How to Think about Climate Change

The previous post was just a brief poll about climate change. Here’s an excellent presentation by Dr William Happer which I believe makes a lot of sense. The presentation was at Hilldale College just a couple of weeks ago.

I am a big opponent of what I call “climate change hysteria.” I wrote this Climate Change Hysteria Considered Dangerous back in 2017. The TL;DR Summary:

The global hysteria whipped up by certain groups regarding climate change is fascinating. It represents a toxic mixture of politics, economics, science, ignorance, myopia, stupidity, fear, hubris, technology, power dynamics, racism, benevolence, malevolence and arrogance.

Climate is changing, as it always has. The data show the rise in temperature. Humans affect climate. Humans adjust to change too. Technological advances in the near future will allow humans control over the environment. Doing anything to control C02 emissions now by edict will be too expensive, be extremely harmful to the poor, will shift resources from other important matters, and have no discernible benefits for future generations.

CO2 is a good thing. This image below is interesting. The claim is not that CO2 causes economic prosperity. The story is different.

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

I don’t believe that climate change does not matter at all. It does matter but it is not a yes-no question. It is a matter of trade-offs. The question is: how much does it matter relative to other things that deserve our attention?

Disease, hunger, armed conflict, the Religion of Peace — these global problems demand a systemic response today more than anything that is likely to be a problem in 100 years. How much will it cost to address those pressing problems of today, and how do those costs stack up against the cost of climate change mitigation efforts?

In our world, change is not an optional extra. It comes as standard equipment, a non-negotiable feature. We live in the anthropocene, an epoch of significant human impact on the world. Climate change, both anthropogenic and natural, is to be expected. The question is how should humanity deal with climate change. Should drastic and dramatic action be taken? My answer is a definite no. I have presented pieces of the argument above and now it is time to wrap it up.

The historical case for discounting the doom & gloom stories of the climatistas is simple. One can come up with all sorts of scary scenarios which don’t hold any water the moment you throw technological change in the mix.

And here’s a bit more from a Nov 2019 post titled “What’s Wrong with Climate Change“:

What’s wrong with the climate? Nothing that has not been wrong before — and will not be wrong in the future. What’s wrong is that the climate changes, with or without human help.

At the current state of the art of human technology, humans cannot at a reasonable cost affect climate to any significant degree. There are far greater forces — geologic and solar — at play than just what humans do, and can do, to the earth.

The earth doesn’t need saving. It’s been around for around 4.5 billion years and is likely to be around for another 5 billion. Compared to that deep time, humans with their technology have been around for 200,000 years (give or take a bit.) As a fraction of life-time of the earth (~10 billion years), humans have been around so far for only 0.002%. That’s a vanishingly small number.

The present hysteria about climate change is understandable. There are powerful interests that would like to scare the public in the rich world and the politicians of the poor world into doing things that would be immensely costly for billions of people — especially the poor who can least afford it — but would enrich the vested interests. Not just enrich them but grant them power over the lives of others.

It’s understandable and it’s immoral. Most of all, it’s hubris. It’s the attitude that “we know what’s good for you, and you better to do as we say or else you will suffer hell-fire.” It’s the old story of sin and redemption through suffering. It’s an old trick. First persuade people that they are morally flawed and their actions are sinful. Then you can sell them the solution.

Climate change hysteria would be funny if its impact on the poor was not so tragic.

And finally, I cannot ever provide references to climate change without referring to the late Freeman Dyson. Born in 1923, Freeman passed away at the age of 96 in Princeton, NJ on Feb 28th, 2020.

If you are not familiar with Freeman, shame on you. But seriously, if you are interested in knowing how the world works, it’s hard to find a better guide to some of the most important aspects of the world. In my considered opinion, he was a genuine genius. Here’s a video of a presentation he made in 2005.

There’s only so much time we have and there’s a truckload of stuff that demand our attention. I find it absolutely important that I devote a lot of the limited time I have to understanding the world by learning from those who are much, much smarter than I am. I have spent a great deal of time reading his books and watching his lectures. You may also gain a lot if you wish to invest the time.

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

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