Health Care and Public Health: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

Should We Pity the Poor Global Warming-Denier Fools?

I pity the poor global warming-denier fools who were deluded by Fox News and the Koch Brothers into ignoring—or pretending—not to notice that El Nino events temporarily boost measured global temperatures and volcanic eruptions temporarily retard it:

Global Warming

Data GISS GISS Surface Temperature Analysis Analysis Graphs and Plots

Carr fire

On second thought, I do not pity them: I pity the rest of us...

And it is time to stop saying: "We cannot tell whether this extreme event would have happened anyway or not". Judea Pearl has some ideas: Judea Pearl: On Global Warming: "Until recently, climate scientists have found it very difficult and awkward to answer questions... “Did global warming cause this storm [or this heat wave, or this drought]?” The conventional answer has been that individual weather events cannot be attributed to global climate change. Yet this answer seems rather evasive and may even contribute to public indifference about climate change.

Counterfactual analysis allows climate scientists to make much more precise and definite statements than before. It requires, however, a slight addition to our everyday vocabulary. It will be helpful to distinguish three different kinds of causation: necessary causation, sufficient causation, and necessary-and-sufficient causation. (Necessary causation is the same as but-for causation.) Using these words, a climate scientist can say, “There is a 90 percent probability that man-made climate change was a necessary cause of this heat wave”, or “There is an 80 percent probability that climate change will be sufficient to produce a heat wave this strong at least once every 50 years.”

The first sentence has to do with attribution: Who was responsible for the unusual heat?

The second has to do with policy. It says that we had better prepare for such heat waves because they are likely to occur sooner or later.

Either of these statements is more informative than shrugging our shoulders and saying nothing about the causes of individual weather events...

Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie: The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect (New York: Basic Books: 0465097618)