Climate adaptation sense. Part III: Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways

by Judith Curry

Best practices in adapting to sea level rise use a framework suitable for decision making under deep uncertainty.

This post is the third (and final) part in the series on New Jersey sea level rise:

The posts are drawn from my report Assessment of projected sea level rise scenarios for the New Jersey coast.

As described in Parts I and II, sea level rise projections for the 21st century are characterized by deep uncertainty:

  • Deep uncertainty (recognized ignorance) – fundamental uncertainty in the mechanisms being studied and a weak scientific basis for developing scenarios; future outcomes may lie outside of the realm of regular or quantifiable expectations; no agreement on how to define the possible outcomes.

Apart from uncertainties in emissions scenarios, there are substantial uncertainties in: climate sensitivity to increasing CO2, future volcanic eruptions, solar variability, multi-decadal ocean oscillations, and possible instabilities in ice sheets. Kopp et al. (2017) state:

“The breadth of published projections, as well as of remaining structural uncertainties, highlight the fact that future sea-level rise remains an arena of deep uncertainty.”

The following text is drawn from my report “Assessment of projected sea level rise scenarios for the New Jersey Coast”, which includes references.

Decision making under deep uncertainty

Making good decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty is far more complex than merely selecting the ‘best’ scenario for a specific application, which is the recommendation provided in the Rutgers Report.

Because of the clear expectation for continued sea-level rise, proactive coastal management approaches can be developed and deployed. A range of adaptation measures can be used, depending on the local vulnerabilities, land use and nature of the assets at risk: protection, accommodation, reclamation, retreat.

However, the large range of potential future sea levels poses the question: “When and how much to adapt?” Deep uncertainties in the rate and magnitude of sea level rise, particularly in the second half of the century, complicate decision making on coastal adaptation.

The deep uncertainty associated with future sea level rise poses substantial challenges for long-lived decisions with high stakes and high sunk (irreversible) costs: major infrastructure, building developments and land use planning. If long-term sea level change is not accounted for appropriately, it could mean greater risks, locking into greater costs, or wasted investments.

Uncertainty in climate projections and potential instability in the West Antarctic ice sheet is not expected to narrow in the near term. The challenge facing policy makers is how to make good decisions in the near term, while ensuring that long-term options for addressing uncertain future conditions are not pre-empted or made unnecessarily costly by earlier decisions.

Deep uncertainty due to climate change requires moving away from the ‘predict then act’ paradigm to one of ‘robust decision making,’ characterized by continuous learning and dynamic adaptation.

The ‘dynamic robustness’ approach incorporates flexibility into adaptation plans that can be changed over time as more is learnt or as conditions change. The ‘Adaptation Pathways’ approach (Ranger et al. 2013) identifies the timing and sequencing of possible ‘pathways’ of adaptation measures over time under different scenarios. These concepts have been integrated into an overall ‘Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways’ (DAPP) approach (Haasnoot et al. 2013). DAPP is a framework for identifying present and future uncertainties, evaluating vulnerabilities and alternative solutions, taking necessary actions in the short term, and monitoring changes and gathering insights that might indicate that new decisions or reassessments are required. Flexibility and iterative planning are core elements of the approach.

In the DAPP approach, a plan includes an initial action, emphasis on monitoring data, and a series of actions over time (pathways) depending on future scenarios that may emerge. DAPP is predicated on a strong understanding of the decision problem itself, rather than focusing on climate projections. The decision-centered approach of DAPP focuses on understanding the characteristics of the decision problem (the objectives and values of stakeholders, trade-offs, constraints and decision criteria), the vulnerability of the system and the adaptation options themselves.

Prominent applications of an adaptive approach to uncertain sea level rise include:

  • The Thames Estuary study to protect the city of London (Ranger et al. 2013)
  • New Zealand with a national guidance to coastal adaptation (Bell et al. 2018)
  • In the Netherlands an adaptive approach has been put into practice for adaptation to SLR within the Delta Program (Van Alphen, 2016)

An example of the DAPP approach applied locally in the U.S. is provided by Obeysekera et al. (2020), for adaptation to sea level rise in the Little River Basin, Miami, Florida.

An important conclusion from these studies is that the DAPP approach implies different needs from climate science:

  • a shift in emphasis away from probabilistic modeling;
  • greater investment in observations and monitoring;
  • improved understanding of historical climate variability; and
  • improved understanding of relevant processes and their representation in models to enhance ‘best guess’ models and to better bound future projections using narrative scenarios.

Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways

In the decision-centered DAPP approach, scenarios of climate change are not the main driver for the process. Nevertheless, scenarios of future change play an obvious and important role in the decision making process.

The Rutgers Report provides a full probability distribution of future sea-level change that incorporates both the likely range and worst-case scenarios, conditional upon an emissions scenario. A problem with this approach is that the probability density functions (PDFs) are highly conditional on the methods that produced them and provide only a limited sampling of the uncertainties. Kopp et al. (2019) recognizes this by stating: “For processes subject to deep uncertainty, alternative justifiable approaches to constructing a probability distribution can yield quite divergent answers.”

While the motivation for probabilistic approaches driven by climate model simulations is to support decision making in the context of cost-benefit analysis, this approach can be counter productive for DAPP (apart from the issue of non-uniqueness of the probability distribution). Climate models are at best partial scenario-generators, which is at odds with the requirement of robust decision making to map the range of plausible outcomes. Further, DAPP approaches are scenario neutral, in that decisions do not require information about the probability or likelihood of different future scenarios.

Smith and Stern (2011) argue that there is value in scientific speculation on policy-relevant aspects of plausible, high-impact scenarios, even though we can neither model them realistically nor provide a precise estimate of their probability. A set of narrative scenarios can be formulated that use empirical models and expert judgment to complement outputs from climate models. This approach produces a much wider range of scenarios than would be generated by climate models. The potential problem of generating a plethora of potentially useless future scenarios is avoided if they are focused on scenarios that are expected to be significant in a specific decision making context.

The objective of DAPP is to develop an iterative, learning decision process that cost-effectively reduces risk today while avoiding foreclosing future options. Considering the full range of plausible scenarios, the DAPP approach provides clear information on the effectiveness and timing of options, enabling analysts to assess under what conditions and on what timescale a plan could fail. The approach explicitly recognizes that adaptation over time will be determined not only by what can be anticipated today, but also what is observed and learned in the future. The approach ensures that the short- to medium-term plan is set in a framework that will not be maladaptive if climate change progresses at a rate that is different from current expectations.

DAPP is designed to perform adequately under a wide range of possible future states. ‘Low-regret’ measures are implemented in the near-term. Low-regret measures are those that reduce risk immediately and cost-effectively under a wide range of climate/sea level rise scenarios. Low-regret measures can buy time to monitor and learn before making a major investment. DAPP plans are designed to be adjusted over time as more is learnt about the future. In this way, flexibility is built into the long-term strategy—the timing of new interventions and the interventions themselves can be changed over time.

DAPP planning provides a framework for incorporating flexibility, so that infrastructure can be adjusted or enhanced in the future at minimal additional cost. This includes include safety margins, where infrastructure is over-engineered to cope with greater than expected change; this approach is effective where the marginal cost is low.

A route-map lays out the options and provides information on when and how decisions should be made. The route-map is used to identify a set of a decision points, triggering specific options or pathways, conditional on observations of sea level rise and other indicators.

The DAPP approach is robust not only to climate change, but also to all other sources of risk and uncertainty, including socioeconomic uncertainties and uncertainties resulting from a lack of data. As long as the pathways account for such potential surprises and learning, allowances for adjustment can be incorporated into the plan.

Scenarios for DAPP

Scenarios used in DAPP include a ‘likely’ range and estimates of the plausible worst case.

Likely scenarios

Best practices in developing scenario outcomes for climate change adaptation start with the scenarios provided by the IPCC assessment reports. Experts or other practitioners generating scenario outcomes for a specific application may choose to select specific IPCC scenarios or generate scenarios beyond what the IPCC provides, but these choices should be justified relative to what the IPCC has provided.

Reasons for thinking that climate models are predicting too much warming include:

  • The RCP8.5 emissions scenario is implausible.
  • Observed warming for the past two decades is less than the average rate of warming predicted by climate models.
  • The ensemble of climate model simulations does not sample the full range of likely values of equilibrium climate sensitivity, neglecting the lowest 20% of the likely range from the IPCC AR5.
  • Climate models do not include solar variability and volcanic eruptions, with plausible scenarios for a cooling effect in the 21st century. Ignoring volcanic eruptions ignores their cooling effects (Bethge et al, 2017.  Most projections of solar variability for the 21st century expect cooling relative to the 20th century (Matthes et al. 2017).

 Given the implausibility of the RCP8.5 emissions scenario, use of RCP4.5 (moderate emissions) is justified by the IEA Report, at least out 2050. Specifically considering the amount of warming associated with the RCP4.5 scenario, my assessment is that temperature change is very unlikely to exceed the upper bound of the IPCC AR5 likely range, for the reasons cited in the above bullets.

Worst case scenarios, Dragon Kings and gray swans

The plausible worst-case scenario can play an important role in certain decision making frameworks. However, considerable care is needed in formulating the plausible worst-case outcome so as to be relevant and useful for decision makers.

Outcomes of future climate change are associated with deep uncertainty, and plausible outcomes (especially on the high end) are weakly constrained. Experts inevitably disagree on what constitutes a plausible worst-case scenario when the knowledge base is uncertain (Bamber et al. 2019 is a case in point).  Curry (2019) has developed a classification of worst-case scenarios based on the extent to which borderline implausible parameters or inputs are employed in developing the scenario via physical or mental models. This classification is inspired by the Queen in “Alice in Wonderland:” “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This classification articulates three categories of worst-case scenarios:

  • Conceivable worst case: formulated by incorporating all worst-case parameters/inputs into a model; the outcome does not survive refutation efforts.
  • Possible worst case (borderline impossible): Includes multiple worst-case parameters/inputs in model-derived scenarios; the outcome survives refutation efforts (at least temporarily).
  • Plausible worst case:  Includes at most one borderline implausible assumption in model-derived scenarios.

The plausible worst-case scenario is most relevant for decision making. Candidates for the plausible worst-case scenario can be evaluated by assessing the input assumptions and parameters that are used in developing the scenario. Inevitably, there will be disagreement as to what constitutes an implausible input, and hence there is a range of candidate worst-case scenarios to consider.

A ‘black swan event’ (Taleb, 2007) is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. In assessing the climate change impacts on sea level rise and coastal storms, attempts are made to foresee worst-case scenarios. There are two different types of plausible worst-case scenarios of relevance to the assessment of coastal threats from climate change:

  • Gray swan: a high-impact event that may be foreseeable using historical data combined with physical knowledge. Gray swan scenarios are of relevance for worst-case impacts from a single landfalling hurricane (Lin and Emanuel, 2015)
  • Dragon King: an event that is extremely large in size or impact, occurring in nonlinear and complex systems that is generated from positive feedbacks, tipping points, bifurcations, regime shifts. By understanding the underlying dynamics, there may be some potential predictability. Major instabilities in West Antarctic ice sheet fall into the Dragon King category (Sornette, 2009).

Gray swans are somewhat different from Dragon Kings in that our understanding is sufficient to formulate plausible gray swan scenarios of individual extreme events, whereas Dragon Kings imply a large-scale event arising from instability or a regime shift.

A number of different scenarios should be formulated for plausible gray swan and Dragon King events. Probability distributions can be formulated for gray swan and Dragon King events, based on a distribution of inputs. However, it is important to keep in mind that such probability distributions do not relate directly to outcomes, but rather to the plausibility of the individual scenarios as the worst case. For Dragon Kings, any estimated probabilities will evolve with increasing knowledge. When there is sufficient reason to believe that a Dragon King event could occur, it is best for decision making purposes if the distribution for the Dragon King regime are presented separately from the probabilities for the range of outcomes that are better understood (Ranger et al 2013).

While speculative scenarios can be useful in support of the decision making process, formulation of the plausible worst case scenario(s) for decision making applications requires justification for the assumptions that went into the model (physical or mental), including the plausibility of the assumptions. A major concern about the Bamber et al. (2019) expert elicitation that was used in the Rutgers Report is that the individual respondents were not required to provide justification for their predicted outcomes.

Due to ignorance, misaligned incentives, and cognitive biases, there is often a failure to adequately anticipate Dragon King and gray swan events. However, when explicit efforts are undertaken to anticipate such events, their importance and likelihood can be over-emphasized and there is a great deal of uncertainty and speculation that needs to be acknowledged.

Plausibility of major instability in the West Antarctic ice sheet

The primary concern over future sea level rise in the 21st century is related to potential dynamical instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet rests on bedrock below sea level, making the ice sheet vulnerable to melting from the ocean. If these marine ice shelves – the floating extensions of 
glacial ice flowing into the ocean – lose mass, their buttressing capacity is reduced, accelerating seaward ice flow. This self-sustaining process is known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability (MISI).

The IPCC AR5 (2013) has medium confidence that this additional contribution from the West Antarctic ice sheet would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century [IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 13]. Subsequent to the IPCC AR5, there has been considerable focus on the worst-case scenario for global sea level rise, and our ‘background knowledge’ is rapidly changing. DeConto and Pollard (2016) articulated a mechanism whereby disappearance of ice shelves allows formation of ice cliffs, which may be inherently unstable if they are tall enough to generate stresses that exceed the strength of the ice. This ice cliff failure can lead to ice sheet retreat via a process called marine ice cliff instability (MICI), that is hypothesized to cause partial collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with increased warming.

The IPCC SROCC (2019) provides an updated summary on the potential contribution of dynamical instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to global sea level rise. The IPCC SROCC assessed the amount of sea level rise increase from dynamical instability of the West Antarctic ice sheet to be 16 centimeters (range: 2–37 cm). The SROCC notes that the expert elicitation approach (Bamber et al., 2019; used in the Rutgers Report) suggests considerably higher values for sea level rise from the West Antarctic ice sheet than provided in Table 4.3 of the IPCC SROCC.

If RCP8.5 is assumed to be implausible and the focus is on the moderate emissions scenarios (RCP4.5), what constitutes the plausible worst-case scenario for sea level rise? Specifically with regards to the DeConto and Pollard (2016) mechanism which heavily influenced the Rutgers Report, the SROCC makes the following statement:

“The results by DeConto and Pollard (2016) indicate significantly higher mass loss even for RCP4.5, potentially related to their high surface melt rates on the ice shelves as contested by Trusel et al. (2015). This early onset of high surface melt rates in DeConto and Pollard (2016) leads to extensive hydrofracturing of ice shelves before the end of the 21st century and therefore to rapid ice mass loss. For this reason, their results and probabilistic (e.g., Kopp et al., 2017; Le Bars et al., 2017) and statistical emulation estimates that build on them (Edwards et al., 2019), are not used in SROCC sea level projections.”

A recent publication by Donat-Magnin et al. (2021) uses improved estimates of surface melt rates, and finds that for RCP4.5 only the Abbot glacier in the Amundsen sector is expected to become unstable to hydrofracturing (the DeConto-Pollard mechanism) during the 21st century. Edwards et al. (2019) further supports at most a small contribution in the 21st century from RCP4.5 for the DeConto-Pollard mechanism.

Specifically with regards to the Marine Ice Cliff Instability (MICI) of DeConto and Pollard (2016), the IPCC SROCC makes the following statement:

“Overall, there is low agreement on the exact MICI mechanism and limited evidence of its occurrence in the present or the past. Thus the potential of MICI to impact the future sea level remains very uncertain” [Cross-Chapter Box 8]

At this point, there isn’t an obviously plausible Dragon King scenario for sea level rise in the 21st century under RCP4.5.

Grey swan scenarios for hurricanes

Superstorm Sandy and the 1893 hurricane striking New Jersey are reminders that a storm nominally having Category 1 force winds can produce a greater storm surge and overall more damage than a more intense Category 3 hurricane. The strong surge from Sandy was associated with extratropical transition and its subsequent very large horizontal extent, a westward track that directly struck the coast, and landfall at high tide.

Sandy was not a worst-case scenario for New Jersey; a substantially higher storm surge (estimated at 13 feet) occurred for the 1821 Cape May hurricane. If the 1821 hurricane had occurred at high tide, slower forward motion and with a larger horizontal extent, the storm tide would have been substantially higher.

Lin and Emanuel (2015) define ‘gray swan’ hurricanes as high-impact storms that would not be predicted based on history but may be foreseeable using physical knowledge together with historical data.

There are several strategies for generating scenarios of gray swan hurricanes that should be considered in assessing risks impacting the New Jersey coast:

  • Consider the occurrences of previous storms in the historical, archaeological and geologic records that impacted the mid-Atlantic states. If it has happened before, it can happen again.
  • Synthetic scenarios can be created by combining plausible worst-case storm elements into individual scenarios.
  • The intensity (maximum wind speed) can be increased by 5% and 10% to account for possible global warming impacts on hurricane intensity.

In developing grey swan scenarios of relevance to storm surge in a particular location, the following storm parameters can be varied within a physically plausible range:

  • Intensity (maximum winds): up to Category 4 (a category 5 landfall as far north as New Jersey is judged to implausible).
  • Horizontal size: up to the size of Hurricane Sandy, although such a large horizontal size is inconsistent with the strongest hurricane intensities.
  • Speed of forward motion of the storm: slower forward motionproduces the largest surge.
  • Angle of approach to the coastline: the straight east-west track is the worst case for NJ.
  • Time of landfall relative to the astronomical tide: high tide is worst case.

Timescales of adaptation

DAPP frameworks have mostly been applied to more gradual shifts of climate change, rather than extreme and abrupt changes. Hasnoot et al. (2020) addresses the concern of adaptation for extreme scenarios of sea level change from instability of the West Antarctic ice sheet (a Dragon King scenario) that could involve rapid onset and high rates of change. Such an event would be associated with a short time to adapt, which can have large consequences for decision making.

Hasnoot et al. (2020) identify the decision making challenges arising from potentially accelerated sea level rise. Decisions may need to be taken when there is still large uncertainty about the sea level rise at the end of the envisioned lifetime and the lead time of follow-up interventions. The time required for planning and implementation can be decades for large coastal defense projects and other major infrastructure (e.g. bridges), which are designed for a lifetime exceeding a century. Most coastal defense and major infrastructure decisions have a long lifetime and cannot easily be solved with incremental or flexible measures, and these decisions will thus have to account for high amounts of sea level rise at once.

Worst-case sea level rise scenarios can be used to assess under what conditions alternative adaptation pathways are needed, which can help to prepare and enable timely adaptation. This can be accomplished through flexible measures and preparatory actions to keep options open (e.g. spatial reservations for future options), and in the design of structures to enable long-term adaptation (e.g. a large foundation of a structure to build higher later).

The time horizon of a pathways study should be chosen by considering the envisioned functional lifetime. For decisions with a long lifetime (>100 years), the focus should not be on projections of sea level rise for a specific time horizon. When looking at longer time horizons, it is more useful to consider the perspective that for some decisions it is not a matter of whether SLR will rise to certain levels, but when this will occur. This perspective may help to overcome decision paralysis due to uncertainty.

JC’s reflections on best practices for adaptation

I have been working in the climate adaptation space since 1999, mostly through my company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), but also on several university-based projects prior to 2006 (when CFAN was formed).   During this period I have worked with development banks, corporations, government agencies (local/state/national) and NGOs. I have worked on range of different projects in different sectors and for different countries that address different types of vulnerabilities.

The single biggest problem that I see in climate adaptation is getting the climate community (broadly defined as scientists and adaptation decision makers) to move away from the ‘predict then act’ paradigm.  Apart from potentially misleading the decision making process, the ‘predict then act’ paradigm places undue emphasis on the ‘correctness’ of the prediction.  This gives rise to acrimonious disagreements and motivates the ‘consensus’ approach and the stifling of disagreement by the climate establishment, all in the name of promoting good decision making.  By contrast, robust decision making approaches explicitly welcome (and actively seek) all plausible scenarios, rendering most disagreements about projected outcomes to be moot.

The second biggest problem is the perceived urgency of action, which exacerbates the problems associated with ‘predict then act.’  The incremental approach of robust decision making builds in flexibility to the adaptation planning.

The decision-centric mode that characterizes robust decision making focuses scenarios around specific vulnerabilities or concerns of the decision maker.  Too often, climate adaptation interventions focus excessively on climate change and less on examinations of what drives local vulnerability.  Reducing vulnerability is the central criterion of adaptation success. Top down interventions by development banks or U.N. agencies have many well-documented failures, owing to failures to consult adequately with local stakeholders and to truly understand the causes of local vulnerabilities (both environmental and societal).

And finally, it needs to be re-emphasized that climate models aren’t particularly useful at generating future outcomes of regional climate change and extreme weather events, which are targets of adaptation. Hence narrative scenarios developed from historical/paleo data and guided by simple process models and  climate model simulations provide a much richer set of scenarios.  Which experts are used in developing scenarios also matters quite a bit to the suite of scenarios that are provided.  Best practice is to use 2 to 3 different teams with different perspectives/expertise in generating scenarios and evaluating scenarios of the other teams. I have been involved in three projects that used the multiple teams approach, and all parties learned much and the decision makers ended up with a much better understanding of the uncertainties and different factors in play.



88 responses to “Climate adaptation sense. Part III: Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways

  1. The DAPP approach makes a lot more sense than the Chicken Little approach favored by the “elites.”

  2. There’s a lotmore direct evidence for tidal-range rise than there is sea-level rise.

    • …………………………………………………..
      Global warming ➡️ Climate change

      Sea-level rise ➡️ Tidal-range rise

  3. If Bell et al (2018) refers to “Coastal hazards and climate change: Guidance for local government” MfE, then I fear you’ll find that while it talks about DAPP it is honored in the breach. An example of its guidance: Don’t allow greenfields developments in areas within a RCP8.5 H+ (83%ile) (Kopp et al (2014) based) 2150 SLR projection. While the cost of delaying these developments might be low, just how plausible is that?
    I however live where flocks of black swans fly past most evenings. Perhaps it’s part of the NZ condition.

  4. ” Reducing vulnerability is the central criterion of adaptation success.”

    The “who/what” are vulnerable seems to be an evolving set of players and infrastructure. As far as the: Who?, this appears to be a mixed bag of competing individuals and groups many times at cross purposes. Getting a coherent message from any number of the subset would be unusual. Implementing any grand scheme would be likened to herding cats.

    A more likely than not successful approach would be small incremental steps based upon an articulated plan (chosen with a no-regrets policy) with discrete benchmarks and a set of assessments made available to all who wish to know plus, a sunset provision. People/groups/investors could come and go allowing adaption as the process was known and moved forward.

    In thinking about New Jersey’s shore infrastructure for instance, piecemeal purchasing vulnerable locations, particularly in coastal regions of land subsidence or river inlets, rebuilding beaches along with high dunes, and establishing public access.

    What possibly could go wrong?

  5. Prof Curry

    I suggest you try engaging with highly successful seedcorn VC investors if you want allies to change mindsets.

    The best VC investors at the earliest stages appreciate all the issues you have discussed here, as the levels of ‘known unknowns’ and even ‘unknown unknowns’ are significant enough to make completely rational planning impossible. One thing they do during planning is to try to control the levels of risk they are taking by identifying key failings which would cause them to abort (these can include insufficient superiority of new product performance, unexpected appearance of new technology blowing the approach out of the water, unexpected change of governmental regulations, change in mass mindsets rendering desirability of new product/service too low to continue etc etc), in other words, setting up discrete ‘tollgates’ at which point you have freedom to invest further or to abort. The general idea is to try to minimise down-side risk whilst retaining the potential for large upside gains.

    When such VC investors evaluate new propositions, they always incorporate ‘gut feel’ into their decision-making process, for the simple reason that absolutely hard data on key decisions will simply not yet be available. They judge people every bit as much as the technology and they set specific performance milestones to trigger further investments.

    Obviously, if you are a larger body tasked with public safety, you will not be wanting to put all your eggs in one basket, so the logical thing to do is to pursue a discrete number of different approaches, each with performance triggers to justify continuation of the approach. That might be between three and two dozen, depending on what it is you are doing. After the first set of investments are completed, that two dozen might be reduced to two to eight (possibly more under certain circumstances) for a somewhat larger tranche of second-round funding/studies.

    Exactly how many iterations you need before the optimal solutions emerge is indeterminate, it is part of being flexible that you merely set an upper limit of what you will spend before changing approach.

    The assumption is that you want to minimise the chances of big scale up in inappropriate arenas.

    I think we have all seen the headlong rush to ‘commercialise’ wind and solar power without adequate thinking about systemic infrastructure necessary for such an approach to be cost-effective.

    Where I think a step change in approach is required is the level of certainty needed before massive investments in global infrastructure are deemed necessary.

    • Bill Fabrizio

      I enjoyed your comment. Public policy formation would do well to include elements of investment philosophy such as used by venture capitalists. The problem with public policy vs investment decisions is quite simply the numbers of people involved, which means differing views. Inevitably reification sets barriers to open discourse and management, i.e. CO2 and climate change.

      • Yes, a good post by rtj. Another factor in public policy vs investment decisions is the incentive structure. The public sector incentive is to avoid threatening your own job and promotion prospects. This leads to exaggeration of threats and overkill in response – witness the useless, unused desalination plants around the Australian coast, built in response to remarks by non-climate scientist Tim Flannery that “the dams will never fill again.” [I note that I wrote a letter to The Australian more than ten years ago saying that “I am delighted that Chief Climate Comissioner Tim Flannery is concerned about the “great deal of misleading information about climate change” (Letters, 15/2). I draw his attention to the recent publication “Carbon dioxide and Earth’s future: pursuing the prudent path.” Rather than relying on dubious models, this paper draws on hundreds of evidence-based scientific research papers to completely discredit the claims of warming alarmists. It will greatly help Flannery in his task.]

  6. “This gives rise to acrimonious disagreements and motivates the ‘consensus’ approach and the stifling of disagreement by the climate establishment, all in the name of promoting good decision making.”

    There is little evidence that the climate establishment is interested in good decision making. There is an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today about climate establishment types hoping to use state AGs to force the EPA to strictly limit CO2. It seems the Obama administration looked into that a few years ago and found it was technically impossible (you can’t mandate that New Jersey reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is what the regulation would require). They also found it was needlessly partisan. Both are now reasons why the climate establishment still wants to do it.
    This is what you would expect from the gang that is so concerned about CO2 that their first order of business was to increase emissions in China tenfold and their second order of business was to close emissions-free nuclear power plants all over Europe and their third order of business was to bless fracking for gas in the US (happened under Obama) and solidify Russian natural gas dominance in Europe (Nordstream 2).
    The climate establishment is interested in global decision-making, but it’s not about “climate” nor is it “good.”

  7. Dr. Curry – what measure of sea level rise do you trust? The ones created by the University of Colorado seem to pander to the global warming crowd in that their measurement seems to reflect the volume of ocean water, if I understand correctly.

    What data do you use?

  8. Ireneusz Palmowski

    To some, solar activity doesn’t seem to change much. However, a simple observation shows that this is not the case.
    SILSO images and data can be freely downloaded as public data. However, any public use, web based or paper publication of those data must include an explicit credit to the source: (SILSO data/image, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels)

  9. > Making good decisions under conditions of deep uncertainty is far more complex than merely selecting the ‘best’ scenario for a specific application, which is the recommendation provided in the Rutgers Report.

    From the horse’s mouth:

    STAP members concluded that there was no clear basis for deviating from the IPCC’s conclusions when projecting changes in future coastal storms (i.e., tropical and extratropical cyclones)for New Jersey. They also concluded that higher sea-levels will increase the baseline for flooding from coastal storms, thus increasing their impacts.The STAP has provided an illustration for using the SLR estimates in a planning context. However, practitioners should use these SLR estimates as a consistent basis for accepted estimates and integrate this information into their preferred planning or design methods to account for unique geographic or professional considerations. The STAP recommends that practitioners and scientists review these estimates on a regular basis, not to exceed 5 years as well as after the publication of any global (i.e., IPCC) or national (i.e., National Climate Assessment) assessments related to SLRand coastal storms relevant to New Jersey.

    • STAP incorrectly interpreted the IPCC conclusions on tropical cyclones, and missed the elephant in the room re adaptation to tropical cyclones

      STAP totally ignored the IPCC on sea level rise.

      • > STAP incorrectly interpreted the IPCC conclusions

        And you incorrectly interpreted STAP’s recommendations.

        What else is new.

      • OK I’ll bite. How did i misinterpret STAP’s recommendations? They presented a table with projections that were a factor of two too high. Then they gave guidance on how to select the ‘best’ scenario for the application at hand.

      • Which part of “practitioners should use these SLR estimates as a consistent basis for accepted estimates and integrate this information into their preferred planning or design methods to account for unique geographic or professional considerations” you don’t get?

      • The part that you don’t seem to get is the 6 page ‘Using the science’ section in the Rutgers Report

      • jungletrunks

        “Which part of “practitioners should use these SLR estimates as a consistent basis for accepted estimates and integrate this information into their preferred planning or design methods to account for unique geographic or professional considerations” you don’t get?”

        Those politically minded practitioners who prefer the “two too high” scenario stats maybe? Is the translation too hard to ascertain? Argue why they’re not two too high to begin with, is more relevant.

        Of course those scientific parrots who deal with politically minded scientific esoterica will agree with STAP without question, no surprise there.

      • > The part that you don’t seem to get is the 6 page ‘Using the science’ section in the Rutgers Report

        The claim that STAP recommends “merely selecting the ‘best’ scenario for a specific application” is false, as already shown twice. But let’s bite. From the very section currently handwaved:

        While it is outside the purview of the STAP to endorse any single approach for application of STAP science for use in exposure assessment, in this section of the report, the STAP outlines a “use case” to illustrate one example of how the STAP science can be integrated into a planning and decision-making framework.

        Perhaps that’s not enough. How about:

        When considering community-wide adaptation and resilience planning in which multiple assets are involved, practitioners may wish to consider SLR estimates in both the likely range and a high-end range in order to assess the variety of critical and non-critical assets in the community. For example, a road that has a high vulnerability may not have high consequences of failure if it only serves as access to a recreational facility. On the other hand, a pier may serve to transfer cargo for nationwide distribution and, thus, have comparatively higher consequences. In these ways, planning for resilience represents community values and necessitates transparency and community engagement.

        Let’s hope there’s no deep uncertainty behind reading reports.

      • > Of course those scientific parrots who deal with politically minded scientific esoterica will agree with STAP without question, no surprise there.

        Perhaps you’d prefer:

        From the Adaptation Pathways map, preferred pathways can be selected. Different decision makers and stakeholders can have different preferred pathways, depending on their values and beliefs. […] The preferred pathways could be a start of a discussion on an adaptive plan. In addition, combinations of these pathways could be drawn as paths that have support from more than one perspective.

        Reading the introduction from this paper should be enough to reveal the patchwriting we’re being served.

      • On the other hand, a pier may serve to transfer cargo for nationwide distribution and, thus, have comparatively higher consequences.

        Wait a minute, the military puts in piers in today that were not there yesterday. If it is really important, that is an easier thing to fix.

        Or a new pier can be build as the sea level is observed rising.
        Adapting as things change is much easier than figuring what all is going to change and by how much in what frame of time. Most alarmist forecasts in history have been wrong and many disasters happen that were not forecast. Many people get very rich fixing things that did not need fixing. Just scare people and they will pay you for protection.
        The Dutch raise their dykes as needed, staying ahead but not by a 100 years. Sea barriers destroy the ecology of swamps and wetlands that are important for many things we depend on. Much life depends on tides coming in and flowing out and even on floods that bring in soil from upstream.

      • Different decision makers and stakeholders can have different preferred pathways, depending on their values and beliefs.

        Different decision makers and stakeholders can have different preferred pathways, depending on their expected profits, their ill gotten gains.

  10. Dr. Curry ==> Marvelous work — can’t say enough good about it.

    On a more pragmatic level, all of these sea-side, barrier-island communities are at existential risk from today’s sea levels and today’s storms. There is no reason to look to the future to see that. It is simply a matter of dumb luck that any particular city on any particular barrier island wasn’t swept away by any of the East Coast land-falling hurricanes of the last decade. Another centimeter or two, or ten even, of cumulative sea-level-rise/land-subsidence makes no difference whatever in that assessment.

    If I were King, I’d simply say “no rebuilding when washed away” and let the barrier islands slowly revert to nature parks and “visitors only” beaches as time and Nature remake, create them, destroy them, add to them and subtract from them as it always has in the past. Might take a century or so, but it is inevitable.

    • barrier islands have always been built and destroyed by storms, People have always lived on barrier islands and rebuilt as necessary. When they get tired of that, they move to mainland or main island and give their spots to others are always wanting to move there.

      The problem comes when we try to stop the natural processes.

      The problem comes when we try to stop climate change.

      Climate has always changed and it will always change and Climate change will just continue on as if we did nothing.

  11. I find it useful to discuss the uncertainty in the future rate of global SLR in terms of uncertainty in its acceleration. SL rose 7 inches over the 20th century (0.70 inch/decade), but that rise was so uneven and tide gauges were so inaccurate that acceleration was indistinguishable from zero. SLR began with the end of the LIA, not the beginning of AGW. In the satellite altimetry era, SL has been rising at a rate of about 1 inch per decade and acceleration has been 0.28+/-0.10 inch/decade/decade. At the current rate of acceleration, it will be mid-century before for the rate of rise to reaches 2 inch/decade. (That acceleration was detected only after a large systematic error effecting data from the 1993-2000 was corrected.)

    To reach 1 m of SLR by the end of this century, an acceleration of about 1 inch/decade/decade is needed, more than 3 times the acceleration we have finally detected for the first time. SLR didn’t rise 2 inches in the 2010’s and isn’t on track to do so in the 2020’s. In other words, there is a massive disagreement between the SLR we have OBSERVED, and the acceleration and rate of rise needed to produce a “catastrophic” 1 meter of SLR by the end of the century. When we observe an acceleration of 1 inch/decade/decade or a rate of several inches per decade – if that ever happens – then we will have a half-century or more to make plans for dealing with 1 m of SLR. For the moment, all we need to worry about is business as usual, a rise of about 1 inch/decade.

    So why are we being asked to plan for a worst-case scenario that is more than half a century away. Social Security will be bankrupt in about a decade. NJ’s public pension plans for public are grossly underfunded, and NJ’s high taxes are encouraging businesses and people to move elsewhere. Those problems are far more pressing and better understood. Politics is the reason we are ignoring these immediate problems and focusing on a highly uncertain future. The government wants to impose punitive regulations NOW in order to convince citizens to support legislation imposing painful restrictions on carbon emissions NOW. However, the restrictions NJ places on emissions will have absolutely no effect on SLR in NJ. And the restrictions the US places on carbon emissions will have very little effect on the amount of SLR in NJ or the US.

    (If NJ wants to take ANY action now, the sanest thing to so would be to phase out subsidies for flood insurance for those building today in areas that are threatened by SLR and inform potential buyers that NJ WILL NOT help property owners rebuild near the coast as they did after Sandy.)

    • Very good comment. I agree with the thrust of your intent. Much like other issues about AGW, observational data don’t add up with a lot of the claims about disaster just around the corner.

      Just a small quibble about Social Security, almost not worthy of mentioning.

      I wouldn’t use the term bankrupt, even though that is used constantly in the political sphere. I understand why it’s used and the history of the Social Security Trust Fund. The General Fund has been subsidizing SS and Medicare for years. Once the amount that is being drawn down from the intergovernmental transfer account that is publicly called a Trust Fund, the programs will just be receiving a larger subsidy from the General Fund. The third rail was given it’s name for a reason.

      After the “Fund” runs out of its nonexistent corpus, the deficit won’t change. We will just have a different kind of discourse on how to fix the deficit of the annual budget.

      • Cerescokid: In addition to her brilliant marshaling of evidence, Judith spends a lot of time discussing the philosophy of regulating risk under great uncertainty. I prefer to be more pragmatic, and there is a lot to be learned from comparing AGW to other problems, such as Social Security. My pragmatic reply is that current acceleration proves that NJ can deal with SLR in coastal zones as a business-as-usual problem, and will have plenty of warning if that situation changes.

        The Social Security Trust Fund is technically a separate legal entity that collects and pays out Social Security benefits. For several decades, it collected more than it paid out and loaned the difference to the rest of the federal government at the prevailing Treasury bond rate. Now we have reached the point where Trust fund payments exceed revenue, and the government is repaying the money it owes to the SS Trust fund. When the trust fund is empty, under current law, it can’t borrow money and Social Security payments WILL BE be automatically reduced (about 25%), so that Trust Fund revenue from SS taxes and payments will be in balance. So Congress will be required to act at some point to prevent this reduction. The parameters of a permanent solution (as opposed to a one-time supplement from Treasury) are well understood: some combination of higher SS taxes, lower payouts and higher retirement age. The main problem is increased lifetime (and decreased birth rate in the past), but gradually raising the retirement age to compensate takes a long time to have an effect on finances, and therefore must be implemented long before the trust fund is depleted. As with climate change, acting sooner will make the problem easier to solve. Unlike SLR, revenue and payments can be predicted with adequate accuracy. Changes to Social Security will fix its problem, but regulating coastal zones won’t stop SLR. And we have a poor idea at best of HOW SOON that problem will arrive. That problem clearly doesn’t need to be dealt with today by regulating coastal zones to meet worst-case scenarios more than a half-century in the future.

        (The magnitude of the SLR problem is enormous: About 6 K of warming as the last ice age ended was associated with about 20 m/K of fairly steady SLR that lasted for a little more than 10 millennia and about 5 millennia after temperature roughly stabilized. As permanent ice caps retreat poleward, sea level will rise over future millennia less that 20 m/K, but emitted anthropogenic CO2 will be taken up by the ocean faster than sea level can stabilize.)

        There are some interesting parallels between these “crises” and how politicians and activists deal with both. We can “adapt” to lower payouts from the Social Security Trust fund, though that is increasingly hard for those receiving the least. But adaptation is unthinkable. The big difference is that SS is a quantitatively well defined immediate national problem that we are failing to deal with, while AGW is a poorly defined global problem. Activists today demand that we plan for worst-case GLOBAL AGW scenarios that are many decades in the future, when we can’t even agree about what to do about well-defined national or local problems coming within a decade. And when we do confront an unambiguous problem, like federally-subsidized flood insurance, special interests torpedoed the solution.

      • thecliffclavenoffinance

        The so called Social Security “trust fund” is filled only with non-negotiable US Treasury bonds, which in plain English, is a big pile of IOUs.

        So it is nothing like a conventional trust fund, filled with investments that have a market value.

        SS payments every year are made with SS tax income from that year, plus extra money from the non-SS part of the governemnt (general fund).

        I believe SS has been in deficit since 2010. There have been years when SS had too much money coming in, and gave their surplus to the general fund (after Reagan hiked SS taxes, long before the money was needed for retired baby boomers).

        Medicare has always had a deficit, because it was created to subsidize recipients, whose Medicare taxes and premiums were never intended to cover all expenses.

        While both SS and Medicare are actually senior citizen welfare, they did significantly reduce poverty among the elderly.

    • Bill Fabrizio

      Franktoo …
      “(If NJ wants to take ANY action now, the sanest thing to so would be to phase out subsidies for flood insurance for those building today in areas that are threatened by SLR and inform potential buyers that NJ WILL NOT help property owners rebuild near the coast as they did after Sandy.)”

      I agree, removing insurance subsidies ARE the most pragmatic way to proceed. This will initially result in higher premiums, more adaptable provisions in the building code, and eventually force self-insurance. If you want to live permanently on a barrier island (or a flood plain of a river) then that will be your risk. And we all know, that when it’s our risk we behave much differently.

    • inform potential buyers that NJ WILL NOT help property owners rebuild near the coast as they did after Sandy.)

      Next tell people who live in California that due to fire and earthquake, they will not be helped after the next disaster.
      Next tell the people along rivers that flooded that they are in the same boat.
      Next tell the people who were harmed by a tsunami.
      Next tell the people who live in tornado alley.

      Then everyone will move to where nothing happens but no one can do anything.

      Future disasters are not all known. People build better after disasters. People who take risks often accomplish the most for humanity. Humans have always pushed the limits of where we can live. People have adapted to living in marginal places.

      Just some thoughts about limiting who we are to help and who we refuse to help, Next week, we may be in a similar situation.

      I live in Houston, where Harvey flooded many who expected to never be flooded. We had more damage away from the coast than some coastal areas ever could have because we had more at risk where we thought we were safe and we did not have warning to evacuate first and if we had, we know from past evacuations that evacuation would have turned a disaster into a much worse disaster.

      • We rebuild better after Harvey and did not prepare for the ice storm and the power and water outages that we had in February 2021.
        There were major Hospitals without water. Most had emergency power or were deemed necessary for the limited power resources but the pumps that pump water had not been deemed necessary.

        The people in coastal NJ could say we should not rebuild in Houston or that we should not be insured if we do.

  12. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The global average surface temperature from early 2021 through March 16 was 13.13 degrees C, with an anomaly of 0.09 C.
    Temperature analysis (T319) from Japanese Met Agency (JRA-55 Reanalysis) on a 2-day Delay. Current climatology for data is 1981-2010 but maps were shifted to 1991-2020.
    Dr. Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue)

  13. Geoff Sherrington

    The old issue of accountability needs a revisit.
    The base of the relevant people pyramid is the many home owners on the sea front. In olden times, they looked after their own risk, mainly.
    Is it good or bad that we now have armies of folk all the way up the layers of the pyramid, whose main existence is to advise or order actions by others in the pyramid, often remote from the affected parties.
    Accountability of these armies is near absent. Many have assumed a licence to advise or order, without regard for the advantages when there is a profit reward and importantly, no punishment for getting it wrong. Ignorance can prosper without accountability.
    Judith, you experienced academic and commercial surroundings. Pleased to see you in private enterprise with the profit reward. No pleased to see free range academics and government folk prognosticating nonsense and recommending only the work of others in their clubs of ignorance.
    Apart from sea level topics, we see this lack of accountability is rapidly and obviously wrecking for example the generation of electricity and the US motor industry, to name a couple of sectors close to the hip pocket while the perps congratulate each other. Incomprehensible. Geoff S

  14. David L Hagen

    Rising sea levels and rise smart communities
    A talk by Bojan Duric, Chief Data Officer, City of Virginia Beach
    Now at

  15. Pingback: Climate adaptation sense. Part III: Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways – Watts Up With That?

  16. Great and relevant testimony on financial regulation and climate change to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs by economist John Cochrane.

  17. Pingback: Climate adaptation sense. Part III: Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways |

  18. “The unfortunate reality is that efforts to regulate one risk can create other, often more dangerous risks… Insofar as regulations divert resources away from potentially life-saving or safety-enhancing activities, they make people worse off. At the extreme, regulations that impose substantial costs can even increase overall mortality. Higher economic growth and aggregate wealth strongly correlate with reduced mortality and morbidity. This should be no surprise as the accumulation of wealth is necessary to fund medical research, support markets for advanced life-saving technologies, build infrastructure necessary for better food distribution, and so on. In a phrase, poorer is sicker, and wealthier is healthier. There is no free health. Much the same can be said for environmental protection. ~Jonathan Adler (More Sorry Than Safe: Assessing the Precautionary Principle…)

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  21. Ireneusz Palmowski

    It is likely that La Niña will not end soon. Temperatures in the central tropical Pacific are slowly dropping.

  22. Ireneusz Palmowski

    A violent geomagnetic storm could affect volcanic eruptions. The storm is caused by solar wind from a coronal hole.

  23. Ireneusz Palmowski

    A very rainy start to autumn in Australia.

  24. thecliffclavenoffinance

    After 14 years and 3 months of intense calculations, I have come up with a solution for sea level rise. Since the tide gauges have never shown an acceleration of sea level rise, I will assume another 6 to 12 inches of sea level rise in the next century. In fact, to be safe, I’ll assume 12 inches, as a worst case. So, what shall property owners on the sea shore, such as the Obama’s, do to prevent danger from that 12 inch sea level rise in the next 100 years? My solution, and I hope it will lead to a Nobel prize, is to build a 13 inch tall sea wall.

  25. Ireneusz Palmowski
  26. “There’s not many posts that have made me laugh that much ☺️” He’s not seeing the same comments I am.

    Engineers commonly add a metre or so for sea level rise to 2100. Sea level rise is a risk. But then so is overbuilding. Or needed defences being too expensive to build. We commonly get the maximum data on wind, waves and water levels. And then hydrodynamically model it to the wazoo.

    A high energy economic growth path is possible and desirable – i.e. not implausible. Peak population, food and energy. We need cheap plug and play electricity to feed this. The one that 21st century materials makes possible is high temperature, fast neutron gas cooled nuclear piles. High temperature silicon carbide fuel cladding to stop the fuel melting down and exploding – and neutron reflector linings to keep the outer steel casing malleable. I hear General Atomics, Electricity de France and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are working on a 50 MWe version.

    • thecliffclavenoffinance

      You are a green dreamer, Ellison.

      I observed ACTUAL tide gauge sea leel rise since the 1800s, and see no acceleration = no reason to expect more than 12 inches SLR in the next century.

      I’m not interested in fantasy predictions of doom and climate change unlike anything seen before.

      We have been living with ACTUAL global warming since the 1970s and ACTUAL SLR all of our lives — there is nothing to fear.

      In fact, the current climate is the best in over 300 years, and plants are happier from more CO2 in the atmosphere.

      So dream on Ellison.
      I live in reality/

    • > I observed ACTUAL tide gauge sea leel rise since the 1800s, and see no acceleration

      Tell that to the author of that comment, Cliff.

      You might also like:

      Within the span of a 30-year mortgage, more than $100 billion worth of American homes is expected to be at risk of chronic flooding.

  27. More on Bob:

    Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways are a flavor of robust decision making that is particularly well suited for decisions—like many adaptation decisions—that are not one‐off decisions but rather decisions that can be revisited and modified over time. Often called Flexible Adaptation Pathways in the sea‐level context (e.g., Rosenzweig & Solecki, 2010), Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways rely upon the identification of different policy options and the possible pathways linking them together. They consider the range of possible future scenarios under which different options and pathways are viable, identify indicators (e.g., RSL crossing a specific threshold) that would trigger a choice between different branching pathways, and establish a monitoring system so that those charged with the implementation of the pathways know when to act (Haasnoot et al., 2013, 2019). Idealized economic and engineering analyses indicate that adaptive approaches, such as Flexible Adaptation Pathways, can lead to dramatically lower costs than approaches that do not allow for iterative refinement (G. G. Garner & Keller, 2018; Lickley et al., 2014). Flexible Adaptation Pathways are recommended in guidance in a number of jurisdictions, including New York City (New York City Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery, 2019) and California (California Natural Resources Agency & California Ocean Protection Council, 2018), and have been used for plans including the U.K. Thames Estuary 2100 plan (Ranger et al., 2013) and the Dutch Delta Programme (Delta Programme, 2015). Haasnoot et al. (2019) developed archetypal adaptation pathways for different coastal terrains (e.g., rural open coast and urban estuary). However, the development of Flexible Adaptation Pathways has generally focused narrowly on engineering approaches, such as storm barriers and levees, and has not considered the dynamic coevolution of human and natural coastal systems.

    It’s as if Bob knew about DAPP.

    • jungletrunks

      Adaptive policy pathways is exploited here as a red herring in your argument, Willard; as it relates to Dr. Curry’s analysis. If you can scientifically argue why the STAP reports particularly high SLR metric, that Dr. Curry states is a factor of “two too high”, is in fact a reasonable metric for planning, in defense of the report, then that’s where you need to stake your argument.

      Perhaps a metaphorical adaptive policy and pathway analysis will better illuminate your charade. Though the truism “garbage in, garbage out” is another approach; but why not have more fun with it:

      Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways to enforce ideology. A warrior fights important ideological battles with spitballs, trying to get one to stick; but as they feverishly dig around the bottom of their ammo pouch, looking for a magic wad, they’re slain by logic. The proper pathway policy here suggests that one supplement their ideological fervor with transient pathways; the ends always justifies the means. In this particular scenario the militia pathway comes to mind:

      • > Adaptive policy pathways is exploited here as a red herring in your argument

        You keep using that word, Trunks, it might not mean what you make it mean.

        Please stick to fighting words.

    • His coauthor knows about DAPP. He doesn’t seem to have internalized it.

  28. I would say that the biggest problem is not the scientists’ ‘predict then act’ paradigm, although that is indeed a significant problem.

    No, I would say the biggest problem is the media and the brainwashing of the whole population using stridently unknowable predictions as ‘scientific fact’.

    The statement ‘a little knowledge is dangerous’ is extremely relevant here. Most of the population have really pretty little knowledge and what knowledge they do have is biased hugely by never-ending global warming disaster scenario propaganda. Schools are now indoctrinating children about ‘global warming’, the indoctrination coming from teachers who in the main are entirely uneducated in climate science.

    What we actually need is a media that treats human beings like adults and not like helpless infants. Adults can cope with uncertainty, they deal with it every day (like the risk of their house catching fire, their car crashing seriously, coming into contact with dangerous animals, diseases, getting food poisoning, having a date rape drug slipped into their drink, suffering a severe reaction to a licensed medication etc etc etc).

    The biggest 21st century problem by far is the total corruption of the mainstream media.

    • This points to a need for adapting to local conditions with varying time frames. I spent February in the Florida panhandle. Most of the homes are on stilts, much as those in the first picture of the link. Those houses in Florida were all 10+ feet above high tide. But that adaptation was done over generations in response to the threats of hurricanes. The construction of high rise condo complexes of 200+ units, continues unabated, rising sea levels or not. It’s hard to see the threat from SLR, acceleration or not over the next several generations, in that community. However, near Miami, as a result of different factors they have a problem of greater urgency, and as such their solutions will have to be of a different nature in a different time frame.

      Having said that, I’m having difficulty reconciling what this Los Angeles NOAA Tidal Gauge graph tells me against the pictures in the link. While the houses in the first picture appear to be on stilts and perhaps are not threatened for the next 30 years given the NOAA data rise of 4 inches per century, the 3rd picture of homes with waves at the bottom of the stairs, implies a more immediate threat.

      I’m having trouble ground truthing their situation. If one of those houses was built 50 years ago, then if we are to believe the NOAA data, RSLR in that area should have risen by only 2 inches, since construction. Wouldn’t those conditions have been the same 50 years ago when the houses were built?

      I know that wasn’t the point of your link and I agree that it is good way to adapt, but I’m having trouble with the idea that in the next 30 years they are in any greater danger than they were 50 years ago, given RSLR will be 2+ inches over the next 50 years.

    • “This is an interesting SLR adaptation idea.” – curryja

      It sounds a brilliant idea to me. You only have to look at Venice to see how tricky it is to keep out unexpected high tides.

      “That’s why Stein helped Allen draft his novel legislation. She thinks the state needs to get ahead of the problem, before it becomes another money-pit like wildfires. Thousands of California homes are becoming uninsurable due to wildfire risk, despite expensive, ever-expanding efforts to fight them.”

    • Judith

      Yes, interesting, but it beggars the question as to why the state should bail out the owners?

      Sea level this time round, has been rising for at least 200 years, arguably longer, and this isn’t the first time sea levels have changed, there are plenty of historic records to demonstrate the effects of cold and warm periods and where relevant, isostatic action.

      So these people have taken a chance and enjoyed their lifestyles and now some are hoping the taxpayer can recover the losses the owners may now be faced with.

      Round here we have soft sandstone cliffs. A Londoner bought a house sight unseen, they were warned would be claimed by the sea. They didn’t get a survey, paid the (relatively) cheap price then set in motion a law case (which they lost) when the house fell into the sea a week after completion of purchase

      Caveat emptor


    • “Keeler says that link can be broken by taking properties out of the hands of private homeowners, who are getting mixed messages about their home’s value, and putting them in the hands of the public, which has an interest in not being stuck with all of those bills.” “The horror, the horror!” If there is a private problem – privately-owned homes might be at risk – the last thing you should want to do is make it a public problem, funded primarily by people (taxpayers) with nothing to gain from the initiative. Not to mention the normal ineptness and inefficiency of any publicly-administered programme.

    • LMAO!
      “..and that eliminates any doubts about the key role of carbon dioxide in global warming.”

      Canceling the HCO and neoglaciation.

    • The arrow pointing with the photo of ‘industrial revolution’ is laughable on a scale of 10kyrs. As previously discussed about the Chinese coral study on the Paracel Islands, a figure of 1825 was given for the start of ocean warming. The ‘hockey stick’ data is not precise enough to conclude that the current warming trend started as late as the 1900’s:

    • Ireneusz Palmowski

      The air temperature must have been very high if it melted huge masses of ice, so that the water from the glaciers lowered the temperature of the oceans.

    • Ireneusz Palmowski

      The temperature of the Humboldt Current also depends on the amount of ice that melts in the South Pacific in November.
      “Southeastern Pacific Ocean
      The cold waters of a current (the West Wind Drift) flowing east from Australia turn north along the west coast of South America. During this long track across the southern Pacific, the waters turn cold and form a very pronounced cold current, called the Humboldt Current (also locally known as the Peru or Chile Current). As the Humboldt Current approaches the equator, it turns back to the west, toward Australia, to complete the circuit of this huge gyre. The west-flowing segment is the South Equatorial Current.”

    • Sometimes someone decides to look in the dark and finds gold. But sometimes the find does not fit with the dogma, so maybe ignores it.
      Damn the dogma but keep the gold. A look inside the paper may be worth it (but not the cost of bridging the paywall). The source/institute is the same as the Rutgers Report.

  29. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The Humboldt Current is driven by cyclones that move toward the southern tip of South America.

  30. Matthes et al. 2017 is blind to the inverse forcing of the AMO by variability of the solar wind temperature/pressure. Stronger solar wind states will be driving a cold AMO phase from the mid 2030’s, which will reverse continental glacier retreat and stall Greenland melt.

  31. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #447 – Watts Up With That?

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  33. First, sea level has gone down since 1972, less and less leap seconds have been added each decade.
    If leap seconds ever become added more frequently then check for the sea level rise.
    Second, warming does not lead to sea level rise, warming is a result of ice extent decrease and sea level rise and warming promotes the polar evaporation and snowfall that lowers sea level. This takes a while to build ice volumes and ice flow rates, so more warming is happening while the ice supply is built to the weight and volumes necessary to increase ice flow rates and ice extent.
    Ice extent and sea levels determine temperatures. Ice volumes must grow first to halt ice extent decrease and start ice extent increase. Max ice accumulation is at the warmest time of the cycles. Max ice volumes are at the time of max ice extent rate increase, when temperatures are decreasing the fastest. Ice volumes deplete after that as the ice extent is still increasing.
    At the coldest time, ice extent stops increasing and starts decreasing and cooling ends and warming begins. The fastest warming is when ice is retreating the fastest and this is at the time of ice volume min. After that point warming continues as ice volumes increase to eventually start the cooling again. This is how polar ice cycles work, They must go through the alternating warm and cold periods. there are no static equilibrium points.

    Climate Polar Ice Cycles are much like alternating current in AC electrical cycles, when it passes through zero, or the neutral point, it is changing the fastest.

    Alternating Polar Climate Cycles exchange energy with the more Static Climate Balance cycles of Tropical Regions.

  34. Pingback: Règlement(s) de comptes à Atlantic City | Mythes, Mancies & Mathématiques

  35. Ergodic is a term for the presumption of the recurrence of states over a sufficiently long sample period. The comfort of a chaotic system not running of the rails totally. Something shows in the longest instrumental record by far. Distantly followed by sunspots. Statistics rules out random variability about a mean state. What’s left is purely periodic and – behind door number three – ‘something more real’ (Ghil 2014) spatio-temporal shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation with feedbacks in ice, cloud, biology, vegetation and dust.

    “1 : of or relating to a process in which every sequence or sizable sample is equally representative of the whole (as in regard to a statistical parameter) 2 : involving or relating to the probability that any state will recur especially : having zero probability that any state will never recur.” Miriam-Webster

    Including crocodiles in the Arctic given the presumed equivalent of 10,000 years of volcanism in 200 years. With climate variability dominant marine boundary layer (MBL) strato-cumulus cloud feedbacks (Clements et al 2009, Loeb et al 2019) over eastern regions of oceans adding to PETM warmth leading to the marine extinction.

    Sea level rises at my place are projected by ‘coastadapt‘. There are a number of components – ocean expansion with warmth, balances between ice and water and groundwater and surface water. The balances – in the myth that these can be determined realistically – or even realised deterministically – add up to some 0.4m in a low emissions scenario. My place is set into a granite hill some 15m above mean sea level – which I can see over the mangroves. It is secure against flooding, fire, storm surge and anything but the largest tsunamis. For which – as a good planning and construction engineer and environmental scientist over decades – I have escape plans. Sea level rise seems not a major concern – unless it shifts rapidly for reasons that we are beginning to understand.

    So a cloud/climate tipping point at around 1200 ppm CO2.
    – e.g.

    With current energy demand profiles and a high economic growth trajectory we might burn that much fossil fuel by 2100. Newer energy sources seem overwhelmingly more likely. The adage there is eggs in a basket.

    • Re the nilometer recall what was told to Solon by the priests of Sais.
      “Now the Nile, which is in all else our preserver, saves us then also from this distress by releasing his founts —- But in this country neither then nor at any time does water fall from on high upon the fields, but contrariwise all rises up by nature from below. ” The Nile does not reflect what happens elsewhere accurately.

      • Water must fall from on high somewhere in the hydrological cycle. In the Nile River basin – it is influenced by Pacific and Atlantic states.

      • The Nilometer reflects a point some way down a cascade of events, and as the Solon story goes, smoothens out much of the variability. Due to the Nile’s stabilising effect Egypt did not suffer as much as surrounding regions.

        In the biblical ‘Joseph’ story it is said Joseph was sold into slavery. However other sources, and old texts, say the brothers went to Egypt to buy grain ‘that they may survive and not die’ of extreme drought, and that ‘children were given into slavery in Egypt so that they survive’. The Nile kept Egypt in food where elsewhere famine devastated other civilisations.

        Peter Lang below says “Empirical evidence indicates global warming is beneficial for the global economy and ecosystems, not harmful.” For the past 8kyrs ‘global warming’ was also the arrival of a tipping point. Time to be, wary not complacent. Things can “shifts rapidly for reasons that we are beginning to understand” – hopefully.

  36. Excellent article by Bjorn Lomborg in Thursday’s ‘The Australian’ – reproduced in GWP (free access) here:

    However, I feel he is wrong in the third paragraph where he says: “Yes, climate change is a real problem.”

    Empirical evidence indicates global warming is beneficial for the global economy and ecosystems, not harmful.

    Here’s a copy of the article:

    “Across the world, politicians are now promising climate policies costing tens of trillions of dollars – money we don’t have and resources that are desperately needed elsewhere.

    Yet, climate campaigners tell us, if we don’t spend everything on climate now, nothing else matters, because climate change threatens our very civilisation. As US President Joe Biden says: climate change is “an existential threat”.

    Yes, climate change is a real problem. However, it is typically vastly exaggerated, and the resulting alarmism is exploited to justify the wasteful spending of trillions.

    Pointing this out will get you cancelled. I should know, because I have personally been on the receiving end of this climate alarmism enforcement for years. Last week, I was scheduled to give a public lecture at Duke University in the US when a group of climate-politicised professors – some who write for the UN Climate Panel – publicly asked Duke to cancel my appearance.

    One of my presentation points was highlighting the latest full UN Climate Panel report which estimates the total cost of climate change. They found that unmitigated climate change in half a century will reduce general welfare equivalent to lowering each person’s income by between 0.2 and 2 per cent. Given that the UN expects each person on the planet to be much better off – 363 per cent as wealthy as today – climate might cause us to only be 356 per cent as rich by then. That is a problem, but certainly not the end of the world.

    Why don’t most people know this? Because stories of catastrophe and human guilt garner more clicks and are better for weaponising political arguments. Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to make good decisions if we’re panicked.

    The political forces looking to spend the climate trillions and the academia segment supplying the fear want to scrub the climate debate of anything but the scariest scenarios. They want an unwavering allegiance to vigorous spending on climate policy, no matter its effectiveness.

    They insist on treating this issue as a moral binary choice instead of a realistic balancing of costs and effectiveness which would allow for our many other challenges to be heard as well.

    Certainly, the professors at Duke didn’t want anyone to hear dissenting facts.

    They tried to stop the lecture through outright lies, such as claiming that my funding comes from Exxon and the Koch brothers. These claims are categorically untrue. They also declared that I had been deemed scientifically dishonest, although the mock trial which originated that claim has been completely overturned and annulled because it contained no arguments.

    More worryingly, they raged about how climate catastrophes are so terrible that we should not allow any more climate debate. Yet, their claims were almost uniformly untrue. They said that “much of the Australian continent” had been devoured in climate-induced fire. But we know from satellite measurements, published in Nature, that while the fires near population centres had severe impacts, the total land area burned was 4 per cent – one of the lowest-ever percentages, from an average this century of 6.2 per cent and last century of 10.1 per cent. Four per cent is not “much of the Australian continent”. Such claims are more like rantings from people who have been watching too much alarmist TV.”

    • “Certainly, the professors at Duke didn’t want anyone to hear dissenting facts.”

      And that is coming from the supposed fount of knowledge. I can accept students with blinders on in an emotional argument, but like so many other aspects of this debate, we have to ask, where are the adults? A post at WUWT mentions that professors at a certain college teaching climate policy don’t know the basic science. Both of these examples are an indictment of our university systems.

  37. Excellent article by Bjorn Lomborg in Thursday’s ‘The Australian’ – reproduced in GWP (free access) here:

    However, I feel he is wrong in the third paragraph where he says: “Yes, climate change is a real problem.”

    Empirical evidence indicates global warming is beneficial for the global economy and ecosystems, not harmful.

    • Bjorn Lomborg: “Across the world, politicians are now promising climate policies costing tens of trillions of dollars – money we don’t have and resources that are desperately needed elsewhere.

      Yet, climate campaigners tell us, if we don’t spend everything on climate now, nothing else matters, because climate change threatens our very civilisation. As US President Joe Biden says: climate change is “an existential threat”.

      Yes, climate change is a real problem.”

      I agree with the general thrust of Lomborg. The blocking of the Suez Canal, disrupting the global supply chain due to unexpected strong winds on increasingly large container ships, is a classic case of climate change.

      The mitigation of such events is relatively straight forward and inexpensive, yet these measures are only taken *after* a disaster. It’s the way the business world works.

      Can it ever change in response to climate change?

    • Global warming is beneficial for the global economy and for ecosystems.

      Environmentalists should welcome global warming.

      They should advocate for CO2 emissions, not advocate to reduce them.

  38. Can anyone tell me the world average value of terrestrial biomass, in $/tC ($ per tonne carbon)? And provide references to authoritative published sources?