"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" Bob Murphy, Implicit Apologist for Coal, Misconstrues the Real Debate & Lessons from "Climategate" - TT's Lost in Tokyo

Bob Murphy, Implicit Apologist for Coal, Misconstrues the Real Debate & Lessons from "Climategate"

Bob Murphy recently offered LvMI readers a post; "Apologist Responses to Climategate Misconstrue the Real Debate"; I left a few comments in response (minor edits).

(My apologies to Bob for  borrowing and tweaking his title.)

Bob, interesting title -

"Apologist Responses to Climategate Misconstrue the Real Debate (Quantitative, not Qualitative)"

Have you failed to notice that practically every commenter on threads here, as well as at "MasterResource" misunderstands and misconstrues precisely what you have spelled out?

Interesting place to post it, as well.  MasterResource? Isn`t that Rob Bradley`s so-called "free market" energy blog that bans libertarian commenters who dare to note:

- the blog`s failure to ever actually argue for freer energy markets or to criticize the dirty favors given under the status quo to coal, or

- the blog`s close affiliations with naked rent-seeking groups like IER (which Exxon expressly de-funded due to its no-longer "productive" stance on climate change)(and which pays you for your climate work) and American Energy Alliance?

See: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/search.aspx?q=bradley

It`s curious that you focus on climate "apologists", while ignoring how you yourself so adroitly act as one for the reflexive "skeptics":

- "It’s true, an email from Phil Jones by itself doesn’t make Richard Lindzen right or wrong, but when policymakers need to decide which scientific experts they can trust, then the CRU emails are very relevant."

Um, wouldn`t a "real" skeptic say you are both appealing to authority, and by referring to trust, dismissing some on an "ad hom" basis, without addressing their arguments?

- You slip by the obvious nonsense deliberately spouted by Limbaugh, Fox and others, by pretending they`re actually being reasonable:

"Of course, what Limbaugh and the Fox interviewer meant was, “The theory that says governments around the world need to heavily intervene in their energy sectors right away, or else our grandchildren will face climate catastrophes, cannot be justified by careful scientific research.”

Respectfully, hogwash. Why the effort to put lipstick on pigs?

While I find a fair bit of your post to be useful, other parts are misleading:

- "the issue isn’t, “Is ‘climate’ a useful theory to explain thermometer readings?” No, the real debate concerns very specific and quantitative disagreements."

This really misses the gist: the real scientific dispute about ONE aspect of climate science is about climate "sensitivity" - the long-term, multi-decadal average temperature response of the Earth`s surface temperature to a doubling of CO2 - and is a specific disagreement over quantities that can only be GUESSED at in advance and are very difficult to estimate even in retrospect.

You - like "skeptics" like Lindzen - totally ignore ocean acidification.

- "The reason QED (quantum electrodynamics) is powerful is that it allowed physicists to make very precise predictions that were experimentally verified."

It`s funny that you mention this, as if it implies we should ignore/discount climate science - until it can be "experimentally verified."  Well, we`re running the experiment right now, except we have no "control", no re-runs, and little or no control over the very experiment itself. Excuse me for not finding cnfort in this, or in your lack of willingness to address it.

- "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."

Bob, scientists all recognize that there is a great deal of unpredictibility/"noise" in the climate system; there simply are are NO "precise, quantitative predictions" that any scientist is making. I`m surprised you find anything surprising here.

- "`All the rest is economics.`   Since that is Schmidt’s view, it’s not surprising that he thinks Climategate is much ado about nothing."

I read this differently; Schmidt indicates, that from a scientists`s view,  we ought to immediately stop forcing the climate, but acknowledges that the decision is not his to make, and involves cost-benefit money/political decisions that belong to others.

- "Those of us who are not experts on climate models now have proof that the official line that “the science is settled” was a bluff."

It`s not clear what you actually mean here, Bob, but in any case you have absolutely no such thing.  The "official line" has always been a political argument about that society should respond to growing scientific knowledge; these emails do NOT alter the underlying knowledge.

- "but the confidence we should right now place in their modeling is much lower than what their biggest enthusiasts have been assuring us for years."

On what basis do you offer this opinion, and the implicit comfort that coal producers/utilities/their investors want to give us that burning all the rest of the world`s fossil fuels will leave the climate/oceans hunky-dory (ignoring all the dangerous gunk included it)?


Let me close with a note that, despite my criticisms, I commend Bob`s effort; I encourage him to continue to check that he`s not falling prey to sophisticated forms of self-delusion:


The Road Not Taken II: Austrians strive for a self-comforting irrelevancy on climate change, the greatest commons problem / rent-seeking game of our age

A few more "delusional" thoughts to John Quiggin on partisan perceptions & libertarian opposition to collective action

Published Mon, Dec 7 2009 8:48 PM by TokyoTom


# re: Bob Murphy, Implicit Apologist for Coal, Misconstrues the Real Debate & Lessons from "Climategate"

Monday, December 7, 2009 7:41 AM by jtucker

TT, I was really hoping that this would be your much-awaited response to "climategate" - a clear and cogent analysis of what matters here and the degree to which it might have changed your outlook. You are a real expert and I really want to know what you think. Did I miss your analysis?

# re: Bob Murphy, Implicit Apologist for Coal, Misconstrues the Real Debate & Lessons from "Climategate"

Monday, December 7, 2009 7:55 AM by TokyoTom

Jeff, thanks for the kind words; my response was here:

My Climate Confession; or the war with deceivers and with self-deception: mises.org/.../my-climate-confession-quot-climate-change-emails-stop-glaciers-from-melting-quot.aspx

# re: Bob Murphy, Implicit Apologist for Coal, Misconstrues the Real Debate & Lessons from "Climategate"

Monday, December 7, 2009 1:04 PM by liberty student

I have commented on your response TT.  I can't speak for Jeffrey, but what you offered was anything but clear and cogent.  Just more empty rhetoric and a complete dodge of substantive examination.