The Paris Climate Agreement, it’s not good

I thought it did something. I thought it would lower the temperature. It doesn’t do that. It’s just an expensive way to virtue signal. That’s a vice. This agreement is not a plan to solve climate change, because it doesn’t do anything.

 

I was duped, I thought this would have done something. No one on either side should support this agreement. If you look at the document, and read it, you wouldn’t agree to it. I almost can’t believe how hard it was to find some information about this agreement. I wanted to look at the core goal, forget the details of who pays for what, does it lower the temperature? Does it do anything good? Almost every country agreed in some way to this plan, so it’s going to do something, right?

 

When President Trump said that if every nation follow the commitments of the agreement the temperature would be reduced by 0.2 Celsius. Now obviously that means 0.2 degrees below the expected increase. I want to know, is that a lot? Does it make a difference? Compared to temperatures in 1880, if by 2100, the temperature increases 4 degrees with no agreement but 3.8 with agreement, is that good? If it’s past 2 degrees in increases, are we done for anyway? How much of that is natural increase versus human activity? I’m not a climate scientist so I don’t know what 0.2 degrees mean. And the last question, I don’t think even scientists can answer that in satisfaction.

 

In my futile attempts to make sense of this, I searched how 0.2 degrees ended up in his speech. I haven’t found anything that says that is wrong. Trump referred to some MIT study as said by the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Politifact.

I wanted an expert’s opinion about the 0.2 degrees, so I found Dr. Bjorn Lomborg explaining the thing to me. Now I know his bias, but what I want is not his opinion but the facts of his research where his credibility is on the line.

 

There are these things called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that governments outlined in the build up to December’s meeting that outline their post 2020 climate commitments.  If every nation fulfills their INDC promises by 2030 and retains that for 70 years up to 2100, it will reduce temperature rises by just 0.17 degrees Celsius [1]. This is like academic stuff that I don’t really understand how they did their methodology and that kind of thing, this isn’t my field.

The deal is that the Kyoto agreement thing fell apart and I have suspicion that other nations will not keep their INDCs. Point is, this paris agreement will not prevent the temperature rising above the 2 degree mark.

 

Here’s an understandable version of Dr. Lomborg’s graph, there is a version in his original paper that has weird names that make sense to knowledgeable people of that discipline.

Now putting this into perspective, 4.5 degrees above pre industrial age is pretty bad. Being 4.3 degrees above is still pretty bad. I am skeptical of these models that predict the future. Anyone who thinks they can make that long term of a forecast with that kind of accuracy, from the MIT study, I can’t agree. But if we accept this, it’s pretty bad. And This agreement doesn’t help. I thought it would do more. That is very expensive, but it does nothing. It does nothing. It doesn’t solve the problem.

 

I was sure this agreement was about changing the temperature, and since it was explained to me, if everything in the agreement was followed, if it’s followed, if everybody did the best they could, it would make such a small difference to the temperature that it’s pointless to spend those trillions.

 

When your cognitive dissonance kicks in, you are going to say, “Oh my God! I’ve been saying this is a good thing for like two years. I can’t just change it so suddenly. I’ve been ridiculous for two years, yup. Everything I said was totally wrong.”

 

For the people that still support it, what do they say? Are they going to say climate change is real and you have to support it because of that? The Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, has said that the decision has focused on the economics of climate change. Not the science. This wasn’t about the science of climate change. This was about the economics. He said, “I’m not a scientist, but the debate over the Paris Accord is not a debate over scientists. The debate over Paris accord is an economic Debate.” If you retreat to Pascal’s wager, you can’t even do that because the temperature doesn’t change.

 

Another person could say it has some kind of leadership, psychological, communication kind of persuasion to it. It’s about getting people on board, it’s about raising its importance. We gotta treat it seriously. I think that’s pretty important, but not why we signed it. Obama didn’t say that this was symbolic.

 

“Our argument is A. WE like A. A.” Now proof positive and written on a paper saying we are going to this and the scientists all say, “yeah, that’s not going to change things.” Plan A will not work and it’s ridiculous. You can’t say, “A is dumb, I was wrong and I got fooled. I am dumb, you’re smart. You guys on the otherside, you are the smart ones. I assumed you were dumb, but you are smart.” The Normal human brain can’t do that. “I think A was the reason, but now that I look at it, B is the reason. It’s all about B, I sure love B.” That’s what I think about the psychological leadership argument. Cognitive dissonance.

IF you think that this new reason, or any other new reason, is just as good as the old reason, reasons where never a part of it. It means you wanted to join a side. You want identity. You guys wanted to be in a club of virtue signaling.

 

That’s not good enough.

 

References:

[1]    B. Lomborg, Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100 (Press release) [Online]. Available FTP:  http://www.lomborg.com/press-release-research-reveals-negligible-impact-of-paris-climate-promises

[2]   B. Lomborg, Impact of Current Climate Proposals, Global Policy, Dunham Univ., [Online] Available FTP: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12295/full

[3]   G. Kessler and M. Ye Hee Lee, Fact-checking President Trump’s claims on the Paris climate change deal, The Wastington Post., [Online] Available FTP: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/06/01/fact-checking-president-trumps-claims-on-the-paris-climate-change-deal/?utm_term=.d3beca8fb4ce

[4]   O. Milman, Fact check: Trump’s Paris climate speech claims analyzed, The Guardian., [Online] Available FTP:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2017/jun/02/presidents-paris-climate-speech-annotated-trumps-claims-analysed

[5]   J. Greenberg, Fact-checking Donald Trump’s statement withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, Politifact., [Online] Available FTP:  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jun/01/fact-checking-donald-trumps-statement-withdrawing-/

How to make a Decision

How to make a decision.

 

It’s more unintuitive than you think.

 

At one point in your life, you probably thought something like; I’m so so smart but I have made some bad decisions, still smart. Let me tell you why you are not so smart. You probably have, at one point in your life, fooled yourself into some Dunning Kruger kind of way where you believed you were more competent in a particular field or subject or sport than you really were. After the fact, you realize it. Maybe this happened after you learned more about that subject. The thing is, when it’s happening, you don’t know it’s happening to you.

You don’t need to be an expert to make a decision. Here’s the magic. In a complex environment, the magic of making a decision is the ability to reach into that complexity and pull out the things that matter.

Do you think a president needs a certain level of expertise to make a good decision? A president may be able to speak about things in depth, but such topics would describe the way you operate. You wouldn’t need to know the details of the policies.

Recently on Twitter, Mark Cuban asked a question that’s paraphrased as,

“Can anybody name any topic relevant to the presidency that President Trump could talk about in depth? So is there any topic about politics relevant to the presidency that president trump could speak about in depth?”

I think that’s a good question. What if my president doesn’t know the stuff important to the job? If your president doesn’t understand in depth any of the topics of his/her job, that’s a problem. Right?

 

When considering the decision about what to do with the Paris Accord, should the president be an expert on climate science? Do you guys think you are an expert in climate science? Of the knowledge of what someone could know about the science and politics of climates change, how much do you think a president needs to know to make a decision? He/she will have experts in the room talking about the pros and cons. Does the president need to know as much as a climate scientist? How hard is it to know as much as a climate scientist? Should the president spend time studying this? If the answer is yes, then damn. You guys better do a lot of studying for every decision you make.

What if the experts disagree? Like they do on tax policy. OMG, what do we do if the experts disagree? Would being an expert help in that situation? If the experts disagree, being one won’t help you make a decision.

Okay, here’s the big controversial thing I’m about to say,

 

Most of these decisions that our leaders make, we think those are rational, but they are not. Because we don’t know the future and we never have enough information.

After something is said and done, there can be a million reasons to explain it after the fact. It’s easy to fit your explanation to the past, anyone can do that. But it’s hard to predict the future. Pulling out the things that matter are virtually predictive of the future. “I’m going to use that variable, because I’m telling you, this variable will be the predictive variable.”

 

No president was an expert at economics. Most people are not, but if you know a few things you are in a good position to make a decision. President Trump looked into this big complicated issue of economics and asked, “What’s the variable that matters more than anything else?” He doesn’t try to hide this, it’s jobs. If you get jobs right, you get a stronger economy. And with a stronger economy, you can do lots of things that you might need to do in the future. Like clean the environment. You don’t see poor countries cleaning their environment. There are other important things about economics, but jobs is probably the most important. If you lower taxes and somebody with a job gets their 10k back, that’s pretty good. If a job is created, that’s a lot more than 10k. And don’t forget, government giving welfare is now taking in taxes. Double whammy.

 

Let’s tackle another tough one.

How do you make a decision on what to do about the findings of climate science? That’s real stuff. The models that predict the future are not science. They are unreliable. Even though we do predict the temperature will go up, we’re bad at knowing how much and how quickly. How much of a difference is it going to make? Is it good for some places right now, or is it immediately bad for everything. I don’t know. We do know technology is getting better really fast. Climate science knowledge is improving very fast. Are we already past the point of no return? What does that mean? Does it make sense to wait? Maybe we should wait until we know more and with better tech, then take a better swing.

 

I don’t know if that’s the right decision. There’s no way to know if that’s the right decision. Say we have a real deal scientist, 20 years experience will tons of qualifications, to make a decision. Would he/she make a better decision? I don’t know. But we have the main variables. There’s uncertainty and technology is improving rapidly. You don’t want people to be jobless because an agreement won’t change the temperature. That does not mean the decision is right. These are the two variables, what to do with them?

 

A president needs to know those two variables. Not much else. Forget about the details. Did someone use satellite imagery to measure? Is there something better? Not important.

The Fight against Isis. Do you think the president did a deep dive into the differences of the sunni’s and shias and the centuries old conflict and the Quran and subsidiary texts? I don’t even know what I just said. The world will be better if we kill Isis, yes? Do you think talking to muslim experts about something, blah blah blah. Forget it. You might study too much and fool yourself into the Dunning Kruger thing I mentioned earlier. It would be dangerous to over rule the experts. He gave James Mattis a lot of operating room to annihilate Isis. We’re making progress, what else is there to know?

How did mark Cuban do? He had no experience in owning an NBA team before he did it. By all accounts, he did pretty well. Cuban created a company and sold it for billions. Pretty good with not very much experience. I’m sure he figured out the things that mattered and kept pressing those buttons. The managers and entrepreneurs in these technology fields, they don’t have time to know the details of the stuff. They know just enough to ask the good question, that’s all they need.

 

Now, say you visit the doctor and she tells you that you need surgery. What do you do? I do not recommend that you say, “Okay, sign me up for that surgery.” I recommend that you get more opinions. If you go to a second or third doctor, and they give you different opinions, what do you do? You didn’t go to medical school. OMG, are you going to die because you can’t make a decision? Don’t do that. In this situation, you have incomplete information, but you have to make a decision. Look at their credibility and evaluate the pros and cons. This is what you can do without all of the knowledge. Can you identify the most important predicting variables?

 

If you can figure out the hard part, figuring out the predictive variables, then you can make a decision, which is still hard. But it’s not easy as “sign me up.” If it is, you might be doing it wrong.

 

I made this way too long because I used hyperbole.

 

A thank you to Scott Adams for inspiration and articulation of these ideas.

Walrus and The Hunter

This is about a talking walrus and a talking human talking about some things over a glass of tea.

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Objectively Good Doesn’t Exist

Objectively Good Doesn’t Exist.

When someone says a piece of art is objectively good, they are holding it up to an understood standard. For example, if something is well drawn, by a conventional definition, they say that’s an objectively good picture. Effectively most people can appreciate it and use logic to explain why it’s good. That does not mean it’s objectively good. The term “objectively good” is wholly inappropriate in all but maybe the most esoteric conversations. This term has no usefulness and I will put it to rest.

We have real truth and observable truth. We cannot understand real truth. We did not evolve to understand reality, wasn’t necessary to survive and make more of us. There are rules of the universe we have not discovered yet, and some other rules we may not be able to understand. We do have the technology to observe things we cannot normally perceive, but we may have yet to see things outside of our detection and we might never have the means to do so. This real truth, we cannot perceive.

On the other hand, speaking of observable truth, we can try to understand the universe’s mechanisms as best as we can. Speaking of this, things objectively exist. My desk is objectively existing. This is functionally true and there is no reason to believe this is not true except that I cannot speak for real truth. I am not smart enough to know what real truth is.

Now, let’s talk about good.

Is the house you live in good? Is it good that you live in your house? That is all an opinion. You can call it functionally good. But there is no universal metric to measure how much something is good or bad. It’s all in your head. Being alive may not be good, we may be causing more problems than we are solving. But we have a functional morality because from our subjective experience, being alive is a good thing. Our functional morality does not exist outside of our minds. This is not an observable fact of the universe and no universal truth.

We have a limited view of the known universe and perception of good only exists within our heads. Knowing this, how can we even say that there is objectively good art? Where do we see objectively good? Does the universe have an opinion of art? I think when people say ‘Objectively Good’ what they really mean is consensus good. That’s when most people like it and they call it good.

Now here’s the controversial part.

Most people appreciate consensus good art. But appreciation doesn’t matter. Appreciation is not objectively good. Or even functionally good. Appreciation doesn’t mean you like it. To an individual person, it may have no value. Imagine a beautifully realistic statue of Fidel Castro made of cow fertilizer. The artist is masterful at this craft. Those statues are so beautifully realistic they bring a tear to your eye. But no one wants that. You can Appreciate the fact that the artist is a master at his/her craft but that doesn’t mean you like it. You really don’t want that around the house. Can this really be good if nobody likes it?

If people call something good because it’s what the consensus says, but they don’t like it, then the consensus loses meaning. It’s possible to not enjoy it, but appreciate the technique used to create it. We understand how difficult it is to pull off the technique, but we don’t have to like it for that.

Don’t ever say, “I like it, but I don’t think it’s good,” that reduces the value of your opinion. The consensus doesn’t matter more than your opinion. Your opinion is more important. The consensus is not created by God or is an objective standard of the universe. The consensus comes from individuals saying they like some piece of art. If you lose your opinions in favor of the consensus, the consensus loses meaning.

Let’s talks about surrealism.

Before in history, there have been ideas of what is objectively good, and those ideas are challenged because there is different kinds of art that people like. Highly realistic painting was considered the standard, that’s what a good painting was. The techniques used to create these paintings are considered a means to create good art. But someone came along and started making paintings that were surreal and people thought that was good. Those beautiful paintings were considered objectively bad because they didn’t adhere to the established standard. They didn’t use the techniques that were supposed to be used to create good art. But so many people liked those paintings that they became good. We all agreed it was good and those paintings became good. What was considered good had changed.

The consensus is always changing. The consensus is always evolving, it’s everyone’s opinions. If something new comes along and doesn’t use the same techniques for what is considered good, and I like it, then the consensus of what is good has changed. Because I just changed it. This new thing might be considered bad but it is no longer universally bad. Never say, “I like it but it’s objectively bad.”

You are shaped by your experiences. And you come to each piece of art with that baggage. You may have learned about conventionally good art and appreciate that convention. Your opinions may be close to consensus, but that doesn’t make them objective fact. You just agree with a lot of people.

There is no point to objectively good or objectively bad, the universe doesn’t care. The universe has no opinion of art. We have opinions and we decide if something is good. Good does not exist outside of people, it is not an objective concept. The consensus doesn’t matter, appreciation isn’t good. What’s good?

My drawing is objectively good because a reputable artist called me an artist. 

Thanks to Digibro for the inspiration to articulate this post.

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