The Independent has published some optimistic news yesterday:
Chinese emperor's nose and when will the tipping point destroy the Earth. None of them had any clue but the person who asked those questions apparently thought that he gets a very accurate, scientific answer if he computes the average of the 14 answers.
The authors of a PNAS preprint decided that the climatic end of the world wouldn't be in 1999, as the United Nations announced in 1989, but in 2200, and they organized an interview with 14 "luminaries".
Only one of them said that the probability was below 50% that the tipping point would kill everything by 2200 (most of them said the likelihood was above 90%). This person can't be possibly right, the authors of the paper (girl Zickfeld from the picture, engineer Morgan, physicist Frame, director of an eco-parasitic group Keith - please, don't confuse Frame with The Reference Frame) think. I have access to the paper but I don't know how to allow you the same thing right now.
The reasoning goes as follows. If he were right, he would be having sex all the time (reference: Return to Almora), and he would have inevitably had at least 2,500+ kids by now. They would be even more unhinged than the remaining 13 climate scientists, so when Zickfeld et al. (or The Independent) would be looking for the 14 craziest people in the field of climate science, most of them would be kids of the 14th climate scientist. And they would answer the same thing as their father.
Or the argument is something along these lines. The Independent wasn't too clear about this point so I apologize to the reader if he or she remains confused. ;-)
The 14 "luminaries" are Allen, Collins, Flato, Forest, Karl, Knutti, Rahmstorf, Schlesinger, Schneider, Senior, Stainforth, Stone, Weaver, and Wigley. It's interesting how shocked someone can be that it is possible to find 14 idiots on the Earth. The world's population is 6.8 billion and a significant fraction of the people are idiots. So why does PNAS (yes, the official bulletin of the National Academy of Sciences, once again) find it so fascinating to describe interviews with 14 of them?
Stability of the Earth
The idea of a deadly tipping point contradicts numerous basic properties of the climate system - including the logarithmic dependence of the greenhouse effect on the concentration. The higher the CO2 concentration becomes, the smaller effect the addition of one CO2 molecule causes. Moreover, many other negative feedbacks get stronger then the deviation from the would-be equilibrium increases.
While the atmosphere shows lots of unpredictable, amplified behavior in the short run, the climate is a stable system in the long run. In an older posting, I explained that the feedbacks can't be both positive and high because the inevitable random fluctuations would have already driven the Earth to the runaway behavior during the previous billions of years. Unless you are a Young Earth creationist, you should believe that the hypothetical tipping point hasn't occurred for billions of years - not even by chance - which imposes strong constraints on the chances that it can happen.
These ideas about the AGW-induced end of the world are remarkably similar to Eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses. They believe that Jesus Christ was elected the King of the Heavens in 1914, as described in the Bible. The last days would start in 1799, 1874, 1878, 1914, 1918 and 1925.
The time was at hand in 1881-1918. Millions living in 1918-1925 would never die. The Armageddon was immediately before us in 1925-1966. Between 1966 and 1975, we would be looking forward to 1975. After 1975, when the world didn't manage to end, the Witnesses have qualitatively altered and complexified their message. They say that the judgement day would come before the last witness of the 1914 events dies. ;-)
Looking at the list of oldest people on the planet, we may have up to extra 30 years in front of us. :-) So far, their latest rule works. I wonder whether the AGW cultists have already gone through a similar transformation as the Jehovah's Witnesses did in 1975. The similarity is striking. The main difference is that the Jehovah's Witnesses build on celebrated ancient texts that were written when our civilization was getting started. The AGW cultists build on insane fantasies of random loons who are dreaming about our civilization's end.
Who is crazier?