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The show you can't afford to miss


Would you like to affect the future of our planet? If so, watch this video.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
selenite
Oct. 12th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC)
One of the more rational pitches I've seen, but I'm not impressed. Assumptions that make the whole thing fall down:

1. Choking the economy to reduce CO2 production will stop GW. Given that China and India are being left out, and even the Kyoto restrictions won't reduce emissions much, we can bankrupt ourselves without making much difference in atmospheric chemistry.

2. Warming the planet is bad. This is a common assumption, but I remember the ice age predictions when I was a kid. If that's the current danger cutting back on CO2 could make things worse. Cold kills too. I have yet to see any assessment of what the optimum temperature for the planet would be.

When I look at my list of questions on global warming he passes the first two but fails the rest.
hal_obrien
Oct. 12th, 2007 08:54 am (UTC)
Interesting questions
But I'm not sure they're the speaker's assumptions.

For example:

"Choking the economy to reduce CO2 production will stop GW."

Not shown as being the recommendation. It's entirely possible, for example, that the changes may increase economic output (if that's your goal). Further, if the US does nothing, and the rest of the world (or even a significant potion) modify their own legal requirements and economies, then we could end up with very little that would be acceptable for export. In addition, this violates your own question, only economically rather than in climate -- "Is change being defined as bad without discussion?" For that matter, this could arguably also be a violation of, "Are multiple issues being combined into one to confuse the issue?" That is, economic change is a separate issue from climate change.

"Warming the planet is bad."

Not shown. Warming the planet being good goes right into his matrix, only as the nuanced, "better than some feared," rather than "not happening at all." (Which I'll go out on a limb and make my own assumption he's emphasizing because opponents tend to take that position.)

Going on to your linked questions:

"Is one solution to the problem being pushed instead of debating alternatives?"

Since many opponents of doing anything about possible climate change have only one alternative -- do nothing -- then yes. This is all the more striking given the possible consequences of flying in the face of changing global market conditions (see above re other countries making our unmodified goods and services illegal).

"Is the solution being advocated the same one those people recommended for an entirely different problem?"

It's amazing how many different contexts people find to make the general recommendation of doing nothing. :) Whether that means societies are lazy or efficient is largely a normative judgment.

"Is there a double standard for adhering to the solution?"

For some, when a large group of individual humans called a "corporation" makes a particular decision, this is praised. When a large group of individual humans -- possibly with even a 100% overlap -- called a "government" makes a particular decision (perhaps the same decision), this is maligned. So yes, a double standard appears to be taking place.

"Even if all of this is true, is this the most important issue to allocate our resources to?"

As I look over the pages of the Copenhagen Consensus that you cite, I note how limited is the scope of the resources they choose to deal with. I don't think I've seen them mention a figure over $50 billion. The world's economic output is estimated at $47 trillion for 2006 (in local currencies -- in purchasing power, it's higher). So the Copenhagen folks are trying to figure out how to spend about .1% of the world's income for one year. That's not unlike me trying to figure out how to spend about $85, and what kind of bang for my charitable buck can I get. I'm not sure that's enough to incentivize me to make the most rational decision, but rather one that's emotional and idiosyncratic. What evidence is there that the Copenhagen group are any different?
selenite
Oct. 12th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Interesting questions
Not shown as being the recommendation.

Nope, he didn't show any recommendation other than that spending enough money to put the world into a depression would stop GW, if it's real. I'm assuming he's going off the Kyoto Treaty as that's the usual default in these discussions.

Not shown.

Warming the planet is his worst case box.

Since many opponents of doing anything about possible climate change have only one alternative -- do nothing

Unless the trancendental meditation folks are taking on GW, no one is advocating doing nothing. Everybody in the world is doing something. The question is whether to replace their plans with one for fighting GW.

"corporation" vs. "government" double standard

This has nothing to do with anything I have ever said.

As I look over the pages of the Copenhagen Consensus that you cite

I specifically stated that I don't endorse the CC's results, but think that the question is an important one which should be considered by governments.
selenite
Oct. 12th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Interesting questions
Oh, I remember now where I've seen this logic before. It's Pascal's Wager. The original had the questions "is God real?" and "do you choose to believe in God?" The speaker has replaced the eternity in hellfire outcome with the global climate catastrophe, but the logic is still the same.
hal_obrien
Oct. 13th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting questions
"I remember now where I've seen this logic before. It's Pascal's Wager."

Indeed.

Which some would say is still valid. Others would say it demonstrates the limits of logic.

But that's not the objection you've raised.
hal_obrien
Oct. 13th, 2007 11:00 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting questions
Me:"Not shown as being the recommendation."
Thee: "Nope, he didn't show any recommendation..."

That wasn't what I was addressing. You said that one of his assumptions was, "Choking the economy to reduce CO2 production..." My objection is, per your own cited question, that's combining multiple issues. Measures to reduce CO2 may or may not have any negative impacts on the global (or local) economy. My guess is, you'll next say that he mentions such a slowdown as a possible outcome. But that's just it -- possible. It's not an assumption he's making. You are.

Or, another way to put it, there's a nested 4-square matrix here -- taking actions to mitigate CO2, and the impact on the economy. Action=Y/Impact=Neg is just one of the four squares.

Me: "Not shown."
Thee: "Warming the planet is his worst case box."

A related issue. I was responding to your assertion that he thought, "Warming the planet is bad." That also conflates two possible outcomes -- Warming=good/Warming=bad. My point was, he doesn't take for granted either outcome. The characterization that the only scenario allowed for is "Warming=bad" is your own assumption -- which is why I showed why "Warming=good" is already accounted for.

Me: "Since many opponents of doing anything about possible climate change have only one alternative -- do nothing."
Thee: "Unless the trancendental meditation folks are taking on GW, no one is advocating doing nothing. Everybody in the world is doing something. The question is whether to replace their plans with one for fighting GW."

Ah. Geekish literalism. I see. (Either that, or heavy handed irony to the point of not being detectable whether it's meant to amuse.)

Anyway. "Doing nothing" in my sentence is not meant as a religious tract about nothingness. It is meant in relationship to the rest of the sentence. The part that reads, "...doing anything about possible climate change..." It's also meant to answer your question about "one solution..." being put forward.

My point was, some advocate taking actions that they hope will mitigate climate change. The one alternative to that, necessarily, is to not take actions intentionally designed to mitigate climate change. When one is opposing climate change activists, only one alternative is being advanced.
hal_obrien
Oct. 13th, 2007 11:16 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting questions
Me: "corporation" vs. "government" double standard"
Thee: "This has nothing to do with anything I have ever said."

In the post you've linked to, you say, "The way I tackle the question of truth in a debate I'm not technically qualified to be an expert in starts with some questions..." -- of which the double standard question is one. I took that to mean you intended the question to stand in a general sense. So I gave a general example. {shrug}

The example is applicable to the topic because I believe you would have no quarrel if the actions advocated were taken up by individuals, or groups of individuals, or the subset of "groups of individuals" that are called, "corporations."

"I specifically stated that I don't endorse the CC's results, but think that the question is an important one which should be considered by governments."

Well, I see you live in the US. I assume you're a citizen. If you're a US citizen, you're a part of the US government, as am I.

So I've considered it. Those were my observations upon said consideration. Again, {shrug}.
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