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« Economic dynamics - and the real danger | Main | What's wrong with ideology? »

December 20, 2009


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George Mobus


I have written a number of blogs berating Friedman for his policy positions (check the current affairs category). This is just one more time when I point out that he is an excellent observer of trends even if he ends up being biased or ideological in coming to conclusions and forwarding policy recommendations.

I do take issue with generalizations such as your claim that he was wrong about everything. I get that that is your opinion, but I would ask you to either provide evidence or more thoroughly reasoned arguments. I can appreciate someone not agreeing with me; I just ask that you show why with some specifics. For example, in your claims about his pushing globalization, what specifically do you see as the outcome that warrants your complaint? Surely not everything to do with globalization is bad.

As for cap-and-trade, I'm guessing you are new to my blog and have not read many past ones, as I have already written about my reservations of this scheme. Just above this comment I mention my opposition to Hansen's notion of fee-and-rebate as well.

My lament about Copenhagen has more to do with the failure of global leaders to arrive at any meaningful action even if it were to be an agreed upon cap limit for C&T. The reason is that this is evidence of the dysfunctional state of governance in our world. My feeling is that strong leaders would have already realized that things like C&T are not workable and would have proposed direct, consumption-based carbon pricing with which to fund mitigation and adaptation (by investing in renewable energy infrastructure). And they would lead the world to implementation. Our leaders, it appears, are too beholden to the carbon interests to affect anything meaningful.



George, many thanks for your comment. I have to disagree that the unequivocal truth about (man made) Climate Change will ever come to light, as there are too many variables at play. If the planet warms or cools no one can separate all the interacting factors, and it is clear that we don't actually know whether the planet on average has warmed or cooled (one man's Mediaeval Warming Period is another man's localised anomaly to be 'corrected' away). Isn't it like the 'science' of economics? If the UK enters a period of hyperinflation in a couple of years, for example, then no one will be sure whether it was the Q.E. that brought us to a 'tipping point', or whether we were going there anyway via a different route. One thing's for sure: as you pointed out in your post, the near-universal peer-reviewed 'consensus' on economics a few years ago was woefully inaccurate, and no doubt still is. (You may like to quibble that economics is in some way an inferior science to that of climatology, but peer-reviewed science is peer-reviewed science; you can't cherry-pick your sciences.)

I agree that resource depletion will result in the end of our contribution to atmospheric CO2 soon, anyway.

Robin Datta

Let us not forget that we are Sarcopterygii, at least cladistically ( )! Notwithstanding the recognition that we are a remarkable example of that clade. An epiphenomenon on nucleic acid chemistry. Also notwithstanding the recognition that we are a remarkable epiphenomenon with an entire hierarchy of emergent properties.

Viewed in such perspective, an emergent property such as "wisdom" is yet another item in the mix. Its current substrates may or may not be the ideal basis to nurture or sustain it.

Leadership, the ability to entrain one's followers' agendas in the furtherance of one's own agenda, is yet another emergent property. In a democratic system however, a leader whose agenda is at too great a variance with that of the followers will presently be ousted from the position of leadership.

Seeking the community of like - minded persons may be the most effective means of making structures and strategies that might see a few through the bottleneck.

[Edit note: I've added a link to Wikipedia for those interested in our cladistic background. No easy task with lobed fins, I might add. GM]


David, here's a good source on climate science reality. And it's also quite entertaining. Have a look at "Climate Denial Crock of the Week" at


Florifulgurator. I didn't make it to the end of the film as I immediately realised that all my doubts were pointless. When I saw such slick production and the bold, confident use of straw man arguments it suddenly became clear to me that the Climate Change movement in its entirety has no questions to answer. All those involved are only seeking the truth, and are obviously the best people to work out how to get us out of this mess. Sorry to have wasted everyone's time.


"Seer" Ross Gelbspan has a video out, much in George's spirit:

Pulitzer prize winner Ross was also an early (1997) target by fossil fools smear (Western Fuels + Fred Singer)

David should have a look.

Robin Datta

Some items that need answers:


Robin, are you kidding?
Monckton is way beyond parody. You could as well cite a Monty Python sketch or tell us about Santa Claus. That U.S. disinformers like "Science and Public Policy Institute" dare to employ this crazy nut says enough about the sorry state of science education over there. ('nuff said. I'll be offline for perhaps 2 weeks.)


Boys, boys! this global warming argument is just sooo 20th century!....after Copenhagen the agenda for our so called leaders of democracy, sorry corporate plutocracy, will be geoengineering.
It has all the qualities necessary for another 20 years of essential (to the globalisers)arguments, financial wrangling and procrasternation while the planet burns.

Here is an excellent overview PDF of the problems and tactics:

(George May find it interesting too)


Florifulgurator. Just read a fascinating little article on the limitations of "maths and physics". In it the author describes an experiment of placing the end of a bar of some material in hot water and measuring the temperature of the 'dry' end. Simple "maths and physics" always enables us to predict the temperature accurately. But he then goes on to ask what happens if we place a human's feet in the water. Suddenly the "maths and physics" fails; there is no way of analysing mathematically what a system as complex as a human being will do even in such a simple scenario. All we can say is what it does by observation. Rather a neat thought experiment don't you think?

The climate is a *very* complex system that doesn't lend itself even to simple measurements; we can't even say what the 'average' temperature is, and even if we could it wouldn't mean anything, as it would just be a snapshot within a chaotic, churning sequence of 'cycles' some of which last for centuries. In the case of a human being we might think we can say what it is 'supposed' to do as a system, because we might assume that evolution has some sort of 'purpose'. But the human being is still just a collection of the same molecules which make up the rest of the planet, and yet we can't predict what it will do. What is the climate 'supposed' to do? (It has gone through some sort of evolution too.)

All you can say is that it is probable that CO2 in the atmosphere has some effect on the climate. You might even go so far as to say that it is 'likely' to cause warming. That's a reasonable assumption, I would say, but I would always be ready to change my mind. You could then go on to say that it might be a good idea to reduce the man-made contribution of CO2 in the atmosphere. I'd go along with that, too, without needing too much persuasion - but then again I hate waste and I'm worried about the oil running out, anyway. It's ridiculous that we should have ever got into this situation in the first place.

It's the un-thinking "science is settled" assertion that I can't stand! And the assumption that scientists automatically have 'sapience', or that the scientific method is completely neutral and objective.

Robin Datta

Some items seeking clarificatios:

Warning: The video runs for over one hour!
[Edit Note: This comment has been sent multiple times. I left one in, but will be removing any more of the same kind. This looks more like spam than a legitimate comment. GM]

George Mobus

The back-and-forth between David an Flor have me thinking about a blog (in development) regarding some of the issues raised by both commentators re: AGW and climate change. Making no promises as to when that will come out; I'm actually working on another economics blog right now.

But I think I should at least put in my $0.02 on the subject, especially as regards the scientific process and ideas like 'the science is settled', which I feel are highly misunderstood notions these days.

Stay tuned.


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