Swindle update

An interesting report from The Times (hat tips to Rog and Richard Tol).

Following the broadcast of The Great Global Warming Swindle, Dr Armand Leroi, who had been planning to work with Durkin on a documentary, sent him an email expressing concern about the programme and saying “To put this bluntly: the data that you showed in your programme were . . . wrong in several different ways.” He copied the email to scientific author Simon Singh. Durkin responded to Leroi saying “You’re a big daft c*ck.â€? A further email from Singh, urging Durkin to engage in serious debate, received the response “Go and f*ck yourself”. Leroi subsequently stated that he was withdrawing his co-operation with Durkin.

This was the day that Frank Devine chose to begin his column in the Oz, which has enthusiastically plugged Durkin’s work, “Climate change predictors really need to acquire a few social graces.”

In praise of adaptation

Reader Taust contributed to the Great Shave Appeal, asking in return for 250 words in praise of adaptation to global warming. This isn’t as hard as it might seem since a large part of my research work is focused on exactly this issue. The only problem is that I find I have to write more than 250 words. Anyway, here is the promised post.

The responses to global climate change have been characterized as ‘mitigate, adapt, or suffer’ (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6302019.stm Weber 2007). Whatever level of mitigation takes place for the world as a whole, and whatever our contribution, global warming is bound to continue for decades to come, probably at rates faster than we have observed so far. So, for any given level of mitigation, the choice comes down to ‘adapt or suffer’.

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Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

In praise of mathematics

As part of my fundraising efforts for the Great Shave, I promised to write 500 words in praise of mathematics in return for some generations donations. I thought this would be the easiest of my promises to fulfil, but it’s actually pretty hard to write in praise of something that is (to me) so obviously wonderful. Anyway, here goes.

The most striking single thing about mathematics is that a collective endeavour, pursued for thousands of years primarily because of its beauty and pure intellectual interest should turn out, in our time, to be so amazingly useful. To take perhaps the most striking example, the amazing fact that


or better still, with five fundamental constants


is, or ought to be, adequate reward for all the effort that went into the discovery of calculus, trigonometry and complex number theory, and the effort each new generation puts into learning these things. But, it gives us, free of charge, the amazingly useful Fourier transform, the basis of all kinds of modern communications, and much, much more.
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Past $4000!

With libertarians stepping forward, the total raised in the Great Shave Appeal has now passed $4000. How about a similar effort from Howard fans? Despite the latest polls, there must be a fair number of you out there. Wouldn’t you like to read 500 words of crisp pro-Howard prose – $250 is all it takes.

Any ideas on more gimmicks gratefully received. Meanwhile you might like to discuss this piece by James Joyner asking why we go for gimmicks to raise money for charity.

Donate here


Apparently Channel Four in the UK has put out a program which, with admirable honesty entitles itself The Great Global Warming Swindle, and offers the same tired set of swindlers we’ve heard for fifteen years or more, although their site breathlessly proclaims

But just as the environmental lobby think they’ve got our attention, a group of naysayers have emerged to slay the whole premise of global warming.

Particularly amusing for those of us who follow these things is the linkup between the US right, represented by Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels and others, and the Revolutionary Communist Party/LM crew at Spiked who put the whole thing together.* George Marshall (no relation to the George C Marshall Institute, which in turn bears no relation to George C Marshall, the soldier and statesman whose name it shamelessly ripped off) details names, track records of and (an incomplete list of) cash payments received by the participants.

*For those who like to keep track of the links between various forms of delusionism, this is the same group that denied ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Father-son shave

The World’s Greatest Shave appeal has reached $3,365.10. I’ve promised 500 words in praise of mathematics (this will be easy, as soon as I get a moment) and there’s still 500 words on offer if any libertarians or conservatives out there want to donate $250.

It’s now time for a new incentive and my son Daniel has bravely offered to help. He’s 17 and has just grown quite an impressive beard. He’s now offered to join me in the shave on Saturday. Before and after photos will be published if we can reach $4000.

To donate, just click here or send me a cheque at School of Economics, University of Queensland.

Update I had a nice phone call today from the chair of the Leukemia Foundation, congratulating us on our effort here. Also, the first libertarian contribution is in, with $100 from Jan Libich. Come on fans of voluntary initiative, put in another $150 and see what nice things I have to say about spontaneous order!

What I’ve been reading

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, so I’ll just put down a list of books I’ve read in the past few months, and open it up to discussion. If there’s an interest in particular books, I might do a mini-review, so just ask and see. Here’s a list:

The Triumph of the Airheads by Shelley Gare
Gittinomics by Ross Gittins
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Lost by Larissa Behrendt
The Marketplace of Christianity by Ekeleund, Hébert and Tollison
Culture and Prosperity by John Kay
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson (reviewed in AFR)
What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts by Michael Bérubé
Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod