A newly released study prepared for the Deutsche Bank Group by Columbia University’s Earth Institute Climate Center dissects and dismisses a wide range of points argued by climate doubters and characterized by the Bank as mistakenly shaping public attitudes on climate and impeding needed political actions to confront climate challenges.
“For most of this year, the volume of this debate has turned way up as the ‘skeptics’ launched a determined assault on the climate findings accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community,” the Deutsche Bank Group reported in its 52-page report, “Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments.”
“Unfortunately, the increased noise has only made it harder for people to untangle the arguments and form their own opinions. This is problematic because the way the public’s views are shaped is critical to future political action on climate change.”
The report provides both thumbnail and more detailed rebuttals of numerous arguments routinely advanced by climate deniers and contrarians.
It points to “huge” implications for investors, and says that “the science is one essential” in establishing a climate change investment strategy.
Cautioning that “there is still a public perception that scientists have been dismissive of the skeptic viewpoint,” Deutsche Bank said it hopes its analysis “will help investors navigate these extremely complex issues.”
Uncertainties, Yes … but ‘Not a Gamble Worth Taking’
“The paper’s clear conclusion is that the primary claims of the skeptics do not undermine the assertion that human-made climate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat,” the banking group said. Acknowledging that some scientific uncertainties are inevitable, it wrote that “projecting future conditions is always incomplete in a system as complex as Earth’s climate,” requiring that conclusions be stated “in terms of probabilities rather than dead certainties.”
Such uncertainty “is not always adequately explained in the public debate and, when discussed, can appear to be a challenge to the credibility of the field,” the report noted. “However, uncertainty is an inevitable component in our understanding of any system for which perfect knowledge is unattainable, be it markets or climate.”
Most persuasive to the Deutsche Bank, the report noted, “is that the basic laws of physics dictate that increasing carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere produce warming. (This will be the case irrespective of other climate events.) The only way that warming can be mitigated by natural processes is if there are countervailing ‘feedback mechanisms’, such as cooling from increased cloud cover caused by the changing climate. A key finding of the current research is that there has so far been no evidence of such countervailing factors. In fact, most observed and anticipated feedback mechanisms are actually working to amplify the warming process, not reduce it.”
“Simply put,” it concluded, “the science shows us that climate change due to emissions of greenhouse gases is a serious problem. Furthermore, due to the persistence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the lag in response of the climate system, there is a very high probability that we are already heading towards a future where warming will persist for thousands of years. Failing to insure against that high probability does not seem a gamble worth taking.”