When a Risk Isn’t Just a Risk

I promised you some interesting new material on economics, and here’s a new blog post at the Sun-Sentinel to that effect. I’ll explain more about the difference between risk and uncertainty in the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, you can find more prescient papers by Pavlov and Wachter here, here, and here, and you can find the Princeton paper here.

The commenter “Max-42” counters that El Niño is responsible for the record-breaking ocean temperatures, and he’s partly right. El Niño is playing an important role, but so is climate change. Joseph Romm has an excellent post explaining how the two have worked in tandem. I encourage you to check it out.

And, as always, read the original post.

Environmental “Misunderestimation”

Though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of George W. Bush, I have to admit that one of his infamous coined words seems to be appropriate for my topic for today: misunderestimate.

One trend that seems to be applied to more and more problems today is underestimation. We as Americans seem to want to deny most of our large issues. Climate change, oil spills, deforestation of rain forests, many environmental conflicts and issues fall into this category, along with the most recent British Petroleum oil leak in the Gulf.   Continue reading “Environmental “Misunderestimation””

Repeat After Me: “Energy Reform”

Yesterday, we celebrated health care reform, and we talked about the bigger picture, in which I said we must take up the next challenge.

Today, you can check out my column explaining what that next challenge should be. (Yes, I’m back at the Hazleton Standard-Speaker, but only once a month.)

The challenge is energy reform. We need to be clearer about the words we use for this debate. When we talk about cap-and-trade or climate change, it tends to scare people away. It sounds big and complicated, and it gives the false impression that global warming is the only motivation for such legislation. But as my column explains, climate change is only half the problem. We also need to raise the price of carbon because of the economic and national security drawbacks of our dependence on foreign oil. And just like health care, the energy market has negative externalities that the government can reduce. Hence, energy reform.

If you follow the links in our “What to Read” series, none of the column should surprise you. If, on the other hand, you get most of your news from the mainstream media, it probably comes as a bit of cognitive dissonance. (That’s what I aim for. If I didn’t teach you something new, there wouldn’t be much point to writing my op-ed, would there?)   Continue reading “Repeat After Me: “Energy Reform””

Making Mountains Out of Glaciers

Yesterday, we talked about John Coleman and his sorry excuse for a climate change lesson. As a reader pointed out to me, one piece of evidence in particular has generated another climate news scandal recently. As a refresher:

according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, global glacier thickness has declined every year for the past 4+ decades. The most recent academic research I’ve seen was published 2 months ago, and it concluded that Antarctic ice loss has been vaster and faster than the IPCC predicted. Another paper published around the same time found that, based on historical evidence, Antarctica is more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought.

When many people hear “glaciers,” they think of the Himalayas. One of the most startling predictions of the 2007 IPCC report was that this gorgeous region in South and East Asia will lose all its glaciers by 2035. If you trace that claim back to its original source, you find quotes in New Scientist and Indian magazine Down to Earth by Syed Hasnain, who studied the Himalayan glaciers for the International Commission on Snow and Ice. Hasnain, it turns out, made the prediction based on “speculation,” not evidence.

Let’s be clear about what this means: Nothing.   Continue reading “Making Mountains Out of Glaciers”

What Isn’t the Weatherman Telling You?

John Coleman is a TV weathercaster, best known for being one of the founders of The Weather Channel. Nowadays he hangs out at KUSI-TV in San Diego, where he has recently taped a segment on the great hoax of global warming. Coleman’s credentials make him a hero of global warming skeptics, but don’t confuse him with The Weather Channel itself. The Weather Channel’s official position is that greenhouse gas emissions are causing a “significant warming trend”:

The potential exists for the climate to reach a “tipping point,” if it hasn’t already done so, beyond which radical and irreversible changes occur.

They are very careful about not predicting too much, but their statement is 180 degrees different from Coleman’s video clip.

Coleman’s disagreement with the scientific consensus on climate change has been known for some time. As a result, he has said many things that are flat wrong. (Click here for examples.)   Continue reading “What Isn’t the Weatherman Telling You?”