Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The World of Tomorrow, Part 2

The Chicks - Gaslighter

September 7, 104 degrees outside.

As a follow-up to this (and this) via Noah Smith (who rightly points out that Star Trek Strange New Worlds is awesome):

Climate scientist Patrick T. Brown's "I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published":

[I]n my recent Nature paper, which I authored with seven others, I focused narrowly on the influence of climate change on extreme wildfire behavior. Make no mistake: that influence is very real. But there are also other factors that can be just as or more important, such as poor forest management and the increasing number of people who start wildfires either accidentally or purposely…[Including these] would detract from the clean narrative centered on the negative impact of climate change and thus decrease the odds that the paper would pass muster with Nature’s editors and reviewers.

This type of framing, with the influence of climate change unrealistically considered in isolation, is the norm for high-profile research papers. For example, in another recent influential Nature paper, scientists calculated that the two largest climate change impacts on society are deaths related to extreme heat and damage to agriculture. However, the authors never mention that climate change is not the dominant driver for either one of these impacts: heat-related deaths have been declining, and crop yields have been increasing for decades despite climate change. To acknowledge this would imply that the world has succeeded in some areas despite climate change—which, the thinking goes, would undermine the motivation for emissions reductions. 

Climate scientist Brian O’Neill, "Envisioning a Future with Climate Change":

Large segments of the population in high-income countries believe that climate change could lead to the extinction of humankind or that, at a minimum, the future will be worse than the present. This belief is partly based on projections from climate change research; for example, hundreds of thousands of deaths from heatwaves and other climate-related causes, billions of people at risk of disease, steeply rising damages from floods, millions pushed into poverty, 20% of species going extinct, tipping points about to be bridged and parts of the world already approaching the threshold of a survivable climate. Statements in the press have echoed, and in some cases magnified, the theme. But the very same studies that underlie this dire outlook anticipate a future where, in most scenarios, humanity is better educated, better fed, longer lived and healthier, also with less poverty and less conflict, continuing trends that have been underway for decades. These improvements apply not just to the global or country average but — where such outcomes have been examined — to more vulnerable populations as well.


Tony K said...

They also forget that as the climate warms, heat related deaths may go up (without mitigations like air conditioning), but cold related deaths, which are about 10x more go down. HEating up the earth saves lives from that standpoint.

There was a horrible example f lying with charts where someone (the economist?) made a graph of heat deaths on the right and cold deaths on the left. But the heat deaths scale was expanded to make it look much worse in comparison.


Matt Ball said...

There will be a blog post soon-ish regarding lying with graphs.