Doomsday scenarios

There’s been a bit of a furore over an article called The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. The goal was clearly to investigate some of the extreme scenarios, but – unfortunately – the article got a number of things wrong and was rightly criticised in this Climate Feeback response.

However, I think this is all rather unfortunate, as I do think we should be able to discuss the more extreme scenarios; it’s a pity that the article wasn’t more careful when doing so. Although much of the criticism was indeed valid, I do think that some was a little uncharitable, given that the intent of the article wasn’t specifically to be alarmist, but was to try and present some of the more extreme possible outcomes. In that vein, David Roberts has a response that is worth reading.

Okay, I’m struggling to put together a post that is coherent, so I’ll try to make a point about presenting doomsday scenarios. I think it’s fine for them to be discussed, but my view is similar to what Joe Romm presents here. A key point is that we are doing this to ourselves. This isn’t really the same as, for example, the possibility of an asteroid strike in which we’re trying to determine how big it is and whether it’s going to strike the Earth, or not. In the context of climate change, the possibility of these extreme scenarios depends entirely on what we do; we essentially have complete control. Climate change is happening because we’re emitting CO2 into the atmosphere and the impact will depend on how much we choose to emit.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that dealing with this is easy; there are also potentially severe scenarios associated with what we might do to avoid the impacts of climate change. However, that still doesn’t change that we are in control and we can choose – if we wish – to minimise the possibility of severe climate impacts. So, I think discussing these severe scenarios is fine, but I do think it’s important to recognise that these will only materialise if we really do choose to simply continue emitting increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Maybe there will be some point where we’ve really left things so late that there will be little we can do to avoid some very severe/catastrophic outcomes, but we’re certainly not there yet and I think it is important to make this clear.

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191 Responses to Doomsday scenarios

  1. Jai Mitchell says:

    What is the criticism that you find to be the most valid? I see considerable strawman arguments in the CF response.

  2. Mal Adapted says:

    Mal yuuge David Roberts fan.

    Mal not say he write so gud, just that he fan.

  3. Jai,
    Putting me on the spot here 🙂 I think the comment RSS was essentially wrong/cherry-pick. I don’t really think Larsen C is necessarily a climate change event. I think there is little indication that there is going to some kind of large methane release. As I said, though, I think some of the criticism did tend to ignore that the goal was to discuss these extreme possibilities, which we shouldn’t prohibit, if they are indeed possible.

  4. Jai Mitchell says:

    The worst one I see is the attribution of a ‘methane bomb’ cited in the article. The paragraph in question is as follows,

    “In other words, we have, trapped in Arctic permafrost, twice as much carbon as is currently wrecking the atmosphere of the planet, all of it scheduled to be released at a date that keeps getting moved up, partially in the form of a gas that multiplies its warming power 86 times over.”

    Since no ‘methane bomb’ scenario discusses a release of “all” the carbon and a reference to a ‘date that keeps getting moved up’ (within the body of science). This paragraph clearly is talking about the complete meltout and release of ALL arctic permafrost, within a 6-8C warmer world. And this meltout could be significant but the end date (likely 2-300 years) is not explicitly stated.

    Similarly, it only states that a ‘partial’ amount would be released as methane.

    Similar strawman arguments within the CF response reference methane hydrates. This is not discussed within the article at all. Again a false attribution and a clear strawman argument. Since Michael Mann seemingly led the charge in criticism, his assignment of the ‘methane bomb’ strawman argument is the most egregious and, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/scientist-michael-mann-on-climate-scenarios.html in review of his full published interview (link above) one must question his motives.

    in any event, I am more familiar with these kind of arguments being put forward by those on the ‘extreme skeptic’ side of the discussion, not professional climate scientists.

  5. Jai Mitchell says:

    Whether or not the Larsen C event is climate driven or not is unknown, however, given that post Larsen B breakup (which suffered extreme melt ponding and was over 10,000 years old at the time) was certainly climate driven and model projections do indicate that eventually Larsen C and even Ronne-Filchner will experience climate driven breakup, the climate driver for this current event is certainly within the realm of possibility

  6. Mal Adapted says:

    in any event, I am more familiar with these kind of arguments being put forward by those on the ‘extreme skeptic’ side of the discussion, not professional climate scientists.

    Sigh. I’m not a professional scientist, but more of an over-educated wannabe; this is a little dismaying regardless. We’re supposed to be trained not to fool ourselves.

    Prepare for proliferating strawman attacks from the denioverse.

  7. “Maybe there will be some point where we’ve really left things so late that there will be little we can do to avoid some very severe/catastrophic outcomes, but we’re certainly not there yet and I think it is important to make this clear.”

    By the same token, it would seem equally important to make it clear that we are not yet near doing what is needed to avoid those outcomes. Anyone who omitted that from their criticism has slipped up.

  8. John Hartz says:

    This is the most thoughtful and informative analysis of the Wallace-Wells article that I have come across to date — well worth reading in its entirity. [There are other analyses and i will post links to them as time permits.]

    The Problem With Climate Doomsday Reporting, And How To Move Beyond It

    by James Wilt, DeSmog Canada, July 12, 2017

    It’s not often that an article about climate change becomes one of the most hotly debated issues on the internet — especially in the midst of a controversial G20 summit.

    But that exact thing happened following the publication of a lengthy essay in New York Magazine titled “SubmitThe Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, Economic Collapse, a Sun that Cooks Us: What Climate Change Could Wreak — Sooner Than You Think.”

    In the course of 7,200 words, author David Wallace-Wells chronicled the possible impacts of catastrophic climate change if current emissions trends are maintained, including, but certainly not limited to: mass permafrost melt and methane leaks, mass extinctions, fatal heat waves, drought and food insecurity, diseases and viruses, “rolling death smog,” global conflict and war, economic collapse and ocean acidification.

    Slate political writer Jamelle Bouie described the essay on Twitter as “something that will haunt your nightmares.”

    It’s a fair assessment. Reading it feels like a series of punches in the gut, triggering emotions like despair, hopelessness and resignation.

    But here’s the thing: many climate psychologists and communicators consider those feelings to be the very opposite of what will compel people to action.

    “Based on my research on climate communications, this article is exactly what we don’t need,” says Per Espen Stoknes, Norwegian psychologist and author of What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

    “It only serves to further alarm the already alarmed segment of people. ”

    Click here to access the entire article.

  9. John Hartz says:

    Here’s a nicely done summary about the Larsen C Isce Shelf event and its significance…

    <5 Things to Know about the Trillion-Ton Iceberg by Scott Waldman, E&E News/Scientific American, July 13, 2017

    Waldman has this to say about the climate change connection:

    The calving of icebergs is a natural process. While climate change is affecting Antarctica in a variety of ways, this week’s event does not signal that the region is entering a new state. That is happening in the Arctic, which has already been dramatically reshaped by human-caused global warming, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers. Scientists do not believe Antarctica is in a precipitous state of warming right now. Yesterday, as news of the calving spread, many researchers were careful to note that they were not chalking it up to global warming.

    Still, climate change did impact other icebergs and ice shelf collapses in the region recently. Meltwater ponds formed on the surface of the Larsen B shelf and weakened the ice as they pushed downward, causing it to crack and splinter apart.

    Researchers caution that the formation of the Larsen C iceberg does not mean Antarctica is breaking apart, but they also say climate change should not be ruled out. Warmer ocean waters are eating away at the base of the shelf, according to McGrath of Colorado State University. He said the Antarctic Peninsula is the most rapidly warming region on the continent, and he described the calving as both “natural and concerning.”

    “We don’t know either way, we just know calving is a natural process, but that this is going to put the shelf into its most retreated form that we’ve observed,” he said. “This is certainly not Antarctica falling apart.”

  10. T-rev says:

    [quote]but we’re certainly not there yet and I think it is important to make this clear[/quote]

    I think this is actually a “failing” of physical scientists, they ignore human behaviour. They use “Budget of CO2 = Total Emitted- Left to Emit”, see it isn’t negative and “think” something will be done because that number alone says so. With rarely a thought to how… and who, at best handy wavy mentions of nuclear, solar, wind (techno optimists) or these days SRM or BECCS (shudder) and never having built or rolled any of these out., We’d need what 3000 1.2Gw Nuc Plants by 2030 to convert 25% of our energy needs to Nuclear (from this talk by Kevin Anderson) ,

    that’s up running and operational and by the time you start the existing plants all need replacing and that’s just 25% of our energy, in a world of increasing energy demand. Renewables aren’t even keeping up with the growth in energy demand, let alone replacing existing fossil fuels.

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-primary-energy-consumption-1800-2015

    If you squint you can see the tiny sliver that is in wind/solar in the top right hand corner

    I am going to posit this is the most dangerous part, thinking something will be done. Hansen and Mann are guilty of this, one quote from Jim Hansen, I think it was, saying “we will solve this because we have to” … This behavioural cognitive dissonance is more alarming than the article itself, which I found fairly innocuous, as it was about exploring extreme examples. Most folk just assume “it won’t be that bad” and ignore the dangerous possibilities to justify going about their day with profligate emisisons.

    In this regard it’s perhaps better to listen to the experts in the field of human behaviour ?

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/08/climate-change-deniers-g7-goal-fossil-fuels

    [quote]climate change activist George Marshall interviews the Nobel prizewinning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the leading scholar of cognitive biases, and tries to nudge him into saying that understanding our brains’ limitations will, at the very least, make it easier to overcome them. “I’m not very optimistic about that,” Kahneman replies, despondently sipping tomato soup. “No amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living. So that’s my bottom line: there is not much hope. I’m thoroughly pessimistic. I’m sorry.”[/quote]

    We really need to be hearing from Energy experts (80% of our emisions) like Kevin Anderson or Susan Krumedick and what they have to say about the transition. It just cannot happen under the current paradigm.

    http://low-emission-future.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/can-engineers-change-world-energy.html

    [quote]Business leaders recognise that the biggest risk to their business is energy transition. The most popular concept of this transition involves a substitution of renewables for fossil fuels and development of elusive tail-pipe technologies like carbon-capture and storage. This concept is comforting and simple. But it is also profoundly wrong. There is no way to achieve an energy transition without completely reworking every aspect of our infrastructure, industry and economy to vastly reduce energy demand. Changing the global economy to nearly eliminate the use of fossil fuels is a “wicked problem” – a problem with no known solution.[/quote]

    None of that is a cry to do nothing or be depressed, it’s empowering, it’s a cry to do something.. now… stop emitting, normalise low emisisons behaviour, change your vote. Voting for the same politicans and expecting them to do something isn’t working.

    That said, by next month it will be forgotten and emisisons will still be rising and next year, more emissions again.

    tl;dr we’re screwed 🙂

  11. People only make significant changes to their lives if, a) there’s a big attraction in doing so, or b) they’re scared not to do so.

    If no one makes significant changes to their lives in order to reduce emissions, we end up with the worse case climate change scenario (WCS). The facts of climate change’s WCS are truly scary.

    Until the majority of people really understand what the WCS might look like and, as a result, become scared, there won’t be any serious action to start rapid emissions reduction.
    So how do we avoid the path to the WCS without first scaring people with the facts?

  12. Just to clarify: I think first people must be scared (with facts not alarmism) and then immediately they must be offered hope. One without the other doesn’t achieve anything.

    The idea people will despair I don’t accept. Were people scared when mainland Europe was overrun at the start of WW2? Did Pearl Harbour scare the Americans? Yes, both times. But the vast majority of people fight back very hard, with hope, in such situations.

  13. MikeH says:

    The Desmog article that John linked to highlights one of my issues with the pile on.

    >[Per Espen Stoknes, Norwegian psychologist ] notes there’s a well-known “positivity ratio” for optimal engagement of a 3:1 ratio of opportunities to threats. He says the New York Magazine piece was around nine threats to every one proposed solution.

    Michael Mann pointed to Ed Mailbach’s work who tweeted “Worry+Hope=SweetSpot”

    Then we have the amateur pyschologists “Stop scaring people about climate change. It doesn’t work.”

    I am not sure about the first but I am sure that the second is true and that the third is nonsense.

    But this is one article and it is not the only article that people concerned about climate will read. There are plenty of hopeful articles that point to how we can decarbonise. The idea that *every* article has to follow a strict formula is really silly. Criticising the science errors in the piece is fair game but idea that this sort of article is off limits is ridiculous.

    If it were true, Glen Peters would be banned from writing or tweeting anything.

  14. The truth is that we are in uncharted territory. We don’t know how he planet will react to such a quick pulse of CO2 and CO2e, There are a lot of reasons to be very concerned about the short/mid/long term impacts of the amount of CO2e that is already in the atmosphere. If you are not frightened for yourself, your kids, your grandkids, then you lack imagination.

    Folks are trying to play it cool and police folks who lay out their fears and concerns, but there is ample reason to be quite worried. The focus on errors in some of the scarier projections just distracts attention from a truly scary situation that we have created.

    But, hey, what do I know?

    Mike

  15. MikeH,

    The idea that *every* article has to follow a strict formula is really silly. Criticising the science errors in the piece is fair game but idea that this sort of article is off limits is ridiculous.

    Yes, there does seem to be an element of this. There are some who seem to think that they get to decide how we should frame discussions about this topic. Apart from their right to express their views (like everyone else) being a scientist doesn’t give one a special mandate to decide how to discuss a scientific topic.

  16. @ATTP,

    Nicely stated.

    I think, too, it’s important to dissuade people of the “pulling a rabit out of the hat” option, that is, the idea that if things were to *really* get that bad, “we scientists and engineers” would come up with a technical fix. They need to get familiarized with hiw daunting and expensive climate hacking is.

  17. Mal Adapted says:

    Heh. Did Mal say he yuuge David Roberts fan? Here’s why. David Roberts :

    Lest the message be lost, [Andrew] Freeman’s [Mashable] piece was originally headlined: “Do not accept New York Mag’s climate change doomsday scenario.”

    Got that? Do not accept it. Do not feel sad. Be hopeful and positive. Failure to be properly hopeful and positive will be punished!

    Freeman’s piece sounds a little beyond ‘erring on the side of least drama’ to me…

    I did admire the extended tweet by Kate Aronoff, and the ensuing star-studded panel discussion.

  18. John Hartz says:

    This from Climate Feedback…

    Sixteen scientists analyzed the article and estimated its overall scientific credibility to be ‘low’.
    A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Alarmist, Imprecise/Unclear, Misleading.

    Scientists explain what New York Magazine article on “The Uninhabitable Earth” gets wrong, Climate Feedback, July 13, 2017

    PS – Victor Venema is one of the 16 scientitsts who reviewd the article.

  19. Susan Anderson says:

    John Hartz, thanks for posting the DeSmog Canada, I thought that was one of the better evaluations. I’ve been besieged by my gloomier correspondents and am heartsick at the infighting. We seem with recent events to prefer attacking each other rather than trying to do something about our problems, a process that requires people to work together, not exclude them. The NYMag article had at least three obvious bloopers on first read (e.g., 40% is not “more than double”). Setting aside the lack of consideration for engaging people on a human level, the exaggerations are troubling.

    I think one of the core issues is that we are sickened by our inability to build communal action, and the most accessible people available for blame are moderates. I’ve had a lot of it in the last few months, and have had to develop a thicker skin about that. Social pressure on the left is becoming more absolutist by the day. The purity monster is metastasizing.

  20. Susan Anderson says:

    Somehow Kevin Anderson appears to be able to present grim reality without calling out the troops. Perhaps because he doesn’t have a big story in NYMag. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t hold a grim view of developing events (grimmer than many, since I’ve been studying human history, all too often a story of destructive exploitation of the many by the few*), but I’m not giving up yet, and a pinch of solutions would make the medicine go down easier.

    *This is odd, because most of the people I meet in my daily life are almost universally pretty nice, well meaning and generous.

  21. hyper,

    I think, too, it’s important to dissuade people of the “pulling a rabit out of the hat” option

    Yes, a good point. I think this is sometimes referred to as techno-utopia.

  22. Susan,

    Somehow Kevin Anderson appears to be able to present grim reality without calling out the troops.

    Indeed, Keving Anderson does seem pretty good at doing this.

  23. RickA says:

    I have to agree that trying to persuade people to voluntarily lower their standard of living is going to be very very difficult.

    In my view, the best way to emit less CO2 in the future is to invent energy production which is CHEAPER than fossil fuel forms of energy production. We need to invest in research and hopefully we will invent our way out of this problem. Once there is a cheaper way to generate power that emits less CO2 than fossil fuel, economics takes over and people will naturally switch.

    Renewables are not cheaper, even nuclear is not cheaper.

    However, until we have invented this cheaper non-carbon emitting form of energy production, we should invest heavily in nuclear power.

    The USA has 100 nuclear power plants, and produces 20% of its power with nuclear energy.

    I would like to see that doubled to 200 nuclear power plants and 40% of our power being supplied by nuclear.

    Then I would like to double it again to generate 80% of our power with nuclear. As coal, natural gas and oil power plants reach end-of-life, they could be phased out and replaced with nuclear power plants.

    We have the technology, it solves the problem and the and even the extra cost of nuclear would diminish if we rolled out a standardised plant design.

    I would also build reprocessing plants to utilize all the free spent fuel sitting around at the 100 existing plants – which will dramatically lower the radioactivity of the spent fuel and provide a lot of free power.

    This is the direction I think we should be going.

  24. RickA,
    I agree that we should be looking for ways to provide energy that it both affordable and doesn’t emit CO2 into the atmosphere. However, I don’t think this is correct

    Renewables are not cheaper, even nuclear is not cheaper.

    You can’t – IMO – simply ignore that there are future costs associated with fossil fuels that are currently not included in their price. If you include these costs, then they are no longer necessarily cheaper than the alternatives.

  25. I believe that a lot of folks would happily work less, earn less if that was an option that they could afford. A lot of consumption (quality of life?) is driven by stress of lives that are too busy and that kind of consumption might be given up more easily than you might think. But I could be wrong, Maybe folks love the 40 plus hour work week and commute lifestyle with all that it entails.

  26. Mal Adapted says:

    Our host to hyperg:

    it’s important to dissuade people of the “pulling a rabit out of the hat” option

    Yes, a good point. I think this is sometimes referred to as techno-utopia.

    If only Freeman Dyson had supernatural powers.

  27. Jai Mitchell says:

    In my view, and I have been working on this extensively, there IS a viable solution in place for the climate emergency. With regard to “cheaper than fossil fuels” we are all going to learn very soon just how expensive it has been to put CO2 into the atmosphere over the last 3 decades.

    The necessarily solution involves a 2-part strategy within a societal mobilization framework. The first part is the rapid streamlining of key technical adoption, through massive government intervention in the markets. This process follows the historic World War II mobilization model that occurred in America after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This rapid mobilization required an expenditure of about 1/3 of GNP toward meeting a real and present existential threat. Key technologies were produced through government owned and contractor operated facilities with very tight restrictions on profiteering, cost-plus supply based contracting and massive incentives.

    The second part involved the engagement of the general public to ‘support the troops’ in doing everything that was necessary to achieve victory in the war effort. This was a societal transformation that naturally occurs within human experience when, as a collection, group or national structure, we support each other to defend ourselves against a looming threat. Thankfully, 60,000 years of conflict has pre-conditioned the human experience to rapidly move together with this sense of purpose and the transformation into this mode of operation happens VERY rapidly as soon as we observe our peers engaging in this activity. We truly are herd animals in this regard.

    With the development of new technology innovations that are only JUST NOW coming online, (lower cost solar, higher wind turbines, new battery technologies, energy and water conservation delivery mechanisms, fully autonomous vehicles, etc. The rapid identification of key policy and regulatory structures, coupled with this government production (market dominance) activities will rapidly shift our societies away from fossil fuels.

    This total society mobilization is, in my view, the only option left for us to prevent a 3.5C warmer world, in the absence of Solar Radiation Management and/or extreme industrial-based atmospheric CO2 capture.

  28. Mal Adapted says:

    RickA:

    I have to agree that trying to persuade people to voluntarily lower their standard of living is going to be very very difficult.

    That’s why it’s CF&D, not CT&D. My support for C{F,T}&D assumes it’s not expecting too much of US voters to enact the former if not the latter, and subsequently pay a few bucks more for a tankful of gasoline voluntarily or otherwise.

  29. @Jai Mitchell,

    This total society mobilization is, in my view, the only option left for us to prevent a 3.5C warmer world, in the absence of Solar Radiation Management and/or extreme industrial-based atmospheric CO2 capture.

    And you think “Solar Radiation Management and/or extreme industrial-based atmospheric CO2 capture” won’t demand “total society mobilization”? If not, how do you expect to pay for them?

  30. Mal Adapted says:

    Comparing voluntary vs involuntary re-privatization of marginal AGW costs: one of the appeals of C{F,T}&D with BAT is ‘fairness’ or at least ‘equitability’, and another is ‘personal responsibility’.

    Suppose I, having benefited as much by socializing my marginal AGW costs as anyone, were to give my life savings to the families of Filipinos killed by Typhoon Haiyan. I’d still have my family, and RickA would still have his savings.

  31. When humans are ‘up against it’, history tells us the will to overcome adversity is very powerful. This evidence represents my ‘hope’.

    Most people today do not yet understand that our current fossil-fuelled behaviour is putting more and more dangers up against our children and our grandchildren—and even our older selves if we are still young. Those who already understand this mustn’t be afraid to lay it on the line.

  32. When a car has a tyre which is almost bald, we say to the driver, “get it replaced immediately or you’re likely to be killed”. We don’t say, “if you drive carefully and it doesn’t rain you should be OK for the moment. But do get it changed soon”—which is the more likely outcome.

    When considering risk, the worse case scenario—if existential—is the outcome that dominates discussion. Consider the effort we go to to stop airplane crashes. Even though the odds of crashing are 1 in 10 million let’s say, the industry still continues efforts to reduce the chance of a crash.

    And yet when it comes to climate change, some seem repeatedly to want to play down the likelihood of the worst case scenario.

  33. Jai Mitchell says:

    hyper,

    Good point. The atmosphere capture will be necessary, however, more costly than mitigation efforts since mitigation actually produces a usable output (transportation, energy production, increased resiliency, etc. . .)

  34. Steven Mosher says:

    Unluckwarmists always get a pass.

  35. Steven Mosher says:

    assumes it’s not expecting too much of US voters to enact the former if not the latter, and subsequently pay a few bucks more for a tankful of gasoline voluntarily or otherwise.”

    We
    Are
    Not
    The
    Problem.
    Or
    Solution.

  36. Steven Mosher says:

    This rapid mobilization required an expenditure of about 1/3 of GNP toward meeting a real and present existential threat.

    #######

    The best estimate of damages for the us is 1% of gdp per degree C. Of warming.

    Gdp in the us is 17 trillion.
    You want to spend 1/3 or roughly 6 trillion.
    To prevent the nothing burger of 1% losses per degree of warming.

  37. Willard says:

    > When a car has a tyre which is almost bald, we say to the driver, “get it replaced immediately or you’re likely to be killed”. We don’t say, “if you drive carefully and it doesn’t rain you should be OK for the moment. But do get it changed soon”—which is the more likely outcome.

    I like that analogy.

    There once was a campaign by my local government against reckless driving. They gathered 20 yo speed freaks and tested their response to different arguments. Nothing much worked, except one thing: they could kill their girlfriend.

    The luckwarm illusion of selfishness may never affect more than a tiny fraction of the population. It is overrepresentated on the Intertubes. Freedom Fighters are not everywhere – they’re just everywhere virtually.

  38. Jai Mitchell says:

    Steven,

    what is the discount rate on the expenditures in your estimate, does it also only limit sea level rise to 1/2 of a meter as opposed to the likely potential of 1-2 meters? A discount rate of 3% reduces the value of all present loss estimates by 95% over 70 years.

    in other words, multi-generational, pure-time discount rates, in a scenario of irreversible and catastrophic impacts are not only morally reprehensible, they are also (in the U.S) unconstitutional.

    The timeline of impacts under a much more rapid arctic sea ice loss scenario than present in the CMIP5 ensemble (say 2025 vs 2050) also front-ends many impacts,

    Since discount rates necessarily assume a greater future potential to mitigate impacts, and under a +2C (or greater) warming scenario, our ability to mitigate these impacts are significantly reduced. It is actually more logical (and moral) to implement a negative pure-time discount rate.

  39. Magma says:

    I was not a fan of the Wallace-Wells article. The combination of errors, exaggeration, tone and implicit pessimism left me cold.

    Let’s not forget that for 25+ years climate change deniers, whether funded by fossil fuel interest or acting purely from ideological motives, have consistently worked to paint mainstream climate scientists as alarmists, grant-seeking con artists, Chicken Littles, and so on and so on.

    Ridiculous as these claims were and are, they secured a purchase among right-wing national and subnational politicians and governments in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia (among others)
    and allowed those governments room to justify a lack of action and leadership on climate change mitigation on the grounds of uncertainty.

    So when an exaggerated and alarmist article replete with scientific errors does reach print and a wider audience, it’s little wonder that climate scientists who have fought for decades for every inch of credibility against dishonest and unscrupulous opponents react with dismay. Recall that every minor misstatement and error by Al Gore over the past 20 years are still endlessly rehashed, and the 2035/2350 Himalaya glaciers typo in AR4 is still being brought up ten years later to try to undermine public perception of climate scientists’ competence and expertise.

    In the longer run maybe this won’t be an issue. Climate scientists holding mainstream positions may benefit from being perceived as being credible moderates with “what climate problem?” deniers on one side and well-meaning but counterproductive “doomsday is upon us!” activists on the other.

  40. RICKA says:

    ATTP says “You can’t – IMO – simply ignore that there are future costs associated with fossil fuels that are currently not included in their price.”

    Perhaps that is true for yourself.

    However, I can assure you that most people only care about what gasoline costs at the pump, or what electricity costs on their monthly bill.

    They do not care what some scientific study says about externalized costs which “should” be tacked onto what they pay at the pump or their electricity bill.

    Economics relies on people making decisions based on costs (price elasticity for example). And people actually do make decisions on real costs – not imaginary ones. Some choose to spend more for ecological benefits (I myself installed geothermal heating for my house in 2007, and it added $12,000 to my HVAC package cost). However, some and maybe many will go with whatever is cheaper.

    I am very skeptical of the entire concept of external costs, since they never seem to net out external benefits or even consider external benefits.

    It would be fun to run a little experiment – and shut down production of all fossil fuels for one year and see which is greater – the benefits or the costs. I believe the costs would dwarf the “benefits”.

    But so many people would die, that it would not be ethical to run the experiment, nor would businesses cooperate is such an endeavor.

  41. Joshua says:

    RICKA –

    =={ And people actually do make decisions on real costs – not imaginary ones. }==

    Does this mean that you consider externalized costs to be “imaginary?”

    =={ I am very skeptical of the entire concept of external costs, since they never seem to net out external benefits or even consider external benefits. }==

    That’s quite interesting. So you state that you are skeptical of external costs in the very same sentence where you imply that external benefits are a given. Do you not see the logical inconsistency there?

    =={ It would be fun to run a little experiment – and shut down production of all fossil fuels for one year and see which is greater – the benefits or the costs. I believe the costs would dwarf the “benefits”. }==

    Again, it is interesting that you seem to imply that externalized costs are “imaginary” and certainly far less concrete than externalized benefits, yet the logic of your statement implies that you are fairly certain that they are proportionately less than the externalized benefits.

    Consider that if you eliminate fossil fuels for one year, you eliminate the costs of funding the infrastructure needed for private and commercial internal combustion engine-based travel, along with the costs of such things as time lost in traffic jams, the environmental impact and other costs associated with urban sprawl, the geopolitical cost of maintaining the flow of oil, cost of medical care associated with pollution from fossil fuels, etc.

    =={ But so many people would die, that it would not be ethical to run the experiment, nor would businesses cooperate is such an endeavor. }==

    We are currently running an “experiment” on the ratio of external costs and benefits from using fossil fuels? Is it unethical?

  42. Joshua says:

    RICKA –

    –{ nor would businesses cooperate is such an endeavor. }==

    I will also note that in fact, businesses are more than willing to engage in that experiment

  43. Joshua says:

    RCKA –

    =={ It would be fun to run a little experiment – and shut down production of all fossil fuels for one year and see which is greater – the benefits or the costs. I believe the costs would dwarf the “benefits”. }==

    I just want to go over the logic of this once again – since I see this logic so frequently from “skeptics,” or from that brand of “skeptics” who like to call themselves “lukewarmers.”

    You think that external costs of fossil fuels are not concrete, in fact probably imaginary, yet you feel sure that they are orders of magnitude smaller than the external benefits of fossil fuels.

    How do you know the relative size of something that is imaginary? fanciful? abstract? whimsical?

    I have to say that I think it is more than coincidental that for all the comments in climate war threads, where I’ve seen “skeptics” and the brand of “skeptics” who like to call themselves “lukewarmers,” found their logic in a near certainty that external costs are small relative to external benefits, I have yet to see one of such commenters (at least that I can recall) present a comprehensive estimation of what the external costs actually are.

    I just don’t get how that logic works.

  44. Willard says:

    > I can assure you that most people only care about what gasoline costs at the pump

    A citation might be needed here, RickA, as your armchair can’t reach most people’s heart and soul.

  45. Boring, RickA.

    And before you inflict more cartoon economics on us, you might want to check out what, say, Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek, amongst many others, had to say about externalities and prices.

    Or Alan Greenspan or George Schultz or Greg Mankiw or Jerry Taylor or Arthur Laffer or Tyler Cowen or Paul Volcker or on and on.

    too hard; didn’t research edition: There really are negative externalities. Prices need to reflect them or markets are distorted and lead to sub-optimal results.

    And in case you just can’t be bothered to edjumacate yourself, I will even look up the first one:

    Phil Donahue: Is there a case for the government to do something about pollution?

    ,Milton Friedman: Yes, there’s a case for the government to do something. There’s always a case for the government to do something about it. Because there’s always a case for the government to some extent when what two people do affects a third party. There’s no case for the government whatsoever to mandate air bags, because air bags protect the people inside the car. That’s my business. If I want to protect myself, I should do it at my expense. But there is a case for the government protecting third parties, protecting people who have not voluntarily agreed to enter. So there’s more of a case, for example, for emissions controls than for airbags. But the question is what’s the best way to do it? And the best way to do it is not to have bureaucrats in Washington write rules and regulations saying a car has to carry this that or the other. The way to do it is to impose a tax on the cost of the pollutants emitted by a car and make an incentive for car manufacturers and for consumers to keep down the amount of pollution.

    And please, let’s not drift even further off-topic by re-litigating (yawn) whether greenhouse gases are greenhouse gases. The topic was about the efficacy or not of communicating worst-case scenarios…

  46. Jai Mitchell says:

    It is arguable that Milton Friedman economics are the primary influence that has created the existential crisis we now face.

  47. RICKA says:

    Joshua:

    Since they are made up, they can be whatever you want them to be.

    Change the discount rate for inflation and the external costs change.

    Change the rate of projected sea level rise and the external costs change.

    Change climate sensitivity and the external costs change.

    These are all massively speculative numbers and there are many others which impact external costs.

    Ditto for the external benefits.

    That is the problem.

    Different people can come up with different costs and benefits.

    What is that ride in the fossil fuel ambulance worth to you? Some might say $1, some might say $1,000,000. It depends on how much you value your life.

    That is why I am so skeptical about both costs and benefits. Take a survey and I am sure you would find just as many answers as participants.

  48. I believe Buckminster Fuller said we can afford to do anything we have to do. That was in context of secondary water treatment, but it has been expanded to war on terror, so why not addressing AGW? Somehow I suspect these externality messages will not be internalized by all.

  49. RICKA says:

    Rustneversleeps:

    Well at least if they pass a tax, it becomes a real cost.

    What will the government do with the pot of money raised by the tax?

    Get ready to be disappointed – because I bet they use it as general revenue.

  50. @Jai Mitchell,

    I’ve linked some climate mitigation-related discount rate discussions below. There have been a lot. Note, in particular, the discussion of hyperbolic discounting based upon insights from Behavioral Economics.

    It’s important to realize that, apart from business habit, a discount rate implies a exponential growth model for economic activity, viz,

    \propto \exp{[d(t-t_{0})]}

    where d is the discount rate, non-compounded, as a decimal (3% = 0.03), and time is in years. That’s a structural assumption and, depending upon the catastrophe envisioned, that structure could break. The assumption works for relatively small hits to productivity, something assumed by the rule-of-thumb 1% of GDP per degree warming. Damage can also be incurred in step functions. Paleodata suggest that, for instance, is the way SLR contributions come from ice sheets. The question is, Would the structural model persist against a completely arbitrarily example of a one-year loss of 30% GDP in the United States?

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/discounting-future-cost-climate-change
    http://www.rff.org/files/sharepoint/WorkImages/Download/RFF-DP-12-43.pdf
    A surprisingly simple-minded comment from the Heritage Foundation, although perhaps not so surprising, considering who it’s from
    The IPCC’s remarks on the question

  51. Joshua says:

    RICKA –

    =={ That is why I am so skeptical about both costs and benefits. }==

    Your othwr comments seem to be inconsistent with that comment. You don’t seem remotely skeptical about the benefits. And you don’t seem skeptical about the costs, but in fact quite sure about their relative value.

  52. Rick,

    Perhaps that is true for yourself.

    However, I can assure you that most people only care about what gasoline costs at the pump, or what electricity costs on their monthly bill.

    Let me rephrase. There are almost certainly costs associated with using fossil fuels that are currently not included in their price. We can, of course, ignore this, but that won’t change that someone will eventually pay this cost. Consequently, one of the reasons that fossil fuels are as cheap as they are is because we are not including all the costs associated with their use. If we did so, many alternatives would be comparable, or cheaper.

  53. “It is arguable that Milton Friedman economics are the primary influence that has created the existential crisis we now face.”

    Arguably, you could say that. But my point is that many of the most ardent “disciples” of Smith/Hayek/Friedman/et al are mostly ignorant of what they actually said. Ergo these cartoonish parodies get trotted out as gospel, when in reality there’s no there there.

  54. @Willard, @RICKA,

    The hyperbolic discounting which I mentioned in my reply to @Jai Mitchell uses (actual!) modern economics to indicate that the idea of a constant discount rate off into the indefinite future is inconsistent with human behavior. So, the proposal is to have a declining one as a function of time. If that is done, then future damage does not decay towards zero, despite what twaddle Kreutzer at the Heritage Foundation wants to spout.

  55. Mal Adapted says:

    Steven Mosher:

    We
    Are
    Not
    The
    Problem.
    Or
    Solution.

    We’re not? Outstanding! Who is?

    I’m afraid you don’t have the existential authority to absolve us, Mr. Mosher.

  56. Willard says:

    > my point is that many of the most ardent “disciples” of Smith/Hayek/Friedman/et al are mostly ignorant of what they actually said.

    You might like:

    Why are are we talking doom? Let everybody dance:

    Did I ever tell you that teh Milton was in favor of a garanteed income?

  57. RICKA says:

    ATTP:

    Ok – say we adjust the price of fossil fuels to limit their use, and their use declines.

    Solar and wind are 3% of energy production worldwide today.

    How many additional batteries do we need to manufacture to get to 20% of worldwide energy production by wind and solar?

    What are the negative externalities for bumping up the battery production – the mining of lithium, the transport costs, the land use lose for the wind and solar facilities and so on.

    All of the costs related to fossil fuel are sunk costs, already incurred (plants and such) – but that is not so for wind and solar, which will need to double or quadruple or whatever.

    So maybe you can play with the numbers, but when you get done, any realistic analysis will be bumping up the costs of wind and solar to deal with their negative externalities.

    It is probably a wash – and probably the same as just comparing actual costs.

    But that is just a guess and speculation on my part (I admit that).

  58. Rick,

    Ok – say we adjust the price of fossil fuels to limit their use, and their use declines.

    The point is that if we price it correctly (which may be impossible, but we can at least tend towards the correct price) then the market will respond in a way that allows for the development of the optimal mix of energy sources. It may well be that fossil fuels will still dominate, but at least we’ll be paying the full price. Maybe, on the other hand, some alternatives will start to dominate of they become cheaper. Maybe something else will be developed, or we will work out ways to efficiently use what we already have. However, rather than trying to pick winners, we will let the market determine what is optimal.

    Having said the above, I’m not convinced that the above is sufficient or that it is necessarily the best way forward (we could still have a scenario where the developed world benefits at the expense of the developing world) but it seems clear that the external cost of using fossil fuels is positive and that we’re currently not including this in the cost of using fossil fuels.

  59. Willard says:

    Stand aside, KevinA – Bon Iver voices Doomsday like no one else I’ve heard before:

  60. @RICKA,

    How many additional batteries do we need to manufacture to get to 20% of worldwide energy production by wind and solar?

    What are the negative externalities for bumping up the battery production – the mining of lithium, the transport costs, the land use lose for the wind and solar facilities and so on.

    All of the costs related to fossil fuel are sunk costs, already incurred (plants and such) – but that is not so for wind and solar, which will need to double or quadruple or whatever.

    Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy (including wind, which is a special case of solar) is a new energy technology. As are EVs. As is demand response. As are digital controls for energy management. You quote wind and solar as being 3% of energy today. (I don’t know what the number is.) Suppose that is correct. Wind and solar, backed by storage, aiming for an energy target which will be lower, because of greater efficiency, are experiencing exponential growth. That means penetration as a function of percentage of energy demand supplied is doubling every T years. Let’s be really conservative, and say T = 5, measured in years. (Empirical evidence is T < 3.) So, if it's 3% now, in 2022 it'll be 6%, and in 2027 it'll be 12%. In 2032 it'll be 24%, and in 2035 it'll be nearly half of the energy supply. You can figure out what happens in 2040. This has plenty of precedent, ranging from the transition from camphor to whale oil, from whale oil to petroleum, from horse-drawn power to cars, from mainframes to servers and PCs, from film cameras to digital, from regular phones to smart phones, from vacuum tubes to digital circuitry. Solar will not just be cheaper in the long run — I don’t have to pay for transmission — it is a fundamentally better product. It has a consistent price for decades, unlike fossil fuels which exhibit extreme volatility in prices, when deployed on a small scale it is easier to manage than a nuclear reactor power station, and the energy can be stored locally, not just in batteries, but in my hot water tank, or in my EV, displacing costs for energy that would have had to been purchased from another source.

    The supposed limitations and “environmental costs” for manufacturing wind turbine rotors and solar panels are scare tactics. Few depend on rare earths any longer. No one uses magnets in electric motors or generators any more. Lithium will probably give way to a Carbon-based chemistry, interestingly, one that could in principle be sources from CO2. Companies exist which recycle old Lithium Hydride batteries at extremely successful (and profitable!) recovery rates.

    You probably want references: Amory Lovins and Tony Seba.

    Fossil fuel companies are the Walking Dead. As is any utility which is betting its future profitability on natural gas. And I expect the same to happen to steel. And it is hilarious that Trump wants to stop steel dumping. He’s going to kickstart China’s composite Carbon industry, which is a material stronger than steel, lighter (it’s use in future EVs will extend battery range by, I believe 30%), and is of what the B-2A and the F-117 are made.

    The message: If you’re in business, don’t try to fight a power law phenomenon.

  61. John Hartz says:

    Out of curiousity, do any of you recall reading an article, or articles, by David Wallace-Wells prior to this one? I do not.

  62. scraft1 says:

    One of the problems with the “externalities” claim is that it’s seen by fossil fuel apologists as just another form of subsidy for energy strategies that your camp favors. It’s another form of political argument – like the “social cost of carbon” – a construct made of elements and assumptions that are easily countered. In this situation the stronger political power will win out, and right now fossil fuel interests hold the cards.

    Declaring fossil fuel companies the “walking dead” is simply wishful thinking. Why are 1600 coal fired generating plants being planned for the next decade”? What’s your timeframe for the death of fossil fuels?

  63. Willard says:

    > It’s another form of political argument

    I suppose this is correct, insofar as humans are political animals:

    In economics, an externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit. Economists often urge governments to adopt policies that “internalize” an externality, so that costs and benefits will affect mainly parties who choose to incur them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

    Otherwise, it’s rather an economical argument.

  64. Mal Adapted says:

    RickTheBrick:

    Well at least if they pass a tax, it becomes a real cost.

    What will the government do with the pot of money raised by the tax?

    Get ready to be disappointed – because I bet they use it as general revenue.

    [Chill. -W] Apparently he’s never heard of Carbon ‘Fee’ (i.e. ‘Tax’) and dividend.

    Mal do back-of-envelope arithmetic now, if he remember how. Uh-oh. Mal use LibreOffice Calc instead (Mal can haz Linux).

    First, KISS, and assume gasoline is the only fossil fuel US consumers buy; and that gasoline producers and importers sell directly to consumers. Keep it even simpler and ignore Border Adjustment for now; assume the IRS, which already has all the administrative apparatus in place, will collect the carbon fees and distribute the dividends; and that all US gasoline consumers are federal income tax filers.

    Start with consumers: assume 100 million US consumers burn an average of 1000 gallons of gasoline a year, though some burn half that, others twice as much. Total annual US gasoline consumption is thus 100 billion gallons.

    Next, suppose in 2020 a critical mass of US voters finally persuades their ‘elected representatives’ to enact CF&D if they wish to remain in office (details TBD). Yes, I know it’s a long shot, work with me here!

    Now, for producers: assume 100 US gasoline producers and importers are required to internalize a portion of the marginal climate-change costs of their products into their production costs. They each independently decide at the start to pass their extra production cost, $2.00 more per gallon of gasoline on average, on to their customers, who are the ones actually releasing fossil carbon to the sky as they drive to the 7-11 for cigarettes and a lottery ticket.

    Now let’s initialize our spreadsheets at year zero. In the first year, the producers pay the IRS a total of $200 billion in carbon ‘fees’ on the gasoline they sold to consumers. US gasoline consumers then pay $200 billion in marginal climate-change costs; though it’s of course the same $200 billion the producers payed first.

    At the end of the year, the IRS has $200 billion in carbon ‘fees’. That gets divided by 100 million federal tax filers, who each get a $2000 dividend. Those who bought more than 1000 gallons of gas lose money, those who bought less make money.

    Throughout the year, zealous auditors of all major political parties verify how much carbon revenue the IRS collects. They verify the number of federal tax filers. They verify how many dividends are mailed out. They verify that the government doesn’t have any extra money left over. IOW, CF&D is revenue-neutral!

    Everybody get that? CF&D is revenue neutral! Only conspiracists will claim to find a loophole allowing ‘the government’ to keep any! The total tax burden on the average US gasoline consumer doesn’t change!

    I hope this has occurred to everyone too: if you don’t trust your elected representatives not to game CF&D, then turn off Faux News, elect new ones who convince you they can be trusted and hold their feet to the fire. Email them every day! Call their offices once a week! Show up in them once a month! The lobbyists hired by the investors with the most to lose from CF&D sure are! Just don’t blame the politicians who promised to pass CF&D, whom you just elected and are keeping a close eye on, for the ones who didn’t.

    Forget the government and Faux News anyway, how are you going to spend your net dividend? Let’s see which gasoline consumers win or lose the dividend contest next year! Let’s see next year’s hybrid and all-electric cars! Let’s see what happens to PV panel sales! Let’s see which gasoline producer drops his price to keep his customers first! Let’s see how fast the national carbon-neutral supply and infrastructure gets built out and nobody will pay to burn fossil carbon even without CF&D!

    I’m afraid it’s ThickRickA who’ll be disappointed. Will he ever figure out that CF&D is revenue-neutral? Oh, and BTW, CF&D is revenue neutral, but you have to make sure it stays that way!

  65. @scraft1,

    I did the calculation above. Solar will dominate, certainly by 2040, and fossil fuels will probably be dead as companies — most in Chapter 11 — significantly sooner.

    It’s only until recently that the pathway to demise is becoming clear. Fossil fuel companies depend on getting a good deal of short term debt from the private sector, since they are highly capital intensive. Bankers will, beginning now, begin to wonder if they are good for their repayments over the terms of the loans, so credit will become dearer, with creditors insisting on higher rates of interest, since the projects might not live out their full lifetimes. In addition to the possibility of government action, more convincing to creditors is the possibility that their markets might significantly contract, due to lack of demand.

    It’s tough to know when this will begin, but the enlightened companies might want to think about transforming themselves. That’s hard for a corporate culture, though, e.g., Kodak, although some have managed it, e.g., IBM. I have found, during discussions with managers and executives from utility companies, that they are some of the toughest business projects to turn around, since they never really have been retail companies, rather, serving to please their public utility commissions. This idea of having direct relationships with end customers in the face of competition is a completely new world to them.

    The oil companies got a rude awakening today.

  66. Mal Adapted says:

    Mal also yuuge admirer of Tim Egan.

  67. Steven Mosher says:

    B2? Carbon carbon and black magic dust.super expensive.
    Making the tool is an incredible process.

  68. Michael 2 says:

    Williard writes: it’s rather an economical argument.

    Agreed, but not “rather”. I believe most political arguments ARE economic arguments.

  69. Eli Rabett says:

    FWIW people spend money like crazy when interest rates are high because inflation is also high (why do you think the interest rates were high) and that means the rational thing is to spend the money fast before it loses value.

  70. @Steven Mosher,

    I was emphasizing the strength of the material. Noone cares if cars are transparent to radar. (Well, maybe some people do, who get a lot of speeding tickets …) Your shot is cheap, and silly. Check out the Carbon fiber composite. BMW is using Carbon fiber for body shells.

  71. danialcblog says:

    From today’s Sydney Morning Herald
    Charlie Veron is the world’s leading expert on coral reefs. His prognosis for the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and the world, is dire.

    http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/charlie-veron-the-dire-environmental-prognosis-we-cannot-ignore-20170711-gx8tqr.html

  72. this should be the mantra, the touchstone, for all reviews of things like Wallace-Wells and Hawking comments: “here is the thing they got right: Our situation is dire. We are in uncharted territory and it is impossible to say with certainty how climate change will advance, but we are in a dire situation. The accumulation of ghg in the atmosphere is catastrophic. We can and will argue about the errors in this piece, but make no mistake. Our situation is dire.”

  73. Eli Rabett says:

    Steve, believe it or not people are going to use 3D printing to build cars (not today true but it is coming) so the tooling becomes less of an issue

  74. Steven Mosher says:

    We’re not? Outstanding! Who is?

    I’m afraid you don’t have the existential authority to absolve us, Mr. Mosher.
    ########
    The problem is people who are on paths to increase. China India.
    And yes I do have the authority. Unless you believe there is some higher moral authority that will what? Send me to hell?
    Call me bad names?

  75. Mal Adapted says:

    And a news item in the current Science, The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about. I’m not sure the title is ‘helpful’, but it’s pretty much the literal truth. From the article:

    Recycling and using public transit are all fine and good if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, but to truly make a difference you should have fewer children.

    See article for cites. Mal write like population geneticist now (Mal go to college many long year. Mal still dream he forget he enroll in course, no take final, get Mark of Beast ‘F’ 8^O):

    A father with the best intentions and most disciplined follow-through might achieve an admirably tiny personal ecological footprint, but what about his kids?

    My nom du clavier alludes to my voluntary failure to have offspring. I’m not going to claim it was a noble sacrifice, as I have virtually no doubt that evolution is but a game in which the only reward for winning is to stay in the game. Not being much of a find ’em, [redacted] ’em, pay ’em child support kind of guy, I mostly just never wanted to be bothered.

    Nor do I dislike children, at least seen but not heard; and the look I’ve witnessed on my brother’s face gives me a credible clue to what his daughter and grandson mean to him. OTOH, I’ve also witnessed the downside at close remove: not that it’s been all that bad, but how bad do you want it? And while my brother takes pains to minimize his ecological footprint, my niece and her genX yuppie husband seem pretty casual about theirs, despite her eccentric uncle’s diffident harangues.

    Regardless, while this is transparently all about my needs, the last thing the world needs is another Mal or even half* a Mal. While any man who propagates his genes must account not only for his own damn ecological footprint but the aggregate (applying appropriate dilution and discount factors) of his genetic descendants’ unto the Nth generation, my legacy footprint will shrink to zero soon after my death.

    Yes, my brother’s girl is 25% me. As much as I care for her, let him be the one saddled with raising our parents’ descendants and their extended footprint be charged to him, thank you. Even more confidently after a vasectomy 20 years ago, I do not avoid women, but I do deny them my genes 8^D.

    * They’re half you and half the mother, you know. What about her evolutionary imperative to replace herself, you big selfish jerk?!11!

  76. Pingback: Off for a couple of weeks | …and Then There's Physics

  77. Mal Adapted says:

    Steven Mosher:

    The problem is people who are on paths to increase. China India.

    You’re assuredly right, to an extent; but (I hope) the US still has the global market power to accelerate China and India’s carbon-neutral buildouts, by implementing our own CF&D with Border Adjustment, a key provision to discourage domestic manufactures from voting with their ‘feet’ and encourage our trading partners to follow our lead. Taxes on the embodied fossil carbon in imported goods would added to fees from domestic fossil fuel producers when dividends are distributed. That may help mollify US voters, too ;^|.

    We may not be the biggest total GHG emitter any more, but by curtailing our own emissions we’ll still contribute a proportionately yuuge (for values of yuuge) amount to the global solution; and to our own prosperity, and absolution, in the bargain. And, (I hope) it’s still possible for sound climate policy to restore some of our past technological and creative advantages, so we become an exporter of solutions, if not absolution, to other countries.

    M:

    And yes I do have the authority. Unless you believe there is some higher moral authority that will what? Send me to hell?
    Call me bad names?

    Please accept my apologies, Steven. I’ve been guilty of the last, but you’ve earned my respect. OTOH, ‘but China and India’ is a well known lukewarmer (a ‘bad name’ only if ‘the shoe fits’) tactic. It may be worthwhile for us to unpack our meanings a little more; and perhaps to extend the benefit of our doubts 8^).

  78. Mal Adapted says:

    Mal proactively unpack some serious meaning 8^|. That remind Mal he never see Fuller around here. Mal digress.

    Steven, on your existential authority, you and your fellow Climate Etc. habitués may choose any morally ambiguous word you like to circumscribe yourselves. By my own authority, the ‘lukewarmer’ and ‘luckwarmer’ labels are assigned a moral value of ‘bad’. I’ll unpack a little more:

    A lukewarmer is anyone who is unwilling to deny the weight of evidence that the ongoing rise in GMST is anthropogenic, but is willing to deny the weight of the evidence that the price for AGW has and will include loss of home, livelihood and life for more than ‘enough’ people to ‘matter’.

    The lukewarmers’ assertion: ‘it won’t be bad’

    A luckwarmer is anyone who is unwilling even to deny that the costs of AGW have a probability density function, though its parameters aren’t precisely known, but who is nevertheless willing to mask out its upper half.

    The luckwarmers’ delusion: ‘uncertainty is our friend’.

    And by ‘enough people to matter’, I’m including those who’ve already paid the highest price. No matter who they are or where they live. Tragedy is in the eye of the beholder, but the causal links between AGW and human casualties in the tens of thousands globally are sufficiently demonstrated to make the claim that there are none extraordinary.

  79. JCH says:

    “Don’t worry about it.” – Lt. Kermit A. Tyler

  80. Mal Adapted says:

    Let me make myself, at least, perfectly clear on this forum: because tragedy is truly, if only, in the eyes of the beholder, it is immoral to go to extraordinary lengths to deny others’ tragedy.

  81. BBD says:

    “Don’t look away” – Ian Curtis

  82. I just came across a compact on the maths of technology disruption. It is important to link it here because earlier I cited the exponential growth model for solar+wind+storage adoption which, as the article indicates, is a pretty standard approach. But, based upon a broad base of evidence, for present purposes it is wrong enough to be misleading. In fact, a better model is a Logistic function (“S-curve”), the principle significance being it climbs much faster than an exponential, initially, and then properly reflects effects of finiteness of market later. Note, too, that finiteness indicates fossil fuel share will decay as one minus the Logistic, which is much faster than the gradual exponential decay fossil fuel companies forecast.

  83. Joshua says:

    What’s the definition of a lackwarmer?

    1. Someone who says she believes in the GHE but yet asserts a lack of warming (despite increased atmospheric CO2).

    or.,

    2. Someone who says she believes in a GHE but formulates views on policy that lack logical coherence with that belief.

  84. Joshua says:

    I would post the definition of a lickwarmer, but this is a family-friendly blog.

  85. Mal Adapted says:

    Tone, Joshua ;^D!

  86. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The problem is people who are on paths to increase. China India.

    No. Not really.

    And you may find yourself
    Living in a shotgun shack
    And you may find yourself
    In another part of the world
    And you may find yourself
    Behind the wheel of a large automobile
    And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
    With a beautiful wife
    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?

  87. Mal Adapted says:

    Rev:

    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?

    Great classical reference, but we know how we got here 8^(!

  88. this is not my beautiful planet

  89. @smallbluemike,

    Reminds me of John BigBoote …

  90. That was supposed to be a link to second 299 of the clip. Oh well.

  91. “I’m not here
    This isn’t happening
    I’m not here
    I’m not here”

    “How to Disappear Completely”, Radiohead

  92. Willard says:

    > The problem is

    Ze problem fallacy strikes again.

  93. russellseitz says:

    Mal is invited to extend the Malaproposism list by coining words for
    1 Those who voluntarily move to climates warmer by more than 4.5 C from where they lived before

    2. Those who view shifts in population density and pattterns of demography towards warmer regions as analogs avant la lettre of of AGW itself.

  94. Mal Adapted says:

    Russell, I’m sure the pleasure would be all yours.

  95. Mal Adapted says:

    My previous comment may have seemed a bit brusque. Let me rephrase it:

    Thank you, Russell, but I must decline your kind (extending the benefit of my doubt, here) invitation without the least regret, for I’m sure the pleasure would be all yours.

  96. russellseitz says:

    I already coined one geophysical word,so the ball is in Mal’s court

  97. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    1.
    Those who voluntarily move to climates warmer by more than 4.5 C from where they lived before

    “Canadian”.

  98. Mal Adapted says:

    russellseitz:

    already coined one geophysical word,so the ball is in Mal’s court

    What matter, Russell drink too much Bright Water? Ms. Malaprop, Mal split up 14 year long (inexpensively, +/- amicably; mature wisdom, professional mediation, all hypothetical god thank; Mal want word with hypothetical-god guy why goddam ‘mature wisdom’ not in Mal’s pants when he marry – wait, wut? Hypothetical-god not guy? Oh. Dim bulb come on for Mal), so you best option call her. On own to tell her Mal tell you to, not.

  99. Willard says:

    > “Canadian”

    You mean, “snowbirds”. In related news:

    Residents of International Falls, Minn. woke up this morning to a glacial -38 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other end of the U.S., those living in Key West, Fla. were probably tossing on shorts and flip-flops for a pleasant 77 degree start to the day — a staggering 115-degree temperature difference between the two cities.

    Admittedly, the morning in question was a few years ago.

  100. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    You mean, “snowbirds”

    Actually, given the observed degree(s) of arctic warming, no snowbirding will be required to experience a climate warmer by more than 4.5 C.

    Good thing, too. US customs officials are rather muggy these days.

  101. Mal Adapted says:

    Very Rev:

    Good thing, too. US customs officials are rather muggy these days.

    Why, don’t they get paid enough?

  102. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Residents of International Falls, Minn. woke up this morning to a glacial -38 degrees Fahrenheit.

    That nothing. Mal grow up where temperature go below -40 degree (F, C same) for full week one winter many, many, many, many (Mal not take both shoe off now) long year now.

    Last time it that cold in that place. Mal go around in zipped-up snorkel-parka, flannel-lined overall, thinsulate®d Herman Survivor® boot, freaking® icicle® in beard® (sorry, ‘®’ key stuck). Mal apartment kitchen faucet freeze one night Mal, housemate not there. Landlord mad, ya shoor yoo betcha.

    Heh, Mal miss halcyon day of youth. Too bad youth wasted on young. Mal digress down rat hole again.

  103. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Why Mal gone all Eli all of a sudden?

    Take it easy, please, Mal. Slow down. Take a breather – or ‘sauvignon blanc’, as the French call it.

  104. Mal Adapted says:

    What wrong, Vinny®, Mal® use up air®? What mod say? Mal® promise he limit Eli®-ness, use Standard English® when I want to get a point across. I also promise to try to make my point as concisely but thoroughly as I can, not always having ‘edit comment’ or instant preview available. OTOH, I don’t promise to have a point® every time I post. How about you, Mr. MaBurgoo® ;^)? Holy crap, I’m starting to sound like Killian® 8^O!

    In all candor, my ‘steemed frenemy: I can’t recommend retirement enough! The elation is difficult to describe. I’ve been bubbIing over with mirth (so to speak) since last March, and I’ve got even more time for recreational typing now! Why, don’t mind if I do have some of that sauvignon blanc, thanks; depending on the label, of course.

  105. Mal Adapted says:

    Mal® go get Clos du Bois® California® sauvignon blanc 2016. Good, cheap. H/T Vinny®.

  106. Willard says:

    > What mod say?

    Chill, please.

  107. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Chill, please

    OK.

  108. Steven Mosher says:

    “No. Not really.

    And you may find yourself
    Living in a shotgun shack
    And you may find yourself
    In another part of the world
    And you may find yourself
    Behind the wheel of a large automobile
    And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
    With a beautiful wife
    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?”

    The Physics of the future doesnt care, how we got here. The transnational justice clown may care,
    but the physics only cares about PPM going forward.

    There is a carbon Budget.

  109. Steven Mosher says:

    Mal

    ‘so we become an exporter of solutions,”

    there is a reason why at Berkeley Earth we tried for quite sometime to encourage China to move to NG. A temporary fix to be sure, but assuredly better than keepingkiller coal alive. There will be other efforts..

    I’m quite beyond the petty discussions of absolution and condemnation. ya ya very Nietzchian and would actually rather, you know, do something

  110. Mal Adapted says:

    Steven Mosher:

    I’m quite beyond the petty discussions of absolution and condemnation.

    Are you, now? Good man!

  111. izen says:

    Push for electric cars, scooters and bicycles.
    The transition to electric transport can be very rapid as it imposes a ‘Seneca clif’ decline on the fossil fuel transport sector. That in turn undermines the fossil fuel business model and starts the same process as is reaching an end-stage with coal.

    Unless you think all the extant coal reserves are NOT stranded assets.

  112. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The Physics of the future doesnt care, how we got here. The transnational justice clown may care,
    but the physics only cares about PPM going forward.
    There is a carbon Budget.

    Sigh.
    The rhetoric of non-culpability expressed in future parts-per-million doesn’t eliminate the provenance of the past parts-per-million.

    Of course “The Physics” doesn’t care about who’s responsible for cumulative emissions.

    But your “transnational justice clown” is just a stupid deflection from the fact that a great many non-Westerners DO care. They quite reasonably don’t wanna pay for actions that were not under their control and from which they did not benefit.

    ‘How we got here’ is obviously relevant to the question of how to go forward. Yes – there’s a carbon budget. But only a silly libertarian would suggest that Bangladesh should shoulder the same budgetary burden as the USA.

    Denying the West’s (particularly the USA’s) direct and quantifiable involvement in altering the composition of the atmosphere and jokingly dismissing liability for externalized costs isn’t going to magically create a world where we’re suddenly all equally non-responsible.

    That could explain why the rest of the planet regards the USA under President Donald Trump as the yuuugest rent-seeker in history.


    I’m quite beyond the petty discussions of absolution and condemnation.

    How magnanimously convenient of you, Mr Mosher.


    …would actually rather, you know, do something..

    As long as you don’t have to pay for it.

  113. Willard says:

    The word “petty” in “I’m quite beyond the petty discussions of absolution and condemnation” seems to imply a tiny bit of condemnation.

  114. Steven Mosher says:

    Rev.

    I think you totally miss the point. I’m not much of a religious type and I remain unconvinced of any of your moral arguments for absolution or condemnation. Decide whether you want to send me to hell or call me bad names. meh. I’m not interested one bit in your justice clown. deal with it. What I do care about is the budget going forward.

    There is X carbon to Burn.

    China and India will be making X smaller faster. Physics cares about this.
    The west is slowing. heck we already won the climate wars even Trump cant turn it around.

    So the physical problem is china and India. You have to have a degree from WUWT math department to not see this.

    Psst. Most of my friends here in beijing agree. not that that matters.

  115. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    And

    The problem is people who are on paths to increase. China India.

    seems to imply a giant iceberg of absolution.

    It must be a transitory justice clown thing.

  116. Steven Mosher says:

    “Are you, now? Good man!”

    If you like we could discuss the merits of killing people now by burning coal versus killing them in the future with climate change. Bottom line climate change is pretty much of a moral minefield.
    its more pragmatic to focus on what the real physical problem is going to be going forward.
    Ya, china and India.

    Will we be part of the solution? we kinda have to be, but not because we are obligated.

  117. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I think you totally miss the point.

    I think I understand ‘your’ point perfectly, and you completely miss mine.

    The physical problem is not the BIG problem.
    You’d have to be a software engineer not to get that.

    Your complete lack of interest in transnational justice hardly matters to most of the other 7 billion folks around here.

    Did you perchance fly to Beijing?

  118. Steven Mosher says:

    Sigh.
    The rhetoric of non-culpability expressed in future parts-per-million doesn’t eliminate the provenance of the past parts-per-million.”

    1. Who said it did?

    Of course “The Physics” doesn’t care about who’s responsible for cumulative emissions.

    1. Thanks for remaking my point.

    “But your “transnational justice clown” is just a stupid deflection from the fact that a great many non-Westerners DO care. They quite reasonably don’t wanna pay for actions that were not under their control and from which they did not benefit.”

    1. Many westerners do nt want to pay for actions that were not under their control
    and from which they did not benefit. Duh.

    ‘How we got here’ is obviously relevant to the question of how to go forward. Yes – there’s a carbon budget. But only a silly libertarian would suggest that Bangladesh should shoulder the same budgetary burden as the USA.

    1. Its hardly relevant. You can try to make it relevant.
    2. Who suggested that? Not me.

    Quite simply, I suppose some internationla justice clown may suggest that those who profited
    the most from the extraction of Oil should pay. The middle east, venezula, norway, the US.
    Someone else would say… No.. those who burned the oil should pay.
    And someone else would say… well c02 is a log effect so the early c02 is more important than
    the later c02. And someone else will say.. Look we have a problem, everyone should
    pay according to thier ability.

    Like I said. the west is not the problem. the problem going forward is China and india.
    Will we be a part of the solution? Prolly have to be. And finally no amount of ritualistic
    beatings you want to apply to the west will make the job one bit easier, clown.

    Denying the West’s (particularly the USA’s) direct and quantifiable involvement in altering the composition of the atmosphere and jokingly dismissing liability for externalized costs isn’t going to magically create a world where we’re suddenly all equally non-responsible.

    1. Like I said, wea re are not the problem. the problem is going forward. China india.
    Denying math makes you a poor spokesmodel for accounting the for the past.

    That could explain why the rest of the planet regards the USA under President Donald Trump as the yuuugest rent-seeker in history.

    1. Actually he is doing great things for the climate. Pushing NG and Nuclear. Good, very good.
    meanwhile people are being slaughtered daily by killer coal in the east.
    If I have to choose between rent seekers and mass murderers…. hmm tough choice
    let me consult some justice clown

    As long as you don’t have to pay for it.

    1. I have no problem paying to solve, you know, the actual problem.
    the problem to repeat is NOT THOSE FOLKS WHO ARE REDUCING
    the problem is the folks increasing the use of FF.

    This is not that difficult. BUT if your religion is punish the West at every turn,
    if your dogma is that the west is always wrong, always the problem, then of course
    you cannot say the words.. China and India are the problem.

    hell You could couldnt even say

    China and India are the problem and the west has to help because we can.

  119. @Steven Mosher,

    Many westerners do n[o]t want to pay for actions that were not under their control
    and from which they did not benefit. Duh.

    (1) I think you should limit that to “residents of the United States”, not “westerners”. Unlike people in the USA, there’s plenty of evidence people elsewhere in “the West” do understand they need to pay substantial taxes in order to get good government. The idea of blaming poor government upon intrinsic government inefficiency and then cutting its funds is just applying the National City Lines “Taken for a Ride” scheme to government. I think the average citizen of the United States or even Massachusetts is incredibly cheap.

    (2) The question, then, is when consequences of those “actions not under their control” destroy their economy, will said cheap citizens want help from elsewhere? Why should others help us with that kind of attitude?

  120. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Steven,

    I am not suggesting some dogmatic punishment regime for the always-wrong West.

    I merely propose that they who profited from production should pay for the damages caused by said production.

    You accuse me of being a math-denying spokesmodel.
    I’ll see that, and raise you a history-denying hypocrite.

    Think of it this way…
    If we stopped emitting all GHGs this very moment, the oceans will still rise and acidify, the glaciers will still melt. Extreme weather will still happen. Plants and animals will still need to adapt or perish.

    China and India are the problem now (there, I said it) – but that is BECAUSE the USA and other Western nations have already fucked up the atmosphere. You may wish to dismiss this as ‘living in the past’ – but most of the world’s population does not. And why should they? Can you say “tragedy of the commons”?

    You are accusing China and India of a pre-crime – while the evidence is all around us that an actual crime against humanity has been committed by the major industrialized nations.
    That’s not dogmatic self-flagellation – It’s the facts.

    The West has to help China and India precisely because ‘The Physics’ doesn’t care – and because we are all in the same boat.

    Yes – China and India have the biggest bailing pails at the moment, but most of the water came onboard while Captain West was at the controls and kept ordering “full speed ahead’.

    At least Captain Smith had the fortitude to go down with his ship.

  121. John Hartz says:

    What is reported in the following article is very disheartening to say the least…

    Japan, China and South Korea are bankrolling environmentally destructive coal-fired power plants in Indonesia despite their pledges to reduce climate-changing emissions under the Paris climate deal, analysts told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Australia-based environmental finance organisation Market Forces said it analysed 22 coal power deals in Indonesia since January 2010 and found state-run financiers for the three nations were involved in 18 of them.

    In all, foreign banks, both commercial and state-owned, are providing 98 percent of the debt finance for the projects, amounting to $16.7 billion.

    Indonesian banks provided just 2 percent of the financial resources for the projects, according to the Market Forces analysis published this week.

    Japan, China and South Korea “are on board with the Paris climate change agreement. They make all the right noises politically,” Julien Vincent, executive director of Market Forces, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

    But “these are the same governments underwriting new coal development elsewhere”, he said, calling the actions “egregious”.

    Japan, China, S. Korea bankroll Indonesia’s coal despite Paris pledge by Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 19, 2017

  122. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Actually [Trump] is doing great things for the climate.

    The same way a bull in a china shop does great things for the cleaning staff.

    Is there anyone else you can absolve while you’re at it?

    Oh wait – You’re quite beyond petty discussions of absolution.

  123. John Hartz says:

    More to ponder…

    The most obvious effect of global warming is not a doomsday scenario. Extreme heat is happening today, and wreaking havoc on vulnerable bodies.

    Climate Change Is Killing Us Right Now by Emily Atkin, New Republic, July 20, 2017

    This article is very well written and researched. It may be the best overview article about heat stress impacts on humans that I have come across. Atkin raises some issues not addressed in the comment thread to ATTP’s Heatwaves post.

  124. -1=e^iπ says:

    @ hypergeometric –
    “The hyperbolic discounting which I mentioned in my reply to @Jai Mitchell uses (actual!) modern economics to indicate that the idea of a constant discount rate off into the indefinite future is inconsistent with human behavior. So, the proposal is to have a declining one as a function of time. If that is done, then future damage does not decay towards zero, despite what twaddle Kreutzer at the Heritage Foundation wants to spout.”

    hyperbolic discounting is justified if you are approximating decisions under uncertainty with decisions under certainty. That is, hyperbolic discounting under certainty can be equivalent to constant discounting under uncertainty. So if you are trying to maximize the expected value of the social welfare (such as what Nordhaus does in his 2016 paper) then constant discounting makes sense.

    Also, an exponential decays to zero faster than a hyperbola (simple exercise with L’Hopital’s rule). So future damages still decay to zero.

  125. -1=e^iπ says:

    “It’s important to realize that, apart from business habit, a discount rate implies a exponential growth model for economic activity, viz,

    \propto \exp{[d(t-t_{0})]}”

    IAMs follow the Ramsey Equation, and have constant social rates of time preference, not constant discount rates. Decreasing discount rates due to slowdown in the GDP per capita growthrate is taken into account.

  126. @-1,
    .So future damages still decay to zero.
    No doubt. Otherwise it would not be discounting.
    I do not follow the certainty/uncertainty argument. Reference to learn from? Or more detail?
    I still have doubts about the soundness of the argument because while I suppose an economic asessment could be imagined to survive across a collapse of civilization, any familiar reservoir of value would not. I’m not saying that is likely, merely possible. I don’t see how basic economic microeconomic processes extend to the chaotic economic dynamics of such a world. Have they been hindcast in any historical studies of northern Europe before the establishment of kingdoms there? Value and trade don’t mean much if they can be seized at sword-point.

  127. Willard says:

    > IAMs follow the Ramsey Equation

    Then they all presume utility functions, which are far from clear, and a way to determine preferences, which is known to be problematic. As descriptive tools, they rest on shaky grounds, and as prescritive tools they could be more than useless if they can’t get sustainability right.

    Shadowboxing formal stuff is still shadowboxing.

  128. Mal Adapted says:

    HyperG:

    Value and trade don’t mean much if they can be seized at sword-point.

    My friend, that’s an epigram if I ever saw one 8^)! Right up there with ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”! In modern times, this is what armchair Sovereign Citizens* mean by a “Second Amendment solution.”

    * For example the Bundy gang, the group of reality-challenged individuals who, with outrageous impunity to all but their most severely deluded member, launched a farcical armed insurrection at a National Wildlife Refuge, on the involuntary behalf of two criminals convicted of helping themselves to public resources and socializing the resulting biodiversity cost.

  129. Mal Adapted says:

    I apologize for not making explicit the USA specificity of most of my comments. I multiplex commenting on this blog and RC.

  130. -1=e^iπ says:

    @ hypergeometric –
    Maybe you are mixing two issues up, and I overlooked this.

    If you are referring to declining certainty-equivalent discount rates as a function of time, they are primarily justified by lower GDP per capita growth rates over time and increased uncertainty in the future. Such declining discount rates are completely consistent with a constant social rate of time preference (although I’d argue that the social rate of time preference should decline as well due to increasing life expectancy). I referenced 2 papers by Arrow et al. that can be useful when I did my blog post for judith curry in 2015.

    Arrow, Kenneth et al. (2012), “How Should Benefits and Costs Be Discounted in an Intergenerational Context?” Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 12-53.

    Arrow, Kenneth et al. (2014), “Should Governments Use a Declining Discount Rate in Project Analysis?” Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 8(2), 145-163.

    Also, if you want to read more, section 2 of this can help: http://idei.fr/sites/default/files/medias/doc/wp/2008/declining_discount.pdf

    But you keep referring to hyperbolic discount rates, so you might be referring to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbolic_discounting. The biggest problem with using such discount rates is that they are time inconsistent. If they are time inconsistent, then you can’t really use them to rank policy options and to determine what to do.

  131. -1=e^iπ says:

    @ Willard – “Then they all presume utility functions, which are far from clear, and a way to determine preferences, which is known to be problematic.”

    Better than nothing. Or ignoring the economic impacts of mitigation, which you seem to want to do.

  132. Steven Mosher says:

    “The same way a bull in a china shop does great things for the cleaning staff.”

    You dont get the benefit of Trump. ? Seriously? Think hard now, dont just knee jerk.

  133. izen says:

    Benefit is not obvious in previous examples of incompetent egoists as head of state.
    (Berlusconi, Yeltsin, Zuma)
    Perhaps the benefit is the incompetence. Heads of state who are competent egoists tend to be worse.
    (Amin, Stalin, Mussolini)

    The emissions from Western industrialisation had global effects. The emissions from China, India, Asia catching up will also have global impacts. Preventing coal use to drive that Grrrowth is the 1st step.
    Personal transport is likely to be the most popular advance for the mass populations. Achieving that without increasing fossil fuels is the 2nd task.

    I can see no aspect of a Trump Presidency that facilitates those goals.
    Except perhaps as a ‘counter-current multiplier’.

  134. Sorry I left the Knut Ångström link out.

  135. And I spelt Professor Pindyck’s name incorrectly: It’s not Pyndyck.

  136. Mal Adapted says:

    [Mod, please pre-screen this and delete if inappropriate! MA]

    If my name were ‘Pindyck’ or ‘Pyndyck’, I think I might change it.

  137. Thanks, -1,

    I’m having a look at Arrow, et al. I’ll do it in openness, but it may not get very far, since I I do not buy rational choice theory at all, because it cannot be experimentally tested, and that’s because ceteris paribus can’t ever in practice be arranged or controlled for. But I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and I know one counter is that if a sufficiently accounting of incentives and considerations is made, humans are rational chooses, in the manner The Economist likes to do, for example, when addressing apparently altruistic behaviors in some essays.

    I don’t know why time inconsistency is such a problem. While it makes rational choice tough, people practice it in the simplest of actual valuations, such as gambling risks, and, so, it seems to me it just comes with the territory and disregarding that is solving a different problem than the one at hand. If it is disregarded, along with many other irrational things, the economics that results might apply to some set of beings somewhere, but not people, and it takes a lot of untested argument, it seems to be, to claim that human outcomes can be bounded by two rationally derived paths each beginning with different assumptions. Still, I’ll have a look, but, in the end, I really have to ask if the results apply. Is the applicability or not to policy-making the pursuit of some kind of personal intellectual purity?

    This has nothing to do with forecasting, which is a reasonable thing, at least for the short term, but it’s clear that extrapolations and even observationally based models are not satisfactory for anything other than the simplest of discussions. (There are exceptions.)

    I also don’t think I got an answer to my question about deep structural change. For instance, even in your reply, you seem to assume Things are gettin’ better all the time, with your increasing life expectancy thing. What if at some point, life expectancy begins to decrease?

    I am referring to

    still have doubts about the soundness of the argument because while I suppose an economic assessment could be imagined to survive across a collapse of civilization, any familiar reservoir of value would not. I’m not saying that is likely, merely possible. I don’t see how basic economic microeconomic processes extend to the chaotic economic dynamics of such a world. Have they been hindcast in any historical studies of northern Europe before the establishment of kingdoms there? Value and trade don’t mean much if they can be seized at sword-point.

    If that is not addressed, or if the economics doesn’t extend across such an interregnum, it seems to me the economics is implicitly assuming things won’t change much, so working within the current economic frame makes sense. But suppose they do? I’m hardly the only one to wonder. Pyndyck of MIT has. Nordhaus has said, at least back in 2013, that +3C or higher is No Man’s Land for IAMs.

    And Professor Nordhaus himself, at the time he wrote The Climate Casino, got a serious thing wrong in his Chapter 4, which I called him on. (I never received a response from him.) He wrote:

    The capacity to absorb long wave radiation gradually becomes saturated.

    (Chapter 4, 3rd subtitled subsection, “How Rising CO2 Concentrations Change the Climate”, and I wrote him about it in May 2014.)

    This sounds like a reiteration of a claim from Knut Ångström, which is an incorrect analysis and has, in fact, been demonstrated experimentally to be wrong. (Rebutted by Arrhenius.) So, if that kind of science is wrong, what else do IAMs get wrong?

  138. Ragnaar says:

    Natural gas exports, centerpiece of Trump’s energy plan. We can agree on that. American goodness arriving by sea. As far as claiming credit, some of it goes to President Obama. He probably isn’t going to feel obligated to the Greens on the issue nuclear power plants. I am evil. And here’s some natural gas. That might help you out.

  139. editor: Please replace:


    <b><em>permanent</em> annual tax</em>

    with


    <b><em>permanent</em> annual tax</b>

  140. @ -1,

    Thanks for the pointers to the two Arrow, et al papers, which are a collection of responses to an (I believe) EPA query about proper means of discounting future costs and present consumption to mitigate mostly climate. I found this exercise thoroughly enjoyable and, while it remains in progress, I had some comments right off.

    First, actually, except for a small point below, the Arrow, et al papers were pretty dull, mostly cheering for the Ramsey formula, but then pointing how, depending upon how parameters were chosen, of which the authors had a variety of opinions, you might as well have several Ramsey formulas. Also, the group in question include Professors Nordhaus and Pindyck and, as will be significant below, Professor Weitzman. Other than that, and other than, through their references an introduction to the literature, dull.

    Second, @-1 said above:

    The biggest problem with using such discount rates is that they are time inconsistent. If they are time inconsistent, then you can’t really use them to rank policy options and to determine what to do.

    However, Arrow, Cropper, Gollier, Groom, Heal, Newell, Nordhaus, Pindyck, Pizery, Portney, Sterner, Tol, Weitzman, in “Should Governments Use a Declining Discount Rate in Project Analysis?” jointly write:

    One issue that frequently arises in the context of the DDR is whether the use of a DDR will lead to time-inconsistent decisions. It is well known that an individual who discounts the future hyperbolically (i.e., assigns higher discount rates to utility in the near term than in the distant term), will not—at time t—wish to follow a consumption-savings plan that was made at time 0 (Strotz 1955). The problem is this: at time 0 the discount rate between period t and t+1 is a long-term (low) discount rate. But, when period t actually arrives, the individual will apply a short-term (high) discount rate to period t+1. Therefore, the individual will want to consume more in period t than he had planned to consume when he formulated his plans at time 0. The fact that the individual wishes to change his decision due simply to the passage of time means that his decision is time inconsistent.

    However, it is also well known (Gollier et al. 2008) that a policy chosen by a decision maker who maximizes a time-separable expected utility function will be time consistent if expected utility is discounted at a constant exponential rate$latex $^{42}$. In the Ramsey framework, this means that if a social planner discounts the utility of future generations at a constant exponential rate, the DDR that results from utility maximization will not lead to time-inconsistent decisions.

    It goes on. Footnote 42 says:

    Constant exponential discounting is a sufficient but not necessary condition for time consistency. See Heal (2005) for other conditions that will yield time-consistent decisions. However, it is necessary for an optimal policy to be both time consistent and stationary.

    These quotes suffice to claim counter to @-1’s The biggest problem with using such discount rates is that they are time inconsistent. It apparently ain’t necessarily so.

    Third, I answered for myself the question about structural changes I posed to @-1, finding it in Pindyck and Wang (original 2009, revised 2012), “The economic and policy consequences of catastrophes”. In particular they conclude that according to their study, if a catastrophe will cause the loss of 15% of capital stock or more, imposing a permanent annual tax of 7% will defend against such shocks. “Insuring” against 30% capital stock loss or more only takes a permanent annual tax rate of 2% — but 30% loss is some hit! Insuring against 10% or greater takes a permanent tax rate of about 16%. The only other interesting comments in the paper are that, since they consider a number of different kinds of catastrophes, they assess global warming ramifications of being catastrophic if +7 degrees C is reached and assert that two estimates, IPCC (2007) and Weitzman (2009) put the probability of this event as between 5% and 10% and the corresponding stock loss at 10% to 30%.

    Fourth, of all the papers in hand, the most interesting — and one I am re-reading — is M. L. Weitzman, “The Ramsey discounting formula for a hidden-state stochastic growth process”, 2012. It’s great because it rips bare all the assumptions that go into the heralded Ramsey discounting formula and in discounting itself. And I love the use of random walks to model hidden state stochastic growth processes. These are approachable by anyone familiar with the derivation of Kalman filters. Weitzman also cautions, and where I think I’ll leave this discussion, pretty much embracing what Professor Pindyck wrote in 2010,

    I thus view the hidden-state Ramsey approach primarily as a conceptual device for understanding an important series of interconnected issues concerning discounting in the presence of a hazy future. But there is no use pretending that such a super-aggregated super-abstract model has direct operational consequences obtainable by merely plugging in numbers and directly obtaining quantitative outcomes. In this paper I emphasize overall simplicity and understandability by leaning heavily on specifications having great analytical tractability. The formulation here yields a remarkably simple expression for a time-declining discount rate, which, I believe, gives some fundamental insights into the nature of long-term discounting that would otherwise not be available. The basic components of this simple discounting formula will be analyzed in terms of underlying parameters, followed by a few speculative remarks about possible implications and applications. The purpose of this paper is purely to outline the role of a previously neglected hidden-state aspect of the thorny problem of distant future discounting, rather than to propose an actual usable schedule of long term discount rates.

    A word of warning is in order about any model attempting to derive discount rate schedules for the distant future (including the model of this paper). The models we use in such exercises are all oversimplified approximations. We have relatively more confidence in the approximations when conditions being investigated are not too different from the current familiar situation. As we move further into the future, however, we have relatively less confidence in the approximations because we are attempting to extrapolate the local into the global. Typically, some implication or another of the model is not credible in the limit as future time approaches infinity. For example, as noted above, most models used to derive future discount rates in the existing literature have the unbelievable feature that the variance of the average future growth rate approaches zero in the limit, so that by the law of large numbers we effectively know with certainty the long term growth rate. The model of this paper does not have this particular unbelievable feature, but instead has the different unbelievable feature that discount rates decline indefinitely, approaching minus infinity in the limit. The underlying problem with all such models of discount-rate formation is that the oversimplified local approximations are increasingly breaking down as the time horizon lengthens. I do not think there is any general cure for this problem except to be careful when trying to use such oversimplified models for much more than giving general insights into the process of long term discounting.

  141. Mal Adapted says:

    Raagnar:

    Natural gas exports, centerpiece of Trump’s energy plan. We can agree on that. American goodness arriving by sea. As far as claiming credit, some of it goes to President Obama. He probably isn’t going to feel obligated to the Greens on the issue nuclear power plants. I am evil. And here’s some natural gas. That might help you out.

    I presume you’re an American speaking to Europeans. I don’t think you’re evil, but you’re not helping to solve the problem. Exporting American natural gas isn’t helping anybody but natural gas producers and their investors, while still transferring American fossil carbon to the climatically active pool albeit not quite as fast as by exporting American coal.

    As an American myself, I’d prefer we didn’t export climate change, and I’d prefer we weren’t just a natural resource colony of China. I’d rather we exported carbon-neutral energy, or better yet carbon-neutral technology and expertise. 4th-gen nuclear, battery storage, more efficient power distribution — those will help the world out and us too. Ain’t gonna happen without some kind of carbon tax to motivate American innovation, though.

  142. @Mal,

    A tax would be good, if it is real. There’s one offered by Senator Bartlett in the Massachusetts Senate right now which is not real.

    It’s also possible to resist pipelines. While this seems like a show, in fact, it has created an atmosphere where, despite lobbyist-motivated leadership support for pipelines, there is no stomach at all for anything having to do with new explosive methane pipelines in Massachusetts. The game is they are trying to get electricity ratepayers through the utilities to pay for the pipelines, in order to avert “a crisis” in deep winter using peaking natural gas plants which have a utilization rate of less than 10%. What’s the gas for if not peakers the other 90% of the time? EXPORT!

  143. Mal Adapted says:

    HyperG, as usual, your information is encyclopedic and your logic ineluctable. There are lots more ways to design a bad carbon tax than a good one. I’ve made no secret of my preference for Carbon Fee and Dividend with Border Adjustment as proposed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

  144. @Mal,

    Thank you. I think. I am far from your adjectives, but thanks, anyway.

    Statisticians get to play in a lot of peoples back yards, as they say, so I see a lot of different things. That’s all.

    Yes, the Border Adjustment is crucial, but ascertaining upstream emissions that go into product production is hard, even when the subject is cooperating with you.

  145. Mal Adapted says:

    HyperG:

    Yes, the Border Adjustment is crucial, but ascertaining upstream emissions that go into product production is hard, even when the subject is cooperating with you.

    It need not be hard if the US still has enough market power. Key the BAT to the exporting country’s carbon tax.

  146. Bob Loblaw says:

    hyper:
    Then set the border adjustment based on the general mix in the originating country, high enough to be sure you’re covering fossil fuel input, and then tell all that country’s exporters to lobby their government to track things properly so the adjustment can can be modified to fit. Every producer that minimizes fossil fuel usage will be as angry as hell and won’t want to take it any more. If they have any sway, the government will put something in place.

  147. Mal Adapted says:

    BTW, HyperG, I wasn’t being sarcastic. You’re welcome 8^D.

  148. Mal Adapted says:

    Moi:

    Key the BAT to the exporting country’s carbon tax.

    That actually may be the only BAT that will pass WTO muster. Here’s some good stuff on Border Adjustment, at carbontax.org. Citizensclimatelobby.org has some powerpoint-level stuff too.

    Speaking for myself: I don’t really care about wonky details. If the political will to make it work exists, it will work. Is there hope for a sub-3-degree scenario otherwise?

  149. Ragnaar says:

    Mal Adapted:

    I think natural gas solves a lot of problems. It’s the best thing currently available to balance wind and solar. In the Winter you can heat with it efficiently and in Summer meet A/C demands. Since wind and solar aren’t significantly backed by batteries, it serves as a kind of battery. You move it nearby, and use as needed. We’ve done an experiment in the United States with wind and solar. Natural gas has been part of that, and helped keep prices lower than otherwise. It also plays nicely with existing baseload, including nuclear. While not what some people want, getting more life out of existing baseload can lower the price of electricity. As we’ve done it, I think we are winning against Europe (excluding the hydropower heavyweights) in terms of price and emissions reductions from electricity generation. But I’d rather sell to them, than beat them.

  150. @Ragnaar,

    Considering the full supply chain, explosive methane is WORSE than coal for warming *refs available), even if it is short-lived, relatively speaking, and there is NO commitment on gas industry’s part to phase it out, say, by 2030, and, so, there is no commitment to the supposed claim it is a “bridge fuel”. Worse, it extends modalities and means of transport and heating, so even at the moment it is declared “Done”, there will remain a transition off those to non-Carbon whichnis likelybto take 50 years.

    No, the reason why it’s being pushed is investors in extraction and generation don’t want their investments stranded, which they know is inevitable, so they want every possible means of delay. Natural gas ain’t clean and green, not matter how many babies’ butts are shown warmed by it, it probably causes asthma, it DEFINITELY kills trees, and it ain’t granola.

    The faster it goes bankrupt the better. And it isn’t the cheapest electrical or heating source.

    And gas companies don’t care how much of it they waste, which is why they got the Trumpists to reverse fugitive emission rules as one of their first EPA acts.

    Don’t expect me and mine to support retraining for gas workers after their companies go bust. Their jobs are overextended as it is.

    But it’s nice they are killing off coal and nuclear.

    I give ’em a Whoopee Finger.

  151. @Mal,

    BTW, HyperG, I wasn’t being sarcastic. You’re welcome 8^D.

    I did not think you were being sarcastic. I just am not sure I’m worthy of your adjectives. I do not believe this is false modesty. I meant that I’m luckier than a lot of people, because I get to see a lot of different fields and ways well-trained people have looking at problems. I also get to see fields stuck in a rut in how to think about things for no particularly good reason, including because the peer review at major journals in the field consist of people who think work in the field should only be done in certain ways. And I’ve seen fields like that get fragmented, because people with new ideas tend to branch off and do their own thing.

    Also, many fields do not understand the revolution that has occurred in Statistics and in what is now being called Data Science in the past couple of decades. Some do, and it is surprising who they are. Quantitative Biology and Ecology seems to Get It. Astronomy seems to Get It. Meteorology and some parts of Geophysics seem to Get It, but not all. Medicine is still slow to adapt. Physics is mixed. Engineering is very mixed, but fields like EE and Signal Processing are often at the forefront. Computer Science, in its empirical fields, like Network Measurement, something I know a bit about, is incredibly backwards, worse than Medicine. Archaeology, Oceanography, Sociology, and Political Science are seemingly With It. I don’t know enough about Psychology to comment. Econometrics and Economics seem to be all over the place. There are some very creative methods used in Econometrics, but Economics doesn’t seem to feel the pressure. That may be, but I am far from competent there, because it’s more philosophy than an observation-based science, but I don’t really know.

    So, I’ve visited many lands. And if I have more insights than someone else, it’s probably because of that.

  152. Steven Mosher says:

    I love amateur hour on energy policy and taxes.
    Its almost as funny as reading about science at WUWT

  153. Steven Mosher says:

    “I can see no aspect of a Trump Presidency that facilitates those goals.
    Except perhaps as a ‘counter-current multiplier’.”

    look harder.

  154. verytallguy says:

    “I can see no aspect of a Trump Presidency that facilitates those goals.
    Except perhaps as a ‘counter-current multiplier’.”

    look harder.

    Alternatively, Steven, you could engage better.

  155. izen says:

    @-SM
    “look harder.”

    I have.
    My conclusion is that whatever ‘benefit’ you claim we should perceive in the Trump Presidency is one of your own invention that relies on a subjective criteria unavailable to other observers.

  156. “Amateurs”, as you call them, have played important roles in Science. Guy Stewart Callendar, for one. Why shouldn’t they in Economics? John Nash, Jr, was not a professional Economist.

  157. Mal Adapted says:

    “transnational justice clowns”? “amateur hour”? What was that about name-calling, Steven? Bring it, I can give as good as I get ;^).

    As hyperg alludes, the Universe is not divided into academic departments. A scientist needs training in the practice and culture of specialists in a field to become expert in it, but scientific skepticism is plenipotent.

    I’ve never been paid to do scientific research and I don’t call myself any kind of expert, but I’ve had post-graduate training in various scientific fields, principally Ecology and Economics. I can read, too. I understand the basics of TANSTAAFL, market externality and the Tragedy of the Commons as well as most non-experts and better than some.

    More directly relevant, I monitor my gas mileage closely and I vote in every US election. In case you haven’t noticed, although we might use sports idioms when discussing it, AGW is not a game. Nor is it a TV ‘amateur hour’. I’m not asking to be put in the game or perform an appendectomy onstage with two spoons and a can opener. As a US consumer and voter, all I really care about are solutions proposed by experts my scientific meta-literacy tells me are credible, and supported by people with whom I share important ‘moral’ values*. Unless I see that a proposed solution can’t work or doesn’t work once implemented, I’ll let the professionals handle the details.

    What I see now, though, are pettifogging US politicians (lick-warmers, h/t Joshua) who enjoy the self-interested support of lack-, luke- and luck-warmers (remember, it’s only a bad name if the glove fits); while GMST rises by 0.2 degrees C per decade, and damages mount at home and around the world.

    * That last clause needs quite a bit more unpacking, but not now.

  158. Ragnaar says:

    With natural gas for electricity production, we have the most clear path we can see at this time. Grid reliability, affordable electricity, wind and solar can all happen in the near future with the however of, the unknown future price of natural gas.

  159. @Ragnaar,

    You don’t get it. With explosive methane as a “bridge to a clean energy future”, it’s as game over as if we remained on coal, and the fracking revolution in gas never happened.

    Yeah, it’s that bad.

    It’s not the end-use burning, although that’s not as good as advertised because they don’t count the unburnt portion towards emissions, it’s the leaky network, beginning at the wells, which are numerous, and then all along the transmission lines.

    What’s your “near future”? 10 years? It better be.

    The point is that it’s better that we have an unreliable grid than screw-the-pooch, as they say.

    We can see a clearer path, based upon controls and sensors, and technology we, at least at present, command. Can the current players master that? I doubt it. And that’s the problem. But the markets can take care of that, if they are given a chance, and governments don’t stand in the way of creative economic destruction.

  160. Ragnaar says:

    There’s a lot of things I don’t get. The residence time of methane is about 8 years. That’s bad and good. Good in that once they levelize natural gas production you have a problem of X and only X. Bad in that there is a cost, but it’s paid once and it never gets worse. With ramped up natural gas, you have to wait until it’s levelized. And as we approach levelized, the cost of there being more methane in the atmosphere approaches X. To put this another way, annual methane leaks (Y) time 8 years of residence time means the problem is never worse than 8Y. A lot of this cost has already been paid as we’ve been fracking like a crazy man.

    What natural gas gets credit for is supporting our wind and solar. You can emit to do that. It allowed us to deploy what we have with less costs. There is little affordable storage and natural gas is the next best thing. Natural gas helped make wind and solar work. I still think they don’t work good enough, but I lost that debate and we have them. And they are some kind of path to where we want to go.

    Let’s assume it’s game over. We still have natural gas and a good energy grid to cope with it.

  161. Steven Mosher says:

    ““Amateurs”, as you call them, have played important roles in Science.”

    you stole that argument from WUWT.

  162. dikranmarsupial says:

    It *is* possible for WUWT to make a valid argument.

    Ad-hominems generally unproductive.

  163. John Hartz says:

    The stark reality of manamde climate change encapsulated in a single paragraph…

    Consider the portrait series by photographer Nick Bowers, “Scared Scientists.” In it, Bowers takes portraits of researchers as they are interviewed about their greatest fears. The result is a collection of images that captures the low-grade trauma many of us are experiencing. The greatest fear for Shauna Murray, a biological scientist at the University of Technology Sydney, for example, is “reaching four degrees (Celsius) of warming.” “At the moment, we’ve at least 10,000 different papers, completed over 20 years, each using different data sets, and they are all coming to the same climate change conclusions,” she says. “We’ve a weight of evidence that the average person is simply not aware of — and this frightens me. I’d like to think that we’re not going to reach the projected four degrees of warming this century; because I can’t even imagine what that would look like. Eighty years is not that long, and unless we act soon, my seven-year-old daughter will probably have to live through that.” Her portrait looks like something out of war photography: hair mussed, eyes wide in shock, mouth grimacing — a new class of soldier, one traumatized by computer models and visions of a frontline future unknown to most of us.

    So what if we’re doomed? by Brian Calvert, High Country News, July 24, 2017

  164. Mal Adapted says:

    John Hartz: “What if we’re doomed?”

    We’ll see it coming a long way off, giving us plenty of time to freak out in our last moments.

  165. John Hartz says:

    Mal: Although Calvert’s essay is lengthy, it is worh reading in it entirety.

  166. @Ragnaar,

    Residence time can be a misleading number, and it doesn’t always give you what you want. People, for instance, can fool themselves looking at the residence time of an individual CO2 molecule in atmosphere, because that does not reflect the flow-in/flow-out or true effects. That is, there is a big exchange between oceans and atmosphere and soils and atmosphere, bigger than emissions, for example, but that doesn’t change the on average atmospheric concentration of CO2.

    In particular, while the residence time of CH4 might be 8 years, it is hardly that it disappears after 8 years (hence this mini-lecture on how residence times can mislead above). Indeed, it’s atmospheric lifetime is 12 years, but even that can be misleading, since warming effects can linger much longer (Zickfeld, Solomon, Gilford, 2016). The effect on warming from a CH4 pulse is shown in Ray Pierrehumbert’s supplement to his Short-lived climate pollution article, Figure S1, reproduced below:

    The main article is here. And, in the end, as Ray Pierrehumbert underscores, the thing about CH4, whether uncombusted or combusted, is that it adds more CO2 into an atmosphere that essentially cannot scrub it out on its own, not on any time frame that matters to us.

  167. Mal Adapted says:

    John Hartz: “Mal: Although Calvert’s essay is lengthy, it is worth reading in it entirety.”

    Well, I started to, and skimmed through the first 1000 words or so before reaching tl;dr. I did read this part for comprehension:

    “Something inside me broke somehow,” he said. “I thought, ‘This isn’t working. We’re totally fucked. The machine will go on until it’s killed everything or collapses or both. But the wild world, justice — I still believe in that. What can I do with that?’ ”

    And so he had gone looking for another way of being. He started writing and publishing fiction, poetry and essays.

    While I’m wholly sympathetic to Paul Kingsnorth the recovering environmentalist’s grief at ongoing ecocide, and fiction, poetry and essays are important for helping others cope with their grief, I’m afraid “fuck it, I’m doing qijong” isn’t really very useful to me.

    I’ve comforted myself so far with the lower tails of the PDFs. We’re not totally fucked if the luke- and luckwarmers actually turn out to be right; I fully recognize that’s just not very likely, however. OTOH, with any luck of my own, the worst won’t come to pass until my natural life is over.

    Fuck it, I’m doing yoga.

  168. @Mal,

    I like the Brower photo series better. I didn’t dig the rest of the essay. I know a bunch of progressives who are “checking out” in that manner. I was trained as an engineer, and even when something’s really broken, we fix things.

    Nevertheless, as the photo series shows, there is a deep, deep sadness in realizing most of the people in control, via the ballot box, are either engaging in wishful thinking, have been so isolated from Nature for so long they’re incapable of natural imagination, or just don’t get it for some other reason.

    One of the things Science and Engineering gives a person, in education and training, is the ability to imagine scales of phenomena for oneself. I think part of the problem is that people just don’t understand ordinary forces and phenomena, never mind disturbed ones. Consider the unit of oceanic flow, the Sverdrup (“Sv”). One Sv is defined as one million cubic meters flowing per second. One Sv is roughly the average amount of water that flows in all the world’s rivers. The Kuroshio Current has at points and times a flow of 25 Sv, and a minimum flow of 20 Sv. The Gulf Stream has a peak flow of 150 Sv.

    There are other amazing facts about oceans, like thermal capacity: Top 700 m of ocean dwarfs the combined heat capacity of land and air.

    What’s curious to me about much of the discussion I see back and forth about climate disruption and such is how internal variability is treated as a separate thing from climate. Generally speaking, I see the process like this:

    (1) Potentially climate-related event E happens, often weather-related.
    (2) People wonder how much of E is due to anthropogenic warming, and how much is “natural”. By “natural” they (meteorologists, some geophysicists) typically mean “due to natural variability” or “due to internal variability”.
    (3) Analysis proceeds.
    (4a) Conclusion results that E is all or nearly all due to “internal variability”. All’s fine. Nothing to see here. Move along home, or
    (4b) Conclusion results that some of E is due to climate disruption by people, but most is still natural internal variability. Okay, some concern, but still nothing to panic about. Go home.

    The trouble is that the mechanisms for “internal variability” (which I still haven’t gotten a good definition for) are not really separable from climate forcing. Note that 90+% of excess heat from radiative forcing goes into the oceans. It hangs there for a long time. I’m no meteorologist or climate scientist, but I was trained in Physics, and it seems to me it has some coupling to the weather system. In particular, given the non-linearities of weather and climate, if there’s a sudden surprise, it seems completely sensible to me that it’s going to leap out from the “internal variability” piece of the climate system. That’s because what’s defined in the above scheme as “climate disruption” is some kind of passive, long term heating. There’s little dynamics to it.

    So, what I worry about is that our excess forcing is loading up the potential energy in the wound spring of the oceans, and that Some Nonlinear Day, this is going to get discharged.

  169. Willard says:

    > you stole that argument from WUWT.

    Try Eli’s:

    Uncle Eli has always admired astronomy, botany, and zoology as sciences with important amateur participation. By nurturing the large community of those interested in the science these fields have built important support groups, and amateurs have made important contributions. Many amateurs become obsessed with relatively narrow and previously trodden areas. Within those areas their knowledge often exceeds that of professionals. To Eli the most important thing is that people get to experience the joy of science. The smartest thing NASA ever did was reserve time on the Hubble for amateurs and some good science has resulted.

    What amateurs lack as a group is perspective, an understanding of how everything fits together and a sense of proportion. Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students. You learn much about things that didn’t work and therefore were never published [hey Prof. I have a great idea!…Well actually son, we did that back in 06 and wasted two years on it], whose papers to trust, and which to be suspicious of [Hey Prof. here’s a great new paper!… Son, don’t trust that clown.] In short the kind of local knowledge that allows one to cut through the published literature thicket.

    But this lack makes amateurs prone to get caught in the traps that entangled the professionals’ grandfathers, and it can be difficult to disabuse them of their discoveries. Especially problematical are those who want science to validate preconceived political notions, and those willing to believe they are Einstein and the professionals are fools. Put these two types together and you get a witches brew of ignorance and attitude.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006/10/amateur-night.html

    Where would ClimateBall ™ be without one-liner aficionados?

  170. Mal Adapted says:

    hyperg:

    there is a deep, deep sadness in realizing most of the people in control, via the ballot box, are either engaging in wishful thinking, have been so isolated from Nature for so long they’re incapable of natural imagination, or just don’t get it for some other reason.

    Aldo never-fails-ya Leopold, again:

    One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

    No shit 8^(! Can I get a witness?!!

  171. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    > you stole that argument from WUWT.

    Just think – If the WUWT e-mail server hadn’t been hacked, we might never have known the whole truth about amateurs in science.

    Steven Mosher also holds the copyright on the “If CO2 is such an insignificant part of the atmosphere, how can it be important to plants?” argument, and the ‘Monkeys might fly out of my butt’ argument against the likelyhood of methane clathrate releases.

    There may be more.

    Possession is nine tenths of ClimateBall™.

  172. russellseitz says:

    Cheer down, Mal-
    remember what one of Stoppard’s characters said in <iThe Coast of Utopia:

    “if we can’t arrange our own happiness, it’s a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us”

  173. Mal Adapted says:

    Russell, it’s me I’m concerned about, not those who come after either me (reference my nom du clavier) or you.

  174. Mal Adapted says:

    Very Rev:

    Steven Mosher also holds the copyright on the “If CO2 is such an insignificant part of the atmosphere, how can it be important to plants?” argument, and the ‘Monkeys might fly out of my butt’ argument against the likelyhood of methane clathrate releases.

    There may be more.

    Well, he claims the rights to ‘lukewarmer’, but he didn’t file in time.

  175. Steven Mosher says:

    turning the trace gas argument back on the skeptics wrt plants was a stroke of genius i admit.
    thank you Rev.

    willard. with regard to the amatuers argument. i raise you DK.

    The point is i dont see anyone here pro or amatuer published in the areas we are discussing or maling any argument that they havent stole without citing.

    its a bullshit session. entertaining. im gunna go watch ice melt.

  176. JCH says:

    ~one meter by 2100 is about to go kablooey.

    Progress in Numerical Modeling of Antarctic Ice-Sheet Dynamics

    Abstract

    Numerical modeling of the Antarctic ice sheet has gone through a paradigm shift over the last decade. While initially models focussed on long-time diffusive response to surface mass balance changes, processes occurring at the marine boundary of the ice sheet are progressively incorporated in newly developed state-of-the-art ice-sheet models. These models now exhibit fast, short-term volume changes, in line with current observations of mass loss. Coupling with ocean models is currently on its way and applied to key areas of the Antarctic ice sheet. New model intercomparisons have been launched, focusing on ice/ocean interaction (MISMIP+, MISOMIP) or ice-sheet model initialization and multi-ensemble projections (ISMIP6). Nevertheless, the inclusion of new processes pertaining to ice-shelf calving, evolution of basal friction, and other processes, also increase uncertainties in the contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to future sea-level rise.

  177. Mal Adapted says:

    Steven Mosher:

    its a bullshit session. entertaining. im gunna go watch ice melt.

    Surely you can’t be out of bullshit already, Steven. Sorry, couldn’t resist 8^D!

    Steven, has it occurred to you that any discussion on aTTP is ‘bullshit’? That is, who of us is really going to stage a less-than-tragic ending to the global Drama of the climate Commons?

    We’re just talking here, dude. Talking while the world burns.

  178. Mal Adapted says:

    <a href=""Ego:

    Talking while the world burns.

    Strictly a figure of speech, BTW. While I am an ‘AGW’ alarmist, for data-driven degrees of alarm, I’m ain’t no ‘CAGW’ alarmist on account of it’s up to the victims to decide when AGW got catastrophic. It’s definitely not up to you or me to tell them it didn’t.

  179. Mal Adapted says:

    That html fail is just me linking to myself. Oh for instant preview, or better yet an ‘edit comment’ feature like DeSmogBlog’s 8^(.

  180. Ragnaar says:

    AR5 shows methane emissions are 17% attributed to fossil fuels and biomass burning including biofuels. Call it 15% for natural gas production and use.
    So we are controlling 15% of at most a third of the total problem.
    CH4 when it ends up as CO2 is just one molecule.

  181. jacksmith4tx says:

    Mosher sees the long game with Trump and the GOP.
    The changes being done to the social welfare system have already changed the composition of population going forward. If we can shorten the life span of the bottom 70% of the American population with TrumpCare while restricting emigration to below replacement levels we will could reduce our environmental footprint by billions of tons of emissions and solid waste in just a few decades. Imagine if the US population is only 290 million and falling by the year 2040. The Chinese tried the one child gambit and it kinda worked but they ended up with way too many males. India hasn’t figured it out yet but what ever they decide to do they will go big and so fast it will be done in years not decades. Africa is a big question mark.

  182. Willard says:

    > i raise you DK

    Not even the same kind of ad hom, but I’ll meet it with Freedom Fighters.

    ***

    > better yet an ‘edit comment’ feature

    This costs money.

  183. Zachary Smith says:

    MikeH says:
    July 13, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    “Criticising the science errors in the piece is fair game but idea that this sort of article is off limits is ridiculous.”

    That’s exactly the way I feel. I was really underwhelmed by those “scientists”. The author made a lot of good points which they completely ignored. And in my opinion both the original author and the “critics” overlooked one of the biggest factors – the reaction of humans to the disaster they are beginning to see coming up over the horizon. The other day I was researching the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, something I’d never before heard of. At the wiki I found this statement:

    “””In the vote on the treaty text, 122 were in favour, 1 voted against (Netherlands), and 1 abstained (Singapore).”””

    Most people know that the Netherlands is either below or very near sea level. Much sooner than most other nations, the inhabitants of that low place are going to have to head for higher ground. During that migration they’re likely to have to use force. Massive force. Ditto for Singapore. It is my guess that the climate scientists are wearing blinders which cause them to be unable to even think about what’s going to happen when populations numbering in the millions or tens of millions must find new homes. Paraphrasing James Burke in his first Connections show, the people about to be inundated (or whose crops have failed) must make the choice whether they’re going to give up and die, or to make somebody else give up and die. That’s what we’re coming to, and in a world well armed with nuclear, chemical, and most especially biological weapons, it’s going to get mighty ugly mighty fast.

    Author David Wallace-Wells may have made some mistakes with his science, but in general he is much, much closer to reality than his critics.

  184. @jacksmith4tx,

    Actually, you kinda don’t know what the hell you are speaking about:
    * Raftery, et al, “Bayesian probabilistic population projections for all countries
    * Raftery, Alkema, Gerland “Bayesian population projections for the United Nations
    * Sevcikova, Raftery, Gerland “Bayesian Probabilistic Population Projections: Do It Yourself

  185. @Zachary Smith,

    Yeah, but you don’t get there by exaggerating the risks. Professor Kevin Anderson is much more successful and has more integrity when he pinches the nose of the average climate scientist and international climate policy wonk, Gore and Musk and Branson, and DiCaprio included. See
    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIODRrnHQxg
    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T22A7mvJoc
    * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svlU6p0gHgo
    They should do these meetings, but do them by Internet video, not flitting about dumping CO2 in atmosphere. Why should average folk take them seriously when they don’t exhibit the kind of behavior needed to contain emissions? Anderson does. My wife and I try to do so in everything we do. We almost never fly, and, when we do, we buy 4x the Carbon offsets recommended.

    Smaller homes. Fewer cars. Fewer bathrooms. Less trips to DisneyWorld. Less stuff.

    If you want to be real, that’s what matters, including letting your reps know, whatever their party, that climate matters and you won’t vote for someone who doesn’t agree with that.

  186. izen says:

    @-hyper
    “Why should average folk take them seriously when they don’t exhibit the kind of behavior needed to contain emissions? ”

    Why should average folk take them seriously when they don’t exhibit the kind of behavior that average folks value? In fact they advocate for the OPPOSITE to what average folks want.

    @-“Smaller homes. Fewer cars. Fewer bathrooms. Less trips to DisneyWorld. Less stuff.”

    Not only do these climate zealots willing embrace these self-flaggelating behaviors, they want to impose them on the average folks who want bigger homes, bigger car/SUV and much more stuff.

    As do most of the 6 billion who already have smaller homes, few cars and less stuff than the gilded life of average folks in the US.

    It might be better marketing to claim that without action on climate people will have – “Smaller homes. Fewer cars. Fewer bathrooms. Less trips to DisneyWorld. Less stuff.” because of the damage that climate change IS causing.
    Only by embracing technological change and adopting a carbon-free energy supply can we ensure that the future will provide – Bigger homes. More cars. More bathrooms. More trips to DisneyWorld. MUCH more stuff.

  187. izen says:

    @-jacksmith4tx
    “Mosher sees the long game with Trump and the GOP.”

    That is possible. Although there is no evidence from his comments that the benefits he claims of Trumps presidency derive from the ‘unintended’ consequential damage he can do.

    @-“If we can shorten the life span of the bottom 70% of the American population with TrumpCare while restricting emigration to below replacement levels we will could reduce our environmental footprint by billions of tons of emissions and solid waste in just a few decades. ”

    Dubious demographics.
    Reductions in US healthcare coverage may impact old whites more than young healthy Latino/Black populations. Infant mortality is already climbing, but the usual response to limited education and increased infant mortality is an increase in fertility. TrumpCare’s social impact may be to hasten the demise of ‘white supremacy’ in the US.

    @-“Imagine if the US population is only 290 million and falling by the year 2040.”

    Either as a collapsing and impoverished society that returns to coal as a cheap local fuel.
    Or as a hi-tech, low carbon cultural powerhouse with an educated population that has limited population growth by the development of individual informed choices.
    Not increased infant mortality and cholera epidemics.

  188. Steven Mosher says:

    “Surely you can’t be out of bullshit already, Steven. Sorry, couldn’t resist 8^D!

    Steven, has it occurred to you that any discussion on aTTP is ‘bullshit’? That is, who of us is really going to stage a less-than-tragic ending to the global Drama of the climate Commons?

    We’re just talking here, dude. Talking while the world burns.”

    ###########

    Any discussion? hmm. there are some that discuss science by qualified folks that are not.
    Anytime marsup or BBd talk about science I listen.

  189. Steven Mosher says:

    jack..

    if you go to the old papers that hyper links and read the papers written after..
    well you find interesting things about the importantance of migration and US population
    forcasts..

    same authors that hyper cites

    “When carried
    through to population projections for the United States, we see
    that incorporating uncertainty due to migration roughly doubles
    the width of predictive intervals for population.”

    But now I’m going to switch gears cause I read something really fascinating the other day.
    the worlds top 10% in income are the problem.

    So rather than a north south fight or east west fight, we can really just make it a rich poor fight.
    that seems like a more interesting way to slice the problem as opposed to left right, usa or china,
    ect.

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