By Eric Crampton 13/10/2015 5


So these stickers have been going up around Wellington.

Much of Wellington is built on land that rose up out of the harbour in the 19th century during one of Wellington’s charming earthquakes. A climate change advocacy group’s been putting up the stickers.

I hate climate scaremongering. It too easily leads people to dismiss both the sensible and the crazy versions of the argument.

And as I view bets to be a tax on bullshit, I’m happy to offer 10:1 odds against the 2040 shoreline being at any of the current 1840 shoreline markers. I offer the bet on Caplan’s terms. Here’s Caplan’s terms on a recent bet against a European war:

You pay me $x today.  If any European country that was not Communist in 1988 has a civil war leading to 10,000 or more fatalities between today and December 31, 2045, I will immediately pay you $7x.  Germany counts, Turkey doesn’t.  Any front page story in The New York TimesWashington Post, or Wall St. Journal stating that a literal civil war in one of the specified nations has led to 10,000 or more fatalities in that nation ends the bet in my opponents’ favor.  If I die before the bet resolves, the bet ends and my heirs keep the money.
I am willing to accept up to $500 on this wager, committing me to pay up to $3500 if I lose.  Per my current rules, I will bet anyone willing to pre-pay me via Paypal.  If there is any doubt about my reliability, note that (a) I frequently bet, and have never been accused of non-payment, (b) I am a public figure with reputation to lose, (c) I have a stable address, having been a GMU professor for 18 years, (d) I am 44 years old, so am quite likely to survive until 2045.  Multiple betting partners have accepted such terms in the past.
You may accept these terms in the comments or via email.  The bet officially begins when I receive payment.

I’m offering 10:1 against the 2040 shoreline being at the 1840 position due to climate change. The bet is cancelled in the event of a major Wellington earthquake that changes the shoreline position substantially. I’m happy to take liability of up to $15,000 on this one, in total across all those betting against me.

I’m 39 years old and so likely to be alive in 2040. I’ve never been accused of non-payment of a bet, but I haven’t bet nearly as often as Bryan. I am a public figure with reputation to lose, though less than Bryan’s. My address is less stable than Bryan’s but I’m exceptionally easy to find.

Like Bryan, I’m happy to bet with any public figures on their honour, or with anyone willing to pre-pay me.

It’s a sucker’s bet – you shouldn’t take it. But I particularly encourage those active in the 2040 Sea Level Wellington Community to consider taking my bet – if they believe their stickers.

Picture HT: Nathan Ross


5 Responses to “A climate bet – any takers?”

  • Sure it’s an alarmist gimmick, but interestingly, this week, a fairly extensive study in PNAS has looked at the implications for sea level rise in major US cities. The authors claim that existing warming locked in by emissions over the last 150 years will give us 1.6 metres of sea level rise, which will put areas of the US currently occupied by 9 million people underwater. The question is by when? They can’t answer that because they don’t know enough about how long it will take for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to destabilise. But they estimate that if we continue with business as usual on the emissions front, the number of Americans affected will be 26 million, with huge swathes of Florida inundated. Source: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/10/07/1511186112

  • The US scientists aren’t saying it will happen by 2040 either. I’m saying pay attention to the evidence the scientists are presenting rather than the PR stunts of advocacy groups. The former is certainly cause for concern, the latter lacks credibility.

  • I’m a member of the CCRU (Christchurch Coastal Residents United) group who are currently in “discussions” with the council over their LIM tagging of 18,000 properties based on a sea level projection of 0.4m by 2065 and 1.0m by 2115. We achieved a partial victory by getting the government to intervene and stop the coastal hazards part of the Proposed District Plan being fasttracked through CERA legislation.

    These projections are based on the RCP8.5 scenario which is certainly not “business as usual”.

    Currently, sea level is rising at around 1.7-1.9mm a year throughout NZ. There is no obvious sign of acceleration in these data. There is no obvious anthropogenic signal in the SLR data for the Pacific either (citations available on request)

    Whilst these facts may change in the future, currently the LIM tagging is based on a hypothetical future scenario,

    So I’m right behind Eric’s bet.