Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:46 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:46 | SYDNEY

Climate and complexity


Sam Roggeveen


24 August 2009 17:26

It is well known that Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull is having all sorts of problems getting his Coalition to speak with one voice on climate change. Perhaps the problem has been that Turnbull and those in the Liberal Party who believe in anthropogenic climate change have been trying too hard to convince the climate change sceptics within the Coalition.

What if, instead, the Coalition took the position of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Black Swans, who sees the problem in terms of risk. Taleb was himself painted as a climate change sceptic by the British press recently, when he was quoted as saying, 'I don’t believe that carbon thing is necessarily anthropogenic'. In a later statement*, he did not walk away from this comment — in fact he reinforced his doubts about long-term prediction models. But:

I am hyper-conservative ecologically (meaning super-Green). My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants in the atmosphere, regardless of current expert opinion (climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages  and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models). This is an extension of my general idea that one does not need rationalization with the use of complicated models (by fallible experts) to the edict: "do not disturb a complex system" since we do not know the consequences of our actions owing to complicated causal webs. (Incidentally, this ideas also makes me  anti-war). I explicitly explained the need to “leave the planet the way we got it” .

* The link to Taleb's statement is down, but here's his homepage.