In this issue:

  • Why climate change theories are unscientific
  • We’ll find out the hard way about climate change
  • Governments are a “tragedy of the commons” too

At school I learned that science advances by falsifying hypotheses. You can’t say you know the truth. All you can claim is that you have disproven a hypothesis.

Thus, science advances towards truth by a process of elimination. The more hypotheses you disprove, the higher the chances of your theory being true. But it is never right to say your theory is “the truth”. Even if the prime minister of New Zealand says so.

Indeed, only a hypothesis that can be disproven is scientific in the first place. And the manner in which you disprove a theory is by making a prediction based on the theory… and then running an experiment to see what happens.

Which begs the question, what on earth is going on with climate change science?

How many predictions of climate gloom have failed to come about?

How many social media posts have been deleted to hide the lack of a predicted apocalypse?

How many glaciers are still visible from signs declaring they’d disappear years ago?

How many airports and resorts are being built on islands that will disappear imminently?

It all sounds like a disproven hypothesis to me. And would to my school science teacher.

Instead, nothing which happens disproves climate theories. And anything that does occur is attributed to climate change. Weather that’s too hot and too cold, too dry and too wet, too snowy or not enough… it’s all due to climate change.

It certainly seems to fail that test of a valid scientific theory. Climate change cannot be disproven, no matter what happens. Instead, climate change is taken as a given. And the facts we observe are then placed into the theory.

Well, I’ve got good news, or bad news, for the old-school scientists amongst you…

We’ll find out the hard way about climate change


“We are going to run the great carbon experiment.” That’s how blogging sensation Doomberg put it.

I was interviewing him about the amount of resources it would take to reach net zero. That constraint makes the energy transition an impossible challenge. This according to a panel of experts I had assembled. Each had analysed what net zero would really mean in practice. And concluded it wasn’t viable. Nor are we remotely close to being on track.

Doomberg’s point was about the implications of this. If we can’t reach net zero, and aren’t on track to, we’re going to find out the hard way who is right about climate change alarmism.

It’s a bit like with Covid’s many scientific questions. People debated for years. But in the end, we found out the hard way whether masks work, vaccines prevent transmission, lockdowns save lives and Paxlovid cures you.

These days, we can all agree whether Sweden was right about lockdowns. And, in the face of all the evidence, all Covid-era arguments have been settled amicably.

Families were reunited, the unvaccinated given their jobs back, prosecutions reversed with compensation thrown in for good measure, and businesses dragged out of insolvency with an apology from the government.

Isn’t it wonderful?

Doomberg reckons we can look forward to much the same resolution on climate change. Because carbon emissions ain’t coming down to net zero.

Tragedy of the carbons

Today, I’d like to point out another reason we’re set to fail in the quest for net zero. And we’ll also consider the implications of that failure for investors… tomorrow. So don’t forget to tune in.

The basic premise of net zero is that all countries act together to cut carbon emissions. We all share the same atmosphere, after all. If only half of nations cut their emissions, while the other half go on using cheap coal power, it won’t prevent the destruction of the planet.

The trouble is, we have a tragedy of the commons. That’s what economists call it, anyway.

When something is not owned by anyone, nobody has an incentive to preserve or maintain it. The incentive is to rip and reap, because others pay the price.

Dumping rubbish in a park, overfishing the oceans, and air pollution are good examples of this. Although none of us like rubbish in the park, or polluted air, people do it anyway. They get the benefit of doing so, while others pay the price.

Even fishermen, whose livelihood depends on an abundant source of fish, overfish because of the tragedy of the commons. If one fisherman doesn’t catch the fish, another will. And so catching as much as you can is the order of the day.

The end result is, according to the theory anyway, depletion and degradation.

This is why some economists argue that the best way to save the whales is to sell them. Those who own the whales would have an incentive to preserve the species. It’s not like we’re running out of dogs or cows…

Obviously, all of this applies to climate change and the atmosphere. But in a way dripping so thick in irony that it makes me feel dizzy.

Governments are a victim of their own delusion

The fact that climate change is plagued by a “tragedy of the commons” problem is a wonderful dose of karma. You see, governments are obsessed with fixing the market’s failures. It’s their very justification for existing in the first place. The tragedy of the commons is just one such “market failure”. But it’s the relevant one here.

What makes this so ironic is that governments themselves are subject to their own theory. The failure to fix carbon emissions is a prime example of “tragedy of the commons”. The international community of bureaucrats, politicians and activists fall victim to their own diagnosis of the free market’s failings. They just can’t act in concert to save the planet. The incentives to free ride are just too strong.

It may be vaguely plausible that the West would be dumb enough to genuinely attempt net zero. But China? Indonesia? India?

The best you’ll get out of them is the same sort of green commitment that companies like Shell and BP gave… before abandoning them with a lot less fanfare.

And so we have governments around the world nominally agreeing to all sorts of treaties, rules and regulations. But they then go on to build countless coal power stations.

Indeed, 2023 was a record year for coal. And demand is set to grow this year. Does this sound like net zero to you? Does it sound like global emissions are falling?

Even the UN points out there’s no end in sight to rising greenhouse gas emissions.

We are toast. Soggy toast if we’re lucky and sea levels rise.

And Africa is yet to adopt our energy demanding standard of living. Do you think African nations can afford to build an electricity grid capable of handling renewable energy? Can they afford EVs and solar panels on their roofs? Can they afford vast energy storage? Can they afford the upfront cost of building renewable energy plants?

And so we are going to run the great carbon experiment. Either we will all drown and burn at the same time, or the hypothesis will continue to be proven false so often that it is eventually discredited.

But what does this mean for investors?

More on that, tomorrow.

Until next time,

Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom