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[flagged] Evidence for man-made global warming hits 'gold standard' (reuters.com)
52 points by lnguyen on Feb 25, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments

Judea Pearl should have written "The Book of Why" about the millions of preventable deaths attributed to global warming.

Instead, he wrote about, what appears to be the same phenomena, the "cigarettes are bad deniers" of the 1900s.

The Book of Why DOES have a section on climate change toward the end - he actually uses climate change to illustrate the idea of counterfactuals and even provides an example about how to calculate how much man-made carbon emissions X can be a "sufficient" / "necessary" cause of storm Y... GIVEN we can agree on a model.

Among other (likely more polarizing) reasons for why folks remain so obstinate regarding climate change, it certainly is possible that not every involved party may agree to the same model of how climate affects weather


The transition away from the gold standard and years of living in a post-gold-standard world show that fiat is a totally reasonable system of money. I'd love to see you support or justify your claims, so we can at least debate from a basis of shared understanding and fact instead of hyperbole. Your statement is completely unrelated to the topic at hand.

If you consider the sharp upturn in divide between the rich and the poor since 1972 to be "totally reasonable".

I definitely don't! I also don't attribute that to fiat currency. I attribute that at least within the United States to "trickle-down economics," reduction of the top federal income tax rate in the US from 92% in the 1940s (and 72% in the 1970s) to 37% this year [1], and the estate tax from the high 70% range [2] in the 1970s to 0% moving forward. The reduction in the social safety net and the government services afforded to the poor over time helped prevent social mobility. Along with a simultaneous drop in union participation rates meant that labor didn't have as meaningful a way to push back against capital.

It's no surprise that wealth inequality started going up and to the right as soon as these things changed, in the years immediately following when Reagan took office (1981) [3] -- over a decade of decline after the switch from the gold standard in 1971. It's all in the graphs attached. Broadly, it's "Reaganomics" related.

By all means have at those windmills though.

tl:dr; if you let rich people keep more of their money, they have more of the money. If you simultaneously take from poor people, they stay poor. We could be on the banana standard for all it matters with this type economic policy.

[1] https://nickgogerty.typepad.com/designing_better_futures/200...

[2] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/11...

[3] https://inequality.org/facts/income-inequality/

> if you let rich people keep more of their money, they have more of the money. If you simultaneously take from poor people, they stay poor.

Not to join the debate here, but the use of language here really interests me. When talking about the rich, it's that we "let [them] keep more of their money" as if "we" (the government) has a right to every cent a person makes. When talking about the poor, we "take" from them, as if it's unjust theft.

Not trying to argue against you, it's a perfectly normal view, I just find it funny how much ideology paints language.

That's a really interesting insight! I hadn't caught myself doing that, thanks for pointing it out.

Yeah, it's funny how we work. Heck, read my comment, you can probably just as easily pick out my ideology. I wonder if linguistics has a term for that. It's something like "spin", but not exactly because it's not intentional or malicious.

Yeah, it's a great example of how subconscious bias shapes linguistic constructions. I'm sure we all do this all the time :)

It’s not a coincidence — you use “we” because you’re a progressive and progressives view themselves as part of the government. Conservatives use “they” because they (rightly) understand they’re NOT in power.

Well, in a democracy we all are, that’s kind of the idea for better or worse.

Rich people don’t just put their money in a vault and let it inflate into oblivion — they spend it or they invest it, both create jobs.

> I attribute that at least within the United States to "trickle-down economics

Trickle-down economics has never been a policy promoted by any economist (left or right) in history nor a policy of the US or any western country. It was originally a political invention. And quite an effective one at that because the media/pundits have used it for decades as a strawman to endlessly attack. Of course it's far easier to win against an adversary who doesn't exist.

> Years ago, this column challenged anybody to quote any economist outside of an insane asylum who had ever advocated this “trickle-down” theory. Some readers said that somebody said that somebody else had advocated a “trickle-down” policy. But they could never name that somebody else and quote them.

> It is not just in politics that the nonexistent “trickle-down” theory is found. It has been attacked in the New York Times, in the Washington Post, and by professors at prestigious American universities — and even as far away as India. Yet none of those who denounce a “trickle-down” theory can quote anybody who actually advocated it.


Sowell's longer treatise on it goes into it in greater detail exploding this myth:


>> We fight for and against not men and things as they are, but for and against the caricatures we make of them.

- J.A. Schumpeter

I actually read the entirety of the longer treatise you posted before following up now.

I think it's important to consider that Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, was quoted in the Atlantic as saying "It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down,' so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."

IMO the goal of taxation as a system is not just to maximize tax revenue -- although that's an important component -- and lowering marginal rates may do that. It's also about ensuring fairness and mitigating some amount of wealth inequality. Just because a tax policy increases revenues by lowering marginal rates doesn't mean that "trickle down/supply-side economics is working" -- compared to, for instance, a wealth tax. The treatise focuses on the A vs. B of lowering vs. not lowering top taxes as the defining factor of trickle-down, but it misses the forest for the trees. Other solutions exist which may yield better outcomes for all.

The component I found particularly weak in the treatise was "if we don't lower their tax rate the rich will keep hiding money in tax-free muni bonds" and left it at that, and threw their hand up. Great, tax those. Or all holdings. Then we can pick up where we left off.

I'm not seeking to defend Reagan's policies but I'm curious when did David Stockman said Trickle Down in the Atlantic? Was it their policy during the administration as trickle down is characterized?

He is a political pundit who was trying to rebut a (now) common political myth. The fact he parroted it back in an article a decade or two later doesn't mean it was the policy of the executive branch or any economist.

Which is entirely the point.

By the way, thank you for posting the article, it was a great write-up and an enjoyable read. I found the Stockman quote in a November 1981 WaPo/Atlantic article [1] which would have been, if I'm not mistaken, in his first year in office as OMB director? Sorry I'm not more familiar with this, I'll have to do some more reading too.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1981/11/22/w...

You sound like a smart guy and it'd take me pages to properly respond to everything. I try to avoid online political debates because I haven't found much ROI in investing in them. But I'm sure Sowell would be highly critical of the mainstream economic policies of both parties in recent eras. He's far more preferential towards earlier US economics.

I will say that there's a big myth that the US has been on some big market-oriented supply-side binge since the 1980s which is a giant myth in itself. The size of western governments, everywhere, has exploded since the 1970s... even if the tax rate hasn't.

Sowell would be just as critical of any policy directly benefiting the wealthy as well. He sees the far bigger problem as the countless "well-intentioned policies" intended (or at least sold) to help the poor/middle class that back fire, do nothing, or more often creates highly inefficient systems where only the politically connected get social benefits.

I highly recommend his book "Wealth, poverty, and politics" [1]. It'd do a 100x better job than me at explaining his general worldview, which is closest to mine. And it's hardly just lower taxes for upper/middle and keep the rest of the political machine the same (which is probably worst of both worlds IMO).

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Poverty-Politics-Thomas-Sowell...

When people engage I always try and challenge my assumptions and learn from y’all, that’s part of why I come here in particular. Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll add your book to my reading list and I’ll follow up one day when I get through it. I can’t guarantee you’ll change my mind but I’m sure I’ll get a lot out of it!

> I also don't attribute that to fiat currency

That's unfortunate, because inflation is a social policy, that, by design steals from the poor to give to the government, which generally gives to the politically connected (read: wealthy). Even when it gives to the poor, it's filtered through the wealthy, I once was on a volunteer route and found solyndra panels on top of section 9 housing, which undoubtedly increased the cost-plus of the construction project.

Why do I say it steals by design from the poor? Don't take my word for it, take Paul Krugman's:


> It goes like this: even in the long run, it’s really, really hard to cut nominal wages. Yet when you have very low inflation, getting relative wages right would require that a significant number of workers take wage cuts. So having a somewhat higher inflation rate would lead to lower unemployment, not just temporarily, but on a sustained basis.

Let me reframe this in cruder terms: "The proles are dumb and management is too lazy to negotiate correctly so it's better for society if we put workers on a rolling treadmill"

No way that can go wrong.

As for correcting income inequality by fiddling with upper tax rates or providing social services. They won't work. Those effects are linear. The effects of inflation are compounding.

Fair point that my comment is off topic, I’ve been rightly downvoted and flagged for it : (

But I’ll respond to your comment in hopes that it might pique the interest of some sensible non-commenting lurker, and if it’s my lucky day perhaps you’ll genuinely consider my response as well.

When you say it’s a “totally reasonable system of money” I’m going to make the assumption that you believe this because there has been an absolutely, never before seen in the history of mankind, massive rise in the standard of living over the past 100+ years. Implicit in your statement, however, is that transitioning away from hard money (Eg a gold standard) and towards a fiat standard is in some way the cause of this rather than it merely being correlated (no doubt you’re well versed, like most people on HN, in the correlation vs causation problem).

My specific claim is that the massive increase in technology (including information technology) is the cause of this rapid rise in the standard of living, and this improvement has actually masked the serious and growing problems with fiat (such as recurring and exacerbated financial crises).

I can’t “prove” this conclusively anymore than you can “prove” a fiat/credit economy is the cause of it — we can’t re-run the 20th century on a hard money standard and compare the outcomes of the two. But it sure is convenient for governments to tell people that hard money is bad, but never let us test it out to see for ourselves, which begs the question, “cui bono?”

In this situation it’s clear who benefits from fiat currencies — nation states. The ability to print money at will and fund your own expenditures with that newly minted money (whose value comes from savers), is a temptation that no man can be trusted with. I believe this overwhelming temptation is WHY the market (billions of consumers acting voluntarily over thousands of years) ultimately settled on gold — it’s near impossible to pass counterfeits and the difficulty of mining it makes it a naturally low-inflation money.

The biggest downside to gold, however, is that governments have successfully prevented it from being used as money (through coercion, obviously). I believe this is why cryptocurrency is an interesting experiment, no doubt governments and their 3-letter agencies are using propaganda to control the narrative there, but unlike gold they can’t control the supply or prevent its circulation with coercion.

Thing is since the switch wages have kept pace with inflation even at the low end, and logically the poor have the least money so by extension the least exposed to inflation of cash on hand. Either way nobody should be holding money but instead using it to buy productive assets in which case it wouldn’t affect them right? On average home values outpace inflation in the US too, and that’s most Americans biggest investment. It inflates away debts, too, in that the principal always decreases in value in constant dollars.

Thus, it’s not clear to me how inflation affects any invested individual, it’s just a regular haircut for unproductive capital. Any other wealth accumulation would be a failure of tax or social policy not monetary policy.

Inflation doesn’t come at the expense of savers because savers don’t save cash, that’s because of inflation, and its not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s exactly the incentive you call out — to allocate your capital to investments which outpace inflation instead of sitting on it. I can’t think of any good reason a wad of dollar bills should be worth more tomorrow (or even keep value) by virtue of me just ... having them — can you?

“It inflates away debts, too, in that the principal always decreases in value in constant dollars.”

Need I mention that the US Govt is the biggest debtor in the world? They have a massive incentive to inflate away their debt — they’re not doing something noble by inflating the monetary supply, it’s self-serving.

Sure, but so what? If you just use the money you get to invest in anything yielding more than 2%, or even gold, what difference does it make to you? If you can take advantage of this information, all the better.

For instance if you're a well-paid tech worker in the 35% federal income tax rate bin in California (11% more there) in a world with 2% inflation, a 30-year fixed 4% APR mortgage is 'free' money (4.0 becomes 2.4% after tax deduction, and 0.4% after inflation). You don't have to be mad about the situation, you can take advantage of it.

I don’t think you fundamentally understand what I’m saying, fiat money steals from savers (otherwise where does the value of the new money that’s printed come from? There’s no free lunch.) and the boom/bust cycle is greatly exacerbated by central banks who can print money at will.

There are obviously various strategies that can be implemented to deal with the disaster money situation everhone’s in, but that really has nothing to do with what I’m saying or why a hard money standard is superior to fiat.

No, it doesn't blanket hurt savers because they don't tend to save just piles of cold hard cash. Increasing inflation benefits holders of equities and commodities (yes, like gold, which again, you're free to invest in). Holders of fixed-rate debt benefit too. Yes, those who hold cash and long-term bonds are affected negatively, and so are holders of variable-rate debt. However, you can hedge against that with an appropriate investment strategy. [1] These are exactly the kinds of things you should know as you begin investing, or defer to a financial advisor or a roboadvisor.

Yes, they could "print money" at will (it's not like they just run over to the Epson and hit Print, they don't even have the authority to create money, that's done by the Treasury). However, the Fed's goal is to keep inflation at 2% per year. This is hardly the hellscape you make it out to be.

Here's a full write-up explaining what's actually happening out there [2].

[1] https://www.bankrate.com/investing/winners-and-losers-if-inf...

[2] https://seekingalpha.com/article/4113280-federal-reserve-nev...

Where does the value of newly printed money come from — is it a free lunch (in which case, why not print quadrillions and make everyone a millionaire) or does the value come from savers (in which case it’s stolen from them by debasing the value of their savings)?

Why are they saving money (a medium of exchange) and not assets (a store of value) like gold as you suggest? It's a regular haircut for unproductive capital. It's a punishment for not investing. It comes from people who don't put their money to work, and it comes from people who issued fixed-rate debt as an investment. It's a risk they specifically took on. All this was covered in the linked articles. Inflation is a constant (small) pressure to keep money moving.

Why is inflation (the government printing money) legal but me counterfeiting $100 bills and passing them off a legit illegal and considered theft?

Because government is an extension of all the people, and the government doing it is the people’s will. You doing it is not an extension of the people’s will, and prohibited by law (again, the people decided that).

For the same reason throwing people into prison for committing crimes isn’t against the law but when you lock someone in your basement, you go to prison. This is basic civics. You keep dodging the question, over and over, it’s getting old.

Yes — increasing the supply of money decreases the purchasing power over time of all other dollars in existence and simultaneously encourages people to make risky investments to avoid the value of their money from decreasing.

They needn't be risky, just yielding more than 2% like government bonds. If the government goes under their bonds are no good, but neither would your dollars be. Literally anything other than stuffing them under your mattress. Nothing's stopping you from buying precious metals either (physical, ETF or mining company shares). If you want your own wealth to be "gold backed" ... just buy gold. Then you can even borrow against it to make other purchases. Hey, it's basically "be your own bank" but with real assets.

You’re defining risky from your perspective, just because YOU don’t perceive an asset designed to keep pace with inflation as risky doesn’t mean it’s not and it also doesn’t mean those investors wouldn’t prefer to keep it in cash.

If being your own bank weren’t threatening to govts, why don’t they just let gold backed currencies circulate and compete (eg see the Liberty Dollar — https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_dollar_(private_curr...)

Based on a cursory skim of the wikipedia article you linked the liberty dollar was taken down because it was a haven for "...money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, counterfeiting, and conspiracy."

You still haven't explained how you're any worse off by buying literal gold, or if you don't want to carry it around yourself, shares in a gold ETF like GLD. In what way is a share certificate of GLD any different than a gold-backed currency? It's even government-regulated (albeit by the SEC instead of the department of the treasury). Salaries track inflation, so you're always getting the same in real dollar terms. Inflation is irrelevant if you don't hold money. If you want a gold-backed dollar, you can achieve the same result buy using your money as quick as you get it to buy gold or in lieu, shares of GLD. You can even buy precious metal currency minted by governments like the platinum, gold and silver coins from the Royal Canadian Mint [1] -- not that they're a good value. This isn't a problem. AFIAK you can even put any of the above into an IRA.

[1] https://www.mint.ca/store/buy/gold-and-platinum_coins-cat120...

My point is that it is NOT legal to circulate claims to gold in storage as money, that’s why it doesn’t exist.

GLD is not the same as a gold backed currency because you cannot use GLD as money in everyday transactions, it is literally illegal to compete with fiat currency.

If hard money is non-threatening, why not let the two standards compete and see who wins?

Right, you exchange gold (or GLD shares) for money, then you trade that money for goods and services. The recipient is free to obtain new shares of GLD if that's what they want, or anything else they'd prefer to invest in. That's kind of the definition of a medium of exchange (compare to: an asset). A medium of exchange need not be an asset. You're again describing the intention of the system: this is how it's designed.

By standardizing on USD (or any other currency) as your medium of exchange it dramatically simplifies accounting. If one person trades a few dozen eggs for a hat, then a hat for some gold, then that gold for a few dozen eggs, how can you possibly determine taxes due? And in what 'currency' are they due? Eggs? Or even just how a business is doing? By making every transaction happen using a common intermediate (USD, etc) the whole system is just so much simpler. It all really only works if everyone is doing it, though, for every transaction. Mixing and matching is inefficient.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record... You still haven't explained how you're any worse off by buying literal gold, or if you don't want to carry it around yourself, shares in a gold ETF like GLD.

Why are you trying to force everyone to invest in gold for some reason, instead of whatever they want, through a neutral medium of exchange?

“Why are you trying to force everyone to invest in gold for some reason, instead of whatever they want, through a neutral medium of exchange?”

We are working with wildly different definitions of “forcing” — the market (millions of people acting voluntarily over thousands of years) settled on gold at the world’s medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account (aka money). Governments using coercion made it illegal to transact with gold as money.

Explain how this is me “forcing” people to invest in gold?

The history is exactly opposite of your claim, governments have forced people to use fiat. If it were otherwise, it would be legal to use gold as money, which it is not.

You keep completely ignoring my core point. You still haven't explained how you're any worse off by buying literal gold, or if you don't want to carry it around yourself, shares in a gold ETF like GLD. I'll happily engage the other aspects of the conversation once you address this. It's not different, though, is it -- it's literally the same thing. The modern economy decouples store of value from medium of exchange, the old economy coupled the two, that's the only thing that's changed from a practical perspective.

Fair’s fair — I’m not trying to ignore what you’re saying, I just don’t think it’s particularly important.

Regarding buying shares of an ETF like GLD, I have my concerns regarding the ETF actually holding what they claim to hold — so I believe you’re taking on additional risk by holding GLD vs actual gold.

As far as holding regular gold, my claim is you are worse off for a number of reasons — (1) you cannot seamlessly transact with it (2) because it’s illegal to transact in gold, and you’re required to transact in fiat, savers are being stolen from every time they print dollars, just like savers are stolen from when someone counterfeits money (3) it’s WAY more costly to attempt to live by some gold standard by buying/selling real gold every time you earn money/spend money (imagine trying to sell an equivalent $ amount of gold every time you buy a cup of coffee or buy an equivalent $ amount of gold every time you receive a paycheck) (4) you’re worse off because fiat causes us to live in a much more volatile world, the ability to print $ at will and hold only a fraction of it in reserves (fractional reserve banking) greatly exacerbated financial crises, to the detriment of everyone who isn’t a large bank which can get bailed out through political connections.

Re: GLD, it's an SEC regulated security. It's government regulated, just as much as the gold in Fort Knox would be regulated if your dollar bills gave you claim to it. If you trust the government to hold gold, you should by extension trust a government-regulated security to. Let's keep conspiracy theories out of this.

(2) I'm not sure where you get the idea that it's illegal to transact in gold. It's definitely legal, and it's done all the time, it's called barter. You're still going to have to recognize the transaction in US dollars and pay any capital gains associated (or deduct capital losses, if applicable). There's even some cases where bartering can allow you to defer capital gains such as a 1031 exchange (which was wrongly applied to cryptocurrencies as they're securities).

(1&3) I'm not sure you're really trying to make it work. You could easily do monthly net settlement, where you use a credit card to make all your usual payments (an interest-free loan), then at the end of the month, sell GLD shares to cover any shortfall from your salary, or buy GLD shares with the excess of your salary. If inflation is as crazy as you say, this would give you an advantage as your gold value would go up while your debt is denominated in fiat "funny-money" inflating away.

(4) The intrinsic lack of connection between bills and physical goods isn't what leads to volatility. The bulk of gold's value is just because people find it shiny, it's actual industrial or useful application is tiny in comparison. You're believing in the value of gold is the same as my believing in the value of the dollar. Yes it's been used for thousands of years, but so what? We used rocks to represent money for thousands of years on islands, but nobody's suggesting a rock-backed dollar. Backing is inefficient and unnecessary.

Each of the things you say lead to volatility (fractional reserve banking, increasing the money supply, etc) is social policy built on top of monetary policy. Rolling back Glass-Steagall causes volatility. You can just outlaw those things and achieve the exact same results without having gold backing your currency.

I have faith I can exchange my dollar for a half a loaf. You have to have faith that you can exchange your dollar for a fraction of an ounce of gold from a locker and that someone else will exchange your shiny fraction of an ounce for a half a loaf. It's one extra, unnecessary layer.

Here's a writeup from a gold-standard man like you for why inflation is a bad argument for the gold standard, and you'll find it very largely mirrors what I've been saying to you: https://www.forbes.com/sites/keithweiner/2014/03/11/inflatio...


Glad to hear someone knows me so well


When governments worldwide accept that climate change is doing avoidable harm, it is the ostriches who not only bury their heads in the sand but also ask of others to do so that peddle poison.

I wouldn't pay much mind to the public positions of governments, particularly when there's money on the line. Nothing is simple in geopolitics.

>while everything keeps getting better.

Are out of control wildfires, intense tropical storms, prolonged heat waves and rising sea levels a part of your analysis there?

To be fair, the chances of those events increasing in that way are pretty slim, even according to climate science.

Wildfires are getting worse because we've completely messed up forest management.

Tropical storms are getting worse because we keep building in vulnerable areas and destroying all the swampland that can actually buffer the storm.

We haven't had accurate weather measurements long enough to know what is and isn't an abnormal heat wave.

Sea levels move around quite a bit in the long term, which is why they always find remnants of fishing villages under water or up away from shore.

The world isn't static, and pretending that it is often causes more harm than good.

My standard measure for such claims is to ask myself whether I would believe someone from 1900 making the same predictions about present day.

Anything larger than a time scale of 5 to 10 years (maybe 20 at the very high end) is just people making predictions that they aren't going to be around to collect on.

Reminds me of the original 7th day adventists, who were sure they knew the day Jesus was coming back. They sold everything and lo and behold, Jesus didn't come back. So what did they do? Back to the drawing board and re-run the calculations.

Instead of following the data and seeing what the conclusion should be, people get caught up on picking their conclusion and doing their damnedest to make the data support it.


Would you please stop posting flamebait to HN? It's against the rules and we ban accounts that do it, regardless of which views they're battling for or against.


Clearly this is a fluff piece of journalism. He said - she said. "5 sigma". Sounds great. What does it mean? 2 out of 3 satellites reported data that gave the 5 sigma conclusion by 2005, the third by 2016. Great. What does it mean? It doesn't really say, other than a 95 percent chance that global warming since 1950 is caused by humans. Somebody said they would like to notch that up to 99% chance. Another person wouldn't go so far. I think it's totally fair to criticise this virtually content free article.

I don't think it's fair to so glibly criticise the science. This article isn't the science. I think we, as members of a community that is generally educated to a higher level than other communities should be calling out this nonsense that gets printed because it gives real ammunition to people (among whom it is possible you are a member) who deride climate science on the basis of bad journalism. It's a massive shame because it's an issue with potentially dire consequences.

I deride it based on bad journalism AND bad science.

Not all climate science is bad, of course.

The kind that takes an RCP of 8.5 with zero chance of happening and uses it as an input to policy recommendations is bad science.

Attributing current weather extremes (hint, occurrences are non Gaussian) is bad science.

Releasing doom and gloom predictions to the media before peer review that are then ripped apart (but not covered by media) is bad science.

To be fair, the linked article contains no science ;-) It certainly contains none of the science that you are describing. It's an appeal to authority. 4 out of 5 dentists recommend chewing gum after dinner. You're taking a particularly bad article and using it as a launching pad for describing your own issues which are only related by topic.

I'm writing this not to slap your hand, but in hopes that you can get to a point where all your posts aren't down voted ;-). Your message is not cohesive enough to follow. If you pick and choose which thing to talk about more carefully, I think you will find that you will get a much more responsive audience.

For example, in this case, the original article was absolutely rubbish. The only apparent reason one can see for it being on the front page is because it had the "right" headline. Nobody needs that kind of thing. People like me who feel that the science shows that we need to change our lifestyles for our future prosperity don't need this. People like you who (seemingly) feel that the science shows that we don't need to change our lifestyles don't need it. We're on the same side. Don't waste that opportunity!

A rant against the world is very satisfying, but it's not very effective. You will possibly pick up other disenfranchised people, but I don't think it will go much further. Instead, I recommend trying to respond with laser precision and discuss individual problems without bringing in all the other baggage. This time would be a good time to talk about how they are quoting scientists who are talking about conclusions with virtually nothing to explain what those conclusions are about. Perhaps you can say that we shouldn't be using such terrible journalism as input into important political dialog. Such an insight will be valuable for everybody. Another time, if real science is described, you can discuss problems with statistical techniques, etc, etc. Again, it will benefit everyone. Ideally, I would suggest that you attempt to downplay your own political agenda (everyone has one!). You have your own preferred outcome, but if you don't stress it, you have a much better chance that people with the opposite viewpoint will feel welcome enough to read what you have to write. From there, they may start to think that they should revisit their own position.

Anyway, I hope that proves helpful to you. I was reading your posts and really felt bad for your situation, which is why I decided to reply. Maybe the advice won't be good for you, but I hope it's worth thinking about.

> Attributing current weather extremes (hint, occurrences are non Gaussian) is bad science.

I'm pretty sure the general conclusion is that, on average, the climate is warming, which makes weather extremes worse.

> Releasing doom and gloom predictions to the media before peer review that are then ripped apart (but not covered by media)

What are these predictions, and where are they being ripped apart?

What makes you think it's 'advocacy' science? How would climate science have to change to convince you otherwise?

The science isn’t the problem. The evidence and research are solid. It’s the communication.

Science comes in two flavors: research and experiments. Other things, even if attempting to sound scientific, are probably not science. One example is consensus, which itself isn’t science unless we are talking about behavioral sciences. The average person is not a scientist, certainly not a climatologist, but is generally decent at perceiving the basics of interpersonal communication and can discern if something is science or not regardless of their agreement or bias.

That is problematic, how do you talk to those people? They won’t understand the science, but alternate means of communication results in potential for arguments that are manipulative or far out of scope.

The idea is that climate change is a big deal. It is disruptive and that disruption will be very expensive and damaging, possibly catastrophic. Bad stuff. So, you want to convince people it is bad in order to change policy. Here is where the challenge begins, because policy discussions are generally political and not scientific even if all the supporting evidence is science and that evidence is overwhelming. The goal of science is advancing knowledge according to the scientific model, which is different than the goal of a policy conversation. Knowing nothing about climate or research a person can still detect that shift in conversation from science to policy/persuasion. Accounting for that without losing your message is delicate.

You can be good at science and less good at communication. If the conversation is purely fact and research based it isn’t emotionally compelling, but if it isn’t emotionally compelling there is no drive for policy change. At the same time if it is emotionally compelling it is open to falsification by irrational and illogical means. That is a hard problem to solve.

RCP 8.5 is, even according to the IPCC, highly highly unlikely. One could say the evidence for that scenario is... not overwhelming, or even whelming.

Evidence for "just what" is overwhelming... you find out the "just what" is nothing much, really.

There's a correlation between CO2 rise and a very small temperature increase, tht may or may not be a big deal. We don't know.

All science is 'advocacy science' when you deny the conclusions.

I deny creation science. I am a denier.

You can't deny creation science, as creation science hasn't yet formed a coherent hypothesis capable of being denied.

Climate science has testable hypotheses that continue to give reliable, observable and consistent results. Claiming that its conclusions are wrong requires denial, as no one has yet been able to demonstrate that that they are wrong.

Creation science hasn't even yet been able to form a framework that can be tested, let alone denied. I'd argue it doesn't even qualify as a science.

Yes I'm being pedantic. Yes I will die on this hill.

Personally, I'd like to see a financial market develop that allows people to predict future global temperatures in short, mid and long term time frames. (let's say 5 years, 10 years, 30 years).

That market would reveal humanities unbiased view of climate change predictions. It would give us a great tool to put things in perspective.

Good suggestion, but first you'd need consensus on methods for measuring and calculating global temperatures. Currently, several different methods are used by established institutions and the results come with a relatively large confidence range.

Personally, I'd rather bet on temperatures at single stations than what these observatories calculate.

Here are some details: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/monitoring/climate/sur... (scroll to "What do other groups do differently?")

That is a feature of having a financial system. People with really good incentives would attempt to find an agreeable way to measure earth's temps.

Rates of retirement savings participation vs doomsday hoarding, controlled for age cohort, should get you a rough cut at it.

Will that truly be undistorted? At the levels of scale in the energy sector, there might be a profitable incentive to distort the market. Use FUD against the issuers so that most would not care to invest, then manipulate whatever is left.

Attempting to debunk legitimate science without evidence or citation is garbage.

How typical that it's the first comment on the story.


Inflammatory comments with no supporting evidence are usually downvoted, irrespective of the opinion they espouse.

Except the followup inflammatory comments, of course.

I'll admit that I couldn't resist replying; such comments are usually discouraged. However, I felt that you deserved to know the reason why Hacker News downvotes comments for the off chance that you didn't know already.

I used to evaluate scientific contracts for the federal government. I was lied to on a monthly basis.

Scientific fraud is not a thing of the past. It's not even rare.

Karl Popper is turning over in his grave.

> Scientific fraud is not a thing of the past. It's not even rare.

Sure, but even accusations of scientific fraud require evidence to back them up. Can you provide some credible evidence to show that the majority of the scientific community is engaging in fraud?


If you continue to do flamewar like this on HN we will ban you. That goes double for your comments that crossed into personal attack.

If you know more than other people, the thing to do here is neutrally provide correct information, so people can learn. If you can't or don't want to do that, please don't post.


> Who defines credible?

If you want to convince others, you can provide a direct argument with data/popularly cited paper that a significant proportion the science in the field is bad. There are always reasonable people, not necessarily the ones you are replying to, that you may yet convince.

Alternatively, you can also provide an example for illustration and good reasons why it should generalize.

> If I mocked someone for using a linear regression on cyclical data, do you know why that's bad?

It's not necessarily bad to use linear regression on periodic data. If you wish to capture a trend independent of the periodic change, all the data in the periods are uniformly sampled/weighted, and the period is so short v. the timeframe of the data/the data for the regression is a whole integer.

jhan -

If you calculate a linear trend from subsets and get largely different results, a linear trend though the entire data set is only meaningful if you have several cycles of data. I would argue we do not have several cycles of data.

Allow me to point you to a climate scientist (who does not deny global warming). Her site is quite comprehensive. Avoid the comments section.


Thanks for the link! That looks like a good read.

What kind of cycles are we talking about? I'm under the notion that typically the only effect that should not be captured should be seasonal change with yearly periods.

Creation science is a purely religious viewpoint with basically zero physical evidence.

Climate science has a clear physical mechanism (CO2 traps more solar energy than N2, O2, etc.) and quite a bit of observation confirming the effect. It's simple to do an experiment showing that increasing CO2 increases a primary mechanism of the greenhouse effect. It's really pretty simple. The only debate is just how significant the effect will be, how rapid, and whether it's linear or there are thresholds.

The only reason this is a politicized issue is that the fossil fuel industry is wealthy and powerful and aligned with numerous interests including major nation states where petroleum makes up a huge percentage of export revenue. If it were not such an economically significant issue there wouldn't be any debate.


"Wrong" isn't an argument.

It's not just the fossil fuel industry -- it's every industry that buys energy, and consumers that buy it -- it's politicized because the prosperity and growth of the economy as a whole is at stake.

I don't think that argument works. According to caiso.org (California) about 30% of my electric power right now is solar and over 50% are non-fossil-fuel sources including solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power. In Texas wind sometimes provides over 50% of power for some regions. 20 years ago that would have been under 10% in both cases.

If fossil power is phased out it will just increase demand for other sources of energy. These will at first be more expensive, but high demand causes investments in scaling which reduces unit cost as in virtually every industrial process. Look at the cost curves for solar and wind for the past 20 years. It's almost like Moore's Law.

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