Paris Paradigm

The Seven Beliefs Required for Acceptance of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference Agenda

By David Swinehart


The COP21 is now history.  The bottom line is that countries should limit their CO2 emissions, but there is no enforcement mechanism, and unlike the Kyoto Protocol there is no treaty.  

If the United States had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the nation would have been required to reduce its total "greenhouse" gas (GHG) emissions by 6% from its 1990 level during the period 2008 to 2012. As of 2010 the United States had not reduced its total emissions, but rather had increased emissions by about 10% despite a rather large decrease in emissions per capita starting in 2007-2008 caused by the recession.

Should the United States or any country enter into an enforceable treaty instead of Paris agreement of the parties? The impetus for a treaty to reduce "greenhouse" emissions was a set of beliefs, a paradigm, fostered and promoted by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We will consider only on the essential beliefs espoused by the IPCC, each of which is necessary, for a global treaty to reduce "greenhouse" gas emissions to be a reasonable course of action.

By rating the probabilities that those beliefs are true,  you can calculate your "Warmist Score", or more accurately, your adherence to the need for treaty (or lack thereof, your "Skeptic Score").

The following is a set of Beliefs that are espoused by supporters of a Kyoto type treaty. It is also contended that every Belief is necessary and, taken together, sufficient for such a treaty to be acceptable, i.e. the failure of any one of these Beliefs would make such a treaty pointless, but on the contrary if all Beliefs are true, then a Kyoto type treaty would be prudent

The Paris Paradigm (a set of seven assertions all of which are necessary to justify a treaty)

1.  Unprecedented global warming caused by humans both in rate and magnitude. Since 1850 due to mankind, the earth has warmed faster and to a higher temperature than at any other time in the last 1,000 years, if not longer.

  1. Accelerating warming. The rate of temperatures increase will accelerate resulting in the period from 1850 to 2100 having an increase in temperature from 2.0° to 4.5°C; or perhaps more.
  2. Very harmful. This warming has had a significant net harm to the world causing more deaths, economic loss, hurricanes, tornados, droughts, flooding, growth in deserts, increases in malaria, heart attacks, loss of food supply, forced human relocation, wars and deforestation among other harmful effects. The increase in the warming rate mentioned in Belief 2 will cause even greater harm to the world.
  3. CO2 to blame. The prime cause of all of this is CO2 emissions by humankind. 
  4. Can be controlled. By reducing human emissions of GHG's (primarily CO2) through a global treaty, warming and its bad effects can be avoided.
  5. Better than the alternative. The solution will be less harmful than doing nothing or doing any other proposed solution (adaption or geo-engineering).
  6. No cheaters. All major emitting countries and regions will comply with the treaty or if they do not, they can be forced into compliance.

What is your Skeptic Score?

To see where you fit on the Warmist/Skeptic scale, fill in the probability of each of the seven Beliefs being true on the blank lines provided in the following table, then multiply all of them together (Click on the following for a Discussion of Each Belief).

Opinions vary and you may feel that one or more Beliefs are not necessary, in which case you can simple assign a 1.0 to that belief, and it will be effectively removed from consideration. On the other hand, you may feel that important elements have been omitted and may wish to add to the list.

For example, if you were to estimate that each Belief has a 97% change of being correct, the product would be 0.97 multiplied seven times or approximately 0.81. Your Warmist Score would be 81% and you would be a true believer. Your Skeptic Score would be the additive inverse, i.e. 1.0 - 0.81 or 0.19 (19%).

Table of Probabilities for the seven Beliefs:

____ Unprecedented global warming caused by humans both in rate and magnitude

____ Accelerating warming

____ Very harmful

____ CO2 to blame

____ Can be controlled

____ Better than the alternative

____ No cheaters


____ Warmist Score* (the product of the seven Beliefs). The Skeptic Score is 1.0 - the Warmist Score.

* Note: this is only a crude estimate of subjective beliefs. There is no precision to this method. If you feel that anyone of the listed Beliefs is not necessary to support a treaty, simply assign a value of 1.00 to that Belief. That will effectively remove it from consideration. 

Note for the statistically literate: You may not feel that every one of the Beliefs is independent of the other. If you do, feel free to use Bayesian probability to calculate your score. For a discussion of Bayesian probability click here.

For the rest of us, if A and B are related, so that if A happens, B is more likely to happen, then the probability of both happening is more likely than simply taking the product of probability A and probability B considered separately. Since  we are dealing with subjective probabilities here, and human nature being what it is, one will most likely over estimate the probability of B, having been prejudiced by having already considered A and thereby compensate somewhat for non-independent probabilities.

In any event, the score is only a crude estimate of where you fall on the Warmist/Skeptic scale.