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Author Topic: Philosophical Discussion About Abrupt SLR from WAIS & Its Implications  (Read 29140 times)

sidd

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Re: Joughin, mechanical failure, WAIS

Precisely. The Antarctic will not warm into the plastic flow regime in Glen's law exponent, ocean driven melt will be faster than flow can compensate, surface slope adjacent the grounding lines will get too steep, iceslides following mechanical failure, possibly with small tsunamis into the Pacific. Bassis is more relevant here than I first noticed.

But Greenland will warm (is warming) into that plastic regime ... but mebbe better to discuss that in the Greenland threads. 

LRC1962

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How the Media Report Risk and Uncertainty
Does a fairly good job IMO about problems communicating risk and uncertainty. Although focusing examples mainly on the health field can easily apply to any scientific field.
Calls to mind debate in the 60-70s about smoking. No reporter now would dare give a 'balanced' report on dangers of smoking. Nor make light of the fact that 'only' x% will die early from smoking, or 'only' x% will die from 2nd hand smoke. Scientist or up against the same kind of money and the same spin doctors as the scientists faced then. Remember also that media is able to be media because industry supports it. Back before the 80s it was tobacco and media although survived had to find new revenues. Today the medias main supporters and sometimes outright owners is oil. Oil does not want a major cutback in CO2. So the scientists again have the same problem.
It was only when the courts and Surgeon General of the United States Everett Koop used legal and political sledge hammers that the tobacco story started to change. Now I believe one of the players is going to be the insurance industry from the financial side, but who has the political power and respect to work the political side? Until that happens unfortunately IMO it does not matter what scientist say or how they say it, the media will play the CO2 story as it has always done because the ones who pay the bills are calling the shots. And yet who will be scapegoated in the end when it happens? The scientists not the politicians or reporters. See Italian scientists and the missed earthquake. They gave a report and the story got spun politically.
"All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second,  it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
       - Arthur Schopenhauer

AbruptSLR

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LRC1962,

I half agree with you, and I half disagree with you.  I agree that scientists are working very hard to tackle the issue of climate change and that it is inappropriate to single them out, when so many other portions of society bear equal responsibility, but who are doing less than the scientists.  However, I disagree that it does not matter what the scientists say, because the denialist hide behind uncertainty and particularly the uncertainty associated with scientists erring on the side of least drama, just to avoid the disruption associated with politics.  Without scientists more clearly identifying the true (complete) risks of climate change; then how can say the insurance companies, and/or the civil authorities, sue, and/or tax, the fossil fuel industry, when all the fossil fuel industry has to say is that the scientists did not warn them.
   
When scientists see that climate is now non-stationary; yet when they choose to assume that unless there is 100% "proof" that any individual metric has changed then they choose to assume that it has not changed; they then expose society as a whole to more risk.  For example, in a war if you do not do contingency planning for the unknown unknowns that the enemy may do; then you will almost certainly lose the battle.  So while certainly it is not the scientist's job to fight the fossil fuel industry directly (as James Hansen did against the Keystone pipeline), it is their job to give lawyers, and lawmakers, the evidence that they need to make lawsuits and regulations stick; remembering that in civil cases the burden of proof is only 51% not 100%.  If civil cases always required 100% proof then white collar crime would be more widespread than it already is, so there is a reason that our legal system drops the level of proof for the greater good.  Thus if we (or our political representatives) are going to effectively fight back against the fossil fuel industry then the scientist need to make much clearer what the 51% level of evidence says; otherwise, we are fighting with one arm tied behind our backs.

Best,
ASLR
« Last Edit: June 29, 2014, 03:27:56 PM by AbruptSLR »
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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The linked reference indicates that unless society can impose a decision making process that considers the "common good", such as democratic voting, then under our current system individuals seeking to maximize their personal gain, will drive fossil fuel exploitation to exhaustion; thus condemning future generations not only to live without the fossil fuel but as to live with extreme climate change.  This "Tyranny of the Commons" problem has been well known for a long-time, as has the fact that both lobbyists and multiple nation-states tend to thwart the imposition of honest democratic voting.  Thus our biggest challenge is to present the facts of climate change (including the risks of ASLR) in a fashion that does not allow denialist to hide behind uncertainty, but rather that allows injured parties (insurance companies and owners) to seek recovery of damages, and to seek new regulations, against the fossil fuel industry and their lobbyists, and political cronies. 


Oliver P. Hauser, David G. Rand, Alexander Peysakhovich & Martin A. Nowak, (2014), "Cooperating with the future ", Nature, 510,doi:10.1038/nature13530

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13530.html

Abstract: "Overexploitation of renewable resources today has a high cost on the welfare of future generations. Unlike in other public goods games, however, future generations cannot reciprocate actions made today. What mechanisms can maintain cooperation with the future? To answer this question, we devise a new experimental paradigm, the ‘Intergenerational Goods Game’. A line-up of successive groups (generations) can each either extract a resource to exhaustion or leave something for the next group. Exhausting the resource maximizes the payoff for the present generation, but leaves all future generations empty-handed. Here we show that the resource is almost always destroyed if extraction decisions are made individually. This failure to cooperate with the future is driven primarily by a minority of individuals who extract far more than what is sustainable. In contrast, when extractions are democratically decided by vote, the resource is consistently sustained. Voting is effective for two reasons. First, it allows a majority of cooperators to restrain defectors. Second, it reassures conditional cooperators that their efforts are not futile. Voting, however, only promotes sustainability if it is binding for all involved. Our results have implications for policy interventions designed to sustain intergenerational public goods."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

LRC1962

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ASLR: I guess a better word I should had used was advocate. because in the history of mankind social change has only really come about when an advocate that was willing to give up everything for the cause. Be that slavery, women's vote/rights, tobacco and now ASLR and related environmental issues. Almost never do they come from the academic ranks that study the issues, they usually came from somewhere else.
I guess I am coming from the Canadian experience where the ruling party has basically shut down all research and stopped all communication about climate change (even though some of the top experts in the field are based in Canada) and this comes from because their biggest backers are oil. On top of that the public broadcaster is being neuterized through sever funding cuts because they kept reporting things they questioned what the ruling party was doing. Ergo the rest of the media is very careful about how they talk about things such as climate change. Granted that all can change when another party gets into power or the forces outside Canada become so grate that they change is forced on them. But the question then becomes how long will it be before this change place, how much damage will be done in the mean time, and finally how long will it take to undo all the damage done. As I say in Canada the scientist are not allowed to talk to anyone without the permission of the government or they will be taken to court. This is Canadas reality today.
"All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second,  it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
       - Arthur Schopenhauer

AbruptSLR

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LRC 1962,

I fully understand your concerns; and issues; however, in my opinion until at least 51% of the voters are sufficiently concerned to vote for action against climate change, then those in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry will continue to treat climate change like a Ponzi scheme where the select few benefit at the cost of the majority (especially the future generations).  Education seems to me like the most practicable way to get 51% of the voters to decide that this is a priority topic.  Unfortunately, it seems to me that a great deal of environmental damage will be done before the majority of voters (with, or without an advocate [I have my doubts that the Hank Paulson/Michael Bloomberg report on "Risky Business" will have much effect]) see that it is in their own personal interest to be concerned about the good of the whole, with regards to climate change.

Best,
ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

Lennart van der Linde

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ALSR,

In the interview with Andy Shepherd, that you posted earlier, he says:
http://www.sciencepoles.org/interview/putting-antarcticas-ice-mass-loss-into-perspective

“What we are able to tell from analysis of the geological record is that the rate at which the part of West Antarctica around the Amundsen Sea is currently losing ice ten times more rapidly, if not more, as the ice retreat that occurred during the last interglacial period (the Eemian, 130,000 to 114,00 years ago). So the ice retreat we’re currently seeing is much more rapid than we’d expect to see during typical interglacial cycles. But if you go back further in time, research indicates that in previous interglacials, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed over period as short as a few centuries. That would have added up to five metres of sea level rise to the world’s oceans in a relatively short period. Such rapid sea level rise – at rates upwards of 50 centimetre per century - would be difficult for society to deal with, and would effectively double what we expect according to IPCC projections.”

So what is he saying here?

To me he seems to be saying: if collapse of WAIS goes as fast as during interglacials before the Eemian (such as the Holsteinian) that could mean up to five meters in as short as a few centuries. Doubling of IPCC projections would mean up to two meters by 2100 and up to 7 meters by 2300.

But that’s still based on forcings and processes that have occurred before, whereas the current antropogenic forcing is unprecedented by at least an order of magnitude, so unprecedented processes may occur which could lead to even faster SLR than those Shepherd refers to. So maybe five meters of SLR (or more) in about a century is a risk we should take into account.

AbruptSLR

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Lennart,

If you go back to my posts near the beginning of this thread, I make exactly the point that you conclude your post with. 

We all need to recognize that ice mass loss from the WAIS is an non-linear process, thus it matters very much where in the time frame of the non-linear curve that you are considering.  The current ice mass loss rates from the ASE that Shepard is referring to is from the initial stages of the collapse of these marine glaciers, and thus can be expected to accelerate, but of course the questions is how fast can they accelerate.  In this regard, you need to remember that during the interglacial that your reference there was not an ozone hole over Antarctica causing the westerly winds to accelerate; which is driving the ice mass loss from the ASE.  Thus this is really a question of risk management: (a) does society want to use uncertainty as an excuse to avoid taking any action; or (b) does society want to use the Precautionary Principle to reduce the risks that uncertainty brings.

Best,
ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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The following extracts are taken from the linked article; which indicate the degree of political influence on the IPCC AR5 report; which partially explains why the report errs (so much) on the side of least drama:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140703-ipcc-climate-report-deleted-data-global-warming-science/

Extracts:
" ...

"Over the course of the two hours of the contact group deliberations, it became clear that the only way the assembled government representatives would approve text for SPM.5.2 [the Summary for Policy-makers] was essentially to remove all 'controversial' text (that is, text that was uncomfortable for any one individual government), which meant deleting almost 75 percent of the text," Stavins wrote on his blog on April 25.

...

Wible points out that the stated intention of the IPCC since it was founded in 1988 has always been to "balance governmental and scientific input."

That mandate is unlikely to change, says David Victor, one of the lead authors of the policy discussion in the April IPCC report and the head writer of one of the papers published Thursday in Science, called "Getting Serious About Categorizing Countries."

"I think in an ideal world there would be a firmer separation between the diplomats and the scientists" when it comes to the IPCC process, says Victor, who is a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego.

..."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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The large variation in sea level rise projections has been an embarrassment for several decades, and reflects poorly on society's process for decision making in the face of uncertainty.  Rignot has stated that his data indicates that the ASE marine glaciers have passed a tipping point and that they will enter a phase of rapid collapse within less than 200 years, if we assume the current rate of grounding line retreat in this area.  However, the following reference by Spence et al 2014 indicates that upwelling of warm deep ocean water in this area will greatly accelerate this rate of grounding line retreat.

Spence, P, Griffies, S., England, M., Hogg, A., Saenko, O., and Jourdain, N., (2014), "Rapid subsurface warming and circulation changes of Antarctic coastal waters by poleward shifting winds", GRL; DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060613.

Nevertheless, authorities still have not increased their SLR guidance (in my opinion they should now be increased to reflect the PDF and CDF given in Reply #5 of this post). 

The basic problem with our decision making process on SLR guidance is that: (a) the "Tyranny of the Commons" problem rewards those who game the system to their advantage no matter how much loss there is to the common good; and (b) there are so many opportunities to game the system given our current levels of uncertainty [i.e. (1) scientists are not responsible for decision making so they only need to discuss their model's internal uncertainties and they can ignore discussion of external uncertainties not addressed by their models; (2) engineers can say that they only advise owners and to get low costs on effected infrastructure they can take the low range of the internal model uncertainty levels provided by the global expert on SLR the IPCC AR5; and (3) policy makers can say that they are only following the advise given to them by their advisors].

As undesirable as it may sound, the original solution to the "Tyranny of the Commons" problem was to have any Overlord claim ownership of the commons to prevent them from being abused; and it seems to me that soon the only solution to protecting coastal lands/infrastructure from the impacts of SLR is to provide 50 to 100-yr concessions to private groups (in partnership with the public authorities) to provide defense against the SLR that is now certain to come (this century), or to be held responsible for the damages to the property that they were given a concession to protect.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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In the linked article, economist Gregory Clark states his belief that the last time that mankind escaped the Malthusian trap at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was due to the willingness for investors (in a capitalist system) to defer gratification (and lower expectations on rates of return):

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/how-learning-to-pass-the-marshmallow-test-explains-global-economic-evolution/

As mankind appears to be headed towards a new Malthusian trap (this time due to anthropogenic GHG), if we are going to escape again we will need to devise a system where all key stakeholders show a still greater willingness to defer gratification.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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I tend to concur with James Hansen's positions, more often than not, and as such I highly recommend reading Hansen's position piece found at the following link; which presents a number of practical actions that can be taken to fight against excessive climate change:

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2014/20140702_WheelsOfJustice.pdf

Some people may think that the coming collapse of the WAIS will not occur for at least 200 years, and that it does not matter very much how much fossil fuels that we burn in the meantime, as all the needed heat is already in the oceans and that the Southern Hemisphere Westerly winds are already conditioned to direct the warm deep ocean water to the grounding lines of the Antarctic marine glaciers.  I believe that any such thought is delusional, as it is of critical importance to try to slow the rate of collapse of the WAIS, and that the influence of the atmosphere on the rate of this collapse is fundamental, and establishing effective measures to fight climate change can still have a critical impact on the response of the atmosphere in the coming decades.  For example, if we stay on our current BAU pathway, seasonal surface ice melting will occur in the WAIS by 2070 (following a BAU pathway) much as it is currently occurring in Greenland; and such significant seasonal surface ice melting would greatly accelerate the collapse of the WAIS via the subglacial hydrological systems. Another example is that if we stay on our current BAU pathway the Antarctic Sea Ice Extent will begin to dramatically decrease around 2070, which will likely direct large amounts of warm ocean currents beneath large ice shelves such as the FRIS and probably the RIS; which, would greatly accelerate ice mass loss in these key areas.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Philosophical Discussion About Abrupt SLR from WAIS & Its Implications
« Reply #62 on: August 16, 2014, 11:27:08 PM »
"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"

In parts of the East this is a formula for maintaining a transitory state of "Wa" (a Japanese cultural concept usually translated into English as "harmony").

In parts of the West this is an indictment of those who turn a blind eye to impropriety.

As craving and aversion can be seen as two sides of the say coin: (a) climate change optimists seek a state of "Wa" by focusing on happy thoughts such as: achieving RCP 2.6; developing cheap fusion power; and the application of human genius to solving climate change challenges, while (b) climate change skeptics turn a blind eye to climate change risks by: ignoring the fat-tail of the risk pdf; applying a heavy discount rate for future risks and putting that risk as far into the future as imaginable; by focusing on low values for climate sensitivity, and by holding on to geo-engineering as a back-up "get out of jail free card".

However, rather than craving a rosy future, or denying (due to aversion) climate change risks; it is far better to first recognize the reality of our current situation & then to work hard towards a sustainable future.  Unfortunately, our current political and economic systems do not adequately support the level of hard work required to face the challenges of climate change now; thus we are likely to face the reality of climate change in a few decades (starting seriously between 2040 and 2050) in a crisis mode, until natural selection leads to some type of sustainable future; which we may, or may not, like.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Philosophical Discussion About Abrupt SLR from WAIS & Its Implications
« Reply #63 on: January 27, 2015, 09:51:07 PM »
As I have discussed previously, many denialist think that if they are going for a walk with a friend and they are threatened by a "climate change" bear, in order to resolve the threat, all they have to do is to run faster than their friend and the problem is solved.  Unfortunately, this line of thinking only works if the denialist has a safe place away from the bear once he/she escapes; however, as there is only one world, after the denialist escapes the bear today he/she will have to face the same "climate change" bear tomorrow as there is no place on Earth to effectively hide.  Thus, a wise person would cooperate with his friend (say developing countries) in order to face the bear together today (with a better chance of defeating the bear) than alone tomorrow.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson