Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pournelle: "Authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power."

An aphorism is born. I hope Dr. Pournelle won't mind if I quote this whole passage.

That is a world-level statement

Mr. Pournelle,

"Authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power" is an eye-opening statement. It is very good. You might want to spread it around. Much like that "power corrupts" statement.

Nathan Okun
Thank you. On reflection, perhaps the principle deserves some kind of title analogous to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, but I haven't thought of a suitable name yet. It does hold up to inspection. The statement was that just as in logic a false statement implies the universe class, in human affairs authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power, and that does seem true enough.

And now the House has passed perhaps the worst bill in its history, 1,000 pages that no one had read giving enormous regulatory power in pursuit of the impossible. The actual effect of US adoption of cap and trade on climate is essentially nil. China and India will continue to burn coal and oil as they industrialize. CO2 levels will continue to rise. Global temperatures will continue to rise. US self destruction may affect the global temperature in the year 2100, but I know of no theory that can show the effect will be greater than 1 degree C (that is, global temperature would be 1 degree C less without US contribution to CO2) and that is a very extreme limit; few of the theories show our contribution to be large enough to have that much effect. The most likely outcome is an enormous hamper to US economic recovery and no effect whatever on global temperature.

The President speaks of this as a jobs bill. The cost of each job created by this is enormous. Economic growth and energy cost have a high negative correlation and always have, and this is an energy tax; it will raise the price of energy, whatever else it does. Nearly all "green" energy produces energy at a cost great than the equivalent of $150/bbl oil.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Indeed. Dr. P. understates the number of pages in the bill, but that number was changing so fast, it's a trivial error.

Elsewhere, tangentially to a note about the unwillingness of alarmist modelers to share their source code, Dr. Pournelle notes a distressing possibility:
[T]he charges of "Climate Change Deniers" continue to circulate, while the number of falsifiable hypotheses from the consensus group does not increase. The very nature of science may be at stake: consensus as more important than falsifiability.
Though of course science has always suffered from the problem of consensus. Cases in point, Semmelweis, Wegener.


Hector Owen said...

This post has become a magnet for comments in Chinese that link to pr0n sites. Comment in English or not at all.

Hector Owen said...

Comments are closed on this post.