Could we control our climate?
Could we control our climate?

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2.2 Lukewarmers

Now that you have studied the climate model predictions, you can consider a particular type of climate scepticism relating to whether the models have been ‘running too hot’. Here is a quote from one of Edwards’ (2015b) articles on the subject:

So-called ‘climate denial’ is actually not that common in the UK … There are still people who are unconvinced that carbon dioxide has any greenhouse warming effect, particularly in the US and Australia. But by far the most common kind of non-mainstream, contrarian view I see … is the self-described ‘lukewarmer’.

Lukewarmers have much more mainstream views than the easy stereotype of the denier. They agree carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, that the world is warming, and that a significant fraction of this is down to humans. In terms of policy, they typically support adaptation to climate change. But they differ from mainstream views because they’re not convinced there’s a substantial risk that future warming could be large or its impacts severe, or that strong mitigation policies are desirable.

Edwards (2015b)

The video which follows is a clip from the BBC programme ‘Newsnight’. Here, Edwards debates with ‘lukewarmer’ Matt Ridley following a video sequence about the success – or rather, lack of success – of models in simulating Antarctic sea ice.

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Video 1 Tamsin Edwards debating with ‘lukewarmer’ Matt Ridley on BBC ‘Newsnight’, October 2014.  
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  • What are Matt Ridley’s arguments to illustrate the lack of success of climate models? How would you respond?

    • Ridley states that 87 of 90 models overestimate the warming over the past 15 years. This is too short a period with which to assess their ability at predicting long-term climate change.
    • Ridley states that the models are too warm over the past 35 years, which does not seem to be a robust assertion given the GMST comparison you have seen.
    • Ridley focuses on the disagreement between models and data for only two variables while ignoring other aspects of the Earth system.
    • Ridley is inconsistent, stating that the Arctic sea ice is only one small data point whilst his focus is on only two variables, GMST and Antarctic sea ice extent.

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