Risk, Stakes & ProbabilityRSS

Thinking about risk, what's at stake, and the odds of something bad happening.

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Gravity theory has uncertainties too.  So jump off a cliff?

Bite"Science isn't "yes or no." Science is gradually reducing uncertainty. Consider gravity. We know gravity with a fairly high degree of understanding but there are still little areas of gravity theory that scientists are still arguing about exactly how it works. But just because scientists don't h...
A lump on lung: 'wait and see' or surgery?

BiteWhether you choose 'wait and see' vs. accept the doctor's recommendation for urgent surgery is a value judgment. Ignoring or resolving climate change is also a value judgment.
Mother Nature sets a time limit on procrastination.

Bite"Mother Nature puts a time limit on how long we can dither and procrastinate" before taking action. "Several vulnerable elements in earth's climate system could be pushed toward abrupt or irreversible change. . .with our business-as-usual increase in emissions."—Dr. Richard Somerville.
Climate Russian Roulette:   But what's in the loaded chamber?

BiteContinued release of greenhouse gases is like playing "Russian Roulette with the climate, hoping that the future will hold no unpleasant surprises. No one knows what lies in the active chamber of the gun."

-- Oceangrapher, Wallace Broecker, 1987.
It's like a big tsunami, headed our way...

BiteClimate change is like a big tsunami, far at sea but headed our way. To get our families "off the beach" and to safety, we need to act now. If we wait until we can see wave breaking, it will be too late.
Ignoring symptoms is common..and can be fatal

BiteSome people ignore a suspicious lump in their body, hoping it will go away. When they eventually go to the doctor -- because of night sweats, pain, weight loss, etc -- they are told that it's 'too late,' but that if they'd come when they first noticed the problem, the situation might have been salv...
When in doubt, ask... your insurance company!

Bite“The prospect of extreme climate change and its potentially devastating economic and social consequences are of great concern to the insurance industry.” — Kyoto Statement of The Geneva Association, 29th May, 2009
Even schoolchildren know it'll be devastating

Bite"The world is perfectly on track to six degrees Celsius increasing the temperature, which is very bad news. And everybody, even school children, know this will have catastrophic implications for all of us."—Fatih Birol, IEA
Would you argue with your doctor over a heart condition?

BiteSome people say ‘When you are sure about climate change, then we will do something about it.’ Suppose your doctor says ‘Well, I am very concerned about your heart condition. I think you should be on a low cholesterol diet and exercise.’ Would anybody say to their doctor ‘If you can't tell me pre...
The canvas on which 21st Century history will be painted

BiteClimate = the canvas on which 21st C history will be painted.
Earth's climate is an ornery beast...that overreacts

Bite"The paleoclimate record shouts out to us that, far from being self-stabilising, the Earth's climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts to even small nudges." -- Reknowned paleoclimatologist, Wallace Broeker
"We're entitled to every damn thing on this planet..."

Bite"There is this long, wonderful history of the human race written in blood. We have this tendency to just take what we want. And that's how we treat the natural world as well. There's this sense of we're here, we're big, we've got the guns, we've got the technology, therefore we're entitled to every ...
Applying the brakes on a foggy road is not alarmism

Bite"I wouldn’t characterize wanting to use the brakes on a foggy road as hysteria. Humanity is simply driving too fast for the conditions ahead, and should be more cautious."
Kindergarten lesson:   "Clean up your own mess"

Bite"Clean up Your Own Mess" -- Robert Fulghum

"Cleaning up after ourselves generally is neither easy nor fun, and we usually don't like it." -- Richard B. Alley
Waking the "Sleeping Giants" of abrupt change

BiteThe longer global warming continues, the greater the risk of "waking the sleeping giants"—major feedbacks such as ice sheet collapse, methane "burps," or ecosystem collapse—that could ignite abrupt or runaway warming beyond our control.
Diet & exercise is not an easy option—it's the only one!

BiteWe're like the overweight patient that goes to the doctor and learns his cholesterol is too high. He doesn't die immediately—but until he changes his lifestyle and gets back down to the safe zone, he's at more risk from heart attack or stroke. If we're already past 350 [ppm CO2], are we all doome...
Distant danger:  Try warning a teenager to stop smoking!

BiteIt's hard to change habits, especially when the most harmful consequences lie in the distant future. Try convincing a teenager to stop smoking because he might get lung cancer... in 20 years!
Like the Titanic sinking, catastrophes aren't democratic

Bite“Like the sinking of the Titanic, catastrophes are not democratic. A much higher fraction of passengers from the cheaper decks were lost. We’ll see the same phenomenon with global warming.”
Climate change impacts everyone's food supply.

BiteClimate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come. Increased temperatures will lengthen the growing season in northern temperate zones but will reduce the length almost everywhere else. The livelihoods of rural commun...
Send your grandkids on an unsafe airplane?

BiteWould you put your grandkids on an airplane that 97 of the top 100 aerospace engineers declared unsafe, because you heard the 3 others say 'no problem, it's perfectly sound?'
A very dangerous threat, not a "cocktail hour curiosity"

BiteClimate change is not a "cocktail hour curiosity." It is a very dangerous threat. Our climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with a sharp stick. - inspired by Wallace Broecker
Is it going to be bad or horrifically bad? That's the scientific debate

Bite‘Is it going to be bad or horrifically bad?’ This is what the scientists debate, not it could be fine. Nothing like that.’ – Dr. Justin Wood, climate scientist
It's no longer enough to love and nourish a child.

Bite“It is no longer enough to love, feed, shelter, clothe and educate a child – not when the future itself is in danger. Being conscientious parents today also means working to protect the nation and the planet – now, before it’s too late.”—Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, 1988
I am not an alarmist, but I am alarmed.  You should be too.

Bite"The excess CO2 that is pumped into the air today will affect our planet for thousands of years into the future. I am not an alarmist, but I am alarmed. You should be too."—Dr. Stephen Mulkey.
That iceberg looming just ahead...is global warming

Bite100 years ago, Titanic's Captain Smith steamed ahead full speed, despite iceberg warnings. By time the fatal 'berg was visible, it was too late to turn the big ship. Today, the looming hazard is global warming. Will we heed the warnings in time to change course?
Send your kids down the bunny slope?  Or a ♦ ♦ ♦  run?

BiteWant your kids skiing down the bunny slope or the triple black diamond expert slope? This is our choice for reducing our global carbon emissions.
You cannot adapt to chaos.

Bite"You cannot adapt to chaos." - unknown.
Like Russian Roulette...with more and more bullets!

BiteClimate change increases the odds for extreme weather. Like playing Russian Roulette, while adding more and more bullets to a revolver. You'll never know whether the bullet that fired was the original "natural" bullet, or one of the new ones you added. But you'll be just as dead.
So 97 doctors told you that lump must be removed, but. .

Bite97 doctors said you must have a tumor removed or it'll kill you. But you decided to follow the advice of 3 who said "Nah, it's just a shadow on the x-ray." . . . So, how did that work out for you?
Extreme weather cause?   Like heart attack risk factors

Bite"An obese, middle-aged man is running to catch a bus. Suddenly, he clutches his chest, falls to the ground and dies of a massive heart attack. It turns out that he's a smoker and a diabetic, has high blood pressure, eats a diet high in saturated fat and low in leafy green vegetables, pours salt on e...
Hungry Children?  Feed them Candy!

BiteElectric utility CEOs say they must burn coal to meet our energy demands. Sure, hungry kids want candy not vegetables. Yet, burning coal or eating lots of sweets is not healthy for their future.
Bite1.4 F of warming so far has led to 40% less Arctic ice mass, Western wildfires that now consume 6x more forest, more frequent big hurricanes and insurance companies quitting many coastal areas. To imagine 11 degrees of warming, multiply by 8.
Fly on a spaceship with an overheating air control system?

Bite"The earth itself is a spaceship. We had better keep an eye its air control system." - Roger Revelle, Director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, 1950-1964.
Slow down, you'll have an accident!

BiteLiving with increased CO2 in the atmosphere is like a rain shower on the highway. It doesn't necessarily cause a crash but it increases the possibility of one and is likely to make any accident more severe.
North Pole melting: Santa Claus not jolly

BiteBy the 2040s, the entire North Pole will be open water in the summer, with no sea ice. This has terrible consequences for Santa Claus and his Workshop.
Kennedy re oceans:  "Our very survival may hinge on it."

Bite"Knowledge of the oceans is more than a matter of curiosity. Our very survival may hinge upon it.” President John F. Kennedy, Jr., March 1961 message to Congress.
Power plants most vulnerable to water scarcity.

BiteWho knew? Power plants use 40% of U.S. freshwater supplies. How will they cope with a drier climate? Who will keep the lights on when the water runs out?
In a car headed for a wall, while we argue about seating.

Bite"We're in a giant car headed for a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where they want to sit." - David Suzuki
Like blood-alcohol limit, go over 2C and we're busted.

BiteTo stay below the blood-alcohol limit, we should drink no more than six standard drinks. To keep world temperature increase below 2C we must consume no more than 565 gigatons of fossil fuel. That is only one-fifth of known fossil fuel reserves. Bill McKibben.
Buy insurance to protect against climate risk

BiteCutting greenhouse gas emissions is like buying an insurance policy: we incur a cost to reduce a risk.
We'll see it, our kids will live it, our grandkids' lives will be defined by it.

Bite"We will see it, our kids will live it, and there's a question of whether our grandkids will make it through or not."
Why urgent? There's no stop button.   There's no emergency brake.

BiteThere’s no “STOP” button. There’s no emergency brake. Think of our climate system as an enormous tanker with a world’s worth of momentum behind it. Once it gets going, it can’t turn around on a dime.
100% Certainty?  Not even the military requires this to take action

Bite"You never have 100% certainty in anything. If you wait for 100% certainty on the battlefield, something bad is going to happen." — Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (retired), former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.
'If we lose this, then all the other issues won't matter"

BiteMartin Luther King “would say that we need to come together because this is our planet, and if we lose this, then all the other issues won’t matter.”—Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., President of HipHop Caucus
Ignore climate change?  This increases your risk of being unlucky.

Bite“Think of climate change as something that increases our risks of being unlucky. We need to prepare up front as we move into a warmer, hotter, more extreme world.” – Heidi Cullen, Chief Climatologist for Climate Central.org
BiteWhy is climate action so important? Because there is no 'Planet B.'
We must manage the unavoidable & avoid what is manageable

Bite'Scientists say, when it comes to climate change, we need to manage what is unavoidable and avoid what is unmanageable.' — Thomas Friedman, NY Times columnist
It's an emergency happening in slow-motion

BiteClimate change is an emergency happening in slow-motion. (Variations: A slo-mo train wreck or catastrophe.)
Don't fear global warming but do fear local climate destabilization

Bite"Unfortunately, the focus remains mostly on “global warming” instead of on the bigger concern—that we are disrupting the planet’s climate in completely unpredictable ways." — Ajit Varki and Danny Brower, writers of the 2013 book, "Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human M...
Think 'We'll adapt'?  Our infrastructure may not be able to adapt

BiteOur very elaborate infrastructure won't work because it was designed for the climate we had, not the one we are going to have. — Dr. Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor, Climate Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
If 1º melts the Arctic, we're fools to see what 2º will do

Bite"If 1 degee melts the Arctic, we're fools to find out what 2 degrees will do." — Bill McKibben, environmental author & founder of 350.org
If left unchecked, this issue will swamp all other all other issues

Bite“Climate Change is not just another issue. It is an issue that if left unchecked, will swamp all other issues.” — Ross Gelbspan, writer and activist. He wrote two books on global warming: The Heat Is On (1997) and Boiling Point (2004)
The danger is not to the planet but our civilization

Bite‘The danger is not to the planet but to our civilization on the planet. This is the real challenge of climate change.’ – Adam Frank, writer for National Public Radio.
Rising temperatures: it’s like a bully coming for your lunch money.

Bite‘We can think of global warming as a bully that comes by every year and tells you to give him more and more of your money.’ – Park Williams, a tree ring researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.