04 Sep 2009

TokyoTom Moving the Goalposts?

All Posts, Free Travel Advice No Comments

As longtime readers of Free Advice know, my two biggest critics (in terms of accusations, not necessarily weight) are Silas Barta and TokyoTom. They are members of the very tiny set formed by the intersection of “Extreme Libertarians” and “Global Warming Alarmists.” (And I believe they are the only two elements of the intersection of the prior set with “Readers of Free Advice.”)

Before proceeding with the main point of this post, let me mention two interesting tidbits about TokyoTom. First, I have dubbed him the Rosa Parks of cap-and-trade. (See the second-last paragraph here.) Second, drawing on my skills that were last deployed when cracking the German’s Enigma code, I have realized that “TokyoTom” is actually a subliminal activation code: “To Kyoto M”. I fear that “M” is the control name given to Barack Obama during his programming.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the introductions, on to the substance: In this Potpourri post, I linked to Chip Knappenberger’s discussion of a forthcoming Lindzen/Choi paper which estimates that the global climate’s sensitivity to CO2 is actually one-sixth the IPCC’s best-guess. To this, TokyoTom responded (and I post it here under the spotlight with his prior permission):

Bob, I gotta say that your comments on climate science are both overly eager and predictable.

As for Lindzen, the paper hasn’t even been published yet and already guys like Bradley and Knappenberger are – as they are paid to do – blogging it around like it’s gospel. Do you share a similar need to rush these things?

Furthermore, where is your common, real-world sense on the climate “sensitivity” (amount of average temp [increase] w/ a CO2 doubling)? The average temp has risen only 0.6 C in the last half century, to a peak we have maintained for the past decade, and the Arctic and all of the world’s glaciers are visibly thawing, and a host of other changes that affect human activities and ecosystems are underway – based almost wholly on emissions that occurred decades ago.

Regardless of what the temperature “sensitivity” to a doubling turns out to be – and recent emissions and those looming over the next decades are very likely to have a price – it should be crystal clear that the climate is exquisitely sensitive to even small AVERAGE temperature changes (which are more pronounced up North).

My quick responses:

(1) The Lindzen/Choi paper has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. This is standard practice to discuss academic papers once they’ve been accepted, meaning the referees have signed off and the editor is happy. It can take months or even years for the thing to actually turn up in print. (For example, my Nordhaus critique was officially accepted by Bob Higgs’ journal I think last May or so, and I believe it’s not actually appearing until this month.) Since the fate of the global economy and climate hangs in the balance, I would think TokyoTom would want the latest, peer-reviewed arguments and data to enter the discussion.

(2) Note well the part I put in bold. TokyoTom doesn’t perhaps realize it, but what he is saying is, “Even if it turns out that the impact of CO2 emissions on global temperatures is one-sixth what the models current assume, nonetheless the observed warming of the 20th century is almost wholly due to CO2 emissions during the 20th century. And so that’s why emissions need to be capped–ideally by the market, but if not possible then by governments–before it’s too late.” I don’t think Tom’s position will hold up here.

(3) To anticipate one possible response, I believe Silas Barta’s own position is that large-scale CO2 emissions from industrial activities constitute a form of property rights violations on people around the world, and thus it shouldn’t matter to libertarians whether the climate sensitivity is 3C or 0.01C; aggression is aggression. However, the problem with this argument (if indeed Silas would go this route–I am NOT saying this is what he would say!) is that the whole reason we are classifying it as aggression in the first place, is because of the alleged contribution to climate change. After all, nobody is advocating a cap on how many times a day you can whisper in your own basement, since there is no demonstrable harm that this causes to other people. This is true, even though scientists could show (with sufficiently powerful equipment) that whispering in your basement has physical impacts on people in Bangladesh.

OK, let the tidal wave ensue… (And I’m referring to hostile comments, not my preferred climate outcome.)

Comments are closed.