Nathan Myhrvold, who Levitt and Dubner call the “polymath’s polymath” — who is one of the primary “experts” the authors rely on to make the case for their central geoengineering-only approach to global warming — has just publicly repudiated that approach. Apparently he never read the chapter — or didn’t understand it if he did. And apparently in their rush to print this “rebuttal” to my debunkings, the Superfreaks didn’t bother to read it closely, since he just wrote this jaw-dropper on their blog:
Geoengineering is proposed only as a last resort to try to reduce or cope with the even greater harms of global warming!
… The point of the chapter in SuperFreakonomics is that geoengineering might be good insurance in case we don’t get global warming under control.
You can’t make this stuff up.
As the Union of Concerned Scientists posted here about Myhrvold’s amazing defense repudiation of Superfreakonomics:
That is exactly the opposite of what the book argues and represents a complete repudiation of the chapter from one of the main sources on which Levitt and Dubner relied.
Or go to the Bloomberg interview of Dubner and Caldeira that backs up my reporting on error-riddled Superfreakonomics for an independent view of what the book is about — and what the authors think the book is about:
Caldeira, who is researching the idea [of aerosol geoengineering], argues that it can succeed only if we first reduce emissions. Otherwise, he says, geoengineering can’t begin to cope with the collateral damage, such as acidic oceans killing off shellfish.
Levitt and Dubner ignore his view and champion his work as a permanent substitute for emissions cuts. When I told Dubner that Caldeira doesn’t believe geoengineering can work without cutting emissions, he was baffled. “I don’t understand how that could be,” he said. In other words, the Freakonomics guys just flunked climate science.
Are you baffled also? The two leading experts (well, one expert and one F.A.K.E.R.) that Dubner and Leavitt relied on for their geoengineering-only solution don’t believe in it! Well, Caldeira doesn’t believe in it. As we’ll see, it’s impossible to figure out what Myhrvold believes.
Myhrvold is not a ”polymath’s polymath.” He repudiates the Superfreaks, so he’s a contrarian’s contrarian.
Why exactly does Myhrvold think the Superfreaks were so desperate to push the (incorrect) statement about Caldeira that his “research tells him that carbon dioxide is not the right villain”? Since the Superfreaks made me take the PDF of the book down, go to the NPR interview of Levitt (transcript here):