Two of the essays from the winners of the Rename Global Warming Contest are in! A big hand from all, please. More are to come—when the winners send them in!
Alan Cooper: “The Anthropaclysm”
The most important thing I have learned from Global Warming (so far) is that I have probably been right in giving significant credence to predictions based on general scientific principles. More specifically, I have learned to take seriously the predictions of basic physics when made in the context of the simplest model that fits the known facts without introducing additional variables whose values and effects are less well understood. But since I am not dead yet (and hope not to stop learning before I am), I could find no way of addressing the topic without including that extra word in the title.
When the simplest scientific models predict something, it really should be considered as quite likely to happen—even if deniers and naysayers are able to point out various more complicated models in which the predicted effect may be reduced or counteracted by various other secondary effects. In the case of CO2 induced global warming, it was of course conceivable (before measurements proved otherwise) that the predicted absorption of outgoing radiation might be limited by saturation of CO2 energy levels (after all, if equipartition could not be at least temporarily defeated then lasers would be impossible); and if bicarbonate can buffer the addition of acids or bases to a solution then perhaps something could similarly damp the effects of atmospheric CO2; or maybe the global surface temperature is automatically stabilized by an increase in reflective cloud cover whenever the temperature goes up a bit, etc. etc.
All of these scenarios could of course have prevented global warming, but each is dependent on very special circumstances that we had no reason to expect were actually the case—and for each anti-warming scenario it was equally easy to come up with some hypothetical mechanism for amplifying rather than damping. So now that the trend is becoming clear, perhaps more and more people will see that banking on complicated second order effects as an excuse to postpone mitigating action against something predicted by a simple and clear first order argument was foolish. In this case it might well turn out to have been the most foolhardy and irresponsible and ultimately harmful act in the history of humanity.
Let’s hope that others learn quickly enough so that as a species we can keep my extra word in the title—at least until the phenomenon really is history, because if it becomes “What We Learned” within the century or more that it will take to reliably stabilize our impact on the climate, then that will only be in our epitaph.
Tom Scharf, “Ecopocalatastrophe”
Thank for you this glorious honor.
I have learned that only through new euphemisms can we hope to raise public awareness that anything undesirable in peopleâ€™s lives has been caused by global warming, and is destined to get much worse. Additionally people must understand that lifeâ€™s joys will come only rarely, if at all, if we continue our present destructive course. My hope is that through an improved and well-informed communication strategy we will be able to reach the masses in an emotional manner.
This will encourage many more people to join the courageous alliance of those who wish to further mankindâ€™s future through a new and innovative social order that will foster the proper reverence for our one and only fragile ecosystem. We are at a fork in the road, we can choose a path that our grandchildren will recognize the sacrifices we make for their benefit, or we can continue down a path of darkness that jeopardizes their very existence. The choice is ours, and I appeal to the better nature in us all that we choose wisely.