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Conservatives should change how they think about global warming. I did

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For 23 years, I worked at a libertarian thinktank, arguing against climate action. But my views have changed. I now embrace decarbonization. Why? For one thing, I’ve come to better understand risk management.

The raucous political debate with denialists aside, the real debate in climate science is about how much warming we’ll have to face, how abrupt it might be, how quickly we can adjust, how much severe weather we’ll experience, and how likely it is that various low-probability, high-impact climate events will come to pass.

Uncertainties persist because scientists are still unsure how sensitive the atmosphere is to greenhouse gases. Evidence from the peer-reviewed literature suggests that a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations above pre-industrial levels (which we’re likely to see sometime after mid-century) will probably warm the planet anywhere between 1.5C (34.7F) and 4.5C (40.1F).

There’s a world of difference between those “likely” low-end and the high-end estimates. “Lukewarmers”, such as the journalist Matt Ridley, contend that warming will be at the low end and prove of little consequence. Many scientists, however, have little patience for those arguments, arguing instead that warming is more likely to be at the higher end, with global environmental and economic convulsion the likes of which we’ve never seen.


© The Guardian