Manhattan Contrarian Quiz -- Climate Tipping Points Edition

On Monday the UN IPCC came out with its latest Special Report, this one supposedly addressed specifically to the allegedly dire consequences of allowing world temperatures to increase by more than an arbitrarily-selected threshold. Here is a copy of the “Summary for Policymakers,” and here is a copy of the accompanying press release. But I urge you not to peek at those until you have taken today’s very important Manhattan Contrarian Climate Tipping Points Quiz.

Many have noted that this latest Report seems to step up the level of hysteria and shrieking about the threat of climate change to a whole new level. The gist is, we are doomed, doomed, doomed unless mankind takes immediate drastic action to reduce and then eliminate carbon emissions, because otherwise we will shortly cross the dreaded climate “tipping point.” Crossing the tipping point means that climate change will thereafter accelerate out of control, there will be no further chance of saving the planet, and all hope must be abandoned. You can see that this is very serious, at least if you give any credence to this stuff. And yet, despite the hyperbole, this report seems to be getting much less attention than prior similar predictions of the impending climate apocalypse, even if no one in the mainstream press will apply the slightest amount of critical thinking as to whether any of this makes any sense at all. As an example, the big New York Times article on the Report did not appear until Tuesday, and in the print edition ran on page A8. I guess there were plenty of things more important than the approaching end of the world to fill up the front page.

So it’s time to take the Manhattan Contrarian Climate Tipping Points Quiz. The quiz consists of nine predictions of the impending climate “tipping point,” made at various points over the past few decades. For each prediction, I have deleted the name of the predictor, the year made and the year or years that were identified as the dreaded tipping point, but have included in brackets the number of years in the future that the tipping point was said to be at the time of the prediction in question. Your task is to identify which of the predictions is the one found in the current UN materials. For extra credit, see if you can identify any of the other predictions as to the person or organization uttering the prediction, the year made, and the year said to be the date of the tipping point.

Answers below the fold.

Prediction Number 1:

[Predictor] said that without "coherent financial incentives and disincentives" we have just 96 months to avert "irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it." . . . He confided last night: "We face the dual challenges of a world view and an economic system that seem to have enormous shortcomings, together with an environmental crisis – including that of climate change – which threatens to engulf us all."

Prediction Number 2:

[U]nless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return, [predictor] said.  He sees the situation as “a true planetary emergency.”  “If you accept the truth of that, then nothing else really matters that much,” [predictor] said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We have to organize quickly to come up with a coherent and really strong response, and that’s what I’m devoting myself to.”

Prediction Number 3:

[Predictor] . . . told author Bob Reiss in [year of prediction] that New York City would be underwater in 20 years. "The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water," [predictor] said. "And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won't be there. The trees in the median strip will change."

Prediction Number 4:

The year: [46 years after prediction]. Massive dikes around New Orleans, Miami, and New York are holding back rising sea water. Phoenix is baking in its third straight week of temperatures above 115 degrees. Decades of drought have laid waste to the once-fertile Midwestern farm belt. Hurricanes batter the Gulf Coast, and forest fires continue to black thousands of acres across the country. Science fiction? Hardly. These are the sobering global warming or “greenhouse effect” scenarios that many scientists believe may happen if we continue to pollute our environment. . . . [N]othing short of an immediate worldwide effort by governments, corporations and especially individual citizens will be needed to reverse the environmental crisis that now threatens the entire planet.

Prediction Number 5:

In [year of prediction], [predictor] told [publication] that [4 years after prediction] was “the last window of opportunity” to impose policies to restrict fossil fuel use. [Predictor] said it’s “the last chance we have to get anything approaching [numeric] degrees Centigrade,” adding that if “we don’t do it now, we are committing the world to a drastically different place.”

Prediction Number 6:

[W]arming of [numeric] deg C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said [predictor]. . . . [L]imiting global warming to [numeric]°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from [year] levels by [12 years from prediction], reaching ‘net zero’ around [32 years from prediction].

Prediction Number 7:

[Predictor] said in [year of prediction] that if “there’s no action before [5 years after prediction], that’s too late.” “What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” he said.

Prediction Number 8:

[Predictor] wrote in [publication] that within “as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world’s animals or it continues to feed the world’s people. It cannot do both.”

Prediction Number 9:

[Publication] reported in [year] that [predictor] says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the [year].”

Answers to Quiz:

Answer for Prediction Number 1: This famous prediction was made by the great climate scientist Prince Charles in July 2009. The 96 month (8 year) period of the prediction expired in July 2017. Does that mean that for a year plus we have already been in the state of “irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse”?

Answer for Prediction Number 2: Again, this is a quite famous prediction, made by Al Gore at the January 2006 premier of his climate apocalypse movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” as reported at the time by CBS News. Thus, the period of the prediction expired in January 2016. I guess then that we have already reached the “point of no return” and the “true planetary emergency.” How does it feel?

Answer for Prediction Number 3: Another famous prediction, this one made in 1988 by James Hansen, then head of the branch of NASA known as GISS that collects (and fraudulently alters) world temperature data. This time the 20 year prediction period expired in 2008. Meanwhile, I went down the West Side Highway just a few days ago, and the water didn’t appear any closer to swamping it than it was back in 1988.

Answer for Prediction Number 4: This one comes from self-described all-around genius Jeremy Rifkin (“author of 20 bestselling books about the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment.” and “advisor to the leadership of the European Union since 2000” — really, does that tell you all you need to know about what idiots the Europeans are?), and is found in an article in none other than the Poughkeepsie Journal (my hometown newspaper!) in 1989. OK, the date for the prediction (2035) hasn’t arrived yet. But, if we were going to need “massive dikes” to protect New York City by 2035, shouldn’t there be by now some evidence of the sea level going up?

Answer for Prediction Number 5: The predictor was then-head of the United Nations Foundation Timothy Wirth, and the year of prediction was 2012. That means that the date for the prediction was 2016 — or actually, in the phrasing of the prediction, the end of President Obama’s second term. The prediction appeared in ClimateWire. I guess we missed our “last chance” to save the world. Wirth is the same guy who, as a Congressman back in 1988, promoted the hearings featuring Hansen that many credit as the official launch of the global warming scare.

Answer for Prediction Number 6: Yes, this quote comes from the just-issued press release announcing the new UN Report. There were enough extraneous clues in there that probably many of you readers got it right. The number of degrees C that is said in this Report to be the brink of disaster is 1.5.

Answer for Prediction Number 7: The predictor is former UN IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri, and the year of prediction was 2007. That means that after 2012 it was “too late” to stop armageddon. Oh, well. Somehow we struggle on.

Answer for Prediction Number 8: This one comes from noted UK environmental writer George Monbiot, and appeared in the Guardian in 2002. So once again the year for the prediction was 2012. Do you recall the world making the choice somewhere 6 or so years ago between “feeding the world’s animals” and “feeding the world’s people.” I’m struggling to remember that. Perhaps I should go home and have a hamburger for dinner while I think it over.

Answer for Prediction Number 9: The prediction comes from 1989, and the year for the prediction (“entire nations . . . wiped off the face of the earth”) was 2000 — 18 years ago. The publication was the San Jose Mercury News, which attributed the prediction to UN “senior environmental official” Noel Brown. Somehow, even the Maldives seem to be doing fine here in 2018.

Here’s the incredible thing: Wouldn’t you think that making apocalyptic predictions like these that failed so completely would undermine the predictors’ reputations somehow — like maybe, they’d be considered laughingstocks? Not at all! All of these guys are still out there and going strong. OK, Pachauri was forced out of the IPCC, but over sexual harassment allegations, not failed climate predictions. He left the IPCC in 2015, which means that three years after his prediction above bombed, he was still there. Meanwhile, the IPCC had won the Nobel Peace Prize! Monbiot still writes climate doom articles for the Guardian. And you haven’t heard of Noel Brown? He retired from the UNDP, but has gone on to be President of the Friends of the United Nations.

Yes, ridiculous failed climate apocalypse predictions are the route to assured career success. The world is a funny place.