Climate Change: Too dangerous to ignore
Judy Curry has an interesting take on the latest talking points by the AGW proponent crowd. Looking at some of THE WRITINGS BY PAUL KRUGMAN REGARDING RISK AND UNCERTAINTY. Krugman is quoted:
“Now, despite the high credibility of climate modelers, there is still tremendous uncertainty in their long-term forecasts. But as we will see shortly, UNCERTAINTY MAKES THE CASE FOR ACTION STRONGER, NOT WEAKER.”
The basic argument is that since the high cost of the worst case global climate scenario so great and although it may appear low risk of it happening, the fact they we don’t know enough to say with certainty that it is low risk, makes the call to action stronger, not weaker.
Curry’s posting is very interesting reading. In it she cites discussions she’s had on some other sites. One I found particularly interesting was the following:
The analogy is fairly straightforward. THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AS COMMONLY APPLIED TO CLIMATE CHANGE SAYS THAT EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT FULLY CONVINCED THAT IT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN, IF YOU ACCEPT THAT IT MIGHT HAPPEN, THE COSTS ARE SO HIGH (E.G. TED TURNER’S CANNIBAL SCENARIO) THAT IT’S STILL THE ONLY RATIONAL CHOICE TO ACT TO PREVENT IT. Pascal’s Wager applied to the Christian afterlife mythology says that even if you’re not fully convinced that it will definitely happen, the costs (eternal torment versus eternal bliss) are so high that the only rational choice is to believe. THE DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF THE ARGUMENT ARE THAT IT OFFERS ONLY TWO ALTERNATIVES WITH THE PUTATIVE COSTS EMBEDDED THE HYPOTHESIS, AND THE CONCLUSION ARISES FROM THE HYPOTHESIZED COSTS ALONE, NOT THE EVIDENCE.
As a former engineer and having to do economic justifications for projects, I know how easy it is to manipulate the numbers. As simple change in an assumption can make a huge change in the expected outcome. Assuming the absolute worst and then saying despite the likelihood we can’t afford not to do something about it is sheer nonsense. Beware of geeks bearing theories.
Climate change: Fails its own test
….“That’s a testable idea. And the test is: you look at a period of the temperature record and you look at a period of the carbon dioxide emissions. So, STEP BACK 10 YEARS TO 2001. SINCE THEN THERE’S BEEN A FIVE PER CENT INCREASE IN CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOSPHERE, AND THAT’S 25 PER CENT, ALMOST A QUARTER OF ALL THE CARBON DIOXIDE WE’VE PUT IN THE ATMOSPHERE SINCE 1751. AND WHAT’S HAPPENED TO GLOBAL TEMPERATURE? IT’S GONE DOWN SLIGHTLY BY A BIT LESS THAN 0.05 DEG. C. As a scientific hypothesis, that’s the test; and the hypothesis fails the test.”….
Perhaps this is some of the uncertainty that Krugman was talking about? Nah, probably not.