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David Friedman on Global Warming

David Friedman on Global Warming

David Friedman, the son of that Friedman, is one of my favorite bloggers. He isn’t terribly hard to read and he doesn’t update daily, but – when he writes – it is worth the wait.

Take, for example, his most recent post: 

A while back I read an article attacking Bjorn Lomborg, an articulate  critic of much of the current environmental orthodoxy. It included a respectful reference to the late Julian Simon. Simon,  criticizing the population  orthodoxy, was making reasonable arguments, some of which turned out to be right. Lomborg, on the other hand …  .
I remember that fight too—I contributed a chapter on the concept of optimal population to one of Julian Simon’s books. Back when he was the front line of opposition to the then current orthodoxy, he got the same treatment Lomborg got a decade or two later.
I am not competent to judge the  climate science behind global warming, but I am suspicious of orthodoxies pushed relentlessly in the popular media, orthodoxies that claim that everyone competent agrees on an urgent problem which requires drastic action immediately if not sooner. I remember when we were being assured that it was simply a scientific fact that overpopulation was the cause of poverty and a near term threat to our own well being, if not survival. Also when we were assured that the only way to get the poor countries of the world up to our level was central planning, if possible supported by generous foreign aid.
When I see news headlines about global warming having shrunk horses to the size of cats, along with a picture comparing a cat sized dog to a modern Morgan—you have to read down a bit to discover that the ancestral horses shrank to the size of cats from the size of dogs, from 12 pounds to 8 1/2 pounds, and spent tens of thousands of years doing it—I suspect that what I am seeing is driven at least as much by what people want other people to believe as by the evidence for believing it.
Sober and thoughtful, as I’ve come to expect. It stands in a pleasant contrast to the alarmists and polemics who have brought us BPA scares, Malthusian narratives, the relinquishing of Einstein in the face of neutrinos, etc., etc.
If you only trouble yourself to look at one section of the problem, you’re destined to come out with an incomplete equation. Confirmation bias is a real and powerful force.
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Comments

And people who ACTUALLY are confident in their evidence are NOT eager to silence people with conflicting evidence.

Which tells us all we need to know about OwlGore…both as a matter of his true support for sound science and your liberty to make choices.

    Say_What in reply to Ragspierre. | February 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    They are probably intimidated to speak out, maybe they don’t want to get harmed by the “false claim” jumpers by getting in between the crazed libs and their scheme to make easy money without actually working for it. Those libs see gold in them thar Global Warming hills and they got a bad case of gold rush fever.

      Ragspierre in reply to Say_What. | February 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      THE key word here is “GLOBAL”. This concept provides the pretext for GLOBAL laws and fees to remediate what ain’t there.

      Planetary CONTROL by more “certified smart people” who are NEVER elected and cannot be reached by the peasants.

      Hope Change in reply to Say_What. | February 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      It would be nice if we could cure it with more cowbell.

Peter Gleick has produced a recently obtained internal memo signed by God stating that global warming is real.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to LukeHandCool. | February 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Hold on there. Some have levied accusations that the Gleick memo was signed not by God, but by St. Peter.

      Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | February 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      But people who’ve analyzed the message note that Heaven NEVER uses a Times New Roman font.

      First, it is the “Times”… Beelzebub’s official house organ.

      Second, Romans kind of have a “history”…

      LukeHandCool in reply to Henry Hawkins. | February 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Matthew 14:28-31

      And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

      Peter Gleick does not doubt … it’s just that the glaciers are melting way, way, damn too fast and the speed of the rising waters overwhelms the slow process of empirical consensus.

    The earth, during human history, has been warmer and cooler than it is now. The earth is currently on a warming trend: we are coming off an ice age. The argument is over the “anthropogenic” part.

    I kind of enjoyed George Carlin’s observation that the Earth may have created mankind for the purpose of responding to a felt need for plastic bags.

The Times had this old piece on “social cascades” that seems to apply here.
AGW is now the consensus view. Remember the last big “consensus” was that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD. They don’t seem to have a good record of being correct.

“David Friedman, the son of that Friedman…”

Actually, Prof., that should be “…son of THOSE Friedmans…”

Milton knew that Rose was the smart one…!!! And she never suggested wage withholding for tax payments.

While confirmation bias has a long, storied place in the history of botched science (see ‘cold fusion’), the mistake is an honest one – prior held beliefs can cause scientists to happily overweigh confirming data while overlooking contradictive data. Initially, decades ago, this was in play with AGW. However, it has long since turned into an eyes-wide-open, we-know-we’re-lying pure political scheme, co-opted by politicians willing to shell out huge research grants for the ‘right’ data, and the pro-GW climate scientists damn well know it. ‘Publish or die’ lives on, but in service of political agenda, not science.

    Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | February 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Good point. It is one thing to have a bias of which you are unaware.

    It is quite another to be rabidly misanthropic.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | February 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      The AGW-ers who know their science is bogus are practicing ‘ends justifies the means’ thinking, wherein everything they’d like to see emit from acceptance of AGW is what they consider good for the planet – not its ecology, but its political governance, the usual uber-liberal list of goodies: one world government, global taxes, etc., etc. Accpetance of AGW is not their goal, per se – it is a means to their goals.

    Awesome. These once noble ‘scientists’ are mostly just political whores. That may be a shocking phrase but it is entirely appropriate, with the American Physical Society as exhibit one. This is beyond ‘confirmation bias’.

Global Warming is a cult.

“I am not competent to judge the climate science behind global warming…”

Well, I am competent to do so, and so is anybody with a bachelor’s degree in a science, math, or engineering.

We all knew from the start that those people were trying to get answers out of experimental noise. In a lot of cases, all that really means is that the researchers have not yet designed the right experiment. That’s the only reason anybody with any technical background cut them any slack in the first place: weather is a chaotic system, and we all knew how difficult it would be to get meaningful data. Besides, newspapers are notorious for interviewing scientists and getting it wrong.

But when they said they lost their original data and could not re-create their calculations, they did something no real scientist does. “The dog ate my data” is a sure indicator of fraud.

A private business would have fired these frauds immediately.

    David Friedman is, too, Valeria, but in this, as in most things in life, he is also characteristically understated. It’s a pleasure reading a Libertarian with whom I disagree who so carefully and neutrally posits obvious points from all known views. Sorry he’s an atheist, but his mama trained him well

    “I am not competent to judge the climate science behind global warming…”

    Well, I am competent to do so, and so is anybody with a bachelor’s degree in a science, math, or engineering.

    A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    There shallow drafts intoxicate the brain,
    And drinking largely, sobers us again.

As one who has had training in the meteorological sciences, I would suggest reading a bit of the work by Hendrik Svensmark, a Danish physicist who I believe has the best handle on the current driving force for climate change.

I provide a hint. It ain’t human activity!

And if he’s right, keep your overcoats handy…

1. The title of Friedman’s post is The Boy Who Cried Wolf. That’s consistent with my impression of the issue: AGW is neither proven nor ruled out, but the arguments are plausible enough that the possibility cannot responsibly be ignored.

Afaic, if humanity has not learned to tweak the biosphere by the end of this century, we should forfeit the title homo sapiens. IMHO the various alarmist/cautionary climate scenarios assume, almost surely incorrectly, that technology will not continue to advance.

2. GrumpyOne, iirc ongoing measurements at the big European accelerator facility are relevant to Svensmark’s model. Iirc preliminary results were interesting enough to warrant continuing to take data. But my memory of what I read is very sketchy.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to gs. | February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    “AGW is neither proven nor ruled out, but the arguments are plausible enough that the possibility cannot responsibly be ignored.”

    It is ‘plausible’ that every dog on planet Earth could bark at the exact same time – nothing in physics prevents it – so what value plausibility?

    The original AGW data were poorly collected and fed into poorly designed computer models, thereby producing poor results, which once proved errant were ‘assisted’ by subterfuge and cheating – and that was done poorly as well, found out very quickly.

    That the Earth cyclically warms and cools is hardly news, but the basal premise that current or recent warming was caused by the activities of mankind is not fairly supported by the reliable evidence, the key word being reliable. Thanks to a large and unknowable number of decidedly dishonest climate ‘scientists’, virtually the entire data set is of dubious provenance, and everything needs to be redone, because starting over is likely more efficient than trying to winnow out the wheat – if there is any – from the faked chaff.

    The purpose of a hypothesis, or course, is to try to explain an observation, but the foundational observation in AGW – that the Earth is warming – is not at all certain, given the shaky data collection and recording. The AGW hypothesis rejected out of hand causes other than Evil Man, such as, I dunno… the sun maybe? The variables for warming are many.

    Due to bad data leading to a dubious original observation, AGW was and remains a hypothesis in search of an observation.

      Howdy Squire Hawkins,
      There are two other aspects to add to your well-stated “poorly done” list: 1. Academics formed a weak but politically expedient hypothesis and poorly served the “Scientific Method” by only using what they loosely considered supporting data in their computations; and 2. Statistical methods used in the process were so poorly understood as to render actual results inconclusive, but they were such poor statisticians they did not know this. IMO it takes either charlatans or imbeciles to do what they did, be shown the error of their ways, and double-down anyway.

      1.

      It is ‘plausible’ that every dog on planet Earth could bark at the exact same time – nothing in physics prevents it.

      If you believe it is plausible that every dog on Earth could bark at the same time, we have no basis for discussion.

      2. I envy David Friedman the exceptional genes he got from his parents. I admire David Friedman for his intellectual honesty and clarity to recognize & acknowledge what he does not understand.

      3.

      The purpose of a hypothesis, or course, is to try to explain an observation, but the foundational observation in AGW – that the Earth is warming – is not at all certain, given the shaky data collection and recording.

      The bolded statement is fundamentally incomplete. Sometimes a hypothesis or model is formulated to elicit experiments.

      4. Human science can be correct, incorrect, fraudulent, or some combination thereof. Human beings may care, but Nature does not.

Professor Anchovy here, world leading expert on cause and effect.

Have you ever noticed how, when all the trees get together and wiggle their limbs, it get windy? Have you ever noticed when there is a grant money supply there is an equal and corresponding demand?

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