In the wake of my initial posts on climate change Brad Johnson asked me to grapple with a number of different articles on the subject.
I think this is a conversation worth having but my core issue with the discussion’s current state is summed up in one of the pieces Brad points me to. Its entitled: Why two degrees really matters.
The problem is that it doesn’t actually tell us why 2 degrees matters. It tells us stuff like this
The warming-limit approach is analogous to how businesses conduct planning under uncertainty: Set a long-term goal, then work backward to determine how to achieve it, modifying plans dynamically as developments dictate. It’s operationally much more useful than a target for a single year. In fact, it can be used to derive such targets over many years, once the budget is allocated to developed and developing countries. It also has advantages over conventional, forward-looking policy analyses, which are hamstrung by the inherent limitations of economic forecasting models in accurately predicting the future.
Which is to say a lot of the discussion revolves around at what rate the planet is warming, what various emission targets would or could produce in terms of warming limits, etc. However, what I would love to get to center the conversation around is what we think is actually going to happen when the as the planet warms.
This is especially true, because I hear talk of apocalyptic scenarios bandied about. I am certainly not shy about apocalyptic thinking and analysis but to do it, we actually have describe the event chain that leads to the apocalypse.
If we can do that, we have something to work with.
Now, I am sure that someone, somewhere has done this. It would be helpful to get a pointer in that direction. As I said, I worked with the old Nordhaus models. I know those damage functions. I also know they are not really dynamic.
Nor, where they meant to be. These types of models were trying to bound prices on carbon. However, if we want to think about disaster, we have to talk about disaster.