[ExI] Existential hysteria

spike spike66 at att.net
Sun Jul 27 20:40:06 UTC 2014

>.. On Behalf Of BillK
Subject: Re: [ExI] Existential hysteria

On Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM, spike  wrote:
>>... We can see what needs to happen.  The near-term future of humanity is 
> all about energy availability.  The global warming notion was a 
> distraction at a critical time in history, even if it is correct.


>...I've just come across a different way of looking at AGW.
This idea classifies AGW as either a Type 1 error or a Type 2 error.

>...Which is worse?
A Type I error is detecting an effect that is not present, while a Type II
error is failing to detect an effect that is present.

>...In the case of AGW, a Type I error means it was concluded that global
warming is caused by humans, but it actually isn't. The Type II error is
where we fail to act on global warming, even though it is human caused.

>...What are the consequences?

>...For a Type 1 error, governments will provide incentives in order to urge
the population to change their behaviour. This could include conserving
energy, recycling, and developing alternative energy sources (wind, solar,
hybrid). This error is basically just doing sooner, things which will have
to be done anyway...

BillK, I can accept parts of this argument.

We can measure that CO2 levels are rising, and we can calculate how much
warming we should be seeing, all else being equal, with that increased CO2
level.  The atmosphere should be warming.  There are compensating effects
which are ignored in that simple model however, specifically clouds.  Water
is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, yet that model is complicated.
More humidity means more trapped heat, but if high enough it reflects
sunlight resulting in surface cooling.  This science is far from settled.

The kinds of risks I see I type 1 errors are reduced credibility of
scientists and politicians.  In our age, leading US politicians are in
desperate need of some credibility, yet they squander what little they have
left with corruption, deception and evasion of transparency.  The current
administration is the most corrupt in human history, yet they fail to just
resign in disgrace as did the second most corrupt administration, Richard
Nixon's.  On and on they go, ignoring the fact that Americans no longer
believe a word they say.  I don't like to see Science Inc. drawn into that
distasteful vortex.  

>...A Type II error means continuing business as usual while humans continue
to change the earth's climate. The cost of a Type II error is the damage
brought about by AGW. Rising sea levels and temperature, increased pollution
and wild climate changes, will have an impact on health, agriculture,
forestry, water, coastal areas, as well as on many different species and the

Possibly.  This argument ignores beneficial effects of global warming.  The
flooding argument assumes we build infrastructure to hold back rising seas,
rather than abandoning the low ground and pulling back to higher ground.
There are vast regions of the globe currently uninhabitable because of being
too cold, more regions uninhabitable because of being too dry.  I know of
little or none uninhabitable because of being too hot.

>...The consequences of a Type II error are so serious that they should be
avoided whatever the cost. The consequences of a Type I error are that we
will take the same steps that we would have had to anyway at a later date.
The logical course of action is to always conclude that global warming is
caused by humans.  BillK

Type 1 errors have a lot to do with how we decide to deal with global
warming.  We have been offered some scientific models which have been shown
to be wrong, such as predictions going all the way back to the mid 70s that
a hothouse Earth was only 40 yrs away.  Clearly that didn't happen.  These
kinds of errors influence how and where investors put their capital.
Decisions made by investors, in the long run, is a lot more important than
what governments try to push on us.  Governments get voted out and
forgotten, but investors are betting with their own money and making things
happen in the long term.  


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list