Pascal's Wager in Global Warming

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by puglover, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. puglover

    puglover Disturber of Worldviews

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    I saw a video recently which applied Pascal's Wager to the global warming debate. For those unfamiliar with the argument, it made the case that the consequences of staying inactive about global warming and being wrong are far more dangerous than taking action and nothing happening.

    Do you think this argument applies? Do you agree? If you do agree, what kind of action do you think we should take?

    Here's the link to the video if you're interested. I don't know what qualifications if any the guy has, but what he's saying is interesting in itself: http://www.break.com/index/tough-to-argue.html
     
  2. nc-1701

    nc-1701 bombombedum

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    Well, it was this logic that threw me into the Global warming camp to begin with.
     
  3. Mr. Dictator

    Mr. Dictator A Chain-Smoking Fox

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    you have to ask yourself...

    if i'm wrong and global warming does exist, and i did nothing...are the consequences smaller than the sacrifices i would have made to at least try and do something about it?
     
  4. MadScotsMan

    MadScotsMan The Ruler of Cattle

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    theres some physicist saying we can't know wheather we are causing it, but something about cosmec rays and the activity of the sun. He was in the recent Discover...
     
  5. History_Buff

    History_Buff Knight of Cydonia

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    This is what quite a number of reports, including those by economics types, have said. I think the only reason that governments aren't doing anything about it is the old taxes = bad fallacy.
     
  6. Greeneyedzombie

    Greeneyedzombie King

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    Last time temperatures where rising, the gulfstream stopped. and another ice age was born. What should we prepare for? Ice age, or heat wave?
    I think we should treat it as real and try to keep the climate stabel as it was for the last 10.000 yrs.
     
  7. MadScotsMan

    MadScotsMan The Ruler of Cattle

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    what if this is all natural though?
     
  8. Yuri2356

    Yuri2356 Test Screening

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    Then at least we've made ourselves more energy-efficient in the meanwhile. But if it's not natural, we've saved ourselves from a lot of unpleasantness.

    That's the whole topic of this thread.
     
  9. nc-1701

    nc-1701 bombombedum

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    Then we spend a little, but fail... Do you even know what pacals wager is? It states that since we don't know if it's natural or not we should treat it as though it were preventable... Worst case is we waste some money on new technology that'll be usefull anyway... Best case is we save the world. Should be a win-win.
     
  10. Greeneyedzombie

    Greeneyedzombie King

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    That is excactly what scientists are wondering. How much influence do we have, compared to nature.
    For a lot of what is happening seems to be the natural precursor of an ice age. Wich is suppossedly over due for 10.000 yrs. (so we can say we are living on borrowed time.)
    Further there will be a changing of the magnectic pools in the near future.
    WIch is for sure to wreack havoc on our civ.
     
  11. Tee Kay

    Tee Kay Silly furry

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    If you try to do something about global warming, even if it's not real (highly unlikely), overall there will be benefits for us and the environment. If you do nothing, the exact opposite will happen.

    Simple, really.
     
  12. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    The question as I see it is not as black and white as Pascal's Wager. In that you just have to live indavidualy by some set of rules or not. With global warming, if many models are right, we can not stop global warming. The question is, how can we develop to (A) redudce emitions to some extent and / or (B) deal with the consequeces [1].

    It is a decition we each have to make, but the result depends on what everyone does.

    [1] Some people are calling somalia the first global warming war
    Spoiler :

    Rainfall records could warn of war
    ...
    Last month, a group of retired US admirals and generals said global warming would act as a "threat multiplier", with events such as droughts toppling unstable governments and unleashing conflict. The UN Security Council has devoted time to the matter, and media reports have described the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, as the first "climate change war", due to the decades of droughts that preceded the conflict.

    Marc Levy at Columbia University in New York,...and colleagues combine databases on civil wars and water availability to show that when rainfall is significantly below normal, the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles in the following year.

    Parts of Nepal that witnessed fighting during the 2002 Maoist insurgency, for example, had suffered worse droughts in preceding years than regions that were conflict-free. Although Levy is not sure why the link should exist in this case, studies of other conflicts suggest explanations. Drought can cause food shortages, generating anger against governments, for example. "Semi-retired" armed groups may return to conflict in these situtations.

    Levy wants to see if a model based on the link between rainfall and climate can help aid agencies.
     
  13. White Elk

    White Elk 99 > 1

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    One thing we know for certain is that the same efforts to reduce global warming will improve our local environments. We lose absolutely nothing if it turns out that we can do nothing to slow down global warming. The pollution caused by our transportation, manufacturing and energy acquisition is causing our societies a great deal of problems. That alone is reason enough to make these changes.
     
  14. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    I do agree with you, but will comment on one point;

    The thing is nothing significant that we can do that will do nothing. Even if the worst case senarious occur, any small difference will probably make the whole thing that little more bearable.
     
  15. White Elk

    White Elk 99 > 1

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    Yes we have alot to gain but nothing to lose.
    And by taking care of the global enviroment we take care of our local enviroment.
     
  16. Samson

    Samson Deity

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    Again I will have to take you up on that. We have to be willing to lose something. Again from the new scientist

    "if all goes to plan, by 2020 renewable energy sources will produce about 20 per cent of the UK's electricity, and carbon dioxide emissions will be cut back to two-thirds of their 1990 levels. This shift will knock up to 2 per cent off GDP in 2020."

    And this is govenment figures, and they are going to be the most optomistic. We are going to have to pay much more to travel, and that is going to hurt a lot of peoples lifestyle.
     
  17. Urederra

    Urederra Mostly harmless

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    Logical fallacy, IMHO.

    You have several possibilities and you only have covered two. Let's consider the anthropogenic forcings on global warming.

    • If it is real (high impact of anthropogenic forcings on global warming):
      • If we do something (to lower the impact of anthropogenic forcings). Then that something can be costly and can damage the economy, or not. and can be effective and the benefits can exceed the costs of the measures, or not.
      • If we don't do anything, then the costs of not doing anything are zero, but the damage to the environment can be serious, or not. (who doesn't want milder winters?)
    • If it is not real(low impact of anthropogenic forcings on global warming):
      • If we do something, It always going to be more costly than doing nothing. and the effect in GW is gonna be zero. Plus, we have spent our efforts fighting against the wrong forcings.
      • If we don't do anything, then the net result is zero.

    Nested lists are soooo cool.
     
  18. Tee Kay

    Tee Kay Silly furry

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    Overruled!

    • If it is real (high impact of anthropogenic forcings on global warming):
      • If we do something (to lower the impact of anthropogenic forcings). Then that something will be costly and may damage the economy. But the money will be well spent.
      • If we don't do anything, the damage global warming will do will hurt the economy farrrrr more than the cost it took to fix the problem in the first place.
    • If it is not real(low impact of anthropogenic forcings on global warming):
      • If we do something, the money will still be well spent to improve our environment and make our consumerist lifestyle more efficient. Oil is running out, whether you like it or not, and we will have to develop alternative energy sources anyway sooner or later. Why not now, when the threat of global warming is apparant?
      • If we don't do anything, then the environmental situation will just get worse. In the long term this will damage the economy and living standards, as natural resources dwindled and the world gets more polluted.
     
  19. puglover

    puglover Disturber of Worldviews

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    You're still assuming that global warming is real, at least in the mild sense. You aren't allowing for the possibility that global warming doesn't exist, which is necessary to judge the wager.
     
  20. History_Buff

    History_Buff Knight of Cydonia

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    Bolds by me for importance. Loosing GDP points is not a real loss. All that means is that you are now 2% poorer than you would have been. You are still richer than you were today, assuming your economy continues to grow (as it should, and for most western countries, will).
     

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