Friday, August 28, 2015

The Middle

I'm not one of those centrists so despised by Paul Krugman who thinks that the truth always lies in the middle, even though the Central Limit Theorem suggests that it usually does. I did find it interesting that the short excerpt from Michael L. Bender's Paleoclimate drew attacks from a horde of denialists (mostly not on this site) and at least one "climate alarmist" as the deniers like to style us. One whom I greatly respect, by the way. If an article is despised by both sides it might just mean that the author is an ignorant asshole.

That's not the case with Bender. He is a giant of Paleoclimatology, with a forest of papers and many thousands of citations for directly related work. He has a perspective based on a deep study of past climate change.

It appears to me that those paragraphs drew scorn from the denier crowd because he asserts that human emission of CO2 can have large consequences for our climate. Eli was outraged, I guess, because Bender wasn't alarmed enough at the prospect - didn't believe it would mean the end of the human race and all its works.

I posted Bender because I thought it was just about right. He stated, in a very mild mannered way, that over the next few hundred years there would be hell to pay: drowned cities and coastlines, agricultural basins aridified, and even regions rendered all but uninhabitable. In the context of the geological time, though, it wouldn't be a huge deal, even for humans.

Species are ephemeral, and most last less than a few million years. We are barely into the second quarter of our first million, but we've had a grand run. I strongly suspect that we are near the end of it, but I doubt that climate change, catastrophic as it is likely to be, will be the culprit. Drastic as the effects of warming are likely to be, they are probably small potatoes compared to an ice age, and we, and our ancestors, have made it through several.