Audio Of The Week: A Conversation With Andrew McAfee

This is a good interview. I learned a lot.

#climate crisis#economics

Comments (Archived):

  1. kenberger

    One of my HBS program professors. Love him.His material was 2nd most practical in the entire program.

  2. Richard

    The is essentially one problem in the US today, the cost / disparity of housing. See Singapore for a solution.he hosts needs to rid herself of her “upspeech” accent, where every sentence sounds like a question. It’s makes a Staten Island accent sound like a road scholar.

    1. jason wright

      High rise terminals. It may even be possible to solve the housing disparity with them.

  3. Tom Labus

    Very good conversation. Our current political discourse is pathetic.

  4. jason wright

    Typically people do more with less when they have less. If capitalism is driven by financial capital then the constraint of less financial capital is not present. There’s more financial capital than its controllers know what to do with.

  5. Mike

    Great discussion. I am adding his book to my read list.The discussion on the Carbon Dividend/Tax is an example of what I was referring to in my comments earlier this week on the type of public policy that can influence carbon usage. Andrew takes a very bullish position on the free markets ability to address these issues, buttressed by good policy. If correct, perhaps any short term financial sacrifices need not be severe.I don’t think the private markets can establish this type of system on their own. Societies and governments will need to agree to implement some form of pricing mechanism for carbon emissions through taxes or other incentives to influence individual and corporate behavior. It will come down to political will. Enough people will need to agree there is a problem. Enough people will need to be willing to accept near term financial sacrifices for the expectations of a future benefit.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Enough people will need to be willing to accept near term financial sacrifices for the expectations of a future benefit.Easy: Can do that at nearly any church: They will accept as much of your money as you wish to give and suggest that, thus, you are on the way to heaven.The main, nearly only significant, driver of the earth’s temperature is sun spots. Carbon from humans is insignificant, lost in the rounding error, essentially irrelevant.Oh, the Mayans had something similar: Kill people and pour their blood on a rock to keep the sun moving across the sky. Since the sun still moves across the sky, they must have been right?Remember, Saint Laureate Al Guru was a divinity school student!So, it’s the trilogy — transgression from human sin, retribution of an angry god, and redemption via sacrifice. Or, stop using carbon or fry the earth — send your money now!!!It’s a scam, pure and simple, a flim-flam, fraud scam.There are good details, especially from MIT prof Lindzen, inThe Great Global Warming Swindleat…Watch some video. Save your money. F’get about carbon.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Okay, I’ll bite:I’ll start with your link…That URL has HTTP twice and some hex codes. The URL resolves to a Web page at…So, that Web page is:Michael Le Page, “Why ‘climate swindle’ film is dangerous, despite ruling”, NewScientist, 22 July 2008.The page starts with:Don’t believe anything you see in a TV documentary made in the UK.Documentary makers here have no obligation to be accurate, though factual programmes should present a wide range of views.That is the implication of a series of rulings by Ofcom, the regulatory body for responsible for upholding broadcast standards in the UK, on complaints made about a British TV documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle. That page has lots of summary accusations with no evidence in the page and lots of links.Net, it is clear that NewScientist very much does not like the documentary.For me, here, to heck with the summary accusations; instead I want to see evidence or at least links to specific evidence.The page has some links, e.g.,…to Ofcom But eventually the NewScientist page about the documentary has What seems extraordinary, though, is that Ofcom has decided Durkin’s programme was not in breach of the code when it comes to factual accuracy. So, for the accuracy of the evidence in the documentary, the NewScientist article says Ofcom says that the evidence in the documentary is okay by them (Ofcom).Thus the argument we are getting here about the documentary is just from NewScientist.I followed several of the links to NewScientist articles screaming about CO2 roasting the planet of our grandchildren, and they get a grade of flat F:(1) Graph Drawing. Flatly, in FedEx terms, “absolutely positively” they can’t draw a graph. (i) The magnification is so small that all we get is fuzz. (ii) In the fuzz, we can see that they don’t even have fuzz for all the axis labels. (iii) They omit good references for the actual data being graphed.(2) Numerical Data. They report lots of numbers of gigatons of CO2 — from human activities, into the oceans, out of the oceans, from volcanoes, into green plants, out of green plants, out of rotting plants — but give no references. Since likely good data on those flows of CO2 are super tough to get, we definitely need good references.Besides, NewScientist, a biggie fraction of the surface of the earth is covered by oceans 3 – 7 miles deep, and there are volcanoes down there. So, of course, you put on your flippers and snorkel gear, swam down there — 3 – 7 miles deep — with your collection bottles and accurately measured the CO2 emitted? You did that? WOW! And if you didn’t swim down there, who did?For each of those biggie CO2 gigaton numbers, I want references to who made the measurements, how they were made, when they were made, where they were made, and where they were published in credible peer-reviewed publications.Without such data, all we have is at best light fantasy entertainment down to just click bait down to paid propaganda down to worse.(3) Effects of CO2. As far as I could see, they omit any serious treatment, or any treatment at all, of the biggie, the 900 pound gorilla: Do roughly current levels of CO2 have any significant effect on the temperature of the earth?From (i) some remarks in the documentary by MIT Prof. Lindzen, (ii) the models that predicted that CO2 concentrations would result in much higher temperature by now, (iii) the ice core records, e.g., as just in Saint Laureate Al Guru’s movie, and (iv) the basic physics, my view is that anything like current concentrations of CO2 have no significant effect on the temperature of the earth.Thus the screaming that humans emitting CO2 are evil and well on the way to damaging the planet for our grandchildren is just nonsense and in particular is a flim-flam fraud scam to get money and power, e.g., the Green New Deal that wants to spend $90+ trillion to “fight climate change” — as inMarlo Lewis, Jr.. “How Much Will the Green New Deal Cost Your Family?”, Competitive Enterprise Institute, February 26, 2019.at…More simply, the climate scientists predicted much higher temperatures by now. Details are athttp://www.energyadvocate.c…Since those predictions were made, nearly all the predictions have been shown to be wildly wrong, way, Way too high. The real results are that there has been no significant temperature increase at all.In science, the key criterion is being able to make accurate predictions. E.g., the main weakness of nearly all of the social sciences is nearly no predictive power.[If all the economists were lined up end to end, it would be a good thing. I know; I know; I know; there is the Austrian School, the MIT School, and the Chicago School. How ’bout grade school or better yet Reform School?]E.g., Newton’s law of gravity, second law of motion, and calculus accurately predicted planetary motions and, in particular, solar eclipses.Einstein’s general relativity during a solar eclipse accurately predicted bending of starlight by the sun.Chemistry is terrific at predicting chemical reactions and the energy consumed or emitted.Higgs predicted his boson, and the LHC found it.General relativity predicted gravitational waves, and LIGO found them.But the work of the climate scientists predicting the effects of CO2 were a grand flop, a grade of F.Here da rules: When some candidate science makes some predictions that turn out to be significantly wrong, we just JUNK the candidate science — burn it, toss it on the scrap heap of history, flush it, laugh at it, treat it as toxic sewage, and certainly never take it seriously. In particular, that human sources of CO2 are causing or about to cause significant global warming is total BS. We junk it and move on.Sure, if we have some uninformed, misinformed, wildly overly emotional, dangerous, destructive, seemingly demented and deranged, totally irrational, hyper active, hysterical, paranoid, OCD neurotic, anxiety ridden, ditsy Squad members, that’s just part of reality, but we very much need to toss their nonsense into the sewer.Such neuroses are not nearly new. So, we should do what worked so well for great great granddad, give a big dose of good, old Lydia E. Pinkham’s potion…https://upload.wikimedia.or…and then ask if the baby is crying, if something is burning on the stove, if some mud was tracked in via the back door, if there might be some dust under the bed, if there might be some dust on the top of the front door, if the guest powder room is clean enough in case someone visits, if the windows need washing, if the white curtains are clean enough?And for Saint Laureate Al Guru:(i) He is getting back at us for his losing the election?(ii) He’s made a lot of money?(iii) He’s been smoking funny stuff?(iv) He’s been taking tranny pills?

          1. kenberger

            i wonder if anyone “prominent” has written a strong, cogent anti-climate problem argument that’s worth reading for people so far convinced we DO have a real problem for immediate solving.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            First, the burden of proof is on the proposer.Second, the graph I gave has results of the predictions of likely the most “prominent” climate scientists, and we can all observe just by walking outside that nearly all the predictions were wildly too high. So, the predictions were junk science.Third, I gave the result, via NewScientist, of Ofcom that the evidence in the documentary was okay by Ofcom.Fourth, I referred to MIT Prof. Lindzen’s statement in the documentary. He is “prominent” and credible.Fifth, I mentioned the ice core data as presented in the movie by “prominent” Gore and how to read that data: As the temperature started rising CO2 concentrations were low, and as the temperature started falling CO2 concentrations were high. Basically Gore ignored the ~800 year lag: CO2 and temperature did go up and down roughly together; the rise of CO2 was about 800 years after the rise in temperature; the fall in CO2 was about 800 years after the fall in temperature. On the time scale of the ice cores, the ~1 million years, the 800 year lag is not so easy to see; apparently Gore hoped his audience would not see it and, instead, wanted to convince the audience that the CO2 and temperature went up and down closely together, which is false, to have the audience conclude that the rise/fall in CO2 CAUSED the rise/fall in temperature.Other “prominent” people loudly voicing opinions include Jane Fonda, Fauxcahontas, The Squad, Tom Friedman of the NYT, lots of actors in Hollywood, and more. If you want “prominent” you got lots’a prominent.Of course, Trump is “prominent” and is a “skeptic” and “denier”. I don’t know of any “cogent” essays Trump has written debunking the Gore stuff, but apparently Trump’s position is mostly that the burden of proof is on the proposer and would claim to be waiting for a “cogent” and “prominent” argument from an alarmist. There in the White House, Trump is awash in all the expert advice he can soak up and/or use from NOAA, NASA, EPA, NSF, etc. Maybe you should just go along with Trump.But, with nothing to do with science, an interesting, maybe pressing, question is just how the heck did Gore, etc. get so many people to be “alarmists”?The documentary suggests that Maggie Thatcher lit the fuse of the fire fueled by gumment “money on the table”. Still, that Gore, et al. got so many people up on their hind legs is amazing.On the other side, the media always wants a story to tell, a shocking story, with danger, threat, for click bait, smelly bait for the hook for the ad revenue. So, maybe Gore saw that he could ignite the NYT, NBC, BBC, etc.Then there were quite a lot of people ready to be on Gore’s side: (i) People who wanted to sell wind and solar generation of course wanted government subsidies of their products and regulations to throttle fossil fuels. Generally, to sell something, get some gumment regulations to kill off competition, right? (ii) The UN had lots of votes from poor countries to go along with biggie $ transfers to them from the US.And we have had some earlier examples of big time public scare scams — OZONE!!!! That scam destroyed nearly all old refrigeration equipment and created a must have market for a new working fluid that had some patent protection. There was the we are about to be buried in our own garbage movement that gave us “recycling” which, of course, has amounted to just nonsense, botheration, and wasted effort. Maybe for a while some people got some money from that scam. Then there are the scams for K-6 education, e.g., Johnny can’t read, Johnny can’t add. So, we got “no child left behind” and Common Core, both of which have been just irritation, botheration, and nonsense while Common Core has been destructive.Maybe somewhere there are some big time PR firms who, given clients with deep pockets and ways to make more $, can direct a national or world wide scam campaign and raise big bucks. Apparently that is JUST what Gore did. Silicon Valley should hire him!!! Or he should just start his own fund!

      1. Mike

        I am advocating that individual choice and actions will not be effective at reducing aggregate carbon usage outside of normal market forces. You will need a public policy.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You miss my central point: There’s no need to “reduce carbon”. Read what I wrote.

  6. gmalov

    Really enjoyed this podcast; in-depth, and a great discussion on how capitalism, (market approach), can help solve environmental problems at higher efficiency. I respect the wisdom of evidence based solutions.

  7. Tom Hart

    Amazon review of his book, interesting if true… This book uses falling US consumption of raw materials, energy and reducing US CO2 production to argue that resource use is decreasing despite ongoing economic growth since 1970.Most of the consumption data referenced does not account for the fact that a large portion of US manufacturing has moved offshore in that period. Much of the data for raw material consumption is from the U.S. Geological Survey- National Minerals Information Center. I emailed them asking whether their consumption data includes imported finished goods – eg. automobiles and washing macines for steel consumption. They replied that this consumption data definitely would not. Energy consumption and CO2 production only include US based figures, ignoring the huge energy consumption and CO2 production in China which has been offshored with manufacturing our goods.The core thesis of this book is therefore not backed up by data. I’m sure the author knows this and I think it is intellectually dishonest not to reference this in the book, especially when it is being used as a primary source of techno-optimism by Steven Pinker, Christine Lagarde, Eric Schmidt and Larry Summers.Christine Lagarde’s comment after reading this was “it can’t be true!” – I’m pretty sure it isn’t.