Re: [asa] agw: Skeptics vs Believers

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Sun Dec 06 2009 - 17:28:07 EST


Some problems I have with your question.

1) The economic cost of a one meter sealevel rise when? Tomorrow? Over 100
years? 200 years?

2) You mention that this is an "intermediate risk". Could be, though of
course that depends on which risks someone is even entertaining as likely,
and to what degree. Iran launching an invasion of Iraq and Israel is an
intermediate risk compared to China declaring war on America and the EU. Is
it likely? That's another question.

3) How do we know cutting back emissions (which itself can be done in a lot
of ways, from out and out fines and pulling back of industry, to major
investment in nuclear power plans, etc) will work, or work "in time"?

To give an example of what I mean, with my emphasis added:

From that article:

*A rise of at least two meters in the world's sea levels is now almost
unstoppable, experts told a climate conference at Oxford University on



"The crux of the sea level issue is that it starts very slowly but once it
gets going it is practically unstoppable," said Stefan Rahmstorf, a
scientist at Germany's Potsdam Institute and a widely recognized sea level

"There is no way I can see to stop this rise, even if we have gone to zero


His best guess was a one meter rise this century, assuming three degrees
warming, and up to five meters over the next 300 years.

"There is nothing we can do to stop this unless we manage to cool the
planet. That would require extracting the carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere. There is no way of doing this on the sufficient scale known
today," he said.

This is just one example of a number I could bring up, from James Lovelock's
"It's too late, we can't stop this, doom is assured" forecasts, to "Whatever
we do today, there's going to be a lag time of X years before this takes
effect", to elsewise. And this isn't from climate skeptics, but AGW
boosters. What goes unspoken is that if these claims are valid - that the
climate is, whether due to man or due to nature, already quite firmly set on
its course and that we won't be able to stop it - then taking steps to stop
it is foolish. Especially considering it would mean laying out money and
time that could conceivably be spent elsewhere, like compensating for
changes that actually do take place if in fact they do, etc.
James Lovelock, of course, was also a big booster of nuclear power, which he
argued was absolutely vital to combating climate change. And he also met
with quite a lot of resistance from environmentalists over that topic. I
suppose saving the planet is important, but not that important.
On Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 3:47 PM, Randy Isaac <> wrote:
> I certainly agree with your last sentence but I presume it was a Freudian
> typo and you were really telling me where to go.
> Your note does clarify how we differ in the types of data to consider.
>  Your view of Gore's character (I have admonished you several times that on
> this list we expect authors to attack ideas, not people's character) is a
> datapoint that I certainly am aware of but its effect is negligible. Neither
> I nor any scientist I know has ever used information from Al Gore as a data
> source. He conveys information to the public (well, at least a subset) but
> he isn't a scientific source and his character could be anything, for all I
> care. As for the negative feedbacks, we do have historical records that
> indicate bounds so I don't believe these have been totally ignored. Wishful
> thinking is easy to incorporate into these decisions but not very wise.
> I fully agree with you that the debate should be about  the magnitude of
> the impact, the cost tradeoffs and the most effective ways of achieving our
> ends. I had not detected that from you before. To do that, a good discussion
> would be the economic cost of a one meter sealevel rise vs the cost of
> maintaining carbon emissions at approximately their current level for the
> next 50 years. Care to take a crack at it? Both are intermediate risk levels
> and not extremist or alarmist levels.
> Randy
> --------------------------------------------------
> From: "John Walley" <>
> Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 8:35 AM
> To: "Randy Isaac" <>; <>
> Subject: Re: [asa] agw: Skeptics vs Believers
>  Randy,
>> I take issue with this. You seem to imply that it all comes down to the
>> data and that is the trump card that settles everything. But it isn't. All
>> the current emperical data can decide is that humans are adding CO2 to the
>> atmosphere, that is causing warming, and there is some window of time in
>> which to reverse these effects. But as for myself, I have already conceded
>> these points so the data is now irrelevant to the rest of the debate.
>> What the data that you are referring to doesn't answer is the relative
>> values of the tradeoffs being offered to solve the problem and like
>> Schwarzwald said, whether the cure is worse than the condition. And what
>> else the data doesn't decide is any possible other negative mechanims that
>> Bill brought up and Lindzen suggests that may mitigate the catastrophe and
>> that is simply because we don't have any data on those.  But that doesn't
>> mean they don't exist. Sure all the current emperical data that we have
>> leads to your conclusion but it is very myopic and a shallow analysis of the
>> overall situation and a selective view of what the data is to keep repeating
>> the data mantra.
>> All these other points such as unknown negative mechanisms,  the expected
>> effects, the costs and value of the tradeoffs are valid data as well!  And
>> even the subjective ones like Al Gore being a complete and total charlatan
>> and new agers who want to exterminate the world are data points as well. Yes
>> lets look at the data, but lets look at ALL the data, not just your
>> selective view of the data. This is more shell game trickery like the CRU
>> guys who manipulate the data and the peer review process as well.
>> Further, Malthus's predictions were supported by data, but he was wrong.
>> The earlier Global Cooling scare was supported by data. Jimmy Carter's
>> boneheaded doomsday predicitions were supported by data. The model
>> predictions of continued warming were supported by data, but they were all
>> wrong! And that is valid data to consider in itself. And the theology of
>> whether we believe God has created us just to allow us to perish hopelessly
>> is also valid data as well.
>> So I agree with you, we should look at the data, but I should take your
>> own advice first.
>> John
>> ----- Original Message ----
>> From: Randy Isaac <>
>> To:
>> Sent: Sun, December 6, 2009 7:22:47 AM
>> Subject: Re: [asa] agw: Skeptics vs Believers
>> That is a great site. Thank you.
>> It also seems noteworthy that on this list, those who are not convinced of
>> AGW have not yet engaged with the data. They either haven't provided any
>> reasons for their view, or have offered subjective perspectives such as not
>> liking the attitude of AGW advocates or fearing that there might be
>> connections with New Age philosophies, or simply not trusting the scientists
>> involved. Many simply persist in expressing their doubts but fail to respond
>> to any data that are presented. I think it is important that the discussion
>> focus on the basic scientific methodology. I like having people on both
>> sides of the issue on this list. That is important for an effective dialog.
>> But let's see the data! Or hear some substantive arguments. Attitudes and
>> fears of New Age aren't in that category, important though they may be.
>> Randy
>>> I enjoyed the below site - found it useful for succinctly showing the
>>> basic pro and con positions.
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Received on Sun, 6 Dec 2009 17:28:07 -0500

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