Any religion, meanwhile, has its heretics, and global warming is no exception.
That staggeringly anti-scientific statement (page 170) is just one of many, many pieces of outright nonsense from SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. In fact, human-caused global warming is well-established science, far better established than any aspect of economics.
In other words: it’s illogical to believe in a carbon-induced warming apocalypse and believe that such an apocalypse can be averted simply by curtailing new carbon emissions.
Hard to believe such an illogical statement (page 203) comes from Levitt and Dubner, the same folks who wrote the runaway bestseller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist explores the Hidden Side of Everything.
For the record, it’s perfectly logical to believe that — indeed, I daresay most of the world’s leading climate scientists believe that if you could curtail all new carbon emissions (including from deforestation) starting now (or even starting soon), you would indeed avoid apocaplyse. None, however, would use the loaded word “simply” I’m sure and most, like Hansen, would like to go from curtailing emissions to being carbon negative as soon as possible. The Superfreaks, however, are simultaneously skeptical of global warming science, critical of all mitigation measures, but certain that geo-engineering using sulfate aerosols is the answer.
“Rogue” is a good word for Levitt, but I think “contrarian” is more apt. Sadly, for Levitt’s readers and reputation, he decided to adopt the contrarian view of global warming, which takes him far outside of his expertise. As is common among smart people who know virtually nothing about climate science or solutions and get it so very wrong, he relies on other smart contrarians who know virtually nothing about climate science or solutions. In particular, he leans heavily on Nathan Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft, who has a reputation for brilliance, which he and the Superfreaks utterly shred in this book:
“A lot of the things that people say would be good things probably aren’t,” Myrhvold says. As an example he points to solar power. “The problem with solar cells is that they’re black, because they are designed to absorb light from the sun. But only about 12% gets turned into electricity, and the rest is reradiated as heat — which contributed to global warming.”
Impressive — three and a half major howlers in one tiny paragraph (p 187). California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld called this “patent nonsense,” when I read it to him. And Myhrvold is the guy, according to the Superfreaks, of which Bill Gates once said, “I don’t know anyone I would say is smarter than Nathan.” This should be the definitive proof that smarts in one area do not necessarily translate at all
In olden days, we called such folks Artistes of Bullshit, but now I’m gonna call them F.A.K.E.R.s — Famous “Authorities” whose Knowledge (of climate) is Extremely Rudimentary [Error-riddled? I'm still working on this acronym].
The most famous FAKER was Michael Crichton. I thought Freeman Dyson was the leading FAKER today, but Myhrvold makes Dyson sound like James Hansen. I will devote an entire blog post to the BS peddled here by Myhrvold (who now runs Intellectual Ventures) because I’m sure he’s got the ear of a lot of well-meaning, influential, but easily duped, people like Levitt and Dubner — see Error-riddled ‘Superfreakonomics’, Part 2: Who else have Nathan Myhrvold and the Groupthinkers at Intellectual Ventures duped and confused? Would you believe Bill Gates and Warren Buffett?
Here are the howlers in that paragraph for the record: