Kevin Anderson: how numbers reveal another reality

I’ve finally watched the video of Kevin Anderson’s talk (posted in a comment that I currently can’t find) which was part of the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series. I found it quite uncomfortable. He addressed things that we typically avoid. The possibility that we will have to make substantial changes to our lifestyles and that achieving the 1.5 – 2oC target is incompatible with economic growth. I realise that such arguments are unlikely to succeed in today’s socio-political environment, but I am genuinely concerned that we will do so little now, that we will be being forced to do things, in the future, that – today – we regard as unacceptable.

He addressed how the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) were providing carbon budgets that are too optimistic – and, hence, motivating delay – by relying on technology (negative emissions) that is yet unproven. He suggests that 4oC is incompatible with organised global community and should be avoided at all costs (discount rate is irrelevant). He also argued that climate scientists, and other academics, should be setting some kind of example by reducing their own carbon emissions (and also that of their institutions). I’ve always been a bit anti this argument because I don’t think it is their role to do so, but I am starting to come around to it. We are amongst the highest emitters, and we’re also aware of the potential consequences.

Whatever you might think of the above, I still think his talk is worth watching. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the numbers he presented and they don’t paint a particularly optimistic picture. That’s not to say that we can’t do something (I certainly think we can) but it seems increasingly likely that we’ll have to start seriously considering doing things that we’d really rather not do.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in advocacy, Climate change, Policy, Politics, Research, Scientists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

115 Responses to Kevin Anderson: how numbers reveal another reality

  1. Jim Hunt says:

    Another Kevin Anderson video which I surreptitiously recorded whilst hiding amongst a group of climate scientists at Exeter University, pre Paris:

  2. Phil says:

    … posted in a comment that I currently can’t find

    That may have been me, in a private email, which would explain why you can’t find the comment 🙂

    If you have time, I would also recommend the 2nd lecture in the series here by Antony Hobley of Carbon Tracker which describes the work Carbon Tracker do on advising the financial investment industry (pension funds etc.) on fossil fuel investments. The lecture is something of an antidote to Anderson’s being considerably more upbeat. Hobley is not, however the most engaging of speakers, but, for me, the material makes up for the lack of fluency.

    This series was a memorial to the late Professor David MacKay, however I understand that they are planning to hold another lecture series in 2018.

  3. Phil,

    That may have been me, in a private email, which would explain why you can’t find the comment 🙂

    Indeed. I had thought it was a comment, but I’ve just found your email. I’ll have a look at the other talk. I also hadn’t realised that the series was a memorial to David McKay. Seems very appropriate.

  4. T-rev says:

    I definitely posted a link to this video in a comment some time ago, not sure if it’s my comment you were referring to ? I have been watching Kevin’s videos from 2012 and his message seems on point to me. That aside, here’s another climate scientists leading by example

    http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/life-after-oil/how-far-can-we-get-without-flying-20160211

    and Susan Krumdieck, another energy specialist (Kevin Anderson’s forte) points out we need to vastly reduce energy consumption

    “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. ”

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

    If it’s not the job of the people who know we have to lower our emisisons significantly, who’s job is it ? If we’re going to transition to a low emsisions lifeystyle, why do we need to wait until someone from government forces us to ?

    While this only goes up to 2015, the amount of energy from wind and solar isn’t even visible, it’s so small, this gives some scale to then size of the problem

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

  5. russellseitz says:

    Elsewhere in the realm of surrealism, OMICS editor and Heartland factotum Arthur VIterito has gone on the warpath against, And Then There’s Physics and, er, people who publish peer reviewed stuff in journals they don’t edit themselves.

  6. T-rev,

    I definitely posted a link to this video in a comment some time ago, not sure if it’s my comment you were referring to ?

    Quite possibly. I’ve obviously got myself slightly confused as to where I first saw this 🙂

  7. Russell,

    Arthur VIterito has gone on the warpath against, And Then There’s Physics

    Interesting, I had not realised this.

  8. wmconnolley says:

    > should be avoided at all costs (discount rate is irrelevant)

    Sounds economically illiterate. Roughly equivalent to “we should believe in magic CO2 removal technology and therefore not worry”. But since it is economics, not science, it passes by your blind spot.

  9. WMC,
    I thought that particular claim would get your attention.

    But since it is economics, not science, it passes by your blind spot.

    Of course. I’m a bad, bad person.

  10. Fergus Brown says:

    Economics isn’t the best way to measure the significance of action in this case. It isn’t irrelevant, but it is only only factor, and shouldn’t dominate. Cost (and Value) may be calculated in economic terms, but also in social, environmental or other ways. It is helpful to be able to provide a measuring mechanism, but it may not be measuring the most important things.
    I guess discount rate may be relevant, but surely the point is that the less we ‘invest’ now, the more we will have to invest soon, and the more radical will have to be the changes, socially or economically. Deferring cost seems to be the path of the PPI, which is always (AFAIK) more expensive in the long-term. It was always a bad idea, and in relation to GW it’s worse.

  11. wmconnolley says:

    > I’m a bad, bad person.

    No; but everyone has blindspots. You won’t notice them because they are blind spots, so you need someone else to point them out. As, it would seem, do all the other commentators here.

    > Economics isn’t the best way to measure the significance of action in this case

    Well, it certainly isn’t the *only* way; that’s for sure. That it isn’t the *best* way is surely a value judgement, so you shouldn’t state it definitively; it can only be a personal preference. No?

    > discount rate may be relevant, but surely the point is that the less we ‘invest’ now, the more we will have to invest soon

    Ah: this is where you go off the rails, taking ATTP with you I strongly suspect. You’re entirely within your rights to say “econ isn’t the only measure”. But you shouldn’t mix that up with “if I re-write econ (which I don’t really understand) in a somewhat muddled way, then…”. That isn’t valid; it is analogous to what the denialists do with the science.

  12. WMC,
    My response wasn’t (as I thought was obvious) serious. My desire to have a serious discussion with those who choose to make it personal and who have a (strong?) tendency to interpret things as uncharitably as possible is fairly small.

    FWIW, I think your economic denier narrative is rather silly and and seems to pretty much be doing what those who criticise the use of “science denier” claim is being done by those who use it. Technically, “denial” means dismissing something that is regarded as true (a consensus position) not disagreeing with what should be done, given that truth. The other problem is that I don’t even know what consensus position is being denied. Maybe there is a true consensus position in economics that has developed and become apparent, but I certainly haven’t seen a clear explanation of what it actually is.

  13. wmconnolley says:

    > Technically, “denial” means dismissing something that is regarded as true (a consensus position) not disagreeing with what should be done, given that truth

    Yes, of course. And that’s what I’m saying most-of-you do to economics. Saying, for example, “ignore discount rates” is analogous to “ignore the GHE”.

  14. WMC,

    Saying, for example, “ignore discount rates” is analogous to “ignore the GHE”.

    1. I didn’t say this. I pointed out that Kevin Anderson argued this.

    2. You may have to explain how ignoring discount rates is equivalent to ignoring the GHE. It seems entirely possible to accept that there will be a future cost and that we can discount that to today and *then* argue that we should essentially ignore this and do something based on a different judgement. In the same way that the science does not tell us what to do, I don’t think that the economics does either. It is closer to policy than the science, but we are as entitled to make decisions that seem at odds with the economic evidence, as we are to make decisions that seem at odds with the scientific evidence. If not, why not just replace all politicians with economists who spend their time doing cost benefit analyses?

    There were a few reasons why I highlighted that aspect of his talk. One was because I’ve seen you argue against it before. It’s interesting that there are serious people who do think that “at all costs” is somehow an argument worth making. I’ve also had a private discussion with at least one climate scientist who did say that 4oC would be catastrophic. I realise that isn’t definitive, but it did at least seem consistent with what he said with regards to the views of those who try to study what would happen if we warmed 4oC.

    My own view, FWIW, is that I don’t think that we can reliably estimate the cost of 4oC of warming. I’m not arguing against doing so; simply suggesting that cost-benefit type analyses shouldn’t be the primary determinant of what we should do.

  15. izen says:

    @-WC
    “Saying, for example, “ignore discount rates” is analogous to “ignore the GHE”.”

    Perhaps closer to “ignore climate sensitivity”.

    But the claim being made I think is that when the social and financial system breaks down as a result of agricultural collapse or population reduction, economics, with grrrowth and interest rates becomes largely irrelevant.
    It may be possible to analyse the Black Death, Rawandian genocide or the Syrian civil war in economic terms, and even apply a discount rate, but the utility of such work is dubious.

  16. Willard says:

    > And that’s what I’m saying most-of-you do to economics.

    Considering its libertarian tendencies, Our Stoatness ought to thread lightly on that one:

    Stern’s opinion seems more reasonable to me than Nordhaus’s, whose optimism is attractive, to be sure, as well as opportunely consistent with the US strategy of unrestricted carbon emissions, but ultimately not very convincing. In any case, this relatively abstract debate about discount rates largely sidesteps what seems to me the central issue. Public debate, especially in Europe but also in China and the United States, has taken an increasingly pragmatic turn, with discussion of the need for major investment in the search for new nonpolluting technologies and forms of renewable energy sufficiently abundant to enable the world to do without hydrocarbons. Discussion of “ecological stimulus” is especially prevalent in Europe, where many people see it as a possible way out of today’s dismal economic climate. This strategy is particularly tempting because many governments are currently able to borrow at very low interest rates. If private investors are unwilling to spend and invest, then why shouldn’t governments invest in the future to avoid a likely degradation of natural capital?

    Unless Our Stoatness wishes to argue that Thomas Piketty is an economics denier?

  17. libertador says:

    WMC,
    “Saying, for example, “ignore discount rates” is analogous to “ignore the GHE”.”
    I suppose, ignoring discount rates will mean a discount rate of 0 (or a fairly low value close to 0). The right value of the discount rate has been discussed in the economic literature, but there does not seem to be a consencus upon its value (e.g. Nordhaus vs Stern). I suspect such a consencus is impossible, because determination of the discount rate incorporates a ethical choice.
    This issue can not be set asside by refering to empirical discount rates out of another context, because the value of profits in comparison to future ones can normatively differ with the context. In the context of global warming one has to argue why profit now should value more than profits of future people if applying a high discount value. This is different than discount of one’s own future interst in for example money today or tomorrow (which is sometimes empirically sureveyed). In the context of climate change there is a conflicht with moral impartiality. A high discount rate seems to be against this imartiallity obligation except if one opt for moral egoism or particularim in a temporal sense. But this is an ethical choice which should not been hidden.
    There are moral arguments for a high discount rate, incorporating that future generations will be weathier, but this is debatable just in the context of high global warming which is potentially catastrophic, which is the choice context at hand.
    I am interested in your moral argument to ignore the GHE in comparison.

  18. libertador,
    My understanding of Kevin Anderson’s argument is that the impact of 4oC of warming would be so great (incompatible with organised global community) that discount rates become essentially irrelevant, and such an outcome should be avoided at all costs. Of course, if avoiding 4oC would produce utter catastrophe now, then one could justifiably argue that we should simply chance it and hope that the estimates of the impact of 4oC of warming are wrong. However, I suspect that avoiding 4oC of warming is not all that difficult (the INDCs from Paris are leading us towards 3.5C and they don’t seem all that ambitious). If you look at Figure 4 in this Nordhaus paper, the optimal pathway leads to about 3.5oC of warming, so one might argue that we should simply follow this pathway (carbon tax of a few tens of $ now, rising into the future – I thought there was another figure showing this, but I can’t find it).

    However, I think that this optimal pathway is only producing some chance (50%, 66% ???) of staying below 3.5oC, so one might argue that a more ambitious pathway should be followed in order to reduce the possibility of much more than 3.5oC of warming.

  19. Willard says:

    > I suppose, ignoring discount rates will mean a discount rate of 0

    It could also mean that pussyfooting over a specific value for a discount rate is mostly irrelevant.

  20. The problem with discounting is that the way it is applied is often different than the way cutting-edge economists think it should be applied. In my opinion (and those of the cutting-edge economists I know), the “ideal” way to apply the discount rate is to use the Ramsey framework along with probability distribution functions of future GDP paths. There are two important aspects here:

    1) the discount rate becomes a function of GDP. If, therefore, you believe that GDP will actually _decrease_ due to future climate change, that can yield negative discount rates. This avoids the apparent paradox that given the most common discount rates in use (say, 3%), we wouldn’t be willing to pay more than Bill Gates’ net worth today to avoid total destruction of the world’s economy in the year 2200.

    2) futures with lower GDPs become more heavily weighted over time, so that the certainty-equivalent discount rate drops as you move further into the future. This allows consistency between observed discount rates (based on personal, societal, and industry behaviors) which tend to be higher, and ethical discount rate discussions which suggest that we shouldn’t heavily discount future generations: we can have high near-term discount rates transitioning into low long-term discount rates.

    See the discussion in the recent National Academies report on Valuing Climate Damages (on the SCC).

  21. wmconnolley says:

    > Thomas Piketty is an economics denier

    TP has certainly made major errors leaning in a leftward direction, yes.

    > I didn’t say this. I pointed out that Kevin Anderson argued this.

    I know you didn’t say it. I didn’t say you did say it. Why are you saying that you didn’t say it when everyone knows that you didn’t say it? It is however something that you picked out from his talk, presumably because it is important.

    > Perhaps closer to “ignore climate sensitivity”.

    Yes, that’s closer.

    > …when the social and financial system breaks down as a result of agricultural collapse or population reduction, economics, with grrrowth and interest rates becomes largely irrelevant…

    The (economic) cost of the civil system breaking down entirely would be enormous; as would the death toll. Costs, even passed through discount rates, would show that. So why would you want to ignore them?

    > I am interested in your moral argument to ignore the GHE in comparison.

    I’ve made no such argument; I don;t understand what you’re asking.

    To reply to your other point, not knowing the correct discount rate is no reason to ignore the concept. To return to the analogy with climate sensitivity: what you’re suggesting is analogous to ignoring CS entirely, because you don’t know its exact value.

  22. WMC,

    Why are you saying that you didn’t say it when everyone knows that you didn’t say it?

    Because this was not obvious from your response.

    To reply to your other point, not knowing the correct discount rate is no reason to ignore the concept.

    The suggestion wasn’t that it should be ignored.

  23. Willard says:

    > TP has certainly made major errors leaning in a leftward direction, yes.

    Res ipsa loquitur.

  24. Fergus Brown says:

    @WMC;
    let me modify that then with a ‘may not be’. You are welcome to explain why I’m wrong or misled about this.
    Re my muddled economics, it would help if you offered more. I think I understand discount rates, and KA’s idea seems to be that once we commit past a certain point these don’t capture the problem or contribute to a solution. My idea is that if you factor in other matters which are hard to place a price or cost on, but you are satisfied do have value, then the discount rate gets more heavily loaded (most likely) in favour of more commitment earlier, given that if you slip too far along the catastrophe curve it becomes impossible to miss the crisis point, which means a state change.
    Excuse the multiple metaphors.

  25. Willard says:

    Seems that TimW’s a money denier:

    “No, banks do not create money. The banking system as a whole creates credit. But individual banks do not create money. They just don’t.”

    He needs to look up the definition of the word money in a dictionary. It is defined as something like, “Anything widely accepted in payment for goods or serves or in settlement of a debt.”

    Now the fact of the matter is that when someone gets a loan from a private bank, the latter does not need to get the relevant money from anywhere: it can just credit the borrower’s account with a book keeping entry – or if you like, it can credit the borrower’s account with money ex nihilo.

    And when the borrower draws a cheque on that account or does a credit or debit card transaction based on the account, the cheque or card transaction will be “widely accepted” in payment for goods and services. Ergo the bank has created money.

    […]

    [T]he fact that Northern Rock was borrowing significant amounts wholesale does not prove (a la Worstall) that Northern Rock was not creating money. It is just evidence that that Northern Rock was expanding faster than other banks, which indeed it was.

    http://ralphanomics.blogspot.com/2012/07/tim-worstall-does-not-understand-money.html

  26. wmconnolley says:

    > Seems that TimW’s a money denier

    This place, when talking about economics, is like WUWT when talking about science. And the sad thing is none of you know it, none of you care, you’re happy to just wallow in your errors in a warm comfortable sea of economics ignorance. You’ll all happily back each other up, and none of you will call each other out. Just like the Watties with their “science”.

  27. WMC,
    Do you feel better now?

  28. Fergus Brown says:

    How can we call each other out if we are all equally ignorant? Also, I don’t notice any special clubbishness here, especially in comparison to some places. Are you inclined to propose any particular mechanism for evaluating present against future consequences? Some explanation somewhere would be helpful.

  29. Willard says:

    Seems that TimW’s a tax denier:

    Our report showing how developing countries have been marginalised in the process of reforming the rules for taxing multinational enterprises has been well received – unsurprisingly, perhaps, since the evidence of political marginalisation and of lost revenues is fairly clear.

    Yet, here we are accused of such a lack of understanding that our suggestions “would actually reduce the wages of the workers in those poor countries”.

    Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute argues in his blog, ‘Apparently Oxfam Is Entirely Ignorant Of The Economics Of Taxation’, the following:

    1. Taxing corporate income (returns to capital) will discourage investment, so the optimal corporate tax rate is zero;

    2. Average wages in a country are determined by average productivity, which in turn depends on the level of capital; and therefore

    3. If the rules are changed to allow developing countries to tax corporate income more effectively, the effect will be to discourage investment and depress (average) wages.

    On this basis, Mr Worstall concludes that: “Oxfam is, quite literally, arguing that the wages of the poorest in the world must be reduced.”

    It should be clear that we are neither literally nor indeed metaphorically making such an argument. Here’s why.

    First, Mr Worstall’s view – on its own, somewhat narrow economic terms – is unlikely to be realistic because it rests on a highly stylised model. The assumptions necessary are heroic, not least in relation to costless adjustment processes. As such, using this as the basis for understanding the likely effects of changes in corporate taxation globally may not give a terribly accurate picture.

    As leading conservative economist Greg Mankiw has written, “The theory of optimal taxation has yet to deliver clear guidance on a general system of history-dependent, coordinated labor and capital taxation for a realistically-calibrated economy.” Major issues include the difficulties of constructing effective alternatives that generate sufficient revenue and are not deeply regressive. Elsewhere, Mr Worstall has recognised at least some of these complexities of the real world approach to corporate tax – for example, here, where he considers a disagreement between Mankiw and Paul Krugman. In addition, many studies including those from the IMF and McKinsey’s have shown that corporate tax rates have little bearing on investment location in developing countries.

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/05/08/oxfam-know-their-tax-facts-tim-worstall-is-peddling-a-harmful-fantsasy/

    Just wait until TimW discovers externalities.

  30. Willard says:

    Oh, and speaking of leaning in a leftward direction:

    I don’t consider myself right wing at all. I consider myself rather a lefty in fact. Assume, for a moment, that being a lefty means having the interests of the poor at heart. That we’d like the poor to get rich like we are.

    So, what policies should we be pushing? Well, the last 30 years of this globalisation/Washington Consensus thing have at the very least coincided with the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of the species. Heck, even global inequality is declining.

    At least prima facie we have evidence that market liberalism leads to the poor getting rich. Thus a good little lefty, one who wanted the poor to get rich, would be a market liberal.

    Purely and simply for the reason that market liberalism seems to make the poor richer. Which isn’t a “right wing” position.

    http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/will-tim-worstall-stick-to-his-principles/

    While the luckwarm playbook has been written by ClimateBall players, it borrows a lot from the bleeding heart libertarians playbook written decades before.

  31. Joshua says:

    And the sad thing is none of you know it, none of you care, you’re happy to just wallow in your errors in a warm comfortable sea of economics ignorance.

    […]

    To reply to your other point, not knowing the correct discount rate is no reason to ignore the concept.

    Perhaps we could all band together and thank WC for his concerns about people ignoring the concept of discount rate, here at ATTP?

    Oh wait, we can’t even do that, as none of us care about our ignorance, and all of us are content to just wallow in our errors.

  32. wmconnolley says:

    > http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/05/08/oxfam-know-their-tax-facts-tim-worstall-is-peddling-a-harmful-fantsasy/

    Richard Murphy is an idiot and so is anyone who quotes him. This *is* just like WUWT: people quote spurious “authority” for their foolish claims, and everyone nods along.

  33. I can’t see this progressing in any constructive way, so maybe we can draw this to a close?

  34. Willard says:

    > Richard Murphy is an idiot and so is anyone who quotes him.

    I actually quoted Claire Godfrey of Oxfam, and did so by quoting a secondary source because I don’t cite Disqus comments.

    And I emphasized a quote by Greg Mankiw, who does not exactly lean leftward, unless one accepts TimW’s pigeonholing, in which case more than 97% of the economists lean leftward.

    Is Our Stoatness a quote denier?

  35. Willard says:

    > I can’t see this progressing in any constructive way […]

    It could, if Our Stoatness could at least admit that (1) nobody argues against the existence of discount rates, (2) nobody quoted Richard Murphy, and (3) he’s not the economic guru he pretends to be since he relies quite heavily on TimW’s (IMO naive) musings.

    There must be a reason why no country has yet to implement libertarian programmes.

  36. It could

    Possibly, but that all seems rather unlikely.

  37. Jim Hunt says:

    I’ve only just returned from the twilight zone, and I’m fairly sure that I haven’t nodded in here yet.

    Have I?

  38. Willard says:

    > that all seems rather unlikely.

    Of course, since Our Stoatness usually comes here to play gotcha by parsing words without trying to understand them much. Hence why I suggest he at least accepts that he misinterpreted you and KevinA.

    Being in a snit carries a risk – being wrong. Being wrong and being in a snit is just unbecoming.

  39. MarkR says:

    Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist at JPL. He used to work on astrophysics but moved into climate, and after realising what’s going on he and his family changed their lifestyles to cut CO2 emissions by 90%. He doesn’t fly, keeps chickens in his back garden etc and he loves it.

    He’s just released a book called “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution” and any profits go to climate charities.

    I don’t think his actions are morally necessary for scientists though because effective climate action means cutting emissions at a far slower rate than his 90% now, and I don’t think we personally must do more than that. But I respect him as a great example and as proof that the conspiracy theorists are wrong when they accuse climate scientists of not being serious.

    (disclosure: I know the guy)

  40. Jim Eager says:

    A discount rate is a double edged blade. It assumes a future increase in wealth. If climate change becomes severe enough that it impairs future growth of wealth then is also degrades the discount rate, and if climate change becomes severe enough that it actually shrinks wealth then the discount rate first evaporates, then reverses sign, leaving us unable to pay for delayed mitigation and adaptation.

  41. WC’s comments are rather rich in light of the fact he denies the validity of any data or study that does not support his POV. Over the past couple of years I have passed him links to many papers on various economic topics (EMH, RE, SCC) that show the data disagrees with his opinion. The discount rate is one of those topics.

    For instance: The Economic Climate: Establishing Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change,Howard & Sylvan, Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California

    Howard and Sylvan surveyed over 1000 economists working in the topic area and published in top journals. They found “the mean and median of the constant discount rate are 2.25% and 2%, respectively.” Just as important, they found that over half the economists surveyed believed in a declining discount rate and that more than half believed the discount rate should be calibrated using ethical parameters. I guess that ethical part makes SM an economics denier too.

    PDF of Howard and Sylvan

    [Corrected the link. -Willard]

  42. Willard says:

    Speaking of this globalisation/Washington Consensus thing:

  43. Chubbs says:

    My main quibble with Anderson is the reliance on outdated scenarios. He is right that some technologies like BECCS are lagging and probably aren’t going to make it. However some technologies, like solar and batteries, are proceeding down well established cost curves and appear to be poised for success. I have a suspicion that replacing the “non-success” technologies with a greater reliance on the “success” technologies in the next round of scenario building would allow for a more positive outlook. I guess we will find out in a couple of years.

  44. Francis says:

    It would seem to me that if JPL found a meteor of a size large enough to cause an extinction-level event in an orbit which appears to result in a collision with earth few people would want to debate the cost of the effort needed to change the meteor’s orbit. (Sasha Volokh is one. It now appears that WMC is another.)

    The rest of the planet would (I presume) come to the conclusion that taxes should be levied at whatever level needed to finance the effort.

  45. Willard says:

    > The rest of the planet would (I presume) come to the conclusion that taxes should be levied at whatever level needed to finance the effort.

    The rest of the planet would then be on solid theorical ground:

    We show that in almost every economy with separable externalities, every competitive equilibrium can be Pareto improved by a package of anonymous commodity taxes that causes prices to adjust and markets to reclear at different levels of individual consumption. This constrained suboptimality of competitive allocations might provide a rationale for economic policy in economies with externalities. It shows that policy makers should look for good tax packages that help everybody, rather than thinking taxes must inevitably be bad for some lobby that will oppose them.

    http://www.polemarchakis.org/a74-pit.pdf

  46. Dear Stoat.
    This is the third time this year we are in violent agreement.

    I’m sensing a pattern.

    anyway.. go long bitcoin
    , buy and hodl

  47. “It would seem to me that if JPL found a meteor of a size large enough to cause an extinction-level event in an orbit which appears to result in a collision with earth few people would want to debate the cost of the effort needed to change the meteor’s orbit. (Sasha Volokh is one. It now appears that WMC is another.)”

    Of course we would debate it

  48. izen says:

    @-WC
    “This place, when talking about economics, is like WUWT when talking about science.”

    WUWT when talking about climate science accuse it of being partisan, shaped by ideological political dogma, groupthink and academics, for funding, creating from distorted data, the answers ‘THEY’ want to hear.
    Climate science is also dismissed for reliance on computer models with no predictive accuracy. It is framed as a field full of doubt and uncertainty with partisan polarisation and simplifying assumptions that are unrealistic when dealing with a multi-factorial chaotic system.

    The dismal science seems a much better candidate for such an indictment than climate science.

  49. I am not interested in the economics of global warming and the sixth great extinction. A concern about economics really seems frivolous in this situation. I won’t argue this with anyone, the argument is simply silly imho.

    I believe Kevin Anderson is correct in most of what he says and has been correct for quite some time. He is having little or no impact in public policy, but he is speaking clearly about the problem.

    WRT to the question of whether climate scientists should lead with small footprint, I don’t see the point. The evidence is pretty clear that individual or small group action cannot slam the brakes on the emissions and their impact. I personally don’t fly anymore and haven’t since the mid 1990s. I put a fair amount of effort into a small carbon footprint, but mainly because it is a matter or grace and applied philosophy, I do not kid myself that my efforts and those of all who think as I do will have a significant impact on the global situation. I think almost nothing but a general global carbon tax (or economic collapse) can produce much change in our CO2e emissions.

    I think that global warming is being better understood now each day because of scientists like KA, but also because the impacts are becoming too difficult to ignore.

    I feel really bad for my kids and grandkids.

    Thanks for your post and thoughts on Kevin Anderson. I appreciate it.

  50. “WRT to the question of whether climate scientists should lead with small footprint, I don’t see the point. ”

    kevin made the point rather clearly

  51. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    Mosher

    “Dear Stoat.
    This is the third time this year we are in violent agreement.”

    Would actually be nice if someone could explain, in simple terms, what the Stoat is on about? He wanders in, throws around some abuse and calls everyone stupid for not seeing the obvious. What is it people should be seeing?

    What are you in agreement about?

  52. Ragnaar says:

    “The policy challenge, then, is to pull those damages out of the future and into the present. We need to amplify that distant signal so that it is heard in everyday economic decision-making.”

    This amplication is weak with a 5% discount rate. If Anderson is arguing the discount rate should be zero, the amplication is greater. Many people use discounts rates to make decisions. Participate in a no match 401(k)? You are valuing your future spending against your current spending. You do this without assigning a specific discount rate, but a fuzzy one.

    Participate in mitigation efforts? You use a fuzzy discount rate.

    To assume a zero percent discount rate seems wrong. It’s contrary to what we do.

  53. Willard says:

    > It’s contrary to what we do.

    We often do hyperbolic discounting:

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

    That doesn’t mean we should.

    Sometimes we do negative discounting:

    http://www.tacticalphilanthropy.com/2009/03/negative-discount-rates-peter-singer/

    We should do more of that.

    Singer should appeal to you, Ragnaar.

  54. Canadian economist Francis Wooley on discount rates:

    If you want to know an economist’s views on things that matter, forget about minimum wages or free trade. The most important question of all is “what is the social discount rate”? The moral argument for discounting the well-being of future generations has always been dubious. The opportunity cost argument might have seemed convincing during the heady days of the tech boom. But now that negative interest rates are a serious possibility, even the opportunity cost of capital argument for discounting seems questionable.

    From her post: What is investment today worth tomorrow? at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.
    http://worthwhile.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451688169e201bb092eaf65970d-320wi

    Moralizing atheists? These are moralizing economists. And most of them agree the discount rate should be calibrated using ethical parameters. This stands opposed to the common Libertarian belief that economics can/should be divorced from morality.

  55. Singer?

    I remember him from undergrad class on ordinary language /free will & determinism.

    He was the guy who believes in infanticide right?

  56. Nathan,

    Would actually be nice if someone could explain, in simple terms, what the Stoat is on about? He wanders in, throws around some abuse and calls everyone stupid for not seeing the obvious. What is it people should be seeing?

    I don’t really get it either. I think it’s to do how this site is sometimes like WUWT, but I’m not sure. I should add that I’m all that interested in finding out.

  57. andrew adams says:

    The (economic) cost of the civil system breaking down entirely would be enormous; as would the death toll. Costs, even passed through discount rates, would show that. So why would you want to ignore them?

    But no one’s saying we should ignore them, the point is surely that because the costs in that scenario are so obvious and enormous that applying a specific monetary value to them isn’t particularly meaningful. The economic argument then becomes about how much it will cost us in the short to medium term to avoid that outcome.

    And the economics is only part of the argument. It’s about science (how confident are we that the affects of a 4C increase will create those conditions, and about values – whether we are prepared to pay that cost now for the benefit of people in the future. Kevin’s view is that any cost at all is worth paying, others might disagree but in this context arguing about discount rates is really not that useful.

  58. andrew adams says:

    At risk of straying towards concern trolling, much as I might have distain for the views of commenters at WUWT I’m not sure I’d just wade in accusing them of being climate change deniers who don’t understand the subject, without making substantive arguments why they are wrong and relying on a blogger and journalist to back up my opinions, rather than actual climate scientists.

    Although FWIW, TimW is right on the question of private banks creating money in the piece linked to above.

  59. Andrew,

    But no one’s saying we should ignore them, the point is surely that because the costs in that scenario are so obvious and enormous that applying a specific monetary value to them isn’t particularly meaningful.

    Indeed, and – if anything – Kevin Anderson’s explicit point was that he wanted to avoid economists discounting the future and concluding that we should simply delay doing anything. The more interesting issue – in my view – is his claim that 4oC would be incompatible with organised global community. As I said in an earlier comment, I have heard something consistent with this, privately, from one climate science but I have no real idea if there is merit to what Kevin Anderson suggested (well, other than it being clear that the impacts of a 4oC rise is very likely to be pretty severe).

  60. andrew adams says:

    ATTP,
    Yes, Kevin’s argument really rests on that question, and it’s not one which economics can answer. I don’t think we can definitively answer that question, the best we can do is say this is our best estimate and this is how confident we are, and then we have to decide whether we are prepared to take that risk and whether it’s serious enough for us to pay the cost of avoiding or at least minimising it.

  61. Andrew,

    I don’t think we can definitively answer that question, the best we can do is say this is our best estimate and this is how confident we are, and then we have to decide whether we are prepared to take that risk and whether it’s serious enough for us to pay the cost of avoiding or at least minimising it.

    Indeed. Maybe Stoat’s argument is that the economic consensus is that we should always cost something and always apply a discount rate. Maybe that is true, but it’s not obvious that this is how people have to make decisions. In some sense, however, Kevin’s argument is essentially this, just pushed to one extreme – his argument (if I understand it) is essentiually that the cost is so large that whatever discount rate you apply (assuming a reasonable range of discount rates) you would conclude that we should pay the cost (now) of avoiding/minimising it. Again, I don’t know if this is the correct conclusion to draw about what would be the consequences of 4oC of warming and it would be interesting to get a better sense of what people actually think the consequences of such warming would be.

  62. wmconnolley says:

    > I can’t see this progressing in any constructive way, so maybe we can draw this to a close?

    After that, and other stuff, I backed out of this thread (and discussing economics here permanently). If you want to discuss what I mean, you know where I live.

  63. My view as to whether or not it’s likely to be constructive hasn’t really changed. You could always think a little bit about whether or not arguing that the discount rate has become essentially irrelevant is quite the same as ignoring the concept entirely – as you seem to be claiming is being done. On the other hand, feel free to not do so.

  64. Jim Hunt says:

    Chubbs – Bear in mind that, just like me, Kevin resides in the once Great Britain and not in SoCal.

    When do you suppose BECCS will come on stream in sufficient volume? Alternatively is there another “magic bullet” lurking just over the horizon?

    Mr. Mosher – If you find yourself in violent agreement with William’s position perhaps you wouldn’t mind explaining it to me very slowly, since I am a bear of remarkably little brain?

    “Buy & Hoddle”! Shurely shome mishtake?

  65. andrew adams says:

    ATTP,

    I think it’s partly the fact the economic cost would be too great what ever it is, and partly that the cost of a complete breakdown of society can’t be measured in purely economic terms anyway. It’s like me working out the economic cost of my house burning down and my family perishing in the fire at some time in the future and discounting it back to work out if it’s worthwhile for me to buy smoke detectors.

  66. andrew,

    I think it’s partly the fact the economic cost would be too great what ever it is, and partly that the cost of a complete breakdown of society can’t be measured in purely economic terms anyway.

    Indeed, I agree. As I understand it (and happy to be corrected, if wrong) there is little confidence in the estimates of the cost of something like 4oC of warming.

  67. Nathan.

    Hi nice to meet you.

  68. Hi Jim

    I enjoy your contributions over at nevens. everyday reading

    HODL

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hodl

  69. David B. Benson says:

    “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas will give an idea of what 4°C of warming might be like. Also, studying the early Pliocene will assist. In any case, expect more than 25 meters of sea level rise.

    Is that enough to suggest action now, irrespective of the discount rate?

  70. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    “Nathan.

    Hi nice to meet you.”

    Ummm yes, we met before. You claimed to know what the Stoatmeister was on about, can you enlighten us?

  71. Chubbs says:

    JIm Hunt – We may never see BECCS in volume. Anderson has shown that wind and solar are ramping up as expected in the RCP scenarios while BECCS and carbon capture are lagging. That will have to be reflected in the next round of scenarios. I am somewhat optimistic because we could do: wind, solar, gas-to-coal switching, conservation, etc. faster than our current trajectory and it wouldn’t cost much to do so (using a reasonable discount rate).

  72. andrew adams says:

    Yes, from what I remember “Six Degrees” paints a pretty bleak picture of a world 4C warmer, and as far as I’m aware is a fair representation of expectations based on the science as it was when the book was written.

  73. Willard says:

    > Although FWIW, TimW is right on the question of private banks creating money in the piece linked to above.

    I’d rather cast poxes in all houses in the silly episode where TimW deflects the blame for Northern Rock’s fiasco by appealing to ontology, AndrewA:

    As a result Northern Rock had to ask the Bank of England for special loans where not just government bonds were accepted as collateral, but also the mortgage bundles that the other banks were now unwilling to accept. The making public of these loans triggered a loss of confidence in Northern Rock depositors about the safety of their deposits. The resulting additional removal of BofE money from the Northern Rock naturally made its problems worse. In the end, the Bank of England had to lend Northern Rock so much of its money to make it liquid enough, that the security backing these loans amounted to the whole Northern Rock business itself. At this point it had to be accepted that the UK government itself was the ultimate backer of Northern Rock, and so the bank had effectively been nationalised.

    Now the question here is not whether Northern Rock should have been rescued or not, although it should be borne in mind that since it was never actually insolvent, the government could (although it probably now won’t) have made a profit from taking it over. The question we are interested in is whether or not Northern Rock failed because commercial banks ‘cannot create money’. In fact Northern Rock created lots of money. All of its mortgage book that was accepted by the Bank of England as collateral for special rescue loans created money, as did the value of its business in subsequent loans. But in normal circumstances Tim is strictly correct; by acquiring loans from other banks they would not have been directly creating money. Yet in another sense, Ralph is also correct, because by using this mechanism to keep ‘in step’ they were increasing the amount of deposits the current level of total reserves (of BofE money) could support.

    http://www.futureeconomics.org/2012/08/northern-rock-and-the-bank-of-england/

    That ontological question wasn’t that relevant to my point, which was to illustrate how Our Stoatness’ fight for freedom may bias his silly dismissiveness. His failure to parse KevinA’s point or AT’s wording of it just follows the parsomatic tradition. It’s not as if Lucia’s did not prepare us for such ordeal.

    But when you’re compelled to cast Thomas Piketty as a denier of economics, it might be time to revisit your overall attitude.

    ***

    You know, this whole “economic denier!” thing reminds me of the time Paul Romer did the same to David Andolfatto:

    Judging by his reply to my post here, it seems that Romer has a rather low opinion of me. Evidently, I am an “Euler-theorem denier.” Admittedly, this is not the worst thing I’ve ever been called. But in addition to this, I am apparently motivated to deny the truth of this mathematical proposition because doing so signals my commitment to an academic club of serpents that includes the likes of Nobel prize-winning economists Bob Lucas and Ed Prescott. Paul, you flatter me.

    http://andolfatto.blogspot.com/2015/06/competitive-innovation.html

    And then Andolfatto took the time to produce a countermodel to refute Romer’s claim that “no model can have a competitive equilibrium with price-taking behavior and partially excludable nonrival goods.”

    What could Romer respond to that after going in a snit? The same as Our Stoatness did. Nothing.

    ADD. DavidA has an even stricter conception of money than TimW. I don’t mind much.

  74. izen says:

    @-Chubbs
    ” I am somewhat optimistic because we could do: wind, solar, gas-to-coal switching, conservation, etc. faster than our current trajectory and it wouldn’t cost much to do so (using a reasonable discount rate).”

    I am somewhat pessimistic because we could do: wind, solar, gas-to-coal switching, conservation, etc. faster than our current trajectory, but it would cost lost profits to the fossil fuel industry.
    And while some ‘enlightened’ governments are superficially supporting wind, solar etc, many are still giving loans, grants and credit guarantees to fossil fuel companies to build fossil fuelled power stations as ‘Foreign Aid’. A consequence of a long-standing regulatory capture.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/839718/aid-foreign-aid-UK-taxpayer-money-fossil-fuels-renewable-energy

  75. izen says:

    @-angtech
    “Basically no matter how important the problem, if the cost is actually totally impractible then that course of action is not a consideration.”

    (A summary of the GOP health care plan ?)
    Not totally impractical, just less profitable than BAU.

  76. angech says:

    “WRT to the question of whether climate scientists should lead with small footprint, I don’t see the point.”

    The point should be obvious.
    Restricting it to climate scientists is moot.

    What is WMC saying?

    We have problems with costs when we try to do things.
    These costs are real.
    If it was easily affordable and necessary we would all cut down our 10% and grumble away happily.
    Then we have pyrrhic economics, we cut down 30% solve climate change but cripple our economy and lifestyle for generations. Still good for the children.
    Next we have a 90% cut to solve the problem only we have to force it on people through a rigid belief system. No children left to worry about. No money or economics either.
    Basically no matter how important the problem, if the cost is actually totally impractible then that course of action is not a consideration.

    I’m probably wrong but might have to go to his site to be told so.

  77. Willard says:

    > I’m probably wrong but might have to go to his site to be told so.

    It doesn’t matter if all you need is to inject “but the poor!,” Doc.

  78. Chubbs says:

    izen – agree we are not on an optimum path today, but that means we could do better. Key non-fossil technologies: Solar, wind, batteries, electric transportation all look more viable today than when the current RCP strategies were developed despite resistance from vested interests. Deploying these technologies rapidly is starting to align with other non-climate interests in China, India and other key countries. I don’t think progress will be fast enough to avoid significant climate impacts but all out disaster is looking less likely in my opinion vs the situation 5 years ago.

    angech – cost alarmist

  79. Willard says:

    The following study shows that pussyfooting over discounting may not be caused by a polarization between ecological and economic concerns:

    In 3 studies, participants made choices between hypothetical financial, environmental, and health gains and losses that took effect either immediately or with a delay of 1 or 10 years. In all 3 domains, choices indicated that gains were discounted more than losses. There were no significant differences in the discounting of monetary and environmental outcomes, but health gains were discounted more and health losses were discounted less than gains or losses in the other 2 domains. Correlations between implicit discount rates for these different choices suggest that discount rates are influenced more by the valence of outcomes (gains vs. losses) than by domain (money, environment, or health). Overall, results indicate that when controlling as many factors as possible, at short to medium delays, environmental outcomes are discounted in a similar way to financial outcomes, which is good news for researchers and policy makers alike.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19653793

    I got this citation via this other one.

    I’m not sure why this is good news: it indicates why people don’t see how they can make money with long term investments.

  80. Willard says:

    Culture and social status seem to influence decisions with delay discounting:

    People generally tend to discount future outcomes in favor of smaller but immediate gains (i.e., delay discounting). This study examines the hypothesis that culture and social status moderate this tendency, as well as the alternative hypothesis that social status and culture influence delay discounting independently of each other. American and Japanese adults were asked to choose receiving hypothetical monetary rewards either immediately or receiving rewards of different amounts with a delay of 1 year. The results replicated previous findings and supported the alternative hypothesis. Delay discounting was lower when subjective socioeconomic status (i.e., an individual’s perception of her or his social rank) was higher. Also, the Japanese were less likely to discount future rewards than the Americans. However, there was no interaction between social status and culture in influencing the rates of delay discounting.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpr.12154/full

    That makes me wonder what Japanese economists think about the social cost of carbon.

  81. Willard says:

    Discounting the future may not be a testosterone thing:

    OBJECTIVES:
    Although impulsivity has been associated with androgens (e.g., testosterone), little is known regarding the relationship between testosterone levels and impulsivity in intertemporal choice (delay discounting). This study was aimed to examine the relationship between delay discounting of gains and losses and testosterone levels, which is of interest in neuroendocrinology and neuroeconomics.

    METHODS:
    We assessed degrees to which delayed monetary gains and losses were discounted (hyperbolic discounting rate) in healty male students (age: 22.4+/-2.67). Participants’ salivary testosterone levels were also assessed by utilizing liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy (LC/MS) method.

    RESULTS:
    Non-linear curve fitting analysis showed an inverted-U relationship between delay discounting of gains and salivary testosterone levels; while no relationship between salivary testosterone levels and delay discounting of losses was observed.

    CONCLUSIONS:
    The results indicate that (i) testosterone may enhance delay discounting rate of gains in non-impulsive subjects, (ii) testosterone may have an opposite (reducing) effect on delay discounting rate of gains in impulsive subjects, and (iii) testosterone is unrelated to subject’s sensitivity to future bad outcomes. Implications for evaluating the effects of testosterone treatment and anti-androgenic therapy on impulsive behavior often observed in psychiatrics (e.g., pathological gambling, credit card debt, substance misuse, and needle-sharing) are discussed.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16891992

  82. numerobis says:

    What a surprise, seeing the libertarians view their understanding of economics as a series of inviolable physical laws.

    I saw this within the economics community for the year and a half that I studied economics. About half the community that I interacted with (game theory / microeconomics) were very clear that the assumptions they made were simplifying assumptions required to make the math work, but that there was lots of fun work to do pushing against the axioms to make them better match the real world.

    The other half thought the assumptions were how the world *actually* worked. Disposal was *actually* free. Utility was *actually* linear in money. Etc.

    That half made me leave the field.

  83. there is something to seeing demand/fashion as a force akin to wind, it drives certain economic engines, but beyond that simple observation (and an appreciation of the labor theory of value), I know almost nothing about economics. My gap in knowledge of econ is deliberate, it seems to me that economics is simply a pretty ridiculously complicated branch of human philosophy with very little of anything akin to science in the mix.

  84. Willard says:

    The cigarette industry benefits from delay discounting:

    This study examined relations between adult smokers and non-smokers and the devaluation of monetary rewards as a function of delay (delay discounting, DD) or probability (probability discounting, PD). The extent to which individuals discount value, either as a function of a reward being delayed or probabilistic, has been taken to reflect individual differences in impulsivity. Those who discount most are considered most impulsive. Previous research has shown that adult smokers discount the value of delayed rewards more than adult non-smokers. However, in the one published study that examined probability discounting in adult smokers and non-smokers, the smokers did not discount the value of probabilistic rewards more than the non-smoker controls. From this past research, it was hypothesized that measures of delay discounting would differentiate between smokers and non-smokers but that probability discounting would not. Participants were 54 (25 female) adult smokers (n = 25) and non-smokers (n = 29). The smokers all reported smoking at least 20 cigarettes per day, and the non-smokers reported having never smoked. The results indicated that the smokers discounted significantly more than the non-smokers by both delay and probability. Unlike past findings, these results suggest that both delay and probability discounting are related to adult cigarette smoking; however, it also was determined that DD was a significantly stronger predictor of smoking than PD.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14744545

    Presenting SCC as a probabilistic discounting problem may help.

  85. reference from Digby in comments at Real Climate: article at VisualCarbon.org by the investigative journalist Barry Saxifrage. …delved into the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2017 and deduced some interesting data about global fossil-fuel consumption — data not made explicit at all in the review. The essential results are as follows:

    Firstly, for the world consumption of oil-equivalent we have:
    7 Gt in 1990
    8 Gt in 2000
    10 Gt in 2007
    11 Gt in 2012
    11.4 Gt in 2017
    Certainly no sign of any decrease recently.

    Secondly, for fossil fuel’s share of global energy we have:
    88% in 1990
    87% in 1995
    86% in 2015

    Crunch those numbers and get back to me with the good news.

  86. Willard says:

    Scratch your own itch, Small. Scratching mine, we might need many ways to sell discounting rates:

    The social discounting paradigm is a powerful means of quantifying altruism in humans, who are typically willing to forgo some amount of personal earnings in exchange for increased earnings for another person. The amount of money that people are willing to forgo decreases with increasing social distance. In this study, we examined variables related to sex, intolerance of uncertainty, and empathy, all of which are theorized to affect the social discounting rate. Participants (27 men and 28 women) completed measures of intolerance of uncertainty, empathy, and social discounting. We found sex differences in psychological predictors of social discounting: in women, empathy (but not intolerance of uncertainty) predicts the social discounting rate, while in men, social discounting is associated with intolerance of uncertainty (but not empathy). Possible neurobiological, social, and cognitive explanations for this sex difference are discussed.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bdm.1876/full

    Somehow related:

  87. Willard says:

    Manuel pingback:

    > A better analogy is between the “correct” discount rate and the value of climate sensitivity.

    Indeed, and it’s hard to decide which of the two is the silliest.

    Which returns us to the last time I visited:

    There’s no discount rate to “find out.” In part because like climate sensitivity we only can establish a very rough ballpark, and in part because, like interest rates, it’s a human decision.

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2017/07/08/one-team-two-team-red-team-blue-team/#comment-59593

    It’d be hard to deny that all we have are ranges of values in both cases. Yet the luckwarm playbook comes with this very pussyfooting in both cases.

    Fancy that.

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2017/08/10/economic-denialism/#comment-59910

  88. I find the human behavior analysis interesting, just find economics quite silly when it is used as an excuse for doing little or nothing about the sixth great extinction. Bucky Fuller may have said: we can afford to do anything we have to do. If he never said it, I said it.

    Worried about the cost of slamming the brakes on fossil fuel consumption? Ridiculous concern. We can afford to do it because we have to do it. scratching that itch. feels good.

  89. Willard says:

    > We can afford to do it because we have to do it.

    And we already do:

    Following ScottD’s tweeter is good for the soul.

  90. beware of Jevon’s paradox. Yes, it is great to see renewables cost fall, but the thing that has to fall is fossil fuel emissions. I would love to feel optimistic about our situation, but remember this important component:

    for the world consumption of oil-equivalent we have:
    7 Gt in 1990
    8 Gt in 2000
    10 Gt in 2007
    11 Gt in 2012
    11.4 Gt in 2017

    All of the feel-good new stories that can be printed are simply fluff unless this number starts going the other direction and fast.

  91. Phil says:

    Chubbs said:

    JIm Hunt – We may never see BECCS in volume.

    Anthony Hobley says (about 30min in, I think)

    And we see that CCS is “leapfrogged”

  92. Willard says:

    > beware of Jevon’s paradox. Yes, it is great to see renewables cost fall, but the thing that has to fall is fossil fuel emissions.

    I can agree with that. In return, you must admit that if we already take action, it’d be more correct to say we’re not doing enough.

    This nuance removes some power from the Lord Lawsons of this world.

    They can’t stop the world from moving forward.

    Since we may need plastics for a while, their interest groups are here to stay.

  93. Phil says:

    Re: my last post. Actually, with regard specifically to BECCS, Carbon tracker do see a role. See here which seems to suggest the proportion of BECCS in the energy mix depends strongly on climate policy (it disappears when climate policy is “weak”)

  94. Ragnaar says:

    Willard:

    Long time since I was in business school. I had assumed we stopped at a zero percent discount rate, that there were not negative ones. Negative expenses sure. The idea of negative discount rates is acceptable to me.

    Discount rates are often determined at the individual level. Payday loans. Stop, don’t do that, it’s foolish. Why should they listen to me? Here’s a whiteboard presentation of why you don’t do that. One of the great failures of tax preparers were refund anticipation loans and I have never offered them. I am pretty sure you don’t have a lot of assets, so give me some more money. What is in the best interest of my clients?

    The skeptics are using a high discount rate it seems to me. Lukewarmers not so high but material. If a low discount rate could be imposed on us. One not in favor of impositions, would try to negotiate discount rates agreeable to them.

  95. numerobis says:

    Willard: Plastics will get very cheap for a bit, but they can’t take up the slack from transportation fuels.

    But eventually we’ll start making our plastics from things other than petroleum. We already make some; PLA is largely from corn, for instance.

  96. Ragnaar says:

    Assume a negative discount rate in this situation. At value negative X, $1 spent prevents $1.50 of damage. At value negative Y, you prevent $2 of damage.

    Now pay for everything. Food spending constant. Medical spending constant. Education spending constant. For this constant spending we get Z. Now compare to mitigation spending. Decide what to buy.

    Whether the discount rate is negative X or negative Y matters to the ratio of mitigation spending to constant spending.

    The idea of discount rates might be compared to a corporate intermediate term bond. It’s all laid out as a contract. The terms will not change though bankruptcy is possible.

    With the climate, it’s not all laid out. Affordable and acceptable nuclear could effectively tear up the terms. Yes, you prevented some warming but this other new thing made the impact of what you did now only worth this small amount and if we had it all over to do again with hindsight, that was a waste of money.

  97. Willard says:

    > Plastics will get very cheap for a bit, but they can’t take up the slack from transportation fuels.

    Of course. What I’m suggesting is that fossil fuels might still be needed beyond 2100.

  98. After WMC sends willard’s comment to the Stoat Burrow Hole, mt and James Annan try to show him where is stance makes no sense. Which results in this rejoinder from our Stoatness:

    [I confess that I didn’t actually listen to the talk …]

    LOL

  99. Willard says:

    > With the climate, it’s not all laid out.

    Exactly. There are risks. Which means you give yourself some margin just in case.

    Another way to see negative discount rates is when you’re in a very bad market. It’s better not to extend your positions in it. You get out or yhoddle:

  100. jacksmith4tx says:

    Ragnar,
    I know it sounds counter intuitive but the future of electrical power might look more like a mesh network of micro-grids which will favor smaller power plants. We will have to see if the private sector is up to the challenge.
    If you have a few minutes check out this analysis.
    https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/can-we-make-nuclear-power-great-again
    In the podcast they discuss where the modular nuke industry is at. There are a lot of players but the avg. cost of a getting federal approval for just a proof-of-concept demonstration is 500 million and up.

  101. T-rev says:

    Coincidentally, I just came upon this talk by Dennis Meadows, at about 10 minutes he talks of personal responsibility and provided a small example an example, his closing words were

    “if there is a conflict between what you say and what you do, what you do will convey a much stronger message’

  102. I have been thinking more about the idea of climate scientists leading by example by pursuing a very small footprint and I still think it is generally a bad idea. In terms of Willard’s “scratch your own itch” idea, I am completely behind any scientist or human being that decides to pursue a small or negative (good luck) footprint. I do that myself because it does scratch my itch. I enjoy the gardening work, it’s been more than a decade since I pushed a lawn mower anywhere and that feels great, though I admit it is a challenge to keep up with the weeding and gardening.

    The real problem that I see with the small carbon shoe scientists is that it suggests to the general population that individuals can effectively address AGW by reducing their individual carbon footprint when the solution, if it exists, is in something much, much larger and profound – an emergency reconstruction of human economy and industry. I think KA’s (and others’) view that civilized human communities/societies will collapse at some point if global warming continues is correct. I have heard the term “regenerative governance” tossed out in a few places and to me, that open-ended term suggests the level of change that is required to address GW and slow the sixth great extinction. I think it is going to be very difficult to persuade thoughtful leaders to throw in with a global regenerative governance idea. Kim Jong and Donald and other more thoughtless leaders will not be persuaded to abdicate their supreme authority for the good of us all.

    The IPCC and global climate agreements like Kyoto and Paris are high-minded and they can help us slow the disaster if our species would stop bickering and really embrace this existential struggle, but even these agreements are not sufficient because certain issues like nation-state authority, neoliberal economics, fossil fuel “subsidies” etc. are not on the table. Like small carbon shoe scientists, these are ideas and commitments with good intent, but that cannot gain the traction needed to create the fundamental changes in human activity on the planet. In the US, we might say, uh-oh, we are in a pickle. or that is a tough nut to crack.

    I like and am intrigued by the discount discussion. Humans are certainly interesting animals. The solution to our situation lies in a brutally frank discussion of our situation. It’s quite a pickle. It’s like a million ton pickle meteor of unusual size on a collision course with our hometown. Should we mow the lawn one more time before we get pickled? Or should we replace the lawn with an edible landscape and reduce our carbon footprint with more solar panels on the roof and an electric car?

    I think no on mowing the lawn. I think yes on the edible landscape etc, but if we want to address the pickle, we will have to talk pickle.

    Anybody hearing a lot of discussion about ending global fossil fuel subsidies and committing those funds and more to a transformative global economy based on something that might be described as regenerative governance?

    But, by all means, scratch your own itch. Scratching our own itch might be our fundamental purpose in the universe. I use a very pleasant smelling cbd lotion sometimes with the itch. It is fabulous!

    Cheers

    Mike

  103. Willard says:

    > The real problem that I see with the small carbon shoe scientists is that it suggests to the general population that individuals can effectively address AGW by reducing their individual carbon footprint when the solution, if it exists, is in something much, much larger and profound – an emergency reconstruction of human economy and industry.

    Indeed. That’s a good time to remind corporations that they chose to be considered moral persons:

    http://thecorporation.com/

    Everybody should mean every body.

    That said, I think that from a public relations perspective, it’s important to recognize that scientists are selling themselves more than they are selling their results. People don’t connect with words, they connect to people. It’s first and foremost about trust:

    It’s about LISTENING. People trust people they feel are listening. They don’t trust people who don’t listen. Scientists are VERY bad at listening. This is part of why we use improv techniques in our workshops — they foster listening.

    Again, it all comes down to trust. As Kahneman says, it doesn’t matter how much data and how strong your arguments are. Without trust, you have nothing.

    The Benshi’s going a bit too far – his modulz does not take into account that contrarians are mostly filibustering. Heck, even teh Donald knows he should look like he’s listening:

    In any case, I’d start with a very basic principle of storytelling:

  104. Mal Adapted says:

    SM:

    anyway.. go long bitcoin
    , buy and hodl

    Jim Hunt:

    “Buy & Hoddle”! Shurely shome mishtake?

    SM:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hodl

    Willard:

    You get out or yhoddle:

    I got lost in the discount-rate weeds a while back, but this ‘hodl’ stuff is worth the price of admission 8^D! Except now I need a new keyboard. Still, a net benefit so far 8^D!

  105. Steven Mosher says:

    “an emergency reconstruction of human economy and industry”.

    I would rather seize the day.
    The old ming dynasty had a pretty good run. We value it despite it’s dissapperance.same for the greeks..The Romans the Egyptians. Pretty good runs. Still spectacular.
    The cockroaches may outlast us , perhaps superior knowledge isn’t all its cracked up to be evolutionarill speaking.
    Still we have had a good run. No point in sweating the details about it ending 100 years from now.

    Consider it a better if used by date.

  106. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    Mosher

    you still didn’t explain what it was you were agreeing with
    Do you recall what it was the Stoat said that you agreed with?

  107. Nathan,
    I suspect it’s the argument that this site is a bad as WUWT when it comes to energy/policy/economics etc. Steven has certainly suggested that before.

  108. Mal Adapted says:

    aTTP:

    I suspect it’s the argument that this site is a bad as WUWT when it comes to energy/policy/economics etc. Steven has certainly suggested that before.

    If he can’t resolve ‘badness’ more finely than that, he needs more superlative adjectives.

  109. Mal Adapted says:

    Me:

    aTTP:

    I suspect it’s the argument that this site is a bad as WUWT when it comes to energy/policy/economics etc. Steven has certainly suggested that before.

    If he can’t resolve ‘badness’ more finely than that, he needs more superlative adjectives.

    Hmm, SM’s vocabulary is Manichean, relatively speaking ;^). Maybe he just needs more ordinal points on his ranking scales?

  110. Steven Mosher says:

    Nathan.
    To answer your question.
    Yes.

  111. Steve M – given that WMC’s diatribe was all based on an Emily Litella moment (or as mt pointed out -omitting to WTFV) isn’t WMC’s criticism more like the typical WUWT kerfluffle than the actions/reactions of the denizens here?

    Cite scientific paper
    Misinterpret the results (usually because they didn’t actually RTFP – just skimmed it for some ammo)
    Pass off misunderstanding as actual result
    Ad hominems for any who disagree.

  112. Phil says:

    Cite scientific paper
    Misinterpret the results (usually because they didn’t actually RTFP – just skimmed it for some ammo)
    Pass off misunderstanding as actual result
    Ad hominems for any who disagree.

    Kevin, you omitted the last step which is;
    Refuse to acknowledge your mistake once the penny finally drops but simply withdraw from the argument. Thus allowing your self-image to remain intact, and allow you to peddle the same false argument at some time in the future.

    I don’t think Stoat will stoop so low as to do the last, but it is a common pattern that I see time-again in internet discussions on climate. The world would be a infinitely better place if people acknowledged when they’ve made mistakes; but what’s the betting, for example, that Roberto will eventually just slink away.

  113. FWIW, acknowledging mistakes is good, but I can see scenarios when it becomes difficult (especially if you don’t trust those that you think you need to make the acknowledgement to). It’s maybe more important to learn from them, than to acknowledge them.

  114. Nathan Tetlaw says:

    Mosher

    Why did you even bother with that reply?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s