My response to Scott Sumner’s response on growth and temperature predictions and Freeman Dyson’s take

Scott, you wrote:

Neither climate scientist nor macroeconomists claim to be able to predict short run cycles. Macroeconomists predict that America’s NGDP will be much higher in 50 years, ditto for climate scientists and temperatures. I agree with both predictions.

First, macroeconomists predict short, medium and long run growth all the time. And many, including James Hanson, have predicted temperatures for 2010 back in the 1980s and have been shown to be wrong.

Your comparison with macroeconomics and climate change prognostication is flawed. It is easy to say that growth will be higher in 2050 because this is an extension of the past 250 years for many countries and what almost everyone wants. Almost nobody wants to use coming technology to lower growth but there is a strong demand to keep the global temperature within some range with market incentives for companies to increase energy efficiency. The range of climate predictions, as you state, is not with pinpoint accuracy but is huge – anywhere from 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Freeman Dyson:

“All the fuss about global warming is greatly exaggerated.”

He correctly slams the futuristic alarmism out to 2050 and 2100 as simply religious beliefs. In one interview, Dyson mentions an early climate modeler,

“Yoshiro Manabe who lives in Princeton, said and still always says that these climate models are excellent tools for understanding climate, but they’re very bad tools for predicting climate. And the reason is simple: they are models with only a few of the factors in them that may be important so that you can vary one thing at a time …but there’s a whole lot of things they leave out. That’s why they’re no good for prediction and the real world is far more complicated than the models.”

Watch Dyson from 9:52 for the modeling discussion

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