Waking Up with Sam Harris #95 - What You Need to Know About Climate Change (with Joseph Romm)I expected to hear a good description of what is known about climate. Instead I got an unconvincing polemic.
In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Joseph Romm about how the climate is changing and how we know that human behavior is the primary cause. They discuss why small changes in temperature matter so much, the threats of sea-level rise and desertification, the best and worst case scenarios, the Paris Climate Agreement, the politics surrounding climate science, and many other topics.
Joseph Romm is one of the country’s leading communicators on climate science and solutions. He was Chief Science Advisor for “Years of Living Dangerously,” which won the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. He is the founding editor of Climate Progress, which Tom Friedman of the New York Times called “the indispensable blog.” In 2009, Time named him one of its “Heroes of the Environment,” and Rolling Stone put him on its list of 100 “people who are reinventing America.” Romm was acting assistant secretary of energy in 1997, where he oversaw $1 billion in low-carbon technology development and deployment. He is a Senior Fellow at American Progress and holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He is the author of Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know.
He kept arguing that we should go along with the 97% of climate scientists. He also claimed a consensus that Trump was unfit to be President.
He kept mixing scientific and political arguments. He refused to admit weaknesses in the science or data.
A revealing point is when Harris asks why it is so important to say that humans caused the warming of the last 50 years or so. After all, if green energy is going to save millions or billions of lives, then why would we care whether it is a response to a human-induced crisis?
Romm was adamant that the humans must be blamed. Otherwise, he says that you could never convince ppl of the urgency of the action needed.
This view seems to be common, but it is hard for me to take anyone seriously who says that. Are they more interested in making things better in the future, or making moral judgments about the past? If they are really interested in the future, then it shouldn't matter how we got here.
But when they get all moralistic about the past, then they appear to be Gaia Earth Goddess worshippers whose main goal seems to be remedy some ecological injustice.
I wonder if Romm convinces anyone. He is supposed to be an expert in communicating climate science, but he seems terrible at it. I don't think that I learned any science at all.
At the end, Harris asks this question, from Scott Adams: "How much subjectivity is involved in the climate science as you move from the measuring devices to the climate models?" Instead of answering the question, Romm went into a rant about how stupid Adams is, and saying that models are used throughout science.
Adams is not a scientist, but he used to do financial modeling, and those models were very subjective. Saying that models are used throughout science tells him nothing, as models are also used throughout finance. They still can be subjective.
Obviously Romm does not want to admit the subjectivity of the models.