Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Pascal and Climate Change

Today’s Oz published the following in its letters page –

I agree with Don Aitkin that managing water and finding alternatives to oil-based energy are two huge environmental issues, but that's where our consensus ends.

I believe a version of Pascal's wager (as referred to by Aitkin) does hold true in regard to climate change. If we spend lots of time and money developing cleaner energy solutions and, in the process, we lower worldwide GDP by less than 1 per cent (as suggested is likely by Nicholas Stern and others) and then find out the science was wrong, we have a cleaner, healthier, smarter, more comfortable world to live in and hand on. The reduction of wealth will be imperceptible. On the other hand, if we judge the science to be wrong now and take little action, and the science is ultimately proven to be right, it's too late.

Dean Comber Camp Hill, Qld

This nails it pretty well for me. Pascal posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing. In Pascal's assessment, it is inexcusable not to investigate this issue:
I believe the same holds for climate change, even if the issue has been over-hyped to the point of absurdity.

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