Things I thought were obvious!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and pleasant New Year’s eve, and I hope everyone has a great 2015. The more I get involved in the whole climate debate, the more I start to realise that things I thought were obvious, are not obvious to everyone. This may explain why it is so difficult to discuss this topic with some; you’re not even working from the same basic assumptions. I don’t expect much will change, but I thought I might highlight some of those things that I thought were obvious, but that may not actually be obvious to others.

  • The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.

I had assumed that the above was something that most would agree was relatively obvious. The natural world is both amazing and also a crucial part of our own survival on this planet. Unnecessarily risking damage to ecosystems on which we rely seems incredibly foolish and would seem to be something we should be avoiding. After discussions with Richard Tol on my previous post, it would seem that some (maybe even many) do not agree. It appears as though some think that we can adapt to virtually anything. I find it hard to believe that this is true, and I would really like to know if scientists who study the natural world agree.

  • The climate change issue is really about risk, not about certainty

Something else I had thought was self-evidently true, was that climate change is really about risks that we might face, not about showing that we will definitely do so. It is possible that we might warm less than we expect. It might even be possible that the changes will be beneficial, rather than damaging. However, this doesn’t change that we might warm even more than we expect and that the changes could be extremely damaging. Therefore, it seems obvious to me that the real discussion should be about what we might face through climate change and the risks/costs associated with minimising these climate change risks. However, it does appear that there are some who think that we need to show that climate change will definitely be detrimental before we should consider doing anything about it. Not only is this not how one does a risk assessment, it also sets a virtually impossible target. We cannot know with certainty what will happen in the future. The best we can do is consider what might happen under different possible scenarios and consider, given that, how we should proceed. One could be generous and assume that some just don’t realise how one should undertake a risk analysis. The more likely alternative is that some are just setting impossible targets so as to make it difficult (virtually impossible) to act to address the risks associated with climate change.

  • Better estimates for climate sensitivity are not necessarily all that relevant.

This comes from reading what Matt Ridley writes and from brief (rather pointless) discussions with Nic Lewis. It appears as though they are amongst a group who seem to think that what we need to do is find the best possible estimate for climate sensitivity and then base policy on that estimate. The problem here (as I had thought was obvious) is that if the analysis does not rule out – with high confidence – climate sensitivities that might lead to damaging impacts under future emission scenarios, then you can’t simply ignore this possibility. This is related to the whole risk assessment issue discussed above; one doesn’t ignore a possible risk simply because things will probably be fine. As I understand it, you need to consider the chance that things will not be fine and balance that with what would be required to minimise that possibility.

  • This isn’t about survival of the species, but survival of our civilisations

This may be obvious to all, but sometimes it’s not clear that it actually is. Climate change probably does not present a true existential threat. Whatever happens, there will probably still be life, and humans, on this planet in the coming centuries. The real issue is whether or not the planet can continue to support a human population in excess of 7 billion people with a general standard of living that is – ideally – better than it is today. If all we were worried about was the survival of the species, then climate change doesn’t present much of a risk. If, however, we would like to maintain – and improve – the lives of the descendants of those on the planet today, then an increased risk of heatwaves, significant changes to the water cycle, ocean acidification, and other possible changes, do present a real risk.

I’m not an expert on risk analysis, so maybe I have got some of this wrong. The above are just things that I had thought were relatively obvious and yet have found that many seem to think otherwise. I may well be biased. I’ve lived for more than a year on 4 different continents, and have seen many amazing places and environments. I really appreciate the natural world, and see it has having both intrinsic value as well as being crucial for our own survival. However, maybe others have experienced the same as me but, for reasons known only to them, don’t see it the same way. My understanding of the evidence is that climate change presents real risks and that this suggests that we should be acting to minimise those risks. Others seem to disagree.

So, maybe everyone has the best of intentions and just see different ways to achieve the same basic goals. Sometimes I do think that there might actually be multiple ways of achieving the same thing. We don’t know what will be best, or most effective, and – hence – there may be more than one plausible way forward. However, this would seem to require that none of the options actually violates, or ignores, physical reality. Given that, it’s hard to see how those – for example – who are arguing for the increased use of coal, are not doing essentially this (well, unless their goal is to increase the risk of climate change doing extreme damage). I do think the whole climate change discussion would benefit from people clearly defining their underlying assumptions, their goals, and illustrating that they understand the possible consequences of their preferred way forward. Sadly, it seems obvious that this is not what is going to happen, and maybe this is something obvious on which we can all agree.

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519 Responses to Things I thought were obvious!

  1. Perse says:

    I think that a lot of people are focusing more on improving their businesses *now* than on hypothetical *ifs* for the future. There is a saying that the past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift—that’s why we call it the “present.” I have to agree with that assessment, but I think a lot of people of that mindset have their priorities confused. We focus on correcting the present *for the sake of the future*. And it seems to me people have lost sight of that. I share your assumptions, ATTP…but I agree with you that, in my words, we are an island of sanity in a sea of chaos. And that chaos may never be reordered. But it wouldn’t do the world any good to lose its island of sanity. Ah, sorry I went all figurative on you.

  2. Perse,

    I think that a lot of people are focusing more on improving their businesses *now* than on hypothetical *ifs* for the future.

    I think that that is probably the case and I suspect that many regard that as a reasonable way to behave. When it comes to things about which we are very uncertain, then maybe it is best to focus on the present and not on the future. However, when it comes to things about which we have some knowledge (even if not perfect) ignoring the future seems short-sighted.

  3. Perse says:

    Believe me, I share your point of view. I just understand others’ as well. That doesn’t mean I agree with them! 🙂

  4. Thank-you, ATTP, for bringing this up. So many ignore that this is about survival of civilizations. I have great concern for the future due to the facts uncovered in papers by Sherwood and Huber and by Martin Weitzman, and because it seems to me that very many do not even come close to taking seriously enough what such papers say.

    Quick note – according to what Sherwood and Huber actually did and did not write, and by what is implied by Weitzman (these papers are linked to further below), human civilization and modern mammalian populations may not be viable in areas of the planet with summertime high wet-bulb temperatures possibly much lower than 35 degrees C, this 35 degree C level not seen on Earth for more than 50 million years and which translates to a heat index of close to 200 degrees F. That is, human civilization as whole would start to experience all the associated severe stresses with a global increase that is simply close enough to 7 degrees C such as the 5 degrees C (or lower?) that some seem to think would not at all be that big a deal. Human civilization and mammalian populations would be under stress severe enough to be nonviable even if the typical summertime heat indexes each summer day were close to 150 degrees F instead of close to 200 degrees F, especially if everyone knew the future temperature trend was up, to go to close to 200 degrees F. See further below for more on this.

    A common rejection of Sherwood and Huber includes something like, “Oh, we won’t actually reach such wet bulb temperatures on Earth.” But we won’t need to. That’s the point. As I tried to point out in
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/who/#comment-39695
    and some other prior comments, it’s a sliding scale – by the time we reach a global 7 degree C increase by which we finally see these wet bulb temperatures giving us in some places heat indexes of almost 200 degrees as a typical summertime afternoon high, viable human and other mammalian populations in these places for a long time would already have become nonviable. That is, the closer we get to the temperatures in which nothing mammalian can survive, the larger the percentages of the human and other mammalian populations we see killed off from overheating.

    To the reader that doesn’t know what I’m talking about, here is the press release and the Sherwood and Huber paper itself:

    http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/100504HuberLimits.html
    Selected quote:
    “The wet-bulb limit is basically the point at which one would overheat even if they were naked in the shade, soaking wet and standing in front of a large fan.”

    “An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress”
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552.full.pdf
    Selected quotes:
    ” Infrared radiation under conditions of interest here will usually produce a small additional heating; we err on the side of underestimating stress by neglecting this and assuming that solar heating will be avoided during peak heat stress.
    ………….
    We conclude that a global-mean warming of roughly 7 degrees C would create small zones where metabolic heat dissipation would for the first time become impossible, calling into question their suitability for human habitation. A warming of 11-12 degrees C would expand these zones to encompass most of today’s human population. This likely overestimates what could practically be tolerated: Our limit applies to a person out of the sun, in gale-force winds, doused with water, wearing no clothing, and not working. A global-mean warming of only 3-4 degrees C would in some locations halve the margin of safety (difference between T_W_(max) and 35 degrees C) that now leaves room for additional burdens or limitations to cooling. Considering the impacts of heat stress that occur already, this would certainly be unpleasant and costly if not debilitating…… If warmings of 10 degrees C were really to occur in next three centuries, the area of land likely rendered uninhabitable by heat stress would dwarf that affected by rising sea level. Heat stress thus deserves more attention as a climate-change impact.”

    Let’s look at T_W_(max). They define it to be annual maximum wet bulb temperature. Thus it is *not* defined to be the maximum wet bulb temperature that could occur in a very bad and very occasional heat wave. By my experience of living in a hot and humid climate essentially all my life, which experience no doubt gives me a different perspective on all this than those who have lived in cold climates like Northern Europe all their lives, I know that T_W_(max) in these warm and humid climates is reasonably close to what we experience as a high on a typical summer afternoon each and every year. My experience is that in the tropics and subtropics, the two are essentially indistinguishable. Therefore, a 7 degree C increase creates places on the planet – perhaps where I’m living now – that have typical summertime heat indexes of close to 200 degrees F. Sorry, you deniers, but few humans and nonhuman mammals and many other types of animals because of a sufficiently disrupted ecology would be left here where I’m living even long before the time we would finally get to the point where even the hardiest could not survive a typical summertime high. So, again, this denier “we’ll never have a 7 degree C global increase” is just plainly that: Denial – denial that a global temperature increase of less than 7 degrees C, like 5 degrees C, could make mammalian populations in these areas nonviable, by application of a sliding scale.

    Economist Martin L. Weitzman at Harvard seems to appreciate just how serious things will get for humanity and world ecology if the world starts to see heat indexes getting close to and specially reaching those levels not seen for more than 50 million years. He says that what economists typically do with respect to measuring costs of climate change is woefully inadequate, since it essentially ignores the very serious threats to human civilization and world ecology from the amount of global warming that could very easily occur if so many have their way of “burn, baby, burn” all that coal, which is much worse than even oil
    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=73&t=11
    in terms of per unit of energy CO2 release.

    I recommend that everyone read the following article by Weitzman: In my view, what he writes supports my view that even if the world sees a much lower than 10 or 7 degrees C increase, as low even a 5 or even fewer degrees C increase, human civilization and world ecology could be seriously threatened:

    “Symposium: Fat Tails and the Economics of Climate Change”
    “Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change”
    Martin L. Weitzman
    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/weitzman/files/fattaileduncertaintyeconomics.pdf
    Selected quotes:
    “Exhibit 4: Damages of Extreme Climate Change
    Exhibit 4 concerns what I view as a somewhat cavalier treatment in the literature of damages
    or disutilities from extreme temperature changes.
    ………
    Even at wet-bulb temperatures MUCH LOWER THAN 35 degrees C [my strong emphasis, and I apologize for the caps but this is important!], human life would become debilitating and physical labor would be unthinkable. The massive unrest and uncontainable pressures this might bring to bear on the world’s human population are ALMOST UNIMAGINABLE [again, my strong emphasis]. The Earth’s ecology, whose valuation is another big uncertainty, would be upended. Thus, a temperature change of ~ 10 degrees C would appear to represent an extreme threat to human civilization and global ecology as we now know it, even if it might not necessarily mean the end of Homo sapiens as a species.
    ………
    Alternative Specifications and Catastrophic Outcomes
    Many researchers promote alternative specifications that imply outcomes that are much less extreme than those implied by my specifications. I am not arguing that these alternative formulations are wrong or even implausible. I am merely pointing out that they are not likely to be robust with respect to assumptions about extreme catastrophic climate change and that they therefore fail an important ”stress test.””

    My take:

    First, recall that Sherwood and Huber show that although a 10 degree C increase would render most of present locations where humans live physically impossible to survive outdoors during the summertime for all mammals, a 7 degree C would render a smaller percentage so. Now consider Weitzman’s “much lower than 35 degrees C” – this is key. This combined with Weitzman’s “human life would become debilitating and physical labor would be unthinkable” “massive unrest”, “uncontainable pressures”, “almost unimaginable”, and “extreme threat” is a description of the ever increasing hell on Earth for people like me living in the tropics and subtropics as the wet bulb highs each summer day yield heat indexes that move on and on over the years towards close to 200 degrees F – while still being much lower than it, while the global temperature keeps moving on and on towards 7 degrees C – while still being much lower than it.

    This would put pressure on all human civilization, not just those in the hotter climates. Think about it: Here are more things that so many don’t consider. They don’t consider the increasingly severe stresses on human civilization when increasing billions of people from the tropics and subtropics that are increasingly desperate to escape the increasing heat will try to get into those countries like Russia with large land masses far enough away from the increasingly overly heated regions. These naysayers seem to think that countries like Russia with its nukes will think it just fine and dandy to allow all those billions in. Those who need to get away from the increasingly unendurable heat will also have nukes (some like India already have nukes – nukes will probably be as plentiful as candy by then). The naysayers don’t consider a possibly very significant increase in the probability of nuclear war breaking out over dwindling land resources with climates cool enough to have viable civilizations.

    Here is more from Weitzman:

    “The Odds of Disaster: An Economist’s Warning on Global Warming”
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/the-odds-of-disaster-an-econom-1/
    Selected quote:
    “The bottom line is that if we continue on a business-as-usual trajectory, then there is some non-trivial probability of a catastrophic climate outcome materializing at some future time. Prudence would seem to dictate taking action to cut back greenhouse gas emissions significantly. If we don’t start buying into this insurance policy soon, the human race could end up being very sorry should a future climate catastrophe rear its ugly head.”

    Here is a new book:

    “Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet”
    Gernot Wagner & Martin L. Weitzman

    In an interview on their new book, these authors say:

    “….let’s guide investment decisions in a way to steer clear from the current high-carbon, low-efficiency trajectory and instead make the low-carbon, high-efficiency one the profitable path……Economics-misguided economics-is the big problem. It’s also the solution. Avoiding an eventual climate shock is all about correcting misguided market forces……This isn’t about drawing up a battle between capitalism and the climate. It’s about using the tools we have to get a handle on our uncertain future. We know what to do. Let’s get to work.”

    Here is a somewhat older but still very relevant piece on what Weitzman says:

    “Harvard economist: Climate cost-benefit analyses are “unusually misleading,” warns colleagues “we may be deluding ourselves and others””
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/01/29/203621/martin-weitzman-climate-cost-benefit-analysis-fat-tail/

  5. Michael Lloyd says:

    I am in agreement with the first three of your bullet points.

    On the fourth bullet point this is a crucial sentence:

    “The real issue is whether or not the planet can continue to support a human population in excess of 7 billion people with a general standard of living that is – ideally – better than it is today.”

    and I suggest some light reading that addresses this issue 🙂

    The Limits to Growth Revisited, by Ugo Bardi
    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/limits-to-growth-revisited.html

    Bottleneck, by William Catton
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5954

    Collapse:How societies choose to fail or succeed, by Jared Diamond
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse:_How_Societies_Choose_to_Fail_or_Succeed

    Collapse of Complex Societies, by Joseph Tainter
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tainter

    Happy New Year!

  6. K&A,
    Thanks for that. I tried to make a similar (but less thorough) case in the comments on my previous post. We cannot adapt to wet-bulb temperatures that approach, or exceed, 35oC and so there clearly is a level of warming that would be extremely damaging and is indeed a level that we could plausibly reach this century or early next century if we choose to continue following high-emission pathway.

    Michael,
    Thanks, I’ll have a look at those. Although, in case it wasn’t clear, I wasn’t trying to suggest that the planet cannot continue to support such a population. I was suggesting that climate change may make it more and more difficult to support such a population.

  7. verytallguy says:

    VTG’s 3 obvious things:

    1.  There is a long lag from taking action to significant emissions reductions: decarbonisation cannot be achieved overnight.  

    So taking action now rather than waiting makes sense

    2. There is huge inertia in the climate system: today’s emissions will not really be felt for decades hence

    So taking action now rather than waiting makes sense

    3. The worst effects of climate change are irreversible: ice sheets will stay melted, species will remain extinct.

    So taking action now rather than waiting makes sense

  8. vtg,
    Yes, I agree with those. In fact, that’s not far off what I was trying to get at in my previous post. However, if people don’t even agree with the things that I thought were obvious, then it’s not clear that they’d agree with the things you think are obvious.

  9. ATTP: The climate change issue is really about risk, not about certainty

    I would worry a lot less, if we had certainty about what would happen. That would also make adaptation a lot more attractive. If you know exactly what you have to adapt to, it is much cheaper to adapt. Now we have to adapt to a huge range of possibilities, that is expensive.

  10. John Mashey says:

    Actually, if AGW is a threat to civilization, it is also a (long-term) threat to human existence …
    because whenever the next dinosaur-killer asteroid comes along (unlikely in next 100 years, after that unknown, could be 200 from now, or 200M … unknowable), human civilization:
    a) must be able to detect it far enough off AND (We have that now)
    b) be able to send robots or humans out to deflect it. (we don’t quite, but plausibly close)

  11. Victor,
    Indeed, uncertainty isn’t our friend (I think others may have used that before 🙂 ).

    John,
    I hadn’t considered that. You’re right, climate change has the potential to influence our ability to address other threats.

  12. Eli Rabett says:

    Back in 2010, a comment was left @ RR about Sherwood and Huber

    It’s the creeping statistical hints between the lines of this paper that really bother me. Long before or even if we never see broad areas permanently enter a existentially threatening torrid regime, what about excursions? For instance, Pakistan this year has seen record temperatures approaching 54 degrees C in places where many people live, fortunately with lower humidity and only for handful of days but what about when/if such aberrations extend to a handful of weeks and are accompanied by inexorably increasing humidity? The resulting disaster would cause migrations. The worst-case scenario in Sherwood and Huber would not have to happen before we effectively lose major swathes of territory for year-round habitability.

  13. Perse says:

    I shared this post on Google+ and wrote a short comment:

    Here’s to being an island of sanity in a sea of chaos! I have to agree with the blog post below. Climate change is a risk, not a certainty. But think of this: you’re living in an area where you just might get snow. But your roof isn’t stable. Do you take the chance that you won’t get snow, or do you shore up your roof?

    Here’s another one. The flu is floating around, and the immunizations weren’t very good this year. But there’s still a 1/3 chance you’ll get one of the strains your shot covered. Do you eat well, get plenty of sleep, wash your hands all the time, and do whatever else is required to ward off illness? Or do you take the chance you won’t get it, and don’t change your habits at all?

    My point is that risks, however uncertain, are still *risks*. We don’t just ignore them. And the same goes for climate change. Are we going to shore up against this risk, or ignore it and wait for the possibilities to assault us?

  14. If we’re going to talk about businesses then I can talk from experience, having started nine in my career. Of those, two went bust, three I closed down, and four have been, or are, successful.

    One thing I learned along the way is that you will make both right and wrong decisions as you go, but while every good decision will improve things to varying degrees, it can take only one tiny bad decision to end up bust (think Ratners: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ratner). Consequently, while one takes risky decisions leading to opportunities, one learns to avoid those with even small existential risks attached if you’re in it for the long term.

    This ingrained lesson is certainly why I’m so concerned about climate change and why I totally agree that it’s about risk, not certainty. And even though you say it isn’t about survival of the species, inherent in the risk to civilisation is death and hardship to a significant proportion of the global population. It’s existential to them.

    Remember people don’t ‘adapt’ while everything is hunky dory, only if confronted with hardship. Our reluctance to take preventative actions today is creating that potential hardship for future generations.

  15. john,

    And even though you say it isn’t about survival of the species, inherent in the risk to civilisation is death and hardship to a significant proportion of the global population. It’s existential to them.

    Yes, I agree and I certainly wasn’t suggesting that we should view it only in terms of whether or not it is a threat to the existence of our species. I would argue very strongly against that, for the reason you indicate. I just get the impression that others don’t agree and, potentially, see any possible eventuality as something that the markets can respond to and ultimately adapt to.

  16. Michael Lloyd says:

    aTTP, you wrote

    “Thanks, I’ll have a look at those. Although, in case it wasn’t clear, I wasn’t trying to suggest that the planet cannot continue to support such a population. I was suggesting that climate change may make it more and more difficult to support such a population.”

    I realise that you are restricting this to climate change. However, all those books refer to environmental problems as symptomatic of wider matters, for example:

    “In Tainter’s view, while invasions, crop failures, disease or environmental degradation may be the apparent causes of societal collapse, the ultimate cause is an economic one, inherent in the structure of society rather than in external shocks which may batter them: diminishing returns on investments in social complexity”

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

  17. Apologies if you read that part of my comment as critical, it wasn’t meant so. 🙂

    I’m sure our species will survive, too, in smaller numbers; though a majority of wild species will not, and, in fact, are already shrinking fast due to the pressure of that great bull-in-a-china-shop, ‘economic growth’. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/29/earth-lost-50-wildlife-in-40-years-wwf

  18. anoilman says:

    Anders,

    Its often held by eco nuts that any environmental destruction is bad. They are blamed for killing jobs, and trying to prevent progress. Hence people like us are painted with that brush.

    But the difference is quite profound. We’re headed to a world full of irreversible damage and harm with no plan to indication that we can truly resolve the problems any better in the future.

    The fact is that for me… I’d happily support oil pipelines, if I knew we were addressing Global Warming. I’d happily support the tar sands if I knew were dealing with Global Warming. My only option right now, is to say ‘no’ to all that, and protest. And no, I’m not a long haired hippie.

    Who in their right mind would be listen to economists about this? They don’t have a track record worthy of looking at. Where the f**k were they in 2008? Asleep at the wheel like Matt Ridley? Or worse, claiming they never met a bubble they didn’t like? “They’ve been wrong so far, but I have a good feeling about them now!” Get real.

    I don’t understand why the world must suffer so we can be a little less rich in the future. I just don’t.

  19. Michael,

    “In Tainter’s view, while invasions, crop failures, disease or environmental degradation may be the apparent causes of societal collapse, the ultimate cause is an economic one, inherent in the structure of society rather than in external shocks which may batter them: diminishing returns on investments in social complexity”

    I should probably read them some more, but I would argue that there are plausible climate change scenarios where it would be difficult to argue that the ultimate cause is economic – well, unless you argue that the decision to not addressing climate change was an economic one. As KeefeandAmanda indicates above, there are scenarios where our warming could lead to regions of the planet becoming effectively uninhabitable (wet-bulb temperatures approaching exceeding 35oC). I would find it difficult to see how the impact of that (or the ultimate cause of the resulting problems) is an economic one.

  20. Rachel M says:

    I’ve read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and some of Collapse. He’s got a good TED talk called Why do societies collapse? which summarises the key factors that contribute to the collapse of human societies. These are –

    1. Environmental problems.
    2. Climate change.
    3. Loss of friendly neighbours.
    4. Arrival of hostile neighbours.
    5. Culture and politics.

    He says, there’s no one problem we need to solve to prevent the collapse of our own society but a number of problems. Focussing on just one problem to solve would be a mistake as there might be 12 threats facing us and if we solve just 11 of them the 12th factor might be the one to tip us over the edge.

    He also says,

    The problem is our present course is a non-sustainable course which means, by definition, it cannot be maintained.

  21. Everett F Sargent says:

    ATTP,

    Here’s an blatantly obvious issue.

    Is overpopulation a problem (either the total numbers or the so called rate of growth)?

    If your answer is “Yes” then what do we do about this problem?

    If your answer is “No” then what do we do about perpetually poor people?

    If your answer is “0 < p < 1" then what is your p value on this singular issue?

    Here's another blatantly obvious issue.

    Are we primarily motivated by self interest?

    What is your p value on this singular issue?

    Finally, if we can't agree on anything, do you see that as a problem or as a solution?

    There does appear to be a lot of concern trolling going on here (no, not here here, but in general).

    There also appears to be a lot of "We must (not) do something about this (non-)problem before I die." type of thinking.

    I'm pretty sure we must do something. I'm also pretty sure I'll be dead before something is done.

    Watching the paint dry = 10 hours.
    Watching the grass grow = 100 hours.
    Watching the climate change = 1,000,000 hours.

  22. Steve Bloom says:

    “It is possible that we might warm less than we expect. It might even be possible that the changes will be beneficial, rather than damaging.”

    Tell me, Anders, when discussing physical theories, e.g. relativity, do you always preface your remarks by saying they might be wrong?

    Also, I’ve fixed this statement:

    “It appears as though they are amongst a group who seem to think that what we need to do is find the lowest possible estimate for climate sensitivity and then base policy on that estimate.”

  23. Steve Bloom says:

    Tainter’s (quite poor IMO) arguments are used by none-too-bright people like Keith Kloor to argue that in climate disasters where better governance could have conceivably dealt adequately with the impacts the problem is in effect entirely a consequence of a failure of governance. How convenient to think so!

  24. Steve,

    Tell me, Anders, when discussing physical theories, e.g. relativity, do you always preface your remarks by saying they might be wrong?

    I put that bit in especially for you 🙂 More seriously, the bit you quote was simply referring to the range. If the middle of the range is roughly what we expect, then it could be better or it could be worse. Of course, if we continue along a high emission pathway, even if climate sensitivity is on the low side, doesn’t really help us much.

    Everett,
    I guess my view (despite what Steve might think 🙂 ) is that basic physics tells us a great deal of what might happen if we continue to increase our emissions. Whatever political reality may exist and whatever we may or may not be able to realistically do, given that political reality, has no actual bearing on physical reality.

    I’m pretty sure we must do something. I’m also pretty sure I’ll be dead before something is done.

    You may well be right, but that doesn’t change physical reality and I’m not sure what else can be done other than to continue pointing this out.

  25. Steve,

    Also, I’ve fixed this statement:

    “It appears as though they are amongst a group who seem to think that what we need to do is find the lowest possible estimate for climate sensitivity and then base policy on that estimate.”

    I’ll grant you that that is indeed how it appears. However, even if that isn’t their intent, it doesn’t change that what they seem to be proposing is a particularly poor way to develop policy.

  26. Michael Lloyd says:

    @Rachel,

    Yes, I’ve read Guns, Germs and Steel too. Jared Diamond is very readable. Tainter is a much tougher read (more academic!).

    @ATTP

    What those Tainter is arguing is that climate change (or rather environmental degradation) has its origins in economics, i.e the pursuit of growth running up against diminishing returns in the form of increasing complexity. It seems to me that we are pursuing the extraction of fossil fuels in the name of economic growth and we started with the easier to extract and have moved on from there. At some stage, fossil fuels will become uneconomic to extract ( and hopefully before we have caused too much irreversible climate change) and also that we have built some form of replacement low carbon energy infrastructure in the interim.

    In addressing climate change, the IPCC indicates that we have had to stop burning fossil fuels by the end of this century and, since that would appear to be before we have extracted all the economically recoverable fossil fuels, we are going to have to leave economically recoverable fossil files in the ground (or alternatively, we could have a discussion of carbon capture and sequestration). That will have an impact on economic growth. Are you optimistic that we can voluntarily forego some economic growth?

    You wrote:

    “As KeefeandAmanda indicates above, there are scenarios where our warming could lead to regions of the planet becoming effectively uninhabitable (wet-bulb temperatures approaching exceeding 35oC). I would find it difficult to see how the impact of that (or the ultimate cause of the resulting problems) is an economic one.”

    Unless I have misunderstood you, “warming leading to regions becoming effectively uninhabitable”, would inter alia, be an economic impact. However, as others have pointed out, it is the rate of change that is important here (I assume you would not get a wet build temp exceeding 35C overnight!). So, it is likely there would be migration leading to other impacts.

  27. Michael,

    Unless I have misunderstood you, “warming leading to regions becoming effectively uninhabitable”, would inter alia, be an economic impact. However, as others have pointed out, it is the rate of change that is important here (I assume you would not get a wet build temp exceeding 35C overnight!). So, it is likely there would be migration leading to other impacts.

    Okay, it seems like we may just be saying similar things in different ways. Climate change is clearly linked to economics through the decisions we choose to make. So, the decision to continue increase our emissions is clearly an economic decision and one that will have consequences. What I was trying to suggest is that once we’ve made that decision, economics can’t necessarily help us to avoid certain outcomes. In other words, if the world does warm by 7o by the early 22nd century, then that will have severe consequences that there will be little that we can do to avoid once we get to that point. In a sense, it’s the inertia issue that vtg mentioned. The economic decisions we make now will potentially have a bigger impact than those we make in the future, once certain impacts become unavoidable and irreversible.

  28. Sam Taylor says:

    ATTP,

    Tainter’s argument is quite nuanced. Essentially he comes at it from a viewpoint that increased societal complexity is used as a tool to solve problems. Complexity in this sense meaning that there are not only more things, but also more levels of heirarchy to manage the things, such as levels of burecracy and such. The problems that society uses complexity to solve are wide ranging, from energy systems to agriculture. Problems tend to arise when the amount of complexity itself starts to become a problem, as it acts as a drag, but since society tries to solve this problem by using more complexity. Increasing CO2 might also be viewed as an extra cost of our current complexity. In a sense we’re caught in a bit of a progress trap in this regards.

    I also note your concern about a 5-7 degree warming making large swathes of the planet uninhabitable for mammals. While I agree that this is far from a desirable scenario, I’d say that it’s probably not one that we should be too worried about. I have very serious doubts that there’s anything like enough economically viable carbon in the ground for us to burn to get close to that level of warming. I only have one real problem with the IPCC reports, it’s that they’re (in my view) INCREDIBLY optimistic about the amount of fossil fuels that we might be able to get through, and that they don’t really take the possibility of resource depletion or peak oil into account at all. As an example one estimate of total coal we might be able to burn is roughly a factor of 5 less than in one IPCc scenario (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166516210002144). I think that this is a pretty big omission from IPCC methodology. The energy and cllmate problems we face are interrelated, and we could do with a synergistic way of looking at them.

  29. Michael,
    I missed this.

    That will have an impact on economic growth. Are you optimistic that we can voluntarily forego some economic growth?

    I don’t have a good answer to this. Firstly, I’m not completely convinced that this is definitely true, or, rather, that we can’t replace fossil fuels and continue to grow. Additionally, there are clearly consequences to continuing to increase our emissions and if we were to continue doing this to the end of this century, these could well be severe. I’m certainly approaching this from the physical science perspective in the sense that I question whether we really want to find out how well we can survive in a world that is 4oC, or more, warmer than it has been for most of the Holocene.

  30. Sam Taylor says:

    ATTP,

    “I’m not completely convinced that this is definitely true, or, rather, that we can’t replace fossil fuels and continue to grow.”

    You might be interested in the following paper by Tim Garrett at Utah. He’s recently been working on modelling the economy as a heat engine, and the various implications of this. He concludes that decarbonisation at a rate required to avoid dangerous warming would likely lead to an economic collapse (http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.0428). Some of his recent work on the thermodynamics of the global economy is frankly fascinating, but also scary.

  31. Sam,

    While I agree that this is far from a desirable scenario, I’d say that it’s probably not one that we should be too worried about. I have very serious doubts that there’s anything like enough economically viable carbon in the ground for us to burn to get close to that level of warming.

    I’ve often thought the same myself. However, I seem to see widely varying views on this. Some say we can’t follow a high-emission pathway because we’ll run out of economically viable carbon. Others say there is plenty.

    One issue I have with the argument that there isn’t enough economically viable carbon, is that if this is the case, then there is another reason for technology development: find a way to produce energy that doesn’t require fossil fuels. So, why aren’t we doing this if we don’t have enough economically viable carbon? Additionally, we are currently tracking along an RCP8.5 emission pathway. If we continue along such a pathway, we could reach 2oC by the mid 2040s, and have essentially guaranteed 3oC before the end of the century. This may not be as severe as 5-7oC, but it may well not be particularly comfortable either.

    Steve Bloom would probably also point out that the PETM was the most similar to today (400ppm atmospheric CO2) and yet was 5oC warmer and sea levels were (I think) 10s of metres higher than today. Even now we can’t rule out that 5-7oC might be easier than it seems.

  32. Sam,

    He concludes that decarbonisation at a rate required to avoid dangerous warming would likely lead to an economic collapse

    Thanks, I’ll have a look at that. A rather disturbing result, if correct.

  33. guthrie says:

    I’ve heard of perhaps one biologist/ ecologist who is anything like Currie or Lindzen or the other scientists who have gone over to the dark side about climate change. All the actual real ecologists and biologists and botanists etc are extremely worried about the next century.

  34. Sam Taylor says:

    I don’t disagree at all that we’re currently tracking worst case, but I have real doubts that it’ll be the case for a great deal longer, as I think there’s a real chance 2014/15 might yet turn out to be the year of global peak oil. To answer your question as to why we aren’t hurling resources at generating more alternative energy sources, I’d say it’s because the notion of peak oil tends to be even less popular than climate change (representing a potential existential threat as it does) among economists and in the media. FWIW I think we should be hurling all we’ve got at it, but we’ve left it far too late.

  35. Michael Lloyd says:

    @aTTP,

    You wrote:

    “Firstly, I’m not completely convinced that this is definitely true, or, rather, that we can’t replace fossil fuels and continue to grow.”

    Neither am I, at present. However, not only do we have limited action on addressing climate change, we also have limited action on replacing our fossil fuel infrastructure and we have to solve a very significant energy storage (in particular electrical energy storage) problem.

    It is the amount of net energy available that is the critical factor here, otherwise called energy return on energy invested.

  36. Sam,

    To answer your question as to why we aren’t hurling resources at generating more alternative energy sources, I’d say it’s because the notion of peak oil tends to be even less popular than climate change

    Yes, I think I’ve noticed this too.

    FWIW I think we should be hurling all we’ve got at it, but we’ve left it far too late.

    I agree.

  37. Michael,
    Yes, I realise this is not going to be easy.

  38. Michael Lloyd says:

    @aTTP,

    You wrote:

    “Yes, I realise this is not going to be easy.”

    Don’t forget we can all do something. A good place to start is at home.

    For some help, advice and suggestions see:

    http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/forum114/

  39. Michael,

    Don’t forget we can all do something. A good place to start is at home.

    I agree. Something that I find particularly frustrating are those who seem to use that it will be difficult, especially politically, as an argument against even trying.

  40. dana1981 says:

    Good summary, ATTP. I harp on the risk assessment point all the time (including my post earlier this week). It’s really where contrarians fail the worst.

    The contrarian argument is basically that there’s uncertainty in future climate change and they believe the outcome won’t be bad, therefore we don’t need to do anything. The problem is that uncertainty means a wide range of possible outcomes, including catastrophic ones. If their belief in a not-so-bad outcome turns out to be wrong (as is very likely, and certainly a possibility), and we don’t mitigate that risk, then we’re screwed. The only way to justify inaction is if we’re certain the outcome won’t be bad. Uncertainty can only be used to make the case for risk mitigation, not for inaction.

    One of the most aggravating aspects of the contrarian argument is that it’s made by people like Matt Ridley, who should have learned the risk mitigation lesson outlined by John Russell after he chaired Northern Rock to financial collapse. Though perhaps being bailed out by the UK government prohibited him from learning that lesson. Unfortunately if/when he’s wrong about climate risks, there won’t be anyone to bail out our civilization.

  41. verytallguy says:

    concludes that decarbonisation at a rate required to avoid dangerous warming would likely lead to an economic collapse

    Which makes it even more imperative to mitigate now; warming damages escalate with temperature rise so if “dangerous” warming cannot be avoided that is an argument for mitigating now to minimise even worse eventualities beyond the”dangerous” threshold

  42. Eli Rabett says:

    As to how soon the world will see 35C WBT in populated places, Eli has an answer, the Indus Valley, heavily populated, Pakistan has nukes and they want Kashmir which is cooler. Enjoy.

  43. Steve Bloom says:

    Erratum: Pliocene, not PETM.

    BTW, I had a chance to chat with a number of deep-time paleos at AGU, and it’s pretty clear that recent results have them more worried, not less. Post in the works, although it will probably be a while since I’m committed to do some sea ice-related ones first for ASIB (which paid for my attendance after the AGU press office refused me a pass, apparently thinking I would have less useful things to say than Willard Watts).

    “I only have one real problem with the IPCC reports, it’s that they’re (in my view) INCREDIBLY optimistic about the amount of fossil fuels that we might be able to get through, and that they don’t really take the possibility of resource depletion or peak oil into account at all.”

    Possibly, but two things to bear in mind:

    A bigger real problem with the IPCC reports is the failure of the models to reflect real-world climate behavior, both current as with polar amplification (and we should all be clear that this is a factor of overwhelming importance) and past as with an inability to model a transition from current to a Pliocene-like climate state (although, FWIW, one earth system model has been able to handle an equilibrium Pliocene-like state).

    Speed kills. It matters a lot how fast we use up the remaining fossil fuels.

  44. Steve,

    Erratum: Pliocene, not PETM.

    Thanks. And it looks like I overstated with warming a little. More like 2-3oC warmer than today, but with sea levels 25m higher.

    Speed kills. It matters a lot how fast we use up the remaining fossil fuels.

    Hmmm, I might nuance this a little. On the scale of decades, I think it matters more how much we emit, rather than how fast. Of course, if we’re currently doing it quickly and accelerating, then we’ll get to higher atmospheric concentrations quite quickly, will find out sooner – rather than later – that we should have acted sooner, and will find that reversing this is virtually impossible.

  45. Eli Rabett says:

    Everett asks

    Is overpopulation a problem (either the total numbers or the so called rate of growth)?
    If your answer is “Yes” then what do we do about this problem?
    If your answer is “No” then what do we do about perpetually poor people?

    The answer is that the fecundity rate is already at replacement or only a little above in most of the world. What works is birth control and a bit of prosperity so that one’s children are not the only old age security. Yes and no do not have different answers.

  46. Steve Bloom says:

    Not to say that we should forget about the PETM. It’s a big part of why we need to worry about speed killing. What it tells us is that lurking somewhere in the climate system is at least one very large carbon feedback that can take us on a very serious temperature excursion (certainly way over that habitablity limit for the tropics). Note also that the pre-PETM world was already ice-free, which means that the same thing happening now would involve far greater disruptive effects. Unpleasantly, we may already have triggered it.

    Have a nice day.

  47. Vinny Burgoo says:

    How plausible is that Sherwood & Huber ‘wet bulb’ paper? It says that today’s effective limit on maximum wet-bulb temperatures will rise by 0.75C per 1.0C of average global near-surface warming. I’m not sure whether this was an assumption or was modelled or was something in between, but whatever it was, is it plausible?

    When the paper came out Peter Stott of the Met Office said he thought the climate modelling behind it was ‘very solid’, which, as he’s a seemingly sensible chap, would usually be enough for me to accept it in toto, but in this case something doesn’t smell quite right. The paper has very large implications and its headline conclusions have been repeated all over the place, but…

    a) AR5 gave it only a passing mention.

    b) The study is quite old and AFAICT nobody has tried to update it by using newer models.

    c) Its results were first announced at a press conference at COP15. Not its fault, perhaps. The work was done when the work was done and it had to be announced somewhere. But I don’t trust anything to do with COP15.

    d) The upper limits on wet-bulb temperatures are due to storms dissipating the heat and humidity that caused the storms to form: when wet-bulb temperatures get high enough, you get a thunderstorm. For the limits on wet-bulb temperatures to rise, storm formation has to be hampered by the middle and/or upper troposphere warming at a rate that’s the same as or faster than the surface’s rate of warming. That’s apparently what’s happening at the moment. How plausible is a continuation of that same/faster tropospheric warming? (Straight question. Meteorology is mostly a mystery to me. AR5 is no help. It says that nobody really knows whether thunderstorms will become more or less frequent, and that’s about it.)

    e) Boffins don’t even know simple things like whether the Sahara will get wetter or drier as the world warms, so global maps of future wet-bulb temperatures have limited use. (Anecdotage: I once took amphetamines in a Saharan oasis when the in-the-shade dry-bulb temperature was 52C. Don’t try this at home. And not only because cranking your central heating up that high would be bad for the planet.)

    f) One of the authors was Australian. Never a good sign.

  48. Steve Bloom says:

    g) Ignore Vinny.

  49. Vinny,

    I’m not sure whether this was an assumption or was modelled or was something in between, but whatever it was, is it plausible?

    As I understand it, if the relative humidity remains the same, then I think this is reasonable. If the relative humidity were to drop as we warm, then the wet-bulb temperature would rise more slowly (but I think this would intensify the water cycle through enhanced evaporation). So, if they’re right that the maximum wet-bulb temperatures are around 31oC today, then 7oC of warming bringing the maximum up towards 35oC seems reasonable.

    How plausible is a continuation of that same/faster tropospheric warming?

    I think that lapse rate feedback suggests that this will continue. If it doesn’t, then I think the net feedback response would be greater and surface warming would be even higher.

    Boffins don’t even know simple things like whether the Sahara will get wetter or drier as the world warms, so global maps of future wet-bulb temperatures have limited use.

    I would argue that not being sure, or there being disagreement, is not the same as not knowing.

  50. Steve Bloom says:

    Harry Dowsett says Pliocene sea level estimates have gone up a lot recently, notwithstanding the attempted papering-over (at the CLA or higher level) in the AR5. High end of estimates are now in the 50-meter range. But who’s counting.

    To be more precise about speed killing, e.g. if we burn a certain amount of fossil fuels over a 30-year period it will get us a higher temp spike (and more climate disruption plus a bigger carbon feedback push) than the same burned over a 100-year period.

  51. Steve,

    To be more precise about speed killing, e.g. if we burn a certain amount of fossil fuels over a 30-year period it will get us a higher temp spike (and more climate disruption plus a bigger carbon feedback push) than the same burned over a 100-year period.

    As illustrated in the figure in this post the difference in transient response is quite small though.

  52. Michael says:

    ATTP,

    Your take on risk assessment is about right.

    The deniers/delayers ‘maybe everything will be OK” is definitely not.

  53. Steve Bloom says:

    Hmm, not seeing that in those graphs. Note that none of the RCPs really illustrate something like the example I gave. I also had an interesting discussion on this point at AGU.

  54. Q “why we aren’t hurling resources at generating more alternative energy sources”…?

    A1) Investing in research into something new and perhaps nebulous, is very expensive. And the rate of economic return is questionable.

    A2) All the big money is invested in fossil fuels (take a look at the world’s largest companies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue). There’s so much money to be made out of extracting what is after all a free (in economic, not environmental terms) resource, and then refining it, burning it and making equipment powered by it, that why would any financier worth his salt sink his capital into undermining his fossil-fuel-dependant investments, while ever the reserves keep expanding and economists tell him there’s no sign of the market drying up?

    A3) Environmentalists, generally speaking, have no spare cash.

    You know, the problem really is uncertainty: the uncertainty not of climate science, but the uncertainty of not knowing how our society will operate without fossil fuels. Next time someone in denial calls you ‘chicken little,’ remember that it’s they who are running scared: scared of the change that will be required if they were to accept that global warming is not a hoax!

  55. Sam Taylor says:

    Steve,

    I think that we’ll probably burn whatever we can as fast as we can. The maximum power principle seems always to win out. However the recent nonlinearities in the oil price lead me to believe that it might be in an unstable regime (full disclosure, I presently work in the oil industry so this is of significant interest to me), and that continued growth of supplies beyond the next year or two is far from guaranteed. The particular dynamics of shale drilling are, I feel, also likely to feed back into this instability and possibly amplify it.

  56. Everett F Sargent says:

    Eli,

    I’ll admit, that the questions as asked, were a bit of a straw man, but, you know, I went there for a reason.

    The one you answered, was a bit of a trick question, as in, ever increasing numbers of perpetually poor people versus general overpopulation.

    I prefer to call it people pollution, or Pee-Pee, err PP.

    The UN high estimate for 2100 is 16 billion PP’s.

    Of those, most will come from Africa and Asia (or so I’ve been told), both of these areas are higher than replacement.

    So, for example, using constant dollars, say we currently have 4B at $1/day, in 2100 we could have 9B at $1/day.

    So yes, please, go right ahead, ignore the 9B at $1/day pound gorilla in the room.

    I really don’t care, as I’ve already done my part for inhumanity. As for the rest of you, keep on talking the talk, I prefer to keep on walking the walk.

  57. Lucifer says:

    Sam,
    “I think that we’ll probably burn whatever we can as fast as we can.”
    That doesn’t seem to be the case.
    In the US, and most of the developed world, per capita emissions of CO2 have declined since the 1970s ( per DOE):

    In the US, like most of the developed world, absolute national emissions of CO2 have declined for years now (per UN):

    The evidence is of increased efficiency which will also happen in the emerging markets, because as business becomes more refined in those markets, they have a vested interest in reducing energy costs through efficiency.

  58. Lucifer says:

    The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.
    Yes.
    Humans induced a lot of extinction/near extinction events, largely from
    DIRECT human predation. Examples include: Mammoths, tree sloths, Dodo birds, Carrier Pigeons, American Bison, etc.
    Not much evidence at all that INDIRECT CO2 is a threat to any speices.

    The climate change issue is really about risk, not about certainty
    Specious.
    Even a most disastours outcome is not worth considering if it has a zero or even near zero probablilty.
    There is some possibility that Martians will attack Earthlings with far superior weapons, but even you wouldn’t reccomend mobilizing every human resource to build Martian zapping defenses.

    Better estimates for climate sensitivity are not necessarily all that relevant.
    Given the uncertainties, probably not.

    This isn’t about survival of the species, but survival of our civilisations
    This isn’t about either. Civilizations, at least the Mesopotamian, arouse in a warmer climate.
    And civilization has spread to nearly all climates of earth ( excepting the cold Antarctic ).

  59. Amy says:

    In the USA, we are waging our longest war in history in the middle east. I realize that these wars about getting those awful terrorists who are coming to kill us and take away our freedoms, and these wars have nothing to do with the fact that the middle east is floating on a sea of oil. The wars have nothing to do whatsoever with protecting the interests of western oil companies or future pipelines or anything like that. Most of the navel gazers who are concerned about the gerbil’s warning also vote for continued war in the middle east, they vote for Obama, who talks nice but only continues down the same path. The U.S. military is the single biggest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet and is using those dirty fuels to secure more of the fuel. And most of the people concerned about CO2 emissions cheerfully vote for more of the same.

    We’ve spent about 4 trillion $ on war in the middle east over the last decade. Can you think of better uses for that money?

  60. Eli Rabett says:

    Everett: China is at 1.55 India at 2.58, and the rest of SE and S Asia except Afghanistan is within striking distance of replacement. Globally replacement total fertility is 2.33, but it is higher in poorer countries so it could be that essentially all of Asia is at replacement.

    Africa is, of course probably not, but a little prosperity, fewer wars and better medicine could bring it there.

    Thank you, btw, for the first smarm of the new year.

  61. Everett F Sargent says:

    Eli,

    I’m about to go nuclear on your …

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_naval_reactors
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A4W_reactor

    “The only ships to use these nuclear reactors are the Nimitz class supercarriers, which have two reactors each rated at 550 megawatts.”

    “The U.S. Navy has never experienced a reactor accident.”

    “The US Navy has accumulated over 6200 reactor-years of accident-free experience involving 526 nuclear reactor cores over the course of 240 million kilometres, without a single radiological incident, over a period of more than 50 years. It operated 82 nuclear-powered ships (11 aircraft carriers, 71 submarines – 18 SSBN/SSGN, 53 SSN) with 103 reactors as of March 2010. In 2013 it had 10 Nimitz-class carriers in service (CVN 68-77), each designed for 50-year service life with one mid-life refuelling and complex overhaul of their two A4W Westinghouse reactors. The forthcoming Gerald Ford-class (CVN 78 on) will have some 800 fewer crew and two more powerful Bechtel A1B reactors driving four shafts. Late in 2014 the US Navy had 86 nuclear-powered vessels including 75 submarines.”

    Like, you know, I’m a civil engineer, have three degrees even.

    We’re here waiting on you all to decide what we all should do to solve your current problems.

    It’s even in our mission statement: To Serve Human

    But, I’m kind of guessing that you don’t need no smarmy engineers.

    For you, I’m guessing, it’s turtles, all the way down. 😦

  62. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if (a) this is costless, (b) our income is infinite, or (c) our preferences are lexicographic. None of these conditions is met.

  63. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Your first observation is not necessarily in line with your last. Universal human well being improvements for up to 10 billion future people, might need to come at the cost of habitat destruction and subsequent, biodiversity loss.
    People in developing countries often benefit greatly by sculpting their surroundings to their economical benefit, just like all of Europe was sculpted endlessly (hardly any primal forest is left anywhere), this altering of our environment was greatly beneficial to our well being, but detrimental to European nature (luckily, with wealth as high as it is now some of it is diverted to bring back nature).
    My question to you: if these two “obvious” statements are not in line with each other, which would be of higher ranking?

  64. Steve Bloom says:

    Right, Sam. The fossil fuel industry does seem to be entering interesting times in all sorts of ways. My best guess is that ff use will start to track a bit under RCP 8.5, but not enough to be very helpful. We’ll get the T spike that we’ll get. Speaking of which, let’s not forget that a sharp reduction in ff use raises the prospect of a rapid added spike in warming from aerosol reduction. The devil and the deep blue sea, as they say.

    Everett, did you have some point to make about reactors? AFAICS Eli only referred to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons relative to future Indus Valley climate disruption. By all means snark, I know I do, but please snark on topic.

  65. Lucifer,

    There is some possibility that Martians will attack Earthlings with far superior weapons, but even you wouldn’t reccomend mobilizing every human resource to build Martian zapping defenses.

    You really shouldn’t call what someone else says is specious if you then appear to suggest that then risks associated with climate change are similar to the risk of a Martian attack.

    Richard,
    Huh?

  66. vp,

    Your first observation is not necessarily in line with your last. Universal human well being improvements for up to 10 billion future people, might need to come at the cost of habitat destruction and subsequent, biodiversity loss.

    My question to you: if these two “obvious” statements are not in line with each other, which would be of higher ranking?

    Well, in some we’ve already had habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. I’m not a biologist/ecologist, but I wonder whether it is actually possible to continue providing for 10 billion people if we destroy ecosystems and have a mass extinction event. My view is that the two might be related. If we want to have a planet that can support in excess of 7 billion people, we need to think about how we best manage the natural world.

  67. Steve Bloom says:

    Last time I checked humans were a species living in an ecosystem. But if optimizing value for investors requires their extinction, who am I to stand in the way?

  68. Steve,

    Last time I checked humans were a species living in an ecosystem. But if optimizing value for investors requires their extinction, who am I to stand in the way?

    Yes, I realise that even what I’ve written has made it sound like humans are not a species in an ecosystem. You’re right, though, that we can’t ignore that we are part of the natural world.

  69. Lars Karlsson says:

    So Richard Tol doesn’t think it is obvious that ecosystems and species have an intrinsic value larger than 0. Consequently, he must think that it is not an unreasonable position to think that causing a species extinction is fine whenever a small profit can be made out of it.

  70. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    The shaping of our surroundings has up to now been greatly beneficial to mankind, whilst largely being detrimental to the state of nature. We have transformed a for humans threat rich and resource poor natural environment, in a cultural landscape that is threat poor and resource rich.
    This is not to say that this correlation holds up in the future per se. Very wealthy societies are in a phase where nature has been greatly improving (US and Europe) whilst economies and well being have been growing (see the Kuznet curve).
    But I think many developing countries, Brazil, or African and Asian countries, stand to benefit from transforming their surroundings from their natural state into a cultural one.

    Anyways. my main argument would be that biodiversity and ecosystems are subordinate to human well being. If for some reason human well being would be improved by decreasing biodiversity (e.g. eradicate HIV or the Malariamosquito), we should definitely do so.

  71. vp,

    Anyways. my main argument would be that biodiversity and ecosystems are subordinate to human well being.

    I think, however, that many would argue that the two are ultimately linked. Clearly we have benefited from allowing a decrease in biodiversity, but there is presumably some point at which we will have done so much damage that we (collectively) are no longer benefiting.

  72. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    That may well be, but it does make your statement not obvious at all.

  73. Rachel M says:

    VP,

    Universal human well being improvements for up to 10 billion future people, might need to come at the cost of habitat destruction and subsequent, biodiversity loss.

    I strongly recommend you read Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, or at the very least watch the TED talk I posted above. There are some useful lessons we can learn from societies that have collapsed in the past.

    One example he gives is the Greenland Norse society. They were an iron-age European society and they needed forests to make charcoal to make iron. When they destroyed their natural resource – the forests – they were suddenly unable to make iron.

    The other thing which you and other “Skeptics” miss here is that the natural world is an important factor in human well being. Without the natural world, we lose some of our quality of life.

  74. vp,
    Bear in mind that I didn’t write this post so as to get people to agree with what I thought was obvious. I wrote it to illustrate what I thought was obvious, but have since discovered isn’t. I also intentionally added the word minimise to the first point to try and address the issue that you have raised. I realise that our existence requires that we influence the natural world (as we have done in the past and will do in the future). My point would be that we would need to balance what we do for our benefit with the impact this will have on other ecosystems. We do it all the time anyway. For example, we have fishing regulations to try and balance the need to feed people with the requirement that we don’t over-fish the oceans. So, I don’t think the two points are as inconsistent as you appear to think.

  75. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Lars
    Don’t twist my words.

  76. Everett F Sargent says:

    Steve,

    It isn’t just “about reactors” but about a very specific group of reactors.

    This one falls under the blatantly “obvious” category.

    I’m not talking about Japanese (civilian) reactors or US (civilian) reactors or even Russian/USSR (civilian/naval) reactors.

    The US Navy has a proven track record of safety with respect to reactors. No one else does (under at sea conditions) in terms of pure numbers and time span. There are really good reasons for that proven track record.

    The US Navy started their program in 1946, they were the 1st and they are still the best.

    Standard design, very small footprint, perfect retirement track record, reactors that are somewhat close in size to civilian reactors.

    But if you don’t like reactors and FF and wind/solar is not 247, what would you propose instead?

    I need a real solution that can begin now that mostly fulfills our 247 needs.

  77. Reading victorpetri and R.Tol’s comments makes me afraid for the long-term survival of the human race. I hope they aren’t representative of too many people in society.

  78. Lars Karlsson says:

    victorpetri: “Anyways. my main argument would be that biodiversity and ecosystems are subordinate to human well being. If for some reason human well being would be improved by decreasing biodiversity (e.g. eradicate HIV or the Malariamosquito), we should definitely do so.”

    For the examples you give, the choice is not very controversial. However, consider situations when “human well being” is rather a matter of increasing some already wealthy person’s incomes a bit further? Or providing somebody with an expensive-looking fur to wear? A nice-looking coffee table? A luxurious vacation?

  79. Richard,

    Don’t twist my words.

    Instead, maybe you should stop saying particularly stupid things?

  80. Lars Karlsson says:

    So Richard, are you now telling us that it is obvious that ecosystems and species have an intrinsic value larger than 0?

  81. Sam Taylor says:

    Lucifer

    As far as I’m concerned, the only relevant metrics are global CO2 per capita and cumulative global emissions, both of which have been rising in recent years thanks largely to China and India deciding to burn so much coal. Even a steady CO2 per capita would be far from ideal, given the current rate of global population growth. The stats on national CO2 emissions also ignore embodied CO2 and energy in trade. The US, for example, has offshored a lot of it’s carbon-intensive industry to China. When one starts to take these factors into account the picture of the US and UK appearing to reduce their emissions becomes much murkier.

    I also find your views on risk slightly bizarre. I wish you worked for my insurer.

    Tol,

    If one takes the (IMO correct) view from ecological economics that the basis of all wealth is resources and services provided by ecosystems, then it becomes rather self evident that it’s in general in our best interest to attempt to keep said systems in the rudest health possible. The economy is a subsystem of the environment, and not vice versa.

  82. matt says:

    @ ATTP

    Please consider turning off the distraction balls

  83. Steve Bloom says:

    Everett, you raised the reactor topic pretty much out of the blue in a way that didn’t make it clear what your point was, although now you’ve clarified.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about the need for nukes, I’m afraid. I think renewables, mainly solar and wind, can do the job given a combination of distributed generation, HVDC distance transmission capacity and storage (local and utility-scale). There’s a lot of material on the internet relating to this. If you haven’t looked at it, start with Mark Jacobson’s (Stanford) work.

  84. victorpetri says:

    @Rachel_M
    I have read his book and saw his ted talk. But I am not really convinced.
    I think he misinterprets the use of resources before a societal collapse.
    Any society in the last 2000 years operates on the maximum use of resources (available to their state of technology), than ultimately if it collapses one always sees a society operating at the verge of its resource capabilities. Which does not mean it causes the collapse.
    Take e.g. fossil fuel use, for over a 100 years people have predicted peak oil and the end of oil in 13 years time has been predicted since the 19th century. If there were a collapse at any time in these 100 years, historians could look back and say; see they had peak oil, no matter whatever else might have caused it.

  85. vp,
    If you’re arguing that the societal collapse probably has a more complex cause than simply resource depletion, then that is probably true. However, that doesn’t mean that resource depletion doesn’t play a role, especially if – as you suggest – we’re always near the maximal available use. It may be that we’ve predicted peak oil for over 100 years, but it only needs to be right once.

  86. Rachel M says:

    VP,

    A hypothetical example of what I meant with my previous comment – If a country’s main industry is chopping down native forest to sell timber to overseas markets and the current rate of deforestation means all the forests will be gone in 5 years and there has been no attempt to replenish the forests or to find another means of making money then it’s hard to see how the economy will survive.

  87. Sam Taylor says:

    Steve,

    I have some pretty big issues with Jacobsen’s work. He neglects to include embodied energy of the system itself, the lower EROI of the energy sources being used, cost of debt financing, cost of having fossil plants sat idle for half the time, which will all serve to significantly increase the cost of the systems that he proposes. He also in general fails to price in the fact that it’s likely that costs of both energy and raw materials are likely to rise over the coming decades as resources are depleted ever faster, and that combined with a energy buildout of incredible scale this would make some fairly nasty positive feedback loops.

    He tends also to gloss over the issues of intermittency when you get a long period (say 2-3 weeks) with low wind speeds. Storage is currently tech is currently not close to being able to handle this yet, and there’s some evidence that adding significant storage to a renewables based grid can lower EROI to below an economic threshold. Issues of grid stability during the transition are also generally ignored. National Grid in the UK have said that they’d struggle to balance more than about 50% wind penetration. We’re currently running our gas turbines ragged trying to balance wind, which is actually unprofitable for most gas turbine plant owners, which is far from an ideal situation. If we really want to get to 100% renewables then at some point you’re likely to run into some pretty nasty feedbacks and tipping points in terms of both grid stability and grid economics (Germany might be getting close to some of these now).

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t be trying to switch to 100% renewables. But I think that it’s going to be a lot more difficult to do this than would be assumed by the more optimistic work in the literature. It’s also potentially quite dangerous (we rely on a stable, functional grid for basically all our welfare), and we really need to be proceeding extremely carefully with kid gloves. Unfortunately I just don’t seem to see this approach being taken.

  88. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Fishing might well be an example as to where we need to get a bigger hand in natures workings, not a smaller. We should cultivate the oceans more to increase its yield. If we would still hunt for food on land, game stocks would have been depleted long since.
    @johnrussel
    I seem to get that reaction more often, but you shouldn’t be afraid of someone who strives for optimal sustainable human well being (what’s not to like?).
    @Lars Karsson
    If you feel that I think that biodiversity should be destroyed in order for someone to have a coffee table, I think you have not understood my general position on the matter. If the people by en large consider the existence of biodiversity more important than the existence of coffee tables, than one can assume that the rules imposed by their democracies will reflect that preference.

  89. vp,

    We should cultivate the oceans more to increase its yield.

    Possibly, but this would seem consistent with proper management of an ecosystem, which was kind of the point I was getting at.

  90. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Lars
    Don’t twist my words.

    @Sam
    Do read Marshall (1890).

  91. Richard,
    If you think someone has twisted your words, maybe you should explain why, rather than simply stating that they have. Also, Lars was asking you a question, not claiming that you had said something. Maybe answering the question would be the better option?

  92. Lars Karlsson says:

    Richard, if I twist your words when I say you think it is not obvious, and also when I suggest that you actually think it is obvious, then just what were your words supposed to mean? Nothing at all?

  93. Everett F Sargent says:

    Steve,

    Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

    When anyone takes reactors off the table, then it’s time to say, see you, don’t want to be you.

    So, Hollywood’s answer to global warming?

    Not helpful at all. BTW, where are the up front cost figures?

    Only if fully funded by Hollywood, then I’d give it the green light.

    Sorry, but as a hardcore engineer, I’ll always go with what works, as opposed to wishing upon a Star.

    No longer read SciAm (always disliked their opening article spin du jour), very rarely, if ever, watch TED talks and don’t care at all about the hyperbole via The David Letterman Show.

    Now, I’m absolutely certain that nothing will be done before I die.

  94. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Lars
    I did not mention intrinsic value. My argument does not rely on intrinsic value. It is about corner solutions.

  95. Lars Karlsson says:

    Richard, if something is only worth preserving when it is costless, then it must have an intrinsic value of 0.

  96. Lars Karlsson says:

    ..when preserving it is costless…

  97. Richard S.J. Tol says: “@Wotts “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if (a) this is costless, (b) our income is infinite, or (c) our preferences are lexicographic. None of these conditions is met.

    Richard Tol, would you say the same about murder or rape?

    Fighting crime is not costless and we do not give up all other aims to prevent it, but we do say as moral rule that we should be aiming to avoid or minimise it.

    Lucife says: “There is some possibility that Martians will attack Earthlings with far superior weapons, but even you wouldn’t reccomend mobilizing every human resource to build Martian zapping defenses.”

    Risk is the damage of the event multiplied by its probability.

  98. Lars Karlsson says:

    Richard, I think it would help if you told us what you meant by “cost”.

    In addition, you might want to elaborate about what you disagree about in “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.” I didn’t interpret that like the minimization of destruction and extinction should take precedence over all other objectives.

  99. Michael says:

    “Richard S.J. Tol says: “@Wotts “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if (a) this is costless, (b) our income is infinite, or (c) our preferences are lexicographic. None of these conditions is met.”

    Richard Tol, would you say the same about murder or rape? ” – VV

    Yeah, this is pretty bizarre stuff from Tol.

  100. Lars Karlsson says:

    Ok, here is my latest attempt to decipher Tol’s statement:

    There may be situations where the destruction of an ecosystem is an optimal solution as we have to take other objectives into to account as well. (Corner solution = we do nothing to preserve the ecosystem).

  101. jsam says:

    Lucifer said “Civilizations, at least the Mesopotamian, arouse in a warmer climate.” Really?

    1. Why do you think it was warmer then?
    2. Those who have studied the matter associate the growth of civilisation with a stable climate.

    Hotter, faster isn’t good.

    “Paleoclimatologist J.P. Steffensen in the January 7, 2002 issue of The New Yorker Magazine (Kolbert, 2002) comments on how paleoclimatic research may help provide perspective on the development of civilization: “Now you’re able to put human evolution in a climatic framework. You can ask, Why didn’t human beings make civilization fifty thousand years ago? You know that they had just as big brains as we have today. When you put it in a climatic framework, you can say, “Well, it was the ice age. And also this ice age was so climatically unstable that each time you had the beginning of a culture they had to move. Then comes the present interglacial– ten thousand years of very stable climate. The perfect conditions for agriculture. If you look at it, it’s amazing. Civilizations in Persia, in China, and in India start at the same time, maybe six thousand years ago. They all developed writing and they all developed religion and they all built cities, all at the same time, because the climate was stable. I think that if the climate would have been stable fifty thousand years ago it would have started then. But they had no chance.” ”
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/ctl/clihis10k.html

  102. Eli Rabett says:

    Eli asks what is the cost of preserving Richard Tol? It is not costless, our income is not infinite and our preferences in that matter are lexographic. None of these conditions are met.

  103. Willard says:

    Our income is infinite, since it derives from grrrowth. Since this is ClimateBall, our preferences are lexicographic,. Richard’s oracle is costless.

  104. John says:

    @Eli

    Eli asks what is the cost of preserving Richard Tol?

    Richard Tol is a biological organism dependent upon the planet’s ecosystems, which doesn’t bode well for his “value.” Also, as far as I know, he is not a major tourist attraction.

  105. Joshua says:

    Lars –

    ==> “So Richard Tol doesn’t think it is obvious that ecosystems and species have an intrinsic value larger than 0.”

    Not that Richard doesn’t make some of the worst arguments I’ve seen in the Interwebs, but he could have been arguing merely that we shouldn’t assume that preserving ecosystems and species has a positive net value. I suppose it would be possible to dream up scenarios where preserving a species would have a net cost.

    And speaking of worst arguments I’ve seen in the Interwebs….

    ==> ““The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if … (b) our income is infinite.

    ????

    Is this an argument that if there is a net gain from preserving a species or ecosytem, we shouldn’t necessarily do so unless our income is infinite? And can someone explain to me how we reach that state of infinite income?

  106. Joshua says:

    ==> “Eli asks what is the cost of preserving Richard Tol?

    Unless we have infinite income, we needn’t even bother with asking that question.

  107. jsam says:

    Richard’s argument is partially trivial.

    X is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if
    (a) this is costless – free, so why not?
    (b) our income is infinite – we’er so rich it’s effectively free, so why not?
    or
    (c) our preferences are lexicographic as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexicographic_preferences

    And now we are into preference theory. There is some coverage of ecology in the literature, eg http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/D0-Chapter-5-The-economics-of-valuing-ecosystem-services-and-biodiversity.pdf.

    “The limitations of monetary valuation are especially important as ecosystems approach critical
    thresholds and ecosystem change is irreversible or reversible only at prohibitive cost. Under
    conditions of high or radical uncertainty and existence of ecological thresholds, policy should be
    guided by the “safe-minimum-standard” and “precautionary approach” principles.£

    I’m interested in:

    1. Why Richard believes condition c is not met. That is not clear to me.
    2. Why he believes his technique has no limits where other practitioners do?

    Feel free to talk down to me. I’m not very bright. I know. I’ve been told. I am married, with children. The grandchildren will be reinforcing the message soon.

  108. Joshua says:

    Perhaps Richard meant to put an “or” before “b?”

    ==> “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” is “obvious” only if (a) this is costless, (b) our income is infinite, or (c)”

  109. Joshua says:

    Sorry all – I guess I was, as usual, slow on the uptake.

    In re-thinking it, I guess that the “or” before the “b” was implied, and that Richard’s point was that infinite income is impossible – so basically point “b” was rhetorical and superfluous.

  110. Lars Karlsson says:

    Let’s try to reconcile ATTPs first point with Richard’s “counterargument”, from the perspective of a multi-objective optimization problem.

    ATTP thinks that it is obvious that one of our objectives should be to minimize damage to ecosystems and species.

    Richard argues that it is not obvious that this always leads to an optimal (or nondominated) solution where ecosystems or species are preserved, unless one of the (sometimes unrealistic) conditions he mentions is satisfied.

  111. I’m amazed that Richard’s (apparent) non-comment has generated so much discussion. I assumed that it was a combination of something that was trivially true and hence not interesting, and a bit of sarcasm.

  112. Lars Karlsson says:

    Yes ATTP, I think it actually was, but it was not easy to figure out what he meant (and he wasn’t very helpful in his follow-up comments).

  113. Lars,

    Yes ATTP, I think it actually was, but it was not easy to figure out what he meant (and he wasn’t very helpful in his follow-up comments).

    Indeed, and for someone who seems so keen to have others agree with him, Richard doesn’t put a great deal of effort to explain what he means. It’s hard to agree with someone when what they’ve said is either nonsensical or when it’s difficult to understand what he’s actually getting at.

  114. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    your ability to continue to be amazed by the climate wars is a testament to your open mindedness

  115. Joshua,
    I live in hope. Just once I want to be pleasantly surprised 🙂

  116. Willard says:

    Everything is possible, Joshua. Even Bob agrees with Richard:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/17/ipcc-corrects-claim-suggesting-climate-change-would-be-good-for-the-economy

    Only Gremlins have to be blamed if Richard’s echo chamber disagrees with Richard.

  117. miker613 says:

    “Better estimates for climate sensitivity are not necessarily all that relevant.
    …It appears as though they are amongst a group who seem to think that what we need to do is find the best possible estimate for climate sensitivity and then base policy on that estimate. The problem here (as I had thought was obvious) is that if the analysis does not rule out – with high confidence – climate sensitivities that might lead to damaging impacts under future emission scenarios, then you can’t simply ignore this possibility. … one doesn’t ignore a possible risk simply because things will probably be fine.”
    I have trouble understanding this statement. I think it is clear that the really damaging impacts become much less likely under Nic Lewis type estimates. First of all, the distribution shifts to the left. Second, the right tail of his distribution is way thinner than the IPCC fat tail. You just get a much smaller probability of high sensitivities. Once you have that, depending on the emission scenario (assuming that we don’t keep emitting more and more CO2 forever, something I just don’t believe), you get much less total warming. I’m not claiming numbers, but disaster scenarios, many of which were already considered unlikely in IPCC, might become extremely unlikely.
    Now you have an actuarial question. Surely you’re not claiming that it doesn’t matter whether it’s one in ten or one in ten thousand? That would be silly; we are willing to spend roughly a thousand times as much in insurance against the first. A whole different set of solutions would make sense for one as opposed to the other.

    From your whole discussion, talking about civilization vs. human life etc., I get the impression that you agree with me that it is the really disastrous impacts that are the most important concern. If sea level goes up a meter or two, it can be very costly but I don’t think it will in any way impact on whether we have a civilization that can support seven billion people in style. The really disastrous impacts are different. So it would be tremendously good new if climate sensitivity is low enough so that the existential impacts become far-fetched.
    ‘Course, none of that makes Nic Lewis right; we need to settle that. On the other hand, every month that temperatures stay flat-ish makes that more likely, correct?
    And we should be willing to spend a lot of money now on getting good data, good models, improving sensitivity estimates etc. – from a Bayesian perspective: if we can rule out disastrous results with a high degree of confidence, we could skip spending a whole lot more money on mitigation. And if they turn out to be likely, you should have an lot easier time convincing the rest of us.

  118. miker613,

    I have trouble understanding this statement. I think it is clear that the really damaging impacts become much less likely under Nic Lewis type estimates. First of all, the distribution shifts to the left. Second, the right tail of his distribution is way thinner than the IPCC fat tail.

    One point I was trying to get at was that in this type of situation it’s not the best estimate one should focus on, it’s the range. Basing policy on a single best estimate isn’t the way to proceed.

    However, you are correct that Nic Lewis’s analysis shifts the distribution to the left and reduces the likelihood of higher climate sensitivity. However, even under Nic Lewis’s analysis, there is a 5% chance of more than 3oC by 2100 under RCP6.0. Furthermore, can we actually ignore all the other estimates? I know Nic Lewis argues that his method is the most robust and should be the one we use, but what if he’s wrong?

  119. Willard says:

    > I think it is clear that the really damaging impacts become much less likely under Nic Lewis type estimates.

    I think it’s clear this is an unsubstantiated claim, and that Nic only dogwhistles it.

  120. jsam says:

    Nic Lewis must be right because…markets.

  121. miker613,

    From your whole discussion, talking about civilization vs. human life etc., I get the impression that you agree with me that it is the really disastrous impacts that are the most important concern.

    Yes, but with the caveat that if we wait too long, what we lock-in becomes irreversible.

    If sea level goes up a meter or two, it can be very costly but I don’t think it will in any way impact on whether we have a civilization that can support seven billion people in style.

    Yes, I agree. Sea level rise this century is unlikely to be something that would be regarded as catastrophic. However, that doesn’t change that some will suffer quite substantially.

    So it would be tremendously good new if climate sensitivity is low enough so that the existential impacts become far-fetched. ‘Course, none of that makes Nic Lewis right; we need to settle that. On the other hand, every month that temperatures stay flat-ish makes that more likely, correct?

    I agree that climate sensitivity being low would be good. I don’t really agree that the flat-ish temperatures make it more likely. Think of it this way. We don’t expect surface temperatures to rise smoothly and monotonically. It’s clear that internal variability can influence the rate at which we warm. Therefore a period of slower warming is still consistent with climate sensitivities being higher than Nic Lewis’s work suggests is likely. If anything, it may well be an explanation for why Nic Lewis’s work produces lower estimates than other methods. His method only considers the difference between some initial period and a final period. Given that we’ve had slower warming than we were expecting, it would seem more likely that internal variability has produced cooling, than warming.

    And we should be willing to spend a lot of money now on getting good data, good models, improving sensitivity estimates etc. – from a Bayesian perspective: if we can rule out disastrous results with a high degree of confidence, we could skip spending a whole lot more money on mitigation. And if they turn out to be likely, you should have an lot easier time convincing the rest of us.

    Sure, but if climate sensitivity isn’t low and we delay acting, the changes will be virtually impossible to reverse. It’s still a risk.

  122. miker613 says:

    “I think it’s clear this is an unsubstantiated claim, and that Nic only dogwhistles it.” Willard, huh? Why would this need substantiation? It seems like the obvious conclusion.

  123. jsam says:

    How is “I agree with Nic” obvious?

  124. miker613,
    In my view, the problem is that Nic Lewis actively criticises/undermines other methods, that his method is the only one that is reliable, and suggests that the IPCC agrees with him. I don’t think they do, I don’t think he’s right to do this, and if it was anyone other than Nic Lewis who was doing this, regulars at Bishop-Hill, WUWT, Climateaudit, Climate Etc.,…. would be up in arms.

  125. Separating absolute statements from strong relative statements seems to be a recurring issue in net discussion.

    The original post is reasonable and correct when supplemented by some additional assumptions that relate to quantities. In absence of such additional assumptions the criticism of Richard is valid. Most people, perhaps all contributing to this site, would agree that there are limited ecosystems that we can give up. One example is enough to make the case a relative case dependent of additional assumptions.

    In much of the discussion the above is nitpicking as the additional assumptions people make lead to the same conclusions, but there are always limits for that, and those limits are what economists are likely to study.

  126. Willard says:

    > if climate sensitivity isn’t low and we delay acting, the changes will be virtually impossible to reverse. It’s still a risk.

    The same applies if CS is low. Reversibility may even be tougher.

    Also note that miker fails to take into account that a MWP as big as promoted on CA may not be compatible with “Lewis-like” CS analysis.

  127. Next we may ask.

    Do the terse comments of Richard make people think and learn something?

    I don’t think that the answer is obvious in either direction.

  128. Willard says:

    > In absence of such additional assumptions the criticism of Richard is valid.

    If by valid Pekka means ridiculous, I agree.

  129. Infopath says:

    John @ 1:51PM
    “Richard Tol is a biological organism dependent upon the planet’s ecosystems, which doesn’t bode well for his “value.” Also, as far as I know, he is not a major tourist attraction.”

    Well, the real Tol wasn’t; but this new one (Tolbert?) says the darndest things. I’d pay for a snorkeling adventure.

  130. Willard says:

    > It seems like the obvious conclusion.

    Then provide a quote where Nic says it, with a link.

    Another obvious conclusion is that Nic’s analysis only gives us a few years more of ClimateBall around silly BAU scenarios.

  131. Anyone with an iota of common sense would say that while ever there’s even the tiniest chance of a high level of sensitivity, we should take steps to mitigate.

    Imagine seeing for sale a great family house that you’ve always wanted and know will sell quickly. Having made an offer, and with the vendor putting pressure on you, do you exchange on the deal* just because a friend has shaken your hand promising to buy your current house and the bank has said in principle they’ll give you a mortgage on the balance? Particularly if you have a family there are some risks you should just never take, however slight you believe the chance of the worst happening.

    [*For those in other countries: in English Law once you exchanged on a property transaction, you’re duty bound to follow through on the purchase.]

  132. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Pekka
    Point taken.

    @Others
    Wotts wrote “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.” This is an absolute statement.

    We could rephrase as “The destruction of ecosystem and the extinction of species is something we should avoid or minimize provided that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.” This is a relative statement.

    Having rephrased, we would see that the second statement is equivalent to the first if the costs are zero or irrelevant (in which case the benefits would always be greater than the costs) or if the benefits are infinite (in which case the costs would almost certainly be smaller).

    @jsam
    Lexicographic preferences are observed in academic papers and on the internet, but never in real life.

  133. miker613 says:

    “I agree that climate sensitivity being low would be good. I don’t really agree that the flat-ish temperatures make it more likely. Think of it this way. We don’t expect surface temperatures to rise smoothly and monotonically. It’s clear that internal variability can influence the rate at which we warm. Therefore a period of slower warming is still consistent with climate sensitivities being higher than Nic Lewis’s work suggests is likely.”
    I think this is a mistake. If there is a monthly temperature where Nic Lewis’s estimates have it as high probability, and the GCM estimates have it as low probability (as we are having currently), Bayesian statistics would make Lewis’ estimate go up in value. The question is not, What is consistent, but, For which is this temperature reading more probable. Every flat monthly temperature is another month where Nic Lewis’ “model” is working better than its competition.

    “can we actually ignore all the other estimates?” I think I addressed that. We need to nail this down; that should be high priority. We are in a position where very different decisions are correct depending.

    “One point I was trying to get at was that in this type of situation it’s not the best estimate one should focus on, it’s the range.” I think I addressed that. This can drastically shift the actuarial value of mitigation – or not. Perhaps there are some people out there who say, It’s not certain so I don’t need to do anything. I’m not among them. But that doesn’t mean that, There’s might be some small chance of disaster so I have to do whatever you say, is going to make sense to me either.

  134. Joshua says:

    well, I for one have learned that unless income is infinite, we should be careful about doing things that have net negative impact on the economy. I never thought about that before.

  135. jsam says:

    It is urgent that we know everything.

    But until we know everything we should do nothing.

  136. miker613 says:

    “In my view, the problem is that Nic Lewis actively criticises/undermines other methods, that his method is the only one that is reliable, and suggests that the IPCC agrees with him.” Well, I don’t enjoy what most of the public figures in climate science do. Too much nastiness, too much certainty. Whatever. I wish they would just stick to science instead of fighting political wars, but that ship has sailed.

  137. miker613 says:

    “Anyone with an iota of common sense would say that while ever there’s even the tiniest chance of a high level of sensitivity, we should take steps to mitigate.” I almost would think that this is sarcastic, but I guess it isn’t. Mitigation has _costs_. You may like different economists than I do, but it will raise the cost of energy to the poorest people on the planet. If you really do it seriously enough to keep CO2 down, it may not be possible without preventing whole sectors of the planet from coming out of dire poverty.
    I don’t understand someone who can claim that something should be done without thinking about who it will hurt. And just because you have some economist you like who says it’ll be great for everyone doesn’t mean that you can count on it.

  138. jsam says:

    May I generalise?

    “And just because you have some economist you like who says X doesn’t mean that you can count on it.”

  139. Joshua says:

    I have also learned that since it’s clear that we could never actually determine with certainty the cost benefit ratio of avoiding species extinction, we should never bother trying to avoid species extinction.

  140. miker613 says:

    ” ‘It seems like the obvious conclusion.’ Then provide a quote where Nic says it, with a link.” Willard, are you going to address what I said? I said it seems obvious. If you don’t think it’s obvious, explain why. I don’t need a link for something that’s obvious.
    Why is it obvious? Well, we all seem to be agreed that impacts are a result of rising temperatures. Smaller sensitivities means less temperature rise, by definition, and maybe more slowly in addition. If CO2 only keeps getting increased for a limited time (as I believe since prices of renewables will probably become truly cheaper than fossil fuels around mid-century), that means less temperature rise, total. So temperature rise –> impacts, less temperature rise –> less impacts –> less chance of really bad impacts.
    Anyhow, seems obvious to me.

  141. Joshua,

    I for one have learned that unless income is infinite, we should be careful about doing things that have net negative impact on the economy. I never thought about that before.

    Perhaps you hadn’t thought about the significance of infinite wealth on logic, but did a few days ago point out the logical significance of zero as justification for absolute statements at Climate Etc.

  142. miker613 says:

    ‘May I generalise? “And just because you have some economist you like who says X doesn’t mean that you can count on it.” ‘ Sounds good to me. I would go further: given the track record of economists, anyone who counts on it is crazy.

  143. jsam says:

    So, if we think economists’ forecasts are unreliable, and certainly less reliable than physicists, why are we waiting?

  144. Rob Nicholls says:

    I really liked VTG’s “3 obvious things”, about a million comments ago.

    I’m admittedly rather clueless about “WG2”-related issues, but it strikes me that the uncertainty around how much (and how fast) warming a species or an eco-system can cope is high, and therefore risks of severe consequences to ecosystems, and to the human civilisation that depends them couldn’t be ruled out even if sensitivity turns out to be low and rapid, deep emissions reductions limit global warming to 2 or 3 degrees C. I’m particularly concerned about the potential for climate change to act in synergy with other environmental problems resulting from the current dominant economic system, and I wouldn’t think it’s easy to model the results of such possible synergistic effects with confidence.

  145. miker613 says:

    “Also note that miker fails to take into account that a MWP as big as promoted on CA may not be compatible with “Lewis-like” CS analysis.” Every so often Willard throws this kind of thing out, and I still have no idea what he wants with it.

    Aside from not understanding his point (presumably he has someone who makes some connection), I have never seen MWP “promoted on CA”. McIntyre consistently says that he does not claim to know anything about MWP. Here for example:
    http://climateaudit.org/2014/10/27/the-third-warmest-arctic-century/
    “I do not conclude anything from these squiggles in terms of the actual past history, only that the above claim is untrue on their data.” Checking the validity of paleo studies is what he does.

  146. Richard,

    We could rephrase as “The destruction of ecosystem and the extinction of species is something we should avoid or minimize provided that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.” This is a relative statement.

    Sure, and maybe if you’d said that first rather than playing lexicographic games, the discussion would have been more rational.

  147. miker613 says:

    “So, if we think economists’ forecasts are unreliable, and certainly less reliable than physicists, why are we waiting?” I think I addressed that. Because mitigation kills people, maybe many more people than it saves. If you really succeed, I think you will be succeeding in keeping people in Africa in dire poverty. If you are ignoring that risk, it is because you are listening to this economist instead of that one. That risk is to me just as severe and just as important as the risk of damaging the environment.

  148. jsam says:

    What evidence have you for mitigation will kill more than it saves?

  149. John says:

    @Tol or whomever…

    If an ecosystem can be effectively replicated artificially (eg. more fish farms in the case of declining fish populations, etc.) does that decrease the benefit of the ecosystem in a cost/benefit analysis? I mean, is it still seen as a loss if it can be replaced by industry?

  150. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    You’re a physicist, remember? You can do calculus.

  151. miker613,

    Every flat monthly temperature is another month where Nic Lewis’ “model” is working better than its competition.

    It’s not really a model, though. It’s more of a calculation. Of course, if by 2050 we’ve double CO2 and only warmed by another 0.4oC or so, then Nic’s estimate will be more correct than others. But this is trivial result. The point I was making, though, is that at this moment in time, the slowdown in surface warming is not a particularly strong argument for a lower climate sensitivity, since it is still consistent with climate sensitivity being higher than Nic’s estimates suggests. Given this, it’s my view that the slowdown is not a good argument for delaying action.

  152. Richard,

    You’re a physicist, remember? You can do calculus.

    Yes, but I’m not so hot on semantics.

  153. I’d quite like an answer to jsam’s question. I’ll also add that I find the “you’ll kill people” argument poor, given that we can all make it if we wished to.

  154. Willard says:

    > This [“The destruction of ecosystem and the extinction of species is something we should avoid or minimize provided that the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.”] is a relative statement.

    Richard reads AT as saying we should always minimize destruction and extinction. We could read Richard’s statement the same way, and his escape clause fizzles. Worse, his “outweighs” bit presumes an utility calculus that may not exist, and as a moral imperative, it may not even make sense.

  155. Peter Jacobs says:

    Saying things obliquely and then complaining about how they’re misinterpreted is a very old, very effective way of derailing discussions.

  156. Saying things obliquely and then complaining about how they’re misinterpreted is a very old, very effective way of derailing discussions.

    I get the impression that the GWPF has a special playbook.

  157. John Hartz says:

    ATTP, Rachel & the Gang: Happy New Year!

    PS – The OP has been reposted on the SkS website. A link to the repost has also been posted on the SkS Facebook page. You may get an uptick in traffic here.

  158. Willard says:

    > I have never seen MWP “promoted on CA”.

    Here you go:

    http://climateaudit.org/tag/lamb/

    You’re welcome.

    ***

    > Checking the validity of paleo studies is what he does.

    Here you go:

    http://climateaudit.org/tag/deming/

    Don’t forget the main post, which does not even has the “deming” tag:

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/

    That CA is “checking the validity of paleo studies” is not even correct: it checks the validity of the Kyoto Flames’ paleo studies, among other things, for instance

    http://climateaudit.org/2015/01/01/oral-argument-2-epa-on-fraud-allegations/

    a post which does not even have a tag or a category.

  159. Willard says:

    > Lexicographic preferences are observed in academic papers and on the internet, but never in real life.

    You should travel more, Richard.

  160. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Who is channeling whom?

    However Sir David (Attenborough) is concerned that, despite the increasingly obvious scale of the threat climate change poses, leaders are not taking the matter as seriously as they should.

    “Never in the history of humanity in the last 10 million years have all human beings got together to face one danger that threatens us – never.

    “It’s a big ask, but the penalty of not taking any notice is huge,” he said.

    Sir David’s comments come two days after a separate warning – on the dangers posed by the booming human population.

    “It’s desperately difficult, the dangers are apparent to anybody,” he told The Independent.

    David Attenborough: Leaders are in denial about climate change by Tom Bawden, The Independent, Jan 1, 2015

  161. Willard says:

    > Well, we all seem to be agreed that impacts are a result of rising temperatures.

    Not exactly. Impacts are indirect results of very abrupt temperature rises. Think speed limits.

    ***

    > Smaller sensitivities means less temperature rise, by definition, and maybe more slowly in addition.

    No, and not exactly.

    No, because smaller sensitivites means less sensitivity per unit of temp variation. OTOH, it also means that what remains in the pipeline remains there longer. The lowest interest rate around on a mortgage means little if you can’t afford to pay its capital.

    Not exactly, because that’s the main result of low CS studies. All the lukewarm gambit can get you is to shift everything past 2100, where all magically disappears. Which means nothing noticeable on a planetary scale. Not even a blink of difference. A few more years to accumulate energy you can’t get rid of if you commit to the low CS talking point.

    There is little to gain in trying to sell that we can win a couple of years, except being welcomed by the invisible hands of the GWPF.

  162. miker613 says:

    “What evidence have you for mitigation will kill more than it saves?” None, that’s why I said “maybe”. But if the point is to cut CO2 emissions, and the developing world is the most important source of CO2 and growing more important constantly, and you plan to do something to make them stop growing – as you must if you really want to make a difference… Well, it’s not unreasonable to think that that is going to slow their growth, maybe drastically. That is going to kill them, because they are short-lived now in desperate poverty.
    China is building one coal-burning power plant a week right now. Do you want them to stop or do you think their bringing poor Chinese out of poverty is more urgent? And if you think there’s a conflict, doesn’t that prove my point?

  163. miker613,

    Well, it’s not unreasonable to think that that is going to slow their growth, maybe drastically. That is going to kill them, because they are short-lived now in desperate poverty.

    China is building one coal-burning power plant a week right now. Do you want them to stop or do you think their bringing poor Chinese out of poverty is more urgent? And if you think there’s a conflict, doesn’t that prove my point?

    And if climate sensitivity isn’t low and we follow a high emission pathway, what then?

  164. @miker613: “Mitigation has _costs_.”

    Well of course it might have costs. But don’t you think it’s worth investing in eliminating even the slightest possibility we might be putting civilisation at risk a 100 years hence? No civilisation (or even a compromised civilisation) = no economy as we know it.

    On the other hand if you think back to an event like World War II, great sacrifices were made; but at the end of it what was the economic result? The need for change such as is required to leave a fossil-fuelled economy behind represents a tremendous opportunity for technological development and accompanying societal advancement. Is change what people are really afraid of?

  165. BBD says:

    miker

    You just ignored Willard’s corrections to your false assertion that:

    I have never seen MWP “promoted on CA”.

    Why did you do that? It bears directly on the incompatibility between the claim that there was a global and synchronous MWP as warm as or warmer than the present and the underestimates of sensitivity peddled by NL that you are so enamoured of.

    I think that there is a big conceptual problem here and I would like you to stop misrepresenting what McI peddles at CA and admit it.

  166. John Hartz says:

    It appears that miker613 believes that the Chinese suffer no harmful helath effects by breathing air contaminated by the toxins contained in the emissions of caol-fired power plants. Perhaps he should do more research and less pontificating.

  167. Peter Jacobs says:

    Miker163 says: “Well, we all seem to be agreed that impacts are a result of rising temperatures. Smaller sensitivities means less temperature rise, by definition, and maybe more slowly in addition.”

    Impacts are not necessarily dependent on globally-averaged surface temperature.

    Take the hypothetical possibility of a significant negative tropical Pacific feedback, for example. A shift towards a predominantly La Niña-like state even as the planet warms overall. The existence of such a negative feedback would translate into a lower climate sensitivity and less surface warming, but could mean a much larger alteration of precipitation regimes, similar perhaps to those that led to the collapse of Mesoamerican societies during the Medieval Climate Anomaly, vs. a future climate without such a negative feedback.

    In general, the rate and magnitude of surface temperature change are used to approximate the severity of impacts for convenience’s sake, but nonlinearities exist, and indeed some impacts are potentially uncorrelated to the mean surface temperature change altogether. But rather will respond to other changes in the system, relating to changes in energy transport or (atmospheric or ocean) chemistry, rather than the globally-averaged surface temperature change.

  168. Joseph says:

    And we should be willing to spend a lot of money now on getting good data, good models, improving sensitivity estimates etc. – from a Bayesian perspective: if we can rule out disastrous results with a high degree of confidence, we could skip spending a whole lot more money on mitigation.

    Miker, when exactly will we know when the models or sensitivity estimates are “good enough” for taking action or not?

  169. Joseph says:

    I should have said “when or how will we know.”

  170. Vinny Burgoo says:

    johnrussell40: ‘On the other hand if you think back to an event like World War II, great sacrifices were made; but at the end of it what was the economic result?’

    Britain was broke and knackered while the USA and the USSR were rejuvenated (albeit at horrible human costs for the latter.) Germany, Italy and France were also rejuvenated thanks to US aid.

    So what’s your point? You’re British, right? Is it that we Brits should bankrupt and knacker ourselves again so that ‘the world’ (usually meaning stuff like relict fish species in the Adrar mountains, maybe some lizards and amphibians in the Americas, the eleven thousand Tuvaluan islanders living on handouts from the naughty West and bla bla Bangladesh) might have a chance to thrive again because we’d done bit to eliminate or minimize one of the many threats against it?

    Is that right? I hope so. That’d be an argument, something you could defend by, for example, saying what we Brits should be doing that we’re not doing at the moment,.

    If not, you’re just pumping out performance piety, and the climate change ‘debate’ has plenty of that already.

  171. Vinny Burgoo says:

    because we’d done *our* bit to eliminate bla bla

  172. Joseph says:

    And we should be willing to spend a lot of money now on getting good data, good models, improving sensitivity estimates etc. – from a Bayesian perspective: if we can rule out disastrous results with a high degree of confidence, we could skip spending a whole lot more money on mitigation.

    Miker, you have missed the news, but China announced that they are cap their coal consumption by 2020.

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bfinamore/another_major_climate_breakthr.html

  173. Joseph says:

    oops I am making mistakes all over the place. I was trying to quote this from Miker:

    China is building one coal-burning power plant a week right now. Do you want them to stop or do you think their bringing poor Chinese out of poverty is more urgent?

  174. Another underestimated tidbit about the lukewarm gambit is that CS is an emergent property of models, not something one can set up as a background assumption:

    GCMs are not ‘fitted’ to the observed temperature record – that would simply be too difficult and too computationally expensive. It takes several weeks to months to run a century-scale simulation so you just can’t make adjustments and re-do it. The parametrizations are optimised to improve the agreement with observations at the present-day state, but even then it’s a tricky job because there’s so many parameters and so many variables to compare against – global energy fluxes, rainfall climatology, SSTs, and so on. Things like climate sensitivity are an emergent property and for a new model version we don’t even know what the CS is until we’ve done long and expensive simulations with increasing GHGs. Once the model has been finalised you’re pretty much stuck with it for the next few years.

    http://climateaudit.org/2014/12/11/unprecedented-model-discrepancy/#comment-743896

    Everything has a cost, including model runs.

  175. Willard,
    Indeed, there are many who don’t seem to realise that CS is an emergent property of the models. I noticed this comment which is arguing that scientists should explore low-sensitivity models. Given that CS is an emergent property, this isn’t – strictly speaking – possible. It might be possible, as Steven McIntyre suggests, to tune the models to produce a low climate sensitivity, but I suspect that there would be physical arguments as to why such tuning wouldn’t be realistic.

  176. Steve Bloom says:

    Well, BBD, as what McI peddles is opportunistic arguments for not taking action, I’d say miker’s mwp claim is entirely consistent, in a manner of speaking.

  177. Steve Bloom says:

    “And if climate sensitivity isn’t low and we follow a high emission pathway, what then?”

    Well, that’s in the future, and all good libertarians assume the future to be filled with ponies. This is why they can in good conscience focus on filling their personal present with as many ponies as possible.

  178. Steve Bloom says:

    “Saying things obliquely and then complaining about how they’re misinterpreted is a very old, very effective way of derailing discussions.”

    Well yes, Anders, certainly GWPF, but I’ll bet you know who I thought of instantly upon reading that. Not Tol, as he’s not really very good at this technique.

  179. Peter Jacobs says:

    It is improbable that one could create an actual, physics-based, full-fledged AOGCM with 1) realistic aerosol parameterizations or chemistry that 2) has a low sensitivity, and can come close to realistically producing 3) the observed warming, or 4) past warm climates like the mid-Pliocene, mid-Miocene, Early Eocene, etc.

    Lowish sensitivity models either can’t do 3 and 4 at all, or basically have no aerosol indirect effect, which is unphysical and unsupported by observations (e.g. Cherian et al., 2014) and fails condition 1).

    Models that tend to be able to better reproduce warm climates in the past have higher sensitivities, which typically stems from their handling of aerosols and/or clouds. This was something of a common theme in the paleoclimate poster sessions at this year’s Fall AGU. Not coincidentally, paleoclimatic constraints on climate sensitivity (when properly apportioning fast and slow feedbacks, e.g. PALAEOSENS) tend to produce sensitivity estimates inline with the higher ECS models.

  180. Michael 2 says:

    johnrussell40 says: (January 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm) “Remember people don’t ‘adapt’ while everything is hunky dory, only if confronted with hardship.”

    Exactly so; and people are adapting every day to their particular hardships of the moment. You seek to create a hardship where there isn’t one (not yet anyway).

    In the good book there’s a story about Joseph persuading pharoah that seven years of plenty were coming to be followed by seven years of famine. That led to storing surplus for seven years, enough to feed everyone for seven years of famine.

    I cannot imagine any democratic society doing such a thing. In fact, I cannot imagine a totalitarian society doing it if most of the population was hungry and the government was still storing a huge surplus.

  181. Steve Bloom says:

    Infopath: “Tolbert.” Brilliant! He’d require hardly any modification to make for a great new Dilbert character. Quick, email Scott Adams.

  182. Michael 2 says:

    Steve Bloom says: “all good libertarians assume the future to be filled with ponies.”

    Obviously I am not a good libertarian (*) since I imagine the future to be filled with Shiba Inus (**).

    * Reference to the No True Libertarian fallacy.

    ** Not really. I have no thought on what will fill the future; but I do have a thought on what will be considerably reduced in the future — Homo Sapiens.

  183. Steve Bloom says:

    “Models that tend to be able to better reproduce warm climates in the past have higher sensitivities, which typically stems from their handling of aerosols and/or clouds. This was something of a common theme in the paleoclimate poster sessions at this year’s Fall AGU. Not coincidentally, paleoclimatic constraints on climate sensitivity (when properly apportioning fast and slow feedbacks, e.g. PALAEOSENS) tend to produce sensitivity estimates inline with the higher ECS models.”

    Yes, noting once again that the current crop of GCMs falls substantially short on Arctic amplification, and that in this regard also the better ones tend toward higher sensitivity. That’s very good evidence that the higher sensitivities from paleo studies are correct, and that Nic Lewis is wrong (unless, I suppose, one wants to argue that even low sensitivity can have large effects, which Nic doesn’t).

  184. Steve Bloom says:

    Excuse, m2, I should have been more clear: Good libertarians imagine a future filled with ponies for good libertarians. It’s their version of a heavenly reward.

  185. Michael 2 says:

    Pekka Pirilä says: (January 2, 2015 at 5:31 pm) “Do the terse comments of Richard make people think and learn something?”

    Unlikely. I suspect the majority of readers here are unlikely to be changing their minds by any length or brevity of commentary. The utility of Richard Tol’s comments is simply that other points of view exist; a thing that occasionally is forgotten or its impact neglected.

  186. I didn’t ask whether people change mind, I asked, whether they learn.

    I tend to hope that people learn to understand better the ways others think even when they keep on disagreeing.

    I see potential benefits in that.

  187. I tend to hope that people learn to understand better the ways others think even when they keep on disagreeing.

    The problem is that sometimes what you learn isn’t very positive.

  188. Lars Karlsson says:

    Pekka: “Do the terse comments of Richard make people think and learn something?”

    I have learned that Tol is best ignored unless he bothers to spell out what he actually wants to say.

  189. > I see potential benefits in that.

    I agree, because thankfulness is always a potential benefit.

    However, other potential benefits should be balanced against the cognitive costs involved.

  190. jsam says:

    @miker613

    If you’re going to hide behind the “maybe” in your evidence free conditionals, “Because mitigation kills people, maybe many more people than it saves” then I think my version is probably more potent.

    “Because intelligent mitigation saves people, almost certainly many more people than it kills”..

    Stupid is a choice, after all.

  191. dana1981 says:

    I know Nic Lewis argues that his method is the most robust and should be the one we use, but what if he’s wrong?

    And it is likely he’s wrong, considering the full body of scientific evidence. For example, paleoclimate data and GCMs are consistent with eachother and inconsistent with Lewis’ lower end. Models with higher sensitivities seem to reproduce paleoclimate conditions better, as Peter Jacobs has noted, because they do a better job with clouds at the poles. A few other papers have also shown that models that reproduce recent observed cloud changes best also happen to have higher sensitivities (ECS in the 4°C range in both cases). And then we have Shindell identifying a flaw in Lewis’ method. So really there’s every reason to believe Lewis is an outlier not because he’s right and everyone else is wrong, but because his approach is flawed.

    As for the costs of mitigation, it’s been repeatedly shown that these can be minimal if optimal policies are implemented (i.e. see the IPCC report, REMI study of a revenue-neutral cabon tax in the USA, etc.). And it’s “the Greens and Left” who are trying to implement those economically optimal policies. In the USA, it’s the Right who are obstructing them and leaving us with economically inoptimal government regulation of carbon pollution instead. If contrarians are really worried about the economy, they should be debating optimal policies, not denying the problem exists and leaving the solutions to those who accept the science.

  192. According to Ed Hawkins, the GWPF may very well be in violent agreement, after all:

    It is great to see the GWPF accepting that business-as-usual means significant further warming is expected. Now we can move the debate to what to do about it.

    http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2014/gwpf/#comment-102717

  193. corey says:

    Steve Bloom: I interpreted it as “Tol-behr” – Truthiness as Econometrics.

  194. Steve Bloom says:

    That works too, corey! 🙂

  195. > a post which does not even have a tag or a category.

    Seems that the Auditor has made tags and categories a bit more obvious on his first page.

    They still don’t appear in the individual posts.

    I’ll just leave this note here and see what happens.

  196. David Young says:

    Willard, Yes CS is an emergent property. But modelers are rather clever and I believe they know the effect of their parameters and choices on important emergent properties like CS. This is certainly true for turbulence models for example, where the effect of choices on important properties are well known to specialists. The real problem here is that there are only a finite set of parameters and a potentially almost limitless number of emergent properties.

    What Betts said that was more important about the Met office model (as I recall) was that choices are made based on their impact on weather forecasting skill and when the same model is used for climate, people just have to “live with it.”

  197. Eli Rabett says:

    Having rephrased, we would see that the second statement is equivalent to the first if the costs are zero or irrelevant (in which case the benefits would always be greater than the costs) or if the benefits are infinite (in which case the costs would almost certainly be smaller).

    Assumes that one can reliably estimate the costs and benefits otherwise another if pigs could fly assumption.

  198. Eli Rabett says:

    Pekka asks

    Do the terse comments of Richard make people think and learn something?”

    [Mod: name calling]

  199. Michael 2 says:

    Pekka Pirilä says: “I hope that people learn to understand better the ways others think even when they keep on disagreeing.”

    That is why I am involved in almost any blog. I have little need to visit places I understand. I also recognize this task is almost hopeless for a variety of reasons but that assures me it will remain interesting for a long time to come.

    The extreme example is orthogonal needs and communications styles. I cite Myers-Briggs MBTI sometimes; INTP has very little hope of communicating with an ESFJ and even less hope of confirming that you have succeeded. With practice you can mimic responses to make it seem you have understood; this is common in domestic situations where answering “do you understand?” must always be “yes”.

    INTP communicates information primarily. He offers information and expects words to mean things.

    ESFJ’s communicate feelings. That is the reason for communicating. They neither offer nor want “information”. Facebook and Twitter were designed to feed that need. Words do not mean things, they mean feelings.

    Now then, the INTP uses a word intending to communicate information, but the ESFJ that hears it will process it for feelings in a highly unpredictable way and often she will take offense. Conversely, if the ESFJ initiates a conversation, the INTP will process for information which can seem rather unexpected, irrelevant, non-sequitur, etc.

    “Do you prefer reddish green or a greenish red?” and while he’d be happy to pick one at random, he knows (1) he will have to explain his choice and (2) she is not seeking actual information but instead is validating a choice she has already made and if he gets it right it means he still loves here and if he doesn’t get it right it means he doesn’t love her.

    Love (admire) and hate is very common on blogs, even this one right here, with some responders going to great technical detail (“T” types) while others basically are saying “I don’t like you, go away” (“F” types) or praising the author (whether or not the responder has the technical expertise to render a judgment on the merits of the argument).

  200. > But modelers are rather clever and I believe they know the effect of their parameters and choices on important emergent properties like CS.

    Please report to Lew, David.

  201. John Hartz says:

    Red alert!

    The Arctic did not get the memo about low Climate Sensitivity.

    Baked Alaska: Climate Change in the Arctic

  202. John Mashey says:

    MWP at CA: see 03/16/05 post, whose graph was used by McKitrick in April, and then M&M in Washington 05/11/05 for GM+CEI, in the presentation later given to Wegman by Barton staffer Peter Spencer, and that became “blueprint” for the Wegman Report.

    Graphs are powerful … although in this case, it is clear that all these uses were *false citations*, [Mod: potentially defamatory] because:
    a) The exact image did not come from IPCC(1990) Fig.7.1(c)
    b) They obviously had neitehr IPCC(1990) or (1995), and they ascribed this to (1995), which was absolutely crucial to making the dubious story of David Deming have even the slightest credibilty.
    c) In the 05/11/05 PPT, the Deming quote is ascribed to Science in 1995, which is 2X academic fraud, since it was in JSE 2005, and actually, was not even yet published, except on Fred SInger’s website.

  203. verytallguy says:

    Rob Nicholls,

    I really liked VTG’s “3 obvious things”, about a million comments ago.

    thank you. I shall bottle that and keep it for next Christmas!

    Willard made a similar point:

    …All the lukewarm gambit can get you is to shift everything past 2100, where all magically disappears. Which means nothing noticeable on a planetary scale. Not even a blink of difference. A few more years to accumulate energy you can’t get rid of if you commit to the low CS talking point.

    The neoliberal economists modus operandii is to make implicit assumptions and bury them deeply in bombast.

    Let’s have a go at making those assumptions explicit

    – damages beyond the second half of this century are unimportant (“discount rate”)
    – carbon reduction from a high and rapidly rising benchmark is equally as easy as from a lower benchmark (“easier later because we’ll be richer”)
    – committed warming beyond the second half of this century is unimportant (“at the end of this century…”)
    – fossil fuels are limitless (to fuel all that future grrrrrowth – I don’t think they even consider this one)
    – prosperity and damage are reversible and interchangeable (“ecosystems – no-one really cares”)

    How many of those would folk here agree with?

  204. jsam says:

    As an extreme INTJ I should point out that Myers-Briggs is amusing pseudo-science.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-28315137

  205. In hindsight, mentioning the war was a bad move (I should have taken Basil Faulty’s advice) mainly because it was misunderstood and seized on, thus diverting attention away from the rest of my comment. However I should defend the point I was making.

    WW2 was a change point in the 20th century, particularly in technological terms. Several inventions that were made before the war had actually stagnated through lack of take-up (BAU anyone?). With industry dominated by piston engine technology, no one needed the jet engine, for instance: until the war changed everything. It’s a similar story for penicillin, which only came to the fore with wartime. And while radar had been invented earlier it was the war that made it much more usable with microwave developments. Major inventions originating in WW2 were the first electronic computer, synthetic rubber and oil, rocketry and of course nuclear power.

    One thing I need to be clear about is that while tackling global warming requires a similar pressure for development that WW2 created, it doesn’t link to any requirement for sacrifice of life that war requires, and indeed one could argue that the acceptance of this common enemy might well unite us. But to come back to my original point, it does require us to question business as usual, bite the bullet and face up to… change. And while the comfortable might prefer the status quo, remember it’s a fact of business life that all improvements require change.

  206. john,

    In hindsight, mentioning the war was a bad move (I should have taken Basil Faulty’s advice) mainly because it was misunderstood and seized on, thus diverting attention away from the rest of my comment.

    A useful illustration of ClimateBallTM 😉

  207. …and a lesson learned!

  208. Willard says:

    > Love (admire) and hate is very common on blogs, even this one right here, with some responders going to great technical detail (“T” types) while others basically are saying “I don’t like you, go away” (“F” types) or praising the author (whether or not the responder has the technical expertise to render a judgment on the merits of the argument).

    As an ISTP, I could not agree more.

    As an ENFJ, I could not agree less.

    Am I an ISTP, an ENFJ, or neither, M2?

  209. Rob Nicholls says:

    ATTP, I would like to hope that the statement “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise” would be obviously true. However, the global economic system seems currently to be run predominantly in a way that is opposite to that statement. I wonder how much the implicit assumptions of neoliberalism, some of which VTG mentions above, have to do with that (I’m not saying that the assumptions economic systems may not be any better).

    In the end I think it goes back to values and beliefs. I really struggle with the fact that there are people who seem to believe that the invisible hand of the free market will solve humanity’s problems if we just stop governments interfering (there seems to me to be a mountain of recent historical evidence to contradict this belief, although undoubtedly I’m biased and am filtering out or perhaps misunderstanding much of the evidence); I struggle even more with the fact that this belief seems so influential on a global scale, although I can see that it serves the purposes of the rich and powerful who have benefited so much from neoliberalism’s rise, and from the subsequent (I would say consequent) increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a rich few over the last 30 years. I’m not in any way saying that markets are all bad, but I think they need a lot of regulation to prevent too much concentration of wealth and power.

    Oxfam reported last January that the world’s richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity. (http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-en.pdf). Whether or not you’re appalled by this level of inequality depends very much on your values and beliefs. My favourite thing is to be told that action against climate change will kill the poor by those who seem to believe in unfettered “free” markets.

  210. Rob Nicholls says:

    Sorry- typo. “(I’m not saying that the assumptions economic systems may not be any better).” should read “(I’m not saying that the assumptions of some other economic systems are necessarily any better.)”

  211. BBD says:

    I struggle even more with the fact that this belief [in the amazing powers of invisible hands unshackled by government] seems so influential on a global scale, although I can see that it serves the purposes of the rich and powerful who have benefited so much from neoliberalism’s rise, and from the subsequent (I would say consequent) increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a rich few over the last 30 years.

    I would say consequent too. And it’s interesting to see that the same network of “think tanks” peddling CC denial also peddles banking deregulation and lays pipe for the offshore sector. I was reading up on the Heritage Foundation recently (a prominent proponent of offshore) only to discover that it is part of the Koch family along with other familiar names: Cato, AEI, Americans for Prosperity, AtlasFoundation etc.

    ‘Tis all one.

  212. John Hartz says:

    Nafeez Ahmed ‘s two-part series, The End of Endless Growth, posted on Motherboard plows some of the same ground as does ATTP in his OP and by many commenters on this thread.

    http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/read/endless-growth-part-1?trk_source=recommended

    http://motherboard.vice.com/en_uk/read/the-end-of-endless-growth-part-2

  213. Rob,

    Oxfam reported last January that the world’s richest 85 people now have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity.

    I believe that this is true, but I think one has to be careful of this argument. I suspect that you and I – individually – have more wealth than the wealth of more than a billion people on the planet. We probably both have some wealth and there are, presumably, more than a billion people on the planet who have no actual wealth. So, I think the Oxfam statement can be easily refuted as simply being trivially true. The more interesting issue is probably Thomas Piketty’s argument that wealth/capital grows faster than income which, if this continues, will send us back to the conditions of the 19th century. I know some argue against this, but I can see some sense in it (I haven’t read his book, though).

    The other interesting issue is shown in one of Paul Krugman’s recent posts. If I understand the graph in the post properly, it’s showing that there is been a substantial growth in the income of the poorest on the planet (presumably through globalisation) and a substantial growth in the highest earners (top 1 and 0.1%). Those who’ve benefited least are probably people like ourselves who have higher incomes than most on the planet but have not seen the same income growth as the highest earners in our own countries. I guess, globally, there are some merits to this (income redistribution) but I would argue that redistributing income from middle earners in the developed world to both the poorest in the world and to the richest in the developed world might not be the best way to do this.

  214. Many of the indicators are, indeed, worrying, but I fail to see any evidence on positive development along the lines Nafeed Ahmed is proposing. Degrowth economics is not new, but what I have learned of it is totally void of mechanisms for better development.

    The alternatives that I can identify can be classified basically in three general categories:

    1) Market economy
    2) Centrally planned economy
    3) Anarchy

    The two latter seem to be even worse than the first, but how to get market economy to work better?

  215. Steven Mosher says:

    Things that are obvious to me

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/395458/carbon-tax-has-something-everyone-irwin-stelzer

    but see conservatives like Mosher dont believe in taxes.

    If folks really care about the planet.. na,

  216. Willard says:

    > I think the Oxfam statement can be easily refuted as simply being trivially true.

    The statement of fact is either true or false. In both case, it’s a contingent matter.

    The argument that the statement elicits may be trivial, but I doubt it. There are of course lots of people who owns more than the poorest, but 85/3 500 000 000 is a very impressive fraction. It shows what it needs to show: the concentration of wealth may be higher than what kingdoms and empires may never had.

    This may be an illusion created by the infinity of the growth.

  217. John Hartz says:

    Recommended reading:

    Greed Kings of 2014: How They Stole from Us by Paul Buchheit*, Common Dreams, Dec 29, 2014

    *Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

  218. Willard,

    There are of course lots of people who owns more than the poorest, but 85/3 500 000 000 is a very impressive fraction.

    To be clear, I’m not arguing that wealth and income inequality isn’t a serious issue, but it’s not clear to me that 85/3500000000 is an impressive fraction given that you and I probably have more wealth than a billion.

    Steven,
    I certainly think that a carbon tax is the right way to proceed. It’s a pity more aren’t actually arguing for it. What I see more often are (as in Tol’s recent article) people saying it’s a good idea and then arguing that it’s politically impossible and that we have to solve all sorts of other problems first.

  219. Michael 2 says:

    jsam says: (January 3, 2015 at 9:36 am) “As an extreme INTJ I should point out that Myers-Briggs is amusing pseudo-science.”

    That it is; good enough for the US Navy and at least as reliable as “Fury”.

    Willard says: (January 3, 2015 at 2:46 pm) “Am I an ISTP, an ENFJ, or neither, M2?”

    You present yourself more ISTP than ENFJ.

    That carefully worded answer recognizes that as one grows older and more experienced, with a bit of effort you can make weak things strong and capable of presenting yourself any way you wish.

    However, the existence of that wish itself is a clue to your underlying nature, your true character, which manifests itself regularly and subtly. You are to humanity what a professor of religion is to religion — fascinated by it, study it, but with a bit of distance.

    The fact that you are immune to Climateball while observing it from the sideline tells me you are INTP or ISTP with some uncertainty (nearly equal preferences) on the N/S axis. You have to be able to see “what is” through the smokescreen and deceptions, but you also have to anticipate the goal, an “N” trait. A slightly undeveloped “F” provides the motive for being here with an interest in developing the “F” and your “T” is obviously well developed.

    MBTI says nothing about narcissism, intelligence and many other important traits of the human mind.

    Consider JSAM’s comment — he considers it amusing pseudo-science. Well for heaven’s sake, all sociology is pseudo-science! What provoked him to declare the “obvious”? Narcissism. He xpresses opinions on it which itself can be done observationally or with intention to deprecate other people. Many people are disturbed and offended by MBTI believing it to be a mechanism for putting someone down. The Intelligence Quotient can certainly do that, but MBTI simply codifies what is easily observed and described anyway. How hard is it to spot an introvert? How hard is it to discover whether you would prefer the non-reality of a video game to going out hiking, snowboarding, bicycling? How difficult is it to discover whether you would prefer to discuss science or go to a weepy tear-jerking motion picture so you can have a mental meltdown? The J/P thing is a little harder to pin down (plus a lot of confusion exists as to what it is).

  220. jsam says:

    I look forward to M2’s reputable peer-reviewed science absolving Myers-Briggs.

    But I do like a good faux outrage show. It’s my favourite type of outrage.

  221. Rob Nicholls says:

    Thanks ATTP. The Oxfam article has other figures in it as well (e.g. the richest 1% have 46% of the world’s wealth, and the poorest 70% have 3% of the world’s wealth), all of which I presonally find pretty shocking. It saddens me when I think about the effects on the democratic process that such highly concentrated wealth is likely to have. Also such a striking level of inequality does not suggest to me that we’re using the biosphere’s finite resources very efficiently, (I’m assuming that an important goal is to meet everyone’s basic needs without completely destroying the ecosystems on which we depend.) I’ll have a long look at the paper underlying the graph in Paul Krugman’s article.

    I probably should have shortened my comment above to “Don’t get me started on neoliberalism,” as I have strong views on neoliberalism; it resembles a red rag to a bull.

  222. Rob,

    The Oxfam article has other figures in it as well (e.g. the richest 1% have 46% of the world’s wealth, and the poorest 70% have 3% of the world’s wealth), all of which I presonally find pretty shocking.

    Thanks. I find those numbers more shocking that the 85 out of 3.5 billion, since it quantifies it more clearly. 1% of the world’s population essentially having the half the wealth does seem hard to justify.

    I probably should have shortened my comment above to “Don’t get me started on neoliberalism,” as I have strong views on neoliberalism; it resembles a red rag to a bull.

    I try to avoid it too. I probably have similar views to you, but it’s hard enough trying to engage in a topic like climate science without also having to delve into the murky world of neliberalism.

  223. Rob Nicholls says:

    Steven Mosher said: “but see conservatives like Mosher dont believe in taxes.”
    That’s the problem with this, it can get very polarised, and if my comments above have contributed to unhelpful polarisation then I apologise. You can probably tell I don’t think I’m a conservative, but I don’t want to start painting unfair characatures of conservatives. I like the idea of a carbon tax.

    Pekka said: “Degrowth economics is not new, but what I have learned of it is totally void of mechanisms for better development.” – please could you elaborate or point me somewhere for further reading, as I’m ignorant of the arguments around this.

  224. It’s worth reflecting that for the majority of the existence of the human race none of our ancestors had any personal ‘wealth’ (in economist’s terms).

    I just came upon this on Twitter just now… pic.twitter.com/F7TWbNc8fT

  225. dana1981 says:

    but see conservatives like Mosher dont believe in taxes.

    Again, it’s conservatives in Congress who are obstructing implementation of a carbon tax in the USA (similar situations in Australia and Canada). That’s not to say all conservatives “don’t believe in” a carbon tax. There are quite a lot of prominent examples who do. But so far that support isn’t translating into action among conservative policymakers.

  226. John Hartz says:

    Dana: As long as Grover Norquist holds sway over Congressional Republicans, they will never vote for a national carbon tax. Heck, he won’t even let them increase the federal excise tax on motor fuels even though it is a user fee and the country’s aging surface transportation system is literally falling apart.

  227. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You say about “neoliberalism”,

    I try to avoid it too. I probably have similar views to you, but it’s hard enough trying to engage in a topic like climate science without also having to delve into the murky world of neliberalism.

    If so, why did you open the Pandora’s box by posting your OP?

  228. John Mashey says:

    Why are people surprised at concentrations of wealth and power?
    After all, how many societies in human history have had the structure ~feudalism:
    1) Royalty / owners (tiny number) / dictators
    2) Nobles, who generally do very well by supporting royalty, and occasionally might plot to displace current royalty. Russian oligarchs do OK unless they bother Putin too much.
    3) Serfs

  229. Rob,

    I have stumbled on articles presenting degrowth economics on several occasions. As I have been worried on the capability of market economics to perform well in responding to long term threats I have read those papers searching for solutions that I would find interesting, but with essentially zero outcome. That has taken place over several years, and I have not collected any list of the papers I have seen. There might be something that I would consider more interesting, but so far I have not seen any evidence on that. I did some limited search a couple of years ago, but not so extensively that I would know for sure even the situation of that time.

    What I have seen are papers that tell, how important degrowth is considered by the authors, but then the typically express belief that all the problems will be solved by some miraculous mechanism as soon as the importance of degrowth is understood widely. That’s not plausible to me. The ideas they describe tend to fall at least in part in the third group (anarchy) in my classification. They believe in the force of self-organization of individuals as strongly as extreme libertarians (called also anarcho capitalists), but based on different values of everybody.

    It’s natural for market economy that it tends to maximize growth (but does often fail in maintaining an optimal path through economic cycles). For any economic system it’s important that the most competent are allowed to develop, but doing that in a way that does not lead to material growth even when that’s not necessarily good for general well-being in the long run is the problem.

  230. JH,

    If so, why did you open the Pandora’s box by posting your OP?

    I hadn’t seen this as a post about neo-liberalism, but you’re right that it could be seen that way.

  231. Steve Bloom says:

    Getting people like you to avoid grappling with it is part of the neoliberal plan, Anders.

  232. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Although your OP may not be about neoliberalism, it certainly has opened the door to a discussion of it.

  233. > You present yourself more ISTP than ENFJ.

    Very good:

    According to Keirsey, Crafter Artisans are masters at using tools of every type—artistic, technological, martial. Although they are introverts, they are authoritarian in their interactions with others and can be forceful at influencing people. They focus on accomplishing tasks efficiently and skillfully.

    To master the tool of their interest, ISTPs require a certain degree of seclusion in which to practice. The result is often a virtuosity that other types find difficult to match

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISTP_(personality_type)

    I wish I was an INTP, but I ain’t.

  234. In case you did not notice because The Blackboard linked to an archive: They are discussing the above post and the charming David Young complains about BLOOM-ing.

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2015/yes-some-things-are-obvious/

    And the repost at Skeptical Science has also gone live:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=2810

    Just came across another interesting Veritasium video, that illustrates that probably almost nothing is obvious for most of the population.

  235. Victor,
    Thanks, I hadn’t seen that Lucia had noticed this. Seems that there is some agreement and some not, which is not bad. Although I think Lucia somewhat misunderstand what I was getting at with better estimates of climate sensitivity (although, to be fair, I could have expressed that more clearly).

  236. Pingback: Greg Craven’s viral climate ‘decision grid’ video – Stoat

  237. The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.

    At least Richard Tol made this comment stream into a discussion about neo-liberalism by being unable to see that the cited statement as a moral statement. Similar to murder is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise. While in practice we would not do anything to prevent murder for economic reasons and to protect other rights, most would not attack the moral statement itself.

    He made this moral statement into an argument about economic growth and the only acceptable options are the ones that optimize economic utility. Thus we should only stop the extinction of species if this were good for the economy. He seems to have made the maximization of economic utility our only moral imperative. I hope I understood him wrong.

  238. Although I think Lucia somewhat misunderstand what I was getting at with better estimates of climate sensitivity

    To be fair, I did get it and she did not try to explain to her readers what your argument was.

  239. > They are discussing the above post and the charming David Young complains about BLOOM-ing.

    A link to David Young’s less “technical comment”

  240. John Hartz says:

    I posit that ATTP and many others participating in this discussion embrace the proposition that manmade climate change can only be mitigated by a massive paradigm shift in the way humans produce and consume energy. Within this universe, some believe that the energy paradigm shift can be achieved within the existing socio-economic structure (with some tinkering perhaps) and others believe that a major paradigm shift in the socio-economic structure is required. Regardless of which path is chosen, the physics and chemistry of the Earth’s climate system dictate that meaningful action be taken sooner rather than later. Simply put, time is not on our side.

  241. Vinny Burgoo says:

    @johnjacquesrussell40

    Nice pic, silly story. (Debunked years ago.)

    Here’s another nice pic:

    Aww!

    Its story?

    (a) Kids being cute.

    (b) Only when the rhino of threatened biodiversity has pinned the grasping greed of the white man to the polished lino of sustainability shall the imported hardwood French doors of the future be left open to a world that’s worth inhabiting (ancient all-purpose African proverb).

    You choose.

    Or perhaps nonsensical WW2 parallels can furnish a meaning.

  242. Rob Nicholls says:

    Thanks Pekka, much appreciated. Anarchy and pure central planning don’t seem good options to me. If you’re right about ‘degrowth’ then perhaps as you said earlier “how to get market economy to work better?” is a key question (although could it perhaps also be called a “mixed economy” if there is still some element of central planning / state involvement, as I think there usually is in most economies?)

  243. Seems I will have to wait 17 minutes (a bit more, actually) before telling Lucia that “But modelers are rather clever and I believe they know the effect of their parameters and choices on important emergent properties like CS” does not look like a technical comment to me.

    No pingback from Lucia’s on this page.

  244. Willard,

    No pingback from Lucia’s on this page.

    I didn’t get one, so that wasn’t me.

  245. Rob Nicholls says:

    As John Hartz said “Simply put, time is not on our side.” This seems very clear from the science, while the merits and flaws of particular economic policies and approaches are less clear.

  246. It seems rather silly to have conversations across blogs, but I notice that there is a question on Lucia’s as to whether or not Nic Lewis has ever claimed that some kind of best estimate is important. This comes from here where he says

    The range of my estimates would go beyond the IPCC 1.5º at the bottom end; not hugely because there is a very sharp cut-off there because of the way the mathematics and physics works. A more important point is that the central estimates are quite different and, from a policy point of view, it is important what you use as your central estimate.

  247. John Hartz says:

    Given the complexity of the Earth’s climate system, why are so many people fixated upon a single metric, i.e., Climate Sensitivity?

  248. Eli Rabett says:

    When Pekka wrote:

    1) Market economy
    2) Centrally planned economy
    3) Anarchy

    as the only three choices, he perpetrated a fallacy, because market economies and centrally planned economies come in several flavors. One might be charitable and assume that he meant regulated market economies which are the kind that work sometimes and for some bunnies.

    There are of course, mixed economies with substantial centrally planned components which also work and quangos, etc.

  249. From Lucia, in response to this.

    Well.. yes, if he expressed what he meant more clearly, I, and other readers might be able to get a better notion what s/he means to communicate. S/he could go ahead and express what they mean more clearly in the future.

    He. Indeed, I will of course strive to better express myself as clearly as I can, but am not going to lose sleep if a few obnoxious people can’t be bothered to give what I say any real thought or can’t be bothered to read the posts, or comments, properly.

  250. > Good grief, this is silly!

    You’ve seen nothing yet, AT:

    I don’t know why he would quote one comment but link to a different comment which links to the comment I thought he was referring to rather than the one he just quoted.

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2015/yes-some-things-are-obvious/#comment-134028

    Instead of telling in what way the quoted sentence can be considered “technical,” Brandon can’t fathom why I mistakenly copy-pasted a link I just posted in another comment.

    To make sure Brandon’s head won’t explode, I edited the link.

  251. jsam says:

    Naomi’s point on inappropriately conservative scientific metrics is worthy.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opinion/sunday/playing-dumb-on-climate-change.html

  252. Willard,

    To make sure Brandon’s head won’t explode, I edited the link.

    Thanks. It might explode anyway, but it’s worth a shot!

  253. BBD says:

    Apparently, some now think that ATTP is married to Rachel. Chinese whispers is satellite comms in comparison to teh intertubes.

  254. Lucia shows how to reverse the burden of proof in one full step:

    How is “modelers are rather clever and I believe they know the effect of their parameters and choices on important emergent properties like CS” not a techincal comment? Is it an adhom? Is it about knitting? Looks like a technical comment to me. Possibly one willard prefers not be made or prefers not to respond to, but technical nonetheless.

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2015/yes-some-things-are-obvious/#comment-134031

    According to Lucia, what is not ad hom and not about knitting is technical. An interesting point of view, considering that knitting can be fairly technical:

    David Young’s claim is about his belief, a belief about which he claimed authority in another part of his “technical” comment. His belief pertains to the “cleverness” of modellers, and to the knowledge these modellers have about their parameters. David Young basically claims that modellers are conspiring to get higher CS than we’d lukewarmingly expect. Some may even argue that this is ad hominem, since we usually admit that what’s in the mind of people belong to them.

    This sure is a “technical” comment, as some ClimateBall ™ comments tend to be “technical.”

    ***

    To validate David Young’s socio-psycho-pop theory, I tweeted Richard Betts:

    Parsomatics as a fine art.

  255. Steve Bloom says:

    Recursive silliness, even. But since Lucia and her winged monkeys are mostly doing us the favor of not participating here, can we perhaps just ignore the goings-on there?

  256. BBD,

    Apparently, some now think that ATTP is married to Rachel. Chinese whispers is satellite comms in comparison to teh intertubes.

    Better squash that one fast for Rachel’s sake. Not only have I met Rachel’s husband (i.e., it’s not me) but I’m crap at mini golf (I can drive a golf ball more than 300 yards, though, but I can’t get it in the damn hole after doing that!)

  257. jsam says:

    Another obvious thing, and a contributor to denial, is the richer you are the larger your carbon foot print – and the more lifestyle you either have to lose or painfully adapt to compensate. I can afford to pollute profligately, now I can’t?
    http://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/carbon-reduction-policy-full.pdf

  258. > can we perhaps just ignore the goings-on there?

    Blooming at its finest.

  259. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Better squash that one fast for Rachel’s sake.

    It’s you I’m concerned(!) about. I have it on good authority that Rachel’s husband is a terrible and fierce giant who coats everyone incorrectly claimed to be married to his missus in turquoise paint. Run now, while you can, I beseech you.

  260. John Hartz says:

    I completley agree with Steve Bloom. There is absolutely no need to regurtitate what’s going down on Lucia’s website here. Let them wallow in their own poppycock.

  261. BBD,

    It’s you I’m concerned(!) about. I have it on good authority that Rachel’s husband is a terrible and fierce giant who coats everyone incorrectly claimed to be married to his missus in turquoise paint. Run now, while you can, I beseech you.

    No, he’s charming, except – apparently – when it comes to mini golf 🙂

  262. @jsam

    I remember a few years ago a TV vox pop interview with a woman driving a large SUV. She was asked, “why do you drive such a big car around the city?” Her answer? “Because I can afford to”.

  263. john,
    They don’t call them Chelsea tractors for nothing!

  264. BBD says:

    ATTP

    No, he’s charming, except – apparently – when it comes to mini golf 🙂

    We all have our thresholds. Those rugged individualist libertarian types will understand.

    Perhaps Rachel sums it up best:

    Damn! We’ve been married for 8 years and I never knew.

  265. BBD says:

    Now how about that for quote-mining…

  266. Vinny,
    Here’s an appropriate metaphor for the topic of this blog

    likhipa inhlanzi emanzini

  267. jsam says:

    It’s a problem many would like to have, of course, Until a few years ago, when my awareness slowly started to develop, I’d been planning on buying a Quattroporte upon my retirement and belting around the continent. With some regrets instead I’m driving a near decade old Jazz and doing about 750 miles a year. The kids’ inheritance will be larger. And I’m a tad greener. But, still, hard on a latent petrol head…

  268. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Mukashi nkasokie ka kabundi, takashalaa minigolf.

  269. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Mmmm. A Jazz. Nice. Rear seats that fold fully flat.

    Just like a Demio’s. I know someone who’s selling one of those, if anyone’s interested.

  270. John Hartz says:

    For what it’s worth — and more on-topic than most of the recent posts…

    “When it comes to the climate change debate, there are two definitive sides: those who believe in the overwhelming science and those who stand to gain by continuing to deny the evidence. Within these camps, the partisan demographics do not follow the strict red and blue lines that our country is so taken with. Although they are by no means majorities, there are factions of the Democratic Party that support increased coal production and there are subsets of the GOP that champion domestic wind power. However, contrary to common belief, the greatest dividing force in the climate change debate is not partisan, but generational.”

    Back Off Baby Boomers: The Millennials Own the Fight Against Climate Change by Grayson Sussman-Squires*, The Huffington Post, Jan 3, 2015

    *High school sophomore in New York

  271. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP, you hit pretty much my main talking points over the past several days. I think that means these things really are obvious. Or … it could mean we’ve both drunk some Kool-Aid and don’t remember. That last might mean I’ve been slumming a bit too much.

  272. BBD says:

    Vinny

    With a nod towards econometrics and the old Africa hand with invisible fingers, mene mene tekel upharsin.

  273. Steven Mosher says:

    Winged monkeys?
    Seems inflammatory to me.
    I find it odd that people are not pouncing on this great
    Breakthrough at NRO. Here we have a leading conservative
    Publication calling for carbon taxes and the best response is crickets. Looks to me like people don’t really care.
    Where is sks on the issue? Does it merit a tweet by attp?
    Shouldn’t bloom and Mann be declaring victory? You’d think that if folks really cared they would promote the hell
    Out of the idea. When your opponent moves toward your solution don’t you want to encourage that and reward
    That behavior.. If you really really care.

    So think about that. It’s not enough that someone agrees with you on the science. It’s not enough that they even agree to tax carbon. You want more. Why?

  274. BBD says:

    Too little too late? And mainly because of conservative denial?

  275. Eli Rabett says:

    Some ask why. Eli asks why not.

  276. BBD says:

    Let’s not forget the Screwtape Letters.

  277. Sorry for not being so familiar with US politics. Wikipedia suggests that NRO means National Review Online.

    This magazine has an article: The Carbon Tax Has Something for Everyone.

    I have seen this title, I do not remember any were, but the suggestion that people do not want to point other people to such an article seems to be wrong. The reverse may be true, had I recognized it as a conservative article, I would personally have preferentially spread it, just like I do with information from Katharine Hayhoe and Barry Bickmore because as Evangelical Christian and as conservative they are more convincing communicators.

  278. miker613 says:

    “Postscript: for the nth time, note that the position of the MM articles and many CA posts is that the multiproxy studies relied upon by IPCC do not prove that the modern warm period is warmer than the MWP. This doesn’t mean that we’ve claimed to have established the opposite or that some future scientist couldn’t prove the point with better proxies.” Willard, this is a quote from (one of) the links you posted, http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/. I don’t have time to read all of them, this is the first one I looked at, and it says exactly what I claimed to you. Note that it makes it clear that this is a long-standing position of climateaudit. Did you read the links you posted?

  279. miker613 says:

    @BBD “miker You just ignored Willard’s corrections to your false assertion that:I have never seen MWP “promoted on CA”. I didn’t ignore them, I was away for a while. Now that looked at his link (one of them, anyhow), I see that they support my true assertion. Did you read them, or are you just rooting for your team? It’s a little disheartening.

  280. miker613 says:

    “t appears that miker613 believes that the Chinese suffer no harmful helath effects by breathing air contaminated by the toxins contained in the emissions of caol-fired power plants. Perhaps he should do more research and less pontificating.” I do know about it. It seems that the Chinese understand what you do not, which is that they are better off suffering those health effects than staying in poverty. That is why they are continuing to do it, and that is why they will clean up their air on their own when they can.
    The same is true about them “capping their usage of coal by 2020”, or “their CO2 production by 2030”, and all the other exciting announcements. All those mean pretty much that they will continue to do what they need to do, which is what they were doing till now.

  281. miker613 says:

    @jsam ‘ “Because intelligent mitigation saves people, almost certainly many more people than it kills”..’ – and several other comments.
    jsam, because you are willing to guess wildly, based on your favorite economist or something, and I am not willing to accept your wild guess, that makes you right? As we’ve discussed elsewhere, there are economists with Nobel Prizes who think that mitigation is a terrible deal, returning just pennies on the dollar. Just because almost all climate scientists think that the earth is warming doesn’t mean you have anything resembling consensus on issues further down the pike like economics or politics. If you’re not an economist, I don’t see why I should trust your “Intelligent mitigation”. I don’t even know why you should.

  282. > it says exactly what I claimed to you

    Unless to “promote” entails to prove, miker’s claim is false.

    Let’s also note the first sentence miker quoted:

    note that the position of the MM articles and many CA posts is that the multiproxy studies relied upon by IPCC do not prove that the modern warm period is warmer than the MWP.

    The main difference between the “multiproxy studies relied upon by IPCC” and the “position of the MM articles and many CA posts” is that the latter amounts to say that Lamb’s graph has not been disproven. While double negatives may not be strong enough to prove anything, they can still be used for promotion. Either the MWP is warmer than the modern warm period, or it is not.

  283. miker613 says:

    “Miker, when exactly will we know when the models or sensitivity estimates are “good enough” for taking action or not?” Joseph, that’s a judgment call. It depends on a lot of things, including a person’s take on economics. I can only tell you about my own judgment: I am convinced there is a problem, but I’m also convinced that the solutions are feel-good tricks that will not really affect the amount of CO2 released. And I’m convinced that solutions that would really make a difference would of necessity keep everyone in the developing world in dire poverty. And I’m not willing to do that, not unless you can show me that civilization cannot survive any other way. Which does not seem to be the consensus opinion.
    So I don’t know the answer to your question, except to say that it would make a big difference to me personally to know the sensitivity. Right now we don’t know within a factor of three or four.

  284. miker613 says:

    Willard, I don’t see that there’s any point in arguing reading comprehension. The link says what I claimed; it’s not my fault that you’re stuck in a logical fallacy like “Either the MWP is warmer than the modern warm period, or it is not.” Climateaudit says clearly, in both your link and mine, that he disagrees with that statement. Rather, there is not enough evidence to decide, and the paleo proofs are insufficient so far in his opinion. Calling that “promoting the MWP” is absurd.

  285. > Calling that “promoting the MWP” is absurd.

    Speaking of reading comprehension, what’s “that”?

    The Auditor promotes the MWP the same way he promotes fraud accusations.

    Plausible deniability has its limits.

  286. Michael 2 says:

    Everett F Sargent says: (January 1, 2015 at 8:35 pm) “Is overpopulation a problem?”

    Of course, as otherwise it would not be called OVER population 😉

  287. John Mashey says:

    Apparently a few people missed the above.
    McI had neither IPCC(1990) nor IPCC(1995), and when asked by Tom Curtis in 2012 where he’d gotten the image that was crucial to this whole disinformation campaign, used repeatedly by others including the Wall Street Journal and James Inhofe:
    “I don’t recall where I picked up the version used in the post.”

    See this tweet,
    Everything in that graph *before* 1659 was estimated from rainfall records plus analyst opinions … I think Lamb(1965) was fine work for the time, with reasonable caveats, but long obsolete. Most of that curve, including ALL of the MWP period was an estimate of a ~21×34 mile patch of England … grafted onto the Central England Temperature records from thermometers.
    Somehow, that graft is Truth Forever, but combining serious proxy analysis with modern temperature records is a terrible thing.

    He later changed the cite to 1990 … but of course, that totally wrecks the Deming story, since
    a) it was quite well-caveated in the pages surrounding the graph. Science publications tend to do that. Others cherry-pick a graph and present it as Truth.
    b) The 1990 date, and rapid deprecation of such graphs over the next few years, to be replaced by real and improving reconstructions in 1992, 1995, 2001, etc … totally wreck the Deming story
    IPCC(1990) already had reservations about any global synchronous MWP, and those reservations strengthened into clear rejection, while still believing N. Atlantic and some areas were warm, if not as warm as now, or even 1990s.

    Exercise for readers: assess McI’s credibility from this sequence.

  288. Michael 2 says:

    “The destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species is something we should be aiming to avoid or minimise.”

    Perhaps, but it is not clear that this is a scientific conclusion, rather more a moral conclusion. Some species I would love to become extinct, mosquitos for instance, at least in some places. They were not native to Hawaii for instance and were brought by Captain Cook’s sailing ships so they (mosquitos) are obviously not a vital part of that ecosystem.

    Human beings very existence destroys the ecosystem under your feet. But are they “destroyed” or just changed? I’ll be returning to the philosophical question of whether change is destructive.

    “The climate change issue is really about risk, not about certainty”

    That would be what it is for you. Most seem to give it a great deal of certainty, in fact, about 97 percent certain and are willing to argue at length to keep it at that value.

    I see two very different things — (1) scientists viewing the future, and (2) socialists viewing an opportunity right now. How often do you see words like “but even if it isn’t true, we still have done good things!” or even the pope, putting social justice and climate change in the same sentence. It isn’t about risk OR certainty for a great many people, especially those late to the climate change party but who have always had their political agenda.

    “Better estimates for climate sensitivity are not necessarily all that relevant.”

    YMMV. Better estimates are vital for policy makers, actuarians, things like that where quantification is crucial.

    “This isn’t about survival of the species, but survival of our civilisations”

    There is no “our”. Your civilization is doomed, so is mine. People will still exist, but whatever it is that makes a civilization identifiable as such must and will change as it always has. The very fabric of “right and wrong” changes and has changed several times just in my lifetime.

    How many European nations have come and gone in just the past 100 years? Some have vanished completely from maps, such as Bukovenia. It wasn’t climate change that made it vanish; it was war.

    What about the United Kingdom? Its continued existence was threatened just last year when Scotland voted on whether to secede, and if they do, how soon Wales, Ireland, Isle of Mann? If there is nothing left of “United”, shall one declare the UK to have demised, or “unsurvived”? Does Scotland have anything resembling a defensive capability? Ireland?

    The Industrial Revolution is doomed. It is based on petroleum and coal. England is already a shadow of what it once was; so too is the United States; the former glorious northern midwest (Minnesota mining and manufacturing — a company name but also a culture that shaped the United States). Detroit; Flint — dozens of cities are now relics of a bygone era, a civilization that is already waning and cannot come back; the ore is gone and coal forced to stay in the ground. Global warming did not doom the American midwest; inevitability did.

    So keep your coal in the ground and in 100 years see if any civilizations have “survived”.

  289. miker613 says:

    “Somehow, that grafh is Truth Forever”. Sigh. Again, actually read what McIntyre wrote (I suggest the second version, since it features Tom Curtis’ comments, Connolley’s comments, and McIntyre’s comments, explaining his mistake and other details.)
    But never does McIntyre say or suggest that it is Truth Forever or even that it’s right; the obvious point of the whole post is the political value to AGW supporters of the Hockey Stick as opposed to what preceded it.
    I’m sorry, but enough reading links that say the opposite to what you claim.

  290. Willard says:

    > But never does McIntyre say or suggest that it is Truth Forever or even that it’s right.

    Does promoting entail saying or suggesting that it is truth forever?

    See how promotion works: it would be nice to have lower CS studies; lower CS studies imply that Lamb’s graph is “essentially a cartoon,” pace Wegman’s testimony “under oath,” and that the MWP should be lower than (say) MBH. The conclusion is left as an exercise to the auditors.

    If you want to see how promotional storification works, here’s a nice example:

    Lamb is a terrific read. He’s a fine writer with an eye for detail. The only reason his work fell out of favor was because it supposedly became obsolete with pseudo-quantitative Mannian multiproxy studies, which claimed the ability to make annual reconstructions. Now they seem to be resiling from that and Wahl and Ammann say that they are only trying for “low-frequency”. In any event, if you believe, as I do, that the entire Hockey Team corpus is of little merit, then it’s time to re-read Lamb and see what he actually says.

    http://climateaudit.org/2006/05/23/lamb-on-the-northeast-atlantic/

    Lamb, terrific. The Kyoto Flames, of little merit.

    It’s not that complicated.

  291. miker613 says:

    “Does promoting entail saying or suggesting that it is truth forever?” I was quoting Mashey – argue with him. As for the rest, my point stands. It is clear what McIntyre is saying in all these posts if you aren’t looking for conspiracies and “disinformation campaigns” (again, quoting Mashey).

  292. Willard says:

    > my point stands.

    Speaking of reading comprehension, which one?

    To skirt around the obvious fact that the Auditor indeed promoted the work of the father of the MWP, first by conflating promotion and proof, then by prevaricating over Mash’s hyperboles, may not be the clearest way to make one’s point stand, whatever that point is.

  293. Steve Bloom says:

    Shorter miker: “Promotion isn’t promotion.”

    mosh, as you would have noted me saying on many occasions had you been paying attention, I’m happy with a well-designed carbon tax or cap-and-trade mechanism but think extensive regulation is also needed. The latter could even do the job by itself.

    So I read the NRO article. I see a couple problems:

    The second conservative fear has always been that a carbon tax would impede growth, rendering the U.S. uncompetitive in world markets as China went merrily along emitting CO2. The weight of the evidence now suggests that such a fear, while not completely unwarranted, should not be allowed to outweigh the efficiency gains to our economy from substituting a market-oriented tax for far blunter regulation, and from setting the stage for ending subsidies to wind, sun, and other uneconomic schemes.

    The first is that the price for a carbon tax would be an agreement to get rid of the other steps. So that’s a non-starter.

    Note that support for a carbon tax does not require signing on to the new religion of global climate change, which supports government intervention in the economy even if (when) the theoretical models yield to recent reality and start to project a new ice age.

    The second is that he’s a batshit-crazy ideologue, and I suspect entirely representative of the sort of people who would be running the negotiations on his side.

    Now flap away back home, please.

  294. Rachel M says:

    Haha, I missed a funny discussion 🙂

    AT you can be my second husband any time (although you might have to share the spot with George Monbiot if that’s ok 🙂 ).

  295. Rachel M says:

    M2, the comment of yours which ends with this –

    So keep your coal in the ground and in 100 years see if any civilizations have “survived”.

    – seems very pessimistic. Sometimes I wonder whether Skeptics are aware that humans have been able to generate power for a long time now without the need for fossil fuels. More than 50% of New Zealand’s electricity comes from hydropower –
    http://www.eeca.govt.nz/efficient-and-renewable-energy/renewable-energy/hydro-energy

    Hydropower has been a part of the country for more than 100 years. It’s old technology now. Today we have an even larger selection of alternatives.

    Apparently Iceland gets about 85% of it total energy supply from renewables if we trust what Wikipedia says.

    For some reason Skeptics want to have a shop with just one product in it – fossil fuels. Ok, I think most Skeptics are fine with nuclear too and so am I, but what about all the other products? Why is there this relentless fight against renewables all the time? It makes no sense.

  296. Rachel M says:

    No, he’s charming, except – apparently – when it comes to mini golf

    Not just mini golf but any game: chess, scrabble, monopoly, cards, trivial pursuit. It’s best to be on his team or be content with losing.

  297. jsam says:

    Miker613 does seem to enjoy missing points.

    He’s happy enough with people asserting, evidence, free that mitigation may cost lives. But is livid at if someone else asserts, evidence free, the opposite – by just saying we can be intelligent about mitigation.

    He also uses a lot of words.

    The new denial is fatalism. Our civilisation is inevitably doomed. Don’t resist.

  298. Y’all do seem rather eager to spend time reinforcing the phonies (which is what happens when you engage with them), which seems rather a waste of time, as they appear to be impervious to noticing the flaws in their own arguments and the assets in the arguments they dismiss.

    I have just been reading about Samantha Power and Barack Obama, and though this point had relevance outside that discussion; Power is discussing her conclusions about his point of view:

    “focussed on the reasons the government did not live up to its ideals. “Why do we think this about ourselves and yet do this? What are the domestic political dynamics that shape it, where do these decisions get made?” He was interested in systems and outcomes and misalignment in the two. She concluded that he had less interest in ideology than in results.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/22/land-possible

    As the evidence piles up, how to enhance memory and global awareness has us all in a puzzle.

  299. More from the same source. I am interested in the art of the possible, though it seems we are late to act and within a hair’s breadth of failure:

    “You learn in government what the obstacles are. But that’s not so you can go take a nap. It’s so you can figure out how to scale them or work around them. Does one get a better sense about context and about impediments and about trade-offs in government? Absolutely. But those are not alibis – those are problems to be solved.”

    [Samantha Power quote from New Yorker linked above.]

  300. Susan,

    Y’all do seem rather eager to spend time reinforcing the phonies (which is what happens when you engage with them), which seems rather a waste of time, as they appear to be impervious to noticing the flaws in their own arguments and the assets in the arguments they dismiss.

    I think this is my finely tuned moderation policy that appears to be optimised (unintentionally) to irritate everyone 🙂 . More seriously, I do have more time for those who at least attempt to be pleasant, even if what they say appears to be wrong.

    As the evidence piles up, how to enhance memory and global awareness has us all in a puzzle.

    Certainly true for me.

  301. Hi Susan (I’m assuming you’re the same ‘Susan Anderson’ who used to be in the ‘Monbiot circle’ back in 2006-8?).

    Actually, I think a sprinkling of ‘sceptic’ types, as long as they’re reasonably laid back, does help discussion along and sometimes moves the thread in interesting directions. However, as well as the problems you outline (which I would say tends to come down to their tunnel vision) I also find that they can come to dominate a thread if they’re given an inch.

  302. miker613 says:

    “He’s happy enough with people asserting, evidence, free that mitigation may cost lives. But is livid at if someone else asserts, evidence free, the opposite – by just saying we can be intelligent about mitigation.” Projection? Am I livid? And what makes you think I’m happy enough? I have certain impressions about economics that I use in making decisions, just like the rest of you. My impressions make my conclusions and concerns more compelling than yours, to me. It doesn’t surprise me that they aren’t compelling to you. I will continue to vote my impressions, as will you yours. But please don’t project. I’d be satisfied with a simple acknowledgement that there are other valid points of view than your own. Doesn’t seem I’ll get it; most people tend to think that their own preconceived notions are natural law, even about something as unfinished as economics,

  303. miker613 says:

    “Hydropower has been a part of the country for more than 100 years. It’s old technology now. Today we have an even larger selection of alternatives.” Rachel, are you aware that environmentalists have very big problems with hydropower? There are whole towns in New York that were razed to the ground, currently under water for the development of New York’s reservoir system. That’s to say nothing of the disruption to the natural environment. That’s in New York, just imagine what China is doing when they build a dam.
    But the truth is that there aren’t that many really good dams left to build.
    Nuclear power would be an alternative and I’m all for getting rid of the massive layers of regulations blocking it. That could help make it affordable.
    I’m all for solar power, and perhaps it will be truly competitive around mid-century. I’m all in favor of subsidizing research into it. China is heavily into selling it.
    But Then There’s Economics (R). China is still building one coal plant a week, because they need it. They can’t replace them with renewables yet, and no one can afford to help them do it. They will continue until they no longer need to, whatever they tell Mr. Obama and the press. It would be good if we would help them with clean fracking technology, as it produces much less CO2 per watt. Nothing else we do will make a real difference to CO2 emissions. Even Europe, which has taken some mitigation steps that make no overall difference but risk some of them dying this winter from lack of power, is going to back out of them quick as they see that they don’t have the power they need. They can elect new governments as fast as Australia. And Then There’s Politics (R).

  304. jsam says:

    There are other viewpoints other than mine. I just note that you stay mum over evidence free assertions that you support but burst into song over evidence free assertions you disagree with.

    If you are not livid you are certainly prolix, even for a tone troll.

  305. BBD says:

    miker

    China is still building one coal plant a week, because they need it.

    Do you have any substantiating evidence for this? I thought that there was a period several years ago when this was sort-of true, but I’m not clear that it is any longer the case. You may be correct, but I’d like to check.

  306. miker613 says:

    “Y’all do seem rather eager to spend time reinforcing the phonies…” ATTP, I appreciate your moderation policy; it allows me to comment here. Yet, what reason is there to call people phonies, Susan Anderson, simply because they disagree with you? It’s not my fault that you can’t understand any point of view except your own. Somewhere around third grade I discovered that I wasn’t always right; most of us did. Do you seriously imagine that anyone disagreeing with you is lying?

  307. miker613 says:

    BBD, I don’t know; I thought that was the prevailing wisdom. If I see anything, I’ll post it, but I haven’t seen any discussion recently.
    Update: found this from Google: http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/chinas-growing-coal-use-is-worlds-growing-problem-16999. He says, _two_ coal plants a week, at least for a while.

  308. BBD says:

    I ask because a plant build-out rate such as you claim is incompatible with Chinese coal consumption, which appears to have fallen slightly during 2014:

    The amount of coal being burned by China has fallen for the first time this century, according to an analysis of official statistics.

    China’s booming coal in the last decade has been the major contributor to the fast-rising carbon emissions that drive climate change, making the first fall a significant moment.

    The amount of coal burned in the first three-quarters of 2014 was 1-2% lower than a year earlier, according to Greenpeace energy analysts in China. The drop contrasts sharply with the 5-10% annual growth rates seen since the early years of the century.

    “The significance is that if the coal consumption growth we have seen in China in the last 10 years went on, we would lose any hope of bringing climate change under control,” said Lauri Myllyvirta at Greenpeace East Asia. “The turnaround now gives a window of opportunity.”

  309. BBD says:

    I think your claim is incorrect, miker.

  310. miker613,

    Yet, what reason is there to call people phonies, Susan Anderson, simply because they disagree with you?

    Okay, I agree that phonies isn’t great (nor was winged monkeys either). Maybe we should moderate these things more strongly, but I see much worse elsewhere and so have probably relaxed my sense of what is acceptable and what isn’t. Also, letting people show their frustrations can have its merits.

  311. BBD says:

    Re: ‘phonies’ it’s true, miker, you can be sincere but wrong. Perhaps ‘fake sceptics’ would have been a more felicitous choice of words.

  312. Rob Nicholls says:

    Steven Mosher said: “When your opponent moves toward your solution don’t you want to encourage that and reward That behavior.” Yes, absolutely. I’ve not been following US politics closely, but the National Review Online article that Steven links to a long way above looked like an interesting development to me.

  313. BBD says:

    miker

    Do you seriously imagine that anyone disagreeing with you is lying?

    One has to wonder at someone purportedly familiar with CA who maintains that McI doesn’t promote the MWP. Perhaps you just didn’t really grasp the bigger picture, which just happens to include the incompatibility between MWP peddling and lukewarmer peddling. You have done your damnedest to avoid admitting that there is a massive (and hilarious) problem here and I account that as intellectual dishonesty on your part. Although it’s always possible that you just don’t understand the topic.

  314. Willard says:

    > Nuclear power would be an alternative and I’m all for getting rid of the massive layers of regulations blocking it. That could help make it affordable.

    Sure, let’s deregulate after having subsidized:

    With this track record, it’s not surprising that nuclear power has failed to attract private-sector financing—so the industry has looked to government for subsidies, including loan guarantees, tax credits, and other forms of public support. And these subsidies have not been small: according to a 2011 UCS report, by some estimates they have cost taxpayers more than the market value of the power they helped generate.

    When nuclear energy was an emerging technology, public support made some sense. But more than 50 years (and two public bailouts) after the opening of the first U.S. commercial nuclear plant, nuclear power is a mature industry that should be expected to stand on its own.

    Instead, the industry has responded to escalating costs with escalating demands for government support. A 2009 UCS report estimated that taxpayers could be on the hook for anywhere from $360 billion to $1.6 trillion if then-current proposals for nuclear expansion were realized.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/nuclear-power/cost-nuclear-power

  315. miker613 says:

    “To skirt around the obvious fact that the Auditor indeed promoted the work of the father of the MWP, first by conflating promotion and proof, then by prevaricating over Mash’s hyperboles,” Willard, you seem to have some nefarious view of climateaudit and Big Oil or something, and every square peg gets scrunched into its round hole.
    But every single thing I have seen on the site reinforces my own view: retired math guy who saw some bad statistics, called them on it, got badly burned by people vastly overreacting, and fought back very effectively. Certainly McIntyre represents for me the most obvious proof that a big part of climate science is partisan politics. Pretty much every time I follow an issue I come to the conclusion that he is right and the other side is satisfied if they can put up enough of a show to satisfy their own fans. Just give them a link on realclimate “refuting” him and they are happy; they never try to see if he is actually right after all.
    Thus it makes perfect sense to me that McIntyre claims, constantly, that paleo hasn’t yet disproved MWP, without any reference to whether he at all believes in MWP. Or that (as he also says) he is politically liberal and basically in agreement with most everything AGW believers say, except for one thing: a lot of climate science is done badly.
    [Mod : Sorry, not really interested in these kind of suggestions.]

  316. miker613 says:

    ATTP, I didn’t mean to call for more moderation; I think your moderation policy is fine. I was more asking Susan Anderson and those with her: What are they thinking? When they say things about us _that aren’t true_, that is going to make it very hard to convince anyone who knows us that they know more about physics than we do. Surely an important part of AGW persuasion is to avoid sounding clueless?

  317. miker613 says:

    Willard, there are all kinds of crazy subsidies out there. I’d be in favor of getting rid of all of them, pretty much. But get rid of the regulation too; a major barrier for nuclear power right now is that the regulatory environment is far far stricter for modern nuclear plants that are far far safer than coal plants by any rational standard. People here tend to complain when I say that something kills people, but perhaps they won’t mind when I say that coal power production kills a whole lot of people, all aside from the CO2.

  318. BBD says:

    miker

    But every single thing I have seen on the site reinforces my own view: retired math guy who saw some bad statistics, called them on it, got badly burned by people vastly overreacting, and fought back very effectively.

    McI was *wrong*. We’ve been through this already but you just repeat yourself which is intellectually dishonest. Nor have you responded to the fact that your claim that McI doesn’t promote the MWP is false.

    Either you don’t understand what McI is doing or you are defending the indefensible.

  319. miker613,

    But every single thing I have seen on the site reinforces my own view: retired math guy who saw some bad statistics, called them on it, got badly burned by people vastly overreacting, and fought back very effectively.

    And has resulted in a great deal of confusion about our current understanding of our millenial temperature history, which is still broadly consistent with what was presented in MBH98/99. How is that something to be proud of? I’ll add that anyone who calls their site Climate Audit almost certainly has a very poor understanding of the fundamentals of the scientific method.

  320. Willard says:

    > Willard, you seem to have some nefarious view of climateaudit

    Right after having whined about tone, miker goes for some mind probing. Does everyone who disagree with miker have nefarious views and fight imaginary enemies?

    More promotion:

    I was particularly intrigued in the cases of Bre-X and Enron failures by the tremendous acolades meted out to the promoters right up to the eve of their collapses.

    http://climateaudit.org/2008/09/17/lehman-bros-and-consensus/

    Not that the Auditor likens the Kyoto Flames to Bre-X, Enron, or Lehman Brothers, mind you. Such post does not “say or suggest” anything.

  321. John Hartz says:

    Related to the OP, here is the concluding paragaraph of Naomi Oreskes’ op-ed, Playing Dumb on Climate Change, Sunday Review, New York Times, Posted Jan. 3, 2015

    “Years ago, climate scientists offered an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as the ‘safe’ limit or ceiling for the long-term warming of the planet. We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1 degree Celsius. The evidence is mounting that scientists have underpredicted the threat. Perhaps this is another reason — along with our polarized politics and the effect of fossil-fuel lobbying — we have underreacted to the reality, now unfolding before our eyes, of dangerous climate change. “

  322. Joshua says:

    ==> “I’d be in favor of getting rid of all of them, pretty much. But get rid of the regulation too; a major barrier for nuclear power right now is that the regulatory environment is far far stricter for modern nuclear plants that are far far safer than coal plants by any rational standard.”

    I’d be in favor of changing normal rainfall into showers of ice cream sandwiches. But I don’t think it is realistic to argue in favor of that development, given the low likelihood of that occurring.

    Given the low likelihood of significantly streamlining regulation while still satisfying the public’s interest in government-based protection, and given the low likelihood of reducing subsidization for nuclear power given the every-increasing influx of money directly into our electoral process, I don’t think that the combined “get[ting] rid of regulation” and subsidization is a very likely goal.

    I’d prefer to focus on getting more people to make solid arguments in climate change blog discussion threads, with an accompanying increase of good faith exchange of viewpoints. More specifically, other words, if just one or two people engaging in these threads would place “but millions will starve in Africa because of climate change” would, (1) place those arguments into a context of full cost accounting of the costs/benefits of various energy source pathways and, (2) place claims about the levels of children starving into the larger discussion of whether more children will really be eating more if we only stopped supporting climate change mitigation (in other words, address the full range of reasons why children starve).

    But perhaps my goal is no more realistic than waving a magic wand and changing raindrops into ice cream sandwiches or eliminating campaign contributions/regulatory overreach?

  323. Willard says:

    > People here tend to complain when I say that something kills people, but perhaps they won’t mind when I say that coal power production kills a whole lot of people, all aside from the CO2.

    More victim playing.

    Why not regulate coal a bit more instead: is it because regulation kills people?

  324. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: Comment threads, by and large, are lousy venues for serious, in-depth discussions of anything. Rather, they are a veune for a whol lot of game playing, i.e., “egos on parade.”.

  325. Willard says:

    By chance we have John Hartz’ ennui to entertain us all, otherwise it would be boring as hell.

    ***

    > it makes perfect sense to me that McIntyre claims, constantly, that paleo hasn’t yet disproved MWP, without any reference to whether he at all believes in MWP.

    The Auditor’s beliefs are irrelevant to what he promotes. He does not always say what he thinks anyway. It’s not that complicated. Hence miker’s pledge toward the auditing sciences.

  326. Steven Mosher says:

    Steve bloom
    I’m not surprised you find problems with nro.
    You want it all
    You will hold out for the perfect solution until it’s too late
    To do anything.
    That’s your form of delay.

  327. John Hartz says:

    Willard: Your are so predictable.

  328. BBD says:

    But Steve Bloom didn’t write the Screwtape Letters. SB *is* looking for solutions. Steven Mosher on the other hand has done his level best to undermine trust in climate science. He should not forget his past so quickly.

  329. Peter Jacobs says:

    Stephen Mosher,

    It is great that someone writing a guest column for NRO advocated for a carbon tax. I do not think it qualifies as a “breakthrough”, though. He isn’t the first conservative to do so, and I doubt I am alone in hoping (and being tempted to wager) that he will by no means be the last in the next 10 years.

    I am sure that there are people who will complain about NRO despite this piece. NRO writers have a long history of trying to impugn the motives of climate researchers and promote fringe views, as well as to denying the economic and climate efficacy of carbon taxes, so it would be surprising if a single guest post would erase their history in some people’s eyes.

    As Dana has pointed out repeatedly, however, it is not the critics of NRO who are preventing emissions limits via market mechanisms (be it a carbon tax or cap and trade) in the US.

    I guess I am unclear on what you think this endorsement means for actual climate policy, or what you think partisan criticism of NRO means for actual policy.

    I do not want to be uncharitable, but it seems as though you’re using this endorsement to try to create the impression that resistance to a carbon tax is coming from critics of conservatives/NRO. If that is not what you’re doing, I apologize. I am trying to find a less cynical way to read your comments, but am failing (my own fault, to be sure). So if you could correct me, that would be most appreciated.

  330. miker613 says:

    “You have done your damnedest to avoid admitting that there is a massive (and hilarious) problem here and I account that as intellectual dishonesty on your part. Although it’s always possible that you just don’t understand the topic.” Yup, no idea. No need to jump to intellectual dishonesty when my ignorance can suffice.
    Fair warning, though: I don’t have too much confidence in links you’ve sent me.

  331. miker613 says:

    @BBD “Either you don’t understand what McI is doing or you are defending the indefensible.”
    Or a third possibility: maybe you’re the one who’s wrong, but haven’t put in the time to study both sides. That is my impression.

    @Willard “Not that the Auditor likens the Kyoto Flames to Bre-X, Enron, or Lehman Brothers, mind you. Such post does not “say or suggest” anything.” Actually, it says and suggests precisely what I’ve been saying, that McIntyre thinks that the science in that part of the field is pretty bad.

  332. miker613 says:

    @ATTP “And has resulted in a great deal of confusion about our current understanding of our millenial temperature history, which is still broadly consistent with what was presented in MBH98/99. How is that something to be proud of?” That depends: is our current understanding of the millenial temperature history clear and sharp, or is it still badly done and statistically a mess? [I suggest checking with Pekka; he recently made important contributions to the statistical discussion of PAGES2K at climateaudit.] If the latter, then pointing it out is something to be proud of. We should be confused about badly done science.
    Have the practitioners learned all their lessons, learned some of their lessons, or learned nothing? I think the middle choice: certain very bad techniques have been abandoned – basically because of M&M. Other very bad techniques are still in use, and people here still defend them even though anyone can see that they are bad science. We’ve gone through that before. Some are in flux: PAGES2K made half-a-dozen corrections based on McIntyre’s comments, and other corrections he suggested are yet to be made. I hope no one here will claim that PAGES2K was wrong to make those corrections. I am sure everyone here would have scoffed at the idea that PAGES2K would ever make corrections based on climateaudit.

  333. jsam says:

    I’ve seen climateaudit claim all manner of victory. Tilting, and vanquishing, windmills is a favourite. He has lent his name to the “McIntyre Factor” so that’s a legacy.

    We’re still awaiting McI’s global temperature reconstruction, of course.

    Don’t you find it in the least amusing how many of his victories are Pyrrhic? I do.

  334. miker613 says:

    “I do not want to be uncharitable, but it seems as though you’re using this endorsement to try to create the impression that resistance to a carbon tax is coming from critics of conservatives/NRO.” I don’t think that’s what Mosher is doing. To me it seems that he is criticizing the attitude that This Is a War, instead of, Here’s What We Are Trying To Accomplish. There are a lot of conservatives out there – roughly half of America. If you treat them as evil, don’t be surprised if they treat you as clueless.

    Willard accused me of “whining about tone”, but that’s not right. As I said, if you say clueless things – like accusing people of being evil when all they did was disagree with you – don’t be surprised if they think you are actually clueless and don’t respect your opinions on science or economics. After all, they have an example in front of their eyes about your cluelessness.

    @BBD “Steven Mosher on the other hand has done his level best to undermine trust in climate science.” Mosher is the data guy for the BEST project, and has fought hard to defend trust in those temperature estimates and pretty much all the other ones too. He has earned the right to undermine trust in places where trust is not merited. Unlike you, he fights with both sides. He is not a cheerleader.

  335. Eli Rabett says:

    Somewhere up there:

    ““Better estimates for climate sensitivity are not necessarily all that relevant.””

    “YMMV. Better estimates are vital for policy makers, actuarians, things like that where quantification is crucial.”

    Except that mean or mode climate sensitivity is essentially irrelevant for policy. For that you need the emission pathway and the distribution of estimated climate sensitivity. The idiot tracker laid this out in detail

    http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2010/09/between-science-and-hard-place.html

    http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2010/09/between-science-and-hard-place-part-two.html

  336. miker613 says:

    @Joshua +1

  337. Eli Rabett says:

    Oh yeah, FWIW, it took a while for McIntyre to hit on the statistical issue, he spent the first year or so concern trolling Mann and demanding the rent (search Nigel Persuad).

  338. John Hartz says:

    The human race could easily afford to mitigate and adapt to manmade climate change if it had the courage and conviction to “turn swords into plows.”

    Here’s a perfect example of how warped our national priorites have become in the U.S.

    Americans Have Spent Enough Money On A Broken Plane To Buy Every Homeless Person A Mansion by Hayes Brown, Think Progress, July 9, 2014

  339. miker613 says:

    “Does everyone who disagree with miker have nefarious views and fight imaginary enemies?” I would doubt it. But I sure see a lot of assumptions of evil intent here. Most commenters here do not seem to be able to accept the idea that skeptics just don’t agree with them. Or that their favorite link might not be enough to prove that anyone who doesn’t agree is either evil, or “intellectually dishonest” or “ignorant”. It’s a big world out there, and no one understands all of it.

  340. Willard says:

    > McIntyre thinks that the science in that part of the field is pretty bad.

    Speaking of reading comprehension, to what does “that part of the field” refer?

    “But CA is about science” is a common reply instead of conceding that CA is also promoting fraud stories.

    Another interesting promotional campaign:

    Even though a Penn State staff member witnessed a rape of a 10-year old by a more senior Penn State official, the junior Penn State staff member did not intervene at the time and investigation by more senior Penn State officials appears to have been cursory until a recent grand jury.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/15511915533

    It’s hard not to transpose this transposition into the Steyn hurly burly.

    Not that the Auditor suggested or said anything regarding the use of the F-word by Steyn, mind you.

  341. miker613 says:

    @jsam “We’re still awaiting McI’s global temperature reconstruction, of course. Don’t you find it in the least amusing how many of his victories are Pyrrhic? I do.”
    Is this supposed to make sense? McIntyre’s whole presentation is that there are statistical problems with the whole paleo enterprise, making it almost impossible to get reliable results. There’s vast amounts of noise to signal. Most sequences look like pure red noise. We don’t have all of the data; lots of tree ring sets etc. have just never been published, maybe because no one could see a signal in them. Of those that remain, the simplest statistical techniques yield no signal at all. That’s why no one uses them. Instead, we struggle to work through abstruse and poorly understood techniques designed to find a needle in a haystack. It is very hard to validate anything that is done – some of the most heavily weighted samples from earlier reconstructions have been resampled and failed to show signal this time around. Frequently samples that “show a good signal” – i.e., match recent temperatures – are right next to other samples that go in the opposite direction, and no one has any justification for weighting one over the other or explaining the difference.
    Have you considered the possibility that no one can make a reliable global temperature reconstruction because the data are not good enough? Why do you always assume that McIntyre is the one who’s wrong? As I said, I’ve been following this for a while; almost all discussions trail off with McIntyre explaining his points and with the paleo people assuming that none of their fans read climateaudit anyhow.

  342. BBD says:

    miker

    Fair warning, though: I don’t have too much confidence in links you’ve sent me.

    Non-specific avoidance tactic. Intellectual dishonesty.

    Or a third possibility: maybe you’re the one who’s wrong, but haven’t put in the time to study both sides. That is my impression.

    Which counts for nothing as you are blanking the previous discussions of McI’s many errors in comments here. More intellectual dishonesty.

    He [Mosher] has earned the right to undermine trust in places where trust is not merited.

    SM has never had any “right” to undermine trust in climate science and never will have. Your partisanship is showing. Not to mention the intellectual dishonesty.

  343. Tom Scharf says:

    I think most conservatives would trade a straight up carbon tax for the current income tax in a heart beat. This trades a progressive tax for a less progressive tax. For those who are willing to look more than 1 inch deep, the factors are how much total tax revenue is generated and how the distribution of tax collection is affected. Progressives will feel the need to “fix” a carbon tax that shifts more burden onto the middle class and poor by implementing some form of income redistribution scheme. Possibly this is even justified, but the food fight over the details of this could likely never be agreed upon.

    Would AGW supporters approve of a carbon tax that either reduces the size of government or shifts more burden onto the poor and lower classes? I’m sure most would approve of one that increases government revenue and is mostly shouldered by the upper classes. I would suggest that is how many imagine this tax to be, additive and paid for by industry. A carbon tax could likely be had, but sacrifices might need to be made to win the votes. Is it worth it?

  344. BBD says:

    miker

    Stop wittering about things you do not understand in the fucking slightest and read a textbook. I suggest this one. There is a great deal more to proxies than dendro. Seriously now. Shut up, go away and learn something from a proper source not some contrarian hack who has been shown to be wrong about pretty much everything.

  345. Willard says:

    > Is this supposed to make sense?

    miker is releasing his inner Chewbacca.

  346. Rachel M says:

    This is getting a bit off-topic and into painfully repetitive territory. Can we drop the whole McIntyre reconstruction stuff, thanks.

  347. Joshua says:

    Mike –

    Do i still get a point if i change it to this?

    =>> “More specifically, [in] other words, if just one or two people engaging in these threads would place “but millions will starve in Africa because of climate change” [and] “climate change mitigation” would (1) place those arguments into a context of full cost accounting of the costs/benefits of various energy source pathways and, (2) place claims about the levels of children starving into the larger discussion of whether more children will really be eating more if we only stopped supporting climate change mitigation (in other words, address the full range of reasons why children starve).

    In case it wasn’t understood that was my original intended meaning.

  348. longjohn says:

    I live next to the Mississippi River and the most recent flood forecast is for a crest of 18-20 feet in 7 days

    Should I build my sandbags up to 20 feet or roll the dice and only go 18 or 19 ft?

    Then why would you treat the uncertainty/risk from Anthropogenic Global Warming any differently?

    We are projected to see a rise in global temperatures by mid-century of 1-3 degrees …. do we ‘build our sandbags’ for 1 degrees or 3 degrees?

    The correct answer of course is 3 degrees

  349. miker613 says:

    ‘I don’t have too much confidence in links you’ve sent me. “Intellectual dishonesty.” ‘
    Well, I think I’ve earned it. I looked up two of Willard’s and Mashey’s links and found out that their “proofs” said exactly the opposite of what they were claiming. They haven’t inspired trust.

    “you are blanking the previous discussions of McI’s many errors in comments here. More intellectual dishonesty.” As I’ve said, I’ve been following climateaudit for a while, and followed numerous discussions as they travel back and forth. Generally he does very well; normally, the other side is making the mistakes. The mistakes of the other side are never acknowledged, and their people never hear about them. Sometimes, he makes mistakes, as do we all, and tends to acknowledge them and fix them at once. He always links to everything he says and documents his data and his code completely. The other side never used to and still usually doesn’t. They certainly never link to his rebuttals.
    What you are calling “intellectual dishonesty” means to me, You can’t imagine that you are wrong.

  350. miker613 says:

    Will do, Rachel.

  351. longjohn says:

    “Would AGW supporters approve of a carbon tax ….”

    I don’t think anyone here ‘supports’ AGW, in fact the vast majority are against it …. except seemingly you, you think it’s just fine and dandy and nothing to worry about which in the Real World makes you the AGW supporter … You are all for it while most people here are very much against it

    We are AGAINST AGW and support actually doing something about it besides just flapping our gums like you do ……

  352. miker613 says:

    Joshua, I understood you. I agree with your demand; a full actuarial accounting is what is needed, both for costs of mitigation and costs of everything else. Unfortunately, these things are hard to do.

  353. BBD says:

    What you are calling “intellectual dishonesty” means to me, You can’t imagine that you are wrong.

    Read a textbook. Learn.

  354. Tom Scharf says:

    All species are not created equal. We seem to be pretty proud of eliminating the species smallpox, among others. Ebola seems to not be on the most favored species list as well. Malaria carrying mosquitoes. Plague carrying fleas. Cockroaches. Alligators are protected in Florida until the one in the local pond gets too large, then its extinction is a phone call away. It’s all harmony with nature until it threatens us. So yeah, ecosystem protection is obvious, but it is also obvious where it doesn’t make sense.

  355. Willard says:

    > I looked up two of Willard’s and Mashey’s links and found out that their “proofs” said exactly the opposite of what they were claiming.

    This is false: miker reconstructed promotion as “proof” to build a strawman from which it’s easy to escape by invoking plausible deniability. Then he went on to pontificate about the Auditor’s beliefs, the Auditor’s overall qualities, how he was mistreated, “but CA is about science,” among other gaits in his Gish Gallop.

  356. miker613 says:

    “The correct answer of course is 3 degrees” Is it? Maybe take care of 1 degree now, with an option of 2 more degrees later if needed is a better answer, even if the 2 degrees later costs more than it would now. Or maybe gather more data, and in a few years you’ll know that it only needs 1.2 degrees and you’ll save trillions of dollars that can be used for something more important.
    Or, maybe the sandbags cost more than your house. Then the correct answer would be to go buy a house farther inland. Or just move everything out of your bottom floor and suffer the damage and hope for the best.
    A little more fancifully, if the next building over is a hospital with children in it that cannot be moved, even though you really need them they might requisition all your sandbags because the hospital needs them more.
    Why would you think that the correct answer only depends on the worst case? The correct answer needs an actuary.

  357. Miker613,

    Maybe take care of 1 degree now, with an option of 2 more degrees later if needed is a better answer, even if the 2 degrees later costs more than it would now.

    One thing to bear in mind is that it’s likely that we cannot reverse what we’ve already done. Therefore, the longer we take before we decide to do anything substantial, the more we have to hope that what we’ve guaranteed will happen, isn’t going to be too damaging.

    Why would you think that the correct answer only depends on the worst case? The correct answer needs an actuary.

    I’m not sure I quite agree with the point being made, but it is true that in a risk assessment one should consider the worst case scenario and balance that with the risks/costs associated with minimising the chance of that worst case actually occurring. The possibility that climate sensitivity could be low doesn’t mean we should ignore that it might not be (in fact, given the evidence, probably isn’t).

  358. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Are you paying miker613 to turn this thread into the “Never Ending Story”?

    BTW, What tis the current Guiness world record for the longest comment thread ever?

  359. jac. says:

    Tom Scharf said:

    “ Would AGW supporters approve of a carbon tax that either reduces the size of government or shifts more burden onto the poor and lower classes? I’m sure most would approve of one that increases government revenue and is mostly shouldered by the upper classes. I would suggest that is how many imagine this tax to be, additive and paid for by industry. A carbon tax could likely be had, but sacrifices might need to be made to win the votes. Is it worth it? “

    To me this is an amazing question. On the other hand, I have noticed that a lot of people who are opposed to mitigation, seem to think that climate change is just a conspiracy from socialists to establish a worldwide socialist regime, with bigger governments and no freedom. Frankly, I think this is a ridiculous idea (something that I thought was obvious – to be on topic), and I find it very hard to believe anyone actually believes this to be true. But could that be the underlying assumption of your question?

    Here is my answer to your question:

    Personally, I would welcome any carbon tax that will reduce and mitigate CO2-emissions.
    I am completely neutral to the question whether or not such a carbon tax would shift more burden – on a NATIONAL level – onto the poor and lower classes or reduce the size of the government. If a national government next would find it fit to compensate the poor and lower classes for this extra carbon tax burden; fine. If not; also fine. Such a decision is about national income policy, and not about climate policy.

    On an INTERNATIONAL level however, I feel it should be bit different. The climate change-problem is caused by the cumulative effect of historical and present CO2-emissions, not just by today’s emissions. Although I feel that a carbon tax is in itself justifiable also for the developing countries (if emitting CO2 is a bad thing, than it is also bad to do for developing countries and not just for developed countries), I feel they should receive some compensation for that carbon tax from the developed countries in some sort of way. A carbon tax that seeks to mitigate CO2 emissions in order to protect the atmosphere partly because the developed countries have already emitted so much CO2 in the atmosphere whereas the developing countries hardly have should put a heavier burden on the developed countries than on the developing countries. Not because of some socialist ideal, but because of the polluter-pays-principle, that should be welcomed by anyone who believes in a marketplace economy.

    See Hank Paulson:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html?_r=0

    Jac.

  360. Willard says:

    > What tis the current Guiness world record for the longest comment thread ever?

    The ultimate death thread was at Bart’s:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared

    It took me a month to read it.

    ***

    We’re still a few hundred comments short from the best ones at Judy’s, e.g.:

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/02/22/steyn-et-al-versus-mann/

    Her (eye-balled) average is twice as much as what we have here.

    Around 300 comments gets us in the range of the good ol’ days at Keith’s. Ask Tom Scharf.

  361. longjohn says:

    Poor Miker, he just got flooded out of existence because he chose to build an 18 ft floodwall and the river went to 20+ft …..

    So now not only did he lose everything he had, his new Insurance Rate will cost 10 times more than it would have cost for sandbags to raise the floodwall 2 more feet

    Poor poor Miker …. I almost feel sorry for him

    Almost …..

  362. Vinny Burgoo says:

    longjohn, feel sorry for me instead. My home insurance rates have doubled in the last three or four years because insurers now reckon my house is at a high risk of flooding. They decided this because a UK govt flood-risk map said my house and garden are close to a high-risk area flanking a river – which they are. The river is a headwater that has very little scope for future extra flooding, plus it’s across a well-drained road from me. It overflows a little every few years, yes, but its floods have never yet joined up with the even rarer road floods.

    There is no chance whatsoever that my garden, let alone my house, will ever be flooded by that titchy river, whose usual highest level is >3m below the lowest point of the garden and >5m below the ground floor of my house. But I must pay double because the insurers have gone the usual risk-averse route and overinterpreted inappropriate info.

    Which last phrase I hope brings me back on topic.

  363. The ultimate death thread was at Bart’s:

    This one wins over that in the count of comments (but why?)

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/12/04/multidecadal-climate-to-within-a-millikelvin/

  364. Willard says:

    > This one wins over that in the count of comments (but why?)

    One answer is that Vaughan provided an excellent room service, with a third of the responses. Another is that Don Don was there, biting V’s ankles.

    Unless you meant to suggest that it’s because I was there, Pekka?

  365. miker613 says:

    Longjohn, did you actually think about what I wrote?

    I’m having the same feeling about ATTP’s comments. He always is saying something reasonable like “it is true that in a risk assessment one should consider the worst case scenario and balance that with the risks/costs associated with minimising the chance of that worst case actually occurring.” But then he always seems to ignore that in his conclusions, and the right answer is mitigate, full steam ahead.
    And that might be the right answer, of course. But it might be totally wrong, depending on that balance that ATTP mentioned. And given that Richard Tol would probably come up with a very different balance than the economists that ATTP would prefer, it is very reasonable that his conclusions would be different as well.
    I’m just not catching that anyone is agreeing that that _makes sense_. Maybe economic conservatives _should_ be against mitigation. Tol has done his calculations. Copenhagen Consensus have done theirs. Maybe they are right to draw the conclusions they do from them?

  366. BBD says:

    Since John’s question is rolling, the JC thread got to 2,430 but the BK thread at Deltoid reached 4,707.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2013/02/02/brangelina-thread/comment-page-1/#comments

  367. Willard says:

    > Tol has done his calculations. Copenhagen Consensus have done theirs.

    I thought Tol has done the calculations for the Copenhagen Consensus.

    Just like Senior, it may very well be Tol all the way down [1, 2].

    [1]: http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2009/08/pielkes-all-way-down.html

    [2]: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2013/12/pielkes-all-way-down.html

  368. miker613 says:

    Tol is not one of the advisors for Copenhagen Consensus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_Consensus#Experts

  369. Willard says:

    > Tol is not one of the advisors for Copenhagen Consensus.

    He’s listed here:

    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/expert

    There’s a whole section on the Copenhagen Consensus on Richard’s wiki page:

    Bjørn Lomborg chose Tol to participate in his “Copenhagen Consensus” project in 2008. In 2008, Tol collaborated with Gary Yohe, Richard G. Richels and Geoffrey Blanford to prepare the “Challenge Paper” on global warming which examined three approaches devised by Lomborg for tackling the issue.[19] The 3 results were then compared with 27 similar investigations, 3 each relating to 9 other ‘challenges’ in the areas of health and environment. Of the 30 policy alternatives that resulted, Lomborg’s ranking procedure rated the 2 dealing with controlling emissions of greenhouse gases 29th and 30th in terms of cost effectiveness.

    A “perspective paper” by Anil Markandya of the University of Bath on the Yohe/Tol study stated that “a short time period analysis is misleading” when all the costs are incurred during the period examined but benefits continue to accrue after its conclusion.[20] He pointed out that the study “stops short of the most that can be supported on a cost benefit basis” and stated that “it does not seem reasonable” to rely solely on Tol’s own FUND model when alternatives “reported in the peer-reviewed literature are also credible”.

    Gary Yohe later accused Lomborg of “deliberate distortion of our conclusions”,[21] adding that “as one of the authors of the Copenhagen Consensus Project’s principal climate paper, I can say with certainty that Lomborg is misrepresenting our findings thanks to a highly selective memory”. In a subsequent joint statement settling their differences, Lomborg and Yohe agreed that the “failure” of Lomborg’s emissions reduction plan “could be traced to faulty design”.[22]

    Lomborg awarded Tol a position on his Copenhagen Consensus panel again in 2009. According to Tol, “Lomborg successfully punches holes in climate hysteria” and “plays a useful role in the debate on climate policy”.[23]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Tol#Copenhagen_Consensus

    The Yohe episode is an interesting one.

  370. John Hartz says:

    miker613:

    Dollars to donuts that Toll and the Copenhagen Consensus had their conclusions in mind prior to doing the calculations.
    ;

  371. miker613 says:

    Hmm. Willard, looks like you’re right. But your first link doesn’t work for me, which is why I was working with wikipedia.

  372. miker613 says:

    “Dollars to donuts that Toll and the Copenhagen Consensus had their conclusions in mind prior to doing the calculations.”
    Sigh. Because no one could really disagree with you, right?

  373. Willard says:

    > Because no one could really disagree with you, right?

    Come on. It was a “technical” comment.

  374. John Hartz says:

    miker613:

    Best not to challenge Willard on factual stuff.

  375. miker613 says:

    I still can’t get to the actual website nohow. But am I right in gathering that there is a team of top experts (Nobel Prizes and such), and then they judge solutions based on a set of papers written by various experts on various subjects? Sounds like Tol and Yohe were from the paper-writing experts.

  376. Willard says:

    The climate part may not be Tol all the way down, but there are lots of occurences of “Tol” in the climate part of the policy advice document. For instance:

    For the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate, prominent climate economist Professor Richard Tol, who has been a contributing, lead, principal, and convening author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s working groups, analyzed the
    benefits and costs of cutting carbon now versus cutting it in the future.

    His paper for the project found that cutting early would cost $17.8 trillion, whereas cutting less across the entire century would cost just $2 trillion. Nonetheless, the reduction in CO2 concentration – and hence temperature – in 2100 will be greater from the future reductions. Cutting emissions now is much more expensive, because there are few, expensive alternatives to fossil fuels. Our money simply doesn’t buy as much as it will when green energy sources are more cost-efficient.

    http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/COP15-Policy-Advice.pdf

    Gremlins may not have been harmed while writing that paper.

    Bjorn says that Richard’s paper is available at fixtheclimate.com, but there’s no URL.

  377. John Hartz says:

    miker 613:

    No, it’s because I have no reason to bellieve that Richard Toll and the Coppenhagen Consensus would perform unbiased analyses. They all knew what their paymasters wanted.

  378. Bjorn says that Richard’s paper is available at fixtheclimate.com, but there’s no URL.

    A little Googling helped:

    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/publication/fix-climate-cutting-carbon-emissions

  379. miker613 says:

    Pekka, does the link work for you? I just can’t get to any of these.

  380. miker613 says:

    “No, it’s because I have no reason to bellieve that Richard Toll and the Coppenhagen Consensus would perform unbiased analyses. They all knew what their paymasters wanted.” You understand that four of the experts at CC have Nobel Prizes?
    What would you say if I suggested that all the climate scientists in the IPCC know what their paymasters want, and therefore their results are all tainted? Sure would save me time arguing!
    I read a lot of this kind of nonsense from both sides. Do you really think that you can judge science by smearing the scientists that don’t give the answers you want?

  381. The link works for me, and so does the download link on that page.

  382. jsam says:

    It is good that people are paid. It is good when people are paid to do work and derive results. It is bad when people are paid to derive a result. It is suspicious when the paymaster does not divulge its funding.

  383. John Hartz says:

    miker613:

    From my perspective, there is a wolrd of difference between a physical scientist and an economist.

    I also note the the entire IPPC and Al Gore received a Nobel Prize. .

  384. Michael 2 says:

    longjohn says: “do we ‘build our sandbags’ for 1 degrees or 3 degrees? The correct answer of course is 3 degrees”

    The correct answer is you build yours as high as you like and I build mine as high as I like. You pay your money and take your chances.

    Evolution has many examples of this choice — when birds fly north to Canada to build nests; if they wait too long the good locations are taken. If they go too soon they run a risk of not finding food or shelter.

    If you had some economics instruction you’d know about “opportunity cost”, the cost of building your high dike is resource diverted from every other thing you can and ought to be doing. It is impossible to protect every home and every person from every disaster; in fact, the very act of protecting is almost certainly imposing a cost on someone else; social or physical; certainly your family where your acts of self protection come at the cost of a better education for yourself or your family members (among other possibilities).

  385. Peter Jacobs says:

    miker613 writes: “I don’t think that’s what Mosher is doing. To me it seems that he is criticizing the attitude that This Is a War, instead of, Here’s What We Are Trying To Accomplish.”

    If “Here’s What We Are Trying To Accomplish” refers to a carbon tax, who is standing in the way of that? Critics of NRO? Or NRO’s actual base?

    “There are a lot of conservatives out there – roughly half of America. If you treat them as evil, don’t be surprised if they treat you as clueless.”

    I am not treating them as evil, I don’t really understand the relevance of this comment. Perhaps you can explain?

    I am trying to understand Mosher’s position on this. At first (4:59 pm), it sounds as though he’s trying to say that conservatives support a carbon tax:

    “but see conservatives like Mosher dont believe in [carbon] taxes.”

    But if conservatives in the aggregate actually did support a carbon tax, in any politically meaningful sense, relevant legislation would be on the President’s desk and signed by the end of the month.

    Later (1:54 am) Mosher seems to acknowledge that this isn’t actually the aggregate conservative position, calling it a “breakthrough”:

    “I find it odd that people are not pouncing on this great
    Breakthrough at NRO”

    But does it represent a “breakthrough” any more than it was reflective of conservatives’ general position? It’s not obvious to me that it represents anything other than the status quo.

    A few conservatives, typically with economic backgrounds, endorse a carbon tax. It is rejected by the conservative base as well as the Republican party generally. If the NRO guest piece has changed this status quo, I would appreciate someone explaining the nature of the “breakthrough”. The comments by NRO readers don’t seem to reflect such a dynamic.

    Mosher writes:

    “Looks to me like people don’t really care.
    Where is sks on the issue?”

    Skeptical Science may or may not write about this, I don’t know, but Dana has certainly in the past positively discussed conservative endorsements of a carbon tax*.

    But he also has pointed out that conservatives are the ones generally blocking a carbon tax.

    These aren’t mutually exclusive, and the former is the exception that demonstrates the rule of the latter.

    The issue I have is that Mosher appears to be framing this as some sort of evidence of a hidden agenda or implacability on the side of the mainstream advocates for emissions stabilization.

    “Shouldn’t bloom and Mann be declaring victory? You’d think that if folks really cared they would promote the hell
    Out of the idea.

    It’s not enough that someone agrees with you on the science. It’s not enough that they even agree to tax carbon. You want more. Why?”

    Does Mosher actually believe that advocates for emissions stabilization on the center and left are the impediment to a carbon tax, rather than conservatives?

    If not, does he just want to highlight some sort of perceived bad manners by a blog commenter like Steve Bloom?

    It seems to me that he’s conflating the two, even though there’s nothing remotely related about them.

    Let us all stipulate that there will be blog commenters who dislike conservatives. And that will dislike conservatives even after they accede the necessity for emissions limits.

    What does that have to do with the actual political obstacles to emissions pricing in the real world?

    *See for example: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/08/global-warming-denial-fox-news where Dana name-checks:

    “Art Laffer, economic advisor to Ronald Reagan
    Greg Mankiw, economic advisor to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney
    George Shultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State
    Gary Becker, Nobel Laureate in economics
    Bob Inglis, former Republican Congressman from South Carolina
    A staffer for a House Republican
    William Ruckelshaus, EPA Administrator under Nixon and Reagan
    Lee Thomas, EPA Administrator under Reagan
    William Reilly, EPA Administrator under George H.W. Bush
    Christine Todd Whitman, EPA Administrator under George W. Bush”

  386. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel — yes, my comment above is pessimistic. The United States is large and Russia much larger. I mention this since your examples pertain to islands; Iceland would love to be 100 percent hydro and geothermal and could actually achieve it. But some of their climate costs are external to the entire nation — they do not manufacture their automobiles for instance.

    Where hydropower is feasable it is already built; alas, the very people most worried about climate are also, it seems, the ones demanding “breaching” the very dams that provide alternative energy.

    Much of the United States (and Russia) is only marginally productive, suited naturally to unassisted human habitation. Prior to the railroads, most of the western United States was barely occupied.

    As the world returns to that state of affairs, millions, maybe billions, of people will not go into the next life willingly or gracefully. It will be the Kaibab Plateau ecological disaster “writ large.” Plan accordingly and be happy if that pessimistic outcome doesn’t happen.

    You see, it hardly matters whether this return to pre-industry happens as a result of exhaustion or deliberate choices. Escaping it requires technology and methods that do not now exist. But I believe that when humans are cold and hungry, global warming will suddenly become even less a concern to the public than it is now. My furnace has been running nearly non-stop for a solid week of below 0, and that’s “F”, not “C”. (been about -22 C). I could probably survive it as I have been active with Boy Scouts and have quite a lot of cold weather gear, but how many other people are equipped or prepared for an abrupt or even gradual loss of electricity and petroleum? One of the real problems would be lack of running water, a problem I’ve experienced at camp a few times when all water sources were frozen solid.

    You should see how I dress just to take the dog out for a walk. Insulated boots, Gore-Tex snow pants, multi-layer parka, Thinsulate gloves. The dog can stand it for about three minutes then she is trying to pick up all four feet from walking on the snow that is so cold it squeaks when you walk on it.

    But thanks to global warming it is warmer than it used to be (-29 C is the coldest I’ve experienced at my home).

  387. John Hartz says:

    Does “NRO” = National Review Online?

  388. Joshua says:

    ==> “This one wins over that in the count of comments (but why?)”

    Sarah Palin facebook posts get comments into the tens of thousands.

  389. Joshua says:

    miker –

    Re: your January 4, 2015 at 7:34 pm. Acknowledged.

  390. John Hartz says:

    Peter Jacobs: The primary objective of a Carbon Tax is to change consumer behaviour. Why on earth would a political party which wraps itself in climate change denial ever vote to impose such a tax?

  391. Willard says:

    It might be preferable to refer to Richard as an econometrician:

    I am an econometrician, by the way.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167656

    Bjorn should take note.

  392. Joshua says:

    willard –

    ==> “Her (eye-balled) average is twice as much as what we have here.”

    I did a quick ballpark in my head for December through today – 220 comments per day at Judith’s crib…90 per day here (in almost exactly the same number of threads).

  393. miker613 says:

    @John Hartz “From my perspective, there is a wolrd of difference between a physical scientist and an economist.” So if I changed my example to Paul Krugman, who has a Nobel Prize, or Nordhaus, or economists from the IPCC – then you would have no problem with my saying that they are untrustworthy because “they know what the paymaster wants”?
    I think this kind of thing is unworthy. These are scientists on the top level. If they disagree with one another, it’s because the science isn’t settled and there is more than one way to approach the issue.

  394. Willard says:

    In his review of the Gremlins! paper, Andrew Gelman commented:

    1. In the 2009 paper, you wrote, “some estimates, by Hope (2006), Mendelsohn, Morrison, Schlesinger, and Andronov (2000), Mendelsohn, Schlesinger, and Williams (2000), and myself (Tol, 2002b), point to initial benefits of a modest increase in temperature, followed by losses as temperatures increase further.” After the correction, only one estimate (yours) points to initial benefits (unless you want to count the one study that projects tiny 0.0% and 0.1% effects). As discussed in the blog post above, this puts a lot more of the burden of this claim on your own study, indeed also interfering with the “if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today” claim in the popular press. I of course don’t hold you responsible for what some reporter writes, but the point is that if the paper had not had the errors, it wouldn’t have supported that claim.

    Searching for “some estimates”, I stumbled upon this in Richard’s prospectus:

    A second finding is that some estimates (Hope 2006; Mendelsohn et al. 2000b; Mendelsohn et al. 2000a; Tol 2002b), point to initial benefits of a modest increase in temperature, followed by losses as temperatures increase further. There are no estimates for a warming above 3˚C, although climate change may well go beyond that (see below). All studies published after 1995 have regions with net gains and net losses due to global warming, while earlier studies only find net losses. Figure 1 illustrates this pattern.

    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/ap_mitigation_tol_v_3.0.pdf

    When will a correction be issued to reflect Andrew’s discovery that only Richard’s estimate points to initial benefits?

    ***

    Interestingly, Richard abstracted away these “estimates” in his latest editorial:

    The estimates of the total impact of climate change call for a modest tax on greenhouse gas emissions—or perhaps a cap-and-trade system with a generous allocation of emission permits.

    http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/12/10/hot-stuff-cold-logic/

    The “call for” predicate seems to refer to Richard’s scenarios at the end of his Copenhagen prospectus.

  395. Willard says:

    From Bjorn we get to Matt:

    There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. That was the conclusion of Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies of the effects of future climate trends. To be precise, Prof Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper).

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167688

    Richard dismisses this with “that draws on a different paper.” The Stickman searches and scores:

    Ridley’s wording is entirely clear and deliberate, and it is blindingly obvious that he is referring to the 2009 study that is the subject of our discussion here. (Yes, he also refers to a separate study further on in the article, but that hardly negates the first point.) If you really require undeniable proof then simply take a look at Ridley’s website, where he specifically links to Tol (JEP, 2009) when arguing that “that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009″!

    This discussion gives a whole new meaning to the concept of sunk cost.

  396. John Hartz says:

    miker63:

    “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

    The original Copenhagen Consensus Center was created by conservatives to a be a conservative think-tank. I presume that everyone who worked on the series of Coppenhagen Consensus Projects was duely compensated for their services.

    Paul Krugman is now a journalist. To the best of my knowledge, he has never been on the payroll of a liberral think tank..

  397. Willard says:

    Another interesting tidbit in Bjorn’s CEO keynote:

    Tol showed that achieving the target would require a high, global CO2 tax starting at around $68 per ton. Based on conventional estimates, this ambitious program would avert much of the damage of global warming. However, Tol concludes that a tax at this level could reduce world GDP by a staggering 12.9% in 2100—the equivalent of $40 trillion a year. Despite the fact that we will also avoid damages from climate worth some 2-5% of GDP towards the end of the century, the costs will hit much sooner and much harder, meaning that for each dollar spent on the ‘solution’, we will avoid only about 2 cents of climate damage.

    Tol’s cost figures are based on projections from all of the major economic models of the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum. Around half of the models actually found it impossible to achieve the target of keeping temperature rises lower than 2 degrees Celsius with carbon cuts; the $40 trillion price-tag comes from those models that could do so.

    http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/COP15-Policy-Advice.pdf

    The first paragraph seems to refer to section 4 of the Consensus prospectus, while the second paragraph seems to refer to section 3.2. To claim that Richard’s FUND model is based on EMF [1]’s “figures” alone sounds a bit farfetched.

    [1]: https://emf.stanford.edu/

  398. I don’t think it is right to say that climate change is not about survival of humans as species. 4 degrees of warming could make the planet mostly uninhabitable – and this is the path where we are now more than going; not to mention 6 degrees and the threat of catastropic methane release from the permafrost and seabed. This will change the atmosphere and everything to the extent we could not adapt to.

  399. Polina,

    4 degrees of warming could make the planet mostly uninhabitable – and this is the path where we are now more than going; not to mention 6 degrees and the threat of catastropic methane release from the permafrost and seabed.

    Yes, I wasn’t trying to mimimise those risks. I was simply trying to make the case that we would still expect some humans to exist even under those extreme scenarios. The real issue (in my view) is whether we can continue to support a population of > 7 billion.

  400. andrew adams says:

    Progressives will feel the need to “fix” a carbon tax that shifts more burden onto the middle class and poor by implementing some form of income redistribution scheme. Possibly this is even justified, but the food fight over the details of this could likely never be agreed upon.

    Sure, progressives would indeed want the effects of a carbon tax on the poor to be mitigated, and I don’t doubt that there would be some disagreement (not just amongst progressives) over the details – disagreement is fine as it can lead to better solutions emerging. But this is the case with many areas of government policy, yet policies still get enacted. We already have mechanisms for redistribution within the tax and benefit system or, as the last Labour government did, it is possible to enact specific measures to reduce energy costs for the poorest. So yes, the effect on the poor certainly should be taken into account when planning any carbon pricing mechanism, but it is far from an insurmountable problem.

  401. Andrew Dodds says:

    M2 –

    With regard to opportunity cost, this is an interesting case.

    The UK – and by most measures the US – have problems with significant un- and under-employment. And also a cost of capital of near-zero. So it isn’t a case of ‘We could do X or we could do Y’ – it’s more ‘We could do X or we could have people and capital doing nothing of value whatsoever’. Our economies are packed with spare capacity.

    (In a true libertarian economy, of course, those unable to exchange their labour for sufficient food would simply die out, and the banking system would have been allowed to crash and burn taking everyone’s savings with it. But I digress – we don’t live in such a paradise)

    As such, putting people and capital to work on global warming avoidance and adaptation measures has little opportunity cost. The large scale building of very energy-efficient housing, nuclear power plants, flood defence systems, etc would simply mean the employment of idle resources.

  402. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “Why on earth would a political party which wraps itself in climate change denial ever vote to impose such a tax?”

    Inasmuch as the topic is “things I thought were obvious”, you score a bullseye!

    On a more serious note, political parties will do anything if the payoff is sweet enough.

  403. Tom Scharf says:

    Not to be obtuse (followed by me being obtuse)….the main reason conservatives don’t support a carbon tax is that they don’t support new taxes in general. I think it is also fairly self evident, at least to me, that environmentalists go out of there way to alienate conservatives. So getting an environmental tax through a conservative legislature is already a monumental lift.

    I have seen very little discussion on how one might design a carbon tax that would actually appeal to a conservative. I have seen arguments on how a carbon tax actually saves money through savings via second order effects but find these arguments pretty unconvincing. I have seen arguments for a revenue neutral carbon tax from Hansen that are the closest thing to reasonable out there, although it’s not clear if this would actually change behavior.

    It’s pretty clear that unless a carbon tax is global and constrains China, India, et. al that it would also not function well to reduce global emissions.

    Summers had an editorial in the WP today on a carbon tax that is representative of wishful thinking. His reasonable “starting” point is $25/ton that he claims would raise $100B/year. That’s about $1300 / year for a family a four. Never.ever.going.to.happen. Wouldn’t have passed in 2009.

    1. Don’t increase the overall tax burden.
    2. Demonstrate clearly that it will be effective in reducing global emissions, it’s intended purpose.
    2. No new slush funds for anyone.
    3. No ability to increase the tax over time without voter approval. See VAT trajectories.
    4. No new regulatory burdens or agencies.
    5. This is not a vehicle for income redistribution or other liberal agendas.
    6. Try to keep it to less than 2000 pages.

    It’s already very hard. Showing a bit of sacrifice such as support for nuclear power might help to overcome the trust issues. Bottom line is you need to give conservatives a reason to want it.

  404. Tom,

    It’s pretty clear that unless a carbon tax is global and constrains China, India, et. al that it would also not function well to reduce global emissions.

    Well, yes, this is probably true.

    Showing a bit of sacrifice such as support for nuclear power might help to overcome the trust issues. Bottom line is you need to give conservatives a reason to want it.

    I get the feeling that you’re assuming that anyone who accepts mainstream climate science supports the WWF and Greenpeace and is against nuclear, which isn’t true. The other problem I have is that the “you have to give conservatives a reason to want it” implies that somehow it’s someone else’s responsibility to recognise the risks we face with increasing emissions. It’s not. It’s a problem we will all face as will all of our descendants. If one group want to bury their heads in the sand until another group is behaving to their satisfaction, then they can do so and we’ll all suffer as a result. Alternatively, conservatives (well, those who are doing this as not all conservatives are) could take their heads out of the sand and start working things out for themselves, rather than insisting on others changing how they behave.

  405. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds says: (in reply to me) “As such, putting people and capital to work on global warming avoidance and adaptation measures has little opportunity cost. The large scale building of very energy-efficient housing, nuclear power plants, flood defence systems, etc would simply mean the employment of idle resources.”

    Your theory would be correct if (1) idle resources did actually exist and (2) your name is Josef Stalin that can just “put people to work” and (3) all this capital and labor had absolutely no use anywhere else. But, it does have use — labor could be producing food, fixing the broken bridges that cover the United States. Shall this nation worry about global warming when bridges are falling into the Mississippi River?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_Mississippi_River_bridge

    The “opportunity cost” should be obvious. If there’s spare labor and capital, it ought to be used to deal with current urgencies first. Deciding to “put people to work” on global warming diverts needed labor and capital from bridges (and a great many other immediate social needs).

    There’s a huge pyramid hotel in Pyongyang, never finished, that resulted when their beloved leader “put people to work” but not even North Korea can finish a hotel when “real capital” is nonexistent. Capital does not come into existence by decree.

    Real capital is surplus created by production. Where there’s no production, there’s also no capital. It is circular; capital allows production and production creates capital. But it isn’t yours to decide what to do with it.

    Policy makers have no capital. Bill Gates, however, has billions.

    Bill Gates could build things — if only El Presidente would allow it and if there was something in it for Bill Gates.

    Historical examples exist which you probably have in mind and which existed in an era when production surplus did actually exist:
    http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Public_Works_Administration.html

  406. My apologies for not keeping up; life has been complicated.

    JohnRussell40, no I’m not that Susan Anderson, though I do follow Monbiot. I’m the Susan Anderson who is the daughter of a much more illustrious Anderson, Philip W, and friend when he was around of one Richard Feynman.

    With regard to the accusations for using phony skeptic, perhaps I should have said pseudo or fake.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2010/feb/22/climate-change-sceptics

    We are not to use the word denial, another attack mechanism meant to distract from the point, which is that people who deny most of climate science are in denial, a perfectly good dictionary word.

    The point is that this kind of skepticism is not skeptical, as it embraces with fervor anything and anything that goes against the uncontroversial status of climate science in the large majority of the community that has made the effort to acquire expertise, which is not inconsiderable, involving great expense of time etc., not particularly high salaries, a good bit of attack (particularly for the successful ones such as Mike Mann). I have followed through the years the emergence and persistence of Lindzen, Freeman Dyson, Happer, Austin, recently Judith Curry, and a good few others whose reach exceeds their knowledge. Dyson is an interesting case, being a brilliant technocrat in his 90s who has moved outside his natural skills.

    Along with embracing a small minority
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2014/01/10/about-that-consensus-on-global-warming-9136-agree-one-disagrees/
    this would-be “skeptical” community dismisses a vast body of knowledge, held by all the world’s top organizations tasked with the work.

    I may even be the person who brought pseudo or fake skepticism into common currency, when I was casting around for a shortcut to explain to laypeople and possible lurkers that this kind of skepticism is not skeptical.

    Miker613’s attack several days ago evidences the phenomenon, as he makes several assumptions about my knowledge, understanding, and studies, which have been considerable though I have to leave the higher reaches of science to scientists (would that others would have the same respect).

    simply because they disagree with you? It’s not my fault that you can’t understand any point of view except your own. Somewhere around third grade I discovered that I wasn’t always right; most of us did. Do you seriously imagine that anyone disagreeing with you is lying?

    shows a prejudice and lack of curiosity that is exactly the problem.

  407. John Hartz says:

    Tom Scharf:

    As I stated upstream a few days ago, as long as Grover Norquist calls the shots for Republicans in Congress, no national carbon tax will be enacted in the U.S.

    Given that the “Txed Enough Already” movment was inititated and fostered by the Koch brothers and their ilk, there is little point in negotiating with them. Rather, they need to be discredited and marginalized for the idealogues that they are.

    On the good news front, the majority of TEA Party devotees are elderly and the movement will literally die-off over time. Unfortunately, time is not on our side.

  408. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP says “Alternatively, conservatives could take their heads out of the sand and start working things out for themselves, rather than insisting on others changing how they behave.”

    Who exactly is doing the insisting on how we should change behavior? It seems “obvious” 😉 that the left wishes the right to act left, and the right wishes the left to act right; neither of which has any hope of happening because these words describe deeply held and largely unchangeable behavior patterns. You are wired to be right or left; age alone seems to gradually change a person but I suspect that may simply be gradual alignment into what is natural for that person by shedding imposed norms. It does seem to me that youth are more easily persuaded into leftwing thinking which by its very nature is simple and appealing (hence George Orwell’s frequent depiction of them as “sheep”). I suspect most youth start out adulthood as left-wing, Utopian thinkers because it has a lot going for it.

    As they enter careers, especially professions, at some point they start to want to enjoy the fruit of their own labor and make decisions for themselves — and that is when they discover that the left wing isn’t about you making decisions for yourself, “you didn’t build that!” is their slogan. This kind becomes the right wing.

    So, while there’s no hope of changing the person, you might be able to change goals, and by changing goals, also change behavior. Libertarians are, in my opinion, the easiest to change because they are neither right nor left wing. You set a goal — increased independence from external forces you cannot control. Solar power on every home! Be energy independent and the word “independent” will shine brightly and leap off the page. Libertarians will love it and that’s at least 40 percent of Americans.

    In fact, several large and growing companies exist (Vivint for one) doing exactly that. They bear the capital cost, which is substantial, and they take the rebates and feed-in tariffs, and you get reduced monthly power bills. It’s not exactly independence since it is grid-synchronized and if the grid goes down, so does your solar power. It helps reduce demand on power plants; but it creates a problem maintaining the grid itself if everyone’s power bills goes to zero.

    A railroad locomotive cannot steer itself; but a million-pound engine can be steered by an ordinary human being at the lever of a switch. It is a fulcrum and it makes only a small change in the direction of the locomotive; but once on the other track, its destination is completely changed.

    But some here are (figuratively) standing in front of a Union Pacific Challenger saying “go here!” or “go there!” and there’s a certain King Canute-ness to this vision. That’s not how it works. Ask nicely and conform to the requirements of the engine; not the other way round.

  409. John Hartz says:

    Michael2: You state:

    Libertarians will love it and that’s at least 40 percent of Americans.

    Please document the source of your 40% figure.

  410. John Hartz says:

    /michael2: People who disdain the value of the “common good” (i.e. Libertarians in the U.S.) are not likely to willingly embrace the collective actions necessary to mitigate manmade climate change.

  411. John Hartz says:

    Michael2
    ;
    You assert:

    Deciding to “put people to work” on global warming diverts needed labor and capital from bridges (and a great many other immediate social needs)

    You are merely regurtitating a phoney-baloney mantra of conservatives.

    In the U.S., we can get all of the capital and labor necessaqry to mitigate manmade climate change from the military-industrial complex if we decided to do so.

  412. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “Please document the source of your 40% figure.”

    I am the source of my 40 percent figure. However, I remember reading a percentage in the usually reliable (snark) Huffington Post on their semi-annual “discovery” of libertarians (small L) as they (Huffpo) contemplated the possibility that libertarians are an entirely third way of thinking. Can you imagine their difficulty with more ways of thinking than just three?

    The difficulty of establishing a precise number should be “obvious” (I love this topic!) as they may or may not respond to surveys, there’s no telling how they will vote in an election or respond to a survey. By itself libertarian means almost nothing, or anything you wish it to mean.

    Washington Post, itself leftwing, says 22 percent:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/10/29/poll-22-percent-of-americans-lean-libertarian/

    Pew Research has a somewhat fuzzy report, in part because “few of them hold consistent libertarian opinions on the role of government”

    Duh, the whole point of being a libertarian is that your opinions are yours and not aligned with anyone except by coincidence.
    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/25/in-search-of-libertarians/

    “None of the seven groups identified by the 2014 political typology closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven.”

    An obvious statement by Pew. Libertarian isn’t a “type”, it is a property that can be found in all types where recognition of “liberty” is elevated as compared to non-libertarians. However it is not uniformly distributed since Democrats, being socialist by nature, are the antithesis of liberty for most people while actually increasing liberty for some (the poor, for instance).

    But that’s all according to Pew’s definition of Libertarian — their idea of pure Libertarian pulls in only 5 percent of the public.

    An interesting effort by Pew is to create a “typology” of 8 types, not just right-left, but a meaningful distribution where no type has more than 17 percent of registered voters.

    http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/

    Libertarian isn’t one of the types since it is an overlay on any of the other types; you can be a left wing libertarian or a right wing libertarian. An example is myself; I recognize the moral wrongness of many things, but I am even less interested in government regulating some things.

    My definition of libertarian is very simple — I choose for me, you choose for you. Nothing is ruled out; we could choose any size of government, choose any amount of charity, but it is by choice rather than decree.

  413. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “Please document the source of your 40% figure.”

    Wapo (leftwing) says 22 percent, Pew is all over the place, Cato (right wing) is also all over the place but gets 44 percent depending on how the survey question is asked:

    http://www.cato.org/blog/how-many-libertarian-voters-are-there

    Finally, we commissioned Zogby International to ask our three ANES questions to 1,012 actual (reported) voters in the 2006 election… We asked half the sample, “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” We asked the other half of the respondents, “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?”

    The results surprised us. Fully 59 percent of the respondents said “yes” to the first question. That is, by 59 to 27 percent, poll respondents said they would describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”

    The addition of the word “libertarian” clearly made the question more challenging. What surprised us was how small the drop-off was. A healthy 44 percent of respondents answered “yes” to that question, accepting a self-description as “libertarian.”

  414. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “People who disdain the value of the ‘common good’ are not likely to willingly embrace the collective actions necessary to mitigate manmade climate change.”

    Agreed; and yet, I believe this category of person is more likely to undertake the actual personal steps necessary to achieve meaningful change. Most illumination in my house is now LED; a mere 9 watts illuminates my dining area for instance. I use an infrared thermometer to locate heat leaks and patch them up, plus it is just fun to point it at things and learn about heat flows. I am conscientious about recycling and using resources wisely. I use rechargeable batteries. I have some solar power but it is sort of in that limbo stage where there’s not enough to leap onto it completely. My intention is to move some of my activity totally onto solar (as my amateur radio hobby has been for quite a while). I could operate my computers totally from solar, for instance, while leaving the “big ticket” items on the grid.

    It will be the collective actions of hundreds of millions of people making personal choices that makes a difference, not a decree by El Presidente.

  415. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “You are merely regurtitating a phoney-baloney mantra of conservatives.”

    Of course, whereas you merely regurgitate your own mantras. But that’s okay since otherwise I would not know you and which way you lean.

    “In the U.S., we can get all of the capital and labor necessaqry to mitigate manmade climate change from the military-industrial complex if we decided to do so.”

    So why haven’t you done this? Ah, the problem of “we”. You cannot do it alone and you wish all people to conform to your vision of things. It might even be a good vision; but you see, they wish you to conform to their vision!

    That leaves you to act for yourself and do what is actually in your power. Set an example; show the superiority of your way, and gradually your neighbors may start to do likewise. You do not need to change the world, neither is such a thing in your power. But a million people changing their neighborhoods changes the world.

    As to the MIC; yes, it consumes the second largest slice of the tax revenue pie. Eliminate it entirely and recompute. I suspect someone has already done so, let’s see if I can find it:

    Well, seems Ron Paul is in favor of eliminating (or at least dramatically reducing) the MIC but you aren’t likely to vote for him:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul

    Unsurprisingly, while a few blogs touch the subject, I haven’t yet found a detailed analysis of what would happen, or what would have happened, without a MIC. It is obvious some technologies exist because of the military-industrial complex (GPS for instance), but might they have been created otherwise? It is impossible to say with any degree of certainty.

    “The United States spends an enormous sum on defense — over $700 billion last year, about half of all military spending in the world — but in terms of our total economy, it has steadily declined to less than 5 percent of gross domestic product from 14 percent in 1953. Defense-related research has not produced an ossified garrison state; in fact, it has yielded a host of beneficial technologies, from the Internet to civilian nuclear power to GPS navigation. “

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/opinion/the-permanent-militarization-of-america.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Ah, I’ve been looking at this from the wrong angle, asking the wrong questions. I need to look at “BRAC” — Base Realignment And Closure. Every military base proposed for closing has enormous economic impact.

    A good report on the economic importance of the military-industrial complex and consequent difficulty of eliminating it:
    http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/9-11/military_complex.htm

    So you see, there is no “we” committed to eliminating the military-industrial complex and churning out solar panels instead.

  416. Michael 2 says:

    “Further, a great conglomerate of military industrial power might threaten individual liberty.”

    (The link was enormous so I’m not going to post it here)
    The Military-Industrial Complex
    Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, 2002

    Indeed. it’s enough to make you think again about libertarian.

  417. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds says: “the banking system would have been allowed to crash and burn taking everyone’s savings with it.”

    Affecting only those that hadsavings. As it is, the actual response resulted in a hidden taking of everyone’s savings through taxes and inflation.

    Consider the United States itself as a giant bank; who or what is going to bail out the United States when it is on the brink of crash and burn? Nobody. By postponing the crash-and-burn (and accompanying “reboot” of the industry), the magnitude of the disaster is simply going to be much larger.

    This is the essence of this blog. Waiting is bad. The disaster will be greater if we wait until the future to do something.

    It seems to me that many here, perhaps even you, are willing to suffer some pain NOW to avoid a greater climate disaster in the future — and yet, when it comes to banking, you do not see the same principles applied. Why is that?

    What I see is that nearly everyone here is “libertarian” as to your own freedom of choice. You oppose the socialism of the military-industrial complex while at the same time embracing the concept that someone should be empowered to compel humanity to the “greater good”, imagining that YOU are the decider, or even knower, of what exactly that might be. But unless you have the financial clout and money of, say, Lockheed; what constitutes the “greater good” is going to be defined by Lockheed.

  418. John Hartz says:

    Michael2: Given that you reserve the right to change your mind at a whim, everything that you have posted on this comment thread is as ephemeral as clouds in the sky. It is therefore foolish for me or anyone else reading this threat to take you seriously and engage you in a discussion because you might totally disagree with what I say today and, tormorrow, you migt totally agree with I said today.

  419. Michael 2 says:

    andrew adams says: “it is possible to enact specific measures to reduce energy costs for the poorest.”

    At some point your many incentives to be poor will be irresistible, at which point you’ll have a great many “poor”. Free housing, free food, free medical, free cellphone, free energy! It is not exactly clear to me why anyone still eats his bread through the sweat of his brow.

  420. anoilman says:

    John Hartz, Miker613; Yes. I would assume that the Copenhagen consensus had its conclusions in mind before starting. If I recall correctly, the first time Lomborg attempted that, he invited no scientists who dealt with global warming or global warming economics to conclude that we should do nothing. He was so soundly chastised that he had to do it again and refine his approach.

    Lomborg made millions of dollars from Global Warming Denial ‘Think’ Tanks;
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/06/25/millions-behind-bjorn-lomborg-copenhagen-consensus-center

    Lomborg has a Phd in Political Science, and specifically he studied game theory and how people vote. That’s the opposite of asking people what ‘they’ want. Its deciding what you want, and getting enough of ‘them’ to vote your way.
    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/lomborg-long-game/

    If anyone was actually serious about the Copenhagen Consensus (and no one is) you would be demanding an increase in taxes to start funding aid for third world problems. This is not happening. And it most certainly isn’t being done by Lomborg’s pay masters, Conservative Think Tanks.

    Can anyone hear CATO yelling “Raise Taxes! Fix the Third World now!” Nope? Richard Tol? Victorpetri? Miker613? Anyone? Beuller?

  421. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “It is therefore foolish for me or anyone else reading this threat to take you seriously and engage you in a discussion”

    Disengaging already?

    “because you might totally disagree with what I say today and, tormorrow, you migt totally agree with I said today.”

    Yes, that is possible. I agree with the agreeable and disagree with the disagreeable sometimes at the same moment.

    It is like Schroedinger’s Cat — Agreement and disagreement simultaneously exist until you explain yourself and then I’ll know for sure whether agreement or disagreement is called for.

    Until then, it’s both at the same time. Libertarian is both good and bad. Socialism is both good and bad. The Military-Industrial complex is both good and bad. Life is simple and life is complex. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one; the needs of the one outweighs the needs of the many. Not even Star Trek could work out which is which.

    YMMV.

  422. Peter Jacobs says:

    Offsetting part of payroll taxes with the proceeds of a carbon tax is neither regressive nor an incentive to stay “poor”. The immediate incentives would be for the working poor through middle class to actually earn more (because they get to keep more) while doing the best they can to minimize their carbon use.

  423. andrew adams says:

    M2

    My definition of libertarian is very simple — I choose for me, you choose for you. Nothing is ruled out; we could choose any size of government, choose any amount of charity, but it is by choice rather than decree.

    Sure, we can each choose how much we give to charity, but there is no possible system whereby you get to choose small government and I get to choose big government.

  424. Andrew,
    Presumably by M2’s definition Libertarians should be opposed to CO2 emissions since it prevents others from deciding not to be harmed in the future by emissions we decide to do today.

  425. Andrew Dodds says:

    M2 –

    But the whole point is that we are doing nothing with the resources available. If we had full employment and significant interest rates – i.,e. no idle capital or labour – then there would be significant opportunity costs.

    But there are not; it’s the depression all over again.

    And we don’t have to be Stalinist about it, the government can take the shocking, shocking step of employing people to do stuff that needs doing (But the private sector can’t/won’t do). Such as building bridges.. I’m certainly not an economic libertarian in this regard, just as I’m not a communist – neither pure approach works well. The government should take a large role in well-constrained infrastructure issues, where the capital requirements and timescales make markets ineffective, and in highly technical issues like medicine where expert knowledge typically beats the ‘wisdom of crowds’.. but it should not be making TVs or telling me what brand of car to buy.

  426. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    Yes indeed, any kind of pollution can be seen as a violation of the property rights of others.

  427. andrew adams says:

    One more point for M2

    Duh, the whole point of being a libertarian is that your opinions are yours and not aligned with anyone except by coincidence.

    But they must be consistent to an extent with a particular set of principles, otherwise the term “libertarian” would have no meaning at all. And I thnk that all of us, whatever our political views, would claim them as our own. Or to the extent that they are influenceed by others that would equally apply to libertarians.

  428. John Hartz says:

    Andrew Adams & Andrew Dodd:

    Keep in mind that Michael2 considers “libertariianism” to be a magic elixer that will cure all of mankind’s ailments. In olden days. such an elixer was made out of snake oil. The modern version is concocted from Ayn Rand’s fiction — bottled and distributed by Koch.Industries.

  429. Eli Rabett says:

    No free riders. Basic human instinct.

  430. verytallguy says:

    Eli,

    Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

  431. John Hartz says:

    Eli: Lest we forget…

    “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” is a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter Stan Jones. A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949. The ASCAP database lists the song as “Riders in the Sky” (title code 480028324[2]), but the title has been written as “Ghost Riders”, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, and “A Cowboy Legend”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%28Ghost%29_Riders_in_the_Sky:_A_Cowboy_Legend

  432. BBD says:

    ATTP on M2:

    Presumably by M2’s definition Libertarians should be opposed to CO2 emissions since it prevents others from deciding not to be harmed in the future by emissions we decide to do today.

    The future is already here: 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution. But apparently not a single libertarian among them or their surviving relatives, hence the absolute absence of complaint from libertarians about this terrible breach of the individual rights of millions.

  433. John Hartz says:

    I am pleased to note that Barak Obama and Michael2 have at least one thing in common. For details, see:

    Everyone is totally just winging it, all the time by Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, Jan 6, 2014

  434. anoilman says:

    BBD: I note that Solar and Wind don’t generate indoor or outdoor pollution. Think of all the libertarians we could save!

  435. BBD says:

    We could put them to work in the fields, growing food for the poor.

  436. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Caricatured self-congratulatory libertarianism vs. caricatured self-congratulatory authoritarianism again and again and again… Isn’t there a more interesting way to falsely divide the world?

  437. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP on M2: “Presumably by M2’s definition Libertarians should be opposed to CO2 emissions since it prevents others from deciding not to be harmed in the future by emissions we decide to do today.”

    Agreed with one caveat — it requires a social contract. In other words, the difference between libertarian and anarchy is that social contract, where I agree to not impose upon you if you agree not to impose upon me, a voluntary limitation on one’s liberty. It doesn’t require a social contract, I might decide to be a good citizen even if you do not, based on my own sense of honor and/or future reward in a next life (both in my case).

    Occasionally the benefit of a contract must be demonstrated; as with a noisy or smelly roommmate; I demonstrate my power to also be noisy and smelly until my roommate “discovers” the benefits of mutual disarmament (dis-stinkament).

    Should it become more demonstrable than it already is that CO2 is harmful, then perhaps more libertarians will do more about it — but as I have pointed out many times, I already take many actions, I’m just not an “activist” about it. I suspect this will be true of many libertarians — privately taking actions but not demanding that “we” make someone do something.

  438. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz writes “Michael2 considers libertariianism to be…”

    So much for disengaging! Oh, well, I asked for it and I do really enjoy the stimulation of this conversation. So, seriously, thank you.

    “bottled and distributed by Koch.Industries.”

    A bit of conspiracy ideation as a bonus!

    On a more serious note; libertarianism is no more and no less than “I choose for me, you choose for you”. Your definition seems to vary.

    The leading world power for the past 50 or so years was conceived in liberty so the concept has evidence in its favor. Its opposite, North Korea, is not attractive to me and perhaps you, too. I think you enjoy liberty more than you are willing to admit. It is everyone else that does not deserve liberty for we clearly cannot all have it at the same time; the world would end.

  439. Michael 2 says:

    Andrew Dodds — I accept the idea of zero opportunity cost with the provision that some things would be built anyway, either privately or by government, such as bridges. The big difference is who pays. Government infrastructure is paid for by everyone; private infrastructure is paid for by the actual users of, say, a toll road. That is why I vote against any public works that really only benefits a small portion of the public. It should all be private except I recognize a principle that a person’s power to prevent society is somewhat limited in practice and in principle; so some things should be done by government rather than by a natural person in the case that “taking” property is required. No right exists to do that but guns and government create rights out of thin air and sometimes is expedient.

    My understanding of history, while slightly weak, suggests that the industrialists of the late 1800’s were burdened with the need to produce roads, bridges, railroads — everything. They didn’t want to, and needed government to do what they had been doing. Hence, the invention, largely by those same industrialists, of the United States Income Tax and various other taxes by which the government started subsidizing industry and led ultimately to President Obama saying “You didn’t build that!” (while neglecting to mention who exactly did build, say, the Rockefeller Center or the Kingdome in Seattle).

  440. Michael 2 says:

    andrew adams wrote “there is no possible system whereby you get to choose small government and I get to choose big government.”

    Correct. The result is invariably big government, because advocates of big government are by nature herd animals, groupies, “organized” in other words; whereas small goverment advocates are by nature as fragmented as they wish government to be.

    Eventually government becomes too big, it always has, and the nation collapses. It starts over with small government and the cycle repeats.

    However, I can choose to live in a state where liberty is more highly regarded; and while I cannot escape federal regulations thereby, I can certainly not be burdened with a prohibition on the size of soda I can buy (New York City’s prohibition on soda above a certain size). This alignment with liberty is almost perfectly aligned with Republican and Democrat states. It is inconceivable that anyone in Wyoming would even suggest such a thing, never mind enforcing it when your next door neighbor is 15 miles away.

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

  441. andrew adams says:

    M2,

    The result is invariably big government, because advocates of big government are by nature herd animals, groupies, “organized” in other words; whereas small goverment advocates are by nature as fragmented as they wish government to be.

    That kind of depends on what you mean by “big government”. Clearly democracies do frequently switch between governments of different political colours, which are more or less “statist” in their approach, or maybe you think that all they are doing are switching between different flavours of big government. But if that’s the case then it’s probably because there is not actually any real demand for “small government” of the kind libertarians would approve of – it’s generally a fringe viewpoint. I certainly don’t see any evidence in most countries of there being some large body of libertarian opinion which would be a strong force if only it could get properly organised. If one looks at the most obvious example of “small state” advocacy, the Tea Party movement in the US, it doesn’t seem to have any problem getting organised and has certainly been successful in being influential on the wider political landscape.

    Eventually government becomes too big, it always has, and the nation collapses. It starts over with small government and the cycle repeats.

    Can you give me any examples where this has actually happened? Clearly the Soviet Union and its satellite states collapsed under the weight of their own absurdity, but that was a system imposed by force – even the most ardent “big government” advocate would not actually choose to live under that system.

    As for you’re the New York soda laws, I notice that they haven’t actually been implemented but have been blocked by the courts, so it shows that there are hurdles in place when trying to impose these kind of restrictions on people’s liberty, and rightly so. I think the question of the extent to which we can pass laws to protect people from themselves is a difficult one and in general I prefer to let people make their own decisions as far as possible. But there are restrictions on the sale of alcohol and tobacco in most countries and given the extent to which obesity is becoming a problem in western countries, and the US in particular, I can at least see an argument for trying to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, which is not to say the proposed NY law is the right mechanism for this. But if the difference between “big government” and “small government” is whether one lives in New York or Wyoming, or between Republican and Democrat views in general then it doesn’t seem to be a very meaningfuul distinction.

  442. verytallguy says:

    Eventually government becomes too big, it always has, and the nation collapses. It starts over with small government and the cycle repeats.

    Yeah, those goddamn big government commies in Somalia sure wrecked their country.

    Denmark is famously unstable, not surprising given that it’s government spending was 58% of GDP (2012).

    And of course, this makes the population in Denmark notably miserable, and poor.

    Refs
    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/oct/16/government-spending-countries-gdp
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10301496/Denmark-the-worlds-happiest-country.html

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good argument.

  443. Andrew Dodds says:

    M2 –

    Actually the natural counterpoint of North Korea is somewhere like Somalia, with essentially zero central government or taxation. I’m just surprised how many people want to leave the place, frankly.

    The whole point of things like infrastructure projects is that over a number of projects and sufficient time, everyone benefits, even if it’s indirectly. It is one of the gaping flaws in the fundamentalist-libertarian arguments to absolutely ignore statistical benefits like this, instead insisting on a strict ‘projects can only be undertaken if they are immediately profitable from fees at the point of use’. Which basically rules out a lot of collective action even if it would be obviously beneficial (such as decent roads) – it’s no different to Communists banning private enterprise on principle. Indeed, the whole mindset is pretty similar – a ‘good’ Libertarian will be completely unconcerned with people bleeding to death at the doors of a hospital due to a bad credit rating, just as a ‘good’ communist might disregard the reported death rates in the Gulags.

    And, in both cases, history will be re-written or re-interpreted to suit. As with your posts above, in which a very ill-defined ‘big government’ is always the bogeyman, just as a communist would always have the Bourgeoisie to blame.

  444. jsam says:

    Regulation gave us clean water.
    Regulation gave us smog free air.
    Regulation gave us public health.
    Regulation gave us rational road traffic.
    Regulation gave us disaster free air travel.
    Regulation gave us Rule of Law.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with regulation. It’s not a thing of the ‘left’.

  445. Michael 2 says:

    “Should it become more demonstrable than it already is that CO2 is harmful, then perhaps more libertarians will do more about it……..I suspect this will be true of many libertarians – privately taking actions but not demanding that “we” make someone do something.”

    Which means that conservative libertarians or libertarian conservatives (I’m a libertarian when the libertarian side is on the liberal or progressive side, on issues like reproductive rights and the sale and use of marijuana) will until it’s too late be against the only action that could save human civilization from the ever growing probability of catastrophe, that being collective action via so-called big government.

    “The leading world power for the past 50 or so years was conceived in liberty so the concept has evidence in its favor. Its opposite, North Korea, is not attractive to me and perhaps you, too.”

    Andrew Dodds and verytallguy beat me to it, that it is quite incorrect to say that the US is the opposite of North Korea with respect to what percent of the GDP flows through government at the central or other level, or with respect to how much influence the central government has over the population with respect to laws and regulations, since the DPRK is at essentially 100%, and so the opposite would be a country that is essentially at the 0% level in these categories, and Somalia would probably be the one closest to 0%.

    To amplify on this and vertallguy’s observations on Denmark:

    The US has been at roughly the 15-20% and 30% or so levels since WWII in terms of how much of the GDP flows through government at the federal level and at all levels, respectively.

    For almost every year of the past many decades, the most socialist and socially democratic countries in the world have also been the richest democracies in the world by the measure of per capita nominal GDP (unless you wish to include those very small city-states like Luxembourg). These would be the Scandinavian countries, where the chart further below demonstrates that Norway, the most socialist and socially democratic of them all, has a per capita nominal GDP twice as large as that of the US, roughly 100,000 dollars to roughly 50,000 dollars. (Oil and gas does not explain why Norway’s per capita nominal GDP is twice as large as the US’s – the oil and gas industries in these countries account for roughly 17% and 7% of their nominal GDPs, – the Norwegian oil industry takes in roughly 90 billion dollars per year in revenues, a little over 17% of their well more than 500 billion dollar per year nominal GDP (the country’s population a little over 5 million). The US’s is at a little over 7% – 1.1 trillion dollars per year out of a 15 trillion dollar nominal GDP in 2011. See
    http://www.aei.org/publication/energy-fact-of-the-week-as-a-separate-country-the-us-oil-and-gas-industry-would-be-the-16th-largest-economy-in-the-world/
    for this.)

    This article
    http://kleef.asia/blog/2014/09/08/norway-can-succeed-like-cant-every-nation/
    gives an idea of how Norway is showing how great life can be under socialism – oh, wait, even though the hyper-conservative Tea Party USA foams at the mouth and points the finger at progressives like me and scream “socialist!” when we say we want to go where socialist/capitalist Norway is, these finger-pointers will now say that Norway is not socialist and is not showing the world how great socialism can be?

    The chart at this page
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita
    can be ordered by the user with the richest countries at the top.

    “Eventually government becomes too big, it always has, and the nation collapses. It starts over with small government and the cycle repeats.”

    This is false. There is no indication that government in those Scandinavian countries, the richest countries in the world by the measure of per capita nominal GDP, or any other of the richest democracies in the world, will ever have their level of government become bigger than the level of roughly half of GDP flowing through government via taxation or other means such as socialism, this 50-50 socialism/capitalism mixed economy of the Scandinavian countries demonstrated by them and by the Wikipedia page further above on per capita GDP to the be ideal split between socialism and capitalism. That is, via an eyeballing comparison of the data in that above chart with other data at charts like this one
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_revenue_as_percentage_of_GDP
    we see that if there is a correlation that relates per capita nominal GDP and what percent of GDP flows through government at some level via taxes and socialism, then it is that the richer the country the closer it is to this 50-50 split, the poorer the country the further away it is from this 50-50 split, towards countries like Somalia at close to 0% and North Korea at close to 100%. So much for libertarian conservative or conservative libertarian economics that says that the ideal is to get as close as possible to 0%, never mind what we see when we compare *all* the countries of the world to each other. Note that Greece is at roughly 30% and Germany is at around 40% in this latter chart on tax revenues as a percentage of GDP. Anti-tax conservatives say that Greece should be more like Germany? They evidently don’t know the data.)

    “On a more serious note; libertarianism is no more and no less than “I choose for me, you choose for you”.”

    What if there were some crony capitalist that wanted to generate electricity in a way that would kill ten times more people per year in comparison to another way of generating the same amount of electricity that would be done by, say, government at cost as a public service. Killing ten times more people per year in the name of the corrupt crony capitalist gravy train is OK by you? Or would you say that saving lives matters more and go with the socialist or socially democratic way?

  446. John Hartz says:

    Andrew Adams & KeefeandAmanda:

    If we were to boil down all of Michael2’s ponitifications into bullet (not gun) points, I wonder how many we would have?

  447. BBD says:

    @ Vinny

    Isn’t there a more interesting way to falsely divide the world?

    Well, we could whine endlessly about “the greens” supposedly “promoting” AGW “alarmism” while never once, ever, mentioning the absolute lying dreck spewed out daily by the denial machine.

  448. BBD says:

    M2

    A bit of conspiracy ideation as a bonus!

    The role of the Koch brothers in funding the denial industry is a matter of fact. Denying matters of fact makes *you* look like a nutter or a liar or possibly both. So stop.

  449. John Hartz says:

    Michael2: This should make you see red.

    “Solar panels are popping up everywhere, and it’s upsetting to corporate power system.”

    Kochs and Walmart Clan Wage Dirty War to Stop You From Putting Solar Panels on Your Home by Cliff Weathers, Alternet, Jan 5, 2015

  450. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Seems to me that Vinny Burgoo’s crass/caustic comments are the antithesis of civil discourse. Am I being too harsh?

  451. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz wrote “Michael2: This should make you see red.”

    The link you provided appears to me to be blue. As to the topic, it isn’t clear what is the author’s point, if any, but that happens rather frequently right here as well.

    It is a fact that several industries will be altered significantly. For instance, owners of electric cars pay no gas tax and yet drive on public highways. Some states are contemplating installing devices to report mileage and pay by the mile; but that creates a problem of knowing whether it was a federal, state, or city highway — or even a private road. To solve that problem some have proposed GPS on every car. That’s a somewhat uncomfortable thought for me but I suspect the left wing loves it, you cannot get much more government than that.

    Grid-tied non-consumers of electricity also create a problem, but rather than pay a “tax” I simply suggest power companies unbundle the grid maintenance cost from the actual cost of producing electricity. You might pay zero for electricity (or even get some back from your solar panel array), but you’d pay “rent” on the grid connection directly to the power utility — it has therefore nothing to do with having solar panels, and everything to do with maintaining a public utility which you have chosen to join. You could alternative choose not to be grid-tied in which case your solar is yours to use as you please.

    That’s how I would do it, but I’m libertarian, more or less.

  452. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz wrote “If we were to boil down all of Michael2’s ponitifications into bullet points I wonder how many we would have?”

    As Master Yoda says, do or do not; there is no “wonder”.

    It took me less than two minutes to count every item in my database of commentary. Distilling them into distinct “points” would be a bit harder but most seem to be in this short list:

    1. Libertarianism vs socialism vs anarchy vs whatever is the right wing (seems to be everything not left, which is well defined, but the right and libertarian are not well defined).
    2. Why I’m not as true a believer as you are in impending doom from sea level rise (or no seas), from floods (or drought; cannot very well have both), and so on.
    3. I’m MORE of a believer in eventual doom from Malthusian scarcity. It has little to do with climate change other than when exactly I might decide a threshold of doom has been achieved.
    4. Occasionally I help out with a bit of computer programming or signal processing ideas.
    5. Solar power.
    6. Carbon dioxide behavior with certain wavelengths of infrared light.
    7. Plate tectonics in the context of science never being “settled”.
    8. The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) or its actual counterpart that cannot be named without going into a bottomless queue pit.
    9. Polar bears! I knew there was one I had forgotten briefly. It is the mascot of global warming; as if anyone in North America thought about polar bears even once in the past 200 years, besides some hunters of course. They aren’t nearly as cute as penguins. In fact, they are quite dangerous and the people trying to save polar bears ought also to carry rifles just in case of their protected animals decides to eat the researcher. I wonder if they do? Well, as Master Yoda says, do or do not — so I will check with the oracle (Google).

    “We will also carry firearms (flare guns and high powered rifles) as last-resort”
    https://www.mtholyoke.edu/proj/svalbard/Risk.htm

    That seems to be about it. Of course I include many anecdotes to illustrate and I try to mix up the anecdotes so it isn’t just the same story over and over (like endlessly repeating polar bear doom stories).

  453. Michael 2 says:

    KeefeAndAmanda (known for being almost the only commenter whose posts are longer than mine) says:

    Topic: Liberty vs Big Government, the obvious statement of the day (since the topic is things I thought were obvious):

    “Which means that conservative libertarians will until it’s too late be against the only action that could save human civilization from the ever growing probability of catastrophe, that being collective action via so-called big government.”

    I do not accept the truth of your premises but I do accept the logical conclusion thereof.

    ———- topic change to finance and welfare ——-

    “it is quite incorrect to say that the US is the opposite of North Korea with respect to what percent of the GDP flows through government”

    As I have said nothing about what percent of GDP flows through government, I can appreciate your comment but it does not seem to address my comment on liberty.

    “For almost every year of the past many decades, the most socialist and socially democratic countries in the world have also been the richest democracies in the world by the measure of per capita nominal GDP”

    So for goodness sakes GO THERE. Be happy. Hope the United States is still around (and still cares) when your little nation needs defending from the Russian Bear.

    I lived for two years in Iceland. They have enormous natural resources in terms of hydropower (water) and geothermal. Not much else of course. They were propped up in some measure by the United States because of its strategic placement with regard to the Soviet Union. They have since experienced a severe decline in their economy through unsustainable construction practices (dam building all over the place combined with the “Icesave” debacle and collapse of all three banks in the same week).

    I’ve lived for rather more years in the United States. NO Scandinavian nation experiences the deadweight loss of welfare that the United States experiences. Norway is starting to struggle with it.

    15,000 Illegal Immigrants refuse to leave Norway:
    http://www.norwaynews.com/en/~view.php?739AnE58d9glc672P82353Iy5384bDQb4544N6p084hWNZ88eUQ838

    15,000? How about 10,000,000 refusing to leave the United States, and now granted essentially every benefit granted to citizens of the United States? It’s insane, it is unsustainable.

    Norway predicts demise of the welfare state in 30 years:
    https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/norway-no-future-welfare-state-if-muslim-immigration-continues-norwegians-a-minority-in-their-own-country-within-30-years/

    ——– topic change rights and wrongs and who bears the burden ——

    “What if there were some crony capitalist that wanted to generate electricity in a [dangerous] way…”

    What you and it appears everyone else here seriously does not understand (grok) is the distinction between right and wrong (which Libertarians possess in somewhat varying spectra) and accepting government mandates of right and wrong. I consider abortion to be morally wrong; depending on the circumstances nearly the equivalent of murder (third trimester, “I changed my mind” kind of thing). But I am uncomfortable with the idea of government deciding such things because today it might favor my particular flavors of right and wrong, but tomorrow it might go against my ideas of right and wrong. So it is better for government not to be involved in “right and wrong” but simply enforce contracts, maintain the national defense, fly to the moon and build submarines.

    Rights begin with life itself. You don’t have a right to life; you demand it! If you don’t demand it and take it, someone will surely take it from you. All rights must emanate from that fact because you were born with that instinct.

    For 15 years in the Navy I waited for the Navy to discover my brilliance, honor and honesty. It didn’t happen. I realized it would never happen; that is just not how things work. There is no Navy, there are only people. There is no government, only people. I am a person. I can assert myself and make a difference, or I can abrogate my rights and responsibilities and let YOU decide for me, but I might not like the result.

    To assume that there’s some magical “government” that is wise, smart and powerful — well there’s a three-letter word for the same thing: G, and O, and D.

    If government does something right, it is because a person did something right; but he or she is probably using your money to do it. That’s sort of okay; the problem is when government does something wrong with your money. Suddenly it is not okay. It is better therefore to not face that decision at all and let government do only those things that it alone can do, and even then only those things so overwhelmingly important that we are willing to give up liberty for it (like New York City’s prohibition on over-16 ounce soda drinks — NOT acceptable governance!).

    So in the scenario you propose, the power plant is threatening the many, but itself may only be a convenience — or it may be a need; your example is fuzzy on that point. If it is crucial to maintaining life in a frozen cold upper midwest state, then the people living near the power plant will have to be inconvenienced to move farther away from it since it is needed. But it would be proper to consider that inconvenience a “taking” and thus require compensation or “geld” to use a Scandinavian concept.

    In the case of the Kaiparowitz power station, it was inconveniently located and not really needed. It is possible to build it many other places and not destroy the incredible scenic beauty and clean air of what became the Escalante Staircase national monument. While I am unhappy with government “taking”, on the other hand, I am even less happy by careless capitalists also “taking” and with the former I get beautiful landscape and with the latter sooty land with “no trespassing” signs.

    http://earthjustice.org/features/kaiparowits-power-plant

    Even one of your most vocal opponents, Tony Heller AKA Steven Goddard, claims to have help oppose this power plant construction. Environmentalism need not be enemy of capitalism (and vice versa), they aren’t on the same axis.

    So as to your answer; I can oppose a power plant because it isn’t YOU. Libertarianism pertains to my relationship to my next door neighbor where our needs and impositions on each other are somewhat similar, our rights are in balance, and we can negotiate for peace or go to war. So long as imposition is minor, you can do what you like, I will neither tax you to feed me, and I expect you not to tax me to feed you. If you need help, I will help where I can, and I do. But you have no right to my labor, and I have no right to yours.

  454. Michael 2 says:

    jsam says

    Regulation gave us [see list]. There’s nothing inherently wrong with regulation. It’s not a thing of the ‘left’.

    Perhaps you could identify which item in your list is right wing? Perhaps the one about “Rule of Law”.

    These are good things and I am grateful; but what gave us clean air is obedience to regulation; not the regulation itself. Many laws and regulations are routinely ignored, including “thou shalt not kill” if you live in Chicago.

    A nation with good cultural values does not need a mountain of regulation (Iceland comes to mind). A nation without good cultural values isn’t helped much, or for long, by regulations.

    Where government regulation is successful is in the case of (1) a “commons” where someone can cheat and take advantage and (2) successful enforcement of the regulation as otherwise you actually make the situation worse by enhancing the reward for cheating.

    If people had a better idea of just how many laws and regulations impose upon them they would likely be shocked. Nearly everything is regulated, but how well it is regulated is somewhat spotty.

  455. John Hartz says:

    Michael2: I do not see much daylight between what you espouse and what Sarah Palin espouses. Are you related?

  456. andrew adams says:

    M2,

    A few points.

    These are good things and I am grateful; but what gave us clean air is obedience to regulation; not the regulation itself.

    So are you claiming that in the absence of such regulations people would behave that way anyway just because it would be the right thing to do? That would seem to be somewhat…optimistic.

    15,000? How about 10,000,000 refusing to leave the United States, and now granted essentially every benefit granted to citizens of the United States? It’s insane, it is unsustainable.

    You’re referring to the amnesty for illegal immigrants? Well they’ll now be able to work and pay taxes, it seems perfectly sensible to me. It’s an odd kind of libertarianism which says people shouldn’t be able to live and work wherever they like.

    NO Scandinavian nation experiences the deadweight loss of welfare that the United States experiences. Norway is starting to struggle with it.

    Are you referring to welfare spending here? Because public social expenditure in the US isn’t particularly high by international standards as far as I can see, and is lower than in most Scandinavian countries.

    http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=SOCX_AGG

  457. BBD says:

    M2

    2. Why I’m not as true a believer as you are in impending doom from sea level rise (or no seas), from floods (or drought; cannot very well have both), and so on.

    Coastal inundation and inland drought can coexist. Shifting patterns of rainfall can produce drought and flooding on the same continent at the same time. Try not to be stupid, please. It’s irritating.

    And you can stow the offensively provocative ‘true believer’ rhetoric as well. You are the one incessantly braying about your belief system here. Physical climatology is science.

  458. verytallguy says:

    M2,

    Observing your thrashing about attempting to reconcile assertions based on a confused interpretation of libertarian ideology with the facts is amusing.

    It has some parallels with the way climate change deniers attempt to overrule the laws of physics with bombastic rhetoric, and is about as self consistent.

    Please carry on.

  459. Michael 2 says:

    “I do not accept the truth of your premises but I do accept the logical conclusion thereof.”

    Human civilization can be destroyed by potentially even merely a total 5 degree C global temperature increase, or possibly even less. See my first comment in this thread at almost the beginning on January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm and the citations and links that provides the physics that shows this. Do you deny this physics? Only a collective action through government can keep this much warming from happening, since crony capitalism all over the world wants to burn all the fossil fuel in the world as fast as possible. See my comment.

    “As I have said nothing about what percent of GDP flows through government, I can appreciate your comment but it does not seem to address my comment on liberty.”

    Actually, you and other conservative libertarians or libertarian conservatives have again and again used the term “liberty” in your rhetoric such that implicitly or tacitly it most certainly does relate in a direct way to what percent of the GDP flows through government.

    In reply to my “for almost every year of the past many decades, the most socialist and socially democratic countries in the world have also been the richest democracies in the world by the measure of per capita nominal GDP”, Michael2 said:
    “[Iceland has] since experienced a severe decline in their economy……..”

    If you’re trying to cover up the big picture, then it won’t work. The way to best compare countries is by comparing their long-term performance. The per capita nominal GDP of all the Scandinavians surpassed that of the US decades ago and remained larger ever since for almost every year since then. That is a brute historical fact. And they did this with higher and higher taxes. Examples:

    To all who are not blinded by conservative ideology, for more, see such as
    “Cultural revolution
    One of the world’s blandest regions has become one of its most creative”
    http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570839-one-worlds-blandest-regions-has-become-one-its-most-creative-cultural-revolution
    and
    “If in doubt, innovate
    The Nordic region is becoming a hothouse of entrepreneurship”
    http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570834-nordic-region-becoming-hothouse-entrepreneurship-if-doubt-innovate
    for the truth.

    “….NO Scandinavian nation experiences the deadweight loss of welfare that the United States experiences………. How about 10,000,000 refusing to leave the United States, and now granted essentially every benefit granted to citizens of the United States? It’s insane, it is unsustainable.”

    Ah, so now we finally see where you are really coming from: Blaming ten million (about 3% of the total population) immigrants – almost all of which are hard-working *nonunion* (conservatives should love that they’re nonunion) workers contributing to our economy – for our economic problems, which by the way started right around Reagan’s time……..Get rid of these people, and then we can show those Scandinavians with our now almost entirely nonunion workforce, eh?

    Never mind that your math is all wrong: They are called welfare states for a reason, especially in a denigrating way by conservatives, and now they are not welfare states?

    Perhaps you bought into the conservative lie here in the US that the US spends 1 trillion dollars per year on welfare – when it’s maybe actually just a quarter of that. See
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/12/no-we-dont-spend-1-trillion-on-welfare-each-year/
    for the truth. (See Ezra Klein in general for getting the facts right.)

    Never mind the *peer-reviewed science*:
    Union Strength, Neoliberalism, and Inequality
    Contingent Political Analyses of U.S. Income Differences since 1950
    http://asr.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/29/0003122414536392.abstract
    According to this science, the real reason wages have not been growing since the 1970s and finally are starting to fall back towards poverty is the conservative revolution in the US that started in the 1970s resulting in the election of Reagan, which resulted in replacing our pro-union laws with anti-union laws, setting up whole industries teaching businesses how to kill unions and keep unions from forming. Back in the middle of the century, roughly 1 in 3 jobs in the US was a good paying union job, and many of the rest were good-paying too, since employers tended to “bribe” their nonunion employees to stay that way with good pay, since it was easy to form a union. Now, it’s only roughly 1 in 10, and the nonunion employees do not “bribe” their employees with good pay, since the laws now make it difficult to form a union in comparison to the past. And, in 1980, 100,000 businesses gave workers pensions to retire on, and by 2000, only 10,000 did. That’s a 90% drop. Note that the countries with larger per capita nominal GDPs than the US did not allow the almost complete destruction of their unions, not to the degree I mentioned – they now have the highest standards of living and the highest levels of upper income mobility for their 99%.

    Yeah, those immigrants are to blame for all this, eh? Get rid of these people, and then we can show those Scandinavians, eh?

    “What you and it appears everyone else here seriously does not understand (grok) is the distinction between right and wrong (which Libertarians possess in somewhat varying spectra) and accepting government mandates of right and wrong.”

    It is not the case that I do not understand this distinction. And the reason I asked you the question as to whether you would allow a crony capitalist to get rich killing 10 times more people than could otherwise be the case supplying electricity is because there has been an argument that China has had to burn all that coal on the claim that it has been necessary to pull people out of poverty.

    Note that *10 times more people* die to keep the lights on in Beijing than to keep the lights on in New York City. China does not have to burn all that coal. China is a nuclear power and is run by a communist dictatorship, and “the Chinese” – like all other people who have lived under communist dictatorships over the many years – have had *no* say on such matters as how electricity was to be generated. The history of communist dictatorships on pollution is clear:
    “EUROPE’S ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARE: HARD ROAD TO RECOVERY”
    http://www.rinr.fsu.edu/summer96/features/nightmare.html

    Why all the coal burning? It’s because of pure cronyism or even crony capitalism in countries that are not fully human-rights respecting democracies. See this excellent article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism
    with a color coded world map (scroll down to see it) showing the relative levels of government corruption via the system made by Transparency International. (See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparency_International
    for more on them.)
    It’s clear: Less government corruption worldwide combined with making countries truly more democratic would naturally lead to more mitigation worldwide than would otherwise be the case via more anti-pollution laws with real enforcement giving cleaner air.

    True democracy for many more would go a long way towards mitigation that would save millions per year.

    Now to the citations:

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

    To echo the EU study cited in the above article on the true total cost of coal:

    “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal”
    http://www.chgeharvard.org/sites/default/files/epstein_full%20cost%20of%20coal.pdf

    Even the very conservative Forbes Magazine says coal kills far more than any other way of power generation:
    How Deadly Is Your Kilowatt? We Rank The Killer Energy Sources
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/
    Quote:
    “It is notable that the U.S. death rates for coal are so much lower than for China, strictly a result of regulation and the Clean Air Act (Scott et al., 2005)……..
    Although it is difficult to assign a cost to these numbers, estimates have suggested a 10% increase in health care costs in countries where coal makes up a significant fraction of the energy mix, like the U.S. and Europe (NAS 2010; Cohen et al., 2005; Pope et al., 2002). These additional health costs begin to rival the total energy costs on an annual basis for the U.S. given that health care costs top $2.6 trillion, and electricity costs only exceed about $400 billion. Another way to describe this human health energy fee is that it costs about 2,000 lives per year to keep the lights on in Beijing but only about 200 lives to keep them on in New York.”

    “Air Pollution Linked to 1.2 Million Premature Deaths in China”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/world/asia/air-pollution-linked-to-1-2-million-deaths-in-china.html?_r=0

    “Air pollution ‘kills 7 million people a year'”
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/25/air-pollution-kills-7m-people-a-year

    “Climate Change Mitigation Could Save Millions from Premature Death Each Year”
    http://www.celsias.com/article/climate-change-mitigation-could-save-millions-prem/

    “Air pollution: Clean up our skies”
    Improve air quality and mitigate climate-change simultaneously, urge Julia Schmale and colleagues.
    http://www.nature.com/news/air-pollution-clean-up-our-skies-1.16352

    “Co-benefits of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions for future air quality and human health”
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n10/full/nclimate2009.html
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/cms-filesystem-action/user_files/van/publications/west_etal_nclimate.pdf

  460. John Hartz says:

    verytallguy: You post,

    M2,

    Observing your thrashing about attempting to reconcile assertions based on a confused interpretation of libertarian ideology with the facts is amusing.

    It has some parallels with the way climate change deniers attempt to overrule the laws of physics with bombastic rhetoric, and is about as self consistent..

    Please carry on

    I say: Spot on! .

  461. John Hartz says:

    verytallguy: You have also confirmed my belief that M2 is channeling Sarah (I can see Russia now.) Palin.

  462. Michael 2 says:

    andrew adams commented “So are you claiming that in the absence of such regulations people would behave that way anyway just because it would be the right thing to do?”

    Some would, some wouldn’t. My point is that Democrats place too much faith in a regulation or law as a substitute for action. Laws and regulations exist in the hundreds of thousands. Do you know them? Of course not. Nobody does.

    Therefore the most relevant facet of this problem is obedience, which implies a law or regulation to be obeyed.

    “You’re referring to the amnesty for illegal immigrants? Well they’ll now be able to work and pay taxes, it seems perfectly sensible to me.”

    Indeed, so why is there an Immigration and Naturalization service in the first place? Do all legal or natural citizens pay taxes right now? I believe they don’t. But that too is not on point; the point is welfare.

    “It’s an odd kind of libertarianism which says people shouldn’t be able to live and work wherever they like.”

    Very odd indeed. Perhaps you too have a very different mileage on what is libertarian.

    “Are you referring to welfare spending here? Because public social expenditure in the US isn’t particularly high by international standards as far as I can see, and is lower than in most Scandinavian countries.”

    Glad to hear it. So the United States spends a bit less per person on its millions of welfare recipients as compared to Norway’s thousands.

  463. transcendence67 says:

    One thing that I thought was obvious:

    Climate change is not the only problem humanity faces.

    People in the world, especially people in the third world, face numerous challenges that threaten their way of life and their very existence. Lack of clean water and sewage systems, poor access to medical services, expensive and/or damaging energy sources, etc. Even in the first world where homelessness and poverty are still political issues demanding attention, these types of problems affect a portion of the population. Any discussion of what we should do with regard to the problem of climate change must happen within the context of a world economy with limited resources to apply to all of its problems. It makes sense therefore, to compare the nature of the climate change problem to that of other problems the world faces.

    Let us consider the lack of clean water problem as an example. First, the threat is immediate. Every month that goes by in a population lacking clean water is a month where people die as a result. Second, the impacts are certain. We know that lack of clean water kills people, and our understanding of the threat is such that we can predict with great accuracy how many deaths will occur as a result. Third, the solution is proven. The technology to produce clean water is over a century old, and its costs and benefits have been exhaustively studied. When it comes to providing populations with clean water, both the problem and the solution are so well understood it is possible to produce a very precise figure of how many lives are saved per dollar spent.

    Compare this to the problem of climate change. First, the climate change threat is mostly in the future. While there are some minor impacts occurring right now, the real existential threats from climate change lie decades into the future. Second, the impacts are uncertain. Not only is there great debate about just how much warming will occur over the next century, the impact that every degree of warming will have on the planet is not well understood. Third, the solution is unproven. There is much debate as to whether the it is better to try to prevent climate change or to mitigate its effects. Even among those that favor preventative measures, there is significant debate as to whether CO2 reduction should be accomplished by the creation of carbon sinks, the reduction of energy use, or the development of alternate energy sources. The combination of these three things means that it is impossible to perform a reliable cost benefit analysis of the climate change problem. Yes, examples like the Stern Review exist, but the global nature of the problem means that the accuracy of any such analysis can never be proven and will be subject to endless debate.

    This type of side by side comparision makes the current inaction on climate change understandable, even justifiable. In the case of clean water (or numerous other well understood issues) we have a problem where the threat is immediate, the impacts known, and the solution well understood. In the case of climate change, we have a problem where the threat is in the future, the impacts uncertain, and the solution unproven. What wise politican or policy maker faced with such a choice would choose to fund the latter more than the former?

  464. transcendence67;

    In the case of climate change, we have a problem where the threat is in the future, the impacts uncertain, and the solution unproven. What wise politican or policy maker faced with such a choice would choose to fund the latter more than the former?

    I agree that this is a real issue and I agree that it is a very difficult political issue. A couple of things I would say is that simply because something is politically difficult, doesn’t change physical reality. Because addressing climate change is difficult doesn’t mean that it doesn’t present a future risk. Additionally, politicians in the developing world do have an opportunity here to develop their infrastructure in a manner that is consistent with addressing climate change. They don’t need to follow what we have done in the past. It might not be easy, but it is presumably easier for them to start fresh than it is for those in the already developed world.

  465. Eli Rabett says:

    No free riders. Ayn Rand survived on Social Security and Medicare, but she did pay the taxes

  466. Eli Rabett says:

    Let us consider the lack of clean water problem as an example. Let us consider walking and chewing gum at the same time.

  467. transcendence67 says:

    ATTP;

    A couple of things I would say is that simply because something is politically difficult, doesn’t change physical reality. Because addressing climate change is difficult doesn’t mean that it doesn’t present a future risk.

    I agree that the difficulty of addressing climate change has no bearing on whether or not it presents a future risk. However, that truth does not imply that we must act now to prevent it. Like a surgeon in wartime with four patients that are critically wounded, difficult choices have to be made based upon incomplete information. Medical reality might tell you that it is possible to save three of them by wasting no resources on the fourth. In such a case, introducing speculation such as the possibility of the person you are letting die discovering a cure for cancer, or one of the three you save going on to become a mass murderer, is pointless. You make a decision based upon the facts at hand.

    Unfortunately for advocates of swift decisive action to reduce carbon emissions, the facts at hand are few. We know that human activity is raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and we know–all other things being equal–that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere results in warming. Beyond that, our understanding is extremely murky. The precise magnitude of the temperature change that results from a given increase in CO2 is still very uncertain, and the precise impacts of a given temperature increase is also unknown. It is perfectly possible that because of the uncertainties involved the correct thing to do right now is nothing beyond conducting more research into the subject.

    Doing nothing is particularly easy to justify when considering proposals that raise the price of energy (as a great many do), as this results in well understood and immediately negative impacts on the world’s poor. You basically saying that you are going to take an action that you are certain will harm one set of people today in order to prevent another set of people from the possibility of greater harm tomorrow. The bar of proof for proposals of this nature needs to be considerably higher than it is for proposals that, if later are shown to be based upon faulty assumptions, merely result in wasting money.

  468. transcendence67 says:

    “One thing that I thought was obvious:…………Let us consider the lack of clean water problem as an example. First, the threat is immediate. Every month that goes by in a population lacking clean water is a month where people die as a result………….This type of side by side comparision makes the current inaction on climate change understandable, even justifiable.”

    It does not make “the current inaction on climate change understandable, even justifiable” – not even close.

    The governments of the world should get together to do something and do it now with respect to about 840,000 people worldwide dying each year due to a lack of government laws, regulations, and educational programs attacking the problem of unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene. Although the number deaths each year has gone down greatly in recent years, we still need to act. See the following:
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs391/en/
    Quote:
    “More than 840 000 people are estimated to die each year from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation and hand hygiene.”

    But, very unfortunately, since worldwide air pollution goes hand in hand with global warming:

    You totally ignore the fact that the number of people that die worldwide each year from dirty air is an entire order of magnitude greater than die from dirty water – 7 million people die each year from the poisonous filth in the world’s breathing air (that’s almost 10 times greater than how many die from dirty water), much of it caused by burning the dirtiest fossil fuels to generate electricity even though this same amount of electricity could have been generated in cleaner ways. See my comment further above
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/things-i-thought-were-obvious/#comment-42565
    in which, among other things, I give a number of links to information about the worldwide air pollution problem and just how bad it is in terms of mortality, and this includes information on why ten times more people die in China each year to provide electricity to Beijing than people die in the US each year to provide electricity to New York City with cleaner energy. Only about 3% of electricity is generated in the entire state of New York from the burning of coal. China’s massive coal burning is a very large part of why 1.2 million Chinese die each year from air pollution. (See my comment above for the links.)

    And since there is this “burn, baby, burn!” attitude by so many of these billionaire and hyper-millionaire cronies getting rich via all this crony capitalism worldwide, the amount of all this dirtiest fossil fuel burning is increasing and so this number of people dying each year from dirty air is *growing*, unlike the number of people dying worldwide from dirty water, which is shrinking.

    Never mind that most of the coal burning for power worldwide has been unnecessary. Most of this poisonous filth in the air is unnecessary. The majority of it occurs in countries that are already nuclear powers, which means that they have vastly more technology than other so-called developing countries to generate electricity, which means they have a much greater ability to generate the same amount of electricity in cleaner ways.

    And note that there is even more: In my above comment I address this false claim that third world countries must “burn, baby, burn” all that coal to keep their people from dying: With the relevant links I noted that many times the governments have problems with corruption via crony capitalism, and that even with elections people don’t have a true choice on how to generate electricity other than what the crony capitalists offer. The people in these countries therefore have relatively much less say in how electricity is generated than do people in the first world, which is all much more democratic.

    It’s clear: Less government corruption – more true democracy and thus being more responsive to the wishes of the people rather than the crony capitalists – is broadly associated with better pollution control and thus naturally more mitigation on climate change. The more people really are given a choice, the more they tend to choose cleaner ways of generating power. Making the world less corrupt, more truly democratic, would go a long way in naturally curbing air pollution and thus global warming.

    In addition to turning our backs on air pollution and its 7 million deaths per year and counting, there is another problem with doing nothing now: It means playing Russian Roulette in which there is a nontrivial probability of losing with the viability in a couple of centuries from now – or even just one century from now – of not just all mammalian life in the tropics and subtropics and thus human civilization in the tropics and subtropics but with all human civilization, period. See my comment at almost the beginning of his comment thread
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/things-i-thought-were-obvious/#comment-41767
    in which I give links to the science that shows this as well as to links on economists who take this Russian Roulette in which there is a nontrivial probability of losing as a serious object of study, one of which is Martin L. Weitzman. He writes, with respect to life in a world in which some parts of the world even just approach wet bulb temperatures of 35 degrees C, which give *heat indexes* close to 200 degrees F, “…human life would become debilitating and physical labor would be unthinkable. The massive unrest and uncontainable pressures this might bring to bear on the world’s human population are ALMOST UNIMAGINABLE [again, my strong emphasis]. The Earth’s ecology, whose valuation is another big uncertainty, would be upended.”

    After reading the links given in my comment at almost the beginning of this comment thread, some might agree that Weitzman is right when he says that there is a nontrivial probability that human civilization will experience a catastrophe that would not have occurred without global warming.

    The upshot is that science tells us that to do nothing now is both cruel to all those who will die from all that unnecessary poisonous filth in the air and, given a nontrivial probability of catastrophe for all of human civilization and world ecology, it is just plain foolish.

  469. transcendence67 says:

    KeefeAndAmanda:

    Thank you for your reply. What I think is interesting is how little of it has to do with global warming. For some time now I have believed that the emphasis the environmental movement has placed on climate change has been detrimental to getting anything done. There are many reasons to get humanity off fossil fuels besides their contribution to climate change, and most of those reasons are much easier to argue because of their immediate nature and simpler scientific basis. Your own post does an excellent job documenting how the air pollution created by burning fossil fuels is reason enough to stop using them. The argument becomes all the more persuasive when you point out the environmental damage done by oil spills in the gulf and the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives lost in wars defending oil interests in the middle east.

    It is always seemed odd to me that the environment movement insists on using climate change, which is essentially the weakest and least persuasive argument, as their primary explanation for why we need to eliminate fossil fuels. The last 25 years of political failure to do anything real to address the problem should convince everyone that as a political and social motivator, climate change is completely ineffective. Therefore, even if you are convinced of the dangers climate change represents, pragmatism alone should tell you to stop talking about it and shift the discussion to more effective strategies.

  470. transcendence67,

    The last 25 years of political failure to do anything real to address the problem should convince everyone that as a political and social motivator, climate change is completely ineffective.

    Why do you think it’s that climate change is completely ineffective as a motivator rather than it simply being very difficult to wean us off fossil fuels? It’s not obvious to me that there is really anything would have been effective.

  471. John Hartz says:

    transcendence67: Your characterization of the environmental movement (as it applies in the U.S.) is pure unadulterated poppycock!

  472. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz, thanks for the ecowatch link. Environmentally friendly and libertarian at the same time. I loved it.

  473. Michael 2 says:

    Eli Rabett says “Let us consider walking and chewing gum at the same time.”

    Is that permission or a command?

  474. transcendence67 says:

    ATTP:

    Why do you think it’s that climate change is completely ineffective as a motivator rather than it simply being very difficult to wean us off fossil fuels? It’s not obvious to me that there is really anything would have been effective.

    Polls reveal that people worry much more about clean air and clean drinking water than they do about climate change, so it stands to reason those things would serve as better motivators.

    Percentage of Americans that worry “a great deal” about:

    Clean water: 60%
    Clean air: 47%
    Climate change: 35%

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/168236/americans-show-low-levels-concern-global-warming.aspx

  475. Andrew Dodds says:

    M2 –

    I’m very, very tempted to respond to that with ‘In your case, it’s an assassination attempt’, but I won’t, because it would be mean.

    transcendence67 –

    The issues around the basics of life – be that climate, energy, acute pollution, food, water, housing, transport, that kind of thing – are strongly interrelated; it’s hard to fix one in isolation without another blowing up as a consequence. Which is why the idea that we can and should work o ‘priority one’ items first whilst ignoring everything else is beguiling but incorrect.

  476. [Mod : I’m just going to moderate this for tone. It’s a comment about Nic Lewis’s estimating of TCR discussed in the linked comment below].

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2015/yes-some-things-are-obvious/#comment-134430

    The recipe is to remove the natural variability due to ENSO, volcanoes, LOD, TSI (as main factors) and then scale the temperature increase to log(CO2)

  477. WHT,
    Do you really mean scale the temperature increase to log(CO2) or do you mean scale it to the estimated change in anthropogenic forcing?

  478. In reply to my comment on January 10, 2015 at 11:48 am, transcendence67 wrote, “Your own post does an excellent job documenting how the air pollution created by burning fossil fuels is reason enough to stop using them.”

    Thank-you.

    But you wrote, “…even if you are convinced of the dangers climate change represents, pragmatism alone should tell you to stop talking about it and shift the discussion to more effective strategies.”

    It does not follow that I should stop talking about it. You totally ignored the fact that in my first comment on January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm at almost the beginning of this comment thread, I documented and explained how there is an increasingly nontrivial probability of catastrophe in a century or two for human civilization and ecology all over the world – an increasingly nontrivial probability of typical summertime heat indexes in the tropics and subtropics becoming *sufficiently close* to 200 degrees F (*sufficiently close* to a wet-bulb temperature of 35 degrees C). I documented that this catastrophe could happen with a global temperature increase of perhaps only 5 degrees C or even less, which could easily happen with a mere tripling or perhaps even just doubling of CO2 over preindustrial levels, depending on sensitivity. As ATTP said in the original post, this is about the survival of civilizations (in the tropics and subtropics) and thus by extension all of human civilization.

    I documented that Martin Weitzman seems to have earlier recognized what I recognized, what so many seemed to have missed when that Sherwood and Huber paper was published in 2010. (See my quotes of theirs and my links to what they write in my comment on January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm.) Never mind waiting for the time when in the tropics and subtropics the typical summertime heat indexes are close to 200 degrees F, which are so high that modern mammalian and bird life cannot survive. In case you missed it, Weitzman said that even typical summertime heat indexes *much lower than* close to 200 degrees F could cause mammalian and bird life to become nonviable, the uncontainable pressures on the world’s human population and the world’s ecology (especially its mammalian and bird life) could be almost unimaginable, and a business-as-usual trajectory implies a nontrivial probability of this catastrophe.

    That is, the global temperature does not need to increase by 7 degrees C for such catastrophe to happen. The catastrophe in question to fear could happen much sooner, at perhaps 5 degrees C or even less. Typical summertime heat indexes in the tropics and subtropics approaching not 200 degrees F but “just” approaching 150 degrees F – which implies a high probability of an occasional heat wave with the total killer heat index close to 200 degrees F – could easily do the trick of making mammalian populations in these areas nonviable *long before* a 7 degrees C increase.

    Agriculture – especially with food sources of mammals and birds – can remain viable in these areas under such pressure? Nonsense. It’s as ATTP has repeatedly said: There is a very serious question whether world agriculture under such pressure will be able to feed the many billions that exist even just today. See Weitzman’s “almost unimaginable”.

    Read carefully that Sherwood and Huber paper, and read carefully what I said in my comment on January 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm about certain measures and variables in that Sherwood and Huber paper.

    All this is *very much* a reason for action now.

    Who in their right mind would ever agree to have Russian Roulette played on someone they loved if there were an increasingly nontrivial probability that it would kill their loved one, especially if there were no good reason for taking that risk? (To relate to here: The number of people killed worldwide each year by air pollution being at 7 million and growing implies that there is no good reason for taking that risk.)

  479. I didn’t realize that it was so hard for people to do the TCR characterization.

  480. We are at atmospheric CO2 of around 400 ppm right now. So what will the average global temperature anomaly be when CO2 hits 420 ppm? You will get the right projection if you use my historical model fit. You won’t get the right answer if you choose to use the Nic Lewis approach.

  481. BBD says:

    Web

    This might go better on the other thread where you will find MikeR linking to NL’s comments at Lucia’s.

  482. Niels A Nielsen says:

    “WHT,
    Do you really mean scale the temperature increase to log(CO2) or do you mean scale it to the estimated change in anthropogenic forcing?”

    Oh yes. You gotta admire WHT’s relentless promotion of his worthless curve-fitting excercise, though …and Then There’s Physics.

  483. Niels,

    Oh yes. You gotta admire WHT’s relentless promotion of his worthless curve-fitting excercise, though …and Then There’s Physics.

    A plot relating to temperature to a change in forcing is not really curve fitting, since it is motivated by a physical mechanism.

  484. Neils said:


    You gotta admire WHT’s relentless promotion of his worthless curve-fitting excercise

    Whoaa Neilly
    You haven’t seen anything yet until you ponder my ENSO model in all its glory.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0815

    All of science is fitting data to a curve or surface or manifold or whatever you want to refer to as a model of “reality”

  485. Lotharsson says:

    M2 (IIRC), you think “the solutions” are probably just feel-good tricks that don’t really change emissions.

    A relatively modest carbon price in Australia on the largest 500 emitters (plus a bunch of concessions and exemptions) corresponded with a small drop in emissions, whereas the repeal of that price corresponded with a significant rise in emissions.

    This seems like a real world test. Then there’s the BC (Canada experience), IIRC.

  486. Lotharsson says:

    “BTW, What tis the current Guiness world record for the longest comment thread ever?”

    [several references to threads elided…]

    “the BK thread at Deltoid reached 4,707.”

    The Jonas thread at Deltoid is at 6600+ and still going (intermittently). I’m not sure that counts as a real thread though 😉

    I recall they all dwarfed by a thread somewhere else that I can’t recall right now. I think it was a more politically focused forum with a national focus (Israeli, maybe?) with a thread discussing…

    …climate change.

    I saw the size of it (hundreds of pages IIRC) and decided that unlike Willard I didn’t have a spare month (or three) to read it.

  487. Lotharsson says:

    “If there’s spare labor and capital, it ought to be used to deal with current urgencies first.”

    Poor decision making tends to arise from conflating urgent with important.

    The same would arise from presuming that temporally distant and increasingly severe realisation of important impacts means that tackling the problem is non-urgent.

  488. BBD says:

    Lotharsson

    Whoops. How could I have forgotten teh Jonas oubliette (the clue is in the name 😉 )!?

  489. Lotharsson says:

    ” Many laws and regulations are routinely ignored, including “thou shalt not kill” if you live in Chicago.”

    Fallacies will be advanced from absolutising measures that are not absolute, being neither all or nothing but somewhere in between. It seems to me that you do that quite a lot (including several different examples on this thread).

    “Therefore the most relevant facet of this problem is obedience, which implies a law or regulation to be obeyed.”

    It implies BOTH a law or regulation to be obeyed AND an effective enforcement mechanism, said mechanism tending to be anything but libertarian in the sense of “I decide for me and you decide for you”. I suspect that the scenarios people have been putting to you on this thread have been to try and provoke you to that kind of realisation…

  490. Lotharsson says:

    “Unfortunately for advocates of swift decisive action to reduce carbon emissions, the facts at hand are few. We know that human activity is raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and we know–all other things being equal–that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere results in warming. Beyond that, our understanding is extremely murky. The precise magnitude of the temperature change that results from a given increase in CO2 is still very uncertain, and the precise impacts of a given temperature increase is also unknown.”

    No, the facts aren’t few and neither are they as murky as you suggest. Many of them are simply *imprecise* to a greater or lesser degree in the sense that scientists talk about uncertainty ranges or confidence intervals. In other areas of concern we routinely make decisions (individually and collectively) in the face of imprecise knowledge every day (including areas such as medicine which features in your example, and the majority of decisions based on economic theory or implementing economic policy at government level, for example, not to mention simply buying homeowner and automobile insurance).

    Furthermore, in cases where the chance of a simply unacceptable severe outcome is non-trivial (e.g. “Russian Roulette” mentioned above, or the collapse of a significant portion of modern civilisation, or a relatively rapid major reduction in the carrying capacity of the Earth’s ecosystems by several billion people – although some people might argue that some of these are acceptable to them), then prudent risk management says you do everything in your power to avoid it despite the fact that you don’t know the *precise magnitude* of the severity or the probability of it occurring.

    And I don’t see scientists confidently ruling out that severity of outcome if we continue with business as usual…

    (We also have no good reason to believe that there are no “other things being not equal” that will significantly mitigate the effects of CO2 on climate, and quite a reasonable case to suggest that no such significant heretofore undiscovered factors exist.)

  491. Lotharsson says:

    Ah, I forgot some HTML tags work here…

    Doing nothing is particularly easy to justify when considering proposals that raise the price of energy (as a great many do), as this results in well understood and immediately negative impacts on the world’s poor.

    Only if you embrace a fallacy of omission. Proposals do not need to change the price equally for everyone, and examples of this exist and have even been implemented. The Australian carbon price scheme put a (small) amount of extra money into the pockets of the poorer citizens and took it out of the pockets of the higher earners.

  492. Michael 2 says:

    Lotharsson says: “The Australian carbon price scheme put a (small) amount of extra money into the pockets of the poorer citizens and took it out of the pockets of the higher earners.”

    And there you have it; the reason global warming has become politicized (IMO).

  493. M2,

    And there you have it; the reason global warming has become politicized (IMO).

    Yes, we can’t address climate change because if we do the poor won’t get richer…..oh, hold on…….

  494. Michael 2 says:

    Lotharsson says: “It implies BOTH a law or regulation to be obeyed AND an effective enforcement mechanism”

    Well I suppose you’ll have to decide for you and I’ll decide for me. I do not believe an effective enforcment mechanism exists where citizens do not already, for the most part, choose to obey.

    We may be quibbling over “enforced”. I do not use the word enforced if I am choosing to obey; in other words, there is no “force” to be “enforced”; but there is a moral force that operates in my mind.

    Nations that become too focused on “enforcement” tend to collapse; obviously the government is trying to do something the citizens do not want (or vice versa).

    Bringing this back to my original point which I doubt you comprehended, Democrats tend to believe all they need to do is pass more laws to the hundreds of thousands already imposed on the citizens of the United States, and that those new laws will make a difference rather than just add to the portfolio of weapons to be used against your political enemies by selective application of “enforcement”.

    Libertarians, more than the other two classes of political thought, recognize the need for personal virtue, education, and choice. Other than that, both the left and the right think they can tell each other what to do and not do, clogging legislation, courts and prisons.

    If the citizens are not moral, the nation cannot stand.

    “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.”
    George Washington”

    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
    John Adams (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31)
    http://www.cancertutor.com/quotes_presidents/

  495. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP says “Yes, we can’t address climate change because if we do the poor won’t get richer…..oh, hold on…….”

    Just when I think I understand you I’m reminded that the British have a different way of thinking; a subtle sarcasm that’s not exactly obvious — but at times is both observant and great comedy. It’s funny because viewers can relate to these everyday occurrences.

    What is clear to me is that quite a few people, Democrats in the United States for instance, probably have very little interest in climate change but never-ending interest in “the poor” with as much sincerity as John Cleese in “Time Bandits” as he takes the stolen silver from the “Time Bandits” and gives to the poor, whereupon they are considerably less poor at no cost to himself:

    Anyway, hence my point about politics — Al Gore is rich (*). Maurice Strong is rich. AGW advocates tend to be rich (the founders and leaders of it anyway). But when you say “address” climate change, that’s as nebulous as “climate change” itself.

    I address climate change by having summer clothing and winter clothing; wet weather clothing and dry weather clothing. Like much of the United States, life is marginal and choosing incorrectly future trends can be very costly, maybe even life threatening. Consequently I am perhaps more interested in actual scientific results than in political hijacking of “climate change” to earn more votes from “the poor”.

    Part of the problem is that what appeals globally probably does not appeal nationally. Nigeria loves the idea of 100 billion dollars per year and they don’t even have to trick elderly people to get it. Americans aren’t so thrilled by the idea of giving Nigeria 100 billion dollars and getting absolutely nothing for it.

    * “Matt Lauer challenged him [Al Gore] on the fact that he had criticized the influence of fossil fuel money in television, but then got very wealthy selling his network to another network that exists because of fossil fuel money. Al Jazeera had the money to pay Gore $500 million because of fossil fuels.”
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Al-Gores-Hipocrisy-The-Climate-Crusader-Profits-from-Fossil-Fuels.html

  496. Michael 2 says:

    By the way, I hope you recognize out of brevity some oversimplification of these points. The spectrum of reasons for advocating for or against “addressing” climate change is broad. I advance for consideration the specific instances when something other than fear of heat-stricken Earth is evidenced by including, usually in the same sentence, something about “the poor” or “social justice” or similar “dog-whistle” (phrase with special meaning often very opposite to the plain meaning of the words).

  497. Lotharsson says:

    And there you have it; the reason global warming has become politicized (IMO).

    Of course. Rich and powerful people and organisations tend to exploit “politicisation” far more effectively than poor people do, and they tend to do so when there is a possibility of action occurring that might impact them. Advocates of serious mitigation have been pointing this dynamic out for a very long time, as it explains much of the opposition to concerted action (including the faux objections that try to pretend that “politicisation” means that the issue is purely political and hence not necessarily serious, rather than politicisation being a necessary and expected attribute of any response to just about any serious issue…)

  498. Lotharsson says:

    I do not use the word enforced if I am choosing to obey; in other words, there is no “force” to be “enforced”; but there is a moral force that operates in my mind.

    Ah, right, you are using a different definition of “enforcement” to me. I am thinking of “law enforcement” (which is why I wrote “law enforcement”). That has a specific meaning that does not include the notion of absolutely forcing everyone to obey by removing the possibility of choosing otherwise, but rather the notion of applying various techniques to motivate most people to choose obey. This kind of law enforcement does not cease to exist simply because most people don’t trigger it, nor does it cease to have value because most people choose not to violate the law.

    Nations that become too focused on “enforcement” tend to collapse; obviously the government is trying to do something the citizens do not want (or vice versa).

    Nations that become too little focused on law enforcement (cough, Somalia, cough…) tend to collapse. This is because in any population of humans there are a non-trivial percentage who will “decide for them” that they want to take (often brutal) advantage of others leading to domination by the most powerful and brutal. (Go look up the percentage of humans who qualify as sociopaths and as outright psychopaths…) I don’t think I’ve seen a viable mechanism proposed to deal with this fact of human nature that does not feature some kind of law enforcement. Stinking more than someone else stinks doesn’t really work with someone who doesn’t give a shit that they stink and that you and others don’t like it, nor do they care how much you stink.

    Bringing this back to my original point which I doubt you comprehended, Democrats tend to believe all they need to do is pass more laws to the hundreds of thousands already imposed on the citizens of the United States, and that those new laws will make a difference rather than just add to the portfolio of weapons to be used against your political enemies by selective application of “enforcement”.

    I suspect I comprehended it just fine. You claimed Democrats “placed faith in a regulation or law as a substitute for action”, and hence that obedience was “the most relevant facet to this problem”. As my discussion of the necessity of law enforcement to driving obedience levels should have indicated, that assertion only makes sense if you think that Democrats simply don’t intend enforcement to occur (except when tactically deployed against political enemies) which seems rather a long bow to draw. (I should also note that law enforcement addresses your implied concern that laws don’t work because people don’t know them. With good enforcement levels they soon will…)

    I also saw that you failed to outline what kind of action would be a more effective action in a democratic nation than passing an enforced law. Care to take a crack at it?

  499. Lotharsson says:

    Well I suppose you’ll have to decide for you and I’ll decide for me.

    No supposition is required. It is trivially obvious that everyone decides everything they do, including people who decide on actions that violate laws or to abide by them.

    But they don’t decide in a vacuum free of other influences. Active enforcement mechanisms tend to influence that decision (at least for the mostly rational actors), as do other factors such as social pressures or culture or religion or price signals or the weather or blood alcohol levels or how much sleep they got or … Accordingly, enforcement mechanisms do not need to be perfect to be useful. We measure their effectiveness primarily by the degree of compliance, not by whether they fail or succeed at eliminating all violations.

    And given that everyone decides everything for themselves, the far more useful question is what happens when “I decide for me” to screw you or something that you value, and which you can’t effectively preserve or prevent simply by “deciding for you”. Libertarians tend to start dancing around the issue when it is raised and start coming up with ideas such as “because I don’t like stink I’ll make an even bigger stink until they decide not to stink”.

    If the citizens are not moral, the nation cannot stand.

    It’s quite obvious that a non-trivial portion of the citizens of all nations are not “moral”, as any number of psychological research papers demonstrate – and as can be demonstrated at will. It’s not a binary opposition between “the citizens are moral” and “the citizens are not”.

    Nevertheless, apparently the nation still stands (after a fashion). Any nation must deal with the fact that it has a proportion of immoral citizens.

    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    In that case, either it’s wholly inadequate for the government of the USA or any other nation (or Adams’ assertion is simply incorrect). Have you looked at the morality of Wall Street lately, or even many politicians, or the psychological research showing many ordinary people are clearly immoral in some sense given the right circumstances?

  500. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: For the “There you again again file!”. You state:

    I address climate change by having summer clothing and winter clothing; wet weather clothing and dry weather clothing.

    Here’s the commonly accepted definition of the term, climate change within the the scientific community:

    Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Note that the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes. See also Climate variability; Detection and Attribution.

    Definition courtesy of IPCC AR4.

    If you want to have the people who read this comment thread to take you seriously, you need to cease making stupid, pithy comments like the one above.

  501. John Hartz says:

    Maichael 2: Your two prior posts can be summarized in a single bullet (not gun) point.

    Michael 2 abhors most of the policy proposals to address climate change because they violate his political ideology and therefore rejects the overwhelming scientific body of evidence that manmade climate change is real.

  502. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz says: “Here’s the commonly accepted definition of the term, climate change within the the scientific community:”

    Thanks. I’m sure you’ll trot this out every time a storm hits the east coast and it is blamed on Climate Change.

  503. Michael 2 says:

    Reply to Lotharsson:

    By the way, an interesting name or handle; the two s’s suggest Icelandic or Old Norse origin.

    “Active enforcement mechanisms tend to influence that decision (at least for the mostly rational actors)”

    Agreed. Social enforcement mechanisms are the most powerful in my opinion and include, as an example, the Amish practice of “shunning”, which is also found in commercial advertising and almost any religion or culture when a person violates “norms”.

    However, I took your use of the term to mean specifically government enforcement which is necessarily armed with guns; force in other words.

    “We measure their effectiveness primarily by the degree of compliance”

    Agreed. Voluntary compliance tends to be much higher where nations are small and culturally homogenous; in such cases the laws already follow social custom so there’s not much “tension” between law and custom.

    In the context of United Nations mandated decarbonization, there’s going to be a LOT of tension and non-compliance.

    “the far more useful question is what happens when ‘I decide for me’ to screw you or something that you value, and which you can’t effectively preserve or prevent simply by ‘deciding for you’ “

    The possibilities are probably infinite. I suppose that you are speaking of the tragedy of the commons. As to “what happens”, well, spin a scenario or two and let us see where it goes. My economics classes explored a variety of options ranging from doing nothing to ways to privatize the commons or monetize the externalities.

    “Libertarians tend to start dancing around the issue when it is raised and start coming up with ideas such as ‘because I don’t like stink I’ll make an even bigger stink until they decide not to stink’.”

    Does it work? It did for me. I had a roommate in the Navy (*) and it was horrible, the noise and the smell. I tried the usual left wing “high road” of diplomacy and negotiation. All failure; made me look weak, I had no bargaining power.

    So I started cleaning the barracks. Several times a day with ammonia. I started playing opera at random times of night and day. My roommate hated it. He said, “I can play my music any time I want!” and I said, “Of course you can, I have not said otherwise. But I have the same right to listen to my music at any time.”

    He was pretty slow so after a week or two of this I suggested, “I have an idea. How about we each limit our music and other unpleasant activities as a free-will choice, a negotiated peace, and I’ll acknowledge that you have not given up any rights, and I have not given up any rights; we will agree on a behavior change.” He agreed and life was much better after that.

    There’s a reason that morality started with “an eye for an eye” and only after a thousand years or so did “turn the other cheek” come into the morality play. But even then, I remind people, “you have only two cheeks so don’t keep turning them. Sooner or later it is morally permitted to stand up for yourself or for someone else.”

    * 1983 or so: He’s also the roommate that one day decided he didn’t exist; that we were all characters in someone’s dream. Scary to think he had a security clearance. Illegal drug use was rather common in those days and morality rather scarce.

    “It’s quite obvious that a non-trivial portion of the citizens of all nations are not “moral”, as any number of psychological research papers demonstrate – and as can be demonstrated at will.”

    False equivalency. I suggest to your study the Reader’s Digest Lost Wallet Experiment. Norway is vastly more “moral” per capita than Mexico; with 100 percent of the “lost wallets” returned by the finders in Norway. Norway is clean, beautiful and generally wonderful in every way (certainly so in the summer, but coldly beautiful in winter, too); whereas Mexico is a place a good many of its citizens are doing everything in their power to leave.

    By the way, it appears Oslo has “fallen from grace” with a repeat test returning only 15 of 20; showing a rather sharp decline in honesty/morality/integrity or whatever is actually being measured. This corresponds with my own sense that nationally and apparently internationally, morality of all kinds is declining.

    http://www.thelocal.no/20131122/new-wallet-test-shows-oslo-less-honest

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430530/Helsinki-worlds-honest-city-Lisbon-lost-wallet-test.html

    “Nevertheless, apparently the nation still stands (after a fashion).”

    Yes, and after Rome “fell” Romans still existed.

    John Adams: Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    “In that case, either it’s wholly inadequate for the government of the USA or any other nation (or Adams’ assertion is simply incorrect). Have you looked at the morality of Wall Street lately, or even many politicians, or the psychological research showing many ordinary people are clearly immoral in some sense given the right circumstances?”

    You answer your own question. The constitution does not mandate morality. It assumes the existence of morality, but it also assumes a human tendency to seize control and divided the reigns of government. It should be obvious that government can easily be “undivided” by a single-party system that merely pretends to be a government of the people (ie, Soviet Union).

    I propose that morality and religion co-exist in mutual reinforcement. Morality exists because nations that have it are superior, better “fit” for their environments than those that do not. Morality is codified in religion. Religion does not create morality, rather, morality creates religion as moral people tell other moral people how to be moral and invoke higher power (special pleading).

    Morality has a geographic component. It is unsurprising that Scandinavia has high morality; the climate is severe and people must depend on each other. Morality and socialism are almost the same thing in this sense and location.

    But between 0 and 30 degrees latitude, climate and seasons do not favor nations; it favors tribe, clan and person. A person that can get ahead by cheating can also stay ahead because winter is NOT coming.

    That Readers Digest experiment largely confirms it — Mexico and Portugal are “finders keepers, losers weepers” cultures whereas Scandinavia is “Its not mine, return it to its owner” cultures.

  504. Michael 2 says:

    Lotharsson commented “I also saw that you failed to outline what kind of action would be a more effective action in a democratic nation than passing an enforced law. Care to take a crack at it?”

    Since you specified a democracy, the simple fact is that law “flips” when the people flip. Until then it is tyranny of the majority. Even when it seems to be tyranny of the minority; it is the political majority that delegated what seems to be power to the minority as a tool to magnify the power of the political majority (rulers, in other words). Create crimes out of nothing, create an “offender for a word”, a strategy very ancient. biblehub.com/isaiah/29-21.htm

    Many things were once illegal and immoral, then became only immoral but legal, now it is becoming immoral to continue to consider a thing immoral that once was immoral and illegal.

    A “conservative” is nothing more, nor less, than someone a little slow on this hope and change thing and still thinks things that were wrong in 1950 are still wrong, things right in 1950 are still right. Needless to say, many of today’s liberals are tomorrow’s conservatives if they too are a bit slow on the change thing.

    The whole Libertarian thing boils down to whose will is being obeyed? A Libertarian that learns the laws, becomes educated, sees the benefit of a nation of laws, cheats his handlers of power over him:

    From George Orwell’s “1984”

    “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”

    Winston thought. “By making him suffer,” he said.

    “Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? “

  505. jsam says:

    It could be time for a sea lion posting cull.
    http://wondermark.com/1k62/

  506. Michael 2 says:

    Lotharsson says: “A relatively modest carbon price in Australia on the largest 500 emitters corresponded with a small drop in emissions, whereas the repeal of that price corresponded with a significant rise in emissions. This seems like a real world test.”

    Indeed; and like a real world test, it has “confounders”.

    It proves the obvious. Raise the price of fuel and people will use a bit less. How much less is related to the elasticity of demand which in this case is rather low. But by raising the price of fuel, less discretionary cash is available for everything else, producing a chain reaction through the entire economy.

    The opposite is true; make energy cheap and that same chain reaction will build an economy, which is what China is doing right now.

  507. Lotharsson says:

    … in such cases the laws already follow social custom so there’s not much “tension” between law and custom.

    Again with the absolutisation/generalisation, and in this case it’s the exceptions that matter…oh well.

    I suppose that you are speaking of the tragedy of the commons.

    That’s one class of example, but there are other classes.

    It did for me.

    It is fallacious tap dancing to respond to the point that your tactic does not work in general by citing a specific instance. You repeat the same dance by citing the Lost Wallet Experiment.

    The constitution does not mandate morality.

    That’s fortunate for me, because I did not assert that it did.

    You answer your own question.

    And you go on to reinforce my point.

    …the simple fact is that law “flips” when the people flip.

    If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, this is again an over-generalisation that elides important aspects of the topic.

  508. Lotharsson says:

    But by raising the price of fuel, less discretionary cash is available for everything else, producing a chain reaction through the entire economy.

    I expect that generalisation only applies providing that all else is equal.

    But all else is not.

    In this case the proceeds of the carbon price were (at least intended to be) entirely reinjected into the economy through progressive tax rebates and targeted climate change investments leaving it much the same size as it would have been otherwise.

    One might speculate whether it had a mild stimulatory effect in some sense given that poor people spend everything they have and rich people tend to park some of their wealth in savings. In this case poor people ended up slightly better off, and rich people ended up paying a bit more than they would have, thus arguably both groups ended up spending more than they would otherwise have.

  509. Willard says:

    Sorry, jsam, but I could not help but notice that you said:

    > It could be time for a sea lion posting cull.

    Do you have any evidence for that remark?

    Thank you for your concerns.

  510. jsam says:

    Yes, Willard, I do.

    And I thank you for your concerns too.

  511. Gator says:

    I’m not so worried about individual morality. What about corporations? That’s the real problem. You’re not going to get corporations to end dumping toxic waste through shaming.

  512. Michael 2 said,

    “Democrats tend to believe all they need to do is pass more laws to the hundreds of thousands already imposed on the citizens of the United States, and that those new laws will make a difference rather than just add to the portfolio of weapons to be used against your political enemies by selective application of “enforcement”……Social enforcement mechanisms are the most powerful in my opinion….”

    I’m sorry, but I in
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/things-i-thought-were-obvious/#comment-42565
    and in other comments such as my first one
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/things-i-thought-were-obvious/#comment-41767
    documented that humanity desperately does need new laws to (1) reduce the ever increasing nontrivial probability that human civilization itself will experience a catastrophe because of too much global warming caused by presently projected fossil fuel burning and (2) reduce the number of deaths and sickness caused by present fossil fuel burning – 7 million deaths per year worldwide and counting – and the associated health care costs worldwide. Realistically, these conditions (1) and (2) can happen only if humanity has new laws.

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