Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christopher Monckton won't bet over global warming

Monckton wrote yet another of those wrong denialist screeds about global warming (taken apart by Deltoid and others here and here). Monckton did say though that his best estimate was warming would be 0.6C per century. At .06C/decade, that's a significant difference from the consensus position of .1-.2C per decade. Time for a bet!

Or not.

I proposed to him an even-odds bet, he wins if temps increase .1C/decade or less, I win if it's .11C/decade or more. He replied, contrary to his previous statements, that climate is chaotic (I presume he means it's therefore unpredictable). He stated he had no problem with betting in other circumstances, but he wasn't a sucker born yesterday.

I'll grant him that he's not sucker enough to bet his money on a position he advocates that he's betting other people's lives with. And he also ranks in the top ten percent of denialists merely by coming up with an excuse for not betting. Most just ignore the suggestion that they put their money where their mouths are. Still, it's far from adequate.

My reply:

Dear Mr. Monckton,

I find it hard to believe that you can successfully
count cards in blackjack but can't see a mathematical
advantage to you in the bet I proposed, from your
perspective of what's likely to happen with climate.
As with election outcomes, you think you have a better
idea of what's likely to happen than the IPCC
consensus, so let's bet on it.

I'm willing, and would actually prefer, to use
five-year smoothed averages to eliminate most of the
random annual volatility in average temperature. And
while it's not my preference, I'd be willing to change
the bet so neither of us pays out within our likely
temperature range - say you win if the increase is
.06C or less, I win if it's .15C or more.

Finally, if you think temperatures are more chaotic
than driven by anthropogenic forcings, you should be
especially interested in my bet, since a random walk
that could go down as well as up is more likely to pay
out in your favor than mine. Even a modest increase
means you win.

Nicely written, but quite unpersuasive. Sorry. If my
improved terms sound interesting to you though, please
let me know.

(UPDATE: Via Deltoid, I find out that I'm a typically-ignorant American. First, I didn't know Monckton was a viscount; second, I didn't know what a viscount is; and third, I don't care.)

(UPDATE 2, Nov. 27th: Monckton replied very quickly to my original email, but I heard nothing after sending my response above. Another bet that's not going to happen.)

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