An article from Nature is so hilarious, it got us wide awake at 5AM in the morning. After opening yahoo front page, we noticed a story -
Here are the key sentences to spare you from reading the link.
Under a “business as usual” scenario, where greenhouse gas emissions aren’t significantly reduced, about 50 percent of plants and one-third of animals are likely to vanish from half of the places they are now found by 2080.
Not too late
It’s not too late to do something to prevent the widespread loss of species, however. The study found that if emissions are slowed and ultimately begin being reduced by 2017, about 60 percent of the losses can be avoided, Warren said.
In a nutshell, the authors of Nature study ‘simulated’ changes in world economy between today and 2080, and death, migration and behavior of all species between today and 2080 to make two very specific predictions.
As an exercise, we request the readers to place themselves in 1910, close eyes and try to predict the world of 1980. Prior to 1910, the world, and especially Europe, saw general levels of peace over the previous seven decades. Germany was technologically the most advanced nation and was going strong under an emperor. China was living under another imperial regime and did not see Xinhai revolution yet. Romanovs were ruling over Russia and experienced surprise loss against rapidly industrializing Japan (ruled by another empire) only five years back. Quantum mechanics was not discovered. Einstein barely left his job at the patent office.
Excellent. Sitting in 1910, now that you have been able to predict economic events between 1910 and 1980, predict the amount of horseshit to be generated in the world in 1980. Why horseshit? It is because Henry Ford did not start mass production of cars until 1914, and horse-buggy was still the primary mode of transportation.
The above two models are not enough. Next you need to forecast how every
duckling around the globe will be affected by the smell of incredible amount
of horseshit over the next 70 years. Yes, that is what the Nature article
essentially did in their analysis of changes in global biodiversity. It
claimed to have a model to forecast the changes experienced by every crow,
every cow, every tiger, every fly and every bigfoot over the next 70 years due
to predicted changes in amount of
horseshit carbon dioxide.
At this point, you completed only half of the analysis, and need to redo all under the alternate scenario dubbed ‘solution’. Let us say the solution is (was) to feed horses a different type of grasses from a small town named Los Angeles, whose population was at incredibly large 300,000 after 300% growth over a decade. You do the calculation again, forecast the counts of ducklings, crows, cows, tigers, flies and bigfoots in 1980 and tell everyone how the world would be much better, if they implemented your ‘solution’ instead of going with ‘business as usual’.
We are so saddened to see the above analysis in a scientific journal that we need to take a break from blogging for few days. During the break, we will also ponder, why an Economist article cannot forecast India’s future over the next seven years, let alone next seventy years.