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Mon Apr 23, 2012, 04:28 PM

'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change

Source: MSNBC

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.

He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”

However, the professor admitted in a telephone interview with msnbc.com that he now thinks he had been “extrapolating too far."

<snip>

Read more: http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/23/11144098-gaia-scientist-james-lovelock-i-was-alarmist-about-climate-change?lite



I've said a number of times that Joe Romm has the most reality-based analysis,
here's some posts he's made about Lovelock in the past:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2007/10/26/202024/james-lovelock-gaia-global-warming/

James Lovelock turns everyone into a climate optimist

By Joe Romm on Oct 26, 2007 at 8:40 am

No, the profile of famed scientist James Lovelock in Rolling Stone will not give you renewed hope about humanity’s fate in the face of global warming. It will make you — or Al Gore or James Hansen or even me — look optimistic by comparison:

<snip>

Anyway, I don’t agree with Lovelock’s projected impacts this century (it won’t be THAT severe that fast and humans are more resilient than he believes) nor do I agree it is too late to avoid the worst, but it is definitely much later than people think. I don’t think the engines are about to fail, but the ship’s out-dated coal-fired boilers may be about to blow if they don’t get replaced by the next President with something much, much cleaner….


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2008/03/22/202464/lovelock-malthus-was-right-and-climate-progress-is-way-way-too-optimistic/

Lovelock: Malthus was right, and Climate Progress is way, way too optimistic

By Joe Romm on Mar 22, 2008


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/06/29/204305/lovelock-still-makes-me-look-like-paula-abdul-warns-climate-war-could-kill-nearly-all-of-us-leaving-survivors-in-the-stone-age/

Lovelock still makes me look like Paula Abdul, warns climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors in the Stone Age

By Joe Romm on Jun 29, 2009


20 replies, 5017 views

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Reply 'Gaia' scientist James Lovelock: I was 'alarmist' about climate change (Original post)
bananas Apr 2012 OP
relayerbob Apr 2012 #1
panopeagenerosa Apr 2012 #2
FarCenter Apr 2012 #19
ronnie624 Apr 2012 #20
joshcryer Apr 2012 #3
DCBob Apr 2012 #4
joshcryer Apr 2012 #5
DCBob Apr 2012 #6
sulphurdunn Apr 2012 #7
PSPS Apr 2012 #8
HotRodTuna Apr 2012 #12
saras Apr 2012 #9
bananas Apr 2012 #10
redqueen Apr 2012 #11
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #13
On the Road Apr 2012 #14
NickB79 Apr 2012 #15
GliderGuider Apr 2012 #16
Mosaic Apr 2012 #17
AverageJoe90 Apr 2012 #18

Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 04:44 PM

1. He may be changing his opinion...

but data from the arctic and antarctic, both temperature and methane release data, as well as melting Greenland ice cover would imply that it is actually going faster than expected.

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Response to relayerbob (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 05:14 PM

2. Chances are

 

someone will put a megaton range ground penetrating physics package into Yellowstone from 30 thousand feet agl before it gets too warm. So...yeah...the thing about a few survivors in the arctic is not very likely. More like a few survivors dodging cannibals while trying to move south. Like in The Road.

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Response to relayerbob (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 11:26 PM

19. Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis

Ice extent is about average for this time of year. Ice age is younger and hence the ice is thinner and more susceptible to summer melt.

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #19)

Thu Apr 26, 2012, 03:28 AM

20. From your link:

It is not clear why the maximum ice extent would happen later, given that in general, ice extent is decreasing. One possibility is that the lower winter ice extents might make it easier for ice to continue growing later in the season. With lower winter extents, a late cold snap or northerly wind could spread ice southward over ocean that would normally be ice-covered at that point. Researchers do not expect the late maximum ice extent to strongly influence summer melt. The ice that grew late this winter is quite thin, and will melt rapidly as the sun rises higher in the sky and the air and water get warmer.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 05:32 PM

3. I am a climate change alarmist, and I have no problem admitting it.

“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.


Lovelock is getting senile in his old age. We do know what the climate is doing, we do know that feedbacks are already happening, we do know that catastrophic climate change is right around the corner.

We know 500 billion tons of land ice is melting worldwide every year. That's almost 120 cubic miles of ice. MELTING EVERY YEAR: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=volume+500+billion+ton+ice+to+cubic+miles

“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.


Goddamn, the denialists are going to embrace Lovelock like a plague now. This is factually incorrect, though.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 06:32 PM

4. This is unfortunate.

He may be right that it isnt happening as fast as some expected but that does not mean we should not be alarmist. We need to start making changes now if we are going to be able to reverse the catastrophic effects that are already beginning. I dont think we can be alarmist enough. Im afraid it is going to take some devastating effects to happen before world leaders get serious about this crisis at hand.

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Response to DCBob (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 06:49 PM

5. He's wrong though. Climate change is not defined simply by temperature.

It's defined by a whole series of various effects.

For example, while the last decade has been slow to have high temperature rises, 2010 was the hottest year on record. Record highs out pace record lows (this is beyond an anomaly). Droughts are at an all time high. Land ice is melting at an extremely high rate (120 cubic miles a year). There will be effectively no more sea ice in the northern hemisphere in just a few short years (this decade).

Temperature is not the only metric and Lovelock is falling for a denialist tactic. Give it just a few more years for the sea ice to melt and then you'll see temperatures skyrocketing.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 06:55 PM

6. yes, I think you are right.

The problem is many have been predicting and expecting more dramatic effects like sea levels to rise significantly. That has not happened yet but that could change quickly if a big chuck of Greenland or Antartica land ice starts to slide into the sea.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 07:34 PM

7. Lovelock was wrong in 2004

when he said that nuclear power was the only way to stop global warming. He's most likely wrong about this, but he's been right about much more. God knows I hope he's right about the pace of climate change, but the real question should be: had we listened to him in the 70s would we be having this discussion today?

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Response to PSPS (Reply #8)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 12:10 PM

12. You should see the then and now pictures of Yosemite before the the Cordilleran Ice Sheet melted.

 

Don't get angry. As a geologist I just can't help myself.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Mon Apr 23, 2012, 09:38 PM

9. As Kuhn argued in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Lovelock won't change his science

 

The fact that new science has left him behind is entirely typical, and unfortunately normal.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 08:50 AM

10. Joe Romm has responded to the article

Now that he has dialed back his doomism — alarmism is a wholly inadequate word for Lovelock’s (former) brand of unjustified hopelessness — the media and the deniers are just so excited. That’s especially true since Lovelock has now overshot in the other direction of climate science confusion and just keeps peddling nonsense.

He was wrong about his doomism before, he is wrong about Gore now, and he is apparently uninformed about basic climate observations (see “Breaking News: The Earth Is Still Warming. A Lot“).

Memo to Lovelock: Gore never asserted billions would die or anything close to what you’ve been saying.


Much more at:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/23/469749/james-lovelock-finally-walks-back-his-absurd-doomism-but-he-still-doesnt-follow-climate-science/

James Lovelock Finally Walks Back His Absurd Doomism, But He Still Doesn’t Follow Climate Science

By Joe Romm on Apr 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Reply #10)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 11:40 AM

11. Thanks for those links. nt

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Tue Apr 24, 2012, 01:04 PM

13. Considered individually, none of the problems we face look catastrophic

The problem is, they're not individual problems. They are elements of an interlocked, interacting, mutually amplifying system of problems, and trying to solve one makes others worse.

Here's my 50,000 foot view of the Planetary Predicament™: http://www.paulchefurka.ca/50000_Foot_View.html

We are in the beginning stages of a "multiple organ failure" scenario, and no matter whether we keep average temperature rise under 4 degrees C or not the crisis is going to intensify very rapidly from here on.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:34 PM

14. Glad He is taking This Line

Writing “before this century is over billions of us will die" is not helpful.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #14)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:45 PM

15. Why is it not helpful? It's probably the truth

Once the methane from the Arctic permafrost melt starts to hit the atmosphere in a big way, we're pretty much locked in for 4-7C of warming in the next century or two. That kind of increase will literally make large parts of this planet uninhabitable: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100504155413.htm


ScienceDaily (May 4, 2010) — Reasonable worst-case scenarios for global warming could lead to deadly temperatures for humans in coming centuries, according to research findings from Purdue University and the University of New South Wales, Australia.
So, that translates into a mass exodus of humanity from the tropics and a massive loss of farmland and seafood production, all as many parts of the planet that are still technically cool enough for humans to live in see food production plummet due to drought or flooding.


That means a massive flood of climate refugees away from the tropics at the same time that the remaining farmland is seeing its yields plummet due to drought or flooding.

Billions WILL die this century. It is pretty much inevitable now.

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Response to On the Road (Reply #14)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 12:46 PM

16. Even if it's true?

Notwithstanding the fact that six billion people will die of natural causes this century, we are facing a "multiple organ failure" scenario involving energy, ecology (including climate change) and economics that could - and IMO will - depopulate the planet quite radically before the end of the century.

It's possible we could do something to reduce the impact, and in the process preserve some of the other life that's going extinct as the result of human activities. But we won't even begin to act until people start getting a bit alarmed - that's just the way our brains are wired.

Positions like Lovelock's are integral to this effort, which is why I'm disappointed to see him walking back his level of concern.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 10:39 PM

17. I always considered him a nut

Read the gaia crap in college. New age crap. He has no credibility with me, and he's probably senile and conservative. Ignore him.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Wed Apr 25, 2012, 10:43 PM

18. Finally, Lovelock comes back to Earth......or did he really?

It's kinda hard to tell.It does seem like he hasn't rejected AGW out of hand but on the other hand, if some of these claims are correct......frankly, I'm sticking with Joe Romm here.

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