7 May 2010

Climate change is real

But you already know that. If you want to beat up deniers, then send them this [pdf], via Emily Green.


  1. Dr. Zetland:

    Climate change is real to believers and not real to skeptics. There is enough evidence on both sides of the fence to support each claim. Its straight forward polar opposites.

    However, those on the skeptic side of the debate stick with the empirical/tragic view where as many, many on the believers side of the debate adhere to the intelligentsia/anointed view. That would be the factual view vs. the way things out to be view (see Thomas Sowell).

    The empirical/tragic view has all along framed the debate as “climate” where as the intelligentsia/anointed view has created the debate through a morphing dialogue of “global cooling” to “global warming” to its present stage of “climate change“.

    The apex of the debate was when the intelligentsia/anointed view attempted to use the empirical/tragic view as a debate point against the empirical/tragic view camp (skeptics) . That is, conclusions were drawn up by the intelligentsia/anointed view camp (believers) and then so called empirical evidence created to support the forgone conclusions. ClimateGate was merely a high water mark of creating evidence to support the view of “the way things ought to be”. The attempt to manufacture “evidence” and/or “empirical data” and subsequently being busted (ClimateGate) merely consolidated the opposition from the empirical/tragic view.

    However, as pointed out by Walter E. Williams, the “climate change” (believers) have caused government and business to invest so much money, time, and legislation into global warming aka climate change that the cost to turn back from “green” is perceived to be too expensive by government and business. That regardless of the false information revealed by ClmateGate, government and business would rather press on building upon faulty data due to past investment in the now know faulty data. That money is now driving the debate not empirical information.

    What Walter E. William’s is describing occurred in the 1930’s. The pacifist movement in France and Great Britain created high levels of unreality. The press along with government had invested so much in pacifism that they filtered information regarding Hitler’s Germany. They filtered the information and sided with pacifism without creating any concrete way to prevent Hitler’s aims, France went as far as to block the full translation of Mein Kampf and only made available gatekeeper edited versions. A perfect example of the Gatekeeper filtered information regarding climate change can be found in a very recent article “Climate Actually Changes! Film at 11:00!” Link here:


    Another puzzle part of the debate is that the empirical/tragic view points squarely to the “leaders” of the “believers”. The leaders of the green movement appear to be more interested in enriching themselves than fulfilling the notions of the follower (the army of believers). That the leaders are from the view of “do as I say not as I do“. That the leaders have one set of rules for themselves and yet another set of rules that the army of believers should adopt.

    The last puzzle part of the debate is the “social justice” and “redistribution of income and wealth” characteristics of the climate change leaders of the believers instead of cleaning up the environment. That the intensions of environmentalists have been hijacked along the way by those seeking the murky ideals of social justice and the redistribution of income. From he Center for American Progress to the Chicago Climate Exchange, certain players have hijacked the ideal of a cleaner environment for the ideology of social justice and redistribution of wealth and income. The large and overriding concern to environmentalists should be this “hijack” of a cleaner environment which has been replaced by ideology that results in nothing for the environment. The believers really need o examine the leaders true intentions rather than blindly following.

  2. Maybe I'm just being pedantic, but is anyone seriously trying to argue that Earth's climate is now fixed and unchanging? This would be a remarkable aassertion, given geologic history.

    Or does "climate change" now automatically imply the anthropogenic causation? If that's what you mean, then please use specific language, like "anthropogenic global warming (AGW)". For that, there is still plenty of room for scientific debate and healthy skepticism. Earth's climate is, and always has been, changing; but the causes have always been difficult to identify. While the evidence for anthropogenic "greenhouse" contribution to warming is strong, it is by no means the only possible explanation, given that Earth's climate has fluctuated wildly and rapidly several times in prehistory.

    With all that uncertainty, a more robust approach would be to identify and discuss options for adapting to change, rather than dubious preventive measures or farfetched and potentially dangerous "geoengineering" schemes.

    Certainly there is nothing useful to be gained from the kind of murky, unscientific suspicion voiced by the likes of W. E. Heasley...

  3. @all -- I think that AGW is happening, and I think that because I trust the scientists who signed that letter. (I also know that there are $billions to be made by someone who can falsify the null hypothesis of AGW).

    That said, my response would be to do sensible things, like ending subsidies for energy consumption (ethanol, as well as cheap leases, financing, and so on.) I agree that the social justice movement can be annoying, but it would be handy to pay for intact rainforests, instead of cheaper copy paper.

  4. albionwood said...

    “Certainly there is nothing useful to be gained from the kind of murky, unscientific suspicion voiced by the likes of W. E. Heasley... “


    Ah, the grand debating point of labeling my arguments “murky and unscientific” and hence dismiss the argument without an argument. Create the answer of “arguments with no argument“ through dismissal. Lucky for me this is not my first rodeo.

    The point of the comment above is that when a polarized debate occurs a very close examination of both sides of the argument/debate is highly useful. The comment was merely showing the skeptical side of the debate to the blog post “But you already know that. If you want to beat up deniers, then send them this [pdf], via Emily Green.”

    From an economic standpoint its useful to sort out the positive vs. normative information That is, applying positive economics rather than normative economics to the polarized debate points moves you back from political economy to economics. Then you can search for the simplest, least expensive solution that actually solves the problem.

    Albionwood, economics is the study, among other items, of the allocation of scarce resources to competing ends, incentives and disincentives, and finding the simplest, least expensive solution that actual solves the problem.

    Here is an example:

    (1) lets assume the problem is an externality such as pollution,

    (2) then we seek the simplest, least expensive way to actually solve the problem at hand which is pollution.

    Pretty straight forward, huh? No. No. Its not so straight forward once you enter the realm of normative issues. Cap and Trade is the world’s most complicated and expensive program that does not solve the problem. Opps! Hence the externality of pollution (our problem) remains unchanged yet we create a very complicated and expensive scheme known as Cap and Trade.

    Why would we create a complicated and expensive procedure that doesn’t solve the problem at hand? Why? Because the framers of the solution want the profit of the solution to flow away from the problem and flow to other issues/entities. Ah, the evil of it all!

    In this example, the simplest and least expensive solution would create a situation where “pollution” would profit in the form of direct reduction of pollution. The problem at hand needs solved (an externality such as pollution). All profit from our simplest and least expensive solution needs to flow directly to the problem.

    Albionwood, here is a real life example. Many previous and current public policies were supposedly designed to reduce pollution. Did the profits of the supposed solution flow directly to reducing pollution or did the policies merely change the location of the pollution? The policies merely exported the pollution to a new location. Total pollution remains unchanged. Yet we are left with huge bureaucracies filled with very expensive employees.

    This “export” of pollution was not the desired outcome. Hence we need to be very careful to have the outcome of policy (the solution) match the problem (reduce pollution). Take a closer examination of Cap and Trade, look at it from both sides of the debate. Then apply positive economics and you will find that once again, as in prior public policy, pollution remains unchanged and the “profit” of the solution is redirected from the problem at hand.

  5. A considerably less murky and unscientific reply, Mr. Heasley! When you don't stray off into "Gatekeeper" and "Mein Kampf" references you do pretty well.

    Economics can do well at identifying possible solutions to resource-allocation problems. In complex systems, however, the economic models invariably fail to identify all the implicit assumptions (many of which fall into the category of "externalities"), and so the proposed economic solutions invariably fail to behave as modeled. Yet economists almost invariably continue to believe their solutions would work, if only the people implementing them were pure-minded enough.

    The same kind of problem exists in the climate-change science: extremely complex systems for which we make numerous simplifying assumptions in order to develop potentially useful models. This is why I am (very) skeptical about our ability to plan and implement effective responses to stop or reverse climate change. I think that is a wrong-headed approach, indeed it is predicated on exactly the kind of thinking that led to the problem in the first place.

    Better to accept that global climate change is inevitable (it happens whether humans affect it or not) and think about ways to adapt. That's what worked for all the species presently alive, who survived something on the order of 6 degrees C warming in less than 100 years - far more catastrophic change than currently envisioned.

    So I am not interested in a polarizing debate about this side or that - I think all sides are looking at the problem ideologically and unscientifically. (That's why I objected to the unscientific drivel cluttering up your initial comment.) This is as true of economists proposing a market solution as for enviros proposing State controls.


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