that should do so. Industry executives that want to effectively protect their interests and prepare for what might come, including changes in public policy, have to know what everyone thinks, not just what they would prefer to hear.

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