2 Deg. C. – that magic number

 

Date:      3 Feb 16

By:          Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,

Burlington, ON

Did you ever wonder where the magic number “2 Deg. C.” came from?  See below.
Pasted in from the Huffington Post on Feb. 3 2016:
The 2-degree threshold emerged in the 1970s [1975, actually – FG] , when Yale University economist William Nordhaus published research suggesting damage to economic growth and environmental quality can intensify once the global average temperature rises by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
 
“He wrote that … ‘this would take the climate outside of the range of observations which have been made over the last several hundred thousand years,'” Kelly Levin, senior associate in the climate program at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., told The Huffington Post. “So it wasn’t about a proposed target or that there was a ‘safe’ level below this — just that it did not have a recent precedent.”
 
Subsequent papers and studies have supported the 2-degree idea, but many scientists argue that it is essentially an arbitrary threshold. Now, world leaders are prepared to deliberate over the threshold at the climate conference in Paris.
 
 Four notes about this:
 
1.  Other authorities have said that prehistoric global temperatures have been as much as 9 Deg. C. higher than now.  Take your pick.
 
2.  Somewhere months ago in a reference I have lost I read that Nordhaus picked 2 Deg. C. by intuition!?!?
 
3.  2 Deg. C. is a very specific number which, in all reason, should be the result of some kind of defensible, logically developed formula and cause-effect, reproducible computation.  In fact, however, in light of the above, 2 Deg. C. is clearly a number out of the air having the most tenuous of relationships to any science or experience.
 
4.  We must therefor rush off and spend trillions of dollars without having the least idea how to do what or how to measure any result.
 
Clever, wot?
 
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