Betting on climate change... or not?
Betting on climate change is the new meme. Everyone is doing it... or rather, everyone is posting about it. But the septics are shy. The "king" of the bets is James Annan: he has a nice summary of the bets here and a pile of links to others on the subject which I won't replicate. James is (as far as I know) the only person to have actually presented work at a scientific conference on the issue (poster pdf here). He has a long series of skeptics who have failed to back up their words with money, or who have shuffled their words when challenged. James wrote up a post for RC (here) which I think holds the record for the most comments, certainly in the shortest time. Roger Pielke has a post too (in fact he just beat us to posting, but ours was under review...). And there is a Reason mag article (which contains an amusing disclaimer wrt me, but its trivia, as you'll know if you saw the original) (which has now vanished; Reason are shit at keeping their old posts visible; here's an Internet Archive of it; or, if you prefer, the first version with the error about me and Lindzen, and - unforgiveably - mis-spelling my name). The Reason piece is worth reading, if only for the frisson between the reporter, who clearly feels rather let down by Lindzen and is obliged to say that he somehow misheard or misunderstood Lindzen (over the 50/50 warming/cooling, which is unsupportable). It has been a very interesting process (and probably not finished yet). Who would have thought that Michaels estimates for future change are actually within the IPCC limits? That sets an interesting challenge: how to refine the bets to pick him up more precisely? There is a tension as to the most desireable length for a bet. Obviously, going one or a few years ahead only is silly: natural variability means you can't predict individual years. Going too far ahead isn't good either: by 2100 most people reading this will be dead (unless my words last rather long than I expect them to); and predictions out to 2100 are more dependent on future CO2 emissions (ie, economics) rather than climate sensitivity (ie, climate science). James has focussed on predictions to 2030 and this seems sensible: its quite a long way out, but we'll still be alive (JA refers to it as funding his retirement, but I'm a bit older...) we hope. Further, predictions to 2030 are rather less sensitive to future CO2 emissions (being more conditioned by current levels and committed warming). OTOH 2030 still leaves the possibility of the "wrong" answer due to natural variability, but you have to live with a small risk of this. So, hopefully people will take up on James bets. If enough money pours into him that he runs out of ante, I'll be happy to fund his part of his bets. Perhaps we could even get a syndicate together. But at the moment, he lacks someone to bet against.