by Judith Curry
Two new books on lukewarming have recently been published.
Lukewarming – Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger
Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, by Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger
The title of Michaels’ and Knappenberger’s new book is a clever riff on Naomi Klein’s alarming book This Changes Everything.
From the blurb at amazon.com:
In late November world leaders will gather in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference for what is viewed as the last great chance for a sweeping international agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The consequences of this gathering may be enormous. In this new ebook, experts Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger assess the issues sure to drive the debate before, during, and after the Paris meeting.
From the book’s Introduction:
Our national political discourse is about as polarized as it has been since the Civil War, and it is affecting all sorts of issues — foreign policy, group rights, and health care, to name a few. Likewise, for global warming, the media sorts people into ‘alarmist’ or ‘denier’ camps — words needing little further explication. But there’s a third group not as visible, not as extreme, and yet possessed with substantial explanatory power of which the public is, at best, only vaguely aware. These are the ‘lukewarmers.’ That’s us.
The lukewarm synethesis of global warming is simple. Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases exert a mild warming pressure on the lower atmosphere, which has been known for 150 years. But lukewarmers have been aware—for some time—that something isn’t right with the climate projections made by clunky general circulation climate models. Nearly thirty years ago, it became obvious that, left to their own devices, and programmed with the mathematical equivalent of increasing carbon dioxide, they were predicting far too much warming. Lukewarmers believe the evidence of some human-caused climate change is compelling, but it is hardly the alarming amount being predicted by the models.
This book, Lukewarming, begins with the basic evidence for lukewarming and the historical development of the lukewarm synthesis. We then segue to the meeting in Paris and what is likely to happen there.
We show how the incentive structure in modern science was established soon after World War II and led to the federal takeover of much of science (and all of climate science) and how that can create a systematic distortion in the direction of alarmism.
Borrowing a phrase from science writer Matt Ridley we segue to the ‘rational optimism’ of lukewarmers.
Near the end of the book, we put down most of the ‘weather is getting worse’ myths. We pay special attention to the one true nightmare with regard to global warming: the rapid disintegration of Greenland’s ice sheet. Seventy percent of Greenland’s ice sheet has in the past survived over 10 times as much heat as humans can possible unload on it.
Interestingly, the availability cascade provides a framework for much of the book.
The Lukewarmer’s Way – Tom Fuller
The Lukewarmer’s Way, by Thomas Fuller.
From the blurb at amazon.com:
In The Lukewarmer’s Way, Thomas Fuller (co-author of Climategate: The Crutape Letters) justifies a middle ground in the ongoing debate between human-caused climate change skeptics and Anthropogenic Global Warming Activists. Presenting reasoned arguments and dispassionate data, Fuller suggests the heated rhetoric be set aside so a rational way forward can be found.
Lucia invited Tom Fuller to pitch his book at the Blackboard, excerpts:
My book isn’t about climate science per se. Nor is it about grammar. It is about explaining a third position in the climate debate, one that is neither alarmist nor skeptical. As Lukewarmers are getting a bit more press than previously and as a lot of the press is as wrong about us as it is about everything climate, I am hoping my book will serve as a flagpost that both identifies us and locates us accurately on the spectrum of climate opinions.
Of course, the simplest definition is Mosher’s: “The simplest definition was given by Steve Mosher, who frequently comments on your blog. ‘Given an over/under on sensitivity of 3C, lukewarmers will take the under.”
So what is a Lukewarmer? Let’s start with how the opposition describes us. This is what ATTP writes: “The fundamental problem I have with the Lukewarmer position is that it appears to be based on the idea that everything could be fine, therefore let’s proceed as if it will be fine. That’s why Eli Rabett calls them Luckwarmers – we’ll be lucky if they’re correct.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Shub Niggurath chimes in: “The term ‘lukewarmer’ has some of its roots in some skeptics trying to distance themselves from the extreme portrayal that was directed at skeptics.”
What I say in the Forward to my book is, “Briefly, what I came to think was that climate change is real. It is probable that humans contributed to the dramatic warming of the last quarter of the 20th century. One of those contributions consists of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels. Burning of fossil fuels will accelerate rapidly in the 21st Century. This is likely to pose a problem for continued human development, and it would be wise to take steps to reduce the emissions and prepare for the impact of future warming. Alarmist scenarios of very large temperature rises and sea level increase are not supported by mainstream science. Climate change should be considered a serious issue deserving of our attention, but it is not a ‘planet-buster’.”
Because Lukewarmers don’t have a manifesto, the Lukewarmers I have read all have different ideas on what it means.
Here’s what I wrote in my book:
“What we seem (so far) to have in common is an understanding that the basic underpinnings of climate science are understandable, well-grounded and not controversial, plus the growing realization that one of the key components of an extended theory of climate change has been pushed too far.
That component is the sensitivity of our atmosphere to a doubling of the concentrations of CO2. The activists who have tried to dominate the discussion of climate change for more than twenty years have insisted that this sensitivity is high, and will amplify the warming caused by CO2 by 3, 4 or even 10 times the 1C of warming provided by a doubling of CO2 alone. The Skeptics who oppose them dispute the models that have shaped Alarmist views of sensitivity and argue instead that sensitivity is only about 1C or even less.
There is a middle ground. It is my hope that this book and the efforts of other Lukewarmers will take the conversation far ahead of the extremists on both sides of this important issue and leave them to their increasingly irrelevant and increasingly arcane tossing of insults and ignoring reality.”
I’ve read both books, they are both well written, economically priced, and good reads. Tom Fuller discusses the sociology and disagreements among lukewarmers, whereas Michaels and Knappenberger seek to identify a third ‘tribe’ of lukewarmers.
Michaels and Knappenberger delve into the science in a comprehensive yet understandable way, whereas Fuller (not a climate scientist) does not delve as deeply into the science, beyond the basics.
Michaels and Knappenberger’s book is more politically savvy regarding the Paris moment at hand, whereas Fuller provides a thoughtful assessment of a range of policy options.
All in all, the books are complementary and add to the growing body of popular books that are looking at climate change in a reasonable way.
People often try to categorize me as a lukewarmer. Well, if you are delineating three ‘tribes’ – alarmist, denier, lukewarmer – then I more naturally align with the lukewarmers.
However, I have my own little ‘tribe’, whose figure head is the uncertainty monster. While the evidence that we do have points in the direction of lukewarming, the uncertainties are sufficiently large that we can’t rule out large sensitivity and catastrophic outcomes. My preferred approach to ‘solutions’ given this uncertainty – decision making under deep uncertainty – prefers robust decision making frameworks and anti fragility.
In any event, a growing lukewarm movement is a healthy sign for the climate debate.