Comments seem to be veering off-topic, so I’m opening a new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. In particular, this includes MMT-related discussions. I’m planning a post which will address some of the arguments raised by MMTers and others as to when, if at all, the government’s budget constraint is binding.

62 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. @Jim Rose

    was describing action on global warning as the great moral issue of our time wise?

    From the POV of winning the 2007 election? Yes. If you really mean to press firmly forward in abatement policy? Yes.

    Was squibbing in 2009-10 good after saying this? Of course not.

    Monckton’s latest publicity stunt is an example of robust non-violent direct action.

    Actually, it’s an example of his serial stupidity in the service of those opposing policy in this area.

    Suggesting an actual solution to an environmental problem is a poor way to impress an environmentalist, unless your solution happens to feed his sense of moral superiority.

    What a trolling fool. Oh wait …

    As a self-described “hardcore libertarian”, Landsburg emphasizes the importance of individual choice. This position extends to health care, and his view that those who choose no insurance should not receive potentially life-saving treatment

    On his blog, Landsburg discussed Limbaugh’s calling Fluke a s|ut, and said “A far better word might have been “pr#st|tute” (or a five-letter synonym therefor), but that’s still wrong because Ms. Fluke is not in fact demanding to be paid for sex…The right word for that is something much closer to “extortionist”

    The chap is a prattling fool, but it’s apt that you should offer up his baseless maundering as insight.

  2. @Katz

    Katz specifies two conditions for abandoning support for human-forced climate change:

    [1. That CO2 is not as potent a greenhouse gas as mainstream scientists have measured and have reported in refereed journals.

    2. That human contribution to terrestrial CO2 concentrations are much less than has been measured by mainstream scientists, as reported in refereed journals.]

    These are fair but require more specification. In relation to the first, one would need to show that Charney sensitivity approached zero, and that there was no feedback loop.

    In the case of the second, one might dispense with the first if one could show that there was no net human contribution over time to the quantity of CO2 in the flux — i.e. all of it were taken up in non-volatile and apparently inexhaustible sinks in a time frame rapid enough to foreclose longterm warming.


    Some other longterm process, human or natural, was entirely mitigating the forcing associated with added atmospheric and hydrospheric CO2. Strictly speaking, in cyclical the terms, orbital forcing ought to be slowly edging us towards a new ice age over the next 23,000 years or so. If it were doing this over the next 100 years (i.e. 230 times faster) then one might dismiss at least the forcing as a matter of longterm concern — though other problems (more acid seas for example) would endure.

  3. Dan :
    A-hem, I’m reliably informed that so-called ‘peer-reviewed journals’ are just a lucrative line of grift for commie nihilists who are committed to enriching themselves with our money while condemning the world economy to stagnation. As such they can, nay, must be ignored.

    Of course, you are right Dan.

    When I think of scams like nuclear physics and DNA that were perpetrated by those shakedown merchants running refereed journals, it makes my blood boil.

    [For the likes of JR, I should clarify that the above was written in jest.]

  4. Fran, I don’t think more specification is generally needed. We’re talking about people who do things such as deny that we understand how combustion works, who state that if a thermometer says a patient has hyperthermia there is actually a one in four chance that they have hypothermia instead, who deny that brewers can determine how much CO2 is in beer using an infrared sensor, and who invoke magic forces that they cannot explain or even describe in order to insist that they are right. Generally two simple questions are enough to demonstrate that as far as global warming is concerned they are not connected to reality and live in a land of make believe:

    1. Is CO2 a greenhouse gas?
    2. Has human activity increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by a third or more?

    So far I have not found a single self proclaimed skeptic who has gotten both questions right.

  5. @Ronald Brak

    Fran, I don’t think more specification is generally needed

    Not for the delusionals of course, no. Katz seemed to be making an honest attempt to describe criteria which might be threshholds for abandoning current theory on the industrial era climate anomaly.

    Interestingly, most deniers don’t seriously try to deny #1, though occasionally one will get a seriously unhinged one. They often try asserting very weak Charney sensitivity without actually showing how they conclude that (or perhaps saying that past geologic records bear this out, or try asserting that CO2 is very shortlived in the atmosphere, or that the atmosphere is already saturated with CO2 so each new kg of CO2 makes very little difference to the forcing or some other drivel.

    They generally run with gish-galloping misdirection.

  6. Yours seem to froth less at the mouth, Fran. I’ve been told that carbon dioxide only results in a greenhouse effect on Venus and not on Earth because the high atmospheric pressure on Venus bends CO2 molecules into a different shape.

  7. Fran Barlow, you should thank Monckton for his silly stunt. But for him, no one would know the Doha conference was on. Are any heads of state going? Failure is always an orphan.

    Katz, Popper phrased your question ‘what evidence would make you give up your position?’
    • Popper pointed out that Marxism and astrology can produce confirmations of its predictions every day because they were vague.

    • He argued that confirmations only count if they are the result of risky predictions

    • To Popper, a good scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things from happening – the more it forbids, the better the theory is.

    Keynesian macroeconomics strictly forbad the 1970s stagflations. Friedman predicted that stagflation in 1968.

    What does the global warming hypothesis strictly forbid?

  8. What does the global warming hypothesis [sic] strictly forbid?

    A decline in global average temperatures for a sufficiently long period to time to establish statistical significance (i.e. 30+ years) in spite of continuing increases in GHG emissions, with the decline unable to be accounted for by observed changes in other known mechanisms (i.e. changes in solar output, changes to Earth’s albedo, changes in particulate levels in the atmosphere, etc).

    This would also entail a marked divergence between observations and climate models over a sufficiently long period of time to establish statistical significance.


    The continuation of global warming as observed, despite significant decreases in global GHG emissions, again over a sufficiently long period of time to establish statistical significance, and again not accounted for by observed changes in other known mechanisms (e.g. increases in solar output, etc).

    Both the scenarios above satisfy Popper’s falsification criterion (which seems to be unaccountably popular among Libertarians).

    The theory of anthropogenic global warming (global warming per se is an observed fact, thanks to over a century of thermometer measurements, measurement of the changes in glacier extent, etc) meets Popper’s criteria,as well as other typical criteria for the determination of a good scientific theory – it makes predictions that are capable of either confirmation or falsification by observation. Thus far, the theory is as consistent with observation as most well-established scientific theories (of course, there is never full consistency, which is one reason why Popper’s falsification criterion, at least in its naive form, is not widely accepted in philosophy of science).

  9. So far, the only way in which the predictions of climatologists have been wrong is in underestimating the rate of climate change.

    Let’s keep in mind that Jim Rose’s measured, vague objections to non-specific details of climatology is what the “skeptics” have settled on after every tilt at outright denial failed.

    Solar oscillations. Orbit wobbles. Urban heat islands. Clouds. Volcanoes. Over the past fifteen years, a dozen or more baseless theories about climate has been hailed – not by scientists, but by the political Right – as a complete explanation for an illusion of climate change.

    Their support was total, unequivocal and strident, but as soon as the scientists addressed the faults in the nonsense ideas that sprang from blogs that spend the rest of their time complaining about Muslims, the Jim Roses just moved seamlessly onto the next and refused to discuss why they’d been so gullible and uncritical the last time around.

    Their next-of-kin, creationists, went through the same process and arrived at Intelligent Design.

    Speaking of which, creationists are overwhelmingly skeptical of climate change, and Monckton regularly shares stage time with preachers who announce that climate change can’t be happening because God wouldn’t allow it. The company he keeps.

  10. JR, you have misapplied Popper.

    I gave you a fair test that would compel me, in Popperian terms, to reject the warming hypothesis. What acceptance of the warming hypothesis might then compel from me in scientific terms is another question.

    So, having disposed of that red herring, I ask you to state the minimum conditions under which you would reject the null hypothesis, ie., that there is no evidence that human activity has caused climate change.

    C’mon JR, be brave.

  11. @Katz I have consistently posted that ‘let climate science be settled. How much will global warming cost is the correct question for policy debate’. Climate change will be mostlly a threat to the poor in poor countries.

    Tom Schelling posed this question: “Suppose the kind of climate change expected between now and, say, 2080 had already taken place, since 1900.

    Ask a seventy-five-year-old farm couple living on the same farm where they were born: would the change in the climate be among the most dramatic changes in either their farming or their lifestyle?

    The answer most likely would be no. Changes from horses to tractors and from kerosene to electricity would be much more important.”

  12. Irrelevant JR.

    You are talking about the consequences of mitigation of global warming.

    I presume you have sufficient acuity to understand that you have not answered my question, which is about the minimum conditions that would cause you to reject the above-mentioned null hypothesis.

    Refusal to answer that question transforms a sceptic into a denialist.

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