## Proposing A Non-Cynical Red Team Exercise

(Guest posting by Michael Tobis. Opinions expressed here are mt’s only.)

Some people who dismiss the climate change issue like to call it “the CAGW hypothesis” for “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming”.

The name is quadruply irritating, inasmuch as 1) a noun is not a hypothesis, 2) the lack of definition of the hypothesis allows one using the name to rule specific claims in or out for purely rhetorical utility  3) it conflates several ideas and 4) it injects jargon into the debate that the climate-related professions do not use, thereby obfuscating rather than clarifying.

Nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that, um, those people mean SOMETHING by CAGW. They know a CAGW proponent when they see one.

It is true that the consensus is making a claim that on first hearing seems utterly radical and implausible: that very large energetically viable fossil fuel resources must remain untapped.

But that’s not a hypothesis!

The proposition that “catastrophic climate change due to fossil fuel emissions is sufficiently likely that very large energetically viable fossil fuel resources must remain untapped” is in a sense a hypothesis. To be more precise it needs a precise definition of catastrophe. I’ll propose “mortality-driven decline in global population” as a definition of catastrophe.

This leaves us with proposition P: “Mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sufficiently likely to justify urgent and stringent efforts to eliminate fossil fuel energy long before reserves are depleted.”

That’s a mouthful, and while I’d prefer to call this by some other name, I’m willing to concede the rhetorical point at least for present purposes. I’ll refer to P as the Precise Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Hypothesis, or PCAGWH.

(It’s pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. I am a genius with acronyms.)

PCAGWH is in a Popperian sense a testable hypothesis. One can fail to restrain fossil fuel consumption and see if catastrophe (as defined above) ensues. The trouble with this test is obvious – the consequences of the test are catastrophic. Avoiding that test is exactly what we are arguing for.

Because the policy we are arguing for is so extreme and unusual, though, the desire for a thorough and responsible review of PCAGWH is a reasonable goal. This brings us to the “red team” proposal.

While many criticisms can be directed at the current administration of the US, which is proposing the exercise, most are not relevant to the idea that PCAGWH should be tested in some other way than simply ignoring it and waiting to see if catastrophe ensues. Regardless of what else you may think about its proponents, this claim is on its face more than reasonable.

Some criticisms of the administration, however, are very relevant.

The administration has expressed vocal hostility and suspicion of advocates of the hypothesis, and its congressional allies have habitually called upon a few credentialed scientists of dubious skill and questionable objectivity to justify such hostility and suspicion. In this context it’s hard for the very community that has been the subject of attacks based on  systematic misattribution and outright fabrication to participate with enthusiasm.

Indeed, more of the same is quite likely to be the intent – fringe characters will hurl accusations as though they were prosecuting attorneys, and legitimate scientists will be forced into a defensive stance rather than allowed to construct a coherent case.

Nevertheless, refusal to participate encourages the view that we are arguing from baseless authority. People inclined to disbelieve the argument for our surprising and, if wrong, very expensive proposition, will have their misapprehension reinforced. This we do not have an ethical right to allow, even if the motivation of those proposing the exercise is entirely disingenuous.

===

Again, testing PCAGWH directly amounts to taking no action until global catastrophe emerges, which is exactly what the proposed policy intends to prevent. So since we would rather not test PCAGWH directly let’s look at the reasoning that supports it.

Here’s my initial attempt to simplify it to five key points.

1) Global sensitivity to greenhouse gases is unlikely to be much below 2 degrees C per doubling with a best estimate around 3 C

2) Economically valuable (in an unchanged regulatory environment) fossil fuel reserves provide enough fuel for at least two doublings of CO2 background

3) Consequent changes in excess of 2 C over less than a few centuries are very rapid compared to earth’s past, except possibly in a couple of extremely catastrophic extinction events

4) Economic, social and environmental losses climb rapidly and nonlinearly with temperature change , and may already overwhelm the short-term benefits of fossil fuels, and will very likely do so in the near future. UPDATE for clarification: Costs of a unit of emission aggregated over time may already overwhelm the benefits, which appear immediately. This balance shifts further against the value of emissions as geologically rapid climate change proceeds.

5) Environmental concentration of CO2 emissions is to a good approximation cumulative. CO2 does not naturally vanish from the system on time scales of policy interest.

The conclusion is that, consequently CO2 emissions must cease as quickly as practicable.

Since I’m just a guy on a laptop, I may have missed some points or expressed some poorly. I welcome  suggestions for improvement.

I’d say that each of the points is very robust, each extremely unlikely to be false, and together constitute a strong basis for PCAGWH.

===

It’s not a “house of cards” argument, either. Each of these claims is robust, with small but perhaps measurable uncertainty., We are in a risk management scenario. As long as each of these points is as likely as not, we are left in a situation of unacceptable risk.

I’d argue they’re all well established, but I also would like to emphasize point is they don’t have to be to justify a policy response.

Now, when the administration proposes a “red team” exercise, they are not doing so because they care about the state of science itself. They are not comparably interested in herpetology or particle physics. Clearly, their interest is in the policy implications of the science.

So, arguments ad hominem, arguments about specific statistical nits or personalities, arguments about specific excessive claims by overzealous individuals, arguments that this or that person has been ill-treated by this or that community or institution, all the nitpicking about this or that graph are beside the point. The first thing we must expect of a fair red team exercise is that it will eschew all the marginal noise that exists mostly to reflect on the morality of the community of relevant scientists (justifiably or not!).

A legitimate red team exercise would look at the component arguments and establish whether any of them is so grossly unlikely to be true as to overturn the claim that fossil fuels must remain untapped.

===

Insofar as the red team is examining the role of climate science in the PCAGW hypothesis, this limits questions of interest specifically to some narrow topics. In my own formulation, these would be #1 and #3:

1) Global sensitivity to greenhouse gases is unlikely to be much below 2 degrees C per doubling with a best estimate around 3 C

3) Consequent changes in excess of 2 C over less than a few centuries are very rapid compared to earth’s past, except possibly in a couple of extremely catastrophic extinction events.

===

These are consensus claims in climate science. Each of these is quite amenable to a fair-minded red-team exercise.

My interest would be in a fair assessment of point 1 which addresses physical climatology, but point 3 (paleoclimatology) is also important and I’ll address it briefly.

I think point relatively 3 is easy to address, insofar as it is a question to which expertise in geological science can be applied. One could easily assemble a red team from branches of the earth science that are not closely involved in climate who would be competent to address the evidence. The proposition that the realistically anticipated changes would be very large compared to events in the natural history of the planet can be fairly evaluated by people without a dog in the hunt, beyond the desire to get the answer right.

===

Let me get back to the physical climatology question, point 1.

What all this is leading up to is a challenge I’ve meant to address to those claiming that climate science is weak and that climate modeling doesn’t provide any evidence worthy of note.

I strongly believe, to the contrary, that general circulation modeling, which is the common core of climate models and weather models, is an extraordinary triumph of science.

This is because GCMs produce model weather which is sufficiently and so sustainably analogous to the actual weather of the world that a realistic climate emerges. Climate is not an input to theses systems. (They are unlike economists’ Integrated Assessment Models in this way!) What the models are told about the world is the constitutive small-scale phenomenology, and realistic approximations to boundary conditions and forcing. Storms and dry zones form in the models in the right places. The models explicitly represent the radiative transfer of the planet among the small-scale phenomenology. So the greenhouse effect is itself not explicit – it’s an emergent property of the radiative transfer.

There’s a lot to argue about in this effort, and I have been close enough to the field that I can attest that healthy and skeptical arguments do occur constantly and vigorously.

It’s important to understand that climatology exists as an independent discipline, studying many phenomena outside the domain of policy interest, and these models are crucial tools in that effort. But there’s no denying that projection of future climate change is a key objective, and that this application presents a number of interesting challenges.

But for the purposes of testing PCAGWH, the issue at hand boils down simply to this: if the sensitivity is low enough not to worry about, why is there not a single working CGCM that produces a respectable climate simulation with such a low sensitivity?

===

It’s not as if the petroleum industry lacks the skill or resources to produce such a model if it were possible. Nor, obviously, do they lack the motivation. Indeed, I am acquainted with a PhD climate modeler who worked for many years for a major petroleum corporation in their oil exploration department, modeling the carboniferous climate to identify places where oil deposits might have formed! That is, at least one oil company had climate modeling experience in house!

Those determined to claim that we don’t need to stop emitting CO2 are being utterly illogical if they don’t assert a sensitivity to CO2 doubling well lower than the IPCC low end with confidence.

They also claim the evidence of models is negligible, in that models in their view can be tuned to produce a “desired” result. (That we don’t actually desire the result we are getting escapes their imagination altogether!)

Well, the Hungarians have a lovely word, tessek (pronounced tesh-shake), which means, by all means, please, help yourself. Sometimes it is meant politely, and sometimes sardonically. But by all means, go ahead. I’m sure somebody would provide you with CGCM code. Go fix it so it has a low sensitivity without breaking the model climate.

===

There are several reasons to think of this as a fair exercise, in a way that the usual bluster from the usual suspects would not be.

For one thing, any member of the ordinary climate modeling community could easily participate. It’s a legitimate form of research – find the lower bound for plausible CGCM Charney sensitivity. Call me up, I’d probably pitch in.

Also, the otherwise inevitable vexing question of whether Dr X or Dr Y who is now clamouring to be on the “Red Team” is or is not a legitimate source of climate expertise becomes moot. Either they can help to build a working climate model or they can’t.

This also moots the question of whether the models are in any sense “good” or “bad”. The objective of the Red Team would be only to produce a version of a CGCM that is *as good* on various metrics as extant models. If that isn’t very good, so be it, it just leaves them a lower bar to hurdle.

Finally, until and unless they meet this challenge, I think we have an objective basis to claim that the critics do not have a grip on the state of the science as embodied in the models.

===

Please note that a single model with low sensitivity would be a very long way from establishing the proposition that low sensitivity is certain enough to moot the problem. But I think the absence of such a model to date constitutes very strong evidence that a low sensitivity is not possible.

Again, the motivation, skill and resources are all available. Yet nobody, and specifically none of the oil majors, has done so.

Why not?

If they want to red team the models, I say we try very hard to help them. Anyone willing to take this challenge seriously would learn something, and they might teach us something as well.

As long as they don’t have a red team GCM, all they have is bluster and hostility. If they want to be taken seriously as a team, let them play the game.

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### 272 Responses to Proposing A Non-Cynical Red Team Exercise

1. Martha says:

We have won the science but we have lost the election. The latter will last four years at most. The former will last forever unless we screw it up. Stop helping the enemy by legitimizing this inane “red team” nonsense. The amount of talk on this matter should be exactly zero.

2. The administration has expressed vocal hostility and suspicion of advocates of the hypothesis, and its congressional allies have habitually called upon a few credentialed scientists of dubious skill and questionable objectivity to justify such hostility and suspicion. In this context it’s hard for the very community that has been the subject of attacks based on systematic misattribution and outright fabrication to participate with enthusiasm.

I’m no expert on the panoply of people who are called upon to justify either climate normality or the hypothesis that climate change is occurring principally independent of any actions by peoplekind, but some have skill. The trouble is that either they, like some people, don’t like where this is headed and, so, argue that denying the viability of human control is their best ploy, or they think the damage from climate change, however bad it is, is less expensive than cost of mitigation plus cost of adaptation. Cost of mitigation may, in some forecasts unavoidably mean the dissolution of major producers of fossil fuel energy, as well as the secondary suppliers associated with them, as well as businesses which so depend upon the artificially low prices of fossil fuel energy, they are not viable if these increase.

5) Environmental concentration of CO2 emissions is to a good approximation cumulative. CO2 does not naturally vanish from the system on time scales of policy interest.

It’s interesting, but I’ve never heard an argument from the opponents of mitigation that says they think CO2 will draw down on its own at a reasonable rate. That is, it appears that this is accepted that, left to itself, this will take a long, long time.

2) Economically valuable (in an unchanged regulatory environment) fossil fuel reserves provide enough fuel for at least two doublings of CO2 background

Implicit in this is the failure of there being a wide acceptance of the implications of >+2C instantaneous warming, or >+3C equilibrium warming. According to the latest research it appears that, no matter what happens, we are already committed to >+2.5C, so to pretend otherwise seems not useful.

3. (Null comment because I want to follow the discussion, and forgot to tick the box last time.)

4. They don’t want to Red Team the models. There is absolutely ZERO chance that anyone in the administration would change their mind, nor one blessed policy, based on the outcome of this exercise. This is simply a proposal to provide a figleaf of cover for an otherwise inexcusable lack of action on the most pressing issue facing mankind today.
This is just another “study it to death but do nothing” proposal. It’s pure political BS.

5. Susan Anderson says:

In the department of deeply stupid, this is hard to beat:
“Is Russia illegally funding U.S. environmental groups? Two congressmen seek investigation” (Lamar Smith, who else!)

We “environmentalists” (whatever that means) are terr’ists or Russian dupes, you see.

I recently had reason to look up Hank of SciShow, and if we were looking for a knowledgeable advocate who knows how to make a point and is not a pushover, he’s hard to beat. There’s a lot of information in in this zippy presentation:

It’s a pretty good summary, from 2012, of what could (and probably will) go wrong. If your time is limited, start around minute 2. There’s one shorter than 4 minutes on “Invalid Arguments” and a more recent one excoriating abandoning the Paris agreement.

6. Susan Anderson says:

ps. For a cauld grue, skip to minute 7 in that video.

7. mt says:

Hyper: “or they think the damage from climate change, however bad it is, is less expensive than cost of mitigation plus cost of adaptation.”

I have tried to keep the issues separate. I would claim that this is subsumed under point 4, which does not come under the rubric of climate science as usually construed by the people attacking it or the people defending it.

For what it’s worth I am no great enthusiast for climate economics as currently practiced myself. I’d love to see that field red teamed; I think the fair result would be dramatically more alarming than the economics community is letting on, for rather simple reasons. But I don’t have a suggestion for how to approach those subjects objectively, and in any case that’s off topic here.

We’re just discussing what a reasonable review of relevant climatology would look like. I am claiming that the scope of such an exercise conducted seriously would be narrow, and the investigation could be constrained in such a way that genuinely talented and informed people would be required to conduct it.

8. mt says:

KP: “There is absolutely ZERO chance that anyone in the administration would change their mind, nor one blessed policy, based on the outcome of this exercise.”

I am not quite so pessimistic, though any party that would allow Lamar Smith to keep Smithing (along with other obvious examples) apparently doesn’t have high standards of intellectual rigour.

But to the extent the chances are indeed negligible, the administration is not looking for information but for a rhetorical hammer. It is not a good idea to shrug and let them have it.

To the extent that anyone who holds climatology in low regard really does want to do the right thing, I’d really like them to answer the core questions I am posing here:

1) Why is there no low-sensitivity model?
2) If you are so confident sensitivity is low, why don’t you find someone to make one?

9. mt says:

Martha: are you a troll?

10. @mt,

Yeah, but what’s trying to be achieved? Is it really to demonstrated that IPCC++ is correct, to the United States audience? I say this is like putting the question into a boxing ring, perhaps one side is a favorite and has skill, but there’s still a risk in the outcome. Moreover, the losing side can always argue it was a fluke, or an unfair umpire call.

No, for the set of people who do not believe, for whatever reason, the results of Science, I think nothing else will do until they begin to lose their wealth as a consequence of climate disruption. Is that “too late” for the rest of us? Well, as I’ve noted, we are essentially at 500 ppm now, and 600 ppm, or “a doubling”, as the ECS says, of 2X baseline CO2, we are no longer in a realm where avoiding serious impacts of climate disruption is a reasonable expectation, no longer what kinds of fantastic imagination the UNFCCC wants to apply, obviously, as they say, for not wanting to discourage anyone.

It’s not enough, I know, to avoid serious disruption, economic loss, and massive deaths, but I say all we can reasonably do is to push solar energy (including wind, which is solar), smart, predictive grids, and work to completely kill every 20th century electrical utility, every purveyor of Internal Combustion Engines, every fossil fuel company when their overextension and stranded assets are exposed. And, I say, prepare to cry, for the hurt to people and economic creativity, and homes, and ecosystems which could have been avoided if wisdom in 1990 or 2000 or 2010 or even 1965 prevailed over immediate advantage. Yes, it could have been avoided, but people are a sorry lot, don’t like to think, don’t like to invest rationally, and often take a slap across the head to change their awareness.

11. mt says:

Hyper: I hear you, even if I don’t agree with every word. I know where you are coming from.

But here I just want to make a case for not shooting the messenger. Specifically, I want the messenger to make a case not to shoot the messenger.

12. russellseitz says:

You do a good and public service by chasizing those who covet their own hypotheses, but as to :

This leaves us with proposition P: “Mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sufficiently likely to justify urgent and stringent efforts to eliminate fossil fuel energy long before reserves are depleted.”

Newton’s dictum seems more relevant:

<i.Hypotheses non fingo.

13. > Economic, social and environmental losses climb rapidly and nonlinearly with temperature change, and may already overwhelm the short-term benefits of fossil fuels

This looks like obvious nonsense to me. The short-term benefits of fossil fuels include an industrial society that allows 7 billion people to live, many in comfort. Removing those would lead to the society collapsing and billions starving. I can’t really tell what’s gone wrong with your statement: are you massively underestimating the gains, are you somehow saying we could keep those gains, today, without fossil fuels, or is your statement malformed? It claims to be a cost-benefit analysis. I think the present-day costs of GW are “small” when measured against the global economy.

It looks like your PCAGWH similarly fails; again, it’s hard to tell how you’re accounting for the balance.

This is rather disappointing. You’ve been writing and thinking about this stuff for a long time. We’ve been discussing it for ages. How can someone who is essentially “on your side” end up thinking you’re writing nonsense?

14. Martha says:

Why help deniers by adopting and even enriching their despicable propaganda, as you do, mt? PCAGWH? How about, WTF?

Deniers are the enemies of humanity and climate change is the most dangerous threat to life on this planet ever to have existed. It is that plain and simple. I proudly stand by every word I said before and now. No quarter given no mercy shown. This is not a game. This is a fight for survival. This is war.

15. I think this is a very interesting proposal; almost feel like seeing if I could do this myself. I think this is also a very interesting point

But for the purposes of testing PCAGWH, the issue at hand boils down simply to this: if the sensitivity is low enough not to worry about, why is there not a single working CGCM that produces a respectable climate simulation with such a low sensitivity?

There were attempts to test the Iris hypothesis, but even forcing the tropics to have a large infrared window only reduce the ECS by about 25%; not even close to that suggested by Lindzen & Choi (2001).

16. russellseitz says:

A non-cynical Red Team exercise presupposes non-cynical Directors and Administrators of the DOE and EPA

https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/07/what-color-is-your-blue-team.html

17. Martha,
MT is – IMO – one of the most thoughtful people who engages in discussing this topic publicly. If you could tone down the rhetoric somewhat, that would appreciated. Shouting into the wind might make you feel good, but it’s not going to achieve a great deal.

18. Gm poulos says:

The most interesting takeaway here is that you people think your science in not policy driven. Are you kidding? It’s too bad that this approach wasn’t used from the beginning, the end result might have a have been alot closer to actual science. If you people were the least bit objective, as a good scientist should be, you would realize that you sound like you are still trying to prove that piltdown man is real. Whether “MAN MADE” global warming is real or not is a given with all of you and it should not be. That’s where us little people know you all made a (policy driven) mistake and none of you are able to see it.

19. mt says:

“> Economic, social and environmental losses climb rapidly and nonlinearly with temperature change, and may already overwhelm the short-term benefits of fossil fuels”

William “This looks like obvious nonsense to me.”

I think that William has caught me being unclear in my writing, though his leap to the conclusion that I am unclear in my thinking is uncharitable.

Since I’ve cornered myself into economic terms here, let me clarify on that turf as best as I can.

My point is that the marginal cost of each additional unit of carbon emitted, which takes a very long time to accrue, may already exceed the marginal benefit of that unit, which is immediate.

An economist might therefore conclude that I advocate an immediate abrupt cessation of all emissions. I readily stipulate that this is infeasible. I note that the aggregate cost of any action isn’t just determined by the marginal cost; and that cost of a given emission target is actually very trajectory dependent.

But in terms of the long term aggregate well-being of the world, it’s quite plausible that we are already going backwards when we consume fossil fuels, and it’s almost certain that we eventually will be, and not in the too distant future.

I appreciate the criticism and will endeavor to clarify the point.

20. Clive Best says:

It is a choice between the lesser of two evils and TIMING is essential. Forcibly banning usage of all fossil fuels tomorrow would lead to the death of billions of people and the collapse of society probably within a year. So you have to balance the threat of doing nothing against the threat of over-reacting before realistic solutions become available.

The words ‘urgent’ and ‘stringent’ are not quantifiable. I would prefer something like.

“Net mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sufficiently likely to outweigh the positive benefits of fossil fuels long before reserves are depleted, justifying immediate action to develop zero carbon alternatives.”

21. mt says:

Thanks ATTP.

My concern about how many climate scientists are acting in this awkward situation is that their actions appear to be in the mold of Martha’s emotional intransigence. It’s easy to feel that way, and such an approach needs little encouragement. But our very large responsibilities in this situation don’t permit us to just do what we feel.

I also think that this “don’t make any attempt to be civilized to your opponents because they are evil” approach is at the core of our problems, and that it is deliberately inculcated by malicious parties with troll and bot armies. That doesn’t mean that anyone making such a point is a malicious troll, but it does mean that at best they are helping the forces of polarizing trolldom.

One of the signs of troll world is their haste to get the first comment slot on any discussion that might fall out of the ordinary rut of anger and confrontation. That Martha has responded to my challenge doesn’t much move my prior estimate that Martha is a troll, inasmuch as the response is not very responsive.

It’s important to understand that trolling of this sort appears on both sides of the divide that it is intended to promote.

22. @William Connolley,

Whatever your beliefs on the relative benefits of fossil fuels and their costs vs your estimate from climate harm, given mechanisms and trends in both physical climate and energy technology, it would be wise to hedge your commitment to Carbon. It may well be that while there was a good economic deal gained from fossil fuel exploitation, in the end, it was a Devil’s Pact, not only because of underapprecisted long term harm, but because that economy and network has no means of gradually phasing itself out. Accordingly, it will crash, and it will start when big banks and bondholders begin asking for high premiums on new debt from the industry because they’ll increase their odds on its inabliity to pay these back.

23. That the uncertainty monster leads us to a catastrophic outcome is an important consideration for action. But humans normally also act to make things better without the threat of catastrophes. Actually that is the default case. In that respect I would warn against going with the CAGW farming of the political opposition to climate action.

Also without catastrophes there is a huge benefit to solving the problem. One of the unlikely heroes of the mitigation sceptical movement, Bjorn Lomborg, computed that even dollar investing in solving the problem brings returns of about 20 dollar, if I remember correctly. That with many tricks to make the benefit smaller. Sounds like something the self-proclaimed fans of grrrrrrowth should welcome.

24. Everett F Sargent says:

Are you even remotely suggesting inclusion of a Red Team for CMIP6?

How many CMIP6 models does the Red Team get copies of?

I seriously doubt that the Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF or Agenda21 for the alternative facts crowd) would allow some such.

https://www.wcrp-climate.org/images/modelling/WGCM/CMIP/CMIP6ForcingDatasets_CMIPPanelReleaseDECKHistorical_Sent_161220.pdf

I project (verb tense) that between CMIP6 and CMIP7 that Nic Lewis, et. al. will use “fudged” versions of the CMIP6 to show <2C warming by 2112!

25. > My point is that the marginal cost of each additional unit of carbon emitted, which takes a very long time to accrue, may already exceed the marginal benefit of that unit, which is immediate. An economist might therefore conclude that I advocate an immediate abrupt cessation of all emissions. I readily stipulate that this is infeasible.

It still isn’t really clear what you mean. You’re suggesting that current-level emissions aren’t too bad, but the “marginal cost” of extra emissions are more than their gains? In that case, i think you need to complete the thought, because your point 4 has now become about increases above current levels (which the Graun tells me are fairly stable (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/17/co2-emissions-stay-same-for-third-year-in-row-despite-global-economy-growing) though I haven’t checked). But I think you’re arguing for decreases in emission levels a-la Rahmstorf, but as a result of your clarification your point 4 no longer justifies this.

Hypergeometric> Accordingly, it will crash, and it will start when big banks and bondholders begin asking for high premiums on new debt from the industry because they’ll increase their odds on its inabliity to pay these back.

Why will that be a crash: if there’s a market-based mechanism for feedback, why is that a problem?

> why is there not a single working CGCM that produces a respectable climate simulation with such a low sensitivity?

This is a neat question, if you happen to believe in the science, or are talking to people inclined to. But if you’re talking to “red team” folk, then it is trivially batted away with no need for thought: the models are wrong, the “observationally” based estimates of climate sensitivity are right.

26. Hank Roberts says:

I would suggest to WMC and others that fossil fuels have let us live off the fat of the land, high on the hog, and grow far into overshooting carrying capacity of the planet, which is a very comfortable position to be in. For a while. Pointing to to, well, us as proof that fossil fuels have yielded great benefits, because we’re here — anthropocentrism

Burp.

27. Greg Wellman says:

1. “from” baseless authority, not “form”
2. “This we do not have an ethical right to allow, even if the .” C’mon, don’t leave me hanging 🙂
3. “Charney” sensitivity, not “Chraney”

[Mod: Fixed 1. and 3.]

[Author: finished the fragmented sentence & fixed another typo (“rathe” rather than “rather”) Author: obviously needs an editor.]

28. Greg Wellman says:

More substantively, is WMC’s implied belief that mitigation advocates want to turn off the modern economy a common belief among people reasonably familiar with the topic? What makes AGW such a challenge is the need to maintain the essentials of that modern economy while decarbonizing it at as rapidly as feasible.

29. Ragnaar says:

Are you using TCR or ECS?
“…it is very unlikely that TCR is less than 1°C and very unlikely that TCR is greater than 3.5°C.”
I think what we’re looking for is policy guidance. If we are using 2 C, that fits within what the IPCC has said. And it’s low enough to avoid some criticisms. I think the TCR should drive any policy. But both ranges are broad in my opinion causing cost calculations to be uncertain. I wish for governments to soil bank some farmland intermediate term. Prairie grass sequesters carbon and a lot of farmland is depleted of that and it’s getting worse. But we need to know how much benefit we get and in my world that includes the TCR.

To get to 1120 ppm, we’d need policy makers to think that far ahead.

30. Joshua says:

WC –

=={ This looks like obvious nonsense to me. The short-term benefits of fossil fuels include an industrial society that allows 7 billion people to live, many in comfort. }==

How do you attribute those “benefits” to fossil fuels, as opposed to other variables?:

31. @Ragnaar,

Getting real:

From Proistosescu and Huybers, “Slow climate mode reconciles historical and model-based estimates of climate sensitivity”, Science Advances, 2017.

Note the medians of +3.4C for ECS and +2.5C for ICS, respectively.

32. verytallguy says:

Ragnaar

I think the TCR should drive any policy.

I, on the other hand, think the ESS should drive any policy.

Opinions are cheap, No?

33. mt says:

William: “It still isn’t really clear what you mean. You’re suggesting that current-level emissions aren’t too bad, but the “marginal cost” of extra emissions are more than their gains? In that case, i think you need to complete the thought, because your point 4 has now become about increases above current levels (which the Graun tells me are fairly stable ”

Not at all.

I am surprised to see you making the stock/flow error here. Constant emission rates much larger than zero mean roughly (carbon cycle feedbacks excluded) constantly increasing damage.

If current levels of emissions are sustained, the cost-benefit balance increasingly shifts against each marginal emission. The cost rather clearly increases with the integral of emissions, that is, with the accumulation of fossil carbon in the biosphere.

In fact I am pretty confident that we are already into net cost territory, but the claim I made was weaker on account of it being all I need to establish Proposition P, i.e., the enormity and urgency of the problem.

I think we do need some sort of objective metric in order to come up with a good response, but I’m no longer convinced that we know how to construct one. I do think that formally understanding costs and benefits is the key point we ought to be arguing. I’m not sure economists are providing us with especially useful metrics. “Costs” need not be dollar-denominated. (For instance, I would not kill a man, even if guaranteed anonymity and immunity, for a dollar.)

I’d love to see more discussion about this part of the argument (albeit, preferably, on another thread). But this has nothing to do with red-teaming climate science itself.

34. Hank Roberts says:

as I was saying:

35. mt says:

Hank, with all due respect, I detest that cartoon and the point of view it embodies.

Frankly I think the usually consorting ideas that humanity may be leaving this world soon, and that we’ll leave it more or less undamaged if and when we do, are romantic nonsense as matters of fact and dangerous foolishness as matters of consequence.

Indeed if we endure a messy collapse, the extinction event would probably be much worse than if we manage to keep civilization limping along through the bottleneck centuries, never mind that in a the prosperity scenario.

36. > making the stock/flow error here

I’m not making a stock/flow error. What I’m doing is trying to make sense of your words. I’m not at all convinced they do make sense. I’ll blog this at my place.

37. Willard says:

> Net mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sufficiently likely to outweigh the positive benefits of fossil fuels long before reserves are depleted, justifying immediate action to develop zero carbon alternatives.

“Net mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change.”

“Sufficiently likely.”

“Outweigh.”

“Positive benefits.”

“Long before.”

“Depleted.”

“Justifying.”

“Immediate action.”

What a mouthful of unquantified weasel wording.

38. Willard says:

> I’m not making a stock/flow error.

Then it’s hard to see which part of

Constant emission rates much larger than zero mean roughly (carbon cycle feedbacks excluded) constantly increasing damage.

our Stoatness doesn’t get.

39. Hank Roberts says:

Oh, I understand we’re not leaving the world undamaged. That’s the point of “shifting baselines” — that we mostly don’t even know what we’ve lost because data wasn’t collected during the early industrial revolution’s harvesting of the world. Ask the whales.

And how much difference did that population loss make in carbon cycling now?
https://theconversation.com/bottoms-up-how-whale-poop-helps-feed-the-ocean-27913

Same issue for forests — what did we have and what difference did it make getting us to here?

Distinguishing between the two conditions — a messy collapse, or civilization limping along — is — difficult. How do we know which one is happening? Do we still have a civilization limping along when we’re seeing ecosystems fail, or is that part of a messy collapse? That, I think, is the current “overshoot” situation where everything seems just fine and humanity is booming thanks to fossil fuels.

The cartoon’s pointing out the obvious — that 65 million years from now, the survivors will be writing the history that got them to prominence on the planet. Raccoons? Frogs? They have thumbs ….

40. > I’m not at all convinced they do make sense. I’ll blog this at my place.
http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2017/07/08/one-team-two-team-red-team-blue-team/, to be specific.

41. mt says:

“What a mouthful of unquantified weasel wording.”

Would you prefer “the sky is falling!”?

First of all, “justifying immediate action to develop zero carbon alternatives” is not a weasel at all, though I’d accept “develop and deploy” instead of “develop” as stronger and more to the point.

I’m trying to formulate our predicament in some way that might lead to a formal hypothesis; something that most of “us” believe and most of “them” find implausible. We might actually eventually agree on what it is we disagree about. That alone would be progress.

There’s a reason legal language is hard to read. Note that William has already forced me into even less mellifluous language. It’s the way of the world.

I’d love to say this in poetry, but I’m not a poet. I’m as prosaic a writer as there can be.

Anyway, I do try to read your favoured philosophy papers, sometimes, Willard. You have some chutzpah criticizing me for obfuscatory language…

42. angech says:

“To the extent that anyone who holds climatology in low regard really does want to do the right thing, I’d really like them to answer the core questions I am posing here:
1) Why is there no low-sensitivity model?
2) If you are so confident sensitivity is low, why don’t you find someone to make one?”

Are their no people here to red team this proposal for MT?
1. Is a very good question.
That goes to the core of skeptic concern.
Ask why no one in the Climate Community has done one already as a test.
The first is that they have but are not happy with the answer.
The answer being that of course a low sensitivity model must show that it fits the observations.
That is why there is a gap in the first place.

The second answer is more complicated.
Climate models are not supposed to incorporate sensitivity, it is a derived product from the assumptions put into the models.
Hence one would have to tune down the many factors incorporated in the models.
Which precious baby gets thrown out?
Using the lowest limit of all variables should, inevitably in my opinion, lead to a null or even negative climate sensitivity from first principals.

2. To run a climate model takes a lot of time and effort, days or weeks we are told.
Hopefully the red team exercise will force the running of such a model, easy to do as outlined above.
I reiterate that good science demands having run one somewhere in the past.
A bit like a negative drug trial, the results do not come out.

43. Willard says:

> You have some chutzpah criticizing me for obfuscatory language…

Then I’m glad I’m rather criticizing Clive’s effort to clarify your wording, MT. He simply removed “urgent” and “stringent” without making the claim any crisper.

I don’t mind settling with something like “it might not be wise to continue to dump CO2 in the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow.” But that’s not an hypothesis, it’s an inference that comes from one. The hypothesis should be simpler. Removing any kind of “ought” from it would help. Otherwise you end up debating the actions to prescribe. Which means that instead of making sure everyone gets on board with the first part:

Mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sizeable.

we get luckwarm pussyfooting on what to do about that predicament, i.e. to “eliminate” fossil-fuel energy, which both says too little and too much at the same time.

Hence the comments you got, incidentally.

44. izen says:

@-mt
““justifying immediate action to develop zero carbon alternatives” is not a weasel at all, though I’d accept “develop and deploy” instead of “develop” as stronger and more to the point.”

Whatever scientific justification might be advanced by teams, the only one that will count is a better, cheaper, more easily stored and transported source of energy than fossil fuels.
‘Cheaper’ will be a much more powerful agent of change than risk analysis of increased mortality.

Until then ‘stranded assets’ will always be too great a temptation to increase GDP.

45. Willard says:

MT,

To clarify furthermore: if your scientific warrant is about flows of CO2, then your prescription should be about flows of CO2. So your argument could very well be:

(1) The flow of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing.
(2) (1) carries mortal risks.
(3) The only way to reduce (2) is to stop (1).
(4) To stop (1), we need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP.
(5) I couldn’t care less how we get to (4) as long as (1) becomes deprecated.
(6) By “ASAP,” I mean ASAP.
(7) The longer is (6), the riskier becomes (2).

The short of it is that the prescription (4) follows directly from your scientific warrant (1-2), pending of course an implicit valuation of the human specie. Once the logical structure is clear, we can then remove needless words. But then we risk getting into poetry.

Minding our units seldom hinders.

46. Willard says:

> ‘Cheaper’ will be a much more powerful agent of change than risk analysis of increased mortality.

The problem with “cheaper” is that it oftentimes misunderestimates fossil fuel subsidies, like Michelle from FoS fame on the tweeter recently:

47. Willard says:

Since I’m on a roll, I’ll add this caveat. When I say that I couldn’t care less how we get to a neutral-carbon economy, I’m not suggesting we bypass mortal risks in doing so. In other words, we need to be consistent: if we’re talking about AGW because of its risks, then we need to take into account the risks of doing something about it. Hence why we’d ideally need more a risk-based analysis rather a cost-benefit analysis.

So there’s something valid behind the usual “but the poor” argument: getting to a zero-carbon economy carries risks. What’s invalid behind that line of argument is that the poor will hurt more. That’s just silly victim playing. Those who’ll hurt most from switching to a zero-carbon economy are those who use carbon the most. Basic accounting.

So the argument should be about flows of CO2, but also the risks they involve.

48. mt says:

angech, I am not entirely sure what you’re saying holistically, so I’ll respond to particular points:

“they have but are not happy with the answer”

Not sure what you mean. Tuning exercises span wide swaths of parameter space, and pull out those cases which are closest to representing the current climate. That process is not about choosing a sensitivity, but about optimizing a match to observations.

What I’m proposing is instead to do the tuning with some added weight on low-sensitivity outcomes. There may yet be a way to make things come out the way we’d hope. If we are hopelessly off base, one would think there would be. If we’re off base because we’re biased, or even committing a “hoax”, it would seem inevitable.

“Using the lowest limit of all variables should, inevitably in my opinion, lead to a null or even negative climate sensitivity from first principals.”

No, it doesn’t work like that at all. But there is a more complicated version of that which might be true. If climate science is utterly bogus, I think such an exercise would have to be feasible.

“To run a climate model takes a lot of time and effort, days or weeks we are told.”

Oh, it’s much worse than that. I’m thinking a funded research project of a several person-years.

I expect it would fail. But if there’s anything to what the naysayers are saying, it should not. That’s why it’s a good test.

49. Nobody’s gonna ban fossil fuels. On the other hand, if the free market rules — as sone think it should, including me — it could be destroyed, a victim of its own arrogance. HAD people taken this seriously, we could have had a government-mediated transition. Now, technology will kill it and the only way anything like malice against fossil fuel companies will happen is if there’s a major climate- related event (1 meter SLR overnight, say), and an XOM is found to be malfeasant.

50. izen says:

@-“The problem with “cheaper” is that it cheaply underestimates fossil fuel subsidies”

The subsidies fuel Grrrowth.
And maintain a 100 years of physical infrastructure and economic organisation.
The latter has greater inertia than the production/distribution systems.

51. russellseitz says:

I agree with MT about Hank’s cartoon , which is not TC ( Theogenetically Correct.)

Heavens to Hesiod, what can that idiotic supplicant be expecting from she who lay with Heaven and after bearing deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys , gave us Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, of whom he ate several.

Donner und Bltzen what kind of environmenlalst goes worshiping a one-woman population bomb who raises her kids to be cannibals? The Theogeny tells Gaia conceived the Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes,Arges,and the hundred armed and fifty headed Hecatonchires ,Cottus, Briareos and Gyges, whom finding a bit much to babysit, Uranus stuffed back into Gaia, who was not in the least amused and created a sickle of adamant, wherewith Cronus castrated his father Uranus the next time he came callling.

From his dad’s spilled blood, Gaia produced the Furies, albeit Uranus’ naughty bits gave birth to foam-footed star sparking Aphrodite

OTOH the epitet business owes a lot to that family.

52. Ragnaar says:

The poor in the United States. They cannot afford a wind turbine and Tesla. The rich can. We can raise the price of a necessity. Reliable energy is for the rich. That’s a zero-carbon economy, lacking nuclear and hydro. We can do it with a massive build out of wind, solar and pumped hydro storage. And that money will come from the rich. The estate tax may work for that. And the Greens are going to have to be kicked under the bus. Those against power lines, Dams and nuclear. The rich, excluding airline travel, pay a lot less of their annual income as a percentage for energy.

53. Willard says:

> The subsidies fuel Grrrowth.

This hints at a generalized resource curse.

54. Tom Curtis says:

mt:
1) Your initial hypothesis, ie, that, “Mortality-driven decline in human population attributable to large anthropogenic climate change is sufficiently likely to justify urgent and stringent efforts to eliminate fossil fuel energy long before reserves are depleted” omits one crucial point. Specifically, doing without the energy generated by fossil fuels altogether would in all likelihood be significantly more catastrophic than its continued use. This is what I consider to be the Stoats point (without, however, having read his blog post). I do not, however, eliminating all fossil fuel use without substitution to be your preferred policy response, or even an acceptable to you. I believe you, and certainly I, would desire, the current energy being supplied by carbon free alternatives, phased in over a relatively short interval (20 to 40 years). Given this, the Stoat’s objection can be handled by making your hypothesis more clear.

2) Your first subsidiary hypothesis, “Global sensitivity to greenhouse gases is unlikely to be much below 2 degrees C per doubling with a best estimate around 3 C”, significantly overstates the IPCC position. Specifically, if you model the IPCC AR5 statements with a log normal PDF, you get results such as Rogelj and Alternate below (Roe & Baker model AR4):

Rogelj is from the supplementary data of Rogelj et al (2014). The alternate is my attempt to improve on that PDF by imposing an assumption that the IPCC did not make a less constrained statement when a more constrained statement would do.

The modal (ie, most likely) value for Rogelj (alternate) is 1.74 (1.85) C per doubling of CO2. That means the best estimate of climates sensitivity is around 1.8 C per doubling. The median is 2.53 (2.56) C per doubling. The mean is 3.07 (3.03) C per doubling. The 33.3%-ile is approximately 1.9 (2) C per doubling, so assuming the IPCC glosses on words such as “likely” and “unlikely”, the rest of the statement is accurate. Consequently, and at a minimum, you need to change your hypothesis to refer to the “mean” rather than “the most likely” ECS.

I believe, however, that you consider the IPCC to be too cautious, and may think the stronger claim is appropriate. I think that is a mistake for this exercise, because while the IPCC position (with statements of robustness taken into account), can be considered a consensus position, there is certainly not a consensus among climate scientists that the IPCC is too cautious.

55. JCH says:

WC said we would starve. Not advocating it, but 19th-century farming methods can produce a similar amount of food.

56. @Ragnaar,

Oh really. In Massachusetts we have at least TWO for-profit companies whose business models are all about providing low income and multifamily situations with electrical power below utility cost and constant. Energy innovation isn’t only about technological innovation but also about business model innovation. In this case it works because the companies find good roofs on relatively high income homes on which they put solar panels, at no expense to those roof owners. Indeed, the roof owners get a handsome tax deduction for a donation. The energy is aggregated abd sold at below utility cost to the low income and multifamily. The companies supply the contracts, the installations, the financing, and the monitoring.

57. @russellseitz,

Well, at least she gave us the Caledonian Orogeny.

58. @Tom Curtis,

As my earlier post showed recent work indicated median ECS2X is +3.5C and median ICS is +2.5C based upon an excellent Bayesian assessment. Why use a log-normal when you can use the empirical distrubution itself?

59. @wc,

I didn’t say that would be the crash, I said that would start the process of the crash. As interest rates increase margins will be squeezed at the same time demand for product is diminishing. Companies will be forced to shut down the less capital efficient supplies and refineries, and find themselves with little affordable capital to spare to retool their stack to operate at lower margins. Workers and business knowledge will be furloughed. The option of increasing prices won’t be available because everyone, as today, will be trying to sell their reserves before they become stranded, keeping per unit prices low, and because price increases will incentivize end users towards non-Carbon energy sources. Ultimately, capitally inefficient delivery channels will be shut down, decreasing availability despite historically low prices. Lack of availability will disincentivize continued use.

In the end, we’ll end up with rusting hulks of pipelines, tanks, generating stations, and offshore platforms because companies bet the farm on price inelasticity for energy, and pursued technology and operations which assumed no serious competition and unceasing demand.

And, in the end, they’ll all be asked to clean up this pipe and platform infrastructure as well as pay for damages from their products, and they’ll go Chapter 7 to escape.

It’s a beautiful vision.

60. David B. Benson says:

As I keep pointing out, it suffices to consider the paleodata for the mid-Pliocene. As carbon dioxide levels were then as high as now, at equilibrium the same high temperature and sea stand will obtain as little that is climate relevant has changed in the intervening 3.25 million years.

61. @Hank Roberts,

Whales and, for that matter, New Bedford and Nantucket are instructive. Once the technologically superior petroleum product was found, whales got a respite — even if East Coast stocks were depleted. New Bedford, once one of the richest cities in the world, did not fare at all well. In fact I anticipate a similar fate for the United States, or at least for those parts which continue to pursue Carbon Worship. That’s why the Brown, Baker, and Cuomo enthusiasm for zero Carbon energy us not any kind of liberal, climate-mitigating idealism, it’s posturing their states to have the overwhelming economic advantage after the trillions dollars energy system changes hands. They care about climate, too, but a dozen or two U.S. states can’t fix that on their own. It’s no coincidence these are among the richest and most productive of states either, as well as the educationally smartest.

62. @wc,

Whoopee.

63. -1=e^iπ says:

This would be an interesting exercise.

Although I think constructing a medium complexity climate model and fitting it’s parameters to data would be even more valuable.

64. So, the several comments I’ve left regarding the fossil fuel energy business above versus zero Carbon energy comes down to this: If you have a business whose margins are squeezed by collapsing prices, and those margins are less than your overhead, you are done. You might try to reduce that overhead by finding more efficient means of production and delivery, but if you built a network of infrastructure to produce and deliver which has a fixed year-over-year cost of operation, and replacing it top to bottom with a more efficient mechanism is financially infeasible, when you cannot pay that price, you try to sell off expensive operations (“greater fool theory”) in the hope of recouping enough to stay afloat, and you contract your business to those pieces which can be sustained, selling off or shutting down the rest.

Zero Carbon energy does not have mining and refining networks. The best zero Carbon energy has no transmission networks. And fuel is free and at constant cost. And the cost per unit energy at the engineering scale is guaranteed to diminish year after year.

How can zero Carbon energy not win?

65. Tom Curtis says:

hypergeometric @4:10am, you point me to a single study, not to “recent work”. Other recent studies have shown a low ECS, including some estimates based on the temperature difference between the LGM and preindustrial. At the time of the next IPCC report, those recent studies will be considered, and an estimate based on the evidence from all of them formulated. Until then, the AR5 estimate maintains the claim to be the best approximation to a consensus estimate.

Further, your “empirical distribution” is a distribution of climate model results. It suffers from both the limited number of models and the limited number of runs on each model. While it is unlikely that the model mean will be entirely unrepresentative, it is certainly not the case that a multi-model PDF is the best estimate of the PDF given all available information.

66. verytallguy says:

Angech

Using the lowest limit of all variables should, inevitably in my opinion, lead to a null or even negative climate sensitivity from first principals.

Angech. Where to start.

That you can write this shows very clearly the hubris of climate “scepticism”.

A negative climate sensitivity means turning off the sun increases the temperature of the earth.

67. verytallguy says:

The debate on point 4.

In formal terms I think the disagreement may be due to the non linear nature of both benefits and costs, but also that we are considering a dynamic, not a steady state system.

On non linearity, if you consider current emissions, some benefits are huge; heat, light, agriculture. But some benefits are small; a V8 car vs a hybrid for the school run.

On dynamics, as Hanks cartoon graph shows, we can reasonably expect a crash rather than a glide down to sustainability unless somehow the transition is managed. Human history gives us no reason to expect smooth transitions, rather the opposite. The sooner emissions fall, the greater the chance of avoiding a catastrophic crash in resources, ecosystems and concomitantly human population.

Together I think these points answer WMCs critique that MTs argument implies an immediate cessation of all emissions.

68. mt says:

verytallguy points to the “or negative” in angech’s off the cuff spouting.

Yeah, I glazed over and missed that. It sounds superficially thoughtful and competent and isn’t either.

69. MT: “Well, the Hungarians have a lovely word, tessek (pronounced tesh-shake), which means, by all means, please, help yourself. Sometimes it is meant politely, and sometimes sardonically. But by all means, go ahead. I’m sure somebody would provide you with CGCM code. Go fix it so it has a low sensitivity without breaking the model climate.

It is possible to create a circulation model with the unrealistically low climate sensitivity of Nic Lewis, whose flaws we know by now. I have seen a talk where the main parameters were tuned within somewhat reasonable ranges with the purpose of getting such a low climate sensitivity.

Whether that broke the model climate is somewhat a matter of taste. The spatial distribution of clouds was a lot worse than normal climate models. The researcher was very charitable and said it was still somewhat realistic, or something to that matter. If this would have been the first climate model ever developed one might have been proud that the climate looks somewhat realistic, but I would say, in comparison with normal models, he broke the model.

I would not see this tuned model as a legitimate climate model, but you can use it to understand climate models better. One can have a look which parameters are important to get a low climate sensitivity and then study in observations and detail models how realistic these values and processes are.

(In the climate “debate” people are obsessed with climate model hindcasts and forecasts for the global mean temperature, within science most of the work is on spatial and temporal patterns, on physical relationships and processes, on all the other variables which are important (clouds, vegetation) and hard (precipitation, circulation).)

You can make a similar tuning to produce climate models with a high sensitivity and process studies to narrow down the uncertainty range of the climate sensitivity with hypothesis based (productive) science.

70. mt says:

vtg: “we are considering a dynamic, not a steady state system” as an answer to WMC’s critique. Yes, I made this point at Stoat’s. I think it is the key. I also think formal economics as a discipline is very bad at considering dynamics.

vtg: “if you consider current emissions, some benefits are huge; heat, light, agriculture. But some benefits are small” Hmm. Of course that’s true, but I don’t think it’s necessary or sufficient to the argument. If we could switch to alternatives overnight without accruing any transition cost, if energy were truly fungible, that wouldn’t matter.

My main argument to Stoat is that his critique MUST be wrong. If it were right, we should continue using fossil fuels unabated until the net benefit goes below zero and then stop abruptly. Nobody believes this because it’s obviously false. The reductio ad absurdum he hurls at me sticks to him as well.

I think he’s ducking my response.

Let’s fork the economics part of this discussion over there, though:

Worstall has showed up so this may end up as mt vs conventional economics. I’d appreciate any reinforcements.

71. Willard says:

> Worstall has showed up so this may end up as mt vs conventional economics.

Borrowing from our Stoatness, let’s just say that Worstall is a tosser.

Mention risks and all should be well. That alone suffices to defuse our Stoatness’ catagorical reading of your argument.

72. @Tom Curtis,

(Switching to a real keyboard not my cell phone.)

Yes, what’s your definition of “best estimate”? Why should a consensus of a group of people, even if they are experts, be afforded any greater respect than a well-wrought set of runs from a climate-model ensemble?

While I don’t mean any disrespect to the ARx effort, they are, after all, just metastudies and, judging from the experience in Medicine, these have many drawbacks. They tend not to be any more accurate than the best contributing study, and often worse. And they tend to pick up other purposes, including ones which spin off from the social dynamics of the group doing the consensus, which can be at odds with the purpose of finding the most accurate estimate.

There’s little truth data here, just ab initio Physics, so apart from hindcasts, which are limited in utility, and paleo-experience, which is stronger, it’s difficult to come up with a Brier score for how they are doing. They don’t track that themselves.

That the Summary for Policymakers so diverges from the sense scientific reports suggests there are strong and distracting social forces at work. In Medicine it’s often to give an answer to guide physicians where there isn’t much evidence, e.g., in the setting of nominal diastolic blood pressure values for which consensus risk-based evidence of keeping it below 90 is pretty vacuous. Metastudies also tend to lop off outliers, treating the contributing as if they were on some kind of Gaussian.

So, I don’t mean to say the ARx from the IPCC should be disregarded. They are a useful compendium. But why they should necessarily be better than the result of a climate models ensemble is difficult to see.

73. Willard says:

> They tend not to be any more accurate than the best contributing study

A citation on that would be nice since it conflicts with the wisdom of the crowd effect.

In any case, if we knew what’s the best contributing study, we wouldn’t waste time metastudying. We might even stop studying altogether.

74. MT, I would definitely prefer a review based on many (older and better understood) studies over one (recent) study.

If you want to make a case against Tom Curtis it would be that there is no theoretical justification for his use of a log normal distribution and that the chosen distribution especially matters when it comes to the tails like we are discussing here. Thus an empirical distribution can be better (although I am not so sure in this case because CMIP ensemble was not designed to be a probability distribution function.)

My previous comment on tuning climate models to get a low climate sensitivity was in moderation and may have been missed by people watching the end of this threat:
https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/proposing-a-non-cynical-red-team-exercise/#comment-99417

75. angech says:

“Using the lowest limit of all variables should, inevitably in my opinion, lead to a null or even negative climate sensitivity from first principals.”

mt says: “verytallguy points to the “or negative” in angech’s off the cuff spouting ”
verytallguy says: “Think about it. A negative climate sensitivity means turning off the sun increases the temperature of the earth.”

I was describing GCM’s and mathematics. If individual forcings in a model are considered each with a positive and negative range* and we work from the minimum values the net addition may be negative in some scenarios in models even if impossible in real life.
A mathematical only negative climate sensitivity can easily be arrived at as described. My statement is perfectly, mathematically, correct.

Climate Sensitivity in nature should never be negative I was taught 3 years ago at Lucia’s. The grounds for this were that the negative feedbacks to a forcing should never be greater than the forcing itself.

verytallguy has confused forcing from the energy of the sun with the forcing derived from GHG in his comment. He is confusing internal forcing with external forcing.Two very different concepts.

Turning off the sun always decreases the energy in the system hence colder, Increasing the energy of the sun, hotter.

Climate sensitivity does not depend on variation in the heat of the sun. It is the response to the heat from the sun when one changes the GHG composition of the atmosphere.
So no. Turning off the sun has no effect from the Climate Sensitivity whether positive or negative. The earth becomes colder.

76. izen says:

@-“> They tend not to be any more accurate than the best contributing study <
A citation on that would be nice since it conflicts with the wisdom of the crowd effect."

It is inherent in the design of review/meta-analysis studies. They focus on what is known, not in trying to generate new knowledge.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894019/

@-"In any case, if we knew what’s the best contributing study, we wouldn’t waste time metastudying."

Quite.
The point of a meta-study is to find the most accurate answer, not invent a new one.
Would you want to use 'The Wisdom of Crowds' on questions of evolutionary biology or climate change in the US ?!

77. angech says:

” mt says: “To run a climate model takes a lot of time and effort, days or weeks we are told.”
“Oh, it’s much worse than that. I’m thinking a funded research project of a several person-years.”

In this case is it fair to ask people without these resources to run their own model and presuming such models are easier to run once originally set up why has a null sensitivity model not been run by any of the people whose jobs it has been to set up these models?
It would seem to be common sense for someone to have done so.

78. angech,

Climate sensitivity does not depend on variation in the heat of the sun. It is the response to the heat from the sun when one changes the GHG composition of the atmosphere.

No, it’s not. Climate sensitivity is the senstivity of our climate to external perturbations. It is often framed as being how much we will eventually warm (through fast feedbacks only) if we produce a change in external forcing equivalent to that produce by a doubling of atmospheric CO2. However, this change does not have to be due to CO2 only. It could be the Sun. It could be changes in albedo.

So no. Turning off the sun has no effect from the Climate Sensitivity whether positive or negative. The earth becomes colder.

Again, if you’re arguing for a negative climate sensitivity then you’re suggesting the Earth will get colder if the Sun gets brighter. This is obviously not the case.

79. Willard says:

> Would you want to use ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ on questions of evolutionary biology or climate change in the US ?!

The first “crowd” in question was a bunch of pig farmers. They had more experience in weighting piglets than the population Gallup usually interrogates when tracking down evo beliefs.

I don’t think the wisdom of crowds apply to the comatose, the infant or the typing monkey, yet ants can solve travelling salesman tasks and pigeons could be trained to distinguish Monets from Picasssos.

ADD. Galton’s experiment involved oxes, not pigs. I blame Babe for my misremembering.

80. verytallguy says:

Angech,

you’re wrong, and confused. In any mathematical physically possible model (never mind plausible) sensitivity must be positive.

Being charitable, you’ve conflated total feedback with feedbacks additive to stefan bolzmann feedback which is a somewhat confusing convention.

But really, it’s painfully obvious that you’re utterly out of your depth even attempting to discuss this. Sorry.

81. Clive Best says:

“No, it’s not. Climate sensitivity is the sensitivity of our climate to external perturbations.However, this change does not have to be due to CO2 only. It could be the Sun. It could be changes in albedo.”

I disagree. Viewed from space nothing changes if CO2 levels double or albedo halves. The black body temperature remains ~252K. However, if solar insolation increases by 1% the earth’s black body temperature would rise to ~253K. The ozone layer would increase etc.

TOA radiative forcing is a theoretical construct applied to very different physical changes. They are not equivalent. I trust models don’t treat them all the same.

mt:

Hank, with all due respect, I detest that cartoon and the point of view it embodies.

Frankly I think the usually consorting ideas that humanity may be leaving this world soon, and that we’ll leave it more or less undamaged if and when we do, are romantic nonsense as matters of fact and dangerous foolishness as matters of consequence.

Indeed if we endure a messy collapse, the extinction event would probably be much worse than if we manage to keep civilization limping along through the bottleneck centuries, never mind that in a the prosperity scenario.

Well, if that felt a little harsh to Hank, I’m sympathetic FWIW. I’m still unpacking the point of view that cartoon embodies; at a minimum, though, you may be assuming a shorter time scale than the cartoonist (and Hank).

Yes, AGW is accelerating the anthropocene great extinction, and the prospect of losing pikas and polar bears has a wide range of private and social disutility values within the human population. Yes, as of today there are finite probabilities that civilization will ‘regress’ to a specific extent, even to a mesolithic level; and some may weight the disutility of human lives cut short by AGW by numbering them. And everyone cherishes their personal discounted present value function, i.e. ‘discount rate’; but within a sufficiently far planning horizon, ‘this too shall pass’ no matter what ‘this’ is.

IMHO, rather than ‘romantic nonsense’ about Gaia’s ability to shrug us off, the cartoon illustrates the mediocrity principle. It reminds us that it’s simply vain to think the things that matter to you matter to the Universe, or even outside a small circle of friends. It assures us that when enough time has passed, one million or 50 million years after the ‘bottleneck centuries’ (nice phrase, BTW), no one will care. Not even your mom.

83. Hank Roberts says:

> harsh
Don’t worry, I’ve argued with MT before (like about nicotine pesticides and bees) and while I never held a place in academica, I appreciate public “hard argument” as a great way to clarify our thinking.

> time scale
I came across this in a SF book recently: The natural state of nature is recovering from the last catastrophe. It appears that’s real:

https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v413/n6856/full/413591a0.html

84. Hank Roberts says:

> In the end, we’ll end up with rusting hulks …
> And, in the end, they’ll all be asked to clean up this pipe and platform infrastructure
> as well as pay for damages from their products, and they’ll go Chapter 7 to escape.

Sadly, I agree. And — what’s the word for anticipatory regret? — think on the likely-missed opportunity to create vast new expanses of oyster beds as the ocean rises over our coastal buildup by making jobs cleaning everything up to where you could eat off of it. We need to do that.

San Francisco Bay was surrounded by shell mounds from the oysters harvested and shucked there by tne local inhabitants before the Europeans arrived, a hugely productive resource over thousands of years of sea level change:
Chesapeake Bay likewise.

The market seems unable to provide ways to “invest for your grandchildren” to fund cleaning up the beach property to where it will become an endless source of free food as the sea level rises over it. I guess that’s where “gummint” comes in.

I wonder what the real estate industry in Doggerland was like …

85. Yes, conventional Economics is very bad at dynamics, except in toy worlds.

86. izen says:

@-“I wonder what the real estate industry in Doggerland was like …”

There is little direct evidence, but for comparable communities living in the area under similar conditions a little later, it was cut-throat.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3710616/Was-Pompeii-Fens-destroyed-raid-Bronze-Age-settlement-newly-built-burned-down.html

87. Susan Anderson says:

Lots of interesting material here amongst the high-falutin’ argumentation; I could wish that the energy spent in decoding academic polysyllabism could be harnessed as a renewable resource. My early post of Hank Green’s video includes his final remarks about how knowledge does not lead to action, which I think is relevant. At the risk of being accused of “playing the ref” I think Willard’s circular simplification represents the self-defeating aspects of the problem very well and will repeat it here:

(1) The flow of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing.
(2) (1) carries mortal risks.
(3) The only way to reduce (2) is to stop (1).
(4) To stop (1), we need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP.
(5) I couldn’t care less how we get to (4) as long as (1) becomes deprecated [is reduced(?)]
(6) By “ASAP,” I mean ASAP.
(7) The longer is (6), the riskier becomes (2).

The NatureIsSpeaking videos (also cribbed from Willard a long time ago) make Hank Roberts’ point with less smarm. I will hope it doesn’t embed if I don’t put it on a line by itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8d_JvMpoY4&list=PL5WqtuU6JrnXjsGO4WUpJuSVmlDcEgEYb

Today I just read about the Shkreli trial, how he introduced an argument that he is required to make profit for his investors and that trumps the needs and purposes of the makers of and users of materials themselves. What a dangerous world we’ve created (I date the worst of the beginnings to Thatcher/Reagan), where only money, not people except as moneymakers, is important.

88. @Willard,

In “Summary” last paragraph of:
http://www.cancernetwork.com/review-article/meta-analysis-methods-strengths-and-weaknesses-0

I daresay, ARx are *not* done with that level of discipline. From what I understand, sources are selected by committees in charge of subjects and then their writeups are reviewed, passed up to subject editors.

It’s possible I’m implying too much rigor to ARx by calling it a “meta analysis”. It may simply be a “systematic review” per

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3049418/

Crowds are often quite unwise, as sketched in
en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

The best technical example of their failure was the crash and withdrawal of Google FluTrends,

89. @angech,

T. N. Palmer, “A personal perspective on modelling the climate system, 2016
(some history) Syukuro Manabe, also Wikipedia
(best) A. Gettelman, R. B. Rood, Demystifying Climate Models, Springer Open Access, 2016.

90. @angech and everyone, sorry, the link to the Palmer article is dead: It’s supposed to be
http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/472/2188/20150772

91. Willard says:

> I daresay, ARx are *not* done with that level of discipline.

Yet that level of discipline lacks one thing climate science has:

[I]n some cases, primary data are unavailable, and not all medical questions are amenable to study through randomized trials. In the era of evidence-based medicine, if meta-analysis can help organize and evaluate the nature of the available information, it serves a useful function and should be explored without these restrictive limitations.

The quote also underlines that we shouldn’t conflate metastudies with meta-analyses. A meta-analysis tries to replicate results from specific studies using the bunch of their datasets. A metastudy may develop a framework to evaluate the results of the individual studies, but most of the times it will simply do basic “compare and contrast” stuff. The type of metastudy the ARx consists of is incidentally begged for by the authors you cite:

Standardization of trial reporting would help both reviewers and readers assess the validity of any specific meta-analysis and its applicability to the medical question of interest to them. Meta-analyses undertaken by those who have an adequate understanding of the background of the research question and the methodology proposed offer real potential to assist physicians in developing evidence-based guidelines for treating their patients.

Perfectionism is not an asset, you know.

***

To tackle your argument more direcly, Hyper, what you’re suggesting is being done by the GWPF and other luckwarm outlets since the baptism of the Luckwarm church. The recipe is simple: offer an ad hoc criteria to exclude the studies you don’t like, e.g. “recent, observation-based studies,” and explore the lowest bound justified disingenuousness can buy.

Considering that climate scientists work with a model that is at a very different scale than epidemiologists, and that the best model of a cat is a cat and preferably the same cat, I daresay that climate scientists do not need any evidence-based medecine superego.

92. @Willard,

I was not pretending the remainder of the article applies to the ARx case. And I did not say ARx was worthless. I simply cited the article, and pointed to a narrow piece of it to satisfy the request for reference that the worth of a meta(study|analysis) is limited to the best study it cites. And this was clearly in the context of being concerned regarding the social dynamics of metastudies/metaanalyses/systematic reviews. These can be serious, as the Columbia Accident Investigation Board demonstrated. They obviously do not rise to the level that Deniers and Lukewarmers claim, that there is a cabalistic conspiracy inventing climate catastrophe, but, then, there is, from the Summary for Policymakers, a certain looking over your shoulder at who’s watching. For instance, the ARx has been widely criticized for understanding the risks of SLR. And I was claiming, only, that the idea of a systematic review, as wonderful as it was, had never been justified. Climate models take a lot of criticism and heat, but no one looks at why the Summary for Policymakers doesn’t simply echo the scientific findings, or the COP21 agreement doesn’t even mention fossil fuels.

Enough. This is going nowhere. Unsubscribing to the thread.

93. Willard says:

> I simply cited the article, and pointed to a narrow piece of it to satisfy the request for reference that the worth of a meta(study|analysis) is limited to the best study it cites.

Here’s the whole summary:

Meta-analysis should be considered as one methodology for providing an overview of multiple studies. Guidelines similar to those used to conduct a meta-analysis project based on randomized clinical trials can be applied to epidemiologic studies and even case series. The structure imposed by following a careful research plan and subsequent statistical analysis can only help clarify the nature of the available data.

The only risk is that because a meta-analysis has been conducted, readers may assume a greater weight of evidence than the data justify. Standardization of trial reporting would help both reviewers and readers assess the validity of any specific meta-analysis and its applicability to the medical question of interest to them. Meta-analyses undertaken by those who have an adequate understanding of the background of the research question and the methodology proposed offer real potential to assist physicians in developing evidence-based guidelines for treating their patients.

The “greater weight of evidence than the data justify” looks a tad weaker than the claim that metastudies tend not to be any more accurate than the best contributing study. I’d agree with you that metastudies ain’t the panacea usually portrayed by evidence-based medecine afficionados, insofar as they can’t operate in an absolutely non-arbitrary manner, if that’s all you want to say. NicL’s quest for objective Bayesian criteria rests on that kind of chimera.

We have climate science experts. It would be inane not to take their collective wisdom into consideration. Furthermore, the whole RAGW problem (R standing for Risks, more on that in a future post) involves multiple lines of evidence, lines that aren’t even commensurable. Thus even if we’d like to prefer one line over another, or one study over another, most of the times it’s not even possible.

I suppose we could in principle order the lines of evidence according to the margins of error. Why the hell would we want to do that in the first place? Consilience of evidence is multiplicative rather than additive, to take an algebraic quasi-metaphor.

***

All in all, I would argue that instead of going for more precision or accuracy in our analytic frameworks, we’d need to simplify them if we need to bring clarity into our ordeal. Take MT’s introduction of marginal utility. Does anybody really know what is that kind of beast? Even economists don’t, if you question them late at night, after emptying a bottle of good Scotch. That doesn’t mean MT’s usage can’t make sense. His intended meaning looks obvious enough to me. But see how introducing that concept sufficed to make the exchange derail at William’s. They even took that bait to discuss discount rates, something that has nothing to do with MT’s argument.

Now, imagine the public having to decide if fossil fuels is more a water or a diamond thing, to borrow Adam Smith’s example that introduced the damn concept in the lichurchur.

Yes, I do have the chutzpah to request clarity. That tu quoque won’t fly, for I learned that lesson the hard way. Just like AAs are the best witnesses when comes the time to tell you that one does not simply drink when one has a drinking problem and perfectionnists are very well placed to warn against mentioning “perfectionnism” as a smug way to minimize one’s faults in a job interview.

And I dare anyone to fail to understand the argument I put above.

94. Ragnaar says:

hypergeometric

I am not following what you’re saying. “…tax deduction for a donation…”

I’ll give the general Federal rules. Many but not all states follow the Feds on this one.

Do you want a write off on schedule A for a charitable deduction?
Then give some thing. Money or maybe a car.
I want to let someone use my roof.
Are you giving them your roof?
No.
Sorry.

Perhaps there’s a tax credit.
Did you spend money?
No.
Sorry.

Some companies strip benefits.

I run a 501(c)(3). I want a solar credit.
It’s non-refundable. Most charities like yours have no tax liability.
Can you hatch a legal scheme to get the credit paid to someone else?
I think so.

What is the beauty of this deal? Properly structured, there is a charitable write off and the 30% solar credit. But why stop there? Let’s exempt the purchase of the panels and other stuff from sales and property taxes too.

95. @Willard,

Of course the expertise of climate and related scientists should be valued! But at least I don’t want the process by which they combine their expertise to result in a product which is not worthy of them, and it can be, despite the best intentions. Engineering needs to consider sociology in its processes, too, the sad lessons of Challenger and Columbia. Oughtn’t Science?

In fact, the situation is more complicated than I first presented. The ARx is a systematic review but included within it are a number of meta-analyses, such as coming up with the best ECS estimate, or the estimate of impacts upon food chains, in some suitable quantity, based upon mean global temperature anomalies. Take the statement “… tend not to be any more accurate than the best contributing study …” (mine). It completely depends upon how the combination is done. If the objective is to estimate the steady-state natural value of a parameter BETA, compensation for errors in individual studies to obtain a collectively better estimate only works if the individual observations are either fairly (“randomly”) sampled or if systematic stratification is done. Then you get a BETA which is a mean of the individuals,
with attendant improvement. Otherwise, sure, the only basis is the uncalibrated opinion of those selecting the observations. That’s why I hesitated, after the fact, in calling ARx a real meta-analysis, and I believe you agreed.

I could have, probably, come up with a better reference for my point, such as this one. It is, indeed, possible to have too much evidence. And I probably should have elaborated the point, not with a citation of an article, but a detailed elaboration on finding an estimate of the true value for BETA. I hadn’t time for that. In future, I’ll need to resist the temptation to respond, and simply not say anything.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

96. Doesn’t this WP handle $\LaTeX$ expressions?

[Author: Fixed, crudely]

97. Yeah, but it must be a crude subset. Sorry.

98. @Ragnaar,

I was not writing a contract, simply doing a sketch. It’s a little annoying to have someone treat something which is intended to be the latter as if it were the former.

In Massachusetts, if you generate solar energy, you can designate someone to receive whatever percentage of that energy you want, such as a local charity, church, or even a friend. To the degree to which you are granting a non-profit something of value, which would be worth something to you if you kept it, that is deductible.

Moreover, there are other combinations … Some of these are called “AirBNBs for energy” and they are described at the links below:
https://www.fastcompany.com/3036989/the-worlds-first-community-powered-by-crowdsourced-energy

Of course, the icon for all this is SonnenCommunity, which does not yet have a presence in the United States.

99. Ragnaar says:

“In any mathematical physically possible model (never mind plausible) sensitivity must be positive.”
Michael Ghil might disagree. He has an S-Curve plot. (Ghil – Climate – Etc)
To me it shows negative sensitivity is unstable. It also hints at infinite sensistivity.
I have cartoon model of an airplane. I pull the yoke back and it goes up. I keep pulling it back until it goes down. Right before it goes down, I’d call things unstable.

100. @Ragnaar,

Regarding climate sensitivity, the trouble is that (a) it depends upon how climate sensitivity is defined, precisely speaking, and, (b) if you do, and if it’s done in the manner that Ray Pierrehumbert does in his POPC textbook (pretty canonical), it is really a weird quantity. It is state dependent among other things, so if the climate state is different with the same forcings, you can get a vastly different result.

In the limit, my take on it is that it is not useful, except for policy decisions from the present point, and there it’s useful only in its Taylor expansion linearization. Evidence is that forcings at +4C will take you places you might not want to imagine.

People talk and talk about this, but they never quite accept the nonlinear nature of it all, where there might be a bifurcation lurking around the next bush. You quote Ghil. I quote Leonard Smith, and John Marshall from MIT.

101. angech says:

verytallguy says:
“In any mathematical physically possible model (never mind plausible) sensitivity must be positive.”

Only in the set of such models where you define sensitivity as “must be”, which is not the set of all mathematical physically possible models as B Russell found out. Plausible has to be minded.

On a lighter note I will give one example of a plausible negative climate sensitivity model.
Climate Sensitivity in nature should never be negative.
A trivial exception would be an array of solar panels, which are flipped by a motor activated by solar energy. The flip sides are all white and lock on flipping.
The small amount of solar energy needed to flip them now results in a continuous loss of energy to space over 50 years far greater than the original solar input.
Like perpetual motion this idea should be easy to shoot down?
What am I missing?

102. russellseitz says:

MT:
“Willard. You have some chutzpah criticizing me for obfuscatory language…”
Willard :
“And I dare anyone to fail to understand the argument I put above.”

In the immortal words of late Nature Editor John Maddox
[That’s enough ! Ed.]
It’s not as though either of you cater to the PoMo Geontology journals :
https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2016/08/its-naive-little-monster-but-you-may.html

103. mt says:

“In this case is it fair to ask people without these resources to run their own model and presuming such models are easier to run once originally set up why has a null sensitivity model not been run by any of the people whose jobs it has been to set up these models?”

I think it’s probably fair to claim that we believe that if it were possible to do so we would have done that. This is why I expect the exercise will fail.

Further, I know for a fact that at least one major oil company has run climate models. I expect if they thought such a modification were possible they would have done it and published it.

104. mt says:

I care little about the universe; I know nothing about it; if it has managed to create other life I don’t know whether I like it.

I do care about the earth, and I think the idea that it will necessarily and automatically recover from the damages we do to it is baseless.

See “Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional and What That Means for Life in the Universe” by David Waltham. I wish I could get every person on earth with an interest in science to read it.

It’s likely that biospheres are neither common nor robust. The impression that the earth is robust is pure survivor bias. We are entirely capable of dropping the ball altogether.

105. mt says:

“TOA radiative forcing is a theoretical construct applied to very different physical changes. They are not equivalent. I trust models don’t treat them all the same.”

TOA radiative forcing is not a property of model construction. It is a theoretical concept used to help us think about the system. It’s easily evaluated in models, and somewhat more crudely measured in vivo.

If the radiative properties of the atmosphere change and the climate doesn’t, a radiative imbalance occurs. That can be measured as an imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. If more is coming in than is leaving, that’s going to warm the system up. It’s not going to cool the system down.

That said, it is clear that an increase in insolation would cause a different response than an increase in infrared opacity. That the sensitivities are similar enough that a single sensitivity applies is not obvious to me; nevertheless, I recall seeing sensitivity expressed as degrees C per W/m^2 TOA forcing rather than per CO2e doubling. I don’t know what the justification for that is, nor whether it explicitly implies the same sensitivity to solar forcing. Maybe someone can elucidate.

Nevertheless, allowing a negative sensitivity in either case is pretty hard to swallow.

106. mt says:

I’m not entirely sure what hyper is driving at in his 10:39, but if it’s heading the way I think it is, it might be time for me to assert a claim of privileged epistemic status for climate models over most other sorts of models. GCMs empirically predict a great variety of phenomena correctly that are not explicit in their design. Consequently they both embody and test the state of current knowledge.

There are few fields with comparable success. ATTP may understand our field better than most because the epistemic situation is comparable in astrophysics, where current levels of knowledge and sophistication are intricately tied to the remarkable success of models.

That’s at the core of my proposition. I say no low-sensitivity CGCMs exist because none are possible, at least if they do a comparable job to extant CGCMs of having the right emergent properties. This does constitute a very clean Popperian proposition. It directly challenges every naysayer approach to physical climatology and it can be refuted with a single counterexample.

Yet there isn’t one.

107. angech says:

hypergeometric says:
T. N. Palmer, “A personal perspective on modelling the climate system, 2016This makes it clear that estimates of future climate change require us to understand the impact of atmospheric CO2 on the dynamics of the climate system, and not just its thermodynamics [9,10]. Systematic errors in the strength of troposphere/stratosphere gradients degrade our ability to represent persistent anomalies in jet streams, and systematic errors in tropical circulation fields degrades the teleconnections between the tropics and the extratropics. This makes it extremely difficult to diagnose accurately the real climate drivers of extreme climate anomalies.”

Thanks, will try when time allows, references very appreciated.

108. Steven Mosher says:

“I say no low-sensitivity CGCMs exist because none are possible, at least if they do a comparable job to extant CGCMs of having the right emergent properties. ”

Inm CM4: ecs 2.1

They actually score the best on mean difference from our land product.

ECS 2.1

Table 9.5, Pg 818 AR5 Wg1,

http://static.berkeleyearth.org/graphics/figure38.pdf

Here is one of the best of the US.

ECS? 4

Performance? Sucks

http://static.berkeleyearth.org/graphics/figure31.pdf

I dunno. 2.1 ECS is Not high. And well, score pretty good on where we actually live.. the land

109. -1=e^iπ says:

“If you want to make a case against Tom Curtis it would be that there is no theoretical justification for his use of a log normal distribution”

Central Limit Theorem?

110. verytallguy says:

I dunno. 2.1 ECS is Not high.

Neither is it particularly low.

111. Clive Best says:

@Steven Mosher

I agree with you! The best match to data I found was GISS-E2-R_r1i1p2 which has ECS of about 2.2C http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=6868

mt:

See “Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional and What That Means for Life in the Universe” by David Waltham. I wish I could get every person on earth with an interest in science to read it.

I just ordered the eBook from Amazon. I’ll look at it after I post this comment. What follows may be tl;dr, but please bear with me to the end; you and I agree substantively on many things, and I think I know how our disagreement arises. Ahem:

From what I’ve seen so far, while the author may have excellent credentials as an astrobiologist, he seems not to acknowledge the mediocrity principle. I’ll see your Waltham and raise you a Hazen (The Story of Earth, 2012).

Why Earth’s orbital and rotational parameters have the values they do isn’t well (for values of ‘well’) understood, although the growing catalog of exoplanets ought to help with that (cool). Some parameters are known to have changed from their initial values. Collision with at least one other nascent planet was definitely (for values of ‘definitely’) involved, and chaotic gravitational interactions with other solar system objects went on long after Terra was fully formed. There’s even evidence that Sol’s place of ‘birth’ within the Milky Way was a factor, and it may have had ‘sibling’ stars, now gone their separate ways. To know a star, it helps to know its family 8^D!

Yet the Universe is yuuge, and a lot can happen in 13.7 billion years! Earth’s ‘stable climate’ may be rare (for values of ‘rare’), but there’s neither frequentist or Bayesian justification for saying it’s ‘exceptional’ in the Universe. What’s the sample size needed for hypothesis testing? Admittedly, one can hardly help being excited by what’s becoming available, but Waltham apparently isn’t handcuffed by data anyway. I don’t know his religion, but so far his claim resembles the ‘tornado in a junkyard’ strawman cdesign proponentists Creationists keep doggedly rebunking.

mt:

It’s likely that biospheres are neither common nor robust. The impression that the earth is robust is pure survivor bias. We are entirely capable of dropping the ball altogether.

For survivor bias to be at work, there would have to be planets on which life arose but was then extinguished. None have been discovered yet. Regardless, the impression that life on Earth is robust is empirically verified by the episodes in which it was nearly extinguished, yet held on tenaciously and re-radiated, including into niches that were unknown to science 25 years ago; the deep, hot biosphere for example. Humanity is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, blithely capable of effing up big time; barring ‘the Venus syndrome’, however, so far we don’t have the magic or the technology to kill everything for several km down (a hollow sound is heard as Mal knocks on his head in lieu of wood 8^|).

Michael, our dispute is extra-scientific on a meaningful level: is AGW cosmically tragic, or only locally? YMMV, but I trace my genome through Homo mediocris. The assertion that Earth’s orbital and rotational parameters are uniquely lucky for life is, IMHO, no more than an argument from ignorance and childish conceit, underpinned by the strong anthropic principle. That doesn’t mean I look forward to a two-degree rise in GMST within my lifetime or a six-degree rise soon (for values of ‘soon’) after, or don’t wish a wise old wizard would save us! Tragedy is truly, if only, in the eyes of the beholder, and no ASCII emoticon can convey its magnitude.

Meant to supply a link to astrogeochemist Robert Hazen’s 2012 book:

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Earth-Billion-Stardust-Living-ebook/dp/B0074VTHC0

114. -1=e^iπ says:

“Neither is it particularly low.”

Isn’t 2.1 C as low as the CMIP5 models go?

115. Willard says:

Ragnaar,

That Ghil’s own defined sensitivity decreases during bifurcations may not imply it’s negative.

His fig. 1.6 should be enough to see where he’s going with his dynamic concept.

116. mt says:

Agree vtg; 2.1 C / doubling Charney ECS is not what I mean by low. Even by itself it’s not low enough to support the “climate change is a hoax or delusion” position that the desired red team will advance, nor does it consitute a good basis for an counterargument that emissions restraint is urgently needed, which is what we should be red-teaming.

117. Willard says:

> It is, indeed, possible to have too much evidence.

Agreed, and the citation was PRFCT.

118. @Clive Best,
Yes, this is nicely stated. Add to it that increasing CO2 with constant insolation raises TOA, however you want to define that, is Greenhouse Effect in a nutshell. Add the lapse rate profile and you’ve got warming.

I like to define TOA in terms of a height like a longwave photon has 50% chance of escaping into space and such.

119. Steven Mosher says:

” Even by itself it’s not low enough to support the “climate change is a hoax or delusion”

None of the people skeptics are suggesting for Red team are hoaxers. If you havent noticed Trump and Pruitt and others have walked back from the Hoax position to the Curry uncertainism position.

I would say no true scotsman with respect to your move on the defintion of “low” but
no need to score points. I take it that you think and meant low is below the lowest GCM. So now we have a tautology. No GCM has a low ECS because low means less than the lowest GCM.
neat. I wish I thought of that.

Finally. While I dont believe in low, it may be safe to say that an ECS of 2.1 doesnt pose the same mortal threat as 3C especially as some argue that the effects are non linear in delta T

Dont get me wrong.

My preferred solution (today) is a Nato like agreement. All nations agree to dedicate 1% of GDP per year to the common defense of the climate. They can choose to spend on mitigation, adaptation, or technological innovation. I dont want to derail your conversation with this different approach, so just roll it around in your head. No need to comment

120. Steven Mosher says:

“Isn’t 2.1 C as low as the CMIP5 models go?

If you believe in that table.

It is good to know that we can argue for 2.1 and NOT be accused of focusing on a low ECS.

121. @mt,

Re: 10:39 and, for that matter, the point of my 1:43 reply to @Tom Curtis at 6:56 was precisely claiming “privileged epistemic status for climate models”, although I did not state it elegantly, and I did not claim superior status, simply equivalent.

Certainly, climate models need to be interpreted, but given that statistical extrapolation of recent trends has limited value, the murkiness of paleoexperience, however compelling, and the stochastic nature of a climate trajectory — meaning even if it could be restarted from the same initial condition and be exposed to exactly the same inputs, it would be slightly different — there is no better way of predicting what climate will do than running simulators based upon ab initio Physics. No doubt there are compromises, and no doubt climate models can all be improved. But the idea that an IPCC ARx only uses models to inform it rather than have them be the primary way of thinking about outcomes seems wrong. I know models are very important for IPCC, but I think they might have been cowed by the semi-popular and completely unfounded criticism of climate models.

@Tom Curtis was arguing in favor of an IPCC AR5 assessment, at least until there’s an AR6 over a Bayesian posterior density. I say the models are at least as good as an AR6 would be, especially if they get ice sheet physics squared away, as Professor Manabe told me they were going to do after his lecture at Harvard in December 2015. In fact, I don’t know the point of an AR6. Why don’t they just do a Sea Level Rise and Ice Sheet update?

122. Steven Mosher says:

“I agree with you! The best match to data I found was GISS-E2-R_r1i1p2 which has ECS of about 2.2C http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=6868

Yes, I’m not a big fan of the democracy of the models.

Then again I dont think policy is or should be made on the basis of GCM modelling.

I dont need a model that tells me exactly how my house will burn down and when each timber will give way, in order to decide to buy insurance.

123. Willard says:

> it may be safe to say that an ECS of 2.1 doesnt pose the same mortal threat as 3C [1] especially as some argue that the effects are non linear in delta T [2].

[1] We still need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP, as the risks are only shifted by a few decades.

[2] Non-linearity cuts both ways. Also, a 2.1 ECS carries risks that a 3C ECS may not have.

Beauty sleeping through a few decades to realize we’re on a Titanic that is even harder to move back on track may not be the best strategy.

124. JCH says:

None of the people skeptics are suggesting for Red team are hoaxers. If you havent noticed Trump and Pruitt and others have walked back from the Hoax position to the Curry uncertainism position. …

This is an improvement? She drew a line in the shifting sands on her circular beach.

125. @-1,

CLT won’t work if the actual distribution has a power law tail. Also, in the case of the lognormal, the shape changes in a completely determined way with the mean. If the same kind of shape is sought, and the variance is not supposed to change as a function of mean, then a Gamma is attractive.

126. Ragnaar says:

An all white planet mostly covered with black snow. SW is increased because the Sun was bored. I think I saw this on a 1960s album cover. Yes, the situation might be inherently unstable.

127. BBD says:

From Rojelj et al. (2014), originally linked by Tom Curtis:

Drawing upon the combined information of these multiple lines of evidence shows that there is no scientific support to diminish the urgency of emission reductions if warming is to be kept below 1.5 or 2 °C, the two temperature limits currently being discussed within the United Nations (UNFCCC 2010). Even the lowest ECS estimate assumed in this study only results in a delay of less than a decade in the timing of when the 2 °C threshold would be crossed when emission trends from the past 10 years are continued.

[…]

With this study we show that betting on the optimistic message of a few recent studies is risky at this point for two important reasons. First, as pointed out above, recent low ECS estimates are only part of the story. Alternative, and equally convincing methods point to higher values of ECS and only looking at the lower estimates would thus obfuscate an important part of the available scientific evidence. Second, not taking into account the combined evidence and delaying emission reductions in the coming decades would lead to lock-in into energy- and carbon-intensive infrastructure. This would thus not only result in a lower remaining carbon budget for the rest of the century, but the world would also be on a much more costly path by 2030 (Rogelj et al 2013b, 2013a, Luderer et al 2013, Riahi et al 2013). If current policies would bet on the optimistic end of the range, and more pessimistic estimates turn out to better capture the Earth system’s behavior, limiting warming to low levels (like 2 °C) might well become unattainable (Rogelj et al 2013a, 2013b, Luderer et al 2013).

The contrarian hand-rubbing is unwarranted.

128. Ragnaar says:

Willard:
Thank you.
I am interested in the excursions. I used his figure 1.1. When the slope becomes very high, think of the limit, how do things resolve? A negative sensitivity may not be possible. What stands between it and normal sensitivity may be the limit (going to infinity).

I dont need a model that tells me exactly how my house will burn down and when each timber will give way, in order to decide to buy insurance.

Dude, that’s epigrammatic 8^)!

It is good to know that we can argue for 2.1 and NOT be accused of focusing on a low ECS.

Congratulations to the Currian Luckwarmers for successfully moving the Overton window.

131. Steven Mosher says:

[1] We still need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP, as the risks are only shifted by a few decades.

As
Soon
As
Practical

With the risk shifted a few ( 3-7) decades, that shifts carbon neutrality out towards 2100.

#######

[2] Non-linearity cuts both ways. Also, a 2.1 ECS carries risks that a 3C ECS may not have.

Since an ECS of 3C Passes THROUGH and Beyond the actual conditions we would see at 2.1 ECS, it’s hard to specify a single risk that you would experience at 2.1 C that would not also happen at 3C. But Yes, there may be unicorns. Congratulations.

132. Steven Mosher says:

“Dude, that’s epigrammatic 8^)!”

I thought so too.

133. BBD says:

From Rojelj et al. (2014):

An important point is that there are currently multiple lines of evidence for supporting different ECS estimates, which point in various directions. A critical look at the various lines of evidence shows that those pointing to the lower end are sensitive to the particular realization of natural climate variability (Huber et al 2014). As a consequence, their results are strongly influenced by the low increase in observed warming during the past decade (about 0.05 °C/decade in the 1998–2012 period compared to about 0.12 °C/decade from 1951 to 2012, see IPCC 2013), and therewith possibly also by the incomplete coverage of global temperature observations (Cowtan and Way 2013). Studies that point towards the lower end also rely on simple energy-balance models with constant feedbacks for all forcings—and forcing quantifications that are derived from various modeling exercises.

And the various limitations and issues with all the methodologies producing low estimates are better understood now than in 2014. ECS is still unlikely to be at the low end of the range and most likely to be about 3C.

Lukewarm hand-rubbing is unwarranted.

134. BBD says:

As
Soon
As
Practical

With the risk shifted a few ( 3-7) decades, that shifts carbon neutrality out towards 2100.

From Rojelj14, repeated especially for Steven:

Drawing upon the combined information of these multiple lines of evidence shows that there is no scientific support to diminish the urgency of emission reductions if warming is to be kept below 1.5 or 2 °C, the two temperature limits currently being discussed within the United Nations (UNFCCC 2010). Even the lowest ECS estimate assumed in this study only results in a delay of less than a decade in the timing of when the 2 °C threshold would be crossed when emission trends from the past 10 years are continued.

135. Steven Mosher says:

“Congratulations to the Currian Luckwarmers for successfully moving the Overton window.”

I didnt move the window, MT did.

Still it doesnt make much sense at this point.
Since 1896 we have known that we cannot burn it all without consequences
Since 1988 and hansens testimony we have known the risks could be substantial.
And yet people still fight the move to an all nuclear carbon neutral economy ASAP.
how do you counter this insanity?

136. BBD says:

And yet people still fight the move to an all nuclear carbon neutral economy ASAP.
how do you counter this insanity?

Nobody serious believes TPS can come mainly from nuclear. So no idea where you got this from.

137. BBD says:

Sorry: TPS = total primary energy supply

138. Willard says:

> it’s hard to specify a single risk that you would experience at 2.1 C that would not also happen at 3C

I thought my

Beauty sleeping through a few decades to realize we’re on a Titanic that is even harder to move back on track may not be the best strategy.

was clear, but let me offer this other analogy: driving a car on an icy road. Tires grip less the road. It’s harder to break. Stirring the wheel must be done with the idea that the car’s traction is less sensitive to your manoeuvers than usual. Here’s a tutorial, with examples of what not to do:

The bigger the car, the riskier it becomes on an icy road. Inertia’s a bane.

A less sensitive climate is far from being as good news as delayers may presume. Once we get 2C, it’ll be harder to stop it from getting to 3C. And to 4C. Then to 5C. Etc.

Which means more money to invest on adaptation than luckwarmingly suggested. Requiring more CO2-sucking trees means more money unless money grows on them.

Hence why pussyfooting on sensitivity issues can’t escape the fact that we need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP. To me, these debates look like cheering for one of the two horns of a dilemma.

139. Willard says:

> I didnt move the window, MT did.

You can walk while MT chews edible plastic, Mosh, or vice versa.

140. Steven Mosher says:

“when the 2 °C threshold would be crossed when emission trends from the past 10 years are continued.”

too funny.

“when.”

The whole paragraph is actually more interesting than your snippet.

But in general, this is the kind of exploration that I would 100% accept for planning.

1. Every RCP run at ECS1.5
2. Every RCP run at ECS3.0
3. Every RCP run at ECS 4.5

I am fairly confident the results would support our agreed upon goal BBD. Move to Nuclear As Soon as Possible or Practical.

141. Willard says:

> But Yes, there may be unicorns. Congratulations.

You know how we call the field that studies non-linearities in dynamical systems?

Like uncertainty, non-linearity is nobody’s friend.

142. angech says:

“I dont need a model that tells me exactly how my house will burn down and when each timber will give way, in order to decide to buy insurance.”
Perhaps one needs to look out the window if one lives in a big city.
The biggest buildings are insurance buildings.
Insurance is generally a rip off.
Scaring people into taking out mostly unneeded products at great expense for the benefit of shills.
Trying to insure against black swan disasters is not a benefit in 99% of cases.
A bit like perpetual motion and carbon sequestration waste more effort than you ever get back.
Nuclear is partly good.
Still remember 3 mile scare.
Build up the new to overkill and and cut down the old slowly

143. russellseitz says:

” She drew a line in the shifting sands on her circular beach.”

As the island erodes the falling coconut risk will rise.

Since 1896 we have known that we cannot burn it all without consequences
Since 1988 and hansens testimony we have known the risks could be substantial.
And yet people still fight the move to an all nuclear carbon neutral economy ASAP.
how do you counter this insanity?

Strike the ‘all nuclear’, and I agree with you 100%. I don’t know how to counter all-nuclear insanity, I’m afraid.

145. -1=e^iπ says:

@ Steve –
“My preferred solution (today) is a Nato like agreement. All nations agree to dedicate 1% of GDP per year to the common defense of the climate.”

Any policy response that does not consist primarily of a global pigouvian tax is unlikely to be Pareto efficient, including your above suggestion.

“Then again I dont think policy is or should be made on the basis of GCM modelling.”

GCM modelling results, if done properly, could be a major input into an integrated assessment model, which could tell use the optimal global pigouvian tax. So I disagree with your above claim.

“I dont need a model that tells me exactly how my house will burn down and when each timber will give way, in order to decide to buy insurance.”

The house analogy is bad. In the house analogy you have 2 options (buy or not buy) where as for climate change we have an infinite of ways in which a global pigouvian tax can evolve as a function of time. Furthermore, the cost of doing elaborate research, running computer models, and hiring a bunch of scientists to determine if you should buy insurance is large relative to the gains associated with making a better decision; where as in the case of climate change, the cost of hiring scientists, economists, etc. to try to make a good decision is very small compared to the benefits of making a better decision.

146. -1=e^iπ says:

@ hypergeometric

I still think that lognormal is a decent default assumption for climate sensitivity, in the same way that a normal distribution is a decent default assumption for many applications due to CLT. Obviously, it can be wrong, just like not everything is normal.

147. Steven Mosher says:

“A less sensitive climate is far from being as good news as delayers may presume. Once we get 2C, it’ll be harder to stop it from getting to 3C. And to 4C. Then to 5C. Etc.”

That’s not what you argued. What you argued was that a climate with 2C per doubling had additional risks. What are these unicorns? The same risk exists at 3C if we assume its 3C
and get to 3C it will be harder to stop from going to 4C 5C etc.
Same risk as 2C..

148. Steven Mosher says:

” She drew a line in the shifting sands on her circular beach.”

As the island erodes the falling coconut risk will rise.

Its unfortunate that folks make it personal when MT has tried to do a post that is logical.
you should have ignored the red meat

149. Steven Mosher says:

“Nobody serious believes TPS can come mainly from nuclear. So no idea where you got this from.”

Its a goal. Aim high.
Nobody seriously believes we will get to 1.5C or rather nobody serious.

150. -1=e^iπ says:

@ Willard –
“We still need a carbon-neutral economy ASAP”

ASAP would mean banning all fossil fuels tomorrow. This would lead to people dying in the winter cold, all our cars and trucks no longer working (so no more mass food transportation resulting in mass starvation), power plants being shut down leading to power outages that result in people dying in hospitals due to lack of power.

ASAP is incredible immoral.

151. @Willard,

Like uncertainty, non-linearity is nobody’s friend.

Oh, I don’t know. Non-linearity can be useful at times, in engineering and elsewhere. While they are tougher to characterize, many of them leak information about their state in ways which linear systems don’t. Take the property of stochastic resonance in some of them. See also McDonnell and Abbott for a nice review. And, yes, it has applications in Geophysics. And, yes, someone’s already thought about its applications to climate. (That’s from 1983, by the way.)

There’s a relevant paragraph in the Vélez-Belchí, Alvarez, and Tintoré (Geophysics) paper:

Nonlinear systems characterised by a bistable nature show a rich physical behaviour in the presence of noise. One of the characteristic phenomena related to these kind of systems is called stochastic resonance (hereinafter SR). The basic idea underlying SR is that the fluctuating induced transitions between the stable states of the nonlinear system can be synchronised by very weak periodic forcings, yielding a strong enhancement of the system response [Benzi et al.,1981; Benzi et al.,1982]. Specifically, bistable systems can be described by a potential with two stable states, separated by a potential barrier. In the absence of any external forcing, the system will remain in one of the two stable states. If the bistable system is forced by noise, transitions between the two equilibrium states will occur on a mean escape time $T_{M}$ [Gardiner, 1985].

The Benzi references are:

and, wouldn’t you know it, the climate-related paper is back.

But there’s a sobering thought here: Let’s hope our collective CO2 forcings don’t end up “enhancing” a climate system response in some perverse way.

The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.

— Wally Broecker

I also like the quote from that interview:

But I think we are also finding that the goal is receding faster than we are moving toward it, because we are realizing that things that we didn’t think were important are important and these things that we didn’t think were important are also difficult to get a grip on.

And, finally,

If you ask me whether any of this is ever going to get done, if I were to bet on it, I would bet 20 per cent it’s going to get done and 80 per cent it won’t.
But if it doesn’t get done, we’re going to be very sorry.

Anyone for a shot of whiskey?

The Five Stages of Climate Grief

152. Willard says:

> That’s not what you argued. What you argued was that a climate with 2C per doubling had additional risks.

Which part of

Beauty sleeping through a few decades to realize we’re on a Titanic that is even harder to move back on track may not be the best strategy.

you do not get?

A less sensitive climate locks us in a bad trajectory. It adds the risk of having to spend more to able to return to (say, because let’s aim high) 350 ppm. It adds the risk of having to endure high temps longer.

We have little choice than to go for a carbon-neutral economy ASAP.

153. Steven Mosher says:

“You can walk while MT chews edible plastic, Mosh, or vice versa.”

Sorry when you find me arguing that ECS is most definately below 3C then I will have moved the window.

There are one set of folks who look at 3C and above and what to focus on that.
I focus on what the consensus says. The majority of the probability lies below 3C.

Thats not moving the window, that’s cleaning the window. As for planning and goals?
We can use 3C for planning as long as we revisit it on occassion. But I see nothing
in science of windowlogy, that materially impacts my position.

1. We currently are not adapted to the weather of the past. With heating in the pipeline we
had better allocate money to adapt. at least to the past if not some assumed future, say
2-3C. Yes, subsidizing people to occupy, develop and repair land that is projected to be
below sea level is asking for trouble, for example.
2. Maximizing the amount of nuclear ASAP is a sound mitigation pathway. we’ve known this
3. Killing coal sooner rather than later is a sound mitigation pathway.
4. If you have the intellectual capital to develop negative carbon technology, even direct
carbon capture, it makes sense to devote some fraction of your dollars there.

There is no engineering the future. We have a three responses. Mitigation, adaptation,
and innovation. There is no right blend. We will spend more than is optimum. the best prediction
I;ve seen of damages is about 1% of GDP per year per 1 degree change in T. what would you budget to prevent this? 3%?

154. Steven Mosher says:

Which part of

Beauty sleeping through a few decades to realize we’re on a Titanic that is even harder to move back on track may not be the best strategy.

you do not get?

######################

None of it. I’m not suggesting sleeping beauty.

I’m comparing two things.

A world that warms 2C
A world that warms 3C

and the risks ( say actual damages) that happen in the 2C world
ALSO
happen in the 3C world.

155. Steven Mosher says:

‘A less sensitive climate locks us in a bad trajectory. It adds the risk of having to spend more to able to return to (say, because let’s aim high) 350 ppm. It adds the risk of having to endure high temps longer.”

A more sensitive climate locks us into a worse trajectory and risk higher temperatures for even longer.

I think we may be using different languages.

156. @Steven Mosher,

The US\$1000 question is at what land-based ECS do we get natural knock-on effects so mitigation+adaptation+innovation+clear air capture get that much harder because we begin to lose control of the emissions?

I proudly stand by every word I said before and now. No quarter given no mercy shown. This is not a game. This is a fight for survival. This is war.

Martha, are you still around? You express certain of my private feelings, but I’m old enough to know better than to stand in front of a tank with a couple of bookbags in my hands. War is politics by other means. Political means that don’t demand martyrdom include exercising rhetorical restraint while twisting political arms gently but firmly. Learn to work the system.

you should have ignored the red meat

You should have ignored the all-nuclear ;^|.

159. Willard says:

> A more sensitive climate locks us into a worse trajectory and risk higher temperatures for even longer.

Not if we go for a carbon-neutral economy ASAP.

Imagine you need money in one hour. For whatever reason, you need to call a loan shark. You know two: LukeW charges a 20% interest rate, while DoctorD charges 30%. But here’s the twist: LukeW’s contract forces you to only pay your debt at the end of the term, while you can repay DoctorD any time you get your money back. Which one will you choose?

Both choices carry different risks. Both shows the same need to return to a loan-shark-free economy ASAP.

***

> I think we may be using different languages.

Either that’s because I make no sense, because I take the “but non-linearity” seriously and borrow Ghil’s conception of climate sensitivity, or simply because I assume that sensitivity, like many information and energy systems, is symmetric. If dumping God-knows how Hiroshima bombs in the atmosphere only nudges the system, it’ll take that many God-knows CO2-sucking trees more than previously thought to get the system near 350 PPM.

I can always take other examples, as all the allegorical bases belong to us. I haz Poker, Chess, even slot machines.

160. @Willard,

… it’ll take that many God-knows CO2-sucking trees more than previously thought to get the system near 350 PPM.

People talk about the cost of mitigation, and the impact of denying the wonderful benefits of fossil fuels to all those, oh, so poor people in the world out there (Rex Tillerson, for example), but few, really few have looked at the costs of clear air capture of CO2 at global scale, or the torturous diplomatic and other problems any of the several proposals for climate-hacking entail. Moreover, clear air capture, even if done at scale, will take a couple of centuries, and would be seriously prolonged, not to mention more expensive if emissions of CO2 and its precursors continue.

161. Ken Fabian says:

Steven Mosher – “Move to Nuclear As Soon as Possible or Practical”

When climate science denial within mainstream politics ends we might see nuclear gain a lot more backing; as long as the broad political overlap between support for nuclear and opposition to strong climate action persists within conservative right politics the largest body of existing support for nuclear won’t be mobilised in any effective way. Climate science denial has been and remains far more inhibiting to nuclear than to renewables – because it is practised more often by influential leaders within commerce and industry, influential mainstream people who otherwise would support nuclear.

I think that, ironically, the continuing success of renewables may undermine the alarmist economic fears that have propped up Doubt, Deny, Delay politics; it could free up that conflicted “support” base for nuclear from it’s subservient association with obstructors of strong climate action and allow it to be mobilised more effectively.

162. @Ken Fabian,

Well, we’ll need to learn how to build them, first. Seriously. Any engineering technology which has an experience curve where the $N+1$-th unit costs more than the $N$-th means the builders don’t know what they are doing.

AND, the reliability and safety of the plants needs to be improved so they can buy insurance from the private marketplace, not rely upon the full faith and credit of the United State to insure themselves.

Otherwise, these are heavily subsidized boondoggles.

Sure, make ’em smaller (and easier to steal, by the way), and figure out a technology which doesn’t require so much darn CO2-emitting concrete. But don’t kid yourself that this won’t take a few decades to put together.

163. Willard says:

> really few have looked at the costs of clear air capture of CO2 at global scale

I did. I mean, I did look at that post before writing my comment, Hyper. I also read back this abstract:

The rapid rise of global temperature that began about 1975 continues at a mean rate of about 0.18 °C/decade, with the current annual temperature exceeding +1.25 °C relative to 1880–1920. Global temperature has just reached a level similar to the mean level in the prior interglacial (Eemian) period, when sea level was several meters higher than today, and, if it long remains at this level, slow amplifying feedbacks will lead to greater climate change and consequences. The growth rate of climate forcing due to human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs) increased over 20 % in the past decade mainly due to resurging growth of atmospheric CH4, thus making it increasingly difficult to achieve targets such as limiting global warming to 1.5 °C or reducing atmospheric CO2 below 350 ppm. Such targets now require “negative emissions”, i.e., extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere. If rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, most of the necessary CO2 extraction can take place via improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content. In this case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized. In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions by the current generation would place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction, if they are to limit climate change. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 imply minimal estimated costs of 104–570 trillion dollars this century, with large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, possibly implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both, scenarios that should provide both incentive and obligation for governments to alter energy policies without further delay.

http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2016-42/

I also skimmed this tentative of finding the lowest bound of justified disingeniousness:

Transient and equilibrium sensitivity of Earth’s climate has been calculated using global temperature, forcing and heating rate data for the period 1970–2010. We have assumed increased long-wave radiative forcing in the period due to the increase of the long-lived greenhouse gases. By assuming the change in aerosol forcing in the period to be zero, we calculate what we consider to be lower bounds to these sensitivities, as the magnitude of the negative aerosol forcing is unlikely to have diminished in this period. The radiation imbalance necessary to calculate equilibrium sensitivity is estimated from the rate of ocean heat accumulation as 0.37±0.03W m−2 (all uncertainty estimates are 1−σ). With these data, we obtain best estimates for transient climate sensitivity 0.39±0.07K (W m−2)−1 and equilibrium climate sensitivity 0.54±0.14K (W m−2)−1, equivalent to 1.5±0.3 and 2.0±0.5K (3.7W m−2)−1, respectively. The latter quantity is equal to the lower bound of the ‘likely’ range for this quantity given by the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report. The uncertainty attached to the lower-bound equilibrium sensitivity permits us to state, within the assumptions of this analysis, that the equilibrium sensitivity is greater than 0.31K (W m−2)−1, equivalent to 1.16K(3.7W m−2)−1, at the 95% confidence level.

http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/tellusb/article/view/21533/30089

164. @Willard,

I have researched the biological and biochar proposal that Hansen and company cited, and I gotta tell ya, there’s nothing there, both because there’s no capacity, because there’s already more biomass on the planet sucking in CO2 than there was before deforestation and it isn’t keeping up, and because large scale plantations of CO2-scrubbing plants are themselves an ecosystem destroyer.. It’s gotta be industrial scale pumping, and to get it anywhere near affordable, it has to be done at fractions of US (2010 dollars) cents per tonne of CO2. Current best estimates are US\$300 per tonne. Even if improved a thousandfold, that means a drawdown of 300 ppm will cost a couple of dozen times the Gross World Product using, say, 2014 as the baseline.

165. Willard says:

> Even if improved a thousandfold, that means a drawdown of 300 ppm will cost a couple of dozen times the Gross World Product using, say, 2014 as the baseline.

Let’s posit an unicornfold that would get us in a similar ballpark as “agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content.” Why shouldn’t we be improving agricultural and forestry practices? We might need more than an unicornfold, then. Perhaps two.

166. @Willard,

Sorry, on the solar radiation management front, I consider serious pursuits of these proposals “barking mad”, as well as do others. They ultimately result in the loss of production from the oceans, which are the source of protein for gads of people on the planet, not to mention loss of ecosystem services.

On the biomass business, I was surprised to learn of the amount of biomass, but was educated on that by the Global Carbon Project and Glen Peters in particular. I should have known, as there is an interpretation of recent changes in the Keeling Curve which attributes those to changes in productivity of northern temperate forests. I’m sorry, I have the reference someplace, but I cannot, at the moment, find it.

Here are three references, however, showing how intricate these tradeoffs can be:

Mair, et al, “Forest management could counteract distribution retractions forced by climate change
Alkama, Cescatti, “Biophysical climate impacts of recent changes in global forest cover”, Science, 351(6273), 2016, 600-604, plus Supplementary Online Materials.
Reich, Sendall, Stefanski, Wei, Rich, Montgomery, “Boreal and temperate trees show strong acclimation of respiration to warming”, Science, 351(6273)

167. Willard says:

Have you ever considered a guest post about that?

168. jacksmith4tx says:

Lot of arguments about which way forward in reducing CO2.
Consider Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown.
http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
To Steven, Nuclear comes in at #20 of 100 – don’t bet the farm on Nuclear.
Wind power is best renewable energy source. #1 if you include onshore+offshore.
The biggest offset to future emissions between 2020 and 2040 would be educating girls and family planing. Combined these two solutions would offset almost 120 GT of CO2 or over 6X what nuclear would do over the same time span.

This was announced on July 8, 2017.
The 52 countries that represent the former Empire of Great Britain just adopted Paul’s Project Drawdown solutions.
http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/new-commonwealth-agreement-revolutionise-climate-action
Collectively the commonwealth is maybe the second largest organization of nation states in the world. Only the UN represents more countries.

169. Brian Dodge says:

There have already been two well funded “Red Team” exercises. One was run under the auspices of the Current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson while he was head of Exxon, in the eighties. The second “Red Team” was bankrolled by the Koch brothers – the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project with a team of skeptical experts headed by Richard Muller, about which Anthony Watts famously stated “In fact, the entire team seems dedicated to providing an open source, fully transparent, and replicable method no matter whether their new metric shows a trend of warming, cooling, or no trend at all, which is how it should be. I’ve seen some of the methodology, and I’m pleased to say that their design handles many of the issues skeptics have raised and has done so in ways that are unique to the problem.”
Perhaps Tillerson and the Kochs could speak with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry about the insanity of doing the same thing over yet again, expecting a different result – especially doing it with with taxpayer money.
If Perry’s “Red Team” comes to pass as I expect, the “Blue Team”(which is 97+% climate scientists) should point out that trying to fudge a climate model to deliberately generate a low sensitivity model is not playing the “Blue Team” but attempting to play The Referee[1]. Exploring what the effect of 1 and 2 sigma changes either side of the best known value for individual parameterizations is on TCR/ECS should lead to better understanding of climatology, but selecting a constellation of parameterizations ALL in the direction of low sensitivity rapidly moves the model into 99+% probability of being grossly inaccurate.

[1]The Holy Trinity(not that one but reality) All the matter and energy in the universe sprang from the loins of the Mother, birthed at the instant of the big bang. Daughter Gaia, whom we usually think of as Mother Nature, evolved as the outcome the Laws of Physics breathed by the Ruah into the universe – a very narrow subset of all the possible outcomes. The improbability of our existence makes us feel special, but maybe we’re just a roll of snake eyes.

170. angech says:

Nuclear for 8 billion people?
I don’t think so.
The armadas of trucks transporting goods over Europe [recent trip], USA Australia. China etc powered on solar and wind.
I don’t think so.
Electric power from solar and wind will no doubt play a part in reducing fossil fuel use but the problem is looking at the symptom, not the cause.
Too many people.
Sensible population reduction is the way to go. Offering people rewards for reducing fertility. Time span 30 years from inception to seeing results. Permanent reduction in emissions.
Mind you it might happen anyway with a new war, plague, climate change, famines from underproduction or just people doing what happens when they get improved fossil fuel rich economies, having less children because they become more self centered.
Hey maybe climate changes isn’t so bad after all.

2. Maximizing the amount of nuclear ASAP is a sound mitigation pathway. we’ve known this for decades.
3. Killing coal sooner rather than later is a sound mitigation pathway.

These are good arguments, Steven. Why give your cognitive bias away with that ‘all nuclear’ non-sequitur?

How many ways are there to say it? Not ‘all nuclear ASAP’ but anything but fossil carbon ASAP.

The objective is to mitigate a global tragedy of the commons. The strategy is to completely replace fossil carbon with carbon-neutral energy sources. It’s not to maximize the amount of any particular carbon-neutral alternative. Solar, wind, nuclear, storage etc. are only tactics.

172. While it is anathema to some of my progressive enviro friends and I have serious doubts about building new, it seems obvious to me that existing nuclear plants ought to remain online even if this requires subsidy. Unfortunately in what is a parody of a free market, gas plants are killing them off. Our local Pilgrim is being shut down because its owners cannot afford to operate it. No doubt popular nuclear opposition has some effect.

173. BBD says:

The objective is to mitigate a global tragedy of the commons. The strategy is to completely replace fossil carbon with carbon-neutral energy sources. It’s not to maximize the amount of any particular carbon-neutral alternative. Solar, wind, nuclear, storage etc. are only tactics.

+1

Use it all and use it asap. The objective is decarbonisation, not peddling nuclear vs renewables twaddle.

174. -1,

ASAP is incredible immoral.

People don’t mean ASAP as in as fast as physicall possible (i.e., turn everything off now). They simply mean as fast as it is possible to replace fossil fuels with alternatives. I realise that this may not be well defined, but they’re certainly not arguing for a scenario where we would get rid of fossil fuels under any possible scenario, including one in which there are no alternatives.

175. Willard says:

Some people think that it is moral to mislead the public and purposely misinform with silly stuff based on elementary misreading, like “ASAP is incredible immoral.”

I blame utilitarian corruption.

176. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

I blame utilitarian corruption.

Never was morality so consequential.

I blame the temporoparietal junction.

177. verytallguy says:

ASAP is incredible immoral.

Such disingenuousness!

Such hypocrisy!

Such chutzpah!

Well played minus guy.

Better luck with the grammar next time mind.

178. Willard says:

> ASAP would mean banning all fossil fuels tomorrow.

Why wait tomorrow? Next hour is possible. Next minute too. Next second too.

Why assume temporal linearity? Everything that is not impossible is possible, after all. Let’s go for: ASAP would mean banning all fossil fuels this very instant.

No, that’s not strong enough. Let’s shoot for yesterday. Time machines are not impossible, stricly speaking. Perhaps a day is too short. Let’s ban fossil fuels in 1980.

Why stick to banning? Too judgmental. Let’s eradicate fossil fuels. Not strong enough – let’s make fossil fuel impossible. Better yet, let’s exclude them from all possible worlds. Let’s prove their inconceivability.

So ASAP would mean making ipso facto all fossil fuel inconceivable by 1980.

That’s the most optimal way to read “ASAP.”

And that’s immoral, because GRRRROWTH.

Thank you.

179. anoilman says:

Kinda makes you wonder what he considers ‘Moral’. Flooding Florida?

180. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

Flooding Florida?

Well, actually,

Flooding Florida could constitute a very informative non-cynical Red Team exercise.

181. Willard says:

182. Willard says:

More to the point:

183. -1=e^iπ says:

“People don’t mean ASAP as in as fast as physicall possible… I realise that this may not be well defined”

Yeah, it is poorly defined. They claim they want to move away from ASAP, but they don’t really mean ASAP. They really mean whatever they subjectively feel is close enough to ASAP. Sounds like a moving goal post tactic.

If they admit that the economic impacts of mitigation should matter, then why not try to balance the costs and benefits via a cost benefit analysis? I.e. we should follow the results of IAMs. But that involves acknowledging trade-offs, which I think many would prefer to pretend away.

I think that if policy isn’t routed in cost-benefit analysis, and is instead moving away from fossil fuels ‘ASAP’, then you end up with a piety arms race, where people keep competing to so how much more ‘ASAP’ they are. You’ll end up with extremists in power, like the new NDP-Green government in British Columbia that is so extreme it’s against hydroelectric power (see SITE C dam).

Mal write like ‘green’ liberaltarian again:

As we all know, the obstacles to decarbonization are not technological but economic: that is, political.

From the first coal-fired atmospheric engine in 1699 to the mid-19th century, the market for energy was effectively ‘free’, that is, not under politically significant control by concentrated, i.e. ‘big’, capital; atmospheric CO2 began rising slowly as a consequence. Following the ‘Robber Baron’ era in the US and the global ascendancy of the ‘Seven Sisters’ in the mid 20th century, however, fossil energy has enjoyed a twofold artificial market advantage over its competitors; not just by socializing the climate-change costs, but by excellent returns on fossil fuel producers’ re-investment of a portion of their revenues to obtain government ‘subsidies’, broadly defined to include favorable tax treatment, ‘checkerboard’ land grants and Interstate highways.

In the early 21st century, cumulative ROI to big capital on the cost of ‘oiling the wheels of commerce’ by greasing a few government palms over the decades, has rendered the phrase ‘wealth beyond the dreams of avarice’ quaint. Not by coincidence, atmospheric CO2 has increased another 30%.

Historical infringement of the free market by big capital has kept promising carbon-neutral energy technologies at an economic disadvantage, and some (sail-augmented IC for land transport?) may never catch up even if collective intervention succeeds in fully re-privatizing fossil fuel producers’ marginal climate-change costs. Utility nuclear power may or may not have succeeded without its corporate backers’ own investments in government largesse. Wind, solar, storage, electric cars: so far, no carbon-neutral potential competitors have matched the market-distorting power of fossil-fuel wealth. That, as has been pointed out ad nauseum so what’s a little more nausea, is the biggest obstacle to capping future warming.

IMHO, advocates for Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment can take advantage of American voter’s attitudes toward private property and the free market as defenders of their responsibly modest personal interests against the conspicuous incorporated avarice of big capital (“Wut, you mean lying for money is protected by the 1st amendment?”), without calling it class war. Depending on the interlocutor, CF&D supporters might stress that fossil fuel producers have the most to lose; that the more big coal/oil/gas has to lose, the more consumers have to gain in the short and long runs; and that if no energy producer has an unfair advantage, the cost to consumers of internalizing fossil carbon’s marginal climate-change costs need not be high, for the benefit to themselves and their families in costs forgone. All in language appropriate to the audience, of course.

Russell, would that be politics or social engineering?

While the average voter’s ‘responsibly modest personal interests’ are more or less equivalent to their ‘pedestrian dreams of avarice’, that should probably remain unspoken in public dialogue.

-1,

ASAP is incredible immoral.

Dude, you’re either a paid tool or a twit.

187. verytallguy says:

“Dude, you’re either a paid tool or a twit”

Hanlon signposts the latter.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

On the evidence to hand, I lean toward ‘twit’. If he’s paid, his client isn’t getting his money’s worth. Unless he’s flying a false flag…naah, paranoia’ll destroy ya.

189. -1,

Yeah, it is poorly defined.

Yet, you still decided to play the moral card?

190. @-1, and all:

ASAP and all that. The question is, is does “moving too fast” include “any present energy companies and utilities going bankrupt”? If most remain solvent, I’d say that’s too slow.

vtg:

Hanlon signposts the latter.

If only malice and stupidity weren’t both found in excess.

The question is, is does “moving too fast” include “any present energy companies and utilities going bankrupt”?

With my flat-billed (yeah,no) free market libertarian ball cap still on, the answer is ‘Yep! That’s life in the business world!’

193. izen says:

@-“The question is, is does “moving too fast” include “any present energy companies and utilities going bankrupt”?”

If such a calamity was in prospect I am sure that ‘something’ would persuade governments to step in and rescue them.
Like banks they provide an essential service that maintains civilisation and are too big to fail.
Or be replaced by better options without passive resistance from sunk asset inertia and active defence with government collusion.

Governance can strongly influence the development or inhibition of carbon emission reduction.

http://www.iflscience.com/environment/california-breaks-record-getting-81-percent-energy-renewables/
“Back in the 1970s, before global warming and climate change were really in the zeitgeist, the oil crisis led to people worrying that fossil fuels wouldn’t be enough to power the state. Both federal and state tax credits allowed California to develop fledgling solar and wind industries.”

http://environmentnorthcarolinacenter.org/reports/nce/blocking-sun
“A national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel industry-funded think tanks is providing funding, model legislation and political cover for anti-solar campaigns across the country.”

My previous comment was admittedly glibertarian. ‘Too big to fail’ is an unfortunate reality, and will need to be addressed by CF&D or companion legislation.

195. izen says:

Engaging in good faith in a red team/blue team exercise requires an assumption about the legitimacy of the process. That pitting the opinions of scientists against each other in a simple binary setup will generate a valid outcome.

Unfortunately those promoting the idea do NOT regard scientific knowledge derived from academic work as a legitimate source of reliable information.

At least, I think that is a justifiable conclusion from the depressing results from recent research on shift in opinion since 2015 in the worth of higher education.
The invitation is to contest the issue in an arena that most opponents regard as damaging to society rather than beneficial.
However un-cynical the participation of the players, the crowd, or half of it, thinks the games is already rigged.

http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/
“Over the past two years, the share of Republicans and Republican leaners who view the impact of colleges and universities positively has declined 18 percentage points (from 54% to 36%), and this shift in opinion has occurred across most demographic and ideological groups within the GOP.”

Moi:

‘Too big to fail’ is an unfortunate reality, and will need to be addressed by CF&D or companion legislation.

Damn, it’s a slippery slope though. Really messes up the simplicity of CF&D 8^(.

Damn, it’s a slippery slope though. Really messes up the simplicity of CF&D 8^(.

This is both the appeal and the hazard of what John Brunner called ‘glutinous adherence to an ism’.

Guys, am I talking to myself here?

198. @Mal,

No, you are not. Just not much to say. I’ve stated my preference for Schumpeterian creative economic destruction. I think anything else will prolong the pain. However, I am entirely aware there will be many who oppose my view (witness what happened to banks and auto companies during 2007-2008, etc), and, so, it’ll get sorted out some how.

I do very much agree with what the BoE’s Mark Carney has stated as his preference, which is that companies be forthright about their exposure both to climate risks and mitigation of them on their balance sheets, and would prefer that, in addition, they report consistent with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB, a cousin of FASB). The idea is that, with information, the market can properly price these risks in. Without explicit information, there is a “climate bubble” being created. Now, if I understand my Schumpeter (and others, Rogoff? Kahneman?) that really can’t be helped because people will be people. If so, bring on the destruction.

I really don’t think any of these companies, whether they influence a Trump or other government agencies, can stall the clobbering they are going to get, because it itself is a nonlinear system, solar is poised for — and the evidence is, is experiencing — exponential growth, and the history of technological development repeatedly shows the disrupted try to stall and stall, and then they go down in dust.

Thanks HyperG. So, you’re an adherent of Schumpeterism but not a glutinous one ;^)?

Well, I feel sheephish. Apparently it’s moi encore rather than moi aussi. That’s what I get for trying to show off.

201. Brian Dodge says:

“That said, it is clear that an increase in insolation would cause a different response than an increase in infrared opacity.”
Since the albedo of the earth is higher in the visible than in the IR, each addition watt from more CO2 in the air would have a greater effect on surface warming than an additional watt of solar radiation http://www.eumetrain.org/data/3/358/media/images/Fig_1_1_spectrum.jpg, but that albedo is taken into account as in e.g. Trenberth https://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200904/images/trenberth-fig1.gif, and I think an additional watt of solar forcing is a watt absorbed.

202. Ragnaar says:

We own the oil companies:
https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/who-really-owns-oil-companies-5739.html
Gasoline is about \$2.25 a gallon.
We’ve benefited from the products they sell.
The dividends they pay are out are taxed, some eventually as some go into tax deferred accounts. When the shares are sold, appreciation is taxed, same as before, some are in tax deferred accounts.
Can you give two specific examples of ‘favorable tax treatment’?

Gasoline is about \$2.25 a gallon.
We’ve benefited from the products they sell.

I certainly have, especially since I’ve been socializing my marginal climate-change costs.

R:

Can you give two specific examples of ‘favorable tax treatment’?

More than two. See “priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies”.

204. Willard says:

> They claim they want to move away from ASAP, but they don’t really mean ASAP.

By chance we have Freedom Fighters to tell me what I mean and don’t really mean while throwing in words like “Pareto efficiency” whence it is well known that markets fail to produce Pareto outcomes in the presence of externalities. No wonder nobody listens to economists when comes the time to discuss international affairs.

If all Minus has is a caricature of the notion of possibility involved in “ASAP,” perhaps he should ask for his money back from whereever he got his degree.

No wonder nobody listens to economists

To be fair, Reaganomics ruined it for everybody. Then there’s the more fundamental problem of mistaking a good’s currency value for its total utility.

Anticipating a predictable objection: yes, I know priceofoil.org’s numbers aren’t peer reviewed. Feel free to dismiss them. For my part, I’ll take your critique seriously when it appears in a peer-reviewed venue.

I don’t, however, feel sheefish.

208. -1=e^iπ says:

“whence it is well known that markets fail to produce Pareto outcomes in the presence of externalities.”

Wow Willard, thank you so much for providing me with this totally new information! It’s not like I advocate for a global pigouvian tax to internalize externalities or anything. Or that it’s been known since the 1920’s by people such as Pigou that a pigouvian tax can result in markets producing a pareto efficient outcome. *sarcasm*

209. izen says:

Anticipating another predictable objection: a subsidy is any government action that underwrites or increases producers’ profit margins for a good. Sorry, you don’t own the word.

211. Ragnaar says:

izen:
Light on specifics:
“These companies reported total federal income taxes during this period of \$32.1 billion, giving them a federal effective tax rate (ETR) of 24.0 percent. Special provisions in the U.S. tax code allowed these companies to defer payment of more than half of this tax bill. This group of companies actually paid \$15.6 billion in income taxes to the federal government during the last five years, equal to 11.7 percent of their U.S. pre-tax income. This measure, the amount of U.S. income tax paid regularly every tax period (i.e. not deferred), is known as the “current” tax rate.”

Defer payment. When you buy stuff, you can expense it. That seems fair. I think this deferral is section 168 depreciation. Most stuff is 5 year property. Real estate is longer. Section 168 depreciation says roughly, take ½ of the cost in year one. Take the rest later. So the income tax is deferred into the next five years. You get ½ a year’s depreciation in years 1 and 6 more of less. The books balance, not a subsidy except for the time value of money and you know what interest rates are these days. All S & P 500 companies can do this as well as for profit wind and solar.

Where did the 24.0% come from? Should be about 35%. Best guess is the foreign tax credit. Germany taxes United States corporations that sell them natural gas. They pay Germany their tax. If a credit was not allowed on the form 1120, it would unfair. This credit may bridge the difference between income tax and total tax. The article was not specific enough. I say this unfair. Live in Minnesota and work in Wisconsin. You will pay Wisconsin money. If Minnesota did not give a credit reflecting that, it would be unfair. All S & P 500 companies can use the foreign tax credit. Their boards would remove management if they didn’t take it. The foreign tax credit is available to individuals who earn after tax dividends from foreign countries and have foreign taxes withheld. The books balance, not a subsidy. It is likely there are other credits besides the foreign tax credit taken by big oil.

212. Elaborating @Mal’s point, and subsidies include, like it or not, structural things like getting FERC to say a pipeline is necessary, so, under the Natural Gas Act, the company laying it is entitled to not only seize land without compensation by eminent domain, but also disregard any municipal regulations which the local government has. “Greater good”? Tell that to Amtrak or other train companies when they want to expand rails: They have to buy the land.

Under ‘government actions that underwrite or increase producer profit margins’, let’s not forget seizing and securing foreign fossil carbon reserves by military force.

I’m signing off for tonight.

214. In case my attitude towards energy companies, utilities, their employees, and the companies and employees of secondary companies which serve them seems heartless, two comments:
(a) it is;
(b) they deserve it.

Dateline, 9th July 2017.
The New York Times, by Hiroko Tabuchi.

Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900 per cent by one estimate.

That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

…[T]he decline has also coincided with a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels …

Their effort has met with considering success, dimming the prospects for renewable energy across the United States.

First, I am in no way disheartened by this. The price per kWh of residential PV will continue its precipitous decline, giving installers and proponents more and more wiggle room to find creative business models to get them installed. This is particularly true once the combined cost of solar PV + storage achieves God Parity, since grid defection for a substantial portion of electricity use, even if punishing penalties are imposed by the local utilities commission.

Second, nothing says net metering is the ideal way to do this. Indeed, it is not. It is an empirical observation that households who get a big portion of their electricity from solar are sloppier (that is, less efficient) in their electricity use. The proper response is a two stream charging structure, where households are charged for electricity use, but compensated for electrical generation. This was worked out more than half a decade ago by the Northwest Institute and others. But that would require utilities to change their relationship with end customers and end users, changing them from essentially industrial entities to retail businesses. They do not want to do that, much more than they even dislike the cost of outfitting homes to support this. Why go retail when all you need to do is keep a utilities commission, a local attorney general, and the state legislature happy?

Third, the wide and distributed availability of residential PV, even more than utility scale PV, will become the indicator of economic efficiency in the upcoming century. If a state chooses not to support such a model, there will be surrounding states which do. There may even be municipalities within a state, like Minster, OH, who choose the solar + storage route in defiance of state mandates. They wll have a cheaper, more reliable energy supply in the long run. They will seem forward thinking and modern. They will have their self-determination with respect to energy. And they will be attractive places to do business and have companies. Choose 20th century energy and utilities, and you consign yourself to the 20th century.

So, no, when the day of reckoning for utilities and fossil fuel companies comes, I will positively delight in their bankruptcies and layoffs. For those who choose to protect their own economic backsides by choosing the past reap the costs of doing that, which get more and more expensive by the year.

And they, more than anyone else in the United States, have deliberately chosen to carry the burden of poisoning the climate, all for personal financial interest, and wanting things to be as they always were. They could have opted for an exciting Green Century.

That Green Century will come.

And it will have its victims.

215. Oh, sorry, God Parity: That’s the point at which the total cost per kWh of a residential solar + storage facility, whatever it takes, wall-mounted storage, or EV, is less than the transmission cost of electricity for the utility. For, then, even if the utility generates electricity at zero dollars per kWh, they cannot compete. That is what they fear and dread, and what they are desperately trying to stop.

216. Ragnaar says:

Upon further reflection, what I quoted above looks like this.
Take the subsidies all S & P 500 corporations get. Point out big oil’s numbers for these subsidies. You are then accusing them of being an S & P 500 corporation. You could do this for the health care industry, the computer industry. What is Googles write off for all their servers and do they take the foreign tax credit? If you have a complaint with big oil, I have the exact same complaint for Google and Apple. If there are problems with the tax code, change it for all large corporations.

There are specific subsidies for big oil. Do I want a non-conventional fuel subsidy? I don’t know. I am just inside the fence being mildly pro Ethanol. Hey, it’s dispatchable and if we get to plus 6.0 C, you can drink it. They spike it with gasoline at the moment. There are specific big oil subsidies that can be gotten rid of.

217. Ragnaar says:

The Natural Gas Act is consitent with the landowners right to be compensated. We’d go so far as to ship this stuff by rail or roads?

218. Willard says:

> The article was not specific enough.

There’s a link to report in it, Ragnaar. I spent an evening on the tweeter over this. Maybe next month I’ll check back. Until then, scratch your own itch.

I predict a round of “what’s a subsidy.”

219. Ragnaar says:

“So, no, when the day of reckoning for utilities and fossil fuel companies comes, I will positively delight in their bankruptcies and layoffs.”

We in the United States do not live under a utility and fossil fuel tyranny. They do a good job of providing cheap reliable energy. They have done so for many decades. Now in a somewhat more hostile environment they’re trying to adapt to mandates and wind and solar subsidies. The utilities are incorporating more wind and solar into the grids, and they are seeing how this all plays out. Trying to find a way that ensures a long term, low cost, reliable energy supply. They’ve had to fight for power lines and pipelines. They’ve been discouraged from nuclear and in some cases new hydro. They’ve been asked to serve as batteries for private solar. To provides its rotating inertia. All this with Public Utilities Commission oversight. They’ve paid their taxes and their employees have paid their taxes. Their product in my state anyways has paid into our state’s sale tax fund.

220. Hank Roberts says:

I asked earlier, how would people suggest we be able to tell the difference between a crash and just limping along
(at https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/proposing-a-non-cynical-red-team-exercise/#comment-99375)
Here’s one way: https://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1704949114
“… Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and
his co-authors, including well-known Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich, cite striking new evidence that populations of species we thought were common are suffering in unseen ways.”
Source: https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=17/07/11/1736238

221. Ragnaar says:

Willard:
Thank you.
Indeed there was a link. Shooting from the hip again.

I was wrong about the section 168 deduction. In my above example, replace about ½ in the current year will ALL in the current year. This is better than your typical S & P 500 situation. It is still a time value of money subsidy. The books still balance.
Said IDC deduction should be repealed and replaced with the section 168 deduction.

Where did the section 168 deduction come from? Spineless Congress wanted to give something. So they gave businesses a timing difference. You get our money now, and pay it back later without interest. It’s one more way for Congress to borrow money if you think about it. Let’s spray money at the economy to fix it. And have them pay us back later. The IDC deduction is not available for wind and solar. But the section 168 deduction is.

“Oil and gas companies may pay a lot in income taxes, but it is not to the U.S. government.”
So they are arguing in favor of double taxation? That a lack of paying twice on the same income is a subsidy? They still aren’t describing if it is the foreign tax credit, but it looks like it is.

What’s a subsidy?

It’s when the books don’t balance. Free money. A student loan is not a subsidy. A Pell grant is a subsidy. The student loan will balance out someday. A Pell Grant falls from the sky with few strings attached. I think you have to register for the draft.

222. Willard says:

> Free money.

Depends what you mean by “free money”:

223. @Ragnaar,

No, all the users of natural gas are getting a free ride on the backs of the property owners which the pipeline trespasses! Talk about abrogation of property rights! Noone asked THEM whether or not gas or oil was THEIR choice.

This is the fundamental contradiction of modern so-called conservativism …. If it involves big business, then The Collective is okay, trampling over the rights and privileges of the small. But, hey, if the individuals rights are raised in opposition to a corporation or what, draped in the language of “The Market”, then The Collective and The Greater Good are held above all.

In short, tack all the pretty stuff on it, a pig is still a pig. This is Stalinism, whether you are comfortable with the attribution or not. The Tennessee Valley Authority told farmers they could not generate their own electrical power from wind turbines, and had to buy from TVA. Well, perhaps, maybe in its day that might have made some sense, but today, it does not.

No state, nor public utility, nor health department, nor neighborhood group, nor real estate cabal, has any right, in my opinion, to dictate to an individual property owner how they generate their electrical power or what it looks like. And if someone claims to be a conservative of any kind and opposes that, I cry HYPOCRITE!

224. @Ragnaar,

They’ve had to fight for power lines and pipelines.

No they haven’t. They’ve gotten the federal junta, both Republican and Democratic, to come down on their sides, with a wink and a nod and a hefty contribution to their reelection campaigns. The Natural Gas Act guarantees that, if the utility or pipeline company can prove they have customers, that the FERC will approve the project.

They do a good job of providing cheap reliable energy.

This is debatable. But, if I grant you that point, what is now the point is that they are standing in the way of cheaper energy for everyone in order to preserve themselves. Sorry, Mr Utility, you were good in your day, but now, thank you very much, you either get with the program or we’re going to move on.

This is business. And the end users, who were not even the utilities’ customers, are treating them with the same dispassionate choice they did them. Why should a homeowner with solar panels have them managed such that if the grid goes down, they go down? The utility invokes the Holy Phrase, “stability of the grid”. I say it’s their business to stabilize the grid despite my panels, and leave me alone.

Y’see, where this is going is with every countermeasure the utilities throw up against residential PV, they are simply incentivizing the owner and a bevy of high technology companies to offer products which will get the residential PV owner off the grid entirely, leaving a diminishing set of customers with the overhead of a grid they don’t need. It’s like a school district with too many schools and too few kids.

Worse, the utilities OPPOSE measures to democratize solar, to bring it to multifamily and low-income or poor credit situations, as they have in Massachusetts. They are no champions of the end user, only of their (damn) shareholders and the 20th century.

Again, I say, I will be happy when the companies die.

225. @Ragnaar,

You are playing games with the meaning of subsidy, as people say, jawboning like a lawyer. It’s simple: A subsidy is anything paid by anyone to a recipient above the fair market value or price of the product in question, where such price cannot, by definition, be less than the total amount which it costs to produce, including externalities.

And as for how your compatriots are doing, I offer the following exhibit, notably, in the Time of the Trump:

226. @Ragnaar,

Of course, externalities in the above, are necessarily negative costs.So, if X if the price of something without an externality E considered, X + E must be less than X.

227. Brian Dodge says:

[The utilities are] “Trying to find a way that ensures a long term, low cost, reliable energy supply.”
No. they are trying to find a way that ensures a long term PROFITABLE energy supply, preferably one that they control – but remember Enron?.
Low cost and reliable are only important to the extent that they improve profits.

228. Harold's says:

So, if X if the price of something without an externality E considered, X + E must be less than X.
Take the subsidies all S & P 500 corporations get.

229. Hank Roberts says:

Brian, the utilities do trade off short term shareholder profits for longterm efficiency. Look at the history of the transformer efficiency rulemaking, it’s fascinating. The utilities, states and environmental groups worked together to sue the Dep’t of Energy after it lowballed the rule for replacing the big grid transformers to favor the cheapest, least efficient, US-manufactured transformers. The utilities did not want to see a ‘race to the bottom’ pitting them against each other to cut costs, knowing the losses from the crap transformers would cost more in the long term.

http://www.csemag.com/single-article/transformer-efficiency-yesterdays-news-tomorrows-concerns/478c06eebfe849e4db9cbec2f3969fe7.html

That’s the only example I know of where everyone involved (except the then Republican administration) was trying to do the right thing, with some success. Merits study.

If you have a complaint with big oil, I have the exact same complaint for Google and Apple. If there are problems with the tax code, change it for all large corporations.

Great idea. Please draft a bill for introduction in the US House of Representatives!

Ragnaar (not the Loðbrók of legend, surely?), you appear to care that people are treated fairly. You’re arguing that removing a subsidy unfairly penalizes the recipient. Your exculpating arguments, though, are the same a subsidy recipient’s attorney would offer in court. Much as I’d enjoy, in my own rather unimaginative dreams of avarice, seeing each member of the Koch family pay damages for Koch-ogenic global warming out of his or her private foundation, the only court with jurisdiction is the global climate.

Yet assuming that bankrupting the Charles Koch Foundation were imaginable, it wouldn’t make CKGW fair, because Mr. Koch’s benefit was indeed ours too. As repeatedly pointed out though, subsidies that make fossil fuels ‘cheaper’ for consumers (and/or more profitable for producers) are egregiously unfair to 3rd parties who haven’t participated in and enjoy little benefit from our private transactions, but are nevertheless already paying seemingly random open-ended prices for our private comfort and convenience.

I hope I don’t need to explain that by ‘seemingly random open-ended prices’, I’m referring to ‘natural’ disasters like:

– ‘the strongest typhoon to make landfall on a major island in the western North Pacific Ocean’ (http://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL060689: though the geometry of Leyte Gulf contributed to the >45,000 casualties, “such super typhoons are expected to increase both in number and intensity as a result of global climate change”, and to track farther poleward);

– the anthropogenically hellish heatwaves in South Asia that have cut tens of thousand of unskilled laborers’ lives short already in this century (http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0145.1: “Without exception, all the heat-related events studied in this year’s report were found to have been made more intense or likely due to human-induced climate change”);

– the loss of upscale houses to a flash flood in a place that’s never been flooded before, until AGW made ordinarily-heavy rainfall extraordinary (http://doi.org/10.5194/hess-21-897-2017: read it yourself).

As I’ve said here and elsewhere, that hardly seems fair. Even if an unlucky Baton Rouge homeowner had been socializing his share of AGW’s cost like most Americans, it doesn’t add up to the cost of a mcmansion. OTOH, he’s no doubt glad it wasn’t his life. If only it had taught him not to roll the dice every time he buys gasoline!

So, you’re right, Raagnar: you and I and everyone else on aTTP have inarguably (come on now, y’all) benefited from the ‘cheap’ energy in fossil carbon. But one reason why Economics is called the dismal science is that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch or fossil carbon emission; we’ve benefited still more by making impoverished Filipinos pay disproportionately for our marginal climate-change costs.

Yet even if I gave all my savings to the families of the people killed, injured or dispossessed by Typhoon Haiyan, I’d still have my family and you’d still have your savings. Nor would my act of atonement roll atmospheric CO2 back to 280 ppm. The only way to make AGW ‘fair’, is to internalize into the market price of fossil fuels, all the marginal climate-change costs of energy obtained by transferring fossil carbon to the climatically active pool and sending the resulting emissions out our private tailpipes for ‘free’.

On the definition of ‘subsidy’: market externalities can arise with or without interference by big capital, government, or neighbors. In any case there’s no macro-economically meaningful distinction between a direct payment to a producer, and any other collective action that underwrites or increases his profit margin relative to what it would be on a market free of collective interference, after the producer covers his booked costs to get his product to market and collect payment from customers. TANSTAAFL.

231. Hank Roberts says:

https://www.eenews.net/eenewspm/stories/81323 reports the lawsuit settlement, though they’ll want an email address for their paywall. I use sneakemail to provide one-use email addresses for that kind of barrier.

232. Hank Roberts says:

Oh, and yeah, the deregulation nitwits are now trying to remove the energy efficiency rule:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-energy-lawsuit-idUSKBN1751R3

233. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

>> TANSTAAFL.

Thermodynamics is a harsh mistress.

234. Willard says:

Let everyone eat cake.

235. @Williard,

‘Steamed colleagues, I’m gratified by the improved response time this morning, but I do wish to hear from Raagnar. OTOH, at least I’m stockpiling Op-Ed boilerplate.

Now that it’s too late to edit, ‘If only it had taught him not to roll the dice every time he buys gasoline’ sounds a little condescending. Garrett Hardin interpreted the ‘Tragedy’ of the Commons in the classical Greek sense of a hero’s helplessness before the whims of the Gods, even if he’s aware of his predicament. It’s literally (literally!) rational for economic agents to externalize all the private cost the gods of the market will allow. ‘Rational’, after all, just means ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’.

238. Ragnaar says:

Willard:

Timing differences.

Section 168 will give a 60% 1st year deduction for 5 year property. The IDC deduction (for big oil) would give a 100% 1st year deduction. This will defer taxes from the current year into the next 5 years. Some may think the deferred amount is the subsidy. The original link above used the deferred amount and did not use a time value of money number I could find. But it is the time value of money on this deferred amount. With low interest rates, this amount may drop below my radar. Since your non-big oil company gets 60% for 5 year property the number can be argued to be the 40% difference. For longer depreciation lives this difference is greater.

239. Ragnaar says:

A libertarian is generally against eminent domain. This tired libertarian sees a compromise between strict principles and value which utilities usually deliver. We are not talking of taking land for strip malls but for a necessity. The natural gas that heats over 50% of peoples houses around here.

Is there a right to sell to a utility? There is if we say there is. Perhaps the TVA could see where this was going. I’d rather have TVA owned wind if mandated and place it where it compliments the existing grid. You add enough megawatt generation in random places, you might have to pay for new power lines.

240. Ragnaar says:

“I say it’s their business to stabilize the grid despite my panels, and leave me alone.”

Looks like the tragedy of the commons.
The thing about the commons, people will endlessly fight over it.

We are not talking of taking land for strip malls but for a necessity.

We’re not talking about a necessity but the marginal increase in comfort a few dollars buys. Do you not consider a Pakistani laborer’s life a necessity? Come on, man!

Guys, what am I leaving out here?!

242. @Ragnaar,

Issue isn’t rapid dismantling of explosive CH4 lines, it’s opposing building new ones and depreciation schedules for pipes and gas generatorss that show lifetimes beyond 2040 or 2050. That’s another way CH4 prices ate artificially low.

And as far as lines go I want local energy grids to own and maintain the local power lines, too, as well, if necessary, as substations. Hopefully these can be eventually phased out in favor of more efficient solutions (don’t like stepdown losses) but ack that a transition will be needed. But no matter … if necessary The New Way can grow up alongside The Old Way and The Old Way eventually sold for scrap.

Wait – you know what, tegiri nanashi. I’m done with whack-a-lukewarmer, somebody else take a turn. Hairybreeks, I hope you can buy flood insurance where you live, but there has to be actuarial risk for there to be an insurance premium, and there has to be a premium for there to be flood insurance. Too bad, you might be SOL.

Uhmm, ‘there has to be actuarial risk for there to be an insurance premium, and there has to be a premium for there to be flood insurance’ may have been going out on a limb. Somebody tell me I’m right or take this saw away from me 8^(!

-1:

Wow Willard, thank you so much for providing me with this totally new information!

Weird, it’s almost as if he actually understands this stuff. Think he’s just messing with us?

246. Willard says:

> Think he’s just messing with us?

No idea, Mal. Sometimes I feel like quoting and citing random stuff, e.g.:

[S]lavery can easily be compatible with Pareto efficiency (Bergstrom, 1971). So can starvation, if the only way to relieve starvation is by making some of those who would survive anyway worse off (Coles and Hammond, 1995).

That a policy P may be Pareto efficient doesn’t mean that it is. Optimality assumes perfect information, which is far from being given. It is incompatible with what Freedom Fighters hold dear. All this has little to do with the decision to insure oneself, which was the point of Moshpit’s analogy. The analogy breaks down not because of Minus’ pet concept but for reasons that will have to wait for a future post.

Has Rex Tillerson ever wondered if fossil fuel subsidies were Pareto optimal? That he did could provide an alternative explanation to this:

247. Ragnaar says:

I am a libertarian. There are external costs of fossil fuel use. Coal may contain mercury and or lead. Lord knows what’s in gasoline but a little moonshine (ethanol) might not cause cancer.
All costs of fossil fuel use should be paid. Anything that drifts in the atmosphere is the responsibility of the user and the producer. I’ve been to a number libertarian extremes. One remedy has been civil suits. A number of libertarians support this as the best answer. The answer seems to be provided by governments through regulation, which has had success in the United States.
Above I argued, who owns all these companies. It’s us, Koch Brothers excluded. One could argue that because of our CO2, we owe the citizens of some countries damages. But I think what we’ve seen as policy is, We’ll do better here with CO2 emissions. Few want to pay a form of reparations. The libertarian theory probably supports that more than most practicing politicians. Some people’s answer will be to hold only the corporations liable. Consigning us who bought their products the status of witless dupes.

Raagnar, let me make sure I understand you:

I am a libertarian…

But I think what we’ve seen as policy is, We’ll do better here with CO2 emissions. Few want to pay a form of reparations. The libertarian theory probably supports that more than most practicing politicians.

I get that you don’t want to pay reparations for your past greenhouse emissions. In all candor, I don’t want to pay for mine either.

OTOH, my willingness to re-privatize some or all of my marginal climate-change costs into my budget going forward, arises from my knowledge that there’s no other way to cap the future costs of AGW, whether they fall on me or someone else. Are you saying you prefer to rely on your luck and let the rest of us rely on our own?

249. Ragnaar says:

hypergeometric
Depreciation lives.
Use the middle column:
http://cs.thomsonreuters.com/ua/fixa/cs_us_en/ass_life_tbl/hid_help_asset_lives.htm

I am an active and current CPA doing mostly personal income taxes. I get no brownie points for that. I am trying to indicate where I am coming from.

If you are saying depreciation lives often make no sense you’re right. Why do we depreciate buildings that have a history of appreciating? A five year deprecation life for a car reflects that the car is thrown away after 6 years.

Tractor Units For Use Over-The-Road – 3 years? In what universe?

Rather than fight over what the lives are, we are told what they are by Congress. The 3 years life above was Congress trying to fix a problem by spraying money at truckers, that they had to pay back in later years.

Gas Utility Trunk Pipelines & Related Storage Facilities – 15 years.

http://solargaines.com/how-to-depreciate-your-commercial-solar-investment-with-macrs/
5 year life. Section 168 deduction good.

250. Ragnaar says:

I am saying my idea is that I owe others for the lead and mercury emissions produced when I bought coal produced power from Xcel. I am not arguing that I don’t want to pay for that. It’s the details and our political climate. One could say, easy for Ragnaar not to do follow through. A libertarian should do no harm. I have harmed others. To make amends. I have about 50 milkweed plants at my office and about 80 square feet of wildflowers between my home and office. But those are for bees and what does that have to do with anything? I have LED bulbs and DC furnace fan that’s supposed to use less juice. That doesn’t cut it though. I have light colored shingles on my roofs. I recycle. I live less than a mile from where I work. I am still guilty. I shop at the small local grocery and hardware stores. I failed.

Ragnaar: “I failed”.

Friend, so have I and everybody else for the last 300 years. That doesn’t mean we can only fail this year and the next and the next, for 300 years more! I, for one, don’t feel it’s expecting too much of ourselves to enact a graduated Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment, immediately making ourselves pay a few cents more for a gallon of 86-octane unleaded!

Raagnar, I do appreciate your willingness to at least engage with us here, even if you don’t come to the same conclusions.

Why does every photo of Rex Tillerson look like an aide just told him that Jason Bourne re-surfaced in Prague>

LOL! I always thought all politicans looked like cinematic white collar criminals, myself. Wait, wut? They are? Tegiri nanashi!

254. mt says:

Hmm; it’s gratifying to see so many intelligent and amusing comments, but I don’t seem to have made my case, insofar as nobody is talking about it.

BTW, Willard:

Sometimes I feel like quoting and citing random stuff

Who doesn’t, occasionally? But all the time?

Your case just isn’t controversial enough, Michael 8^(. I presume most of us on aTTP agree with you. Speaking for myself, I’d rather have a cage match between the mediocrity and strong anthropic principles.

257. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

mt

…but I don’t seem to have made my case, insofar as nobody is talking about it.

Not true!

Steve Koonin is.
John Christy is.
Judith Curry is.
Scott Pruitt is.

Implementation of the ‘non-cynical’ constraint may be a work-in-progress.

258. @Ragnaar,

One could argue that because of our CO2, we owe the citizens of some countries damages. But I think what we’ve seen as policy is, We’ll do better here with CO2 emissions. Few want to pay a form of reparations. The libertarian theory probably supports that more than most practicing politicians. Some people’s answer will be to hold only the corporations liable. Consigning us who bought their products the status of witless dupes.

There are boundaries. It’s not “just us”. When a company goes bankrupt, there are creditors to be paid. In the extreme, this is done by liquidating assets and using the cash. If “reparations” are proposed, to me, it’s just paying back people for borrowing the resource of their atmosphere or, if you will, taking advantage of it as a place to dump the unadvertised toxic effects of use of your product. No gasoline sale comes with a disclaimer saying that use of this product will trash coastlines and possibly the economic for your grandkids.

259. @mt,

I dunno … I think the trouble is no one believes it can be anything other than a cynical exercise. Even the best of the best, like the late Steve Schneider, can’t really hold their own let alone win against a stacked deck, when the burden is on the climate scientist to not only present their point, but explain to an uneducated audience who believes both sides have comparable credentials why precisely an out-of-the-blue point made by the denier is wrong.

I, personally, rather like the discussion with @Ragnaar, @Mal, @Willard and everyone else because I’ve personally concluded engaging with deniers is pretty much a waste of time, and the best way to bring everyone around to what we need to do is to show them the extreme profitability of the exercise, as Amory Lovins of the Northwest Institute points out:

And, I gotta say, I have a lot of respect for @Ragnaar’s concerns, per

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

— Edward Everett Hale

Having been there myself, and downright grieving for the planet and its life, as well as countless innocents who will suffer from effects of climate disruption, I’ve completely embraced working towards solutions and have dived into energy policy and being a solar revolutionary in the spirit of the late Hermann Scheer. That said, I miss having the time to do my environmental statistics, although that’s gradually rectifying, since I’m on the other side of the energy policy learning curve.

Acting is all you can do. As Bill Nye says, “We scientists and engineers have to save the world”.

260. Tim Lamont-Smith says:

Points 2) and 3) leave me feeling a bit “so what?”

Economically valuable fossil fuel reserves could be a factor of 2 or they could be a factor of 2000, what matters is how much we will actually use. The Stern review proposed that fossil fuels should be taxed at a level that covered the negative externalities (the damage the CO2 emitted would cause). An appropriate level of taxation would encourage a transition to other forms of energy and the fossil fuels staying in the ground.

Evidence of a 2 degree change over the course of a century may never have been seen before, but if it the changes are all positive then that is all good (however unlikely) and if the changes are all negative then that is bad. Most likely then are some positives and some negatives. This leads into point 4), where if you are only going to consider the negatives then you will of course conclude we should instantly stop using fossil fuels.

My opinion therefore is that emphasis should be place on points 1) and 4), with a sensible discussion of both costs and benefits. The emphasis of “CAGW hypothesis” is on the catastrophic bit to my mind. Point 4) being by far the most important. If 3 degrees change is a net benefit for the human race (lots of cheap energy lifting more people out of poverty) then we need to know that, but if 2 degrees is catastrophic then we really need to know that.

Point 5) I think is uncontentious.

261. @Tim Lamont-Smith,

Careful assessment of the energy technologies available, the digital controls and computation available, and their job intensities increasingly points to a win-win for switching to zero Carbon energy as quickly as possible. Given their cost — and profit — advantages, the getting off fossil fuels will take care of itself. Pricing Carbon will expedite that.

I’m all for removing all subsidies for zero Carbon energy, as long as comparable subsidies and structural supports are removed for fossil fuels. I’d be satisfied with the “you must buy” rule of the Energiewende, including blocking local ordinances and building codes against wind and solar, in return for removing ITC and everything else.

262. Susan Anderson says:

hyperg@7:32 pm. Thanks for so ably describing the grieving process. My opinion, self- and even other-devouring rage is not helping.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
— Edward Everett Hale

263. angech says:

Sorry, MT.
it’s a given that there will be a red team with a blue team and despite the numbers here who decided not to buy a certain NY magazine ( I forget which not being American and having a lousy memory for names) .
How did they work out, did he get the sack?
Despite the union and the 97% consensus the ranks will unravel and people will jump on the blue bandwagon.
Gavin and Mann will be there,
Do you see a timeline? 2 months would be good.
As said if the arguments stack up no problems
Proven ECS of 3.0 with narrow boundaries 0.1 will be a good start.
Perhaps a little commentary of the likely outcomes in 200 years will help if you need.

264. Kevin O'Neill says:

Do we have a resource that lists past non-cynical ‘Red Team” efforts? By this I mean scientifically published and peer-reviewed (we’ll ignore pal-review and ‘Dog Astrology’ journals for now) ideas that challenged the consensus.

I’m thinking of Lindzen’s ‘Iris Effect”, Svensmark’s “Cosmic Rays”, and my favorite – Wyatt & Curry’s “Stadium Wave”.

I realize skepticalscience has a list of ‘Arguments’, but many of these seem more WUWT style arguments than scientifically advanced arguments; many are backed by the type of pal-review or ‘Dog Astrology’ journal papers that do not meet non-cynical-Red Team efforts.

I’m thinking of Lindzen’s ‘Iris Effect”, Svensmark’s “Cosmic Rays”, and my favorite – Wyatt & Curry’s “Stadium Wave”.

Well, what about the rest of the 3% dissenters from the consensus?

266. anoilman says:
267. anoilman says:

-1 says; “I think that if policy isn’t routed in cost-benefit analysis, and is instead moving away from fossil fuels ‘ASAP’, then you end up with a piety arms race, where people keep competing to so how much more ‘ASAP’ they are. You’ll end up with extremists in power, like the new NDP-Green government in British Columbia that is so extreme it’s against hydroelectric power (see SITE C dam).

1) Most of North America (including BC) is seeing declining energy needs. BC doesn’t need any more. They already have 30% (and increasing) over capacity.
2) Its going to be big and expensive. You gotta pay for it. Buut as I explained there are no customers.
3) they can export.. the US will pay about 1/3 of what it costs to generate. So, subsidize the US?
4) there are cheaper options, like wind development in the region.
5) they have the time, and are relatively clean, I think they should experiment. Test out some geothermal wells.

This is exactly why electricity rates when through the roof in Ontario. They started adding capacity just as the economic downturn hit. Instead of seeing +16% demand, they see -8%. That’s an expensive gap to cover. There are no subsidies for renewables… Although most money is now flowing into the nuclear power refurb. (which provides capacity they don’t need).

This isn’t about ‘extremists’ as you label everyone, its just straight economics.