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Climate Treaty Negotiators Are Taking the Wrong Approach, Say Game Theorists

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the playing-the-game dept.

Math 227

An anonymous reader writes "Climate treaty negotiators would do well to have a little chat with some game theorists, according to this article. The fundamental approach they've been taking for the last several years is flawed, these researchers say, and they can prove it. From the article: 'The scientists gave members of a 10-member group their country’s “treasure”: a 20-euro national savings account, plus a fund for spending on emissions reductions that consisted of 10 black chips worth 10 cents apiece and 10 red chips worth one euro apiece. Each person could then contribute any number of these chips to a common pool. The contributed chips represented greenhouse gas reduction strategies that were relatively inexpensive (black) or expensive (red). Players could communicate freely about their plans for how many chips they intended to contribute.'"

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Enough Gaming (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990589)

I think there is already quite enough gaming in the Climate Treaty discussion.

Re:Enough Gaming (1, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41990751)

Countries do and do not communicate their real and fake intentions, single points of influence in the system have excessively large of small effects, corporations lobby in multiple countries....the whole system is so chaotic (in a mathematical sense) that trying to simulate it with a small game-theory experiment can't have any bearing on real life, surely?

Re:Enough Gaming (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41991897)

Then there's developing countries that say no, and China, who looks at their allocated 10 red and 10 black chips, and says, "Give us 275 more chips or g'bye", and negotiators give it to them.

chaotic simulation vs real life (1)

mevets (322601) | about 2 years ago | (#41992113)

Much simpler generalizations are pimped for all manner of ideology in philosophy, politics, economics, education, ...
For important issues, apparently, we just have to choose the right mission statement and let the divine hand of providence guide us to safety.

Re:Enough Gaming (3, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41990997)

Yep. The problem is that the game they play has nothing to do with fixing the climate.

It's all about ass-covering and not appearing 'weak' in front of your peers. The same game that governs high schools, street gangs, prisons and, to a lesser extent, chimpanzee groups.

Re:Enough Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991363)

So, in other words, how to best throw your economy under the bus in the name of AGW.

Re:Enough Gaming (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992013)

So, in other words, how to best throw your economy under the bus in the name of AGW.


How to best ensure you minimize any impact to your economy when asked to pay more to hopefully prevent the possibility of uncertain changes from AGW.

In short, no one wants to pay a shitload of money for an uncertain payoff.

All well and good... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 2 years ago | (#41990613)

But who's going to "give" the treasure and what will be the source of the funding? Serious question.

And to what end since China will *never* play the game. They have no reason to - they own everything.

A good read: Death by China... (Also a movie narrated by Martin Sheen.)

Re:All well and good... (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41990735)

The Chinese argument is that their CO2 emission per capita is still less than of most developed countries.

Re:All well and good... (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#41990771)

The Chinese argument is that their CO2 emission per capita is still less than of most developed countries.

Largely irrelevant. If the Chinese won't play till their per capita CO2 emissions are comparable to EU/US levels, then CO2 emissions worldwide will continue to increase till then even if the EU and US reduce our emissions to ZERO.

Re:All well and good... (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 years ago | (#41991117)

lol, there is no EU/US level.
There is an EU level and there is an US level.
One of those is higher by factor of 5 to 10, guess which!

Re:All well and good... (3, Funny)

Bartles (1198017) | about 2 years ago | (#41991181)

lol, there is no factor of 5 to 10. There is a factor of 5, and there is a factor of 10. Huge difference between the two, which is it?

Re:All well and good... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 years ago | (#41991337)

There is not? Then look up the distribution of enery usage in the EU and the one in the USA.
The lowest EU consumer and the highest US consumer are easy far more than a factor of ten appart.
The highest EU consumers and the lowest US consumers are about a factor of two apart.
Five is somewhere in the middle ...
I use 1700 kWh a year, the AVERAGE US citicen uses 14000 kWh a year. That is rougly a factor of ten.

Re:All well and good... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991397)

So now we are in a pissing contest to see who uses the least energy?

Fuck That Shit, I pay for mine and I'll use as much as I need and that I can afford.

If you want to live in a cave, go ahead. Don't expect me to.

Re:All well and good... (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 2 years ago | (#41991471)

Living like that, you will sooner or later.

Later may be your descendants though.

Re:All well and good... (4, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#41991593)

lol, there is no factor of 5 to 10.
There is a factor of 5, and there is a factor of 10.
Huge difference between the two, which is it?

According to this: []
Per capita emissions for the EU/China are about the same at just over 7 tons per capita while that for the US is just over 17 tons. That's a factor of c.a. 2,3. I don't know how accurate these figures are but the proportions sound about right (in the sense that they match other reports that I have heard previously).

Wikipedia has:
China (ex.Macau, Hong Kong) at 7,031,916 thousand metric tons which is 23.53% of world total
United States at 5,461,014 thousand metric tons which is 18.27% of world total
The European Union (all 27 countries) at 4,177,817 thousand metric tons which is 13.98% of world total
India at 1,742,698 thousand metric tons which is 5.83% of world total

Keep in mind that China has a population of 1,35 Biliion, India 1,2 Billion, the EU has about 0.503 Billion inhabitants and there are 0.314 Billion of our US American cousins. I know these figures don't quite match the per capita ones I cited from the Guardian article (which are probably newer than the ones on Wikipedia anyway) but it's the proportions that are interesting. Some 300 million US Americans manage to generate the carbon footprint of a Billion Chinese, while 500 million Europeans can hardly hold a candle to the US in terms of carbon emissions.

Re:All well and good... (1)

NexusJedi (137348) | about 2 years ago | (#41991793)

Distribution (a.k.a. land area or population density) probably plays a large role in the disparity. Europe has a much smaller land area than the US. It would be interesting to see emissions stats per capita adjusted for land area.

why is human density important. (1)

mevets (322601) | about 2 years ago | (#41992227)

Mind the pun, but I am curious. The oil company in charge of Canada for the last while keeps pushing this bizarre (to me, at least) idea that because we have so much land, it doesnâ(TM)t matter that we are the worst per capita greenhouse gas emitters.
Clearly, it is self serving. Did they just settle on the population density because it is convenient and sounds vaguely valid? The footprint already accounts for the carbon sink of all that vegetation...

Re:All well and good... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990857)

While China is still below US levels, their per-capita emmisions are above EU levels and growing:


Re:All well and good... (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 2 years ago | (#41990737)

The sooner we impose heavy tariffs on goods from countries that do not meet certain requirements for human rights and environmental policy, the better. We could do it now. It will hurt, but we could manage. If we wait a few decades, it will be too late.

Re:All well and good... (3, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | about 2 years ago | (#41991565)

Agreed, we should restrict imports from the biggest polluters, especially America.

Re:All well and good... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990745)

Uhm, China has been quite willing over the past two decades. Especially in the period 1990 - 2005 China was open for serious reductions. It was the stubborn asshole-ness of Australia, USA and Canada that eventually made China turn around. If you want to play the blame game I suggest you start with Team USA.

(posting as anonymous as I don't want my account linked to this comment, I work on this for the Canadian government)

Re:All well and good... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990805)

How's that work again? "Canada, Australia, and the US were assholes. Blame the US!"

Nice to see you've absolved yourself and Australia between breaths, Canada.

Re:All well and good... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991469)

* USA has 5x the GDP of Canada and Australia combined.
* USA doesn't give a shit what Canada and Australia do.
* Canada and Australia wouldn't have the economic muscle, if the USA changed their stance.

The USA is being the asshole. Canada and Australia are just the dorks standing behind him shouting "yeah!".

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991501)

Maybe they should get more economic muscle then.

Re:All well and good... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991697)

So maybe Canada and Australia should stand for the principles they believe in, rather than live in cringing fear of the US' disapproval? What's that? They believe in reducing global emissions, like the US? And China says "fuck you guys, we won't reduce our emissions at all?"

Can you remind me, who's the asshole again? The guys FOR reducing emissions, or the guy AGAINST reducing emissions?

I can never keep it clear when it's an issue liberals are sensitive to that the US gov't happens to be on the right side of! I mean, we all know the US can do nothing right... but being against reducing emissions is bad, and China is the one doing that.

I know! How about we say both the US and China are assholes, and Australia and Canada are, apparently, irrelevant and helpless observers in any discussion that takes place on the world stage? Surely that'll fit with GGP's point while allowing the smug liberals to tick off the "engaged in stupid, rote anti-American sentiment today!" checkbox towards their quota?

Re:All well and good... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990919)

What you call 'assholeness', others call 'wisdom'.

Re:All well and good... (0)

tbannist (230135) | about 2 years ago | (#41991159)

It's true, stupid people can rarely tell the difference.

Re:All well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991525)

Not in this case.

Re:All well and good... (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#41992087)

Especially in the period 1990 - 2005 China was open for serious reductions. It was the stubborn asshole-ness of Australia, USA and Canada that eventually made China turn around.

More cynical people might view this as an attempt to use emission regulations as a weapon to harm their competitors's economies, and stopping that when their own industry grew to the point where it would start seriously affecting them.

Climate Treaty Negotiation Must Fail (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990625)

The negotiations must fail, because they're all based on blame and negativity. Fingerpointing between the first world and the developing world is not at all useful. Every premise we've seen so far has been based on the lose-lose more strategy of negotiating.

GoT board game :) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990627)

Or talk to someone who's played the Game of Thrones board game, when the wildlings attack...

Summary: (3, Insightful)

perrin (891) | about 2 years ago | (#41990661)

We're fucked.

Re:Summary: (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41990683)

We're fucked.

Indeed. The ultimate answer to the Fermi Paradox is too obvious to ignore: Greed.

Re:Summary: (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41990793)

You've got to wonder where all the money is actually going. If the wealth is being concentrated in the top few percent you'd at least expect to see lots of jobs being created on golf courses and luxury yacht manufacturing, but we're not, we're seeing an accumulation of wealth that isn't being spent on anything obvious - I'm seriously starting to wonder if the old sci-fi staple of the mega-rich building some kind of ark to avoid the giant mutant space goat...

Re:Summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990943)

You're assuming the wealth would trickle down by creating jobs, but that isn't happening because the rich are keeping more than they are spending. The rich get richer.

Re:Summary: (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#41991817)

But money has no value except for trade or capital. You can't eat it, you can't marry it, you can't swim in it. I suppose you could use paper money for insulation, but you'd be better off buying real insulation. They've got to spend it or lend it at some point.

Re:Summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990971)

They already have all the golf courses and luxury yachts they want. The wealth is being used to accumulate more wealth, which in its turn will be used to accumulate still more wealth. Then at some point the top-heavy economy falls over and we all end up in an apocalyptic wasteland.

Re:Summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992577)

ironically, wealth is measured in objects (which are manufactured by people who get paid) and equity (in companies which employ people) and land. Land is a fixed-sum game, so the growth of wealth can all be measured in jobs. Much of the growth in "wealth" is hidden inflation. Go to the grocery store and tell me we're not already in a poor-people killing inflationary period.

Re:Summary: (0, Flamebait)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41991005)

You are assuming the wealth is being concentrated in the hands of the top 1% rather than in the hands of Federal employees and others who benefit from government wealth redistribution, who are mostly multiplying in number rather than becoming wealthy enough to afford such things. The INCOME of the top 1% may be up, but it is being confiscated through numerous means. []

Re:Summary: (4, Informative)

Stuarticus (1205322) | about 2 years ago | (#41991109)

The page you link to is unsourced and doesn't seem to indicate that at all, but don't let that stop your ideology from talking for you.

Re:Summary: (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 2 years ago | (#41991909)

There is a bit of that happening. Luxury companies offering the wealthy protection against extreme weather events already exist (for example a company that promises hurricane evacuation on first class travel systems).
Other companies are investing heavily in tools to profit from climate disasters - particularly where those are expected to hit poor regions/countries, there is a fortune to be made out of the suffering of those people who are displaced, killed etc.

Make no mistake - when you're rich, there is no such thing as bad news, if the market rises - they get richer, if the market falls they get richer, they are already figuring out how to do the same with climate change.
Naomi Klein's blog had an article with some more concrete examples just last week.

Re:Summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992173)

My theory is they are building a vast, underground complex for the rich, and stockpiling deadly diseases with which they will wipe out the rest of us.

Re:Summary: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990889)

I'm not. I expect to have some very nice beach front property real soon.

Re:Summary: (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about 2 years ago | (#41991121)

We're fucked.

#define SARCASM
You must be either from outside the USA or a blatant commie!

The PC correct way to comment is: "When we're fucked we'll at least have a huge stash of cash hidden away for bad times. And we'll be needing it dearly to pay our way out of the disaster." PC but not really smart reasoning.
#undef SARCASM

Forget the "bad" things the USA gave us. These things would have come around regardless. Instead consider that Nash gave us game theory which holds keys to solving many problems where egoism is at its root. Indeed, Nash has been pretty altruistic in publishing his theory (for which he received acclaim.)

Re:Summary: (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#41992389)

Yes, yes, the sky is falling, it always has been, and it always will be.

We coped with far wilder climate change when we had nothing better than smelly furs, sharpened sticks and "Fire bad, tree pretty" to work with. I'm pretty sure that many of us will muddle through somehow.

Didn't Ecconomists..... (1)

rizole (666389) | about 2 years ago | (#41990715)

...take Game Theory to heart? How did that work out?

Re:Didn't Ecconomists..... (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 2 years ago | (#41991155)

They did and it worked as predicted. There is nothing wrong with game theory when applied accordingly. Game theorists pointed out that by present and past regulations short time gains can be increased by the risk of losses later. And they predicted that those who are able to stay ahead would not suffer losses. And that is exactly what happened. They played hot potato with a lot of hot potato. And someone burned their fingers. It is a pyramid-like game. They always fail in the end. But while normally the last players lose. In reality the states, meaning the people who did not play, have to pay for it.

You want more science used for evil, well they did ;-)

Re:Didn't Ecconomists..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991415)

A bunch of morons decided to play game theory with house money, literally. Idiots who thought they could flip houses because the house bubble was never going to pop now bitching they are homeless...yet those who are responsible, get fucked again.

The process is failing becuase of the spending. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990759)

Once one is shown Carbon reduction projects are only 30% effective with a situation where for every euro spent on the actual Carbn reduction, a euro goes to the investment banker class one comes to understand why reasonable people are opposed.

30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations. []

Further from the report:
15 percent – Shareholders of the companies putting the offset project together tend to take 15 percent in profits.
15 percent – Taxes, bank interest and fees.
10 percent – The margin normally taken by the retailer of carbon offsets, who sells them to corporations, individuals and other entities.

Re:The process is failing becuase of the spending. (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41991029)

Not only is your math flawed, because it doesn't lead to "30% effective", but you draw the exact wrong conclusion.

If it were true that only 30% of the money went to the intended purpose, and that costs of operations weren't factored in in the first place, the obvious choice is not to not pitch in, but to pitch in 3.33 times as much, in order to meet the goal. Then seek to recuperate the extra costs in a way that does not affect the goal itself.

Otherwise, you effectively have decided that the goal affecting humanity (which, by the way, includes you) is less important to you than the current state of your wallet.

tl;dr: You're a right-wing egotist who doesn't understand math or science. But, I repeat myself.

Refine the simulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990763)

I wonder if the game included one very powerful player who will lose his power and profits if the reduction strategies are implemented.

Re:Refine the simulation (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 2 years ago | (#41991039)

If you do that, then you also need to include a number of large players who consolidate power by implementing reduction strategies, but who have to hear complaints about it all the time when their boneheaded schemes destroy their economies.

(Dominant) assurance contracts? (1)

kazsocc (2628537) | about 2 years ago | (#41990769)

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the researchers let the players form assurance contracts [] , either the normal or "dominant" version. I don't know if it would work, but this is exactly the problem they're supposed to solve.

Game Theory? LOL... (4, Funny)

tirefire (724526) | about 2 years ago | (#41990797)

Think about it... there can only be two kinds of people who behave according to "game theory":

I'm planning on watching this BBC Documentary [] this weekend; it looks like the first segment discusses game theory.

Re:Game Theory? LOL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991173)

"Think about it... there can only be two kinds of people who behave according to "game theory":

That applies to de-facto mainstream game theory as held by (most) economists who work in the corporate world.
But in academics there is an alternate view about game theory, that says the best approach is to cooperate rather than to compete.

small difference (2)

nten (709128) | about 2 years ago | (#41991265)

In my experience the difference between psychopaths and the rest of us is not in how we behave, but in how we feel afterwards.

Re:small difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991433)

No. We feel pretty good after because we don't do the fucked up shit they do. It's just that there are a lot more of them than everybody knows, even among themselves.

Re:Game Theory? LOL... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41991421)

Don't blame math for the people misusing it.

Re:Game Theory? LOL... (1)

oreaq (817314) | about 2 years ago | (#41991683)

If model and reality disagree then reality must be wrong.

Re:Game Theory? LOL... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41991877)

Math is not a model of anything. You should learn game theory before bashing it.

Re:Game Theory? LOL... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991461)

You've phrased that incorrectly, because all people can "behave according" to game theory, but they may not be aware or else each be playing at a different game. In their example, they demonstrate incetive based reasoning with clear short term and long term benefits. They found that most people chose the short term benefit because they couldn't justify the value of their contribution to the more intangible long term benefit. So they took their chances on being able to weather what they considered a lesser loss.

If, in this game, they were told to play three times where after the first game the chips they had left were passed on to their children to use in the next, they could more realistically see the results of their decisions. If they did not contribute to the pot, then the threshold would never decrease, and they would be able to see that their children did not have a chance, no matter what they did. If their incentive switched from being able to keep a few coins to ensuring the survival of their children, the results might have been dramatically different.

Many people will do less than they possibly can because of the idea that someone else somehow pick up the slack, that their contribution in the grand scale of things doesn't matter, or that it's a waste of time and energy to tackle such small problems when they have so much else to do, which may be true in many cases. We have street sweepers, so why pick up the litter along the gutters? Why make a mock up of those projections myself, if I'm pretty sure Erica is already doing them? Why shouldn't we keep drilling for coal and oil and then converting it to CO2, we've been doing it for centuries and the planet is still here?

Conversely, there are also people who think primarily in the long term and make decisions which are designed to avoid expected future issues. However, it is a difficult position to justify, uphold, and perhaps monetize when others are already gaining profit from the things you've intentionally abstained from doing. Game theory is practical in this sense, because it demonstrates outcomes of decisions that rely on deeply human nature and gives us a chance to either meet it or rise above it; we use it to see realistically how we use our intellect.

I did this in school once (5, Insightful)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about 2 years ago | (#41990807)

It was a geography class and we were supposed to be countries working together. If everyone in the group chose A, everyone got 1 point, but if anyone chose B, they got several points while everyone else lost points. If everyone chose B, everyone lost points. In only took a couple of rounds before we lost all trust for each other and always picked B, so at least you only lost the same as everyone else. Kind of sad that international politics is often so similar.

Re:I did this in school once (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#41992597)

Wouldn't it be awesome if you could find that on Wikipedia? []

The summary is rather incomplete. (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | about 2 years ago | (#41990845)

You can't just take a paragraph at random from the article and throw it up onto the screen. I mean, you can, but it's not useful. Having read the article it's an interesting experiment, but the summary gives me no information about the other important piece: when the number of chips to avert disaster is set at 150 and known, the players cooperate; while when that number is unknown except for "between 100 and 200" everybody skimps on contributions and loses 15 euros plus whatever they contributed.

On the other hand, the summary could just be missing the last sentence, "And that's how I became the prince of Fresh Air."

MK-CHICKEN-ULTRA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41990849)

RUBBER chicken in the RECTUM and legs STICKING OUT of the ANUS!



stop eating human flesh............


hoola hooping with intestines and @#*(^ $RWYD
DIW()J @


Poor Summary (5, Informative)

Elbereth (58257) | about 2 years ago | (#41990871)

In frustration, I read the linked article, because I couldn't tell what the actual was about, from the Slashdot summary. Here's a better summary:

Researchers gave each person a national treasury of €20. In order to avert catastrophe, a minimum of €150 in the main pool had to be collected total. If catastrophe is not averted, each player's account is depleted by €15. Players got to keep any remaining money in their national treasury. In almost every game, people contributed enough money to avert catastrophe. It was only when the catastrophe was made more unpredictable that the game collapsed. Instead of requiring €150 to completely avert disaster, the catastrophe had a chance of happening based on how much money was allocated. In the second scenario, people promised enough money to minimize the risk, yet they did not allocate it, thinking that the odds would not be significantly increased if they underfunded the mitigation. Because so many people "embezzled", the odds were significantly affected and the catastrophe invariably occurred.

Basically, the players should have studied their Kant [] .

Re:Poor Summary (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about 2 years ago | (#41991047)

So much taxation would avert "dangerous climate change" and how long would we have to wait in order to be sure that the fix worked?

Re:Poor Summary (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 years ago | (#41991255)

Significant changes in climate we observe since roughly 1985.
If CO 2 output would be stopped right now, then on the first glance nothing would be changed. It would take centuries to get rid of the current CO 2 level back to a niveau from - lets say 1980.
However a fix will of course only work if we can stop a runnaway climate catastrophe. Greenlands Ice should not melt e.g. Alaska and Sibirian perma frost is not allowed to melt e.g.
Looking at the current rate of acceleration in increased CO2 output I guess we have max about 25 years until greenland and permafrost will be a serious issue.

Let's Throw Our Economies Under the Bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991667)

Because a Slashdot poster says that's the thing to do.

Seriously, you guys think too highly of yourselves.

Re:Poor Summary (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#41991507)

Well, that was the whole point of the game. Since nobody can be certain if a particular fix will or won't work, negotiations are hampered as risk is a continual slide and spending too much is a "waste." If you think that there is no climate change risk then any amount is too much, and if you think it is likely then no amount is too much, and then you have every position in-between. Any which way you benefit from anything others spend, so you have incentive to try to get others to fix the problem for you.

Re:Poor Summary (1)

aicrules (819392) | about 2 years ago | (#41991147)

Good resummarization. However, your Kant reference ...that dude smoked some heavy stuff. Actually that's too nice. Way too abstract to be of any consequence. If categorical imperatives were so categorically imperative, you'd be able to read that Wiki article without eyes rolling back in your head. Guy was blowing a lot of hot air to say simple things in order to sound smart.

Re:Poor Summary (1)

gdr (107158) | about 2 years ago | (#41991207)

" ... a minimum of €150 in the main pool had to be collected ..."

Actually 150 chips not 150 euros (otherwise why bother to contribute at all, the cost will be the same either way).

Re:Poor Summary (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#41991405)

In frustration, I read the linked article, because I couldn't tell what the actual was about, from the Slashdot summary.

The question I would ask is whether or not the players in these games are drawn from the same culture, political system, and so on.

In other worlds, whether they share the same values.

The same understanding of the issues.

Re:Poor Summary (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41991475)

So, it was 100% assumed that the disaster would happen, period. Did the study account for the fact that the crisis' own authors' words indicate that the whole thing may well have been a Big Lie in order to justify emergency measures to pass laws favorable to the authors' political biases?

Just saying, because, you know, there would be a shit-ton of skeptics if Global Warming required political solutions of the Right side...instead of the current situation where amelioration "requires" solutions favorable to the Left side.

Re:Poor Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992357)

From TFA:

But then Barrett and Dannenberg changed the game to make it more like the real world. Scientists can’t certify that the climate will be destabilized the moment the world warms by more than 2 degrees. They just know that the chances are higher at that point. So the researchers made the exact location of the threshold in the game uncertain. Rather than catastrophe certainly occurring if the pool had fewer than 150 chips, the threshold was randomly chosen after the chips were in and varied between 100 and 200. ...As a result, the Nash equilibrium from the previous version in which everyone contributes 15 euros disappears, and the only strategy in which no one would change their contribution is the one in which no one contributes anything.

Re:Poor Summary (1)

perrin (891) | about 2 years ago | (#41992581)

I keep being astounded that environmental protection and polluter pays principle are somehow considered "leftist" ideas. They would seem to me to be a perfect fit for both conservativism and market libertarianism. Not that I am either.

But then again, I guess the ideological "right" in many countries now belong to more of a pillage and plunder ideology than either of those.

Re:Poor Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992379)

For once, the game theorists are wrong. The game setup is nothing like the reality we are facing.

Money is not worth anything once a disaster strikes. And it will strike without preventive action, it is only the matter of time.

I think more apt game would be one which takes into account the finite horizon of individual decision making, determined by life expectancy.
Oh, and lack of or carelessness towards offsprings.

Meh (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41990925)

Sounds like cap 'n trade to me.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991175)

No. No it doesn't. You are just dumb.

Re:Meh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991317)

Sez the moron

Simpler than that (3, Informative)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#41991011)

What describes the situation best is the Principal-Agent problem []

Example from the Wiki: "Consider a dental patient (the principal) wondering whether his dentist (the agent) is recommending expensive treatment because it is truly necessary for the patient's dental health, or because it will generate income for the dentist."

Re:Simpler than that (1)

zaklothar (2683091) | about 2 years ago | (#41991811)

It is not a principal-agent problem at all. It is a collective action problem. The entire group benefits if a sufficiently large subset contribute to the pot (reduce emissions). It is still in the best interest of all individuals to not contribute except for the single individual who moves the pot over 150 (reduce global emissions enough to avert disaster). The representatives are acting in the best interests of their constituents, thus it is not a principal-agent problem. This entire experiment is merely a slightly more complex version of the prisoner's dilemma. It stands more as a critique of experimental economics than as any critique of climate negotiations or game theory. At best, there are a few take-aways: 1. Telling people disaster is likely will probably result in higher emissions, as there is no reason to cut if disaster will occur. 2. Telling people exactly how much emissions need to fall AND how much everyone else is cutting can easily lead to more emissions than the case of uncertainty or ignorance. Both of these results are intuitively clear. They can be rigorously derived from simple tools that have existed for decades. It is unclear to me why it was necessary to 'test' these ideas with silly, small numbers on Columbia undergrads.

Interesting argument, but flawed (3, Interesting)

prefec2 (875483) | about 2 years ago | (#41991085)

The given scenario states, that we are all doomed, because there is no fixed point of disaster. However, they missed one thing. If if we had a fixed point. The point is outside of our lifespan. The effect of our doing will hit our children children. Therefore, the game has to be changed. You get the money and can spend it on green stuff. And when enough of the others do the same, the next group of people who plays the game gets the money.

Re:Interesting argument, but flawed (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 years ago | (#41991197)

I'm about to become 46 this year.
Neither the point where the oil is gone nor the point where certain areas of earth suffer harshly from climate chane is beyond my expected rest live span.
Sure, regarding oil you will always find another tar or oil sand pit somewhere ... but I guess in 50 years oil production will be at 5% or less what we produce / use today.

Re:Interesting argument, but flawed (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41991715)

Except for this. []

The Money Shot:

"In the past 100 years — in all of human history -- we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here,"

Re:Interesting argument, but flawed (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#41991373)

Make it a bit more realistic :P
A few nations are wealthier than the majority, the people playing those nations get booze and a blowjob every night.
Those who are poorest have to give the blowjobs to the wealthiest. Now commit the money. You have to convince the wealthiest to give up their margin of comfort and all its rewards so that the poorest nations can get enough wealth to join the wealthy ones. The only way to do this is for everyone to commit to sharing their wealth equally.
The end result is no one gets booze and blowjobs, but also no one is forced to give head. Good luck convincing the rich to give up their advantage, and good luck convincing the poor that they don't need all the wealth of the richest ones so they can get the same lifestyle.

Lastly, whether you win or lose, your children and your grandchildren will be playing the same game when they grow up.

Ok, its very tasteless as an example, but I can't foresee any circumstances in which the rich and powerful will be willing to part with their riches and power (obtained at the expense of the poor people they walked all over to obtain it), or which will convince those who live in poverty that they don't deserve better treatment and a better level of living - which they can't get if they are required to spend too much of their money and effort on being ecologically responsible, particularly if the rich nations are trying to buy their way out of being equally responsible - in proportion to their contribution to the problem.

Our problem boils down to human selfishness and greed. Those will kill millions in the end if we don't do something. No politician wants to be the one that tells their electorate "Sorry but you have to reduce your quality of life", because they won't be reelected. Few wealthy and powerful people are going to give up what they have for the sake of making others more rich and more in control of their own destinies etc. Some humans are altruistic but not enough of us.

its a sham anyways so why bother (0)

Torvac (691504) | about 2 years ago | (#41991137)

environmentalism like this is just a sham to make the public believe politicians care. it even greated a big field for shark economists. would you make treaties about how much you could rape/kill/murder/burn someone over a timespan ? could make a great game: "i sell you my right to rape her ..."

Hard to know whom to believe (-1, Troll)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 years ago | (#41991139)

It appears that there's been no net global warming for 15 years [] . In reaction to the new data, Professor Judith Curry at Georgia Tech says global warming models are obviously flawed. Professor Phil Jones (2012) from the U. of East Anglia disagrees and says we need to give it more time. Professor Phil Jones back in 2009 disagreed with his modern self, when he said a period of 15 years without upward trend would seriously challenge the models.

One thing is clear, fresh measurements of reality trump empirically derived models every time, and ordinary non-scientists find it difficult to place confidence in the AGW alarmism industry when they have been so overconfident and yet so wrong in their climate trend predictions over the last 15 years. So I'm not saying Phil Jones 2012 is wrong, just that it's awkward to make the case to chase his moving goalposts.

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (1)

imnotanumber (1712006) | about 2 years ago | (#41991295)

Well, It is true that is "Hard to know whom to believe" if you can choose the graphics and facts to support your "gut feeling". (Where are you Nate Silver?)

For another set of graphics see: []

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 years ago | (#41991407)

Well, It is true that is "Hard to know whom to believe" if you can choose the graphics and facts to support your "gut feeling".

I agree completely. For example, most people would panic less if they knew that those graphs you linked to combine some of highest quality measurements we know how to make today, with other data points that are not really measurements of temperature at all, but merely a product of highly uncertain conjecture. Some of that content is practically useless as a presentation of scientific knowledge; but if it showed error estimates, then it would become useless as a tool to promote climate hysteria. And we can't have that. So it continues being what it is.

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (2)

nomadic (141991) | about 2 years ago | (#41991815)

Only the Daily Mail's article you so desperately want to be a true was, in fact, a lie: []

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 2 years ago | (#41992333)

According to the Guardian article you linked to, some people have detected a tiny upward trend in the dataset, but it occurs entirely within the margin of error, i.e. within the noise. I'm sure Professor Curry at Georgia Tech feels duly rebuked. :D

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992541)

Per the article "the trend is not statistically significant". In other words, the Null Hypothesis of no temperature change remains valid.

Let's do real science. Don't tease out a 0.01C/year trend using statistical tricks and crappy thermometer citing and call it a catastrophe.

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992603)

The "How Skeptics View Global Warming" chart is retarded. They cherry pick 50 years for their graph.

They don't show how it was hotter both 1000 and 2000 years ago.

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (3, Informative)

supadjg (842662) | about 2 years ago | (#41991841)

"Hard to know whom to believe" is a fair comment, but the answer is very rarely "The Daily Mail".

It is a trashy tabloid that styles pretends it is a serious broadsheet. Pretty much a joke to most people in the UK. []

Re:Hard to know whom to believe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992457)

It's easy. Believe the people who aren't seeking to dominate your life and take your money.

Basic physics shows that CO2 has a small heating effect that is logarithmic (i.e. there could be 10x as much without a noticable difference. In fact, there was 20-30x as much in the geologic past). It is also a kind of plant food. Increases in plant biomass have been expected and measured.

There are also feedbacks of unknown magnitude that can increase or decrease the heating effect. Here's an example of a poorly understood one:

Fortunately, climate feedbacks seem to keep the temperature stable and within a fixed range throughout much of Earth's history, which has been full of meteor strikes and other calamities. Climate modelers try to guess the unknown feedback parameters and plug them into their computer and hope people don't remember their failed predictions 20 years from now. The more dire the predictions, the more attention these guys get.

The temperature hasn't changed much in over 15 years. But even if it did increase, common sense and history say that a warmer climate will be better for crops, animals, and people. Somehow, activist economists get this backwards.

game theorists (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41991219)

I was kinda hoping that they suggested the climate negotiators pick up the Pentagram of Protection and Quad Damage then go after them with a rocket launcher or super nailgun.

Climate Game Strategy (2)

profaneone (316036) | about 2 years ago | (#41991273)

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

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