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Climate change risk assessment 2021 [pdf] (chathamhouse.org)
39 points by hh3k0 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments

I think one of the reasons governments are reluctant to act is because most of the models used to calculate the social cost of carbons are based on Integrated Assessment Models [0] which are very limited. The effects of climate change are not fully understood and we need our brightest minds to be working on that instead of how to sell us more ads. Just my 2c.


I think you're overcomplicating things.

The reason governments are reluctant to act is because most tax payers don't support higher taxes or prices to respond to the problem. There were protests that lasted months in France over higher gas prices [0]. In the US, only 57 percent of Americans are willing to pay a $1 monthly fee, 23 percent are willing to pay a monthly fee of $40. [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_vests_movement

[1] https://mleverything.substack.com/p/americans-arent-willing-...

And I don't think the Degrowther movement is helping anything. Hair shirt decarbonization is a non-starter.

Stop trying to make it about scarcity. Make it about abundance. People understand that fossil fuels are limited. So make it about solar, wind, nuclear energy abundance and energy independence.

Gas taxes are unpopular. EPA fuel efficiency mandates are popular. Why? One costs you money and the other saves you money, from the consumer's perspective. They BOTH have the effect of reducing emissions and increasing efficiency.

> The effects of climate change are not fully understood and we need our brightest minds to be working on that instead..

The implication here, and maybe I’m reading it wrong, is that _before_ action is taken on what we do know to the best of our knowledge, we should learn more?

I don’t know the exact fracture pattern on a skull from a high speed spinning projectile but am still going to take action to avoid getting shot in the head..

Climate change can't be avoided in the same way as a gunshot. Even if we started doing everything right tomorrow, we'd still face significant climate change, so we need people to research what the likely effects are and how we might mitigate them.

I read the last sentence as "Just my 2°C". I blame it on the over use of 2°C in all these reports.

I mean if we all just stopped using advertising based products then they couldn’t afford to pay our best and brightest.

That does not follow..

If no one uses Facebook, they can’t afford to pay the brightest engineers. Same for Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Obviously not going to happen. I just don’t think it’s fair to put the onus on the workers instead of the consumers who enable the business model.

Facebook/google/etc. don't have to be add funded.

Microsoft employs great people too, they charge money for their products instead of duping people into sharing data, a much fairer business practice in my mind.

Put it another way: the fastest money you can make is by drug dealing, if there are no drug addicts we can't pay our brightest!


"Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute headquartered in London. Its mission is to provide authoritative commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges. It is the originator of the Chatham House Rule. Its presidents are Alistair Darling and John Major."

Reading the wikipedia page, I'm highly skeptical of the validity of anything that comes out of that org.

Can anyone more informed than I attest to the credibility of the institute behind this paper?

Chatham House is a perfectly respectable part (perhaps the most prestigious—they’ve a nice place next to the London Library) of the (British) blob. Whether that lends itself to credibility is of course another matter and I won’t pretend to be able to answer it in one comment. But they don’t generally lack competent analysts or anything like that.

From Malthus through the Club of Rome and now this Chatham House there is an ongoing stream of dire predictions of apocalyptic events, none of which have come to pass. The same will be true for this report and - and this is the unfortunate part - nothing will be learned from yet another failed prediction of doomsday which evens the path for the next iteration of this cycle. In 20 years the world will mostly look like it does now, give or take the results of a few international conflicts and natural disasters. Some parts will have progressed in some way, other parts will have regressed in some way, the rest will be comparable to the way it looks now. The temperature will be different, possibly somewhat warmer unless an as of yet unknown factor ends up playing a role in the fluctuations of the climate - e.g. an increase in albedo due to an increase in cloud cover, changing ocean currents, etc.

Meanwhile the public has to absorb yet another failed prediction of doomsday, leading to an even lower trust in these types of predictions.

What was gained, other than giving Chatham House a place at the table? What is to happen if there is some real emergency - an incoming asteroid is detected, there ae real signs of a supervolcano on the verge of eruption - and people ignore it as yet another piece of panic porn?

IMO the new thing in this report is the emphasis on the likelihood of multi-region simultaneous crop failure - the "expert panel elicitation".

That should feed into agricultural policy, and possibly into funding for research on heat-, drought-, and flood-tolerant varieties of key grain crops. More funding might also be put into staying on top of crop disease outbreaks, no matter where they appear in the world.

With luck it feeds into funding for artificial meat and dairy, and puts an end to our brutal use of intelligent animals. (Disclosure: I work in the meat industry. Cattle/hogs/chickens are not the only animals brutally used.)

I doubt an average member of the public has heard of Chatham House, but they are well known and respected in policy-making circles.

I read through through the paper. they do a much better job of substantiating their arguments than you do.

The same was said about...

- Thomas Malthus' 1798-1826 warnings about population growth leading to mass poverty and societal collapse...

- Rachel Carson's 1962 warning about a silent spring as a consequence of the use of pesticides (especially DDT) leading to the extinction of wildlife and cancer in humans...

- Paul Ehrlich's 1968 warning about mass starvation, he obviously read Malthus and thought he could do better. He didn't, his report has been widely debunked since the world has shown to be fully capable of producing enough food for the population - the problems lie in corruption and distribution, not production...

- The Club of Rome (Meadows, Meadows & Randers) followed Malthus and Ehrlich in 1972 with a twist, ecological instability would lead to an uncontrollable decline in population and industrial capacity...

- Norman Myers' 1979 prediction about mass extinction...

- Jimmy Carter's (et al) 1977-1981 predictions of oil running out...

- Al Gore's 2007 'hockeystick' Nobel Prize with the associated prediction of an ice-free North Pole by 2014...

- Greenpeace's 2008 prediction of the oceans being picked clean, GMO foods causing a wave of new food allergies...

- The WWF 2012 report predicting the need for at least another planet based on subjective assumptions and unsubstantiated data...

Keep in mind that what I'm referring to here is only a small part of the doomsday predictions, there are far more on just about any subject - from climate catastrophe (from ice age to heat death) through nuclear winter past tectonic instability via death by UV due to a lack of ozone to... etcetera. Also keep in mind that it is the doomsday aspect of these predictions which is the problem, not the research (if any) itself. Research is fine, go ahead and publish it, if there are warning signs of some impending catastrophe make sure to verify your model and data by sharing it with the world for verification. What should not be done is the scientific equivalent of tabloid publishing by embellishing the conclusions to attract eyeballs - like the former publications did. Nearly all mentioned doomsday predictions contain a core of truth somewhere but that truth is hidden in the noise when compared to the exaggerated conclusions. When those conclusions turn out to be overblown the core truth also ends up losing credibility. Malthus, Ehrlich, Meadows, Randers et al were not totally wrong in warning about unbridled population growth, Carson was not lying when warning about the dangers of pesticides, Carter et al were right when they pointed out that oil is a finite resource, Greenpeace is not totally off-base in warning about the problems related to overfishing, etc. The problem lies in the exaggerated doomsday predictions they use to attract attention since these (fortunately) never come to fruition. There is a reason tabloids are seen as less trustworthy than traditional broadsheet newspapers - 'EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT, MYSTERIOUS LIGHTS AT DAWN SPOTTED, ALIEN INVASION NIGH?' is the tabloid equivalent of this type of prediction.

yeah sure. but this isn't a breathless soundbite. surely there must be room for _actually_ trying to come up with a reasonable picture given what's known and all the ambiguities.

this report seems quite consistent with the general consensus about both the magnitude of temperature change and the impact on systems of importance (i.e. agriculture).

it would probably be more relevant to explain why you think this in particular is such a misleading exaggeration - you seem to take that as axiomatic.

there have certainly been cases in the past where people (even environmentalists) have said 'hey, hey, wait this is a problem' and it was in fact a problem. why is this not one of those cases?

> yeah sure. but this isn't a breathless soundbite

Neither were most of the mentioned publications - Gore's hockey stick excluded. The problem lies in the extreme predictions which the authors themselves know not to be realistic but which they also know will be used as if they are, in this report that would be the cascade of extremes leading to, well, the same results as Malthus/Ehrlich/Meadows/Randers et al came to.

you're still doing it. you're just stating as an apriori fact that the authors aren't communicating in good faith.

> What was gained, other than giving Chatham House a place at the table?

Chatham House? A place on the table? We're talking about a world-renowned think tank here.

> What is to happen if there is some real emergency - an incoming asteroid is detected, there ae real signs of a supervolcano on the verge of eruption - and people ignore it as yet another piece of panic porn?

Unlike some phantasy asteroid in your imagination, climate change _is_ a real emergency. That is the consensus among scientists -- but seems to me that you think you know better? On what basis, I wonder? And please cease with your transparent worries about people being blind to future disasters when everyone can see clearly that all you're interested in is justifying being blind to this one.

> Henny Penny, more commonly known in the United States as Chicken Little and sometimes as Chicken Licken, is a European folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes that the world is coming to an end. The phrase "The sky is falling!" features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Similar stories go back more than 25 centuries; it continues to be referred to in a variety of media.


25 centuries.

Fucking hell, widespread famines in 20 years and a 7° C temperature increase. We're fucked very, very soon.

More precisely it says:

"Any relapse or stasis in emissions reduction policies could lead to a plausible worst case of 7°C of warming by the end of the century (10 per cent chance)."

The economic ramifications of increased emissions reduction will fuck us as well.

> The economic ramifications of increased emissions reduction will fuck us as well.

So are you proposing that the best course of action is to literally do nothing because of the economic ramifications? This is the obviously important question and the fact that you chose not to address it is at best: lazy, but at worst and most likely: negligent.

There will be economic ramifications no matter what we do. Society needs to make hard decisions about what positive actions to take, including inaction, and there are no easy answers.

Please try harder in the future to avoid being flippant and/or partisan and also aim to meaningfully engage with the discussion about the problem at hand constructively.

Not one mention of phytoplankton, responsible for between 50 and 80% of oxygen in the atmosphere.

We're doomed.

Actually, I think it's more of a problem that we're not doomed. Us rich people living in rich temperate countries with good barriers between us and the poor countries will be "fine" (https://giphy.com/explore/everything-is-fine)

We'll hide in our air-conditioned houses, eat greenhouse grown food since the natural environment is fucked, playing with our robot factory produced toys. Life will suck, but we'll be "fine". We'll be spending tens of trillions on flood barriers and other mitigation measures, but we'll be "fine". Most of us anyways, super storms will definitely get some of us. Others will die on the borders defending the rest of us from climate refugees. But most of us will be "fine".

Anybody or anything else that isn't a homo sapiens living in a rich temperate nation will be doomed.

Suppose all of those mitigations in your second paragraph are true. If phytoplankton die off in meaningful amounts, where will we get our oxygen?

We have thousands of years of oxygen banked in the atmosphere so it's not an issue on the same time scale as co2

Thanks! Since this was not obvious to me (and maybe isn't to others) here's a summary that cleared things up for me: https://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/citizenscientist/oxygen-in-t...

Fascists are close to take power in some Europeans countries just because they had to accept a few dozens thousands of migrants from Syria/Afghanistan. And you expect rich countries to stand when dozens if not hundreds of millions of people will have to leave their countries?

There would be mass murder for the rich to keep doing business as usual.

Sure, we'll be "fine" under our fascist dictators who will be fine mass murdering refugees on the border.

You are familiar with the "everything is fine" GIF I linked, right?

Immediate action! Some person actually told me that Florida would be underwater in less than ten years now (I guess it kind of already is with all the hurricanes). Eagerly awaiting the excuses when that time passes us all by.

Does this document apply to US (which is a mere tiny fraction of a percent of overall pollution)? Not sure how acting now would have any impact.

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