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Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Modeling Bad, But Global Warming Modeling Good?

The day before the presidential election nearly all the sophisticated models were predicting an easy win for Hillary Clinton. The models got it wrong. Big time. And now there is political climate change on the horizon.

Modeling of the climate is many times more complicated than measuring a binary choice between two candidates. What confidence should we give to global warming models when we can't even get simpler models right? Getting it wrong would cost the world economy billions and probably trillions, all for naught.

I recently heard a climate change disciple claim that we should take action to fix climate change since 95% of scientists believe it to be true. He supported this by saying that if you had a child diagnosed with a serious illness by 95% of doctors, you would get it taken care of. The goal of this comparison is to get people to act all emotional and conclude, ¨I would never allow my child to go without medical attention to address a serious illness, so we must take action to address climate change.¨ Besides the possibility that these doctors are using a poor predictive model, where this analogy fails is that the climate change doctors have a cure that is worse than the disease - the destruction of our free-market economy.

A better comparison is to ask yourself, would you get on an airplane that had a 95% chance of reaching its destination? I think I would pass. Americans can change their light bulbs and start driving electric cars, but since we only occupy 5% of the globe, our actions are pretty much futile. No wonder no more than 40% of Americans buy the global warming Chicken Little argument. Thank goodness Donald Trump is not one of these fools.

I think P. J. O'Rourke said it best:

¨There's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash. It doesn't matter. There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile or two outside China's big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn't be considered an imposition, if you've ever been to China in the summer.

¨Now I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like - a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation - and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

¨Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.¨

My advise is to stop wasting time on stuff you can't change and focus your efforts on the real climate change - let's work on making our culture less toxic and harmful to children and families.

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