Chicago, Athens, and Jerusalem

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Remark of the Week

Posted by Eliot Weinstein on September 1, 2008

This week’s winner is previous winner Tyler Cowen, a prominent blogger and economist specializing in government, culture, and the arts.

I don’t have a lot of faith in the exact predictive powers of climate models, or for that matter economic models, but uncertainty about outcomes should make us worry more not less.  Uncertainty usually has two tails, not just one.

Cowen’s comment illustrates why, although I am somewhat skeptical of many claims associated with anthropogenic climate change and very skeptical of the specific predictions of most climate modelers, I favor moderate but immediate action to reduce carbon emissions and to prepare fail-safe measures for climate-related natural disasters. Provided, of course, that we can listen to economists as well as climate scientists and design policies with cost-benefit analysis in mind. On this subject, see William Nordhaus’ excellent book A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming and Freeman Dyson’s comments in his essay/review of that book.

Happy Labor Day to all my readers, and on this US holiday the thoughts and prayers of myself and my relatives go out to the residents of the Gulf Coast who have been separated from their homes, friends, and families by the hurricane-related evacuation.

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