Archive for August 21st, 2010

Tumblin’ dice


I recently made an earlier attempt at exploring probability in relation to climate.

Michael Tobis (citing Andy Revkin) points to a very nice and more succinct analogy by Professor Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales:

The “loading the dice” analogy is becoming popular but it misses something very important: climate change also allows unprecedented (in human history) things to happen. It is more like painting an extra spot on each face of one of the dice, so that it goes from 2 to 7 instead of 1 to 6. This increases the odds of rolling 11 or 12, but also makes it possible to roll 13.
What happens then?
Since we have never had to cope with 13’s, this could prove far worse than simply loading the dice toward more 11’s and 12’s. I’m not sure whether or not what is happening in Russia or Pakistan is a “13” yet, but 13’s will eventually arrive (and so will 14’s, if carbon emissions continue to rise).

Michael thinks that we have just seen our first thirteen (or possibly our second if you count Australia’s experience in 2009).
He goes on to say


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