This is the moment of Peak Exaggeration
Raymond Pierrehumbert, the man himself and author of the “gold standard” textbook in climate science, thinks so big he’s run out of universe. It’s not just the black tailed antechinus we are threatening with our climate meddling – it’s all Sentient life in the Galaxy. Perhaps we’ll become extinct, because we didn’t build enough industrial wind towers or coat the Earth in the blessed Arc of solar panels.
Thanks to Andy Revkin for publishing The Climate Challenge and Human Destiny with a straight face.
…There’s no limit to what we can accomplish as a species.
But we have to make it through the next two hundred years first, and this will be a crucial time for humanity. This is where Destiny Studies and our paper on the Anthropocene come together. The question of why we should care about the way we set the climate of the Anthropocene is far better answered in terms of our vision for the destiny of our species than it is in terms of the broken calculus of economics and discounting.
For all we know, we may be the only sentience in the Galaxy, maybe even in the Universe. We may be the only ones able to bear witness to the beauty of our Universe, and it may be our destiny to explore the miracle of sentience down through billions of years of the future, whatever we may have turned into by that time. Even if we are not alone, it is virtually certain that every sentient species will bring its own unique and irreplaceable perspectives to creativity and the understanding of the Universe around us.
Thinking big about our destiny, think of this: the ultimate habitability catastrophe for Earth is when the Sun leaves the main sequence and turns into a Red Giant. That happens in about 4 billion years. However, long before that — in only about 500 million years — the Sun gets bright enough to trigger a runaway greenhouse effect and turn us into Venus, sterilizing all life on Earth. We waste half the main sequence lifetime of the Sun.
However, if we last long enough, technology will make it easy to block enough sunlight to save the Earth from a runaway, buying us another 4 billion years of habitability.
Thus speaks one of the most respected brains behind the Great Global Warming Scare. This is the man who wrote The Textbook every larval climate scientist is currently fed. He’s the one who captured in writing (without naming it) the invisible mental model that is the application of “basic physics” to estimating sensitivity to increasing Co2. He gave us a glimpse of the holy grail source code that drives the implacable belief that atmospheric CO2 Must Cause Global Warming with a climate sensitivity of 1.5C – 4.5C.
At this point, I have to mention (go on, forgive me) that David Evans recently found a couple of ahh, minor problems with the basic mental model (mental being the most appropriate word, h/t Steve Milloy). Fixing these mistakes reduces climate sensitivity by a factor of ten; the whole CO2 was due to a simple modeling error; who forgot a class of feedback loops? David’s work is laid out here. For a shorter summary see the updated Synopsis. The mistakes, specifically: The Rerouting Feedback, and Omitting Feedbacks that are not Temperature-Dependent.