Countering Manzi

Matt Steinglass looks at MIT's new study on climate change. He begins with some satire:

Those ignorant hippies at MIT have just published their new revised climate change projections in some crazy socialist peer-reviewed scientific journal, the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. As Joe Romm summarizes, they’re projecting 5.1? average warming by 2095, with 12? at the poles and 866 ppm of CO2. (Via Kevin Drum.) That’s double their 2003 estimates, and it’s well above the catastrophic 450 ppm level and ultra-catastrophic 700 ppm limits people often refer to when they’re talking about the upper bound humanity can afford.

(CO2 levels of 450 ppm probably mean “an ice-free planet”, according to a recent study [pdf] by NASA and Yale authors.) The reasons: the carbon “sinks” are maxed out, and positive feedback loops are stronger than previously understood. Romm writes: “How could Greenland’s ice sheets possibly survive that?” Melting the Greenland ice sheet would raise global sea levels by 7 meters.

The latest fad among climate-change “skeptics” and “non-orthodox” thinkers has been to throw up one’s hands and declare that China, India and the rest of the developing world will never go along with serious efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, so there’s no point trying to stop the warming. We should just adapt. On another front, orthodox environmentalists are saying that China will never voluntarily go along with serious efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, so we should threaten them with trade sanctions.

I think this is wrong. Paul Krugman has talked to far more influential people in China than I have. But here in Vietnam, influential people are extremely worried about climate change and eager to participate in international efforts to slow it down. Climate change is spelling disaster for Vietnam, and people are already starting to feel it.

Of course this isn't W-M specific, which is what Manzi is really looking for, but it does provide a counter argument, if not a fully convincing one, to some of his other points.