Climate Catastrophe/ A Superstorm for Global Warming Research

(…) If the two-degree limit were exceeded, German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen announced ahead of the failed Copenhagen summit, “life on our planet, as we know it today, would no longer be possible.”

But this is scientific nonsense. “Two degrees is not a magical limit — it’s clearly a political goal,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “The world will not come to an end right away in the event of stronger warming, nor are we definitely saved if warming is not as significant. The reality, of course, is much more complicated.”

Roger Pielke Jr. linked to this surprisingly well-researched article at Der Spiegel. This is the first popular press coverage of climate change science and politics we’ve seen that is reasonably accurate. The background on the data wars spinning around the Phil Jones vortex are worth the price of admission.

Regardless of the “climategate” media storm, anthropogenic climate change remains the most probable explanation of the noisy historical data that we have. Keep in mind that the uncertainties include the possibility that the worst case of the IPCC scenarios may prove to be optimistic. Thus I believe that investing in low-carbon insurance remains the prudent policy. That means we need to focus upon eliminating coal-based power by around 2050. Hence our focus on electricity generation that is “cheaper than coal“, and our policy plank of a fee-and-dividend carbon tax [there is more in-depth discussion in Why revenue-neutral carbon taxes are superior to “cap and trade” schemes and in The Science and Politics of Climate Change ].