David Kirkpatrick

July 23, 2008

Global warming and skepticism

There’s a distressingly anti-science aspect to the global warming scolds. Global warming is a problem and deserves a great deal of thought and effort, but the reality is dissenting points of view are arbitrarily dismissed and outright ignored.

Freeman Dyson wrote a piece for the New York Review of Books (from the Volume 55, Number 10 · June 12, 2008 issue) that is worthy of the time spent reading the article. His main point is the science involved in global warming is not nearly as cut-and-dried as it’s made out to be.

From the link:

Answering Lindzen in the next chapter, “Anthropogenic Climate Change: Revisiting the Facts,” is Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at Potsdam University in Germany. Rahmstorf sums up his opinion of Lindzen’s arguments in one sentence: “All this seems completely out of touch with the world of climate science as I know it and, to be frank, simply ludicrous.” These two chapters give the reader a sad picture of climate science. Rahmstorf represents the majority of scientists who believe fervently that global warming is a grave danger. Lindzen represents the small minority who are skeptical. Their conversation is a dialogue of the deaf. The majority responds to the minority with open contempt.

In the history of science it has often happened that the majority was wrong and refused to listen to a minority that later turned out to be right. It may—or may not—be that the present is such a time. The great virtue of Nordhaus’s economic analysis is that it remains valid whether the majority view is right or wrong. Nordhaus’s optimum policy takes both possibilities into account. Zedillo in his introduction summarizes the arguments of each contributor in turn. He maintains the neutrality appropriate to a conference chairman, and gives equal space to Lindzen and to Rahmstorf. He betrays his own opinion only in a single sentence with a short parenthesis: “Climate change may not be the world’s most pressing problem (as I am convinced it is not), but it could still prove to be the most complex challenge the world has ever faced.”

And this bit from KurzweiAI.net came across the wire today:

“Consensus” on Man-Made Warming Shattering
Canada Free Press, July 19, 2008

Physics & Society, The journal of the American Physical Society, has published “Climate Sensitivity Revisited,” a debate.

“There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution,” the paper notes.

“Global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC’s models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity: radiative forcing delta F; the no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter k; and the feedback multiplier f.

The American Physical Society itself has issued a statement: It stands by its belief that human-emitted CO2 is “changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the earth‘s climate” and notes that Physics & Society is not peer-reviewed.

 
Read Original Article>>

May 18, 2008

Q&A with George Soros

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:37 pm

The May 15, 2008, New York Review of Books had an interesting interview with financier George Soros. They covered financial regulation, currency, the housing crisis and the global economy. The interview even touches briefly on politics.

This interview is a great read to hear a highly educated opinion on all those subjects. For those who see the name “George Soros” and only think of the man who pumped tens of millions into the 2004 election to attempt and unseat Bush 43, this interview might open your eyes a bit.

He’s not Democratic ideologue. Maybe for a bit more market regulation than I prefer, but after these last few years beginning with the Enron debacle it’s hard to argue for a completely free market. And he’s certainly made a whole lot more money out of all the markets he discusses than I have — and most other people for that matter.

Here’s two samples from the interview.

… on the 2004 election:

Woodruff: A larger question on the campaign—you gave, I believe, something like $23 million in 2004 to various Democratic efforts: MoveOn.org and candidates. Far less than that so far this year—why the change?

Soros: Well, because I think that was a unique time when not having President Bush reelected would have made the situation of this country and of the world much better. I think now it’s less important. And, in any case, I don’t feel terribly comfortable being a partisan person because I look forward to being critical of the next Democratic administration.

… on his philosophy of market regulation:

Woodruff: What of your book and the philosophy that comes of it?

Soros: In human affairs, as distinguished from natural science, I argue that our understanding is imperfect. And our imperfect understanding introduces an element of uncertainty that’s not there in natural phenomena. So therefore you can’t predict human affairs in the same way as you can natural phenomena. And we have to come to terms with the implication of our own misunderstandings, that it’s very hard to make decisions when you know you may be wrong. You have to learn to recognize that we in fact may be wrong. And, even worse than that, it’s almost inevitable that all of our constructs will have some kind of a flaw in them. So when it comes to currencies, no currency system is perfect.

So you have to recognize that all of our constructions are imperfect. We have to improve them. But just because something is imperfect, the opposite is not perfect. So because of the failures of socialism, communism, we have come to believe in market fundamentalism, that markets are perfect; everything will be taken care of by markets. And markets are not perfect. And this time we have to recognize that, because we are facing a very serious economic disruption.

Now, we should not go back to a very highly regulated economy because the regulators are imperfect. They’re only human and what is worse, they are bureaucratic. So you have to find the right kind of balance between allowing the markets to do their work, while recognizing that they are imperfect. You need authorities that keep the market under scrutiny and some degree of control. That’s the message that I’m trying to get across.

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