Saturday, January 28, 2012

Politics and models

This morning's LA Times reports that, "California orders hike in number of super clean cars ... The state's air board issues new rules to automakers as part of its effort to cut greenhouse gases."  Mandating sales of items that are not in demand may take some doing (including some spending of public funds), but what the hell.

In the name of "green", anything goes.  It gets more nutty when one notes that were California to shut down entirely, it would make little difference to the atmosphere (the biggest commons of them all) in light of the coal being burned throughout the world.

Yesterday's WSJ included this op-ed signed by sixteen prominent scientists:  "No Need to Panic About Global Warming ... There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy."  Here is more:

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"
Not only are long-run forecasts rife with uncertainty. Confidence bands keep widening, but that's for cases where there is a plausible and stationary model.  The sixteen scientists who signed the op-ed are disputing that there is even a basic model from which to forecast.

Speaking of the long run, much of the world is moving to cleaner natural gas which is cheaper than ever.  (H/T Carpe Diem)

And speaking of basic models, some of us thought that Adam Smith struck a fatal blow at mercantalism in 1776.  But read almost any newspaper and note that mercantilism lives.  Last week's State of the Union speech by Pres. Obama was replete with mercantalist rhetoric and policies, most of which received loud cheers from hundreds of our elite in the audience.