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I know only a little about statistics and almost nothing about climate science, so I’m keeping clear of the debate about climate change that’s breaking out on Chris Joye’s blog … after I pass on this little pot shot a mate of mine (what happens to be an RV trader) sent me:

I have developed a really sophisticated computer model which predicts this asset is going up. It uses data relating to a phenomenon that has only existed in the very last part of the data. My relative value friend tells me to sell – but I am going with the computer model…

What I think he is getting at is that there is a consistent human trait across disciplines, markets, and time – for some reason, folks are inclined to buy expensive and sell cheap.

The more extreme the recent ‘price action’ the more likely we are to overweight it, and find some complicated reason to justify going with the recent trend.

History suggests we’ll invest a few trillion in preventing global warming, whereupon the world will start rapidly cooling – and we’ll realise that our models are flawed (as usual) and that we understand less than we think.


  1. History does not suggest anything of the sort: we have no previous instances of anthropogenic global climate change to guide us with regard to the future direction of warming. History does however suggest that as a species humans can and have on numerous occassion been (wilfully) blind to the degradation of their environmental resources, at times to the point of social collapse.

    We really should pay more attention to Martin Weitzman’s work: Understanding less than we think is reason enough to invest a few trillion dollars.

    1. that we have no experience of this matter was exactly the point of the post. what history suggests is that we know less than we think.

  2. Ahh … so you’re a denialist. No surprises there then.

    There’s a school of thought that says we should leave the coal in the ground and burn it to counteract the next ice age. Of course, we will have burnt it all by then.

    1. the temperature has clearly been rising. the chart shows that.

      what i am is very pessimistic about the limits to human knowledge — we know much less than we think, and can be sure about only a tiny amount of that. QED is the best physical theory we have, and yet Feynman himself said it was fundamentally broken and that he’d just swept all the problems under the rug.

      1. So … if you were diagnosed with cancer would you choose the consensus treatment — the treatment supported by countless peer-reviewed papers — or the treatment advocated by a tiny minority of ‘skeptical’ doctors?

        Newtonian physics was wrong too, but it served as an incredibly useful model for centuries. Climate science may be not be perfect, but it is a useful model. Certainly infinitely more useful than the untested, unsubstantiated clap trap put about by the so-called ‘skeptics’.

        But hey, if that’s what you choose to believe, your choice.

  3. It’s not a question if temperatures are going up or down / and what it’s the cause. It’s a question on putting a price on polluting. It’s water free? Why not? Resources are limited, human population is growing fast and our earth is small. Everything has a price why should polluting common air be free?
    Suppose you have 2 technologies: one has zero emissions and costs X, the other one pollutes the air and costs X/2. Which one will we use? If we do not put a price on pollution / any pollution, we won’t advance.
    Now, if you think CO2 emissions are not polluting the air, then go for a run in any major downtown metropolitan area in winter…

    1. i don’t like pollution either.

      the only strong views i have on this is that we know less than we think, and that we’ll muck up what we do because of arrogance.

      I suppose i could add that since it’s in everyone’s interest to free ride, and that there are no useful enforcement mechanisms – that we probably ought to save our money for adaption. i think there’s a vanishing small probability that there will be global action that has a meaningful impact on CO2 emissions.

      1. ” the only strong views i have on this is that we know less than we think, and that we’ll muck up what we do because of arrogance ”

        You are absolutely right there. And we must be 100% vigilant that we do not take certain decisions just because some people like to feel important….

        However, I see a bigger evolution. We must move from the industrial revolution to a more ecological one. We just can’t keep going developing/using technologies without thinking of the long term impacts. And not only CO2: waste and pollution in general.

        Think about it… why are we recycling today? We used not to do that. Is it cheaper to recycle or to just waste and throw away?

        Why aren’t we putting incentives for cleaner transportation? Bike vs. car. trams vs. cars. etc.

        >> there are no useful enforcement mechanisms

        Well, actually there are… we could put a higher tax on petrol for instance. Or a carbon tax. We must attach a cost to any pollution and wasting.

  4. Oh BTW … Hi Chris! Love your blog, would love to comment. What are you afraid of?

    I enjoyed your post that described Sinclair Davidson as “even-handed”. I almost fell off my chair. If there’s anyone less even-handed than Sinclair Davidson in the Australian economic debate I am yet to read them. Unhinged would be a better description.

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