Saturday, June 09, 2012

On Pretending to Be Stupid

One of the most dispiriting aspects of the climate debate are those who purposely appear stupid.

I can accept that someone might look deeply at the model simplifications and uncertainties and conclude that maybe climate sensitivity is low, or that more work is needed, or who make a reasoned argument that the poor need more energy and maybe we ought to first improve the billions of actual lives spent living in squalor before we go all-out to save future lives (though I think we should do both, and I think everyone reading this is already affluent enough to pay for their pollution).

Then there are the people who have probably never been serious about anything in their whole life, and some who border on pure evil. And I get that many ordinary folks aren't familiar with the intricacies of the scientific evidence and so fall back on their ideology as a guide to their position on AGW.

But then there are the people who are clearly smart enough to understand things, put pretend they aren't.

Case in point: Chip Kappenberger, who just wrote:
A new study provides evidence that air pollution emanating from Asia will warm the U.S. as much or more than warming from U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The implication? Efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (and otherwise) to mitigate anthropogenic climate change is moot.
(Emphasis his.) The study he cites is "Potential impacts of Asian carbon aerosols on future US warming" by Teng et al. in Geophysical Research Letters.

Needless to say, this warming would be in addition to enhanced greenhoues warming, and to US aerosols, as the study's authors write:
"This warming is in addition to the anthropogenically-induced TAS [surface air temperature] warming over the same US domain found in the CCSM4 RCP4.5 experiment [Meehl et al., 2012], which during 2005–2024 is about 0.9 C and 0.7 C in DJF and JJA, respectively. Hence the US warming is amplified by roughly 50% by the remote effects of the enhanced carbon aerosols over Asia in the 6 and 10 experiments."
Yet Kappenberger writes,
In my Master Resource post “Climate Impacts of Waxman-Markey (the IPCC-based arithmetic of no gain)” I calculated that a more than  a more than 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by the year 2050 would result in a reduction of global temperatures (from where they otherwise would be) of about 0.05°C. Since the U.S. is projected to warm slightly more than the global average (land warms faster than the oceans), a 0.05°C of global temperature reduction probably amounts to about 0.075°C of temperature “savings” averaged across the U.S., by the year 2050.

Comparing the amount of warming in the U.S. saved by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by some 80% to the amount of warming added in the U.S. by increases in Asian black carbon (soot) aerosol emissions (at least according to Teng et al.) and there is no clear winner. Which points out the anemic effect that U.S. greenhouse gas reductions will have on the climate of the U.S. and just how easily the whims of foreign nations, not to mention Mother Nature, can completely offset any climate changes induced by our greenhouse gas emissions reductions....

As I have repeatedly pointed out, nothing we do here (when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions) will make any difference either domestically, or globally, when it comes to influences on the climate. What the powers-that-be behind emissions reduction schemes in the U.S. are hoping for is that 1) it doesn’t hurt us too much, and 2) that China and other large developing nations will follow our lead.
I'm not even going to dissect his argument. Kappenberger is someone who is clearly too intelligent not to understand the tragedy of the commons, and while he might find it useful to pretend he's too stupid understand it, I'm not going to pretend he's too stupid to understand it.

So the real question is, why would he write what he did?

Just to feed his kids? But what happens when they grow up and come to understand what you were doing all those years? Are decent jobs really that hard to find? And how does Kappenberger look himself in the mirror?

I just don't get this, on a personal level. There are so many people who are willfully blind and pretend not to understand things, and who ignore reasoning for the sake of maintaining their ideology, or, worse, for maintaining their funders' ideology.

That kind of thing would make me puke on an hourly basis, so I'm really curious how these people get through the day.


Anonymous said...

How could someone write so much and not say anything? You do realize that you're known as a whiner don't you? Do you cry yourself to sleep at night ?

Dano said...

You know when this is the best the trolls can do you've hit a nerve. Go git 'em David.



Martin Vermeer said...


Brian said...

I've talked directly with Bill Gray and David Evans, and corresponded with JoNova. I believe that they sincerely believe that AGW isn't serious, despite being far more sophisticated than your typical internet commenter. It's amazing to what extent people are capable of convincing themselves. Being intelligent just makes some people better at fooling themselves.

For other people like Milloy and Singer, maybe Michaels, I think what they believe about the science is secondary to fighting for their side, and it probably doesn't even occur to them whether they actually believe what they're saying, only whether it helps the position they're advancing.

I had thought Knappenberger was a step up from Michaels, but maybe the company he's kept has had its toll.