On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 10:35:48PM +0100, Telmo Menezes wrote:
> There is overwhelming evidence in favour of the theory of evolution
> because of the number of predictions it got right, not because of the
> amount of papers that say that it is a spiffy theory. The theory of
> anthropogenic global warming does not look so stellar because it
> failed to predict the current cooling period.

Actually, I remember it did - around 10 years ago there was a
concensus opinion of a decade or two statis in the warming trend - but
it might have been the sunspot guys rather than the climate
modellers. This is not expected to last, though, so we'll soon see it
being put to the test.

> Given the tremendous human cost of reducing CO2 emissions, the
> rational thing to do is to weigh the probability of the theory being
> correct against this cost. I don't have an answer here, nor am I
> qualified to give it. I know a bit about complex systems modelling and
> this makes me very skeptical of "overwhelming evidences", especially
> in the face of surprising observables against the models.

As Liz pointed out, that "tremendous cost" for decarbonising the
economy will need to be paid sooner or later anyway. With a bit of
political will we can do it sooner, and the cost will be less as a result.

The good news is that the figures I've seen is that its not such a
tremendous cost after all.

> > Obviously fossil fuel will run out anyway, so even without climate change
> > we'd have to do something.
> Yes, but that something we have to do is very different depending on
> whether or not we have to cut CO2 emissions and, more importantly, one
> of the path leads to immense human suffering.

The point is whether we do something, or do nothing, energy costs
_will_ rise. Yes this _will_ lead to human suffering, either way. We
can either choose to pay a bit more now, and have less costs later, or
pay less now, and have steeper rises later.

A 10 or 20% energy cost increase to hasten decarbonisation by a decade
will save many billions of dollars of geo-engineering, or evironmental
restoration down the track. Seems like quite an astute investment to
me. Our current conservative government, alas, doesn't seem to think

> Then there are the geo-engineering ideas that John mentioned. They
> appear to be ignored. This makes the entire thing start to smell a bit
> of religious moralism.
> Telmo.

They're not being ignored. But they do require a lot more small-scale
research to understand their risk-benefit tradeoff.


Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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