Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Craven A: for your throat's sake

Robert Matthews in 12 June Telegraph (here) has a clever combination of bait and switch, manipulation, falsehood and attempts to discredit by insinuation.

For example: Richard Adams on adaptation is placed in such a way as to suggest the mainstream scientific and policy community does not stress importance of adaptation; and the Bjorn Lomborg quote "Economic studies clearly show it will be far more expensive to cut greenhouse gases than to pay for the cost of adapting to a warmer planet".

I don't have the time to critique the whole piece now, but on the Lomborg example, go back to Stephen Schneider in Dec 2001:

"Note that Lomborg offers a wide-ranging estimate for how much it would cost to control climate change but only one figure for how much the climate change itself would cost us. In reality, the cost of climate change itself is generally considered -- by the very economists whom Lomborg quotes for costs of control -- to be much more uncertain than the cost of controlling climate change. In other words, this putative statistician quotes a range of costs when convenient but not a range of benefits when inconvenient. Neither does he tell us, as any assessor should -- let alone a statistician writing a popular book! -- that these are very crude estimates grounded in subjective assumptions at every stage. To imply that the costs are empirically determined is to completely misunderstand the situation, or misrepresent Bayesian statistics (subjective) as frequentist probabilities (objective)". (full text here).

And on adaptation, see Camilla Toulmin in openDemocracy:

"The experience of the Sahel shows that people adapt to changes in climate, but the process is not cost-free. Governments can help or hinder such adaptation. In theory, they can enable movement across national frontiers. They can strengthen local institutions. They can install more transparent systems for outsiders to gain access to land. They can encourage technical and financial support for small-scale irrigation activity. They can provide reliable channels for migrants’ remittances, which have become key to the livelihoods of many families.

But overall in the Sahel, in practice, governments have played little role in making adaptation possible – rather it was people, their families, communities and local institutions, that allowed for innovative ways of dealing with difficult times". (full text here)

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