Reponse to Greg Craven’s “How the World Ends” Video

Apparently, a video by Greg Craven called "How the World Ends" has been getting a lot of attention, supposedly because it prevents an irrefutable argument for immediatley taking drastic action to fight global warming (presumably by handing the world economy over to the UN).  A newspaper asked me for my reponse, and I thought I would share it here as well:

Mr. Craven’s risk management argument is not a new one, though certainly he is a clever filmmaker.  Mr. Craven argues that the potential outcomes of global warming are so bad that, even if we are uncertain and the risk is small, it is still worth it for the world to take aggressive action to abate CO2 today.  He uses a number of examples, including car insurance.  He argues that one buys car insurance without actually knowing if he is going to crash his car, or how much such a crash might cost.  If I had to summarize my response to Mr. Craven, I would retort "Yes, but you wouldn’t pay $35,000 for car insurance if you only had a $30,000 car?"  Costs matter a lot, as does the magnitude of risk.  They can’t just be shuffled off to the side.

Mr. Craven’s video is a clever kind of sleight of hand, built to disguise the fact that it rests on three very shaky points:

  • At the 5:24 mark, he pins the entire argument that global warming costs and probabilities outweigh the costs of CO2 abatement on statements by the NAS and NAAS.  In the beginning of the video, he says that he will make an argument that does not rely on wading into the scientific debate.  But that is in fact wrong — his whole argument falls apart if one does not choose to rely on these two scientific bodies as authorities, or even if one does not agree with Mr. Craven’s reading of these authorities (which I can attest is ambiguous from having actually read the NAS report).  The NAS study has been portrayed by climate catastrophists as saying many things it did not actually say.  It did say that man was probably warming the climate some (which folks like myself do not deny).  The report did not say, as Mr. Craven claims, that immediate action was less costly than allowing global warming to happen.  It is easy to get the impression Mr. Craven has of the NAS report from reading media summaries of that report, but impossible to have that view had he actually read the report himself.  This is fairly typical of climate journalism (sorry) but the media reports and press releases almost never match the real content of the science.  This is a well-documented problem with the UN IPCC, where the political appointees crafted the summary first, and then sent it around to scientists and asked them to make sure their sections of the science matched the politician’s summary.
  • Mr. Craven’s argument for prioritizing global warming above every other policy issue relies on global warming being, literally, the end of civilization: Climate Armageddon.  He argues for this view at the 8:21 mark by positing that climate has a tipping point, beyond which it goes unstable and bad stuff accelerates.  Tipping points, and in fact most catastrophic climate forecasts, are based on assumptions that the climate is dominated by positive feedback, assumptions for which there is no scientific proof!  Yes, CO2 can warm the world, and most scientists agree that it will warm the world about a degree C for a doubling in CO2 concentrations.  Even catastrophic forecasts begin with this assumption, but then get to 4, 5, 6 degree warming forecasts by assuming there are positive feedbacks that amplify the temperature change.  But the climate system is one that has remained stable, within fairly narrow bounds, for millions of years.  This despite enormous perturbations such as meteors and volcanoes and changes in the sun.  Had the climate been dominated by positive feedback, or even feedback that is greater than one (which leads to tipping points) then the climate would have run away long ago.  Most natural processes are not dominated by positive feedback and most certainly don’t have such tipping points.  Scientists always assume a natural process is dominated by negative feedback until proven otherwise, except, I guess, in climate.  The tipping point argument is an invention of late by climate scientists trying to justify catastrophic warming forecasts that greatly exceed the warming in the historical data.  When one looks at warming over the last century, it is hard to get a forecast much higher than about a degree for warming over the next century.  What if I told you that the relationship between CO2 and temperature is a diminishing curve, such that each additional unit of CO2 has less effect on temperature than the last.  Would you believe me?  Probably not, but it is a scientific fact, even among climate scientists.  Take from it what you will that some climate scientists posit an accelerating effect from a decelerating relationship.

This is another bit of sleight of hand that goes on among climate catastrophists.  They always retort that the science is really strong and complete.  Yes, but for what proposition?  I would agree that the science is good for a first proposition that the world is warming some, and that a part of that is due to CO2, and that we will see some more man-made warming in the next century, on  the order of about a degree C (if the sun doesn’t do anything radical).  But the science is at best equivocal, and more accurately nearly non-existent, for the second proposition that the climate is dominated by positive feedbacks and will run away once it reaches some tipping point.  The weight of scientific opinion is against this latter proposition.  But catastrophists try to hide this tipping point proposition, for which there is no evidence, under the umbrella of support for the first proposition.  And the media (sorry again) lets them get away with it.  By the way, the science really gets sloppy and weak if we get to the arena of projected outcomes, such as sea levels and hurricanes.  For example, most scientific forecasts believe the sea level rise over the next century from even four degrees of warming would be about 15 inches, not the 20 feet Al Gore keeps quoting.  Further, every story about global warming likes to talk about droughts, but if the world is warming, megatons more water will be evaporated into the atmosphere.  Rain on average has to increase, not decrease, in a warming world.

  • Mr. Craven discusses the cost of abating CO2 and fighting global warming in the film at minute, uh, minute….  Oh, wait, he never mentions it.  He does a whole video on costs and risks and prioritization of our efforts without every worrying about this key element.  It would be like sitting though a 10 minute presentation on car insurance talking about potential things that could damage your car and the risks of each and then asking you to buy the insurance without once telling you how much the insurance costs.

I have made climate videos too (both more fact-based but less dynamic than Mr. Craven’s), and I can take you through the calculation that Mr. Craven omits.  The world economy is now about $60 trillion.  If, over the next 100 years, it grows at 3% real, then in 2108 it will be $1,153 trillion in size.  OK, now lets assume that fighting global warming knocks 1 percentage point off world economic growth, for  a new growth of 2% real.  Then, in 2108 our world economy would only be $435 trillion in size.  In other words, reducing world economic growth over the next century reduces the size of the world economy in 2108 by $718 trillion per year.  So, is the cost of global warming greater than $718 trillion per year?  Further, if we begin such an abatement program as was desired by many environmental leaders in Bali, then these abatement costs in terms of lost growth and poverty will be certain.  In our decision-making model, we must pencil them in at 100%.  And how about warming?  If we assume the really harsh results are, say, 20% certainty, then their costs must be five times higher than these abatement costs to justify action. Does anyone really expect that the cost of warming will be 5 x $718 trillion = $3.6 quadrillion per year?

Surely you are thinking I did something wrong in this analysis.  How can it be so much?  Surely I must be estimating that wrong.  Well, yes I am.  I am probably underestimating the cost.  The strong global warming catastrophists are arguing that CO2 output needs to be reduced to 10-30% less than it was in 1990 (update:  Hillary Clinton proposes 80% less than 1990).  Given current technologies, this likely will mean negative economic growth over the next decades.  The advocates for such action even admit this.  There is no way we can meet these targets and let China and India develop.  This means that a billion plus people who are on the verge of stepping out of poverty for the first time ever will have to be told, sorry, you must stay poor.   We’re talking about more disease, more death,  more vulnerability to natural disasters and everything else poverty brings.  The recent Bangladesh cyclone is a great example.  Thousands died in that storm, mainly because they were vulnerable due to their poverty.  Horrendous hurricanes have hit the US in recent decades and we have not had thousands die.  The reason is wealth.  Wealth matters.  We think of wealth as a Wall Street guy buying a new Ferrari, but when we talk about the world, wealth is the ability to build a strong enough house and have good enough emergency systems and transportation to not die in a hurricane.   It is why a very good argument can be made that even if man-made global warming causes a few more hurricanes, it may well be better to be wealthier and ready to deal with them than be poorer and more vulnerable to fewer storms. 

Catastrophists try to lull us with cute little messages about recycling and carpooling that make the solution seem so easy.  But this is just more sleight of hand, to distract us from the fact that all of us will be made poorer by abatement efforts.  If you told folks in the US that their economy would be like India (as did the Stern report), I don’t think the video would have had many takers.  Which is not to say we should never prepare for anything, but that costs matter.  Nothing we have done to date in environmental improvements even comes orders of magnitude within the realm of the CO2 abatement targets being discussed.  Why is CO2 different?  To date, we have always gone ofter contaminants.  Lead in gasoline was bad so we removed it and found different additives.  Sulfur in fuel might cause acid rain, so we took it out. Effluent is polluting rivers so it needs to be disposed of more carefully.  But CO2 is fundamental to combustion of anything but a few elements (like hydrogen).  We can’t keep our economy, which runs on fossil fuels, chugging along by refining the fuel a bit more.  We have to shut down combustion altogether to get rid of CO2.

Finally, it is always interesting to me how the many children of the 1960’s, who used to argue for personal liberties and who now make up so much of the global warming movement, put so little value on the loss of freedoms.  One additional large cost to CO2 abatement will be the loss of freedoms we experience, from the small (reduced choice in cars) to the problematic (limits on airplane flights) to the real hardships (limits on children).  Any crash effort to reduce CO2 emissions will entail substantial erosions in individual freedoms which, if they don’t have costs to climate catastrophists, certainly have a cost to me.  [update]  From here

{Mayer} Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute, says carbon rationing is the only way to ensure that the world avoids the worst effects of climate change. And he says that the problems caused by burning fossil fuels are so serious that governments might have to implement rationing against the will of the people.

“When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it,” he says. “This has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not.” [update]

Postscript: About a century ago, many leading scientists thought there were intelligent, civilization-building creatures on Mars.  Percival Lowell, who had far more prominence as a scientist than any of today’s climate scientists, was sure of it.  Clearly, some thought that these beings posed risks to our civilization.  H.G. Wells and, even decades later, Orson Wells played on these fears.  What if we had initiated a huge program to build defense systems against such a threat.  Sure, the threat was unknown, but could we really wait until we are sure? What if those preparations had cost a full percentage of our economic growth rate, leaving us with only a third of the income we might have had.  Everyone would have only a third of the income they do today, and many of the conveniences and medicines and facilities we take for granted today would likely not exist, or only exist as reach people’s toys.  And would we have been safer from any Martians, given we would have been building defenses with 1900-era rather than more modern technologies?

Update:  fixed Mr. Craven’s name in the post title

29 thoughts on “Reponse to Greg Craven’s “How the World Ends” Video”

  1. In your example, you say the cost of global warming abatement would be $718 trillion per year. Shouldn’t that be $718 trillion over 100 years, or $7.2 trillion per year?

  2. The video also relies on the assumption that the AAAS, NAS, and corporations listed on the board have only the climate on their minds when they call for action. It fails to take into account funding (try to get a million dollar research grant by saying global warming isn’t a problem).

    And the corporations might be calling for emission cuts for several reasons: public pressure and good marketing. Or, more pragmatically, it’s likely politicians will mandate emission cuts anyway, so it’s in a corporation’s interest to have influence in the decision about how severe the cuts will be. Going along with them might also prevent political reprisal too. I could draw up a simple game theory chart to describe what I mean…

  3. Craig, no, I don’t think so. The example discusses two compound growth rates of the world’s economic output. One rate is the course we are on now, and the other is reduced by 1% per year for CO2 abatement.

    After 100 years, the size of the world’s economic output for 1 year will differ by $718T between the scenarios. Thanks to the magic of compounding over 100 years.

  4. You might be interested in the 6+ hours of videos I made to accompany “How It All Ends,” addressing every single objection I came across in reading over 7000 comments about my first video–“The Most Terrifying Video.” If you are sincere about getting closer to “the truth” (only closer, since science never claims to get there) rather than just holding on to your opinion, I would hope that you are willing to invest the time. I’ve invested hundreds of hours in researching this, in the hopes of either finding out where I’m wrong–so that I can ditch that misunderstanding–or reinforce where I’m right, to increase my confidence in my understanding. Given that I feel I’ve already addressed your concerns in the videos, perhaps you’ll understand that I point you to them rather than re-iterate them here. If, after viewing, I would love to hear your critique of the points that I missed, or “deal-killer” errors you believe I made. Please contact me at, as well as post your critiques here. Thanks for the sincere thinking, and acknowledging the possibility that you might be wrong. I must tell you–I certainly hope I am wrong. But my long study has me quite confident that I am right. I would LOVE to be convinced otherwise. But after viewing the videos, you’ll see what level of evidence and argument it will take to do so. (I actually lay out the outline for your counterargument in one of the vids.)

  5. I just got done watching 40 minutes of video from Mr. Craven starting here:

    It’s pretty interesting. I think that there are some errors in his assessment, most notably I don’t really think he understands economics very well. For example, he misunderstands a Julian Simon quote as suggesting that quantity of copper (as opposed to the supply) is infinite. Additionally, I think he falls prey to the broken glass fallacy with his statements about the net economic benefits of governmental intervention. Moreover, I don’t think he really has an appreciation that, even though scientists can tell you lots about the physical world, as soon as they venture into policy, and the consequences of the policy, they’ve left their area of expertise.

    All of that being said, I think that this guy is open minded. He seems willing to be wrong. Personally, I’d love to see a civil debate between him and the Skeptic.

  6. Craven may be “willing to be wrong”, but it looks like he is not bright enough to do what it takes to get to a well-reasoned place. Craven is “saving the planet!” The urgency of that quest narrows his intellectual options a bit–in terms of what ideas, facts, and arguments his mind is willing (and able) to entertain.

    People who read this blog are significantly brighter (and probably more experienced) than the folks who are swayed by Craven’s (and Gore’s) video.

  7. ethan: I think this is the first video (of 7) that addresses the cost issue. I don’t think it does a very thorough job, personally.

    There’s also a “menu” video that tells you where to find what you’re looking for:

    I have criticisms of the “risk management” series of videos (the first link above).

    1) Mr Craven relies on the expertise of scientists to tell us about what is and isn’t happening with global warming. Even if we grant that the science in the IPCC report is 100% accurate, the scientists stray from their field of expertise as soon as they start talking about policy, and the policy implications.

    2) Mr Craven’s misunderstanding of economics, as demonstrated by his misunderstanding of Julian Simon, causes him to fall prey to the exact mistrust of economics expertise that he accuses skeptics of holding against scientific expertise. He seems to make some good faith effort to find the results of economic expertise. What he finds is even worse than the worst case scenario documented on this site, and he dismisses that as not being that bad. Moreover, he automatically includes the worst case cost of action as being at least as bad as the worst case cost of pursuing action.

    3) Because of his bad economic analysis, I don’t think he’s in much of a position to accurately describe how human beings will respond to scarcity. Even if that scarcity is lack of a cooler world. Hence his conclusions about what might happen are (IMHO) not as convincing as they could be.

    Even if I grant Mr Craven that the science is 100% correct, I think it would be beneficial for Mr Craven to study what has and hasn’t worked in the past with respect to dealing with scarcity. This is, of course, economics. And as far as I can tell, the vast majority of economists agree that markets are the best way to deal with scarcity – even if that means a scarcity of cool temperatures.

  8. During the summer my brother, a true believer, sent me the link to the first, then the second, then…it was like Japanese water torture. Mr Craven argument boils down to nothing more than a bloke with the sandwich board reading “The End is Nigh.”
    As I told my brother:
    The trick is that he relies on the audience believing in catastrophic global warming. Try watching the video again but imagine he is taking about, say, open-toed sandals. Unless you “believe” in the catastrophic danger of open-toed sandals his argument becomes ridiculous. Would you risk global recession to save us from open-toed sandals?
    Tip: open-toed sandals are NOT dangerous;)

  9. I am hoping that earth returns to the extreme warmth the vikings enjoyed in Iceland during the Medieval Warm Period, but I fear we may end up living in an atmosphere which caused the demise of the woolly mammoth before we ever see another warming period like the MWP.

  10. The qoute above,
    “When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it,” he says. “This has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not.”,

    must be the ultimately most stupid thing I have heard yet on the global warming debate. How can anyone read as much into even the most alarmist scientific papers? What is at issue is if we will have one degree of warming (likely) or less or a few degrees more. Life on earth is certainly not threathened by such small changes as the normal swing in and out of an iceage represents a least 15°C.

  11. As I understand it, then, you think it’s a good idea to keep dumping garbage in the air unless and until someone comes up with the killer argument that catastrophe will ensue? You don’t think any damage less than total global catastrophe is worth controlling air pollution?

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic, I’m trying to figure out whether you consider air pollution a benefit or not — since, as best I can tell, most of your criticisms assume there is no cost to air pollution short of total global catastrophe.

  12. It’s extremely dull-witted and unimaginative to think that economic development unavoidably requires the emission of carbon dioxide. Economic development requires energy, and I’m sure if you try really hard you can think of one or two ways of producing energy that don’t lead to the emission of carbon dioxide.

    Your ridiculous Mars ‘postscript’ would be relevant if there had actually been a serious debate about defending the earth from Martians. There wasn’t. It’s a stupid example.

  13. If global warming becomes a disaster, where will human live in year 2500 or so?
    Would polar cities make a good show for some TV channel to produce?

    What is your feedback , pro or con. Or both. SMILE — Danny

    I have come up with a concept, I call POLAR CITIES. See this blog for images and info:

    A possible future docu-drama about Polar Cites might look like this:


    Channel releases documentary-drama about “POLAR CITIES YEAR 2500”

    [Be afraid, be very afraid, writes Michael A. Jones, it’s just a
    matter of time before humankind is forced to place the 200,000 or so
    survivors of globol warming events in the year 2500 or so into polar
    cities, so that the human species can continue.]

    POLAR CITIES opens with an ominous twist on a cliche: this is a true
    story, it just hasn’t happened yet. The program is a
    documentary-drama hybrid in the tradition of ”Pompeii: The Last Day”
    and ”Colosseum” and suggests we might just might need POLAR CITIES
    in the future.

    The docu-drama follows Danny Bloom’s blog concept that humanity might
    need to find shelter in polar cities in the far distant future. In the
    program, the far distant future is now. It’s scary.

    “It is a possible scenario,” says producer Ailsa Matthews. “The reason
    we chose it is that is just might be something to look into.”

    POLAR CITIES is set in the far distant future and employs
    breathtaking special effects to dramatise events before and after
    catastrophic global warming events.. As drama it is compelling, but as
    documentary it is frightening, throwing fact after unsettling fact at
    the viewer. Life in these polar cities is not a pretty picture. And
    that’s just for starters.

    The reaction to this show , says Matthews, is generally disbelief.
    “And understandably so,” she adds. “Two years ago, when this film was
    first suggested to me, I didn’t know what a POLAR CITY was and once I
    found out my reaction was the same. Why don’t people know about these
    things? This is something we should all know about.”

    Matthews, who has worked mainly on science documentaries (Neanderthal,
    Threads of Life), was more recently involved in the BBC’s
    groundbreaking Walking with Dinosaurs and co-produced Pompeii with Dr
    Michael Mosley.

    To tell the story of POLAR CITIES, she says, docu-drama was the
    obvious method. “We all felt this was an incredibly important story to
    tell and the best way to tell it – because it deals with difficult
    science that you can’t really see – was to dramatise it.”

    To construct a dramatic shell for the documentary, it was important to
    find the line between fact and fiction. “The question we kept asking
    ourselves was, ‘What is this based on?’ If we couldn’t answer that
    question, then it was a leap too far. I am confident there is nothing
    in this film I cannot justify. I can base it on a conversation or a
    simulation, or a piece of research that was done for us.”

    The production team spent eight months researching the project. “We
    sat down with Danny Bloom and explained what we wanted to do. We
    worked through the scenario: how these polar cities would be
    organised, who would be allowed in as residents, where they would be
    situated, things like that…..and what regions of the world would be
    worst hit by global warming events in the year 2500,” she says.

    The production team also visited America’s Federal Emergency
    Management Agency (FEMA), which responds to national disasters, and
    the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “We took
    the scenario we had built to the FEMA in Washington and said, ‘OK, we
    have this scenario, how would you deal with it?’ And their jaws hit
    the floor.”

    POLAR CITIES, much like ”Pompeii,” uses many of the techniques and
    tricks of traditional filmmaking to enhance its impact, including
    tight edits, expensive special effects and a powerful score from
    composer Tag Eckles.

    “We have used the rules of documentary and drama to create this
    hybrid,” Matthews explains. “It is a drama, but it feels like a
    documentary in many ways when you consider what it could have felt
    like: that is, The Day After Tomorrow or one of those feature films
    that bend and contort the truth beyond all recognition.”

    The script was written by Edward Bloom (no relation to Danny), who
    worked on ”Pompeii”. Matthewss admits there was some creative
    wrangling over the use of dramatic devices such as talk-to-camera
    testimonials to back up dramatic twists with factual evidence. “He
    felt we didn’t need to do those pieces to camera. It is a drama, but
    it is a factual drama and we felt they underpinned and supported the
    drama. They are strategically placed so that every time there is a
    plot twist, the testimonials justify why they are there.”

    The result, she says, was more collaborative than ”Pompeii”. “We all
    poured into it what we wanted to do; we learned from him and he
    learned from us. On Pompeii, to a large degree, we let him do what he
    normally did on drama; that is, we had very little input into his
    script. With POLAR CITIES we pushed it a bit more. Pompeii took the
    first steps of allowing the characters to speak for themselves. In
    POLAR CITIES we have taken the next step in that we have removed the
    documentary voice.”

    Matthews says her next project will take the dramatic process even
    further, but she doesn’t think big-budget immersive docu-dramas will
    replace the documentary form. “I think in a couple of years these
    things will have gone out of fashion and we’ll be back where we were,”
    she says, “a very traditional way of telling these stories.”

    That might not be such a bad thing. While POLAR CITIES 2500 AD is
    powerful, you can’t help notice that its bricks and mortar are actors,
    directors and a script.

    POLAR CITIES 2500 AD airs on the ABC on Sunday at 8.30pm.

  14. Mr. Cravens, Please go to the website I have also read reports in the newspaper that while we may be warming its not all the humans fault its more like mother natures fault. We as Americans can do this (sarcastically speaking) 1) lets all stop breathing it is carbon dioxide. 2) lets all stop passing gas that includes all other life forms that eat also. 3) lets all stop driving and that include electric cars because it still takes fossil fuels to power them when we plug them in where do we get the elctricity from. Mr. Cravens you may contact me and i would love to discuss this with you further but go to the website at the beginning of this comment.

    Have a wonderful and blessed day

    Stewart Hedger in Amarillo, Tx where its 19 degrees currently 1 degree below mormal

  15. This article describes a few ways in which Mr. Craven’s argument for taking action might be flawed. First it states that the scientific study in question does not in any way imply the environmental damage mentioned in the videos. Yet it does not provide a source where I might be able to attest this for myself.
    One of the comments suggests that they would instill such a panic in order to get funding. Mr. Craven debunks this by saying that these such organizations would not want to say anything that get them into trouble a few years down the line. Both are understandable, and I shall take that into consideration, but I would like to see the statement in question. I understand that my interpretation may be flawed, but with conflicting opinions, I’d certainly like to know for my benefit which to believe.

    The second argument against “How It All Ends” is that he assumes the cost of taking action is included in the cost of not taking action. This is based on the worst case scenario given everything bad that could happen will happen. This is not to say that that is accurate, far to the contrary. If the worst of climate change, given that we don’t know exactly what could happen, occurs, then we will be in for some seriously nasty consequences. More likely, as he states in one of the videos (I believe it was the Manpollow project), the actual outcome will be somewhere in the middle, but its impossible for us, as laypeople to predict just where that will fall. What seems to be the best option in my opinion is to take a somewhat moderate approach. Which is to take enough action to slow the process down. We can’t stop it entirely, but we can slow it down to the point where adapting would be more manageable. And if that doesn’t take any action to do, then thats great. But it would be best to let the scientists do their thing and tell the policy makers what goals we need to have in order to avert catastrophe.

    my email, if anyone cares to send me a link to this statement, is

  16. I have watched Craven’s “Most Terrifying Video” and found it rather…anti-climactic 😎

    He’s basically saying is that we should refer to scientific authorities. Yuck…is THAT it?


    Something I haven’t seen yet is an understanding that risk management cannot be seriously done if one of the “four boxes” is so heavily catastrophist, whilst the consequences of action are disregarded as minimal and confined to economics alone.

    Somebody please google about “Bufo marinus”…

    The tragedy is that we’ve been this way before, many times, and
    scientist-advocates have already brought us disasters around their pet
    ideas. Eugenics, and the Bufo Marinus.

    I say, I am catadtrophist myself, and if the human race decides to
    waste all resources in fighting the AGW fake monster, it’s going to be
    “amen” and “r.i.p.” to all of us

  17. The total cost of the most draconian carbon cap and trade scheme amounts to less than one percent of the global economy. When projected over one hundred years, it adds two years to the time required to achieve five times current wealth. See Stephen Schneider’s website for both the original study and the one that extended it.
    The joke here is that we will let the ‘miserable science’ of economics trump the far more objective physics and chemistry that inform climate science.
    Two real life examples disprove the economic impacts of restricted energy use. Sweden and California. Sweden made a national goal of halving per capita energy use in 1974, and achieved that goal in 1994. That isn’t a third world lifestyle. California has maintained its position in the world economy over the last thirty years without building any new power plants. It has the same per capita energy use today as it did three decades ago. It is still a top six engine economically in spite of the many challenges it has faced.
    The real lie is that we can continue to grow on fossil fuels or ‘business as usual’. Peak oil will drive the cost of oil high enough to make sustainable energy sources become the cost effective way to continue development. The economic argument is as old and hackneyed as those that that preach of doom. Fear of change and ideological myopia is more dangerous than rebuilding the energy sector of the world economy.
    The opportunity is to make energy like salt. You know salt, that cheap commodity we used to go to war over.

  18. “As I understand it, then, you think it’s a good idea to keep dumping garbage in the air unless and until someone comes up with the killer argument that catastrophe will ensue? You don’t think any damage less than total global catastrophe is worth controlling air pollution?

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic, I’m trying to figure out whether you consider air pollution a benefit or not — since, as best I can tell, most of your criticisms assume there is no cost to air pollution short of total global catastrophe.”

    You do realize we’re talking about CO2 here, right? Carbon Dioxide. This is not like Sulfuric Acid or Chloroflorocarbons. This is not some exotic synthetic ‘OMG it’ll kill us all chemical’ that only muscle-cars and plastic-wrap release. This is a natural byproduct of the synthisis of energy wether it be from coal burning in a power-plant to gasoline being exploded in a car’s engine to food that’s digesting in your stomache Right Now.

    Nobody is advocating dumping ‘Garbage’ into the air, because CO2 is not ‘Garbage’, it’s a natural part of our environment and it’s status as a pollutant-gas is entirely dependent upon it’s classification as a greenhouse gas. If it turns out man-made CO2 emissions don’t have a significant impact on global climate destabilization then That’s It. It won’t cause Acid Rain, it won’t eat-away the Ozone Layer, it won’t cause your children to be born with Down’s Syndrome and steps taken to control CO2 emissions are not guaranteed to also control the chemicals that Can lead to all of the above as a happy side-benefit.

  19. To Climate Skeptic (and his fans):

    I swung back by here to see if you had actually followed up with my refutations above (posted Dec 17, 2007) of your critiques of my video “How It All Ends,” contained in the 44 videos following up that project.

    I see that you haven’t.

    Yet you continue to pound the drum of economic alarmism and use scare tactics about totalitarian governments whenever someone mentions a solution which might impinge on a completely unfettered market. You might understand my frustration when you so firmly fit into the errors of thought that I outlined in my follow-up videos (especially “Nature of Science,” “Risk Management,” “Get What You Want,” and “No Holds Barred”) with your well-established hostility toward government, and your lack of a reasonable test of falsifiability for your claim that AGW is not sufficient to merit significant action. You criticize others for using simple college debate tactics (, yet you yourself engage in the very effective and totally disrespected tactic of “spreading” your opponents, where you nitpick enough to give the sense to onlookers that you’ve given a thorough refutation, without actually providing robust refutation of the key points.

    I tried playing nice, but your insistence on betting the world (OUR world, I might add) on your own personal assessment of climate science–while detracting from anyone who questions YOUR assessment of economics–your supreme confidance that you are correct, and therefore need not even consider the question “what if you’re wrong,” is so irresponsible and reckless that it defies civility.

    You refuse to investigate the answers to your objections, and you move one, continuing to re-assert your claims. If Rush Limbaugh is your hero, then you must be pretty pleased with your mimicry, and enjoying the adulation of those who come to your blog to feel good in having their beliefs affirmed. If, however, you still have within you enough charity to allow the benefits of others to enter into your metric of what to do or say, then I deeply hope you will view the arguments in my videos, consider them thoughtfully with the attitude that you might just possibly have something to learn–that perhaps you aren’t perfect yet–and take up the challenge contained in them to either let your thinking be informed, or explain why it hasn’t been. It is to that part of you–that part which is still interested in humbly seeking better understanding rather than merely the preservation of dearly-held opinions which feel good and righteous–that I appeal to.

    I hope that is still within you. But given what I’ve seen of your postings, I think it probably is not. I would love to be proven wrong. To end up with egg on my face. For it to be shown to the world that I was overly excitable in my evaluation, and my “calling out” of you.

    Reading your blog and the comments of your admirers reminds me of a virtual compound of survivalists or cult members, holed up with like-minded compatriots, reinforcing each other’s faith, holding the “hostile” and “irrational” world at bay. So out of touch with the rest of the world that overwhelming disagreement with the rest of society is taken as yet more evidence of persecution of the just and righteous, rather than an indication that perhaps you would be best served by a re-examination of your beliefs.

    I wish you could step out of that, and see that—to most of the rest of us—you are starting to resemble moon hoaxers, or Holocaust deniers, who always have their evidence and experts to provide enough fodder them to satisfy their conscience that their beliefs are not faith-based, or biased, or blinded. This is why I spent well over an hour in my videos talking about how one of the hallmarks of the scientific mindset—and probably the single greatest source of its success–is to be ever vigilant for your own biases. To be humble.

    I almost always manage to avoid engaging in acrimony. But you’ve brought out the worst in me. Your reckless disregard for the benefit of others punches my “Papa Bear” button, because the whole reason I’m doing this is that I’m fighting for a decent future for my two beautiful daughters.

    I dearly hope to be proven wrong.

    Most Sincerely,
    Greg Craven (wonderingmind42, the creator of “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See” and the entire six hours of the “How It All Ends” video project)

  20. Your comments on the economic disaster scenario are simply laughable (GDB growth reduction how scary ). Greg is 100% right, like it or not this kind of economy is simply not sustainable in the long run.

  21. Greg,

    I found your videos quite interesting. However, I found your most recent response inexcusable. What exactly was your point in responding to this blog in such a manner? Did you feel it would add anything to the content of your videos? Your ideas may have been attacked, your name may have been soiled, but do these arguments range much beyond the walls of this blog? Hardly. Any respect I may have had for you has been lost because of the manner in which you responded. Holocaust deniers? Your videos appealed to the masses because of the logic, rather than science, of your particular argument, and by denouncing your opponents with terms like “holocaust denier” you begin to lose that logical appeal–if your conclusion was really undeniable, why name call? Not only do you not gain any credibility with those that disagree with you, but you lose credibility with those that may have agreed with you.

    You may say you are fighting for a decent future for your daughters, but I doubt your daughters would ever excuse such insults used under the guise of “their name.” And I doubt you would raise them to use such language. It would appear that you are fighting for reasons other than your daughters’ future.

  22. Yes, Greg Craven’s latest response smacks of someone who is frustrated.
    However, I personally found the Climate Skeptic’s accusation of “sleight of hand” and general belittling language just as inappropriate as Greg Craven’s warning of our resemblance to “holocaust deniers” — the arguments could have been equally served without resorting to such emotive language.

    In fairness and in the spirit of helpful debate, I think that the Climate Skeptic should respond to Greg Craven’s videos in their entirety. He has presented his counter-arguments. Now it’s the Skeptic’s move.

    I believe it is likely that we will see that there are flawed arguments on both sides, because we are talking about the unknown future. We simply do not know who will be right and who will be wrong, or if it’ll be something in-between. Perhaps the catastrophizers have overestimated the impact. But equally, perhaps the Skeptic has overestimated the effects of throwing money at fighting Global Warming. Who knows, it could be that research into alternative fuel sources may have spinoff’s that have a positive effect on the economy, or that this Natural Capitalism idea actually saves money and improves productivity.

    To be honest, I am wavering here. I don’t know that we’re on the brink of any major catastrophe, however I am concerned that if the global demand continues to grow, we’re likely to run out of oil, water, and food (there is only so much CH and O in the world). So we either start shifting our dependence away from oil now, in a controlled manner, or we keep propping it up until we are forced to change in a big hurry. So perhaps we really should fight Global Warming, but in order to reduce our reliance on oil rather than for the reasons that Greg Craven gives.

    In answer to Andrew Heilborn’s post above, I think that these are the statements referred to:
    – From the AAAS, who are responsible for the Science magazine:
    – From the NAS:

  23. For the most part I agree with you. however I must address a few of you points:

    -“Sleight of hand” and “holocaust deniers?” The two aren’t even comparable. One is frustrating and the other is the other is outright disgusting. Like I said, it is inexcusable.

    -Fight global warming just to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? That reason is much worse than to fight global warming to “save the planet” from a perceived risk. Soon enough, we won’t have to rely on foreign oil. Not because we are “fighting global warming,” but because that is the way technology and a free market works. It gets better.

  24. – “Sleight of Hand” vs “Holocaust Deniers”: Opinions will differ depending on one’s frame of reference.
    To me, the former is an attack on personal integrity, and worse in my opinion than being accused of blind bias.
    I may get things wrong, and I may be unaware of my personal bias; I am happy to be criticised for such. I am even okay with being lumped in the same bucket as “Holocaust Deniers”, since it is just ludicrous and silly.
    However I would get very annoyed at any suggestion that I deliberately mislead or lied.

    – Two problems I see with relying on the free market to reduce our dependence on oil:
    1. The market is reactive rather than proactive. So the damage must first be felt before a correction occurs.
    Look at the last ten years, with oil prices rising sharply since 1998 yet oil demand also continued to rise.
    We have not felt the pain, and therefore the market has not reacted. Yet basic mathematics show that increasing demand and dwindling supply will lead to problems.
    My main point is that it is far cheaper to make changes in a controlled manner now, rather than to wait until problems occur and we must change in a hurry using available technology whilst also throwing money to fix all the other problems. Especially with oil, which will affect everything from industry to the price of vegetables.
    2. The price signals are broken (which is what I meant by “we keep propping it up”), thanks to things like subsidies and taxation around the world.
    Furthermore, the cost of fuel is small compared to the total cost of, say, a car (including maintenance, registration, insurance), and the earning potential (or convenience) of using the car. This means that demand will continue to grow while oil prices continue to rise, until the cost of fuel becomes a significant part of using a car.
    It gets even more complicated if you consider that the other costs in having a car might also be indirectly influenced by oil prices, almost to the point where the cost of fuel will never outweigh the other costs.

    Note that I believe we should reduce our reliance on all oil, not just on “foreign oil”.

    To bring things back on topic, I believe that just looking at the “cost of the fight” is inadequate, since fighting AGW has other benefits, just as did the “race to the moon” and the “Manhattan project”, which I guess is what’s behind the name of Greg Craven’s site “The Manpollo Project”. 🙂 Heehee! Mr. Craven at least deserves kudos for coming up with that!

  25. How do you justify the 2% real growth rate? That seems significantly less than 3% real, and that “one percent” is pretty important. It would seem to be more like a 33% drop each year, which is severe, and maybe not warranted.

  26. 1 degree more may sound like no problem, but it will melt the snow in the mountains, agriculture will suffer alot. With the popupation growing even now there is a food crisis, what will happen if we have 10-20% less food production. And the problem can be greater, since catastrophic events accure more often. And I have a prediction that I want to put here. after 6 years everyone will agree that the global warming is a problem. in the next 6 years there will be a new record for strongest huracane in US. milions will die. And noone can deny that the global warming is the reason.
    another point in fighting AGW is that if we do it the clever way it may increase the economy growth.
    if there is 1000 companies that develop renewable energy resourses. and we give each a million it makes 1 bilion. after a year research we take the best 100 inventions and give them 10 million each that is another billion, and again after one year we take the best 10 out of these 100 and give them 100 million each that is another billion. At the end we have 10 technologies for cheap(free) energy from the sun, wind waves… for just 3 bilion USD.which can make the electricity cheaper, all the cars can run on electicity 4-10 times cheaper than gasoline. I will call that increased growth instead of reduced. All these new technologies that we got for 3 billion USD will require hudge investment to be used in large scale. this meand economy growth, more jobs. Germany is already doing it. and they and all the EU will be much better when the apocalipse bigin.
    At the end. you all sceptics will be ashamed to tell your children that you underestimated the problem

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