This is an outstanding list! Well, mostly.

I am a harsh critic (IMO) of the crazy wing of the climate movement (https://www.mattball.org/2023/01/climate-activists-are-to-blame-for-some.html) but I think the critic is right in many ways. E.g., #4 -- Epstein just hand-waves away the costs. Terrible argument.

Re: #6 uranium - pretty much anyone who is read in this knows breeder reactors create more fuel than they consume.


#1. CO2 as a fertilizer is pretty clear. Definitely true.

#3 The land use is the bigger problem with renewables:


We already see that with NIMBY stopping renewable projects.

#7 is interesting but not important. Epstein is hostile to the climate movement (as am I to an extent), but it isn't an important factual claim.

#8 It isn't unscientific in this way: climate change warms cold parts of the world more than hot parts; warms nights more than days; warms winter more than summer. On average.

#9. You can't lump pollution deaths in with climate deaths. Epstein is right, and the critic is just trying to move the goalposts.

Thanks for doing this, Bryan. Are you familiar with:


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Yes on (in priority order):

3. costs of switching to wind/solar (very interested in this one)

4. climate costs

1. impact on food systems

2. accuracy of climate models

The rest seem not particularly important, and/or I think Epstein is probably right (e.g., pretty sure he's right about uranium abundance).

Note: (9) seems like a confusion of terms / talking past each other. I'm pretty sure Epstein is not talking about deaths from *climate change* but from *climate* and more broadly from weather. Deaths attributable to weather events, such as storms, floods, droughts, frosts, and heat waves, have definitely gone down over time.

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> costs of switching to wind/solar

billions of Leftist/nihilist murders.

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Jan 30, 2023·edited Jan 30, 2023

For #6 consider that most people not in mineral extractive industries do not know the difference between Reserves, Resources (discovered and undiscovered) and In Place definitions. Reserves are usually a tiny fraction of available Resources. Reserves imply minerals which can be extracted profitably in the near future. Discovered Resources are those which can theoretically be produced with current technology and prices, but have no investment. There are huge resources and further in place Uranium deposits which aren't online (mothballed or not started) because of current prices. Technology improvements to reduce extraction/processing costs are highly likely if Uranium prices increase.

#9 "...while surveys of such deaths have bafflingly excluded causes of death like pollution.”" is a bit odd. Deaths due to pollution (WHO) are 7M people/yr, of which a little less than half are from indoor pollution from incomplete combustion in low-grade cooking implements (mostly due to fuel of kerosene, dung and wood). Outdoor pollution is myriad, most of which is from from a lack of air scrubbing on power and manufacturing plants, construction pollution (e.g. dust, offgassing and smoke), and the same from trash and waste. None of these deaths are due to climate change or CO2. Currently, deaths attributed to climate change are an order of magnitude smaller than those attributed to air pollution. As of 2021 the deaths due to temperature were 1-7 million with a surprisingly exact number of 356,000 due to heat (Lancet) though Scott Alexander did a review of these numbers. The number of deaths due to weather (whether Climate Change caused or not), unadjusted for population change has been dropping precipitously for the past 100 years (OWID).

#3 - I've not seen a good review of the fully loaded cost per kWh comparison between wind/solar - with the needed battery (or similar) storage costs, the backup baseload (gas, coal, nuclear) costs needed because of intermittency, with an amortization of capital costs - to coal, gas or nuclear on their own. It can't be done by comparing variable opex generation costs while ignoring the fixed opex and capital, and done not if the load balancing infrastructure isn't taken into account.

They're all really good questions! I'm really looking forward to it!

ETA: one order, not two orders of magnitude...

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Re: 9 the implication is that the increase in wild fires is due to climate change and those contribute to deaths. That may be true but that is basically giving up any narrow definition in a way that makes it virtually impossible to deal with (not that I think it's a particularly useful stat in the first place).

Re: 6 there is also the additional complication of whether you want to include breeder reactors or not. If you allow breeder reactors you get a bunch more fuel but at some cost in price/proliferation risk.

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Agreed on both. For 9 the word used was surveys - implying current numbers, not projected ones, so I ran with that interpretation.

A further interesting thing in the linked Wired article is the idea that flooding (due to sea level rise?), which most projections suggestion will be fairly small until the end of the century. Given how much physical development has occurred near shorelines in the past century I'm usually surprised that many projections show massive emergency displacement as opposed to steady near-shore migration and adaptation. If we can build entire cities (or tear down cities and rebuild them) in decades, we should be able to adapt to the projected rise.

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TBF (tho I pretty much agree w/ u) I think the theory is that people will stay put until some massive weather event (hurricane) ends up destroying their homes etc... I don't think that's necessarily wrong per se, but it means the harms are heavily dependent on what kind of mitigation measures are taken (moses project etc) and standards for construction. Of course, that also means that a huge mitigating factor will be increasing wealth of affected nations (and indeed it's even possible that you'll end up seeing fewer disaster related housing issues). Also there is a big difference between a bunch of floods pushing people out to move elsewhere and a one time massive flight. The former isn't necessarily as bad.

I still think it's kinda irrelevant either way to the policy issues right now. I mean, ofc we should replace taxes on things with no or positive externalities with taxes on carbon and we aren't even close to doing that. But I fear that while the extremist rhetoric works for those who already support climate mitigation it pushes away those who dislike casting environmentalism as a purity based moral imperitive and would rather take a pragmatic cost/benefit approach.

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Jan 30, 2023·edited Jan 31, 2023

At 1: The article linked is very weak. The first 4 parts (of 7) are void of substantial claims, just bla bla. The 6th claims a few selected "experiments" showed "too much CO2 can be bad for plants" - without relevant data about those "experiments". And all without even once mentioning the observed reality - aka: FACT - of a greening earth, by all probability helped by more CO2 and less cold. https://www.humanprogress.org/ridley-rejoice-the-earth-is-becoming-greener/ (by Matt Ridley , biologist and "infamous" lukewarmer - but the authors of the main observational study he cites are insisting that they hate their study seeing "mis-interpreted" that way - as Epstein would say: indicates it is true) . Most of the 9 points seem too obviously weak to be discussed, I only voted for "models - realistic or too pessimistic".

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Why don’t we audit why you’re reluctant to debate Epstein on Climate Change?

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They just had a long conversation. Critically analyzing someone’s work that you respect is a good thing and helps make arguments stronger.


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Epsteins main point, evaded here, is that energy is humanist and environmentalism is nihilist. Even Marxists and Nazis have a (fantasy) ideal. Environmentalism is a nihilist attack on ideals,any ideals. They want destruction for the sake of destruction. They have no ideal society, just hatred of present society. They are anti-reality.

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Er...did you get hacked?

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2 4 8

Thats my votes

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I don't understand #9. Even the linked piece seems to acknowledge that climate related death is defined in a narrow way that excludes the kind of indirect effect of, eg wildfire pollution. So is the concern that he's wrong about the figure or that the figure is too narrowly defined.

Look, I'm not a fan of Epstein and I think we aren't taking climate change seriously enough (well really it's hard to see how we could be since replacing other taxes with carbon taxes is surely a net win if they impose any externality) but this is one place I think there is some justified concern about selection bias. We don't want to just adjust our definitions until they show what we want them to.

That applies to both sides, but once you move away from the narrow definition this isn't a narrow issue anymore. It just recapitulates the whole argument.

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I encourage you to address #6, particularly the evidence in the cited paper that uranium resources are limited. The paper doesn’t mention thorium which I understand to be abundant and leads me to question their credibility.

A great resource for global warming vs. energy: jackdevanney.substack.com.

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#6 isn’t a real concern. I think this is an anti nuke canard that never seems to go away. It comes from a false analysis of “proven reserves” which to the layman sounds like all there is in the world, but to a miner sounds like what we know about and have active plans to recover at current market prices.

There is a functionally unlimited Uranium resource in the world in that the ocean is a gigantic bathtub that continually leaches it from rocks. The issue to date with recovering it is that it isn’t cost competitive with mining or in situ leaching, but that doesn’t really matter because almost none of the cost of nuclear power is the fissile fuel. The cost of nuclear electricity is dominated by capex and labor. If U cost $500/ton it would still be a bargain and ocean recovery would be cost competitive.

And as you say, if in 10000 years we run out of U there is always another huge reserve of Thorium (which we throw away as waste from Rare Earth processing) which would last us at least another 10000. (Thorium breeds into Uranium 233 which is fissile)

Also, we have enough depleted U sitting in Paducah KY to run the entire US electricity system on breeder reactors for 1000 years.

If we are really worrying about fueling a future 20000 years away, then I guess that means we aren’t all going to die from climate change...

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Public opinion polls are not science.

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I think 1-4 and 7 seem most important/interesting to audit.

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3 and 6

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