03 December 2009


Robert Murphy quotes from one of the emails leaked the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia:
The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty! Apologist Responses to Climategate Misconstrue the Real Debate (Quantitative, not Qualitative)
Mr Murphy goes on to say:
....the above email is simply jaw-dropping. If the climate scientists cannot tell if a particular remedy is working, it means that they aren’t exactly sure how the climate would have evolved in the absence of such a remedy. In other words, Trenberth at least is admitting that he is not at all confident in the precise, quantitative predictions that the alarmists are citing as proof of the need for immediate government intervention. And this expression of doubt wasn’t from the distant past: Trenberth sent the above email in October of this year!
Precisely so: there's little point on embarking on policies if we cannot, or don't bother to, measure how effective they are. Sadly, such fecklessness is typical of most government interventions (see this paper by Stephen van Evera). It's irresponsible, wasteful, and often corrupt. It's also quite normal and generally accepted, and Kyoto-Copenhagen is simply an extrapolation of it onto a global scale.

Which is why I advocate Climate Stability Bonds, which would inextricably bind all policies, activities and projects to objectively verifiable targets and indicators. Governments would not have to accept models of climate sensitivity - or indeed any other climate data - from scientists as true or false: under a bond regime assessment of that information would be done by would-be investors in the bonds. These people, or institutions, would have incentives to respond rapidly to our rapidly expanding scientific knowledge - unlike the Kyoto-Copenhagen approach, which assumes that we already know all the important causes and consequences of climate change.

Quantitative targets would be built into the Climate Stability Bond approach; but the beauty of the bonds is that they don't assume fixed relationships between interventions (cutting greenhouse gas emissions, for instance) and how climate will respond. That would be up to bondholders to work out themselves; at their own risk, and in ways that respond continually to new information. I think that's far preferable to whatever agreement will come out of Copenhagen. You can be sure that if there is such an agreement, the single impact that will be monitored assiduously and unambigously will not be that on climate, but rather the money flows from rich to poor countries.

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