Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reply to Thomas Friedman

I have received multiple emails about Thomas Friedman's New York Times column today.  If you have not seen it, it is here.  There is a fatal flaw in his reasoning.

My whole career has been based around studying and creating solutions for the "low probability/high impact" event.  A tornado is a very low probability event (much below 1%) at any given place and time (i.e., what is the chance of a tornado in St. Louis, at the intersection of Big Bend and I-270, next May 24th?).

That said, what Friedman misses is that there is more than a 1% chance of global cooling.  And, if cooling is indeed the problem, measures put in place to mitigate warming will likely backfire.  Given that we know the climate models do not produce skillful forecasts, the trillions spent to mitigate warming would be for nothing or, perhaps (if cooling is the problem), worse than nothing.

Given that the sun continues in its funk, the probability of cooling may be creeping upward.

The "precautionary principle" works in both directions.

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