It took a while to find good (i. e. numerate) critiques of Guy McPherson’s position on the imminence of human extinction from global warming, but eventually these turned up.
“Arctic and American Methane in Context” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/arctic-and-american-methane-in-context/
“How Guy McPherson gets it wrong” http://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/
It’s good to see some path where humanity may be able to survive past 2030, and to have some better context on the controversy about that. However, global warming is still the biggest problem in US politics. Perhaps one of the most credible people writing about it is James Hansen. I endorse Hansen’s call for a fee on all extraction or import of coal, gas, and oil, the proceeds to be distributed to the populace.
Original Post 2014-02-14
At https://www.facebook.com/YourFriendRocky/posts/10203028588934706 , former Mayor of Salt Lake City, “Rocky” Anderson, posts a link to http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2238472 “Achieving Climate Protection: Fostering an Essential Focus on Human Rights and Human Impacts”, the abstract of which begins “Throughout the world, human beings are already suffering, or will soon be suffering, from the results of human-caused climate chaos. Profoundly impoverished people are feeling, or will feel, most intensely the effects of a global crisis that is not of their own making.”.
I replied, “Guy McPherson says it is already too late to save humanity.”
Mayor Anderson replied in turn, “You’re not suggesting we just listen to McPherson and give up the whole idea of acting responsibly toward our children and later generations, are you? We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels, now!”
Dear Mayor Anderson: To minimize human misery, any “we”, from just you and me, to the Justice Party, to the whole US, to all of humankind, or any grouping intermediate in size, whose attention you and I might be able to engage to a greater or lesser degree on this matter, has little choice, but to try to understand what is happening, and try to plan how best to act within the freedom of movement available to that “we”. So as to the first part, trying to understand what is going on, unfortunately, most of us, not being experts on climate, not having devoted decades to studying the evidence directly, not being part of that scientific community, and not having spent the last couple of years carefully surveying the very latest studies, have to try to understand based on some kind of assessment of what people are saying who do live in that scientific community, and some social process by which we try to evaluate the credibility of the voices we hear coming from that community. Basing that assessment on any one person such as McPherson would obviously be foolish. However, as McPherson points out, there are social reasons for scientists to err on the side of conservatism in the summaries they report to the public and to the politicians. As best I have been able to tell, the situation of humanity is dire, and serious problems may well be coming on a time scale of not 100 years but 20 years. Or maybe less. I am very worried about the fate of the children who are already alive today. Do you think that the worldwide food system that feeds seven billions of human beings is resilient against the effects of chaotic weather? From what you are reading, do you find that the ocean plankton in the tropics are at risk? I am hearing that Earth’s climate has been stable for 10,000 years, a very short time in geological terms, and that usually it is chaotic. The 10,000 years has been enough for humans to discover agriculture and make it work and go into population overshoot, then to discover oil and use that and go into super-overshoot. “End our dependence on fossil fuels, now”, I can’t disagree with that. But the level of alarm that people are working from just seems to me way too low. Maybe it’s necessary to call for abrupt cessation of the burning of fossil fuels, and for draconian measures to reduce the birth rate in any territory (e. g. the US or any State therein) the attention of any part of the populace of which we can get and alert to the severity of the situation. And I don’t know what else; what kind of social and military structures could possibly result in some people surviving; terrible conflicts over water and food seem likely, and at best a tremendous crash in human population count. The trick is how to keep it from going all the way to zero.