I made a post last Wednesday about climate change and got an incredible responses. My post can be quickly summarized by "I am skeptical about CO2 forced global warming, but I still support dramatic action to cut emissions." There is a lot of information in the comments and of course the internet is completely chock full of debate, so much so that I don't know that I can even reasonably read a single site dedicated to it. I did spend a bunch of time since then perusing the internet to try to sift out the information there and the combination of what I read and the comments that were posted did change my mind. I think I was wrong about the scientific understanding of CO2 effects and was under some false impressions about some of the arguments against AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming).
I had a conversation with The Philosopher about the subject and he proposed a very good way for me to talk about the subject more clarity. Specifically, he wanted to know how I would bet on the subject of AGW. This is a tricky issue because there are many different facts to bet on but I decided to try to break it down a bit to express what I think at the moment. Firstly I decided to limit my bets to giving a percentage from the list of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, 90, 100. Assigning precise percentages to beliefs seems like a stretch so I will just use these ones, and keep in mind that 100 means I would bet all of my possessions against a single shiny penny on the certainty of truth - that isn't something I do lightly.
So, here is a list of things and my current bets on them being True:
CO2 in sufficient quantities increases world temperature: 90
CO2 produced by people significantly increases world CO2 levels: 90
CO2 is responsible for a some of the temp increases over the last 100 years: 90
Human produced CO2 is the *primary* factor behind the temp increases over the last 100 years: 70
Current scientific models of climate can give us reasonable predictions of future temp trends: 50
Scientific models of climate have been reliable and robust through the 20th century: 10
The confidence and robustness of scientific climate models are often overstated or misrepresented: 70
It is warranted and important that we cut back on fossil fuel use and emissions: 90
The Pigeonhole Principle is true: 100
I am better at Barbu than Randrew: 100
The Sun will rise tomorrow: 100
I am invincible: 0
The internet is a convenient place to find the simple truth on complex topics: 0
People are all excellent, especially those that post in forums on the internet: 0
I ordered a bunch of books from the library to try to learn more. Specifically I wanted to read a book saying AGW is bunk, one saying it is true, and one that talks about the topic but isn't clearly for or against. I also thought that I should reread The Skeptical Environmentalist. I read this book a few years ago and fell in love with it because it so much matched my views that things simply aren't as bad as they are often made out to be and that there are better solutions that the ones we often pursue. I want to find out if I reread it with a more critical eye if I will find that I still agree with what it says - I have poked around online and found points for and against it.
I did find something very interesting by the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It - Bjorn Lomborg. It is an interview with .... Fox. Basically Bjorn presents the idea that AGW is flat out happening but that we have much better places to spend our dollars to help others than changing our carbon habits. I am not going to claim that what he says is true, but I am going to say that I absolutely love the position of openly agreeing that AGW is a problem and then asking how best to spend our collective money to improve the happiness and health of all of humanity. It is worth a view, even though the glee with which the interviewer puts down Al Gore and the whole AGW lobby injects a really sour note. If you were unimpressed with Fox News before, Fox Business isn't going to change your mind.