Re: [asa] The Mathematics of Global Warming

From: <>
Date: Fri Dec 11 2009 - 18:08:05 EST

Here is some 'aside' fun with the seatbelt example you used.

Below, you compare Cheney's "1% rule" with us fastening seatbelts against that
slim chance that we may be in an accident. Since my fastening my seatbelt cost
me about eight seconds of time (maybe about 16 seconds a day -- at a generous
$20/hr --much more than I presently earn -- that comes to about 9 cents a day.
Comparing that with the cost of waging a war in Iraq seems, well, a bit
ludicrous. So let's beef up your example to make it a closer match. How about
this: Because I may have a slim chance of experiencing an accident today, I
could take the preemptive action of sabotaging everybody else's vehicles who
will be on the same highways & roads I'll travel today, so that I don't have to
dangerously share the road with anybody else. (If that was, say, a thousand
cars in our county x $10,000 --comes to $10 million) But also, I could still
have an accident just driving by myself --so need to invest in padding several
feet thick on all trees and obstacles anywhere near the road & also around my
car --you get the picture. If putting on our seatbelts was as costly as waging
wars you can bet we would all be seat belt free right now (and driving much more
slowly if we were REALLY concerned about it.)

For all this fun, I really do agree with anybody who wants footprint reduction
for prudent purposes (even at some cost). But you can't pretend that
probabilities aren't a factor in our minds when cost is an issue. If climate
scientists had only an appalling 1% chance of being even close to right, then
that would spell doom for any political initiatives requiring sacrifice.

p.s. I'll keep tooting the "pro-bicycle" and "anti-big vehicle as casual
transport for few people" horn. I see conservation as a matter prudent policy
that resides quite above and independently of the outcome of any AGW scientific
claims. And like fastening your seatbelt, just turning out unused lights and
knocking a few degrees off your winter thermostat setting is a lot less painful
than raising funds to build new coal plants or going off to fight wars.

Quoting "John Burgeson (ASA member)" <>:

> Let's use Dick Cheny's "1% rule," which he used to justify the Iraq
> invasion. This rule states that if there is even a very small chance
> of a catastropic event then one is justified in taking measures
> against it. In the Iraq case, Cheney was speaking of thepossibility of
> WMDs.
> The obvious application to you and to me is the seatbelt rule. The
> chances of me being in a catastropic accident are very very small
> (I've driven and been driven for over 70 years and it hasn't happened
> yet). Yey I put on my seat belt and happily pay the extra $$ for an
> airbag in my vehicular contrivance -- because of the 1% rule. It is a
> good rule.
> So -- apply this to the IPCC reports. They run multiple models and all
> say we are in serious trouble. Maybe they are all wrong. Maybe the
> science is not as robust as some people think. Let's take the most
> optimistic view of all this we can. Is there even a 1% chance the IPCC
> is right and the denialists are wrong? Even a 0.1% chance?
> It seems to me -- in this case -- we ought to be taking all measures
> to prevent a global catastrophe. Even if it costs us something. Even
> if it costs us a lot.

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Received on Fri Dec 11 18:08:15 2009

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