The Big Questions

I discovered that Andrew Montford was a guest on The Big Questions this morning. I normally don’t watch it as I think it’s generally a very silly programme, that normally has some kind of religious undertone, and normally has guests who just end up shouting at each other. Of course, I get the feeling that this is how some think that all such discussions should take place.

I’ve just, however, watched this part of the show on iPlayer. I don’t really want to do some kind of major summary, but I think (assuming he can watch it) that Willard would be pleased, as the basic message from Andrew Montford, and one of the other guests, was that we had to focus on groooowwwwth. The general picture being that we needed to grow the economy first, then consider tackling these problems. I’m not an economist, but I would have thought that we could grow the economy by tackling these problems?

It was also unfortunate that Andrew Montford decided to titter when one of the other guests was speaking. Maybe Andrew should remind himself that the online climate debate may be juvenile, but that that may not be best way to behave when in front of the general public. It doesn’t come across particlarly well. He also disputed the idea that 96/97% of scientists agreed about the basics of anthropogenic global warming and claimed there was only one paper that suggested this (wrong!). He should probably talk to Richard Tol a bit more.

He also got a little upset when someone suggested that he had pseudo-skeptic views, suggesting that his views were being mis-represented. One way to avoid this – IMO – is to not say things that make it seem that you have pseudo-skeptic views. This was nicely illustrated by his next comment where he accepted that CO2 would cause warming, but then said that he was at the bottom end of the range suggested by the IPCC (which really just means that he’s guessing), and that the net effect of the next few degrees of warming would be roughly zero. If that isn’t a pseudo-skeptic view, I don’t know what is. Seriously, if you don’t want people to think that you’re a pseudo-skeptic, stop saying things that make it appear that you are.

In fact, this is roughly the sum total of my experience with Andrew Montford: on the few occasions that I have ended up in discussions with him, he’s complained that I’ve misrepresented his views, and then immediately said something that appears entirely consistent with what I had just said. There’s probably some kind of name for this: say something silly, complain that you’re being mis-represented when someone points out you’ve just said something silly, then say something silly again. I imagine that it could be quite an effective strategy.

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335 Responses to The Big Questions

  1. lerpo says:

    “He should probably talk to…”

    Don’t feed the Tol!

  2. lerpo,
    Yes, that may be a good point. I’d kind of forgotten that.

  3. William,
    I did wonder if someone would pull me up on that one 🙂 What you say at the beginning of your post

    both are complex disciplines.

    is kind of what I was aiming for. Irrespective of my own eonomic prowese (non-existent really) the simple linear thinking of “grow/fix the economy, then we can do x/y/z” is almost certainly too simple to be some kind of valid economic position (IMO, at least).

  4. Willard says:

    > There’s probably some kind of name for this: say something silly, complain that you’re being mis-represented when someone points out you’ve just said something silly, then say something silly again. I imagine that it could be quite an effective strategy.

    Our beloved Bishop borrowed this from the most misrepresented man of ClimateBall:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/HonestlyBrokering

  5. I can happily agree to that version.

  6. semyorka says:

    Its you bog standard pub bore given a platform.

  7. semyorka,
    Are you referring to me or to Andrew Montford? 🙂 (I think you may have meant “your” rather than “you”, but just wanted to check 🙂 )

  8. BBD says:

    semyorka

    Yes.

  9. BBD says:

    Arrgh! Crossed as usual. I took semyorka to mean AM.

  10. austrartsua says:

    Just because ATTP disagree with someones views, doesn’t make those views ‘silly’.

    If Montford is guessing by saying that he thinks warming will be on the low end of the spectrum presented by the IPCC, isn’t everyone guessing? We are all making projections about the future. If Montford has looked at the evidence and come to a conclusion which is different from the IPCC, then what’s wrong with that? There is nothing sacrosanct about the IPCC and its projections. Its not like everyone else is guessing and the IPCC is the only one dedicated to the truth. This is science dagnammit. In science, two people can look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions.

    Same story even more so with respect to claims of catastrophe. Saying that the world will warm by X degrees over the next 100 or so years is one thing. Claiming that this is a good/bad thing, or the apocalypse, is an entirely different prospect. We then enter the realms of philosophy. What do you think about the future rate of technological progress? What will be the population in 2100? How easy will it be for farmers to adapt to changing climate? Who knows. What this really comes down to is: are you a pessimist or an optimist?

    And then the next piece of the puzzle is policy. Given all of the above, what should we/shouldn’t we do about it? Do you believe government regulations, carbon taxes are the right option? Do you think policy focused on reinstating economic growth which can pay for more research is better? Do like top-down solutions or bottom-up ones…

    And so on it goes. But no, if you listen to most commentary on this issue you’ll hear: the debate is over, there is a good side and an evil side and a few greedy oil and coal interests are holding the world to ransom. And the enlightenment continues to darken.

    On a related note: did you ‘celebrate’ earth hour ATTP? There is no better symbol for the back-to-nature luddite love-fest which is modern environmentalism than the detestable idea of returning us to the dark ages.

  11. BBD,
    I think he did (hope so, at least). It did have that kind of tone “let me tell you something, young man!”.

  12. austrarta,

    Just because ATTP disagree with someones views, doesn’t make those views ‘silly’.

    That wasn’t actually what I meant. What I was referring to was an example of someone saying something silly, this being pointed out to them, them claiming that they didn’t say this silly thing, and then repeating said silly thing.

    If Montford is guessing by saying that he thinks warming will be on the low end of the spectrum presented by the IPCC, isn’t everyone guessing?

    No, that’s what ranges are for. They constrain our understanding. They tell us something of how likely a particular outcome is. Andrew Montford’s guess may end up becoming reality, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t guessing.

    Same story even more so with respect to claims of catastrophe. Saying that the world will warm by X degrees over the next 100 or so years is one thing. Claiming that this is a good/bad thing, or the apocalypse, is an entirely different prospect.

    Sure, but that’s why people talk about risks. If the science is correct, any changes are likely irreversible on human timescales. Should we risk it?

    did you ‘celebrate’ earth hour ATTP?

    I did, but that was partly because my children insisted, and partly because I knew it would annoy some people 🙂 We also played a very old version of trivial pursuit to candlelight – I kept having to remind myself that there was still a Soviet Union, an East and a West Germany, and that the most recent US president that they could be asking about was Ronald Reagan.

  13. Willard says:

    > We then enter the realms of philosophy. What do you think about the future rate of technological progress?

    An interesting philosophical question. Is that in Reid or Burke?

  14. anoilman says:

    I fail to understand the concern with growth. (And wouldn’t mind if someone could help explain it.) I am concerned in that much of our growth has been at the expense of exporting jobs to poorer and poorer countries. I actually moved one production line from Canada, to the US, to Mexico, to Taiwan, in order to reduce the cost of engineering on the line. (Educated wages.)

    In any case, growth of the form where we export jobs is over. Wages are on the rise in China, and the trend must reverse. This implies local manufacturing, and likely higher prices across the board.

    I’ve also read a few articles saying we are now within a constrained system, and growth can only be achieved at someone else expense.

    There is one thing I do know, and that is that all lack of growth will be blamed on green tech. I’ve already had that flung at me a few times.

  15. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: So, instead of following Sou’s lead and posting a second, follow-up OP on Tol, you decided to post on Monford. Oy vey!

  16. BBD says:

    ATTP

    It did have that kind of tone “let me tell you something, young man!”.

    Whatever the case, you swam with penguins, dude. You have nothing left to prove.

  17. franktoo says:

    ATTP: Have you just noticed that combining Nic Lewis’s best estimates for climate sensitivity and Richard Tol’s estimate the breakeven point between net beneficial and harmful warming removes the catastrophe from CAGW? If you ignore ocean acidification, there is no need for emissions reduction – except insuring against the possibility they are wrong. The goal of limiting warming to +2 degC compared with pre-industrial (the LIA?) was originally made by a group of EU ministers of the environment. No cost-benefit analysis was involved.

  18. izen says:

    @-austrartsua
    “If Montford is guessing by saying that he thinks warming will be on the low end of the spectrum presented by the IPCC, isn’t everyone guessing? We are all making projections about the future.”

    No, the spectrum presented by the IPCC is the best representation of the cumulative knowledge from diverse fields of research on the issue. Think of it as the range of possible outcome from throwing two dice.
    We know that the outcome from two dice will be between 2-12. Mountford ‘guessing it will be below 4 is just a gambler’s delusion.

    @-“Saying that the world will warm by X degrees over the next 100 or so years is one thing. Claiming that this is a good/bad thing, or the apocalypse, is an entirely different prospect. ”

    Yes, one is about the magnitude of the event, the other about impacts. Certainly the impacts are much more difficult to asses. However there is good historical evidence that our civilisation and the agricultural infrastructure that supports it is adapted for stable climate conditions.Even significant variability causes problems. Past climate change has damaged and destroyed past civilisations. That modern civilisation is now global, and therefore more resilient in the face of local climate change does not help when the change is global. The recent evidence that your X degree change in 100 years will come with a major change in the THC and massive ice loss in Antarctica and consequent sea level rise also suggests impacts unprecedented in human history.

    @- “What do you think about the future rate of technological progress? What will be the population in 2100? How easy will it be for farmers to adapt to changing climate? Who knows. What this really comes down to is: are you a pessimist or an optimist?”

    Future technological progress will be constrained by the basic laws of thermodynamics. That removes the possibility of any magical cornucopian techno-solution.
    Farmers rarely adapt to changing climate. historically they optimise for stable conditions, struggle if the variation is large, and if the climate shifts in a region, in the past that group of farmers would migrate or die out and be replaced by migrants from elsewhere who had developed methods adapted to the new conditions.

    @-” Do you believe government regulations, carbon taxes are the right option? Do you think policy focused on reinstating economic growth which can pay for more research is better? Do like top-down solutions or bottom-up ones…”

    Belief is irrelevant and the dichotomies you present are false. The idea that there is a choice between top down government regulation or bottom up Ggrrrrooowwth is nonsense. The bottom up growth cannot exist or happen without a lot of top down government regulation, and government top down regulation only emerges as a necessary feature of social systems complex enough to require it. It is a sign of ideological dogmatism to believe they are separable aspects of a civilisation.

    @-” But no, if you listen to most commentary on this issue you’ll hear: the debate is over, there is a good side and an evil side and a few greedy oil and coal interests are holding the world to ransom. And the enlightenment continues to darken.”

    That is a framing of the issue from a particular standpoint.
    The poor victimised oil and coal interests who are being accused of holding the world to ransom and being evil. There may well be a few Green ideologues that could fit that approach, but in the mainstream of politics and the global economy the general position is one of consensus that there is a problem and that emission constraints on CO2 are necessary.

    The degree of commitment and action may vary, but it is difficult to find a government hat has not done SOMETHING towards fossil fuel use reduction. Even if it is only lip service and the grudging acceptance of renewable energy sources. It is very difficult, outside of the weird fringe in the USA, to find any significant political party that rejects the known science or even tries to deny the potential severity of the impacts.
    In that sense the debate IS over.
    The scientific and political need to act on fossil fuel use is globally acknowledged, what remains is the usual negotiation between the financial and political interests and the stated goal. That is just politics, and with the coal and oil business being some of the richest and most powerful the politics becomes as usual the art of the possible.

  19. Lucifer says:

    CO2 would cause warming, but then said that he was at the bottom end of the range suggested by the IPCC (which really just means that he’s guessing)

    Hmmmm…..

    Looks like a pretty good guess:
    MODEL: IPCC5 (RCP8.5): 4.2C/century
    MODEL: IPCC4 Warming High: 4.0C/century
    MODEL: Hansen A: 3.2C/century ( since 1979 )
    MODEL: Hansen B: 2.8C/century ( since 1979 )
    MODEL: IPCC4 next few decades: 2.0C/century
    MODEL: Hansen C: 1.9C/century ( since 1979 )
    MODEL: IPCC4 Warming Low: 1.8C/century
    ———————————————————————
    Observed: NASA GISS: ~1.6C/century ( since 1979 )
    Observed: NCDC: ~1.5C/century ( since 1979 )
    Observed: UAH MSU LT: ~1.4C/century (since 1979 )
    Observed: RSS MSU LT: ~1.3C/century (since 1979 )
    MODEL: IPCC5 (RCP2.6): 1.0C/century
    Observed: RSS MSU MT: ~0.8C/century (since 1979 )
    Observed: UAH MSU MT: ~0.5C/century (since 1979 )

  20. uknowispeaksense says:

    aus says : “In science, two people can look at the same evidence and reach different conclusions.”

    100 looked at climate change and 97 of them reached the same one.

  21. Joshua says:

    ==> “ATTP: Have you just noticed that combining Nic Lewis’s best estimates for climate sensitivity and Richard Tol’s estimate the breakeven point between net beneficial and harmful warming removes the catastrophe from CAGW?”

    So much for uncertainty, eh?

    Why is the concept of risk assessment so difficult for “skeptics?”

  22. austrarta said:


    There is no better symbol for the back-to-nature luddite love-fest which is modern environmentalism than the detestable idea of returning us to the dark ages.

    I think people like austrarta are actually the neo-Luddites and neo-Malthusians because they can’t face reality and have a hatred of people working toward solutions, as typified in their horror over renewable energy.

    The growth philosophy is very interesting. From a post at the Azimuth Project blog a few years ago


    Now, there are two dominant attitudes toward this observation that we despoil one resource after another.

    One is some form of “d-nial”. This is quite widespread amongst professional economists. Ultimately, the absurdity of their argument becomes clear when it is condensed to “sustainability is just one problem among many, and we are the better at solving problems the stronger our economy—so we need to use up resources fast to get rich fast so that we can afford to address the problems caused by us using up resources fast.” Reminds me of a painter who lived in the village I grew up in. He was known to work very swiftly, and when asked why he always was in such a hurry, wittily replied: “but I have to get the job done before I run out of paint!” https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/this-weeks-finds-week-314/

    That is how absurd the growth mantra has become. Do the majority of people even understand the fundamental rationale for why we are fracking for oil in North Dakota?

    We must exploit this resource quickly because it will enable us to find a replacement for a resource that is essentially bottom-of-the-barrel in terms of quality.

  23. franktoo,

    Have you just noticed that combining Nic Lewis’s best estimates for climate sensitivity and Richard Tol’s estimate the breakeven point between net beneficial and harmful warming removes the catastrophe from CAGW?

    Firstly, CAGW is a “skeptic” construct. Secondly, it is certainly the case that if we don’t warm very much, the impacts will be less severe than if we warm a lot. So, yes, if climate sensitivity happens to be Nic Lewis’s new best estimate, the impacts will be much less severe than if it turns out to be more like the IPCC’s best estimate. The problem (which I would have thought was obvious) is what if climate sensitivity is not Nic Lewis’s best estimate but in fact turns out to be somewhere near the upper end of the IPCC’s range? Climate change is largely irreversible on human timescales. Is it worth risking the (very likely) possibility that Nic Lewis’s estimates are wrong?

  24. Lucifer,
    What are you on about? Our future warming depends on our future emissions, not on our past emissions.

  25. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP,

    Seriously, if you don’t want people to think that you’re a pseudo-skeptic, stop saying things that make it appear that you are.

    Reminds me of one of my father’s favourite (bad) jokes:

    Patient: Doctor, doctor! It hurts when I do this … [waves arm in a “silly” but not particularly “violent” fashion]

    Doctor: Well, don’t do that then.

    One can easily imagine the patient reacting a bit like this … austrartsua: Just because ATTP disagree with someones views, doesn’t make those views ‘silly’.

    Shades of my reaction to being informed last night that my pithy truism, “no non-trivial science is ever settled” is a tautological mantra.

    You defined the term and listed a specific example to illlustrate it. However, that “well, don’t do that then” clause is just too good a launch pad for the “my views are being unfairly marginalized” lecture since it requires the other guy to work from your dictionary. I bet it felt good to say though. 🙂

  26. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    “I’m not an economist, but I would have thought that we could grow the economy by tackling these problems?”

    There are excellent textbooks on economic growth. My preferred one is David Romer’s Macroeconomics. I’m sure your library has it, and I guess an astronomer can handle the math. You may want to read it and see whether you would repeat the above.

  27. Richard,
    I have no problem repeating a question. Questions are good things. Un-informed statements, on the other hand, not so good. You could have tried to answer the question. Of course, given your recent appallingly unhinged behaviour with regard to Cook et al., I doubt I would have given it much credence.

  28. I should bear in mind, Richard, given that this post isn’t really about you, I’ll probably just start deleting your comments. They don’t add much, typically disrupt the thread, and I quite enjoy doing it 🙂 Whine to your heart’s content, if you wish.

  29. Brandon Gates says:

    WHT,

    I think people like austrarta are actually the neo-Luddites and neo-Malthusians because they can’t face reality and have a hatred of people working toward solutions, as typified in their horror over renewable energy.

    I laid out the Luddite smackdown at WUWT a few months back. I was stumping for more nukes as is my wont, and getting an annoying amount of flak from some posters who were insisting that I wanted to relegate the already poor into even worse poverty by taking away their coal. Pointing out the per kWh parity at the meter those two technologies already enjoy while also discussing external costs and market failure didn’t make a dent.

    A few days ago, a fellow arguing by fiat declared me a neo-Luddite in a context which made absolutely no sense. But all this is mostly just smoke and mirrors for their ethnocentrism. Verrrry broadly speaking, they don’t hate the concept of working together with others on common solutions, they hate working with other people whom they loathe.

    In fairness, that side of the fence doesn’t have a monopoly on the loathing — I know myself better than anyone, so there’s one. But I will say the lot I’ve thrown in with generally has the more universally benevolent action plan.

  30. Michael Lloyd says:

    ATTP: worth a read is Tom Murphy’s post on Economist meets Physicist

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/

  31. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    The answer to the question was implied in my remark.

    You wrote “I would have thought”.

    I replied “here is a good textbook”.

    That is a gentle way of saying that you thought wrong.

  32. Richard,
    Yes, I kind of got that. I’ve alread pointed out that it’s was a poor way to express what I was getting at. So, is “we need groooowwwwth and to fix the economy before we can do x/y/z” also wrong, or do you think that groooowwwwwth always comes first?

  33. > given that this post isn’t really about you, I’ll probably just start deleting your comments

    That does seem like an extraordinarily ungracious response to an apparently well-meant attempt to offer you some relevant reading matter.

  34. Michael,
    I have read that before, thanks.

  35. Brandon Gates says:

    anoilman,

    I fail to understand the concern with growth.

    One I’ve had for some time is that growth has been largely population driven. Yes, as emerging markets get less cheap some jobs may flow back to 1st world countries, but those jobs won’t come back to the same relatively higher population growth rate which partially fuelled their rise to begin with. And the consumer economy won’t fare as well either since the overseas labour has gotten more expensive.

    That adds up to putting the hurt on capital markets, meaning in essence that ever more people are actually going to have to do real work to increase their net worth. That’s one reason why investing in new energy technologies ahead of tightening supply makes sense to me — create more jobs now and be better positioned in the market down the line.

  36. William,

    That does seem like an extraordinarily ungracious response to an apparently well-meant attempt to offer you some relevant reading matter.

    Possibly, but I don’t really care. There are various accusations that – ideally – Richard should have backed up before I was going to let him comment again. I only gave up on that after writing another post about him and feeling that I couldn’t let him not comment. I had been deleting his comments up until that point, and will probably do so again in the future. I’ve got better things to do than deal with Tol’s insinuations and juvenile behaviour.

  37. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    Sorry, I thought the question was the one with the question-mark at the end.

    It is irrelevant whether I think that growth comes first. It is a normative question.

    The empirical evidence has that most people would like to earn more, rather than less.

    You can cut your income by working part-time, and see whether you set a trend.

  38. verytallguy says:

    Perhaps a guest post from an economist who can engage constructively would be a good education for physical scientists.

    The question as to how useful quantitative economic modelling is for decision making on climate policy would be a good place to start.

    eg http://www.nber.org/papers/w19244

  39. Richard,

    It is irrelevant whether I think that growth comes first.

    Let’s go back a step. The claim on the BBC programme (made very explicitly) was that we should focus on groooowwwwwth first before considering tackling something like climate change. My question to you was whether or not you agreed with that basic premise. My suggestion here (which I phrased poorly) is that an economy is sufficiently complex that thinking of it in terms of “grooowwwth first before x/y/z” is too simple to be a reasonable economic strategy. I would also accept that the kind of trivial statement I made in the post is similarly wrong, but that was intended more as a response to the “grooowwwwth first” suggestion, than an actual claim as to how to proceed.

    Okay, so do you agree with those on The Big Questions who were explicitly arguing for grooowwwwth first?

  40. Brandon Gates says:

    Tol,

    I replied “here is a good textbook”.

    My personal library contains a good half-dozen macro texts which you may or may not think were good if I could be arsed to unbox them and read you the titles. I hated them, but I loved going to lectures because my profs told good stories. So tell me a good story, not because it demonstrates that someone is right or wrong, but because it reflects something which you think is true and is relevant to my understanding of the issue at hand.

  41. verytallguy says:

    And we continue to demonstrate Tol’s second Law of Blogs:

    “In any blog comment thread where Tol contributes the subject will tend to being about Tol”

    The first Law is “However poor you expect Tol’s behaviour to be, he will promptly fail to meet even that level”

    As demonstrated on the previous thread and at Sou’s.

  42. verytallguy says:

    The convenient thing about focusing on growth first, is that there is never a good time to focus on anything else.

  43. vtg,

    “In any blog comment thread where Tol contributes the subject will tend to being about Tol”

    Yes, but I probably blundered with my somewhat ungracious response. I should have realised that that would invoke the second Law of Blogs 🙂

  44. Michael Lloyd says:

    @aTTP. Apologies. It is all getting a bit deja vu on these comment threads. Sorry for adding to it.

    I’d second VTG’s suggestion of a guest post from an economist.

  45. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Michael

    Much as I regard a lot of of economics as being on the same level as Astrology without the self-awareness, I have to point out that per capita energy demand does seem to have empirical limits, and there are good reasons for this. – Keeping my house at 20 degrees is pleasant, keeping it at 40 degrees less so. Driving a car 10k miles a year has huge utility, driving 100k miles a year is something you have to be paid to do.

    And so on. Even Bill Gates can only use a finite amount of energy. Therefore, as long as global population stabilizes, it is actually possible to give an approximate number for the question of ‘how much energy do we need’. (About 3kW per capita being an answer).

    Of course, the point that Economists rarely if ever deign to ground their models in basic physical principles such as conservation of energy does stand.

  46. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    As I said, my personal opinion is irrelevant and as an active researcher in the field, I should keep it to myself.

    I can assure you, though, that my preferences are not lexicographic.

  47. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Brandon

    Indeed, it shows that the fundamental position of a lot of ‘skeptics’ is that ‘digging stuff up and burning it’ is the best possible solution to the question of getting energy. Which is in many ways a Luddite position.

  48. Richard,

    As I said, my personal opinion is irrelevant and as an active researcher in the field, I should keep it to myself.

    I wasn’t asking your personal opinion. I was asking for your view as an ecnomist.

    I can assure you, though, that my preferences are not lexicographic.

    Yes, I know, you’ve said this before. It’s as baffling now as it was the first time you said it (baffling as to why you would say it, that is).

  49. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    Economists study how preferences shape economic behaviour, and what economic behaviour implies about preferences.

    We leave arguments about what preferences should be to philosophers and theologists.

  50. dikranmarsupial says:

    “The empirical evidence has that most people would like to earn more, rather than less.”

    Looking at only one side of an issue that inevitably involves compromise doesn’t sound like a very rational approach to me.

  51. Richard,

    We leave arguments about what preferences should be to philosophers and theologists.

    Except this isn’t about a preference, this is about whether or not a specific economic claim is plausible/reasonable/sensible/consistent with our current economic understanding. However, I now give up.

  52. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    You asked two questions, a positive one and a normative one.

    I already answered the positive one: No. If you want to know why, read Romer or some such.

    I will not answer the normative one.

  53. Richard,

    I already answered the positive one: No. If you want to know why, read Romer or some such.

    Yes, I know and I do roughly understand why. It was a silly way to express myself.

    I will not answer the normative one.

    Yes, I know. You keep saying that you won’t. It’s not really my normative question though, but I said I’d give up, so I will.

  54. Michael Lloyd says:

    @Andrew Dodds

    Thank you. So, assuming world population stabilises at 10 billion, world power consumption would stabilise at 30tW, and presumably world economic growth would cease then.
    Looking up current world power consumption comes in around 16tW. So we need to double our current power consumption and have that power generated from low carbon sources.

    I’m trying to get an idea of scale here. Hence the ‘back of envelope’ type calculations.

  55. Brandon Gates says:

    Andrew Dodds,

    Which is in many ways a Luddite position.

    Stripped of any other context I’d simply call it dogmatic. Somewhere in my travels — may have been right here — said to me “the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks.”

    Another anecdote I more precisely remember. I opined that shale gas was a decent near-term trade for coal, and caught all sorts for hell for it: “I know a bunch of coal miners who lost their jobs that would disagree with you.” For his part, that went down the Luddite rabbit hole in very short order.

  56. Andrew Dodds says:

    Regarding the question ‘Would fixing global warming (or at least reducing emissions to zero’ grow the economy..

    The traditional economist’s answer is no, based on the assumption that the current system of energy production is already optimal and that, therefore, spending money on replacing this infrastructure would be inefficient. An interesting example of this is the ‘green jobs’ argument. It’s somewhat dangerous to claim that going green would create a lot of jobs, because that actually implies inefficiency in the process. You wouldn’t celebrate a car factory that had to employ 3 times as many people to make the same number of the same cars. You’ll note that this answer can be used to argue against virtually any positive action by government, and is therefore highly political (whilst wearing apolitical clothes).

    However.

    We can also look on this as an optimization problem, in a multidimensional landscape where the lowest point represents the ‘best’ economy, or at least a stable state. In this view the fossil fuel economy is very much in a local minimum/valley, and the ‘market’ optimization cannot escape that valley. Even though there is a better economy over the hill, so to speak, we cannot get there using market forces.

    (This does at least explain why steady-state-per-capita economies are the norm and growing economies the exception, historically speaking)

    So in this case, something external – which basically means government – has to push us over the hill, in a manner that will look inefficient most of the way. Previously this has happened in times of war – witness the huge amount of ‘new ways of doing things’ that came out of government research in WWII and the following cold war. All of which would have been regarded as economically inefficient. And so; de-carbonizing the economy, if it leads us to an economy that is ‘better’ – for example has effectively zero fuel costs – will lead to growth in the medium to long term.

  57. Brandon Gates says:

    Michael Lloyd,

    So, assuming world population stabilises at 10 billion, world power consumption would stabilise at 30tW, and presumably world economic growth would cease then.

    Assuming productivity is directly proportional to power consumption, and that cattle are round:

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

  58. izen says:

    @-Richard S.J. Tol
    “I already answered the positive one: No. If you want to know why, read Romer or some such.
    I will not answer the normative one.”

    In suggesting Romer as an authority on macroeconomics you have implicitly answered the normative question.
    But if you do follow Romer, then your answer to the positive question about whether growth can be driven by government regulation and policy on energy production is wrong on most reasonable interpretations of his work.

  59. Brandon Gates says:

    Tol,

    We leave arguments about what preferences should be to philosophers and theologists.

    Royal “we” alert.

  60. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Michael

    Bear in mind that economic growth does not have to stop. And, indeed, linear growth can continue – it’s only the use of the exponential function that boils the planet, as it were.

    Many first world countries have seen little growth in per capita energy usage for decades, but we’ve had economic growth – exponential growth in money can continue indefinitely (you may need to occasionally knock a few zeros off the notes).

    As far as the cost goes – at perhaps $5/W it’s a $150 trillion or a couple of years of world GDP. Quite expensive, but that does basically mean giving the whole world first world levels of energy use.

  61. Fergus says:

    Not wishing to make the error of inferring a general case from a particular, but last year the UK economy grew and it produced less CO2, implying that growth is not dependent on FFs and/or can be sustained during decarbonisation. Just saying.

  62. semyorka says:

    @ATTP
    “Are you referring to me or to Andrew Montford?”
    The Bishops Hill blog is usually just full of gossipy insinuation, Montford’s style is strong on opinion and his world view of “common sense” short on data or formal analysis. He is the kind of guy in the pub who knows the answers to what is wrong with everything from immigration to Man United defense.

  63. verytallguy says:

    the fundamental position of a lot of ‘skeptics’ is that ‘digging stuff up and burning it’ is the best possible solution to the question of getting energy. Which is in many ways a Luddite position.

    followed by

    “the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks.”

    I think that the proposition that digging stuff up and burning it is the best possible solution would be entirely reasonable if:
    (1) the externalities were small (GW and other pollution/env. damage)
    (2) the resource was infinite

    Natural gas as a fuel for electricity generation (rapid response, low capital cost) and hydrocarbon liquids for air and ground transport (unmatchable energy density) are far better than any feasible alternative.

    We do NOT have fundamentally better alternatives. Given basic thermodynamics, it’s actually pretty unlikely that we ever will have.

    Claiming renewables are fundamentally better in their performance is not, at least as far as I can see, credible.

  64. The construction: first growth before we can solve problems is clearly incomplete without explaining when the conditions are there for humanity to start solving problems.

  65. Willard says:

    > You asked two questions, a positive one and a normative one.

    The two are normative, Richard.

    If you want to know why, read Putnam.

  66. BG says:

    Groooooowth always seems to be the solution. But groooooowth to what, by what means?

    Here in the US we are told, or is that ‘Tol’d, that everyone, everywhere around Earth wants grooooowth to ‘live like us.’

    But to ‘live like us,’ we, 5% of the world’s population, consume 25%, or is it 30%, of the world’s resources.

    The maths ‘Tol’s me that for the other 95% to ‘live like us’ at that rate of resource consumption, that the burden on the earth’s resources would be, maybe, 5x what it is now.

    Since I think the ecologist types have already ‘Tol’d us that our ‘Earth resource’ account is already in arrears when it comes to our burden on earth’s resources, never-ending grooooowth, on a finite planet does not sound like the appropriate solution.

    The problem may be more like the fact that 80 individuals on this planet have as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion of the other individuals on this planet.

    Perhaps we can be ‘Tol’d how to design an economic system, not the unfettered, unregulated, trickle-down, no-taxes, resource intensive, crony capitalism we have in the US and certain other parts, and level that playing field just a bit.

    And maybe, just maybe, we could figure out how to do it without producing as much good old CO2. But since that just might impact the bottom lines of some of those 80 individuals, good luck.

  67. Andrew Dodds says:

    @vtg

    Not sure why you’d put Natural Gas ahead of Nuclear for electricity. In a match-up between irreducible fuel costs and fundamentally reducible capital costs, Nuclear should win in the long term. Even with infinite natural gas it will have a finite cost..

    I could also point out that Boron is at least in theory a vastly better fuel than hydrocarbons on thermodynamic and safety grounds, although feasibility is an issue. Hard to beat hydrocarbons for air transport, though, as with Boron you have to keep the exhaust.

    I do worry about claims made for renewables, yes.

  68. Skeptics don’t want to go and open up that can of worms.

    The fracking industry is built on the concept of Red Queen growth. “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

    Check up on the math behind it. The data is all available — number of fracking oil wells, the monthly production, etc. The neo-Luddites are the ones that refuse to do the math. And what did they expect? That fossil-fueled economic growth would sustain itself by essentially trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip?

  69. Willard says:

    Grrrowth is normative all the way up. Grrrowth sets up all the other norms Without Grrrowth, there are no norms.

    Let us all abide by Grrrowth. Let us accept its necessity by our own collective free will. Let us all join the Grrrowth tanks and win the war against Grrrowth terrorism. It is the only positive thing to do.

    Thank you.

  70. Willard,

    The two are normative, Richard.

    Yes, I’d thought of pointing that out myself, but had rather given up by that stage. It is interesting that the question “Can’t we drive growth by tackling climate change?” is not normative and the answer is No, while “do we need to drive growth before tackling climate change?” is normative and can’t be answered.

  71. Willard says:

    Perhaps before reading Putnam, Richard ought to read Tol:

    Economists are known for their fierce disagreements and spotty forecasting.

    http://richardtol.blogspot.com/2012/09/interdisciplinary-research-should-meet.html

    While this may not be true of all economists, it does seem to apply to Richard. Gremlins may argue they are two of his most persistent properties.

  72. Sam Taylor says:

    Given that the Solow residual is among the best that the economics discipline seems to be able to come up with to explain growth, and that they seem completely incapable of wrapping their heads around things like energy or resource depletion, one wonders just how much value their input to the discussion actually brings.

  73. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Willard

    There is an exception, of course – should an inconvenient finding emerge, such as high levels of inequality interfering with Grrrowth, then Grrrowth can suddenly become less important. There seems to be some sort of rule for determining when Grrrowth is of primary importance and when Grrrowth is not of primary importance, but for the life of me I cannot determine what it would be.

  74. Joshua says:

    WMC –

    ==> “That does seem like an extraordinarily ungracious response to an apparently well-meant attempt to offer you some relevant reading matter.

    That’s rich.

    Apparently well-meaning? Seriously? Really, are you being serious?

  75. Willard says:

    Here is Sen on values:

    Smith never used the term “capitalism” (at least so far as I have been able to trace), but it would also be hard to carve out from his works any theory arguing for the sufficiency of market forces, or of the need to accept the dominance of capital. He talked about the importance of these broader values that go beyond profits in The Wealth of Nations, but it is in his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which was published exactly a quarter of a millennium ago in 1759, that he extensively investigated the strong need for actions based on values that go well beyond profit seeking. While he wrote that “prudence” was “of all the virtues that which is most useful to the individual,” Adam Smith went on to argue that “humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit, are the qualities most useful to others.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/mar/26/capitalism-beyond-the-crisis/

    Richard should recognize this quote, for I already used it on an old thread where he was accusing MT of wishing for reeducation camps:

    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/08/and-in-end_01.html

    Readers will notice that the whole honest broker line of business rests on the idea that there is no fact/value dichotomy.

    ***

    Grrrowth always win. It even beats Chuck Norris, when the latter lets it. The only conclusion, both rational and irrational, is that Grrrowth is Chuck’s middle name

  76. Joshua says:

    ==> “The claim on the BBC programme (made very explicitly) was that we should focus on groooowwwwwth first before considering tackling something like climate change. My question to you was whether or not you agreed with that basic premise”

    This is, essentially, a response to a false choice. One important question is to what degree does considering policies to reduce emissions cause a reduction in efforts to increase growth? Do people really think that absent subsidies for alternative energy, there is really some significant opportunity cost in terms of growth? I doubt it, given the myriad factors that influence growth, just that one factor, it would seem to me, would not be terribly significant – especially when you consider that fostering alternative energy can encourage some growth even if we assume that it has a net negative impact.

    Another important question is whether economic growth should be always be the highest priority goal.

    Relatedly, an important question is what, actually, does the most to promote growth? When I read someone like Amartya Sen, I think it is important to ask whether using fossil fuels, which in the process enriches brutal dictators who systematically deprive large segments of their population the social infrastructure needed to maximize their freedom and hence, economic status, is the best way to maximize growth.

    The problem, IMO, is when people like Richard Tol and Lomborg simplify these questions to advance empty platitudes about how increasing growth is what’s most important. It is, I think, meaningful when people who spend their time studying such complex issues are willing to reduce them to misleading platitudes for advancing partisan agendas.

  77. Joshua,

    This is, essentially, a response to a false choice.

    I should probably have been a bit more careful in my question. The claim being made on the BBC programme appeared stronger than “we should focus on growth” and was presented more as “we have to focus on growth”. The former could be perceived as someone’s policy choice, the latter seems more absolute. It was whether or not the latter is true which is what I was trying to get Richard to address.

  78. John Hartz says:

    Since this thread has morhped into a discussion of climate change economics, I refer all of you who are interested in exploring the topic in more depth to a just published excerpt from a new book. The article is:

    The planet won’t notice you recycle, and your vote doesn’t count [But you should do it anyway. The definitive guide to screaming at, coping with, and profiting from climate change] by Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman, Salon, Mar 29, 2015

    The article is excerpted from “Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet” by Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman. Copyright © 2015 by Princeton University Press.

  79. Yes. Try reading the words, not your preconceptions.

  80. Joshua says:

    ==> “Yes. Try reading the words, not your preconception”

    The words show it to be a disingenuous response. If you want to know what my reasoning is there, look up “fallacy” on Wikipedia.

    If someone asks for a reference related to a technical topic, a suggestion of a book would be a meaningful response.

    Maybe you should consider your preconceptions.

  81. Kevin ONeill says:

    Richard Tol writes: “There are excellent textbooks on economic growth. My preferred one is David Romer’s Macroeconomics.”

    A solid choice for an economics textbook.

    But Tol has also written, “Economic theory is now able to explain most phenomena – even if the 2008 financial crisis remains theoretically impossible.”

    He didn’t learn that piece of nonsense reading David Romer. Romer both understands and has written quite a bit about liquidity trap economics. Why Richard Tol believes the financial crisis ‘remains theoretically impossible’ is just a sign that Tol doesn’t even understand his own field (economics). Little wonder he can’t get much right outside his field. I’m sure he’ll be telling us why SQL databases are all wrong in how they assign unique identifiers in a coming post.

  82. Willard says:

    If our doctorrific Stoatness could show us how to read misconceptions, that would be great.

  83. Sam Taylor says:

    Another question worth asking, of course, is at what point does growth become uneconomic? Surely it’s possible, nay probable, that the current costs associated with economic growth (climate, deforestation, acceleration of species extinction, disruption of nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, depletion of soils and so on) vastly outweight the benefits. Especially when risks of triggering a rapid state shift by twiddling with variables like climate, or whatever, can be infinte. Nonlinear systems and all that.

  84. Making we could put some effort into disproving VTG’s second law of blogs?

  85. Joshua says:

    Richard Tol says:

    ==> “As I said, my personal opinion is irrelevant and as an active researcher in the field, I should keep it to myself.”

    The standard line from “skeptics” is that any scientist that speaks of their personal opinion outside their specific area of specialization is being an “activist” in a way that politicizes science, undermines public trust in science, is antithetical to the principles of science, and effectively discounts the veracity of that scientist within her field of specialization.

    I can’t say that I’ve read Richard make that particular argument, but it still have to wonder if this wasn’t one of those moments of beautiful unintentional irony.

  86. Joshua says:

    Cat’s out of the bag, Anders. Cows/barn doors.

  87. Joshua,
    Well, yes, but you know me – eternal optimist 🙂

  88. Joshua says:

    Sam –

    ==> “Another question worth asking, of course, is at what point does growth become uneconomic? …Surely it’s possible, nay probable, that the current costs associated with economic growth … vastly outweight the benefits. ”

    I’m not sure I agree with your determination of “probability” – but certainly that is an interesting question. One would think that economists and people like Lomborg and Ridley given the recent financial crisis, we be very proactive about asking that question.

  89. BBD says:

    I manage not to comment about you-know-who. It is possible. One simply needs to try.

  90. Joshua says:

    ==> “I manage not to comment about you-know-who. ”

    hmmm… Is this like when “skeptics’ write off-topic comments in response to my comments to tell me that they don’t read my comments because they’re off-topic?

  91. Eli Rabett says:

    Speaking as one closer to the end than the beginning, from Eli’s POV the statement that most people would like to earn more, rather than less is rather unconstrained. Poverty sucks, but at a certain point people would rather earn the same, or even less, if the things that they value, family, physics, reading, better behavior from those commenting on blogs, maybe even a bit of travel increases more. The question of what people value and what they are willing to do with it is one, not the only place, where economics is a very blunt axe.

  92. Eli Rabett says:

    Brad:
    Tol,

    We leave arguments about what preferences should be to philosophers and theologists.

    Royal “we” alert.
    —————–

    The advantages of Eli and ATTP

  93. Sam Taylor says:

    Joshua

    While economists, or people like Ridley or Lomborg might be trying to answer that question, I doubt that they have the framework to do so in terms of things like ecosystems. The main problem being that they tend to fundamentally think in terms of linear valuations like dollars. Dollars are great at valuing extensive properties, but many ecosystems and the like are intensive properties. The difference being that an extensive property is something which can be subdivided in space (think units of length, mass, dollars) but intensive properties are things which depend on the state of the whole system (density, hardness, temperature, ecosystem state).

    Intensive properties can often behave nonlinearly. Fisheries, for example. Many times fisheries have collapsed once population gets below a certain threshold. Or the extremely rapid eutrophication of a lake once a certain amount of fertiliser is present. The problem being that when you start trying to measure nonlinear systems with linear units (dollars) the tool is completely inappropriate because it simpy cannot capture the nature of these sorts of properties, and often leads to undesirable outcomes (see eg collapse of grand banks cod fishery). Monetary units can be subdivided without affecting their quality, but the same is not true of most of these systems.

    So that’s kind of why I’m very skeptical of whether the attempts to assign dollar values to things like the damage coming out of climate change have any value whatsoever, because the thinking behind it is fundamentally flawed and inappropriate.

  94. Joshua says:

    Sam –

    Thanks for the response. Those are very interesting points. I haven’t considered that framework before – at least not in such an explicit manner.

    But even with thinking about dollars and using dollars as the unit of measure, the mantra that growth is always economically beneficial requires due diligence – shouldn’t that be the dominant lesson to be derived from the financial crisis?

    I will consider the work of Tol or Lomborg as something other than that of a polemicist when I see them account for such complexities and the full range of negative externalities associated with fossil fuels relative to other energy pathways.

  95. BBD says:

    Joshua

    hmmm… Is this like when “skeptics’ write off-topic comments in response to my comments to tell me that they don’t read my comments because they’re off-topic?

    Nope. Just an observation.

  96. BBD says:

    shouldn’t that be the dominant lesson to be derived from the financial crisis?

    The lesson is that risk must be constrained.

  97. BBD says:

    Due diligence is essential. In the words of some bankster or other:

    “If you don’t know what the f**k it is, don’t buy it”.

    Sage advice. A shame most of the sector failed to follow it.

  98. verytallguy says:

    BBD

    I agree that “The lesson is that risk must be constrained” to some degree, but much more widely, I think it is that

    “Effective regulation is essential for a free market economy”

    Controlling risk is one aspect of regulation that failed; ensuring symmetry of information between buyers and sellers would be another key lesson for me.

    There are many more; perhaps a guest post from Matt Ridley on lessons learned would be good?

  99. anoilman says:

    Kevin ONeill says:
    But Tol has also written, “Economic theory is now able to explain most phenomena – even if the 2008 financial crisis remains theoretically impossible.”

    Not sure where Tol was going with that. The 2008 financial crises was entirely predictable. Was predicted.. and then occurred. Canada finance minister Paul Martin did exactly that after watching multiple banking melt downs in Asia.

    The trick is to stop looking blindly at the math, and look at what is really going on. Its not like economics is an actual science.

    Back to reality, I’m still stuck on the notion that energy prices will drive growth. Oil prices just fell to 1/3 previous levels, and dang, I don’t see the economy suddenly growing. In fact a lot economists claimed civilization would fall apart if we had a carbon tax that drove up the price of oil. (Those claims were made pre-Kyoto, when oil was $35 a barrel, and before oil rose over $100 a barrel.)

    UK’s economy is growing, and from what I can tell its emissions are also going down. British Columbia’s economy is growing, and its emissions are also down (Carbon tax on fuel currently locked at 15%).

    I can see that carbon taxing one economy differently than another could cause considerable disruption. (Easily solved… tax on import, detax on export.)

  100. even if the 2008 financial crisis remains theoretically impossible.

    I suspect that what Tol means is that is an ideal economic scenario in which your economy behaves exactly as your theoretical model would predict, then the 2008 financial crisis is theoretically impossible (which – I guess – is simply a truism: if your theory predicts that it is impossible, then it is theoretically impossible). Reality, on the other, hand is almost certainly much more complex than your theoretical model.

  101. BBD says:

    VTG

    Oh yes, absolutely. I am strongly in favour of robust external regulation of the financial sector. Otherwise there’s really no limit to what the buggers will get up to. See, eg. offshore.

  102. izen says:

    Two counter-argument to Grrowth.
    Very simplified.
    1) Derived from Tainter; growth needs a bigger growth in management to manage the growing complexity… until civilisation strangles in the unprofitability of its own bureaucracy.
    2) Derived from Piketty; if rate of return on money is growing more than the grrowth in resource value, wealth accumulates unequally until the economy and polity breaks down.

  103. Willard says:

    These are arguments against growth arguments, izen. They are not counter-arguments to Grrrowth. Grrrowth is the argument for Grrrowth, and the counter-argument to everything else.

    Thank you.

  104. Joshua says:

    Interesting. My assumption was that this:

    ==> ““Economic theory is now able to explain most phenomena – even if the 2008 financial crisis remains theoretically impossible.””

    Was a sarcastic joke – as a dig at economic theory as being inadequate, and a dig at economists who are overly confident in theoretical economic modeling As such, I was thinking that I should give him more credit for making good arguments than I had previously, based on what I’d seen him write previously.

  105. Joshua,
    Oh, possibly. I really can no longer tell.

  106. anoilman says:

    Anders… So he’s claiming he doesn’t have a very good model. Presumably he’d find a better one for something so important as Global Warming. 🙂 Just kidding! He’d never do that.

    In Canada’s case sitting out much of the global monster housing boom brought on by cheap money looked like an unwise decision. When the 2008 bust hit, we had only been deregulated 1 year, and we barely noticed. We lost jobs because globally sales declined. The word I’d get from American’s I worked with was much much worse than the news.

    It would be interesting see just how much GROOOWTH we got before the boom in the US, versus Canada. Then ask everyone, was it worth the risk?

  107. verytallguy says:

    An argument that even – nay especially – if we cannot quantify costs, we should tax carbon now:

    …it is essential to establish that there is a social cost of carbon, and that social
    cost must be internalized in the prices that consumers and firms actually see and pay…

    [despite that] …given our lack of theory and data, our ability to predict the economic effects of higher temperatures is virtually nil.

    http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-video/2013/6/regulation-v36n2-1-2.pdf

  108. Willard says:

    Vladimir walks into his doctor’s office. The doctor, whom we should call Estragon, announces to Vladimir that he has a terrible illness. Vladimir must do something (besides waiting for Godot), but what?

    – So doc, can we do something about my illness?

    – Yes, of course. There are good chances to treat it.

    – So, what do you suggest?

    – Well, you have this treatment A, which have these consequences. (Inaudible.)

    – …

    – And you have this other treatment B, which have these consequences. (Inaudible again.)

    – So, doc, what do you think we should do?

    – Well, you have two choices, A and B. Both have their benefits and problems.

    And he goes on to repeat them.

    – Ok, I know, I know, but what should I do?

    – Well, you have two choices, A and B. Both have their benefits and problems.

    And he goes on to repeat them.

    – Ok, I get it! I have to choose. So, if you were Me, what would you do?

    – Look, I am not you. And I abide by the Honest Barker’s pledge. Have you read the book, by the way?

    – Should I buy it, you think?

    – Well, there are pros and contras.

    ***

    This dialogue is inspired by this TED presentation:

    It is adapted from here:

    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/08/and-in-end_01.html?showComment=1280752913538#c8316028886179744702

  109. entropicman says:

    Is the sort of growth Montford wants even possible?

    Using the current level of energy use as a measure,7 billion people are consuming 15 terawatts.

    If the growers are looking for 10 billion people consuming 30 terawatts, (one scenario I’ be seen mentioned)’ where are they going to get the energy?

    There is a belief among the Montfords of this world that the. economy is a perpetual motion machine which can grow iindefinately because they wish it.

    Has no one taught them about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

  110. Sam Taylor says:

    Josh,

    Externalities are another achilles heel, yes. Indeed the whole idea of ‘externalities’ when we live on a finite bounded sphere is something that rather baffles me.

    Oilman,

    Look at eia data. Big jumps in oil consumption recently, almost certainly due to drop in price. Give the numbers time to trickle in, I think a big spurt in consumption, combined with declines from shale fields due later this year, will likely drive the oil price back up more quickly than some anticipate, with fun consequences. Kumhoff has a good paper on how energy relates to growth if you properly modify the production function ( http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/16/12/125008/article ).

    And Canda looks to be playing catchup with their housing bubble these days. It’s quite staggering. Something like 7% of the population employed in construction, building condos which there probably isn’t a market for. Going to be nasty when it pops.

  111. Joshua says:

    Sam –

    ==> “Indeed the whole idea of ‘externalities’ when we live on a finite bounded sphere is something that rather baffles me.”

    Is your point that the distinction of what is or isn’t an “externality” is subjective, or a false distinction?

  112. victorpetri says:

    . I’m not an economist, but I would have thought that we could grow the economy by tackling these problems?

    No, of course not. It costs money to tackle problems. One side doesnt understand climate science, the other not economics. And so they are ships sailing in the night, crossing, but never meeting.

  113. vp,
    You’re late to the party. We’ve already addressed this issue many times. Yes, it was a silly way to frame my point, which was essentially that the claim that we have to drive growth before we tackle a problem is equally simplistic and wrong.

  114. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard

    14:18. Bullshit.

    those of us in marketing know that limiting choice is the way to drive demand.

    Example:

    When I joined openmoko I killed the fricking orange model and explained why fewer choices, ideally one choice would make folks much happier.

    The reasons for more choice ( at least in consumer electronics ) is far more complex than the speaker makes out. But it made a nice story. Folks in the business know full well the power of limiting choice and forcing decisions.

  115. Willard says:

    It might be noteworthy the recall that Richard is an econometrician:

    I am an econometrician, by the way.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167656

    ***

    Here’s one explanation why Very Tall’s law became a law:

    This kind of “good enough” criteria never seems to suffice for market regulation, but oftentimes found “good enough” for deregulation. This works so well as to create a path of infinite resistance against any kind of regulation for complex systems.

    Here are four easy steps. First, develop the best econometrical models around in the secret labs of your basement. Second, see what kind criteria would be enough to reject these models as not “good enough”. Third, come out in public saying that all models are not good enough for any restrictive regulation. Fourth, question the pledge to empiricism of anyone who opposes to your audit.

    It might even be possible to formalize this rhetorical path. (Game semantics, anyone?) We could compare this trick to Gorgias’, and ponder on how econometry has turned into contemporary sophistry.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/34161464472

  116. Willard says:

    > The reasons for more choice ( at least in consumer electronics ) is far more complex than the speaker makes out. But it made a nice story.

    Schwarz’ story is based on Gilbert’s experiments among others:

    I think it’s better to tell a story about how marketers don’t understand how to make us happy than to say that they profit from making us unhappy.

  117. verytallguy says:

    Sam Taylor,

    I believe extreme price volatility has historically gone hand in hand with reaching peaks in production of non-renewable resources.

    See Ugo Bardi on whale oil here, for instance

    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-collapse-of-oil-prices-lessons-from.html

    Have a look at the last 150 years of prices, and see if you think current pricing is indicative of peak production being reached.

  118. Willard says:

    To motivate you to watch the Gilbert video, there’s an elegant demonstration in the Q&A at the end according to which we went to the Moon because we did not listen to economists.

  119. Meow says:

    Sometimes it’s necessary to repeat oneself: How do we know whether economic models — particularly the complex ones that are used to argue that adaptation is preferable to mitigation — are reliable?

  120. BBD says:

    Meow

    All models are wrong, and some aren’t very useful either.

  121. Brandon Gates says:

    We don’t. But we do know that CO2 < 400 ppmv won't kill us.

  122. Steven Mosher says:

    Well at least Schwarz actually got into the real world

    “There are a couple points to be made. First, sometimes people proliferate options for completely irrelevant reasons. For example, some years ago I gave a talk at a national supermarket conference, and someone pointed out that a lot of what goes on in supermarkets is a battle for real estate. You want X feet of shelf space in the market because the more you have the less your competitor has. One way of doing that is by proliferating options. If Pepsi makes 12 different soft drinks and they’re all going to have some shelf space, that’s shelf space that Coke doesn’t have. It’s a huge battle for linear feet. So, to some degree, Pepsi doesn’t even care whether some of their products make money, because they’re there basically to preempt Coke.”

  123. Brandon Gates says:

    Ely puzzles me as he so often does, but I believe he is saying there is utility in having an alter-ego.

  124. Meow says:

    We don’t. But we do know that CO2 < 400 ppmv won't kill us.

    Yet. And only for values of “us” who haven’t already lost their lives to some event fairly traceable to AGW, such as the 2003 European heatwave. (See http://www.pik-potsdam.de/research/climate-impacts-and-vulnerabilities/projects/project-pages/world-bank-report/publications/coumou-rahmstorf-ncc2012.pdf at Table 1 and p.3.

  125. Steven Mosher says:

    saving money on discounts ( his driving across town example ).

    Long ago we decided to introduce in rebates for electronic products.

    Here’s an example. The typical product at 199. will Sell X units. At 99. it will sell 4X.
    at 129? what would you guess.. you’d be wrong, it will sell 1/10th X. That’s because
    there are performance buyers (199) and value buyers(99) but very few price/value buyers.

    So, with a product at 129, we decided to try something that had not been tried before in electronics.
    rebate coupons ( having a P&G guy on staff was always fun ). So the product listed at 99 after a 30 dollar mail in rebate. Sold out of course, but we knew that the redemption
    rate ( people who turned in coupons ) would not be 100%. That 30% price difference would only
    cost us about 10% of the 30 dollars. How did we know this? I guessed.

    Of course then some idiot at some other company decided to take this trick and do a net to zero
    coupon. A 19.00 dollar product that was free after mail in rebate. Big mistake. When I saw the ad for the product 19.00 free after rebate, we all had a great laugh. Why?

    What would the redemption rate be there? 19.00 bucks, net to zero after rebate?

    You guessed wrong probably. The redemption rate will be close to 100%. why? because everybody likes to say they got something for free.

    So in case 1 you have a piece of paper that is worth 30 dollars if you mail it in. in case two
    its worth 19. but in case 2 your redemption rate will be close to 100%

    Economists might be bewildered by this, but marketing folks are not.

    and after a few weeks its even possible to re teach a MBA how to think diabolically.

  126. Arthur Smith says:

    Being a physicist perhaps I missed something, but I’ve read macroeconomic (and microeconomic) textbooks, and I’ve read some of Paul Romer’s research articles, among others, and I have to say I have no idea what Tol’s “No” derives from. Part of Romer’s research involved trying to understand the sources of growth in technological change and development – I believe he’s famous for endogenous growth theory which describes how policies subsidizing education and R&D lead to higher growth rates. Investment in renewable technology seems a perfect case study for this – the growth rates in deployment have been phenomenal, as the learning curve has driven costs down, particularly for solar photovoltaics. We largely have Germany to thank for a good portion of this – note by the way that of all the European economies, the German one has been doing best for many years. The US and China have been catching up. Look around at the solar panels going up in your neighborhood – well they certainly are in mine – and you can see growth in action.

    Of course R&D in fossil fuels is what led to “fracking” and the recent growth there. Government policies favoring new technology either through R&D subsidy or early tax or other incentives to bring down costs are clearly growth-inducing, whether those efforts are pushing dirty or clean technologies. If we have other policy preferences (such as for less warming, cleaner air and water, etc) then those should certainly also factor in, but as far as concerns about growth itself go, I think ATTP was exactly right, there’s no reason the effort to push renewables would hurt growth, in fact I think there is quite a bit of evidence and theoretical support that it will enhance growth, certainly over the long term!

  127. BG says:

    ATTP,

    “Reality, on the other, hand is almost certainly much more complex than your theoretical model.”

    Indeed, reality includes greed fear, panic and outright criminal behavior, and I’ve not seen any economist includes those in his/her ‘economic equations of motion.’

  128. Brandon Gates says:

    Meow,

    Yet.

    Some things are best not discovered empirically. We directly control policy. Extremely large chaotic physical systems, not so much. On that basis, I choose to look at this as a risk management issue, not an optimization problem. Reduce uncertainty first, then optimize.

  129. russellseitz says:

    Izen invites us to “Think of it as the range of possible outcome from throwing two dice.”

    No such luck– the Bayesian reality of climate sensitivity is that we are still arguing about how many faces the dice have ?

  130. Brandon Gates says:

    BG,

    Monopoly, oligopoly, collusion, price-fixing, dumping, predatory pricing, irrational exuberance, regulatory capture … tragedy of the commons.

    Nash. Countless others.

  131. BBD says:

    Russell

    No such luck– the Bayesian reality of climate sensitivity is that we are still arguing about how many faces the dice have ?

    Not really. Looks like about 3C 😉

  132. Willard says:

    If you want one that goes up to infinity, Grrrowth it.

  133. Lucifer,
    What are you on about? Our future warming depends on our future emissions, not on our past emissions.

    Well, three of those models are from 1979 to present, so we do know how past modeling has shaken out. And as for future forcing, not much sign of acceleration, or are you just guessing?

  134. Brandon Gates says:

    Or figure out how to push with a string.

  135. Raff says:

    Growth before x/y/z is evidently nonsense for many x/y/z. I don’t need economic growth to plant out my seedlings or to dig over the vegetable patch or countless other tasks. Similarly, companies don’t need growth to develop new products or scrap old ones or install solar panels on the roof or fit double glazing or, etc, etc. All they need is intent, confidence and a source of funds (like earnings, retained profits, new equity or borrowing). Growth is what you get when you add up all these things – that happen for all sorts of reasons – and they are bigger over the years than preceding years’ totals.

    If we can get growth by selling paintball parties or silly apps that waste oodles of time when people play them, I see no reason why we shouldn’t get growth by upgrading the housing stock so that it needs little energy to keep comfortable or by replacing diesel cars with electric or any other green policy.

  136. BBD says:

    If you drive the power stage of your amp too hard for too long, it breaks. Economists can learn from Death Metal.

  137. John Hartz says:

    Does the growth of this comment thread have positive or negative utility?

  138. franktoo says:

    ATTP wrote: “Firstly, CAGW is a “skeptic” construct.”

    That’s interesting. If the consensus stopped claiming the planet was headed for a catastrophe (C) from warming from anthropogenic GHGs (AGW), no one would be considering emissions reductions.

    ATTP continued: “Secondly, it is certainly the case that if we don’t warm very much, the impacts will be less severe than if we warm a lot. So, yes, if climate sensitivity happens to be Nic Lewis’s new best estimate, the impacts will be much less severe than if it turns out to be more like the IPCC’s best estimate. The problem (which I would have thought was obvious) is what if climate sensitivity is not Nic Lewis’s best estimate but in fact turns out to be somewhere near the upper end of the IPCC’s range?

    Actually, most studies think 20th-century warming was beneficial and expect net benefits, not losses, from the next 0.1-1.0 degC of warming. Impacts will be positive for a short or long time depending on climate sensitivity and where net damages begin (breakeven point). Paying for emissions reduction is equivalent to purchasing insurance against the possibility that Lewis’s estimate for ECS and Tol’s estimate for “breakeven warming” are too low. I heard a talk by Stephan Schneider explicitly equating paying for emissions reductions to insuring your home against fire. For the most part, insurance is something only the affluent can afford. In the US, the government does require us to purchase auto insurance before letting us on public roads and banks require us to purchase homeowners insurance before giving someone a mortgage. Otherwise, only the affluent purchase significant amounts of life, disability, or nursing-home insurance. (Before Obamacare, health insurance in the US was a hybrid of insurance against catastrophic illness and a system for purchasing routine care. Many chose not to purchase it.) Most of the world can not afford to purchase insurance against the possibility that climate sensitivity might be high. For example, given the bankruptcy of their founding principles, continued CCP rule in China depends on economic growth and jobs for the millions of Chinese fleeing rural poverty for the cities. Thus, their agreement with Obama allows Chinese emissions to grow through 2030 and promises only modest improvement in energy intensity. It would be surprising to see other developing or undeveloped countries behave differently. The insurance analogy also breaks down when one considers that we don’t have an accurate assessment of the cost of the insurance and the cost of the catastrophe we are avoiding.

    Once you admit Lewis and Tol might be right, you are heading down the dangerous road of equating emissions reductions to insurance.

    ATTP wrote: “Climate change is largely irreversible on human timescales.”

    Half of current emissions are disappearing into sinks. If emissions ceased, atmospheric levels of CO2 will initially fall at 2 ppm/yr instead of rise at 2 ppm/yr. It is true that returning CO2 to the deep geological repositories from which it came requires millennia, but removal from the atmosphere does not. Exactly how the carbon in fossil fuels that we have mobilized from deep repositories will equilibrate between the atmosphere and [shallower] sinks is not completely clear, but we don’t have to wait for it to precipitate as carbonate and be buried on the ocean floor. If reversal become essential, geo-engineering is a possibility.

  139. uknowispeaksense says:

    It won’t be cryptic to those who’ve seen the video but the bacteria should have realised well before 11.30.

    I’ll take Raff’s point one stage further though and suggest we can achieve growth in the important sectors for sustainability at the expense of the wasted time/money/effort on useless……..crap.

  140. anoilman says:

    I may have Bigger For You;

  141. franktoo,

    If the consensus stopped claiming the planet was headed for a catastrophe (C) from warming from anthropogenic GHGs (AGW), no one would be considering emissions reductions.

    They’re not saying this. Concentrate a bit more.

    Actually, most studies think 20th-century warming was beneficial and expect net benefits, not losses, from the next 0.1-1.0 degC of warming.

    No, they don’t. Check the literature.

    Once you admit Lewis and Tol might be right, you are heading down the dangerous road of equating emissions reductions to insurance.

    Well, in some sense it is. This is essentially a risk issue. We don’t, and cannot, know what will happen. Are we willing to risk the possibility that continuing to increase our emissions might lead to very severe, damaging impacts?

    If emissions ceased, atmospheric levels of CO2 will initially fall at 2 ppm/yr instead of rise at 2 ppm/yr.

    No, this is also wrong. You really do need to check what you’re saying, before saying it. You can play around with this. If we stopped emissions completely, it would take about 1000 years to return to pre-industrial levels.

  142. Brandon Gates says:

    franktoo,

    That’s interesting. If the consensus stopped claiming the planet was headed for a catastrophe (C) from warming from anthropogenic GHGs (AGW), no one would be considering emissions reductions.

    Not everyone thinks in 1-bit binary.

  143. franktoo, so what was the last time you did something to avoid a catastrophe?

    For me it is long ago. Normally I am motived by other factors.

  144. Arthur,

    I think ATTP was exactly right, there’s no reason the effort to push renewables would hurt growth, in fact I think there is quite a bit of evidence and theoretical support that it will enhance growth, certainly over the long term!

    Thanks, but I think I made the mistake of not being sufficiently careful in how I expressed myself. I did find it interesting that Tol was willing to give a definitive answer in that case, but not in the other.

  145. Joshua says:

    Franktoo –

    You said the following above:

    ==> “ATTP: Have you just noticed that combining Nic Lewis’s best estimates for climate sensitivity and Richard Tol’s estimate the breakeven point between net beneficial and harmful warming removes the catastrophe from CAGW?”

    Do you acknowledge that in making such as statement you are failing to to account for uncertainty. Do you recommend just accepting Lewis “best estimate” (without even really considering the full range there) and Tol’s estimated breakeven point without considering the larger ranges of risk that they might be wrong as a way forward?

    Would that be your recommended approach to risk assessment in other areas as well – just consider a narrow range of best case scenarios and ignore the full range of possibilities?

  146. Joshua says:

    Franktoo –

    ==> “Paying for emissions reduction is equivalent to purchasing insurance against the possibility that Lewis’s estimate for ECS and Tol’s estimate for “breakeven warming” are too low.

    Have you considered negative externalities? How do you know that “paying for emissions reduction” is not addressing a market failure to include a host of negative impacts into the cost of fossil fuels?

  147. Brandon Gates says:

    John Hartz,

    Does the growth of this comment thread have positive or negative utility?

    Yes.

  148. John Hartz says:

    Brandon Gates:

    Glad to see that you have a sense of humor.

  149. Eli Rabett says:

    John Hartz,

    “Does the growth of this comment thread have positive or negative utility?”

    No

  150. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Grist for your next OP…

    Today a group of eminent jurists accuse governments and enterprises of being in clear and flagrant breach of their legal obligations on climate change – under human rights law, international law, environmental law, and tort law.

    Climate change: at last a breakthrough to our catastrophic political impasse? by Julia Powles and Tessa Khan, The Guardian, Mar 30, 2015

  151. Brandon Gates says:

    John Hartz,

    Ibid. you thanks.

  152. Brandon Gates says:

    Eli: so contrary.

  153. Lucifer says:

    “If emissions ceased, atmospheric levels of CO2 will initially fall at 2 ppm/yr instead of rise at 2 ppm/yr.”

    No, this is also wrong. You really do need to check what you’re saying, before saying it. You can play around with this. If we stopped emissions completely, it would take about 1000 years to return to pre-industrial levels.

    Yep – looks like 2ppm is wrong.
    If emissions ceased, concentration would be actually be falling at 2.5 ppm per year.
    In other words, we have to emit 2.5ppm CO2 just to enjoy the current benefits:

    http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/2014/12/23/assuring-real-progress-on-climate/

    Now, you could both be right.
    If CO2 ceased, concentrations would fall but the rate of fall appears to be determined by the concentration, so to regress to preindustrial might be asymtotic for a long duration.


  154. Of course R&D in fossil fuels is what led to “fracking” and the recent growth there.

    Yet fracking was really first discovered in 1865 and hydraulic fracturing was first applied in 1949. The reason that fracking is being used is because conventional oil is becoming increasingly scarce.

    No way that one can do climate projections unless one understands both fossil fuel projection trends and something about how climate responds to forcings.

  155. Lucifer,

    If emissions ceased, concentration would be actually be falling at 2.5 ppm per year.
    In other words, we have to emit 2.5ppm CO2 just to enjoy the current benefits:

    What? Where did you get this from? According to that carbon cycle calculator to which I linked, if we were at 400ppm and stopped emissions, it would fall at around 0.4ppm per year.

  156. verytallguy says:

    Lucifer,

    you still haven’t responded as to why you made this mendacious post previously.

    C’mon, let’s be having you!

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/impacts/#comment-50228

  157. dikranmarsupial says:

    Lucifer wrote “Now, you could both be right. If CO2 ceased, concentrations would fall but the rate of fall appears to be determined by the concentration, so to regress to preindustrial might be asymtotic for a long duration.”

    the article itself already hints at this

    “We must get the top curve (emissions) to fall until it crosses into the blue area ***(which will shrink as emissions decline)***, so that airborne CO2 declines. ”

    However it is unwise to make inferences of the rate at which CO2 will fall by looking at a graph which tells you only what has happened, but not why. If you want to make predictions about the future, you need a model (not necessarily a computer model).

  158. topflat says:

    VTG,

    I’m quite firmly in the peak oil camp and view the current price volatility as indicative of a commodity which is moving into scarcity, combined with all the vagaries that go along with systems with delayed feedbacks. The only way we avoid another significant price spike soon is if the global economy is in much worse shape than it appears. I think it’s better than evens we’ll have two consecutive years of decline in c+c production before 2020.

  159. franktoo says:

    Joshua asks: Do you acknowledge that in making such as statement [combining Lewis’s and Tol’s best estimates] you are failing to to account for uncertainty. Do you recommend just accepting Lewis “best estimate” (without even really considering the full range there) and Tol’s estimated breakeven point without considering the larger ranges of risk that they might be wrong as a way forward? … Would that be your recommended approach to risk assessment in other areas as well – just consider a narrow range of best case scenarios and ignore the full range of possibilities?

    Frank replies: Risk assessment should cover all plausible contingencies. I wrote the above statement to explain why MONTFORD might logically believe in the existence of a greenhouse effect, but not a coming catastrophe. ATTP called this “pseudo-skepticism”, but it is a logical position for anyone who feels that politicization of climate science has made the IPCC’s estimates are overly pessimistic. (See Stephan Schneider and “scary stories”.) If one accepts Steven’s range for aerosol forcing, energy balance models predict an likely range (17-83% ci) of 1.2-1.8 degK and a 5-95% ci of 1.05-2.2 degC. In that case, we have reached the point where either climate models or energy balance models must be seriously wrong. I know that climate models have serious problems reproducing the feedbacks associated with the annual cycle http://www.pnas.org/content/110/19/7568.full (And problems with the hiatus.) I personally haven’t reach the position where I discount the full range of the IPCC’s projections, but I understand the reasons why some may do so.

    Joshua continued: “Have you considered negative externalities? How do you know that “paying for emissions reduction” is not addressing a market failure to include a host of negative impacts into the cost of fossil fuels?

    Frank replies: IF climate sensitivity is low and some future warming is net beneficial, there wouldn’t be any significant negative externalities associated aGHG’s – especially if one uses a traditional discount rate for costs that occur in the distant future. And you could look at the “negative externalities” associated with renewable energy: government subsides, feed-in tariffs, forcing power distributors to purchase electricity from renewable generators when other generators are cheaper, the higher prices that will be charged by fossil fuel plants that are used less frequently, higher food cost from ethanol from corn, etc. Suppose I install rooftop photovoltaics. 30% of the cost is reimbursed by the federal government and I may qualify for local subsidies. I may never pay another [net] penny for electricity; but I can demand electricity (and all of the infrastructure needed to deliver it) from the local power distributor whenever I need it; and force that distributor to purchase my excess electricity (sometimes at a retail price) whether they need it or not. My less-affluent neighbors pay all of these costs, which are technically negative externalities. Those negative externalities could outweigh the “social cost” (negative externality) of the CO2 saved by installing solar panels. The US used subsidies and coercion to create a corn-ethanol industry that currently produces about 10% of our gasoline (as required by law). The rational was to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. Things are not always as simple as they seem.

  160. BBD says:

    This is pseudo-scepticism:

    ATTP called this “pseudo-skepticism”, but it is a logical position for anyone who feels that politicization of climate science has made the IPCC’s estimates are overly pessimistic.

    Informally, it’s known as ‘making shit up’.

  161. BBD says:

    Frank replies: Risk assessment should cover all plausible contingencies.

    The best estimate for ECS (done properly, using *all* the evidence) is ~3C. So walk the walk, franktoo.

  162. verytallguy says:

    Franktoo,

    … IF climate sensitivity is low and some future warming is net beneficial …

    this is an argument that sits neatly on the fence between being Panglossian and outright denialist

    Panglossian: We will be very lucky on sensitivity and on impacts. All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds!

    Denialist: All sensitivity studies other than the one I like are wrong. All impact studies other than the one I like are wrong.

    Which is it Frank?

  163. Joshua says:

    Franktoo –

    ==> ” but it is a logical position for anyone who feels that politicization of climate science has made the IPCC’s estimates are overly pessimistic. ”

    Even if you think that the IPCC gets the ranges wrong, or is overly certain about the ranges they provide, there is the risk of significantly harmful effects from BAU.

    ==> “Frank replies: IF climate sensitivity is low and some future warming is net beneficial, there wouldn’t be any significant negative externalities associated aGHG’s”

    But this isn’t true. There are negative externalities that have nothing to do with warming – because aGHGs don’t flow freely and get burned freely w/o incurring negative externalities. Black carbon in the atmosphere. Environmental damage. Enormous geo-political costs. Enriching authoritarian governments that don’t provide huge segments of their citizenry basic civic infrastructure, etc.

    ==> “And you could look at the “negative externalities” associated with renewable energy:”

    And well we should. The point is to be comprehensive, and not follow a course so as to confirm biases that are ideologically driven.

    ==> “Things are not always as simple as they seem.”

    But that was exactly my point.

  164. Joseph says:

    ==> “And you could look at the “negative externalities” associated with renewable energy:”

    And well we should. The point is to be comprehensive, and not follow a course so as to confirm biases that are ideologically driven.

    Yeah I think I would take the negative externalities of renewables any day over fossil fuels. I hope we see more research on this. They are the future anyway, fossil fuels aren’t going to get any cheaper and as we saw with oil they are subject large price swings that can be economically damaging..

  165. BBD says:


    The best estimate for ECS (done properly, using *all* the evidence) is ~3C.

    Another one just out
    D. Johansson, B. O’Neill, C. Tebaldi, and O. Häggström, “Equilibrium climate sensitivity in light of observations over the warming hiatus” Nature Climate Change, 2015

    They say ECS is 2.5C — down from 2.8C — but big whoop. Their explanation for the hiatus is ENSO and reduced solar forcing.

    That is exactly what an amateur like myself has determined. All the detailed wiggles in the global surface temperature are due to either ENSO or volcanoes.

    Yall have to try modeling it this way; so get on the bandwagon as we see more and more research papers supporting this approach.

  166. Arthur Smith says:

    ATTP – I think you’re being too generous to Tol, and too hard on yourself here. All you said was “I would have thought that we could grow the economy by tackling these problems”. I think it is very clear there are policy options that DO grow the economy (by favoring the sort of endogenous technological change Romer champions) by investing in renewable energy RD&D, which is certainly a good part of “tackling these problems”. There are obviously poor policy choices that could be made as well which would be damaging to the economy, the climate, or both. But the word you used was “could”, and Richard’s “No” response makes no sense – it’s an absolutist stance, a claim that growth + “tackling these problems” is impossible. I don’t think his failure to answer on whether “growth must come before x,y,z” really matters much, it’s the absolutist “No”, on the lines of theoretically impossible, that I find striking.

  167. They are the future anyway, fossil fuels aren’t going to get any cheaper and as we saw with oil they are subject large price swings that can be economically damaging.

    If there was one thing that I found interesting about the enormous price swings of oil it was how little it affected the economy. We are much richer and energy is a much smaller part of our economies by now than in the 1970s. The time our mentally inflexible friends who still fear communists grew up.

  168. Marco says:

    ATTP, Lucifer
    “If emissions ceased, concentration would be actually be falling at 2.5 ppm per year.”

    This is based on the mistaken assumption that the biosphere currently takes up 2.5 ppm-worth more than it emits regardless of the magnitude of the anthropogenic emissions, and thus a failure to realize that this ‘deficit’ is directly linked to the magnitude of the anthropogenic emissions.

  169. Joseph says:

    Victor, I believe the high oil prices around the time of the recession contributed to it. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, I may have misunderstood what you are saying you though.

  170. Joseph says:

    To add a little, the recession started in Dec 2007 and look at oil prices in the months before and after it started.

  171. ATTP,

    “If emissions ceased, concentration would be actually be falling at 2.5 ppm per year.”

    What? Where did you get this from? According to that carbon cycle calculator to which I linked, if we were at 400ppm and stopped emissions, it would fall at around 0.4ppm per year.

    Well, geologist probably think about geology more and other things less.

    The GeoCarb seems to be a balance between volcanic eruptions and carbonate weathering.
    Real processes but glancing through the source code, I didn’t find a direct ocean uptake term.
    Seems to me that CO2 will go where CFCs are going, into the deep ocean near the poles:

  172. anoilman says:

    Arthur Smith says:
    March 30, 2015 at 8:35 pm
    “Of course R&D in fossil fuels is what led to “fracking” and the..”

    Dude. Wrong. Just wrong. How many scientists do you think we have in the oil industry? (nada)

    Fracking is an engineering solution to a well known problem, I’ll just bet they had no idea what would happen with their technology.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/multi-stage-fracking-sparked-energy-revolution-1.1338662

  173. anoilman says:

    Brandon Gates:
    “Not everyone thinks in 1-bit binary.”

    There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

  174. Arthur Smith says:

    anoilman – well, I’d heard there was Department of Energy research involved, but looking for sources I see the main one seems to be something from the Breakthrough guys – http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/shale_gas_fracking_history_and – so maybe not to be trusted…

  175. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of the economic consequences of mitigating manmade climate change…

    Stopping global warming at two degrees would create nearly half a million jobs in Europe and save over a million lives in China, analysis of emissions pledges says.

    Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits, study finds by Arthur Nelsen, The Guardian, Mar 30, 2015

    The study was produced by New Climate Institute’s (NCI) using data from the International Energy Agency.

  176. Sam Taylor says:

    Victor

    The extremely high energy prices of the last decade or so have almost certainly played a significant role in the ongoing economic crises in places like Greece, Spain etc. Look at how miles driven in Italy have absolutely gone over a cliff in recent years, in tandem with the high oil prices. Percentage of GDP spent on fuel has impacts on economic performance (See for example Aucott and Hall http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/7/10/6558 ). My opinion is that we’re just exiting 2 concurrent oil shocks (peaking of conventional production circa 2005 and the arab spring knocking out Libya around 2010). The danger is that the current low oil prices throw us back into another one in a year or two.

    And, again, current production functions don’t adequately account for the cost share of energy. Which is why they didn’t deal that well with the energy crisis of the 1970’s ( http://iopscience.iop.org/1367-2630/16/12/125008/article ).

    Michlael Kumhoff did some interesting work on these issues while at the IMF (see eg here: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12109.pdf and here: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12256.pdf ), the conclusion to one of their studies reads: “we suspect that there must be a pain barrier, a level of oil prices above which the effects on GDP becomes nonlinear, convex. We also suspect that the assumption that technology is independent of the availability of fossil fuels may be inappropriate, so that a lack of availability of oil may have aspects of a negative technology shock. In that case the macroeconomic effects of binding resource constraints could be much larger, more persistent, and they would extend well beyond the oil sector. Studying these issues further will be a priority of our future research”

    I very much doubt that we’re going to have it as easy as you suspect.

  177. anoilman says:

    Arthur Smith: Oil and gas is a stupid stupid old industry. Most of it is populated by folks who just copy what everyone else does. Many have forgotten even why they do what they do. Research is just not in the cards. What is going on is generally driven by incremental improvements in engineering and know how as much as anything else. [FYI: I like it because much of what I have to do as an engineer is from first principles. It takes serious know how.]

  178. anoilman says:

    Sam Taylor: Thanks for that paper. I’m still going through it. At least it talks down to my level. 🙂

    All this talk about oil shock makes me wonder just how much worse it would be if we didn’t have renewables in the mix.

    What’s your take on alternate energy sources? I’m currently paying, oh $0.09 per kwh for coal electricity to my home. (I pay a lot more to be connected to the grid though.) Solar is rapidly approaching that price point. I know I can go off grid with batteries for oh, say $0.30 per kwh.

    I guess I just don’t see anything to be feared here. But it will be a shock to the capital supply to rapidly switch to solar.

  179. Turbulent Eddie (Lucifer?),

    Real processes but glancing through the source code, I didn’t find a direct ocean uptake term.
    Seems to me that CO2 will go where CFCs are going, into the deep ocean near the poles:

    Did you look for variables starting ocn?

    Well, yes, the CO2 would be sequestered into the deep ocean. However, that is much slower than the rate at which the atmospheric cocentration has been rising. If you’re reason for thinking that if we stopped emissions atmospheric CO2 concs would drop at around 2.5ppm per year is just some hand-waving, could you stop flailing around?

  180. BBD says:

    Beat me to it, ATTP.

  181. BBD says:

    @ WHUT

    Thanks for the reference to:

    D. Johansson, B. O’Neill, C. Tebaldi, and O. Häggström, “Equilibrium climate sensitivity in light of observations over the warming hiatus” Nature Climate Change, 2015

    It’s in the ECS SWAG range of 3C +/- 0.5C

    😉

    Let’s get on with mitigation…

  182. franktoo says:

    VeryTallGuy wrote and Joshua echo: “Panglossian: We will be very lucky on sensitivity and on impacts. All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds! Denialist: All sensitivity studies other than the one I like are wrong. All impact studies other than the one I like are wrong.”

    Let’s explore some pdfs:

    Consensus:
    10% chance ECS = 2; future warming = +2 degC; 100 units of damage
    60% chance ECS = 3; future warming = +3 degC; 1,000 units of damage
    28% chance ECS = 4; future warming = +4 degC; 10,000 units of damage
    2% chance ECS = 5; future warming = +5 degC; 100,000 units of damage
    Expected damage: 10+600+2800+2000 = 5410 units

    Lewis (latest) + Tol:
    10% chance ECS = 1; future warming = +1 degC; 1 unit of benefit
    60% chance ECS = 1.5; future warming = +1.5 degC; breakeven
    20% chance ECS = 2; future warming = +2 degC; 10 units of damage
    10% chance ECS = 2.5; future warming = +2 degC; 100 units of damage
    Expected damage: -0.1+0+2+10 = 11.9 units

    Lacking real information, I’ve assumed damage rises 10X for every additional degree of warming. Suppose you generously say the consensus and L+T are equally likely to be right. Expected damage will still be huge. The low probably that ECS could be 5 will still produce about half of the expected damage. Granting L&T serious credibility changes things very little.

    If you say that energy balance models have now ruled out any possibility that ECS is 4 or 5, you come up with 10X less expected damage.

    PDFs are useful, but only one of these futures WILL actually happen – not the expected value from all of these possible futures. We may have a consensus dominated by individuals like Stephen Schneider – who admits to being willing to tell scary stories to convince the public to avoid the possibility that ECS might be 4.5 – and by economists like Stern – who selected an atypical discount rate of 1.4% for damage. Do you stick with the purely mathematical expected value for damage – which is always dominated by the worst-case scenario – or do you follow your intuition and look overly optimistic from a purely mathematical perspective? (I don’t claim to have an answer to the question, but those whom I believed a decade ago – when they asserted that the “science is settled” – don’t have as much credibility for me as they used to.)

  183. BBD says:

    Meow

    Sometimes it’s necessary to repeat oneself: How do we know whether economic models — particularly the complex ones that are used to argue that adaptation is preferable to mitigation — are reliable?

    I’ve finally found the reference I was after regarding this question so now you belatedly get a sensible answer:

    Pindyck (2013), Climate Change Policy: What Do the Models Tell Us? Journal of Economic Literature, 51(3): 860-72.

    DOI: 10.1257/jel.51.3.860

    Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g., the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models’ descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.

  184. BBD says:

    franktoo

    It doesn’t matter how many words you use: handwaving is still handwaving.

    And what about this?

    Are you going to walk the walk or talk the (meaningless and unsubstantiated) talk?

  185. Joshua says:

    franktoo –

    I see a pattern getting repeated. I ask you direct question. You respond with stuff like…

    ==> “…when they asserted that the “science is settled”

    Not only is it a non-sequitur, not directly connected to anything I said – even further, it’s meaningless as “they” is not specified. I don’t know who “they” is, or what “science” they supposedly were saying was settled.

    So not only do you not respond to my questions, you also make statements that are impossible for me to respond to in any meaningful way.

    I don’t see how it’s possible to have an actual discussion in such circumstances.

  186. dhogaza says:

    Franktoo:

    “Suppose you generously say the consensus and L+T are equally likely to be right.”

    If L, taken alone, and the consensus on ECS is equally likely to be right and T, taken alone, and the consensus on impacts is equally likely to be right, then what is the likelihood of L+T being right?

    Hint: it ain’t “equally”.

  187. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of the consequences of manmade climate change…

    The beloved aspen forests that shimmer across mountainsides of the American West could be doomed if emissions of greenhouse gases continue at a high level, scientists warned on Monday. That finding adds to a growing body of work suggesting forests worldwide may be imperiled by climate change.

    The new paper analyzed the drought and heat that killed millions of aspens in Colorado and nearby states a decade ago. Such conditions could become routine across much of the West by the 2050s unless global emissions are brought under control, the study found.

    “I think of aspens as a good canary-in-the-coal-mine tree,” said William R. L. Anderegg, the Princeton University researcher who led the new study, released online Monday by the journal Nature Geoscience. “They’re a wet-loving tree in a dry landscape. They may be showing us how these forests are going to change pretty massively as that landscape gets drier still.”

    Climate Change Threatens to Kill Off More Aspen Forests by 2050s, Scientists Say</strong by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Mar 30, 2015

  188. Joseph says: “Victor, I believe the high oil prices around the time of the [US?] recession contributed to it. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, I may have misunderstood what you are saying you though.

    Do you mean the recession that started with the bankruptcy of The Lehman Brothers due to irresponsible financial innovations?

    Sam Taylor says: “The extremely high energy prices of the last decade or so have almost certainly played a significant role in the ongoing economic crises in places like Greece, Spain etc. Look at how miles driven in Italy have absolutely gone over a cliff in recent years

    Also the recessions in Greece and Spain started as a banking crisis, which was socialised by their governments, which rescued (had to rescue) the rich.

    That once you have a recession poor people drive less, does not really show that changes in oil prices influence the economy. That is an argument about the reverse direction.

    I was not arguing that there was no relationship. The German economy does seem to be doing better at the moment partially due to low oil prices. Maybe a few tenth of a percent more growth. However, the influence is not large any more and a lot less than it was in the 1970s.

    Maybe a renewable energy system would make energy more expensive, which I am sure about thinking more long term. Just taking the health effects into account, it is likely cheaper. Taking climate change into account it would be even cheaper. Even in case it would be more expensive, the transition to renewable energy would be so much slower than the current oil price swings, that the economy should be even better able to adapt to it.

  189. Maybe a renewable energy system would make energy more expensive, which I am not sure about thinking more long term. Just taking the health effects into account, it may be cheaper even on the short term. Taking climate change into account it would be even cheaper. Even in case it would be more expensive, the transition to renewable energy would be so much slower than the current oil price swings, that the economy should be even better able to adapt to it.

  190. In the next to last chapter of his book on Climate Economics Richard Tol writes:

    I argue above that climate change is a relatively small problem that can easily be solved. A casual observer of climate policy and the media would have a different impression. Seven things stand in the way of simple solution.

    Then he continues by discussing the seven things, which are approaches favored by various groups, but in his view rather obstacles for progress than real solutions.

    The last chapter is titled The solution. I cannot find full solutions from that chapter, but one thing to notice is that it seems to be supportive of major parts of the approaches of UNFCCC. It’s clear that he does not consider climate change as threatening than many others do, but he does support significant action.

    The concluding paragraph of Robert Pindyck in his article linked by VTG

    So how should carbon emissions be priced? I have tried to explain why the question is so inherently difficult, why an answer won’t come from the kinds of modeling exercises that have permeated the literature, and why the case for a substantial carbon tax—if that case is to be made at all—must be based on an analysis of potential catastrophic outcomes. That should be the focus of future climate policy research.

    tells why peoples best estimates of what should be done differ so much. Most scientists consider very severe outcomes likely enough to cause much deeper worries than Richard implies by his expressed policy views. Unfortunately it seems still to be impossible to justify any conclusions by objective quantitative arguments. The conclusions remain subjective and intuitive even when supported by all the existing science. Some have ended with conclusions like those presented by Richard while the majority seems to disagree, some moderately and others violently.

  191. Joseph says:

    I didn’t say the gas prices caused the recession. I said the spike contributed to deepening the recession. At least in the US high gas prices are drag on consumer spending.

  192. VV, You probably haven’t read much by James Hamilton


    All but one of the 11 postwar recessions were associated with an increase in the price of oil, the single exception being the recession of 1960
    ” — http://econbrowser.com/archives/2011/01/oil_shocks_and_2

    It may change in the future but as of now global economic activity is tied to the price and availability of oil.

    BTW, I called my depletion model the oil shock model because it tracks the perturbations in extraction rate over time. This is a system model and you really have to understand the fossil fuel consumption patterns s well as climate science to be able to make projections.

  193. franktoo,

    0% chance ECS = 2; future warming = +2 degC; 100 units of damage
    60% chance ECS = 3; future warming = +3 degC; 1,000 units of damage
    28% chance ECS = 4; future warming = +4 degC; 10,000 units of damage
    2% chance ECS = 5; future warming = +5 degC; 100,000 units of damage
    Expected damage: 10+600+2800+2000 = 5410 units

    Lewis (latest) + Tol:
    10% chance ECS = 1; future warming = +1 degC; 1 unit of benefit
    60% chance ECS = 1.5; future warming = +1.5 degC; breakeven
    20% chance ECS = 2; future warming = +2 degC; 10 units of damage
    10% chance ECS = 2.5; future warming = +2 degC; 100 units of damage
    Expected damage: -0.1+0+2+10 = 11.9 units

    Why did you change the units of damage?

  194. BBD says:

    Pekka

    [Pindyck’s concluding remarks] tells why peoples best estimates of what should be done differ so much.

    And:

    The conclusions remain subjective and intuitive even when supported by all the existing science.

    I’m not convinced that the existing science leaves us quite so far into the realm of the subjective and intuitive as you suggest and inferential reasoning has its uses.

  195. Steven Mosher says:

    ” Such conditions could become routine across much of the West by the 2050s unless global emissions are brought under control, the study found.”

    that result is already baked into the system. better start adapting.

  196. Brandon Gates says:

    I have seen it written various places that the War on Drugs is an attempt to address a demand-side problem with a supply-side solution. I’ve also seen it written more explicitly that rehabilitation is pound for pound more effective than interdiction and incarceration. It is apparently a more effective strategy to make the end-user cost of methadone cheaper than dime than it is to raise the street price of heroin by seizing it and jailing its distributors.

    My analogy breaks down because everyone uses energy, whereas smack addicts are fortunately rare; yet my brain won’t let go of the truthy connection. Perhaps someone can disabuse me of its validity.

    Along the same lines, quoting Pekka quoting Pindyck: So how should carbon emissions be priced?

    Seems a moot question. We know the market clearing prices of carbon-based energy. I see two choices:

    1) Make carbon energy expensive enough so that renewables can compete.
    2) Subsidize/incentivize renewables so that they approach parity with carbon energy.

    The macroeconomic factors, external cost accruals, cashflow and NPV calculations all follow from those two basic choices, yes? Nor are they mutually exclusive, correct?

    My admittedly naive question is: why do I read so much more about (1) than (2)? I ask because latter seems the easier political sell, and the first one simply isn’t.

  197. Brandon Gates says:

    anoilman: What are the 8 other types …..

  198. Brandon Gates says:

    BBD,

    I’m not convinced that the existing science leaves us quite so far into the realm of the subjective and intuitive as you suggest and inferential reasoning has its uses.

    Perhaps not, and I’m not disposed to dismiss the argument out of hand. But I don’t believe it either. In line with my own comments and questions, it certainly it hasn’t been convincing to the Powers That Be in sufficient numbers to be acted upon in anything but … token …. fashion to date. I think that’s a problem, damned if I know the solution. Please shine some light on that if you have any.

  199. WebHubTelescope says: “VV, You probably haven’t read much by James Hamilton

    Hamilton lists the recession in 2008 due to the collapse of Lehman as one due to oil prices. Maybe that was the little trigger, but something else would have triggered the collapse of the financial system. If you sell financial products priced assuming that risks are normally distributed without any fat tails, you highly underestimate risks. That bubble had to burst some time.

    (The stupid thing was that I know of these computations before the bubble bursted, but I thought they were just mathematical play, not something used in reality. When I asked about the fat tails, the mathematician immediately admitted that that was a source of bias, but that he could not estimate how fat the tails are.)

    Greenpeace once claimed that we can save about half of our energy at no costs. Even if that number is a bit high, it shows that managers cannot be bothered to reduce costs by implementing these measures. For most companies energy costs are a small consideration and not worth the precious time of the managers.

    Does anyone have some numbers? How much percent of our GDP goes to energy? And how did this decrease over the years? I searched once, but could not find this.

  200. Brandon Gates, one should not explain jokes, but what is 2 in binary?

  201. Victor,
    Well, unless Brandon was also joking 🙂

  202. franktoo says:

    Joshua: I’m sorry I didn’t explicitly address some of your comments. To avoid confusion, I routinely copy and paste what I’m replying to, but I thought I was partially addressing your comment when replying to VeryTallGuy (whom I quoted). You wrote:

    “But this isn’t true. There are negative externalities that have nothing to do with warming – because aGHGs don’t flow freely and get burned freely w/o incurring negative externalities. Black carbon in the atmosphere. Environmental damage. Enormous geo-political costs. Enriching authoritarian governments that don’t provide huge segments of their citizenry basic civic infrastructure, etc.”

    We don’t need to reduce CO2 emissions to reduce carbon black. EPA regs are expected to reduce US carbon black emissions from transportation by 86%. Most of the rest comes from wildfires, which predated the industrial revolution. http://www.epa.gov/blackcarbon/mitigation.html CO2 itself doesn’t directly cause environmental damage – though it does “fertilize” plants and cause ocean acidification. Coal is a source of mercury pollution, but those emissions can be and have been regulated without restricting CO2 emissions. Geo-political costs are real, but would a 50% cut in fossil fuel use make the Middle East non-critical (to China, Japan and Europe) or unable to fund terrorism? Bolivia and Venezuela demonstrate that authoritarian governments can adopt destructive policy whether or not they are oil-rich.

    Peak oil will someday drive oil prices through the ceiling and probably wreck economic havoc. Mandatory emissions reductions will postpone that day and develop the technology and infrastructure to deal with it. Unfortunately, peak oil is temporarily unfashionable and might never become an issue if new technology or serious emissions are adapted.

  203. Brandon Gates says:

    Victor: I’m laughing so hard right now. You missed my very very dry sense of humor on that one. Friend of mine has the t-shirt. He and I used to design bitmaps for computer games in study hall. 🙂

  204. Brandon Gates says:

    ATTP: I trolled him good. I wasn’t trying, honest.

  205. BBD says:

    Brandon G

    Please shine some light on that if you have any.

    Facile bilge* I can do. Substantive climate policy is beyond me.

    We’re doomed.

    🙂

    * Shamelessly stolen from Russell Seitz.

  206. BBD says:

    @ Steven Mosher

    that result is already baked into the system. better start adapting.

    And mitigating?

  207. Brandon Gates says:

    Victor,

    How much percent of our GDP goes to energy?

    The World Bank uses this measure: GDP per unit of energy use (constant 2011 PPP $ per kg of oil equivalent)

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.GDP.PUSE.KO.PP.KD

    The (US) EIA: Energy Intensity – Total Primary Energy Consumption per Dollar of GDP (Btu per Year 2005 U.S. Dollars (Market Exchange Rates))

    http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=92&pid=46&aid=2

    Not really what you’re asking for. Ah. US-centric but: http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/a-primer-on-energy-and-the-economy-energys-large-share-of-the-economy-requires-caution-in-determining-policies-that-affect-it/

    Lots of references at the bottom. A pretty picture:

    That’s interesting.

  208. Brandon Gates says:

    BBD,

    Facile bilge* I can do. Substantive climate policy is beyond me.

    You have a way of making me feel much better about being completely lost. Russell has a way of tempting me to to larceny.

  209. Brandon Gates says:

    franktoo,

    Peak oil will someday drive oil prices through the ceiling and probably wreck economic havoc.

    Peak oil has a way of being discussed as well-defined tipping point that drives me batty. I hold that we’re not going to be able to call it in advance, won’t really know when it does happen. I have about the same view of climate tipping points. Oil shocks are weather. They happen. Past peak oil, I expect the weather to happen more frequently. Doing more renewables now pushes peak oil — to the extent that it is a “real” thing — further into the future. This is a Good Thing in my book, because the only other immediate option in reach of present technology is liquefying coal, which I see as double-plus ungood.

  210. Joshua says:

    Franktoo

    ==> “EPA regs are expected to reduce US carbon black emissions from transportation by 86%.”

    But you are speaking only of transportation there, and only in the U.S,. – which unfortunately, looks to me at least, as to be deliberately limited to achieve a desired outcome.

    ==> “CO2 itself doesn’t directly cause environmental damage ”

    Again, this seems like it is crafted more to avoid my point than to address it. I kind of think that if I have to point that out, then it doesn’t bode well for continued discussion. I didn’t say that CO2 itself directly causes environmental damage.

    ==> “though it does “fertilize” plants and cause ocean acidification. Coal is a source of mercury pollution, but those emissions can be and have been regulated without restricting CO2 emissions.”

    Yes, positive and negative externalities should both be considered in a comprehensive way. Regulation is politically difficult. And it costs money short-term. Alternative energy pathways are politically difficult, and cost money short-term. It seems disingenuous, sorry, to point to the political complications and short-term costs of alternative energy pathways and then refer to regulation as if it is some simplistic and foregone conclusion that wouldn’t have costs.

    ==> ” Geo-political costs are real, but would a 50% cut in fossil fuel use make the Middle East non-critical (to China, Japan and Europe) or unable to fund terrorism? ”

    Again, I feel like you’re playing three card Monte. I didn’t mention terrorism. I was referring to the enormous geopolitical and financial costs of keeping oil flowing – .which in the end enriches governments that deprive large segments of their population the infrastructure and freedoms they need to lead better lives. Sure, it would be simplistic to say, simply, that those problems would disappear if we stopped buying their oil – but enriching those governments has a cost in terms of human capital. Call it an unintended consequence if that helps.

    ==> “Bolivia and Venezuela demonstrate that authoritarian governments can adopt destructive policy whether or not they are oil-rich.”

    ??? Are you arguing that Venezuela is not oil rich? Interestingly, hyrdocarbons make up some 45% of Bolivia’s exports and 96% of Venezuela’s. Perhaps those weren’t the best countries to use for your argument? But I”m not saying that the only countries that deprive their citizenry are those that export hydrocarbons – only that a reasonably comprehensive discussion of these issues should take negative externalities into consideration.

  211. franktoo says:

    Franktoo said: “Suppose you generously say the consensus and L+T are equally likely to be right.”

    dhogaza says: If L, taken alone, and the consensus on ECS is equally likely to be right and T, taken alone, and the consensus on impacts is equally likely to be right, then what is the likelihood of L+T being right? Hint: it ain’t “equally”.

    My point was that – if you consider all possible outcomes, it doesn’t make much difference how much weight one places on evidence that predicts low climate sensitive or low damage. Damage estimates will always be dominated by the relatively low probability that ECS is high. See my numbers above.

    However, Lewis’s latest estimate (which is unpublished and based on one new paper about aerosol forcing) could be the first step in demonstrating that climate sensitivity above 2.0-2.5 degC is inconsistent with observations. If so, the “social cost” of carbon dioxide emission will drop very substantially.

    One doesn’t need to violate the laws of physics to produce a climate model with low climate sensitivity; one simply needs to retune the parameters associated with clouds and precipitation. “Recipes” for lower climate sensitive are known from perturbed parameter ensembles, but they are rarely encountered by chance and not when parameters are tuned one at a time. Furthermore, we already know that climate models do a poor in reproducing the feedbacks associated with annual changes in flux observed from space by CERES and ERBE: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/19/7568.full

  212. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of forecasts of global fossil fuel use…

    “BP’s annual Energy Outlook report, released in February, details the results from modelling of what it sees as the “most likely” energy scenario out to 2035. In this scenario global fossil use increases by 33%, consistent with a scenario the International Energy Agency (IEA) uses to describe the trajectory towards global warming of 6C – far beyond the accepted “safe” limit of 2C.

    “In its public presentation of the report, and elsewhere, BP admits that climate change is a problem, and that current carbon emission projections seem unsustainable, so what’s going on?”

    by Roger Dargaville et al, The Conversation, Mar 31, 2015

  213. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of forecasts of global fossil fuel use…

    “BP’s annual Energy Outlook report, released in February, details the results from modelling of what it sees as the “most likely” energy scenario out to 2035. In this scenario global fossil use increases by 33%, consistent with a scenario the International Energy Agency (IEA) uses to describe the trajectory towards global warming of 6C – far beyond the accepted “safe” limit of 2C.

    “In its public presentation of the report, and elsewhere, BP admits that climate change is a problem, and that current carbon emission projections seem unsustainable, so what’s going on?”

    BP’s extreme climate forecast puts energy giant in a bind by Roger Dargaville et al, The Conversation, Mar 31, 2015

  214. Brandon Gates says:

    John Hartz,

    From the article:

    … we can hardly blame a company for wanting to keep their shareholders happy, but BP is walking a climate tightrope.

    And a shareholder tightrope. I don’t believe their renewable R&D is all for show …

    Given that renewables are becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuels, the switch from fossil fuels to other types of energy is going to happen very suddenly, not gradually as the market responds to price signals.

    … but rather being done in earnest for positioning. Part of the balance is not doing so much that they they could plausibly bring renewable fuels to market competitively before they’re good and ready to do so, but can go full bore if policy forces their hand. This problem might be addressed effectively if “we” paid them to leave their reserves in the ground and ramp their renewables development and production. The question I have is whether that is feasible.

    What they’re doing now I see as a game of climate chicken in the name of maximizing shareholder equity. Regardless of their internal views on climate change, they simply don’t have any choice but to oppose carbon pricing. If higher market price fattened their own bottom line, it would be a different story. So again, I float the idea of subsidy/incentive … and now “buyout”.

  215. As Hamilton said, 10 of the last 11 recessions, including the one that started in 2008, have been associated with oil shocks. Leading up to 2008 gas prices went way up (see Joseph’s chart up-thread) and all those housing starts in the exurbs collapsed as the homeowners right on the edge went underwater.

    Concerning oil production data, something people should realize is that when bureaucrats are in charge they can really screw with the numbers. As Peak Oil Barrel is reporting, the EIA is saying that US oil production is “soaring” but Ron Patterson looked at the tables on the EIA site and claims that it is down. (Haven’t looked myself but Ron is solid)


    The EIA Drilling Productivity Report was the one saying “Production is still soaring through March.
    Oil prices crashed, but US output is still rising. How long can that last?”

    What’s surprising, though, is that US oil output has kept growing even though oil prices have fallen by half since last summer. On March 25, the US Energy Information Administration announced that US crude production rose yet again to 9.42 million barrels per day — the highest level since 1973:

    This is insane. The EIA Petroleum Supply Monthly just said January production was 9.185 million barrels per day. they are saying it is 235,000 barrels per day higher!

    This “highest level since 1973” is making the network news, but is probably wrong.

    Better to have scientists in charge of the data, as they have no agenda.

  216. Paul Kelly says:

    My admittedly naive question is: why do I read so much more about (1) than (2)? I ask because latter seems the easier political sell, and the first one simply isn’t.

    Brandon,
    You are trying to solve a market problem with a political process. A market problem is best solved with a market process. If the goal is fast as possible energy transformation, then time, money and effort spent on the political process is a Christmas gift to the delayers. How long are you willing to wait before looking somewhere else for a solution?

    There is a possible market process available to those who desire energy transformation. It is not an easy process. It will take as much time, money and effort to succeed as the political process is taking to fail. Last year, one American businessman spent $70 million on pro climate candidates for Congress. Most of them lost. Not on molecule of CO2 emissions was prevented. Think of the mitigation had that money been spent on deployment.

  217. BBD sez:
    “It’s in the ECS SWAG range of 3C +/- 0.5C ;-)”

    Isaac Held has another post on the topic

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2015/03/31/58-addicted-to-global-mean-temperature/

    I make these points in large part as self-criticism. The simple global mean perspective is addictive and I am sure that I’ll succumb again sooner rather than later.

  218. Brandon Gates says:

    Paul Kelly,

    You are trying to solve a market problem with a political process.

    Yes. I believe that markets have failed to correctly price the external costs of carbon fuels.

    How long are you willing to wait before looking somewhere else for a solution?

    I’m about two decades past my willingness to wait. What has been tried thus far has not made significant progress in my view.

    There is a possible market process available to those who desire energy transformation.

    Ok ….

    Think of the mitigation had that money been spent on deployment.

    Pols are always going to need campaign finance no matter what what their platform is.

  219. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    Unfortunately it seems still to be impossible to justify any conclusions by objective quantitative arguments. The conclusions remain subjective and intuitive even when supported by all the existing science. Some have ended with conclusions like those presented by Richard while the majority seems to disagree, some moderately and others violently.

    Yes. This falls out of the maths of discounting. A 1% difference in discount rate makes a factor of three in how important end of century costs are to a calculation. Many of the really worrying impacts are at century level or beyond.

    And that’s just the basic maths. Add that to the fact that it is controversial (to put it mildly) how to cost things like species extinction, it becomes obvious that the economics of climate mitigation is not a quantitative field, even though it is convenient to both sides to pretend that it is.

    In the end, it comes down to values such as:
    – how important is the future compared to the present (=what is the discount rate to apply)
    – how important are other people compared to ourselves (=how to cost of impacts to people of different economic output)
    – how important is the natural world compared to the material desires of people (=how to cost ecosystems)

  220. Sam Taylor says:

    A slightly more up to date comparison of energy cost (as a % of wages and GDP) can be seen here: http://www.economywatch.com/userfiles/hop-figure2.png

    If one were to plot change in GDP, energy use and oil use, then you see that the three variables are tied together quite nicely: https://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/world-growth-in-gdp-energy-oil.png

    VV, while the most recent recession in the US has been a balance sheet recession (check out their deleveraging!), the same hasn’t been true in the EU, where little deleveraging has occurred. Now while some of the EU’s problems are doubtless due to the utter idiocy of how the single currency is currently structured, and the inability of soverign governments to deficit spend counter-cyclically, the high price of oil has certainly not helped. I think it’s very likely that the PIIGS countries will show solid growth figures for this quarter, helped entirely by the crash in oil prices.

    The world seems to be able to just about bear oil at about $100/barrel at the moment, probably mostly due to the fact that in China people get much more use from oil than in the US or europe (your first moped there is worth much more than your second car here). This is why the last recession has primarily been an advanced economy one. It’s the people who are most wasteful with oil/energy (2 cars, big house, food flown in from abroad) who have been hit hardest by the price, while those who are just starting to get motorised and thus open up new opportunities for themselves who still gain benefits from oil use, even at $100.

    The problem is that the oil industry was struggling at $100/bbl, even before the price crash. The shale drillers weren’t making money then (check out some of their balance sheet filings) and they sure as hell aren’t making any money now. BP, Exxon et al need $120+ for their business model to work. The only tool left to keep the industry viable, which at present we need if we’re to transition smoothly, is tax cuts. So expect lots of those for big oil in the coming years. But the cost of oil will necesarilly have to rise, and at some point it’s likely to hit the economy hard, when it crosses some threshold.

    Peaking in oil is a process as much as it is a date, and it’s a process which we’re well into (why else are we cracking up source rocks and mining oil shale?). If we’d started preparing back when we had time (Carter era) then we’d probably be ready for it by now. As it is, probably the best we can hope for is a long, grinding recession over the next 30-odd years.

  221. BBD,

    Pekka

    [Pindyck’s concluding remarks] tells why peoples best estimates of what should be done differ so much.

    And:

    The conclusions remain subjective and intuitive even when supported by all the existing science.

    I’m not convinced that the existing science leaves us quite so far into the realm of the subjective and intuitive as you suggest and inferential reasoning has its uses.

    Every real actionable decision is quantitative. Determining the right limits and coefficients is really totally subjective and largely intuitive. Informed subjective proposals are surely better than less informed ones, but they remain highly subjective even so, because objective cost-benefit analyses are presently not possible. There are too many and too large gaps in the connection between the quantitative aspects of the decisions and the ultimate consequences of those decisions.

    Climate science can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions or policies is very much more difficult, and impossible on objective quantitative level.

  222. verytallguy says:

    Franktoo

    Peak oil will someday drive oil prices through the ceiling and probably wreck economic havoc. Mandatory emissions reductions will postpone that day and develop the technology and infrastructure to deal with it.

    And this, together with climate change and energy security makes up the holy trinity of mitigation drivers:

    1. Resource depletion. To build sustainability in a finite world.
    2. Energy security. To bulwark against being held to ransom by a Putin, or worse.
    3. Climate change. To avoid multiple impacts wrecking infrastructure, agriculture and ecosystems.

  223. Michael Lloyd says:

    VTG wrote:

    “In the end, it comes down to values such as:
    – how important is the future compared to the present (=what is the discount rate to apply)
    – how important are other people compared to ourselves (=how to cost of impacts to people of different economic output)
    – how important is the natural world compared to the material desires of people (=how to cost ecosystems)”

    And these values are not static.

  224. BBD says:

    franktoo

    However, Lewis’s latest estimate (which is unpublished and based on one new paper about aerosol forcing) could be the first step in demonstrating that climate sensitivity above 2.0-2.5 degC is inconsistent with observations. If so, the “social cost” of carbon dioxide emission will drop very substantially.

    And it could be wrong. Indeed, looking at all the evidence instead of through the politicised, partisan Lewis pinhole suggests very strongly that it is wrong.

    Earlier you said that all plausible scenarious had to be taken into account in risk assessment of CC impacts. NL’s central estimate is actually incompatible with palaeoclimate behaviour and so can be discounted as implausible whereas ~3C looks as solid as ever as a best estimate.

    So why are you refusing to be objective about the evidence? Why are you refusing to walk the walk?

    Something’s very wrong here.

  225. verytallguy says:

    Michael Lloyd,

    And these values are not static

    Care to expand?

  226. BBD says:

    Pekka

    Climate science can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions or policies is very much more difficult, and impossible on objective quantitative level.

    While strictly true, this is a formula for justifying inaction and therefore generally false.

  227. BBD says:

    No, not false. false. I should say it is unacceptable to use this reasoning as an objection to climate mitigation policy. It is to use the perfect as the enemy of any and all action. It is a recipe for paralysis.

  228. David Blake says:

    @aTTP,

    “I’m not an economist, but I would have thought that we could grow the economy by tackling these problems?”

    Unlike the climate we can actually know the effect of most economic policies as they’ve all been tried at some time in our recent history. The correlation between cheap energy and economic boom times is demonstrated on every occasion:

    * Coal boom –> Industrial revolution
    * North sea gas –> UK ’80’s boom
    * Cheap petrol –> USA boom in 40’s, 50’s
    and it’s arguable that the fracking boom (& corresponding low petrol/coal price) in the states is helping not just their economy, but the world economy.

    Against that we have the ’70’s oil crisis, and the resulting –> ’70’s depression.

    So the way to get richer is to have cheap energy. The line about there being a “renewable energy boom”, and us all getting rich from being a moral “leader” in it is simply bull droppings. I’m all for increased flood protection and other sensible measures that we’ll need anyway whatever the sensitivity to CO2 is, but the best way to build them is to get rich first, and not gamble all our pocket money buying a ticket in the renewable lottery.

  229. David Blake says:

    @BBD,

    “NL’s central estimate is actually incompatible with mainstream thinking on palaeoclimate behaviour ”

    Fixed for you. I find it surprising that people put more faith in (what will always be) incomplete knowledge of the past, rather than highly accurate and known current measurements.

  230. BBD,

    It’s fully normal in politics and also in business that decisions must be done based on subjective judgment and in absence of objective quantitative basis. That’s not a reason for inaction although it does make it more difficult to choose the action. Trying to argue that there is objective basis may actually lead to worse outcome, when you cannot convince your opponents that there is, and when you give them the opportunity to counter your policy proposals by noting that you cannot actually provide the objective evidence.

  231. verytallguy says:

    the best way to build them is to get rich first

    How rich do we need to be David?

  232. David Blake says:

    @vtg,

    “How rich do we need to be David?”

    That’s subjective I guess. Personally I’d settle for being rich enough for a reliable baseload that keeps the machines going “ping” in the intensive care ward, and some nice new flood defences. Others may aim higher.

  233. Brandon Gates says:

    Richer than everyone else.

  234. Willard says:

    Only Grrrowth allows everyone to be richer than anyone else. Only Grrrowth makes hospital machines go “ping.” Without Grrrowth, everyone will die before everyone else.

    Thank you.

  235. David Blake is one of those pseudo-skeptics that has hit the trifecta — he is not only a duh-nihilist but also a cornucopian and a knee-jerk contrarian.

    To top it off, he is completely whack — believing that temperature changes caused by CO2 is less important than than that due to the movement of the earth’s magnetic pole:
    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/empirical-confirmation-of-solar-planetary-theory-solar-polar-field-evolution-matches-2011-prediction/comment-page-1/#comment-99409

    #WHUT the F? Is this April Fool’s day?

  236. Willard says:

    From Judy’s, two comments that pretty much sums it up:

    From ATTP’s website, a comment that seems to sum the whole climate war up.

    Pekka

    Climate science can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions or policies is very much more difficult, and impossible on objective quantitative level.

    BBD: While strictly true, this is a formula for justifying inaction and therefore generally false.

    jim2;: Talk about faulty logic. If it justifies action, it is true. If it justifies inaction, it is false. Stupid much?

    (step forward). You’re angry? (Silence. Step forward). Forgive me. (Silence. Step forward. Estragon lays his hand on Vladimir’s shoulder.) Come, Didi. (Silence.) Give me your hand. (Vladimir half turns.) Embrace me! (Vladimir stiffens.) Don’t be stubborn! (Vladimir softens. They embrace.

    (Estragon recoils.) You stink of garlic!

  237. There is some dude with lots of followers on Twitter who recently wrote a book called “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”. I am announcing that I am writing a new book called “The Moral Case for Unicorns”.

  238. izen says:

    @-Pekka Pirilä
    “Climate science can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions or policies is very much more difficult, and impossible on objective quantitative level.”

    Nonsense.
    If this were true then every day you would get up, reflect that the weather forecast can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions about what clothes to wear is very much more difficult, and impossible on an objective quantitative level.
    But I suspect that despite this you do wear clothing appropriate to the conditions.

    One reason the difficulty of making an objective quantitative estimate of benefits is less serious than you imply is that most judgements are made as comparisons.
    If the weather forecasts rain then the assessment you make is not what objective quantitative benefit a coat has, but that it is better than a t-shirt.

  239. BBD says:

    David Blake

    No, NL’s central estimate is incompatible with palaeoclimate behaviour.

    Fixed for you.

  240. BBD says:

    Willard

    Well, that was unsurprising.

    I do wish WordPress had an edit function though.

  241. Willard says:

    I am the edit function, BBD. What would you like to edit?

  242. Andrew Dodds says:

    @David

    It’s an interesting observation in natural ecosystems that productivity and diversity are generally proportional to the captured energy flux through the system. By reasonable analogy I would also expect market economies to have similar properties – a high free energy flux should eventually result in a highly productive and diverse economy at equilibrium. This is why I’m a fan of the large scale deployment of various breeder reactor technologies; we’ve pretty much hit the limit for where fossil fuels can take us.

    Also worth bearing in mind that a mature ecosystem that maximizes productivity from a given energy flux is a horrible ecosystem from the POV of it’s inhabitants – by definition they’ll all be right at the edge of survival.

    Oh, and BBD is correct on paleoclimate. If a model based on current observations cannot reproduce those features of paleoclimate that we do observe, then the model has to change. This isn’t economics, you know.

  243. BBD says:

    Willard

    It’s too late now, but I would have removed the infelicitous use of ‘false’ right away rather than posting a correction a whole three minutes later.

    🙂

  244. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    Climate science can make quantitative projections for the temperature development with wide confidence limits, but estimating the net benefits of specific decisions or policies is very much more difficult, and impossible on objective quantitative level

    That looks like decision-making in the face of uncertainty. Estimating the benefits of specific decisions runs both way in climate change-oriented policies. What are the estimated benefits of CO2 taxes? What are the estimated benefits of alternative energy subsidies? What are the estimated benefits of BAU?

    And I assume that you’re referring to net benefits – which requires estimating costs as well as benefits?

    Trying to argue that there is objective basis may actually lead to worse outcome, when you cannot convince your opponents that there is, and when you give them the opportunity to counter your policy proposals by noting that you cannot actually provide the objective evidence.

    Herein lies the problem, IMO. You’re saying that the problem is that you can’t convince people to go in one direction because you can’t provide “objective” proof to justify moving in that direction…. Sure, but those same folks are convinced to go in another direction despite that they don’t have “objective” proof as a justification.

    When determining the net cost/benefits of moving in either direction rests on subjective evaluations you can accept that fact and move into decision making in the face of uncertainty.

    But when underlying “motivations” (by which I mean biases) causes double standards to be applied, then the subjectivity of the evaluations is really a secondary issue. The underlying issue is about the decision-making process itself, and known and observable and identifiable patterns in how people make decisions, particularly in the face of risk, particularly when the issues become polarized and people identify strongly with positions as opposed to interests

  245. JCH says:

    US GDP went up in all but two of the years in the 1970s. I made hot-air balloons then. Business was soaring.Inflation is for winners. We made money like crazy.

  246. John Hartz says:

    If you like to think outside the box, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to peruse and ponder:

    Anthropocene raises risks of Earth without democracy and without us by Robyn Eckersley, University of Melbourne, The Conversation, Mar 31, 2015

  247. entropicman says:

    ATTP

    I notice you have got suckered into another discussion.at Bishop Hill.

    I wasted more than a year debating with the deniers. They found excuses to reject any evidence and gave back unproven denier memes mixed with abuse.

    They are a minor political fringe website getting 200 hits a day, of no significance in the larger debate.

    Don’t waste your time.

  248. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I second entropicman’s advice.

  249. anoilman says:

    David Blake says:
    April 1, 2015 at 10:06 am

    “So the way to get richer is to have cheap energy. The line about there being a “renewable energy boom”, and us all getting rich from being a moral “leader” in it is simply bull droppings. I’m all for increased flood protection and other sensible measures that we’ll need anyway whatever the sensitivity to CO2 is, but the best way to build them is to get rich first, and not gamble all our pocket money buying a ticket in the renewable lottery.”

    I got news for you. Oil is expensive, and its only getting more expensive. (This pays my rather large salary, so I know a bit.) Oil is hard to find, and fracking is horribly expensive. We’re seeing short well life spans, and the wells and producing less and less. On top of that we’re seeing exponential increases in the cost of drilling. This is the very definition of a bubble.

    Renewables are coming down in price, more and more. Solar is everywhere. Solar is renewable. Solar is energy independence. Solar won’t cook our planet.

    A sensible business man would pick… which I wonder.

    I also think your ethics suck. Ethics means trying to do more than the bare minimum, and staring at numbers like an automaton. Think about all the things we’ve done that we consider unethical now. Child Labor. Your arguments were used to defend Child Labor. Think about all the profits we lost for a 100 years of preventing child labor. We’d all be richer wouldn’t we? In your books? Richer? I wouldn’t trade that for the world. (I bet you would.)

  250. BBD says:

    entropicman

    I too spent a long and lonely year at BH, ploughing the sea but I think it’s only fair to let ATTP see if he can replicate our results…

    😉

  251. Michael Lloyd says:

    @VTG: you asked me to expand

    I’ll start with a proverb and a quotation

    “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

    Ancient Indian Proverb

    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

    King James Bible

    I don’t know the date of the indian proverb or whether it pre-dates the quote from the King James bible, but to my mind these represent different values and the quotation dates from the early stages of colonisation.

    I don’t know whether you have read Craig Dilworth’s book: Too Smart for our own Good: the ecological predicament of humankind

    It is not an easy read (due to content rather than style) but he covers the development of mankind from the early humanoids to the current day.

    To summarise his argument in the book: Human development proceeds through response to stressors and these responses have given rise to further stressors creating a vicious circle. Inter alia, the responses can involve a change of values.

    For a review of the book: http://questioneverything.typepad.com/question_everything/2012/02/what-is-a-smart-species-like-us-doing-in-a-predicament-like-this.html

    To give a very recent example of a change in values towards other people. There are significant numbers of people in increasing numbers migrating across the Mediterranean in boats and there is a consequential significant loss of life. A number of countries have reduced the level of patrols, partly it seems to deter those trying to migrate by increasing the risk of not being saved in the event of tragedy.

    Now factor in the risks arising from potential climatic changes such as heat stress, rising sea level and reduction in agricultural production, which may well give rise to migration on a larger scale than we have seen before and I would not be certain that we would hold onto our current values, human, moral or financial.

  252. verytallguy says:

    Michael lloyd,

    thanks for coming back.

    Despite having accused someone else of being Panglossian further up the thread, I’m more optimistic. There are many examples of human values and altruism holding up under the most extreme pressures.

    I’ll have a look at the book

  253. So the energy costs are about 6% of the GDP. For poor countries, like we used to be ourselves, it is higher, above 10%. Thus although I did not see any long enough time series, I guess it is save to assume that the energy efficiency of our economies has gone down.

    Let’s be generous and assume that it is 10% of GDP. In 2050 we will be about twice as rich. I have not seen many people who would like to change the energy system faster than finishing it in 2050. Thus the people who assume catastrophic effects from the introduction of renewable energy seem to assume that it is more than 10 times more expensive as the current system.

    Given that they only allow the use of the word catastrophic when humanity goes (nearly) extinct, we could be less generous and state that they apparently assume renewable energy to be more than 100% more expensive.

    That is hard to combine with the current prices of renewable energy. Even less so when the fast price drops continue. Economies of scale and the entrepreneurial spirit will surely drive prices further down. We would need more storage once the the fraction of renewable energy goes above 50%. Also that seems to be a solvable problem, especially for people who believe in free markets. They would simply let the price of energy depend on supply and demand rather than the current communist fixed prices. Many energy users can shift their energy use to times of higher supply (cooling houses, e.g.) when there would be an incentive. And the batteries of electric cars would would also provide a storage system for everyone without much additional costs.

  254. EM and JH,
    Yes, I know I’m wasting my time. I was just interested in finding out how long it would take for a Discussion Thread titled “A friendly general discussion with ATTP” to degenerate into name-calling and insults. I wasn’t disappointed. I was also interested to discover that being the only professor (by which I think they meant academic) who is regularly called a troll reflects more on me than being an indication of why few academics would bother getting involved.

  255. BBD says:

    This I have to see. Back later 😉

  256. BBD says:

    Oh dear.

  257. If CO2 was not the cause of the rise, then aTTP’s physics and career, require crisis management. Therefore aTTP is in denial. There can be no room for scepticism about it, faux or real.

    The mitigation sceptics really have a limited supply of stupid one-liners.

    aTTP’s career (in astronomy) endangered when CO2 is not causing global warming. 😀

    Unfortunately the leadership of this hopeless bunch is not much smarter. Otherwise the climate “debate” would at least be intellectually interesting.

    Interesting how Ben Pile uses the real name of aTTP to discourage him from commenting. They are such big advocates of free speech. Touching.

  258. Michael Lloyd says:

    @VTG,

    Yes, we need to be optimistic to address the various predicaments we are facing.

    Dilworth does cover altruism, with quotes from Darwin. He also states that there are essentially two kinds of human values: “egotistical – supporting the individual’s gene line , and altruistic – supporting the group’s gene line.”

  259. entropicman says:

    BBD, JH, aTTP

    Results replicated! 🙂

  260. Brandon Gates says:

    Yup, another crop of windmills skewered. Or is that gasbags. So hard to keep them straight sometimes.

  261. Meow says:

    @BBD: Thank you for the cite to Pindyck (2013). It’s on my reading list.

  262. BBD says:

    @Meow

    Sorry it took a while.

  263. Brandon Gates says:

    Victor,

    Thus the people who assume catastrophic effects from the introduction of renewable energy seem to assume that it is more than 10 times more expensive as the current system.

    Thank you, I had not thought to look at it that way. As you say further, clearly the current market price for renewables is well below that threshold, and falling. Very helpful.

  264. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Sorry, I did not relaize that the OP on BH was created in your honor. I rarely visit any of the sites in Deniersville because the stench of the popycock is just too overwhelming.

  265. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “a Discussion Thread titled A friendly general discussion with ATTP”

    I just stumbled across this the other day:

    https://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/joshuas-thread/

    I actually took some time to read through it again, and I can’t believe just how many bad arguments Jeff Id (a smart and knowledgeable person) made.

    Anyway, I hope that you feel as honored as I do in being the subject of a “skept-o-sphere” thread.

  266. Steven Mosher says:

    Stench of the poppycock?

    “The reason it is one of my favorites is two-fold, first it shows more warming (more trend) from the same data than climate science(always), the second is that Roman’s methods are statistically superior. A confusing bit of data for a young believer to read from an alleged denialist (me/us). The consensus should adopt the approach immediately.”

    What people forget. Once upon a time skeptics created there own temperature series.

    A. They used a method that is superior
    B. They showed more warming.

    What happened next was very interesting.

  267. JCH says:

    Big Dave is happy Steven Mosher is taking a break from commenting at David in Texas’s blog, Climate Etc.

    Are you in moderation?

  268. Sam Taylor says:

    Some here may be familiar with David Fridley of the post carbon institute, I just came across an excellent (extended) quote of his, answering a question about why many scientists aren’t as concerned about peak oil as they are climate change:

    “The answer isn’t simple, since it reflects more on the state of how we train our scientists today and the impact of social norms on scientific thinking than on the science of peak oil itself. I work with many talented and brilliant scientists who work on energy issues, but it is a very rare case when they focus on issues beyond what their specialty has trained them for. We have scientists who are working to improve the productivity of plants by raising photosynthetic efficiency; we have scientist who know intimately how pressurized CO2 would move in underground formations; we have scientists who are looking for commoner substances that can be used in photovoltaic conversions, and on and on. And very few of them express professional concern over our energy future, and those who do do it in the context of carbon and climate change, and not peak oil (and resource constraints in general). Of the hundreds of scientists at LBNL, over the years, I’ve met only 3, two physicists, another a high-energy light engineer, who really understood what a constraint in global oil extraction really means. Part of the problem is that peak oil is a systemic problem, not a singular problem, while scientists are trained to be highly specialized. Even among the energy scientists I work with, I have yet to come across anyone who spends time reading or thinking about energy in broader, systemic terms. The PV scientist doesn’t think about biodiversity, water availability, or net primary productivity, while the biofuels scientist doesn’t think about land use degradation, monocropping impacts, or energy density. And virtually no one understands or appreciates the insights from EROEI analysis. Add to that where our funding comes from—largely from government agencies concerned only with carbon and climate change—and it’s easy to understand why little focus has been given to resource constraints and limits (in part I blame economists and their broadly-culturally-accepted concept of infinite substitutability). And, as a colleague in mine in Beijing recently noted with regard to funding, “no one wants to fund someone who is going to give bad news.”
    So, to answer your question, I think there is broad ignorance about this issue in the scientific community, at least in the sample I have dealt with over the years, and since it would be a rare funder to support a scientist to write a peer-reviewed paper on the subject, they are few and far between. This year Patzek (UT) and Croft (UC Berkeley) did get a serious study on a multi-cycle Hubbert analysis of coal published in Energy, which rather surprised me. I know both of these authors, and they do share the same concern I do over our general social insouciance and lack of national leadership on energy issues. And neither will get rich (or many grants) for writing these kinds of studies. Frankly, I would not look to the scientific community for leadership on this issue. What the scientific community is quite good at is being a cheerleader for a particular technological approach or alternative supply option. Few question the underlying problem of the impact of having 7 billion people in a world where the economic imperative—GDP being just a measure of consumption—is exponential growth in perpetuity. One quote I use in some talks, when relevant, is about asking a scientist if anything could grow exponentially forever…and the answer is routinely, “of course not”. But if you ask if the economy can grow exponentially forever, the answer is usually in the order of “it has to.” I don’t intend diminish the contribution of these scientists at all—it is an intensely stimulating climate to work in—but I don’t think science is where the deepest thinking about this issue is taking place today (with, of course, notable exceptions in Herman Daly, or William Catton, or Bill Rees, or Wes Jackson, and some others).
    Liquid fuel mitigation is only part of the issue here. To be clear, I used to work for a refining company myself, and my experience in the oil industry is what leads me to understand what a very deep problem we do indeed have. US policy is almost singularly focused on how to find a substitute for gasoline to the exclusion of every other use of petroleum we have. The problem is that gasoline is only a coproduct in the refining process of crude oil, and it can’t be backed out of the refining system without reducing the production of everything else from oil, from asphalt and lubricants, to diesel and fuel oil, to petrochemical feedstocks and solvents, to jet kerosene and paraffin wax. A problem with the supply of crude oil is enormously widereaching into every aspect of what we rely on daily. By focusing just on gasoline, we are inadvertently setting ourselves up to face a whole series of unintended consequences, none of which are particularly favorable to our energy situation. It’s frustrating, but also a reflection of the shallow understanding of the role of oil in our society at the policy-making level. That global oil production will peak..either sharply or a long flat plateau…is not really a matter of debate but a geological certainty…every finite resource will when extraction pressure keep increasing. How we react to it and what it will mean to the structure and nature of our society is what is very uncertain, since no highly complex industrial civilization has faced this situation before, and we don’t know how it will play out. The idea that we can replace millions of years of stored, dense, solar energy with the current flux of solar income is laughable to a physicist, but this is exactly what we are expecting to do to keep the current system going. Thermodynamically, it simply can’t work, but public policy is rarely based on thermodynamics. So, I can’t point you to a body of peer-reviewed literature saying that this will happen at such and such a time, but I can urge you to continue your own research into this issue, and if you do have questions, I’d be happy to weigh in if you’re interested.”

  269. anoilman says:

    …and Then There’s Physics says:
    April 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    “Yes, I know I’m wasting my time. I was just interested in finding out how long it would take for a Discussion Thread titled “A friendly general discussion with ATTP” to degenerate into name-calling and insults. I wasn’t disappointed. I was also interested to discover that being the only professor (by which I think they meant academic) who is regularly called a troll reflects more on me than being an indication of why few academics would bother getting involved.”

    Anders… they are clearly the weaker bunch. THEY degenerated first. It really shows how ‘smart’ they are.

    Steven Mosher: “Once upon a time skeptics created there own temperature series.”

    I’d really like to hear more about this.

  270. Joshua says:

    Mosher –

    ==> “What happened next was very interesting.”

    Don’t be so cryptic.


  271. A. They used a method that is superior

    Decrypting: MNFTIU

  272. Szilard says:

    Re …ATTP April 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I guess this demonstrates a small group of low-rent partisans acting like low-rent partisans.

    Easy laughs, but I think there’s a risk that by indulging in recreational blog-warroring one can come to be seen as (just) a blog-warrior.

  273. John Hartz says:

    WHT:

    MNFTIU = My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable?.

  274. Vinny Burgoo says:

    BBBBTABCMGGE

  275. anoilman says:

    In my experience, when the denial community uses a term like “superior” they usually mean, “not peer reviewed”. When asked why they don’t get it published in a peer reviewed journal, they will say something like, “Ow! Cramp! Carpal Tunnel! No can do!” Egg on face will arrive sometime later.

    I would like to point out that James Bond villains also have ‘superior’ plans. Near as I can tell they were never peer reviewed, and this is perhaps the single greatest weakness of any Bond villain. Maybe if the editors at Spectre Monthly had reviewed the dastardly plans they could have saved the villains considerable expense, and maybe even got the job done.

    Hmm… This does give me an idea for a new journal though.

  276. Brandon Gates says:

    Someone may have beaten you to it: http://www.jir.com/

  277. “MNFTIU = My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable?.”

  278. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Sam

    My problems with that talk..

    First, the appeal to financial interests. I.e. ‘we won’t get rich saying this’. Which may be true, but it also happens to apply to many non-real areas of research. It’s very close to the whole Galileo thing.

    Second is the whole ‘exponential growth’ thing. We are not growing exponentially. Exponential growth – in population, energy use, production, whatever – is historically a very limited phenomenon in time and space.

    Third – we know that something like 80-90% of oil is used for transport. That’s where the problem is – we can supply non-energy oil use pretty much indefinitely from sources like shales and tar sands, because we don’t need as much and we don’t need an energy profit. Replacing oil for transport is hard but not impossible; and the critical thing is to start with the easiest applications.

    And fourth – We know that the solar flux exceeds total human energy use by orders of magnitude, so there is no thermodynamic reason why we couldn’t replace all human energy use with solar power alone. There may be practical difficulties, but not theoretical ones.

    (And I’ve been looking at peak oil related stuff for a very long time..)

  279. verytallguy says:

    Andrew,

    I was surprised by your numbers, and after a quick check I’m not sure they’re quite right:

    transportation accounts for approximately 25% of world energy demand and for about 61.5% of all the oil used each year.

    https://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch8en/conc8en/ch8c2en.html

    Across the whole of the debate it strikes me that whilst the rhetoric is about massive reductions in CO2 emissions the reality of current policy is actually currently subsidising large future increases in fossil fuel use through infrastructure investments dependent on it. Air travel is a good example:

    Worldwide passenger air travel is growing 5% annually

    and consumed 11.6% of total world transport energy in 2000
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg3/ar4-wg3-chapter5.pdf

    The growth of world air travel has averaged approximately 5% per year over the past 30 years… …Historically, the annual growth in air travel has been about twice the annual growth in GDP. Even with relatively conservative expectations of economic growth over the next 10-15 years, a continued 4-5% annual growth in global air travel will lead to a doubling of total air travel during this period.

    http://web.mit.edu/airlines/analysis/analysis_airline_industry.html

    What’s our reaction in the UK to this?

    1) to loudly debate the best way to ensure we put more infrastructure in place to ensure this massive increase happens as soon as possible (more runways, new airports for grrrrrrowth) http://your.heathrow.com/new-adverts-release-taking-britain/
    2) to reduce air passenger duty to encourage more flying http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Passenger_Duty

    This type of policy is widespread across UK government beyond transportation, eg
    1) to subsidise the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shale-gas-government-unveils-plan-to-kick-start-investment-with-generous-new-tax-breaks
    2) to reduce energy efficiency regulations on new build housing http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2372627/camerons-first-time-buyers-plans-slammed-by-green-builders

    UK climate policy is rhetoric rather than reality based. I’d guess it’s not untypical of the developed world.

  280. BBD says:

    Great points, VTG. Which beg the question: who runs the UK?

    1/ The people (by proxy of an elected government)?

    2/ A plutocracy of vested interests?

    See above for a clue. I’d guess this is not untypical of the developed (and developing) world.

  281. BBD says:

    In case this is unconvincing, we could listen to the omnipresent chorus of Mongolian throat-singing (grrrrowth, grrrrowth) pervading the political discourse and ask cui bono from grrrrowth?

  282. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    I watched “A Dangerous Game” this week.

    A truly loathsome combination of supine and/or corrupt politicians with the vanity and venality of the rich developers. Made me recall the Ecclestone/Blair conjunction.

    The sheer brass neck of these people is breathtaking: Trump Jr, self-labelled “environmentalist” profiting from building golf courses on protected land photographed holding the severed tail of an elephant he’s shot

    And the puff piece from Forbes justifying it
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2012/04/09/tmz-is-wrong-about-donald-trump-jr-and-safari-hunting/

    Rachel – warning – the film might drive you to criminal acts, given your enjoyment of Balmedie

    http://www.adangerousgame.org/

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/jun/22/a-dangerous-game-edinburgh-2014-review-golf-donald-trump

  283. Andrew Dodds says:

    @vtg –

    Bear in mind that sectors like ‘Agriculture’ will include implicit transport use. (i.e. Tractors)

    Ironically, it makes my point more – stationary uses of oil (heating, electricity) are far easier to replace than transport use.

    The Uk is appalling in the lack of joined up policy.. you can guess that that behind closed doors, a fair chunk of the cabinet regard global warming and environmentalism as a bit of a joke. They’ll take it seriously if and when it threatens their place in society, not before.

    @BBD

    Indeed. I particularly like the way that we are not even allowed to mildly criticize big business and especially the financial sector, because it might create an ‘anti-business atmosphere’. And then they’ll all move to some much friendlier, if never quite specified, country.

  284. John Hartz says:

    This just in…

    Does the fact that surface temperatures are rising slower than in previous decades mean scientists have overestimated how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to greenhouse gases?

    It’s a question that’s popped up in the media from time to time. And the short answer is probably no, according to a new paper in Nature Climate Change.

    Using temperature data up to 2011, the authors work out a value of climate sensitivity of 2.5C, comfortably within the range where scientists have suggested the ‘real’ value lies.

    Questions about climate sensitivity are complicated, and won’t be solved by any single bit of research. But the new paper seems to contribute to a growing confidence among scientists that climate sensitivity is unlikely to be less than 2C.

    Climate sensitivity is unlikely to be less than 2C, say scientists by Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Apr 1, 2015

  285. John Hartz says:

    ATTP/Rachel: Would you please convert the font of the third and fourth full paragraphs of my prior post to italic. Thanks.

  286. JH,
    Okay, I’ve done that, but now it’s changed the avatar to be me – odd. I’ll try and fix that later.

  287. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Thanks. What do you think of the article and the findings of the paper it summarizes? Fodder for a future OP?

  288. JCH says:

    Forget about it. They made the terrible mistake of inviting the insensitive Nic Lewis to a sensitivity workshop,. The range is 1.3C to 1.333.C.

  289. Michael 2 says:

    Steven Mosher says: “ideally one choice would make folks much happier.”

    I’ll second that motion. I don’t have time to try to sort out the nuances between DirecTV and Dish, both satellite television systems. So, I buy neither. The blizzard of smartphones is such that I’ll stick with my little flip-phone that runs four days on a battery charge. Maybe someday one of these smartphones will stand out in some way.

  290. BBD says:

    John Hartz

    You’ve got to be quicker than that!

    😉

  291. BBD says:

    VTG

    I decided not to share my thoughts on the Trumps père et fils, hunting for pleasure and the ecological impact of golf courses to spare Rachel or ATTP the necessity of extensive editing. Suffice it to say that we wouldn’t fall out over these issues.

  292. Rachel M says:

    Ugh, that avatar change is definitely a bug. Someone is looking into it.

    VTG,
    That image makes me feel sick. The expression on his face, the tail, everything about it – he’s not a man I would ever want to meet or even know.

  293. Michael 2 says:

    Victor Venema “they apparently assume renewable energy to be more than 100% more expensive.”

    Model it. No need to ask anyone. After all, its a strawman argument; assume anything!

    I do not assume a simple linear comparison. The cost per joule of energy has been steadily rising as the cost of extraction increases. The cost per joule of solar photovoltiac has been coming down; but keep in mind that PV is subsidized by traditional energy sources. If all steps of PV manufacture was itself powered entirely by PV, you’d barely break even, more or less. Obviously a manufacturing breakthrough would change all that.

  294. John Hartz says:

    BBD

    Based on what I’ve recently read about the behaviour of the climate system, I believe a case can be made that it’s a moving target. In other words, as manmade global warming increases over time, so too does CS.

    SeeStudy: Direct Evidence That Global Warming Causes More Global Warming by Natasha Gelling, Think Progress, Mar 31, 2015

  295. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    Yeah. You should see the way they treated the locals at Balmedie. Same look on the face.

  296. BBD says:

    John

    It’s difficult to see how there could *not* be a positive feedback from CO2 and CH4 really. And we already knew that both are feedbacks to orbital forcing during deglaciation, so this looks like further confirmation that the ‘weak feedbacks / low sensitivity’ crowd are just flat-out wrong.

  297. BBD says:

    VTG

    Plutocrats and their children. How we love them.

    Please don’t get me started.

  298. Rachel M says:

    It makes me very cross, VTG. I’d quite like to see the film. I didn’t know Trump had been spreading his excrement all over Scotland.

  299. BBD says:

    Jeez, Rachel, anyone would think you’ve been living on the other side of the planet.

    😉

  300. Steven Mosher says:

    “Are you in moderation?”

    I am self moderating.

  301. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’d really like to hear more about this.”

    a bit.

    Let’s go over the basics.

    In the beginning (kinda sorta ) there were three “home grown” methods.

    These are methods invented but never validated by any formal methods papers.
    A formal methods paper would be one were you study the method using synthetic data
    for example.

    The methods were:

    1. First differences.
    2. RSM
    3. CAM

    We will skip #1 because it was abandoned by it’s practioner. Later, some folks (skeptics) tried to ressurrect it. In the end, they found big problems with it. ( the discussion was good, as people actually changed there minds and admitted that the method they liked sucked )

    That left

    2. RSM or the reference station method used by GISS
    3. CAM or the common anomaly method used by CRU.

    RSM was never ever validated as a sound methodology. Two stats guys had a go at improving it.

    RomanM and Tamino

    https://statpad.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/combining-stations-plan-c/

    Tamino apparently has disappeared his thread. In the end he agreed that Romans method was optimal.

    Later. Nick Stokes would roll his own related method.

    RSM was a hack to “solve” the “problem” of “short” records. It provided a mechanism for combining shorter records into longer records.

    RSM as implemented by GISS is not the most sound approach. Tamino improved on it. RomanM improved on it. Nick Stokes improved on it. The superiority of these alternative methods isn’t related to any conclusion about Global warming. It’s just a fact about methods. It’s unrelated to the debate between contrarians and non contrarians. It’s just a fact about methods. I would not make too much of this, other than it’s role in history and perhaps people’s reaction to it.

    The interesting points for me were.

    1. The speed with which contrarians forgot that they had improved the method and demonstrated more warming than “broken” methods did.
    2. The apparent lack of interest generated by the improved methods. I was 100% expecting GISS to replace the core of their method with Tamino’s approach.

  302. Steven Mosher says:

    “In my experience, when the denial community uses a term like “superior” they usually mean, “not peer reviewed”. When asked why they don’t get it published in a peer reviewed journal, they will say something like, “Ow! Cramp! Carpal Tunnel! No can do!” Egg on face will arrive sometime later.”

    Demonstrating that minimizing the sum of squares yields an optimal solution is not
    exactly publishable material in 2010.

  303. Eli Rabett says:

    Given how much of the literature uses GISSTEMP for data and comparison, they would have to run GISSTEMP and IMPROVED GISSTEMP in parallel, otherwise anyone who went back to GISS for comparisons would be very very confused.

    Think of it as NTSC for climate series

  304. Robert Way says:

    “2. The apparent lack of interest generated by the improved methods. I was 100% expecting GISS to replace the core of their method with Tamino’s approach.”

    Me too

  305. BBD says:

    Well thank goodness for BEST.

  306. BBD says:

    Steven M

    If – and I am only speaking subjectively – there is a high frequency whistle here, it would be that mainstream climate science is hidebound and perhaps mistaken in its receptiveness to contributions from contrarian researchers.

    But this is to argue from the specific (outlined by yourself above) to the general. That is a leap that logic doesn’t bridge.

  307. Consider that I can take time series data from just two locations, Darwin and Tahiti, and essentially estimate much of the global variability in temperature Think about that the next time you are arguing over station data. GISS is good enough and has been good enough for many analyses.

  308. Steven Mosher says:

    “Well thank goodness for BEST.”

    Actually thank goodness for Cowtan and Way. they were able to make a connection between doing a better job and contributing to a larger problem.

  309. Steven Mosher says:

    ” GISS is good enough and has been good enough for many analyses.”

    That’s never been the issue. The issue was purely technical.. until of course Robert and Kevin
    demonstrated that doing it better can have consequences.

  310. Steven Mosher says:

    Yes Eli, It would approach rocket science to keep two series.

  311. Willard says:

    > Are you in moderation?

    It’s an experiment:

    “Now that all of us (with the exception of Gary M) agree that Pekka is OK, and Mosher and them are going to be on time out, we can have some fun around here.”

    I’m down for it. It’s just as easy for me to post articles at ATTP or start a new blog.

    Later.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/22/blog-discussions/#comment-686077

    ***

    Speaking for myself, I tried to comment only when my name has been mentioned:

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/03/31/criticism-tolerance-and-changing-your-mind/

    I have 24 comments, of which only one did not follow that rule. My name is mentioned more than 50 times. This was the third thread in a row where I got pulled in by Denizens.

    ***

    Joshua (counting Big Dave’s usurpations) had 44 comments, and his name is mentioned more than 115 times.

    Moshpit’s idea has merit.

  312. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard it gave me an opportunity to read and reread your posts ( here) and some of the things you linked to. All I can say is I wish that I had discovered Walton earlier.. The field is very interesting. Also, trying to play white after years of black only ( both literally and figuratively ) is
    a mind bender. Have not quite got the hang of moving first.

  313. Joshua says:

    FYI – Springer sockpuppeted at least 10 comments under my name. He’s still at it. Not sure what his goal is. It could be to get me back into moderation. It could be that he has some interest in forcing Judith’s hand in requiring registration in order to comment. It could be simply that he’s an incredibly immature person – even by the admittedly juvenile standard of typical blogospheric behavior. He was actually boasting about being a local political representative in his Texas community the other day. Pretty remarkable.

  314. Brandon Gates says:

    Any sufficiently poor blog is indistinguishable from Usenet.


  315. That’s never been the issue. The issue was purely technical.

    It would be nice if the focus was always on the science and not whatever constitutes technical issues.

    Consider that just working with the Darwin-Tahiti SOI data, one can actually make some progress in unraveling the mysteries of ENSO.
    http://forum.azimuthproject.org/discussion/1608/enso-revisit

    The data is not even that high a quality, yet it gives enough information to be able to decipher the underlying pattern.

  316. Steven Mosher says:

    “It would be nice if the focus was always on the science and not whatever constitutes technical issues.”

    presupposes the two are different. While there are cases where a technical matter will have no immediate or apparenet scientific consequence, history shows that in this case a technical matter, did have scientific consequence. “the” focus and “the” science also conceal some odd presuppositions.

  317. guthrie says:

    Wait a second, this Springer fellow, is his name Dave? Is he any relation to the infamous Dave Springer that lies a lot for the Discovery institute and creationists in general?

  318. Willard says:

    Bid Dave brags about having moderated a website about creationism somewhere. He also handwaved to Dembski a few times. Dembski has two doctorates, after all, which counts as a double blind test against universities, I guess.

    Sometimes he’s DaveScot:

    https://clowninginthemidwest.wordpress.com/2007/04/26/its-official-davescot-is-a-weak-excuse-for-a-human-being/

    Real names are truly important to Big Dave.

    ***

    I told Judy how to deal with him: either hire Brandon or buy the WP pro package. She preferred to listen to jim2. Did not take long for Big Dave to return to normal.

  319. Willard says:

    [Vlad.] Hey.

    [Estr.] I’m stopping by your neck of the woods.

    [Vlad.] You are?

    [Estr.] Yeah.

    [Vlad.] Who is this?

    [Estr.] Estragon.

    [Vlad.] Uhhh…

    [Estr.] Yeah. I could stop if you want to show me your dogs, or something.

    [Vlad.] Uh, no. No interest.

    [Estr.] Oh, that’s….

    [Vlad.] Don’t call back. *click*

    https://clowninginthemidwest.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/simper-fie-hed-rather-die/


  320. While there are cases where a technical matter will have no immediate or apparenet scientific consequence, history shows that in this case a technical matter, did have scientific consequence. “the” focus and “the” science also conceal some odd presuppositions.

    This drift away from showing real intellectual curiosity is curious in of itself.

  321. Eli Rabett says:

    No Steve, it would approach one FTE to keep two series.

  322. Eli Rabett says:

    Web, there are serious papers on whether curiosity passes the Darwin test.

  323. guthrie says:

    Hahahhaahahaaaa.
    The denialists are using Dave Scot/ Springer? That indicates both a lack of concern with ethics, due to his long history of lying and also censoring whatever he wants to, and a lack of concern about reality and science, because Dave never understood anything that got in the way of what he wanted to think about something. I recall interactions on some of the evolution websites in 2005 and 2006.
    The thing is, you don’t involve him even if you are interested in actually playing climateball well, because he’s too stupid and egotistical to play it well.


  324. Hahahhaahahaaaa.

    Ask Springer about his “Liquid Greenhouse” theory. He believes that the ocean acts like a liquid GHG and that is what causes the 33C warming. This makes a certain plausible amount of sense because both water vapor and liquid water can block IR, but misses the boat if you work out the math.

    But that doesn’t matter because he knows that all that is required is doubt — the god of the gaps — and all the other fallacious argument stuff he learned by being chief bouncer and enforcer at ID blogs.

  325. Steven Mosher says:

    “No Steve, it would approach one FTE to keep two series.”

    One FTE?, but last time we met with GISS the manpower required for maintaining one series was estimated on the order of 1/8 to 1/4 manyear. Assuming the higher estimate, that would translate into an additional 1/4 year assuming no overlap in the WBS.
    Since the code is opened sourced and since people actually run it, the estimate that updating two series ( what is CRUs practice here?) would require 3 times the manpower of one series is readily checked.

  326. Steven Mosher says:

    willard

    ‘Sometimes he’s DaveScot:”

    That is hilarious

    Long ago I worked in 3D graphics at the beginning ( part of the reason Springer has such a hard on for me ). He probably resents the fact that I coined the term “GPU”. He was pretty much of a dick then as now.

    http://www.azillionmonkeys.com/windoze/OpenGLvsDirect3D.html

    http://www.digitpress.com/library/interviews/interview_david_springer.html

    http://www.programd.com/155_4a0f536690691e38_1.htm

  327. Steven Mosher says:

    http://www.programd.com/155_65fce8e5de687d2b_1.htm

    most of you probably don’t know about the D3D openGL wars. It was fun.

    And the glide wrapper

    http://www.programd.com/155_a0580fa8be402bea_1.htm

    He was all talk.

    Me? I got sued .. cant recall how that turned out.

    http://www.glideunderground.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=HTMLArticles&file=index&req=showcontent&id=23

  328. entropicman says:

    Read this week’s New Scientist. Two articles suggesting that beliefs and political attitudes come first.. Evidence comes later and is filtered through ones beliefs.

    Since this filters out any evidence conflicting with ones beliefs, it is another reason why debating with deniers is a waste of effort.

    I remember my university tutors beating rational analysis into me. Reasoning from evidence to conditional acceptance of hypotheses is bloody hard work! Much easier to let belief replace logic.
    🙂

  329. Willard says:

    > Much easier to let belief replace logic.

    One can have both:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-epistemic/

    Here’s DeepMind learning from pixels:

  330. Eli Rabett says:

    Ah yesm, all us ducks work forty hours a week.

  331. SM said:


    He probably resents the fact that I coined the term “GPU”.

    That was unfortunate for you to have done that since the acronym GPU — standing for General Processing Unit and used to describe an embedded computer card — preceded that, first coined in the 1970’s as far as I can tell, and caused many of us confusion when we started seeing GPU being used in a slightly different context. I still have to look at the context to make sure that I know which GPU they are talking about.

  332. A bunny said:


    Ah yesm, all us ducks work forty hours a week.

    Speaking of honest work, this is what our favorite skeppy Fitzy thinks of the idea

    “Trenberth is 70+ YO. I’m betting on his retirement arriving long before his predicted catastrophic warming does. Like James Hansen, he is long past his ‘best by’ date. It seems a bit of ‘a travesty’ he can’t see that now would be a good time to cash in his chips.”

    As someone else once asked, #WHUT is wrong with these people?

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