Hello Cruel World
Friday, April 06, 2007
Science seeking Truthiness
I am putting here Charlie Stross' post and its links on the subject, with a link to it and its numerous comments. I can barely coherently frame my thoughts on the subject.
February 4, 2007(Guardian article linked at beginning: www.guardian.co.uk/ international/ story/ 0,,2004230,00.html
The definition of contempt
The American Enterprise Institute, a think tank largely funded by Exxon-Mobil is offering to pay climatologists $10,000 for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (www.ipcc.ch).
This is not surprising: lacking any real defense, it's only logical for them to seek men of straw to argue the case for them. The surprise is that they expect climatologists to be willing to trash their professional reputations — in a manner that will come back to haunt them whenever they subsequently apply for a job — for a mere ten thousand dollars. For a professional lobbyist that's a couple of billable hours; yet they suppose it's the measure of a working scientist's life's work.
Seldom has it been so easy to put an exact price on contempt.
Addendum: I note with interest that the American Enterprise Institute are Ayaan Hirsi Ali's current employers. More on this rather creepy body of unelected would-be architects of your future here (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ American_Enterprise_Institute).
Posted by Charlie Stross at 12:36 PM
From the comments:
Regarding the economics of AGW, there's an interesting discussion at (www.realclimate.org/index.php/ archives/ 2007/ 01/ stern-science). I particularly like this comment:
"Question: If we could save the world from a 100% certain total destruction of the whole infrastructure in 2057 in a way that would cost 10% of its total value, would it be profitable to do the investment and save the world?
If we use a moderate 5% interest rate in our calculation, the answer is clearly no! We should not save the world infrastructure 0f 2057, it costs too much today. The present day discounted value of the world infrastucture in 2057 (when I am 100 years old and probably in my grave), is only 8.72% of its total value in 2057 and less than the calculated 10% (of the total value) required investment today. So we decide not to save the world infrastructure.
If the doom was about in 2107, using the same calculations, it would not be "profitable" to use even 1% of the total value of the future infrastructure to save it today. I hope you check my calculations, discounting is relatively easy and fundamental to profitability analysis the economists regularly use to give their expert opinions."
The ensuing discussion shows that the arguments can be more complicated than that (as one would expect). But this does give an insight into what sort of questions we should be asking if someone says that dealing with climate change now would be "too expensive".
Posted by: Dave Berry
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