Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner are at it again with their second look at everyday problems through the lens of dispassionate and dismal science, economics. Their new book, SuperFreakonics, looks at the sacred shibboleths of Climate Change, Global Cooling and other topics. Much like Galileo, who tweaked the Pharisees of the day with inconvenient evidence that the earth is not the center of the universe, Levitt and Dubner have committed equally unforgiveable sins, today.
According to Bret Stephans’s review,
When it comes to the religion of global warming—the First Commandment of which is Thou Shalt Not Call It A Religion—Messrs. Levitt and Dubner are grievous sinners. They point out that belching, flatulent cows are adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all SUVs combined. They note that sea levels will probably not rise much more than 18 inches by 2100, “less than the twice-daily tidal variation in most coastal locations.” They observe that “not only is carbon plainly not poisonous, but changes in carbon-dioxide levels don’t necessarily mirror human activity.” They quote Mr. Myhrvold as saying that Mr. Gore’s doomsday scenarios “don’t have any basis in physical reality in any reasonable time frame.”
More subversively, they suggest that climatologists, like everyone else, respond to incentives in a way that shapes their conclusions. “The economic reality of research funding, rather than a disinterested and uncoordinated scientific consensus, leads the [climate] models to approximately match one another.” In other words, the herd-of-independent-minds phenomenon happens to scientists too and isn’t the sole province of painters, politicians and news anchors.
But perhaps their biggest sin, which is also the central point of the chapter, is pointing out that seemingly insurmountable problems often have cheap and simple solutions. Hence world hunger was largely conquered not by a massive effort at population control, but by the development of new and sturdier strains of wheat and rice. Hence infection and mortality rates in hospitals declined dramatically as doctors began to appreciate the need to wash their hands.
What’s worse, polls say the American public is losing it’s faith in the true religion called Climate Change as well, down 29% in the past three years.
Stephans writes, “Part of the genius of Marxism, and a reason for its enduring appeal, is that it fed man’s neurotic fear of social catastrophe while providing an avenue for moral transcendence. It’s just the same with global warming, which is what makes the clear-eyed analysis in “SuperFreakonomics” so timely and important.”
The catastrophe and moral transcendence of Marxism is nothing more than a copycat secularization of Christianity and Darbyist pre-millenial interpretation of the Book of Revelations. I find it hilarious that we have Al Gore and climate change doom scenarios only a generation after James Watt trashing the climate like there is no tomorrow (literally) and Hal Lindsays’ Late Great Planet Earth. Talk about gloom and doom.
But now it’s OK, cause it’s secular religion, and we’re free of the chains of thos myths of religion, you see. SuperFreakonomics has tweaked the nose but good of the secular pietists like nobody’s business.