Superfreaks and Charlie Rose

[Via Hank Robers in comments] I’m making my way through this:

A few first thoughts:

Dubner: “If you’re in the global warming industry, you have interests to protect.”

As opposed to a pair of authors hawking their new book, amirite? Also, does this apply to Ken Caldeira, Levitt and Dubner’s lone climate expert, who has repeatedly said that L&D have mischaracterized his views?

Next up, Levitt:

So it seems like if you really think global warming is a terrible problem, you need a solution that’s faster. Okay? And that’s more certain or easier to do. So it turns out, geo-engineering- extremely controversial- but so sensible. There are ideas out there that are cheap, they’re totally reversible- they’re totally reversible, which is incredibly important. You wouldn’t want to do anything that was irreversible because the science isn’t that certain.

Why this is bollocks: L&D explicitly present geo-engineering via sulfur aerosols as an alternative to mitigation via reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which they believe is simply a non-starter. That means in L&D’s world, emissions continue to grow unabated. And because we don’t have a viable means of drawing down enormous amounts of GHGs in a short amount of time, should the sulfur spraying ever stop- due to, oh I don’t know, the enhanced desertification of Sub-Saharan Africa raising a bit of an outcry or their “garden hose” breaking- we would get hit with all of the built up warming virtually at once. It’s pretty bloody obvious that in L&D’s version, geo-engineering is decidedly not “reversible”, as the atmospheric build up of GHGs that would occur in the mean time is not reversible.

Levitt continues:

And they don’t require massive behavior change. So no, we’re not saying we should go out tomorrow and build one of these machines- say to put sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere- but what we are saying is, “How can that not be part of the debate?” We’re just trying to get geo- engineering a seat at the table, but the interest groups out there don’t want to talk about it.

Why this is bollocks: Geo-engineering has been for years and is currently being discussed at the highest scientific and political levels– without any help from the Superfreaks.

Here’s something “delightfully counter-intuitive” for those who keep having L&D on their programs to pimp their disaster of a book-

Maybe, just maybe, the freshwater econ guy and the journalist who sat in on a venture capital investment pitch session haven’t stumbled onto the climate solution after all. Maybe all of those pesky scientists are on to something when they say we need to cut GHG emissions, even as geo-engineering is researched for a worst case scenario.

2 responses to “Superfreaks and Charlie Rose

  1. It’s the first I’ve seen of these two, paying almost no attention to the whole issue. They just happened to be on when I tuned in. I have left 3 comments at RealClimate in the last 24 hours, two just now.

    Dubner in particular, is very dangerous in his ignorance, but then again, it was Levitt who flagrantly twisted the ruling in Britain re: AGW and religious belief (equating them when the ruling he cited did no such thing).

    Sad sad state of affairs, but what do you really expect from those whose primary motivation is fame and money, via book sales?

  2. The important point, caught early and often, but still being ignored by them and their fans, was noted here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/10/superfreakonomics_levitt_missi.php

    —-excerpt follows—-

    e360: I was struck by something one of the authors said on NPR the other day — that he got interested in geoengineering when he realized that the problem with global warming is not that there is too much carbon in the air; it’s that it is too hot. Do you agree with that?

    Caldeira: The reason it is too hot is that there is too much carbon dioxide in the air. Now the carbon dioxide itself, of course, has big negative implications for ocean acidification and ecosystems, including coral reefs. So there are direct CO2 effects.

    But I think if we had some magic thing that would reverse all effects of CO2 perfectly, then you could say, “Well the problem is not CO2.” …

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