We’ll Always Have Paris

Today is a red letter date in the history of the world, as the Paris Accord comes into effect. Or maybe it isn’t. The political and activist side of the climate community is portraying the accord as a breakthrough and the beginning of a turnaround in the world’s self-destructive path. But many of us who are scientific and technical professionals have a far less sanguine view of the whole thing. [more]

Who Decides What is True?

There’s no Supreme Court of Truth, no supreme authority that affixes an imprimatur of “scientific fact”.

Yet we believe many things to be true which we could not have known about without science. It’s obvious that science can draw conclusions which are effectively certain, but it’s less than obvious how this happens. How does speculation turn into hypothesis, then established theory, then fact? It’s a social process more than a formal one. [more]

I’m Afraid This Changes Nothing

When Naomi Klein says things like “Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of world views. Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war,” I am sympathetic. So I expected and wanted to like her magnum opus on climate, “This Changes Everything”. But I don’t. In fact I’m sorely disappointed. I find the book naively optimistic, agonizingly politically correct, and technically uninsightful. Not only is there nothing new here, but the old stuff this book is made of is, I’m afraid, tired and weak. [more]

Climate, Chaos, Confusion

A common question is “doesn’t chaos theory mean you can’t predict the climate”? Or sometimes, just “isn’t climate chaotic”? Here I have to get very careful with language, because a few things are getting confused. There is a way of thinking about these questions that makes sense, but not everybody who talks about them knows it.
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