I'm sorry, but this is complete bullshit.
No single paper, by Hansen or anyone else, becomes part of the "canon" a day after it is published. (Nor does it based on the version published in July of last year.)
I haven't even read the new version of Hansen et al in detail yet. But it is certainly not part of the canon, for the same reason that a play of Shakespeare's wasn't part of the literary canon less than a year after it was first published -- only time can tell. It takes a good bit of time for scientific papers to be anointed, and this paper's conclusions are certainly far from the mainsteam.
There are some extreme and improbable scenarios in Hansen et al. Sure, maybe we could pass a tipping point by 2050 -- but I think it's more than likely we will not.
Hansen anymore seems interested in promoting alarmism at all costs. There's been a whiff of this throughout his entire career, but this latest paper is just too much to take seriously.
Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield sea level rise of several meters in 50, 100 or 200 years.But there's no evidence of a doubling time of 10, 20 or 40 years. The latest Aviso sea level data now shows, over the satellite era, an acceleration of 0.026 mm/yr2 over a sea level rise of 3.36 mm/yr -- that's an acceleration/SLR of 0.72% per year, or a doubling time of 97 years.
Relative to sea level today, that works out to a rise of...16 inches.
(CU's data is even slower, showing an acceleration/SLR of 0.45%/yr.)
And the reactions Holthaus gets from other scientists, who weren't co-authors on the paper, aren't very convincing:
In an email to Slate, Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist who was skeptical of the initial draft, calls the final study “considerably improved.” Mottram, who specializes in studying the Greenland ice sheet, said “the scenario they sketch out is implausible, though perhaps not impossible … it’s frankly terrifying.”"Perhaps not impossible" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement that says the paper deserves to be part of any "canon."
Richard Alley, a key figure in the polar research community, also gave the Hansen study cautious praise. “It usefully reminds us that large and rapid changes are possible,” Alley said in an email, and that “uncertainties are clearly loaded on the “bad” side.” Alley stressed, though, that the Hansen result was only a single study, and wasn’t detailed enough to be used as a firm prediction.
Kim Cobb, a climate scientist specializing in ancient climate change, agrees that the Hansen study is useful mostly because it explores the worst-case scenario. “My bet is on non-linearities kicking in that we cannot yet measure adequately,” Cobb said in an email. “In that way I think it’s important to explore the upper limits.”Instead of the support Holthaus apparently thinks these give to the canonization for Hansen's paper, these are actually quite tepid remarks that duly show respect for the paper's authors without going anywhere close to endorsing their conclusions.
I don't see any reason to take this paper seriously. Sure, there could be tipping points in the future. That's easy to claim, and you can be wrong without consequence. But are they likely? I don't see any evidence presented there that they are likely by 2050, let alone 2100.
I'm afraid science writers are giving this paper coverage only because (1) they prefer alarmism, which is way to easy at the top of a big El Nino, and (2) they feel they need to give fealty to any work of Hansen's.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'll change my mind after I get into the details of the new version of the paper. But I don't expect so.
(I also feel that this paper was rushed out last summer before it was ready in order to influence the Paris talks. But then I also think the same about UAH's data version 6 "beta.")
PS: Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic more or less agrees with me:
Except I wouldn't call this paper "nobel." It's just another paper, and one that goes out on a limb that the science can't necessarily support.