Existential risks

by Judith Curry

Some reflections on the movie Don’t Look Up.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it is worth watching (available on Netflix).

The movie is a satirical black comedy, with a large number of A-list actors. It’s about scientists giving 6 months warning of a comet striking Earth and mass extinction.  The story is about how politicians, the media, scientists, the public and space entrepreneurs react to this.  The Director, screen writers and lead actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) all say that it is a satirical film about climate change.

If you ignore for the moment that this movie is supposed to be about climate change, you can enjoy it for what it is.  The style is reminiscent of Dr Strangelove (but not nearly as good).  The A-list actors give entertaining performances, but I wouldn’t expect any of them to be nominated for awards (the most likely award will be for the theme song, sung by Ariana Grande).  The movie is fast paced, plays into amusing stereotypes, and is good fun.

However, if you are looking for some grand allegory for climate change, its communication, our failure to act, and a subsequent existential crisis, you will be sorely disappointed and may not even think that the film is funny.  The movie is about an existential risk on a time-scale of a few months, that you can actually see happening.  In spite of the rhetoric and declarations that every severe weather is caused by climate change, at the end of the day very few lives are being lost by extreme weather (let alone by manmade climate change).

There has been substantial discussion on twitter of the movie, with climate scientists saying that finally they feel heard, and feel vindicated by this attention that is provided to their plight of effectively trying to communicate the risk of climate change and effect their desired policies to prevent climate change. They seem to think that the moral of the movie is Believe Experts.

There is no scientific debate over whether the comet will actually strike Earth, when it will strike, or the catastrophic consequences. However, throughout the movie, every scientific institution ends up lying about the risk – the head of NASA, big tech CEO, government officials, and eventually the protagonist professor (Leonardo DiCaprio).  The only scientist who maintains their integrity is the female graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence), who ends up bagging groceries.  Trusting the experts doesn’t end up being such a good idea, when the end result is extinction.

The issue is what should be done about the comet strike. Here is where we find some meaningful analogies with climate change.  The more pragmatic choice is to use rockets to deflect the path of the comet away from collision with the earth; there is some confidence this can work based on experience with asteroids.  By analogy, the pragmatic climate change solution is to adapt, hang on to your nuclear power and develop better technologies.   The competing solution for the comet gets wrapped in the economic opportunity associated with rare metals in the comet, job creation and presidential politics.  The analogous climate solution wraps in all sorts of additional objectives such as environmental justice, job creation, anti-nuclear sentiments, anti-capitalist governance, punishing fossil fuel companies.  The problem is that the complexity of the competing solutions fails to address the original problem and causes new (and even worse) problems.

The movie isn’t about a simple battle between those who want to take action to address the problem and those who don’t. There’s a genuine lack of consensus scientists, government, etc.  as to what should actually be done about the problem. This is invariably the case when the the problem is multifaceted and the solutions are technically challenging.

The fundamental policy challenge of climate change is that it involves making changes now for the sake of preventing harms that occur largely in the future to people living in other countries. This challenge can be addressed by producing technological breakthroughs that make these tradeoffs less painful and progress easier.

It’s far more interesting to interpret this movie as part of the cinema of existential risk, rather than climate change.  Comets are a great topic for this, especially since they are much more difficult to deflect than asteroids.  Deflecting comets would be a great endeavor for the billionaire space cowboys (Bezos, Musk, Branson) to take on. 

And what about supervolcanoes? Does anyone have a plan for this?  These genuine existential risks fall outside of ordinary political conflicts.  Instead, we focus on the faux existential risk of climate change, with solutions that focus on first-world perceptions of environmental justice and punishing fossil fuel companies.

132 responses to “Existential risks

  1. Richard Schulze

    Thanks for the review; I’d like to watch the movie. Have you read Lawrence Krauss’s new book The Physics of Climate Change? It was recommended to me by a friend who happens to be a theoretical physicists. Curious to hear your thoughts.

  2. I was halfway through the movie when my wife said it was silly and left, saying I would have to finish watching it on my own. So, at that point, the existential risk was something akin to ‘the sky is falling.’
    Fables can be, and have been, used for political satire. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver Travels is one — even though we’ve lost the political digs with the passage of time. The question for today is whether satire has an impact for Truth telling. I tend to doubt it. More likely the punch line is that it was a funny comet movie. But maybe all movies are about climate change from Jurassic Park to It’s a Wonderful Life. In which case, the next president will be a comedian. That’s satire too.

  3. Sorry, but I have read enough about Don’t Look Up to know that I don’t want to waste any time watching it.

    • Crispin Pemberton-Pigott

      Mike, to me the funny part is that when these “A list” actors demand that we listen to the incompetent climate models, ignoring the sun’s effects, what they are really telling the public is, “Don’t look up!!”

      Talk about ironic. The title is perfect and the joke is on these scientifically illiterate and hypocritical carbon clowns. How could the lesson be more perfect? For climate change purposes they pretend the sun isn’t there. If they looked up they might ponder its influence. Can’t have that…

  4. It’s a fun movie but it’s Hollywood. The more appropriate conceptual framework is decision making under uncertainty – as is one of Judith themes. That a coupled, nonlinear, chaotic climate system can bites us on the bum is beyond question. Wally Broecker called it poking a stick at a wild beast.

  5. As the fires in CO this past week show-life is tenuous. No power of man will EVER change that.
    People will either find God and deal with it or drive themselves and the rest of us to destruction in their paranoid delusions of control.
    God help us all.

  6. Steve Browne

    I enjoyed the movie. Not academy award material, but entertaining. Any allegorical meaning or message in the movie is in the eye of the beholder.

    • When “All in the Family” was the rage, I had several relatives who loved the show and thought Archie was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      They enjoyed the show but not quite for the reasons the producers intended.

      • davidappell02

        The producers of “All in the Family” fully intended to show Archie as the consummate bigot. If your relatives were tuning in for that they were viewing the commercials, which is exactly what the producers wanted — more money in their pockets.

      • 02

        Lol. Yeah, right. 02 is into psychoanalytics. You are bad enough with 8th grade equations in climate science and even worse with psychobabble.

        Speaking of being paranoid, how is your investigation into being censored working out?

  7. Obviously, the solution to the comet problem is to have Greta Thunberg present to it her mad face. That would scare that pesky comet!

    • davidappell02

      Love to see how Greta Thunberg disturbs grown men so much. A sure sign of her influence!

      • davidappell02

        jim2 commented:
        In your dreams, perhaps.

        You’re the grown man who wrote about her, a mere teenager.

        So clearly she’s not in my dreams, but your’s. She’s gotten into your head. Which is precisely her goal.

      • But what I think about GT isn’t flattering or conducive to me wanting more “green” energy. The reality is she is being used by “greens” like you and other lefties. She is a victim of sorts. A sock puppet for the rabid left.

  8. Clyde Spencer

    Judith, you said,

    “Comets are a great topic for this, especially since they are much more difficult to deflect than asteroids.”

    However, they may be easier to disperse.

    Rather than using an explosive impulse to deflect an asteroid, it might make more sense to land a rocket engine on the surface and use a long-burn to slow it down so that it passes behind Earth.

  9. David Wojick

    I have to take exception to this statement: “The fundamental policy challenge of climate change is that it involves making changes now for the sake of preventing harms that occur largely in the future to people living in other countries.”

    To me the fundamental policy challenge is to reject this fanciful “challenge of climate change”, there being no such challenge. At this point few policy makers show the courage needed to reject the supposed challenge of climate change, but there are a few. Hopefully the present energy debacle will strengthen others.

    As for the movie, it sounds like the joke is that climate alarmists don’t get the joke.

    • Joe Biden is funding small modular reactors and farmers to improve land management. The problem for stuck in the mud contrarians is that the world will move on and solve the problem will them.

      • Biden is funding reactors for special interest groups, including the Department of Energy. The reactors will likely to be wards-of-the-state forever – kind of like renewable energy. Further, some of these reactor designs are of questionable safety while likely being operational nightmares.

        If private industry wants to give advanced reactors a go, knock yourselves out. However, stop dumping most of the financial risk on the taxpayer.

        I really do not have a problem with better land management, other than the government should not dictate how this is accomplished. Entrenched centralized bureaucrats are hopelessly out of touch with reality.

        Contrarian viewpoint? No. Hard nosed pragmatism.

      • Globally there are dozens of projects in development. There are two that just came online in China. Rolls Royce just announced a US$500 investment in a factory to build them. There is progress in Canada. NuScale is building in Idaho.

        The new Biden infrastructure bill committed $6 billion to nuclear energy.

        I am technology agnostic – but have a soft spot for small, helium cooled Fast Neutron Reactors.

        e.g. https://www.ga.com/general-atomics-and-framatome-collaborate-to-develop-a-fast-modular-reactor

        And last time I looked Mike Keller was complaining about having to put up dollar for dollar funding to get any free money.

    • Comment in moderation – oh well. The best way to foster innovative nuclear technology and manufacturing methods is with private/public partnerships. This is stock standard innovation policy that has been in place wherever there are free markets – for a very long time.

      Because of the costs few companies or utilities have the capacity to internalise the whole risk. If the US doesn’t – the rest of the world will. Rolls Royce just announced US$500M funding – half from government – to build a factory.

      And last time I looked Mike Keller was bemoaning needing to put up dollar for dollar to get any free money.

    • I care a lot about the future. You alarmists are seriously dangerous.

      But the near future is getting interesting:

      Energy anguish may finally stop you climate madness folks from ruining the world.

      BTW if you think I do not believe what I write then you are a fool.

    • UK-Weather Lass

      Every livinbg thing demonstrates it cares about the future by continuing to survive as long as it can, Climate change has likely always been an existential threat to some species. Things that cannot move away will not survive but it is possible that nature provides for climate recovery and a return for these same species.

      You write a lot Mr Appell. But you seldom say anything purposeful from what I have read. You simply make statements about others you can never back up. Why is that because of what I have read of Mr Wojick he clearly does care?

  10. The movie is a questionable way to discover new ways to make language dance to our AGW tune. As newsman Alfred Harmsworth (1819–1897) intuitively understood, “dog bites man” is not news — just as when the climate changes that is not news either — because, that often happens. Try and stop it! But, trying to stop the globe from warming is exactly what climatists demand we do if you believe humanity is killing the climate. We need to capture that, we-should-just-stop-it, spirit of righteousness when coming up with a new label for global warming aka climate change –e.g., It’s News! Man Bites Weather.

  11. If anyone thinks a comet striking the earth is good marketing for the global warming alarmist purveyors of doom, think again. Indeed, as much as is humanly possible, the prognosticators of doom really should try to think of something that provides more value than to simply point at a natural disaster — like a family of five frozen to the face of El Capitan like bugs on flypaper by a sudden and unexpected flurry of wind and ice — and say, “Look! Humanity’s release of CO2 caused that!”

  12. Geoff Sherrington

    There is a whiff of desperation to sell a story of climate change and existential risk when promoters engage actors to make movies with little actual measurement or observation and try to sell the movie to the real world.
    Ricky Gervais at Golden Globe awards 2020, addressing A team actors including de Caprio – “You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
    How horribly perceptive, Ricky! Geoff S

    • Geoff Sherrington

      spell check diCaprio, sorry.
      Are people serious when they mention this movie in the same breath as the 1964 movie – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? Peter Sellers played 5 parts superbly. No preaching.
      In my humble opinion, Dr Strangelove is in the top 5 of greatest movies ever, under several categories of review, including wistful remembrance for us as we were married that year. Geoff S

      • Andrew Carter

        “Peter Sellers played 5 parts superbly.”

        Group Captain Mandrake
        President Muffley
        Dr Strangelove

        If you saw him playing two other characters, I must have missed them.

        He was originally cast in the role of Major Kong as well but Slim Pickens replaced him after Sellers was injured during filming.

        “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!”

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Andrew Carter,
        I was wrong, I apologize. Sellers played 3 parts. I do not know the origin of my imaginary 5 parts, but it has been in my mind for decades. Just goes to show the need to verify before writing. Thanks, Geoff S

  13. What annoyed me about the movie was the insistence that they could predict with 99% certainty that the asteroid would hit earth. I don’t believe it is possible to predict the path with that level accuracy.

    It is also dangerous to deflect an asteroid since the errors in predicting the path could turn a what would have been a near miss into a direct hit.

    I saw these two flaws and an ironic satire of the problem with climate activism and uncertainty denial while pushing “solutions” that could cause more harm than benefit.

    • Anders Valland

      Exactly, that was my thought as well. The accuracy increases as the comet gets closer, there was absolutely no discussion on this in the movie. All you got was DiCaprio repeating “we got the data”.

      They might have been able to make a decent analogy of it if they tried, but they chose what is essentially a binary problem. The comet hits – disaster. The comet misses – no change. Climate change is subtle, and there is no real understanding of actual consequences and actual risks. It is as non-binary as it comes.

    • You can’t. Even rocky comets have substantial amounts of ices and dust (Jennifer Lawrence’s character could see it, after all). The chances of the center of gravity remaining exactly the same would be slim. Plus, to calculate the trajectory the way they did without including the other bodies in the solar system is rough at best.

  14. The movie was far better than I expected. A lot of funny sequences and irony all through the film. The title of the movie was actually a campaign slogan by one of the political parties to convince folks that a meteor was not headed their way – all you had to do was use your own eyes and rational thought to confirm there was in fact a meteor is headed your way.

  15. Lindsey Bahr, “DiCaprio says end-of-the-world comedy ‘Don’t Look Up’ amplifies warnings about climate change,” Chicago Sun Times, Jan 2, 2022,https://chicago.suntimes.com/movies-and-tv/2022/1/2/22864108/dont-look-up-leonardo-dicaprio-netflix-climate-change-adam-mckay

    Interview with DiCaprio about the film.

  16. Some who read this nearly 40 years ago might have been terrified in very slow motion about the possible 10 feet rise in the oceans. The narrative continues to this day.


  17. Ed Beauregard

    You lost me at Leonardo DiCaprio.

  18. Rihard Greene

    Ditto. Climate change in the past 100 years has been wonderful. Another 100 more years of the same climate change would be even better.

  19. 1)On the growing (late 70s) Armageddon obsession in Entertainment:

    Behavior: The Deluge of Disastermania, Time Magazine, March 05, 1979:


    2)On the Comet Panic of 1910:

    Matt Simon, “Fantastically Wrong: That Time People Thought a Comet Would Gas Us All to Death”, Wired, January 7, 2015, https://www.wired.com/2015/01/fantastically-wrong-halleys-comet/

  20. Andrew Webster

    Less dark comedy/satire more like pantomine. “A” list actors, “B” grade acting.

  21. Anders Valland

    I saw the movie, basically because the youth in the house wanted to see Ariana Grandes performance. The youth were disappointed, and left soon after her appearance, only to return for the music.

    Me and my better half stayed the course, but came out of it non-plussed. Stale comedy, trying to (again) ridicule Donald Trump, getting some jokes in on the current sorry state of affairs on wokeness etc but not really hitting the target.

    Maybe it was just DiCaprios lack of skills as a comedian (his primary characters tend to be neurotic), or maybe it was that they were trying to make double-sided jokes on a subject they feel strongly about. I don’t know, but for me it totally missed the mark of comedy.

    I take exception to Judith mentioning “Dr. Strangelove” in this context. That movie is brilliant, and in a totally different universe than “Don’t look up”.

    • Neutronio Powered High-Side Sideways RaceCaR

      “I take exception to Judith mentioning “Dr. Strangelove” in this context. That movie is brilliant, and in a totally different universe than “Don’t look up”.”

      Yes, that was a mistake of the highest level. Very unusual for Professor Curry.

  22. The title of the movie, “Don’t look up,” appears to be a proper characterization of the climate scare, since we are prevented from looking up towards the Sun as a source for climate change, as paleoclimatologists have been defending for decades.

  23. With regard to the question about other society disrupting phenomena, I can recommend reading up on this 2017 essay by Oren Cass:


    … and yes, a pandemic was back in 2017 on the list of potential problems to worry about. In hindsight, it is remarkable to read in this 2017 essay that …

    “Increasing urbanization also exposes society to both higher levels of social unrest and disruption by increasingly powerful and well-coordinated non-state actors. Such a pandemic is widely forecast to occur though the timing is unknowable; it will be too late to prevent once underway, and it has the potential to cause catastrophic damage throughout society. Increasing urbanization also exposes society to both higher levels of social unrest and disruption by increasingly powerful and well-coordinated non-state actors.”

    Sounds familiar?

  24. Rihard Greene

    the parameters of the problem/risk of the comet are as certain as it gets.”
    Unless you know exactly where the comet will land, deflecting it riskd a landing in a populated or at least higher risk area.

  25. Richard Greene

    I read at least two dozen climate science and energy articles every day to find four to reprint on my climate science and energy blog.
    Today i read an article that compared the Coming Climate Crisis religion with environmentalism. The Ph.D.author shows how different they are.
    It’s a consise easy to read article by one of the commenters here, and I highly recommend it to everyone here. After reading at least 8,000 articles a year, few stand out like this one does. With the few great articles, my first thought is always” Why don’t other writers cover this angle?

  26. I haven’t seen it yet. Unless “team science” in the movie wants to deal with the comet by banning pickup trucks and adopting luddism, then this isn’t a very realistic analogy for climate debates.

    Meanwhile, did you see that Scientific American ran an article claiming it’s ray cist to use “statistical normal distribution”? Or to study ant colonies because they’re not post-colonial?
    These are literally the very last group of people anyone would turn to in a genuine time of need to deal with a real problem. In the face of extinction from a comet, a random walk through the phone book would probably yield better ideas than the entire masthead and contributor list of Scientific American. And Roger Pielke Jr didn’t cause that. CliSci did.

    • davidappell02

      Did you see that the author of the Sci Am piece had no clue what a “normal distribution” is?

    • davidappell02

      Other than that, you clearly didn’t try to understand the article, even if you disagreed with it.

      • wait. You wanted me to try to “understand” an article by someone who “had no clue” what they were writing about?

        I am beginning to think Sci Am is tailored toward people who don’t know what they’re talking about, don’t know statistics other than how to fudge them, and want the remaining trained scientists to be on notice that they are no longer welcome.

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  29. The sequel should be a much more interesting film;
    De Caprio wakes up and realises that the President being eaten by an alien ostrich and the ‘last meal’ was just a nightmare; the comet missed………

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  31. UK-Weather Lass

    My takeaway from this very ordinary and unimpressive movie (which I had to watch in two chunks) was that the truth telling characters in the film had nasty things happen to them while the nastier characters didn’t (and even appeared to prosper by seemingly escaping from the planet at the end).

    That echoes what I have seen with climate science and SARS-CoV-2 where the truth tellers have always gotten into trouble or been binned or banned while the baddies get ever richer and more powerful telling the same old same old untruths while ignoring viable solutions that are available right now.

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  35. I watched and enjoyed the movie. I didn’t laugh. The premise that a viable method of deflecting a planet killing comet, certain to strike the earth in 6 months, is aborted by one rich guy because he wants to mine the comet, rings true. Rich guys, not a Democratic majority and not scientists, have the power in responding to a planetary threat. (Yes, “Deflecting comets would be a great endeavor for the billionaire space cowboys (Bezos, Musk, Branson) to take on. “) In this case the planetary threat (as with super volcanoes) is not caused by humans. This link shows the reaction of one climate scientist to the movie: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/29/climate-scientist-dont-look-up-madness?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    In the case of fossil fuels the damage is already occurring. Effective national responses, such as a carbon fee and dividend (H.R.2307), continue to languish in minority obstructionism.

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  37. https://www.foxbusiness.com/economy/virginia-i-95-traffic-jam-better-preparedness-unexpected

    This is the kind of thing we need to have a plan for. The “response” by VDOT was severely lacking. There is no excuse for not being able to deal with a foot of snow (and all of the vehicles piled up) in less than a four hour period of time. Yes, it causes a mess as even one unprepared vehicle is an emergency, but I have been caught in storms like this on numerous occasions and I have never experienced this lame of a response, especially on a major freeway. ADOT has closed I-40 before, but that is simply because it is easier to clear the road without the other vehicles. Normally what happens is that people wait for the snow plow, and then follow them through the storm. But for a forecasted storm of this magnitude the plows would be on the road (parked and running) before the first flurry. I have lived in Wyoming, Idaho, etc. and yes they close down roads on occasion (Wyoming routinely does), but they don’t leave people stranded in their cars for a day.

    Most of the storms I have been in have been in Arizona btw so there were plenty of unprepared motorists in those storms. Further there were plenty of prepared and ignorant motorists as well that drove their four wheel drive into a snow bank. I imagine people driving normal vehicles do that too, just my experience is that the people with four wheel drives frequent the snow banks. Pretty much every vehicle out there has four wheel braking, so just because you can get going fast doesn’t mean you are going to be able to brake any better. On snow and ice that can be deadly. For those of you that don’t know, Arizona does get significant snow in the higher elevations, and a foot of snow is not unheard of. For instance, Denver is known as the mile high city. Most of Northern Arizona is at or above that elevation.

  38. I saw the movie and I thought it was idiotic because the responses to the threat as pictured in the movie were ludicrously unbelievable. I couldn’t sit through the whole thing.

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  40. David A Noble

    Satire is normally delivered with a light touch. This movie slams you in the face with obvious and predictable pratfalls. A waste of good actors’ time, but i imagine they will be recompensed satisfactorily.

  41. Excellent movie review, Dr. Judith. The only line I’d change is (bolded mine)

    The fundamental policy challenge of climate change is that it involves making changes now for the sake of preventing possible but far from certain harms that may occur largely in the future to people living in other countries.

    Thanks for all your great work,


  42. “The analogous climate solution wraps in all sorts of additional objectives such as environmental justice…”

    Wind and solar deployment is divorced from solving any problem. The scientists who need us to trust the experts don’t have a clue as to how to solve their problem. Meanwhile, people rake in money from the whole clown show while making people’s lives worse.

    Another day of politics.

  43. “Instead, we focus on the faux existential risk of climate change”

    Fortunately some of us focus on the real and inevitable risk of climate change, the regional climate impacts of super solar minima series, on average every 863 years. The 4.2 kyr event, the 3.2 kyr event (began ~1365 BC), the Early Antique Little Ice Age from around 350 AD (which solar proxies curiously show no sign of), and the LIA GSM series from around 1215.

    The best analogue for the next super solar minimum series from around 2095 AD, is the the series from 1365 BC. I know how to discretely map the timing and duration of each centennial minimum in any epoch, as a definitive confirmation.

    The intervals of series of more active solar states also conform to the 863 (+/-20yrs) period, as have major solar flare events, e.g. in 993 and 1859 AD.

    Happy New Year All, and a special thanks to Judith for providing and maintaining this precious debating space.

  44. “The only scientist who maintains their integrity is the female graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence), who ends up bagging groceries.”

    Which means the power does not come from science. Science is a victim of institutions and the powerful.

    I don’t know if this was an intentional point? But it’s a good one. Whatever is power, and that includes science, will be captured. Where are the people that don’t try to assume power? Have you given all your money away for some goal higher than yourself? No, you retain it because of the power it gives you.

    If science were to be some ideal thing, it would be beyond the reach of power. That is not the case.

    • The movie would have been more believable if the prof said ” There is a rock in the Oort Cloud that in 273 years will take out Central Park. I need a bigger telescope.”

  45. Beta Blocker

    Mike Keller: “Biden is funding reactors for special interest groups, including the Department of Energy. The reactors will likely to be wards-of-the-state forever – kind of like renewable energy. Further, some of these reactor designs are of questionable safety while likely being operational nightmares.”

    Mr. Keller, can you give us your opinions as to which of the oncoming SMR designs are of questionable safety while likely being operational nightmares?

    Can you also offer your technical reasons as to why those particular designs that you think are problematic will have serious safety issues and/or will become operational nightmares if they are ever constructed and placed into service?

  46. Dan Pangburn

    Since both have been accurately measured worldwide, about 7 molecules of water vapor have been added to the atmosphere for each molecule of CO2 increase. WV has been increasing about twice as fast as possible from just feedback (temperature increase from all forcings and feedbacks). Each molecule of WV is about 37% more effective at absorbing radiant energy coming from the surface than a CO2 molecule. The human contribution to recent warming has been from water vapor increase; mostly (about 90%) from increased irrigation. https://watervaporandwarming.blogspot.com

    • The warm AMO phase since 1995 is accompanied by a decline in low cloud cover and an increase in surface wind speeds over the oceans, which increases lower-mid troposphere water vapour. And the warm AMO phase is a response to weaker solar wind states since 1995 (via the NAO/AO), so the whole thing is an amplified negative feedback.

    • davidappell02

      Of course atmospheric water vapor is only increase because noncondensing GHGs like CO2 and CH4 have warmed the atmosphere in the first place….

  47. And what about supervolcanoes? Does anyone have a plan for this? …

    The big risk here appears to be Yellowstone. Would harvesting some of that abundant geothermal energy help?

    • Dig a canal from the Pacific Ocean. 100 meters wide and 50 meters deep. Dump water into the problem at a high rate. A cubic kilometer of it every 2 hours.

  48. Richard Greene

    Looking at many reviews of this movie including comments here, it appears that conservatives generally did not like this movie. A review in the New York Post, for one example started with these words:
    “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay’s dark comedy released on Netflix just before Christmas, has gotten an enormous amount of attention, despite the fact most film critics tend to agree it doesn’t hold together too well artistically, even as some welcome it for its propagandistic value.”

    • I saw it last night. Entertaining, but a few way over the top propaganda moments (the government literally says “don’t look up” so that people can deny the comet in the sky even though the government is trying to stop the comet. Inexplicable other than for cheap yuks at “anti-science types”).
      Someone got them to even it out a bit politically.
      The “Republican” is dumb as a box of rocks of course- standard for Hollywood – though they try to fudge whether she’s a Democrat or a Republican (her supporters wear red hats but there’s a photo of her with Bill Clinton on her desk).
      The comet-concerned activist is a student who smokes dope and screams at everyone because they won’t panic. She has no earthly idea what anyone should do and doesn’t ever develop enough interest in suggesting anything other than panic.
      The “scientist” is quite enamored with his new fame and resolutely points out that there is, indeed, a comet. But otherwise has nothing to say about what to do about the comet (other than panic).
      Here the movie wimps out. There is “a plan” to deal with the comet that isn’t explained. But it’s a government plan so the viewer is supposed to just assume it is awesome. There is another plan that is explained, though the viewer is supposed assume it’s ridiculous. What little we do know of both plans is that they’re both far-fetched, but the one we don’t know much about we’re just supposed to accept. Without question even though it’s inexplicably lead by a nut.
      The government, naturally, picks both plans but wants to do the wrong plan because… Republicans. And we know it’s wrong because the “scientist,” who hasn’t looked at either plan at all, doesn’t like it for no explained reason other than he saw a comet, therefore he get’s to pick the plan without looking at it.
      The scientist and activist then dash about screaming and demanding panic because there is a comet (which nobody really denies) and the government might pick the plan that is (or might not be, we’re given no reason to know) the wrong plan.
      Watch the movie to find out what happens. I got a few chuckles out of it. The media, in particular, comes out the worse of all the stereotypes.

  49. Ricgard Greene

    How is a “good” review of a movie most people feel is bad, described as an “excellent” review? that makes no sense !
    I assune you saw the movie and also liked it?

  50. Richard Greene

    The comment was a reply to Mr. W. E — I don’t know how it got here.

    • Where are all the home solar defenders? Can’t change physics can we? We wish electricity was cheap to store on daily and seasonal scales. It’s not.

      • Bill Fabrizio

        Actually I like home solar. My roof, my choice. When the time is right I’ll do it.

      • Will your choice have an impact on others? I think it will. If the government gives me a subsidy, my choice now impacts those having to pay that subsidy.

      • Bill Fabrizio

        Very true. However, as you know, there are ‘subsidies’ throughout the tax code. If I had my way, there would be no deductions or tax breaks of any kind. But … good luck with that.

        Funny you bring it up, but the other day a friend of mine said there were no government incentives/investment for developing the polio vaccine. We were speaking in reference to the covid vaccine. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. It would be interesting if someone on here knew. I do remember the March of Dimes drives, but I believe that was a private foundation. Again, charitable foundations do have a ‘subsidy’.

      • In a country where government spending accounts for 40% of GDP it is hard to find any economic activity where government subsidies don’t play some role. That doesn’t mean that the government subsidizing solar is above reproach. For one thing, solar gets a big subsidy…the feds pay 30% of the cost up front.

        The question is does the subsidy provide a benefit, either social or economic. The question of a social benefit is subjective. The question of an economic benefit is far less subjective. Solar pretty clearly provides no economic benefit. It’s social benefit depends on your view on climate change and is weak IMO.

      • Bill Fabrizio

        The questions raised by both of you are very interesting. What are the social and economic ramifications of government subsidies/incentives? As I said to Rags, if i had my way there would be no write-offs. A Form 1040 would be the size of an index card. But that is fantasy, for the moment.

        This, of course, leads us to questions of the purview of the federal government. What exactly should it be involved in?

        But, why stop there? It’s also interesting to examine the social and economic ramifications of trade. If you drive a Japanese, or any foreign, car, or own/buy any imported goods, what are the ramifications to the domestic economy/society? Do you comfort yourself because your Toyota was made domestically? What about the profit that goes back to Japan?

        Should we all be strict Ricardians? England makes fabric and Portugal makes wine? I don’t think such decisions should be subject only to economic production efficiencies. There’s also a diminishing social return to limits on trade. Yet, we still live in the era of the nation-state, and for good reason. So, sometimes it is desirable to inefficiently (hopefully just in the short-term) produce goods/services that maintain one’s society, even if only at minimal levels. And not just for the goods/services themselves, but because not everyone in society is equally capable. Education/training can do wonders, but only in reference to the actual individuals. Not everyone can be a scientist, nor a code writer, nor an electrician. And that’s not a bad thing.

      • davidappell02

        Government should give a subsidy for home solar. Equal to the amount saved from the negative externalities from the fossil fuels you’re not using.

    • davidappell02

      Bill F: Bjorn Lomborg wrote:

      “in the U.S., gasoline prices soared to a seven-year high in October”

      Wow so what. Gasoline prices were much higher from most of 2006-2009 and 2011-2014, especially when adjusted for inflation.

      I’ve been recording the weekly average gasoline price as published by the EIA’s This Week in Petroleum since the early ’00s, and have data going back to 1991. This is easy to verify.

      Presidents have very little control over oil prices, and thus gasoline prices, which move in lockstep — they’re controlled by cartels.

    • Government is contributing to first of a kind deployment of advanced nuclear designs – and indeed battery or hydrogen technologies. It’s sound industrial policy. Over time – technology be commercially viable in the real world. As wind and solar are now ‘the cheapest source of energy’ – it’s time to leave the nest. .

  51. The EU has created and realized its very own existential risk, and it’s all due to Green Fantasy energy policy. They should have listened to “green” energy skeptics like our very own Planning Engineer whose work experience is with running electricity grids.

    Still, Europe’s leaders betrayed no alarm. On July 14, the European Commission unveiled the world’s most ambitious package to eliminate fossil fuels in a bid to avert the worst consequences of climate change. With their eyes trained on longer-term goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, the politicians did not sufficiently appreciate some of the potential pitfalls that lay immediately ahead on the road to decarbonization.

    Europe’s natural gas production has been in decline for years, which has left it more reliant on imports. Now, Russia stands poised to further cement its position as the bloc’s top supplier. Gazprom and its European partners have plowed $11 billion into Nord Stream 2, a 1,230-kilometer (764-mile) pipeline running beneath the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.


  52. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Over the US a cold front is falling to the southeast.

    • I had intended to get up this morning and ask you to move the system to the east a little more quickly.😃 The radar shows it has already done so. I want clear sailing today. Looks like ok with no snow in our path. Maybe because only 4F outside.

  53. Samuel D Self

    I liked the movie and put it up there with Idiocracy. The entire scenario was such a FUBAR that people only listened to government and government sponsored/approved authority figures. The utopian plans were to get all the smart people off world and save the human race. Turns out we all die and even the utopian plans landed far outside of their original scope (58% survival of landing on a new planet … then they get eaten). May as well launched some Brawndo at the comet … because it has electrolytes.

  54. Ireneusz Palmowski

    The north Pacific circulation blockage continues. Rainfall continues to arrive on the west coast and snow in the mountains.

  55. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Solar activity is increasing very slowly, as evidenced by the high level of galactic radiation at Oulu. This level is higher than during periods of solar minima, to a minimum between cycles 23 and 24.

  56. Ireneusz Palmowski

    Another question is how does the current very high level of galactic radiation affect the temperature rise in certain regions of the lower stratosphere and how does this affect the winter circulation? Does galactic radiation “warm” the lower stratosphere enough (consistent with the geomagnetic field to the north) to affect ozone distribution?

  57. Richard Greene

    Idiocracy ws awful.
    Some comparison !

  58. “This challenge can be addressed by producing technological breakthroughs that make these tradeoffs less painful and progress easier.”

    Good luck with that!

    Since it was precisely the “technological breakthroughs” that are the origin of “manmade climate change”.

    But I guess it really doesn’t matter. Just as long as while we’re alive we can get access to funding and a good life who really cares about “climate change”?!

  59. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #486 – Watts Up With That?

  60. To add to some of what was said, quite well by Judith, here are some links for reality purposes too.




    For a redirect, how does this change anytime soon?


    Think about it… >

  61. ‘When the network of satellites designed to control the global climate starts to attack Earth, it’s a race against the clock for its creator to uncover the real threat before a worldwide Geostorm wipes out everything and everyone.’

    Geostorm (2017) in a future pretty much as JJ has divined from the 1st law of thermodynamics – sh!t gets real.

  62. Perhaps the most scathing portrayal in “Don’t Look Up” was of the billionaire CEO of tech firm BASH, Isherwell, brilliantly acted by Mark Rylance. He was the ultimate villain of the piece, usurping complete power over America/Mankind’s response to the comet. His tech failed dooming the earth (having destroyed rival solutions).

    Isherwell personifies politically manipulative billionaires such as Soros, Musk, Dorsey, Besos, Buffet and Bloomburg.

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  64. Samantha Cooper

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  65. Jay Turberville

    I saw the movie and liked it. I thought it played more like a satire on our Covid response. Certainly it was a good satire on how our news and governments actually function.

    If it is a satire on climate change, it sure missed the mark by using the movement of an asteroid as the threat. Such things are very well understood and understood to be highly predictable. So it does not make a very good analogy to the chaotic (or nearly so) systems involved in long term predictions of climate change.

  66. Pingback: Risks exist | Climate, etc - News7g