By Jim White: Weather & Climate Summit 2017

Jim White gives some of the easiest to understand and most enlightening talks on climate change. Here is an excellent recent talk with a big picture view of what’s going on and what to expect in the future.

A few points he made stuck with me:

  • Are humans significant enough to affect the climate? Yes!
    • We move 10 times more dirt than all natural erosion processes.
    • We make more nitrogen fertilizer than all bacteria on land.
    • We make more sulfate than all ocean phytoplankton.
  • A nasty dilemma
    • the planet cannot support everyone at 1st world lifestyles
    • low income = middle income/3.5 = high income/7
  • We have no room left to grow:
    • we cultivate all good farm land
    • we use all available surface water and augment with pumped groundwater
  • Despite deforestation there is more biomass today than in the 1800’s due to human CO2 and fertilizer.
  • We cannot grow away climate change because there is much more carbon in remaining fossil energy than all biomass.
  • Why worry about 1C warming?
    • max temperature swing over last 40 million years was 10C
    • +2C = 5m sea level rise
    • +4C = 80m sea level rise
  • Keep an eye on the Arctic. When the ice is gone we will see dramatic changes in weather.
  • Climate change is an inter-generational problem. Our grandchildren will have to deal with the consequences of our behavior today.
  • We say we love our children but we do not show it.
  • Population must be controlled (he’s right but his fatally flawed solution is to increase the wealth of women which will increase CO2 emissions)

Here’s another very good talk by Jim White that I previously posted:

One thought on “By Jim White: Weather & Climate Summit 2017”

  1. Here is the 2018 version of Jim White’s talk with a few notes that are unique from the 2017 version.

    It usually takes us 40-50 years from when we know something is a bad idea until we do something about it (lead in gasoline, cigarettes, etc.)
    – We knew climate change was big problem 40 years ago and we’re still arguing about it.

    There are physical laws that we cannot break despite whatever beliefs we hold.
    – If we couldn’t make accurate predictions using physical laws it would be unsafe to fly.
    – CO2 is a problem whether you believe it’s a problem or not.

    The ocean because of its large thermal mass slows down climate change.
    – 90% of the extra heat from CO2 goes into the ocean.
    – Our current 400 ppm CO2 will eventually result in 20-30m sea level rise.
    – If we decide someday to do something about climate change, the ocean will resist us undoing the damage we’ve already done.

    Climate change is an intergenerational issue.
    – What we do today will affect our children and grandchildren.
    – “Until one generation is willing to forego short term gains for the long term benefit of its children, we won’t be able to address climate change.”

    We know there are tipping points that can cause rapid changes of up to 10-15C in a few years.
    – We do not yet fully understand the triggers.
    – They have happened many times in geologic history.
    – We should be cautious.

    We must control our population.


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