I have a diavlog up at bloggingheads with Dave Roberts on (what else?) Climategate and Copenhagen. I think it was a productive discussion.
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I have only had a chance to listen to about 20 minutes of your discussion with Roberts. I hope to finish it. However, I wonder if you have any thoughts on Tony Blair’s comments:
It is said that the science around climate change is not as certain as its proponents allege. It doesn’t need to be. What is beyond debate, however, is that there is a huge amount of scientific support for the view that the climate is changing and as a result of human activity.
I think that once you accept that (1) the risk of this being a big deal is not trivial, and (2) that the expected case does not justify doing what advocates support (ie, cap-and-trade, carbon tax, etc.), then uncertainty about the science becomes an argument for action. It seems to me to be the most amusing irony of the whole debate that those arguing for or against the science (generally reasoning backward from their preferred policy outcome) seem unaware of this – and that it probably doesn’t matter anyway in the real politcial debate.
In a stylized line of reasoning, if the expected value of damages is less than the expected cost of avoiding them, then with no uncertainty about the outcome we would do nothing. If there is risk that the damages might be higher or lower than expected, then there is some chance that the damages will be highier than the costs of avoiding them.
generally reasoning backward from their preferred policy outcome
You think that people just woke up one morning and decided that they were paying too little for gas, and then came up with the rationale for making it more expensive? I don’t understand what you mean when you talk about people “working backwards from their preferred policy outcome.” Certainly conservatives are doing this, but the outcome climate science is “working backwards from” is the outcome where cities aren’t inundated and major agricultural regions don’t become deserts.