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Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/20/scientists-have-been-underestimating-pace-climate-change

On a purely empirical level, it’s pretty obvious that climate scientists have been leaning to the conservative side of predictions. I’m not sure what effect that has on a willfully ignorant population, but it can’t be good.


What a wonderfully polite and convoluted way of saying we are so far behind the 8 ball we cannot see the other end of the pool table. I love this, I truly do because it sets the record straight but I hate this because it is in book form and the general public will not read it. It needs to be a max of 5 pages in big print and it should clearly state we are going to hell in a hand basket.


From the headline, I thought this article was going to address what can be done about the pace of climate change. Marginally increasing the direness of the projections isn’t going to change much when we already aren’t responding in proportion to the current level of projections.


Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

Climate Deniers: “See. We told you the scientists don’t know what they’re talking about. Even they admit it!”

Better Headline: Pace of Climate Change Faster Than Politically Conservative Estimates

The data, scientists and science are not to blame. Political egoism is the root problem.


Five pages in big print has me chuckling, and you are sooo right on with the description of a typical American.
So much so that I have taken to being comfortably numb myself of late. It seems better that fighting a fight that isn’t being fought.


"… we suggest that they should not view consensus as a goal of the assessment."

  • from the article

Heartily do I concur. James Hansen has always avoided the United Nations’ IPCC because of this.

With the fate of the species, and many others, at risk, reports that consider worst case scenarios should be de riguer. Our scientists, essentially all dependent upon government funding to enable both their science and their lifestyles, are caught in a vicious dilemma. It should be pointed out that James Hansen was eventually forced out of his post as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Mark Bowen even wrote a book on the subject about Dr. Hansen, Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming.

Mark Bowen has a Ph.D. in physics, and is also an accomplished mountaineer, so the book has additional swat both in terms of scientific reporting and risk assessment, something all older mountaineers have obviously become adept at.

Perhaps the UN and the IPCC can find a way to include the thoughts of arguably the world’s top climate scientist in this upcoming round of meetings, beginning in New York, where Greta Thundberg will hopefully be in attendance. If not, perhaps Greta could use her platform to bring the thoughts of James Hansen onto the platform with her. Perhaps James Hansen could meet Greta on arrival, fates willing ?


Thanks, I am numb but uncomfortable. It is a deep wound, one that won’t heal. I had the same problem with the Bell Curve and wrote the author and said why not 5 pages explaining why not to reproduce and he answered back that that was what he said in paragraph so and so on such and such a page. The truth always hidden within the text, sure they say it among all the crap that means nothing to someone educated to the 3rd grade level and left to fend for themselves. Sorry for the rant but…

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understandable, though. the larger the public fight, the harder the idea was to sell. and it’s still hard for too many people who believe the API is somehow more neutral than a bunch of 5 figure-earning wonks.

odds of us stopping this are already impossibly long at this point anyway. the rich are going to try to hang on solo for the ride and leave the rest of us to bake. we do something about that or we don’t.

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We tend to forget that science is a human endeavor, and as such is subject to the frailties of our species.

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Startling that temperature measure instruments and methods widely used until 1990’s were from 1880.
Store shelf purchased temp measures calibrated in ice water and steam had very low variance in readings even in the 1960’s.
Spend some more dollars and acquire ten times better accuracy.

A weather web site provides air temps to one decimal point - which I laugh - I went over to the local set up and the owner has probe in sunlight.

The fact that funding of research into Climate Change has been severely cut this past 2-1/2 years, due to the Republican Party’s refusal to accept the scientific evidence already collected in order to protect corporate interests, gives some researchers whose projects are running out of funds and they are also of the “R” camp, the incentive to take corporate money and speak the corporate lies in order to keep their research going.

Did that make any sense to you?

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Folks - its only going to intensify. Do you know what the modest amount of 7% increases mean over time??

The greatest shortcoming of mankind is the inability to understand "[ and implement responses to EXPONENTIAL FUNCTION


Comfortably Numb…


The continual and constant “the new study reveals that the previous study underestimated the the problem” is a serious problem when it comes to formulating strategies to deal with the issue. I understand why the scientific community is loathe to abandon the middle of the bell curve and stick their necks out, but it makes it very difficult to plan for the worst when the predication for the worst is constantly being updated. As mentioned, the ugly side of this diluting is the lack of funding and/or fudging the findings to appease corporate sponsors of the studies. Good article, though. Definitely reinforces it’s later than we think.


Sorry, more than 5, mostly small print unless you view it magnified, but this report is an excellent summary on the topic:
What Lies Beneath: The scientific understatement of climate risks


It’s getting dire when our measurements are vastly insufficient to understand what’s happenning today in real time, and we’re cutting back on the paltry instrumentation we do have deployed. Humanity wants to whistle on its way to the graveyard. Our system drags along virtually all the scientists, also whistling.

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one of the most underrated guitarists of all time. alvin was a master.

Glad to see that several of the commenters are aware of the overly conservative scientific estimates of the pace and possible damage of climate change. Loved Oreskes & Oppenheimer’s Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. Next time these academic co-authors have gotta spice it up a little. The idea has a lot more potential and a new expanded version could be a powerful stimulus to action! As always, I am very grateful to commondreams.org for publishing this valuable information that other media do not.
For the commenters who have been driven to settling for getting comfortably numb in the face of these numerous crises, which are approaching ever closer at such a rapid pace; and the response of the Trump administration being absolutely the opposite of what any prudent action would be (as in “the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent approval of expanded use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor across 200 million acres in 12 states”, reported in today’s commondreams.org): I understand the sense of overwhelm, and helplessness. I’ve contributed to all the environmental and animal protection groups I can, write my congresspeople (could do more of it), march when possible (I live in rural Arizona without a vehicle) and work on my own project for overcoming the crises (which has to do with changing the dominant worldview). Don’t give up! The honeybees, and all the other innocent animals and plants - and people - need us. Step back and take a break as needed, and get back into the fight as soon as you can. We are going to win this fight, if those who care do all we can. :heart::heart::heart: Love to and solidarity with all sisters and brothers in the struggle.

sorry…I read Arctic-News Blogspot and others for my info. There is no “safe-climate future” if you know the facts and the truth…we will most likely have a Blue Ocean Event this winter, our ass is cooked.

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