“Could” is doing a lot of heavy lifting these days

Another day, another taxpayer-funded study predicting the dire future consequences of climate change.

This one suggests rising sea levels will succeed where Kim Kardashian failed, and break the internet.

No, really; if the climate is changing as rapidly as they claim, and if this change will result in the polar ice caps melting, then rising sea levels will flood lots of the telecoms and data centre infrastructure of the internet.

Regular readers will realise there’s good deal of scepticism in this organ when reading claims such as these.

Two data sources are responsible for this cynicism towards claims the world is about to look like the set of a rubbish Kevin Costner movie;

1. The accuracy of their previous predictions, and

2. The historic data and trend line of sea levels.

Choose your own source to confirm what we were told/sold in the past about how quickly we would need to learn to swim but a quick search on the internet will produce quite a large range of predicted sea level rises and due by dates.

The one connecting factor all of these predictions will have is that they didn’t come true. The bad outcomes were never anywhere near as bad as predicted.

So what? People have been making wrong predictions about stuff forever. What does the actual observed data tell us?

So, rather than seeing those predicted metres of increased sea levels, we’ve seen about 20cm per century and the rate of the rise hasn’t accelerated either.

The original article links to this in support of its claim that sea levels are rising. Note that the linked article doesn’t present any observed data as evidence but yet more predictions without reference to observed data.

Now that we’ve spotted the use of “could” in the first article, have a look at the second one and see where the “could” pops up.

If the acceleration of ice melt were to continue, it could potentially cascade, leading to runaway ice melt and rapid sea level rise.

And if my mother had wheels instead of legs she’d be a trolley.

Bill’s Opinion

The Climate Change “military industrial complex” is a layer cake of beliefs which are increasingly more difficult to prove using the scientific method, which has helped us find the truth so well in recent centuries;

Layer 1. It’s possible that the climate is changing. In fact, given what we know from geological records, it’s almost impossible that the climate isn’t changing.

Layer 2. It’s possible that human activity has started to influence the change.

Layer 3. It’s also possible that human activity has influenced the changes in the climate at a rate that is worse than humans can cope with and poses an existential threat.

Layer 4. It might be possible that humans can find technological solutions to halt or even reverse the change (which also infers we can agree on what the “optimal” climate should be) without sentencing billions of the least wealthy to remain in poverty and suffer early deaths.

Layer 5. It may even be possible that, once these technological solutions are found and proven to be effective without disastrous side effects, the major economies of the world can agree to organise themselves in a way never previously witnessed in human history to implement the solution.

Layer 6. Or we could just move the fucking data centres up a hill and lay some new telecommunications cables.

5 Replies to ““Could” is doing a lot of heavy lifting these days”

  1. What is the lifespan of a data centre? The water level doesn’t jump up. You don’t even need to move the data centre, when the replacement cycle rolls around you build in a different place. i.e. zero cost of adaptation.

    1. Precisely.

      There is a lot of money being made from researching this stuff and then banging out reports and newspaper articles about it.

      The current formats of public discussion don’t allow enough time for these cottage industries to be challenged with data and logic.

      More on this in a later blog post this week, including an summary of an SMS discussion with a friend who is the editor of one of these news websites (anonymised, obviously).

  2. I’m a member of a few climate skeptic FB pages. Activity has dropped quite sharply over the last year or so. This may be due to the election of a skeptic US president. Although the Grauniad is still sowing panic seeds as hard as it can go, the general public’s concern level has dropped to a cool green Meh.

    1. Yes, I agree that the general public has grown more sceptical but this seems to have resulted in a doubling down of those who have been pushing the message.

      The BBC Science department are particularly bad for those; there seems to be a rule that states no documentary can be made without at least one reference to climate change, regardless of how awkward the segue.

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