If the effect of clouds on climate is “obscure” and “little is currently known about where [aerosols] end up in the atmosphere” (as recognised on The Economist’s “Grey-sky thinking”, July 5, 2007), what kind of hubris is necessary to state, as at the beginning of the article, that “the general trends [of climate] are clear”?
Late-XIX-century physics looked pretty much complete too, apart from the obscure problem of black-body radiation, solved by Planck in 1900 by discovering the hitherto completely unknown world of quantum physics.
No, I am not going to suggest that Global Warming will cause huge meteors to fall from the sky (but I am sure somebody somewhere is just blogging about that…)
Here instead a letter I have just sent to The Economist on risk mitigation, global warming and asteroids:
In “Dismal Calculations” (inside The Survey on Climate Change, Sep 7th 2006) you write that “Global warming poses a serious risk, and the costs of mitigation are not so large as to be politically unthinkable. Mitigation is better done gradually than swiftly, because the faster it is done, the more it will cost” but then conclude that “the economics of the subject are too uncertain for policymakers to lean heavily upon them“
Well, there is at least one topic where there is a serious risk, a risk that is far more certain and whose economical consequences are well accepted in a consensus far larger than global warming’s. That topic is the destruction that will be caused by an asteroid 20 meters or larger hitting our planet
One would expect people making the case for mitigating global warming because of its potentially serious consequences, to be even more active and more concerned about setting up a planetary defence system to protect us all from the killer space rocks that we know for sure are going to hurtle our way
Why talk only about mitigating global warming then? Is it because it gives its proponents a chance to enact their own dreams of social engineering?