Wake Up, Freak Out, Then Get a Grip….

December 17, 2010

Superb animated explanation of Climate feedbacks and tipping points. Just about everyone agrees that doubling CO2 will raise the earth’s temp by about a degree C. It’s the feedback effects that are the source of uncertainty and argument. Right now, the feedbacks are looking pretty strong.

For more on feedbacks, from the UK Met office, see after the jump.

6 Responses to “Wake Up, Freak Out, Then Get a Grip….”

  1. danolner Says:

    That is a great film. My only qualm: I’m not convinced it’s a good idea to make the overtly political points at the end. Cf. also the discussion at initforthegold – how much to get into the limits to growth arguments? Here, it’s more explicit than that: consumer-driven capitalism is held responsible; the problem is fixable by reducing it.

    Maybe. And that fits in nicely with a particular political narrative – that the only way to a sustainable world is through development and a move towards a more egalitarian system. Whether or not I agree with that, it’s economically simply not true. Take some current developments: shifts to biofuel crops. The simple fact is, demand from richer countries for green fuels to maintain car use is larger – in monetary terms – than demand from poorer people for food. They lose out. That’s no different to, say, demand for meat in Europe fueling Brazilian soy ‘deserts’ in Matto Grosso to feed animal stock- in fact, economically it’s precisely the same dynamic: a good that’s both a primary (food) and intermediate (car-food or animal-food, then to consumers) in a situation where the intermediate good is ultimately in more demand from car and meat buyers, because they’re richer. (And indeed, Matto Grosso is growing soy for both.)

    So, yes: I’m unsure about the automatic political assumptions there. As with oil-rich middle-eastern countries buying huge swathes of land as insurance against future food crises, there are plenty of options that involve fairly business-as-usual implications for poorer people – i.e. losing their land. Solving the climate problem in no way automatically means solving the world’s development problems, and it certainly doesn’t mean getting rid of capitalism is a necessary condition to do so – whatever one’s own political views.

    Rant over. Now I’m going to pull the CAT5 cable outa the back of my computer and try to get some PhD done…!

  2. greenman3610 Says:

    agreed. I thought the explanatory part was so good that it outweighed any potential negatives.
    glad you were wasting time here, come back, when you can.

    (If I didn’t procrastinate, I’d never get anything done!)

  3. […] Excellent animation by Leo Murray explaining climate system feedbacks and the potential for us to pass “tipping points” that could make our efforts to reduce emissions completely redundant. More information (including script and references) at wakeupfreakout.org. Hat-tip to Peter “Crock of the Week” Sinclair for finding it… […]

  4. masudako Says:

    I respect the intention of Leo Murray.
    But I think that this video piece looks just alarmist
    and not much scientifically illuminating.
    I do not recommend it to people other than those
    who already agree to the conclusion.

    To express the world with +6 deg. C warming
    by the globe burning is a huge hyperbole.
    Also, though it is what the narrator does not say,
    the piece gives a misleading impression that
    a tipping point exists at +1.4 deg. C above the present level.

    Many processes that lead to positive feedbacks are listed,
    but they were not well explained the steps of logic
    how they reinforce climate change.
    And the animations, though beautifully designed,
    just follow the words of the narrator
    and do not add helps to understand the logical steps.

    The story of the piece by the Met Office is good,
    and it is a good thing to see a scientist speaking in person.
    But, as a person not very good in hearing English,
    I cannot catch all what he said without help of texts or
    graphics telling the same message.

    It would be very good if the story of Dr Ben Booth
    augmented with graphics that explain how those feedbacks work.
    Perhaps animators, such as Leo Murray’s workshop,
    need to work closely both to scientists like Dr Booth
    and to a group of non-expert monitors, to check
    what is the right message and whether it is really passed.

  5. I really liked the piece — think it did a fine job of explaining a number of positive feedbacks (was happy to hear someone other than myself — besides μwatts — say that maybe we have put a little too much emphasis on polar bears, by the way), but I agree, the politics was a little thick at the end. Besides, while I certainly doubt that we can have exponential growth foe-evV-ahHH, in time solar energy could supply the needs of 11 billion quite nicely — and with enough cheap energy everything else — pure water, recycling of materials, etc. — all of that becomes a great deal less problematic.

  6. I tend to agree that the political messages at the end were unnecessary.

    the problem is that the target audience for this video are the uncommitted — and overt political message just gives people an excuse to dismiss the scientific explanations as well. A shame, because it is an interesting and elegant video — as long as you know there’s a lot of analogical thinking here.

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