AWOL!

I thought that I would post this video of Scott Denning talking at the Heartland Institute Conference on Climate Change in 2011 (H/T Willard). It’s an interesting talk, although I don’t agree with everything he says. His basic point, though, is that there is definitely a problem and we should all be able to agree on this (although I don’t quite know why he chose to to say that CO2 emits heat, but I know what he was trying to say). If the right-wing don’t start recognising this and don’t start trying to find sensible solutions to this problem, others will do so instead. The solutions that are found may therefore both be ones that the right-wing will be extremely unhappy about, and ones that are far less effective at solving this problem than would be the case were the right-wing to engage in discussing what we should actually be doing, rather than trying to pretend that there isn’t actually a problem to solve.

After writing my post on talking politics rather than science I ended up commenting on a couple of posts on Bishop Hill. I will admit that if you focus on discussing risks and what we might consider doing, it does seem possible to actually have some interesting discussions with some people. Not all, mind you, and it was still a relatively unpleasant experience. I eventually gave up commenting there when I realised that my patience was wearing rather thin and that I was no longer really capable of avoiding saying things I may later regret (well, it may actually have been a little after that).

Now, I think that any sensible person would agree that a reasonable descriptor for Watts Up With That (WUWT) is an anti-science, hate site. It is atrocious, and I think anyone who openly associates – without comment – with that site should be really careful of criticising the behaviour of others. Despite what others have said, I did think that maybe Bishop Hill was a little different, but I now don’t think it really is. It may not be quite as atrocious as WUWT, but it’s not far off and I really should just stop commenting there. In fact, after what I’m about to say, that may be taken out of my hands. In my opinion Andrew Montford should be ashamed of the site he’s running, of what he promotes on that site, and what he allows people to say in the comments. He doesn’t have to like my opinion, and he is, of course, welcome to ignore it (as I’m pretty sure he will) but that won’t stop me from holding it.

If he (and others with similar views) are really concerned about what might be done to address the risks associated with climate change, they should stop pretending there isn’t a problem and start engaging in discussing what sensible things could be done to address this problem. If not, others will do things that they will certainly not like and that may well not be as effective as if they had decided to engage in finding solutions. You might think that I would be pleased if those on the right kept burying their heads in the sand, but I would not be. This is not a trivial issue and the more who accept that a problem exists and the more who engage in finding a sensible way to move forward, the better. I don’t really trust the left to find a sensible solution any more that I trust the right. Being forced to think of a solution in the face of opposition is – in my opinion – preferable to being given free reign to do it in isolation.

Anyway, the video is below. I’d watch it till the end; it’s clear that Scott Denning feels quite passionately about this whole issue.

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100 Responses to AWOL!

  1. Rachel M says:

    When I saw the title of your post I thought it was going to be another announcement that you were giving up blogging 🙂

  2. I did wonder if that would be the case if I used that title, but I thought it might be a good teaser. I imagine a number of people are bitterly disappointed 🙂

  3. Joshua says:

    ==> “although I don’t quite know why he chose to to say that CO2 emits heat,”

    Yeah – what was up with that? He said it was one of the absolutely unequivocal facts of climate change. Odd.

    I also thought that the AWOL title was another compliment fishing expedition. 🙂

    ==>b “Now, I think that any sensible person would agree that a reasonable descriptor for Watts Up With That (WUWT) is an anti-science, hate site. ”

    I don’t know….maybe I’m not sensible – but the “anti-science” label really doesn’t make much sense to me. There are a lot of folks there who are very engaged with science. On the other hand, it certainly is a site that is full of a lot of hate.

    ==> “Despite what others have said, I did think that maybe Bishop Hill was a little different, but I now don’t think it really is. ”

    Really? I never got that at all. In fact, BH has always struck me as even more uniformly hate-ish and more nakedly political. Although I don’t read it often.

  4. Joshua,
    So, by anti-science I simply mean promotes material that is not consistent with the best evidence nor consistent with standard scientific practice. I guess, if somebody with a basic – but not specifically informed – understanding of science were to read WUWT, they would come away with an extremely poor sense of what our actual scientific understanding really is and would actually come away with an essentially incorrect understanding of the topic. I can’t really think of a better term, but if someone can think of one, I’ll use it instead.

    Maybe you’re right about BH. I think it is more nakedly political but I think I always just assumed that maybe there was some ability to reason with some of those involved. William Connolley has pointed out before that this is not correct and I now am reasonably convinced that he’s absolutely right.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    Now, I think that any sensible person would agree that a reasonable descriptor for Watts Up With That (WUWT) is an anti-science, hate site.

    Get someone to explain the concept of ‘irony’ to you sometime.

  6. cat,
    I’m assuming you mean that by calling WUWT an anti-science hate site, that I’m somehow showing that this is an anti-science hate site. Is that right? Let’s see, does that really make sense? I’ve described how one might regard an inanimate entity – a blog. I might dislike that it is an anti-science hate site, but I don’t think I hate it, since hating an inanimate thing seems odd. Also, how is expressing an opinion about an inanimate thing anti-science? Feel free to explain further if you wish, but I think I understand the meaning of irony. I’m not convinced you do, though.

  7. WebHubTelescope says:

    If you are talking purely blog comments, Climate Etc is a hate site infiltrated by Aussie deniers who run wild as everyone else is sleeping. The net is an odd place.

  8. WHT,
    Yes, the comments on Climate Etc aren’t great either. I do realise that it is difficult to moderate a blog, but it would be nice if some tried a little harder. They could try and at least set the tone.

  9. WebHubTelescope says:

    I think irony is using names like shub,cthulu, 666, etc.

  10. WHT,
    I’ve never actually quite understood the significance of those chosen pseudonyms.

  11. dana1981 says:

    What you’ve described is exactly what’s happened in the United States. Congress has tried and failed to implement climate legislation for the past decade, so given the threat to public health posed by carbon pollution via climate change, the EPA was legally required to regulate its emissions.

    As a result we have a government solution. “Big government regulation” – possibly a Republican’s most-hated phrase. Republicans could replace those government regulations at any time with a small government, free market solution (i.e. revenue neutral carbon fee). President Obama, the EPA, and Democrats in Congress have repeatedly said they would prefer a market-based alternative. Senators Whitehouse and Schatz even introduced legislation with a revenue-neutral carbon fee, for debate and negotiation.

    In a reasonable world, Republicans should be jumping all over this. Instead, climate science denial has become a partisan litmus test. If they accept the science and/or try to do something about it, they’re considered insufficiently ideologically pure and face the threat of losing their jobs, which unfortunately is a threat they fear more than dangerous climate disruption.

    Because of climate science denial and ideology, we’re stuck with this non-optimal policy that could be improved dramatically if Republicans would just come to the negotiating table. I’ve met with a local Republican congressman’s chief of staff, and behind closed doors they acknowledge all of this. In public though, so far few have had the courage to do the right thing and face the wrath of the extreme ideologues in their party.

  12. I’ve met with a local Republican congressman’s chief of staff, and behind closed doors they acknowledge all of this. In public though, so far few have had the courage to do the right thing and face the wrath of the extreme ideologues in their party.

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I have no doubt that there are very many people who are right-of-centre who understand this issue, but just don’t have the ability (or will) to change what they’re doing because of the consequences of publicly admitting this.

  13. Joseph says:

    I have no doubt that there are very many people who are right-of-centre who understand this issue, but just don’t have the ability (or will) to change what they’re doing because of the consequences of publicly admitting this.

    When it comes to policies affecting the Republican’s corporate backers, there is rarely much dissension among their ranks.

  14. BBD says:

    Joseph is correct. This is the malign influence of vested interest on politics and so on public policy and human welfare.

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    “I don’t really trust the left to find a sensible solution any more that I trust the right.”

    Still laboring under the handicap of that split-hemisphere brain, eh?

    It’s a hard one to shake off, I know.

  16. The observation that Dana makes suggests that as the evidence for climate change mounts (maybe a few more ‘Sandys’ and ‘Katrinas’ will do it) and the public mood alters accordingly, there will be a sudden tipping point as politicians see the political advantage of accepting the science.

    At that point maybe those remaining in denial will finally be marginalised and we can, for all intents and purposes, forget about them. Then we can get on with the process of debating the policy and finally get round to taking some real action. I’m sure we all hope it won’t be too late.

  17. I’ve met with a local Republican congressman’s chief of staff, and behind closed doors they acknowledge all of this. In public though, so far few have had the courage to do the right thing and face the wrath of the extreme ideologues in their party.

    That is why it is a good idea when Democrats vote in the Republican primaries. That is the moment Republican candidates have to fear being thrown out by right wing political extremists, possibly people that like the consequences of climate change, or think they do. People who “believe” less in climate change when they hear about the bad consequences for French farmers. (And by all means, let the Republicans vote in the Democrat primaries to flight the imaginary Marxists.)

    The speaker makes more strong simplifications, not only CO2 emits heat. That is probably good given the audience and to emphasis the more important political message that the right is hurting itself. They are not just hurting themselves when it comes to climate change. It cannot be good for a party when almost any public intellectual, no matter how conservative in mind, would be embarrassed to be associated with them.

  18. Joseph says:

    To give you some idea why fossil fuel interests might have a disproportionate influence on Republicans take a look at these links:

    Oil & Gas
    https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?ind=E01++

    Coal Mining
    https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?ind=E1210

  19. Steve Bloom says:

    Dana, the problem is that a solution imposed by big government using market mechanisms is still a solution imposed by big government. Obamacare neatly demonstrates how RWNJ’s respond to that sort of thing. So don’t expect them to buy into a carbon tax anytime soon. Of course opposition to big government imposing solution is a smokescreen for active support for the emerging oligarchy, as Joseph points out.

  20. Steve Bloom says:

    “That is why it is a good idea when Democrats vote in the Republican primaries.”

    We have open primaries in California now, but I haven’t noticed them helping much with this problem.

  21. Steve,

    Still laboring under the handicap of that split-hemisphere brain, eh?

    It’s a hard one to shake off, I know.

    Ahh, I don’t mean that I think the solution is somewhere in the middle. I just mean that getting to make decision without any kind of credible opposition probably means you’ll end up messing it up. It’s what one might call the “inside the tent pissing out” philosophy.

  22. Joseph says:

    Steve, an example of where the influence of corporate interests on Republican policies was most obvious was in the years before Bush adopted his Medicare prescription drug program in 2003. The drug companies ended up benefiting a lot from the legislation.

    https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/totals.php?cycle=2014&ind=H04

  23. On the other hand, Denning uses Comic Sans.

    On the third hand, since the op-ed mentions hate:

    While it may be strange to hate a thing, it’s perfectly normal to hate a typeface online.

    On the Internet, objects of hate are endless.

  24. austrartsua says:

    Everyone always wants to do something about climate change, it takes courage to argue that we should do nothing. Politics is biased towards people who want to ‘do something’ but this normally just makes matters worse. Anyone who argues for business as usual gets labelled with the obvious names.

    So I find it a little irritating that ATTP wants us of the ‘right wing’ to engage more in this debate. We are! Its just that we come at the issue from a non-interventionist point of view. Don’t ruin economic activity and liberty by imposing idiotic regulations on energy production. Let’s adapt to the warming. The climate has always been nasty, we cannot expect it to be any better or worse in the future – just warmer. So, ATTP, its not that we aren’t engaged in the debate, its just that you don’t like a non-interventionist argument. Okay, I’ll admit there are deniers out there, I’m not defending them.

  25. austrarta,

    So I find it a little irritating that ATTP wants us of the ‘right wing’ to engage more in this debate. We are! Its just that we come at the issue from a non-interventionist point of view. Don’t ruin economic activity and liberty by imposing idiotic regulations on energy production.

    Feel free to feel irritated, it’s a free world 🙂

    Here’s the problem, though. It’s quite likely that adaptation will not be enough and that we will have to actually do something to reduce our emissions. If you’re still arguing for adaptation when it’s patently obvious that that won’t be good enough, you’ll be outside the tent.

    FWIW, my point is essentially that you’re probably right that we shouldn’t ruin economic activity and liberty by imposing regulations on energy production. However, if you’re still arguing that we should simply be aiming to adapt, when everyone else has recognised that we need to more than that, that’s precisely what will happen. You’ll probably still blame people like me for making stupid policy decisions, but it will be partly your fault for insisting on keeping your head buried in the sand.

  26. austrartsua says:

    The question of whether adaptation will be ‘enough’ is not settled. It is, in fact, the source of the disagreement. It is hard to know for sure because it depends on a few things. Firstly, it depends on future wealth and technology. Secondly it depends on the actual impacts of global warming. Okay, so global average temps will go up by a few Celsius. But no one feels global average temps. What does global warming actually mean on a local level?

    A pro-economic growth agenda could very well make global warming irrelevent. If world GDP grows at 3% a year, the economy would be some 10 times the size in 2100. Who the hell cares about global warming when we are that rich? We could easily adapt to the changes.

    In fact there are really two strategies for dealing with global warming. Firstly, attempt to mitigate CO2 emissions and curtail economic development in the process. Secondly, grow out of it. Become so rich that we are more and more resilient to whatever climate throws at us (with or without much warming).

  27. austrartsua,
    If we grow fast over the next century and do so mainly using fossil fuels we increase the chance of significant parts of the planet having wet bulb temperatures above 35oC. Mammals cannot survive in those temperatures without technology or without (I think) living underground. There are plenty of links, but it’s late and this is the first I can find. So, maybe you’re right that we can simply be rich enough to develop technology that allows us to live in those conditions. I’m not sure that everyone is willing to take that risk.

  28. austrartsua says:

    There are also risks associated with replacing fossil fuels with more expensive and less reliable sources.

  29. austrartsua,
    Here’s a hypothetical for you. Let’s say you’re right that we could adapt to anything. Imagine the following (which is actually quite likely). Most of the damage due to climate change will probably – initially at least – occur in the developing world, and most of the benefit will probably go to the developed world. Let’s imagine a scenario where we do indeed get richer, but this wealth mainly accrues in the developed world who still dominate emissions. What happens if it does turn out that sea level rise is displacing millions in Bangladesh, or resulting in mass starvation in North Africa. Do we take our wealth and use it to help those who are being affected by climate change, or do we close our borders and argue that it’s their problem to solve?

    I don’t know if this is what will happen, but it might.

  30. Austrartsua,

    There are also risks associated with replacing fossil fuels with more expensive and less reliable sources.

    Oh, I agree completely. That’s why I think that if we really do have to find a way to ensure that we can supply enough energy for economic growth, without letting atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise to the point where it becomes extremely damaging, we should start thinking about how to do this now, not when we’ve already left it too late to avoid some of the more severe impacts.

  31. > A pro-economic growth agenda could very well make global warming irrelevent.

    There are two ways of reading this.

    The obvious way is the main trump from the Lomborg Collective:

    In an ideal world, we would solve them all, but we don’t. We don’t actually solve all problems. And if we do not, the question I think we need to ask ourselves — and that’s why it’s on the economy session — is to say, if we don’t do all things, we really have to start asking ourselves, which ones should we solve first?

    It’s Achilles and the Tortoise all over again.

    Another reading is that we’ll be so rich we will be able to engineer our way out of this.

    ***

    I duly submit that both readings underestimate the power of growth.

    Since I discovered that growth was the only true, objective virtue, I pondered quite a lot. One conclusion was that growth can only be infinite. For you see, growth is perfect, and perfection implies infinity.

    Even a fool, when he hears of growth, can’t conceive anything more powerful. He understands when virtue economists when they speak of growth, and understands that he understands them. He also understands that nothing more powerful can ever be conceived, and that such powerful thing cannot exist in understanding alone.

    Suppose it was not the case. Then our fool would be able to conceived an idea that would be more powerful than everything that exists. Obviously, this is nonsense. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing more powerful can be conceived, and it exists both in our fool’s understanding and in reality.

    When we realize that growth is the most powerful power we have, then it follows that climate is irrelevant. Agendas become irrelevant too, pro or contra anything. Once we grow with growth, anything is possible, all of which are irrelevant from growth’s standpoint.

    Growth dissolves all our problems.

    Thank you.

  32. Steve Bloom says:

    Lomborg does indeed seem to be the inheritor of Plato and Aquinas, a veritable pre-Renaissance man.

    “Anyone who argues for business as usual gets labelled with the obvious names.”

    Nope, only from people who understand the problem. You can get away with it with most others. Generally they have a deep need to believe in the dream.

    “just warming”

    We didn’t have to wait long for that, did we? Quite wrong. But Anders will use that admission to classify you as other than a denier. As it misses so much, I must beg to differ.

  33. BBD says:

    Willard, dear

    Suppose it was not the case. Then our fool would be able to conceived an idea that would be more powerful than everything that exists. Obviously, this is nonsense. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing more powerful can be conceived, and it exists both in our fool’s understanding and in reality.

    There have been several declarations of love in comments here recently, including one by you. So I fee empowered to add my own.

  34. Joshua says:

    ==> “Politics is biased towards people who want to ‘do something’ but this normally just makes matters worse. ”

    Fascinating. Doing something normally just makes things worse.

    It’s pretty funny to imagine someone living their life holding to such a philosophy.

  35. Joshua says:

    Austrartsua

    ==> “Let’s adapt to the warming. ”

    I’m curious as to how you advocate adapting – in a non-interventionist way, of course, because intervening in things normally makes them worse. 🙂

  36. metzomagic says:

    I’ve always perceived Bishop Hill as being more toxic than LOL, WHUT?! Never even attempted to post there, ever. You need rubber gloves on just to read the comments. Funny that you have seemingly only realised this now, ATTP.

  37. Joshua says:

    willard –

    The best thing about growth is that in order to achieve it, all you need to do is continue growing.

    Now some might say that is a tautology, but I say no, and here’s why.

    By definition, growing = BAU. If you want proof, then ask yourself when have we not grown.

    And the kicker is that doing anything normally retards growth.

    So alls we need to do is continue BAU w/o doing anything, and then we’ll grow.

  38. Michael says:

    “Watts Up With That (WUWT) is an anti-science, hate site. It is atrocious, and I think anyone who openly associates – without comment – with that site should be really careful of criticising the behaviour of others”

    Judith Curry, of course!

    In Curry’s latest week in review, she mentions the AGU meeting giving two references – the first, yep, WUWT with a link, and then RC, no link.

    Watts ‘reporting’ includes, whining about taking photos of the posters and some stupid about girl scouts. The comments are, of course, atrocious.

  39. Steve Bloom says:

    Krugman has a post pertaining to the Lomborgs of the world. He concludes:

    I now also suspect that the personality traits you need to be an effective entertainer on inherently not-so-much-fun subjects like health or monetary policy are inherently at odds with the traits you need to be even halfway competent. If Dr. Oz were the kind of guy who pores over medical evidence to be sure he knows what he’s talking about, he probably couldn’t project the persona that wins him such a large audience. Similarly, a hired-gun economist who actually knows how to download charts from FRED probably wouldn’t have the kind of blithe certainty in right-wing dogma his employers want.

    So how do those of us who aren’t so glib respond? With ridicule, obviously. It’s not cruelty; it’s strategy.

    I think there are exceptions to this rule, e.g. Carl Sagan, but they’re rare. I’ve been persuaded of the value of ridicule for some time now, although it would seem to conflict somewhat with the new moderation rules here.

  40. Michael says:

    Willard,

    China has grown a lot in recent decades.

    Does this mean there are no problems?

    Should I move there?

    Can you suggest a nice suburb?

  41. Joshua says:

    Another Steve post, another Steve whine about moderation…

    One might think he doesn’t have anything better to do.

  42. Steve Bloom says:

    “Please try to treat others with respect, even if you do disagree with what they’re saying. Rachel and I will do our best to get rid of those comments that don’t satisfy this new comment policy so there shouldn’t be any real need to respond unpleasantly to those comments with which you disagree.”

    You’re a bit of a pet here, Joshua, so we’ll see if you get the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  43. > The best thing about growth is that in order to achieve it, all you need to do is continue growing.

    I just met a lady to whom I was telling about my newly discovered enlightenation. She understood it in a few seconds: “it’s growth all the way up!” She was a clever, old lady.

    Let’s not get too fractal about it.

  44. > China has grown a lot in recent decades.

    I thought Tibet was small, but let me take a good look on a non-biased map.

  45. izen says:

    @-austrartsua
    “A pro-economic growth agenda could very well make global warming irrelevent. If world GDP grows at 3% a year, the economy would be some 10 times the size in 2100. Who the hell cares about global warming when we are that rich? We could easily adapt to the changes.”

    If Bangladesh become ten time richer, it will be almost as wealthy as Mexico is now. If China becomes ten times richer it would be as wealthy as Australia.
    It is not obvious that Mexico is easily able to adapt to climate change compared to Bangladesh.
    Rich, complex techno-industrial societies may not be any more robust or resiliant because of their wealth than poor agrarian societies

    Or are you envisioning some massive egalitarian redistribution of global wealth, and a MUCH bigger increase than a mere order of magnitude to make ALL nations ten times as wealthy as those of us living in the rich nations?

  46. izen says:

    @-Willard
    Applying the Anslem argument to ‘Growth’ does reveal how weak it is in its original context.
    Poor Godel!

  47. The whole world cannot become rich with the consumption patter of todays rich. Many resources, including fossil fuels are far too limited for that, and so is the environment for taking up the load of such consumption. Continuing strong growth is not possible in that way, but only by changing the structure of consumption adapting to all the restrictions the resources and the environment set.

    Markets have performed well, when they have been able to do it staying myopic, i.e. reacting only, when benefits start to accrue soon enough. Some companies do perform research having in mind longer term potential benefits, but not nearly at the level needed to support the changes that strong long term growth requires. That applies also – and at very significantly – to changes required by the threat of climate change. Whether markets can solve problems like that is a quantitative question of dynamics of techno-economic systems, and the quantitative answer seems very clearly to be that markets cannot do it without strong intervention of governments. Such intervention may help a lot, but how far even the best way of intervening can help, is an open question, and so is the best way of intervening, as markets are needed as well.

  48. Rachel M says:

    I would prefer to see witty humour rather than ridicule when dealing with the Lomborgs of the world. A quick wit is more effective in my opinion and can make your opponent’s position look just as ridiculous if not more than openly ridiculing them. I also love the absurd which is probably a Monty Python type of humour and also an effective way of dealing with the denialist position since it is absurd in many ways.

  49. toby52 says:

    I saw the Scott Denning video at the time : he attended two Heartland Conferences and gave much the same talk for two years running. The passion is this one may partly stem from impatience that the first one was politely put on the farthest of back burners by the gathering of deniers.

    AFAIK, Denning stopped attending Heartland gatherings.

    Either he got fed up of being the token, patronised scientist whose every word was ignored, or Heartland stopped inviting him because they got tired of his lecture.

  50. metzomagic,

    Funny that you have seemingly only realised this now, ATTP.

    Sometimes it takes me a while to really work things out 🙂

    izen,

    Or are you envisioning some massive egalitarian redistribution of global wealth, and a MUCH bigger increase than a mere order of magnitude to make ALL nations ten times as wealthy as those of us living in the rich nations?

    Yes, this is one of the issues with the adaptation argument. Making poor countries today richer does not guarantee that they will be wealthy enough to adapt. Redistributing wealth so that they will be able to adapt seems unlikely.

  51. Willard says:

    > Poor Godel!

    Another infinite growth proponent:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%F6del%27s_ontological_proof

    Preliminary results with Growth Computer Mechanizations (GCM):

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4526

    Although we should beware our wishes, once the genie is let out if the bottle, growth takes care of itself, us, and everything.

    Thank you.

  52. toby52 says:

    You might like to compare Professor Denning’s talk the previous year with this one. In 2010 he “regrets that more of his colleagues did not attend”.

    Another failed attempt at bridge-building, then.

  53. Lars Karlsson says:

    “…the economy would be some 10 times the size…”

    Just what does that mean? We can hardly be expected to have 10 times as much energy and ten times as much material resources. Wealth must come in other forms, in more efficient and more functional material things, as well as in immaterial forms.

  54. toby,

    Another failed attempt at bridge-building, then.

    Yes, and I imagine others will try again and, unless something truly amazing happens, failing again.

    Lars,

    Just what does that mean?

    Well, I’ve always assumed that it’s the argument that we’ve grown at 3% pa for the last hundred or so years and so will continue to do so as long as we don’t do anything to interfere with this fundamental law of economics. Never found it a particularly compelling argument myself, although maybe there is more to it than that.

  55. BBD says:

    Although we should beware our wishes, once the genie is let out if the bottle, growth takes care of itself, us, and everything.

  56. Just what does that mean?

    Well, I’ve always assumed that it’s the argument that we’ve grown at 3% pa for the last hundred or so years and so will continue to do so as long as we don’t do anything to interfere with this fundamental law of economics. Never found it a particularly compelling argument myself, although maybe there is more to it than that.

    This has been one of the main issues that I have tried to bring up.

    In many different ways direct quantitative comparison of the present with what will be 2100 is not well defined or even definable.

    Going back about 100 years and trying to figure out what could then have been seen about the present, we can conclude that many things have certainly developed smoothly and grown gradually in a way that was perhaps foreseeable, but many other things not. Comparing the present with past that far back we cannot really tell what has happened to the value of money, because very much of what we consume now was not available for any price at that time. Prices of products and services that were available then in roughly the same form and quality have also changed at very different rates depending on the productivity growth in that particular sector.

    These problems are circumvented in practice by looking only at short term changes from last year or perhaps from last month, and compounding the changes. In that approach it’s possible to add new products and services to the price index base, but the success of this approach is, in part, illusory. The same applies to changes in GDP, because that depends on prices used in the calculation. The resulting numbers may be highly misleading. When we have no good way of telling what’s real inflation over long periods, we cannot either tell, how GDP has changed. Creating alternative measures from scratch would be likely to produce highly different outcomes for the historical growth rate.

  57. WebHubTelescope says:

    The commenters at Climate Etc think I am AWOL and are now crowing about a drop in oil prices. Since I am apparently permanently banned there now, I can’t explain how the concept of demand destruction works. Suffice to say, people are going to experience a wild ride with price swings as the boom-bust of NoDak Bakken shale plays out.

    Judith Curry, even though she was an erstwhile head of an earth sciences department, apparently hasn’t a clue .

  58. jsam says:

    I admire those who believe more in economics history and models over those from physics. They have known the triumph of hope over experience.

  59. jsam,

    I admire those who believe more in economics history and models over those from physics. They have known the triumph of hope over experience.

    Yes, I was going to say something similar. We might not know what will happen if we do aim to radically change how we provide energy, but there is no fundamental law that says that it can’t be done without catastrophic consequences (in fact, I’d suggest that we’d have to hope that this is possible given that we will have to find alternatives at some point in the future). However, we can be quite confident that we can’t continue to increase our emissions without continuing to warm and that there is clearly a level of warming that will be undeniably damaging. Yet, people seem to think that we should avoid the unquantifiable risks associated with mitigating climate change, at the expense of exposing ourselves to the quantifiable risks associated with climate change itself.

  60. BBD says:

    And then there’s physics denial…

  61. Raff says:

    Thing is that denier types like to claim that economic growth and action on climate are incompatible. I’ve not seen a justification for that. They like to claim for example that all the investment in renewables since whenever have been “wasted” money that could have been better spent on other world problems . Ask them which problems they’d like to spend that money on and how and they are stumped (as they typically believe that all foreign aid spending is bad or some such). Try asking how, if it is apparently wasteful and bad for the economy to build wind turbines and solar panels and to use them to generate electricity, then why buying an exercise bike and leaving it in the corner after the first week (or any other consumer good that doesn’t get used) is not also bad for the economy.

    I just got banned from Euan Mearns blog after airing such views. I was told that my comments “add nothing to the aggregate knowledge of this blog”. Well that might be true of course as I claim no great enlightenment or learning. But as far as I can tell, neither should many of the other commenters or even the hosts. I was banned for suggesting that there is no difference between the climate science advice Ed Davey could expect from GWPF and from oil and gas companies. Seems like I hit a nerve.

  62. Raff,

    Try asking how, if it is apparently wasteful and bad for the economy to build wind turbines and solar panels and to use them to generate electricity, then why buying an exercise bike and leaving it in the corner after the first week (or any other consumer good that doesn’t get used) is not also bad for the economy.

    Yes, I’ve never quite understood the logic of that either. You sometimes hear people claiming that we’ve wasted billions doing something like landing something on a comet. What they don’t seem to realise is that the bits of metal, wire and other paraphenalia that actually landed on the comet probably isn’t worth very much in itself. The billions were spent developing it, testing it, and launching it. Most of it is still here. Of course, we could have chosen to spend it on something else that may have been of more economic benefit, but we certainly didn’t just drops billions of dollars onto a comet.

    There was a story going around at the time suggesting that a Fox News reporter asked someone why we wasted billions landing on a comet. When the response was “it wasn’t us, it was the Europeans”, the response was “well, why didn’t we do it first?” It almost seems too good to be true, but given that it was Fox News, it could well be true.

  63. John says:

    austrartua

    Everyone always wants to do something about climate change, it takes courage to argue that we should do nothing.

    It is sometimes argued that bravery is indistinguishable from foolishness, but in this case I’d say the distinction is quite clear.

    And thank goodness Reagan did not adopt a “do nothing” strategy in the 1980s regarding CFC and SO2 emissions.

  64. Joshua says:

    Here is a fairly random thought. It’s unlikely that it’s original or profound (given the source)…but I’m not sure I’ve seen it discussed. Reactions from people smarter and more knowledgeable than myself – i.e., most everyone here except maybe Pekka 🙂 – would be appreciated.

    Contrary to what I’ve generally seen – belief that the answer to the risk of AGW lies in technological innovation, could actually be a reason to support immediate efforts towards large-scale mitigation (not be a reason to wait to take action).

    Let’s say that I am willing to bet that in 20 or 30 or 40 years, technological innovations will give us access to energy w/o ACO2 emissions.

    If we take dramatic action to reduce emissions now, we risk negative economic outcomes. We could avoid that risk of negative economic outcomes if we just hang on and wait for those innovations. (Remember, doing something “normally just makes thinks worse”).

    But, there is the potential that ACO2 emissions that occur prior to the implementation of those innovations could have long-term negative negative economic impact, and it’s possible that the impact of those 20-40 years of emissions could never be reversed by technological impact.

    On the third hand, if I were someone that believes that ultimately the answer to AGW lies in innovation, then I would likely believe that the economic impact of immediate action taken to reduce emissions would be short-term. The negative economic impact of reducing emissions would be mitigated in 20 or 30 or 40 years when the innovative technologies are implemented.

    So it seems to me that if I felt that the answer to the problem of AGW lies in innovation, I should isolate two important considerations for comparison: (1) the magnitude of the risk of long-term, perhaps irreversible negative impact from the next 20 to 30 to 40 years of emissions and (2) the likely time frame (and scale) of risk of negative economic impact sustained over the 20-40 year period before innovations are implemented.

    Of course, I doubt that anyone could reliably quantify those variables for comparison – but I would say that if someone is saying they don’t doubt the long-term risk of ACO2 emissions but think we should wait to do anything because of likely technological innovation, they should be able to explain what they came up with from their comparison.

  65. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua says “but think we should wait to do anything because of likely technological innovation”

    It may be that the key word is “wait” and everything after is padding. Science clearly is not settled; hundreds of reports annually, maybe thousands. Some people want a bit more certainty particularly in view of many failed predictions.

  66. Joshua,
    Let me see if I understand what you’re saying. We accept that we will probably have the necessary technology in 20-30 years, but possibly not before. Our two options are therefore to continue increasing our emissions until we get to the point where we can replace fossil fuels with alternatives. The problem with this is that the amount of warming we will experience is essentially set by our total emissions and hence we might be locking in a damaging climate state that could persist for a very long time. The alternative is to recognise that we will have the technology in 20-30 years time, focus on developing that technology, but avoid increasing our emissions and hence essentially prevent those in poverty today from really changing their economic position. However, in 20-30 years time, we can introduce the new technology and resume economic growth, but without having locked ourselves into what might be a damaging climate state. Is that about right?

    So, I guess those who favour carrying on as is until we have the necessary technology should be willing to explain why it’s worth risking changing our climate for very many years just so that we can continue growing economically for the next 20-30 years. Those who might favour the alternative would have to explain why it’s worth potentially reducing growth for the next 20-30 years so as to prevent long-term climate disruption.

    There is, however, in my view a third option which is the possibility that focusing on technology development may allow us to both develop the technology we need, replace fossil fuels earlier than we would otherwise, and still have positive economic growth, but maybe that is just me being overly optimistic and particularly naive.

  67. Joshua says:

    ==> “It may be that the key word is “wait” and everything after is padding. ”

    Could be. But I don’t see how that’s relevant to what I’m wondering about.

    ==> “Some people want a bit more certainty particularly in view of many failed predictions.”

    Well, “a bit’ is awfully vague, but anyway, that also doesn’t really seem to me to be on point.

  68. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Is that about right? ”

    Yeah. I think so. 🙂

    ==> “So, I guess those who favour carrying on as is until we have the necessary technology should be willing to explain why it’s worth risking changing our climate for very many years just so that we can continue growing economically for the next 20-30 years. Those who might favour the alternative would have to explain why it’s worth potentially reducing growth for the next 20-30 years so as to prevent long-term climate disruption.

    Yup. Thanks for adding in the other side of the equation (in bold).

    ==> ” but maybe that is just me being overly optimistic and particularly naive.

    Funny that you should say that, because lately I’ve been realizing that I have a “faith” type belief that we could continue to grow economically even with large-scale mitigation, but wondering if I’m being overly-optimistic or “motivated” in my reasoning. I certainly can’t construct an evidence-based argument for why, but I have an inherent belief that the economic activity associated with switching to alternative fuels would not reflect a net loss, particularly when we consider the negative economic (not CO2 emission-related) externalities with fossil fuels that would be absent other energy sources.

  69. Michael Lloyd says:

    I make no apologies for pushing Tom Murphy’s blog. It seems to me this aTTP’s blog is moving on from just climate science onto ground that has been travelled by others.

    This time I suggest a look at the Energy Trap: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/the-energy-trap/

  70. Joshua,

    I have an inherent belief that the economic activity associated with switching to alternative fuels would not reflect a net loss, particularly when we consider the negative economic (not CO2 emission-related) externalities with fossil fuels that would be absent other energy sources.

    Yes, I think I do too. I vaguely remember a discussion (possibly with Steve B) about people not understanding flows. It seems to me that if you divert wealth into developing new technology, then that wealth flows out back into the rest of the economy anyway. I guess there are two issues with this. It could be that this new activity is less economically viable than something else that we could have done. That, however, doesn’t mean that the new activity can’t lead to growth, just that it might not lead to as much growth as otherwise, and – as you say – you should also consider externalities. The other issue is whether or not this new activity actually prevents is from doing something that we really need (education, healthcare, providing food, shelter, …). If so, this could be bad, but given that it would presumably create employment, it’s hard to see how we couldn’t do this while still providing everything else. Again, maybe I’m being naive, and I’m also not an economist.

  71. Willard says:

    > Science clearly is not settled; hundreds of reports annually, maybe thousands. Some people want a bit more certainty particularly in view of many failed predictions.

    The only certainty is the need for growth to grow. However, we may be quite confident that science is settled to grow too. Or at least it should.

    To that effect, we can expect that in the next decades, reports will not be in the thousands, but in the millions, if not the billions.

    Basic statistics make us estimate that the number of failed predictions will continue to grow. The more we err, to more we converge toward the truth.

    If that’s not the case, we’ll reduce our knowledge base. This would be an even better thing, as the less we know, the more courage we need. As we need more courage to grow, growth will grow our courage.

    All we need is to make the first step, in whatever direction.

  72. Michael,
    Indeed, no need to apologise. Tom Murphy’s blog is very good and I have no doubt others have traveled this ground before. I think I gain more from writing posts and then learning from the comments, than others gain from reading what I write 🙂

  73. Michael 2 says:

    Raff says “denier types like to claim that economic growth and action on climate are incompatible. I’ve not seen a justification for that.”

    To see what deniers are saying you must go where deniers are to be found and then listen a bit. Unfortunately, “denier” isn’t a very useful term, so one will say this and another will say that.

  74. Michael,
    I’ve just had a chance to read that Tom Murphy post. Not sure I’ve quite taken it all in, but it’s a very interesting but rather concerning argument. If I’ve I’ve got it right, the suggestion is that renewables tend to have a lower return on energy investment than fossil fuels and require a lot of up-front investment, which means that it is extremely difficult to provide them as a replacement to fossil fuels because the faster you want to do it, the more of the current energy you will have to use up to simply build the renewable infrastructure.

  75. Michael Lloyd says:

    aTTP,

    I started out some years ago looking into the findings and implications from climate science and I still look at climate science (just in case the findings alter very significantly).

    From climate it is a short step to energy, then economics, onto the global financial system, the Limits to Growth study, human and human societies behaviour and it continues.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that just about everything is interlinked, subject to forcings and feedbacks and dynamically changing. Not easy to tackle in a blog or comments.

    It is somewhat sobering to see how little some things have changed. Have a look at this on Wikipedia, William Stanlet Jevons and the Coal Question

    “The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal Mines (1865) was a book by economist William Stanley Jevons that explored the implications of Britain’s reliance on coal.[1] [2] Given that coal was a finite, non-renewable energy resource, Jevons raised the question of sustainability. “Are we wise,” he asked rhetorically, “in allowing the commerce of this country to rise beyond the point at which we can long maintain it?” His central thesis was that the UK’s supremacy over global affairs was transitory, given the finite nature of its primary energy resource. In propounding this thesis, Jevons covered a range of issues central to sustainability, including limits to growth, overpopulation, overshoot,[3] energy return on energy input (EROEI), taxation of energy resources, renewable energy alternatives, and resource peaking—a subject widely discussed today under the rubric of peak oil.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coal_Question

  76. Eli Rabett says:

    So how do those of us who aren’t so glib respond? With ridicule, obviously. It’s not cruelty; it’s strategy.

    Eli figured that one out a number of years ago.

  77. Eli Rabett says:

    The whole world cannot become rich with the consumption patter of todays rich.

    One of the best, although Pekka may not have directed the subtlety in his fingers. Captures the Lomborgs in toto.

  78. Eli Rabett says:

    And thank goodness Reagan did not adopt a “do nothing” strategy in the 1980s regarding CFC and SO2 emissions.

    Well, actually it was GHW Bush, not Reagan. OTOH, a lot of the same players, Steve Schwartz, the Freds, Singer and Seitz and others familiar to us all who lead the deniers and lukeacidifiers in those games.

  79. Eli Rabett says:

    Re TMuiphey: It’s the telephone poles for Africa question. Energy generation with fossil fuels for users requires relatively little up front investment but has high fuel acquisition costs. Renewables, OTOH have high capital costs but low operating costs. So, if ATTP has Murphy right Murphy is a Lomborg.

  80. Tom Murphy simplifies his analysis by assuming that changes occur only in energy sector, but that’s not the case. How much error that causes depends on the changes that apply to other sectors. When upfront investments in energy technology are increased, less funds are available for other investments and consumption. In the unlikely case that the activities that are replaced are equally energy intensive, the problem that Tom discusses disappears.

    I included in the above in the unlikely case. Thus it can be expected that the effect is only reduced by the correction. To find, what is really possible for the future economic system, we might need a fairly detailed economic equilibrium model that includes input-output coefficients of various economic sectors related to energy technologies as well as energy production and use in other sectors. Such a model can tell, how a new equilibrium can be reached. An equilibrium model can surely find a solution for the problem, and the solution it finds is probably not terribly bad. What no existing economic model can tell, however, is whether the real world could follow approximately the optimal path the model tells to exist, or whether we would end up in an instability and deep recession or depression.

    When I used earlier the expression of disruption of the economy or something like that, I have had in mind scenarios of economic instability and related deep recession/depression.

  81. I make no apologies for pushing Tom Murphy’s blog.

    You should. It’s shameful mathturbation.

  82. Willard says:

    What Tom Murphy says is mosly nonsense, of course, since it’s well known that economy can grow on forever:

    You might well respond that even if population growth stops, growth in the economy – in GDP – will continue, and fall foul of the rice-on-the-chessboard problem. But I think that here we find a serious gap in the logic of the exponential doomsayers. They’re looking at exponential growth in physical processes—things like heating, cooling, lighting, movement. This is understandable, because they are, after all, physicists. Tom Murphy’s blog post is particularly startling on this point. He points out that if our energy consumption grows at 2.3 percent a year—less than historical rates but enough to increase energy consumption tenfold each century—then the entire planet will reach boiling point in just four centuries. It’s not the greenhouse effect at work; it’s irrelevant to Professor Murphy’s point whether the energy comes from fossil fuels, solar power or fairy dust. This is simply about the waste heat given off, inevitably, when we use energy to do useful work. And it’s pretty hard to argue with the laws of thermodynamics. The calculation sounds shocking, but it’s just the rice on the chessboard all over again.

    Here’s the logic lapse: energy growth is not the same as economic growth. GDP merely measures what people are willing to pay for, which is not necessarily connected to the use of energy, or any other physical resource. True, since the beginning of the industrial revolution the two have tended to go hand in hand, but there’s no logical reason why that tendency needs to continue. Indeed, it appears to have stopped already. Would you like to take a guess at energy growth per person in the United States over the last quarter of a century?

    http://freakonomics.com/2014/01/24/can-economic-growth-continue-forever-of-course/

    The only necessary connection between growth and any other concept is necessity. Growth can only be conceived as necessary.

    Growth does not require energy. It does not require force. It does not need matter. Growth only requires growth. With it comes necessity, and everything else.

    Growth may not require our courage to settle on growing, but our collective courage to step forward in whatever direction helps converging toward infinity faster.

    Let the tortoise be our guide. As soon as we make that first step, we win. We can’t afford to lose.

    Growth always wins.

  83. Joshua says:

    FWIW –

    To the extent that I can follow the technical aspects, I found the posts at Climate Etc. by “Planning Engineer” to provide useful analysis on the issues discussed in the most recent comments here.

    Certainly more interesting then the typical discussion at Judith’s crib.

  84. Total heat content of the oceans is a well defined concept. We know, what it’s growth means.

    The overall Gross World Product is not well defined in the same sense, and we don’t know what it’s growth means over long periods.

  85. Joshua,

    I haven’t noticed here much discussion about points that Planning Engineer has written about at Climate Etc. His posts have presented in a clear way some basics of energy systems and related economics (most of that is material I lectured while still teaching), but what he has discussed is mainly related to the system aspects like reliability of supply at what that requires. We have not got that far in the important details here (yet?).

  86. Joshua says:

    It might be interesting if PE were invited to do a guest post here.

    Might turn into sameolsameol if the “denizens” follow him to comment, but it might be a brand new twist in the blogospheric climate wars. Kind of like an army dropping leaflets behind enemy lines or establishing a foreign embassy. Hey, couldn’t hurt – what’s that they say about the definition of insanity?

    PE generally rises above the ad hom level of discussion – although he did imply that I was engaging in bad faith when I wasn’t.

  87. Eli,

    So, if ATTP has Murphy right Murphy is a Lomborg.

    Possibly. Having thought about it a bit more, I’m not really sure that the upfront cost for renewables versus spread out cost for fossil fuels really makes a huge difference in practice. Ultimately you will have to invest all that energy/money, so whether it’s upfront or not doesn’t really make any difference in a steady state (it may make a difference from an actual investment perspective in reality, but not if we’re just considering energy return). The Energy return issue may be a factor but I suspect that’s only really true if you ignore externalities. Coal may have a much higher EROI if you ignore all the externalities, but probably not if you don’t.

  88. Joshua,

    From what I have read (and I haven’t followed nearly all recent discussion at Climate Etc) PE has been careful to avoid overstatements on matter he knows professionally. I have noticed some signs that he has been more ready to comment in areas clearly outside his expertize than on matters he might know professionally, but doesn’t. That kind of behavior is pretty common, and I’m probably guilty of the same even if I don’t always notice that.

  89. Joshua,

    PE generally rises above the ad hom level of discussion – although he did imply that I was engaging in bad faith when I wasn’t.

    Yes, I think I remember that. I don’t think I was that impressed with how he behaved in the comments, but I haven’t read Climate Etc for quite some time.

  90. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: read The Economic Growth Engine, which I’d guess your library might have or could get. It’s pretty dense, but Ayres is a physicist turned economist, a rarity.

  91. Raff says:

    Michael 2, “denier types” is actually quite a useful description. There really are various types of denier, but although some try to wear more sophisticated clothes to try to appear respectable, if you listen to them (it doesn’t take long) they all come down to much the same thing. If you have a strong stomach, perhaps you should try it. I’ve listened to and talked with many of them at a variety of their favorite sites. And yes they do, with few exceptions, tend to claim that action on climate will destroy the economy and life as we in the rich world know it.

  92. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders:

    “I’ve never actually quite understood the significance of those chosen pseudonyms.”

    Do you not understand the literary references? Or how they are interpreted?

    In any event:

    Shub Nigurrath has chosen to name him (or her) self after one of H P Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones. The distinguishing feature of the Great Old Ones other than their immense power is that they were purportedly beyond the concept of good and evil, which in every incarnation has turned out to mean simply that they are evil, and make pretensious claims to avoid judgement on that basis. So, Shub’s chosen name either indicates that he thinks himself beyond good and evil, ie, that they are free to do anything normally considered immoral such as to lie and hack websites etc, and are not to be judged by lesser mortals. Alternatively, they think that the name of an evil being in a book that glorifies evil is a cool name. In either case he has tacitly disavowed any claim to be good – and should be so treated IMO.

    Cthulhu is another of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones, so the same deal applies. Anyone who so self names themself either actively believes they are beyond good and evil (and hence simply default to evil) or think that being beyond good and evil is a least a cool concept (ie, they would be evil but do not have the courage to do so given their limited power). In either event, by their name they have declared themselves untrustworthy.

    666, is of course the number of the beast, and anybody so naming themselves is definitely making a point about their immoral nature. Somebody naming themselves Catweazle666 may just be trying to distinguish themselves from all the other Catweazle’s out there.

    Catweazle was of course a fictional medieval wizard who is unable to distinguish technology from magic, and who seeks magical solutions to all problems. Perhaps there is a message, there; or perhaps Catweazle666 merely enjoyed the show (as did I) when growing up.

  93. Tom,

    Do you not understand the literary references?

    Embarrassingly, yes I don’t. Thanks for the explanations.

    John,
    Thanks, I may do that if I get a chance. There is much I should probably read before saying things, but it’s easier said than done 🙂

  94. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, just goes to show your should spent your time reading fiction like me, instead of wasting learning all that useless science stuff … 😉

  95. anoilman says:

    Tom, Anders.. Remember Brandon Shollenberger chose the iconography of “Ghost In The Shell” in which a super hacker is revealing hidden secrets for moral reasons. It uses this line;
    “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes.” from JD Salinger’s, Catcher In The Rye.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughing_Man_%28Ghost_in_the_Shell%29

    While I think its cool to pick up some iconography, I’m not sure it makes sense with the kinds of matters being discussed. I mean… who’d really listen to a guy called Lucifer?

    Tom Curtis, this comes from too much time with DVDs. (I do recommend Ghost In The Shell SAC, I think its some of the best Sci Fi ever.)

  96. John Mashey says:

    ATTP & Tom:
    Indeed, one must be familiar with the various Lovecraftian entities, as images of Shub niggurath help explain why such an entity might be ill-tempered, given the permanent bad-hair-day or worse. Fortunately, in the Internet era, one need not actually read Lovecraft.

    But, more seriously: every time you are tempted to spend X minutes perusing certain websites, consider reading another chapter of Ayres and Warr instead, which right or wrong, is likley t obe more instructive 🙂

  97. Michael 2 says:

    Willard says: “we can expect that in the next decades, reports will not be in the thousands, but in the millions, if not the billions.”

    I expect this will be the case; meta-analyses of previous meta-analyses.

    Raff says: (December 22, 2014 at 1:09 am) “Michael 2, denier types is actually quite a useful description.”

    So is “us” versus “them” when your world contains only two types and you have zero interest in corresponding with or persuading “them”.

    Should it happen that you find yourself in a legislative minority suddenly these nuances can be important since you can negotiate with some of “them” but not others of “them”; perhaps you can even change a few of “their”minds; but whether you do, there’s still negotiation.

    But if I am just a “them” to you, perhaps you are the “them” to me.

  98. Michael 2 says:

    dana1981 says: (December 20, 2014 at 5:55 pm) “(Republicans) face the threat of losing their jobs, which unfortunately is a threat they fear more than dangerous climate disruption.”

    Fear is irrelevant. Suppose Republicans in Congress suddenly became Democrats voting for your pet ideas. They would be replaced soon enough. True it is that for a few years your pet ideas would be law, just as it has been in Australia. What a legislative body does its successor can undo.

  99. anoilman says:

    Michael 2: I think you’re wrong about how political parties behave. They support whatever gets them elected. Obama talks about Climate Change, but he’s not exactly doing anything. (I don’t think there’s enough public support yet.) The EPA was created by Republicans (who I hear want to get rid of it now).

    In any case, that scenario is playing out now in Canada. The far right (tea party/libertarian) is talking about carbon taxes, and conservation. Its funny to watch them squirm but a harsh reality is that the conservatives in Canada know that 70% of the population supports the environment even if it destroys the economy in Alberta (Oil/Tarsands).

    This isn’t me making this up, its them going around and asking. If Harper wants in, I expect he’s going to need to change his stance on a lot of things. Either that or Justin Trudeau will have embarrassing photos of him with his dog leaked.

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