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02/04/2007

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michael steigmann

Judge, there is no scientific consensus that global warming has thus far had any net negative effects, or that it will (depending on the degree to which it occurs). You are doing a disservice to yourself and the community by making this false assertion.

MistrX

Considering the fact that humans contribute only 0.32% of all CO2, it is hard to believe that reducing our portion of CO2 to even 0.10% will have any effect.

Drew

The sun cause global warming.

There can be only one solution.

We have to nuke the sun.

Gotta nuke something..

John F.

Global warming has only recently entered the consciousness of the public at large. Yet a small scientific elite, operating under politicized sponsorship, has declared the matter settled and any dissenters on the take, stupid, or (with apologies to George Orwell) A Denier. So now we have an economist and a lawyer, who cite no evidence of having studied the matter themselves, telling me that any attempt to examine the evidence for myself is equivalent to denying that cigarettes cause cancer. Do I have to provide a notarized copy of my math PhD. to be able to raise my hand from the back of the class? The Internet never forgets, and if the Cassandras prove to be wrong, I hope those of us who prefer to think for ourselves make sure they don't either.

The Raging Patriot

I've been asking a question to those who believe that global warming is caused by human activity: What caused the several global warming events throughout earth's history?

I've yet to have anyone even attempt to answer it.

Walter S.

Dennis Mangan has it exactly right. Before even thinking about countermeasures we should have some reason for thinking that global warming is, net, a bad thing. Too many people, perhaps including our host, have skipped that step.

Jacob

"For example, suppose we estimate that the loss in the year 2057 will be $100 billion. Then at the same 10 percent interest rate, we would want to spend $852 million this year."

Maybe we would want to spend 852 million this year, but ONLY if we were sure that it would achieve the desired result of reducing the loss in 2057 by 100 billion.
All "solutions" proposed by the greens - such as Kyoto, or a carbon tax - will solve nothing, and will achieve nothing. This is why we aren't willing to spend those 852 million (or such).

InJapan

My, it is certainly interested in seeing all the comments. I wonder how many of the comment writers have even read the IPCC report?

What those not trained in science often fail to appreciate is that both data and predictions come with errors associated but not necessarily mentioned in every paragraph or every chart of a scientific summary.

Then when the lay-reader does find out that there are exceptions to theories, and errors in data, the response is all to often to call into question the whole scientific undertaking.

I propose that is what we are seeing in several of the comments above mine. Too many dissenters want to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because there is still much (scientific) work to be done.

What Mr. Posner has written is about accepting that since we have limited knowledge we will have various, differing, opinions about what the discount rates (in this case wrt climate change and its anthropogenicity) ought to be, were we to try and monetize what climate change means to us.

Dealing with climate change is a classic low probability (for any given year), high risk problem. Being able to deal with that type of issue (versus a high probability, low risk) is critical in making sound policies.

Rob

might persuade other big emitters like China and India to follow suit

To me, this is the real problem. Out of control underground coal fires in China now emit as much CO2 as all the cars and trucks in the US.

What if we spend a lot of money and get OUR act cleaned up, but they don't? This is a variation of the Prisoner's Dilemma and we're playing with parners known to uncooperative.

I think we should spend largely on this problem, but not so large that it hurts our economy. Technology is going to be the answer here, whether it's alternative energy sources or better batteries or increased efficiency or whatever. We'll only have the money to develop that technology if our economy is strong enough to afford it.

My guess is that we WILL spend the money, but that it will be a pyrrhic victory because other countries (Mexico, China, etc) aren't going to be willing or able to do their part.

I think we should be concentrating more on how we're going to deal with a warmer world than fooling around with some stupid debate about who or what we can blame. Climate is going to change, no matter what. It always has. We need to learn to deal with it, not point fingers.

happyfeet

Richard, it's just not compelling argumentation when geezers in their last decade start making the case for "arguments for incurring hefty current expenditures." Pour yourself a scotch and watch some of that reality tv the kids have been talking about.

TallDave

Before we start recklessly taking action to lower the temperature of the Earth, we should stop and consider that the KNOWN consequences of global cooling are far, far more devastating than even the most lurid fantasies spun by GW alarmists.

Even if fast global cooling is a relatively low risk, the consequences (the massive crop failures and loss of arable land to glaciation alone would almost immediately end modern civilization and reduce human population to mere millions) are so severe we might well be best served to warm the globe as much as possible, especially given that we know that without human intervention the Earth will eventually enter another ice age.

happyfeet

TallDave has just illustrated how you can make a cogent, compelling argument without coarsening public discourse.

apb

There is a large glacier-covered island called Greenland that's part of the North American continent. Anyone care to guess why it's called "Greenland?"

It seems that the herd of brilliant scientists that favor human-caused climate change are completely ignoring the Medieval warm period. You know, when Leif Eriksson and Erik the Red melted the glaciers by driving their SUV's over from Iceland to go off-roading....

mrsizer

People are idiots. We will spend a ton of money on this - all in the wrong way.

For example: Anyone who thinks that New Orleans should (continue to) be rebuilt obviously doesn't believe the global warming reports.

The solution isn't to "fix" global warming - even if we could (I'm in the "it's getting warmer but people have very little to do with it" crowd) without unintended consequences. The solution is to adapt to it - then it doesn't matter what is causing it.

M. Simon

Current estimates are that sea levels are rising at the astounding rate of 3.3 mm a year. Almost 50% higher than the last estimate.

At that rate if it continues sea levels will rise about 1 foot in 100 years.

We are doomed.

I wonder if Dr. Becker has run the numbers? Or looked at geological history. Or inspected the models (you can't, the codes are private and unreleased - nothing like science done in the open to give a feller confidence).

As some one elsewhere pointed out: suppose there are 100 multaplicative factors in the climate equation each known to 99% accuracy. The chances of a right answer is about 1 in 3. Now repeat the multiplications using your last answer. How long does it take to get pure garbage? Not very long.

If the accuracy of the inputs and factors is 98% then the worst case first iteration gives about 5% chance of the right answer.

Now some of the factors will offset each other and other things will help. But there are other problems. For instance is the effect of water vapor positive, negative, or neutral? And if positive or negative by how much?

The sun is a variable star. Is that variation included in the models? How anout orbital and inclination variations of the Earth? Milankovitch Cycles anyone?

pragma

The scientists and "good well-meaning people of the world" have not been able to solve famine and hunger, genocide, disease and AIDS, cancer, utopian equality or the generally unpredictable harshness of mother nature herself. Thus, they won't be able to solve this problem either, man made or not. Yet, we will misspend hundreds of trillions of dollars over the next 50 years trying to do so. Nature will take her course, and humans need to accept the harsh realities of that, as did the dinosaurs. The greatest human weakness is to believe that we are somehow above and immune to the random catastrophies that the great universe can dish out.

Btw, how much did it cost to determine that Pluto is no longer a planet? Please.

apb

My snark aside, TallDave is probably on to something.

What if the "climate change" that evereyone is pushing turns out to be mere moderation? Aside from projection of a degree C increase, is the increase only in the cold areas of the planet? Wouldn't this then reduce the volatility between cold and hot, actually moderating the weather?

As we saw from the hurricane bust of 2006, the atlantic ocean had actually cooled - is that a side effect of melting glacial ice?

bristlecone

"The third argument is that reducing our consumption of energy by a heavy energy tax would confer national security benefits by reducing our dependence on imported oil."

For the Love of God, that's not the way supply and demand works. A heavy energy tax, by reducing demand, would lower the clearing cost of energy. Because the low-cost producer is Saudi Arabia, a heavy carbon tax would actually INCREASE our dependence of foreign oil.

If Posner does not understand what happens when the demand curve shifts left, how credible is he on understanding time value of money?

Orson

Overblown,

That's how to summarize the ICPPs Summary for POlictmakers, just released. I say that because it reuses the Mann, Bradly, et, al., Hockey Stick - which the NAS head of statistics Edward Wegman called "unscientific" last summer.

In an AP story, NCARs Kevin Trenberth (in Boulder) warned of eventually one millions deaths - preusmable per year. But we leave two million to dies from malaria each year, and it's largely preventable with DDT. But are we exorcised about THIS tragedy? No, only if Gaia is sacraficed (ie, changed! Somethign humans have always done.

Thus, the anthropogenic climate warming hysteria is about religion of saving the earth - not bettering people. In fact, the only thing CGMs (climate modelling) have gotten empirically right is increased high latitude warming. Not the lower troposhpere uncoupling, not the non-warming satellites show in the southern hempisphere.

I'm repelled by the phony alarmism. Big Science is corrupt!

Bernie

Can someone point me in the direction of any "science" that explains global warming? I have a technical background and would like to learn something. All I can find is most scientists agree that... I would like to see what they are basing the conclusions on. Without looking at anything it seems to me that global warming is a simple energy balance. We are taking stored chemical energy and converting it to heat. I would like to see if the global warming science takes that into account. My initial thought is that global warming is caused by producing more heat, not CO2, but that has to be too simple.

Cliff

The point made about Mars is certainly an obvious one. There is an positive correlation coefficient for Earth temperatures and solar activity, but not one for man made greenhouse gasses and Earth temperatures. Man made global warming is an elaborate theory without statistics to back it up. The models when backcast are worse than random numbers. Anyone out there that can tell me the weather for Chicago 10 days from now? Nope, absolutely no one.

As for cigarettes, you can clearly state that smoking is linked to several diseases, but you can't say they cause those diseases. While the statistics are overwhelming that smoking is bad for you, and a rational person attempting to maximize health would not smoke, a mechanism needs to be defined to use the word "cause". The mechanism has never been discovered. That is the historic argument between tobacco companies and public health officials/ politicians/trial attorneys. Statistics, while valuable, alone don't constitute science. Historic statistics suggest the stock market will go up this year based on the results of the Super Bowl. This is due to an anomoly, not any underlying mechanism.

For a very entertaining lecture on adjusting single variables to complex systems please see http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speeches/complexity/complexity.html

Haris

"The scientists and "good well-meaning people of the world" have not been able to solve famine and hunger, genocide, disease and AIDS, cancer, utopian equality or the generally unpredictable harshness of mother nature herself."

I'm pretty sure we could solve plenty of problems if we listened to the right people. Solutions are out there, usually prevented by small and powerful interest groups. Scientists have created plenty of good things, and they may be right about this. We can debate about the report all we want [although I doubt we're qualified to] but let's not label scientists as inept and incapable.

Jason

"Btw, how much did it cost to determine that Pluto is no longer a planet? Please."

Surprisingly little. In the grand scheme of things, the total budget for Astronomy, and especially Astronomical Conferences of the type that reclassified Pluto, is miniscule. The results, on the other hand, are about as useful as those of the IPCC.

Jack

Bernie: Since you are a technical person I'd agree that "looking at something" would be a good idea as the longest journey, does indeed, begin with that first tentative step. As for your initial, intuitive? concern of the heat put into the system from the use of heat producing technology, I think you'll find it negligible, and would suggest your first step might be that of typing "earth green house effect" into google or yahoo. Oh! and seeing Gore's film could add quite a bit for a short evening's effort. Good luck! Jack

"Without looking at anything it seems to me that global warming is a simple energy balance. We are taking stored chemical energy and converting it to heat."

apb

Bernie -

Here's an interesting site I stumbled across - a handy chart shows temperature variation vs. CO2 levels over the past 600 million years. The temp is most interesting - we're at a minimum right now, and the minimums seem to spike neatly in a 145 million-year cycle; the 600-million year history shows relatively quick transitions from max->min->max, with minimum and maximum boundaries at 12C and 22C respectively...

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