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Thursday, September 14, 2017
A Global Warming Red Team Warning: Do Not Strive For Consensus With The Blue Team

Dr. Roy Spencer

Now that the idea of a global warming Red Team approach to help determine what our energy policy should be is gaining traction, it is important that we understand what that means to some of us who have been advocating it for over 10 years - and also what it doesn’t mean.

The Red Team approach has been used for many years in private industry, DoD, and the intelligence community to examine very costly decisions and programs in a purposely adversarial ask, what if we are wrong about a certain program or policy change? What might the unintended consequences be?

In such a discussion we must make sure that we do not conflate the consensus on a scientific theory with the need to change energy policy, as is often done. (Just because we know that car wrecks in the U.S. cause 40,000 deaths a year doesn’t mean we should outlaw cars; and I doubt human-caused climate change has ever killed anyone).

While science can help guide policy, it certainly does not dictate it.

In the case of global warming and the role of our carbon dioxide emissions, the debate has too long been dominated by a myopic view that asserts the following 5 general points as indisputable. I have ordered them generally from scientific to economic.

1) global warming is occurring, will continue to occur, and will have dangerous consequences

2) the warming is mostly, if not totally, caused by our CO2 emissions

3) there are no benefits to our CO2 emissions, either direct (biological) or indirect (economic)

4) we can reduce our CO2 emissions to a level that we avoid a substantial amount of the expected damage

5) the cost of reducing CO2 emissions is low enough to make it worthwhile (e.g. mandating much more wind, solar, etc.)

ALL of these 5 points must be essentially true for things like the Paris Agreement (which President Trump has now withdrawn us from...for the time being) to make much sense.

But I would argue that each of the five points can be challenged, and not just with “fake science”. There is peer-reviewed and published analysis in science and economics that would allow one to contest each one of the five claims.

The Red Team Approach: It’s NOT a Redo of the Blue Team

John Christy and I are concerned that the Red Team approach, if applied to global warming, will simply be a review of the U.N. IPCC science on global warming. We are worried that it will only address the first two points (warming will continue, and it is mostly caused by CO2). Heck, even *I* believe we will continue to see modest warming, and that it might well be at least 50% due to CO2.

But a Red Team reaffirming those points does NOT mean we should “do something” about global warming.

To fully address whether we should, say, have regulations to reduce CO2 emissions, the Red Team must address all 5 of the “consensus” claims listed above, because that is the only way to determine if we should change energy policy in a direction different from that which the free market would carry it naturally.

The Red Team MUST address the benefits of more CO2 to global agriculture, “global greening” etc.

The Red Team MUST address whether forced reductions in CO2 emissions will cause even a measurable effect on global temperatures.

The Red Team MUST address whether the reduction in prosperity and increase in energy poverty are permissible consequences of forced emissions reductions to achieve (potentially unmeasurable) results.

The membership of the Red Team will basically determine the Team’s conclusions. It must be made up of adversaries to the Blue Team “consensus”, which has basically been the U.N. IPCC. If it is not adversarial in membership and in mission, it will not be a real Red Team.

As a result, the Red Team must not be allowed to be controlled by the usual IPCC-affiliated participants.

Only then can its report can be considered to be an independent, adversarial analysis to be considered along with the IPCC report (and other non-IPCC reports) to help guide U.S. energy policy.

Posted on 09/14 at 08:01 AM
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