October 31, 2016 | Graham

Pascal’s wager called into defence of climate change



Professor Martin Weissman Weitzman postulates “that if there is a finite possibility, however small, of an infinitely bad outcome (human extinction) then virtually any cost is worth incurring to prevent it,” according to Peter Lilley, writing in this review of the Stern Report.

But that is essentially the trick that Pascal used to justify religious observance, called “Pascal’s wager” and defined thus by Google “the argument that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage in believing otherwise.”

All of which confirms, as many have been suggesting, that global warming catastrophism is a species of religion. It can’t be confirmed by the facts, so it has to be confirmed by sophistic sleight of hand.

Except Pascal’s wager doesn’t really work. Certainly not in a world where there is a plethora of possible ways, from global warming, to nuclear war, to world-eating asteroids, to arrive at an infinitely bad outcome.

But in a world of finite resources, you can’t throw virtually everything at virtually anything that can be conjured up in someone’s fetid imagination or computer model.

There aren’t enough resources to go around.

So, you have to make intelligent guesses and discount the infinitely small probabilities of infinitely bad possible outcomes and concentrate on those things that are highly probable, and with a higher chance of being solved.

To do otherwise is to be dictated to by the neuroses of the various Chicken Lickens who populate the environmental NGOs, universities, and most western left of centre political parties, squandering resources that could be used to improve someone’s lot sacrificing to the idols of idle thought.

And in the process pathologising government and society.

The pyramids are an inspiring monument to civic mobilisation of national resources in the service of religion.

But while we may find them enriching, they must have impoverished the civilisations that were forced to build them. Diverting resources and imagination to sterile and futile monuments to protect against the gods.

These days we build windmills, but they have exactly the same propensity to impoverish at the same time they fail to ward off disaster.

In this world Bjorn Lomborg is the necessary heretic. Asking what can be tackled, at what price, and then providing a list in order of priority.

He’s not a climate change atheist, but he’s not taken in by Pascal’s wager either.

Neither should we.

Particularly as the resort to Pascal’s wager tends to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.



Posted by Graham at 9:00 pm | Comments (12) |

December 10, 2015 | Graham

There is a correlation between CO2 and world security



Prince Charles and Bernie Sanders are on to something. There does appear to be a correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and world security. It’s just that they are holding one graph the wrong way around.

This is a graph of CO2 emissions over the last 100 or so years.

image6

And this is a graph of world battle deaths since 1947.World_SecurityIt is the 1940s when the IPCC says that CO2 first started to have an effect on world temperature, so 1947 is a pretty good year to start a comparison at, and you can see how CO2 emissions start powering away at that point.

Looking at the two graphs it is clear that there is some sort of correlation, and it is negative, rather than positive, because 1950 is a peak in battle deaths. It drops away to almost nothing today.

I’m not naive enough to confuse correlation and causation. To move from correlation to causation you have to have a mechanism, and in this case I think there is an obvious one.

That mechanism is that when people are more physically and mentally comfortable they are likely to fight less. A richer world is likely to be a more peaceful world.

CO2 makes the world richer because it is an output of generating almost all of the energy we consume, and it is enslaving the electron that has allowed us to be richer than our ancestors dreamed was possible, even for kings and queens.

Here is a graph of global per capita GDP. In this case there is a positive correlation between CO2 emissions and GDP. Now there’s a hockey stick you can love, and no sign of a Medieval Warming either.

World_Per_Capita_GDPSo, it may be counter-intuitive to those meeting in Paris, but it would seem that the solution to world peace, and world poverty, would appear to be more CO2, not less.

Perhaps others might like to add to the correlations by unearthing some graphs for me on some other indicators of progress, such as global life expectancy. I think Prince Charles and Bernie might be accidentally onto something here. Happy to add to their knowledge with further graphs on this site.



March 31, 2015 | Graham

Heat not hiding in the ocean



Anyone who understands physics, which excludes many prognosticators on climate change (yes, I’m thinking of you @beneltham*), understands that the oceans drive the climate.

So it was always a bit of a stretch to think that the plateau in global temperatures of over the last 18 or so years was because the heat was hiding in the ocean.

For that to be the case they had to answer the question as to why the ocean had suddenly stopped heating the atmosphere and was now retaining the additional heat and effectively becoming hotter than the atmosphere.

Recent research by Liang, Wunch, Heimbach and Forget suggests that not only is the heat not hiding in the ocean, but the ocean is very gradually becoming cooler.

This opens the possibility that recent temperature increases reflect energy balances at some stage in the past, not the present. Another of the interminable list of confounding factors that can’t be, or aren’t, factored in to climate models.

Current emissions of CO2 may well just be balancing out a gradual cooling of the globe, which is evident in the record of the last 10,000 years.

*If you’re wondering about the Ben Eltham jibe click here to follow his haranguing of me for daring to have an opinion on global warming that differs from his. When he claims to be a scientist and tries to pull rank I ask him a simple question about water, air and thermal mass which he confuses with oceanography. You can read the whole unedifying discussion here. But I’ve also copied the tweets below.

I challenged Eltham, who works for rival think tank the Centre for Policy Development to a debate on the subject of global warming, but he refused. Seems it’s OK to have a view, but not necessary to be able to defend it.

Eltham_1Eltham_2Eltham_3Eltham_4Eltham_5Eltham_6Eltham_7Eltham_8



Posted by Graham at 1:09 pm | Comments (7) |

January 14, 2015 | Graham

Green climate deniers



A climate denier is apparently someone who says anything that disagrees with the IPCC Assessment Reports. That makes Christine Milne, Al Gore, and my fellow blogger Ronda, climate deniers.

They all assert that climate change is causing more extreme weather, including more tropical cyclones and hurricanes. This is contrary to the most recent IPCC Assessment Report AR5, although some earlier reports did give some comfort to that view.

That the IPCC is right, and the Green deniers wrong, is graphically illustrated below. The graphs are taken from WeatherBell.com, and can be seen in context on this page.

They demonstrate that there is no trend in the number and the total energy of hurricanes over the last 40 years.

 



Posted by Graham at 5:11 am | Comments (32) |

March 02, 2010 | Graham

Physicists criticise Jones et al



It’s couched in neutral language, but the Institute of Physics, with an international membership of 36,000 physicists has expressed serious doubts about the objectivity, methods and outcomes of the published results and staff from the Hadley Centre for Climate Research Unit.

(more…)



Posted by Graham at 5:31 pm | Comments (3) |