They can’t be this stupid?

Stoat’s already covered this, but it seems that Jo Nova and her husband, David Evans, have started a hedge fund called Cool Futures Funds Management. The motivation for the project seems to be that we’re preparing for catastrophic warming, when we should really be preparing for cooling.

Rather than commenting on their actual plans (which, as Stoat points out, is pretty tricky as they don’t really explain what they are) I thought I might comment on what they seem to regard as The Facts. They suggest that part one of the CAGW hypothesis is that

Human emissions of carbon dioxide is the main cause of increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide

Apart from the fact that there isn’t really a CAGW hypothesis, it is certainly the case that most experts regard the increase in atmospheric CO2 as mainly due to human emissions. They, however, go on to say

Part one is still hotly debated. Natural carbon dioxide emissions swamp human emissions …..

Well, it certainly not true that part one is hotly debated by anyone credible; if there is one thing about which we are virtually certain, it is that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. Also, that natural carbon dioxide emissions swamp human emissions is – at best – lying by omission.

It is certainly true that CO2 emissions from the ocean and biosphere are much greater than human emissions. However, the ocean and biosphere also take in CO2, and both take in more than they emit. Both the oceans and the biosphere are a net sink; the only net source is us. This, together with many other lines of evidence, is why we are pretty certain that the rise in anthropogenic CO2 is anthropogenic.

The problem is that this is really simple; what’s important are the net emissions (out – in), not just the outgoing emissions, and this should be obvious to anyone with a background in science. David Evans is a self-professed rocket scientist who has a PhD in electrical engineering. Jo Nova also has a science degree and has written about this topic for years. Surely, they must understand this? It’s really hard to believe that they don’t. I realise that we should typically defer to Hanlon’s razor, but sometimes it is difficult.

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40 Responses to They can’t be this stupid?

  1. At the same moment in this parallel universe some mitigation sceptic claims his group of better scientists is being victimized, all those terrible nasty words and all they do is not being completely sure the climate sensitivity is quite so high as the IPCC claims.

    Well clean up your own house before you continue your dirty war on climate scientists.

    And if you really think that you belong to an actually sceptical part of this movement: make up a new name for your political movement, the old name is burned by the likes of Jo Nova and Christopher Monckton.

  2. kap55 says:

    Oh yes. They can be that stupid.

  3. Andy Skuce says:

    Let’s say you really are convinced, in the face of observations and theory, that the planet is about to cool. You have investment options. There are plenty of beaten-up, cheap coal stocks to buy and hold. If you want to get fancy, you could short some low-carbon energy producers and technology companies.

    You don’t need a hedge fund unless you want to earn management fees from gullible investors. This is so obviously a scam, only a “skeptic” could fall for it.

  4. Andy,
    Indeed, that they also say

    Treat the crowd funding stage as a donation.

    doesn’t provide much confidence either.

  5. Magma says:

    Sure they can, but that’s irrelevant. They only have to be slightly less stu‍pid than their marks.

  6. Joshua says:

    Regarding the aspect of your plans that you don’t address…

    At least I think that they deserve some credit of acting in a way that is consistent with their stated beliefs.

    One question that Dan Kahan has asked is why there seems to be a lack of evidence that climate change “skeptics” are investing in a way that is consistent with their stated beliefs about climate change.

    IOW, why don’t more “skeptics” sell short on climate change?

    Or, if there really is solid evidence to support “skepticism” w/r/t climate change (meaning, if the theory that BAU poses a risk for increasing climate change really is a “hoax”), then why don’t people who have great faith in the wisdom of the market place find it odd that the market hasn’t produced business (such as insurance companies) that sell short on anthropogenic climate change?

  7. Joshua says:

    Sorry….”their plans” not “your plans.” Sheece!

  8. John Hartz says:

    They may be reading the unsealed court files about the inner workings of Tump University. Perhaps they intend to create their own version of it. 🙂

  9. Stupid?

    They’ve scammed $47k out of people so far. Costs are negligible – a few hundred bucks. So that’s money straight into their pockets.

    Grifters gotta grift and they’ve found a nice little motherlode.

  10. Ken Fabian says:

    I like the hose trickling into a swimming pool analogy when anyone argues human emissions are small compared to natural – a tiny flow compared to the filter return, yet it can and will overflow the pool. Whilst some people may use the emissions vs natural argument sincerely due to ignorance, I must seriously doubt these people do not know it is false.

    Can we see global cooling with GHG’s continuing to rise? The one thing that might do that is an abrupt AMOC shutdown – according to the paper “Competition between global warming and an abrupt collapse of the AMOC in Earth’s energy imbalance” by Sybren Drijfhout. It doesn’t sound likely although we do appear to be seeing a significant AMOC slowdown. I’d be interested to know what people more knowledgeable than me think of it.
    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep14877

  11. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua says: “At least I think that they deserve some credit of acting in a way that is consistent with their stated beliefs.”

    Skeptics do not have (consistent, group-held) relevant beliefs. That is why they are called “skeptic”. They simply don’t have your beliefs. It is like calling “not stamp collecting” a hobby.

    “One question that Dan Kahan has asked is why there seems to be a lack of evidence that climate change skeptics are investing in a way that is consistent with their stated beliefs about climate change.”

    Evidence is abundant. REIT’s do not seem all that concerned about climate change.

    But not just skeptics. DiCaprio is investing in a huge way seemingly inconsistent with his claims of climate change.

    “IOW, why don’t more skeptics sell short on climate change?”

    If they did, would you notice? But there is no “they”. Some do, some don’t; some will, some won’t.

    “Or, if there really is solid evidence to support “skepticism” w/r/t climate change (meaning, if the theory that BAU poses a risk for increasing climate change really is a “hoax”)…”

    Okay, so you are using “skeptic” in a private way. Well in that case you and Dan Kahan will just have to guess at answers that conform to your cultural cognition.

  12. Andy Skuce says:

    It’s one thing to “donate” $75-$250, so that you can see your name in lights as one of the founders of this venture and impress your contrarian mates with your commitment. But if (big if) it gets going, investments of this kind are only open to “sophisticated ” or “accredited” investors. What it takes to be deemed thus varies from country to country (Google it). Basically it means you either have to have a substantial six-figure household income and/or financial investments (i.e., not your home) of a million dollars or more. There’s nothing really sophisticated or accredited about such folks, they are just fairly rich.

    Often, also, the minimum investments in such funds tend to be greater than $100,000. Investing in Cool Futures likely won’t be available to dabblers with shallow pockets.

    The really great thing about a hedge fund, if you manage one, is the fees. Typically, these are 2% or more on the principal invested and 20% of any gains.The managers win even if the investments lose. Should they win, they win more.

    But this stupid project will never get off the ground, so this is all moot. It should provide some great third entertainment for onlookers and yet more material for Stephan Lewandowsky.

  13. William T says:

    I already reported them as a fraud to gofundme. Will see if they have criteria that allows such fundraising to continue.

  14. T-rev says:

    This article is paywalled but might go some way to explain it, I think.
    http://www.afr.com/leadership/why-smart-people-buy-into-stupid-ideas-20160613-gpi56s

    an excerpt

    But one thing puzzled us: why was it that organisations which employed so many smart people could foster so much stupidity? After some discussion, we realised something: smart organisations and the smart people who work in them often do stupid things because they work – at least in the short term.

    By avoiding careful thinking, people are able to simply get on with their job. Asking too many questions is likely to upset others – and to distract yourself. Not thinking frees you up to fit in and get along. Sometimes it makes sense to be stupid. Perhaps we live in an age where a certain type of stupidity has triumphed

    of course they have the ubiquitous book 🙂

    https://www.amazon.com/Stupidity-Paradox-Power-Pitfalls-Functional/dp/1781255415?ie=UTF8&SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1781255415

    I think this piece is pertinent
    often do stupid things because they work – at least in the short term.

    They make a very living off this, I quit my work so I could emit less, it’s no small thing and was a wrenching change for me, so imagine if they up and said this denial is all bullshit. The flip side is something like Bella Gibson ?

    David Dunning (of Dunning-Kruger fame) might suggest they are just confident idiots ? See his piece here
    http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/confident-idiots-92793/

  15. Russell nails it (note, that’s V V not W)
    http://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-northern-rock-of-caymans-icecap.html

    Bad faith is not just stupid …

  16. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    These two aren’t your average closed-minded deniers. They really live in an alternate universe.

    Because they are either straight out-and-out con artists – discussions around the dinner table must be fascinating. Or they are totally ding-bat crazy.

    The plan on recruiting people from the hedge fund industry! Evans and Coddling might find the recruitment process a little confronting.

  17. Lars Karlsson says:

    Yes they can!

  18. Lars Karlsson says:

    Well, I don’t think that Evans and Coddling are this stupid – my impression is that they mainly are dishonest – but many of their readers surely are.

  19. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Part one is still hotly debated. Natural carbon dioxide emissions swamp human emissions ….. ”

    O.K. so they demonstrate that they don’t understand the difference between gross and net flows and they expect people to think they are competent to run a hedge fund? LOL!

    “David Evans is a self-professed rocket scientist ”

    well it isn’t exactly rocket science, is it?, so perhaps that is where the confusion arises. ;o)

  20. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Also, that natural carbon dioxide emissions swamp human emissions is – at best – lying by omission. ”

    To be fair, it may be that they just are not aware that natural uptake exceeds natural emissions and are unable to infer this from the fact that atmospheric CO2 is rising more slowly than anthropogenic emissions. Hubris (thinking they know better than the carbon cycle research community without taking the time to investigate the basics) is probably nearer the mark. Of course if they have done their homework…

  21. Dikran,
    Indeed, but it is hard to see how people who have been engaged in this topic for as long as they have have not come across this before.

  22. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Yes, I was mostly just pointing out that the alternative explanation isn’t any better. If only someone were to write a paper explaining the basics so these misunderstandings wouldn’t keep cropping up again and again! ;o)

  23. Dikran,
    You could always send them a copy of the paper. They might go “oops, we didn’t realise”.

  24. Tim Roberts says:

    I’m one of these too …”David Evans is a self-professed rocket scientist” … – just change the name and a few other details. I’ve let off a few rockets with my Physics students – mostly to show how theoretical (equations) does not quite match actual (flight path) . Yay, I can scam some money from the unwary/uneducated as well. Best get on to it right away …..

  25. Clever people saying stupid things that you cant believe they don’t realise are stupid.

    What has been interesting to me is the parallel between climate ‘skeptic’ tactics and those of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaigners. Here you have clever people who make outrageous claims that they must know are wrong, but which they say simply because it achieves the effect they want.

    The ‘Leavers’ have one very short term aim: to persuade people to vote to leave the EU—because once the UK has left, there’s no turning back. So they say things like, “the UK sends £350m each week to the EU”. Journalists and ‘Remainers’ then demonstrate that that’s not correct: it’s a half-truth because the UK receives most of it back in grants and rebates. [ See the parallels with the climate ‘skeptics’ half-truth, ”natural emissions swamp human emissions’ claim?] But the ‘Leavers’ just ignore rational argument. In fact as a response they just double down by claiming the (imaginary) £350m will be spent on… “oh, what can we say that will really appeal in the guts to people? …building hospitals!

    The whole thing is basic propaganda. Keep repeating the same simple ‘truths’ that appeal to the people who can’t think and the people who won’t think. Does it come as any surprise that the campaign is being run by the same people who run the UK’s climate change denial machine?

    And all of this is in spite of what may be genuine reasons to leave the EU. What’s also telling is several more intelligent, thinking, ‘Leave’ campaigners have become so disgusted with the tactics of the right-wing ‘Leavers’ that they’ve denounced them and moved over to ‘Remain’.

    In summary, when pondering the antics of the ‘skeptics’ one has to consider what their underlying aim is: to confuse and to delay as long as possible. If that’s the only goal that matters then, well… anything goes.

  26. Andrew Dodds says:

    T-rev –

    Simple test.. try being rational and properly skeptical in the context of working for a large corporation. You’ll constantly put yourself in the position of replying to questions with ‘I don’t know’; pointing out that anything that went well may have been down to chance, admitting when you got things wrong and generally putting yourself in a positions where the confident idiots around you can look so much better.

  27. TrueSceptic says:

    johnrussell40,

    As has been noted at Stoat and DesmogUK, there are indeed striking parallels: they are often the same people. http://www.desmog.uk/2016/06/13/mapped-cosy-relationship-climate-euro-sceptic-bubble-55-tufton-street-brexit-less-climate-action

    As for Evans and Nova, I get the feeling from her blog that Nova is sincere: delusional rather than dishonest.

  28. tonylurker says:

    Do these guys do any work with Hollywood? Using confusion between Gross profit and Net profit is very popular among those crowds.

  29. Harry Twinotter says:

    JoNova basically runs a Conspiracy Theory and anti-science website, I know it well. Fans can go there to air their right-wing grievances about the great green bogeyman.

    Australia and New Zealand have had a climate change denier club for some time, it just shows how far the US lobby groups anti-AGW funds have spread. Although I have not heard much from New Zealand lately, I suspect lobbyist funds are starting to dry up.

    Come July there is a good chance the Australian Labor Party (left wing) will be elected, they do have somewhat better climate change credentials than the current government.

  30. Seems much like Glenn Beck pitching viewers on gold. MHO–he’s not doing it because he believes gold is a great investment (it actually is pretty good at the moment, but that’s another story). He’s doing it because someone is paying him to do it.

  31. Looking for a word that conveys dangerous delusion that might by a long stretch of the imagination merely reject a vast and obvious field of information but not be intentionally corrupt, venal (not venial doesn’t quite fit but comes close. Hotwhopper did her usual thorough job:
    Buyer Beware: Cool Futures global cooling fund and crowd sourcing.

    On Brexit, if you can get past the snarky opener, John Oliver does the “facts” (substance starts around minute 3; and there’s an amusing anthem at end of minute 13) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgKHSNqxa8 and Russell has another corker if you like your humor extreme: http://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2016/06/turboriddler-rightway-toll-snogger-was.html

  32. John Mashey says:

    DM
    You may recall that Nova was quite fond of the Salby idea that CO2 was increasing merely because it was getting warmer.

    All: rocket scientist
    See DeSmog post which includes Evans’ rationale, and especially my comment.

    He basically claimed that people with tech PhDs from Stanford, MIT, etc woud be called rocket scientists… and cited his Stanford EE PhD. This might sound plausible far away, for people with no relevant experience …

    But having worked 10 years at Bell Labs, followed by living within a few miles if Stanfird since 1983, and working with lots of Stanford EEs, and having given at least half a dozen lectures to Stanford EEs…
    Sorry, this was nonsense designed to impress the gullible.

  33. John Hartz says:

    When it comes to grifting, Jo Nova and David Evans are pikers compared to Donald Trump…

    Busted: Trump Caught Red-Handed Funneling Campaign Cash to His Own Companies by Colin Taylor, Occupy Democrats, June 21, 2016

  34. Michael 2 says: “Skeptics do not have (consistent, group-held) relevant beliefs. That is why they are called “skeptic”. They simply don’t have your beliefs. It is like calling “not stamp collecting” a hobby.

    “Skeptics” do have group-held relevant beliefs.

    1. Mainstream science is wrong
    2. Policies for reducing are bad

    That you are all sure that the science is wrong, but cannot even agree with each other what is wrong, is the main reason why I do not expect anything fruitful to come out of this political movement. It is more likely that monkeys with typewriters come up with an intelligent challenge.

    Clean up your political movement. Not only stop harassing people for doing their work, but also develop a consistent counter argument. Maybe then people will be willing to listen again. I would advice to give that movement a new name.

  35. Lars Karlsson says:

    Victor, one can add:
    3. Climate scientists are cheating.

    (At least a considerable fraction believe that).

  36. Hank Roberts says:

    They’ll take the money and use it to dump magic pixie dust in the Atlantic, halting the AMOC.

    “… global cooling due to a collapsing AMOC obliterates global warming for a period of 15–20 years. Thereafter, the global mean temperature trend is reversed and becomes similar to a simulation without an AMOC collapse. The resulting surface warming hiatus lasts for 40–50 years.”
    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep14877

    “Cooling In Our Time” — it’s market-manipulation engineering.

  37. Paul P says:

    If all they are asking for is donations then they are probably withing the law. However they are apparently issuing “Share Certificates” in return for some “donations” and some of the “donors” appear to think that they are making an “Investment.” It is possible that they are in breach of Australian law for either misleading advertising or issuing shares without ASIC approval.

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