Friday, June 15, 2007

Cost-benefit analysis?

There's a video that's apparently getting passed around. On the surface, the guy seems reasonable enough. He's weighing pros and cons. But, as usual, there's a bit of a misbalance to the scale.
His what-if scenario seems to be a great argument for trying to "fix" global warming. After all, you don't want war, famine, pestilence, and other end times happenings, right? And a global depression has to be better than all that, right? Except that this doesn't compare the worst that could happen on one side to the worst on the other.
War, disease, and famine can all be caused by the worst on the other side, too. After all, a global depression is sure to start some wars, de-industrialization may lead to a global medicine crisis, and trying to grow food in earth-friendly ways may well limit the total food supply, especially if done wrong. The impediment to the progress of technology could set back all sorts of things, from curing diseases to ways to communicate more effectively across different cultures.
Suddenly the two worst-case scenarios even out a bit, don't they? And when you're "buying lottery tickets," as he puts it, would you check the odds of winning the big prize on them? Just because one ticket may pay a billion dollars doesn't mean a rational person wouldn't look closely at a ten million dollar payout that had far better odds.
And, hey, one column has a smiley with a high cost (we could easily have global depression AND fix the problem), while the other has a smiley that stands alone. He can't honestly think he found the silver bullet argument, can he?

Don't you love it when the propaganda claims that it is the magical solution that all sides should be able to agree on? Isn't it funny how it is never a compromise, but one side's solution?

1 comment:

Mr. Oblivious said...

There is no "magical" solution. We don't even have enough data to know the extent of the problem.

However - if world population were somehow brought down to say, 2 billion - I'd bet that any human-caused component of global warming would be pretty much neutralized. I'll bet that everyone would be a helluva lot happier, too.

Of course, the chances of this happening are somewhere between slim and none, so who cares?