Science

"Glaciers and sex"

"On the academy’s latest folly.

There's no way I'm going to summarize this. If you have a few minutes, you just have to read it.

But--credit where credit is due--Professor Carey says a very smart thing about climate change models:

Carey is hardly skeptical about climate change or its catastrophic impacts: In the book, he documents (among other things) how melting glaciers have contributed to more than 20,000 deaths in Peru. But Carey also cites Peru as a fitting example of what gets missed by economic climate models. Despite the retreating glaciers and declining water flows, the country’s Andean communities are actually using more water these days, not less, thanks in large part to human adaptation and social investment. With economic climate models now predicting costly water shortages in the future, Carey says that history provides grounds for reasoned skepticism.


"The Problem With Evidence-Based Policies"

A useful warning from an economist.

In economics, RCTs have been all the rage, especially in the field of international development, despite critiques by the Nobel laureate Angus Deaton, Lant Pritchett, andDani Rodrik, who have attacked the inflated claims of RCT’s proponents. One serious shortcoming is external validity. Lessons travel poorly: If an RCT finds out that giving micronutrients to children in Guatemala improves their learning, should you give micronutrients to Norwegian children?

Stuart Butler at Brookings supports the argument.

So does Dan Davies.

Related: "The politics of evidence-based policymaking".


"Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths"

From Popular Mechanics:

Here's the thing: There are demonstrably high levels of radioactivity in the seafloor sediments in the vicinity of the Fukushima site. But the question to ask is not "Is there any radioactivity present?" but rather, "How much radioactivity is present, and is it enough to be harmful?" Despite the very serious nature of the Fukushima calamity, the answer to the latter question isn't as worrying as you might have been led to believe.