Thursday, September 04, 2008

Global Warming

(The following a response by yours truly to my incredibly intelligent brother as we argue about global warming. I tend, as always, to fall on the side of economic determinism)


I think its an unfalsifiable intellectual bubble. Pundits utilize a wide swath of scenarious which all "confirm" global warming...but what about a condition or set of conditions which would falsify the claim of global warming?

Let us speak about definition. What is "Global Warming"? Is this an increased global temperature on average? Can we even calculate the average temperature for the entire planet? Do we have reliable data from all parts of the globe? From the Jungles of Brazil to the Steppes of Mongolia? I tend to approach problems with as much objectivity I can muster...this often leads to silly but useful mantras such as the following: How would a super-intelligent alien who never heard of internal combustian engines think about fluctuations in temperature on a 5 billion year old planet? How would it measure, verify, and make decisions on the findings?

I certainly see the commercial applications - biofuels, energy alternatives, books, articles, research, grants, teaching positions, etc. I am always skeptical when such a complicated conclusion is simply assumed.

People always and everywhere seek to maximize their self-interest. No sooner than the assumption of global warming is made, the hand comes out from either the public or private sector instructing you to relinquish YOUR self interest. "In the name of the PLANET, good sir, pay more taxes or purchase this enviromentally conscious item."

so, qui bono?

Global warming has been great for large corporations - any extra level of regulatory expense can be decreased at the margin in one enjoys economies of scale. manufacturers and stores cannot mass produce anything "environmentally sensitive".

In addition, environmental regulation serves as a massive barrier to entry with increased fixed costs and possibly increased costs of capital due to legal and regulatory risk.

/end rant

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