Pragmatic climate policy

Given that I’ve now been outed (largely thanks to Anthony Watts and Richard Tol, I believe) Rachel had suggested I write a post about myself. I might, at some stage, but thought I would first write about something that was motivated by this article in The Conversation. It’s partly a response to an article by Mark Maslin, that I wrote about here.

The basic premise of the article seems to be that we should be developing what is generally called pragmatic climate policies. This is an idea that has – I think – been promoted by organisations like The Breakthrough Institute who have a recent report discussing this. The basic idea seems to be that policy should be based on

  • Energy technology innovation.
  • Resilience to extreme weather.
  • No regrets pollution reduction

As far as I can tell, these are all perfectly sensible suggestions. Clearly technology development, improving our ability to cope with climate change and extreme weather, and reducing pollution are all going to be important parts of any sensible policy. The problem, though, is that this climate pragmatism seems to also be accompanied by a view, as suggested by the article I highlighted above, that

The only rational solution would be to drop the “science says” arguments altogether and foster pragmatic climate policies that do not hinge on scientific truth.

Hmm, really? This doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. I have, however, seen a number of arguments for this. One is that science doesn’t do much to convince politicians and the public. Possibly, but climate science has faced a massive dis-information campaign, so it might be better if those who recognised the strength of the evidence put some effort into convincing politicians and the public to accept the evidence, rather than suggesting that they ignore it. Another is that science can’t tell us what to do. Well, this is clearly true, but it can tell us something of the consequences of different policy options.

As far as I can tell, though, the Conversation article isn’t making either of those arguments. It appears to be suggesting that maybe the science is wrong, because there is still disagreement in the scientific literature. If so, then I think this is an extremely poor justification, as it is almost an argument against evidence-based policy making. It seems clear that whenever the scientific evidence suggests something inconvenient, there will be some scientists who disagree with the mainstream view. If we then use this disagreement as a motivation for discounting the science, then we may as will give up on evidence-based policy which I think – as you can probably imagine – would be a huge step in the wrong direction.

I was going to write more, but this is probably getting long enough and I think my wife would like me to get up and actually start doing something useful (like shopping). Maybe I misunderstand the premise of this article, and there may well be subtleties to this climate pragmatism that I don’t understand. If so, feel free to point them out in the comments. I certainly don’t have a particular problem with the basic suggestions. My issue is purely with the sense that those promoting this want to develop policy without really taking the science into account. What is unfortunate about this suggestion is that I don’t think those who would like to see science included in policy discussion, would argue against the basics of climate pragmatism; they would just like the scientific evidence to inform policy, not determine policy.

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167 Responses to Pragmatic climate policy

  1. jsam says:

    You’ve become Andrew K’s latest hate target. I’m sure Dr Tol will rush to your defence.

  2. jsam,
    Who is Andrew K? Is that poptech?

    I’m sure Dr Tol will rush to your defence.

    God, I hope not.

  3. Here’s something rather ironic. Richard Tol was one of those who complaining about a Guardian comment suggesting that Matt Ridley should be beheaded. Quite right to complain. I think such comments are completely unacceptable.

    However, when I logged into my other Twitter account, I discover the following exchange.

    I also discovered that some people have favourited the response above. Imagine my surprise to discover that one of them was Richard Tol. Of course, maybe I misunderstand what’s being suggested in the favourited tweet, but it does appear to be implying that some people should consider killing themselves.

    Holly Keller and Richard Tol favorited a Tweet you were mentioned in
    Jan 23:
    @RichardTol @guardian @wikimir @dana1981 @gregladen @mattwridley shame that people who want global depopulation do not lead by example.

  4. jsam says:

    Yup, Andrew Kahn, See http://www.populartechnology.net/2015/01/who-is-and-then-theres-physics.html

    Yes, the one of the laughable lists of papers.

  5. izen says:

    You have picked up on what I suspect will be this years meme in the climate issue. Your mention of this ‘pragmatic’ approach and the references to the Webber ‘Wicked Problem’ analysis is just one instance of these concepts being invoked this year. Ideas which were not much in evidence last year, at least until it’s end.

    Calling political and economic problems Wicked Problems is mainly a labelling exercise. the features ascribed to define ‘wickedness’ are that the problem cannot be clearly stated, there are competing interests and divergent views about the response and the desired outcome. Those are present in the climate change issue, but to different extents in each aspect.

    The least doubtful or ambiguous part of the climate issue is the statement of the main causative agency in the problem. The magnitude of human emissions of CO2. The supposedly ‘Wicked’ parts of the problem in climate is the competing interests and problems in deciding what methods can be employed to reduce emissions and what the end state or aim of any policy or regulatory action should be.

    Ironic that up till now much of the dispute has been about the one bit of the problem that is NOT wicked, the reality of the causative effects of CO2.

    There have been attempts before to liken the climate denial position to the stages of grief. The increasingly futile attempts to deny it is warming are followed by increasing facile attempts to reject that it is caused by human actions. The next stage has always been predicted as the grudging acceptance that it is warming, it is us, but it is all too expensive and difficult to do anything about it so we will just have to lie back, think of England and adapt.

    I find it telling that the very moment when certain commentators are starting to promote the idea, that the warmest year and other scientific evidence like accelerating ice melt and sea level rise make the science end of the problem increasing difficult to portray as ambiguous or open to doubt, the proposal is that the science can be ignored, it is the political pragmatic problems we must focus on…

    The fact that it is true, does not negate the use of this shift as another tactic in the ongoing resistance to actual political and economic action.

  6. Yes, the one of the laughable lists of papers.

    Yes, the 1000+ papers that mostly don’t say what he seems to think they say.

    Oh, and I’ve just got the Khaaaan reference 🙂

  7. bratisla says:

    In summary of thé article : some argue that the lights are not properly set, so let’s drive in the dark. And the article position assumes that people wont object to “pragmatic” arguments …

  8. jsam,

    [Mod: Name-calling] will, assuredly, be along to defend his nonsense. I think the best debunking of his nonsense is this series.

    Well, if he does, I shall use that Rachel is taking a couple of days off to respond in the most appropriate fashion possible 🙂

  9. izen,

    You have picked up on what I suspect will be this years meme in the climate issue.

    Yes, maybe that’s a point. This will just be the next stage in what is essentially a form of science denial. Don’t deny the science, but argue that it’s ineffective and unnecessary to include in discussions/determination of policy.

    bratisla,
    Yes, that’s probably a fair summary.

  10. ‘Pragmatic climate policy’, my arse. The proposal is for some sort of ‘politically correct’ climate policy. It’s effectively suggesting legitimising denial.

    The only thing I’d agree with is that too many other causes—such as nuclear power, GMOs, biodiversity loss, renewables (all pro and against)—are being lumped into the climate policy debate and are providing a variety of reasons for various sections of the general public (and therefore their elected representatives) to be against action.

    I guess I’m saying that climate policy should not really be cast as a ‘green’ issue—it’s a matter of the long-term health of our society and therefore affects everyone, whatever their political persuasion.

  11. Joshua says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that someone would suggest a completely unrealistic approach to addressing climate change under the description of it being a “pragmatic” approach?

    The only rational solution would be to drop the “science says” arguments altogether and foster pragmatic climate policies that do not hinge on scientific truth. What a relief this would be for science and scientists to reclaim their right to be wrong.

    How is this supposed to work? Is the expectation that scientists will simply stop researching the potential for impact from ACO2 emissions? If not, is the expectation that scientists will simply stop discussing the implications of their research, or that non-scientists will simply stop reading the research and discussing the implications, or that journalists will simply stop contacting scientists to discuss the implications of their research, or that policy-makers will simply stop discussing the relevant science?

    Is it “rational” to suggest an approach that will never have a chance of occurring?

  12. ATTP / Ken

    Rachel’s suggestion is a good one – I look forward to reading your autobiographical post.

    Cheers

    Richard

  13. Richard,

    I look forward to reading your autobiographical post.

    We’ll see, it would probably be quite boring 🙂

  14. Joshua says:

    johnrussell –

    ==> “The only thing I’d agree with is that too many other causes—such as nuclear power, GMOs, biodiversity loss, renewables (all pro and against)—are being lumped into the climate policy debate and are providing a variety of reasons for various sections of the general public (and therefore their elected representatives) to be against action.”

    I think this speaks to a larger critique of “the left”: that “it” has trouble realizing political goals because “it” focuses on so many different goals simultaneously (whereas “the right” tends to set “its” sites on more limited targets).

  15. Joshua,

    Does anyone else find it ironic that someone would suggest a completely unrealistic approach to addressing climate change under the description of it being a “pragmatic” approach?

    One thing I meant to add to the post is that much of this pragmatic approach seems to come from those who regard themselves as best understanding what they regard as reality (normally political, societal, economic). The problem I have with this is that it appears as though they are elevating this form of reality over actual physical reality. As I think I may have pointed out in earlier posts, our climate’s response to increasing anthropogenic forcings will be entirely independent of our values. How our societies respond to climate change, however, is not independent of our values. Ignoring physical reality in favour of some kind of societal reality (which is not fixed) seems naive at best.

  16. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “This will just be the next stage in what is essentially a form of science denial.”

    I’m not a fan of the term “denial,” but even beyond that, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    Although I think that the suggested approach is highly flawed (just to start with, it’s completely impractical) – I think that it does reflect a good faith effort to reconcile the problem of ACO2 emissions.

  17. Joshua.

    I’m not a fan of the term “denial,” but even beyond that, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    Yes, you’re probably right. I was being a bit lax there. What I was thinking of was more those who would latch onto this, than those who are proposing it. I can see people latching onto this idea as it becomes clear that arguing against mainstream science is futile, so arguing that it should be ignored is the next best thing.

    Although I think that the suggested approach is highly flawed (just to start with, it’s completely impractical) – I think that it does reflect a good faith effort to reconcile the problem of ACO2 emissions.

    Yes, I agree. As I said above, I was thinking more of those who would latch onto this, than I was those who would be proposing it in the first place.

  18. Science—that is, ‘physical reality’, as best it can be understood at any moment in time—should be the basis for every decision we take in society. Once we start losing the direct connection we’re building our house without stable foundations.

    Doesn’t the bible say something about building on sand?

  19. BTW; telling us about yourself, aTTP, should not really be necessary, as I don’t think it will change the quality either of what you write or of the comments that follow.

    On the other hand I guess it will be one less thing for the fake ‘skeptics’ to whittle on about.

  20. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “What I was thinking of was more those who would latch onto this, than those who are proposing it. ”

    As near as I can tell, the suggested approach would manifest essentially the same basic outcomes as what we’d get with a favored approach for many “skeptics,” although the rationale might be different: This approach says don’t justify action on the science because doing so is ineffective whereas “skeptics” say don’t justify action on the science because the science is uncertain and there might be unintended consequences (as if we never take action if there’s any uncertainty about the outcomes, and as if not taking action is exempt from resulting in unintended consequences).

  21. Joshua,
    Yes, that’s roughly what I was thinking of when I wrote my earlier comment that you justifiably criticised. In a sense I think the use of the term “pragmatic” almost impies that this is the intent. It seems to be associated with the idea that nothing else has worked before, so let’s be pragmatic, accept this reality and try and move forward. It might sound sensible, but runs the very obvious risk of colliding very spectacularly (and not in a good way) with physical reality.

  22. Joshua says:

    I will say that the distinction between this “pragmatic” approach and what many “skeptics” suggest is that while people who suggest this approach would really support directing resources to increase energy security and “modernizing inefficient energy producers” (which means what, I wonder? Efficient coal plants? Fracking? Renewables?) , most “skeptics,” I suspect, would resist any real attempts to direct resources in those directions, and only support them if they magically materialize due to the all-knowing “invisible hand.”

  23. Richard says:

    If ‘pragmatic’ meant ‘workable solutions’ such as feed-in tarifs, fine. But policy must always be informed by the best science. We wouldn’t expect of health minister to say “let’s ignore there is no link between MMR and autism, but as a sop to those parents who believe it we will alter the immunization policy” (and btw the long arm of the Wakefield debacle, fueled by the media and junk/ new age medicine ensures this continue to threaten public safety … http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/disneyland-measles-outbreak-diseases-spreads-beyond-california-raising-fears-for-children-who-have-not-received-mmr-vaccine-9991244.html ).

  24. Richard,

    If ‘pragmatic’ meant ‘workable solutions’ such as feed-in tarifs, fine. But policy must always be informed by the best science.

    Yes, I thought the same. If it meant imposing a suitable carbon tax, that would make sense, but how do you determine the carbon tax if you don’t base it on the scientific evidence?

  25. jsam says:

    And to back on Andrew Khan, just for the moment, It is his work that is cited by the GWPF here.
    http://www.thegwpf.com/900-peer-reviewed-papers-supporting-skepticism-of-qman-madeq-global-warming-agw-alarm/

    I think the GWPF could do with inventing the role of academic advisor. Surely even a moderately competent academic advisor would know that list is wrong. And that this one is much closer to the mark.
    http://www.jamespowell.org/Piecharts/styled/index.html

    The retreat of denialism from “it’s not true” to “it is happening, and it’ll be great” has been breathtaking.

  26. Willard says:

    A note from Pop at the end of his outing post:

    Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Anthony Watts and Richard Tol for their assistance and invaluable information.

    And then Richard comes here to chill.

  27. Willard says:

    > Surely even a moderately competent academic advisor would know that list is wrong.

    I tried to tell Pop a few times, but my comments did not appear.

  28. Even if publishing the comments of Richard Tol are a great way to discredit him, I would argue that when he contributed to this unethical outing that would be a perfect reason to ban him from this blog. I admit that the suggestion is somewhat selfish. Such a ban would increase the level of the discussion, which is the main reason I come here.

    I hope that at least some of the fence-sitters will realize that when the main figures of the mitigation skeptics resort to such actions, they are signaling that even they themselves have no trust whatsoever that their “scientific” “arguments” are strong enough. And that the real reason for their war on scientists are political. Political reasons that are apparently so dark, that they cannot be mentioned in public.

  29. jsam says:

    I suppose, ATTP, that by the logic of Ridleyitis, if Walls, Tol and Khan are attacking you and not your ideas you have won.

  30. Victor,

    Even if publishing the comments of Richard Tol are a great way to discredit him, I would argue that when he contributed to this unethical outing that would be a perfect reason to ban him from this blog.

    It’s tempting. The main reason I don’t is that he has a public voice and so I feel reluctant to ban someone who I may later choose to write a post about (or a post about something that he’s said publicly). Most, if not all, of those I’ve banned I can largely ignore as it’s unlikely that I’d ever want to write a post about anything they may have said and so they can’t complain about not being able to defend themselves.

    I admit that the suggestion is somewhat selfish. Such a ban would increase the level of the discussion, which is the main reason I come here.

    Yes, that’s a fair point. Maybe I’ll moderate more strongly. I must admit that now that I’m outed I don’t feel as constrained by a sense that I should be careful of what I say or do since I’m anonymous and can’t be personally criticised/attacked. Now that that’s no longer the case, maybe I’ll relax some of my self-imposed constraints 🙂

  31. Richard says:

    However, if the source of this call for pragmatism is really a frustration at endless debates about physics (which is not a debate, it is an education issue), then I suppose there is a strong case for looking at other approaches.

    I think in place of ‘pragmatic’ (and often abused adjective), maybe policy that is ‘risk’ based. We do this all the time, and governs a lot of decisions on investments.

    Global warming presents a massive challenge due to its maximally interdisciplinary nature
    But we can still ground everything in the science (from all those disciplines).

    As an illustration, I am thinking of the work of places like the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the 9 boundaries concept (http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss2/art32/ )
    … nicely presented in Johan Rockstrom’s TED talk a few years ago (http://www.ted.com/talks/johan_rockstrom_let_the_environment_guide_our_development?language=en )
    … and update reported here (http://qz.com/329132/weve-crossed-four-of-the-nine-boundaries-supposedly-separating-us-from-planetary-destruction/ )

    This is NOT to dilute the importance of the climate science dimension, far from it. By highlighting the connected risks, associated with agriculture, biodiversity, etc., I think it is paradoxically easier to engage politician’s and the populace alike. Of course IPCC does address this wider agenda, but policy makers need ways to translate it into a simplified policy framework, and language.

    The nine boundaries is one such framework, within which we can design pragmatic solutions, but all firmly grounded in the science, not hope, or guesswork. We can help protect coral reefs, but 100% based on science, not wishful thinking or as a sop to deniers.

  32. jsam,

    I suppose, ATTP, that by the logic of Ridleyitis, if Walls, Tol and Khan are attacking you and not your ideas you have won.

    I have a sneaky suspicion that that is a uni-directional argument – a bit like a one way mirror. It works one way, but not the other.

  33. Joshua says:

    ==> “I have a sneaky suspicion that that is a uni-directional argument – a bit like a one way mirror. It works one way, but not the other.”

    The nature climate-o-sphere dialog writ large.

  34. Richard,

    I think in place of ‘pragmatic’ (and often abused adjective), maybe policy that is ‘risk’ based. We do this all the time, and governs a lot of decisions on investments.

    Yes, I’ve always thought that it should be risk-based, but that would seem to require balancing the risks associated with climate change with the risks/costs associated with trying to minimise these climate risks.

  35. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Another perspective on that the measles issue:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2015/01/23/disneyland-measles-outbreak-spotlights-vaccine-averse-behavior-generates-media-herd-narrative/#.VMOwasRDvyU

    Yeah, Keith likes to hippie-punch, but sometimes his stuff is good, IMO.

  36. Willard says:

    > ‘pragmatic’ (and often abused adjective),

    I agree. For instance, honest brokers abuse it to score political points:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/8998076735

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/11992666181

  37. If you advocate only implementing no-regret measures, that makes the implicit assumption that there are no net impacts. In their way of thinking it would thus make sense to also stop listening to what science tells you about the impacts of climate change. Fits together.

    Still, I guess for America it would be a step forward to start implementing no-regret measures. Getting rid of coal because its air pollution kills thousands of people a year, not to speak of all the people with lung decease.

    Reducing the air pollution of transport in metropolitan areas makes sense without climate change, it would improve the air quality (see coal), it would reduce noise pollution (leading to heart decease, less sleep, less concentration, less productivity), it would give more room for pedestrians and cyclists and in that way improve the health of the population and it would make it possible for children to regain some autonomy because they could navigate the streets like I could in my youth, rather than being taken by cars everywhere because the streets are too dangerous.

    Shifting the tax burden from labor to energy also makes sense.to reduce unemployment. Economic theory tells us that when you make labor more expensive by taxing it, people will use it less. Unemployment is a huge economic loss, both due to the non-productive hours and due to loss of skills (human capital we have invested in). It is also a major social issue, makes people very unhappy (including the people who are not unemployed, but have to fear it) and fear makes people less creative and risk prone. While in the modern economy we need more of that.

    The main thing missing would be the explicit stimulation of the introduction of a renewable energy system. However, the other no-regret measures would do so indirectly already. Feed-in tariffs were great to kick-start the small renewable energy sector, (because its predictability reduces capital costs) we anyway have to make a transition to a carbon-tax based system where investment decisions are made based on demand. Countries with a more optimistic can-do mentality have already done this for the USA.

    The irony is that “Energy technology innovation” is actually not a no-regret measure. That actually costs money. I have no idea why spending money on that is okay, but elsewhere it is not. But if that helps them making a change while making it appear they do not shift towards the left, it is find by me. If they want to have the words, fine, if we get the outcomes.

  38. Willard,

    For instance, honest brokers abuse it to score political points:

    Yes, that’s been my impression too.

    Joshua,

    Keith likes to hippie-punch, but sometimes his stuff is good, IMO.

    Kloor once pointed out – with respect to me – that he wouldn’t bother talking with anonymous trolls. I’m rather hoping that he doesn’t find out that I’m no longer anonymous as it will save me pointing out that I have no great interest in talking with self-styled hippie-punchers 🙂

  39. Willard says:

    > I’ve always thought that it should be risk-based

    I disagree. I suggest it should be grrrowth-based. We can’t risk ungrowth. Like (Hatfield, 1992) suggests, nothing else matters.

    Thank you.

  40. Joshua says:

    ==> “Kloor once pointed out – with respect to me – that he wouldn’t bother talking with anonymous trolls.”

    Having access to my email, Keith sent me an email(s?) telling me that he really respected my thinking – before he later, repeatedly accused me of trolling.

    Near as I can tell, my approach to commenting at his site didn’t change. What changed was that he started posting some stuff where I expressed strong disagreement. Could be wrong about that, though.

  41. Richard says:

    ATTP (can I still call you that 🙂 )

    You said “Yes, I’ve always thought that it should be risk-based, but that would seem to require balancing the risks associated with climate change with the risks/costs associated with trying to minimise these climate risks.”

    Well, there is not balance in sense of equating apples and pears. The thresholds / boundaries must be respected, and simultaneous action is required, in all dimensions. The risk is an attempt to quantiy the urgency for action in each dimension, not a zero sum game of false options.

  42. Arthur Smith says:

    Assuming the referenced “outing” is correct, I’m quite impressed ATTP – well over 100 published papers, over 3000 citations according to Google Scholar. Interesting topics too – if you could fit in some blog posts about your own research some time I’d definitely enjoy it!

  43. Richard says:

    @Willard – it depends how you define growth. If it is equated to industrial output that may be the problem not the solution (unless we decarbonize that particular kind of growth). But what about growth as a society? The value people place on forest and common lands (for recreation etc)? The diversity of species and how we interract with them? These all have a value.

    In many service based businesses they now discourage travel when remote conferencing is often sufficient. That equates to reduced industrial output but no reduction (and probably an increase, due to reduced wasted time travelling).

    Growth per se means nothing as a goal.

    Outcomes mean everything.

  44. BBD says:

    Here’s Matthis Hampel in comments, responding approvingly to Paul Matthews:

    […] And maybe catastrophe was more imminent before Climategate than it is now…

    I don’t think I have much time for this individual.

  45. Everett F Sargent says:

    Well, The Conversation is having a conversation with The Conversation.

    NOTE: The two articles mentioned above and quoted below are interleaved.

    “Yet climate change framed by scientists, politicians and economists as a straightforward pollution problem will neither convince sceptics nor advance the difficult decision-making process.”

    You can say that again, in fact, why not mention pollution eight more times.(though he should have mentioned it ten more times as these things do tend to go to eleventeen).

    “We wonder why so many people are unable to accept a seemingly straight-forward pollution problem.”

    Yes, why are we unable to accept a seemingly straight-forward people pollution problem?

    “The debate climate scientists are understandably tired of – but unknowingly contribute to – is American at heart.”

    Off with all their heads!

    “The use of the word ‘belief’ is important here, as it was a direct jump from the American-led argument between the science of evolution and the belief in creation.”

    Technical point here, belief occurs because no one can possibly understand everything (and the last part should read “Belief in creation.”). But … well … Off with all their heads!

    “Hence I am very sorry but I will not be responding to comments posted concerning the science of climate change but I am happy to engage in discussion on the motivations of denial.”

    Methinks he is confusing himself with Stephan Lewandowsky (and vice versa).

    “The only rational solution would be to drop the “science says” arguments altogether and foster ‘the Hartwell Paper’ that does not hinge on scientific truth.”

    Seriously? We don’t need no stinkin’ science!

    “These policies do not tackle global warming directly via emission reduction targets, as if one could control the global thermostat.”

    Going for the gold? OK, so let’s just set that thermostat to +10C … because … well … just because.

  46. Richard,

    Well, there is not balance in sense of equating apples and pears. The thresholds / boundaries must be respected, and simultaneous action is required, in all dimensions. The risk is an attempt to quantiy the urgency for action in each dimension, not a zero sum game of false options.

    I think I agree with that, although I might have to give it some thought. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that the risk analysis would be trivial, just that we should be considering all possibilities when developing policy.

    Arthur,
    Thanks, sounds about right. Of course, metrics are a poor way to judge people 🙂 I actually went through that when I realised that I was probably about to be outed, to try and make sure everything was indeed mine. I could just imagine the outcry if even a single publication wasn’t actually mine. I found one about the Tibetan highlands, that I duly deleted.

  47. Willard says:

    > The thresholds / boundaries must be respected, and simultaneous action is required, in all dimensions.

    Exactly. For grrrowth, this applies trivially: grrrowth is unaffected by threshold/boundary conditions and grrrowth occupies all dimensions (and beyond) all the time.

    Perhaps an example would help. Let’s take private equity price manipulation in electricity markets [1]. Do you think manipulating energy prices stiffles growth, Richard, and what would be the boundary conditions of a [growth-friendly] manipulation?

    Many thanks!

    Reference:

    [1]: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/01/paper-exposing-private-equity-manipulation-electricity-prices-nixed-editor-private-equity-ties.html

  48. ATTP: “The main reason I don’t [ban Tol] is that he has a public voice and so I feel reluctant to ban someone who I may later choose to write a post about (or a post about something that he’s said publicly).”

    You could make an exception for such posts. William M Connolley is banned from WUWT, but he was allowed to reply below a disgusting repost about him, which considerably enlarged my vocabulary with curse words.

    ATTP: “I must admit that now that I’m outed I don’t feel as constrained by a sense that I should be careful of what I say or do since I’m anonymous and can’t be personally criticised/attacked. Now that that’s no longer the case, maybe I’ll relax some of my self-imposed constraints :-)”

    That is an interesting aspect of bias. The mitigation sceptics expect more left leaning scientists to be more alarmist in their research. I would expect that researcher know their biases and may very well overcompensate.

    That was one reason why I preferred to do atmospheric science for a long time and not work on climate itself. But the homogenization problem was too beautiful to ignore, I like beautiful methods, and being more experienced I have started to realise that there is not much room for bias in natural sciences. You cut down a problem into small pieces. These small questions have a clear answer, independent of politics.

  49. BBD says:

    Here’s Mathis Hampel in comments apparently saying he didn’t write the first two sentences of the article (which is odd):

    The first two sentences caused much of a stir and need some qualification, that’s for sure. Although I didn’t write them, I approved to have the text published as it is. Therefore I take full responsibility for it. But I find the discussion they have triggered much more revealing.

    Here’s what was written and what set Paul Matthews off (emphasis added):

    Scientists tell us the world is warming and that a climate catastrophe is imminent. They’re probably right.

    That would be a strawman built on a misrepresentation in my book. But he seems to have forgotten his own insinuation in an earlier comment:

    And maybe catastrophe was more imminent before Climategate than it is now…

  50. oarobin says:

    I second Arthur Smith comment at January 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm. I think a series of posts on the tools, techniques, main results and reasoning of a scientific field (especially from a experienced and knowledgeable guide) are almost always interesting.

    autobiographical post, in my experience, are only mildly interesting and in such a contentious environment as you find yourself will probably be misrepresented and the misrepresentations used to attack you.

  51. dana1981 says:

    I think a big problem is that people vastly overestimate the number of people in denial about climate science. It’s really only in the ballpark of 10% of the population in Anglo countries like USA and Australia. They’re a very loud and influential group, so it’s easy to overestimate their size.

    Some of this may also stem from Kahan’s influence, who is right to say we need to first get past peoples’ cultural biases, but tends to take it too far. His favorite example is that Floridians are willing to talk about adapting to sea level rise without talking about the influence of global warming on that rise. In fact that’s the only example I’ve ever seen him cite. And it’s not an example that involves any sort of mitigation.

    That’s pragmatic climate policy, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Our issue is that to solve the problem, we need more than just ‘pragmatic climate policy’, and we’re not going to get it by ignoring climate science. So I think this approach is just fundamentally flawed. It seems motivated by a desire to pacify a group that’s a small minority of the population, sacrificing policies that could actually help solve the problem in the process.

  52. Dana, you could also starting to do something, even if not committing yet to sufficient action as a good communication strategy. People discuss what should be done implicitly assume that there is a problem. Quite often making changes in how you behave precede changes in your opinions. By seeing that the behavior is easy, you reduce the resistance to a change in opinion.

  53. Willard says:

    > In fact that’s the only example I’ve ever seen him cite.

    Perhaps because it’s more than a theorical example, but a pragmatic (honest brokers, take note!) one:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/6/27/what-se-florida-can-teach-us-about-the-political-science-of.html

    This “example” involved real politicians, real stakeholders, real issues.

    ***

    > Some of this may also stem from Kahan’s influence […]

    Bad Dan.

    OTOH, some of this may not.

    Lots of theories.

  54. Willard says:

    AT,

    I now recall that Senior may need to find another excuse to hide his disinclination to answer your questions now that Richard, Willard Tony, and Pop outed you.

  55. Joshua says:

    ==> “I now recall that Senior may need to find another excuse to hide his disinclination to answer your questions now that Richard, Willard Tony, and Pop outed you.”

    Indeed. And think of all the “skeptics” who now realize that because he’s no longer an “anonymous troll,” Anders is a brave man who has the courage to stand behind his beliefs rather than a “coward” And think of how many now will have a completely different take on the validity of his arguments.

    It will be a freakin’ sea change.

  56. John Hartz says:

    Willard:

    I disagree. I suggest it should be growth-based. We can’t risk ungrowth. Like (Hatfield, 1992) suggests, nothing else matters.

    Please elaborate and provide a link to Hatfield 1992,

    Thank you.

  57. Willard says:

    > Please elaborate and provide a link to Hatfield 1992,

    You’re welcome, sea lion:

  58. Eli Rabett says:

    On the wicked problem issue, Stephen Gardiner, or more tersely a review of his book Climate Change A Perfect Moral Storm, by Paul Wapner puts it best

    Gardiner is no misanthrope. He is not one of those moral thinkers who condemn humanity for its excessive greed or self-regarding orientation. Although he does not say so, the reader gets the sense that Gardiner feels sorry for humanity. It is as if we have brought about a problem that is so complex—and therefore so “wicked”— that the parameters of moral action are tragically narrowed. We are moral creatures frustrated by the structural constraints of climate change, and A Perfect Moral Storm explains this structural straitjacket. Gardiner’s hope is that, by understanding the nature of these constraints, we can find moral wiggle room to work our way toward climate safety. Gardiner is far from confident that this is possible, but this is at least his ambition, and it constitutes the normative justification for the book.

    The structural constraints consist of three core elements that Gardiner sees coming together to create the perfect storm. The first is the global dimension of climate change. People emit greenhouse gases from particular places across the world, yet these concentrations accumulate in the atmosphere as a whole and affect living conditions everywhere. Furthermore, because we live in a sovereign state system wherein states enjoy only fragmentary responsibility and control, it is difficult to generate the moral consideration and political will necessary to address climate change. (Students of International Relations will be familiar with this dimension, since it maps closely upon the idea of “the tragedy of the commons.” Gardiner acknowledges this similarity, but shows that circumstances specific to climate change intensify the tragedy.)

    The second dimension of Gardiner’s perfect storm is intergenerational. Greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for ages and thus decisions about reducing emissions involve concern for future generations. The problem is that future generations have no voice in contemporary affairs, and few politicians—who must show achievements within a two-, four-, or six-year period of office—are willing to undertake costly action now for climate rewards that will appear only in the distant future. (One is reminded of the famous adage, “The future whispers while the present shouts,” or perhaps of Winston Churchill’s remark, “A problem postponed is a problem solved.”) Gardiner shows how contempocentricism is a moral dilemma because the current generation always has asymmetrical power over future generations. He calls this, appropriately, the tragedy of the contemporary.

    The final issue is theoretical. Gardiner says that we lack the intellectual tools to properly understand climate change. Scholars in multiple disciplines, but especially in the humanities (and ethicists in particular), have yet to articulate compelling models of climate change that allow moral sensitivity, compassion, transnational and transgenerational care, and other forms of ethical concern to rise to the surface and provide guidance for meaningful and effective climate action. Climate change, in other words, is undertheorized. We have failed so far to generate a meaningful way to understand and address it.

  59. BBD says:

    Thanks for that Eli. One for the list.

  60. John Hartz says:

    Willard:

    Excuse me for taking you seriously. It will not happen again.

  61. Willard says:

    You never opened yourself this way, John. Everyday for us something new.

    Trust I seek and I find in Grrrowth.

  62. Ross McKitrick has proposed the most pragmatic of pragmatic climate policies: A carbon taxed indexed on temperature measurements. If the temperature goes up, as some believe it will, the tax goes up. If the temperature goes down, as others believe it will, the tax goes down. We don’t need to agree on the science. Everyone can believe whatever they like. We just need to agree on the procedure.

  63. Richard,
    Yes, I’m aware of that. It, of course, completely ignores the inertia of the system.

    We don’t need to agree on the science. Everyone can believe whatever they like. We just need to agree on the procedure.

    I’m not sure I really understand what you’re getting at here but quite why we’d want to let a minority, who don’t understand the science, have a disproportionate influence on policy seems a poor way to proceed – IMO at least.

  64. BBD says:

    That would, to a significant extent, be a natural variability tax, Richard.

  65. guthrie says:

    I don’t care who you are, so shan’t be following that up. I’m more interested in your arguments and comments.

    (I also don’t know who Orac is)

  66. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: In addition, the Earth’s climate system has more components than the lower troposphere.

  67. JH,
    Yes, that’s what I was referring to when I mentioned the “inertia”. But there’s even more to it than that. As I understand it, a carbon tax is intended to internalise externalities. Quite how you can do that by simply tying it to the rate of temperature rise is very unclear.

  68. Joshua says:

    Richard Tol –

    Don’t know if you’re up on your Climate Etc. reading, but in case your ears are burning, I thought you might want to know the reason why:

    Jack Foster III | January 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    Congratulations, Judith, on the blog of the year award! I know that your site is one of my favorites; not just for the information that it imparts, but also for the good-natured attitude that you maintain in spite of the “climate jihadi” (thanks Richard Tol) being waged against rational thought.

    I too, want to express my appreciation for your exploitation of the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims and the systematic oppression of women to score cheap points in the climate wars.

    Nice job, bro.

  69. BBD says:

    [Right wing] economists and climate change. It never seems to work.

  70. The theoretical idea of a carbon tax is the internalise extrenalities, but in practice there is no objective way to set a price for much of the damages. Thus in the end, the price of carbon would be a political compromise. In the best case informed by the impacts one would expect.

    It is really a pity of the inertia. Otherwise this would be a great scheme. I would love to bet those mitigation sceptics out of every last penny they have got. That would be survival of the fittest in the information age.

  71. @Wotts
    You would of course tax some smoothed temperature. He has a paper that shows that the McKitrick tax is a very good approximation to a first-best tax.

    Proposing a climate policy that has broad support may be a successful strategy. Climate policy did not get far over the last 20 years. Maybe it is time to change course.

  72. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, to Richard Tol re McKitrick’s ancient, recently revived carbon tax proposal: ‘I’m not sure I really understand what you’re getting at here but quite why we’d want to let a minority, who don’t understand the science, have a disproportionate influence on policy seems a poor way to proceed – IMO at least.’

    Er, because such a tax would niftily sidestep problems with people who ‘don’t understand the science’?

    Your objection is nuts unless you are mostly concerned with some sort of scientismist ideological purity. What’s more important for you: finding a practical way to reduce emissions or playing tribal games?

    (BBD: So damp it so it doesn’t bounce up and down so much.)

  73. Re: ‘A carbon taxed indexed on temperature measurements’.

    In principle, if this is what it takes to break the policy log jam—and being pragmatic 🙂 —I’d be prepared to accept this as a global agreement; even though there are the problems that others have already mentioned. However, whether it will work depends on…

    1) …agreeing a starting tax level and a temperature starting point (2015 = zero for both, not being an option).
    2) …agreeing the link between temperature rise and tax rise (clearly one dollar for every tenth of a degree would be a non-starter, though 1 dollar per hundredth of a degree might work).

    In the end I’d bank on the agreement being torn up by mutual agreement once the true impacts of climate change become apparent. However I can see resolving the problems I’ve outlined as being a show-stopper if current international climate negotiations are anything to go by.

  74. Vinny,

    Your objection is nuts unless you are mostly concerned with some sort of scientismist ideological purity. What’s more important for you: finding a practical way to reduce emissions or playing tribal games?

    Well, there are people (such as Richard himself) who develop models that use scientific inputs to estimate an appropriate level for a carbon tax. I don’t know that I actually believe the outputs of such models but it’s unclear to me how you could set the level of the tax without some sense of what sort of costs there should be associated with our emissions. Even if you were to base it on some sufficiently smoothed temperature trend, you’d still need some baseline value (ignoring that it’s our future warming that matters, not out past). I’m not trying to play tribal games, I just think you need some sense of our possible future warming to set the level for any kind of carbon tax.

    To be clear, if everyone who had influence were to sit down and say “let’s impose a carbon tax and let’s discuss at what level should be set”, I think that would be a positive step.

  75. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP, “let’s impose a carbon tax and let’s discuss at what level should be set”.

    Wrong approach. As was McKitrick’s. Don’t worry about what is the ‘right’ level for a carbon tax, let alone everyone everywhere agreeing on what that ‘right’ level might be. Just start doing it, making sure it’s revenue-neutral in a fair way. If you sell it right, you might not even have to impose it.

    As long as you start low and increase slowly (probably slower than BC did), you won’t hurt too many people and you’ll get lots of fabulously scientismistic feedback on how well you’re doing and how far you have to go.

    Or not go, as the scientismistical case may be.

    What’s to lose?

    (Apart from the last of our heavy industry, but probably a lost cause anyway.)

  76. Joshua says:

    ==> “Just start doing it..[a]s long as you start low and increase slowly (probably slower than BC did),,”

    For the sake of argument, let’s say that we should start at a level slower than BC – how much lower? How should it be indexed? How do you suggest that we “just start doing it (without getting agreement?)” Fiat?

  77. Vinny,

    Just start doing it, making sure it’s revenue-neutral in a fair way. If you sell it right, you might not even have to impose it.

    I’m not sure how you do this, though, without at least starting where I suggested: a group of people who can actually make decisions – or influence the decision makers – actually agreeing to do this.

    As long as you start low and increase slowly (probably slower than BC did), you won’t hurt too many people and you’ll get lots of fabulously scientismistic feedback on how well you’re doing and how far you have to go.

    Or not go, as the scientismistical case may be.

    What’s to lose?

    I think it depends on how slowly. I agree that we’d probably have to start low (although low is maybe hard to actually to define) but if it’s slow enough that we’re talking decades before there’s any noticeable effect, then that might be too slow.

  78. Joshua,
    Blast, I decided to put Eli’s name in my moderation list to avoid certain people using it inappropriately and, of course, it’s now catching your comments (even though I used the shortened form). I’ll take it out and just leave his last name.

  79. Rob Painting says:

    Richard Tol – If the temperature goes up, as some believe it will, the tax goes up. If the temperature goes down, as others believe it will, the tax goes down.

    Applied retrospectively too of course.

  80. jsam says:

    A McC tax on ocean temperatures is worth considering. It has less noise than the surface.

  81. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Joshua: How much lower or how much slower? There’s a difference.

  82. jsam says:

    i.e. don’t fall for the radiosondes and RSS gambit on p8 of http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2013/07/McKitrick-Carbon-Tax-10.pdf

  83. BBD says:

    (BBD: So damp it so it doesn’t bounce up and down so much.)

    What? Adjust the data to set the tax?!

    I can’t believe you just said that 🙂

  84. izen says:

    @-Richard Tol
    “You would of course tax some smoothed temperature.”

    Better to use an ocean metric like heat content or sea level.

    But WHAT and HOW would you tax?

    I often see enthusiastic promotion or opposition to a carbon tax, or cap and trade, but the actual implementation always seems vague.
    The BC example seems the most quoted, but is there any indication that system is applicable at the international level ?

    Whenever or wherever there is a tax, there is also a tax haven or loophole exemption provided just as a result of the most heavily taxed being those with the strongest influence on the institutions that impose the taxes. Whatever ways a global carbon tax or cap and trade can be avoided, or rendered ineffective have to be tightly controlled, all this seems to require political governance well beyond anything derivable from the BC example.

  85. jsam says:

    BBD – surely no sane person believes there’s a conspiracy to adjust the temperature record.And, obviously, no one in the GWPF would ever assert such. If there is a conspiracy it is really one of the most inept in history. I’d have put a nice steady increase in there.

    There is a corporate insight. Any good productivity metric ceases to be useful as soon as it is linked to incentives. 🙂

  86. The carbon tax heaven would be international transport (aircraft and ships), like it is also now with the international carbon reduction treaties. That part is hard to do as long as not everyone is participating.

    “A McC tax on ocean temperatures is worth considering. It has less noise than the surface.”

    Less noise, but it also does not respond to policy on human time scales.

  87. jsam says:

    Fair point, Victor. The ocean is too slow. The surface is too noisey.

  88. dana1981 says:

    Scientifically, McKitrick’s proposal isn’t good. Pragmatically it’s certainly better than nothing. Of course we’d have to decide the magnitude of the tax, but just having that discussion would be a step in the right direction. Of course Tol and McKitrick are preaching to the choir here. We’re the ones who want a price on carbon emissions. It’s their fellow contrarians who don’t.

  89. izen says:

    @-vv re using sea surface temps:
    “Less noise, but it also does not respond to policy on human time scales.”

    So put in a exponential modifier.
    Tax + ocean heat content anomaly ^3

  90. izen says:

    Lets try that in words –
    Carbon tax level equals ocean heat content anomaly cubed.

  91. jsam says:

    It would be interesting to see a tax pushed vigorously. My reading of history suggests regulations have proven more effective for the environment, eg CFCs and acid rain.

    Dana makes a good point though; the issue is with the contrarians. If no economic lever can be found to fix the problem then regulations will be applied.

  92. Steven Mosher says:

    “You’ve become Andrew K’s latest hate target. ”

    welcome to the club.

  93. welcome to the club.

    I hadn’t realised there was one 😉

  94. It is not a very exclusive club.

  95. It is not a very exclusive club.

    As the old saying goes: I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.

  96. jsam says:

    Look down the right hand side of his two-ply blog and find the heading “Exposes” and watch wingnuttery expose itself. It’s rather a good membership. You should thank Dr Tol for putting you forward.

  97. Joshua says:

    Vinny –

    ==> “Joshua: How much lower or how much slower? There’s a difference.”

    Yeah. I said “…slower, how much lower” when I meant “slower, how much slower.”

    Anyway, I do think that it’s an interesting idea, there’s a certain logic to adjusting to the trends in temps – although obviously the rate of change and initial starting point would be huge issues, as would be implementing structures to make it progressive so as to target different populations differently.

  98. Eli Rabett says:

    Orac is a surgeon who blogs on science blogs/respectful insolence. He has this thing about the anti-vaxxers and homeopaths.

  99. Eli Rabett says:

    McKitrick tax is another idiot libertarian idea similar to putting a toll in front of your house and charging those driving by. Too complicated to work but on the surface implementable. What metric to use is but the start of the problems.

  100. Steve Bloom says:

    I read that Conversation piece when it first came out. My main thought was that it’s remarkable what low standards some corners of academia have. I think there’s a lot more wrong with it than even you and some of the commenters have pointed out, but honestly it’s just not worth my time.

    Dana, the McK. proposal is purely a dodge to allow people like him to say they’re in favor of one. Were anything of the sort to be seriously discussed, they would fight as hard as they could for the lowest starting level and the lowest possible increments, IOW exactly what they’d be doing with a standard carbon tax approach. And just passing something, anything isn’t necessarily a help, noting what’s happened with the EU, where the same forces that worked to make the system ineffective are able to use its presence to block something more effective from happening.

  101. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Steve Bloom: ‘And just passing something, anything isn’t necessarily a help, noting what’s happened with the EU, where the same forces that worked to make the system ineffective are able to use its presence to block something more effective from happening.’

    Translation, please. Some of us actually live in the EU and would benefit from plain English.

  102. Mal Adapted says:

    The underlying rationale for a carbon price is to internalize the social cost of carbon emissions, but it isn’t necessary to agree on the “true” external cost, only on a low end of the range. The goal is to make non-fossil-carbon energy sources price-competitive, thus promoting investment in alternative technology and infrastructure, and encouraging consumers to switch. Market forces would then be expected to eventually bring prices for alternatives down until they are as low as fossil fuel prices are now, at which point the transition will be complete.

    Tangential to the social cost of carbon are tangential to the arguments for ending the $10 billion to $52 billion in annual subsidies the fossil fuel industry has enjoyed in the US alone. Nevertheless, eliminating the subsidies would go a long way to achieving the purpose of a carbon price, namely the replacement of fossil fuels with alternatives.

  103. Mal Adapted says:

    Nuts: “Tangential to the social cost of carbon are tangential to the arguments for ending the $10 billion to $52 billion in annual subsidies”

  104. Tom Curtis says:

    Contrary to various opinions here, I actually like McKitrick’s proposal, given certain key elements. These are, first, that the tax should be indexed to the running mean temperature over are moderate period (eight to twelve years sounds reasonable) so that it does not fluctuate violently with ENSO. Second, that the tax be set initially at a level sufficient to have an impact. I would like an initial $20 per tonne of Carbon, but would accept anything above $5. Third, the rate of increase should be such that IPCC projected trends (0.2 C per decade) will raise the tax to very high values rapidly, say to $200 per tonne within 20 years. Fourth, that the tax scheme be revenue neutral, and not be used to replace current recurrent expenditure. And fifth, it be recognized that in the event of the temperature bumping along with no increase for fifteen odd years, or rises at IPCC values, the tax will need to be revised.

    I do not think this would be an ideal scheme by any means – but it is a scheme that will result in a revenue neutral carbon tax rising sharply over time. And, most importantly, it is a tax that might be possible to implement with bipartisan support (in English speaking countries).

    Having said that, I have not read the details of McKitrick’s proposal, and he is quite likely to have insisted on provisions contradicting one or more of those above.

  105. Steven Mosher says:

    we want our tax and nothing but our tax. if you propose something else you are obviously in denial.

    who exactly would want to negotiate with people like you.

  106. Ken Fabian says:

    Nothing so inspiring as someone who doesn’t think the climate problem is serious enough to be worth expending money and effort fixing proposing alternative policies that are unworkable and or unacceptable. Then probably insist that they cannot accept anything less. Perfect for an impasse – and those who oppose action on climate would count an impasse a success. Yet, if those alternatives looked likely to really work, were actually on the table and were well supported, these same people would almost certainly be leading the effort obstruct and oppose. I think a lot of nuclear politicking is like that IMO.

  107. Eli Rabett says:

    Steve, if Eli knew what his tax was the bunny might agree with you. Might not also.

    In willardspeak you are flogging a strawtax.

  108. Willard says:

    Are there any other products than the McTax on the shelves, dear sellers?

  109. Frank says:

    Tom: If you read McKitrick’s proposal (at his website), you would see that he wants the size of the tax to be equal to the amount of damage CO2 is currently causing. Since the warming since 1900 (and certainly since the LIA) is recognized as being beneficial by some, the current tax might be zero. Richard Tol and others believe that as much as another degC of warming might be net beneficial. So you won’t find McKitrick’s proposal particularly attractive. I personally happen to think that the warming rate (30? year average) at which we are approaching catastrophe is far more relevant than current temperature, but I don’t buy into the arbitrary choice that anything above 2 degC above pre-industrial represents catastrophe. For example, the current warming rate is perhaps 0.13 degC/decade and we have 20 decades before we will reach a +2.5 degC catastrophe. Technological progress will likely reshape the world before that catastrophe arrives. Those who believe in climate models are unlikely to adopt this approach, but it is better than nothing.

    The rate or acceleration of sea level rise may be another useful indicator of approaching catastrophe. So far, the rate of SLR is only marginally different from the average for the 20th century (which hasn’t been a big problem to adapt to) and evidence for acceleration is marginal.

    Since individual developed countries can’t solve this problem on their own, I would suggest pro-rating a carbon tax by the fraction of the global emissions coming from countries where an equally large carbon tax (as a percentage of GDP) is being imposed (or other serious effort to reduce CO2 emission is underway). Since Germany is shutting down their nukes, for example, it is hard to claim that a serious effort to reduce emissions is currently underway. China’s emissions are now double the US’s and are likely to be triple our current emissions by 2030. (It doesn’t take much of a growth rate to produce a 50% increase in 15 years even if your carbon intensity improves at China’s target 3% rate.) If US emissions fall by 1/3 over the same period of time, American and Chinese per capital emissions will be equal and probably double those in many European countries.

    The problem with all carbon taxes is that they don’t specify how much emission will be allowed; they only determine how much additional we will pay when we do emit. It isn’t clear how much citizens of a democracy are willing to spend on emissions reductions even when it appears as if the tax is fully rebated. To avoid the tax, people will spend more buying energy from lower emission technology.

  110. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steve, if Eli knew what his tax was the bunny might agree with you. Might not also.

    In willardspeak you are flogging a strawtax.”

    you illustrate my point exactly.

  111. Steven Mosher says:

    Are there any other products than the McTax on the shelves, dear sellers?

    its settled science willard. ask anyone

  112. Willard says:

    > ask anyone

    Show me. A review of the relevant literature showing that 97% policy analysts (let’s be sport and accept econometricians in that box) agree that the McTax is the way to go would be nice.

  113. Willard says:

    Oh, and if one can find me an insurer who implements a McTax for home and civic responsibility, that would be appreciated too.

  114. Tom Curtis says:

    Frank, thankyou. I have now found his presentation of the idea, and having read it I have to agree with Eli, “what tax?” He provides not formulas and fixes not values except for a proposed US$10 per tonne starting value (which I could go along with). I do note that in an earlier paper, he suggests that up to $20 per tonne carbon tax presents no problems.

    Of his specific proposals, he writes:

    “All climate models in use today predict that, if CO2 drives climate change, the strongest and most rapid response will be an amplified warming trend in the tropical troposphere: the vast region from near the surface up to 16 km altitude, spanning the tropics 20 degrees North and South. And they predict that temperatures here would not change nearly as much in response to the other things that have caused warming and cooling in other parts of the atmosphere, such as ozone depletion, solar variations and land-use change. So I consider temperature levels in the tropical troposphere to be an ideal place to see the general magnitude of CO2 emissions on the climate.”

    That is purest nonsense. The tropospheric “hotspot” is a consequence of the lapse rate feedback, pure and simple – and is approximately as strong for all forms of warming given an equal forcing. (Models show a greater tropospheric warming from CO2 only because they show more warming from CO2 than any other source.) If anything, solar forcing, being strongest in the tropics, would result in more evaporation for a given forcing and hence result in a stronger tropospheric hotspot.

    Further, contrary to McKitrick’s claim, warming in the mid and upper troposphere is the least well measured data available to us. Radiosonde data is limited in number, and fraught with accuracy issues. Satellite data cannot distinguish altitudes with sufficient resolution so that even the TLT (lower troposphere) channel is contaminated with a signal component from the cooling stratosphere.

    Further, one feature of lower, middle or upper stratosphere data is that it shows a much stronger ENSO (and volcanic) signal, making the short term variation much stronger relative to the long term trends. That volatility is not what you want in a tax regime, so the tropospheric temperature measures are unsuitable to purpose.

    A second point is that he insists the tax should be made revenue neutral by substituting for other taxes. That is a bad idea on two counts. First, by design a carbon tax is intended to result in the shrinking of the revenue base. If we substitute carbon tax for income tax, then switch (as I hope we do) to a renewable economy, we end up with a self inflicted budget crisis.

    Second, in any nation a significant portion of the population are not tax payers. Simply substituting a carbon tax for for income taxes will result in these, generally poorest people being faced with a sharp and uncompensated increase in indirect taxation. We would be taxing paupers to give millionaires a tax break. Therefore, while part of the return of revenue could be by tax breaks (ingnoring the shrinking revenue issue), some must be in the form of direct payments to those on low income sufficient to cover any increased costs.

    Finally, he indicates he is happy with a tax that would increase to “over $200 per tonne of CO2 by 2100” at the maximum predicted rate of temperature increase. That is, only when the surface temperature has risen to about 8 C does his tax peak out at $200 a tonne. That is shutting the door after the horse has bolted. If high end temperature rises are in fact occurring, we need a mechanism that will result in high carbon taxes early in the century, not at its end. Further, if McKitrick is right about temperatures, there is not cost for him in allowing that feature in that it will never be implemented. (Of course, if he is right about temperatures, a carbon tax will generate effectively zero revenue very early in the piece, so there is even less reason to use the carbon tax as a substitute for income taxes.)

  115. Willard says:

    > over $200 per tonne of CO2 by 2100

    According to this site:

    http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/

    20$ in 1924 has the same value as 273.63$ in 2014.

    The McTax does not seem to keep up with last century’s inflation.

  116. Steve Bloom says:

    This is what I was recalling, Vinny. Have things improved?

  117. Steve Bloom says:

    As a general proposition, regulations are effective. California does have a cap-and-trade system, much tighter than the EU ETS, but we have lots of regulations too. No one aside from the usual suspects is squawking. Of course we need to go farther faster, but there seems to be a willingness in the political system here to rapidly adjust progress in accordance with advancing renewable technology and deployment.

  118. Steve Bloom says:

    Right, Frank and Tom, basically it’s a bait-and-switch from McK. To be expected IMO.

  119. Steve Bloom says:

    Oh wait, Mosher lives in California. Is he blind, or does he just not wish to see?

  120. Steve Bloom says:

    More re California’s efforts.

  121. Joseph says:

    However useful it has been in bringing the topic onto the political agenda, the scientific framing of climate change as a global pollution problem to be fixed by governmental intervention has run aground.

    Actually I think something groundbreaking and that improves significantly the likelihood that we will see a global reduction of carbon emissions at some point has already happened. I think the first important step was taken by President Obama to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from power plants by 2025. The second was China’s agreement to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible and to cap coal consumption by 2020.

    Below are some graphs that I think illustrate why these steps are important in of themselves without a global agreement:

    As you can see from the graphs China and the United States are the two largest consumers of coal and have the highest rate of carbon emissions (together they account for 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions). China has also seen a rapid rise in coal consumption and emissions over the past couple of decades with most of the rest seeing flat to declining emissions and coal consumption. Combine this with the fact that the most important stumbling block in the past to a global agreement was China’s reluctance to reduce it’s emissions, I think it is now far more likely that the other major industrial countries will join in at some point.which will reduce global emissions even more. Of course it’s possible that neither country will meet its goals but I do think there is reason for optimism.

  122. Willard says:

    > China has also seen a rapid rise in coal consumption and emissions over the past couple of decades with most of the rest seeing flat to declining emissions and coal consumption.

    If coal producers knew taxes on coal would increase over time, what would they do with their coal in the near future?

    Lord Ridley may have his own answer to that question.

    It may or may not be compatible with the fact that he just increased his own short-term production.

  123. Steven,

    we want our tax and nothing but our tax. if you propose something else you are obviously in denial.

    who exactly would want to negotiate with people like you.

    Don’t you see the irony in what you appear to be saying. You seem to be suggesting that everyone here should be jumping and down for joy and immediately accepting McKitrick’s idea. When people say “okay, it’s a start, but….” you then seem to be throwing your toys out the cot and complaining that there’s no point negotiating. Huh? You do understand the meaning of the word “negotiating”?

  124. Joshua says:

    Speaking of the irony that steven fails to see…

    After he explained that he isn’t advocating that I be banned or moderated (“censored,” as the drama-queens like to say) but that he just spent hours writing responses to my comments at Climate Etc. in order to take a bullet for the team by distracting me from the vitally important work that “skeptics” are doing in the threads at Climate Etc [seriously, that’s what he described]….

    When I post the following comment this morning at Climate Etc., I find out that I’m in moderation:

    —————————————————-

    Rud Istvan | January 24, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Reply

    […]

    Its sort of fun to see the warmunists growing ever more unhinged as the wheels fall off their bandwagon.
    Things like NASA GISS 2014 warmest ever, then even MSM pointing out (within 24 hours) yes, with a 62% probability that the by 0.02C is wrong, will do that to bandwagon wheels.

    Joshua | January 25, 2015 at 10:06 am |
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Quite remarkable how often we see how smart and knoweldgeable people (on both sides of the climate wars) who pride themselves in their analytical abilities, when sufficiently inclined to do so, can effectively filter out any extraneous information that confounds their tendency towards seeing whatever patterns they want to see in order to confirm their biases.

    It’s really amazing how pervasive is the phenomenon of motivated reasoning.

  125. Joshua says:

    Well – I guess the joke of irony is on me. So Judith seemingly has me in moderation, but passed that comment through.

  126. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Steve Bloom: The ETS is still a mess but the backloading scheme mentioned in that Economist article was (in the usual EU way when the wrong answer is given) put to several more votes and implemented last year.

  127. Blair says:

    If you are looking at a pragmatic approach to climate change, look no further than the topic of black carbon. The second most important anthropogenic forcing with human health and cryosphere-related consequences as well.

    http://achemistinlangley.blogspot.ca/2015/01/black-carbon-climate-change-topic-we.html

  128. dana1981 says:

    If you read McKitrick’s proposal (at his website), you would see that he wants the size of the tax to be equal to the amount of damage CO2 is currently causing. Since the warming since 1900 (and certainly since the LIA) is recognized as being beneficial by some, the current tax might be zero.

    The amount of damage CO2 is currently causing (essentially the social cost of carbon) is immensely uncertain. I think Tol pegs it around $5/ton in FUND, vs. around $35/ton in Nordhaus’ DICE, vs. $100/ton in Hope’s PAGE. And those are just the best estimates of the 3 most widely-used IAMs, each having a huge margin of uncertainty. On top of that there’s the new paper by Moore & Diaz noting that for the most part these models treat economic growth as an exogeneous factor, and when incorporating the impact of climate damages on economic growth, the social cost of carbon best estimate in DICE rises to over $200/ton. I’ll have a post on the paper this week.

    But again, these (starting price and rate of increase of the carbon tax, possible revenue neutrality, etc.) are details that can only be ironed out once we get everyone to accept the reality that we need a price on carbon emissions. And again, it’s the contrarians who are obstructing this conversation.

  129. Blair,
    Why should we look no further than black carbon? Are we unable to address more than one thing at the same time? You don’t need to combat the myth of “only CO2” with “anything but CO2“.

  130. Blair says:

    I did not write that we shouldn’t look farther than black carbon. Rather I noted that black carbon now appears to represent the second strongest forcing AFTER carbon dioxide. I also wrote that black carbon is an area we should all be able to agree to work on.

  131. You should learn what mantra the acronym ABCD refers to.

  132. John Hartz says:

    As documented in the following article, the super-rich of the world may have their own concept of what constitutes a “pragmatic plan” for surviving the impacts of manmade climate change.

    As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes by Alec Hogg, The Guardian, Jan 23, 2015

  133. And Then There’s Physics:

    A propos of ‘ pragmatic’ policy formulation, you may wish to peruse this, reproduced verbatim from the Summer 1990 issue of The National Interest

  134. Blair,

    I did not write that we shouldn’t look farther than black carbon. Rather I noted that black carbon now appears to represent the second strongest forcing AFTER carbon dioxide. I also wrote that black carbon is an area we should all be able to agree to work on.

    Okay, but you did say “look no further than”. Yes, I agree that black carbon is something we agree on.

  135. Marco says:

    “I also wrote that black carbon is an area we should all be able to agree to work on.”

    And what makes you think that?

    “Inhofe for now says he does not support the idea of limiting black carbon emissions, saying he is concerned about the cost to poor families in Africa.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/may/05/inhofe-black-carbon-bill
    That was 2009, when Inhofe supported research into black carbon emissions.

    Four years later:
    “One of the simplest ways we can reduce this type of pollution is to increase access to electricity in these poor regions around the world.” (but also do read the rest)
    http://www.inhofe.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/inhofe-opening-statement-at-epw-subcommittee-hearing-on-black-carbon

    In Africa it comes down to increasing CO2 emissions to reduce carbon black emissions. Also apparent is that Inhofe will not want to do much about carbon black when it is linked to climate change.

  136. ohflow says:

    Hey.
    Just wanted to share my encounter with poptech on probably the biggest MMA forum(sherdog, no link if its considered nsfw), he used to write about marijuana and climate change. Like entering threads and bombarding them with his compilations of studies. Few people seemed to engage him, which is understandable since he had thousands of studies “behind” him.
    Well I was naive enough to actually engage him, not on the climate change issue but on marijuana. I mean all I know about climate change is some basic radiative physics courses from radiology.
    But our discussion kinda opened up the reality of his site to the rest of the posters, seeing as he posted thirty some articles(which i went through dutifully instead of studying) about how bad marijuana was and not one of them laid any blame on the drug itself, it was always “mixed with tobacco” “vaporizers” etc. I am no drugspokesperson I just prefer real over fictional arguments. Especially when he were comparing pot to alcohol and cigarettes. So that he would go out with your identity after he has gotten e-famous on WUWT doesn’t surprise me, he is a dishonest person looking to score more points with people who praise his agenda based site.
    Thanks again for the great blog, ATTP. Sorry for the long OT comment. 🙂

  137. ohflow,
    What you describe is not hugely surprising.

  138. Booker’s favorite Paraguayan backwater is something of a locus classicus of cherrypicking- Michael Crichton cited temperature outliers in the neighborhood in Climate of Fear

  139. afeman says:

    Note how the blogger-finder general has shunted matters to the proposal of somebody who, let’s see, got their seat at the table how?

  140. JH,
    I think me writing a post about the link between population and climate change would be a bad ClimateballTM move 🙂

  141. John Hartz says:

    ATT”: On the other hand, it would put your blog on the map so to speak. 🙂

  142. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes “why we’d want to let a minority, who don’t understand the science, have a disproportionate influence on policy seems a poor way to proceed”

    Strictly speaking in all nations on Earth a minority (*) creates and executes all policies. Sometimes members of that minority are themselves elected, but once elected they are largely unrestrained in creating policy and imposing such policies on their nations.

    * Legislature, parliament, that sort of thing.

    Science-informed policies have, in the past, engaged in practices now considered politically incorrect, such as Eugenics. Strictly speaking, improving the human race does seem “scientific” but meets with resistance. The problem is that science can answer questions of how to reach a specific goal but isn’t very good at setting the goal in the first place.

    As to knowing who you are: You are what you write. Now I have a name. It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. On the internet you are still what you write.

  143. M2,

    Strictly speaking in all nations on Earth a minority (*) creates and executes all policies.

    Yes, but I was referring to a minority having an undue influence on the policy makers, not the policy makers themselves. Of course, in reality, a minority probably does, but I don’t think invalidates my point.

  144. On the internet you are still what you write.

    On the internet, noone can hear you scream 🙂

  145. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP says “I was referring to a minority having an undue influence on the policy makers, not the policy makers themselves.”

    Comprehension dawns. Unelected movers and shakers.

  146. Michael 2 says:

    dana1981 says: “it’s the contrarians who are obstructing this conversation.”

    On the contrary (!) I love this conversation. Finding a place unbanned to have it is the hard part. How much conversation can I expect at SkS? None whatever.

    Right here is the best place for this conversation that I have found so far. It is not in my power to “obstruct” it, nor, fortunately, yours.

  147. Andrew Dodds says:

    @M2

    Many of those ‘unelected movers and shakers’ are in fact corporate interests – they are, after all, the ones who actually have the cash, and at present it’s always cheaper to buy legislation than change your own behavior.

    For some reason, though, self-styled ‘Libertarians’ often seem very relaxed about this, but very up in arms about non-commercial lobbyists.

  148. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of the power of “movers and shakers”, disucussions that took place last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos are most illuminating. For example,

    The billionaires and corporate oligarchs meeting in Davos this week are getting worried about inequality. It might be hard to stomach that the overlords of a system that has delivered the widest global economic gulf in human history should be handwringing about the consequences of their own actions.

    But even the architects of the crisis-ridden international economic order are starting to see the dangers. It’s not just the maverick hedge-funder George Soros, who likes to describe himself as a class traitor. Paul Polman, Unilever chief executive, frets about the “capitalist threat to capitalism”. Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, fears capitalism might indeed carry Marx’s “seeds of its own destruction” and warns that something needs to be done.

    The Davos oligarchs are right to fear the world they’ve made. by Seumas Milne, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Jan 22, 2015

  149. Andrew Dodds says:

    John H –

    Shorter Version:

    ‘Hooray, we’ve got all the plebs working for peanuts! Now, why have no consumers got any money?’

  150. Andrew,

    ‘Hooray, we’ve got all the plebs working for peanuts! Now, why have no consumers got any money?’

    The follow-up to that is:

    Tell you what, why don’t we lend them some of our money, then they can buy our products, and pay back the loans with interest. Then we can lend them even more of our money and they can buy our products again, and pay us back – again – with interest. If we keep doing this we can get infinitely rich!

  151. Willard says:

    Scratching my own itch, there’s always Eli’s plan to save the world:

    Nations wishing to make major progress on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions should introduce emission taxes on all products. These taxes should be levied on imports as well as domestic goods at the point of sale, and should displace other taxes, such as VAT, sales taxes, and payroll (e.g. social security, health care) in such a way that tax revenues are constant, and distributed equitably.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2007/12/rabetts-simple-plan-for-saving-world-un.html

  152. Eli Rabett says:

    At some point even Paul Krugman signed on

  153. Andrew Dodds says:

    aTTP –

    All the while preaching about how terrible it is to be in debt and/or spend more than you earn, of course.

  154. Michael 2 says:

    Frank says: (January 25, 2015 at 3:53 am) “To avoid the tax, people will spend more buying energy from lower emission technology.”

    Or you can subsidize lower emission technology paid for from existing tax revenue. it works out exactly the same and has a lot less overhead and complexity in the tax code.

  155. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of “movers and shakers” in the U.S. political system…

    Koch Network Vows To Spend Nearly $900 Million To Buy Presidency And Congress by Steven Rosenfeld, Alternet, Jan 27, 2015

  156. Bonjour

    First of all, the question of your forced outing let me in great ignorance because I still do not understand who you are, which does not prevent me for appreciating your papers and posts.

    Secondly I understand that papers of the Conversation about the role of science and the convincing of climatoskeptics are talking of an “auto da fe” id est “un acte de foi”. The question looks like the debate after Charlie’s and HyperCasher affairs in France. It is generally thought that education is the efficient answer against racism and antisemitism. Except that some racist and antisemtisim individuals were or are well-educated in the French republican or private schools of France. Their arguments are not necessarily related to any rational or educated mental skills or knowledge, even if they use “rational” arguments to disguise dissertation and to serve their belief. Some of the climato skeptical persons are in a sort of faith proof not in a scientific argumentation. And I think that the Mark Maslin paper conclusions (more than the one of Mathis Hampel) are essential and well targetted for these reasons.

    Thirdly, I am aware I did not read yet in details your post on Mark Maslin article and appologize for having missed your points.

  157. Arnaud,

    First of all, the question of your forced outing let me in great ignorance

    Not that surprising. I’m not really anyone 🙂

    It sounds like what you’re describing is the failings of what is often called the deficit model. The idea that we can increase people’s acceptance of science by simply filling in some of the bits they may not understand is generally regarded as simplistic and probably not correct. There are many reasons why people may not accept a particular scientific position. My continual problem, though, is that as a scientist I feel most comfortable simply trying to explain our best understanding. I feel slightly uncomfortable with the idea that one designs a method of increasing acceptance by finding ways of targeting people (for example) as that just feels a bit too much like using marketing to achieve a goal, rather than simply being honest and straightforward. I don’t have a problem with others doing so, as there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with finding ways in which to get people to accept what is regarded as scientifically true, it’s just not something I have a particular desire to engage in myself.

  158. John Hartz says:

    Chris Mooney provides an excellent assessment of where addressing manmade climate change fits in the current political landscape of the U.S. in:

    The climate debate is brutal and dysfunctional, but there’s still a way out.

    Mooney’s article appears in the new Energy and Environment section of the Washington Post and was posted on Jan 29, 2015.

  159. John Carter says:

    It was suggested that rather than insulting him, I should show where he was wrong. Okay, this isn’t really right, as there’s only so much time and effort available, and it isn’t really worth spending it rebutting Booker’s nonsense.”

    The key is to always show. Any energy spent calling names only increases the fervor of those who feel they’re right (ideological belief can be very self sealing,and on climate change with many “skeptics,” it is or is close.) (It also seems less credible to those who don’t already think or know that most climate change “skepticism” is so far removed from an actual objective analysis of the relevant science as to be caricature – and that’s a good portion of the U.S for instance; where over half of Americans really think we’re marginally affecting the climate or not affecting it, it’s changing on it’s own, or it’s not even changing,and thus that the skeptics are basically right, let alone that they’re not a caricature of horrible science under the guise of “science.”)

    This only increases misinformation and more overall misrepresentative characterization of the basic science.

    And it is a very big part of the reason why there is such an enormous gap between when most atmospheric and climate scientists who study this professionally say, and what the public on average believes.

    Showing is key, and this pattern is key to show.

    There is an effect, I can’t remember the name, but the upside is that people who understand things very well tend to implicitly feel that many others do as well, or are seeing things the same way. But they’re not. And that’s without the incredible passionate biases on this issue, which greatly hinders people even further from actually seeing or following, and causes them to intently filter things in a way to reinforce their belief or desired belief.

    For this reason, for example, I don’t remember which article (maybe this one?) when skeptics say something is “interesting” they probably often DON”T really mean “it”s complete bullocks”, as preposterous as it appears to you (and as preposterous as in most instances, it actually is.)

    The key for all of this is to communicate in a way as much as possible – except when only communicating with fellow objective scientists equally versed on the issue (and that’s not a blog even b/c a blog is public) – that shows, and that does not presume so much knowledge or the same line of logical reasoning or interpretation on the part of everyone else, and certainly not the same filters, perceptions and perspectives and modes of “thinking.”

    In essence, just as there is an insular world of climate change “naysaying,” there is an insular world of those who really do either know or believe climate change is serious or significant, and that latter world often inadvertently believes it represents most people and that most people “get it,” when most people don’t.

    And it often doesn’t show, doesn’t make the case in a way for those outside the group (however large) to really get it. Both on the c change issue (somewhat), but more particularly when it comes to the massive misinformation and misrepresentation machine of climate change skepticism. And perhaps the biggest impediment to that is the belief that skeptics are “lying,” or some such reason other than their reinforcing belief, so insular group 2, those who know CC is a big deal (I imagine you fall into that group) – it never shows anybody who is not of the same mindset already, but just seems non credible to all who really DO need to be reached on the issue.)

    And which massive climate change misinformation, and the misperceptions and patterns that drive it (even the somewhat self reinforcing if not sometimes self sealing nature of it) need to be made into the predominant story.

    On the flip side, that other insular world – climate change “skepticism” – is generally doing the opposite. Most things, though it appears to be bunk to most of the more objectively climate informed, is geared towards telling a broader story, and when trying to persuade, therein selling, showing, leading; rather than telling, concluding. (In general, I mean you can find any examples to fit a view if you think otherwise, and want to cling to that view.)

    And toward getting more and more people to have doubts about what climate scientists suggest, doubts about climate scientists, doubts about science in general as practiced by scientists who get paid as professionals (except for the rare few who loosely support the “skeptic” side and are behind most of the belief that the “debate” over the basics of climate change is real), doubts about the whole issue of climate change and the motivations of those who proclaim it’s a problem, as opposed to their own “objective,” science “free of fraud” and sheep groupthink hysteria (the irony b/c the reinforcing groupthink solidarity of the WUWT crowd is a remarkable thing)… and fraudulent grant money (but not free of massive Heartland money paid for the sole purpose of refuting climate change regardless – that and things similar they are blinder than blind to) and their own noble purposes. Such noble purposes often being to help the poor of the world who are going to die because vaccine’s can’t be refrigerated, or from indoor pollution from smoke fires, or no energy to run machines to till their fields, etc etc – all of which – in their minds – are destroyed, not in the long run enabled, by a transformation to smarter energy sources and practices. Oblivious to the otherwise pretty clear fact that it is the world’s poor who are by far going to be the hardest hit by climate change – and they didn’t even much contribute to it!

    And all these arguments designed to advance skepticism under the guise of reason are quite compelling – again, to people, which is the majority of people in the world, who don’t think like advanced, and relatively objective, unbiased, scientists; not to, say, you. So relative to the actual facts, and the fact that but for a minute fringe the actual facts have actual relevant practicing scientists on their side, they’re actually winning. (By which I mean are having a wildly disproportionate impact relative to both the logic and the facs of their position. And blaming people for being “stupid” although it does allow rhetoric to work rather well, and the best ideologicall self reinforcers tend to be great at rhetoric – is kind of a cop out, since ultimately people respond to the information they’re presented with,and how it’s presented. )

    And as a result there is an enormous misinformation and misperception gap on this issue, which is the real reason why we haven’t done anything substantive in 25 years. It’s not just “inertia’ and fear of change (which most skeptics tend to have the most of, but CC isn’t change in the meaningful sense of graspable delineated change, it’s abstract and over decades, and weather changes anyway….).

    I mean, often with so inane.. I’ve had people with science degrees from ivy league schools (though that part is rare) argue irrational things like “climate change isn’t a big deal because climate always changes,” (somehow this means we’re less not more likely to be affecting it now by radically altering the atmosphere) or because “climate has changed before,” or “the fraction of the atmosphere that is CO2 is small,” or “CO2 levels used to be much higher,” or again, “it’s a fraud to get grant money’ (because in their mind what works becomes reality, and what works is not scientists studying science, but science as a form of predetermined advocacy – exactly what they are doing, projected outward.)

    Anyway, just some thoughts – some things I don’t see a whole lot of people saying, while what I can also say is what is being done right now, isn’t working.

  160. John Carter says:

    P.s regarding the very first paragraph I wrote above, I mean it’s important to show for every one else, not necessarily Booker, because he won’t change. ((But if things are civilly presented it does plant the idea, even if short term it makes even greater argument back from the person to show how incredibly stupid you are to even write that, and sets the possibility for later change for most people who aren’t fully zealots. It’s part of a process, one that really isn’t happening right now. In fact on most reasonable climate sites,and media articles, comment are filled with people there for a purpose – trying to find issue with and refuting basic cc,- devotees of saving the earth from the zealous environmentalists who want us to transform off of wonderful life giving and economy enriching fossil fuels so that they can have their dictatorial controlling imperial government or UN control).

    But on the incredibly high number of often highly influential cc “skeptic” (and worse) sites, there are very few that are not part of the self reinforcing crowd.

    And as I suggested above, outside of these spheres, much communicating -, though it apparently doesn’t seem apparent to most on the CC “side” (such a ridiculous word in this context) – really has most of it’s effect on those of like mind, while doing very little to really illuminate on the issue and to the many that are the information wrong, are biased, misled, confused or just non knowledgeable.

  161. Michael 2 says:

    John Carter wrote rather a lot but this I shall respond to: “where over half of Americans really think we’re marginally affecting the climate or not affecting it, it’s changing on it’s own, or it’s not even changing,and thus that the skeptics are basically right… Showing is key, and this pattern is key to show.”

    Yes, and that’s the half of Americans that occasionally look outside to see whether the climate has changed in their lifetimes. It’s a Party Plank; there’s nothing to show.

  162. Michael 2 says:

    Drat — messed up the tag again. Anyway, I meant to add a bit more on “Party Plank”.

    Did you write something about showing? Indeed you did. Seeing is believing.

    http://pjmedia.com/zombie/2014/09/23/climate-movement-drops-mask-admits-communist-agenda/

  163. John Carter says:

    Michael. I couldn’t disagree with you more. I feel like experiences of trying to show how this issue is communicated and shown matters – w/o presumption of what other people “think” or “know,” what they “should think or know” – is being met with the same sort of “denial” by many hard core CC advocates, as the idea that we’re significantly changing the energy balance of the earth, is being met by hard core climate change “skeptics.”

    But that said, I think the most important thing to show -though not in a way that tells people what to think, but that leads them to conclusions or allows them to form their own rather than saying “we think/know this so you should too” – is to show the massive self reinforcing pattern of climate change misinformation, and show how any argument possible is used to self reinforce the belief, under guise of reason, that CC is not real, a big deal or a bunch of AGW propaganda.

    Other than this misinformation, and self reinforcing belief that drives more of it to support that belief, there is no reason for half of America to not know the basics of climate change, or at least if they don’t, to defer to the professional climate scientists who study it, whether they look out the world’s or their own window or not.

  164. John Carter says:

    Michael wrote, above “Yes, and that’s the half of Americans that occasionally look outside to see whether the climate has changed in their lifetimes. It’s a Party Plank; there’s nothing to show.”

    Oops, I believe in my comment just below that, I completely misunderstood him. This commenter apparently believes that there is no substance behind climate change – is thus a climate change naysayer.

    In the followup comment, he also also repeats the same pattern – finding a way to refute and discredit not just the issue, but anyone who doesn’t have his “views.” Thus cherry picking the point of a few people which is then falsely conflated with the completely unrelated issue of the science of atmospheric change, and concern over that change’s impact upon future climate, ice caps and ultimately sea levels and regional weather patterns.

    It’s a pattern that runs rampant.

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