Why does the ‘climate debate’ drag on?

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Here’s why: there are a number of people applying a host of wrong techniques to attack.

Take an example: Say your cousin Vinny developed an abscess (ouch). Nothing too big and it’s just starting off. But what if – instead of going to a doctor  who would probably lance the boil – you both decide to treat it with antibiotics?

Now, instead of the fleeting pain and subsequent cure, Vinny’s abscess shrinks a bit but walls off. There’s no way to get it out, and it takes forever to resolve.

Take for example, this article on the Paris accord that appeared a while ago in the American Interest.

It has a very promising and intriguing title: “Twilight of the Climate Change Movement”

Wow – you think. Everyone’s celebrating ‘Paris’ in the climate world and here’s someone who thinks it might actually be a disaster for the movement? How interesting.

Drawn in by the premise, you read on, and the author declares:

The climate change movement faces big trouble ahead. Its principal propositions contain two major fallacies that can only become more glaring with time

What are these two fallacies?

First

…in stark contrast to popular belief … the science on which the dire predictions of manmade climate change is based is nowhere near the level of understanding or certainty that popular discourse commonly ascribes to it.

We know that. Anyone with half a working brain knows that, so good.

Second:

… the movement’s embrace of an absolute form of the precautionary principle distorts rational cost-benefit analysis, or throws it out the window altogether.

Here lies the problem.

What makes the author Mario Loyola think the climate movement has anything to do with ‘rational cost-benefit analysis’?

If it were, you could say ‘Yes, these people are hamming it up. they’re not doing a good job’. The issue of a bad cost-benefit analysis comes up only if the thing was a question of cost-benefit analysis.

Has the author never in his studies encountered power-seeking, profiteering, political and personal ambition wrapped up as ‘environmentalism’? Calculating finances to pay for Catholic indulgences might have taken some hard math too, but it takes special talent to get cracking with the calculations but be blind to the charade.

The climate movement is not in trouble because the ‘rationality’ of their cost-benefit analysis is ‘distorted’ by the precautionary principle. The climate movement is a distortion that uses the appearance of cost-benefit analysis to pass itself off as rational.

 

Loyola recognizes that the climate movement’s agenda is essentially “anti-industrial”.

If one knows this, the way is simply clear: stop taking the impact of estimates of ‘equillibrium climate sensitivity’ on the anti-industrial agenda seriously. The ECS analyses of Nic Lewis’ are interesting but why pretend they have any bearing at all on Bill McKibben’s next move?

There are lots of people in the climate debate who take the quantitative questions thrown up by the voodoo premises of the climate movement quite seriously and analyze them with great effort. The lukewarmers certainly belong in this class.

They have definitely contributed to prolonging humanity’s climate pain.

 

 

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8 comments

  1. Oliver K. Manuel

    You ask a good question. In my opinion, the answer is that

    1. The Clmate Movement is the culmination to seventy years (1946-2016) of deception to “save the world from nuclear annihilation” by hiding the source of energy in cores of heavy atoms and atomic bombs from the public

    2. Although that same source of energy in the core of the Sun made and sustains every atom, life and planet in the Solar System today, the political power of the united post-WWII national academies of sciences is too great to willingly admit

    3. Neutron repulsion is indelibly recorded in exact rest masses of the ~3,000 types of atoms that compromise all matter and powers the expansion of the Cosmos by converting neutron-rich cores of galaxies and stars into interstellar hydrogen.

  2. Hans Erren

    Given the two century response time of ECS, the value is entirely academic and of no relevance to present day policy makers whatsoever. Only good for horror what-if SF-scenarios.

  3. Oliver Manuel

    Thank you, Shub, for your patience. The conclusion is almost spiritual or cosmic, almost beyond my own limited ability to comprehend.

  4. manicbeancounter

    Well done Shub for highlighting the cost-benefit analysis issues.
    The power-seeking bit has been studied in Public Choice Economics, founded by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock. It has some very obvious claims that politicians are self-serving and coalition builders. Also bureaucrats tend to maintain the status quo, so radical policies tend to get diluted.
    There are other aspects of cost-benefit analysis that are ignored. As a consequence, even the theoretically perfect policies will end up being far less effective in reality.
    The precautionary principle is never applied to policy. Failures of grandiose schemes to change the world in the past should at a minimum have some required sort of due diligence before accepting them again. Without it we should discount the assumed outcomes. The discount should have become larger over time due to failure of policy.
    The precautionary principle is at an extreme end of risk analysis. In the light of a distinct lack of evidence of impending doom (accelerating sea level rise, increasing droughts, increasing hurricanes etc.) any sensible person would put an increasing discount on the prophesies.

    There are other areas that are way beyond the scope of the climatologists. One is that it is patently obvious most countries are not going to make meaningful cuts in GHG emissions. So even if the prophesies of doom are correct, the countries with successful emissions reductions policies will be worse off than if they had done nothing.

  5. manicbeancounter

    Shub,
    I should have read your article a bit less haste.
    There has been a shift in the climate debate from the scientific evidence to accepting the opinions of the scientific consensus. That opinion in substance consists of nothing more than those who accept rising levels of greenhouse gases will cause global average temperatures to increase. There is nothing about the magnitude of the warming, the likely harmful consequences, or the effectiveness of mitigation policies. This is clear from John Cook’s theconsensusproject website set up to promote his 97% consensus paper/

    https://manicbeancounter.com/2014/09/09/theconsensusproject-unskeptical-misinformation-on-global-warming/

    The impact is to totally switch the argument. Rather than in basing policy on a cost-benefit analysis there is only established opinion. But the political dogmatists nullify any objection by pointing to the expert scientific consensus on the world heading for dangerous climate change unless “we” adopt policies to combat it.
    The “argument” then is switched to dogmatic opinions allegedly held by a consensus of experts against a bunch of anti-science cranks blinded by whatever deficiency the anointed proclaim, The hand-waving arguments based on baseless opinions become the only currency.

  6. dennisambler

    Absolutely spot on. This was written in February 2011: “United (Socialist) Nations” –
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/science-papers/originals/un-progress-governance-via-climate-change

    “Whilst the continual scientific rebuttals of the climate reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may make many people think that this charade cannot continue much longer, behind the scenes it is quite irrelevant; the long-term process marches relentlessly on as if there had never been any challenges at all.

    As the advocates throw in yet more spurious claims of the “hottest year on record”, or record cold caused by CO2 emissions, they occupy the debate, and determine the daily agenda in the media, whilst those who know that the claims are spurious, are driven to waste time, effort and resources on refuting them.

    However, the climate change agenda is seen as the best route to re-distribution of wealth from rich to poor countries via a UN global government, although they think “governance” sounds a little less threatening.”

    Of course, those involved in the re-distributing manage to build up quite a lot of re-distributed wealth themselves, Most of the main players are also involved in some way in “carbon” trading schemes, offsets and the like. In particular, the erstwhile exec sec of the IPCC, Christiana Figueres, who was involved in carbon trading with Lord Stern at IdeaCarbon’s Carbon Rating Agency before taking her current job. No doubt she will go back to that life when she leaves later this year, now she has fertilised the ground a little more.

    It is quite ironic that you mention Catholic indulgences in the context of the piece by Mario Loyola. It was Saint Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). I wonder if he is related?

  7. dennisambler

    “exec sec of the IPCC, Christiana Figueres” – should be UNFCCC, co-sponsor with WMO of IPCC