The most rational discussion of climate change I have read yet
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Phil at the blog Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science discusses a really hot topic right now with the coolest of heads you’re likely to encounter. He says that characterizing people as climate change ‘believers’, ‘deniers’, or ‘skeptics’ doesn’t do justice to the wide range of thought on the topic. Rather, Phil suggests that:
“[m]aybe we should start characterizing people by a single number, as follows. What probability do you assign to the following statement: increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration above 800 ppm will change the global average surface temperature by more than 2.5 degrees C 4.5 F?”
That is, think about how confident you are that ‘the science is in’ regarding human-induced climate change. Phil thinks of himself as about 90% certain CO2 concentration of 800ppm is trouble. He also goes on to say that people who claim to be very confident (>99.99% probability) are probably out to lunch. The same would be true of those who claim to be less than 10% confident that CO2 is the culprit behind global warming.
For me, I don’t know where my confidence is that ‘the science is settled’ on global warming. I’d be lying to say that what’s been dubbed ‘climategate‘ hasn’t affected my confidence in climate science and science in general for that matter. There are leaps and bounds to be made in terms of transparency in this world — even in the scientific community.
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