The only thing to worry about is worry itself (and densely networked self-selecting intellectuals…)

or so tweeted on Jan 14 Mark Lynas of various fame including a Six Degrees” book I analyzed numerically a few years back, and recent GMO repentance.

One should be forgiven for finding the juxtaposition peculiar to say the least. Shouldn’t Mark be wary of scares, having just discovered years of activism were not based on science?

Or perhaps he belongs to the category of people that really need to find a worry to be scared about, if only to be activists about something. I suggested

It is actually the right time for making such a guess. Edge.org has chosen angst for its 2013 theme

2013 : WHAT *SHOULD* WE BE WORRIED ABOUT?

(Twitter hashtag: #edgeq13)

There are 152 contributions at that site, too many to mention and probably too many to make a wager about too. Here’s an initial list:

  • Chinese eugenics
  • Black swans
  • Ingenuous viruses
  • Rejection of Darwinism applied to humans
  • Misplaced worries
  • Catastrophic risks
  • Misinformation about science
  • Planetary catastrophes
  • Collective delusions
  • Internet drivel
  • Abandoning politics
  • Debt implosion
  • Search engines as arbiters of truth
  • Shortage of valuable mates
  • Tech fascism
  • Censorship
  • Data-controlling power
  • Loss of patience
  • Underpopulation
  • End of big experiments
  • Tools too strong for our own good
  • Infectious diseases
  • Search for ecstatic experiences
  • Pessimism that makes us accept human destruction as inevitable
  • Cultural homogenisation
  • Misunderstanding free will
  • Prolonged lifespans
  • Limits in science
  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Criminal-controlled states
  • Misunderstanding of probability
  • Missing out on non-human sentience
  • Myths about men
  • Science by social media
  • Public lying and cheating
  • The Singularity
  • Nuclear war
  • Squandered opportunities
  • Wrong incentives
  • Misunderstanding of quantum mechanics
  • Enforced global psychiatric standards
  • Too much focus on novel findings in science

On the positive side, it’s not just a collection of miserabilism. I particularly liked this one:

Unfriendly Physics, Monsters From The Id, And Self-Organizing Collective Delusions
John Tooby
Founder of field of Evolutionary Psychology; Co-director, Center for Evolutionary Psychology, Professor of Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara

[…]Because intellectuals are densely networked in self-selecting groups whose members’ prestige is linked (for example, in disciplines, departments, theoretical schools, universities, foundations, media, political/moral movements, and other guilds), we incubate endless, self-serving elite superstitions, with baleful effects: Biofuel initiatives starve millions of the planet’s poorest. Economies around the world still apply epically costly Keynesian remedies despite the decisive falsification of Keynesian theory by the post-war boom (government spending was cut by 2/3, 10 million veterans dumped into the labor force, while Samuelson predicted “the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced”). I personally have been astonished over the last four decades by the fierce resistance of the social sciences to abandoning the blank slate model in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is false. As Feynman pithily put it, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” […]

 

4 Replies to “The only thing to worry about is worry itself (and densely networked self-selecting intellectuals…)”

  1. The automatic development of a vertical thermal gradient (AKA “lapse rate”) in any atmosphere in a gravitational field has been confirmed by over 800 experiments since 2002. It happens at the molecular level, regardless of the surface temperature or the amount of convection. Details are in “Planetary Surface Temperatures. A Discussion of Alternative Mechanisms.”

    This autonomous “lapse rate” fully explains that “33 degrees of warming” without any need for any greenhouse effect.

    All should read this comment by Geoff Wood, qualified in astrophysics.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/01/waste-heat-as-a-contributor-to-observed-warming/#comment-68988

    The following are excerpts ..

    “As Doug has said about a dozen times, gravity modifies the mean free path between collisions. That is ‘every’ upward, ‘every’ downward ‘every’ sideways, ‘every’, ‘every’ free molecular path between collisions is modified. Therefore it is impossible for the modified ‘collisions’ that result, not to impart the gravitational ‘information’ into the macroscopic development of the gravitational thermal profile. This is the ‘diffusion’ process.

    “At this point, we have a reasonable depiction of the thermal profile of ANY atmosphere. FROM BASIC PHYSICS.

    “Given a simple reason why any atmosphere tends towards this isentropic profile as depicted and described by entry level physics, why would anyone look for a more complicated reason to explain what we already know!”

    The point which Geoff and I make is that the “33 degrees of warming” supposedly caused by water vapour and carbon dioxide etc was already there due to the effect of gravity on the atmosphere. This happens on all planets, and also fully explains why the poles of Venus are over 720K, even though they receive less than 1W/m^2 of direct insolation from the Sun. For more detail read my article “The 21st Century New Paradigm Shift in Climate Change Science” easily found with Google. I’ve also recorded an introductory 10 minute video here http://youtu.be/r8YbyfqUvfY

    Doug Cotton
    http://climate-change-theory.com

  2. Tooby’s very good. A social scientist specifically targetting climate science – is this a first?
    “The more often beliefs are tested against reality, the more often accurate beliefs displace inaccurate ones (e.g., through feedback from experiments, engineering tests, markets, natural selection). However, there is a second kind of function to holding a belief that affects whether people consciously or unconsciously come to embrace it—the social payoffs from being coordinated or discoordinated with others’ beliefs (Socrates’ execution for “failing to acknowledge the gods the city acknowledges”). The mind is designed to balance these two functions: coordinating with reality, and coordinating with others. The larger the payoffs to social coordination, and the less commonly beliefs are tested against reality, then the more social demands will determine belief—that is, network fixation of belief will predominate. Physics and chip design will have a high degree of coordination with reality, while the social sciences and climatology will have less.”

    I don’t see how coming out of a world war can be used as an argument to demolish Keynes though. Hardly a typical situation.

  3. The effect CO2 as a Greenhouse gas becomes ever more marginal with greater concentration

    The political target of limiting the effect of Man-made global warming to only +2⁰C could never be reached.
    According to well understood physical parameters, the effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas diminishes logarithmically with increasing concentration and from the current level of ~390 ppmv only ~12% of the effectiveness of CO2 remains. This inconvenient fact is well understood in the climate science community.

    The logarithmic diminution of the effect of CO2 is probably the reason why there was no runaway greenhouse warming from CO2 in earlier eons when CO2 levels were known to be at levels of several thousands pmmv.

    Remarkably, IPCC Published reports , (TAR3), do actually acknowledge that the effective temperature increase caused by growing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere radically diminishes with increasing concentrations. This information is in their report. It is well disguised for any lay reader, (Chapter 6. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: section 6.3.4 Total Well-Mixed Greenhouse Gas Forcing Estimate).

    The diminishing percentage effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas as acknowledged by the IPCC and its concomitant temperature effect as calculated using values from CDIAC, giving the current level of Global warming from all CO2, (both natural and Man-made) as 1.24⁰C.

    Accounting for the diminution effect the actual temperature reductions achievable, the calculated achievable values are in the range of few hundredths to a few thousandths of a degree Centigrade. As the margin of error for temperature measurements is about 1.0°C, these miniscule levels the temperature effects for the efforts of the Joining-in nations are marginal, immeasurable and irrelevant.

    These minute temperature changes have to be seen in the context of normal daily temperature variations at any a single location of 10⁰C to 20⁰C. It can be as much as 40⁰C to 50⁰C over the course of a whole year.
    Although the IPCC tacitly acknowledges that this crucial effect exists, it certainly does not go out of its way to emphasise it. Like the Medieval Warm Period, that they attempted to eliminate with the Hockey Stick graph in 2001, the panel knows that wide public knowledge of the diminution effect with increasing CO2 concentration would be utterly detrimental to their primary message. “Man-made CO2 emissions are the cause of climate change”.

    The IPCC certainly does not explain these devastating consequences for the CAGW theory in their Summary for Policy Makers. This is because the IPCC is an essentially political organisation, that is solely tasked with the promotion and presentation of Man-made Climate Change from CO2 emissions, as an accepted and non-contentious fact for world’s politicians.

    Thus the IPCC is entirely misleading in its central claim for Policy Makers, as they say:

    “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    So any unquestioning, policy making reader is lead to assume that all increasing CO2 concentrations are progressively more harmful because of their escalating Greenhouse impact. But the opposite is so.
    From the present concentration of atmospheric CO2 at ~390 ppmv, only ~12% of the effectiveness of CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas remains.

    This can only give rise to a maximum of a further of ~+0.18°C. Thereafter beyond 900+ pmmv the effect of increasing levels of CO2 can only ever be absolutely minimal even if CO2 concentrations were to increase indefinitely.

    It is for this irrefutable physical fact that the widely held alarmist policy ambition “to constrain Man-made temperature increase to only +2°C” could in fact never be reached, however much more Man-made CO2 was emitted.

    It is impossible to ever reach the much vaunted policy upper limit of +2.0 °C that has been promoted by politicians as a target final limit for man-made CO2 emissions.

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