Tom Schelling stressed a related point in his climate change talk

Vanishing glaciers raise urgent concerns beyond Tibet and China.

By one estimate, the 46,000 glaciers of the Third Pole region help sustain 1.5 billion people in 10 countries — its waters flowing to places as distant as the tropical Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the hills of eastern Myanmar and the southern plains of Bangladesh. Scattered across nearly two million square miles, these glaciers are receding at an ever-quickening pace, producing a rise in levels of rivers and lakes in the short term and threatening Asia’s water supply in the long run.

That treatment is from Edward Wong at the NYT.

Perhaps you’ve already read Alex’s report on Schelling.  It was remarkable that Tom was able to talk for an hour straight, without pausing, without mistakes, grammatical or otherwise, and with a perfectly conceived factual, dramatic, and narrative arc.  With excellent stories.  All without notes.  At the age of 94.


Is there a link to a copy of Schelling's climate change paper ? I can't find it.

No paper, just his talk, sorry!

"By one estimate, the 46,000 glaciers of the Third Pole region help sustain 1.5 billion people in 10 countries"

By one estimate! Followed by approximate, unverifiable numbers. 46, 000 glaciers, 1.5 billion people. Ten countries probably isn't even correct. Statements like that are less than meaningless.

Global warming doesn't mean you won't get the precipitation. So, the water won't go away. About the only thing the glaciers do, is store the water up for the warm season and release it gradually as it gets warmer. Hydro-electric dam and reservoirs could provide the same functionality and provide power.

Which is consistent with Schelling’s talk about planning for change.

Yes agreed.

Surprised the writer didn't mention the six major river systems of Asia:
- Yellow
- Yangtze
- Ganges
- Brahmaputra
- Mekong
- Indus

& that all of them derive their water from the Himalayan icepack.

Schelling mentioned the areas fed by those rivers without mentioning the rivers themselves. The only one he did not mention was Bangladesh, but it came out later that this was due to its not being suitable for the sort of infrastructure he was discussing to deal with the problem, which is indeed deep reservoirs to store the glacial melt when it happens for later use. Bangladesh is simply too low and flat, the ultimate large victim country of any major sea level rise.


He did not provide any sources, but my experience with Schelling is that if he states something as a fact it is. Those are probably correct numbers, they certainly do not seem obviously unreasonable, even if no source was cited for each.

As Tykler noted, Schelling spoke without notes or power points or microphone. He simply sat at this table and talked about very important ideas that do not have easy solutions. Indeed, the latter may have been the bottom line in that the sorts of infrastructure projects he was talking about as very likely (but not necessarily) being needed some decades in the future would if properly managed require several decades of preparation and planning to put in place, but clearly the governance structures as well as the political will to do so are largely lacking at this time. Hence my question to him about how large of a disaster would it take to spur relevant parties to any serious action, to which there is also no answer.

All the people comminting on both of these threads declaring Schelling to be out of it or not in touch with reality or whatever simply show themselves not to be serious commentators. The man is more on top of this than anybody that was in that room or that is commenting on either of these threads.

Serious action? As in effective action? Like cessation of international trade in fossil fuels? Banning personal cars? Accepting a >50% reduction in the GDP of your country? There is no disaster of that magnitude. And even if there were, by the time it happened no such action option would be available.

The climate will return to a dynamic equilibrium when the world population (especially the fossil-fuel consuming population) is greatly reduced. No nation has the will to make that happen pre-emptively, so we must wait for the climate to do it on its own.

Mark Thorson,

The phrase "serious action," with which you begin your comment does not appear in the comment that you are commenting on. So it would appear that your are basically a complete moron not worthy of any serious consideration whatsoever. GTFO.

On the other hand, a significant number of Himalayan glaciers are adding mass. Instead of adding to sea level rise, on balance, the Asian glaciers are subtracting from it: "Previous estimates had suggested the Himalayan mountain range as a whole was contributing about 0.04 millimeters per year to sea-level rise. These numbers now need to be adjusted to account for the anomaly of the Karakoram region, and are probably more like negative 0.006 millimeters per year, the researchers say."

What is a climate "change" talk as opposed to just a climate talk?

Do people really think climate is a static system and that change is an anomaly?


Everyone knows about long climate cycles and everyone is talking about rapid change in addition.

Everyone is talking. The climate isn't listening.

Malthusian Chicken Littles have been talking for centuries. Thinking? Not so much.

This might be the time when environmentalists finally ban markets and adopt global communism. We can all hope.

That's so False as to be funny. Your average person knows nothing virtually nothing about long climate cycles.

Every elementary school textbook covers it, and here is a kids' science page that does as well:

"Every elementary school textbook covers it,"

No they don't. You really need to think about what you write. At best, one book out of a set of 5 or 6 might cover the topic in elementary school. And it's (obviously) an elementary discussion of the topic. Furthermore, your average person doesn't remember in detail topics they covered in school years ago.

They aren't going to remember that historically we recovering from an Ice Age (Pleistocene epoch) and the temperature trends are upwards and for the same reasons the sea levels are rising. They certainly won't know that current global temperatures are cooler than the peaks hit between glaciation intervals during the Pleistocene. Which is why, when you talk about those topics, it's important to place things in context. Particularly when the context directly impacts the extent of the issue.

I'm actually a believer in AGW, but I think we need a good understanding of what the temperature trends are and what the likely consequences are before we spend trillions of dollars in mitigation strategies.

I don't think it is a super strong argument that nobody knows about ice ages. Sorry.

And it is kinda sick. One of the kids supposedly met "the guy who invented climate change." He is a Republican political operator who claims that everyone was calling it global warming, and it was his idea to rebrand to a less dangerous sounding phrase.

Now you want to tell me that it is GW fans fault that CC is misunderstood.

That is not a bug, that is a feature. For the other side.

Seriously, that was the political plan, to rebrand to climate change because climate change happens all the time.

"I don’t think it is a super strong argument that nobody knows about ice ages. Sorry. "

The average person certainly knows that there was an Ice Age in the past. They've no doubt seen the animated film. However, they almost certainly don't know that the temperatures were higher than current temperatures some time before the Ice Age started and that the temperatures were higher than the current temperatures between maximum glacial periods.

"Seriously, that was the political plan, to rebrand to climate change because climate change happens all the time."

Apparently you are ignorant of the fact that it was rebranded climate change by AGW advocates. And yes, it was a political plan.

So most people have never heard about ice ages?

Glacier melting has been the trend since the last ice-age ended. For there to be climate change we would need to see glacier melt stop or for the rate to increase significantly. Mr. Schelling may be a very bright person but he appears to be distorting the meaning of the word "change.

Until humans built reservoirs and irrigation lines the great basin of the USA and the southwest deserts were barren. Humans engineered a way to make that land habitable. So it will be with any lands going forward.Those who opine that the solution is found in climate policy are dreamy and should only be heard for entertainment purposes only.

science knows these things:

Within the context of the last century or more, the 1980s event was unique in terms of its global scope and scale; our observed consequences imply that if unavoidable natural events such as major volcanic eruptions interact with anthropogenic warming unforeseen multiplier effects may occur.

Utter BS

Until science actually starts some quality control, science will continue to lose respect.

Science demands tremendous respect, it is what drives our daily existence.

Climate activitism OTOH deserves noting but scorn.

Ha-ha. Trust science but don't trust science.

Dan W.,

Another person who does not read. Schelling did not talk about "change," he simply accepted what are the main projections of the most accepted scientific studies going forward, which have warming happening at a faster pace than in the past. That will accelerate these problems of glacial retreat, which is what led him to propose deep reservoirs and so on to deal with this. He did not talk at all about mitigation. He has in effect given up on it, or accepts that even if it is tried, it probably will not succeed. So, this was a talk about adapatation to what is probably inevitable even if there are major mitigation efforts. Global temperature is highly likely to rise significantly within the coming decades, so we should be thinking about these sorts of major infrastructure projects, even if probably nobody is going to do anything about them, certainly not in what is left of his long life.

The Holocene's previous warming episodes all brought wetter conditons (and the cooling episodes brought droughts), why will this be different? Glaciers are one source of water, wetter atmosphere is another.

I just read this on the train to Grand Central and while walking out the back (47th St) a woman asked me if I knew where the clock in Grand Central was... I couldn't believe it... Should I buy a lottery ticket or something... Bet on the Celtics vs Golden State tonight? What are the chances?

"It was remarkable that Tom was able to talk for an hour straight, without pausing,...without notes. At the age of 94."

So what? At that age, he's had enough time to get it right. He should be able to ... uh, what was I saying? Oh look, another Facebook alert...

We're permanently seeking the elusive harmony, why ramifications of diets appear
restricted, questioning.

Basically, you can only do 5 invoices, 5 proposals, and 5 expenses
in the free version. You need to seek Tax Filing Help if you would like stay
away from Tax Levy complications like a Wage
Levy or Bank Levy. Validation during - Data Import to ensure base data is correct resulting in generation of.

Comments for this post are closed