Another 97%

In a previous post I mentioned that Richard Tol had published a paper on the structure of the climate debate. As I said in that post, the paper appears to be trying to portray the author as part of some sensible middle, which – given their association with the GWPF – is clearly nonsense, and I’m not quite as optimistic that climate change is a relatively small problem that can easily be solved, but I largely agree with the basic suggestion that [f]irst-best climate policy is a uniform carbon tax which gradually rises over time.

In a Cliscep post that discusses this paper, Richard Tol, however, suggested that cliscep.com should be seen as a blog that set[s] an example for other climate blogs. Well, given that calling themselve Climate Skepticism is overly generous, and given that the tone of their site would be regarded by many as extremely poor, it was rather surprising that someone who felt capable of discussing the structure of the climate debate would regard cliscep.com as an exemplar. Of course, it appears that Richard’s judgement is based more on how he feels he is treated, than on any actual assessment of the quality of the blog itself.

However, just for fun, I ran a poll on Twitter asking if people agreed, or disagreed, that cliscep.com should be seen as an exemplar. The result of my poll is below. As you can see, 97% of those polled disagreed with Richard’s suggestion that cliscep.com is a blog that is setting example that others should aim to follow. Given who made the suggestion that it was, this would seem to be a very apt result 😉 .

P.S.: Just to be clear, my Twitter followers almost certainly have a certain bias, so there is probably a large selection effect here, and only 37 took the poll, so only 1 actually agreed with Richard’s suggestion. It is, however, amusing that the result turned out as it did.

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43 Responses to Another 97%

  1. Of course, it appears that Richard’s judgement is based more on how he feels he is treated, than on any actual assessment of the quality of the blog itself.

    Putin is nice to Trump. Trump is okay with the behaviour of Putin.

  2. Nino says:

    They do seem to have high self regard over there. They hold themselves up as being for free speech and a lack of ‘censorship’. Supposedly they don’t block people or comments that they dislike. Can that be true?

    I largely agree with the basic suggestion that [f]irst-best climate policy is a uniform carbon tax which gradually rises over time.

    I discussed that with Prof. Tol and he is insistent that only a carbon tax will do: https://cliscep.com/2016/10/14/richard-tol-on-the-climate-debate/#comment-7951
    This despite claiming that “In a constrained optimisation, you need as many control variables as constraints”. The control variable is tha tax and the constraint is the emission target. It seems to me that there are other constraints (such as political feasibility of a high enough tax) that make other control variables (such as regulation) necessary too. Prof. Tol rejects this with:

    You appear not to have read Samuelson either.

    Any feasible target can be met by a carbon tax.* A carbon tax is the cheapest way to meet any target.

    This seems just like ducking reality by defining away the practicalities (the political feasibility of a high enough carbon tax). Prof Tol doesn’t seem to want to address this (or is busy), maybe because I am clearly too unread for it to be worthwhile. Am I really barking up the wrong tree or are political constraints the type of constraint that should be considered in this constrained optimisation?

  3. snarkrates says:

    I’m afraid that when Richie publishes a new paper, my go-to response is a yawn. This saves me the discomfort of possibly spraining my eyes from over-vigorous rolling while reading his oeuvre. I can also be confident that I will not miss out on any deep insights into climate science, the economics of climate science or the climate debate in general. (In this sense, he’s much like Judy Curry.) In fact, the only thing I usually learn from reading one of Richie’s papers is about Richie, and he’s long ago provided sufficient information from which to draw conclusions about that subject.

  4. Nino,
    I noticed your comments over there. I thought they were rather restrained in their responses, which is better than they normally are. I agree that there are other constraints that probably suggest that a carbon tax alone will be insufficient. However, I do that a carbon tax would be a big step in the right direction. Richard rarely wants to actually address things. Normally he responds as he has with you, by suggesting that you read some kind of book that he suggests will explain all.

    As to this

    Supposedly they don’t block people or comments that they dislike. Can that be true?

    No, I’ve been blocked by Ben Pile and, apprently, banned from his other blog (although I hadn’t realised). Also, Raff has had comments deleted and – very definitely – had comments edited and changed in a rather juvenile manner.

  5. Does anybody know what happened with Mr. Pile? His name doesn’t appear in the list of contributors anymore.

  6. snarkrates,
    All valid points. However, this is a paper that explicitly argues for a carbon tax (or, at least, suggests that it would be the best policy) and I think that is worth hoghlighting.

  7. Does anybody know what happened with Mr. Pile? His name doesn’t appear in the list of contributors anymore.

    I’m still seeing it. However, there was this situation where he admitted to editing and changing Raff’s comments and suggested he would no longer be involved if Raff wasn’t banned and I wasn’t put on notice.

  8. snarkrates says:

    ATTP,
    Exactly, he’s arguing for a carbon tax, just like every mainstream economist who takes the problem seriously. I suspect, though, that Richie advocates a carbon “tax” because he knows it will be more difficult to legislate and easier to lobby against than would other measures where the cost is more hidden. In the US, merely mentioning the word “tax” and not coupling it with the word “cut” ensures 50% opposition off the bat. A carbon tax relies on people to make rational decisions based on costs. The fact that the apricot-haired groper has come as close to the highest office in the country as he has does not encourage one as to the rationality of the average US voter. And I am sure you could come up with similar examples of voting against one’s interests in the UK.

    This is why Richie places his faith in “democracy”.

  9. Raff says:

    Yeah, I was banned on Little Ben’s insistence, so we should hear no more “we don’t censor” from them.

  10. Raff,
    I think you underestimate their ability to justify what they do, while still criticising others. Their banning of you will almost certainly not be regarded as censorship by them, while my banning of some will be regarded as censorship.

  11. Raff says: “Yeah, I was banned on Little Ben’s insistence, so we should hear no more “we don’t censor” from them.

    Optimist.

  12. BBD says:

    Only ‘thump typing’ and ‘spittle flying’? Must try harder.

  13. dikranmarsupial says:

    I think I might know why Prof. Tol likes cliscep, on my brief visit over there on a thread about politeness in the climate debate, I wrote (in response to Brad Keyes)

    “‘If ATTP wants a polite, constructive discussion he can always have it here, where he’s welcome”

    but only be being willing to ignore the jibes and insults etc., I don’t think I’d bother for very long as it just gets in the way of substantive discussion and frankly gets rather boring rather quickly’.”

    Brad Keyes responded

    “…You’re right that personal abuse can get boring, at least for readers who don’t share the writer’s contempt for person B. But then again, I write for my own amusement, and this topic doesn’t bore me yet.”

    Which basically suggests that Brad knows that cliscep is hostile and abusive and is happy with that. Later Prof. Tol writes

    “@brad
    “I write for my own amusement”

    I have to take issue with this claim. You write for my amusement too.”

    Which makes it pretty clear what kinds of climate blogs Richard wants to see – partisan blogs with lots of insulting behaviour to be amused by (and judging be the visit I made, little appetite for substantive discussion).

  14. dikranmarsupial says:

    I suspect Prof. Tol might be requesting the timestamp information from your survey quite soon, I hope the unique identifiers are contiguous! ;o)

  15. Nino says:

    Yes, I agree that a carbon tax would be good. I just find it hard to imagine that it will be enough on its own. The UK imposes very high taxes on petrol, yet electric car sales are low. There is a limit to how much more tax can be extracted before people revolt and that may not be enough to increase sales. A ban on dirty cars entering city centers (perhaps coupled with subsidised park and ride schemes and regulation ensuring petrol stations provide charging points) probably would.

  16. geoffmprice says:

    Cliscep as an example for rejectionist blogs, certainly – tabloid-esque, science lite, principally trolling, foam, rage, resentment, ugliness and victim complex. I don’t think at this point that Richard, Paul et al are able to conceive of a “climate blog” that would have any other purpose.

  17. geoffmprice says:

    “Supposedly they don’t block people or comments that they dislike. Can that be true?”

    To the extreme opposite, don’t think I’ve ever accounted a more hostile/juvenile forum. Paul Matthews came to my blog and left some throwaway comment about how everything is “completely wrong” but he wouldn’t elaborate. So I found cliscep, and the attempt to discuss things there was pretty hilarious – Paul deleted long comments and declared he would take no more of mine, and in another series apparently decided to strive for ‘better’ behavior by instead just posting them cut up with his own trolling snark and abuse interspersed. Not really even the semblance of an attempt at rational argument, all posturing and spittle. Haven’t really seen its like anywhere. Strongly recommend not wasting time there.

  18. verytallguy says:

    Stop wasting valuable pixels.

    The Internet was invented for just two purposes: pointless vitriol and cute kittens.

    Much better the latter. 97% of cats agree.

    http://www.emergencykitten.com

  19. Willard says:

    > Paul[M] deleted long comments and declared he would take no more of mine […]

    Citation needed.

  20. Citation needed.

    Here’s one where a comment from Geoff Price was snipped.

  21. Actually, the next one was deleted completely.

  22. izen says:

    I’m sure a carbon tax works in theory…
    I strongly doubt that a carbon tax will ever be anything but a minor factor or distracting irrelevancy to any eventual effort, or failure to curb cumulative CO2 emissions.
    Here’s why.

    I am watching the efforts to use a sugar tax to reduce sugar consumption in response to the obesity/diabetes epidemic in the first world. Political constraints are just one aspect.any tax or regulation is framed within the business system which constrains what power it can have to qualitatively change the system of consumption or the scale in any substantial way.
    I can think of no other historical example where anything like a carbon tax was used effectively to significantly regulate consumption or production of something with a demand. The most common outcome is a level of tax that optimises the collection of revenue against the minimum reduction in consumption.
    If anyone can think of a good example of a carbon tax type policy making a significant change in the production and sale of anything without other factors, alternatives and direct regulation of aspects of the business I would welcome the suggestions.

  23. verytallguy says:

    AT,

    Those kittens are seriously cute. They deserve your attention much more than looking for cliscep.

  24. vtg,
    I have to admit, that I did have a look 🙂

  25. Nino writes: “I just find it hard to imagine that it will be enough on its own. The UK imposes very high taxes on petrol, yet electric car sales are low.

    Agreed. There is very little correlation between gasoline prices and miles driven in the US.

    I typically see 20 lbs of CO2 cited per gallon of gasoline. 100 gallons then equals 1 ton CO2. In the UK the taxes on gasoline run about GBP 2.40 or (US) $3.00. $300/ton. The USA is about 1/6 of that on average (varies by state). Gas currently sells for a little over $2/gal. in the US – significantly less than the tax portion alone in the UK.

    The regressive nature of the tax would hit lower income workers the hardest – especially since mass transit is not a viable option in most US cities. A rational society would increase the gasoline tax and take the proceeds and invest at least part of it in mass transit. Donald Trump is the GOP candidate for president. Policies based on reason are for the foreseeable future pretty much pipedreams.

  26. This figure suggests a clear relationship between gasoline price and car use and car efficiency. If there were none, that would undermine the basic foundations of a market economy.


    http://internationalcomparisons.org/intl_comp_files/sheet021.htm

  27. Kittens, no matter how cute and fuzzy are nothing more than future cats, and cats are NOT to be trusted …

    … not even poor debunked and disgraced ‘Ceilng [sic] Cat’. [lulz]

    And now for an even more nostalgic meme, MOAR kitties!

    Thanks, Obama.

  28. Victor – the diagonal labels have to go down as one of the most misleading graph tactics I’ve run across 🙂

    Remove the USA from the first panel and it’s clear there is no correlation at all – the US is just an outlier (surprise – not).

    I’m not clear on the meaning of the 2nd panel, but it seems to show two separate groups of countries. It almost looks like some sort of step function with the first group a step above the second group. Within the 2nd group there appears little correlation.

    More interesting would be to account for the availability of mass transportation options, population density, and area.

  29. Willard says:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    23 Oct 16 at 9:59 pm
    > Was that meant to be rhetorical […]

    Why else would David P. Young from The Boeing Company would take a bite at Mr. Pile’s bait, BG?

    Since this his my fourth comment at SCEPTICUS’ (I hope you don’t mind if I use the collective’s sock puppet to identify the collective’s pet project), it might be a little too soon to judge, although I do hope that IanW will take note of my 2nd and 3rd comment and correct his About page accordingly.

    Speaking of David P. Young from The Boeing Company, here’s from his most recent contribution to the scientific debate:

    The Greens have far more money from Soros, Steyer, and their ilk. That’s why blaming oil money is like burning witches to cure an epidemic.

    I like that kind of reasoning: Exxon has far more money than the Russian mafia, so I guess it makes the Russian mafia powerless. Millyuns of years for such a lousy logic, and yet we can modulz the flight of tons of aerodynamic metal.

    ***

    As for Richie’s paper, it merely extrapolates the CAGW meme to reach the final level of the Contrarian Matrix. Incidentally, both Richie’s “but calculus” and Reiner’s “but dogma” are weak sauce, the first because Tinbergen’s rule is a norm, not a theorem, and the second because the Montreal Protocol can’t really apply to fossil fuels. Both may never reach anything like a common ground because the first’s viewpoint falters on the idea that there is no entity without identity (i.e. if you claim that you only need one policy per objective, then you need formal clauses to identify a policy and an objective), and the second falters on the grounds that any policy that is equivalent to taxation could abide by Tinbergen’s rule.

    I let Mr. Pile and David P. Young from The Boeing Company compare that contribution to their own contributions to the actual topic of this thread.

  30. Willard says:

    Seems that Mr. Pile decided to zamboni the thread.

    For those who enjoy that kind of nostalgia:

    http://archive.is/4EHvU

    A pity Richie and Reiner won’t be able to reinforce their botched arguments pro or contra the Tinbergen rule, which may be the only relevant thing in the last comments to that thread, including those of David P. Young from The Boeing Company.

    So much the worse for Brad’s invitation to come and comment at SCEPTICUS’.

  31. BENPILE says:
    23 Oct 16 at 10:16 pm
    Willard is free to post as many comments about me as he likes over at [AT]’s blog. However, the subject here is Richard Tol’s excellent paper.

    Pfft. Try resubmitting *only* the penultimate graf?

  32. oneillsinwisconsin says: “Victor – the diagonal labels have to go down as one of the most misleading graph tactics I’ve run across🙂

    How about the most creative graph tactics? Surely you have seen more misleading graphs in the climate “debate”. I did not find a reputable source in limited time, but the relationship is there.

    When someone asks in a survey whether you would drive less if gasoline were more expensive, you naturally answer NO, otherwise you are inviting an increase in gas prices. In the short run there is also not much you can do to reduce transport costs, but you sure will look for a more economical car when you need a new one and homes closer to your work will look more attractive.

    It would be quite miraculous if price brings supply and demand together for everything but gasoline. Which does not mean you cannot do more; I am very happy to live in a compact walkable European city. That is quality of life.

  33. Willard,

    > Both may never reach anything like a common ground because the first’s viewpoint falters on the idea that there is no entity without identity (i.e. if you claim that you only need one policy per objective, then you need formal clauses to identify a policy and an objective), and the second falters on the grounds that any policy that is equivalent to taxation could abide by Tinbergen’s rule.

    I may be reading Tinbergen’s rule differently as stated in the paper:

    Because climate change is such a prominent issue, champions of other worthy causes too have joined the bandwagon. Climate policy is about gender (McCright and Dunlap 2011a, Kronsell, Smidfelt Rosqvist, and Winslott Hiselius 2016), about development (Olsen 2007), about fair trade (Viguier 2001, Köhler 2014, Ciscell 2010), about labour rights and employment (Yi 2013, Nugent 2011), and so on and so forth. The ultimate goal of climate policy – decarbonisation of the economy – is thus obscured. If climate policy serves multiple agendas, then the optimal policy no longer equates the marginal abatement costs (Tinbergen 1952). Climate policy should be reconfigured to meet different targets.

    I think your “falters on the idea that there is no entity without identity” is defensible, it’s the id erat that follows over which I’m tripping.

    ***

    My attack on that paragraph in the paper would be that I see two absurdities:

    1) Any time someone jumps on a policy bandwagon with a related by distinctly additional agenda, policy either need to be reconfigured to accommodate OR that new interest group needs to be explicitly separated from it.
    2) It entails marginal abatement costs are knowable to a precision sufficient for obtaining an optimal policy *even if* the same were known for the “ultimate goal”.

    (1) seems flat out infeasible, and in any case not how the real world works for *any* policy decision. (2) particularly grates because “optimal policy” smacks of rational-sounding think tank mumbo jumbo. I can appreciate the underlying economic theory having had some little of it at university, but I got it that “optimal” in this context is a *modelling* approach and that “optimal policies” don’t exist any more than ECS does … or an “equilibrium climate” for that matter.

    That said, considering the other nostrils Tol and Co are picking …

    In contrast, actual climate policy is not simple, and the debate on climate policy is polarized and convoluted. Environmental NGOs exaggerate climate change because that increases their membership and influence. Other advocates use climate as a bandwagon to pursue unrelated issues. Politicians use climate policy to create rents and hand-outs. For civil servants, climate policy is a way to expand bureaucracies. Those opposed to climate policy use weaknesses in climate science to derail the discussion.

    … I feel comfortable concluding this peer-reviewed opinion piece is aimed squarely at Very Serious People who lukewarmingly recognize that there “is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks.”

  34. Steven Mosher says:

    “pointless vitriol” ?

  35. Willard says:

    > I think your “falters on the idea that there is no entity without identity” is defensible, it’s the id erat that follows over which I’m tripping.

    Well, it’s not really mine. (For a contrasting viewpoint see here for instance.) My other point was directed Reiner’s only argument against Richie:

    I know you are a fan of Tinbergen’s dictum that you need one (and only one) policy for an issue. But this seems a bit like a dogma. Besides, you have to re-define climate change as a problem that is only caused by CO2. What about the other drivers, like HFCs, or methane, or land-use patterns?

    The only successful global environmental treaty to date, the Montreal Protocol, did not rely on a CFC tax. should it have done so?

    Belief in the Tinbergen dogma seems to inhibit an answer to my and Nino’s question: how do we get cheap, zero carbon energy in the short term?

    I see no reason not to model any climate policy as a tax, if the end result is that the overall portfolio of energy solutions changes. Banning CFCs could then be seen as a taxation that no consumer will ever pay. Whatever you may feel about this abstraction, my point was to underline that Richie was defending his position by appealing to what is called an ideal theory in political philosophy.

  36. > Whatever you may feel about this abstraction, my point was to underline that Richie was defending his position by appealing to what is called an ideal theory in political philosophy.

    That looks promising. Ah:

    Almost all of the economic analysis of taxation therefore relates to the discussion of taxation in the non-ideal setting in which tax authorities lack sufficient information to implement first-best or ideal policies.

    Yes, this works for me, thanks.

  37. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Sea pigs are much more worthy of attention than fluffy kittens IMHO

  38. Willard says:

    Richie’s setting an example for every ClimateBall player:

    I did not respond because your previous reply showed such a complete lack of understanding that you [Nino] had me baffled. Still don’t know what you’re trying to say.

    That’s because Nino makes no sense.

    Chewbacca is a strange beast.

  39. So are gremlins. Seems to me this is down to basic arithmetic.

  40. verytallguy says:

    Willard, if even kittens and scotoplanes can’t convince you there are better things to do with your life than cliscep, perhaps owls are more your thing?

    Or to put it another way, sometimes the only winning move is not to play.

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard this guy has like 5000 videos

    better than kittens

  42. Willard says:

    ChessExplained is better than Kincrusher:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/Chessexplained

    But don’t trust his opening repertoires.

  43. Pingback: Pootinism – Stoat

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