Thursday, February 11, 2010

Open Systems and Rapid Change - Climate on the edge

This article highlights a major problem with all modelling of climate data. When confronted with an open system like the climate there is an inherent unpredictability that is non-computable. That is, we can never fully anticipate the effects of human behavior upon the climate. We can make reasonable assumptions about what to expect but we never with the certainty we desire. This is becoming all the more important because the failure of Copenhagen to produce binding commitments means that most nations will continue to emit Greenhouse Gases at rates which are guaranteed to further perturb climate dynamics in ways which we can never fully anticipate.

There is no easy solution to this problem. Governments proclaiming that they are taking appropriate action are for the most part lying. Take the Australian Governments CPRS and ETS schemes. These will have a negligible impact on greenhouse gas emissions but at cost to the Australian economy. Most countries are doing even less than Australia. It is entirely unreasonable of the developed world to tell the developing countries that they cannot do what we did to make us wealthy. Unless we are prepared to invest heavily in helping these developing economies, and that investment must come from both the private and public spheres, it matters not one iota what strategies developed nations do to address climate change.

We are stuck with climate change. It is inevitable, it was inevitable before humans appeared and will continue to be inevitable because contrary to popular opinion the Earth is not a stable self-contained system. The real challenge for humanity is not preventing climate change but in managing climate change.

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