What the Administration Considered Too Dangerous to Release for Four Years

And released only under threat of a court order: “Scientific Assessment of the Effects of Global Change on the United States” (summary).


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From Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Bush administration released a climate change assessment on Thursday — four years late and pushed forward by a court order — that said human-induced global warming will likely lead to problems like droughts in the U.S. West and stronger hurricanes.


This is an encouraging development for those who believe knowledge-based policymaking is a good idea. Some day, I might even see this White House admit that mercury is toxic, and we are not on the right hand side of the Laffer Curve. But one day at a time.

Here’s the entire report (large PDF).

38 thoughts on “What the Administration Considered Too Dangerous to Release for Four Years

  1. Babinich

    Should we be curbing carbon emissions and looking for alternative fuels? Absolutely; technology is the way out.

    Should we be panicking about global warming to the point that rash decisions are made that alter economic activity? Absolutely not…

    Especially since anthropogenic warning continues to be debated (much to the chagrin of the Left).

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7329799.stm

  2. CoRev

    Babinich, gets it. Most discussion is driven, not by acceptance of denial of the whether it is warming, but the ALARMIST predictions from the apostles of AGW, and the weak science used to support the predictions.
    Are we warming? Probably! Is some of it caused by mankind? Probably! Is the percentage of that warming caused by CO2? AH HA, that is some of the weakest science. Can/should these predictions be based upon output from computer models? Probably not! Can the data used to measure these warming temperatures be trusted? NOPE!
    All but the satellite data sets have serious flaws. The satellite data only marginally supports the AGW warming story, so it has been attack by the believers. All other data sets are being reviewed by both believers and skeptics to find their flaws and make their respective cases. Many flaws, new and old are being discovered, and these data sets are being adjusted to the point that they can no longer be believed.
    So what does that leave us with? The alarming predictions are in serious doubt. Is warming occurring? Yes, but is warming dangerous? We really don’t know because of the quality of the data/models results. Is cooling happening? Yes, and cooling is definitely dangerous, maybe more so than warming.

  3. Wgon

    Yes, the report is dangerous because AGW is based on bad “science.” I should know because I have worked with geoscientists for quite some time. Their idea of science is not as rigorous as what people think it is. Our understanding of the earth system is not at the level where we can make long-term predictions. It’s so complex — we are only beginning to understand a smal part of how it functions.
    And do scientists fool themselves into believing a particular theory or dogma? Sure, they do. I have seen it happen often. This is especially true in a field where any observation can be explained away to fit the theory.

  4. M1EK

    Babinich, as most GW deniers, needs to read his citations a little more carefully.

    Global temperatures for 2008 will be slightly cooler than last year as a result of the cold La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.
    The World Meteorological Organization’s secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.
    But this year’s temperatures would still be way above the average – and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases.

  5. Hitchhiker

    I am tired of people putting all the emphasis on carbon dioxide which accounts for only 2-3% of the greenhouse effect. Since water vapor accounts for 95% it seems highly illogical to concentrate our efforts on the tip of the tail instead of the dog itself. Wetlands contribute more CO2 to the atmosphere than all human activity combined. It seems plain to me where our efforts need to be focused. Eliminating wetlands would do far more to cool the planet then reducing human carbon emissions. In fact, if we could eliminate water altogether from the planet, the temperature volatility that we see could be virtually eliminated.
    While the rest of you knuckle under to the charlatans who want you to stop using energy and reduce your standard of living by a couple hundred years which will have at best little to no impact, I am busy organizing efforts by earth moving equipment users to bulldoze all the wetlands dry to actually make an impact towards solving this problem.

  6. General Specific

    Similar to the way the administration selectively massaged and released data in order to build a case for the neo-cons long-term desire to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the administration is similarly unwilling to allow the public access to environmental analysis so they can make informed decisions.

  7. Anonymous

    M1EK says:

    “Babinich, as most GW deniers, needs to read his citations a little more carefully.”

    Please do not put words in my mouth.

    I never stated my position on global warming. I just made a statement that the government policies enacted to counteract this event, an event to date that is not fully understood, probably will do more harm than good.

  8. Menzie Chinn

    Please note that this document is an official representation of the US Government’s position on the best (unmuzzled) science on this subject. It is hence different from the IPCC, for those who like to castigate that organization’s findings. The document is accessed through the White House’s Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) website.

    I’ll put up another post on the numbers vs. peer-reviewed approach to debating issues (e.g., wouldn’t it be useful to know which scientists disputed the findings of the IPCC, and what aspects, and how many of them had published their findings in peer reviewed journals…).

  9. Babinich

    Menzie says:

    “wouldn’t it be useful to know which scientists disputed the findings of the IPCC, and what aspects, and how many of them had published their findings in peer reviewed journals…”

    Conversely, it would be nice to note the background of those scientists supporting the IPCC findings.

    This article sheds some light on whether peer reviews are the “be all, end all” regarding debate.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/25/science/25clone.html?pagewanted=print

  10. General Specific

    “This article sheds some light on whether peer reviews are the “be all, end all” regarding debate.”
    That’s data mining. I can find examples of corporate executives who are criminals, unethical scientists, etc. It doesn’t prove a thing.
    Peer review, combined with reproducibility, are key components of science or any empirically based enterprise.
    What is deliciously ironic is the way conservatives have jumped into bed with post-modernists in the past thirty years or so, afraid of the truths of science (evolution, global warming) and therefore grasping at relativism and multiple truths–or no truths–in order to counter what they’d rather not hear.

  11. Menzie Chinn

    Babinich: As one involved in peer review, I know that it’s not a perfect system. But, thinking about Churchill’s aphorism, what’s your alternative? By the way, I’m all for transparency — we should know who (often energy related corporations) funded all those (typically not peer-reviewed) studies disputing global warming, just like we should know the funding agencies for the studies that document discernable increases in overall world temperatures.

    I think this general rule should be applied to the studies that discuss cost/benefit ratios for mitigation policies, as we move forward. That, I think, should prove very instructive.

  12. John Mashey

    1) There’s a slight ambiguity in Menzie Chin’s comment about this being different from the IPCC. The process might be a little different, and it’s more focused on the US, but the science is the same (and there are 358 references to the IPCC in 271 pages). Science is science unless one has extra-science reasons to exaggerate or deny it, or has low scientific literacy.

    2) There has long been a strengthening *scientific* consensus about AGW. For example, one can read President Bush’s 1989 statement, which includes:
    “President Bush announced today that the United States has agreed with other industrialized nations that stabilization of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions should be achieved as soon as possible.”

    3) At that point, AGW was apolitical, but it didn’t last long, as orchestrated efforts arose, not within science, but outside, to create doubt. These were modeled after tobacco companies’ similar efforts, in some cases involving the same PR agencies, thinktanks and people, and have been quite successful, as it is always easier to create doubt. (44 years after “The Surgeon General”, cigarette companies prosper via business plans that utterly depend on addicting 12-18-year-olds while they’re brains are developing. It takes a PR hero to do that! Creating confusion about AGW is trivial by comparison.)

    For the history of the real science, and how it was later successfully politicized, watch a fine video by UCSD Professor (geoscientist and science historian) Naomi Oreskes called The American Denial of Global Warming.

    The first 28 minutes is a nice history of the development of the science, through ~1989. The second half describes some of the origins of “AGW denialism” at the George C. Marshall Institute for ideological reasons. (Government cannot be allowed to regulate *anything*, especially CFCs, acid rain, cigarettes, mercury, or CO2).

    A later talk (not yet on video) details the classic advertising campaigns of the Western Fuels Association (i.e., Powder River Coal; more CO2 is good for everybody, plants are starving for it).

    4) There is plenty of room for argument about policy with regard to AGW, and economics & politics have a serious role to play. There is plenty of room for discussion based on various views of the nature of government, although people who deny clear science will find themselves marginalized in later policy discussions, which is actually too bad.
    Conjecture: if people deny the science long enough, so that problems get really bad, people of the “no government regulation of anything” school are going to discover just how bad it can get. Those of us who prefer private solutions when possible, with government as needed, won’t be happy either.

    5) Debating science in an economics blog is *silly*. There are better things to do. This report is certainly good, if one has the background to read it, as are the IPCC documents. If someone wants to get up to speed on real science, I’d suggest visiting Real Climate – Start Here.

    If one lives anywhere near a good research university, one can watch the seminar schedule. There’s no substitute for listening to a talk by a real scientist and being able to ask questions.

    Numerous long-debunked bad arguments get recycled again and again. A good list of such, with a further discussion, and pointers to peer-reviewed science articles can be found at Skeptical Science.

    Non-scientists have to learn to sort out real science from the masses of non-science, and it takes effort.

    6) Wkipedia has a Good list of scientific organizations’ opinion on climate change. Even the AAPG moved from denial to noncomittal [too many geoscientists threatened to quit, although of course, there are many petroleum geologists that ignore AGW.]

    But, what do all those scientific organizations know? Are they leftist tree-huggers involved in a vast worldwide conspiracy that manages to include all relevant scientific organizations?

    Well, if someone believes that, their grip on reality is tenuous, but just in case, I’ll end with a few examples of people I’ve heard talk about climate, have discussed it with them, or know well. All of them think energy & climate issues are seriously intertwined, none of them wants to go back to pre-industrial lifestyles, and they are representative of many others I know.

    Peter Darbee, CEO of a major gas & electric utility.
    “Peter Darbee, now winding up his second year as chief exec of PG&E Corp., is a self-professed conservative and no great friend to progressive causes.” See how a serious non-scientist goes about learning … he studied and actually talked to a range of people, including real scientists. Good executives learn how to separate reality from nonsense.

    Nobel Physicist Burton Richter, in G*mbling with the future.
    I heard a shorter version (given for educated non-scientists) of this talk years ago, in a local town meeting, and his verbal comments were *rather firm*. Part is about climate, part about energy. people asked him about scientific consensus, and he was rather *firm* in his comments.

    Geoscientist Lord Ron Oxburgh, ex-Chairman of Shell Oil, who is really very worried for the planet. I’ve known him for years – if he’s worried, I’m scared.

    Now, nothing guarantees that people in such positions must be right. But, to ignore them, one should either be incredibly brilliant or arrogantly stupid, i.e., as in being afflicted with Dunning-Kruger Effect. I’m not smart enough to ignore such people.

  13. Menzie Chinn

    John Mashey: I concur — it’s a great idea to hear real scientists talk in a university setting. Better yet, join the faculty of an interdisciplinary school that includes scientists that study environmental and climate issues. But enough of boosterism.

    While I agree that an economics blog is not the best place to debate the science of global climate change, I think the report is of interest to economists because of what is contained in pages 155 onward — that is the effect on water resources, on agriculture, and on infrastructure demands (including the electrical grid). The ramifications of effects in theae areas are what economists have a comparative advantage in assessing and discussing.

  14. John Mashey

    Menzie Chin: I had no complaints about your posting a good science source. That’s a great thing to do for an econ blog.

    One would then hope for good discussions about the relevant derived economic issues … but that isn’t what’s happened so far…

    I’ll suggest the same thing I’ve suggested elsewhere. You own the blog so you can set the rules. There are a few blogs where one can rationally discuss the science with scientists. There are numerous blogs that will confirm anyone’s opinion that it’s all a hoax. It’s hard to find blogs that:

    Assume that the consensus science is as good an approximation as can be gotten.

    Then discuss proposed solutions, technology paths, economics, inter-regional politics, whatever.

    Without the sort of posts seen here dropping the signal/noise ratio so far that it drives out reasonable people, i.e., Gresham’s Law of blogs & newsgroups.

    Hence, if it were I, I’d be tempted to say, on this post:

    “We’re not going to debate whether or not this assessment of science is right, as this is the wrong place. Assume this report is a good approximation and let’s talk about economics. If you want to do something else, take it elsewhere.”

    This is somewhat akin to John Quiggin’s Policy.

    Economics & sea level rise: here’s a topic that some people care about, and some don’t, but should. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I care. I’ve attended conferences like Preparing for Sea-Level Rise.

    Why should anyone else care about this?

    CA is the biggest net contributor to the Federal government (and hence, most other states, i.e., because some of our taxes end up in other states after passing through the Federal government.)

    About half of the US fruits and vegetables are grown in CA. Some of the best farmland is in the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, of which some is already below sea level. There is also a lot of infrastructure there, including roads and train tracks used to transport goods to/from one of the very few good port areas on the West Coast.

    The SF Bay Area has a large amount of expensive infrastructure hear sea level. As we are working our uphill, expensively, you can guess how popular subsidizing other states will be.

  15. Wgon

    Global warming models are models of a highly-complex system and so there a lot of assumptions built-in with a lot of possibility for phenomena that are missed. Probably better than econ models but not proven for long-term predictions, esp. at the temperature resolutions required for AGW. There is a lot calibration done which is based on “back testing” which like in economics has its problems.
    Global warming is an economic industry so those who look for counter arguments to critics get funded while critics are ostracized and get no funding for investigations — so its one-sided in that regards. The public doesn’t understand that scientists are not neutral, but each one goes in with his biases which I’ve seen time and again influenced by funding. There is more pressure to be objective in fields that are experimental (in the laboratory) because results may be directly confirmed by duplicating experiments, but in non-experimental sciences (such as global geosciences) there are often vicious arguments between schools of thought — like econ. or theology.
    I am open to AGW arguments but I am suspicious because its advocates (both scientific and political) are so adament when the case is nowhere that clear but more work needs to be done. It has become a scientific dogma and with much of the public it has become a religion. I often find that how much a scientist knows is inversely proportional to how mad he gets if his opinions or work is questioned because anger, consciously or unconciously, is used to hide ignorance.

  16. algernon

    Wgon, your words are those a sage.
    I attempt to be open-minded on this topic. I must confess that the use of the rather pejorative term ‘denier’ & the continual phrase of ‘the debate is over’ in place of the arguments of the debate increase my scepticism of GW.

  17. Menzie Chinn

    John Mashey: No disagreement from me — I was a UCSC economics faculty member from 1991-2005, studied 5 years at UC Berkeley, so I know that California is vulnerable.

    It’s a good idea to try to direct the conversation — but I must admit that if blogging over the past 2.5 years has taught me anything, it’s that discussion threads often deviate far from what I expected/anticipated.

    Wgon: Perhaps the public does not understand that every scientist comes with a bias — although I think that’s a bit too dismal a view — but here we’re interested and informed (to varying degrees) interlocuters. Having witnessed the RBC wars in macroeconomics, I know there’s plenty of dogma everywhere. But science has a disciplining device which is called the scientific method.

    By the way, you must interact with a different set of scientists than I do.

  18. FT Woods

    There are far more benefits to a clean planet than a polluted one, including the ability for entrepreneurs to make money from innovation. But it requires courage, a trait Nassim Nicholas Taleb sees as a virtue in short supply.

  19. John Mashey

    Menzie: well, at least, UCSC & UCB are both fairly far up the hill.
    The SF Bay Area discussion had a longer punchline.

    From 27 years of work in corporations, including quite a few at VP level, I observe that:

    There are top-down budget estimates.

    There are bottoms-up budget estimates.

    When it is “business as usual”, experienced people are pretty good at doing top-down estimates, but serious people always do bottom-up as well to avoid surprises.

    Sea-level rise for a civilization that builds massively at sea level is *not* business as usual.

    A lot of damage estimates appear to be top-down. Having spent all-day with a bunch oif dedicated local government people (the SFBCDC event mentioned earlier), it is almost certain that any SF Bay Area damage estimates are top-down, rather than bottom-up. If that’s true in the SF Bay Area (which tends to have pretty smart local governments, high education levels, and long-term sensitivity to environment issues, like water), one has to wonder about the calibration of damage estimates around the world. Even there, many people had not thought about the future costs in 2050-2100, or building dikes and sea-walls then, given the lower availability of petroleum then.

    So, the interesting econ questions related to the original post are:

    How realistic are damage estimates?

    Do they include likelyhood that, even if iPods are really cheap in 2050, oil might not be, and for pushing dirt, making steel and concrete, and building things, energy matters?

    Finally, Joe Romm has some good commentary. about political reasons for science denial.

  20. Buzzcut

    I prefer open source to peer review, especially when it comes to modeling. Publish the model, publish the data, and let everyone try and run them.

  21. Joo Carlos

    Anon wrote:
    “It is fascinating watching the US become a post-scientific society…”
    well, I am seeing here economists saying that don’t believe at GW because it is based at models. I want to laught.
    There is a very good reason why some real scientists think economy is not a Science…
    By the way, the tax cuts bring a lot of economic growth, right? Or wait, if the reality don’t fit the model, send reality to junkyard, you want more tax cuts…
    Joo Carlos
    sorry my bad english, my native language is portuguese… and when I see an economist saying that peer reviwed scientific work is no Science, I know that I am reading a very bad joke.

  22. cheale

    The problem with global warming is that is if it is happening the effects will be so severe that there is likely to be world war (making the US invasion of Iraq look like a joke), mass starvation and mass migration. If this could be forestalled by taking action now we would be wise to take it regardless of whether it can be conclusively proved or not. The other thing is that most of the anti climate change bunch have yet to give any scientific evidence against it happening (apart from bullshit theories about the sun and things like that). They seem to have a idea that scientists do not argue or disagree with each other and the science is some kind of monotheistic block. As someone who wanted to be a scientist and studied Chemistry to degree level I can assure you this is very far from the truth.

  23. DickF

    From the CCSP (US Climate Change Science Program) web site:
    During the past thirteen years the United States, through the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), has made the world’s largest scientific investment in the areas of climate change and global change research — a total investment of almost $20 billion.
    If you want to know what motivates these studies consider how many rich psuedo-scientists would be put out of work if we were not spending $20 billion dollars. Now don’t let that slip by. If there were 20,000 government scientists working on this project each would be a millionaire. Follow the money.
    Also consider that there is peer review and then there is peer review. From the study we find that the peer review was to assess how “this report addresses the requirements for assessment in the Global Change Research Act of 1990. not whether it is accurate or not.
    So what is the Global Change Research Act of 1990? Below is how it opens. Note that Congress has already determined that Industrial, agricultural, and other human activities, coupled with an expanding world population, are contributing to processes of global change that may significantly alter the Earth habitat within a few human generations. The peer reviewers are told their finding before they even start.
    ****************
    TITLE I–UNITED STATES GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH PROGRAM
    SEC. 101. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
    (a) FINDINGS.–The Congress makes the following findings:
    Industrial, agricultural, and other human activities, coupled with an expanding world population, are contributing to processes of global change that may significantly alter the Earth habitat within a few human generations.
    Such human-induced changes, in conjunction with natural fluctuations, may lead to significant global warming and thus alter world climate patterns and increase global sea levels. Over the next century, these consequences could adversely affect world agricultural and marine production, coastal habitability, biological diversity, human health, and global economic and social well-being.
    The release of chlorofluorocarbons and other stratospheric ozone-depleting substances is rapidly reducing the ability of the atmosphere to screen out harmful ultraviolet radiation, which could adversely affect human health and ecological systems.
    Development of effective policies to abate, mitigate, and cope with global change will rely on greatly improved scientific understanding of global environmental processes and on our ability to distinguish human-induced from natural global change.
    New developments in interdisciplinary Earth sciences, global observing systems, and computing technology make possible significant advances in the scientific understanding and prediction of these global changes and their effects.
    Although significant Federal global change research efforts are underway, an effective Federal research program will require efficient interagency coordination, and coordination with the research activities of State, private, and international entities.
    (b) PURPOSE.–The purpose of this title is to provide for development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.
    ****************

  24. Menzie Chinn

    DickF: What I meant by peer review is not that the US government document was peer reviewed (for instance, the Economic Report of the President is reviewed, but not in the sense that I mean). Rather I wanted to highlight that this study relied upon peer reviewed studies (as opposed to the ramblings of folks on any ol’ website). By the way, I apply the same stricture to my own writings on this weblog — and indeed I tell students to not cite weblogs (including this one) in their academic papers, exactly because they have not been peer reviewed.

    By the way, I think it unfair to dismiss every person who has received a Federal grant to study global climate change as a “pseudo-scientist”. Where is your documentation? What’s the criteria?

  25. Charles

    Prediction: Not one of the global warming skeptics will actually read the report the President tried to suppres, nor will a single one reflect on what it means to have political types deciding what scientific conclusions are permissible.
    The shade of Lysenko hovers.

  26. Joseph Somsel

    I gave a lot of credibility to global climate change at first. The basic physics are well-understood.
    Then I read the IPCC report. It was clear that any CO2 emissions were just a trivial part of a host of factors that could and were swinging in all directions. Add in the interactions and feedbacks, and the rational basis for regulation went away.
    In light of the science explained in the IPCC report, there is no justification in the political calls for increased regulation and taxation. Add in the facts that developing countries like China and India were not playing ball plus that the political advocates were excluding nuclear power from any solution, and I came to the conclusion that the advocates were just not playing square.

  27. Silas Barta (formerly Person)

    Menzie_Chinn: Is it fair to characterize the disagreement with the report as “anti-science” when most of the proponents of the report’s conclusions seem to be perfectly okay with selectively dismissing the economic science that indicates that e.g. product bans and CAFE standards are extremely inefficient ways to handle the problem?
    The most vocal people on both sides seem to be anti-science in some way or another.

  28. Menzie Chinn

    Silas Barta (formerly Person): I’m not sure I understand your question. I’m speaking only for myself. And for myself, I’ve been consistent in my posts in saying that a gasoline tax is preferable to a CAFE standard. I don’t think I’ve stated a position on product bans — one would have to know which bans to be considered.

  29. Rick

    Please…….. The presentation contains as much scientific “fact” as my 10 year old’s explanation of how the television works.
    There is no mention of solar cycles in the causal events. I have seen nothing that correlates more closely with “global warming” than the solar cycles.
    It cools in the Winter as a result of a little less solar energy reaching the earth’s surface and warms in the Summer as a little more reaches the surface.
    As the sunspot cycle progresses the earth also receives a little more or less solar energy it doesnt take a genius to understand it or identify the correlation.
    It does take those with a political agenda of more governmental controls and taxes to ignore it.
    Enough of their nonsense. The solar cycles indicate that we are entering the cooling phase of the cycle – you will notice that “global warming” is being dropped from the mantra and “climate change” is becoming the rallying cry. Enough of the meddling by the meddlers living off of the public dole. Get a real job and contribute to the economic activity that must exist in order for the taxes to be extracted.

  30. Silas Barta (formerly Person)

    Menzie_Chinn: You consistently denounce global warming skeptics and trivializers as anti-science. I just want to know if you have the same indignation towards the 99% of the global warming alarmist crowd that is perfectly okay with discarding the science that says all of their favored solutions are woefully inefficient.

  31. Menzie Chinn

    Silas Barta: Gee, “denounce” is pretty strong language. But if somebody tells me CAFE is more economically efficient than a gasoline tax, then in the absence of some specific, plausible, model, I would say that assertion is wrong.

  32. Joseph Somsel

    Neither CAFE nor increased gasoline taxes are “economically efficient” if one believes in free markets and a free citizenry.
    They may be judged against POLITICAL efficiency in meeting political goals. In this analysis CAFE is preferable since the costs of compliance are well hidden from the voters where a gasoline tax is less so.
    What we now call “economics” used to be called “political economy.”

  33. Hitchhiker

    John Mashey
    I read some of those links you provided.
    said Lord Oxburgh. “No one can be comfortable at the prospect of continuing to pump out the amounts of carbon dioxide that we are pumping out at present … with consequences that we really can’t predict but are probably not good.”
    Consequences that we really can’t predict but are probably not good. Ya, I can see how that would scare you, if your name is chicken little. At least Lord Oxburgh has made the most scientific statement yet regarding AGW, consequences that we really can’t predict. Anything more than this is fantasy, not science. The simple fact that the earth has been much warmer in the past with much higher CO2 concentrations and the planet survived should be dismissed.
    Suppose the worst scenarios come true and sea levels rise 10 feet and some fertile farmland in CA that produces most of our fruits and vegetables is laid waste. Don’t you suppose that the new more temperate climate would open up other areas to cultivation that might offset this?
    Suppose the worst scenarios come true and we subsequently find out that there is absolutely nothing we could have done about it anyway?
    We are as close to modeling the earth’s climate as we are to modeling the entire world economy. When economists can predict with absolute precision all the ripple effects to the economy from my decision to purchase an ice cream cone today, then I will reconsider scientists ability to account for the effect on the climate from my decision to burn some oil or exhale.

  34. Menzie Chinn

    Hitchhiker: A remarkably nihilist world-view. You must not believe in doing anything, since uncertainty pervades the world, i.e., nothing is completely deterministic.

  35. Charles

    Rick, as statisticians like to say, correlation is not causation. There is no connection between sunspots and global warming.
    This is an illustration of why we let scientists do science.
    Or should.

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