Published in 1912 (source link here), the climate impact of coal and carbon dioxide (CO2) was known then. Indeed Eunice Foote in 1856 was one of the first to suggest CO2 would lead to a warmer planet. (See American Journal of Science and Arts, google embed below). There was anouther paper in 1896 from Arrhenius in Sweden, also eloborating on these ideas (pdf here)
This highlights two factors to me: (1) Data and reporting is insufficient to bend demand-side human behaviours. Given the economic growth fueled by fossil energy (see the work of energy economic historian Vaclav Smil) and the view from 1/3 of Americans who disbelieve man-made climate change (see Yale Survey on climate).
Data are not enough. Experts are not enough. Marketing, stories and convenience rule.
Observe how pink is for girls and blue is for boys simply because of marketing that becomes entrenched. 150 years ago this was not the case. My high school tie is pink, at a boys school, as we choose that colour in many years ago.
Observe Nespresso coffee pods, a solution for a problem we don't really have (and that makes mainly worse coffee, or not better, than other methods) but created a problem with waste recycling (that was not thought about fully until years after launch), but it's more convenient (by a small margin) and well marketed. The man who invented the idea now has regrets.
Climate is not unique in this.
The (2) point is the necessary imprecision and variability of climate models. It has taken 100 years to get to this point. However given, this imprecision you can take risk-philosopher Nassim Taleb’s view: “We have only one planet. This fact radically constrains the kinds of risks that are appropriate to take at a large scale. Even a risk with very low probability becomes unacceptable when it affects all of us - there is no reversing mistakes of that magnitude. Without any precise models, we can still reason that polluting or altering our environment significantly could put us in uncharted territory, with no statistical track-record and potentially large consequences... While some amount of pollution is inevitable, high quantities of any pollutant put us at a rapidly increasing risk of destabilising the climate, a system integral to the biosphere. Ergo, we should build down CO2 emissions, even regardless of what climate-models tell us..." (Noted in this previous blog here).
The current Arts blog, cross-over, the current Investing blog. Cross fertilise, some thoughts on autism. Discover what the last arts/business mingle was all about (sign up for invites to the next event in the list below).
My Op-Ed in the Financial Times (My Financial Times opinion article) about asking long-term questions surrounding sustainability and ESG.
A long read on Will Hutton looking at Brexit causes and solutions.
How to live a life, well lived. Thoughts from a dying man. On play and playing games.
A provoking read on how to raise a feminist child.
Some popular posts: the commencement address; by NassimTaleb (Black Swan author, risk management philosopher), Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. Charlie Munger on always inverting; Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude.
Buy my play, Yellow Gentlemen, (amazon link) - all profits to charity