Climate Change and y Malcolm Roberts

[ 13/September/22 Dirk posted a link to a speach by Malcolm Roberts]

This guy is either ignorant or is outright lying for purposes unknown.

Look at the data:
There is clearly a reduction in the increase in CO2 due to recession, but even during a recession, we still burn a lot of fossil fuels, and the CO2 keeps going up. The rate of increase slows, but it is still increasing CO2.
That does effect retention of heat. And so do lots of other things.
The subject is extremely complex, and attempts to over simplify it always lead to failure.
It does contain fundamental uncertainties, as weather is part of it, and weather is not predictable in detail, only in general approximation.

We need to manage it, and that is doable, but the technology to do so is so powerful, that deploying such technology without a level of global cooperation that respects freedom and diversity has far greater risks than climate change.

This topic is seriously complex.

Anyone who truly respects and desires freedom must understand that all systems have limits required for their existence, and any actions that break those limits destroy the systems; so there are absolute logical and physical limits that freedom must respect if it is to exist. Over simplifying freedom leads to destruction.

If freedom is to survive, and that is my strongest desire; then it must have appropriate levels of responsibility.

Freedom is at least as complex as biology, and that is deeply complex.

That guy is wrong. What he says is factually and demonstrably incorrect. Anyone who takes even a moderate amount of time to check for themselves will see that.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

We all need to check things, for ourselves, to the best of our limited and fallible abilities.

A failure to do so leads to the loss of freedom – as propogandists like the one above lead people to deny the reality in front of them, which logically and inevitably leads to systems failure.

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,
Can you be explicit about what you are asking?

Lots of different factors affect the temperature of the Earth, solar output, internal heat production within the earth, orbital dynamics, plate tectonics, large scale volcanism, biological factors, …..

We are burning fossil fuels faster than they are regenerating, so at some point in the not too distant future we need alternatives.

The CO2 going into the atmosphere is altering the heat balance of the Earth, and the pH of the ocean, sea level, etc – all of which have biological and physical impacts on things like rain distribution, current food production technologies etc. Currently the sea level is rising about 4mm per year, and increasing.

It is seriously complex.

Space based technologies can solve the heat balance, and can stabilize sea levels, but the ocean pH is a different issue. That fundamentally effects many forms of life, particularly the algae that are at the base of all marine food webs, and thus ultimately account for most of the oxygen production that sustains oxygen in the atmosphere. And sure, CO2 has varied in the past, and the speed of the current change is faster than most historical events, and could have significant biological impacts.

So – it really is, deep, deeply complex. And Roberts is not being even slightly helpful or useful, in any dimension.

[followed by]

Hi Dirk,

The science that burning fossil fuels is creating CO2 in the atmosphere, and that is having an effect on global temperature, was settled beyond any reasonable doubt over 30 years ago. There are no reasonable questions about that. Anyone who looks seriously, comes to that conclusion. The chemistry and physics are solid.

Certainly, many different groups have tried to use that fact for political purposes. That is also true.

I am very clear that one world government is a very bad idea – with very significant existential level risk – for a host of reasons I will not go into detail here and have elsewhere.

I am very definitely in the camp that wants to maximise individual freedom, and I acknowledge that doing so demands commensurate levels of individual responsibility.

The biological and social and technological systems that are actually required to sustain our existence are extremely complex – no shadow of reasonable doubt about that.

Fossil fuels regenerate at a rate that can support way less than 1 billion people using current technologies. Thus the fact is not helpful in any real sense, and is essentially irrelevant.

We either go beyond fossil fuels, or we perish – essentially – and of course it is more complex than that – and it is a useful first order approximation.

Politically, if freedom means anything to us, then we must accept political diversity, because it is the necessary result of freedom. There must be fundamental cooperation between those diverse systems if we are to survive. The logic and mathematics of that is again beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

It seems clear to me that Elon Musk has done more to solve climate change than all political or environmental groups combined. And I have my share of arguments with Elon – and full kudos to him.

We need cheap efficient batteries for household and grid level storage, these do not have weight constraints, so can use chemistries not involving lithium, or any other rare earth elements. Sodium and Sulphur seem to be obvious candidates, and there have been some interesting chemistries reported in recent months.

The biggest issue is around the idea of markets, and the idea of requiring labor to make money. Those concepts both fail in the presence of advanced automation, and we need advanced automation to solve a large set of well characterized existential level risks.

So fundamental change is required, and fast.

It really is complex.
It really is urgent.
It really is real.
All beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt in my mind, as someone who has been obsessed with the subject of long term risk and long term survival strategies for 60 years (since the Cuban missile crisis).

[Followed by]

Hi Dirk,

Like I said at the start, it is complex.

All other things being equal, increased CO2 means increased temp, and often all other things are not equal – that was most certainly true many times in the past.

Open systems always contain some degree of uncertainty – that is true, and the degrees matter.

Clouds are part of the complex system.

Volcanic aerosols are part of the complex system.

Lots of other things are part of the complex system.

And us burning fossil fuels is having measurable effects – no shadow of reasonable doubt about that.

That is no longer a useful question.

The big question is, what are we going to do about it?

Will we take sufficient action, soon enough, to avoid catastrophic failure cascading through complex systems???

Not with the attitudes exhibited by Roberts, Hanson and their ilk.

[followed by Michael – “One exception disproves the rule”]

Michael Ward
If we were talking about one simple rule, that would be true, but we are not.

What we are talking about is extremely complex multi-component systems, with multiple factors varying over different periods. Solar output, orbital variations, movement of land masses, changes in atmospheric chemistry, changes in ocean chemistry, changes in geochemistry, changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, large scale volcanism, etc are all separately varying components of the total system.

One needs to look at the details of how each of those systems has varied, to get a reasonable picture of what has happened over geological time.

It is not possible to get a reasonable understanding by over simplifying that which is in fact irreducibly complex.

[followed by]

I’m not saying all is lost.

I am reasonably optimistic of a great future.

My definition of a great future is all individuals having whatever degrees of freedom they are willing to be responsible for.

Any sort of long term security demands a lot of energy, and some serious technology.

There are a lot of serious risks out there that demand some serious technology to deliver reasonable sets of mitigation systems.

And I am clear that some degree of risk is eternally necessary.

Any sort of idea of absolute security is entirely mythical.

To a reasonable degree I support people having the freedom to assume whatever degree of risk that they want, provided that it does not impose undue risk on anyone else.

Nothing simple there!!!

[followed by]

Michael Ward

I don’t do hard forecasts – more like MCMC (Monte Carlo Markov Chain) probability distributions. I certainly see opportunities for things to go seriously bad, but also opportunities for desirable outcomes.

Certainly, some human lifestyles need to change. Those that currently dominate and/or exploit others in particular.

The fossil fuel sources that have essentially given us the physical power of about 200 slaves per person (and some vastly more than that) are limited and decreasing, rapidly. Automation increases the range of goods and services that can be delivered without the need of human intervention, but we need an energy source to do that. Solar is there – vast, relatively constant. But we need efficient battery technology to make it work.

And this is where the clash between the needs of humanity and the incentives of the market place and “capital” come into severe conflict. Capital seeks profit. Profit is the gap between cost of production and sale price. As the sale price goes down, so does profit. So there is no possible market/capital incentive to deliver universal abundance – because at universal abundance the price drops to zero by definition.

So we have deep structural issues in our economic and political systems.

There are no incentives for capitalists to switch from an easily monopolized energy source like fossil fuels to a universally distributed energy source like solar. There is no profit in it. They will, necessarily, resist it with every tool available, all levels. That is what we are seeing. Some of it very subtle, and deeply indirected.

When one understands evolution at sufficient depth, then it is clear that all new levels of complexity are based upon new levels of cooperation. Competition is part of the picture, but contrary to current dogma, it is secondary to cooperation. And it is deeply, multi level, complex. And the existence of that complexity needs to be generally accepted, even if only vaguely understood.

There is no survivable competitive solution to this problems space, of that I am certain beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt. And what it takes to make a cooperative solution work is deeply complex and eternally evolving (necessarily) – so nothing simple there either.

[followed by]

Michael Ward

I too observe that competition.

I was not talking about what is present now, but what is required for the continued existence of complexity (every level).

My explorations into the strategic/mathematical basis for the evolution of complexity leaves me no remaining shadow of reasonable doubt.

Competition is present – no doubt about that.

Unless there is an acknowledgement of the fundamental need for cooperation, then complexity at our level will self terminate. The logic of it is inescapable.

What is demanded for survival, is an awareness that all competition must be built on a cooperative base if it is to survive.

And that is not naive cooperation, it is something far deeper with the deepest possible demands upon us for responsibility.

[followed by]

Michael Ward

Nothing wrong with competition, provided the base is cooperative.
Think golf.
A very competitive game, yet if you actually damage another competitor you are out of the game. The base of the game is cooperative. You must ensure the welfare of others. Once that is done, get the lowest score you can.

Similarly in communities. If the base is, everyone gets to live with reasonable degrees of resources and freedom, then competition on that base is perfectly sustainable (and fun).

If everyone has to worry about some warlord in the neighboring village raiding, then not much of any complexity can be built.

It is entirely arguable that the USA has its dominant position largely because neither of the two world wars were fought on its soil, so its productive base was unaffected. That gave it a “captive market” in the British empire, that had to buy its production or cease to exist. Perhaps the biggest wealth transfer in the history of civilization.

Factions within the USA have been happily encouraging groups around the planet to kill each other, or be killed by American technologies, in the interests of various groups within America ever since – and most of the rest of the world are not very happy about that. Far greater responsibility is required if there is to be survival.

[followed by]

Michael Ward

I am yet to be shot.
67 years and counting.

Reasonable evidence of fundamental cooperation.

We tend to see what we look for!

[followed by]

Hi Michael & Dirk,

A lot to respond to here, and the Free will conversation could take years and fill libraries, and I will attempt a condensed “first order approximation” of recursive complexity.

In respect of killing, calculating cost can certainly be a component in some minds, and it seems to be far deeper than that.

The statistics from WW2 are that only one soldier in 5 would actually shoot to kill – 4 out of 5 would not. No amount of training significantly altered that statistic. They had to select the killers for the elite squads.

So far as I am aware, that is generally still the case, though the Germans did discover the utility of “Meth” in altering that, but it had other side effects that didn’t help them long term.

In respect of free will.

In the simplest sense, if there is hard causality, then free will is an illusion, of logical necessity.

Quantum Mechanics seems to be suggesting that the universe we live in is not fundamentally hard causality, but a mix of the lawful and the random; where the truly random is constrained by probability functions. In large collections such systems can very closely approximate classical causality (as the probability distributions become so well populated they approximate “solid forms”). We seem to exist at such a scale.

In such a mixed world it is possible to have both complex systems and novelty.

That does seem to be the sort of universe we exist in (an uncomfortable one for those addicted to the childish notion of certainty – {which includes more than a few holders of PhDs that I have met}).

The sort of freedom we have, seems to be one most available at the “margins”, at the boundaries, in particular contexts.

Complex systems demand a high degree of causality to maintain their form. Too much randomness is destructive of structure, all levels, all dimensions, all domains. The degree of randomness one is able to tolerate is usually a function of experience. It usually pays to start small, and build tolerance. This applies to every level of structure, subpersonal (organs, cells, microbiome, biochemical systems, etc), personal (at every level of awareness we are capable of generating and maintaining), and at every level of group we exist in (family, community, ….. species, sapience).

Evolution seems to work at such boundaries (all domains), and in a very real sense can be thought of as “search” through the space of the possible for the survivable. In open complex systems search is necessarily eternal. What we call “freedom” seems to be the highest instantiation of “search” we are individually capable of conceiving.

And freedom without responsibility is necessarily destructive of whatever level of structure gave it being.

The human tendency to over simplify the truly complex leads to very difficult issues in this respect of determining the actual levels of responsibility demanded by any particular set of contexts.

It is deeply, recursively complex.

Part of getting some sort of reasonable handle on it is being able to go beyond the simplest possible set of “truth values” which is {TRUE, FALSE}. The next simplest set is a trinary {TRUE, FALSE, UNDECIDED}.

Reality seems to be infinitely probabilistic, with TRUE and FALSE as asymptotes that may be approximated in some contexts but rarely, if ever, achieved. That conceptual domain space is simply not available to most minds. Their multiple levels of subconscious biases for simplicity and certainty cause the notion to be rejected whenever it is encountered. It cannot occur.

That causes large sets of issues in multiple domains (libraries worth).

Enough for one post I think.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
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