Methane debates in forecasts of climate change impact and costs

As we know, the scientific modelling and forecasting of climate change is very complex.  It could hardly be anything else, given the size, complexity, volatility, interconnectedness, non-linear behaviour, feedback loops, and threshold behaviour of the global climate systems.  There can be no doubting, in my opinion, the scientific consensus on the reality of climate change or of the critical contribution of human activity to it.  However, it’s important to note that scientific debates continue in the area–as one would hope they would, if the attention of the scientific community is being directed critically to it.

Here is one such debate, which emerged in recent days.  An article published in Nature forecast significantly increasing methane emissions from an area of the Arctic, and derived massive economic consequences.  However, it was immediately pointed out that these forecasts have been rebutted in 2011 by an article in the same journal, which effectively ruled out the likelihood of methane emissions on such a scale.  This rebuttal was featured by The New York Times’s blog, Dot Earth–a reasonably balanced blog generally supportive of mainstream climate change science.  They provide a link to another interesting blog, Realclimate, run by a group of climate scientists, which seems, on the face of it, to be well-informed and relatively level-headed, and to provide some useful accounts of the technical underpinnings of modern climate science.


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