Books, biographical stuff and uncertainty

Moving On

I mentioned in a recent essay that my new novel, Moving On, was about to be launched. Well, launched it has been, and it is now on sale. You should be able to get it by going to your nearest good bookseller and asking them to order it for you, which they will do from me at Danbee Books, unless you live in Canberra, where most bookshops have my books (or in Sydney, at Gleebooks in Glebe and Dulwich Hill). The price is $29.95, which includes post and packing, for those ordering on line. I use PayPal, which is a convenient system, at least for me. You can also buy the book at Amazon Kindle, where you will pay $9.13.

The story received a positive review in the Sydney Morning Herald, by Kerryn Goldsworthy, and both launchers were highly positive. My favourite response so far has been a young woman who found she could not start on making dinner until she finished the last thirty or so pages. When I next saw her she cried, ‘When’s the sequel coming?’ That bowled me, because I do not have a sequel in mind, though I’d thought of it because my wife raised the possibility. I do think it is the best novel I have written so far, and that is the view of some readers, too.

Liberal and conservative

Some months ago I wrote an essay for Quadrant on my intellectual journey, following similar essays there by John Carroll and the late John Hirst, both of whom had encouraged me to write my own. It appeared in last month’s issue of the magazine, and you can read it here. I thought of running it as two separate essays (it’s too long for one post), but decided finally that anyone who wanted to read it could do so more easily this way. I am happy to talk about any aspect of it if readers would like me to.


I have written before about William Briggs, the American statistician, and have corresponded with him, too. He has now published a book called Uncertainty. The Soul of Modeling, Probability and Statistics (Springer, 2016). A friend lent his copy to me, and I’ve now read it twice. It is as much about philosophy as it is about probability, but then Briggs would say that ‘probability’ is at its heart a matter of philosophy. I started to read the book a third time, but I’ll soon have to give it back. Pity, because like all good and hard books, you need to re-read unless you are an expert in the field, and I am neither by training a philosopher nor a statistician.

Why is it so good? Because, for me, he picks up areas of doubt that many people will have about uncertainty and probability (there are many books on the matter), and illuminates them helpfully. Judith Curry, whose website is on my blogroll, thinks that uncertainty is at the core of the problem with the orthodox view of ‘climate change’ (the inverted commas signify that this is the UNFCCC version of the term, meaning climate change caused by human activity). As I have tried to establish in my Perspective series, around every major proposition put forward by the orthodoxy there is considerable uncertainty. The orthodox, the believers, dismiss the uncertainty. They will tell you that 97 per cent of climate scientists agree, or that there are many separate illustrations of whatever point it is, or that the learned academies all say the same thing. But the uncertainty doesn’t go away. As Briggs would say, it is inherent in the data that is brought forward in the models used, and in the construction of the models themselves. Moreover, it should always be mentioned. Always.

For Briggs, uncertainty is about truth, and it is a sign that we do not know the truth. The whole point of science is to discover the truth about something, usually the truth about the cause of something. But truth for the most part resides in our heads, other than whether particular objects exist or not. Probability is an approach to truth. Some probabilities you can ascribe numbers to, but most you can’t. Most enlightening to me was his assertion, well argued, that ‘chance’ is not a cause of anything, and we shouldn’t think it is, let alone accept that others have somehow learned its mysterious causative potency. Equally, ‘randomness’ is not a cause of anything either. It is yet another sign that we do not know the cause of something.

In the well-known coin-toss experiment, it is not ‘chance’ that determines whether the coin shows heads or tails. The outcome of each toss is in principle knowable, if we could measure all the variables, the surface the coin fell to, the air movement at the time of the toss, the particular force given by the coin-tosser, and so on. But, at least as yet, we can’t. So to say that the result is random, or ‘determined by chance’ (a phrase Briggs would detest), is simply to say that we don’t know what has caused the result — unless we have good reason to believe that the coin has been tampered with.

As Briggs moves from philosophy into probability we get to see his philosophical position in practice, and I found that process most impressive. He argues that probability has been misunderstood and consistently misused because of what he calls ‘the We-Must-Do-Something fallacy’. Decision-makers need clear results on which to make decisions, and that pushes statisticians to construct their models so that they will produce numbers, and numbers that have ‘significance’. There is a real distinction between ‘significance’ in statistics and ‘importance’ in the real world. For Briggs the only viable way to go is to construct a model with a clear predictive purpose, and then test it on new data. If the outcome accords with the model (theory, hypothesis, supposition) then the model has some skill. It does NOT mean that the model causes the outcome, let alone that variation from the predicted outcome suggests that the data aren’t quite right.

Briggs loathes ‘scientism’, which he says rests on the belief that Only that which is measurable becomes important. He also loathes the use of regression, because it assumes  a straight-line relationship between the parameters of the observations. His proposal is that you locate each of the paired observations on some sort of grid, and look at what you have found. Such ‘eye-balling’ will tell you something, but applying regression is a poor idea. There will be a temptation to get rid of outliers, to introduce ‘smoothing’ techniques of one kind or another, all in the pursuit of what he calls, disparagingly a ‘wee p-value’. Even worse, having found a nice trend line that supports your view, you will forget that the implication of a trend line is that the data should continue to show that slope both before and after your starting and ending points in time.

Most of his awful examples, drawn from the literature, are from the medical and epidemiological fields, and he offers what he calls ‘the epidemiological fallacy’, which I have observed elsewhere but without knowing that title. This is where the researcher says ‘X causes Y’ but never actually measures X. Worse the researcher then uses standard statistics to impute proof of cause. To give a Briggs example, a paper exploring the formation of Republican loyalties saw 4th July celebrations as the formative cause, but in fact used precipitation data for 4th July in towns where the participants said they lived where they were young, the assumption being that where 4th July parades were (presumably) washed out no Republican loyalties were generated. All you can say is, oh dear. Yes, it was peer reviewed.

It is such a good book, and I recommend it without reservation. But it is a book to read and study. There are no silver bullets or quick fixes.

Join the discussion 52 Comments

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    “The outcome of each toss is in principle knowable, if we could measure all the variables, the surface the coin fell to, the air movement at the time of the toss, the particular force given by the coin-tosser, and so on”

    Every gambler believes this, and they’re all wrong. The casinos love them.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      They believe without doing the measurement, which they can’t do. But Briggs argues that it is in principle measurable in a laboratory setting.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        The last milli or microsecond of a toss can always be influenced by a random variable, so the whole theory is nonsense.

        Are you seriously contending there is no such thing as a random variable? What about climate? LOL

        • margaret says:

          More to the point are you both seriously contending it matters? You know, in the scheme of things generally who gives a rat’s?
          Not that “fairly stupid guy who shouldn’t be running for President” … to paraphrase and insert the opposite to Neville’s opinion.
          That fairly stupid guy doesn’t give a rat’s – he sets his pussies on to them and they’re cactus.

        • Don Aitkin says:


          You need to read the book. But I think Briggs would ask you what you thought the cause of that last millisecond effect was. He would say that you use ‘random’ because you don’t know the truth about it. If you did, you’d be able ascribe the cause accurately.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Butterflies in Patagonia, Don. The DNA recombination that produced you was random – don’t bullshit that that was predictable with more information.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            … and if you had thought about it for at least ten seconds, you would have realised this is just another deterministic model of the universe.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Bryan : ‘butterflies in Patagonia’
            Briggs (and I) are not saying that we can ourselves know such things now, but that in principle everything has a cause, and the cause is in principle discoverable. Don’t you think that everything has, finally a cause, or perhaps several causes coming together?

            Even the big bang, if that indeed was the start of everything.

          • Nga says:

            On this I have to agree with you, Donald. I can’t make any sense out Bryan’s objection. Just because something is so complicated that all the variables will arguably never be quantifiable (such as the result of a particular coin toss) doesn’t mean it is not a caused phenomena. However, for the purposes of statistics, the result of a coin toss is still a chance event.

            Of course, once we accept this, we also have to (1) abandon the idea of free will and (2) accept that everything that happens is predetermined. To put it another way, everything that has happened since the Big Bang (providing that genesis story is correct) right down to the current location of every atom and the substance of every thought that has ever formed, unerringly follows a script. These guys develop this line of thinking more fully:

            Of course, none of these ideas, including the ones you attribute to Briggs, are in any way new. In fact this particular field has been ploughed a trillion times by philosophers and pundits since the year dot.

  • margaret says:

    “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.”

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      margaret, statistics are used, not to provide certainty, but to provide a measure uncertainty, as any decent statistician will tell you.

      • margaret says:

        What about the indecent ones?

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          By any decent statistical measure, you’re a troll. The indecent ones would simply enjoy the exposure.

          • margaret says:

            Yes, a friend has outed me and so, I bid one and all adieu. This time, as the old adage goes – third time proves it.
            I hope that at least a little entertainment has been gained during my presence chaps.

          • margaret says:

            Post Script:
            with the outing has come access to Moving On. And now is the time for me to do just that.

          • margaret says:

            PPS Apologies for more farewells than Nellie Melba, but keep an eye out for my article.
            My Life as a Troll is currently in the pipeline but fear not, no names will be mentioned.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Gee, marg, no need to be like that. We need you.

            We would be lost without trolls and pussies.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          Margaret, you were, and are, an annoying troll, who contributed no information and little entertainment. Read the Catallaxy advice again.

  • PeterE says:

    I liked Moving On. It is well written and an engaging story. The themes are varieties of love and the permutations and combinations between the four main characters – who men and two women.

    • margaret says:

      Anne Deveson was interviewed in 2004 for Australian Biography. It’s interesting to read her account of marriage to an older broadcaster who she became more accomplished than. (Badly expressed, apologies). I thought the novel Moving On was a very old fashioned take on relationships.

      Anne Deveson – “These terrible sort of dinner parties with um … angry husband and … [laugh] … and indignant wife who weren’t going to give in … and where, you know, I would certainly pick him up on anything that I thought was putting me back in my box. And I think, to give Ellis credit, he did try and understand the changes.

      There’s an interview that’s become quite well-known that he did with Germaine Greer at the very beginning of these shifts. We’d been … after we had been away in Italy for this year and we came back, everything had shifted. I felt like Rip Van Winkle. And Ellis, around that time, interviewed Greer and you could see that he was trying to understand it, but at that stage he simply couldn’t. And he … and as a result he sounded terribly patronising and he’d say things like, you know, ‘Tell me Doctor Greer … do you actually hate men?’ And she’d say, ‘What a ridiculous question.’ And she said … she said something to him and he said, ‘Ouch, that’s a bit below the belt, isn’t it.’ And she said, ‘If you think I’m the slightest bit interested in what’s pattering around beneath your belt, Mr Blain, you’re very much mistaken.’ So she gave him a hard time. Um … I think he did try … probably more than a lot of men of his generation.”

      • Don Aitkin says:

        I knew Anne quite well for a brief period, when she had a relationship with a visiting savant, Bob Theobald, whom I also knew. Indeed, I did his eulogy ( I liked her spirit and her intelligence. His death was a terrible blow to her, as they were to be married.

        Sorry you didn’t like the novel. Yours is the first negative comment I have received, but no doubt there will be others. An old-fashioned view of relationships? The young readers thought it was spot on.

        Ah well, that’s what diversity is all about!

        • margaret says:

          Well, as you yourself once wrote, you were experimenting with the genre of “chick lit”. It’s not my cuppa, unless it’s funny.

  • margaret says:

    I will ask my local library if their book budget can include the purchase of a copy.

  • Nga says:

    Briggs would appear to be an incompetent nobody who comes out with all manner of crap. Here is one example of him being called out on it:

    I imagine it would have occurred to anyone with half a brain that the result of a coin toss, and other events commonly described as random, is “caused”. I think I first had that thought while studying high school statistics. But for statistical purposes, unless some bias exists, the result of a coin toss is a thing of chance.

    The problem with the use and abuse of p-values is also well known and has been much discussed by statisticians, academics, researchers and scientific journals, especially over the past ~18 months. Those of us who with a genuine general interest in science have of course already taken note of the American Statistical Association’s guidance on this issue, which is in this media release and the linked to paper:

    • Don Aitkin says:

      So a professor of statistics at Cornell is an incompetent nobody? Wow. You need to read Briggs’s book, Nga. Quickly. Your comments are simply empty of worth.

      • Nga says:

        Donald, try reading Briggs’ blog: The man is clearly a deranged nutter, not to mention a fire and brimstone dog botherer and gay basher. I could find not a single jot of evidence that suggests Briggs is held in high regard in the world of statistics and his peer reviewed publishing record is pitiful. Academia is full of dreadful deadwood, so big-noting your new best boy based on his job title leaves me stone cold.

        But more importantly, you still have not explained why you falsely claimed that the AEMO’s official position was that the SA blackout resulted from wind turbines failing due to high winds. You have also failed to explain why, after I exposed your falsehood, you took it upon yourself to accuse the AEMO of being part of a grand conspiracy to exonerate wind! I’m all ears, Donald. Man up and explain yourself.

        • Don Aitkin says:


          I do not respond to insults, either of others or of me. Insults get discussion nowhere. To take part in a discussion requires people to try to understand what the point is. You don’t do this, so what you say is empty of meaning.

          I’ve read the AEMO report again ( It argues that ‘system faults’ caused the wind turbines to fail. System faults are said to be sudden losses of power, characteristically caused by an arc from a transmitter to ground due to a lightning strike. The wind turbines, or most of them, could not ‘ride through’ these outages because of preset conditions. AEMO is working to find out how to avoid this in future. It is also plain that before the outages some of the wind turbines were reducing output because the wind speeds were too high, though, on the evidence given by AEMO, this was not a material problem. All the fossil fuel suppliers rode through the outages until the wind turbines stopped. Then the Heywood interconnector to the grid was unable to supply any more, so the whole system shut down.It is also clear that the fallen pylons were not a problem.They were bypassed by other routes. AEMO controls the national market for electricity, and is a company whose shareholders are Australian governments (60 per cent) and industry participants (40 per cent).

          From my position it is still unclear (and the AEMO report is not its own last word) to what extent the winds were responsible. I have seen wind turbines not operating in high winds, but I do not know whether the cause was an over-ride or lack of need. Wind turbines have priority within the market — that is if they are generating power the system has to accept it, which suggests the former explanation. In short, we do not know enough yet. But I will concede that AEMO is arguing that wind speed was not the main cause.

          • Nga says:

            “I do not respond to insults, either of others or of me. Insults get discussion nowhere. “

            Don, you call those who disagree with you “climate botherers” and “alarmists” and you file all discussion of the mainstream scientific view on climate change under the heading, “religion”. You set the childish and unproductive tone of this blog in concrete on day one. Try leading by example and others, including me, will follow.

          • Nga says:

            Your potted history of what caused the SA blackout still does not reflect what was in the latest report and it still contains inaccuracies. For instance, you say:

            “It is also clear that the fallen pylons were not a problem.”

            Presumably when you say “pylons” you also mean the transmission lines and towers that were torn down. The AEMO report does not these events were not a causal factor in the blackout. The report very specifically notes that the causal impact of these events is indeterminate. Again you show that you did not actually read or fully understand the report. You also fail to mention a host of salient facts, including the two separate faults in the gas SRAS systems that should have kicked in and saved the day.

            Don, I put it to you that you decided before perusing the evidence that renewable energy was the culprit in the SA blackout and that you’ve manufactured a fantasy narrative, complete with a grand conspiracy theory involving the AEMO, to buttress this belief against the facts. I also put it to you that your mode of thought and action belie your claim to be a skeptic.

          • Don Aitkin says:


            You are not a prosecuting counsel and I am not a defendant. If you’d stay away from insults, you would get much further. The Preliminary report of 5/10 says, inter alia, that

            ‘The weather resulted in multiple transmission system faults including, in the space of 12 seconds, the loss of three major 275 kV transmission lines north of Adelaide. Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18hrs, following multiple faults in a short period, 315 MW of wind generation disconnected, affecting the region north of Adelaide. The uncontrolled reduction in generation increased the flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit and resulted in the interconnector overloading.’

            Apart from increasing the amount of wind generation that disconnected, the later report says nothing of consequence about the issue of the pylons. As I understand it, from these two reports and other discussion since 28/9, the transmission tower system had sufficient redundancy (just) to cope even when the towers had fallen. The fourth 275kV line turned out to be OK when it was inspected, but the managers decided not to take the risk on the night.

            Now I may be wrong about all this, but I was there, and I wrote in guarded terms at the time. If you disagree, please supply the terms you object to. I see no indication in what you have written that you know what you are talking about. I read both reports as they came out, and much other material as well. It is clear to me that we really don’t know what exactly happened on 28/9, and it may be some time before we do, and what, if anything, can be done to ensure that it does not happen again. The closing of the Victorian brown coal generating station seems to me to put even further strain on South Australia, and push Victoria towards the same uncertainty. I would be happy to be shown that i am wrong, but everything i have read suggests to me that wind and solar are not now and are unlikely to be in the next thirty years, any kind of efficient substitute for fossil-fuel grid power.

            I would have to say, Nga, that you are a waste of time as a contributor, and I shan’t take any further notice of your contributions other than to snip what I regard as coarse and crude remarks

          • Nga says:

            ” I read both reports as they came out, and much other material as well. It is clear to me that we really don’t know what exactly happened on 28/9, and it may be some time before we do, and what, if anything, can be done to ensure that it does not happen again. “

            48 hours ago you were adamant that you knew the cause to be strong winds disabling most of the wind turbines and you falsely said this is the official (i.e. AEMO) position. 24 hours ago you dropped the claim that your version of events is the AEMO position but you then accused the AEMO of being part of a pro-wind conspiracy. Two hours ago you adopted the new position that I quote above.

            You do not wish to engage in further discussions with me not because I am “a waste of time as a contributor”, on the contrary, you are unsettled because I have unpacked your bogus claims and shown you to be lacking in substance.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Ah, yes, Don, books, philosophy and uncertainty, the spice of life:

    Majormike1 says:

    “Much ado about nothing” – We are still in the 10% of the coldest years in the past 10,000, and the trend has been overall cooling since the Holocene Climatic Optimum over 6,000 years ago. We have been warming for 300 years, ending the coldest period of the past 10,000 years, the Little Ice Age. Now it appears that climate alarmists have enlisted El Ninos to buffer their increased CO2/climate change position. What was CO2 doing 6,000 years ago when it was much warmer? And why is temperature not responding to CO2’s sudden surge with a sudden surge of its own? Is it waiting for El Nino?

    “Waiting for El Nino” – that’s a promising book title.

    And “verifying” that climate uncertainty, Laframboise explains:

    “A policy cannot be considered evidence-based if the evidence on which it depends was never independently verified… News from the worlds of astrobiology, ecology, economics, chemistry, computer science, management studies, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, and physics all tell the same tale: ’peer-reviewed’ does not equal ’policy-ready’.”

    Fraudulent research makes it past gatekeepers at even the most prestigious journals.

    This has striking implications for climate change policy, and particularly for the IPCC, which relies on the credibility of the peer-review process to provide support for its conclusions, and is quick to dismiss research that has not been peer-reviewed.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      In terms of substance, ‘peer review’ is crap. It was intended to ensure that methods and experimental design were not flawed, it was never intended as some sort of stamp of approval.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Incidentally, Donna Laframboise contends that most of the ‘research’ on which the IPCC relies is not peer reviewed at all, and that many of its ‘experts’ are simply junior academics with little post-doctoral experience.

  • JMO says:

    The argument whether we can predict each toss of a coin if we knew all the variables depends whether we live in a deterministic universe, relativistic or quantum (a la Heisenberg) universe.
    Sir Isaac Newton saw the Universe as a clockwork universe set up by a creator and left to run like a clock – as humans we just had to work out the mechanics and the mathematics to predict what happens next. Well he was shown ultimately wrong, the search for the mythical planet Vulcan proved that. Einstein’s view was we live in a relativistic universe and he was proven correct when his theory of relativity showed that Vulcan is not needed to explain Mercury’s orbit. His theory has shown to be correct in numerous astronomical observation (eg the 1919 solar eclipse and the orbital motions of double neutron stars.
    Unfortunately Einstein relativistic universe was proved wrong, at the quanta level. Neil Bohr debated Einstein over Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Einstein played the the ultimate (and unscientific) trump card – God does not play dice with the Universe. But this argument did not hold. The observer, by the mere of observing, does affect the outcome. Finally the 1959 Bell experiment did prove we live in a quantum universe.

    Now the key question is: which of the 3 types of universes is the most relevant for correctly predicting the outcome of each coin toss?

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      So, like Schrödinger’s cat, that can be either alive or dead, the coin can have landed either heads or tails, and we won’t know until we look.

      • spangled drongo says:

        I thought Schrodinger’s cat could be BOTH alive and dead at the same time until we checked.

        It reminds me of sea level rise. Awa as Cli-Sci generally.

        Because no one can check exactly, the “experts” can make any claims they like and our resident trolls, true believers and the cli-religious can spout all the crap under the sun yet fool themselves that it is right.

        It’s why the fakery at the bakery exists and why the IPCC can keep the BS rolling forever.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          Its status is uncertain, It is not both. Observation tips the balance.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “Its status is uncertain, It is not both. Observation tips the balance.”

            Indeed, Bryan. It is just that when observation requires effort that most people are not either capable or prepared to apply, except through remote systems which are often vague, uncertain and considerably adjusted, true comprehensive observation is quite rare.

          • spangled drongo says:

            So BOTH alive and dead is effectively what’s being reported.

            And ideology will drag the argument out until undeniable observation will overwhelm the “debate”.

            But that could take a long time.

            In the meantime the smart money hangs sceptical

  • spangled drongo says:

    But here is the certain part amongst the uncertainty….

    Matt Ridley’s 4 points always need to be remembered:

    1. All environmental predictions of doom always are wrong;
    2. the models have been consistently wrong for more than 30 years;
    3. the best evidence indicates that climate sensitivity is relatively low;
    4. the climate science establishment has a vested interest in alarm.

  • Chris Warren says:

    I would not worry about the AMEO report nor about the SA power failure as this can be seen as a necessary part of the learning curve as we move from fossil energy.

    In fact, for me, a hopeful sign is the development of high capacity storage batteries, which should buffer the fluctuations from renewables.

    This is illustrated here:

    So presumably a bank of such batteries, with some development,, could ensure most households have power throughout the night or during cloudy weather.

  • Neville says:

    I don’t know how to get this through to people. Forget about the AEMO , here are the relevant couple of problems you have to deal with and absorb.
    The US Govt’s 2016 IEA report states that co2 emissions will increase by 34% by 2040. Mostly from the developing world or non OECD countries.

    And Lomborg’s team of maths stats and economic expert’s study before COP 21 informs us that there will be no measurable change in temp by 2100. That’s if we were miraculously able to actually follow COP 21 to the letter. But co2 emissions will actually increase so that argument is a joke.
    Also Lomborg uses the IEA data to show that solar and wind only generate 0.5% of TOTAL world energy today and this will only generate about 2.4% of TOTAL WORLD world energy by 2040. IOW super expensive, unreliable S&W are an absurd joke and will not change anything. I’ve shown many of the IEA pie graphs to back up my argument. Very simple science, very simple maths and very simple logic and reason. What is it people do no not understand about these outcomes? Here’s Lomborg’s summary of the PR 2015 study, please look at the graphs etc from this study. Of course if the world was stupid enough to keep funding this idiocy until 2100 it would waste endless trillions $ for no measurable change in temp at all.

    The mitigation of their so called CAGW is an easily understood fra-d and con.

  • Don Aitkin says:


    I think that what you put forward has indeed been read by people here, and the fact that no one argues with you much suggests that you are offering useful and real data.

    • Nga says:

      Don, no-one argues with Neville’s furious copy and pasting because of Brandolini’s Bullsh-t Asymmetry Principle:

      The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

      Lomborg is a slippery customer who isn’t taken seriously outside the fringe. I will however note that Lomborg’s “official” position, according to an FAQ on his website, is this:

      Yes. As Bjorn Lomborg argues in ‘Cool It’, we should focus on the smartest solutions to the problems that the world faces, whether we’re dealing with climate change … or anything else. Lomborg finds that the smartest way to tackle global warming is to invest heavily in R&D in non-carbon emitting technologies, which will enable everyone to switch over to cheaper-than-fossil-fuel technologies sooner and thus dramatically reduce the 21st century emissions. Specifically, he suggests a ten-fold increase in R&D in non-CO2 -emitting energy technologies like solar,wind, carbon capture, fusion, fission, energy conservation etc…. This is entirely in line with the top recommendation from the Copenhagen Consensus 2008, which includes some of the word’s top economists and five Nobel Laureates. Lomborg also supports a CO 2 tax comparable with the central or high estimates of CO2 damages. That means an estimate in the range of $2-14 per ton of CO 2, but not the unjustifiably high taxes of $20-40 implicit in Kyoto or the even higher ones ($85) suggested by the Stern report or Gore ($140). (my emphasis)

      You can barely get a cigarette paper between Lomborg’s action plan and my own, and that of other mainstreamers who you childishly and rudely dismiss as “Climate Botherers” and “Warmists”.

      But I certainly have no intention of wasting a few hours checking Lomborg’s latest numbers because the man is untrustworthy and life is too short.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “You can barely get a cigarette paper between Lomborg’s action plan and my own”

        Ah, the classic defence of the totalitarian left.

        It’s not the principle that counts, it’s the side.

  • Neville says:

    Don I just think that most alarmists couldn’t care less about data and the facts. Their religious belief is what motivates them. Labor told the electorate this year that OZ must reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 if we wanted to fight climate change. But under Rudd/Gillard OZ’s coal, gas and iron exports boomed to new record tonnages. So co2 emissions are apparently of no concern at all to these hypocrites.
    Yes Bolt and a few others highlight the Labor alarmist’s hypocrisy but usually receive abuse and condemnation for their honesty. The alarmist’s nonsense is very easy to understand , but most people are very timid and resist any commentary because they’ll be branded as deniers or flat-earthers or just pig ignorant etc. How could such an easily understood mitigation con be taken seriously by every country on earth?

  • JimboR says:

    “Most enlightening to me was his assertion, well argued, that ‘chance’ is not a cause of anything”

    Wow! Don I find it enlightening that you, particularly with your career and qualifications, have discovered this so late in life. It is consistent with your continued struggles with this aspect of climate science. Keep up the reading!

  • dlb says:

    At the end of your interesting essay Don, you say “Google Analytics tells me that three-quarters of my readers are under forty-five, which gives me hope for the future!”

    Being a sceptic, I would treat Google Analytics with as much credence as the GCMs used by climatologists.

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