Stories and Lessons from a Foot Soldier in the Climate Wars

May 10, 2018

This, like everything else, is still a work in progress
Active links to the papers that I cite are available
by number through my CV.

Stories and Lessons from a Foot Soldier in the Climate Wars

 

Please Note:  The reference numbers in this document are linked automatically to the papers; clicking there will bring the paper to your screen.

Preface:

So why am I writing about the climate “wars”? Why am I a foot soldier in the climate wars?

To answer the first question, I write because people have died in “projectable” floods and storms and fires when we were not persuasive. Others, like Steve Schneider, died on airplanes trying to maintain defenses against people who would rather make things up for their own well being than save some unknown person’s life today or sometime in the future.

Failing in the ability to defend publicly against Steve and others, because Steve and they always caught their lies in real time (because they knew ALL of the recent literature), these opponents would make threats on line and in other media against anybody that appeared on their radar screen. We are the foot soldiers.

Ben Santer endured threats, but he was and still is an officer.

So did Michael Moore, and he was and still is an officer.

So, for sure, did Stephen Schneider, and he was the general.

I am not in the same category as these people, but I am still alive because opponents have failed to damage me and what I have been writing for nearly 40 years. They have also failed to damage my family, though they have tried.

The stories that follow reflect what I did, where I was, and with whom; there are more stories in an annotated CV that is still kicking around.

I learned a lot over my life, and hopefully that will be clear. I think that I contributed some lessons to the common global good. I hope that that perception is not a delusion. I had a good time; that part cannot be denied given the hundreds of friends and colleagues and collaborators that I have enjoyed from six (and maybe seven) continents.

And I am still around for my granddaughters. They will ask, “Papa, what did you do?”

What could be better than that? I am alive to know them, and I can tell them when they ask (and they will ask) that I tried. What follows are memories as well as highlights of my contributions to the greater good, organized in chapters of unequal length. This is sort of a Table of Contents without page numbers. One chapter is in bold italic, because I think that it is my most important contribution to saving the lives of people I do not even know. Some haven’t even been born yet.

  1. Basic training
  2. The intuition of prices versus quantities
  3. Elevating “not-implausible” scenarios to inform risk management decisions,
  4. Sea level rise as a laboratory for studying adaptation
  5. Reasons for concern
  6. Developing the determinants of adaptive and mitigative capacities
  7. Iterative risk management
  8. Snowmass integrated assessment meetings
  9. The meaning of consensus
  10. IPCC experiences by year
  11. The social cost of carbon
  12. The Nobel Prize
  13. Hedging
  14. Detection and attribution (pending)
  15. Engaging in the public discourse (pending)
  16. Mentors

Most of these contributions changed the way that scientists framed their research questions and the way that decision-makers framed their negotiations and framed their deliberations – across the world across from rich to poor for more than 3 decades.

Each chapter begins with a paragraph that does not bury the lead. Many highlight papers on my CV with references to specific numbers. Most are available by year of publication as pdf-files at gyohe.faculty.wesleyan.edu.

To read more…click here.