Ever since she splashed into view I have wondered about Greta Thunberg’s reasoning. Her quoted statements, blasting the world for not doing the impossible, have given no clue where she is coming from.
Now, thanks to some detailed published statements of hers, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, I have my answer. It turns out she is hotly embracing not one, but two, howling fallacies. No wonder she sounds nuts.
To begin with, she cites the IPCC report on climate change from 2018, which claims we have only a few years left to act if there’s a 67% chance of keeping the global temperature rise from now to below 0.5 degrees C. (She, like everyone else, talks about a rise of 1.5 degrees, but the IPCC says that 1.0 degrees has already happened, which she knows.) If she said a half a degree people might laugh.
She says this is “not an opinion”, that it is THE science. Which is the first fallacy. What the IPCC writes is of course just an opinion and a highly contested one at that. It is nothing but model-based speculation, which is contradicted by real evidence.
But hey, lots of alarmists buy the IPCC stuff and they are not yelling that our planetary house is on fire. Getting to that point is Thunberg’s second, and far bigger, fallacy. She has decided that another half degree of global warming is the threshold to catastrophe.
Mind you she gives no actual reasons here. It appears to be a pure leap of faith. She mentions in passing some apparently dreadful things like tipping points and unknown feedbacks, but nothing specific. The IPCC certainly does not suggest any such hidden cataclysmic triggers.
She even says, “Either we prevent temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees (Celsius), or we don’t. Either we avoid chain reaction of unravelling ecosystems, or we don’t.” It sounds like one follows from the other but it doesn’t.
This is the first I have heard of a chain reaction of unraveling ecosystems, especially one triggered by tiny warming (just half of what we supposedly have already seen.) I am sure the IPCC has never mentioned this demon or we would all have heard of it.
So there it is. She starts with the questionable IPCC and then simply leaps into the abyss but she calls it, “THE science”. There is no science here. In fact, there is no reasoning that I can see. In logic this is called argument by assertion.
The IPCC report merely addressed the relatively mundane question “What is the difference between 1.5 degrees of total warming (0.5 to come) and 2.0 degrees?” This question arises because the Paris Accord includes both targets. It says we want to hit 2.0 but get below it toward 1.5 if possible. In no case is 1.5 a target.
Given that 2.0 is the basic target, it is perfectly clear that 1.5 is not the threshold to catastrophe. In fact the report says that while holding to 1.5 is better, the difference is small. This is why the UN has not proposed dropping the 2.0 degree target. All of which contradicts Greta Thunberg’s claims. The report she cites simply does not support her outlandish position. No wonder the CLINTEL people say there is NO emergency.
To recap, there are two fallacies in her reasoning. Let’s call them the IPCC fallacy and the Thunberg fallacy. The IPCC fallacy is thinking that humans control global temperature. The Thunberg fallacy is thinking that a mere half degree of future warming is the threshold to catastrophe, to the point of threatening human existence. Unfortunately her followers have embraced her delusion.
The IPCC fallacy is well established and widespread, including among many scientists. It is the basis for the Paris Accord. It is moderate in its way. The Thunberg fallacy is new and nuts. In fact it is tearing the alarmist community apart, which is fine by me. Although like all forms of madness, the Thunberg fallacy bears watching, lest it get out if control.
Greta Thunberg and her followers are calling for rapidly rebuilding the global energy system, while also completely restructuring the world’s economic, social and political systems. All this turmoil in the name of limiting future global warming to one half a degree. It does not get any crazier than that.