Bookblogging: The end

Over the fold, the conclusion of my book, with Release Candidate title “Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us”. I plan a proper post on the whole bookblogging experience, but until then, I’ll thank everyone who’s commented, or just read this exercise with interest and make one (maybe) last request for help. Can anyone recommend a book on Thatcher’s economic reforms that would be a good suggestion for further reading? I’m currently suggesting Anderew Glyn’s Capitalism Unleashed, but I’d like to add something from a centrist or Thatcherite perspective, as long as it’s readable and not too objectionable for words.

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Beatup of the century

If you thought the East Anglia email hack was overblown, how about today’s Oz. Frontpage lead[1] is a story that’s been rattling round the blogs for at least a couple of months, without attracting any real interest. The story is that the 2007 IPCC report quotes a poorly sourced estimate that most Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035. This is a bit worse than the evidence suggests. Himalayan glaciers have lost about 20 per cent of their area in about 40 years, and have also become more fragmented. That’s bad, but not quite as bad as the IPCC report, based on a speculative forecast suggests.

So, there is a mistake on one page of a 3000 page report. That’s unfortunate but scarcely surprising. But, if you want real silliness about glaciers, you have to go to the other side of the road and look at this (widely repeated) howler from David Bellamy, derived originally from Fred Singer. The Oz ran Bellamy’s (totally false) claim of persecution for his devotion to the delusionist cause (he was washed up long before he changed sides), but did not AFAIK cover this embarrassing episode,

Every new talking point that emerges from the delusionist camp gives further emphasis to the fact that these are people who have sacrificed both their own intellectual integrity and the future of the planet in the pursuit of a tribal vendetta.

Update Commenter James notes that, with much less apparent fanfare, the Oz published a report derived from Associated Press that concluded that there was nothing in the hacked East Anglia emails that undermined the mainstream consensus on global warming.

fn1. At least in the edition I saw. It’s almost invisible on the website now.

My bet with Bryan Caplan

Since Europe-US comparisons are in the air again, it seems like a good time to report on the first year of my bet with Bryan Caplan, the terms of which are

The stake is $US100 and the agreed criterion is that, for Bryan to win, the average Eurostat harmonised unemployment rate for the EU-15 over the period 2009-18 inclusive should exceed that for the US by at least 1.5 percentage points

The relevant figures are at Eurostat and, with December still to come in, I estimate that the EU-15 rate will be 0.3 percentage points below that for the US for 2009, so that I beat the spread by 1.8 percentage points.
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Haiti disaster

The Haiti earthquake looks to be one of the worst natural disasters in recent years. Lots of aid agencies will be involved in rescue and recovery efforts, but I’ll mention PLAN International which has been active in Haiti for a long time.

Remember also that, while earthquakes and tsunamis rivet our attention, hunger and disease are cutting lives short every day. Give what you can, whenever you can, to help.

A surprise invitation

I’ve just received an invitation from the Brisbane Institute to participate in a debate with Ian Plimer and Lord Monckton. Having seen Plimer’s Lateline performance, I can’t imagine that this exercise will add much to the sum of human knowledge. OTOH, the event will go ahead regardless. Any thoughts?

Clarification I should say straight off that I have no intention of attempt to debate climate science. Although I’m probably better qualified to discuss the key issues (many of which involve statistics) than either Plimer or Monckton, that’ s not saying much. In any case, discussing these issues in a debate format with dishonest antagonists is pointless, as has been shown many times.

So, the only way to approach it is to address the underlying conspiracy theory directly. If Monckton and Plimer are right, all the major scientific bodies in the world are engaged in a conspiracy to introduce communist world government by (drumroll!) auctioning tradeable carbon emissions permits. The question is, can I convince an audience sympathetic to delusionism that this is a really silly thing to believe?

Update Without advising me that my invitation had been withdrawn, the Institute made another invitation, to Barry Brook, who accepted. So, the decision has been made for me. I did, however, think about the approach I might take if I accepted.

I planned to elaborate Monckton’s conspiracy theory, announce myself as part of the global conspiracy, and conclude by pointing to Margaret Thatcher (Monckton’s former employer) as the originator of the whole thing (she has a great 1990 speech putting forward the case for urgent action based on the precautionary principle). At the end I would have played it straight for a minute or so, asking the audience whether they want to believe this black helicopter nonsense or the alternative that the scientists have it right. Would this have worked? We’ll never know.

Regardless, I certainly hope that Barry Brook and Graham Readfearn (the Courier-Mail environment blogger who will also appear on the pro-science side) stick it to Monckton and Plimer for their political axe-grinding, long track record of lies, and general nuttiness, rather than giving this deplorable event any credibility.