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Why Climate Uncertainty is Cause for Concern

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorOctober 11, 2011 9:09 PM


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At Forbes, William Pentland explores the "fat tail" of climate change and concludes:

Uncertainty is intrinsic to complex systems like Earth's climate, but in the context of catastrophic climate change, this uncertainty is so severe that it is difficult to draw basic conclusions about how fat the fat tail is. According to [Harvard University's Martin] Weitzman, it "is difficult to infer (or even to model accurately) the probabilities of events far outside the usual range of experience." Indeed, "[r]ather than justifying a lack of response to climate change, the emphasis on uncertainty enlarges the risk and reinforces the responsibility for pursuing successful long-term mitigation policy," according to a 2010 analysis by researchers at Sandia National Laboratory. All things considered, alarmism seems like common sense to me.

If the argument were made strictly along these lines, instead of in the hyperbolic terms that we are accustomed to, would self-described "lukewarmers" be more inclined to buy into it?

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