Barron of Blog Wife, Kids, and the Pursuit of Happiness

7Oct/0710

A Terrifying Video

If there is one thing that history will judge our generation on it is how we address (or don't address) global climate change. Please, watch this video:

We only get to play this game once. Think it won't happen? Maybe. How lucky do you feel?

On a side note, it makes me want to pull my eardrums through my nose when people say they don't "believe" in human-caused global climate change. You can argue about the validity of the facts, you can cite studies that have found counter evidence, but for Christ sake don't bring belief into the equation. Your personal beliefs might mean the world to you, but if they don't hold up under the harsh sun of reality then they mean jack squat to the rest of us.

  • Pete

    This argument is a variation of Pascal’s wager (although there is actually scientific evidence that man made climate change is real). While I personally believe in Climate Change being man made climate change and the dire need for action, I think the argument made in the video is not logically sound…

    First, column A in his little chart should have the same economic consequences associated with them. If we do something about Global Climate Change (GCC) then we have to assume that we’ll spend equal amounts of money whether or not GCC is man made or not. This would logically lead to the same economic consequences, the only difference being whether we fixed (or controlled) the problem, or there wasn’t a problem. That’s just one flaw in the argument.

    The truth is we don’t know what the economic consequences are of combating global climate change, and we WILL experience the some of the consequences, the question is the magnitude of Climate Change we should expect. Voluntary emission reductions and waiting for the next US president to do something isn’t helping matters. What does tend to push towards solutions is money and funding. I’m sure if we spent Iraq War sums of money on clean energy technology we’d be a lot closer to fixing the problem.

  • Pete

    This argument is a variation of Pascal’s wager (although there is actually scientific evidence that man made climate change is real). While I personally believe in Climate Change being man made climate change and the dire need for action, I think the argument made in the video is not logically sound…

    First, column A in his little chart should have the same economic consequences associated with them. If we do something about Global Climate Change (GCC) then we have to assume that we’ll spend equal amounts of money whether or not GCC is man made or not. This would logically lead to the same economic consequences, the only difference being whether we fixed (or controlled) the problem, or there wasn’t a problem. That’s just one flaw in the argument.

    The truth is we don’t know what the economic consequences are of combating global climate change, and we WILL experience the some of the consequences, the question is the magnitude of Climate Change we should expect. Voluntary emission reductions and waiting for the next US president to do something isn’t helping matters. What does tend to push towards solutions is money and funding. I’m sure if we spent Iraq War sums of money on clean energy technology we’d be a lot closer to fixing the problem.

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    “First, column A in his little chart should have the same economic consequences associated with them.”

    I’m not following – for both rows in column A he assigns the cost associated with taking action. What did he miss?

    I agree that his presentation is extremely similar to Pascal’s wager, and suffers from the same weaknesses as well (too generalized, based on assumptions, etc). I still feel like the argument is logical, in that the risk of taking no action is too great to ignore.

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    “First, column A in his little chart should have the same economic consequences associated with them.”

    I’m not following – for both rows in column A he assigns the cost associated with taking action. What did he miss?

    I agree that his presentation is extremely similar to Pascal’s wager, and suffers from the same weaknesses as well (too generalized, based on assumptions, etc). I still feel like the argument is logical, in that the risk of taking no action is too great to ignore.

  • Pete

    My point was simply that if you spend money to counteract climate change and it turns out to be false (which is very likely not true), his consequence is Cost + global recession (worst case). If we spend money to counteract climate change and climate change is real then we are still stuck with the cost, but we avoid a global recession??? This is where his argument breaks down. If we spend the same amount of money in both cases and the only difference is that climate change was or was not human caused, how exactly did he avoid having the global recession he had for the box in the upper left?

  • Pete

    My point was simply that if you spend money to counteract climate change and it turns out to be false (which is very likely not true), his consequence is Cost + global recession (worst case). If we spend money to counteract climate change and climate change is real then we are still stuck with the cost, but we avoid a global recession??? This is where his argument breaks down. If we spend the same amount of money in both cases and the only difference is that climate change was or was not human caused, how exactly did he avoid having the global recession he had for the box in the upper left?

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    I think that he is attributing the cause of that global recession to human-caused global climate change. I think he is assuming (and probably correctly) that if the climate changes we have witnessed so far continue then the consequences of their continued change (i.e. mass migrations, disruption in food supplies, etc) will strain our global economy.

    In other words, he is saying it is cheaper to stop global climate change than to pay for the consequences of not stopping it.

    I agree with his conclusions more than he reasoning, but it’s still a powerful video for me.

  • http://mike.shannonandmike.net Mike B.

    I think that he is attributing the cause of that global recession to human-caused global climate change. I think he is assuming (and probably correctly) that if the climate changes we have witnessed so far continue then the consequences of their continued change (i.e. mass migrations, disruption in food supplies, etc) will strain our global economy.

    In other words, he is saying it is cheaper to stop global climate change than to pay for the consequences of not stopping it.

    I agree with his conclusions more than he reasoning, but it’s still a powerful video for me.

  • Pete

    Fair enough, I don’t disagree with the conclusion at all. My personal feeling is that the arguments are a lot more complex and nuanced than are being presented, perhaps that’s because I’ve been studying atmospheric science for the last 5 years. From what I’ve learned, there is little room for any scientific doubt that the climate is warming due to anthropogenic activity. Even most of the (scientific) skeptics are changing their argument from “it’s not happening” to “it’s not going to be that bad.” Which in and of itself should tell people something.

    So yes, I agree with the sentiment of the video, but being a scientist, I see to many problems in the simplified arguments in the video for the argument to stand up to any sort of scrutiny, but that’s no excuse for inaction.

  • Pete

    Fair enough, I don’t disagree with the conclusion at all. My personal feeling is that the arguments are a lot more complex and nuanced than are being presented, perhaps that’s because I’ve been studying atmospheric science for the last 5 years. From what I’ve learned, there is little room for any scientific doubt that the climate is warming due to anthropogenic activity. Even most of the (scientific) skeptics are changing their argument from “it’s not happening” to “it’s not going to be that bad.” Which in and of itself should tell people something.

    So yes, I agree with the sentiment of the video, but being a scientist, I see to many problems in the simplified arguments in the video for the argument to stand up to any sort of scrutiny, but that’s no excuse for inaction.