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This of course won't carry any weight with those who are anti-expertise. Nor will the results from the paper "Expert credibility in climate change," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2010):


Or anyone who uses more than a few hundred years of data.

Or Nobel prize holding physicists.

It is not hard to find prize-winning physicists who have commented on climate change.

Please provide a list of Noble prize-winning physicists who have published original research in climate science.

On the evidence point, the IPCC WG1 summaries and FAQs are readable by the layperson and extremely compelling:

It is hard to convey to skeptics who have not bothered to review the totality of the evidence just how limited their critiques of the science are.

A bit of data you should keep in mind when reading "evidence" for or against AGW, from the IPCC or skeptics. NOAA currently has 7000 monitoring stations, however the polar sites only date to the 1940's and only about a 1000 back to 1900. That leaves the larger part of world without direct measurement. You should also keep in mind that we are talking about a change in the actual 20th century temperature from ~287 degrees Kelvin to ~287.5 degrees Kelvin.

Yes, you can change the scale to make the change seem small.

Observed temperatures at polar stations are helpful and I can't see why we wouldn't want to try to make some sense of even an imperfect data set. But they are in no way required to believe the argument for AGW. That's what's so wonderful about the IPCC reports. There is a preponderance of evidence, which they accumulate - not just observed temperatures but dozens of other items as well, including things as layperson-observable as melting glaciers and as complex as our micro understanding of the thermodynamics of the gases in our atmosphere. The fossil record clearly links carbon to warming, and anthropogenic carbon emission is easy to prove. Everything from paleontology to chemistry to physics supports the claim.

"The fossil record clearly links carbon to warming" with carbon having a 800 yr lag. Got the whole cause and effect backwards maybe?

OK, fine.

Physics clearly links carbon to warming.

Do you really dispute this or are you just messing with us?

"Physics clearly links carbon to warming.

Do you really dispute this or are you just messing with us?"

Not really in a meaningful sense. CO2 is a very weak greenhouse gas, and the sinks tend to buffer the effects of carbon strongly.

Evidence: Menzie's your climate expert? Really?

If you'd gone to Lucia's Blackboard, or to Judith Curry, or WUWT, or half a dozen other specialist sites for discussions on climate, fine. But to a macroeconomist?

Holy crap that's a lot of inside baseball. That's 10 minutes I can never get back.

Thiel lost me here:

"Indeed, how do we even know whether the so-called scientists are not just lawmakers and politicians in disguise, as some conservatives suspect in fields as disparate as climate change, evolutionary biology, and embryonic-stem-cell research, and as I have come to suspect in almost all fields?"

About the only field in which one can say that with confidence is economics.

He shouldn't lose you. It's just a restatement of Charlie Munger's "Man with a Hammer" which is just a compact restatement of a subset Public Choice theory on special interests.

Economics, sociology, literary criticism, comparative literature, philosophy, [beleaguered group] studies, anthropology ...

Btw, I started a discussion about the Thiel piece on LessWrong.

cb, I had exactly the same thought. The 'so-called scientists' swipe reveals his overwhelming bias, which he confirms by his gut 'suspicion' at the end of the sentence.

The idea that some scientists have opinions on public policy, and that this therefore invalidates their science, is an easy shortcut for the ignorant to write off whole fields that they don't understand. It also ignores the fact that scientists though the ages have been interested in public policy, and history is full of examples of prominent scientists attempting to influence policy and politics. The beauty of properly done science is that it transcends such human foibles.


Government may not have to provide for us directly, but government has to ensure that markets are not captured by those who are supposed to be disciplined by market competition, and that information and justice are fairly and evenly dispensed.

The disastrous progressive delusion distilled into a single sentence -- a delusion that appears impervious to example after example after example ad nauseum of government being the essential means by which markets are captured and powerful interests shield themselves from market discipline. Depressing.

Liked Will Wilkinson's excellent review of Frank better. But both are good. Thanks.

5. Thiel lost me when he compared political correctness to totalitarianism.

One is not using racial epithets about minorities. The other is Holocaust and Holodomor.

5. Thiel lost me throughout. It was a screed without an argument. It read like the ramblings of an old man, angry about all that seemed more promising "back in my day." TGS at least did not claim art and literature collapsed after 1945. Inexplicably, Thiel drops the blame on Keynesianism, amongst a litany of other policies his audience might reasonably be expected to disagree with.

Next time spare us the National Review canon and link to something original. More artificial libertarian islands, less grumping.

Agreed. Mere babbling with a lot of dog-whistle stuff for Republicans. And does he really think that the engineering and safety issues at TMI, Chernobyl and Fukishima have nothing to do with the unfortunate lack of enthusiasm for nuclear energy?


But it is still nice to know it's all the dirty fucking hippies fault: "With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost." And this stuff gets an "excellent piece" comment by TC. Yuck.

There is some uncertainty in the science of supersolidity in cryogenic helium. One party is headed by a man who habitually and wilfully grows a beard and rides a bicycle so the other side is probably correct.

When evaluating competing claims about climate science, it is helpful to actually know something about climate science. People who choose between WUWT or the IPCC might come to a conclusion because they (dis)like the consequences or because they like the political affiliation of one or the other, or because one party consists of people from a familiar demographic. Or they might choose as a result of knowing some physics.

So, dear reader, ponder these. Why is there usually more frost on the roof of a car than on the doors? Can you explain the change in RH measured in a Stevenson screen when it rains? Why does CO2 absorb more in the near IR than O2?

If you can't answer, what is the basis of your opinion on global warming? Affiliation?

Im still not convinced by APG proponents. the entire concept of a "carbon credit" system just seems ripe for corruption, and was designed with that in mind. the whole thing just comes off to me as Karl Marx's wet dream of governments "regulating" all businesses across the entire planet.

for now im more convinced that solar winds have more of an effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. the research into this unfortunately goes not get anywhere near as funding as APG. not considered by politicians to be as chic as "fighting big bad polluting businesses" i suppose.

on another topic- Tyler, whats your take on plasma cosmology/electric universe? i recently stumbled upon it. i find the notion that "the big bang never happened" to be extremely fascinating. ive been looking up other cosmologists take on it, and find their rebuttals to be unsatisfactory. they seem to devolve into either hyperbole or into appeals to authority, i.e. "who are you to contradict the great Einstein?". id love to know your impression on the whole thing.

To those who wish to impose global tax schemes, even if I 100% concede all AGW arguments(lets assume you are right that the feedback loop is positive and subject to accelerating in a bad direction as opposed to a negative feedback system).

I still don't believe that any sort of tax or cap and trade scheme is going to fix our climate. I already see and consult with the companies that work to control the legislation...I see the people hoping to get rich off of it...the enforcement mechanisms are all crap or completely totalitarian...sorry I'd rather live in Water World than live in a world brought to us by the same people who think a one child policy enforced by murder is good.

The thing is that when you read the Club of Rome papers from the last 30 years you can see what this crisis is really about. Stomping out competition from the little guy and enriching the biggest most powerful people who are already in power.

People are already being killed over this cap.

25 people in one region in Honduras last year.

A boy in Uganda was accidentally burned alive when clearing a squatters village. While the owner may have had the right to dispel the village, they are planting eucalipis trees that cause severe water stress and make the land unusable for food production.

Article on the Honduran Carbon Credit Murders.

James, if solar winds have more of an impact than carbon, why is the inner atmosphere warming while the outer atmosphere is cooling? Read the IPCC reports. These questions have been considered, very thoroughly.

James, have you asked someone who knows some differential geometry and tensor algebra? Or someone who has measured a galactic rotation curve? Or someone who has measured red shift in a spectrum?

Just because you find someone's political and economic views congenial does not mean that their opinions on plasma physics are worth listening to.

i first came across Halton Arp purely by accident about a week ago. he was referred to as "the modern Galileo", and i was curious as to why that is the case, and looked into him. his take on the red shift is what led me plasma cosmology, and finally to the electric universe theory. im still skeptical of the whole thing, but im not ready to write it off completely just yet, although it appears that most cosmologists already have.

as for their political and economic views, im not really sure what they believe in. from what i gather, they have lost faith in academic institutions because they believe theyve become complacent, refusing to question anything, rehashing the same old experiments and theories. in the end, they contribute nothing to the field, but irregardless, they pat themselves on the back for their time spent. that is their take anyway. its somewhat extreme. i agree only up to the point that academic institutions have been somewhat perverted, with the whole "publish or perish" mantra, all to acquire tenure. it seems to ignore the original purpose which is learning.

and i only mentioned plasma cosmology as an afterthought because my bringing up solar winds reminded me of the whole concept. i hope no one misconstrues my previous comment to mean that all plasma cosmologists reject AGP. for all i know, they all support it

"Men reached the moon in July 1969, and Woodstock began three weeks later. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost."

What? Apparently Hindsight is not always 20/20.

It's been shown that you only need to make 10% of the people passionately believe in something to tip the whole population toward belief. I'm certain that more than 10% of people in the developed world now passionately believe in APG. Trying to convince the last holdouts seems like beating a dead horse. We continue to do it because it's so much easier than the next step: reaching some kind of consensus about what -- if anything -- should be "done" about APG, and who should do it.

If there ever was a case for taxing/subsidizing things, I'd say why not tax consumption education in order to subsidize investment education.

I define consumption education as education to "broaden your mind" instead of enhancing your human capital. the liberal arts, philosophy, sociology, history, etc. are mostly consumption... It's great for you in the same sense that having a massage is also great. It won't give you skills that the market requires though...
We need to abolish copyright law on music and books (they are hard to enforce anyway), and reform patent law to make it less risky that you get sued for using someone elses idea. Then start NGO's with prizes for certain goals, like producing X amount of energy with solar cells, or some race to fusion power.

I'm also greatfull that Peter Theil is raising awareness and supporting all the right causes (Seasteading, Drop-out-of-college and make a startup, etc.) way to go!

So does Robert Frank think that we would be better off with less beautiful more functional women?

"5. Peter Thiel on stagnation, excellent piece."

Why is treatise on extolling zero sum economics an "excellent piece"?

Thiel's comments about government's (and hence voters') commitment to science reminds me of the cancelled Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in 1993 (I only learned about it through someone's comment on Hacker News. It seems like a large and important symbol regarding national priorities, especially because we have no idea what might've come from its completion or whether the discoveries it might've enabled would be leading us from or eventually lead us out of the technological plateau we might be presently experiencing.

The SSC cancelled happened before my time, but I often think about it now when I see articles like Thiel's.

Rick Perry rejects the science required to find oil (and other fossil fuels) these days which explains why he is so poor for a powerful Texan. Given his motivation and social skills he should be at least a T Boone Pickens, but that would require believing geologists can help you find oil with the same science that explains how the oil got where it is, and how you find the oil based on actual carbon in the oil from millions of year old algae, instead of stellar carbon or carbon compounds from cow farts or Al Gore exhaling in the last year or century. Carbon in oil had to have last been part of a living thing hundreds of millions of years ago to have the right ratio of carbon-13.

And if you think the science of climate change is unsettled science, then you must believe the supply of oil is also unsettled and for all you know, its supply will be quickly scarcer and scarcer. If you think it will go on for ever, you must believe you will live forever - the oil hasn't run out and you are dead so oil production and human life are eternal.

Synchronicity at work, i guess. I was reading this and had this: in other tab.

The Right needs to accept that the science of climate change is largely correct. The debate should be about the policy response. If global warming causes rising sea levels, is it better to force everyone to stop eating meat and start using public transit, or should we just build higher levees in coastal cities? A simple cost-benefit analysis, surely.

I wan't the people from the 50's in charge!

This is what I call ambition, build a mother-ship that's capable of interstellar travel propelled by mini atom bombs! An engineer will tell you it's feasible and a politician will tell you it's not. Damn politicians...

Is health care spending slowing???

I find it interesting that the chart we always see is health care spending as a share of GDP. That chart makes it look like health care spending is the monster that ate the economy.

But if you look at a chart of straight health care spending it shows a clear trend towards much slower growth of health care spending. It gives a much different perspective to the issue.

Remember, the lesson you get from a ratio chart --line health care as a share of GDP -- depends on what is happening to both the numerator and denominator. But the main reason that health care is rising faster than GDP in recent years just might be the slow growth of GDP, not the rapid growth of health care spending.

So just maybe the solution to the health care spending problem might be stronger GDP growth.

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