“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SuperFreakonomics On Solving Alleged Climate Problems

I recently finished reading Steven Levitt's and Stephen Dubner's SuperFreakonomics, the sequel to their incredibly popular Freakonomics of several years ago.

I cannot recommend both books highly enough. Though not partisan in any explicit fashion, the authors come across, by virtue of their subject matter and methods, as quasi-libertarians.

The last chapter of SuperFreakonomics deals with the current fad involving global warming. To say it is scathing is an understatement.

However, the chapter illuminates three interesting things.

First, it reveals that ex-Microsoft chief scientist, Nathan Myhrvold, has built the modern equivalent of Thomas Edison's invention laboratory. The eclectic mix of scientists and deep thinkers is impressive, as are the few inventions which Levitt and Dubner describe in their recent book.

Second, thanks to open-minded evaluation of empirical evidence, Myhrvold's team has deduced that the most effective way for humans to cool the planet is to mimic nature's most effective device, the sulphur-dioxide spewing volcano. They have developed an efficient and effective means of introducing modest amounts of the gas into the earth's polar regions for, at most, $250MM. The authors note that this sum is less than Al Gore spends annually to promote the cause of worrying about global warming.

Another, less expensive method to augment global cooling, involving the creation of clouds over oceans, is also mentioned.

That such a sensible, effective and cheap means of simulating what we know cools the planet, i.e., post-volcanic sulfur dioxide emissions, exists, and isn't already being implemented, at least on a test basis, ought to tell you what you need to know about the sincerity of Gore, Wonderboy's administration, or the global climate change community's sincerity about solving the alleged warming problem.

Finally, to put a fine point on how stupid Al Gore actually is, consider this quote of his in the final chapter of Freakonomics,

"If we don't know enough to stop putting 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the atmosphere every day, how in God's name can we know enough to precisely counteract that?"

For the record, when asked what he thinks of geoengineering, the term Myhrvold's team gives to manipulating the environment to affect things like climate change, Gore replies,

"In a word, I think it's nuts."

Just reading Gore's first quote makes my head hurt, it's so stupid. The consequent is completely unassociated with the premise. Knowing that we pollute has nothing to do with knowing how to counteract it. Notice the point isn't to stop pollution, but to counter its alleged bad effects.

The only nutty thing is Gore's total inability to actually think about real problem solving. Being a politician, he apparently only knows how to cry "wolf" and then try to punish the alleged perpetrators, no matter what the cost to society.

I really hope a lot of people buy and/or read this book. It's inspirational on so many levels.

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