Climate Change

Why both The Right and The Left are very wrong

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday. The SG Visited by boat  the Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines with Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Per Stig M¿ller. The off shore wind farm called ÒMiddelgrundenÓ is located in the ¯resund Straight (separating Denmark and Sweden). The off shore wind farm was established on a natural reef 3.5 kms outside Copenhagen Harbor, in the autumn of 2000 and consists of 20 turbines, each with 2 megawatt capacity. Middelgrunden is the largest wind farm in the world based on cooperative ownership.

I feel like every few months one of my left-leaning friends complains that the right doesn’t understand “science” and uses climate change as an example. I then make a comment along the lines of “The left doesn’t understand climate change either. They just like to shout about it because they feel it matches their already held beliefs” which gets the conversation going, but never very productively.

Rather than repeating the cycle next time someone posts the claim on facebook, I thought I would collect a lot of the information here. Commenting with a link in the future sounds a lot easier.

Here is what follows:

  • My basic argument about what’s happening with climate change
  • My background on how I got to this conclusion
  • A point by point breakdown of the argument


First the basic argument:

  • The “right” is wrong: Climate change is real, and man-made – and the evidence on this is very clear
  • The “left” is wrong: It does not follow that climate change will lead to disasters on an apocalyptic scale
  • In fact, evidence suggests that the future effects on climate change will be relatively mild
  • The best way to deal with future climate change is to make the world more rich
  • The best way to get more rich is to burn a lot of fossil fuels
  • There are credible people saying these same things
  • There is a movement within “Big Green” to discredit anyone who talks about “mild climate change” as a “denier”
  • Even if there was a 10% (or even a 1% or 0.1%) chance of disaster we should be trying to do something. Unfortunately, if disaster is really imminent then what we need to do is radical, not incremental
  • Most current “solutions” actually make the problem worse


My background:

My political beliefs do not fit easily into right or left. I tend to follow data and argument. If I have a bias it is towards freedom. That tends to drive me towards libertarianism sometimes, but I also have a small-c conservative streak. In my experience in business big changes tend to have unforeseen consequences, so “big” libertarian ideas like dropping the gold standard, or outsourcing police forces do not appeal to me. “Small” ideas, like allowing LBTG to marry, reducing income and capital gains taxes, reducing regulation, legalizing marijuana, or making abortions easier to obtain I fully back (It makes me fiscally conservative and socially liberal in most things). Until around 2004 I was a very devoted environmentalist.

Around 2004, I read Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist and realized that while there were serious environmental issues to be dealt with we were often focused on the wrong things. As much as landfill is “gross”, the world does not have a landfill problem. I was still very much concerned with global warming.

Until recently I saw global warming as having two “sides”: One side arguing that “science” and all the scientists were telling us that temperatures were rising and that if we did not do something there was going to be an unprecedented disaster. The other side was denying science completely and claiming a giant conspiracy (often saying things like, “Only god can change the environment”). Given those two options it was no surprise I sided with science.

But a couple of years ago I read Alex Epstien’s excellent book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. He pointed out that while CO2 is definitely a greenhouse gas (it’s used in greenhouses for goodness sake!), its effects on temperature are logarithmic. Meaning to have a linear effect on temperature you need exponential increase in CO2. That’s bad enough as for a time we were spitting out exponential CO2 every year, but the climate models that show us heading off a cliff assume far more than that. They assume there will be other effects that cause a spin-wheel increase in temperatures. Instead of the logarithmic effects we see, these theories suggest temperature will increase linearly or even exponentially.

The problem is none of these spin-wheel effects have actually been observed. None of them. Science is a process. It goes something like this:

  • Someone develops a theory (Or someone observes something unusual and then develops a theory)
  • The theory makes a prediction
  • Someone tests the prediction to see if the theory predicts correctly
  • If it does, we say the theory


The Theory:

The main theory that drives models showing apocalyptic climate change involves water vapor. The idea is that as CO2 increases in concentration it leads to more water vapor in the air. While CO2 only causes temperature to increase logarithmically, the theory is that water vapor causes it to increase exponentially. If [Change CO2] : [change H2O], and [change H2O] : [change log(temp)], then [change CO2] : [change log(temp)]. Therefore, a small change in CO2 would cause a large change in temperature. QED.

The problem is the gap between theory and evidence.

There is nothing wrong with the theory.

That theory comes from a hypothetical hypothesis in 1896. The theory is that as the air warms there will be an increase in humidity (increasing water vapor), which will in turn increase the temperature of the air, creating a positive feedback cycle. It’s a fine theory – one that makes clear predictions that can be tested. The problem is all those tests have come back negative. Some predictions of this theory include the existence of a troposphere hot spot (never found), ice cores should show that there are not drops in temperature when CO2 is high (they don’t show this), estimates of climate sensitivity to CO2 should show an increase in sensitivity to CO2 as CO2 increases (instead we have seen decreased sensitivity). All of the predictions that have been tested have failed. ALL OF THEM. As of today there is NO EVIDENCE this feedback loop actually happens. In normal science we would say the theory has been disproven – but it still sits there as a theory in climate science as the core driver of moderate temperature increases and basically all of global warming alarmism rests on that theory.

Unfortunately, scientists are humans. When someone banks their career on an idea or theory, they aren’t going to back down easily (even Einstein had trouble accepting quantum mechanics). So when we couldn’t find evidence of the water vapor effect, the models continues to assume SOMETHING would cause run-away temperature increases. It was like religion fundamentalists continuing to make up new reasons for the existence of god as science hacked away at the traditional reasons. Only this time it was scientists acting religious.


A history of prediction failure

Some of my more intellectual friends might say, “Ed, that’s all fine and good, but I don’t have time to really understand the science. When I don’t understand something fully, my best choice is to just choose to accept the opinion of experts. And 97% of scientific experts think that global warming is going to be a disaster.”

That’s not a bad rule for living. I read the Economist. When it covers an area I know a lot about it is usually not very insightful, but it is almost always CORRECT. It causes me to trust the paper when they report on something I don’t know much about.

In this case though, that rule falls apart. For three reasons:

  • 97% of scientists don’t actually agree that global warming is a disaster waiting to happen
  • Those that do have history of being very very wrong at prediction
  • Just as the oil companies have a vested interest in talking down global warming, those “talking it up” might be even under more external influence


97% of scientists

The 97% number comes from two places:

First it was a poll of 79 scientists which asked “Do you think climate change is man-made”. The fact one of the scientists answered no is likely a reading comprehension problem. No where did the question ask about future devastation. I would answer yes to that question as well. Yes is the right answer no matter what Donald Trump tells you.

The second source was a survey of scientific papers by John Cook. It was completely discredited by Richard Tol (world’s leading climate economist). They left out data, used biased observers who disagreed with the authors of the papers they had “classified” more than 2/3rds of the time, and they collected the data in a way that allowed them to adjust conclusions as they went along. The data could NOT be replicated by others who tried. And yet the paper continues to be cited because the 97% number is just too useful for the people pushing environmental policy.


So what is that actual “consensus” of scientists on climate change?

The consensus is that climate change (and warming) is happening, but that it will not be dangerous. The main report on climate change is the IPCC report (which has a lot of the same issues I will talk about in the rest of this post). It gives the range of possible outcomes a century from now from harmless (1.5 degrees) to terrifying (4 degrees). The mild prediction of 1.5 degrees makes a lot of sense and is consistent with known science. It matches with the proven science of CO2 impact on temperature. And in fact if you look at the probability distributions IPCC shows they cluster around the low end of the range. But everything beyond harmless requires made up, unproven, hypothetical theory.

To be higher than about 1.5 degrees we have to assume that the water vapor effect will multiple the CO2 effect by about 3x. This is unlikely given what we know now, but it has not been taken out of the report. But even water vapor feedback doesn’t take us into terrifying range of 3-4 degrees. For us to have a terrifying result we need to assume things like:

  • Climate sensitivity to CO2 is high – much higher than we have seen thus far (unlikely)
  • World population growth accelerates (unlikely)
  • CO2 absorption from the oceans slows down (no reason to believe will happen)
  • The world economy gives up gas, but increases using coal 10x current levels (Really? Yes. This is in the report)

But you don’t hear these caveats from the alarmists. You just hear, “Could be as high as 4 degrees with devastating effects”.


A history of poor prediction

Even though the consensus is not the crisis screamed about by Al Gore, there are a group of scientists who do think we are headed for the apocalypse. These scientists are predicting disaster. What about them? Before we drop everything to do what they tell us to do, we should look at their historical ability to make successful predictions.

My friend asked: “If doctors say your baby has a 10% chance of having a horrible disease if you don’t give up half your income, wouldn’t you drop the income just in case?”

I don’t think I would. Not right away. Instead I would ask some questions, like, “Why do you think that? Is it pure theory or experimental evidence? If it’s theory, where does the theory come from? Has the theory made any predictions before? How accurate were the previous predictions? What is the range of likely outcomes if I don’t give up my income, and what assumptions do you have to make for each one of those outcomes to come about?”

To make this real, we were told a mild version of this by our doctor when my wife was pregnant and slightly over-due. He told us a test showed that there was a lack of amniotic fluid and that my wife needed to be induced that afternoon. Instead of blinding going to be induced we asked a bunch of questions. We found out the test used was very inconsistent from test to test. And when a test/control test was done to determine the impact of early induction, the induced women had MORE complications. We decided to NOT do the early induction, against the doctor’s recommendation (by aligned with what the science was telling us).

So let’s do the same exercise for climate science.

Before global warming, MODERATE environmentalists made the following predictions:

  • There would be a new ice age from global cooling
  • There would be a population explosion and an inability for humanity to feed itself
  • Elephants would go extinct
  • Rainforest coverage would be rapidly removed causing disastrous consequences
  • Acid Rain will destroy our forests
  • The ozone layer will be wiped out causing inability for humans to go outside
  • Desertification
  • Nuclear winter
  • We will run out of resources – everything from copper to aluminum to oil
  • There will be pandemics killing off 10%+ of the population
  • Sperm counts will plummet due to modern technology and we will be unable to procreate
  • Pesticides will cause dramatic increases in cancer
  • GMOs will be dangerous to human health
  • GMOs will cause a loss of biodiversity that will make entire species go extinct

In all these cases there was consistent pattern of dramatic exaggeration followed by no apology as we moved onto the next disaster that was “right around the corner if we don’t change our ways now”. In all these cases the disaster scenario was predicted by LEADING SCIENTISTS. But in EVERY case the problem was either non-existent, or nowhere near as bad as it was made out to be. If a corporation made predictions like that and acted on them, it would go bankrupt. But when an environmental organization makes those predictions it brings in MORE donations. When they are proven wrong, they move onto the next world-destroying event so they can collect more donations. Global warming is the best disaster ever for Big Green. The disaster is so far in the future, they don’t need to invent new disasters when this one doesn’t work out. While we should be able to see warming on the way to that disaster, when we don’t (like we didn’t for 15 years!) we have a ready explanation. If we see no warming for the next fifteen years, do you think Big Green will stop shouting about global warming? I doubt it.

This DOESN’T mean that the boy who cries wolf will not be right one of these times, but it should give us a little pause and before we assume “This time there is obviously a wolf, because the boy says so and he has a PhD.” We should have at least a little skepticism before we dismantle our modern economy (or even divert resources from things we KNOW save lives here and today).

Let’s talk about specific predictions on global warming specifically.

If we go back to the early 80s the belief among climate alarmists was we would be in a disastrous state by now. Indeed, temperatures have raised by about 1.5 degrees C in the last 40 years. But disaster has not followed. Globally humans are better off today by almost every metric than we were as a group 40 years ago. Predictions of massive expansion of the geographic footprint of malaria, an influx of climate refugees, dramatic heatwaves, storms, draughts and floods never came to pass (as much as every disaster that does happen these days is automatically attributed to global warming).

The most famous “prediction” of climate scientists is the famous “hockey stick” graph. It shows that temperatures were relatively constant for 1000 years, but then, in the 20th century, just as we were emitting carbon, the graph turns into a hockey stick (we are on the blade). It looks very very scary. (This isn’t really a prediction as it is backward looking, but future, reasonable, predictions were made just by extending the blade). The IPCC liked the graph so much they published it six times in its third assessment report and displayed It behind the chairman at the press release briefing.

But then researchers like McIntyre and McKitrick showed that the historical data was BS (backed up by the NAS for those who care about credintials). The data was completely reliant on dubious tree rings and inappropriate statistical filters that exaggerated the 20th century “blade”. That’s fine. This happens in science. People make mistakes, they are caught and life goes on. But that’s not what happened here. For years climatomogists clung to the hockey stick. They pretended nothing was wrong. Remember 2009? A bunch of emails leaked showing climate scientists were withholding data, preventing papers from being published and getting journal editors fired if they disagreed with the orthodoxy. They defended themselves at the time by saying the equivalent of, “Yes. We did those things. But the truth really is that the world is warming rapidly, and if we don’t keep a united front then we will never convince the public to do what needs to be done.” As a global warming adherent in 2009 I bought their answer and was critical of the right wing climate denialists that attacked their character.

But let’s understand what is happening here. These scientists aren’t trying to get at the truth. They have already decided what the truth is. Now they are trying influence policy by manipulating any new data so there is no uncertainty around their truth. If they are right – if there really will be a disaster if we don’t do something – then maybe what they are doing is commendable. “Who cares about science if we need to win the war!” But it’s stopped being science. And if they are wrong (and in the time since 2009 I’ve been convinced they are), then they are seriously hurting the long term authority of science by the way they are acting.

In 2012 Peter Glick (respected climate scientist) stole the identity of a board member of the (skeptical) Heartland Institute. He leaked memos including a strategy document that later turned out to be a forgery. He apologized, but otherwise continued to be a respected climate scientist with significant grand funding.

IPCC made some aggressive predictions of future temperatures in 2012. Matt Ridley dug into their data and argued that (based on their own data) the predictions should be lower. He was attacked by all over the place. More than a dozen high profile climatologists wrote articles attacking his character and motivations. A few years later the estimates were revised to be even lower than he had predicted.

Rajendra Pachauri was chairman of the IPCC for thirteen years and is often described as “the world’s top climate scientist”. When India’s leading glaciologist, Vijay Raina, challenged a claim in the IPCC report that said the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035 Raj attacked him, calling his report “voodoo science”. (That claim by the way got its creator, Syed Hasnain a 3MM Euro grant to work at TERI under –guess who – Dr Pachauri). Yet years later it turned out Vij was correct. It was a huge mistake by IPCC. Many scientific organizations demanded that Raj step down as chair. He refused. (Instead he travelled the world promoting his novel – great choice if you are really worried about the devastating effects of carbon). He was finally forced to resign in 2015 when he was criminally charged with sexual misconduct with an employee. None of this was reported by the environmentalist news-sphere.

The glacier model was IPCCs biggest screw-up, but there have been others. They wrote about how urban heat “islands” had not caused exaggerated global warming based on a study. The paper turns out to be garbage and based on non-existent data from weather stations in China. After correcting for the bad data it turned out 40% of the claimed increase in temperature in China was just heat island effect.

There was a Scandinavian lake sediment core that was used as evidence of global warming. But someone messed up and it had been used “upside down” – so it showed the exact opposite of the claim.

The famous “hide the decline” incident where a tree-ring graph was truncated to cut off the recent cooling. In March 2015 a paper was published showing the Gulf Stream was slowing down. It made headlines around the world. But it turns out it was based on the same bad-data tree rings that caused the hockey stick chart.

Camille Parmesan published a paper on butterflies that showed that global warming was causing loss of habitat and driving the butterflies’ north. It was no obscure paper. It was cited over 500 times. She was invited to speak at the White House. She contributed to the IPCC’s third assessment report. Then Jim Steele (an ecologist with, as far as I know, no ties to Big Oil) found a problem in her paper. There had been a bunch of extinctions in the southern part of the butterfly’s range due to urban development. Once that was corrected for, the butterfly’s range hadn’t moved at all (the averages moved because of the southern extinctions). And since then the butterfly populations have recovered everywhere – back to the same range they were at originally. When Steele asked Parmesan for her data she refused. The paper CONTINUES to be cited as clear evidence of climate change and Steels has been accused of being a “Climate Change Denier” (I actually have no idea what Steele’s stance is on climate change – the point is that anyone who exposes holes in the global warming theory is attacked as an enemy).

If these things happened in any other field of medicine, there would be scandals. But in climate science the reaction is that nothing is wrong. It calls out errors when someone argues there may be a small warming effect, but ignores anything on the exaggeration side.

Now we are told that future predictions are “settled science”. Nope. Evolution is settled. Relatively is settled. Quantum mechanics is settled. Climate Science is a series of predictions about the future based on a chaotic system. There is nothing settled about it. For something to be settled it should be able to make predictions that are falsifiable, and then tested against those predictions. So far climate science has NEVER made a successful prediction. Even if it had, future predictions are very hard and we should be debating them. Instead the environmentalists have circled the wagons and are attacking even mild questioning. The reaction I see on facebook threads are good examples of that.


Bias, vested interests and Big Green

Why do smart, educated people still think this is settled science? When a scientist questions the disaster scenario they are attacked. Bob Carter is a climate science expert that doesn’t toe the line. When he appeared on the BBC the station was subjected to extreme abuse – and was ignored by the rest of the media. Judith Curry (Georgia Tech) was once an alarmist who changed her mind as she saw more data shared her story about how difficult it was to publicly change her beliefs. Extreme pressure from politicians, funding agencies, universities, professional societies, other scientists who are green activists. She claimed there were strong “monetary, reputational, and authority interests in staying within the party line”. Lennart Bengtsson (Swedish meteorologist) announced he was joining the Global Warming Policy Foundation. Then he withdrew because he was frightened due to threats to his family. Roger Pielke is an expert on disasters (University of Colorado). He actually aligns with extremist thinking on the impact of Global Warming. But he questioned the argument that the increase damage from disasters was due to global warming. His expertise and data told him the increased damage was due to society being wealthier – so more stuff to destroy in a disaster. He wrote about it on Nate Silver’s site, FiveThirtyEight, but he was savagely attacked. Nate Silver eventually dropped him from the site rather than deal with the heat from attacking environmentalists.

Meanwhile the leading proponents of climate change disaster-ism have lodged themselves in corners that would make it very personally costly for them to change their stances. Jim Hansen (head of Space Studies at NASA) has won over $1M in green prizes. Michael Oppenheimer (Princeton) was EDF’s senior scientist for 19 years. EDF has $209MM in assets and collected more than $540MM from charities since 2008 (Plus $2.8M from the government). It spent $11.3MM on lobbying. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is in charge of the ocean chapter in latest version of the IPCC report. He spent his career working for Greenpeace and the WWF. What would it take for Jim, Michael or Ove to decide that global warming was not a significant risk? Until that question is answered it is disingenuous to attack people who cash checks from Big Oil. Big Green is just as, if not more, locked into their position.



The risks researchers need to take should give you pause on trusting from authority at this point. It is just too difficult for a climate researcher to NOT say there will be a disaster. If they do, they will lose funding (and likely friendships). And yet this is the standard argument from environmentalists.

Evolutionists don’t say, “97% of scientists believe in evolution, and if you are not a scientist you can’t question it. You are likely in the hands of the Intelligent Design Industry.” Instead they spend a lot of time and effort explaining the facts. And even so there is controversy in evolution. Not the controversy the religious right would like there to be, but there is a real argument on whether evolution happens at the gene level, individual level, group level, or even species level. I fell firmly with Dawkins on the gene level, but this is not locked down science and there is dissent in the ranks.

But any dissent among climate scientists is quickly attacked.

And if someone who is not a climate scientist brings up an argument they are even more open for attack. When I have these discussions on facebook and I bring up the water vapor issue, I get responses like:

“Don’t listen to Alex Epstien because he has taken money from fossil fuel companies.”

Never mind that Alex started with the data, came to a conclusion, and was THEN paid by the companies. Apparently that is completely different than when an environmentalist comes to a conclusion and then gets paid by Sierra Club who agrees with his conclusion.

“But Alex majored in Philosophy in undergrad.”

So what? Does that change the facts? I majored in physics so therefore I should be ignored on the topic of online marketing?

To this I say: Question the data, but stop with the character attacks. It is not how science works.

In the world of climate science, the pattern of character attacks and appeals to authority is the go-to strategy. “The Royal Society says you should be alarmed”, “97% of scientists agree”, ”IPCC says temperatures could go as high as 5 degrees”, “You are just spouting standard denialist talking points”, “You have taken money from big oil”. These were the types of arguments I grew up hearing in Catholic school.


Small probabilities, big disasters

If indeed there is even a small chance that the world is headed to disaster, we should definitely do something about it. Doing something does not necessarily mean throwing money at the problem – which has often made things worse (examples to come), but it means we should urgently be taking action. The argument is often, “We spend $XXX MM on the military, we should be spending at least as much on the chance of a global warming disaster”. I DON’T think military spending is a good proxy for trade-off spending. Yes, we might be spending too much on the military, but that is a different topic. What we are talking about with global warming is a small chance of a disastrous outcome. Better parallels are things like AI risk and Meteor risk.

The two examples are slightly different, but worth exploring. AI risk is really unknown. We have no history to check probabilities. All we have is theory and experts. In this case experts disagree on the amount of risk and the timing of the risk. But there are enough smart people who have deep understanding in the field, who are able to communicate the reason for their concern in non-black-box language, that I am convinced it is worth putting some resources into research around how to build AI that won’t turn us all into paperclips.

Meteor risk is far more quantifiable. We know from historical records how often an (effectively) world-destroying meteor will hit Earth. The chance if it happening in the next century is tiny (agreed to by all), but the result if it did happen would be an extinction event (also agreed by all). We also know exactly what we need to do to prevent an event from happening. I would 100% be in favor of the small spend necessary to protect humankind from the small risk. This seems to me to be a reasonable insurance to buy. (Something I don’t hear from environmentalists at all. Some of whom argue that this would be a GOOD thing because it would remove humans from the Earth and allow things to go back to where they were. Not joking.)

If we are afraid of human-extinction events, we should be putting some money towards safe AI-research and a meteor protection program. Both get MUCH less funding than global warming and have far more quantifiable benefits.

But back to global warming.

In order to believe we should buy insurance, we need to believe three things:

  • There is a small (but real) chance that there will be a devastating event
  • We can do something that will stop that event from happening
  • We can’t wait to learn more. If we do we will lose our chance to prevent the event from happening

Based on my earlier assessment I am convinced that there is NOT any real chance of a devastating event. Does that mean there is zero risk? Absolutely not. Humans are far too likely to jump to 100% or 0% belief in things. There is absolutely a chance that global warming will cause catastrophic disaster. But there is also a chance that global cooling will cause catastrophic disaster. I don’t think the warming apocalypse is much more likely than the ice age at this point. And the chance of either is vanishingly small.

But that doesn’t mean that we won’t experience mild warming. Mild warming may have some advantages, but it will also do real damage to some regions. We should do something to reduce that damage.

Turns out the best way to do that is to help those regions become rich. And the best way to become rich is to have a cheap external energy source – like oil and natural gas.


Problems with solutions

If I have almost convinced you, but you still think there is a 0.01% chance of a disaster, so you think that it is worth throwing resources at risk mitigation, your next question should be: Okay, how do we reduce the risk?

The problem is that so far global warming arguments have been used to help vested interests do stuff they want to do for complexly unrelated reasons.

The government gives massive subsidies to electric cars that take money from tax payers and transfer them to billionaires like Elon Musk.

Using “renewable” plants instead of “limited” oil sounds great, but it has been devastating. Extreme examples include cutting down rainforests to plant corn so we can burn it inefficiently in our cars. Iowa is now our “Greenest” state as they fight for ethanol subsidies (and the politicians of all stripes oblige).

We rip up peat bogs to install wind power.

Renewable power that still needs back-up from fossil fuels. Because of that back-up need causes an INCREASE in total CO2 emissions as the plants need to be powered up and down because wind power is given priority.

These actions are not an insurance policy. We are just trying to push policy agendas.

If there really was a huge risk of devastation if we don’t stop CO2 production, we only have two real options:

  • Nuclear Power
  • Destroy the world economy

The problem with nuclear power is that the regulations surrounding it have made it far too risky and expensive for any developer to touch. Those regulations were fought for by the SAME PEOPLE arguing that global warming is a human extinction-level risk. If it really is that potentially scary we should be turning off all regulations on nuclear power. Worse case is we get a few nuclear disasters like Chernobyl. Maybe even millions of people die. But that’s a tiny price to pay as an insurance policy against human extinction.

Right now we can save a life with a malaria net for about $2000. So if we are talking about spending even $20B on global warming insurance, that is costing us a million lives already. So we should have no problem risking a million lives or so with nuclear power.

(Realistically we don’t even need to do that. We can keep some safety checks in place which will reduce the risk of a significant disaster to ridiculously low – and remember any disaster that does happen will be contained to a (relatively) small geographic area – unlike a theoretical world-ending climate change event).



I am very open to having my mind changed on global warming. In fact I would fit in much better with my friend group if I could be convinced global warming is going to be a likely disaster. All it will take is data and a compelling argument. What won’t work is appeals to authority.

In the meantime, here is a summary of where I have personally netted out on global warming.

  • Climate change is real and is man made
  • It’s not a planetary emergency
  • It will likely cause some harm but also some good. Net it will be slightly bad
  • The best counter to slight warming is making the world richer. Netherlands has no problem “living under sea level”. Even extreme temperature swings do not cause famine in the US.
  • Climate model predictions have never been accurate in the past, which makes me doubt any reason to put any faith in them in the future
  • The global warming belief is non-falsifiable. Their disaster event is far enough in the future that they can’t be proven wrong. Any data of lack of warming in the meantime is explained away (Tell me what data we could get next year that would have them admit they are wrong? What about five years? Ten years? About five years ago someone said it would take “15 years of no warming before [he] would question his beliefs.” When we had 15 years of no warming he changed his mind and said it would take longer
  • There is a growing body of literature that challenges IPCC climate estimates
  • The usual remedies for “solving” the global warming crisis are either expensive, ineffective, or even cause more CO2 than there would be otherwise (sometimes all three)
  • There ARE benefits of higher CO2 – yes plants need water and nitrogen, but there is clear evidence now that there has been a global greening and evidence points to increased CO2 as one of the big reasons
  • The biggest issues in the world is poverty. While it is a very hard problem to fix, things are getting better. But most climate change “remedies” make poverty worse. We should not make our biggest problem worse
  • One of the clear ways to reduce poverty is to increase energy use. The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to do that is to use fossil fuels.
  • If we are worried about small probability events that could be extinction-causing, we should look at meteor defense and AI research
  • Climate science is very similar to nutrition science in the 1970s. Leading nutrition scientists (note both groups need to add science to the end of their titles) fought hard for their belief that fats were the cause of unhealthiness and we needed to replace them with carbohydrates in diets. They fought every attempt to show conflicting data. They did it for a good reason: They thought they were right, and they believed silencing decent would save lives. It turns out they were wrong and their silencing resulting in a human tragedy on a world-wide scale. Now we have climate scientists convinced they are right silencing decent because they are convinced they are saving lives. Both movements had/have significant political support and funding (funding that only goes to scientists who fall in line).
  • Scientists are bad at disproving their own claims (they are like all people that way). But science advances because scientists disprove OTHER scientists claims and findings. But this falls apart when there is a monopoly that silences scientists that try and do that. We saw it happen with nutrition in the 1970s, and we see the same thing today in climate science.


This post took me weeks to write. A lot of the content comes from Matt Ridley and Alex Epstien, and I owe them a huge debt for the amount of real research they have put into the topic. I will eventually go back and put in links and sources. If there is a specific source you are interested in, let me know and I will add it first.


Whether you liked this piece or not, you might like the data-driven way I look at the “search for excellence” in my book, “Good Enough: Why Good is Better than Excellent”. You can download the first chapter by submitting your email on the right.