"It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from WEAPONRY to LIVINGRY."
- Buckminster Fuller (h/t Suzy Waldman)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tierney vs Holdren

NYTimes science reporter John Tierney goes after Obama appointee John Holdren, about whom I have written admiringly of late, with both guns a-blazin'.

Along the way he expresses concern for how Lomborg gets treated in certain circles and has a kind word to throw in for Roger Jr.. It's sticky stuff, not as easily dismissed as the usual denialist tripe, as I have argued before. This stuff is badly wrong, but it needs to be handled with care.

Update: Three guesses what Joe Romm thinks.


Marion Delgado said...

Tierney's advantage is not relative honesty, nor plausibility. He's simply well-connected and financed - a line in the sand for radical free market fundamentalists and the most reactionary part of the business press.

Michael, you should go over his past writing - divorced from its setting of the allegedly liberal NYT, it's no better than Crichton or Stossel, etc.

Lomborg is way better, because, frankly, he's more educated.

Phil Austin said...

Here's a copy of a comment (#77) I posted on Tieney's
blog, pointing out an article that attacks the
convential wisdom that Erlich and colleagues provided an
overly pessimistic forecast for near-term renewable and non-renewable
resource use:


Graham M. Turner of CSIRO published an article this
summer comparing the Limits to Growth standard run
with data on renewable and non-renewable resource use:

A comparison of The Limits to Growth with 30 years of reality
Global Environmental Change 18(3) (August, 2008) 397– 411

There is a free preprint at:

Bottom line: the model projections stand up remarkably well.
See, for example, Figure 11 in the preprint.

Dano said...

This Simon Bet cr*p has entered the Noise Machine distribution list and is spreading again.

My reply: using this logic, the "Dow 36,000" crowd must also reject everything ever written by the right-wing think tanks as well. Will they? No.

But the bottom line is that the Simon Bet is an indicator. There are literally dozens of examples of societies running out of resources and failing. Athens. Ur. Maya. It's a no-brainer.

Too bad the noise makes our brains shut off.



Dano said...

BTW Michael, look at the comment thread on the Tierney op-ed: just like your Googlebombed point.



Marion Delgado said...


If you would simply come to one of our Cornucopian fellowships, learn the correct rituals, and help us build a cargo plane, I believe the cargo, and our prosperity, will return.

Plus, when we colonize Mars, it already has global warming, so you eco-hairies can't blame so-called people pollution.

Babies - THEY call them overpopulation. We call them NEW LIFE!

Anonymous said...

LOL, wow anti-human backbone here! Blinded by what seems to be the truth by being forced to take a stance.

This is why the world is in trouble, and it's not because of climate.

Dano said...


I'm thinking about peak oil right now. Thinking....thinking....see! See there! Another new discovery!

This prrrroooooves! Simon's doctrine that "even the total weight of the earth is not a theoretical limit to the amount of copper that might be available to earthlings in the future. Only the total weight of the universe..."..."In the end, copper and oil come out of our minds. That’s really where they are."

I have about 2.2 B bpd in my mind, Marion. How much do you have? No revisions upward like Hansen and Algore do!



Hank Roberts said...

A comment over there signed "Ken Caldeira" just appeared.


EliRabett said...

One of the things you see in economics is that what looks like different bets are really the same bet because something is fungible, often money, but it does not have to be. See Long Term Capital Collapse, and the current unpleasantness for example. In the case of the Simon-Ehrlich bet it was the cost of energy, which, on an inflation discounted basis fell over the course of the bet. That meant that poorer ores or ones from more remote places could be extracted at a similar cost. Simon may have understood this, but it doesn't matter much at this point

Anonymous said...

In case anyone doesn't know...
Tierney was a right wing op-ed columnist at the NYT until quite recently, when he moved to the science section. A large proportion of his "science" articles are really right wing social commentary masquerading as science.