Why do people give Junior such a hard time?

Roger Pielke Jr seems to receive quite a lot of criticism from some quarters for what he chooses to say about climate change, in particular the role of climate change in exacerbating (or not) damage and losses due to extreme weather events. He received extensive cricism for his first 538 article claiming that disasters cost more, but not because of climate change, which he defended in an interview with Keith Kloor.

Now, from what I’ve read and done, what Roger Pielke Jr says about disaster trends is probably broadly correct, at least in the sense that we can’t detect a trend associated with climate change. We’re talking here about the impact on us (humans) of events that, by themselves, are reasonably rare. Although there is some evidence for trends in some extreme events, it’s not surprising that we can’t detect a climate change related trend in damage/losses due to these events.

Yesterday I noticed a tweet from Roger that linked to a blog post of his about a new paper on disaster losses and climate change. The paper is titled On the relation between weather-related disaster impacts, vulnerability and climate change by Hans Visser, Arthur C. Petersen, and Willem Ligtvoet.

In his blogpost, Roger says

Some have argued that our methodological inability to fully account for possible changes in vulnerability to losses over time may mask a climate change signal in the data.

I suspect he’s right; some do indeed argue that this may be the case. Roger then quotes various passages from the paper above and concludes with (my emphasis)

The bottom line? Once again, we see further reinforcement for the conclusion that there is no detectable evidence of a role for human-caused climate change in increasing disaster losses. In plain English: Disaster losses have been increasing, but it is not due to climate change.

Now, I haven’t worked through the paper in detail, but from the abstract

Despite these variations, our overall conclusion is that the increasing exposure of people and economic assets is the major cause of increasing trends in disaster impacts.

Okay, that seems broadly consistent with Roger’s interpretation. However, the abstract then says

in all three cases, the role played by climate change cannot be excluded.

Hmmm, that doesn’t quite seem the same as but it is not due to climate change. This seems to be saying precisely what those who Roger is criticising have been saying : we can’t rule out that there might be a climate change signal in the data. Of course, Roger might simply mean that the influence of climate change is not dominant/important at this stage, but that would – again – seem consistent with those he’s criticising.

To be clear, I haven’t read the paper, so maybe the abstract is actually saying something different to what the paper says (or there is some subtlety that I’ve missed). I’m also not really that interested in this type of thing, since it seems perfectly reasonable that we can’t actually find a climate change signal in the data. Looking for something that we are almost certainly not going to find and then arguing that not finding it has some significance, just seems a little silly. If we want to understand what might happen in the future, we should – in my view – be considering the physical climatology, not whether or not we’re able to detect – today – a trend in past economic data. However, it does appear as though Roger has used a paper that says we can’t exclude that there is a climate change signal in the data to argue that those who suggest that there may be a masked climate change signal in the data are wrong. Again, maybe I’ve misunderstood something, but if this is what Roger has done, it’s not surprising that some give him a rather hard time.

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230 Responses to Why do people give Junior such a hard time?

  1. A few comments:

    The paper is open access. Thus everyone can have a look.

    The paper was submitted before the AR5 WG1 report was made public. Thus it refers to SREX and AR4.

    The paper emphasizes the difficulty of separating different factors that affect the outcome and adding up damages/benefits from different regions and different types of extreme events.

    The paper seems to agree with Pielke Jr in observing that attempts to take normalize the results to account for population and wealth effects removes growing trends. Thus no obvious climate signal is left, and as far as I understand the results are equally consistent with increase and decrease in the climatic contribution. Such an effect cannot be excluded, but there’s no evidence to favor either sign of the possible effect.

    The issue of normalization is very difficult. Many have proposed that technical development has reduced vulnerability and that that’s the reason for the lack of a worsening trend. I don’t think anybody can present strong evidence for or against that proposal.

    So far the situation seems to be that the data is too sparse and difficult to interpret for providing clear evidence.in any direction.

  2. Pekka,

    So far the situation seems to be that the data is too sparse and difficult to interpret for providing clear evidence.in any direction.

    Indeed, that would indeed appear to be the case. That’s why – in my view – stating that it is not due to climate change is quite a bit stronger than the data analysis allows.

    Of course, given that we haven’t actually detected – globally at least – strong trends in extreme events, it’s really not that surprising that we can’t detect a climate change signal in damage/losses. My view is that this doesn’t really tell us anything, other than we can’t detect something that we don’t expect – yet – to be able to detect. Drawing strong conclusions from that seems to be somewhat over-interpreting the data.

  3. ATTP,

    That all comes back on, how to assess risks, and how to react to the results of that assessment.

    It’s almost universally accepted that some risk aversion is rational and that this should be taken into account in decision-making, but jumping from that qualitative statement to policy conclusions is such a huge step that large disagreements are natural.

    We have on this site many contributors, who seem to know what’s the only right answer, but people, who are so sure are a small minority of the world population.

    Whatever you think about Judith Curry and Climate Etc, the articles she linked to in her recent post Engagement vs communication vs PR vs propaganda should give reasons to think. No policy for this kind of very long term issue can succeed ultimately without better informed support from the society. In some countries (or groups of countries like EU) decisions may be made with less wide reaching real understanding, but such success may turn out to be short-lived.

    I don’t believe that there’s enough general understanding of what climate change and climate policies mean to assure persistent success of policy choices. (Is there enough scientific, technical, and economic understanding on expert level, is another issue to ponder.)

  4. Joshua says:

    I tried commenting on this over at Roger’s blog. I pointed out the contrast between what the authors said:

    We conclude that quantitative information on time-varying vulnerability patterns is lacking.

    And what Roger said:

    The bottom line? Once again, we see further reinforcement for the conclusion that there is no detectable evidence of a role for human-caused climate change in increasing disaster losses. In plain English: Disaster losses have been increasing, but it is not due to climate change.

    For some reason my comment (although it was mild in its criticism and not profane or anything like that) never passed Roger’s moderation. Maybe it got lost in the ether, or maybe it hurt Rogers’s sensibilities?

    Anyway, I think that Roger questionably using that study to write his “bottom line” is fairly typical of him. He plays rhetorical games to politicize his data – with a veil of plausible deniability, and then ducks accountability for having done so.

    Roger likes to play the victim card in the climate wars, but he is actually an active combatant who often baits people and then says “What, who me?” For example, how about the times that he impugns the integrity of climate scientists? Keith asked Roger a fairly non-softball question related to Roger’s drama-queening about how horribly he’s been treated:

    …Looking back, it appears that animosity directed towards you stems more from sharply-worded commentary on your blog and elsewhere, than your research.Perhaps you take issue with how Jamieson has characterized your statements. But even still, he appears to have identified the reasons for much of the animosity towards you that has built up over the years. This is the larger context that I think informs the ugly brouhaha over your 538 piece. What are your thoughts on this?

    Roger’s response was typically non-responsive:

    Anyone following these debates over the years and has observed whose arguments have actually been vindicated will no doubt understand why some of the louder critics of mine have resorted to bitter personal attacks. More generally, however, there is a common strategy of delegitimization used in the climate debates. It seems that labeling someone a “denier” offers a convenient excuse to avoid taking on arguments on their merits and to call for certain voices to be banished.

    Unfortunately, Keith didn’t follow up and let Roger off the hook.

  5. Joshua says:

    Anders – could you fix the html tags?

  6. Joshua says:

    I should point out that the paper did say “we judge that a stable vulnerability V t, as derived in this study, is not in contrast with estimates in the literature.”

    Again, however, that is notably different than Roger’s “bottom line.”

  7. Joshua says:

    Sorry Anders – As I read your comment again, I realized that I didn’t say anything that you hadn’t already said. Feel free to remove my comment(s)… It’s just interesting that I made pretty much exactly the same point at Roger’s blog, and it never got through moderation.

  8. Pekka,

    That all comes back on, how to assess risks, and how to react to the results of that assessment.

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean. If we don’t expect to detect a climate change trend in some dataset yet, then not detecting that trend tells us very little. Therefore, if we want to do some kind of risk assessment, I don’t see how we can use results from an analysis that can’t tell us anything about the future risks. That’s the issue I have. If analysing trends in known damage/loss can’t tell us anything about the impact of climate change, how can we use that to assess the risks associated with climate change?

    FWIW, I agree with you about the articles that Judith links to in her post. However, the kind of issues that these articles highlight tend to be issue that are relevant to academia/research in general, rather than to climate science specifically. Of course, they also apply to climate science, but I have yet to see any evidence that climate science suffers more from these kind of problems than other related science areas.

    Joshua,
    Did the HTML tags get fixed?

    I realized that I didn’t say anything that you hadn’t already said. Feel free to remove my comment(s)… It’s just interesting that I made pretty much exactly the same point at Roger’s blog, and it never got through moderation.

    More than happy to have someone make a comment that agrees with what I’ve already said 🙂

  9. Joshua,
    Sorry, worked it out. You meant blockquote tags.

  10. ATTP,

    The possibility of increased damage from extreme weather events adds to the risks, but only through the influence of risk aversion assuming that there’s no evidence that the overall change in damages is to the worse. Part of the effect is that some damages increase in some reasons, while other damages decrease in other places. (If I have understood correctly, there’s clear evidence that warming has reduced weather related deaths in U.K., while the damages have increased elsewhere.)

    Based in risk aversion increased uncertainty is a negative outcome, when the expected value does not change. This justifies pointing out the certain or likely negative effects and playing down the positive changes, but the justification is weak and contestable.

    ===

    I agree that the articles are not specifically about climate science. The first article applies most directly to science related to personal well-being rather than common goods, but through the requirements of democratic decision making it’s relevant also for the common goods like climate related changes.

    (How democracy affects the conclusions might be more closely related to your previous post than the present one.)

  11. Joshua says:

    Fixed – thanks.

    Pekka –

    ==> “It’s almost universally accepted that some risk aversion is rational and that this should be taken into account in decision-making,…”

    I think you’re being overly-generous.

    Almost universally accepted by whom? I often read arguments, such as from Judith, calling for “no-risk” policies or policies with no “unintended consequences.” Those are standards that are impossible to meet – and thus are not consistent with risk aversion.

  12. Pekka,
    I’m still not quite sure how what you’re saying relates to the point I was making in the post. Firstly, I agree that the whole risk assessment/risk analysis issue is very complex. My issue was quite simple. Mainly that using that there is no detectable trend to suggest that there is no trend, is – at best – overinterpreting that analysis and – at worst – completely wrong. Additionally, using this lack of a detected trend to make suggestions about the future is pretty weak.

    To be clear, though, showing that we have yet to detect a trend is – I would argue – relevant from a risk analysis perspective, just not as relevant as one might think based on how Roger presents this information.

  13. ATTP,

    There are several ways to formulate, what no trend might mean

    1) No trend is observed, but trends are possible.
    2) Proposals that a trend has been observed are shown to be wrong.
    3) We have observed that no trend exists.

    The claim (3) is stronger than data can support. The difference between (1) and (2) is subtle, but I think that that difference is related to your dissatisfaction with the formulation of Pielke Jr. If we take as background the earlier observations that damages have grown strongly, it’s highly significant that the strong trend disappears fully when results are normalized using methods the authors consider best they can propose. What Pielke Jr writes is not exactly that, but close enough to make it reasonable.

  14. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    ==> “What Pielke Jr writes is not exactly that, but close enough to make it reasonable.”

    I don’t agree it is reasonable to say that a study that says that conclusive data are lacking supports a (definitive) conclusion that increased loses are not due to climate change.

    It’s a rhetorical game he’s playing. It’s an overstatement of certainty – of the kind that you frequently say is counterproductive because it undermines the public’s confidence in science.

  15. Pekka,
    I agree with your 3 formulations. However, I don’t see why this follows

    it’s highly significant that the strong trend disappears fully when results are normalized using methods the authors consider best they can propose.

    This would only seem significant if there was some theory/hypothesis/claim that we would expect to see a strong trend. Since, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t, I don’t see why not finding one is significant.

    What Pielke Jr writes is not exactly that, but close enough to make it reasonable.

    Given that he appeared to be arguing against those who were suggesting that there may be a trend that we simply cannot detect, I’m don’t agree that what he said was reasonable.

  16. I agree with Joshua on this

    of the kind that you frequently say is counterproductive because it undermines the public’s confidence in science.

    Some people can barely say anything that isn’t fully qualified without being jumped on by certain people. Other people can say almost anything they like with certainty and still avoid criticism from the same certain people.

  17. What I had in mind is that the unnormalized trend may be taken to set the scale for telling, what’s significant and what’s not. In other words, if an upper limit for trend can be given that’s a fraction of the original trend, then that’s consider proof for no trend.

    Making claims like to one Pielke Jr made implies always some scale of comparison. Thus the claim may be correct for those who understand that the scale is given in the above way, but meaningless for those, who have no scale to compare with.

  18. Pekka,
    Hmmm, not quite following you, but I think my argument is the other way around. Do we expect climate change to have produce a detectable trend in extreme weather damage/losses? My understanding is that the answer to that is no (partly because any trend that might be there would likely be masked by other more significant effects, and because any change in the extreme events themselves is expected to be small). Therefore, it seems to me that not finding a climate change related trend doesn’t really tell us much. Either it isn’t there at all, or it’s too small to be detected. On the other hand, if we did find one, that would be quite interesting in that it would be unexpected, but we haven’t.

  19. Joshua says:

    Another problem with Roger’s rhetoric is that he leaves off important caveats – in this case that the trends in current impact of climate change on loss data are not necessarily predictive of the future (where climate change might lead to weather that is more severe as well as more weather equal in severity to current server weather).

    Someone being careful about the political implications of his arguments, it seems to me, would be careful to put his evidence in full context so that it won’t be easily misconstrued and/or exploited by partisans in the climate wars.

    This is what I refer to when I said that he baits people and then plays innocent when they react in entirely predictable fashion.

    IMO, since Roger has the goal of diminishing the politicization of the science, he should be more proactive in anticipating how people will exploit his work to pursue politicized agendas.

  20. victorpetri says:

    Interestingly the following is not going up structurely
    Global Accumulated Cyclone energy:

    Deaths due to extreme weather events point downwards; the changes we are creating are at least up to positive for us.
    http://www.masterresource.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Deaths-and-death-rates-extreme-weather1.bmp

    @ Joshua’s overconidence in science, I feel the same way about Climate change.

    But, seriously how meaningless is the claim that the role of climate change cannot be excluded. I think it is safe to argue that this can never ever be meaningfully excluded as having a role.

  21. victorpetri,

    I think it is safe to argue that this can never ever be meaningfully excluded as having a role.

    Are you pulling the “climate always changes” card here? Just to be clear (as if it wasn’t obvious) we’re talking about the anthropogenic influence on climate change.

  22. victorpetri says:

    I am not pulling a card here. I am mainly point to a reality of the physical experiment, the impossibility of proving a negative. Just like it is impossible to prove there is no God, it is impossible to prove that Climate change does not play a role in this case.

  23. victorpetri,

    Just like it is impossible to prove there is no God, it is impossible to prove that Climate change does not play a role in this case.

    Sorry, that doesn’t really make sense (or, at least to me it doesn’t). In fact, I don’t really know how to respond to that.

  24. We meet again a situation that’s not well defined, but requires that everyone who reads the statement of Pielke Jr fills the gaps in some way.

    It’s totally obvious that climate change does affect extreme events in some way. As a clear case SREX, AR5 and this new paper all agree that hot spells are increased and cold spells decreased. Other changes due surely occur as well. Thus the overall change cannot be exactly zero, and any claim that states that no trend exists must refer to some threshold to be meaningful at all. That leads to the question of, what’s the threshold that Pielke Jr is likely to apply, and how clear it’s to all readers of his statement that the threshold is that particular one.

    This kind of ambiguities are so ubiquitous that I wouldn’t condemn him for not telling explicitly, what his threshold is.

  25. Pekka,

    We meet again a situation that’s not well defined,

    Indeed 🙂

    This kind of ambiguities are so ubiquitous that I wouldn’t condemn him for not telling explicitly, what his threshold is.

    Well, I’m not condemning him, I’m making an argument as to why what he has concluded doesn’t follow from the paper he cites. Others may disagree, of course. I also happen to agree with Joshua that since Roger seems to make various claims about the politicisation of climate science, that – in my view – his concerns would be more credible if he put more effort into making sure that he suitably qualified what he said.

  26. izen says:

    Shorter RP Jr;
    Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.

  27. izen says:

    @-victorpetri
    “Interestingly the following is not going up structurely
    Global Accumulated Cyclone energy:”

    Interestingly there has never been any definitive prediction that ACE would show a trend that strongly correlates with warming. the strongest suggestion has been that warmer surface waters might increase the average energy of big storms, but too many other factors influence the number of storms.

    In fact your comment is a good example of the RP Jr method, highlighting – claiming it is ‘interesting’ – a single aspect of a wide field of data which shows no strong linkage to AGW even where none is expected.

    The implied policy message, for those that wish to hear it, is that there is no problem or measurable risk that requires a policy response.

  28. izen,

    The implied policy message, for those that wish to hear it, is that there is no problem or measurable risk that requires a policy response.

    In fact, I think Roger does something like this whenever he seems to mention the paper of his that I discuss in this post. He suggests that we won’t see any increased trend in TC losses in the USA for 200 hundred years or longer. There are two basic issues with this conclusion (in my view). His method was to use loss data for the last century together with model predictions of future changes to TC frequency to estimate future losses. He then ran 10000 realisation of this and determined the time in the future when 95% of his model runs had trends that were statistically different from the 20th century trend.

    The immediate (and fairly obvious) issue is that this is the time by which we will almost certainly have observed an emergent trend. In other words, there’s only a small chance (few percent) that it will take much longer than about 200 years. In fact there is a 50% chance (according to my calculation) that it will emerge by the early 2100s and a not-insignificant chance that it will emerge this century. Furthermore, the main reason why it takes so long is that (in his model) the drop in losses due to category 3 and weaker storms balances the increase in losses due to category 4 and 5 storms. As far as I could tell – based on my analysis – if the models he’s using have merit, we would observe this change in loss distribution (from most being due to category 3 and weaker, to most be due to category 4 and stronger) well before 2100.

    So, not only does Roger typically fail to mention that his own analysis doesn’t rule out that there could be an emergent trend in overall losses much sooner than the early 2200s, he never seems to mention that we’d certainly notice the change from most being due to category 3 and weaker to most being due to category 4 and stronger much sooner than this.

    When I wrote that post I pointed out that his analysis appeared right, before going on to discuss the subtleties that he seems to typically ignore. His response to my post was to simply claim that I had said he was right. It seems that if anyone says “Roger is right, but …” he ignores anything after the word “right”.

  29. Marco says:

    Well, if we take the Rahmstorf vs Pielke Jr discussion,we also have Rahmstorf’s “no that is not right” (I am paraphrasing) interpreted by Roger as “I am right”:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/10/the-moscow-warming-hole/
    (see in particular inline comments to comments 1, 4 – but several relevant follow after that, in which Pielke Jr misrepresents his own original claim).

  30. lenny says:

    “Deaths due to extreme weather events point downwards; the changes we are creating are at least up to positive for us.”

    Reading the story of the Three Little Pigs, did you conclude that the wolf’s breath had become weaker by the end of the story?

  31. anoilman says:

    Talking about deaths is like asking everyone to stop looking at the thermometer, or indeed any data.

    Here’s all the temperature graphs including the denier funded temperature graphs so its safe for everyone to explore. Yup, its getting hotter!
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php

    No one has put an exact date on when various bits and pieces will become obvious. Last I read on Hurricanes, was that there would be fewer, but stronger. This is hard to see because there is an 80 year hurricane cycle. In short its not clear when the signal level will rise above the noise.

    However, when we can clearly see the impacts of global warming, its too damn late. Lets all offer condolences to California, and let them know its all ok, and it’ll only get 5C hotter. I’ll hold your coat.
    http://ca.gov/drought/

    Here’s a happy song for Victor;

    While Victor brags about getting a seat belt for his car, the rest of us can work on installing the brakes before we go over the cliff.

    Interesting web site Victor… and I thought you said you were progressive. Droz claimed there was no global warming. He’s a PR man, you can read up on him here;
    http://www.desmogblog.com/john-droz

    I suppose I can’t complain, Master Resource are the ones that insist that solar is affordable.

  32. victorpetri says:

    masterresource is a great website.
    I really appreciate the work of Goklany, who occasionally blogs on that site.

    You should read his Improving State of the World
    http://books.google.nl/books/about/The_Improving_State_of_the_World.html?id=e81YsqaUQH8C&redir_esc=y
    Perhaps you can become it bit less gloomy and perhaps you would feel less the need to ridicule people thinking differently than yourself.
    (Disclaimer: the book is published by the Cato institute, those scary/crazy libertarians)

  33. graemeu says:

    “Despite these variations, our overall conclusion is that the increasing exposure of people and economic assets is the major cause of increasing trends in disaster impacts.”
    ATTP, I agree with your general argument here but if I understand the thread correctly the authors of the original paper looked for a connection between climate change and the increased cost of extreme weather events. Failing to find a connection they went beyond reporting their results and made the point that just because they didn’t find a connection with climate change doesn’t mean there isn’t one (the God argument). It might also be because there really isn’t a connection between increased cost and climate change, which is different to increased frequency or severity of events. Red rag to a Bull for Jr by the sound of it, foolish of him to take the bait and take an even less supportable position. If there is a bottom-line it is that people (individuals through to central govt.) continue to make dumb decisions about where and what they invest in with an over reliance on engineering and technology to protect assets and infrastructure.
    All of which will be no comfort to Tuvalu should a cyclone coincide with a spring tide.

  34. Aphan says:

    It seems no different than saying “We have no proof that X is causing Y, but we can’t rule it out either”. We have no proof that Fred killed his wife, but we cant rule him out as a suspect either.

    In such a case, it would be foolish and nothing more than personal opinion or assumption for people to declare that Fred did indeed kill his wife.

  35. Rachel M says:

    Aphan,

    It would be very unwise to declare that Fred killed his wife if you have no evidence. Just as it would be very unwise to declare someone lacking in research integrity with no evidence (especially when you don’t define what you mean by research integrity).

    However, there is evidence that climate change will have (and already is having) an impact on the frequency and severity of extreme events.

    The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report projects that the severity, intensity and frequency of hydro-meteorological hazards such as droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones are increasing due to human-induced climate change.

  36. Aphan says:

    AnOilMan-

    “Here’s all the temperature graphs including the denier funded temperature graphs so its safe for everyone to explore. Yup, its getting hotter!”

    It’s supposed to during interglacial periods. It’s expected.

    “However, when we can clearly see the impacts of global warming, its too damn late. Lets all offer condolences to California, and let them know its all ok, and it’ll only get 5C hotter. I’ll hold your coat.”

    1) If there has never been global warming of this kind before, and we can’t see any clear impacts of it now, then how do you know at any point it will be “too damn late”?

    2) Where did you get the 5C hotter number from? Where and when in California will this increase take place according to scientists?

  37. anoilman says:

    Victor, I’ve been over there many times. Its just another pile trolls. Just look at their credentials, and who their minder’s are.

    Have you noticed that they don’t ‘think’ at think tanks? They are paid to advertise. “Place, this content in that paper, then spread it around here and there, then talk to this list of politicians.” Its all piece meal work done on contract. I’m saying that I don’t really need to go over there (Cato, Heartland, ‘masterresource’, Fraser Institute) to know what they are going to say ahead of time.

    For a self professed ‘progressive’ you sure bring up a lot of ‘regressive’ information. For what its worth I like many of the ideas professed by libertarians, however, the desire for less regulation, does not imply the right to trash the planet and leave others to pay for it. That is pretty much what most conservative think tanks are pushing these days.

    If I wanted to see ads, I’d look for funny ones like this;

  38. anoilman says:

    Aphan: We are talking about global warming on this blog. As you know natural cycles are all factored into data regarding global warming. This is how we know global warming is not a natural cycle.

  39. Rachel M says:

    Aphan,

    It’s supposed to during interglacial periods. It’s expected.

    This is misleading. If this is your explanation for the warming over the last one hundred and fifty years, you’re going to have to do better than that. Research out of Cambridge University found that an ice age was likely to start in about a thousand years or so. But this is no longer going to happen thanks to our carbon emissions. The temperature was declining:

    Temperature reconstruction
    Source: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/paleoclimate-the-end-of-the-holocene/

  40. John Mashey says:

    Here’s some history on Indur Goklany., associated at least with AEI, CATO, CEI, Heartland, Reason, all of which do cliimate-anti-science. They all also have a multidecadal history of taking money to help tobacco companies, which stay in business only by addicting adolescents to something that eventually kill; many.

    See PDF @ Fakery 2
    p.36 NIPCC people, including Goklany., also affiliated with GWPF.

    p.39: AEI, CATO, CEI, Heartland, Reason, $ From Philip Morris
    pp.40-41 misc $ from various sources
    And thanks to the tobacco companies, it’s so well documented….

    All 5 think tanks are still at it now pushing e-cigs, now that the major tobacco firms are jumping into those.

  41. victorpetri says:

    @Oilman
    Libertarianism might be an ideology, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
    I am not a libertarian, but am sympathetic to their ideas, especially their view of man as being essentially good, and capable of crafting his own destiny, and the invisible hand of Smith being so much more able to solve problems, than the strong hand of the government from above could. I think being progressive fits well with libertarianism, since the opposite, conservatism, would need a government opposing individual freedoms, such a gay marriage, drug use or euthanasia.
    That said, I am in favor of a world government (which would allow the free movement of people and goods) and opposed to intellectual property rights (or at least have it greatly reduced) and would like to see some sectors where economic incentives create perverse business models (e.g. pharmaceuticals) run by the public sector.

    @Mashey,
    I don’t see anything there that discredits Goklany and his work. You guys should try and judge an argument on its merit for a change. Where else you think he is gonna publish anyways?

    Here Fox news on that e-cigarettes should be regulated more.
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/03/28/e-cigarettes-doctor-view-good-bad-and-ugly/
    Here Huffington stating e-cigarettes are a good thing:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-newman/e-cigarettes-bans_b_5563550.html
    I can certainly imagine e-cigs benefiting public health. However, if you would be libertarian, you would be in favor of people having the liberty to either smoke tabacco, or to smoke e-cigs, now wouldn’t you?

  42. The post of Roger Pielke Jr. at 538 was really really bad. Kerry Emanuel gives a good breakdown of the main fallacies.

    And I second the comment of Joshua:

    Another problem with Roger’s rhetoric is that he leaves off important caveats – in this case that the trends in current impact of climate change on loss data are not necessarily predictive of the future (where climate change might lead to weather that is more severe as well as more weather equal in severity to current server weather).

    Someone being careful about the political implications of his arguments, it seems to me, would be careful to put his evidence in full context so that it won’t be easily misconstrued and/or exploited by partisans in the climate wars.

    I am not surprised that people are allergic to an academic that gives such an unbalanced view of the state of the scientific literature. That the details are right, if they are, is not sufficient, just a necessary condition for good scholarship.

  43. Steve Bloom says:

    Goklany’s Interior Dept. position (still current? — he must be very near retirement) was one of the infamous Bush administration embeds where they appointed people who in the past would have gotten political positions (expiring with the next administration) to civil service (permanent) ones instead. IIRC there were some hundreds of these appointments made, an abuse of power that was rather a scandal at the time.

    A while back I looked into Goklany’s work product a bit and AFAICT it was the same sort of shoddy crap he was accustomed to producing for the ‘tanks (which latter he continued to do on the side, apparently not a firing offense but something that probably got him the side-eye from colleagues at Interior). The only way the Obama administration could deal with someone like that given the circumstances was to shunt him into a sinecure where at least he couldn’t do damage, which I’m inferring from the changed job title indicated by the link must have happened at some point.

  44. Steve Bloom says:

    “I don’t see anything there that discredits Goklany and his work.”

    *snort* Just read some of that garbage. Probably it’s still on his personal web site. As I said, his government work product was no better.

  45. victorpetri says:

    @Steve
    You are also critical on his work for the IPCC?
    Stop it already, his work is fine, his Improving State of the World is a great book with an enormous wealth of data, evidence and well backed arguments.
    I see the constant demonizing you guys all do of different views as a fundamental weakness.

    Please provide proof if you discredit someones work, and don’t resort to platitudes as “shoddy crap”.

  46. Thanks for the Emanuel article, VictorV.

    The take-home should be:

    > Being conservative in signal detection (insisting on high confidence that the null hypothesis is void) is the opposite of being conservative in risk assessment.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/mit-climate-scientist-responds-on-disaster-costs-and-climate-change/

    Not only absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but waiting to see a 95% certain trend in losses might not be the best way to mitigate these losses.

    The mitigation-adaptation false dilemma rears its ugly head again.

  47. AnOilMan says:

    victorpetri, Libertarianism is a lot like communism. (chill… let me finish) Both sound good on paper until they meet real humans with real agendas.

    Meet libertarian #1 and founder of CATO, Charles Koch:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cato_Institute
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/30/covert-operations
    http://www.desmogblog.com/koch-industries-inc

    Did you notice that Koch has started hiding his anti-science funding? I’m sure John Mashey can clue you in there.

  48. > Please provide proof if you discredit someones work, and don’t resort to platitudes as “shoddy crap”.

    While there may be an asymmetry between “X’s work is good” and “X’s work is shoddy”, I fail to see both are substantiated until they are. And if we’re to allow one, we might as well allow the other.

    This is a blog and all this is just opinion anyway, right?

  49. victorpetri says:

    That New Yorker article is quite long, but I don’t see anything that remarkable.
    I have seen more dangerous, scientifically dishonest and hurtful activities, at say Greenpeace, than with Koch industries.

  50. victorpetri,

    I have seen more dangerous, scientifically dishonest and hurtful activities, at say Greenpeace, than with Koch industries.

    Are you sure you have a similar level of knowledge about Greenpeace and Koch industries’ activities?

  51. victorpetri says:

    @Willard
    It is opinions, but if you want people to value yours you better back them up with some decent arguments.
    Improving State of the World is a well researched book, it uses extensive statistical data and methods and has over 80 pages of references to it.
    But hey, if you want to freewheel the opinion that everybody that disagrees with you delivers shoddy work and not back it up a bit, than fine with me, I know to not pay attention to you any more.

  52. AnOilMan says:

    VictorPetri: Interesting… can you substantiate Greenpeace’s damages, and I’m curious to know who quantified ethics. I’m sure Willard would like to know that too.

    Koch’s damages are in the billions, and he’s planning to trash the planet by releasing more and more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Oh! Bribery! Sounds like Koch wants fewer bribery regulations. wink wink nudge nudge
    http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/10/04/koch-industries-had-inside-man-at-the-epa/

    I can see why Koch hates environmental regulations. He’s planning to violent them anyways!

  53. KR says:

    Actually, Pielke discusses some data that shows significant rising trends in climate related disasters vs. geophysical events, the Munich Re data – although he cherry-picks and _only_ shows the 1990-present data rather than the starting point of 1980 – the shortened data has an early peak due to the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

    The comparison of geophysical events (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis) with potentially climate-related events (storms, floods, extreme temperatures and fires) provides a reasonable normalization for economic development, exposed assets, and preparedness. And if Pielke’s 538 article had actually discussed the _whole_ of the data the increase of climate-related disasters is quite clear.

  54. KR,
    That’s interesting. I hadn’t appreciated that Pielke Jr has only considered the period since 1990, while the Munich Re data goes back 1980.

  55. John Mashey says:

    Sugh.
    1) For most people, cigarette smoking is not an adult decision, because nicotine addiction is very hard to acquire except during adolescent brain development, roughly age 12-22, with usual human variation.
    2) Basically, , besides the other damage it does, nicotine “rewires” brains during the plasticity of adolescent brain development. Unlike some other addictions, it doesn’t work very well to start later.
    3) Most societies try to protect their young from doing dumb things that damage them permanently.
    Some thinktanks do their best to help cigarette companies do otherwise.

    4) Experts generally think addicted adult smokers should stop, but if ghey csnt’t (and a majority can’t), they’d be better off switching to e-cigs, sch after all, are just another form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. But, GummyBear flavor isn’t for that…
    Tobacco companies must reverse the decline in adolescent smoking, or they will lose their supply of addicted customers, hence flavored e-cigs for the young ones and sex for the older ones. The tobacco companies have carefully crafted marketing to appeal it Libertarians… FREEDOM! meaning freedom to kill kids slowly…

  56. Fred Moolten says:

    ATTP – I’ve read the article by Visser et al, and on first (admittedly rapid) reading, my interpretation is that it contradicts Pielke Jr’s conclusion and in fact shows an important effect of climate change. The problem arises in that “climatological” effects are defined as limited primarily to heat and cold waves, droughts, and wildfires, but exclude “hydrological” events such as coastal or fluvial flooding and flash floods. The latter, however, are very much climate change-related. There is at least tentative evidence for increases in the frequency of some flooding events.. More importantly, though, warming-induced sea level rise has clearly exacerbated the economic and human threats due to storm surges, even if their frequency hasn’t necessarily increased (Hurricane Sandy was a salient example). Once hydrological damage is acknowledged as a consequence of climate change, the role of climate change appears to be substantial, even if not the dominant factor responsible for increased losses.

  57. > Improving State of the World is a well researched book, it uses extensive statistical data and methods and has over 80 pages of references to it.

    What claim is supposed to substantiate that argument, and how much references can we find in the IPCC’s reports, again?

    Ian Plimer’s books seem well researched too. It would be hard to pack in as much nonsense otherwise.

    Another metric is the number of “cited by”. G Scholar gives me 3, including one duplicate. Are there others who cite G07?

  58. Fred,
    I missed that. Yes, that is a point. As I understand it, Pielke is also quite quick to argue that flooding isn’t climate change related (as per the flooding in Boulder last year).

  59. Steve Bloom says:

    “And if we’re to allow one, we might as well allow the other.”

    There’s not really symmetry in this case since unlike vp I’ve actually spent time researching Goklany’s work product rather than just taking it at face value.

    But it’s not just Goklany, and it’s not just science. Paul Krugman has written extensively on the poor intellectual standards of the ‘tanks when it comes to economics, which is supposed to be their strong suit The interest is in affirmation, not scholarship. Scientists appear to have noticed.

    Speaking of PK, this morning he has a nice post on Mike Mann.

  60. Eli Rabett says:

    To return to the subject. Two major problems with all of this are the ordinates and the abscissas. Global temperature anomalies are a pretty crude metric. Hurricanes are weather, not climate. They occur in specific ocean basins at specific times of year

    If what one were interested in were trends in hurricane activity, it would be best to isolate the basins and follow the trends as functions of regional temperature anomalies, sea surface temperatures, El Nino metrics, whatever

    As to Roger, there is the story of a poor beggar who crawled into church, propelled himself to the altar and asked the Lord why he was brought so low. A cloud formed on the altar, a hand reached out proclaiming: “Some guys just piss me off.”

    [Mod: Sentence removed; name calling]

  61. Steve Bloom says:

    vp: “But hey, if you want to freewheel the opinion that everybody that disagrees with you delivers shoddy work and not back it up a bit, than fine with me, I know to not pay attention to you any more.”

    Willard: “Another metric is the number of “cited by”. G Scholar gives me 3, including one duplicate. Are there others who cite G07?”

    So vp hadn’t even looked. Go figure.

  62. anoilman says:

    Steve: You get used to it after a while. He also claims to have a masters degree in petrophysics, yet he didn’t look at any but most simplistic information on climate change and geoengineering.

    But it is interesting to note that he follows the teachings of Koch Industries, to back up his weak technical content.

    Yup, you get used to it after a while.

    Eli: There’s an award for that;

  63. victorpetri says:

    Brrr that nasty tone.

    And I am a geophysicist, for which I “claim” to have a master degree.

  64. Steve Bloom says:

    And yet you put faith in the veracity of a publication for which you didn’t even check the cites. But perhaps that wasn’t a sufficiently utilitarian skill for your particular degree program to have covered.

    This is where we find out if you have the moral fiber to ‘fess up to a ludicrous error, vp.

  65. victorpetri says:

    What error am I to fess up to?
    [Mod: Sentence removed; name calling]

  66. > There’s not really symmetry in this case since unlike vp I’ve actually spent time researching Goklany’s work product rather than just taking it at face value.

    That’s what you say, and all you say about that.

    The same goes with VictorP.

    Your word against his.

  67. Steve Bloom says:

    vp didn’t make the same claim I did, but whatever. We both made claims, but then so did you just now.

  68. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: The tone comes from experience. You have yet to say anything that I haven’t heard repeatedly, consistently and with as just much accuracy as I’ve heard for the last 6 years. As I said, I’ve gotten used to it. (OK.. sick of it.)

    Where you seem to think you are engaged in conversation, I see a carbon copy of fossil fuel advertising sewing the seeds of FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt). Fossil fuels are too valuable not to extract and trash the planet with. There is nothing new in your messaging. Don’t worry.. be happy.

    Never the less, the tone is mine and all mine.

  69. AnOilMan says:

    Back on topic. I’m of the opinion that damage from disasters should be decreasing. Enhanced engineering and construction techniques should prevent damage. However, if/when climate change exceeds those construction specifications, then I should expect rather extensive damage to ensue.

    The heart of that argument is that homes weren’t build built with Climate Change damage in mind. The shores where Sandy hit were in fact built to survive the storms that hit in 1896(?).

    For instance Global Warming added 1 foot to the flooding in Hurricane Sandy. This damaged 17000(?) more homes, but it’s often overlooked that 1 more foot packs an exponential increase in wave damage to homes closer to the shore. (It’s more than flooding folks.)

    I’d like to read more on this but not from Junior. I think someone skilled would be a better choice.

  70. dhogaza says:

    “Your word against his.”

    We’re grown-ups here. We are capable of choosing whose word to believe without authoritarian interference from a (possibly ex-?) moderator.

  71. Eli,

    If what one were interested in were trends in hurricane activity, it would be best to isolate the basins and follow the trends as functions of regional temperature anomalies, sea surface temperatures, El Nino metrics, whatever

    I think that’s been done. Elsner (2008?) found trends in some of the basins and also found a (statistically significant?) trend with sea surface temperature.

  72. victorpetri says:

    On Goklany
    Is there anything specific you do not agree with or believe, or do you actually not know what his stance is and you don’t care and don’t believe him anyways. It could be nice to just give a single example of misconduct or (deliberate) faulty research. Otherwise I suggest to leave it at that.

    To come back on Greenpeace.
    The following press release was given in 2006  “In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]”. Which for me signifies what it is about, not about science at all, but about alarmism. As famously critized by early member Patrick Moore. Moreover, Greenpeace does not seem to have people central, but nature.
    But to give examples of concrete damage done is easy enough when considering GMO. Whilst there is a strong scientific consensus that there are no health risks, Greenpeace continued it fear sowing campaigns, going as far as convincing whole countries in Africa to do away with it all together. And causing countries with starvation looming to ban food help from the US, because it contained GMO
    Better dead than GM-fed?
    http://www.economist.com/node/1337197
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zambia/1411713/Starving-Zambia-rejects-Americas-GM-maize.html

    In 2011 in the Horn of Africa, they were at it as well:
    http://gmopundit.blogspot.de/2011/07/greenpeace-sabotage-food-security-in.html

    But the best example is Golden Rice, the patent free gen tech that would able to enhance vitamin A of rice, which would be a very cost effective way to help at least half a million, perhaps two million, children, who die each year from preventable vitamin A deficiency.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6152/1320.full

  73. victorpetri says:

    @oilman
    Judging your remark Don’t worry, be happy, you have not understood at all what my point is, luckily for you I am happy to enlighten you once again, despite risking a great amount of mocking and ridiculisation once more.
    I have given you ample proof of a world where the use of fossil fuels have greatly enhanced human lives. Far from destructive, fossil fuels have helped to transform nature and our surroundings which are by default resource poor and threat rich, into resource rich and threat poor. Far from detrimental to our health, transforming our surroundings has greatly enhanced our lives. Using fossil fuels has given us the tools to fulfil our needs and shape our dreams. Overall, it would be fair to say, that there is not a resource on earth that has improved human lives as much as fossil fuels have (bar the human brain, if you consider it a resource). This is not advertisement, but simple common sense. Where there than no disadvantages using those fuels? Yes, there were, e.g. air pollution, and to tackle them has been an ongoing struggle. But overall the use of ff have been an enormous net benefit.
    Going into the future, we are finding the emission of CO2 increasingly to be a big problem. In looking at ways to tackle it, there is one thing, and only one thing we need to look at, how can we optimize sustainable human well being. We have to be pragmatic about it and keep our options open. If you keep this point in mind, perhaps you can more easily cope with where people like Lomborg or Goklany come from.

  74. For those getting interested in Goklany. I noticed that this paper of Goklany from 2000 was referred to by Faustino at Climate Etc and presented very positively. Knowing Faustino’s views I’m sure that many of you don’t like the paper. I haven’t formed any opinion yet as I haven’t read the paper.

  75. Pekka,
    This in the abstract

    A truly precautionary principle argues, instead, for focusing on solving current problems that may be aggravated by climate change, and on increasing society’s adaptability and decreasing its vulnerability to environmental problems in general and climate change in particular.

    just seems like a bit of a red flag to me.

    This type of analysis by Michael Tobis I quite like. I haven’t quite worked out all of what he’s saying, but the bits I have make sense. I guess he doesn’t quite address the cost of making changes to our economies but the basic message that we will likely not benefit much if warming is low, but the extreme risks associated with warming being high (or even there being some tipping points for low levels of warming) does seem to suggest that the priority is avoiding the high risk scenario, not hoping that it won’t happen.

  76. ATTP,

    The problem with the Precautionary Principle is that it’s a principle, not a practical rule or guideline. Therefore everyone can read it in his or her own way reaching logically totally opposite conclusions than someone else.

    The approach of Goklany is at least in its structure perfectly logical – to me it’s perhaps the only acceptable one on that level. It’s quite possible that he weights different points in a way that I disagree with strongly, but I haven’t had time to study the paper sufficiently to tell. I’m already certain that many of the others writing here disagree strongly with Goklany, but then I’m not likely to agree fully with them either.

    These issues are genuinely complex. Other problems of the world are also serious and more serious for several decades. It’s wishful thinking to claim that there’s no conflict between mitigation of climate change and other large issues including the well-being of the poor over the next few decades.

    Using the existence of other problems as an excuse for not reacting to climate change is disingenuous, when people are not really trying to solve those other problems and directly confronted with the conflicting requirements. I have had a little practical exposure to such problems as I was writing a report for the development aid planners of Finland on energy issues of an African country. (I spent some time there and discussed with people from local administration, aid agencies, local industries, scientists, and NGOs.) In some cases the development needs and mitigation of AGW were both served by the same solution, in other cases there was an obvious conflict. Helping the poor people most efficiently does not lead to the same policies as emphasizing mitigation.

    The situation gets even more complex, when attempts are made to foresee development over long periods.

  77. Pekka,

    These issues are genuinely complex. Other problems of the world are also serious and more serious for several decades. It’s wishful thinking to claim that there’s no conflict between mitigation of climate change and other large issues including the well-being of the poor over the next few decades.

    Indeed, I agree they are complex. Also, I’ve certainly never claimed that there is no conflict between mitigation and other large issues. Of course the same is true in reverse. Not mitigating doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a balance between what we can do about these other larger issues and the possible impact of having not mitigated.

  78. ATTP,

    While I have worked in many fields starting first with theoretical physics, I consider presently systems analysis closest to me. As a system analyst I try always understand complex issues as quantitatively as possible. As complex models of systems analysis tend to be based on questionable assumptions, I prefer on the other hand the simplest and most intuitive models that are not obviously inferior to some more complex models.

    On the above basis I don’t accept any simple answer based on a view that I would classify ideological, but require that a real attempt is made to compare all major influencing factors. In case of mitigation policies that means that their influence on the overall economic development must be assessed taking into account also the effect that they have trough reduced AGW. The integrated assessment models try to do such an analysis, but unfortunately I have great reservations also on each of them. The models of Tol and Anthoff (FUND), Nordhaus (RICE and DICE), and the Stern collaborators (PAGE) give very different results. Each is forced to make assumptions that are just guesstimates.

    Science cannot tell uniquely – or even nearly uniquely – what’s the wise policy taking the Precautionary Principle properly into account. Very different conclusions are honestly reached by competent people.

  79. verytallguy says:

    victorpetri,

    there are a number of issues with your last post.

    Firstly, the logical fallacy that because burning fossil fuels has been a net benefit to date, it will remain so for the future.

    Secondly, the implicit assumption that reserves of fossil fuels are infinite

    Thirdly an argument from assertion that “how can we optimize sustainable human well being. We have to be pragmatic about it and keep our options open”. Given the expected impact and long residence time of greenhouse gases, it may well be that to “keep our options open” is actually to assure an utterly transformed earth for future generations.

  80. victorpetri says:

    To me it makes perfect sense to look at the costs of applying the precautionary principle (e.g. looking at the losses of being cautionary), it is only prudent to do so.

    I would like to forward a different argument to geo engineering, namely the wild fluctuations of a natural state of the climate itself. As you probably all know, from about 15000 to 8000 years ago global temperatures rose about 6 degrees C, sea levels rose over a 100 m. If we want to control temperature within certain preferable treshholds, on the long run, zero-ing CO2 would not be enough, than we would have to assume full control and responsibility of our climate.

    @ATTP
    Looking at the link of Michael Tobis, I see someone disagreeing with IPCC’s conclusions, he thinks the IPCC is careful. I find it inconsistent of you to be positive of someone erring on the downside, whilst being very critical on people erring on the upside of the global warming problem.

  81. Pekka,

    Science cannot tell uniquely – or even nearly uniquely – what’s the wise policy taking the Precautionary Principle properly into account. Very different conclusions are honestly reached by competent people.

    Sure, but truly honest and competent people would acknowledge (in my view at least) that there are risks associated with all possible options. Suggesting that we should focus on solving problems we have today, rather than attempting to mitigate against the future impacts of climate change, implicitly (sometimes explicitly) suggest that their option will do less damage to – for example – the poor when, in fact, there is little evidence to support such a suggestion.

  82. vp,

    Looking at the link of Michael Tobis, I see someone disagreeing with IPCC’s conclusions, he thinks the IPCC is careful. I find it inconsistent of you to be positive of someone erring on the downside, whilst being very critical on people erring on the upside of the global warming problem.

    I think you may have misinterpreted what he said. Care to explain yourself a little more clearly?

  83. vp,
    Having had another look at what Michael Tobis said, I see no mention of the IPCC.

    I would like to forward a different argument to geo engineering, namely the wild fluctuations of a natural state of the climate itself.

    An argument from ignorance then?

    As you probably all know, from about 15000 to 8000 years ago global temperatures rose about 6 degrees C, sea levels rose over a 100 m.

    Yes, and we have a reasonable understanding of why that happened. It wasn’t simply a random fluctuation.

    If we want to control temperature within certain preferable treshholds, on the long run, zero-ing CO2 would not be enough, than we would have to assume full control and responsibility of our climate.

    And you think we aren’t essentially doing this now?

  84. Pekka: “In some cases the development needs and mitigation of AGW were both served by the same solution, in other cases there was an obvious conflict. Helping the poor people most efficiently does not lead to the same policies as emphasizing mitigation.”

    Mitigation is for the rich countries, not for the poor ones. Especially in this stage where we have to build up the technologies for a renewable economy and drive the prices down. If solar energy is a good alternative for poor villages that could not afford a connection to the electricity grid given the sparse population in Africa that is fine, but at this time we cannot ethically demand poor countries to pay more for energy. Thus if there is a conflict, we cannot ask these countries to prioritize mitigation. No matter how often VP or WUWT and Co. claim that the greens want to kill poor babies, that is not rooted in reality, like their “science”. My guess would be that that is projection or that they know that liberals find poor babies important.

  85. victorpetri says:

    @vtg

    I can definitely not agree with this critique,

    Firstly, I stated no such thing. Although I do think so, it was not the point I was making. I stated with global warming: “In looking at ways to tackle it, there is one thing, and only one thing we need to look at, how can we optimize sustainable human well being.”

    Secondly, no assumption on the infiniteness of fossil fuels, implicitly or otherwise, was made. I definitely not regard our fossil fuel use as something permanent, it merely is at this point in time the best and cheapest option. (yes we should contemplate internalizing externalities more)
    Thirdly, you don’t understand the keeping all options open concept. Do all options lead to an “utterly transformed earth for future generations”?

  86. vp,

    it merely is at this point in time the best and cheapest option.

    “Best” is subjective. “Cheapest” ignores externalities.

  87. verytallguy says:

    I have to confess I’m bemused by the application of the precautionary principle to this discussion.

    From Wiki:

    The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.

    I was under the impression that there is a very clear scientific consensus on the effects of CO2. In what way is the precautionary principle even relevant here?

  88. verytallguy says:

    victorpetri

    a couple of thigs we just disagree on which I don’t wish to take further:

    1) “I stated no such thing” – indeed not, but your post implies it.
    2) “no assumption on the infiniteness of fossil fuels, implicitly or otherwise” – in my opinion, your post does exactly that.

    But mainly (3)
    “you don’t understand the keeping all options open concept”

    In which case, perhaps you could explain it clearly? Because keeping the option open of continuing as-is does indeed guarantee a transformed earth.

  89. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    “Yes, and we have a reasonable understanding of why that happened. It wasn’t simply a random fluctuation”
    You are missing the point, the climate from itself is prone to change and always have been:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change#mediaviewer/File:Vostok_Petit_data.svg

    If the goal would be a statist climate, eventually zero carbon emission won’t cut it. At some point in time we will have to apply geo engineering, or the next glacial period will be brutal to mankind.

    And on Tobis:
    “1) Global mean temperature is a mere proxy measure of change, and very large climate shifts with very small global mean temperature change are admissible, while the opposite case is meaningless. So focusing on mean temperature shifts already has a neutral to overly optimistic outcome.
    2) As everyone is constantly pointing out, current understanding of climate as embodied in dynamic climate models is relatively crude. The result is indeed that the models are unreliable. However, contrary to what I have seen anywhere in the popular press, this means that the models are biased to produce results similar to contemporary climate using contemporary boundary conditions. They therefore tend to be undersensitive to perturbations. Again, this implies that the median modeling result may be an underestimate.
    Another problem is that the real world has more degrees of freedom than any model, so modes not accounted for in models may be excited in reality. Again this causes model projections to be conservative regarding change estimates.”

    For the climate models I assumed them to be related to IPCC. In his 1st lies the implicit assumption that IPCC’s risk scenario is not correct, too optimistic (but this can be my interpretation). But in his second point, he clearly disagrees, stating the models to be undersensitive to perturbations. With which he criticizes IPCCs climate models (or whose models elsewise?).
    Now I found it strange for you to accept this, but be very critical of people claiming models are too sensitive to perturbations (such as Matt Ridley has been known to do).

  90. victorpetri says:

    @vtg
    You are determined to stay biased on my opinion, even if I explicitely deny the meaning you give to me text? What the heck?
    “Because keeping the option open of continuing as-is does indeed guarantee a transformed earth.”
    So for 1 option, you think the guarantee is a transformed earth. OK, well, you might be right, luckily for me I have all options open.
    Or does your bias with me not allow me to consider other options?

  91. vp,

    You are missing the point, the climate from itself is prone to change and always have been:

    No, victor, you’re missing the point. The climate doesn’t just change. It changes because something makes it change. Today, it’s us.

    In his 1st lies the implicit assumption that IPCC’s risk scenario is not correct, too optimistic (but this can be my interpretation). But in his second point, he clearly disagrees, stating the models to be undersensitive to perturbations. With which he criticizes IPCCs climate models (or whose models elsewise?).

    I have to go out, but I think you’ve mis-interpreted what he’s suggestion. He’s suggesting, I think, that anything unexpected is much more likely to increase the risk of climate change doing damage, than reduce the risk. Remember that WGI is simply the physical science basis. It’s not a risk analysis. He’s attempting to do a form of risk analysis on the basis of our current understanding of the known and unknown risks.

  92. verytallguy says:

    victorpetri

    Perhaps you could explain what you actually mean by keeping all options open?

    ‘Cos it seems to me that options are mutually exclusive, and by keeping one open, you have de facto closed others.

    How, for instance, is it possible to keep open the option of continuing as-is consumption of fossil fuels and the option of rapid decarbonisation?

    But maybe I’ve misunderstood you?

  93. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Sorry, but I have to clarify again.
    I know something changes it, but as temperature records have shown, there is bound to happen something again in the next 1000s years that will change the climate in unacceptable ways. A permanent solution would be geo engineering, we need to go there eventually, because the natural state of the climate with its glacials simply is not acceptable.

    And on Tobis, sorry I fail to see a difference between what he does and what Ridley does.

  94. verytallguy says:

    victorpetri

    A permanent solution would be geo engineering, we need to go there eventually, because the natural state of the climate with its glacials simply is not acceptable.

    1) We may already have achieved this via our CO2 emissions. eg fig 4 in http://www.skepticalscience.com/heading-into-new-little-ice-age-intermediate.htm

    2) It’s the rate which is so damaging, as much as the total change

  95. > We are capable of choosing whose word to believe […]

    Let me guess who Dhogaza will choose to believe: the other fellow from his old dynamic duo of flamers?

    Imagine that.

  96. > Is there anything specific you do not agree with or believe, or do you actually not know what his stance is and you don’t care and don’t believe him anyways.

    The same can be asked of you, VictorP. SteveB could have priority, even, for you’re the one who brought up Golkany. Both of you had your say on Golkany, and both of you refuse to substantiate your position furthermore.

    Another squirrel, another stalemate.

  97. Mitigation is for the rich countries, not for the poor ones.

    What I had in mind is linking development aid strongly to specific solutions, reorganizing the funding transferring sizable resources to a climate fund, implementing solutions like the Clean Development Mechanism and giving credits in emission trading for that. All these approaches have their merits, but also their weaknesses.

    All such solutions mean that decisions will not be done having only the development in mind but making climate change a major factor in choosing, what to do. My feeling is that the cases, where the goals lead to conflicting conclusions are not given sufficiently emphasis.

    It’s clear that forgetting totally climate issues when deciding on development aid would be stupid, but my experience is that supposed climatic benefits are often given too much weight, at least in cases, where they are more symbolic than real.

  98. victorpetri says:

    Sure, I’ll provide proof that he hasn’t created faulty research. Do you want some proof God doesn’t exist to come with that?

  99. vp,

    I know something changes it, but as temperature records have shown, there is bound to happen something again in the next 1000s years that will change the climate in unacceptable ways. A permanent solution would be geo engineering, we need to go there eventually, because the natural state of the climate with its glacials simply is not acceptable.

    If we carry along our current pathway, this would probably be something that we won’t have to worry about.

    And on Tobis, sorry I fail to see a difference between what he does and what Ridley does.

    Okay, broadly speaking this is what I think Ridley does. Find friendly scientist (Nic Lewis) who has done a calculation that suggests climate sensitivity may be lower than IPCC estimate, and assume that this is probable rather than simply possible. Find friendly economist (Richard Tol) who argues that there will be a net benefit to small amounts of future warming. We now know that this isn’t as likely as Ridley has suggested and this also converts from temperature to time assuming a low climate sensitivity. Ridley then argues that there will be a net benefit over the coming decades therefore doing anything to mitigate would be damaging and risky. Correct me if you think this is an unfair assessment.

    Here is how I see Tobis’s argument. There will be likely no major benefit if warming is low. However, there is probably some change in temperature that we could all agree would be catastrophic. He chooses 20 degrees, but it could well be 10. The route to that temperature will also not be linear. What he means is that the impact will be significant even for changes much less than 10 degrees (i.e., 5 degrees won’t be half as severe as 10, if we can define what half means). So, even 2 degrees could well be severe. There’s also the chance that we could see significant changes to our climate, even for low levels of warming (tipping points, for example). So, the real risk is associated with the possibility that climate sensitivity will not be low or with something unexpected happening to our climate even if it is. A sensible risk analysis would then conclude that the goal should be to minimise these risks.

    It seems clear that what Ridley is doing is not minimising these risks. He’s arguing that climate sensitivity could (probably is) low, that we’d benefit from small amounts of warming, so let’s carry on as we are. If he’s right, then good. If he’s not, we could be in serious trouble and he’s essentially maximising these risks. So his proposal is essentially wishful thinking. Tobis’s idea is to act to minimise the high-end risks.

    The main criticism I can see of Tobis’s argument is that he doesn’t consider the risk associated with modifying our economy to avoid the high-end climate risks. However, since fossil fuels are finite, these are changes we will need to make at some point anyway, so let’s assume that they’re possible (i.e., it is possible for a non-fossil fuel based economy to be viable). Therefore it must be possible to develop alternatives and still have economic growth. However, there are plausible and possible changes to our climate that we probably cannot survive (at least, not in the way we do today). Therefore we are balancing the possibility that economic growth may not be as fast as it could be, with the possibility of catastrophic global warming. I know what my risk analysis would conclude. Your mileage may vary.

  100. > Sure, I’ll provide proof that he hasn’t created faulty research.

    Here’s what you claimed, VictorP:

    I really appreciate the work of Goklany, who occasionally blogs on that site.

    You should read his Improving State of the World.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/why-do-people-give-junior-such-a-hard-time/#comment-28381

    People offered a different appreciation.

    The only argument so far to read G07 is that it’s well researched. I offered two arguments against it, and asked you to confirm that G07 has two citations on G Scholar.

    Now, you’re playing the move “please prove malfeasance” against “Goklany’s a shill”.

    My patience has no limit to document ClimateBall moves like that, VictorP.

  101. victorpetri says:

    I will have to correct you on Ridley, or perhaps add to it this, the damage and risk does specifically not come from missing out of beneficial (short term) warming, but on mitigating policies that inflict costs to society (or did you mean that?). And he (and we too in a previous discussion) did mention the fact that Tol collected 14 (?) different studies, and even excluding his work, the costs of global warming up to ~2080 were very small. However, I have to agree with you that Ridley can seem quite selective in his use of sources. Here the exact blog which we seem to be discussing:
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-probable-net-benefits-of-climate-change-till-2080.aspx

    And in light of that and the second part of your argument, the viability of the non-fossil fuel based economy and the speed of transition to it, would be exactly the puzzle to solve. The main argument against those who want action now, in my opinion, is that the costs of transition is unacceptably high. Future transition might be endlessly cheaper in a richer world. To give an example, solar power output has doubled every 2 years for almost 40 years straight. It is essentially following Moore’s law. Now still below 1% of total energy supply, a couple more doublings and we have a great big chunk of our energy supply from it. Disrupting fossil fuel use now, would probably cause a severe economic recession, it would spike food prices, and halt a lot of economic progress in much of the under developed world. Is it worth the couple of ppm CO2 saved?
    Now then to Tobis’ argument, you highlight a good point of his (which is different from which I was talking about, but OK), what about that very small chance, very high damage consequences scenario. I don’t think you can build decent policy on those assumptions. To explain, we might as well spend all society’s money on scanning the sky for meteorites or build nuclear fall out bunkers for 7 billion people. We are probably better of increasing the tenability and adaptability of society, and can do so with economic growth.

  102. victorpetri says:

    @Willard
    Improving State of the World has 74 citations according to google scholar, although I must say I am not convinced of the usefulness of this metric.
    And I am sick of the freaking “climate ball”, it is an infantile way to demonize dissent. It is unrespectful, inconstructive and it cuts a much needed discussion short.

  103. victorpetri,

    I will have to correct you on Ridley, or perhaps add to it this, the damage and risk does specifically not come from missing out of beneficial (short term) warming, but on mitigating policies that inflict costs to society (or did you mean that?).

    Okay, sure, that’s an extension of what he said. Except his argument is based on the idea that there’s no risk to doing nothing and the idea that doing something carries risk. The first part of this is – I would argue – wrong. So, he’s essentially ignoring the climate risks. He’s assuming that he can show that there aren’t any and therefore that his analysis involves comparing a no risk do nothing strategy with a possibly risky do something strategy.

    what about that very small chance, very high damage consequences scenario.

    Who said “very small”. The RCP8.5 pathway has a bigger than 1% chance of more than 5 degrees of warming by 2100. It also has only a few percent chance of warming being less than 3.5 degrees. So if we accept that 20 degrees is catastrophic and that the route to this is non-linear, then an RCP8.5 scenario would suggest a good chance of reaching levels of warming by 2100 that are extremely(?) damaging.

    Again, you seem to have assumed that the risks are very small without any attempt to quantify what “very small” means. I assume that if there was a 1 in 100 chance of a plane crashing that we’d fly far less often than we do. Maybe you disagree.

  104. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    That is higher than what I thought. I have to agree with you that this risk we should not accept.
    Thanks.

  105. > Improving State of the World has 74 citations according to google scholar, although I must say I am not convinced of the usefulness of this metric.

    Thank you, VictorP. I now can reproduce that result. Must not have researched to proper instance of that bibliographic entity yesterday.

    I agree that this metric does not tell us much. All it shows us is G07’s social network. For instance, the first page are all citations from Goklany himself. In fact the first four pages are dominated by Goklany citing himself. And there are self references in other pages too.

    Considering your skepticism regarding that metric, why would you tell us about the length of G07’s list of references?

    ***

    If you are sick of ClimateBall ™, would you like me to point out the moves you played so far in this thread alone?

    As Junior would say,

    Many thanks!

  106. victorpetri says:

    @Willard, yes please do.

  107. Will do later, VictorP.

    I must correct this first:

    > For instance, the first page are all citations from Goklany himself. In fact the first four pages are dominated by Goklany citing himself. And there are self references in other pages too.

    This is true for the search of “Goklany 2007”, but not for the citations. Here’s the first page of citations:

    Cool it: the skeptical environmentalist’s guide to global warming
    B Lomborg – 2007

    Risk: The science and politics of fear
    D Gardner – 2009

    The Liberal Moment Fifteen Years On
    NP Gleditsch – International Studies Quarterly, 2008

    Delineating the Domain of Development Entrepreneurship: A Market‐Based Approach to Facilitating Inclusive Economic Growth
    JS McMullen – Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 2011

    A theory of intergenerational justice
    Joerg Tremmel – 2009

    The science of fear: Why we fear the things we shouldn’t–and put ourselves in greater danger
    D Gardner – 2008 – Penguin

    Have increases in population, affluence and technology worsened human and environmental well-being
    IM Goklany – The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development, 2009 –

    The environmental responsibility of business is to increase its profits (by creating value within the bounds of private property rights)
    P Desrochers – Industrial and Corporate Change, 2010 – Oxford Univ Press

    Ferraris for all: in defence of economic progress
    D Ben-Ami – 2011

    Is Climate Change the “Defining Challenge of Our Age”?
    IM Goklany – Energy & environment, 2009

    ***

    The social network is more interesting than I thought.

  108. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    you say on Ridley

    He’s arguing that climate sensitivity could (probably is) low, that we’d benefit from small amounts of warming, so let’s carry on as we are.If he’s right, then good

    Pielke argues broadly the same thing.

    But then there’s physics. The physics which dictate that even if the climate sensitivity is (relatively) low, we still should not carry as-is because costs are low until (say) 2100.

    Why? Well, if we continue as-is until 2100, even if sensitivity is relatively low, we will have committed to future warming of a scale we know will cause considerable damage, because of the high inertia of the system.

  109. AnOilMan says:

    VictorPetri: Just so you know, I asked who quantified ethics, and you came back with opinion hate pieces against Greenpeace. Let me know when you want to start to backing up your claims. I’m still waiting. [factoid: the lawyer that fought Erin Brockovich was appointed to review GMO crops by George Bush.]

    Hmm… Old articles… Always confusing when you add those to the discussion. Africa is in a farming boom (they’ve modernized), and has lots of food. I bet they are still steadying their wobbly financial legs. Yet another company cashing in on that boom;
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-16/agco-targets-africa-s-agriculture-boom-with-100-million-plan.html

    Here is Greenpeace’s official position;
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/agriculture/problem/genetic-engineering/

    In the real world, if Monsanto grain (even a small portion) is found on your property you will be sued for all that you are worth. This is because A) their grains are patented, and B) plants grow where they will. This is happening now. Farmers are being financially liquidated over this.
    http://thegranddisillusion.wordpress.com/monsanto-vs-farmer/

    If there is any other concerns here, remember that they are currently using Hybrid GMO in Africa;
    http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/hybrid-seeds-vs-gmos

    Hybrid doesn’t have the same connotation as Homer Simpson’s Tomacco;
    http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Tomacco

    Lastly, if you want to make an actual argument you should come up with a comparison, not just slam one side. Since you brought up food, I have some food for thought Victor… we feed you heavy metals and toxic waste because of fossil fuels. (Imagine a libertarian world where that wasn’t regulated. What fun!)

    Where do you think that radioactive fracking fluid goes when they are done with it? They don’t just dump it on the roads like they filmed in Gasland, ’cause that would be illegal. Its normally disposed in open pits, and or on crops, which is legal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wastewater

    Bon Appetite.

    Breathing is also a concern, fossil fuels kill;
    http://www.lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/resources/toxic-air-report/

  110. vtg,

    because of the high inertia of the system.

    Indeed, something that is either misunderstood or ignored.

    I was going to comment on the Conversation piece that jsam linked to. What was interesting was how the author framed the role of a carbon tax. It was described as something we pay now so that future generations may benefit. Maybe strictly true, but I’ve always seen it slightly differently. Because of the intertia in the system, the carbon tax (I always thought) was us paying today for the damage our emissions will do in the future. Future generations may well benefit but, if we don’t pay now, they’ll suffer as a consequence of our emissions.

  111. AnOilMan says:

    Anders? Someone? Has anyone done a long term projection into the future with earth orbit changes, long term solar cycles etc? i.e. What does the next 100,000 years look like?

    My understanding is that there is a relatively small shift in solar energy which causes the interglacial cycles. How does man made global warming compare to that? From what I can tell, we have already drowned it out with Green House Gases.

  112. AnOilMan says:

    Oh and since VictorPetri is bringing up the Lomborg game, and espousing the values of lobbyists like the CATO institute;
    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/lomborg-long-game/

    Lomborg is a political scientist. He researched Game Theory and Voting.

    His argument is that we should give lots of money to he third world, and do nothing about Climate Change. Since that will never happen, nothing will be done. Case closed.

    This was the same argument by Canadian Conservatives to back out of Kyoto. “Why give money to them? We should keep it for ourselves and solve the problem here.” Then they did nothing. (Actually Stephen Harper went a step worse, and promptly started deleting environmental regulations.)

    Stephen Harper is Lomborg’s homeboy near as I can tell.

  113. AoM,
    I don’t know if someone’s projected forward to see what the next 100000 years will look like. Possibly because we don’t know what climate change will actually do to our long-term emissions.

    My understanding is that there is a relatively small shift in solar energy which causes the interglacial cycles.

    Yes, and in fact the actual trigger is still uncertain (paging BBD and Steve Bloom) as the 100000 year cycle is associated with changes in eccentricity that produce very small changes in overall insolation. However, there are substantial changes in how this is distributed across the globe, with large changes above 65N. My current understanding is that it’s thought that over a number of shorter cycles (there are cycles associated with inclination, and axial tilt that are shorter than 100000 years), it slowly pushes (my own terminology) the ice sheets until there is a sudden retreat and we move from a glacial period into an inter-glacial.

    However, I think that once the retreat has been triggered it becomes a combination of CO2 release (due to the warming oceans, I think) and further ice sheet retreat that act as the external drivers. The increase in CO2 is about 100 ppm over a time in excess of 1000 years (10 times, or more, slower than we are doing today). One could argue that we should be retaining fossil fuels so that we can slowly release CO2 in the future so as to counteract this process and hence prevent us from moving into the next glacial period 🙂 .

    That was partly a joke, but I don’t think that it would take much to prevent a move into another glacial period as I think the CO2 is an important driver. In the case of moving into another glacial, it’s the cooling of the oceans (I think) that absorbs extra CO2, which cools the planet, grows the ice sheets, cools the oceans further, etc. Stabilising CO2 may be able to prevent this (I could, of course, be talking nonsense as this is clearly a complex issue with many factors).

  114. verytallguy says:

    AOM,

    Has anyone done a long term projection into the future with earth orbit changes, long term solar cycles etc? i.e. What does the next 100,000 years look like?

    Have a look at the link from my 11:06

    On the relativities of CO2 vs glacials, my understanding is that doubling CO2 is a little less than the effect of a glaciation (3 degrees vs 5-6 degrees). However the actual forcing effect of the CO2 is much larger than the solar forcing change; most of the glacial forcing is albedo changes (icesheets) plus carbon cycle feedback (CO2).

    Or you could read something from someone who might have a clue…

    http://julesandjames.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/how-cold-was-last-glacial-maximum.html

  115. John Mashey says:

    The future:
    David Archer, The Long Thaw
    Bill Ruddiman:Earth Transformed
    Both look at CO2, ice ages, trigger levels, bot hare good researchers who write well, and Archer’s book is an afternoon read.

    Really, absent nuclear war or an asteroid strike, it is almost certain that we’ll have raised the Co2 level high enough to avoid ice ages for 50Ky or more.That isn’t the problem…. and actually, anyt high-tech civilization can avoid it by generating SF6 or similar chemical.

  116. Future Earth orbit changes have certainly been calculated by many. The models that calculate orbits over tens of millions of the past calculate also the future. I’m one of those many, who have downloaded all the required models and data, and used them to produce mainly history curves, but also something about the future that I haven’t used for anything.

    Some of those calculations must have been used by scientists, who started to worry about the approaching ice age before global warming took over.

    The orbits are, however, probably the only factor that can really be predicted, and they are likely to be a weak influence in comparison with other factors for thousand of years to come.

  117. John Mashey says:

    See Richard Alley’s classic Biggest Control Knob

  118. Vinny Burgoo says:

    The high inertia of the system heightens the hysteria motif.

  119. Vinny,
    Ahh, no I think it does the reverse “look, nothing’s happening yet”.

  120. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I’m trolling. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. The second half is an anagram of the first.

    (I wasn’t going to comment at all in this thread because of the ill-mannered ‘Junior’ but I won’t try to use it as an excuse for my own bad manners. Probably.)

  121. Vinny,
    That’s impressive. I once spent some time trying to learn how to do the Guardian (shock, horror) crossword. I gave up.

    Do you really think using “Junior” was ill-mannered? Wasn’t really meant to be. Just over-familiar.

  122. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I do think it’s ill-mannered, yes. Whatever your disagreements with him, Roger Pielke Jr. is a proper player in the climate change arena. You are in the peanut gallery (and I am in the peanut gallery’s peanut gallery.) Inventing a nickname for him is bad form.

  123. JohnL says:

    AnOilMan@August 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Here’s a link to a list compiled by Ari Jokami at AGW Observer:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/papers-on-anthropogenic-global-warming-and-next-glaciation/

  124. BBD says:

    ATTP

    (paging BBD and Steve Bloom)

    Sorry, I’m on holiday and not really paying attention. Luckily, and not for the first time, John Mashey steps in with the appropriate information.

    🙂

  125. Joshua says:

    It’s interesting because just before reading the latest comments, the use of “junior” in the post’s title caught my eye and for the first time I noticed that it is kind of teasing. I missed that connotation when I read the title on previous occasions. Of course, ultimately the context of the use of “junior” is determined by Anders’ mindset when he used it, and I’m not sure I’d go so far as calling it “ill-mannered” in any case.

    So I thought of why it didn’t bother me at first, even though I think that a teasing kind of tone (assuming that Anders meant a teasing tone) is pretty much counterproductive – and I caught myself thinking that it didn’t bother me because Roger often uses a similar tone or sometimes a tone that is clearly much more ill-mannered (calling people “climate chickens” comes to mind, as do his posts strongly implying ethical transgressions on the part of scientists whose analyses he disagrees with), and then plays the victim card when people respond in kind – a reaction from others that would be easily predictable.

    But I try not to play the “but they did it first game,” as a justification for behavior among “realists” that I criticize among “skeptics” – and I think I caught myself trying to employ a double-standard.

    I am disappointed when Roger ducks responsibility for his own divisiveness by leveraging plausible deniability and playing the victim card, but I have to say I think that Vinny has a point (even if it might be overstated).

  126. Joshua,
    I can’t quite remember my mindset but I think what does go through my mind when I do use the kind of terms that might be perceived as teasing or ill-mannered is : “given what some people use, surely noone can be offended by this”. Of course, I’m probably wrong to think that some won’t be offended (or appear to be at least) but that is the kind of thing I do sometimes consider.

  127. BBD says:

    Oh dear. Vinny has found something else trivial and irrelevant to the main point to be concerned about.

  128. Joshua says:

    I also should point out that me saying that Roger plays the victim card could also be considered ill-mannered. I guess the bottom line is that anything that amounts to playing the man is ill-advised. Tough standard to live by.

  129. Joshua,
    I think that adding “In my opinion, Roger plays the victim card” could be telling someone of your impression of them and that they could then choose to consider it. Of course, they’re also welcome to ignore it 🙂

  130. Doug Bostrom says:

    Given that a statistical increase in extreme weather events is now accepted as something in the realm of facts– leading researchers to go on to seeking and proposing explanations for the observed changes— it seems that RG Jr.’s definitive claim is pretty extreme in itself, entirely leaving aside the issue of climate change.

    While we lack the ability to directly attribute any given weather event to increased energy in our system, we don’t even need to do that in order to question Roger’s claim. Roger is making an assertion in opposition to observed facts: regardless of attribution of observed changes in extreme weather events, extreme weather events are increasing, with a measurable economic impact.

    So Roger’s claim seems a bit rubbishy at a very fundamental level.

  131. victorpetri says:

    @AOM
    Opinion hate pieces…
    Like this you say:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6152/1320.full

    The editorial of Science, is not an opinion hate piece.
    And you send a broken link and a blog yourself! What a joke. And Greenpeace’ point of view, as if I wouldn’t know.
    Your disdain of anti science apparently does not go beyond Climate science.

    I understand now, I have been had, I shall stop feeding the troll.

  132. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I agree, the caveat of IMO makes a big difference as far as I’m concerned, although it gets kind of silly to keep peppering sentences with “IMO.” But I have found that even solid discipline in using that term often nets basically the same results as when the term is left out.

    IMO.

  133. Vinny,

    I do think it’s ill-mannered, yes.

    Fair enough.

    Whatever your disagreements with him,

    I don’t know if I have, strictly speaking, have disagreements with Roger, other than I think a lot of what he says isn’t quite a fair representation of our understanding.

    Roger Pielke Jr. is a proper player in the climate change arena.

    Yes, he is, which is – to a certain extent – the issue. Not sure why being a player really makes any difference to what I happen to call him.

    You are in the peanut gallery (and I am in the peanut gallery’s peanut gallery.)

    I am indeed.

    Inventing a nickname for him is bad form.

    Don’t think I invented it. It’s – kind of – his name, but I’ll bear your view in mind 🙂

  134. anoilman says:

    victorpetri: It doesn’t look like you are fairing better anywhere else. You’ll find a lot of like minded people [Mod: edited].

  135. dhogaza says:

    “Let me guess who Dhogaza will choose to believe: the other fellow from his old dynamic duo of flamers?

    Imagine that.”

    Boring and boorish …

  136. Steve Bloom says:

    “proper”

    No. Like Lomborg he’s a political scientist, and so a marginal “player” pretty much by definition. As a physicist, even though not one who works on climate science, Anders is more worth paying attention to.

  137. victorpetri says:

    @SB
    Lomborg is not a marginal player, but he plays on a different field, namely that of policy.

  138. I don’t share Steve’s view that only physical sciences count, but I do find it a bit odd that a political scientist goes over to the analysis of climate phenomena in the way Pielke Jr has done. Part of his arguments come from issues that fit his background (looking at the factors that contribute to observed damages), but he makes also claims that go beyond that. His questionable formulations of the conclusions belong to these.

  139. Steve Bloom says:

    Like Goklany, Lomborg produces lobbying material and propaganda, not legitimate policy analysis. RP Jr. is indeed a bit better in the way Pekka suggests, but he seems to have decided it’s a good career move to use legitimate analysis to support illegitmate conclusions.

  140. Yes, RP Jr does indeed do actual analysis and publishes actual papers but – typically – seems to use data (damage/loss) that really won’t show any kind of climate change signal yet and really can’t tell us about the future. He then uses this to infer/imply something about what’s happening and what we should do. It just seems to be using data that really can’t tell us much, to try and justify a particular view.

    Lomborg, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to do any original research and just says things that sound clever to some, but isn’t really (on that note, I heard an interesting quote which was not about Lomborg, but seems appropriate – it went something like “Joe Bloggs says things that makes him sound like what a stupid person thinks a thoughtful person should sound like”). What amazes me about Lomborg is that he’ll say something like “we should invest 1% of global GDP on developing alternative energy technologies” and everyone thinks he sounds so clever. You’d think people would hate this because it sounds like some kind of global venture, which some seem to hate. However, I suspect it’s because what they hear him saying is “we shouldn’t use this technology now” (i.e., keep using fossil fuels) followed by “we can work on some kind of global plan to develop it later” (which they translate as – don’t worry, this will never happen). So, it’s just a subtle way to say “don’t do anything now, carry on as we are”. Plus, he doesn’t understand temperature anomalies.

  141. BBD says:

    Plus, he doesn’t understand temperature anomalies.

    That’s very charitable of you, ATTP.

  142. victorpetri says:

    The key of Lomborg’s argument is to look at climate change as one of many factors troubling mankind. And money spent on it must compete with those other good causes.
    Without looking at how he answers this question, do you guys understand and appreciate his very reasoning for this at the least?

  143. Joshua says:

    ==> “No. Like Lomborg he’s a political scientist, and so a marginal “player” pretty much by definition. As a physicist, even though not one who works on climate science, Anders is more worth paying attention to.”

    Not to suggest that Andres should be ignored, but I don’t think that any physicist is more worth paying attention to than any political scientist,.

    Are you sure that you’re not evaluating their “worth” on the basis of whether or not you agree with their opinions?

    And how to you look at the amount of media attention that Roger gets and determine that he’s a marginal player?

    Those look to me like the kinds of arguments I often see from “skeptics” at Climate Etc.

  144. victorpetri,

    Without looking at how he answers this question, do you guys understand and appreciate his very reasoning for this at the least?

    Sure, of course. The problem I have is that it comes across as a bit of a strawman in that it implies that tackling climate change cannot also address these issues, or that tackling climate change makes it impossible to address these issues.

    When you say

    money spent on it must compete with those other good causes.

    I think you present an overly rosy picture of what Lomborg is suggesting. From what I’ve seen, he’s already decided that we mustn’t tackle climate change but should instead tackle these other issues. That isn’t quite the same as arguing that we should be looking at the impact of our different policy options and deciding on what is the optimal solution (which will probably change with time as we discover what works and what doesn’t).

  145. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    ==> “…And money spent on it must compete with those other good causes….Without looking at how he answers this question, do you guys understand and appreciate his very reasoning for this at the least?”

    Looking past the condescension of asking if we “understand” the argument, I will say that yes, I do “appreciate” the argument.

    But there are also some problems there. The first is that addressing climate change and other problems often get framed as being in opposition to each other in some kind of zero sum gain framework, when no such dichotomy actually exists. This happens because ideologues are furthering a particular agenda. For example, mitigation and adaptation get falsely framed as being mutually exclusive and a zero sum gain by ideologues who are opposed to mitigation.

    Another is that some problems get held hostage for the purpose of diminishing the importance of other issues. For example, the linkage between poverty and access to energy gets exploited to attack the use of renewables, as if a lack of use of renewables would automatically mean increased access to energy. The linkage between poverty and a lack of access to energy is a much more complicated dynamic – one that involves far-reaching factors such as access to civic rights and institutions.

    The framework that you gave doesn’t clarify who is spending and how much. Does every dollar spent on climate change in developed countries necessarily “compete” with the good cause of addressing poverty in poor countries? I suppose you might say that is true in some theoretical sense but it isn’t true in reality.

  146. Joshua says:

    Great minds, eh Anders?

  147. verytallguy says:

    Victor

    do you guys understand and appreciate his very reasoning for this at the least?

    Yes.

    Do you understand that in order for Lomborg’s conclusions to hold, it’s essential to cherrypick both studies showing low sensitivity and studies showing low impacts compared to others?

  148. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP,
    It is not a strawmen, but a pragmatic and focused approach in a limited financially resourced world. As I said optimal sustained human well being is the goal, spending money wisely trying to achieve that, is the game.

    You are wrong, as his change in position on climate change in 2010 indicates:
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/30/bjorn-lomborg-climate-change-u-turn
    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/08/bjorn-lomborg-we-need-to-fix-g.html
    Again, I don’t see the need to discuss his position, just to indicate that he is not fixed on a certain preset ideology.

    I have to agree with Joshua here, and of Pekka in a previous post, opposite voices are too easily ignored and ridiculed, by a large amount of people here, just by association, not in consideration of the merits of their arguments. Now I understand that there is the option that people have been engulfed in this debate for so long that they feel they have a clear grasp on who opposes them and why, and ignoring and ridiculisation is their final response, but for a bystander like me, sensible arguments against are not being adequately dealt with.

  149. victorpetri,

    It is not a strawmen

    The strawman refers to the implication of what Lomborg says, which is that tackling climate change implies not addressing poverty (or, even worse, that those who want to tackle climate change are explicitly aiming to hurt the poor). That is not demonstrably correct.

    You are wrong, as his change in position on climate change in 2010 indicates:

    I don’t see your links as showing that I’m wrong. All I’m suggesting is that his message is that there are more pressing problems than mitigating against the impacts of climate change. I didn’t suggest that he doesn’t accept that climate change is real, I’m suggesting that his argument is that we have more pressing issue to worry about right now. That’s not the same as recognising that there are many issues that we face in the future and we’ll have to decide how best to proceed. Of course, he’s entitled to his own view. I just don’t see any evidence to suggest that his view is actually backed up with anything other than some clever rhetoric.

    I have to agree with Joshua here, and of Pekka in a previous post, opposite voices are too easily ignored and ridiculed, by a large amount of people here, just by association, not in consideration of the merits of their arguments. Now I understand that there is the option that people have been engulfed in this debate for so long that they feel they have a clear grasp on who opposes them and why, and ignoring and ridiculisation is their final response, but for a bystander like me, sensible arguments against are not being adequately dealt with.

    A possible irony alert? I also don’t think you get to pretend you’re a bystander who has some special right to comment on the behaviour of others (well, you can assume you are and have that right – as we all do – but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t failing to recognise your own biases).

  150. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua,
    No condescension was intended. Want to see intentional condescension? Try to look at some reactions I get on this site.

    Although I mentioned not to discuss his specifics, he has researched the exact things that you mention. If you know other research to answer this question, I am equally happy to look at that. What I have read of Lomborg, I had the impression that he was quite thorough, and he does not present a false dichotomy, but uses an integrated workflow (with linked influences from several problems, e.g. Global warming increases malaria infection, but increased wealth would increase our society’s response to malaria, give a net benefit to the problem malaria disease), which is based in the practical world.

  151. VictorP,

    This:

    I have to agree with Joshua here, and of Pekka in a previous post, opposite voices are too easily ignored and ridiculed [1], by a large amount of people here, just by association, not in consideration of the merits of their arguments [2]. Now I understand that there is the option that people have been engulfed in this debate for so long that they feel they have a clear grasp on who opposes them and why [3], and ignoring and ridiculisation is their final response [4], but for a bystander like me, sensible arguments against are not being adequately dealt with [5].

    is pure ClimateBall ™.

    First, you’re victim playing. Second, “your” arguments are not being ignored. Third, you’re probing minds. Fourth, you’re again victim playing. Fifth, you declare victory by doing a touch down dance.

    To top it all, you’re now assuming a stance where you’re “just asking questions,” for these are not really your arguments. They are just arguments you find sensible.

    And that’s notwithstanding all the rope-a-dope that is beginning to be your trademark. As soon as one of an argument you find sensible gets addressed, you ignore the response and go to the next talking point, which of course has oftentimes very little to do with the actual topic.

  152. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Since my first post was maybe over 2 weeks ago (?) on this site, yes I consider myself a bystander, falling in the middle of what seemed like an endless discussion on climate change.

    I did not suggest, that you suggested “that he doesn’t accept that climate change is real”, merely that his change of position, giving more importance to global warming, as my links indicated, tell that he is not as prefixed as you seemed to state.

    Concerning poor people being affected by tackling GW, that would be a very reasonable assumption. Since tackling GW comes at the cost of global economic growth (IPCC calculated the costs), economic growth that is only now filling basic needs for billions of poor. A setback now would send 100s of millions back to subsidence.

  153. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua
    Look at Willard and some condescension in action.

  154. victorpetri,

    Since tackling GW comes at the cost of global economic growth (IPCC calculated the costs)

    Do you remember what the IPCC’s numbers were? I can tell you if you don’t. You may be surprised.

    economic growth that is only now filling basic needs for billions of poor.

    And also adding billions to the pockets of the wealthiest. Unless I’m mistaken, the poor are indeed benefiting but the faster growth in income is not the poor, but the exceedingly rich.

    A setback now would send 100s of millions back to subsidence.

    Evidence?

  155. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    Whether you feel condescended to by others is not particularly relevant to whether you were condescending to me.

    When you asked whether (unspecified people) understood a relatively simple argument, IMO it implied bad faith. I didn’t want to dwell on that because maybe the implication was unintended, but I did think it was worth pointing out. You said you didn’t intend it. We could move on. Or, you could focus on whether you think that others are being condescending towards you. Which, to me, implies that somehow you being condescending towards others was somehow justified by your feelings of being condescended to. Otherwise, why would you be tying the two together. But then that goes back to indicating that you are engaging in bad faith because you are addressing the wrongs you have suffered.

    See my problem?

    ==> “Concerning poor people being affected by tackling GW, that would be a very reasonable assumption.”

    First, there is the matter of scale – the relative scale of spending on GW and the scale of poverty.

    Second, there is a matter of certainty w/r/t the economic impact of “spending on GW,” would have negative economic impact – which then leads in to a lack of specificity about how the money might be spent.

    My issue with Lomborg and RPJr. is w/r/t the accounting of how “spending on GW” is assessed. Briefly, I am dubious that they really have a handle on the positive and negative externalities involved – for example the medical cost of fossil fuel usage and the geopolitical costs of keeping fossil fuels flowing. Given the uncertainties involved, I think it is exploitative to argue, with the certainty they show, that poverty is materially increased by “spending on GW.”

  156. victorpetri says:

    11% of GDP according to AR5?

    Yes you are mistaken, global inequality is falling:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/upshot/income-inequality-is-not-rising-globally-its-falling-.html?_r=0
    However, that is not the point, it would be unrealistic to assume a major overhaul of the economic system as part of the solution to Global Warming and other issues. Which would involve a completely different discussion about if such an overhaul would be something that was preferential.
    I

  157. dhogaza says:

    “The key of Lomborg’s argument is to look at climate change as one of many factors troubling mankind. And money spent on it must compete with those other good causes.”

    Yes, inadequate funding spent on addressing climate change must compete with inadequate funding spent on other good causes. The inadequate funding spent on other good causes will become adequate (though it might not actually, in fact, increase) once we agree that we needn’t waste funding spent on addressing climate change.

    “Without looking at how he answers this question, do you guys understand and appreciate his very reasoning for this at the least?”

    I think it is clear that many understand the *strategy* which underlies the reasoning, which is to prevent significant efforts to address climate change. Yes, indeed.

  158. victorpetri,
    According to AR5 WGIII,

    Ambitious climate protection would cost only 0.06 percentage points of growth each year. This means that instead of a growth rate of about 2% per year, we would see a growth rate of 1.94% per year.

    So, ambitious climate protection reduces growth by 0.06 percentage points per year. In context, if we grow at 2% per year for 100 years, that means we’d be 7.2 times greater in 100 years than now. If we grow at 1.94% per year, it is 6.83 times greater. Now, remember our discussion yesterday about the non-negligible chance of reaching extreme, if not catastrophic, levels of warming by 2100. So, the IPCC suggests we can avoid this and grow only slightly slower than if we did nothing. This comparison also ignores that if we do see extreme damage from climate change, we won’t grow at 2% per year.

  159. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua,

    I could add to that, that my overall impression of the participants in these discussions on this blog is that they seem to be very bright and highly knowledgable. Actually, I have seldomly been on fora where discussion has been of such a high level. This is why I know my condescension was neither intentional, nor unintentional. Let’s leave it at that.

  160. I should have added that my quote in the previous comes from here.

  161. > I consider myself a bystander, falling in the middle of what seemed like an endless discussion on climate change.

    VictorP’s “fall” is well controlled: he peddles enough talking points in every thread to raise a squirrel farm.

    Playing “who, me?” is yet another ClimateBall ™ move.

  162. > Since tackling GW comes at the cost of global economic growth (IPCC calculated the costs), economic growth that is only now filling basic needs for billions of poor.

    The rich must get richer or else the poor will die.

    Got to love such a rational argument.

  163. victorpetri says:

    I could comment to that, but you’ll probably mark it as a ClimateBall move, and we both be none the wiser.
    That said, is marking every remark from opponent as a ClimateBall move, in fact a ClimateBall move?

  164. The economics of GW and mitigation is really an area, where both sides use equally dubious arguments to support their point. Often they use the same argument as they do when they claim that the poor, in particular, are going to suffer, if the policies of the other side are followed.

  165. anoilman says:

    willard: You do get used to the silly silly responses. No thinking is required for a self professed ideological follower to talk. “I don’t know why I think this, or whether its true but some one said it, so I’m gonna parrot it to the world!” Have you noticed the usual total inability to back what is being said?

    Anders, you’re not going to get anything of value out of VictorPetri. He’s wasting your time with his flavor of Gish Gallop;

  166. victorpetri says:

    Again, such a nasty tone, brrr.

    @ATTP
    You are still under the impression the discussion is civil enough for your liking on your blog? Or shall I take mr Oilman and Willard as the benchmark of how civil of a tone you appreciate in the climate discussion?

  167. Pekka,

    The economics of GW and mitigation is really an area, where both sides use equally dubious arguments to support their point. Often they use the same argument as they do when they claim that the poor, in particular, are going to suffer, if the policies of the other side are followed.

    I tend to agree. My point in pulling out a number from WGIII was simply to illustrate that one can find evidence to support mitigation as having a minimal effect on future growth as well as evidence to suggest that damages from climate change will be low for small amounts of future warming.

    In a sense, it would be good if people stopped stating something to be true when in fact there is some evidence to suggest that it isn’t (i.e., the poor will definitely suffer if we act to mitigate against climate change).

    victorpetri,

    You are still under the impression the discussion is civil enough for your liking on your blog?

    It’s never perfect. If you’re referring to Willard, I might suggest that you think a little more about what he’s trying to illustrate. You may feel that he’s particularly targeting you in this instance, but he can be somewhat agnostic in who he chooses to target, including myself at times 🙂

  168. victorpetri,
    If you want to know more about ClimateballTM, you could try this. My, probably flawed, attempt to explain it.

  169. anoilman says:

    Victor… You’re not special and you can always leave.

    Willard does that to me. I think he’s even done it to Anders. If you actually tick him off, he will lapse into real plain English and try to work it through with you. Right now you’re just getting scored for your argument techniques. Hint: They are poor.

    Victor you are filling the air waves with vacuous CATO propaganda. And frankly, I’d rather hear what someone like Pekka has to say. He knows what he’s talking about and I think he has a firm grasp of the actual issues here. (I don’t always like what Pekka has to say though.)

    Anyways, good luck, and try hard.

  170. > That said, is marking every remark from opponent as a ClimateBall move, in fact a ClimateBall move?

    Yes, VictorP. I never pretended otherwise. What about you?

    First, it was cyclones. Then overconfidence and climate always change. Then negative existentials like God’s inexistence. Then Goklany. Then libertarianism, a doctrine you don’t endorse but find “interesting”. Then “but Greenpeace”. Then how we should substantiate our claims. Then tone. Then more Goklany and “but Greenpeace”. Then some growth Kumbaya. Then the precautionary principle. Then more growth Kumbaya. Then “but climate changes” and “but models”. Then biases and options. Then Ridley. Then more about God’s inexistence. Then more Ridley. Then Goklany’s citations. Then more “but Greenpeace”.

    And now we’re into Lomborg and understanding.

    ***

    After being provided room service all along, you’re now whining about The Conversation ™. I don’t expect you to leave any tip.

  171. Joshua says:

    ==> “The economics of GW and mitigation is really an area, where both sides use equally dubious arguments to support their point. Often they use the same argument as they do when they claim that the poor, in particular, are going to suffer, if the policies of the other side are followed.”

    I’m not sure how we’;d go about quantifying the equality of the dubiousness – but the pattern you describe seems to me to be an overwhelming characteristic of the climate wars.

    The recent thread over at Judith’s – on the precautionary principle – is an excellent case in point. The thinking behind the principle is, IMO, a fundamental tenant in how humans evaluate risk in the face of uncertainty, yet in the hands of a climate combatant it becomes a tool to use in blaming the deaths of millions on those who have a different political ideology. It seems to me that the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors overwhelm many of these discussions.

  172. > Or shall I take mr Oilman and Willard as the benchmark of how civil of a tone you appreciate in the climate discussion?

    That’s a ClimateBall ™ move called “playing the ref”, VictorP. Incidentally, Junior does that often:

    To be very clear, it is only a few climate scientists who have engaged in the “mob-like attacks” (it was actually mostly journalists and bloggers). Almost all the feedback I get from colleagues in climate science is overwhelmingly positive. Those climate scientists engaged in the climate debate are all big boys (mostly) and girls. If they cannot take the rough and tumble of public debate, then they should not be in public debate. There is “deep-seate anger” because of colorful language and apparent thin skins? Right. Tell me about it.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2014/07/28/roger-pielke-jr-fivethirtyeight-climate-critics/

  173. Andrew Dodds says:

    One of the giveaways that shows Lomborg’s argument for what it is – an excuse to do nothing – is to look at what happened in the Great Financial Crash of 2008.

    In an extremely short space of time, we were able – globally – to come up with hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, and perhaps an order of magnitude more in loan guarantees, so ‘save’ the financial system. And to this day it remains very unclear as to what, if anything, we actually got for this money.

    The amounts involved were similar to ballpark estimates for a complete solution to global warming (as in complete decarbonisation) – except that such a process would involve for more real economic activity.

    Even a fraction of this money could have fixed pretty much every problem on Lomborg’s shopping list and still done a huge amount on GHG emissions. The fact is, the money is available, it’s just that we (or at least our political leaders) refuse to spend it.

  174. victorpetri says:

    @Willard
    Just because someone collected all used arguments in a list, doesn’t make them incorrect.

  175. Andrew,
    Indeed. An argument I sometimes make as to why a “let the markets decide” type of approach to solving a problem like Climate change isn’t necessarily best, is the US healthcare system. It is remarkably inefficient. It costs more than twice as much per person as most other comparable countries, still costs the taxpayer about as much per person as many other comparable countries (half the spending is public and half private) and still doesn’t cover the entire population. There’s two things I take from this. One : even if some of what your economy provides isn’t as efficient as it could be, your economy doesn’t immediately collapse. Two : the market doesn’t always generate the most efficient possible solution.

  176. victorpetri,

    Just because someone collected all used arguments in a list, doesn’t make them incorrect.

    But it does illustrate that they exist and that they are used. That – I think – is the broader point being made.

  177. anoilman says:

    Joshua, I think a concern is that we keep try trying to reduce it to numbers, costs and figures. It starts with a fundamental assumption that money is the unit of measure for damage, and that money can fix the damage or compensate for it. Yet not all damage works that way. Not even in a court of law. Much of what climate change will bring is in the category of irreparable harm.

    I tend to harp on the ones that can’t really be quantified, like ecological collapse. Even on a small scale, such events are disastrous and irreversible. (Fishing, Eastcoast US/Canada) It doesn’t take much to do it, and there’s no fix. Worse, we are intending not to fix it.

    Even if you want to reduce it to numbers you are essentially expressing an intent to cause harm to others. Total loss for lumber industry BC, Canada as Pine Beetles march for the arctic circle. (Future losses here already in the trillions because we are closing towns ending employment, and destroying people.)

    Saying ‘sorry’ as people are essentially being financially liquidated by climate change seems ethically wrong to me.

    Curious, but what do climate change refugees do to the job market? Can’t be good.

  178. victorpetri says:

    @AD
    You can trivialize any cost against those amounts.
    And the jury is still out if the creation of all that money will go unpunished.

  179. > But it does illustrate that they exist and that they are used. That – I think – is the broader point being made.

    The narrower one would be to show that VictorP’s “but the sensible arguments [of the honest brokers’] are not being adequately dealt with” may not be warranted.

    A peddler usually enters a home and exploits the host’s limited short-term memory. But we’re on the Internet, now. We get infinite replays. This may not be the best venue to peddle.

    I guess some ClimateBall ™ players like challenges.

  180. anoilman says:

    And Then There’s Physics: There’s another thing you could take from the American Health Care system…

    If they switched to a Canadian one, they’d live longer, and have huge huge amounts of money to spend on solving Global Warming. 🙂 And they’d still have cash in the bank if they did that!

  181. victorpetri,

    And the jury is still out if the creation of all that money will go unpunished.

    As far as I’m aware, the jury isn’t out. It wasn’t put together in the first place.

    However, what about Andrew’s broader point? We found enormous sums of money that we basically threw at the financial sector to prevent some kind of collapse. 5/6 years later we appear to be back in growth. Many would argue it’s not perfect, but let’s ignore that. The point is though, that we simply gave money away with no real constraints, and one could argue that it worked. However, this money didn’t really do anything special other than prop up our existing financial system. Maybe some of it got paid back and the total that we’ve spent isn’t quite what it seems, but lets accept that lots of money was suddenly found to solve a problem.

    If we were to throw similar levels of money at technology development associated with climate change, we’d potentially develop new technologies that could drive economic growth, and we potentially increase the size of our skilled workforce. Why isn’t that a reasonable thing to consider?

  182. anoilman says:

    VictorPetri: “You can trivialize any cost against those amounts.
    And the jury is still out if the creation of all that money will go unpunished.”

    Just a thought, but your talk of punishment is hilarious. Maybe your bankers should have been regulated after the experts said what was coming. As I am a smug Canadian, I’m grateful that my banks were not deregulated to CATO’s ideology. Everything that happened was predicable, and indeed predicted. Then it happened.

    You just need to stop listening to your lobbyists and start listening to experts.

  183. verytallguy says:

    AOM,

    indeed – not everything that can be measured is valuable and not everything of value can be measured.

    Also, to add to something I’ve already harped on about on this thread: all the economic studies which claim we’re better off not reducing emissions rapidly stop counting losses mid – late this century. Beyond which the interia of the system dictates inevitable massive losses, even by their models.

  184. victorpetri says:

    Why isn’t that a reasonable thing to consider?
    You are making the Broken Window Fallacy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window
    Also often exploited by people lobbying for the defense industry, that it would create economic growth.
    But mainly, it is not the discussion we need to have, namely which should be: if and how much we should spent on the global warming problem, and not state, ‘compared to the biggest money creation in the history of mankind, where the US roughly doubled its public debt practically overnight (a bill they will be paying for decades to come), this is just small.’

  185. victorpetri says:

    Oilman, Libertarians would despise governments spending large amounts of money to prop up failing enterprises.

  186. > Why isn’t that a reasonable thing to consider?

    A quote might help identify what is this “thing”.

    ***

    > You are making the Broken Window Fallacy

    A quote might help identify who’s “you”.

    A good quote would also show where the fallacy is being committed.

    ***

    Such quotes might help VictorP’s rope-a-dope, marked by “it is not the discussion we need to have”.

  187. victorpetri,
    I understand the broken window fallacy. I’m asking you a question that I think you have failed to answer. Pointing out that simply breaking things so as to generate activity is a fallacy does not answer my question as to why we should not consider – now – investing money in technology development.

  188. AOM,

    Making different things fully commensurable is impossible, but every time we choose one alternative out of two or more, we make an ordering. Making an ordering is essentially equivalent with making them first commensurable and then picking the best.

    If we wish to do that in a way that we can justify to others and argue about in order to find a solution that’s favored by the majority, it’s certainly useful to base the ordering on some way of comparing different virtues and faults of the alternatives. That’s logically very close to giving each alternative a single numerical value that determines the ranking.

    When that’s done, it’s a small additional step to transform those numbers to monetary values. This step changes nothing, it only gives a familiar unit for the index.

    There’s no way of avoiding that such a ranking is done either systematically and using analysis or implicitly and intuitively. In my view it’s much better to use analysis and to do the ranking using some arguments that can be described.

    By the above I don’t mean that easily measurable benefits and costs should dominate over others that are difficult to measure. It means that the weight of the difficult to measure issues must be estimated in some way. This is an essential point, where errors are done, and also a point that makes others dismiss all analysis.

    When some factors are difficult to analyze, it’s often true that it’s easier to valuate the outcome at an upper level than to go trough all the details. If that’s the case then the best available approach must be picked.

  189. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    ” Pointing out that simply breaking things so as to generate activity is a fallacy does not answer my question as to why we should not consider – now – investing money in technology development.”
    Because the principle is equally useful when contemplating if investing money in technology development is good for economic growth. If not done by the market, it probably isn’t good, because just like the broken window, money spend there, is not spend more efficiently by the market elsewhere.

  190. victorpetri,
    Okay, but what do you make of the US healthcare system vs the UK’s healthcare system which appears to be a strong example of a market driven system being far less efficient than one driven through public spending?

    I will add that I find this kind of apparent certainty

    If not done by the market, it probably isn’t good, because just like the broken window, money spend there, is not spend more efficiently by the market elsewhere.

    somewhat ill-founded.

  191. AnOilMan says:

    verytallguy: There are a lot of externalities when it comes to climate change economics. They really did a good job of tying that together in Years Of Living Dangerously. Like war induced in part by drought. I think that series did a good job of showing how insidious it really is. Global Warming pushes things to somewhere they don’t belong.

    A recent paper on GRACE data showed nearly 9 full hover dams of water has been extracted from deep underground to run farms in Nevada. How will such an unsustainable system function on an ever heating planet? Could Nevada start destabilizing the US?

    Anders: Its been my experience that unless there is some impetus, companies will not innovate. So… I’m pro carbon tax, preferably indexed and ever increasing. I am a fan of letting industry sort things out after that. Consumers and industry will go largely where its cheapest, so you just need to make carbon expensive.

    Bills Gates says you need to thousands of start ups to create a few viable technologies.

  192. Joshua says:

    AOM –

    ==> “Joshua, I think a concern is that we keep try trying to reduce it to numbers, costs and figures. It starts with a fundamental assumption that money is the unit of measure for damage, and that money can fix the damage or compensate for it. Yet not all damage works that way. Not even in a court of law. Much of what climate change will bring is in the category of irreparable harm.”

    I agree. One pattern I often see is that people use numbers to measure things because they’re easy to count, not because they are particular good measures of the intended target. The question of validity (in the sense of measuring what we’re intending to measure) roils these discussions.

    GDP growth is the poster child for what I’m talking about, as hidden beneath that number are various factors that affect people’s lives but that don’t necessarily fluctuate in step with an aggregated measure of GDP, let alone GDP combined with other measures such as employment or average wages, etc.

    But the problem is that when you say that, within the typically polarized context, you get labeled as a statist who wants to starve poor children in Africa so you can pursue your communistic attack on capitalism. Or you get labeled as some pie-in-the-sky neo-Luddite who would prefer that everyone live in caves and eat grubs for sustenance.

  193. AoM,

    So… I’m pro carbon tax, preferably indexed and ever increasing. I am a fan of letting industry sort things out after that. Consumers and industry will go largely where its cheapest, so you just need to make carbon expensive.

    Broadly speaking, I agree. On the other hand, if we told the military that they weren’t allowed to use fossil fuels anymore, we’d probably have a solution within months 🙂

  194. Joshua,

    Or you get labeled as some pie-in-the-sky neo-Luddite who would prefer that everyone live in caves and eat grubs for sustenance.

    Maybe I should change my tagline from “Trying to keep the discussion civil”, to “Trying to get everyone to live in caves and eat grubs”. Some might regard that as more honest 🙂

  195. WebHubTelescope says:

    Have to admit that Roger has an extremely high h-index
    http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=WtqpmdIAAAAJ

    But is this due to the topics being controversial?

    See http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=fleischmann+pons

  196. Joshua says:

    In the name of complete honesty, I’d suggest modifying the tag line a bit more, to:

    “An unscientific f*ckwit who is trying to get everyone to live in caves and eat grubs.”

  197. Yes, that may be the ultimate in honesty – at least according to some.

    As far as Google Scholar goes, it has a habit of amplifying people’s numbers a little compared to other databases. Sometimes by a small amount (10 – 20 %) sometimes by a lot (almost doubling or more). I think it picks up lots of records that other databases wouldn’t consider (non-peer-reviewed and maybe even non-academic). So, if the field is particularly topical and the person is particularly visible, then it can have quite an effect. Either way, though, Roger’s h-index etc., is perfectly respectable.

  198. dhogaza says:

    “Broadly speaking, I agree. On the other, if we told the military that they weren’t allowed to use fossil fuels anymore, we’d probably have a solution within months ”

    The ground forces in the US, at least, have been working on it (at least minimizing the use). Hybrids, solar for forward deployments rather than diesel generators, etc. Not because of global warming, but because technology that allows them to reduce consumption means fewer shipments of fuel exposed to enemy attack (fewer road convoys with armed escorts required) and the less they’re tied down to rail and road infrastructure.

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  200. Steve Bloom says:

    Joshua: “Those look to me like the kinds of arguments I often see from “skeptics” at Climate Etc.”

    Ooh, a low, low blow.

    To clarify what I thought was obvious, I’m speaking in terms of substance on the part of “players,” of which there is none on Lomborg’s part and little on RP Jr.’s. Re physicists outside the climate science field, they are in a position to seriously engage with the science as Anders has (Pekka too), and those who have should be taken seriously. Not many have so engaged, obviously, plus we have examples of parodic engagement with e.g. Singer, Happer and Motl.

    I find this an efficient way of sorting things out.

    Yes, Lomborg and RP Jr. do get a lot of attention, but they get it from or by way of ignorant and semi-ignorant “journalists” (well, it’s not really a profession, is it?) who need controversies to draw eyeballs even while enjoying thinking of themselves in a comfortable ideological “middle,” so I don’t put much value in that.

  201. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Wotts, your Joe Bloggs was originally Aldous Huxley as described by (a mostly admiring) Elizabeth Bowen in the 1930s: ‘He is at once the truly clever person and the stupid person’s idea of a clever person’.

    Today, though, Bloggs is more likely to be Stephen Fry. The droll impresario, author, pimp, crack addict, voyeur and proto-troll William Donaldson stole the second half of Bowen’s description and applied it to Fry in his last book (which he had all but finished when he died of lung congestion during a heat wave, thereby arguably becoming an early victim of global warming, but you’d have to ignore Donaldson’s age, crack habit and diet, which consisted mostly of fish fingers, and assume various things about the heat wave) and the tag stuck. It has followed Fry around ever since.

    Does Fry deserve it? Yes, no, who knows. It fits him, though, poor chap. Let’s hope it never drives him back to Belgium.

    Does it fit Lomborg?

    Who cares? Isn’t this a blog about physics and keeping things polite?

  202. Vinny,
    I think what I saw was applied to someone else, but I don’t dispute your source.

    Who cares? Isn’t this a blog about physics and keeping things polite?

    Yes, kind of, but also sometimes just whatever takes my fancy. Remember, it’s “Trying” to keep things polite. I also think that my tagline has been somewhat of a rod for my own back. Maybe one shouldn’t aspire to something that one is unlikely to attain, but even so, I seem to be accused of failing far more often than those who don’t even bother trying.

  203. AnOilMan says:

    dhogaza, Anders: The US military is very concerned about Global Warming. They are the US’s largest consumer after all.

    Moreover, military thinks tanks are repeatedly claiming Climate Change will bring war, war, and more war.
    http://www.rtcc.org/2013/03/28/security-risks-of-climate-change-prompt-military-review/

    Naturally efforts to address Global Warming are being thwarted by Republicans;
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-29/republicans-move-to-cut-military-s-alternative-fuels.html

    What did Bush say? Bring it on? Does that sound smart?

  204. Steve Bloom says:

    Pekka: “The economics of GW and mitigation is really an area, where both sides use equally dubious arguments to support their point.”

    Really? I’m curious, at what point in the process did you stop considering the existence of FTL neutrinos or cold fusion to be credible? I mean, those were qualified people arguing in favor, right? Or if you didn’t hold both sides equal at the outset, maybe explain why not and why you treat climate economics differently.

    To repeat the oft-repeated point, the argument for near-term massive mitigation is based mainly on the risk of high-impact outcomes. Where’s the dubious in that? I would point out to you that we’re having this discussion just a few months after it was determined that we’ve committed to WAIS collapse. And to throw in a known unknown, is there a tipping point or points hidden in the continuing poleward compression of the entire atmospheric circulation? In particular, how extreme do the changes in the NH Rossby waves become before the Ferrel and polar cells collapse into each other in some (unpleasant) manner? Oh, and ocean acidification? Etc., etc., etc., sadly.

    But for you it’s all equal when Stern worries about this stuff and Tol doesn’t. And you think *my* politics shows.

  205. victorpetri says:

    I can agree on and increasing (scientifically determined) Carbon tax to internalize externalities, and letting the market sort out the rest.

  206. Steve

    What I wrote was provocative, but all economic comparisons are really wide open. Each side can argue properly on part of the contributing factors, but both sides also skip so much that the net results are highly open.

    Claims are presented with conviction with very little evidence that factors included form a balanced whole. Looking in detail at any of the integrated analyses that make even a modest attempt of being comprehensive shows that some almost arbitrary choices determine very much of the outcome.

    This is a really serious problem as that means that justifying objectively any strong policy is very difficult, if not impossible.

  207. Pekka,

    This is a really serious problem as that means that justifying objectively any strong policy is very difficult, if not impossible.

    Given that (I largely agree), and given that even those studies that are attempted rarely analyse the economic impact of more than 3 degrees of warming, what would regard as most relevant for any sensible risk analysis?

  208. Steve Bloom says:

    Lately it’s been widely recognized that the IAMs aren’t up to the job. That shouldn’t be interpreted as an argument that there must not be a job.

  209. Martin Weitzman has written papers where he has emphasized strongly the worst outcomes. Related to that he presented the “dismal theorem”, which has, however, been strongly criticized by others.

    Considering low probability high consequence cases tends lead to very strong dependence on choices that are highly subjective.

  210. Pekka,

    Considering low probability high consequence cases tends lead to very strong dependence on choices that are highly subjective.

    But if it’s highly subjective, doesn’t that imply that the risk analysis is not actually an objective analysis, but one biased by whoever is doing it’s personal views?

  211. Steve,
    The dilemma is that making rational choices without even very crude quantitative assessment of alternatives is questionable, but getting the results of such an assessment to converge well enough to serve as a guideline seems also to be too difficult.

    It’s not enough to say that we have strong arguments for acting, some guidelines are needed in addition for deciding, how to act.

    I have agreed that a carbon tax is probably the best approach, but deciding on the right rate remains a a problem. Furthermore an incentive helps only to the extent those affected have real effective choices.

  212. ATTP,

    Yes. That’s the problem. But, how to decide rationally, when best experts cannot help far?

  213. Pekka,
    Indeed, but here’s what I’ve been getting at (maybe I should have been more upfront). We have a reasonably good idea of the range of warming, for example, for different emission scenarios. We might not be able to definitively decide what level of warming we should avoid, but we can probably set some reasonable level. As I see it, we then balance the risks associated with this with the risks associated with various different mitigation strategies. However, we don’t have a good understanding of the latter. So, it becomes possible that a particular strategy could be very damaging to our economies, but we don’t have strong evidence to support that. On the other hand, we do have good evidence for the climate risks associated with various emission pathways. That would seem to imply that those risks then dominate our decision making.

    Of course, some might argue that I’m simply biased and that this suits what I want. I haven’t, however, really heard a good counter-argument, other than “we can’t risk our economies” and “the poor”.

  214. ATTP,

    It’s not enough to set goals. Only thing that helps are actual decisions, but we know little even about the consequences of most such decisions. There are all kind of quirks in the economy. One of the worst is that a change in the consumption pattern of some may easily lead to a cancelling change in the behavior of the rest of the world economy.

  215. An example of the above is Jevons paradox. There are many similar effects. That’s the reason for Hansen’s emphasis on permanently closing coal mines, but how can that really be done on a wide enough scale?

  216. Pekka,
    Indeed, wasn’t suggesting only setting goals. I was implying that you’d use the risk analysis to actually make decisions. However, I’m well aware that that isn’t trivial.

    I guess, broadly, my point was that if we know little of the economic risks (quantitatively at least) and know much more about the climate risks, you might think that the climate risks would dominate our decision making. They clearly don’t.

  217. Climate risks cannot dominate rational decision making, only reductions in those risks can. Being convinced about the risks does not imply knowing, how to reduce them effectively.

  218. Pekka,
    Maybe we’re saying almost the same thing without knowing it. My point was simply if you can quantify one set of risks (the climate risks which depend on various pathways) but can’t quantify the risks associated the possible mitigation strategies, then the latter surely can’t dominate the decision making.

    Maybe differently : if you know there is a risk associated with a certain pathway but don’t know the risks associated with avoiding that pathway, saying “we can’t risk an alternative to that pathway because we don’t know the risks” may not make sense if the risks associated with the pathway could be severe. It’s getting a bit late, so maybe I’m starting to talk myself in circles.

  219. I add only that in my view far too few people have studied these issues seriously. The gaps in understanding are so severe that they could surely be reduced.

  220. Eli Rabett says:

    Pekka, that is nonsense, there is a huge literature on dealing with uncertainty in making decisions, even within the context of environmental problems and climate change, Just google the title of Golkarny’s opus gropus in Google Scholar.

    If nothing else what do they promise to teach in business schools. . . wait

  221. Eli,

    I have myself lectured several courses related to decision making under uncertainty. There’s lot of material on that, and there are issues worth teaching, but practical conclusions remain vague in very many cases.

    Textbooks that I have used in preparing the lectures include Christian Gollier: The Economics of Risk and time and Dixit and Pindyck: Investment under Uncertainty. As my chair was in Energy Economics, the courses were directed towards issues relevant for energy investments and energy markets.

  222. Eli Rabett says:

    Jevon’s paradox is similar to what Eli in real life calls LeChatelier’s fallacy. One of the things you teach in General Chemistry is LeChatelier’s principle which says that any dynamic equilibrium will shift to counteract a change. However almost all the students assume unless you specifically tell them and tell them again, that the shift completely counteracts the change. It does not.

    And it’s not just that the rebound effect (or Jevons paradox) only wipes out only some of the original change, it’s that the claim is almost always the result of sloppy thinking that confuses complicated factors that are impossible to disentangle.

    It has always been an aggravation for Eli when people blather on Jevon’s paradox as a reason for doing nothing, or next to same. They almost always are invoking Jevon’s fallacy

  223. Fred Moolten says:

    Forgive me for getting into this discussion of policy choices late in the conversation and not having read all the preceding. I apologize if my comment here repeats what others have said.

    Scientists don’t write legislation, and most aren’t consulted by the legislators. We are usually confronted with a dichotomous choice – support or oppose a particular proposal, which is unlikely to match our ideal approach to climate change. Let’s assume, however, that we believe a degree of mitigation of carbon emissions is desirable. Assume furthermore, that a strong mitigation target is proposed – X percent reduction by year Y – and we are not convinced the benefits will outweigh the costs. We may even suspect the costs may be excessive compared with a more modest proposal. Should we support or oppose the proposed legislation?

    I don’t think there’s a universal answer, but I would suggest the following reality be kept in mind. The public wish to preserve the status quo is likely to be enormous, while the incentive to make changes that are controversial and probably inconvenient in order to further a long term future goal is likely to be much weaker. When these forces collide in the form of proposed policy fixes, there is a significant possibility that the inclination to do nothing will prevail. More important, a perceived need to change, even if accepted by many members of the public, is likely at best to result in a compromise between doing nothing and making what are asserted to be the needed changes.

    I would argue that in this context, a rational approach would not be to ask, “Will the world be better off if emissions are reduced X percent by year Y?”, but rather “Will the world be better off if we support rather than oppose the proposal?” In many cases, I believe the practical consequence of our support would be to increase the possibility that the eventual policy will be to reduce emissions by much less than X by much later than year Y. And in most cases, that will be better than doing nothing.

    No deception is needed or justified. If asked if we believe the originally proposed goals are desirable, the proper response would be, “I don’t know, but making a start in that direction is very desirable.”

  224. Eli Rabett says:

    Pekka, outside of a classroom, you do have to make decisions. Sgt. Schultz was not very effective.

  225. Eli,

    My comment was a reply to your previous comment. The purpose was to tell that I’m aware of such material, and I wrote my earlier comments with that knowledge.

    I have not directly made really major decisions, but I have not been far from people, who have. In a small country like Finland a person with wide interests ends up getting involved in surprisingly many issues.

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  227. Brian Dodge says:

    Speaking of opposite voices that too easily ignore each other, has anyone noticed that Bjorn Lomborg is arguing that waiting to take action is justified because we’ll all be richer later and better able to adapt to extreme weather etc from global warming, while Roger Pielke (with some help from Visser, Petersen, and Ligtvoet) has pointed out that so far the “adaptation” provided by more wealth is bigger losses?

    Hey Roger, let’s you and him step outside and fight! – &;>)

  228. Brian,
    I think you misunderstand Roger’s position. It’s that all the losses are because of our increased wealth and there is no effect because of climate change and, therefore, there is no evidence that climate change is increasing losses or damages. I think that’s right at least. Broadly speaking, I think Lomborg and Pielke are in step.

  229. Brian Dodge says:

    But our increased wealth hasn’t enabled us to better avoid losses in our current environment. I’m not sure that losing a more expensive beach home to Sandy than was lost to Hazel qualifies as “adapting” – but then, I’m not an economist. What happens 50 years from now, when the sea levels have risen, and the next superstorm comes along, and we lose larger numbers of even more expensive homes; is that “adaptation”? Wouldn’t we be better off now if we had used some of the accumulated wealth of the last century to do things which would have reduced losses now, instead of just building more stuff at risk? Probably the earthquake building codes in California, or the requirements to build houses in the Missippi floodway on stilts with breakaway walls, and tornado shelters in the Great Plains have diverted some accumulated wealth (by increasing home prices and using tax money) towards adaptation to severe weather. But these have mostly been the result of government mandates – are Pielke and Lomborg advocating for more government intervention? Of course, in North Carolina, where I live, our King Canute government isn’t necessarily the best “decider”. (And yes, I know that Canute[Cnut] actually commanded the tide not to rise as an example of the limits of executive authority to his court, not because he thought he could actually succeed – unlike the NC legislature.)

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