Questionable Motives

December 15, 2009

Taxing carbon: can we let Mother Nature set the rate?

Filed under: Argument,Environment,Global Warming — tildeb @ 3:28 pm

Dr. McKitrick , an economist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, expects this climate conference in Copenhagen to yield the same results as previous ones: grand promises to cut carbon emissions that will be ignored once politicians return home to face voters who are skeptical that global warming is even a problem.

To end this political stalemate, Dr. McKitrick proposes calling each side’s bluff. He suggests imposing financial penalties on carbon emissions that would be set according to the temperature in the earth’s atmosphere. The penalties could start off small enough to be politically palatable to skeptical voters.

If the skeptics are right and the earth isn’t warming, then the penalties for burning carbon would stay small or maybe even disappear. But if the climate modelers and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are correct about the atmosphere heating up, then the penalties would quickly, and automatically, rise.

“Either way we get a sensible outcome,” Dr. McKitrick argues.

From the article here.

December 9, 2009

Does morality come from religion?

From Marc Hauser’s Edge article IT SEEMS BIOLOGY (NOT RELIGION) EQUALS MORALITY:

Based on the responses of thousands of participants to more than 100 dilemmas, we find no difference between men and women, young and old, theistic believers and non-believers, liberals and conservatives. When it comes to judging unfamiliar moral scenarios, your cultural background is virtually irrelevant.

What guides your judgments is the universal and unconscious voice of our species, a biological code, a universal moral grammar. We tend to see actions as worse than omissions of actions: pushing a person into the factory vent is worse than allowing the person to fall in. Using someone as a means to some greater good is worse if you make this one person worse off than if you don’t. This is the difference between an evitable and inevitable harm. If the person in the hospital or in the factory is perfectly healthy, taking his life to save the lives of many is worse than if he is dying and there is no cure. Distinctions such as these are abstract, impartial and emotionally cold. They are like recognising the identity relationship of 1=1, a rule that is abstract and content-free.

If this code is universal and impartial, then why are there are so many moral atrocities in the world? The answer comes from thinking about our emotions, the feelings we recruit to fuel in-group favouritism, out-group hatred and, ultimately, dehumanisation.

December 4, 2009

How worried should we be: the leaked ‘Climategate’ emails and what they mean

AGW means anthropogenic global warming as the theory that best describes how human activity drives climate change. But is the theory sound? There seems to be scientific consensus that it is sound, and this the central platform from the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that will be presented to the heads of states in Copenhagen.

So how do these ‘leaked’ emails affect the IPCC position?

The emails suggest the authors co-operated covertly to ensure that only papers favorable to CO2-forced AGW were published, and that editors and journals publishing contrary papers were punished. They also attempted to “discipline” scientists and journalists who published skeptical information.

The emails suggest that the authors manipulated and “massaged” the data to strengthen the case in favor of unprecedented CO2-forced AGW, and to suppress their own data if it called AGW into question.

The emails suggest that the authors co-operated (perhaps the word is “conspired”) to prevent data from being made available to other researchers through either data archiving requests or through the Freedom of Information Acts of both the U.S. and the UK.

A good summary here.

I don’t think the high risk to affecting climate by greenhouse gas emissions has been undermined; I think these emails draws into question whether the AGW theory is sound enough science to conclude that human activity drives climate change. Dissenting evidence may have been purposefully ignored and buried, which has changed the data upon which the IPCC depends for its conclusions. Check out what the fudged numbers look like on the right side of the graph. That kind of misrepresentation is serious.



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