On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 11:32 PM, Russell Standish
> 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.
This sounds very fuzzy. I understand that it's the best you can do
with some very complex systems, but the fact remains that such stalls
do not show up in the projections of the various models. Also it
appears that the warming stopped almost 17 years ago, so it still
sounds a posteriori, a bit like you see a lot in economic models that
deal with high levels of complexity.
My problem here is that, when dealing with complex non-linear models,
what you don't know can change everything. Given that the earth has
been a stable enough environment for delicate life to evolve, it's not
such a crazy hypothesis that it self-stabilising feedback loops exist.
Then there's the medieval warming period. But as you say, we'll see...
>> 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.
But the speed at which you have to do it and weather or not you can
rely on or even increase fossil fuel burn rate to bootstrap the
transition can make a very big difference in terms of human suffering.
> The good news is that the figures I've seen is that its not such a
> tremendous cost after all.
I am very interested in this. Could you be more specific? How can this
be? Was there some breakthrough in sustainable sources that increased
>> > 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.
I agree that energy costs will rise and this is a very serious problem
that we need to face. If you don't have to worry about CO2 so much,
it's easier and less painful -- the more expensive fossil fuels
become, the more economic incentive there will be for renewable
sources. In this scenario we can retain economic freedom, which is
highly correlated with prosperity.
> 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.
Are you aware of geo-engineering proposals that would be very cheap?
> 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.
> They're not being ignored. But they do require a lot more small-scale
> research to understand their risk-benefit tradeoff.
I never see this as part of the discussion. I'm very skeptical that
this is being seriously pursued.
> 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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