RealClimate: Unforced Variations: Oct 2021


HomeHome / News / RealClimate: Unforced Variations: Oct 2021

Apr 29, 2023

RealClimate: Unforced Variations: Oct 2021

Reality Check says 15 Oct 2021 at 7:03 PM @JohnPollack, having read the

Reality Check says

15 Oct 2021 at 7:03 PM

@JohnPollack, having read the article myself I had to seriously consider in which thread it belonged.

My view was the issues raised are Coupled (?) and difficult to separate into neat and tidy Boxes.

In this case what rose to the top of importance to me was the scientific content being presented and the judgments being made about that, so I posted the Ref here in UV.

I was curious what others might see in it. Unfortunately the Physical Science content in the article I saw has been hijacked by distractions, side tracks, personal issues or misunderstood instead of seeing/discussing the science aspects. Maybe Killian was the only one to read the article, given he alone has quoted from it?

What science aspects, one may ask? I noticed the following points:

1) The author was one of the "lead authors involved in consolidating the physical science basis for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report"2) Points to her credibility, expertise, likely intimate insights of the science in the AR6 and it's implications, and direct personal knowledge of what her peers conclude of the AR6 today as well (that may bleed through her prose for the public).3) I’ve gained terrifying insight into the true state of the climate crisis and what lies ahead.

Yes, parts of her article do at times cross over into the solutions/inaction side of the issue, as well as how she feels about the implications of the AR6 WGI report and the direct connection to recent events in her country.

But predominantly I saw a narrative form of the science in the AR6, what it is saying to us all. Plus Gergis also offers an interpretation what that means while making comparisons analogies to recent lived experience and recent specific local data points. This adds meaning and understanding – of how the public should be interpreting that dry AR6 science report, it's Data and Visualizations. (imo at least)

I’m aware scientists tend to ‘argue’ these kinds of conclusions among each other. They may reject her evaluations here, still she's entitled to a pov given her position. More importantly I posit that Data presented as Narrative is as valid as Data presented as Data. Yes?

It's also possibly/probably (as per modern Cognitive Science) her narrative is more easily understood by Joe Public. So not only valid, possibly more effective as a communication conveying the facts and the meaning of scientific findings. Yes?

Nevertheless, I may be wrong here, but in my defense, I offer up the following extracts of her scientific observations – aka Unforced Variations:

4) As a climate scientist … witnessing an irreversible loss.5) during our nation's hottest and driest year on record saw the last of our native forests go up in smoke6) Recovering … lies beyond the scale of human lifetimes…. inter-generational damage.7) recording-breaking ocean temperatures triggered the third mass bleaching event of the GBR – The largest living organism on the planet is dying.8) a certain level of destruction is now inevitable9) may have already pushed the planetary system past the point of no return10) unleashed a cascade of irreversible changes that have built such momentum that we can only watch as it unfolds11) the clearest signal yet that our planet's climate is rapidly destabilising12) the Earth as we now know it will soon no longer exist13) becoming harder to maintain a sense of professional detachment from the work that I do (a critical insight into the difficulties of being a climate scientist today the public needs to be aware of – this is a very serious business – not taken lightly)14) humanity is facing an existential threat of planetary proportions ( – that is about the scale of the threat – including putting Data into human terms and human scale – and that now it is all about being an existential threat Yes?)15) The truth is, everything in life has its breaking point. …the planet's equilibrium has been lost; … watching on as the dominoes begin to cascade. – (narrative / analogy explaining the Data?)16) With just 1.1C of warming…. unimaginable levels of destruction of its marine and land ecosystems in the space of a single summer. More than 20% of our country's forests burnt in a single bushfire season; Australia could warm up to 7C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 …… and more ( again the Scale and Speed of impacts vs T change, explaining the Data compared to 2020 human experienced reality ?)17) Researchers …concluded "under a scenario where emissions continue to grow, such a year would be average by 2040 and exceptionally cool by 2060."18) Soon we will be facing 50C summer temperatures in our southern capital cities … increasingly forced to shelter in our homes …. coronavirus lockdown of 2020 will feel like a luxury holiday. ( again analogy – explaining the Data compared to 2020 human experienced reality ?)19) Climate disruption is now a part of the lived experience … of planetary collapse unfolding.20) we are the generation that is likely to witness the destruction of our Earth ( obviously a conclusion based on, informed by the science in the AR6 and other Data and observations – yes?)

Of course Gergis is only one of many thousands of climate scientists and yet what she says must have some currency being a Lead Author of the AR6, e.g.:" all I can do is try to help people make sense of what the scientific community is observing in real time." and" we are losing the battle to protect one of the most extraordinary parts of our planet." and "everything the scientific community is trying to do to help avert disaster is falling on deaf ears" and"processing information purely on an intellectual level simply isn't enough." and"I am feeling overwhelmed" and"I’m anxious about the enormity of the scale of what needs to be done…"

When high end highly qualified experienced climate scientists are personally struggling with the implications of their own work, struggling with the implications of the AR6, the output of the science, the data and the impacts of that in the physical world and communities, then I think that is something really important to know about.

Imagine if they all had to quit because it became too much to handle? I think this potentially critical aspect raised in the article is very much a Science issue and not a Solutions issue. It is being raised publicly by a working climate scientist after all, and not some cranky alsoran on twitter.

Of course, that's only my non-expert pov, YMMV cheers all the best to all.