The authors of the bestselling Freakonomics, which was largely an attempt to make sense and fun of economics for those who don’t think they care about such things, are now back with a title that sounds like a bigger and better version of the original: Superfreakonomics. Exploring the topics of global cooling, patriotic prostitutes, and why suicide bombers should buy life insurance, economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen Dubner are again unabashedly aiming for mass appeal.
But on the topic of global cooling….(er, don’t they mean warming, or is that just the theme of the week?), critics are none too impressed with Levitt and Dubner’s analysis. Having tried their utmost to discredit global warming, the authors none-the-less propose a solution, which goes something like: basically, let’s forget about mitigation, pump a load of sulphur into the atmosphere and be done with it.
The trouble here, as Joe Romm and William Connolley have already detailed on their respective blogs, is that Levitt and Dubner clearly have virtually no understanding of atmospheric science. As such, they fail to account for some of the other planetary woes their proposed scheme – a sulphur-spewing 18-mile-long hose pipe – would engender. Ocean acidification? Ozone depletion? Alan Robock’s latest paper gives a more complete list.
“We could end this debate and be done with it,” Levitt says, in Monday’s Guardian, “and move on to problems that are harder to solve.”
Sorry guys, but it looks like we’ll still need to redefine our energy system and the global economy too.