The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Less Impressively - Pat Michaels

From the proof-that-the-internet-can-be-as-vapid-as-television-if-it-tries department:

Fellow UW-Madison Meteorology Ph.D. Pat Michaels (I've seen his thesis; it, um, doesn't have a lot of science in it) has changed his tune a bit. It is interesting to watch this accuweather.com video (spotted at DeSmog) which has him explaining that anthropogenic global warming is real enough, but we shouldn't do anything about it because we will be richer later. (Interestingly, though he is surrounded by copies of his past publications of dubious merit and credited with them, he doesn't seem to find it necessary to repudiate any of his former positions.)

The peculiar thing about that argument (the same one John McCarthy used to make on sci.environment) taken at face value is that there is no actual way for believers of this point of view to actually know when, um, we are already rich enough, thanks.

The hidden flaw is that, of course, there is no guarantee we will keep getting richer. If you think about it, it's very likely that climate change and the decline of cheap fuel will likely start making us less rich. I think it seems likely that we will reach the peak of global wealth right about, um, 4... 3... 2...

3 comments:

EliRabett said...

Don't blame Pat for that one, it is Nordhaus and Tol's argument.

Michael Tobis said...

You are saying he is unoriginal as well as wrong and so I shouldn't blame him?

I hate to pass up on a Pat story. He's such a great example for beginners to try their hand at the game of spot the scientist.

ciel said...

It's really good to see Accuweather keeping the balance in their reporting. What was it? "The -only- climate show to give you unbiased stories. To give you both sides of the debate, so you can decide.


Next week Fred Singer!