01 Nov 2013

Krugman: Failed Apocalyptic Predictions Are Laughable, Unless They Support Bigger Government

Climate Change, Economics, Krugman 97 Comments

Not his exact words, mind you.

Krugman in his November 7 review of William Nordhaus’ new book on climate change economics:

Forty years ago a brilliant young Yale economist named William Nordhaus published a landmark paper, “The Allocation of Energy Resources,” that opened new frontiers in economic analysis….
For if one looks back at “The Allocation of Energy Resources,” one learns two crucial lessons. First, predictions are hard, especially about the distant future. Second, sometimes such predictions must be made nonetheless.

Looking back at “Allocation” after four decades, what’s striking is how wrong the technical experts were about future technologies….For what it’s worth, current oil prices, adjusted for overall inflation, are about twice Nordhaus’s prediction, while coal and especially natural gas prices are well below his baseline….

So the future is uncertain, a reality acknowledged in the title of Nordhaus’s new book, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World. Yet decisions must be made taking the future—and sometimes the very long-term future—into account….And as Nordhaus emphasizes, although perhaps not as strongly as some would like, when it comes to climate change uncertainty strengthens, not weakens, the case for action now.

But it seems that we have, without knowing it, made an immensely dangerous bet: namely, that we’ll be able to use the power and knowledge we’ve gained in the past couple of centuries to cope with the climate risks we’ve unleashed over the same period. Will we win that bet? Time will tell. Unfortunately, if the bet goes bad, we won’t get another chance to play.

Krugman on October 24 discussing the people warning about big government deficits and central bank asset purchases:

Once upon a time, walking around shouting “The end is nigh” got you labeled a kook, someone not to be taken seriously. These days, however, all the best people go around warning of looming disaster….

As I’ve already suggested, there are two remarkable things about this kind of doomsaying. One is that the doomsayers haven’t rethought their premises despite being wrong again and again — perhaps because the news media continue to treat them with immense respect. The other is that as far as I can tell nobody, and I mean nobody, in the looming-apocalypse camp has tried to explain exactly how the predicted disaster would actually work.

On the Chicken Little aspect: It’s actually awesome, in a way, to realize how long cries of looming disaster have filled our airwaves and op-ed pages.

So has the ex-Maestro reconsidered his views after having been so wrong for so long? Not a bit.

So the next time you see some serious-looking man in a suit declaring that we’re teetering on the precipice of…doom, don’t be afraid. He and his friends have been wrong about everything so far, and they literally have no idea what they’re talking about.

Just to be clear, I skillfully used ellipses so it wasn’t obvious Krugman was talking about people wanting to cut government spending. And the ex-Maestro who hasn’t reconsidered his views after having been so wrong for so long is Greenspan, not Nordhaus.

97 Responses to “Krugman: Failed Apocalyptic Predictions Are Laughable, Unless They Support Bigger Government”

  1. Gamble says:

    BMurph wrote “And the ex-Maestro who hasn’t reconsidered his views after having been so wrong for so long is Greenspan, not Nordhaus.”

    Just watched Greenspan hock his new book on Charlie Rose show.

    The world must be under Satanic influence to even consider what GreenSpam says…


    • Major_Freedom says:

      Part of the title is “Human Nature”.

      I bet that his discussion will in some way disparage humanity in general, for being so troublesome in falsifiying his expectations.

      • Gamble says:

        I think he is saying, we are driven by animal spirits, mostly fear and he is the first person in the world to provide models that prove this. He also claims all previous classical economist previously dismissed this behavior as random and not worth/possible to model.

        He is also saying the most important aspects of a bubble are predicting when it will happen and what are the consequences. He avoids/neglects what caused the bubble and how to avoid bubbles in the first place…

        He also disavows himself of all responsibility regarding 401k’s during his time as Fedhead. He is a spotless lamb…

        He also goes onto say he would never change anything he did at the Fed, knowing what the knows now. He evades all responsibility and will never say anything that may tarnish his brand.

        Finally he says we all must agree to accept the Bill of Rights however everything after the Bill of Rights must be a compromise(collectivism). I don’t understand this because I thought the Bill of Rights paved the way for zero compromises?

        Charlie can be at times a great interviewer. I think he lets Greenspam hang himself.

    • Ken P says:

      Greenspan actually makes an interesting point about how developing nations like China and Eastern bloc countries suddenly saw big income increases but were accustomed to high savings. He goes on to say that resulted in an increase in loanable funds, resulting in low long term interest rates which created asset bubbles in things like real estate.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        1. Asset bubbles, i.e. unsustainable growth of assets, are not generated by voluntary savings. Such expansions of the higher order stages are sustainable, because consumers are in fact releasing the necessary resources needed to complete and maintain the expansion.

        2. All of a sudden big increases in incomes? That can only mean an increase in the money supply and volume of spending. Who is responsible for that?

        • Ken P says:

          1) That is kind of how I would have framed it, MF. Rates are not artificially lower if the loanable funds increase is the result of saving. I just watched the video today and haven’t had a chance to really think it through, but it also raises other problems I have with housing in particular. Since housing is often already completed (as in built), how does it fit in? The only resources necessary for completion is the labor to pay back the loan. To me, housing seems to not fit the stages of production model.

          2) Yes, money came from somewhere. In the case of China, Fed policy makes sense and that explains part of my issue with point 1. With Germany, it could have been money coming home after a long period of trade surpluses.

          Overall, yes, it makes sense that Greenspan created the money and China/Eastern Block was just the path it took.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            1) Houses come into the world pre-built? No, they also must be produced. And houses do fit the “stages of production model” if you recognize that the production of durable consumer goods like houses are affected by artificially low (or naturally low) interest rates similar to how higher order capital goods like mines and durable heavy machinery are affected. The key is the temporal treatment of a good. The longer lasting the good, the longer it is expected to be depreciated, and/or used to generate cash flow. As you know from typical asset pricing models, the longer the time of depreciation and/or cash flows, the more sensitive the net present value is to changes in interest rates, ceteris paribus.

            2) I suppose it is tremendously difficult for Greenspan to come to terms with the fact that he played a significant role in the pain and suffering that tens of millions of people felt. I imagine his subconcious is so guilt ridden, that he is sort of like Christian Bale’s character in “The Machinist”. He really does believe he had nothing to do with the horrors he caused.

  2. Andrew_FL says:

    ” Second, sometimes such predictions must be made nonetheless.”

    A slightly wrong prediction is one that in retrospect you could say, should still have been made. It provided useful information about the future that people could use to inform their decisions. A completely wrong prediction should never have been made, because it will have so badly misinformed people’s decisions as to have done a great deal of harm.

    Well, assuming that people listen to all predictions and use all predictions. But they certainly do not. If you can say of someone making a prediction “He and his friends have been wrong about everything so far, and they literally have no idea what they’re talking about” then in a market eventually people would have to catch on and not take his predictions seriously. But the government can continue to listen to harmfully erroneous forecasters who don’t know what they are talking about because they aren’t dissuaded from making mistakes in the way that market forces do to everyone else.

    On the question of who making predictions is being listened to, I would say environmental doomsayers are taken far more seriously and do far more harm in being wrong than people who are especially pessimistic about the effects of large government deficits. After all, the government continues to run deficits in spite of warnings, some overly apocalyptic or too short run, about doing so.

    • Gamble says:

      A weird angle I have been taking lately regarding global climate change is as follows.

      To say that manmade actions will throw the system out of whack is the same as saying there is at minimum intelligent design.

      How can something random and spontaneous be harmed?

      There is massive amounts of heat released from volcanoes and massive amounts of greenhouse gas released from the sea floor. And you are going to tell me a tiny bit of human release will destroy this system?

      Must have been a grand design to achieve such TIGHT tolerances.

      On a side note:

      Here is my guess, the heat and gas will always be here, just a matter of it gets released. If it naturally stews up and releases heat/gas or if we go find it and release it, it is not any different. No net gain. Might as well make life comfortable.

      • Andrew_FL says:

        On the contrary, I would think that a system so delicate and easily disrupted (allegedly) would constitute rather unintelligent design.

        The idea that the current state of the system is optimal doesn’t really come from the same reasoning as the physics of the system itself. It’s an irrational statement of faith that comes from a fear of the unknown.

        • Gamble says:

          If it has no plan, than how can it be disrupted?

          • Andrew_FL says:

            By “disrupt” I mean an event can unbalance the system’s state. The pre-existing state exists by chance, in is not “intended” or “planned,” it merely happens to be. Disrupting it means to suddenly knock it out of that state.

            • Gamble says:

              So the Earth, by, magic/randomness/chance developed a perfect system/state that can easily be knocked out of kilter by human activities?


              • Andrew_FL says:

                Not quite what I said. I said it is in a state, it can be knocked out of that state. I personally don’t think it can *easily* be knocked out of that state, in fact I think it is quite difficult. I also don’t personally think the state that currently exists is perfect. In fact I think, depending on “perfect for who” there are definitely theoretical states for the system that would be preferable.

                That being said there *are* people who think *both* that the system is presently in a perfect state or was in the recent past *and* it is easily knocked out of that state.

            • Tel says:

              If you see it that way, then every butterfly is just as disruptive as a coal fired power plant or a convoy of SUVs.

      • Tel says:

        To say that manmade actions will throw the system out of whack is the same as saying there is at minimum intelligent design.

        I agree, the Climate soothsayers, and the evolutionists and the various intelligent design proponents are that far apart all things considered… especially when you look at their ability to make predictions.

        • Tel says:

          I mean to say “not that far apart”

          • Gamble says:

            An internal combustion engine has a firing order cut into the camshaft and the spark plugs have to fire in the matching order. If 1 fires out of order it is easily discernible.

            However if the original firing order were random, then how would one ever know if 1 spark plug was firing out of order?

            Let me cut the BS.

            Climate changers are saying the Earth was perfect before we showed up, although they never explain how it became perfect, and now anything humans do is a detriment to this “perfect chance system”. They never stop to consider this supposed perfect chance system KNEW WE WERE COMING, if not by intelligence, by chance. No matter how they slice it, human action bad. They hate themselves.

            And they call creationist whacky…

            • Tel says:

              The Gaia myth is basically the Eden myth with a few bits shuffled.

            • Harold says:

              It is really very simple. Human civilisation arose under the conditions very similar to those we have now. Our civilisation is adapted to those conditions. If that changes, we will no longer be as well adapted – this has costs. Had the environment been different when civilisation got started, then civilisation would have developed differently. A simple example to illustrate – if the sea level had been different about 3000 years ago, all out coastal cities would be in different places. Our coastal cities are in perfect places now not because of an overall designer, but because that is where the coast happens to be. If the location of the coast changes, our coastal cities will no longer be in the ideal position, being either inland or underwater.

  3. Gamble says:

    Speaking of The Fed, check out this Rand Paul Fed audit article.

    Where I come from, only GOD gets to be a mystery .


  4. Andrew Keen says:

    Bob, you are being very unfair. Nowhere in either of those passages does Krugman deny that either he or Nordhaus are perpetually wrong Chicken Littles. In fact, he goes so far as to say that “all the best people go around warning of looming disaster.” You act like Krugman is treating his opposition unfairly, but any rational person could see that he is actually saying that he “literally [has] no idea what [he's] talking about.”

    • Gamble says:

      Too funny. The truth always comes out if you let somebody talk enough.

      • skylien says:

        Yep, even better is if this someone has some alcohol in his blood. We have a saying that goes: Small children and drunk don’t lie.

        Though I guess it is just a different version of ‘In vino veritas’.

  5. Major_Freedom says:

    Murphy, Krugman will think himself non-contradictory by believing that government is omnipotent, or at least capable of handling any problems Krugman believes they can handle.

    Ergo, we can and should use government power to solve the problem of bad weather using long term forecasting techniques, but should anyone use long term forecasting techniques to solve the problem of too big of a government, then Krugman’s mind explodes, so he has to come up with a dishonest excuse as to why they are wrong. Saying “You don’t agree with me about government” is not going to pass muster, and he knows it. So he is compelled to contradict his own non-government related principles, such as long term forecasting, falsification, and so forth.

  6. Tel says:

    For what it’s worth, current oil prices, adjusted for overall inflation, are about twice Nordhaus’s prediction, while coal and especially natural gas prices are well below his baseline….

    Given that the use of coal for industry and electricity generation has been actively repressed by political interests, and we had a few wars in the Middle East that pushed up the price of oil, that seems like a pretty plausible outcome. The fact that politics and economics go hand in hand is very much what makes these long term predictions so difficult… it’s also the thing that discourages long term investors, because sovereign risk rapidly grows too large for any reasonable return.

  7. Tel says:

    And as Nordhaus emphasizes, although perhaps not as strongly as some would like, when it comes to climate change uncertainty strengthens, not weakens, the case for action now.

    So the less certain you are about what you are doing, the more sure you are you need to take action?!?

    Ignorance is strength.

    There’s quite a list of Climatologists who predicted an ice-free Arctic in 2013.

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      This is a very common argument, and a core piece of global warming hysteria. Because they entertain doomsday (think, total extinction of all life on Earth) scenarios, uncertainty necessitates action because in their minds, “action” just means raising taxes on those evil, greedy, rich people, while inaction COULD lead to all life on Earth being wiped out.

      In this frame of things, uncertainty helps the hysteric position. After all, we’re not entirely sure the temperature won’t rise by 50 degrees F, therefore, we must act.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      This situation arises because when he means “uncertainty” he means that the range of outcomes that might occur is large and includes a non negligible probability of very severe disasters. So therefore, the expected value for damages is higher.

      But I don’t think anyone who seriously studies the issue and comes to the conclusion there isn’t a huge threat does so because of uncertainty, I think that’s a strawman. I think they (and I consider myself one of them) consider the doomsayer predictions not uncertain, but *systematically biased*.

      • Tel says:

        If greater uncertainty increases the expected value of damages, how high do the damages get based on complete ignorance?

        • Andrew_FL says:

          I’d have to do the math but it probably diverges to infinity.

          But you can actually see that many particularly alarmist individuals, rather than trumpeting certainty, rely on exaggerated uncertainty to make there case for particularly frightening doomsday type scenarios. Frequent use of “could” “may” “if” etc. never mentioning that many of those “coulds” are associated with very near zero probabilities on any meaningful timescale.

          • Tel says:

            I’d have to do the math but it probably diverges to infinity.

            So for a person who knows nothing, the best choice of action is to go and fix everything? Quickly, because the expected damage is infinite!

            I’m aware that the environment industry has adapted Pascal’s Wager and renamed it as the Uncertainty Principle… but since Pascal’s Wager puts your immortal soul at stake and no stakes could be higher, why worry about a few degrees of warming?

            Strangely, the same people won’t accept Pascal’s Wager as a reason to believe in God, but they will accept uncertainty as a reason to shut down industry, “just in case”.

            • Andrew_FL says:

              Actually the best choice of action if you literally know nothing is to learn something.

              It’s not a very interesting case, though, except as a theoretical exercise. We are never in a state of *total* ignorance and we certainly aren’t in the present case.

              • Tel says:

                So once you learn a little bit, then it suddenly becomes time to take action?

                Or perhaps learn a little bit more…

              • Andrew_FL says:

                We are at the point, I believe, where we know enough to know we don’t need to act.

                In general one should probably learn all the time and if one finds that uncertainty is sufficiently narrowed that even a large amount if effort exerted toward learning more won’t significantly narrow uncertainty, make a decision as to what action to take.

              • Tel says:


                Just by chance someone else was thinking along similar lines.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Strange loop:

          Our present expectations of the probability of future damages, and acting on those expectations, affects the actual probability of future damages.

          So what is the correct expectation?

          • Andrew_FL says:

            Personally? Zero to a first order, possibly negative.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        The range of outcomes that might occur regarding aliens invading the Earth, spans the entirety of it actually happening, down to zero probability. The range of outcomes here is as big as the sum total of possibilities.

        Does this mean people are justified in acting in preparing for it now?

        • Andrew_FL says:

          I can pretty confidently say the probability of an alien invasion is so vanishingly small that you’d have to be crazy to prepare for one.

          I have a similar opinion about climate doomsday scenarios but for somewhat different reasons.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            I have no idea whether it will happen or not. I am completely ignorant about alien technology.

            Is it really crazy then?

            • Andrew_FL says:

              When you know absolutely nothing it’s crazy to do anything other than learn a little bit first.

              • Rick Hull says:

                And what of structural barriers to learning? When all we know is the past, only the very recent past in any detail or precision — and, crucially, we know that our ability to predict the future based on the past is quite poor.

                I say we start preparing for the alien invasion, just in case. Bullish for concrete!

              • Andrew_FL says:

                The barriers to learning why an alien invasion is extraordinarily unlike if not impossible are literally just the time it would take you to learn Einstein’s theory of relativity on the internet and look up the closest Earth-like planet found to date.

              • Major_Freedom says:


          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            Keep in mind though, someone who decides to prepare for alien invasion is most likely just wasting their own time and resources.

            The global warming hysterics are hardly content with that. They are demanding the *entire world* waste time and resources preparing for/preventing it.

            • Andrew_FL says:

              I certainly agree. I may think a man who prepares for an alien invasion is a fool, and out of a desire to help him I may try to persuade him not to do so. But someone who tries to make *me* prepare for an alien invasion, or takes a substantial portion of my income and directs it toward such an effort against my will is not merely foolish. He’s a menace to society.

          • Tel says:

            …the probability of an alien invasion is so vanishingly small…

            That’s what the native Americans said to the guy who thought he saw tiny sails on the ocean.

            Same for the Australian indigenous inhabitants… they all knew there was no way some strange people from far away would upset their entire lifestyle. Nothing had changed for tens of thousands of years, so why would it ever happen?

            • Matt M. (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

              Wait, isn’t part of the legend of Cortez that the Aztecs specifically believed in a prophecy that one of their Gods WOULD arrive in such a manner, and that he was worshiped by some of them as a result?

            • Andrew_FL says:

              The situations are not remotely comparable. Even if a hostile alien race lived on Gliese 581 c, about 20 lightyears away, mounting an invasion force from that distance would require a huge expenditure of energy and take a rather long time-not to mention the difficulty of coordinating your efforts with the home planet-back and forth radio communications taking 40 years. Not to mention how would they find us, out of all the other billions of stars, and why would they decide they wanted to kill us? If you have the resources to travel to other planets, Earth doesn’t have much to offer that closer planets wouldn’t.The logistics of interstellar war just make absolutely no sense, it would never happen.

              • Tel says:

                With regards to the physics, there’s nothing that proves you can’t travel faster than light, it’s just we have a theory about this that fits our available evidence (but the universe is very, very big, so we don’t have much evidence collected, compared to what we don’t know). If you want to extrapolate our current theory to the entire universe then fine, it’s better than nothing, but don’t pretend it is anywhere close to certain.

                Even if those aliens are travelling less than but close to the speed of light, we still won’t see them coming until they are almost here, and even then we may not see them (we don’t even know what they look like, how big they are, etc).

                No one said they necessarily want to kill us but then again, Europeans didn’t necessarily want to kill the native Americans, did they?

                Earth doesn’t have much to offer that closer planets wouldn’t.

                How could you know that? We don’t even know what they would be looking for, nor for that matter do we know how many Earth-like planets are around the place.

              • Andrew_FL says:

                You can put a probability on the correct theory of all physics allowing faster than light anything. It is itself very small, so anything that requires it is also very unlikely. It would imply causality violation and other things that are doubtful on purely logical grounds.

                As for what an alien race would want with us, if it’s made if matter they can get it without a fight from another solar system closer to them.

                The idea that an interstellar civilization would have need for slave labor, for example, is laughable. And what is special to take from an inhabited planet other than it’s inhabitants?

    • Harold says:

      Quite a list? Can you list them? – I am aware of one, but I may easily have missed some. Whatever, it is very clear that mainstream climatology did not predict an ice free Arctic in 2013.

    • moodydon says:

      There is a quote I really like: IF you torture numbers long enough, they will confess to anything.

      I suspect those who are economists and those who predict the future climate of this planet are people who round up and / or round down to get the desired result(s)… especially when they need attention from the masses.

      As I understand weather today and that weather that will happen in a week a month, or 6 months from now, is done by ‘super computers.’ So I’d guess changing one fact, one number, a series of numbers, will change the results each and every time you run the program.

      So how do we know the truth when published, reported, or screamed from the roof tops?

      Question: IF man is the cause of climate change, let’s reduce the world’s population by one half. Would we see immediate change in the climate? Would we change within one year? Or would is take 25, 50, or 100 years to notice something has changed?

      Plug that into your computer and let the debates / screaming begin…

  8. gofx says:

    Warmests or “accepters” also refuse to prioritize ALL the threats to our existence, such as a large asteroid hitting the planet. Should the marginal dollar be spent on a wind-turbine or or an asteroid defense system? Should the marginal dollar be spent on solar panels or Tsunami detection or mitigation resources. If you lived in Oklahoma and you only had enough resources to purchase solar panels or a tornado shelter, which would you do? It is only because of the belief that warming is a man-made problem, that interests “accepters” because it is their chance to extend control over others. If they truly examined the probabilities of occurrence, the expected damages, the time horizon, and the cost of mitigation or adaptation. Apparently its ok if we get wiped out, as long as it occurs “naturally”.

    • Matt M. (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      But the left doesn’t see it that way. They see the choice between the marginal dollar being spent on global warming prevention to save the Earth, or being spent on “profits for billionaires.” Those are the only two choices.

    • Ken P says:

      Gofx, I prefer the term alarmists. Your term, acceptors sounds like you are referring to people who believe CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas. The fact that CO2 can act in such a way can be derived from simple chemical properties involving the bending of bonds and the resulting vibrating electric field. This has been accepted for over a hundred years. The real problem comes into what happens in the real world. Alarmists believe there is a very strong snowball effect due to positive feedback that results in a rise in temperature per doubling of CO2 which greatly exceeds that predicted by simple chemical equations.

      Most climatologists model such predictions as lying in the tail of their probability distributions. For example, 2 – 3 C per doubling of CO2 is a pretty common prediction (IPCC puts it in the 3-4 range, I believe), while 6C is considerably higher than we should expect to outside any reasonable expectations, depending on the model.

      However, many argue as you are saying above that while incredibly unlikely, the outcome would be so devastating that we need to prepare for it. Like you say, if we prepared for every potential devastating event, we wouldn’t have resources for real problems like food and shelter.

  9. Matt says:

    Hahahahaha ignorant people are always good for a laugh, and I’m not talking about Krugman…

  10. Innocent says:

    Okay, so apocalyptic predictions… For ones Krugman disagrees with is ‘Chicken Little’ … Which I can understand, that is how I feel about ‘Global Warming’ which is a misinterpretation of the informatory given. However when it comes to debt and hyper inflation, well I believe we have seen the problem play out enough times that the only REAL way for a country to pay back its debt is to devalue its currency. When this occurs it chases off investors etc. This would be a unique challenge for the USA as it is the worlds ‘reserve’ currency. Allowing it to parasitically garner more in trade ( fiat currency paper for goods ) at a much higher rate than anyone else should be able to do.

    So will the world end when the USA has to devalue its currency to pay back its debts. No, but will things really get rough especially for the poor of the country? Oh yeah. You see in the end the most vulnerable of the citizens of the United States are the poor. The ones that will be effected by large fluctuations of buying power. It always makes me chuckle that people who destroy the integrity of the poor via social programs ( making them dependent on Government and ‘hand outs’ ) then do not see how the only way to dig out of a hole like the one we currently have will really hurt the little that they do have.

    ARGH… No the world will not end when the USA has to devalue its currency, however if we showed a little restraint now we would be in such a better place later. Additionally what are we actually investing in with the money we borrow? Are we creating better ways to move goods from point a to point b? Subsidizing industry to get the economy rolling again, or throwing money at crony capitalist projects with little to no chance of payback? Cash for Clunkers? Destroy perfectly viable economic choice in the name of raising our GDP? Could there have been a more silly method of economic production? Destroy wealth in order to force up production?

    Look in the end Krugman is kind of right. The end of the world will NEVER occur within the sphere of economics, however market distortion, and economic hardship WILL occur due to a foolish belief that chickens will never come home to roost. That money will ALWAYS flow to the USA for the useless currency that we print. That after all, predictions are only that, a prediction that MAY get the specifics wrong but nonetheless will prove right in the end. Eventually the debt WILL Matter and the question will be in that day, why didn’t we take care of it earlier?

  11. Samson Corwell says:

    One thing I find annoying is when experts or advisors wander outside their field of knowledge. Economists should stick with economics and climatologists should stick with climatology.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Polymaths don’t exist?

      • Samson Corwell says:

        They are vanishingly rare.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          But you made a universal argument about division of knowledge that leaves no room for polymaths. Yet you agree they exist.

    • Ken P says:

      It may annoy you, but that doesn’t make such endeavors useless. In fact, the innovation of outside perspectives can be quite valuable as has been demonstrated time and again by winners of Innocentive challenges.

    • Tel says:

      What is a climatologist?

      • Peter says:

        Someone who can guilt productive individuals into giving their money and freedom to the government.

      • Samson Corwell says:

        A climatologist is a climate scientist.

        • Andrew_FL says:

          Most people called Climate Scientists (TM) *are* people trained in other fields having the temerity to venture outside “their field of knowledge.” Just because you take umbrage to their baffling audacity in defying your wishes doesn’t mean your recommendation makes any damn sense as a general rule.

        • Tel says:

          What reliable test could I use to determine the difference between a climatologist and (say) a garbologist?

          Something nice and simple would be preferable.

          • Ken P says:

            Ask how much they worry about the tail of the problem. When a garbologist dumps his garbage into a pile, he doesn’t think the tail will stretch all the way back to the city.

  12. Matt says:

    The level of ignorance is, once again, laughable. Clearly, none of you understand the way the global monetary system works, or the way climate science works. You’re all so confident despite being so far from anything that could be remotely considered an intelligent, informed opinion. You make fun of those whose beliefs are grounded in theoretical and empirical evidence while providing oft debunked “facts” to support your misplaced beliefs. If you all weren’t so annoyingly confident, I would feel sorry for your stupidity. You compare the predictions of climate scientists to the predictions of partisan “economists” who provide “theories” that are in no way logical to support their beliefs that hyperinflation is always around the corner. The fact that it never comes just furthers your belief that it has to come eventually, because how can they “print” so much money without hyperinflation. The lessons of history are lost on you ignoramuses. Keep comparing scientific views to denialism and half-truths. I love all of your “evidence,” by the way. Hahahahaha idiots

    • Bala says:

      How very intelligent and enlightening!!

    • Tel says:

      Wow, you have both theoretical evidence and empirical evidence, double plus good.

      I compare the predictions of climate scientists with measurements. For example, the prediction of many was there would be no sea ice in the Arctic this year, the measurement was plenty of sea ice. The prediction was that snowfall in the UK would be a “thing of the past” by now, well that never happened. The prediction was that hurricanes were supposed to be getting worse, but what actually happened was 2013 was one of the quietest hurricane seasons on record.

      If you aren’t going to compare predictions against measurements, then what’s the point? How do you propose science should operate?

      The lessons of history are lost on you ignoramuses.

      Which historical empire was able to maintain a paper currency without inflation? What eventually happened to all the paper currency systems of history?

      • Harold says:

        Lets examone the predictions you say you campare with measurement.
        1) No sea ice in the Arctic this year – want to know what the real prediction is? IPCC FAR says “In some projections, arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st century.” Quite a bit different from your 2013 claim. In fact 21012 was a record low in sea ice, exactly in keeping with predictions.
        2) Snowfall in the UK was to be a “thing of the past” by now? Where did you get that from?
        3) Hurricanes. Climate science has recognised that hurricanes are complex interactions and depend on temperature differences rather than temperature per se. IPCC FAR (2007) says ” Based on a range of models, it is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds
        and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing
        increases of tropical sea surface temperatures. There is
        less confidence in projections of a global decrease in
        numbers of tropical cyclones.” This year having a low number of hurricanes does not in any way contradict this – note the word “decrease” above.

        If you want to compare predictions with measurements you should make sure you are actually using predictions, and not “oft debunked “facts” as Matt says.

          • Harold says:

            These articles illustrate perfectly the woeful standard of scientific journalism. The Daily Mail article is particularly awful. Portraying as a “recovery” the fact that this years low ice level is not as bad as the record loss last year is about as bad as you can get. Dr. David Viner is not “climate science”, and the article does not clearly say exactly what he was predicting (England? UK? Britain? Low lying areas?), but thanks – I now know where that claim came from.

            • Tel says:

              Dr. David Viner is not “climate science”

              He works as a research scientist for the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia.

              Remember Professor Phil Jones, and Keith Briffa (the tree ring guy), this is where the “hockey stick” data came from. The place is the ground-zero of climate science.

              • Harold says:

                You should note that I did not say “Dr David Viner is not a climate scientist”.

        • Tel says:

          One of the nice things about modern information technology is a long and verbatim memory (also a bad thing when you get on the wrong end of it):


          Dr Wieslaw Maslowski: I think the media is definitely getting much more interested and the society is trying to understand what is happening out there, not only in the Arctic but also the ice shelf around Antarctica and so forth. So, definitely the interest and demand for information is much higher than couple years ago. My statement you quoted and was printed in The New York Times of 2013, my first presentation where I actually had this projection stated exclusively was about 4 or 5 years ago in San Francisco, at American Geophysical Union poll meeting. So, I’m not actually upgrading my projection, I’m just saying that it may happen sooner but we were one of the early people who were saying that it might happen within the next decade, instead of by the end of this century.

          So you can’t blame the reporter, because it’s an interview and the full transcript is quoted not just an out-of-context sound bite.

          I would presume you are not going to attempt to claim that Dr Wieslaw Maslowski is not a suitably qualified scientist? He has worked for NOAA, and various universities, has a PhD in Oceanography.

        • Tel says:


          Here’s another one. David Barber predicting an ice-free North Pole by 2015 (he started with somewhere between 2013 and 2030 but then picked 2015 as the most likely year).

          Almost 300 scientists from 15 countries took part in the nine-month project, based on the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen.

          The conference, which runs all next week, will see more than 800 Arctic researchers from around the world convene to discuss the changes in the Arctic and what countries can do about the challenges and opportunities due to climate change there.

          Mr. Barber has said before that the Arctic basin would be free of summer sea ice sometime between 2013 and 2030.

          But their research about recent changes in the Arctic has allowed them to pinpoint the date even closer: “2007 was a really big drawback year — it lost a lot,” Mr. Barber said.

          “In 2008, it recovered a bit, but my research shows there isn’t anything to instil confidence in … we’re expecting 2009 will be another year of low ice.” Mr. Barber said that’s because the ice that grew back in 2008 is thin — not the thicker multi-year ice — so he expects it will disappear quickly.

        • Tel says:


          This week, after reviewing his own new data, NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

          From the guy’s bio at NASA he sure has plenty of climate science credentials:

          Dr. H. Jay Zwally has been extensively involved in glaciology and polar research since 1972. His primary research interests are observing and modeling the dynamics and variability of polar ice, including analysis of long-term sea ice variations, determination of ice sheet mass balance, and studies of atmosphere-ice-ocean processes.

          Maybe the National Geographic quoted him wrong or something, but this sort of article is what whips the public and the politicians into a frenzy. Now that the climate scientists have been pushing their message of doom onto the general public, they have to take personal responsibility for the outcome of that.

        • Tel says:

          This guy is only a PhD student:


          For the record—I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer.

          An event unprecedented in human history is today, this very moment, transpiring in the Arctic Ocean.

          The cracks in the sea ice that I reported on my Sierra Club Canada blog and elsewhere over the last several days have spread and at this moment the entire sea ice sheet (or about 99 percent of it) covering the Arctic Ocean is on the move. Clockwise. The ice is thin, and slushy, and breaking apart.

          This is abrupt climate change in real-time.

          He repeated the same prediction on his own blog as well, so can’t blame those naughty journalists for that one. For the record, he got it wrong.

        • Tel says:


          Noting that its ice sheet had reached a historical low of 3m sq. km last summer – it covered around 7.5m sq. km as recently as 2000 – Orheim told Xinhua that “if Norway’s average temperature this year equals that in 2007, the ice cap in the Arctic will all melt away.” Barring this disaster, Orheim predicted that excess carbon dioxide emissions and higher average temperatures would unpredictably alter the region’s fragile ecosystems.

          • Harold says:

            As your quote said there were 800 climate scientists at the conference. This is why we need to consolidate the findings into a “best prediction”. This consolidated opinion could perhaps be called “climate science”, and it does not predict ice free Arctic any time soon. Some individual scientists have different opinions, and they believe the consolidated opinion is far too conservative. Some said it would be ice free much sooner- even as soon as 2012. Even those that are on the earliest end of the scale give a range, and I doubt that you will find a peer-reviewed prediction that it will be ice free by 2013.

            Your National Geographic article sheds some light on how things have panned out in recent years – it says “So scientists in recent days have been asking themselves these questions: Was the record melt seen all over the Arctic in 2007 a blip amid relentless and steady warming? Or has everything sped up to a new climate cycle that goes beyond the worst case scenarios presented by computer models?” Well, 2012 smashed that record, so the record melt of 2007 may not be a blip. You will notice that the argument is whether the rate of melting has accelerated far above previous predictions, not whether there is increase in melting.

            So you could cherry pick a few media speculations of climate scientists and mis-represent these as “climate science”, or you could look at the big picture. What you do depends on whether you want to reinforce your opinion or find out what is happening.

    • Richie says:


    • Ken P says:

      “You compare the predictions of climate scientists to the predictions of partisan “economists” who provide “theories” that are in no way logical to support their beliefs that hyperinflation is always around the corner.”

      So when economists say that increasing the “money-supply to goods ratio” will cause money to be less valuable with respect to goods, they are being “partisan”? Please explain.

      The climate assessments that dominate are far from being free of partisanship (as in political influence). The IPCC document is modified by governments around the world before being released. Actual predictions published by many climate scientists in recent years are much lower than IPCC predictions as are the actual data.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      The level of ignorance is, once again, laughable. Clearly, you don’t understand the way the global monetary system works, or the way climate science works. You’re so confident despite being so far from anything that could be remotely considered an intelligent, informed opinion. You make fun of those whose beliefs are grounded in theoretical and deductive evidence while providing oft debunked “facts” to support your misplaced beliefs. If you weren’t so annoyingly confident, I would feel sorry for your stupidity. You compare the predictions of climate skeptics to the predictions of partisan “economists” who provide “theories” that are in no way logical to support their beliefs that hyperinflation is always around the corner. The fact that it never comes just furthers your belief that it has to come eventually, because how can they “print” so little money without hyperdeflation. The lessons of history are lost on you ignoramuses. Keep comparing scientific views to denialism and half-truths. I love all of your “evidence,” by the way. Hahahahaha idiot.

    • Oztrian says:

      It’s a case of two hockey sticks:

      Michael Mann’s kinda funny-lookin one

      and Ben Bernanke’s against-the-rules one

      Plus, of course, the zero on Ben’s ordinate is absolute, whereas Michael’s is relative, an artifact of the graph itself.

  13. Ken P says:

    The elephant in the room is inflation predictions. There are obviously large increases in asset prices. Some argue that broad money shrank enough to dwarf any impact from increases in M1. A good argument can be made that the influx of funds is bloating financial institutions and being diverted to other financial investments never reaching the consumer. The rate of increase in credit market debt (around 4% per year) is at an all time low (since recording began in 1949). Manufacturers are doing a lot of cost cutting to maintain profit margins without increasing profits. There’s also money demand, money velocity…

    What other factors are important and/or what is not a factor that I have mentioned?

    What I did above was explain away the lack of consistency of predictions by pointing to confounding factors. It’s basically the same thing as explaining away warming predictions by blaming aerosols. I think most people only accept such arguments if it is supporting their own lack of predictability, while considering it “excuse making” if it supports the lack of predictability of those with opposing views.

    • Tel says:

      There’s been a big shift of apparent wealth as the so called “middle classes” who had most of their wealth invested in their houses, while also expecting pretty good wages at their middle class jobs, have found wealth shifting away from them: their houses have gone down in value, many of them lost their jobs, others had to accept a drop in wages, and so on. From this perspective we are looking at deflationary forces.

      However the deflation has been counter-balanced by the inflationary force of money printing and to be fair, Bernanke did a pretty good job of keeping the Producer Price Index stable in the past few years. That means the US dollar is roughly speaking sitting as a commodity based currency (but no guarantee it will stay that way). However, this new money injection has been introduced in favour of the politically connected, so only a small number of people get the opportunity to soak up half a billion tax dollars on a bogus website. The loss of wealth in one area has been balanced by gain of wealth in other areas… effectively a wealth transfer. The macro-economic aggregates appear to b e stable, but the structure underneath is not stable.

      While house prices go down, food and fuel prices go up, also expanding student loans are pushing up the price of education, so while factory workers have lost their jobs, all sorts of student services and educational industry jobs have been doing great… driven by politics, not by economics.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Lower home prices means more poor people can buy homes.

        Lower producer prices means more producer goods can be purchased, which means more production of consumer goods, which means more poor people can buy consumer goods.

        Higher prices isn’t necessarily a good thing. Saying Bernanke did a “pretty good job” implies it is.

        • Tel says:


          If you look at the most recent part of the graph it has levelled off, for maybe the past few years. Clearly that couldn’t have been an accident, so there has been a deliberate attempt to stabilize the US dollar, which is a good thing.

          On it’s own, a stable dollar won’t fix the world, but in comparison the George W Bush years after 2000 were much worse, so I would put Bernanke ahead of Greenspan all things considered.

  14. gofx says:

    @Ken P. I’m fine with alarmists. “Accepters” is a rhetorical term to turn their own language and propaganda that anyone who disagrees (“deniers”) is a non-thinking fool. No, it is not an attempt to discuss laboratory physics/chemistry. It is they who have taken 8th grade science and concluded that complex, linear and nonlinear geophysical and cosmic phenomena and systems can be predicted with a precision that justifies enormous control of peoples lives (by them). Its as if they learned as children that you can burn leaves with the sun and a magnifying glass and therefore we must get rid of windows.

  15. gofx says:

    Ken P – I think my response to you was “eaten”. The gist is:

    Yes, alarmists is fine. The term “accepters” is a rhetorical parry to respond to the alarmist’s characterization of “deniers” as unthinking. They seem to want to take the science we learned in junior high school and use that to convince us that it allows them to predict nonlinear geophysical systems with a precision that allows them to exert enormous control over our lives. It’s as if they learned as children to burn leaves with the sun and a magnifying glass and now want to ban windows.

    • Ken P says:

      Ok I see where the term came from. The non-linearity of CO2 effect is pretty important. For example, if it takes a doubling of CO2 to go up 2.5 degrees, it would take a quadrupling to go up 5 degrees. That would be an enormous amount of CO2 to generate.

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