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« Diary dates - here we go again edition | Main | Green policy - complicity in genocide? »

There's the science and there's the Vatican science

I was sent a link to this statement by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the subject of climate change. It's gloriously over the top, as you would expect from something authored by Schellnhuber and Sachs, among others.

This century is on course to witness unprecedented environmental changes. In particular, the projected climate changes or, more appropriately, climate disruptions, when coupled with ongoing massive species extinctions and the destruction of ecosystems, will doubtless leave their indelible marks on both humanity and nature. As early as 2100, there will be a non-negligible probability of irreversible and catastrophic climate impacts that may last over thousands of years, raising the existential question of whether civilization as we know it can be extended beyond this century. Only a radical change in our attitude towards Creation and towards our fellow humans, complemented by transformative technological innovations, could reverse the dangerous trends that have already been set into motion inadvertently. A sustainable future based on the continued extraction of coal, oil and gas and their use in the “business-as-usual mode” will not be possible, because it raises the specter of a world that could be significantly warmer than 2°C by the end of this century. Such a temperature rise, occurring in a warm inter-glacial epoch that we call the Holocene, has not been seen in tens of millions of years. This creates a serious risk that Earth will cross critical thresholds and tipping points, pushing whole environmental systems, such as rain forests, continental ice sheets, coastal wetlands, monsoon patterns and marine food webs into different states or even annihilation. To quote the most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Synthesis Report released in 2014: We risk “increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

One hardly knows where to start, but it's worth taking a look at what AR5 had to say about "tipping points". Here's Table 12.4, which was covered in this BH guest post about a Royal Society discussion meeting at which it was discussed. As my correspondent put it at the time,

Every single catastrophic scenario bar one has a rating of "Very unlikely" or "Exceptionally unlikely" and/or has "low confidence".

Still, for greens and their fellow travellers, this is probably good enough to justify depriving Africans of the benefits of fossil fuels.

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Reader Comments (30)

the specter of a world that could be significantly warmer than 2°C by the end of this century

Pardon my ignorance, but I thought the world was already significantly warmer than 2°C. Or isn't that exactly what they meant to say?

Apr 29, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterChGr53

About the only thing that can be said about this is that it is so far over the top that no-one will pay any attention.

Apr 29, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@ ChGr53

The temperature of the Earth is less than 2°C, it is -18.5°C. There is an additional 33°C at the surface added by the gravitational effect on the atmosphere below the average height of the -18.5°C. The result is 14.5°C.

God knows where the 2°C came from.

Apr 29, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Is there an English translation?

From my limited knowledge of Eurotrixibabble, it just seems to be saying that things could get really really bad, in ways they haven't really thought about, but we really ought to care more, or we all might really regret it.

The authors are not asking for donations to their cause, just demanding instant access to everybody elses bank accounts. NOW!

The authors are convinced they are right.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

It would be ironic for this Pope to co-operate in starving the Africans in the name of public moral good, after another Pope steadfastly condemned Africans to death or life-long misery in the name of the public moral good of not using birth control techniques, and specifically condoms.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:33 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

From the 2090s is a very long and deep solar minimum, which will cause much regional desiccation. The worst of this minimum from 2016 to 2024 should shake out all the nonsense about how little the Sun drives weather and climate change, so we can then prepare for what really is ahead.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterUlric Lyons

Worth pointing out that the document is a joint one between the Science academy, and the Social Science Acadamy. Even so, it's so bad it is hilarious.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

I think this news about the Pope is EXACTLY what we've been waiting for.

It is now obvious that "Global Warming" is matter of religious belief and has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Science.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

Oh yeah you have to watch out for these non-negligible probabilities. Even 1% probability surely means we have to radically change our lifestyles.

Lord help them be numerate!

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


Thanks for the details!

I think, in line with the dogma of the religion, they may have intended to say 'a world that could be significantly warmer by more than 2°C'.

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterChGr53

OMG..! OMG>>! Its much worse than we thought..!

Quick - call Vivienne Westwood, Ed Davey, Roger Harrabin, Dale Vince - and anyone else you can think of to spread the word..!

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

The Pope and crusades..... not again!

Apr 29, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Don't see any advice to reduce the population with birth control yet the abiding theme throughout the statement is that 3 billion are in poverty now and it can only get worse.

Apr 29, 2015 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

"Such a temperature rise, occurring in a warm inter-glacial epoch that we call the Holocene, has not been seen in tens of millions of years."

Err,........two of the last four Interglacials were warmer than today by between 3°C & 5°C, & two were at least as warm as today if not warmer! I think someone has been playing on their X-Box 360 computer in fantasy world!

Apr 29, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

As ChGr53 wrote, the "2 °C" is no doubt a poorly-phrased reference to an increase of 2 °C in the global average surface temperature. There's often ambiguity about whether such change is relative to pre-industrial or relative to current temperatures (last year was approx. 0.9 °C above pre-industrial). In this case, since the context is "significantly warmer than 2 °C", it doesn't matter much.

I found this earlier sentence more objectionable: "Climate change resulting largely from unsustainable consumption by about 15% of the world’s population has become a dominant moral and ethical issue for society." I agree with the general statement that warming frrom greenhouse gases is due to industrialization and increasing energy use. However, "unsustainable" makes little sense -- the "business as usual" scenario implicitly accepts that energy use will continue and increase. "Consumption" connotes wastefulness, or at least using more than the authors deem acceptable, but people have been using energy to improve their lives. And I find it offensive to imply that industrialization has been immoral.

Apr 29, 2015 at 2:50 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Embarrassing. :(


Apr 29, 2015 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

I expect the Greens have already noticed that Communion bread is not organic, stoneground wholemeal and indigestible.

These are the sort of details that Greens have a Divine Right to interfere with.

When the Greens find out that the 12 Apostles were all male, and some killed fish for a living, a clash of faiths is inevitable.

As for rumours of carpentry skills, well, you only have to see modern Palestine to appreciate the damage caused by not obtaining timber from sustainably managed forests.

Apr 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Every single catastrophic scenario bar one has a rating of "Very unlikely" or "Exceptionally unlikely" and/or has "low confidence".

Yup. And that exception is "Likely that the Arctic ocean becomes nearly ice free in September..."

If that particular cataclysm happened then maybe they should come back in October. Or fly down to Antarctica if they really want a holiday with sea ice.

Apr 29, 2015 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Somebody ought to slip a copy of the RSS and UAH temperature series under the Pope's breakfast plate.

Apr 29, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

They have written the warmunist Nicene Creed.

Apr 29, 2015 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Did you notice that the economy has grown faster than the population by over a factor of 2? Surely that means a greater wealth per head. Can only be a good thing.

That means to me that human ingenuity has outstripped population expansion. What price Ehrlich now?

Apr 29, 2015 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Somebody ought to slip a copy of the RSS and UAH temperature series under the Pope's breakfast plate.

It will take more than bell, book and candle to exorcise the bugs in the unpublished code that underlies them. <?a>

cue gargling noises about Wikipedia.

Apr 30, 2015 at 2:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Russell is as usual stupid enough to put his foot into his mouth. If it is unpublished code how do you know what are bugs in it? How idiotic are you?

Apr 30, 2015 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenter

How idiotic are you?
You don't really want somebody to answer that question, Venter, do you?
Russell is a legend in his own time mind, a sort of pontifex maximus of the irrelevant.

Apr 30, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Honeybees processing the nectar of the microwave flowers vs dungbeetles digesting the endproducts of the temperature series. Yes, all God's critters got a purpose, but the satellites are sweeter than the thermometers.

Apr 30, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Kim, dung beetles like to shape, roll and move dung, in readiness for digestion.

Climate scientist do not produce dung for digestion, until it has been perfectly shaped, rolled and moved.

It is only a subtle difference, sometimes just a few tenths of a degree, but it makes it all worthwhile, to climate scientists.

Apr 30, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Mike Jackson, I agree, but with Russell, you can bet that such a question will be seen by him as a literal challenge and spur him to new heights to show how idiotic he is, I guess ;-)

Apr 30, 2015 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenter

Venter , UAH's unpublished code may be had piecemeal in all its bugginess by quarrying NASA's system, as Stoat reports:

Apr 30, 2015 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Ah, yes, William Connolly aka Stoat, the paragon of untruths and false edits is your source. What a way to rise to the challenge ad reach new heights of idiocy and brainlessness, Russel. You do keep exceeding yourselves with every post.

May 2, 2015 at 3:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenter

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