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12.14.2005

The relative unimportance of global warming - Bjorn Lomborg

10 Comments:

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

It's hard to overstate how depraved and cynical this argument it is.

In brief: look at this nice thing I'd rather not do. Now look at this other nice thing I have no intention of doing. Because of all the nice things I could do, I must decline to do anything nice. Thanks for playing.

I think the real title should be: the unimpoirtance of global warming relative to Bjorn Lormborg's chance of living out his remaining days on cruise ships and at golf courses with business lobbyists.

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger Ivan said...

Yes, reducing GHG emissions through a Kyoto treaty is more important than millions dieing TODAY of preventable diseases, or of billions living in poverty.

I just don't understand the defenders of Kyoto-style agreements.

1) They won't do anything for the environment.
2) They will probably hurt economies.
3) They don't solve the basic problem.
4) There is a limited international attention span, and there are FAR bigger problems that could use the attention.

Which of those do you disagree with?

Also, this guy is well regarded. Perhaps you shouldn't make baseless accusations. Better yet, perhaps you should get a PhD in statistics and counter his findings, rather than blather about evil big business backers.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

I don't think you've addressed the thrust of my argument at all.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Ivan said...

What does he have no intention of doing?

He joins me and many others in advocating more research for alternative energy.

Also, implicit in the argument is that more attention is paid to more important problems.

He doesn't have to mirror Bill Gates in his drive to end 3rd world diseases. He only has to convince people that those concerns are more important, hence the article.

It's only cynical if you think that a professor saying what he thinks to a world audience does nothing.

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

I think there's a coalition of government actors which supports emmissions controls, but nothing of the sort for preventing malaria or AIDS deaths in poor countries. The reason is that 1st world actors expect to suffer from the effects of global warming, but not from malaria. Comparing them serves to disrupt emmisions controls, but does nothing to encourage spending on worthy causes.

This suits you fine, obviously, since you think emmisions controls are bad in and of themselves. If you think about it, though, if any real world scenario occured where world governments chose to invest huge sums in something you ostensibly support (an AIDS vaccine Manhattan project, a massive infrastructure conversion to nuclear energy, a space elevator, whatever), the same argument applies: wait, stop! we shouldn't do this because it's robbing some under-atteded-to cause of funding.

So to say: I've looked at the costs and benefits of emmissions controls and determined that we can get a higher ROI manufacturing mosquito nets in Africa is an argument in bad faith. What he means to say is: international groups choosing to do nothing is almost always better than them choosing to do something (a more defensible position, actually... but he isn't debating, he's politicking). But blaming AIDS inaction and everything on Kyoto is asinine and Lomborg's high regard certainly doesn't come from that insight.

I don't agree with the limited attention span portion of your argument, which says that charity is a zero sum game, btw. I think you & Bjørn can promote the virtues of your pet causes as much as you want. As it happens, those causes aren't "bigger problems that could use the attention," but rather the elimination of environmental legislation.

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

"but nothing of the sort for preventing malaria or AIDS deaths in poor countries."

I'm afraid you're wrong. There are many governments and NGOs working on the other problems addressed. How about, for starters, the UN.


Also, don't invent arguments I didn't make:

You'll note that elimination of regulation per se is not my motivation. Eliminating environmental regulation that hurts the world economy and doesn't help the environment is my goal. The side benefit of this position is to advocate things that do help people and the environment.


"I don't agree with the limited attention span portion of your argument, which says that charity is a zero sum game, btw."

Just because something is scarce, doesn't mean using it is involved in a zero-sum game. If the amount of money we spent on charity equaled the benefit, charity would be zero sum, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

Scarcity in money to solve international problems and attention of those who want to help improve the world are the basis for the argument. Calling it zero-sum is like saying all trade is zero sum because time is scarce.



How could it possibly de disingenuous to say we should spend resources on X, rather than Y? Isn't that kind of discrimination the basis of intelligence? Choosing actions under uncertainty and scarcity that produce the greatest benefit…


Finally, the most important reason you’re wrong is that HE PROPOSES A CHEAPER AND MORE EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE.

It isn’t a matter of “do X instead of Y”. It’s spend less and do more than X, by doing Z, and also have more left over to better solve Y, which is a bigger problem to begin with.

 
At 3:40 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

I think you're being disingenous when you cite the good deeds of the UN to make a point.

I'm delighted that governents, companies, and private citizens contribute money to lessen the AIDS calamity (in fact, I think it's President Bush's greatest legacy). Saying that they'd do more if not for Kyoto is false. There's no interchangeability and no one has proposed that there would be. This part of the discussion is a Red Herring (and it is why I consider Lomborg a cynic).

As far as your X and Y go, it is disingeneous because no player in this discussion will spend money on X (you don't count because you don't have the money), they will only forgoe spending money on Y. Yes, bullshitting is connected to higher intelligence.

The discussion of emissions control being too expensive for not enough benefit is seperate. I happen to think that there's an intrinsic value to establishing the framework, and that just because this particular agreement is only a small step it's no reason not to take it if the step is in the right direction.

Lomborg's proposal, being so cheap and all, is probably a good idea to do in conjunction with steps to limit the production of toxins. Surely the two approaches are not mutually exlusive, and can be debated on their own terms :)

Also, if you don't think business lobbyists are central figures in Lormborg's life, you're a chump.

 
At 5:34 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

There is a cost to Kyoto: unnaturally higher energy prices and higher spending for regulation enforcement.

Both affect "charitable" efforts. A smaller economy means less tax revenue and less disposable income for individuals. Government spending in area X means less spending in area Y.

Further, your thoughts on a new perpetual energy source from the infinite supply of attention and time are fascinating. Please explain more about why some things actually aren't scarce.

If you want a warm and fuzzy example of an international organization dedicated to increasing the well being of the world's lower half, perhaps you seek the Globalization Institute. I certainly think they do better work than the UN.



"I happen to think that there's an intrinsic value to establishing the framework, and that just because this particular agreement is only a small step it's no reason not to take it if the step is in the right direction."

A system of jails in my new country is also important to establish, as a framework. How about you get locked up, just as a small first step? Kyoto isn’t "building a framework". It is creating very specific rules and taking action on a particular topic.



"Lomborg's proposal, being so cheap and all, is probably a good idea to do in conjunction with steps to limit the production of toxins. Surely the two approaches are not mutually exlusive, and can be debated on their own terms :)"

Don't call GHGs "toxins".
Also, perhaps you haven't been listening so I'll have to repeat myself:
Kyoto doesn't help anything, and costs a lot of money.

How can you ignore that again, and again, and again, and again?


Finally, see if you can spot the fallacy on your last point:
A is a member of class B
C is a member of class B
A is of type D.
Therefore, C is of type D.

I'm not a chump for believing C is probably not of type D or that Lomborg is not corrupt.

But let’s just call it even, and I'll accuse you of statutory rape because Polanski also made films.

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

In pokjer terms, I think the Lormborg is bluffing when he says for 150bm/year we "could ensure clean drinking water, sanitation, basic health care and education for every single person in the world, now." He knows that his proposal - scrapping Kyoto - would lead to no such thing. He's got nothing.

Ivanistan was fascist enough already, dude. Lay off.

I think you're standing on much stronger ground when you say that it's not worth it - I think it's an open issue, actually, but that the case for polluting to your enlightened self interest's desire is not that great.

Sorry, I meant toxic substances. (Although you got my point, and I think that the likelihood is that other as-yet-unknown byproducts of industrialization will likely wind up limited in similar future arrangements.)

I think Lomborg believes what he's saying, and in addition, I believe that he makes a pretty penny from energy industry funded think tanks. We can leave the question of whether you're a chump for later; Polanski was going through a very difficult time when that incident occured, you know...

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

"I think that the likelihood is that other as-yet-unknown byproducts of industrialization will likely wind up limited in similar future arrangements."

If there is something bad that isn't yet regulated internationally, then it should be.

Carbon doesn't meet that standard.

Things like murcury from coal plants is very serious (in my tuna!). Just a small amount can lower IQ. Larger amounts kill. Very bad.

So again, I'm not against regulation per se. Just things that won't work.


"Ivanistan was fascist enough already, dude. Lay off."

Just illustrating a ridiculous situation... for now :)

 

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