Ignoring adaptation?

Oren Cass has an article in the Wall Street Journal called Doomsday climate scenarios are a joke. It’s based on a report that he has written for the Manhattan Institute. The Manhattan Institute publishes a magazine called the City Journal which did once have an article by Rupert Darwall, in which he defended Murry Salby, so that doesn’t bode well. However, I don’t think that Oren Cass’s article/report are completely without merit.

His article is actually about economic models, rather than physical climate models. His suggestion is that in some cases the assumptions don’t make sense (they ignore, for example, that we can adapt to some of the changes) while in others what the models imply don’t make sense (some very poor countries today will become – because of warming – much richer than countries that are very rich today). If what he say is correct, then it does seem odd. On the other hand, I’m aware that sometimes modellers make assumptions for reasons that may not be immediately obvious. For example, maybe ignoring adaptation presents a worse case scenario, but also provides some indication of what we would need to do to address this (which is not cost-free). On the other hand, my limited encounters with economists might suggest that sanity checking their model results is not one of their strengths.

In many respects, though, I think Oren Cass’s article/report misses the point. Our options are not simply to adapt, or mitigate. We will have to adapt to some of the changes, but should also be thinking about what to do to avoid some of the potential changes (which will largely require emitting less CO2 into the atmosphere than we otherwise could). Precisely how to do this is not necessarily obvious, but there are presumably two extremes that bound the options. Burning everything will almost certainly lead to changes that will prove very damaging. Similarly, immediately halting all emissions will also be pretty catastrophic. So, it presumably has to be somewhere in between these two extremes and there are indeed analyses that provide policy instruments (a carbon tax, for example) that could lead to some kind of optimal pathway.

There are also, in my view, other things to consider. The changes are probably – without technological intervention – irreversible on human timescales. If they turn out to be more difficult to deal with than Oren Cass appears to suggest, we don’t get to easily go back. Also, stabilising global temperatures will essentially require getting emissions to about zero. However, given that we can’t do this immediately, there will always – in reality – be some amount of committed warming. It would therefore seem sensible to think about reducing emissions before it becomes patently obvious to everyone that we should do so. As someone said on Twitter (Peter Jacobs, maybe) the best time to start emission reductions was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

I’ll finish with my perspective, mostly due to being a physicist. Our climate is a complex, non-linear system. It has, however, been remarkably stable for quite some time, and we’ve almost certainly benefitted from this quasi-stability. However, we’re now pushing it out of balance. For small perturbations, we’re reasonably confident that the response will be linear and that we understand quite well what will probably happen. We do, however, have the potential to produce a large perturbation and, if we do so, the response becomes much more uncertain. This should really make us more concerned, not less.

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167 Responses to Ignoring adaptation?

  1. I’ll do my standard thing of immediately writing a comment after a post. What also strikes me as interesting is that those who seem to promote the idea that we’re innovative and adaptable, never seem to then suggest that this also implies that we could innovate and adapt so that we no longer live in a world in which emitting billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere is a by-product of energy generation.

  2. Greg Robie says:

    I am biased to feel that the thinking that creates [& exacerbates] a problem* cannot be used to imagine the solution.

    * limited liability law enabled CapitalismFail with its Anthropocene and it’s abrupt climate change

  3. Dave_Geologist says:

    On the other hand, my limited encounters with economists might suggest that sanity checking their model results is not one of their strengths.

    Mine is that they just do a different sanity check.

    Q – Does the end result support my preconceived ideas?

    Y – Publish

    N – Make new undocumented assumptions until it does. If that fails, bury it.

  4. Dave_Geologist says:

    those who seem to promote the idea that we’re innovative and adaptable, never seem to then suggest that this also implies that we could innovate and adapt so that we no longer live in a world in which emitting billions of tonnes of CO2

    And those who say we shouldn’t impose emissions cuts because it will stop poor countries catching up with the West. Often the same people.

    While simultaneously calling for cuts to the foreign aid budget, or for aid to be made contingent on all the funds being spent on products or services provided by the donor country.

    Funny that.

  5. Dave,
    To be fair, I suspect that there are economists who are extremely good, as well as some who are not. Just like there being astronomers who are very good, and others who are not.

  6. Dave,
    Yes, it does seem as though holding mutually inconsistent views is quite a big part of the climate debate.

  7. Ed Davies says:

    ATTP, your follow up comment is a good point. Will use.

    One thing which seems to get missed from this sort of discussion is the ethical issue that, even if adaptation gives a better outcome than mitigation for the human race overall (¹), many of the people who’ll have to do a lot of the adaptation (poorer people in less developed countries) are not the ones who’ll benefit most from the lack of mitigation.

    (¹) I think that’s unlikely but not impossible.

  8. Ed,
    That’s a good point. When I was thinking about this post I was going to make that point, but didn’t get it into the post itself. I agree that what those who argue we can adapt ignore, is that those who can most easily adapt have probably benefitted most from CO2 emissions, while those least able have benefitted least and may suffer most (both because they may not have the economic ability to adapt, and because the regions in which they live may suffer some of the most severe impacts).

  9. angech says:

    “those who seem to promote the idea that we’re innovative and adaptable, never seem to then suggest that this also implies that we could innovate and adapt so that we no longer live in a world in which emitting billions of tonnes of CO2”
    A bit harsh.
    I am sure that a lot of the people [serious scientists] promoting innovation have said that the innovations would result in ways to reduce the CO2 levels if needed.

    The adaption side could merely consist of moving a little. If it gets too hot for the corals they could just move south to previously too cool waters now made livable by the magic of global warming.
    Vast areas of tundra could become fertile wheat fields with extra vigor from the now available clathrates acting as fertilizers.
    Kevin Costner could grow gills
    The Dutch of course will not move just build a bigger wall but that is just another form of the adaptions possible without innovation to lower the CO2 burden.
    “the best time to start emission reductions was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.
    Starting small and growing steps have been made over the last 20 years. Just the people growth has outmuscled the innovations effect to date.

  10. zebra says:

    @Dave-G,

    I will be answering your comment in the other thread as well but I just saw this:

    “for aid to be made contingent on all the funds being spent on products or services provided by the donor country.”

    Kind of a mixed proposition. If China provides some villages in Africa with funds only to buy solar panels, and the panels have to be made in China, which are the cheapest available, this is not such a bad idea, in the context of mitigation.

    Of course, the US does it with weapons, which are absurdly expensive, and, you know, weapons…

  11. angech,

    If it gets too hot for the corals they could just move south to previously too cool waters now made livable by the magic of global warming.

    Except you’re ignoring that it seems likely that the timescale over which they could move is longer than the timescale over which they will be impacted by climate change. Also, not everyone/everything can do this. So, yes, we can – and will have to – adapt to some of the changes. However, there are strong arguments for doing something to avoid have to adapt to what are essentially quite extreme changes. In fact, it is already clear that doing so will be cost effective (in other words, we will clearly benefit overall from avoiding emitting all that we possibly can). See here for example and the figure below (from Nordhaus’s recent paper).

  12. Steven Mosher says:

    ” On the other hand, my limited encounters with economists might suggest that sanity checking their model results is not one of their strengths.”

    Eli will remember. One day Moshpit decided to check Ross McKittricks work on UHI
    Good thing he supplied code and data.
    He modelled UHI as a function of population ( mistake.. should be density as that correlates with building height ) anyway I took his excell spreadsheet of population ( lat and lon) and mapped
    it. i mean what the heck, this is just basic QC checking that your spreadsheet is correct

    Guess what happens to the population of places like St Helena island and Antarctica?
    not to mention the gobi desert and alaska..

    really stupid mistake, he refused to test whether it made a difference.

    oh ya, just a stupid english major here.

  13. Steven,
    Is that the time he also forgot to convert from radians to degrees (or vice versa), or was that something else?

  14. Steven Mosher says:

    “The changes are probably – without technological intervention – irreversible on human timescales.”

    nice caveat

  15. Jim Eager says:

    “Vast areas of tundra could become fertile wheat fields….”

    Except the amount of sunlight falling on that tundra will not increase as it gets warmer.
    Do you not think about what you say before you type it?

  16. Steven,

    nice caveat

    I was going to add that the required technology has yet to be developed, or has never been operated at scale, but that didn’t flow as well. Of course, we could develop the necessary technology, but many would argue that it might be better to not have to do so.

  17. Do you not think about what you say before you type it?

    The answer, unfortunately, often appears to be “no”.

  18. I would also consider actually reading the cited studies to see how they address adaptation, rather than taking his word for their approach.

  19. climatemusing,
    Indeed, I was kind of hoping there might be some kind of response. Oren Cass’s article has provoked very little in the way of a response, which is a bit surprising.

  20. izen says:

    @-“Except the amount of sunlight falling on that tundra will not increase as it gets warmer.”

    But hours of daylight are longer in the summer growing season.
    Wheat can be grown at least to 60N if the temperature range and water supply is adequate.

    The main problem of adapting the Tundra to food production is that it lacks the benefit of ~6000 years of a stable temperate soil ecology with human intervention and infrastructure that has established an effective agricultural system.

    Waiting for permafrost and barren Tundra to develop sufficient topsoil throught the sucession of conifer forest, broadleaf woods and tilled fields may not be practical.

    Historically, the primary mode of adaption that large nation-states or empires (Roman, Song, Harrapan, Maya, Anasazi, Khmer etc) have followed when faced with climate, or other, challenges is social disintegration, agricultural failure and population collapse. Mopped up by the four horsemen.

  21. BBD says:

    Steven,
    Is that the time he also forgot to convert from radians to degrees (or vice versa), or was that something else?

    Something else, I think. It was Tim Lambert (Deltoid) who spotted that one. I’d link, but there’s a gaping hole where ScienceBlogs used to be (RIP).

  22. BBD,
    I found this, which says

    But Tim’s latest discovery really takes the cake. It’s well-known that the rate of warming varies with latitude, but McKitrick and Michaels find no such effect for their variable, which is the cosine of absolute latitude. Lambert checked and, amazingly enough, found that the data set used by McKitrick and Michaels had latitude in degrees, but the cosine function in the SHAZAM econometric package, they used expected input in radians (which is what any mathematically literate person would expect). If you apply this function to angles measured in degrees you get nonsense.

    Let’s also not forget Ross McKitrick’s recipe for a hiatus. Comments might be worth reading. My rough synposis is that Ross thinks that because he did something complicated, you need to do exactly the same as he did in order to illustrate some kind of error. That it doesn’t make any real sense in the first place doesn’t appear to cross his mind.

  23. Willard says:

    > Oren Cass’s article has provoked very little in the way of a response

    Who?

  24. Willard says:

    > Almost noone.

    I was wondering about who Oren Cass was. His tweeting bio reads: Senior Fellow @ManhattanInst. Domestic Policy Director @MittRomney 2012. From the report’s blurb:

    Oren Cass is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where he focuses on energy, the environment, and antipoverty policy. In 2015, Politico recognized him as one of 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics.” He has written about climate policy for publications including the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Affairs, testified before House and Senate committees, briefed EPA and White House officials, spoken at MIT and the University of Texas, and appeared on NPR and the BBC. The Washington Examiner’s Byron York called Cass’s analysis “the best commentary on [teh Donald] and Paris.”

    In 2011–12, Cass was the domestic policy director for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, where he shaped campaign policy and communication on issues from health care to energy to trade. Prior to joining the Manhattan Institute, he was a management consultant for Bain & Company in the firm’s Boston and New Delhi offices, where he advised global companies across a range of industries on implementing growth strategies and performance-improvement programs. Cass holds a B.A. in political economy from Williams College and a J.D. from Harvard University, where he was an editor and the vice president of volume 125 of the Harvard Law Review.

    I would not bet the farm on his appreciation of stoopid modulz, considering the two gems that the summary contains:

    (1) “the paper also examines another study, published in Nature”

    (2) “The temporary effects of temperature variations—such as an unusual hot spell—cannot be eq uated with a long-term change in temperature patterns. For example, the failure of people to install air conditioners in a year with one extra 90°F day does not mean that they won’t do so in the face of 40 extra 90°F days.”

  25. Willard,
    I see. I actually thought I had written about him before, but it seems that I have not.

  26. Keith McClary says:

    Economists consider the cost of air conditioning and moving cities to higher ground (or latitudes) to be part of the GDP. Economic growth.

  27. BBD says:

    Oho! Following Willard’s prompt, I dug a little and guess what? The Manhattan Institute has genealogical form in a big way (my bold]:

    The Manhattan Institute (MI) is a right-wing 501(c)(3) non-profit think tank founded in 1978 by William J. Casey, who later became President Ronald Reagan’s CIA director.[1] It is an associate member of the State Policy Network.

    It is actually the direct successor to the International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS) which was founded by the english chicken-king, Sir Antony Fisher, in 1977. He had previously set up the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) in London, and before moving to the USA he had become a principle advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    We’re back to the source here, people. For anyone unfamiliar with Anthony Fisher, here is an unmissable, essential, if lengthy history lesson in the birth and grrrrrowth of the free market ‘think tank’. Enjoy!

  28. JCH says:

    His name showed up recently on the CargoCult Etc. twitter feed.

  29. izen says:

    Shorter Cass;
    AGW? let them buy AirCon.

    There is an implicit assumption that adaption will always be a simpler and cheaper option than mitigation whatever the magnitude, rate and persitence of any warming.

    But also inherent in the argument put forward is that mitigation IS an alternative. Although it is implied that any warming, or other impacts, are likely to be small and easy to adapt too, it is an obvious trade-off with mitigation.

    Cass carries a message that the less mitigation we attempt, the more adaption we will have to undertake.

  30. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Precisely how to do this is not necessarily obvious, but there are presumably two extremes that bound the options. Burning everything will almost certainly lead to changes that will prove very damaging. Similarly, immediately halting all emissions will also be pretty catastrophic.

    IMO, the problem with that juxtaposition of extremes is that one of them is a (more or less) realistic possibility (ignoring adaptation) whereas the other simply won’t happen (immediately halting all emissions).

    What’s particularly bothersome (for me) about that spectrum of extremes is that often, folks who rail against mitigation also pay lip service to adaptation but at the same time work very hard to disable (IMO) realistic pathways for funding meaningful adaptation (particularly for those folks who have contributed the ACO2 to the atmosphere) – i.e., government funded adaptation in developed countries, and developed nations funding adaptation in developing countries.

    I can’t read the article in the WSJ without giving them money, but based on my experience in observing ubiquitous cynical and exploitative leveraging of “adaptation” in the “skept-o-sphere,” my guess is that at its root, it amounts to just more identity warfare.

  31. Joshua says:

    OK. Found my way around the paywall:

    http://archive.is/K9FeF

  32. Joshua,

    What’s particularly bothersome (for me) about that spectrum of extremes is that often, folks who rail against mitigation also pay lip service to adaptation but at the same time work very hard to disable (IMO) realistic pathways for funding meaningful adaptation

    Personal responsibility, right? One additional point is that the more we focus on adaptation, the less likely it is that we will not act to reduce emissions, the more we are likely to emit, and even more adaptation will be required.

  33. Joshua says:

    Ok. I want to walk my earlier comment back.

    After having actually read the article, although I suspect that the criticisms contained in it probably employ some some straw-manning or other fallacious reasoning that would be uncovered in a thorough analysis, I have to say that taken at face value, the arguments seem quite valid.

    Sorry Oren.

  34. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Let me check, did you mean:

    One additional point is that the more we focus on adaptation, the less likely it is that we will not act to reduce emissions, the more we are likely to emit, and even more adaptation will be required.

    Personal responsibility, right?

    I take people seriously when they talk of mitigation if they accompany such talk with something more than just theoretical handwaving to free market fetishism as the funding mechanism.

    As such, I do think it’s important to make a “carve-out” for folks like RPJr., who do support stuff like a carbon tax.

  35. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    If you are arguing for adaptation as the solution you really need to come up with estimates of the costs of said adaption. How much will it cost to provide new drainage systems to every city to manage increases in rainfall intensity? What about flood defences for river flooding or coastal flooding? What is the cost of maintaining all these adaptation measures? What about adaption to drought? Just look at Cape Town.

    Carlisle in Cumbria spent £50+ million on a new flood defence scheme following sever flooding in 2005. The scheme was finished in 2012 providing protection unto the 1 in 200year flood event. In 2015 the defences where exceeded by over 0.5m and they are now are spending a further £25million+ to maintain the standard of protection.

    A 10% increase in rainfall or peak river flow will effectively double the flood risk reducing a historic 1in100 year event to a 1in50 year. Adaption can get very expensive very quickly.

  36. Joshua,
    Yes, your correction is what I meant.

  37. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Yes, your correction is what I meant.

    Yeah, kind of a corollary to the energy efficiency “rebound effect”

    I wonder if the BT boys have examined the adaptation rebound effect as thoroughly as they have the efficiency rebound effect?

    https://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Energy_Emergence.pdf

    Somehow, I suspect not.

  38. Willard says:

    Speaking of rebound effect, and since we’re at AT’s:

    Freedom Fighters have the kindest words.

  39. Dave_Geologist says:

    @ATTP

    To be fair, I suspect that there are economists who are extremely good, as well as some who are not. Just like there being astronomers who are very good, and others who are not.

    But I tend not to visit economics blogs, and am perhaps biased by the one’s I see on science blogs.

    And yes, Stern is a counter-example, but he doesn’t seem to do blogs.

    And while i don’t doubt there are astronomers who make mistakes, there probably aren’t many who make stuff up. Whereas economists seem OK with “this is too hard to measure so I’ll just make something up and see what happens”.

  40. Dave_Geologist says:

    A bit date angech but:

    The adaption side could merely consist of moving a little. If it gets too hot for the corals they could just move south to previously too cool waters now made livable by the magic of global warming.

    Have you looked at a map? Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica is too deep for corals. And Antarctica too cold.

  41. Dave_Geologist says:

    Freedom Fighters have the kindest words.

    Potty-mouthed children. Not worth more of a response.

  42. Willard says:

    > Whereas economists seem OK with […]

    Not a good idea.

  43. I think I noticed the study Oren Cass is complaining about and at the time noticed the same problem that some countries had huge and hard to explain effects. I would expect that when I notice it a expert in the field would also notice it.

    Looking at the influence of year to year weather variability has on mortality and the economy may be an overestimate compared to climate change due to adaptation, but it is also an underestimate for many effects. One dry year is not immediately a drought as long as the water level is still high enough. One warm year does not change the ecosystems much, but a long-term change does. One warm year does not lead to sea level rise, a century of warm weather does.

    I would expect economists working on this topic to understand these kinds of things and only use such a study to try to understand the problem and maybe not at all until the problems this approach has have been solved.

    As long as Oren Cass cannot show that this study was used directly (without interpretation) to compute the social cost of carbon, I would see his WSJ piece as a very long strawman.

  44. angech says:

    “However, there are strong arguments for doing something to avoid have to adapt to what are essentially quite extreme changes. In fact, it is already clear that doing so will be cost effective (in other words, we will clearly benefit overall from avoiding emitting all that we possibly can).”-

    Agree, in general.
    Wonder if mitigation is actually just a part of Adaptation?

    Corals are an interesting argument that has been done extensively in the past.
    A few salient points are that when they spawn yearly the blooms travel immense distances so easy to get to the new areas they can live in easily. No one is seriously saying they have to move to Antarctica in the next 10,000 years and in the case of the Great Barrier Reef and the coast of Australia there is a shelf which provides adequate support for any decent coral to move to and form a new home all the way down the coast of Australia.

  45. One of my earliest blog posts was on Essex & McKittick’s Taken By Storm book (back when blogs were actually popular 🙂
    http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2004/07/not-taken-by-storm.html

    Essex was the mathematician and McKittrick the economist. That was when I first realized that the AGW skeptics weren’t scientists.

  46. Steven Mosher says:

    ignoring adaptation…? remind me.. did we rebuild after sandy and katrina?

    if you looked at nyc plan for growth..it mostly ignored adaptation..maybe that has changed..

  47. Joshua says:

    Wonder if mitigation is actually just a part of Adaptation?

    Certainly. Adaptation or mitigation = Top shelf false choice

  48. angech says:

    Solar and wind are a quandary. In parts of Australia we have hydro and a good starting point would be to concentrate solar resources in areas where the hydro is big enough to seamlessly cover any wind solar shortfalls.
    Excess solar/wind power which has to be wasted, produced when fossil fuel generators are working at the required capacity should not be paid for.
    Solar and wind power which can be used for non essential services like hot water heating should be encouraged big time to reduce loads on the needed generation system.
    Alternative reliable 24 hour power sources need further work. One could frack the ground use hte hydrocarbons then use the machinery to obtain geothermal heating. New Zealand very good in the geothermal though it all has drawbacks somewhere.
    Until this is managed properly reliance on current fossil fuel plants should not be compromised.

  49. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Adaptation or mitigation = Top shelf false choice”

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘Top shelf false choice’.
    There is a clear reciprocal link between mitigation and adaption. Mitigation reduces the size of the impact from AGW. The need for adaption to the impacts is reduced if the impacts are reduced. There is a clear trade-off.

    But what Cass is arguing is that because some research into the impact of projected change is wrong. And wrong in the direction of exaggeration, ALL the impacts from AGW can be best resolved by adaption. Mitigation is unnecessary as adaption will be easy and cheaper.

    It may rely on a perception among many who live in colder or temperate seasonal latitudes in N Europe and N America, that the amount of warming predicted is about the same as moving a few hundred miles south. Given the envy those with cold wet winters have for the Mediterranean or Florida/Cali climate, that does not look like a bad deal. One that they quite willing to adapt too.

  50. BBD says:

    Solar and wind are a quandary. In parts of Australia we have hydro and a good starting point would be to concentrate solar resources in areas where the hydro is big enough to seamlessly cover any wind solar shortfalls.

    Solar should be concentrated where TSI yields the maximum annual average W/m^2. CSP with molten salt / SPV with batteries can smooth for diurnal.

    Excess solar/wind power which has to be wasted, produced when fossil fuel generators are working at the required capacity should not be paid for.

    Deep decarbonisation of electricity supply will require excess generation to be used intelligently – PHES is an ideal storage technology for this.

    Solar and wind power which can be used for non essential services like hot water heating should be encouraged big time to reduce loads on the needed generation system.

    Yes.

    Alternative reliable 24 hour power sources need further work. One could frack the ground use hte hydrocarbons then use the machinery to obtain geothermal heating. New Zealand very good in the geothermal though it all has drawbacks somewhere.

    The specific geology suitable for fracking hydrocarbons and for geothermal energy are different in many respects, from shale to igneous, shallow to very deep, so unlikely to occur in the same place (Dave_G will know more about this). Also, geothermal isn’t an energy cornucopia – energy conducts through solid rock quite slowly and if extracted rapidly, the bottom of the borehole *cools*. There are geothermal hot-spots where this isn’t so much of an issue, but it limits application of geothermal globally (as does the extreme depth of the borehole necessary to access enough heat).

    Until this is managed properly reliance on current fossil fuel plants should not be compromised.

    False dilemma: renewable tech is being developed alongside FFs with a view to displacing them in a managed transition.

  51. BBD says:

    Corals are an interesting argument

    So is ocean acidification.

  52. Steven Mosher says: “ignoring adaptation…? remind me.. did we rebuild after sandy and katrina?
    if you looked at nyc plan for growth..it mostly ignored adaptation..maybe that has changed..

    Germany and several other European countries have climate service centres that help companies and (local) governments adapt and plan infrastructure. The Netherlands is increasing the sea dikes, gives the rivers more space, evacuates regions so that they can be flooded to spare densely populated regions.

    Not every country is ruled by politicians who mostly care about the donor class and a radicalised unpatriotic tribe who are happy to damage their own country as long as the other tribe is unhappy about it.

    The economists who estimate the adaptation costs and damages probably assume rational behaviour, as they tend to do. They will greatly underestimate the damages in America where in some states civil servants are not even allowed to talk about climate change or where laws are written that sea level rise is not allowed to be taken into account when planning coastal defences.

  53. Dave_Geologist says:

    angech

    in the case of the Great Barrier Reef and the coast of Australia there is a shelf which provides adequate support for any decent coral to move to and form a new home all the way down the coast of Australia

    No there isn’t. To reach cooler water they’d have to go deeper, where there isn’t enough sunlight to let their symbionts photosynthesise. Tough call Mrs. Coral. Stay where you are and lose your symbionts to bleaching. Or go deeper and lose then to starvation.

    And yes (puts on Expert hat), reefs have migrated a long way up- and down-shelf in the past. But that was in response to sea level change, to keep the living, productive part of the reef in the Goldilocks zone.

  54. Dave_Geologist says:

    Victor

    I would expect economists working on this topic to understand these kinds of things

    I wouldn’t. Hence my objection to calling it the “dismal science”.

    1) A lot of them (especially on the right, but I may be biased 😉 ) wear remarkably rose-tinted spectacles.

    2) It’s emphatically not a science.

  55. Richard S J Tol says:

    Cass goes after two particularly prominent and particularly troublesome studies, which fortunately are unrepresentative of the field.

    @victor
    These two studies have not been used to estimate the social cost of carbon. Yet. They’re working on it.

    @dave
    The standing of economists is public: http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.all.html You might note that Nick Stern barely makes it into the top 1000, isn’t even the highest ranked Stern.

    @wotts
    Actually, one of the main objections to estimates of the costs of greenhouse gas emission reduction, is the assumed rate of technological progress in energy efficiency and renewable energy. The assumed rate is historically unprecedented.

  56. Richard,

    which fortunately are unrepresentative of the field.

    If so, that would seem to somewhat undermine the narrative of his article.

    The assumed rate is historically unprecedented.

    I would argue that historically unprecedented applies to many aspects of this topic.

  57. Richard S J Tol says:

    @wotts
    Sure. And historically unprecedented does not mean impossible or undesirable. But it is not true that mitigation studies assume a lack of innovation. Those studies assume quite a lot of innovation (e.g., electric space elevators), perhaps too much.

  58. Dave_Geologist says:

    HH

    Carlisle in Cumbria spent £50+ million on a new flood defence scheme following sever flooding in 2005. The scheme was finished in 2012 providing protection unto the 1 in 200year flood event. In 2015 the defences where exceeded by over 0.5m and they are now are spending a further £25million+ to maintain the standard of protection.

    To put that in perspective, for those who don’t know Carlisle, the population of the greater urban area is about 100,000, and the 2005 flood caused £450 million of damage according to one source, £325 million according to another, of which £175 million was insured (maybe the difference lies in whether non-physical damage is included, e.g. lost production). Scale that up to New York or Miami and you’re talking ten or twenty billion. Sandy only cost about two billion, looks like New York got off lightly. According to the second source, the 2015 flood cost £500 million, of which £325 million was insured. So a nice round billion dollars, in one small city, in less than ten years. Despite defensive measures which did take projected climate change into account (report is publicly available).

    2009 was a 1 in 150 year rainfall event, 2015 a 1 in 1000 year rainfall event. Six years apart. Welcome to the new normal.

    I’m thinking we dodged a bullet with Storm Emma the other week, because it was cold enough to fall as snow. Thank you, stalled jetstream! Although it did leave hundreds of motorists stranded overnight in their cars. Should have called it Eddie – apparently there’s research which shows people take more risks during identical storms if they’re given female rather than male names. Yes, seriously.

  59. Dave_Geologist says:

    The specific geology suitable for fracking hydrocarbons and for geothermal energy are different in many respects, from shale to igneous, shallow to very deep, so unlikely to occur in the same place (Dave_G will know more about this).

    Funny you should say that BBD.

    I’ve sat wellsite on a soft-rock geothermal borehole (logging, not drilling). Southampton #1. A fun time was had by all. Schlumberger had the logging contract, but a small start-up, Tessel, had offered to duplicate it for free. They arrived first and rigged up, then Schlum arrived and said they’d refuse to go in the hole if Tessel had been in already. Said he didn’t trust them not to damage it, and risk his tools getting stuck. So Tessel rigged down, Schlum rigged up and the rest of us went to bed. The Schlum engineer came into our caravan at 3 or 4 in the morning to say he’d (sensibly) decided to have a few hours sleep and start the job in daylight, and was looking for a bunk. Was seriously pissed to be told I’d nabbed the last one and he’d have to sleep in his truck (I was a supernumerary rookie and not budgeted for in the POB).

    It was in an Amoco operated oil exploration licence and they’d sent an observer. He’d just arrived back at Heathrow from Egypt and was met with a message not to go home, but to hire a car and drive post-haste to Southampton. With all the kerfuffle he said he was off to find a hotel, and we were to phone him when we were ready to log. We did, but he didn’t answer, not even when staff banged on his door, so with the meter ticking we went ahead without him. He arrived later and was seriously pissed to learn the job was over. IIRC he did admit to taking a sleeping pill because he was jet-lagged.

    Oh, happy days 😉 .

  60. BBD says:

    Southampton #1

    Know it well – you can sit in the restaurant at the back of West Quay and look down on the mini geothermal plant, fetchingly painted in red and blue to illustrate the hot / cold flow. I bore my 10y old son with witter about it (‘That won’t save us, boy! We need fusion I tell you – tokamaks! Pass me that donut and I’ll explain… Just another 40 years…”)

  61. Richard,

    But it is not true that mitigation studies assume a lack of innovation. Those studies assume quite a lot of innovation (e.g., electric space elevators), perhaps too much.

    It’s not quite clear why you said “it is not true”, given that I can’t recall anyone claiming that mitigation studies assume a lack of innovation. I suspect it is indeed true that some have unrealistic assumptions about us easily developing innovative mitigation solutions. Similarly, others seem to assume (unrealistically too, probably) that we will easily develop innovative adaptation solutions. I certainly don’t think either will necessarily be easy. Doesn’t really impact/change what we would be required to do, if we wish to achieve some target.

  62. Dave_Geologist says:

    Anyway, to the substantive point.

    A lot of the early geothermal concepts involved what’s called Hot Dry Rock. Fractured granite because the high radioactive mineral content gives them high heat flow, or fractured basalt in places like Iceland where the heat flow is high already (hence the recent basalt eruptions). The advantage is that the fracture network gives you a high permeability and hence high flow rate, and if you get it right, a deep reach into the rock. The low porosity gives the rock a high thermal conductivity and a large contacted volume of rock per unit of injected/produced water, and the planar fractures provide a large water/rock contact area per unit of pore volume. All of which acts to minimise the cooling-down-the-rocks problem.

    I believe there are also projects which tap directly into naturally circulating hydrothermal fluids. Again in volcanic areas such as Iceland, east Africa and I’ve seen some chatter about Yellowstone. That’s basically the same except you’re not pumping in cold water. You could call it Hot Wet Rock.

    Southampton #1 was drilled next to a coal-fired power station, paired with Marchwood #1 a mile or two away. IIRC the original idea was to use one as a cold water injector, the other as a hot water producer. The injection water won’t go direct from one to the other, but will spread out kinda like magnetic field lines between two magnets, so could contact quite a large volume to minimise the cooling-the-rocks problem. From this site, it appears still to be operating, but without the injector and supporting what looks like a modern gas-fired power station. Looks like the old power station site is now a retail park (it was right next to wellsite, the pylons and transformers were so close that in places you could feel your hair standing on end).

    Note the throwaway line about dumping the salt-saturated, corrosive, heavy metal-laden brine into the river! There’s no such thing as a free lunch, even green tech has it’s environmental impact. If they’d got the injector working they could have operated a closed cycle. I don’t know why not, probably fault compartmentalisation. This is a good quality conventional reservoir, the same as in the Wytch Farm field nearby (largest onshore oilfield in Europe). They’d have done an interference test between the wells after I left to measure their connectivity, before investing in a complete system.

    I’m not aware of any plans to re-use fracked wells for geothermal. You’d need a very good natural fracture network to get the flow rates. Unconventional reservoirs are low permeability (orders of magnitude less than the Sherwood sandstone at Southampton). It works for gas because the viscosity is fifty times lower than that of water. And you’d have the same nasty-produced-water problem, with the additional hazard of residual gas. Plus fracked wells have a long production tail at low rates, many decades and limited only by operating cost. By which time the casing and tubing will be at end-of-life and need to be replaced. So I doubt if we’ll see it any time soon. If I was targeting anything like that, it would be fractured sandstone with a saline aquifer.

    Small-scale heat pump systems on the other hand, are already available and in operation. They use shallow groundwater in a closed system, essentially a refrigerator turned inside out. There’s a fair amount of it in the Aberdeen area of Scotland, where the local fractured granite geology is particularly well suited, and the Houses of Parliament has (had?) one using water from the Thames.

  63. Dave_Geologist says:

    Richard

    I’ve no particular drum to beat for Stern although I did confess to possible political bias (perhaps not really political in the climate context, as there is, shall we say, a distinct geographical niche in which the science, as opposed to the policy, is politicised).

    Which contributes to my “not a science” remark. At least to me, science is nothing if not universal (so now I’ve outed my views on post-modernism too!). Correct me if I’m wrong, but while there isn’t Chinese gravity and Western gravity, or left-wing astrophysics and right-wing astrophysics, or even left-wing climatology and right-wing climatology*) there does appear, to the layman, to be distinct left-wing and right-wing schools of economics. To the point where entire departments subscribe for decades and it becomes a School.

    If it was a science you’d all agree with each other. Or agree that the science is not yet settled and it’s too soon to say one way or the other.

    * Yes there are a few exceptions, who almost entirely come from certain cultures in certain countries and subscribe to certain political or religious viewpoints. Whose political or religious soulmates elsewhere in the world agree with the consensus. Is everyone out of step but our Johnny, or is Johnny out of step? Ask Occam.

  64. Dave_Geologist says:

    I do want to hear about space elevators though as AGW mitigation – link?

    Or is it part of the Elon Musk getaway plan?

    I loved Fountains of Paradise, great book.

  65. Michael 2 says:

    I appreciate these interesting and informative posts from Dave_Geologist.

  66. Michael 2 says:

    Dave_Geologist writes “there does appear, to the layman, to be distinct left-wing and right-wing schools of economics.”

    An essential element of science, in my opinion, is testability. Testing the hardness of rock is straightforward (one of my friends is a soft-rock geologist, sandstones of various kinds in the American southwest; another is a New England hard rock geologist). Anyone can do it. What it *means* is not something anyone can do; but the test itself is easily repeated, and what it means can be taught.

    Any time you have uncontrolled variables it stops being perfect science. It will likely have elements of science but also elements of guessing. Economics has a great many uncontrolled variables. Psychology or any other of the Humanities is riddled with uncontrolled variables and largely exists to serve the desires of social in-groups and governments.

  67. Willard says:

    > The standing of economists is public […]

    As authors, Richie. That is, it’s a citation index:

    How can I improve my ranking?

    Write more and/or better papers. But you knew that.

    Make sure your papers are listed on RePEc. If your department is not yet participating with its working paper series, here are the instructions. Also encourage journals that do not yet participate to do the same.

    http://ideas.repec.org/t/ranking.html

    AT’s readers already know which side of the “and/or” you chose.

    Speaking of publication, you forgot to answer a question on the tweeter a while ago:

  68. Willard says:

    > Psychology or any other of the Humanities is riddled with uncontrolled variables and largely exists to serve the desires of social in-groups and governments.

    This itself is not a scientific claim, which should imply all kinds of collective intention probing.

    No more pop epistemology bashing, please.

  69. Dave_Geologist says:

    Michael
    Uncontrolled variables are one reason for agreeing that the science is not yet settled and it’s too soon to say one way or the other. But observational science can still work – geology, astronomy, evolutionary biology – even without a controlled experiment. mainly I think because we expect the same rules to apply everywhere, every time.

    Hence Uniformitarianism in the modern sense. Same processes, but contingent results depending on circumstances). And even, I think, in the 19th Century sense. When they estimated the age of the Earth by taking the likes of the Coal Measures or Middle Jurassic delta, adding up the cycles and comparing them to modern deltas, they knew perfectly well that Yorkshire is not currently a tropical rainforest and so stuff had changed. But they expected the same processes operating in ancient rivers and deltas to proceed at similar rates with similar products to modern ones. That requires consistency. We also have things like conservation laws. So if you posit an expanding earth, you also have to posit a changing density. If you add crust at mid-ocean ridges, you have bury it somewhere else. If water-saturated granite melts at 670°C in the lab, it melts at 670°C in Yellowstone today, at 670°C in the Himalaya 5 million years ago, and at 670°C in Scotland 500 million years ago. And no, CO2 does not behave differently in the wild than it does in the lab. Whereas Joe Public may do something entirely differently on a wet Tuesday vs. a sunny Saturday, or on successive wet Tuesdays.

    Humanities and economics suffer from having no (or few) conservation laws (print more money). I can perfectly happily accept a random walk representing the Stock Market, and even in geology, in cases like natural fracture formation (although it’s a bounded random walk that ends when it’s used up the available strain energy). But not in the context of global warming, because it would be a perpetual motion machine.

    “Not a science” does not to imply that economists are dumb. I don’t doubt that many of them are smarter than me. But they’re tackling inherently difficult, often ill-posed questions with inadequate data. And “ill-posed questions” is not a snark either. It may be genuinely impossible to construct a well-posed question.

  70. Willard,
    Huh? So, Richard and Anand Rajan’s rebuttal to the Polar Bear paper has disappeared. That’s odd. Maybe Richard could clarify what has happened.

  71. Richard S J Tol says:

    @wotts
    “What also strikes me as interesting is that those who seem to promote the idea that we’re innovative and adaptable, never seem to then suggest that this also implies that we could innovate and adapt so that we no longer live in a world in which emitting billions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere is a by-product of energy generation.”

  72. Dave_Geologist says:

    Aargh. Got sidetracked I see,

    I’ve downloaded the short and long versions of Cass but they’re TL,DR for today. But from a quick look

    Sadly, this paper represents the norm.

    with no references to the primary literature, and the rather straw-mannish and polemical tone of the full paper

    For instance, according to the Burke model, if Cambodia (average temperature 28°C [82°F]) were blessed with an American climate (14°C [57°F]) for the 21st century, it would achieve GDP per capita approaching $300 million by century’s end

    (hypothetical not in evidence? out-of-bounds extrapolation of the model?), I’m not hopeful.

    Entertainingly, on the same page

    Burke theorizes that these short-term fluctuations evinced a universal effect of temperature on growth

    H’mmm. Wonder if Cass has an opinion on inferring ECS from short-term fluctuations in short temperature series, which extrapolate in a way that’s wildly (he would say ludicrously) inconsistent with other observations like what it takes to get in and out of interglacials. Sounds like he should be coming down on the lukewarmers like a ton of bricks!

  73. Richard S J Tol says:

    @willard
    That ranking is a mixture of publication counts, citation counts, and students’ ranks. If you do not like composite rankings, you can click through to find the rank for each individual criterion.

    The lipstick paper is here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322909881_LIPSTICK_ON_A_BEAR_A_COMMENT_ON_INTERNET_BLOGS_POLAR_BEARS_AND_CLIMATE-CHANGE_DENIAL_BY_PROXY

    I think I muted you on Twitter.

  74. Richard,
    I realise that I’m probably wasting my time, but what you’ve quoted me saying is not the same as a claim that mitigation studies assume a lack of innovation (my quote was referring to those who assume we can adapt, not to those studying mitigation).

  75. Dave_Geologist says:

    Lipstick:
    Thanks Richard. But isn’t this stuff that’s already been hashed and rehashed (I was a long-time lurker before commenting).

    Harvey et al. (2017) is an attempt on a colleague’s reputation.

    Presumably a reference to Susan Crockford. IIRC the finding was that “denier” blogs linked to her polar bear blog posts. So insofar as it was damaging to her reputation, it was not to her professional reputation, but to her reputation as a blogger, in a field at best loosely related (I would say unrelated) to her professional expertise in ancient DNA analysis. Professional scientists are not monks or nuns in a closed order. They’re allowed to have outside opinions on sport, politics and all sorts. They can express them and be praised or criticised for them, without prejudice to their professional reputation.

    Her opinions on modern-day polar bear survival in a context of shrinking sea ice have no bearing on her ability to collect, analyse and interpret hair samples or whatever. OTOH if she had published professional papers on past and present pizzly hybridisation, and blogged about that in context, suggesting that although polar bears might lose their habitat, their genes would not die out because they’d come ashore and hybridise, and they’d diverged before so could diverge again, so nothing to worry about. And then Harvey et al. had claimed that the scientific results she relied on were wrong because she was incompetent or biased, that would be an attempt on her reputation, But she didn’t and they didn’t. (It would, however, have been quite in order to accept the pizzly science but say “you may be OK with extinction by hybridisation, but I’m not”.)

    There was no suggestion either that she conspired with those blogs to promote her own posts, just that they liked the cut of her jib on that topic and didn’t like that of professional publications by actual, real-live-polar-bear researchers. No surprise there then.

    Free reviewer comment:
    I think you’re over-reaching. Indeed I think you’re in danger of being perceived as making an attempt on a colleague’s reputation.

  76. Willard says:

    > they expected the same processes operating in ancient rivers and deltas to proceed at similar rates with similar products to modern ones.

    The same applies to the effect of inflation, reflexive pronouns, the use of the word “Klanbake” among Freedom Fighters, naturalism in post-WII analytic philosophy, or even the concept of set in mathematical logic. In fact, one can observe this kind of modelling in one-year-olds, in chimpanzees, even in dogs. Objects tend to be permanent, and stuff that happens happens for a reason, however remote it may be.

    However, there are objects and effects that are easier to study in isolation. The first ones known to mankind were stars. We even considered them immutable and eternal for a while. That an object or an effect is less easy to study in isolation doesn’t preclude it from being scrutinized the very same way empirical sciences do. In other words, the prejudices practionners of empirical sciences may direct against humanities and social sciences in general may be caused by a simple streetlight bias.

    The best way to show that an economic model sucks is to show that it sucks, not to remind that it is an economic model. We already know what all modulz are stoopid. Duh.

  77. Willard says:

    > That ranking is a mixture of publication counts, citation counts, and students’ ranks.

    Rankings based on ranks. I like that, Richie. It sounds furiously recursive.

    You presented that index as some kind of standing. That I like less.

    ***

    Did the first author of your preprint change? The name did.

  78. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    You presented that index as some kind of standing.

    Actually, it was presented as THE standing.

    And Richard Tol might note that he is not even the highest-ranked Richard.

  79. Willard says:

    Now THAT’s standing:

  80. Dave,

    Indeed I think you’re in danger of being perceived as making an attempt on a colleague’s reputation.

    I think Richard is beyond being in danger of being perceived as making an attempt on a colleague’s reputation.

  81. Marco says:

    We’re reaching Tol’s Law pretty fast this time: any thread involving Richard Tol will ultimately be about Richard Tol.

  82. Richard S J Tol says:

    @jebediah
    It is generally regarded as THE standing, but if you don’t like it, they have have about 8.5 billion others. I am indeed a modest 136/52452.

    @willard
    Anand has been Anand for many years now. ResearchGate is not very good with Dravidian names.

  83. Dave_Geologist says:

    Now THAT’s standing:

    i prefer the Celtic Reggae version.

  84. Dave_Geologist says:

    It is generally regarded as THE standing, but if you don’t like it, they have have about 8.5 billion others.

    Please, God, no. Even that one has FAR too many.

    Don’t like SCI? Here’s ten others to choose from. Don’t like them? Here’s another twenty. Which one’s best? Any one you like.

    Multiple testing problem, anyone?

  85. Willard says:

    > It is generally regarded as THE standing,

    You mean, like the consensus o’er it is in the high nineties?

    ***

    > I am indeed a modest […]

    Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact it’s cold as hell. And there’s no one there to raise them if you did. And all this science I don’t understand. It’s just my job five days a week. A rocket man, a rocket man.

  86. Dave_Geologist says:

    And since Captain Kirk has arrived on the scene – even the Science of Star Trek followed (some) conservation laws.

    Not even the super-fast-breeding Tribbles could multiply exponentially for ever (OK they were poisoned in the end, but they were eating out the grain bins and have hit a hard limit when the grain ran out).

  87. Willard says:

    > Not even the super-fast-breeding Tribbles could multiply exponentially for ever

    But with a little adaptin’ of the conservation laws, who knows how many towers of exponentials GRRRRROWTH can provide?

  88. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re a previous comment Willard
    > they expected the same processes operating in ancient rivers and deltas to proceed at similar rates with similar products to modern ones.

    Because they had some advantages. Newton’s Laws, later thermodynamics. because physical geology at least, is just, well, physics 😉

    So they hadn’t done flume experiments yet to determine hydraulic equivalents, and where the boundaries lie between lower plane beds, cross-beds, dunes, anti-dunes and upper plane beds. But they probably had a pretty good intuition, which would have been true, that it was all about grains size, shape and density, and fluid dynamics. Where we have a stronger reason to expect consistency than just “it happened yesterday and the day before”. And they knew it didn’t just go on forever. Otherwise why did we have to wait (in the UK) all the way from the Carboniferous to the Middle Jurassic to get the next decent delta? And until the Palaeogene for the next (and that one’s really only preserved offshore).

  89. Adapt?

    You adapt every day, sometimes every hour, to the much larger changes of weather.

    If it’s rainy, you carry an umbrella.
    If it’s hot or cold, you dress accordingly.
    If it’s snowy, with sense, you avoid driving.

    The much smaller, much slower climate adaptations wouldn’t appear to be significant,
    but human imagination and anxiety are limitless.

  90. TE,

    The much smaller, much slower climate adaptations wouldn’t appear to be significant,

    Apart from, in many respect, being unprecedented.

  91. Michael 2 says:

    Turbulent Eddie “If it’s rainy, you carry an umbrella. If it’s hot or cold, you dress accordingly.”

    That’s true for me but not true for a rather large number of people for whom standing at a bus stop at -10 C in t-shirt and shorts is socially expected or at the other end of the spectrum, frying in hot sun with no skin protection. When I go in the desert I typically wear white or very light, long sleeved shirt. I get some ridicule but I don’t burn and it’s actually cooler.

  92. verytallguy says:

    much smaller, much slower climate adaptations wouldn’t appear to be significant,

    A post so drenched in ignorance it’s metaphorically already engulfed by the rising waters.

  93. Willard says:

    Markets never fail, they “adapt”:

  94. angech says:

    Dave_Geologist says: March 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

    “angech in the case of the Great Barrier Reef and the coast of Australia there is a shelf which provides adequate support for any decent coral to move to and form a new home all the way down the coast of Australia No there isn’t. To reach cooler water they’d have to go deeper, where there isn’t enough sunlight to let their symbionts photosynthesise. Tough call Mrs. Coral. Stay where you are and lose your symbionts to bleaching. Or go deeper and lose then to starvation.”

    Dave you seem to be mixing good points and bad points.
    If the water heats up up North too much at the right depth the cooler water down south heats up to the right temperature at the right depth down South.
    The idea of migration, under water, to a new spot at the right depth and temperature is perfect.
    After all that is why they are where they are now.
    They have always migrated to the right spots depths and temperatures.
    Just trying to shoot down a point because you do not like it does not mean using counter intuitive arguments.

  95. Steven Mosher says:

    looks like the conversation wants to avoid adaptation.

    why?

    challenge. your best idea for adaptation.
    go.

    identify the damage and the adaptation you suggest.

  96. Steven,
    I don’t think people are avoiding it. Some adaptation is clearly going to be required. Obvious ones would be various flood defences. Others will be things like airconditioning. The point – in my view – is how much of this should we be planning for and how much should we be trying to avoid by reducing our emissions?

  97. Ed Davies says:

    Steven Mosher says: “identify the damage and the adaptation you suggest.”

    Possible damage: rising temperatures and changed rainfall patterns result in tropical diseases appearing in areas where they’re not currently common and people are unprepared for them.

    Suggested adaptation: limited health service resources which otherwise might have gone towards reducing current problems go to deal with the new diseases instead.

    Possible damage: the ice in the Himalayas disappears resulting in no water in many of the rivers of northern India during the dry season, destroying agriculture there.

    Suggested adaptation: half a billion or so people attempt to move elsewhere resulting in a certain amount of friction with the people already elsewhere.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that it’s so hard to predict exactly what damages of this sort will happen but it seems a poor bet there won’t be any.

  98. izen says:

    @-Steven Mosher
    “identify the damage and the adaptation you suggest.”

    An interesting challenge.
    I am curious what your best idea for adaptation would be.

    This is certainly not the best, just an example of a political adaption.

    Damage:- Rising sea level, sinking coast and increased storm intensity on the East coast of the US causing flooding and significant property and infrastructure damage at an increasing frequency.

    Adaption:- Identify and zone all areas at risk as excluded from ANY State or Federal funding or support for insurance, roads, sanitation, power and policing. Residents are subject to federal law, but no state tax or welfare. Designate as Zero support Zones.

    The libertarians should love it, these areas become effectively government free.

    However the transfer of property ownership in these areas should not be recognised. land can only be rented or leased for a maximum of 20 years.

    Obviously some wealthy coastal areas would resist the designation. Miami, Boston and New Jersey may have the political clout to DEMAND that State and Federal resources are employed in a Canute-like defence. There would probably be a demand from property owners for compensation for the negation of their ownership value.
    Eventual settlement (after much legal wrangling) would follow.

    But for somewhere like Villano beach, where the few remaining buildings from its 1950s develpment are being replaced with new condos,
    https://www.zillow.com/villano-beach-fl/
    It might encourage the abandonment of unsustainable development a little earlier. Or perhaps all the development and infrastructure will be provided by private enterprise in an eager neo-liberal experiment in minimal government intervention. And shows how private enterprise can resist the extra yard of sea level and twice as many strong storms!
    Or a white supremacist group forms a enclave outside government oversight, and gets washed away in the next hurricane to hit.
    (grin)

  99. izen says:

    @-Steven Mosher
    “identify the damage and the adaptation you suggest.”

    Real world example ?

    Possible damage:
    Persistent drought in Mid-East/Africa/Asia causes famine.

    Suggested adaptation:
    Decade long civil war which becomes a proxy conflict for the major global powers and promotes a fanatical, militaristic, theocratic response in the wake of the collapse of civil society. Refugees and political instability spread out into the surrounding region and via the many global links the previously well-connected society enjoyed before the climate damage.

  100. Dave_Geologist says:

    angech

    If the water heats up up North too much at the right depth the cooler water down south heats up to the right temperature at the right depth down South.

    Except, if you’d been paying attention, you’d have noticed that two thirds of the reef has already suffered back-to-black bleaching years, and 90% has suffered at least one bleaching event. So already well into the southern part. At only a third of the way to 3°C. Well before 3°C the whole reef will be bleached most years. And there’s nothing to the south but deep water. Except for a little bit of shallow water just south of Tasmania which might give it a few more decades if it’s shallow enough. Then, R.I.P. Reef.

  101. Dave_Geologist says:

    Possible damage:
    Crop failures in the Russian, North American and Australian breadbaskets due to a shift to hotter, dryer conditions.

    Adaptation:
    Russia suspends exports, drains thawing areas to the north and cuts down taiga, developing novel mulching process to quickly turn dead trees into farmable soil.
    The rest do nothing for a few decades*, suspend exports as yields plummet, then finally transition to a viable crop.

    * Because the farming states and provinces are politically and religiously conservative, and farmers more so because rural of rural vs. city demographics, they’ll keep denying it’s happening until someone more grounded in reality buys their bankrupt farms.

  102. BBD says:

    @ angech

    Veron et al. (2009) The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of <350 ppm CO2

    Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded ~320 ppm. When CO2 levels reached ~340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events. Recovery was dependent on the vulnerability of individual reef areas and on the reef’s previous history and resilience. At today’s level of ~387 ppm, allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline. Mass bleaching will in future become annual, departing from the 4 to 7 years return-time of El Niño events. Bleaching will be exacerbated by the effects of degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events. In addition, the progressive onset of ocean acidification will cause reduction of coral growth and retardation of the growth of high magnesium calcite-secreting coralline algae. If CO2 levels are allowed to reach 450 ppm (due to occur by 2030–2040 at the current rates), reefs will be in rapid and terminal decline world-wide from multiple synergies arising from mass bleaching, ocean acidification, and other environmental impacts. Damage to shallow reef communities will become extensive with consequent reduction of biodiversity followed by extinctions. Reefs will cease to be large-scale nursery grounds for fish and will cease to have most of their current value to humanity. There will be knock-on effects to ecosystems associated with reefs, and to other pelagic and benthic ecosystems. Should CO2 levels reach 600 ppm reefs will be eroding geological structures with populations of surviving biota restricted to refuges. Domino effects will follow, affecting many other marine ecosystems. This is likely to have been the path of great mass extinctions of the past, adding to the case that anthropogenic CO2 emissions could trigger the Earth’s sixth mass extinction.

  103. zebra says:

    Possible negative consequences: All of the above, and more, I expect.

    Adaptation: Accelerate the global demographic transition as much as possible.

    If you cut the US population in half, you will reduce emissions by 75%, and facilitate optimization of geographical and economic distributions with respect to new conditions.

    Those with specific knowledge about the rest of the world can evaluate this approach for other areas.

    Positives:

    1. It doesn’t require predicting the damage with precision.
    2. It aids in mitigation as well; there is no trade-off.
    3. There is no cost– rather, prosperity increases.
    4. The policies needed are not punitive or coercive.

    Negatives?

  104. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Ed Davies: ‘Possible damage: the ice in the Himalayas disappears resulting in no water in many of the rivers of northern India during the dry season, destroying agriculture there.’

    Most of the ice melt arrives in the monsoon season. It’s snow melt that arrives during the dry spring months.

    Also, if by ‘northern India’ you mean the Ganges Basin then the Ganges gets very little of its water from ice melt – a much-cited estimate (Immerzeel 2010) put its contribution to annual streamflow at 4%. Timing is important but, again, most of the ice melt arrives in the lower Ganges during the monsoon season.

  105. izen says:

    @-angtech
    Most of the Australian Great Barrier Reaf will probably go.
    It is the product of very specific conditions, most importantly a vast, low coastal plain on the Eastern side of Australia that formed a perfect habitat when the sea level rise converted it into a large, continuous and shallow off-shore shelf.
    Until recently water temperature and pH were also idea for the fast-growing, but heat/pH intolerent, stag horn corals.

    However there are many coral species that are resilient to warming and pH. While sea level rise will drown some of the GBR, it will also create new shallow offshore regions for new coral reefs to establish.

    And if isolated colonies can hang on for a couple of centuries then sea level rise will create vast new habits to which a reduced diversity of corals can adapt as the many low elevation (<10m) coastal plains and river deltas of S.E. Asia come into play.
    The coral may adapt to changes in these regions rather better than the present incumbents of Bangkok, Mumbai and Shanghai.

  106. izen says:

    @-Vinny Burgoo
    “Also, if by ‘northern India’ you mean the Ganges Basin then the Ganges gets very little of its water from ice melt – a much-cited estimate (Immerzeel 2010)…”

    It is rather selective to restrict ‘northern India’ to the Ganges basin. The research you mention certainly does not indulge in such cherry-picking. It reports the results for ALL the water sources that the population and agriculture are dependent upon.

    It has this to say in the conclusions;
    “The effects in the Indus and Brahmaputra basins are likely to be
    severe owing to the large population and the high dependence on irrigated agriculture and meltwater”

    Only quoting the ‘good’ news from research does not negate the bad. It more dishonest than only citing the bad which at least has the justification that it is the result that requires a response.

  107. Ed Davies says:

    Vinny Burgoo says: “Most of the ice melt arrives in the monsoon season. It’s snow melt that arrives during the dry spring months.”

    Snow is a sort of ice – I was using the term generally being, I admit, somewhat hazy about the details.

    Thanks Izen. It’s been a while since I read about this stuff but I was pretty sure credible sources considered melting in the Himalayas a potentially serious problem. It’s a pity the public discussion doesn’t involve this sort of thing a bit more rather than going round in circles about whether “trace” gasses can affect the climate, etc, but discussion of why that is is probably grist for a different thread.

  108. verytallguy says:

    To answer Steven’s point, for me the two biggies are

    1) Sea level rise. Adaptation is imposed and will involve a mixture of retreat from current coastal areas and defence of them, dependent on the value of the land and vulnerability of the particular location. See Thames Barrier for example.
    2) Agricultural impact. Changes in climate drive wholesale changes in land use (desertification for example). Adaptation is hard to predict as regional climate change is not amenable to accurate prediction with the current state of the science, but could involve changes to irrigation, crop choices and/or variety development. Most of all, adoption of a more vegetable based diet to adapt to overall lower yields and/or area under cultivation

    Then of course, there are many impacts which are either impossible (species extinction) or very difficult (flooding extremes) to adapt to.

  109. BBD says:

    It’s worth remembering that ‘adaption’ will almost certainly not be a neutral process in terms of what might be described as quality of life. Yes, we might – sort of – adapt to everything from chronic food insecurity to mass migration forced by coastal inundation, but it will not be pleasant.

    Proponents of adaptation vs mitigation have a habit of (pan)glossing over this. One of the many arguments for emissions abatement is that it is likely to avoid some of the worst impacts on the quality of life experienced by future generations as they do their best to adapt to the end of Holocene climate norms.

  110. Willard says:

    A variation on that contrarian challenge is this one:

    In the following exchange, the Auditor kinda forgot to respond to RichardB’s “Do you think sea level is a positive impact?” The only concession we got was the following gem:

    So by the principle of justified disingenuousness, I think we call all agree that 7 deg C would definitely have impacts.

  111. BBD,
    I think that is a good point. It’s not so much whether or not we can get through this and end up in some kind of “better” state, it’s how much damage are we willing to accept in getting from where we are now to where we will eventually be. I do think we have to be somewhat careful of survivor bias. We tend to look back and go “see, it wasn’t all that bad” and forget that the reason it appears that way is because we survived and are able to look back.

  112. Willard,
    That’s become a pretty standard McIntyre technique, I think. He wants people to actually identify negative impacts that have already happened, and doesn’t seem to be willing to accept that it is more about avoiding future negative impacts, than definitively identifying ones that have already occurred.

  113. Steven Mosher says: “identify the damage and the adaptation you suggest.”

    You are to be commended for being explicit.

    Possible damage: rising temperatures and changed rainfall patterns result in tropical diseases appearing in areas where they’re not currently common and people are unprepared for them.

    Should think about this in the context of Malaria.
    Malaria a century ago ( with estimated lower temperatures ), was widespread in the US.
    Obviously, sanitation had a lot to do with its decline, but this idea has been exaggerated.
    Summers in the US have always been quite tropical, with a normal summer increase in mosquitoes and many other biting tropical insects.
    Winters in the US will continue to be freezing.
    Tropical disease change wouldn’t appear to be a significant concern.

    Possible damage: the ice in the Himalayas disappears resulting in no water in many of the rivers of northern India during the dry season, destroying agriculture there.

    Ice at the very high elevations of the Himalayas is not going to disappear, but the whole idea of this is contradictory: ice, by definition, means the water is not accessible. Melting means available water. And presumably, precipitation which fell as rain instead of snow, is available also. Not sure this is significant, either.

  114. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Izen: Firstly, I said ‘If’. Since when did ‘If X then Y’ become cherry-picking? Ed Davies talked about half a billion people in northern India being forced to migrate by a future absence of glacial meltwater. The population of the Ganges Basin is about half a billion, so it seemed a reasonable guess that he was talking about the Ganges.

    Secondly, this: ‘It [is] more dishonest than only citing the bad which at least has the justification that it is the result that requires a response.’

    What Ed Davies did wasn’t ‘citing the bad’. His ‘result’ was unsupported doom-mongering and isn’t what we should be responding to.

    Unless, that is, you think that any old bit of doomwankery ‘requires a response’ – that we should form mitigation and adaptation policies in response to the scariest guff available.

    (In his defence, Ed Davies might have been thinking of various weird bits in AR4, which IIRC mangled the Stern Review’s mangling of a silly paper by Barnett et al – silly because its whole-river-basin estimates of meltwater components were actually estimates of meltwater components in a couple of tiny tributaries high up in the mountains.)

  115. Willard says:

    Indeed, AT. Witness the Auditor’s persistent request for an engineer-level formal derivation of CO2 doubling:

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

    A variation of this is the famouse cost-benefit analysis we should be seeing before taking any action. The subtext is akin to the One Single Proof, which he’s by some amazing coincidence he’s requiring as we speak regarding the Russian poison thing:

    There’s this other tweeting exchange where a Freedom Fighter is denying that women are discriminated in philosophy, because some similar fancy criteria based on some silly counterfactual.

    All this reminds me of a hockey fight.

    Perhaps there’s a post in that.

  116. Joshua says:

    izen –

    I am not sure what you mean by ‘Top shelf false choice’.

    Rather plainly, I meant that there’s no reason, IMO, to look at the two approaches as being in opposition. What I have seen, is that (IMO) combatants (fallaciously) create a zero sum gain between those two approaches as a means to advocate for their preferred approach. The point being, they aren’t really examining the trade-offs openly, but using the relationship between mitigation and adaptation as an ideological weapon. Thus, we see “skeptics” advocating for adaptation even as they advocate against realistic pathways for funding adaptation.

    […]

    There is a clear reciprocal link between mitigation and adaption. Mitigation reduces the size of the impact from AGW. The need for adaption to the impacts is reduced if the impacts are reduced. There is a clear trade-off.

    But perhaps, on the other hand, adaptation reduces, or at least delays, the magnitude of mitigation required.

    This is one of many issues where, IMO, we see combatants exploit a natural tension between two extremes to confirm and advocate for their preexisting biases. There is a natural tension between the notion of adaptation and mitigation, but a sustainable way forward, IMO, is one that seeks to stabilize that tension rather than to exploit it. There are many, many such tensions that overlap with the climate wars, such as the importance of balancing the tension between individual freedom and top-down, government driven policy options for addressing global-scale dilemmas.

    But what Cass is arguing is that because some research into the impact of projected change is wrong. And wrong in the direction of exaggeration, ALL the impacts from AGW can be best resolved by adaption. Mitigation is unnecessary as adaption will be easy and cheaper.

    I’m not sure that he argues that directly, but it certainly seems to be the implied direction of his argument. And so the question becomes how to investigate and address the potential of his critique being correct w/r/t the “some” without taking the bait and entering into the black hole of engaging about the implication towards “all.” (Which, of course, can always evoke a response that hides behind a cloak of plausible deniability).

    It may rely on a perception among many who live in colder or temperate seasonal latitudes in N Europe and N America, that the amount of warming predicted is about the same as moving a few hundred miles south. Given the envy those with cold wet winters have for the Mediterranean or Florida/Cali climate, that does not look like a bad deal. One that they quite willing to adapt too.

    Sure. That certainly seems to be the rhetorical tool being employed. And indeed, one of the signs that points to rhetorical gamesmanship is a lack of what would seem to be a required due diligence to apply his analysis against the logical implications of his critique.

  117. Willard says:

    > Since when did ‘If X then Y’ become cherry-picking?

    Since you decide that: (a) Y is the very thing we should talk about; (b) X is plausible enough to carry a decisive role in the inference promoted, and (c) X and Y are so strongly interconnected it is to wonder why nobody but you isn’t concerned about CAGW.

    You’re welcome.

  118. Joshua says:

    Regarding the “positive” outcomes from climate change, as so frequently argued in these threads from folks like our friend angech…

    It strikes me that some “skeptics” have a rather selective approach to concerns emanating from the principle of unintended consequences. Not that such selectivity is only applicable to “skeptics,” of course…but it does seem to me that “skeptics” as a sub-species, and more generally libertarians as the larger species , are quite fixated on the principle of unintended consequences.

  119. TE,

    Ice at the very high elevations of the Himalayas is not going to disappear, but the whole idea of this is contradictory: ice, by definition, means the water is not accessible. Melting means available water. And presumably, precipitation which fell as rain instead of snow, is available also. Not sure this is significant, either.

    My understanding is that many people rely on meltwater from glaciers. Hence, if the glaciers disappear, there will be no more meltwater. I don’t think that one should assume that there will somehow be an equivalent amount of precipitation that can replace the meltwater.

  120. Willard says:

    > I’m not sure that he argues that [because some research into the impact of projected change is wrong. And wrong in the direction of exaggeration, ALL the impacts from AGW can be best resolved by adaption] directly.

    Of course he does not:

    [C]orrelation-based temperature-impact studies that produce very high estimates of the economic and social costs of projected climate change—meanwhile ignoring or downplaying the possibility of adaptation and obscuring the inaccuracy of underlying estimates—are distinctly unhelpful.

    Cass is simply raising concerns about the cost estimates of mitigation that doesn’t take adaptation into account. It is portrayed as the “assumptions” (with-an-s) of the “flawed” studies. Speaking of flawed assumption, it’s as if adaptation costed nothing.

    That overarching argument rests on the following review:

    The remainder of this paper reviews the studies that account for most of the costs in the Rhodium and EPA estimates, as well as in a study published in June 2017 in Science, “Estimating Economic Damage from Climate Change in the United States” (Hsiang). It also reviews a study published in Nature in November 2015, “Global Non-linear Effect of Temperature on Economic Production” (Burke), that pushes the envelope further in the direction of abstract analysis, yielding even larger but even less credible cost estimates. Each section of this paper takes up a key cost of climate change as estimated by recent temperature studies: heat deaths, labor productivity, air pollution, and the economy.

    Cass bases his conclusion on a grand total of seven studies.

  121. zebra says:

    Unless, that is, you think that any old bit of doomwankery ‘requires a response’ – that we should form mitigation and adaptation policies in response to the scariest guff available.

    “We should form”

    By “we”, do you guys mean that One World Government that is all-powerful and benign and concerned with the welfare of all?

    So, how about someone explaining what the point is of discussing preemptive “adaptation” when there is no political will for mitigation, certainly among those sovereign entities that rely on extraction of fossil fuels. (I think the Saudis may be working along those lines in one sense; their new “diversified” economy is apparently heavy on building refineries and chemical plants. This might allow them to bunker-down and survive the disruption better, I suppose, while still exploiting their main resource and generating more CO2.)

    What exactly is the idea? Each country will have some level of confidence in the projections– and then, it will be up to them to deal with it. There is no “we”. India will have to decide how much disruption its citizens might endure and what it wishes to spend to alleviate suffering from droughts/floods and knock-on effects.

    At least with mitigation, there are policies on technology that, say, the USA and Europe and China can implement that would promote mitigation elsewhere. But I don’t see how adaptation is a global question, except in terms of what I suggested earlier.

  122. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua writes “[skeptics] are quite fixated on the principle of unintended consequences.”

    Alert to those possibilities I suppose; but the fixation for nearly everyone, skeptics included, is intended consequences. It may well be that skeptics are more alert to the possibility of unintended consequences except of course in the realm of global warming where those unintended consequences ARE the consequences.

  123. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes “My understanding is that many people rely on meltwater from glaciers.”

    Indeed. India has very strong seasonal precipitation events; the monsoon, and must go for months at a time with little or no rain. Much of the western United States has a similar dependency on melting snow to get through the summer.

    It won’t be abrupt; glaciers simply signify that more snow falls than melts year after year; but as the glaciers recede the rivers will increasingly dwindle toward the end of summer until finally it resembles western USA rivers that dwindle sometimes to nothing.

    For now, the glaciers serve as a natural reservoir of water, and if they disappear will have to be replaced by man-made reservoirs.

  124. izen says:

    @-Vinny Burgoo
    “The population of the Ganges Basin is about half a billion, so it seemed a reasonable guess that he was talking about the Ganges.”

    Seems a more reasonable guess that he was talking about the half billion in the Indus and Brahmaputra areas who would be looking at their neighbours with envy as their melt-water irrigation systems fail and the Ganges basin remains. The grass really will be greener on the other side of the fence.
    India and Pakistan are both nuclear powers.
    With increasingly exclusionary theocratic nationalism as defining political trends.

    @-“Unless, that is, you think that any old bit of doomwankery ‘requires a response’ – that we should form mitigation and adaptation policies in response to the scariest guff available.”

    It is called ‘Worst Case Scenario’ and is usually an input into any mitigation or adaption policy.
    Another input is the politically/economically acceptable cost.

    The Thames barrier was designed in the late 1960s for a worst case scenario of 8mm sea level rise per year, (1 yard/century) twice the going rate. And a storm surge incident requiring its deployment 2 – 4 times a year. They costed something that would protect central London from flooding for at least 50 years, longer with maintenance if things turned out better than the worst case.

    The worst case scenario for sea level rise has paid off. The rate (so far) is about half the scariest guff. Allowing its replacement to be delayed until 2060. But over the last decade storm surges requiring the barrier to be closed have occurred at around twice the expected rate. Half-way through its projected lifespan it has been used already more often than expected for its full time of usage.
    And it has been used to alleviate extreme flood events from water coming down river rather than a tide/surge coming in, over 60 times since 2000 in a manner never expected or predicted when policy was responding to the scariest guff available.

  125. Steven Mosher says:

    TE.
    thank you.
    now make it local since adaptation is local and mitigation is rather global…

    note also that adaptation aligns costs and benefits and tangible risk.

  126. angech says:

    BBD says:
    Thanks for putting up a researched argument.
    Veron et al. (2009) The coral reef crisis: The critical importance of <350 ppm CO2

    "Temperature-induced mass coral bleaching causing mortality on a wide geographic scale started when atmospheric CO2 levels exceeded ~320 ppm."
    Stating it is not proving it. Bleaching events are caused by a combination of known factors and as such have been happening for millions of years. We have only just had the technology develop to show events in real time recently.

    "When CO2 levels reached ~340 ppm, sporadic but highly destructive mass bleaching occurred in most reefs world-wide, often associated with El Niño events".
    Two misconstructs, not your fault , though I presume you agree with them.
    Firstly CO2 levels.
    I doubt that CO2 by itself at any level can possibly cause coral bleaching.
    What the authors should specify is Co2 giving global temperature rise giving sea temperature rise etc. Seeing they did not do so is a dead giveaway that they are unable to do so with validity.
    Claiming results based on CO2 level is false.
    "Sporadic but world wide"
    Not even a clue on how to interpret such nonsense. Since the level is now so much higher at 412 one presumes the events have become common and world wide and all the coral has died?
    No.

    "At today’s level of ~387 ppm, allowing a lag-time of 10 years for sea temperatures to respond, most reefs world-wide are committed to an irreversible decline".
    Always tomorrow not today. Allowing a lag time of 10 years the level of reaching 380 10 years previously should be kicking in now [2009] or did I miss that?
    Silly me, when it went up to 380 it kicked in and killed coral immediately, no waiting 10 years, but the new level has to take 10 years to do it?

    "Mass bleaching will in future become annual, El Niño events,degraded water-quality and increased severe weather events, the progressive onset of ocean acidification, etc, etc..
    Earth’s sixth mass extinction."

    Coral bleaches when the sea level is too low, not high, when the water is too hot, when there are not enough clouds around during the day.
    El Nino certainly helps by putting up global temp when it occurs.
    There is an east to west pile up of waters for GBR in particular, at times this goes the other way and sea levels can fall dramatically for months around any coastline.
    Anyone really, really want to claim that bleaching is only approx 1990's on phenomenon and has never happened in the past on low water level days with no cloud cover, sporadically around the world forever?
    Go for it.

  127. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “There is a natural tension between the notion of adaptation and mitigation, but a sustainable way forward, IMO, is one that seeks to stabilize that tension rather than to exploit it.”

    That tension may be because mitigation is entirely voluntary.
    Adaption is unavoidable.

  128. Seven years ago Hurricane Irene dumped 13″ -14″ of rain in the mid-Hudson Valley. This precipitation event overwhelmed an engineered drainage pathway established by a railroad for the watershed of a regional tributary into the Hudson River (Moodna Creek). My shop flooded to the depth of 4′ (the elevation of the railroad bed, and then, temporary dam). This was a first since it’s construction almost 100 years ago. Five years ago Superstorm Sandy backed the Hudson River 2′ into my shop. Both floods incurred significant costs and re-prioritizing of time. Subsequently, two hurricanes have dumped ~20″ of rain ~200 & 300 miles to the east.

    The projected sea level rise suggests that this kind of flooding as a weather-type event will arrive by this century’s end with lots of “noise” before then. How this is adapted to is known. The property will be claimed by the River’s estuary. I am attempting to get my Town’s assessor to factor this into his work and the structure’s assessment. I am failing. He seems to think, argue, and act ‘weather’ when climate is the intended point of the discussion. Mitigation is experienced, and as an oxymoron, as a ‘short term’ systemic threat to the status quo.

    This post is about an opinion piece that is another example of the motivated reasoning my Assessor accesses to avoid seeing our oxymoron. Effecting a change in the Assessor’s work is a protracted battle of boards of review and courts. The outcome is anything but assured (at this time). But at least there is a legal avenue for appealing to reason. Appeals to feelings, such as this opinion piece effects (and TE’s comments) is, functionally, sociopathic … like the motivated reasoning that engenders them.

    But to the degree trusted motivated reasoning is an evolutionary adaptation for blinding reason – hiding the fact that physics defines knowledge as action – Sociopaths-R-Us. Our functionally irrational ‘religion’ of CapitalismFail is similarly sociopathic. Our debt based currencies are our Ring of Sauron.

    … & https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/economic-growth-not-compatible-environmental-sustainability/#comment-3809701541

  129. Ed Davies says:

    Conversation summary:

    · What could go wrong?

    · We don’t really know for sure (and that uncertainty is part of the problem) but these are the sorts of things people worry about …

    · Haha, you can’t prove those exact things will happen!

  130. BBD says:

    angech

    I doubt that CO2 by itself at any level can possibly cause coral bleaching.
    What the authors should specify is Co2 giving global temperature rise giving sea temperature rise etc. Seeing they did not do so is a dead giveaway that they are unable to do so with validity.
    Claiming results based on CO2 level is false.

    Blah.

    The point is not that coral bleaching has never happened in the past (it has) but that the frequency, severity and global extent of bleaching events is increasing – which it is. This is caused by warming oceans in combination with ever-hotter EN excursions (also amplified by anthropogenic forcing). Therefore, unless emissions are cut back, a coral (and probably general) extinction even is inevitable. After all, it’s happened several times in the past, for much the same reasons: GHG-forced ocean acidification and warming. See Veron (2008) Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas:

    The five mass extinction events that the earth has so far experienced have impacted coral reefs as much or more than any other major ecosystem. Each has left the Earth without living reefs for at least four million years, intervals so great that they are commonly referred to as ‘reef gaps’ (geological intervals where there are no remnants of what might have been living reefs). The causes attributed to each mass extinction are reviewed and summarised. When these causes and the reef gaps that follow them are examined in the light of the biology of extant corals and their Pleistocene history, most can be discarded. Causes are divided into (1) those which are independent of the carbon cycle: direct physical destruction from bolides, ‘nuclear winters’ induced by dust clouds, sea-level changes, loss of area during sea-level regressions, loss of biodiversity, low and high temperatures, salinity, diseases and toxins and extraterrestrial events and (2) those linked to the carbon cycle: acid rain, hydrogen sulphide, oxygen and anoxia, methane, carbon dioxide, changes in ocean chemistry and pH. By process of elimination, primary causes of mass extinctions are linked in various ways to the carbon cycle in general and ocean chemistry in particular with clear association with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The prospect of ocean acidification is potentially the most serious of all predicted outcomes of anthropogenic carbon dioxide increase. This study concludes that acidification has the potential to trigger a sixth mass extinction event and to do so independently of anthropogenic extinctions that are currently taking place.

  131. John Hartz says:

    The following article caught my eye and prompts me to ask: Does disaster relief fall under the adaptation umbrella or is it a stand-alone acitivity?

    Heat waves, droughts and storms intensified by global warming are raising the stakes for disaster relief organizations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is turning to attribution studies to help it better allocate resources in a warming world.

    The hardest part may be learning to expect the unexpected, said Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “Increasing extremes mean we need to be prepared for a wider range of risks, including rising uncertainties,” he said.

    A new analysis by World Weather Attribution, a science organization that the Red Cross has partnered with, shows that heat extremes are rising much faster than the global mean temperatures in most regions and that daily precipitation extremes are also increasing in severity, with some regional nuances.

    Understanding how often extreme events are expected and how intense they could become helps relief organizations determine where to stockpile emergency supplies and to design shelters that can withstand extreme conditions intensified by global warming.

    Red Cross Turns to Climate Attribution Science to Prepare for Disasters Ahead by Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News, Mar 12, 2018

  132. Steven Mosher says:

    Greg.. 7 years ago your shop was flooded..

    What idiots allowed you to repair and rebuild.

    Knowing what we know about the climate your property should have been condemned. That’s adaptation.

  133. What we discuss here is often the “The Physical Science Basis” of climate change, which is Working Group I of the IPCC.

    Working Group II of the IPCC writes a report on “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability“, with many ideas on adaptation possibilities.

    (And Working Group III on “Mitigation of Climate Change“.)

  134. Just being flooded once is no reason to evacuate a region. What matters is the expected frequency of flooding, which you cannot determine with just one flood event.

    There was a region in England that a 1000 year flood event three times, even there I am not sure if that three coin flips are already enough statistical information.

    You will need to understand and model the local changes in the hydrology, which is really hard, to make such determinations. It is perfectly possible that Greg lives in a region that will get less floods, but was unlucky.

    Because changes in the water cycle are so hard to predict, you may have to prepare for more droughts and more floods. The uncertainty monster is an expensive MF.

    (And adaptation can go beyond evacuating an area. Here along the Rhine there are regions that often flood, where it is hard to go elsewhere. The houses have a separate electrical circuit for the 1st floor and the walls are tiled so make it easy to clean after a flood. Elevated walkways are erected by the local government before the flood happens.)

  135. Dave_Geologist says:

    Crannogs. That’s what we need.

    Requitres cutting down trees, unfortunately ;-(

  136. Dave_Geologist says:

    Finally looking at Cass and Burke.

    Not looking good so far.

    For instance, according to the Burke model, if Cambodia (average temperature 28°C [82°F]) were blessed with an American climate (14°C [57°F]) for the 21st century, it would achieve GDP per capita approaching $300 million by century’s end.

    Yet from Burke:

    Heuristically, an economy observed during a cool year is the ‘control’ for that same society observed during a warmer ‘treatment’ year. We do not compare output across different countries because such comparisons are probably confounded, distinguishing our approach from
    cross-sectional studies that attribute differences across countries to their temperatures

    So Cass just did what Burke et al. explicitly said they did not do. So a strawman, and applying Burke’s model out of scope. Where it breaks. Who’da thunk it?

  137. Dave_Geologist says:

    The model attempts to predict the effect on economic growth of a 15°C country experiencing a sudden 19°C year. But the economic performance of other countries with a present-day 19°C average is ignored.

    That’s a feature not a bug. Cass does not address why it’s a feature (to remove the confounding factors present in crude warm-country-vs-cool-country comparisons), just leads the reader to assume it’s a bug.

    The shift in the country’s own long-run average is ignored.

    This is too vague to understand what Cass is getting at. Burke removed (or attempted to remove) long-term country-specific secular trends and global shocks to focus on temperature alone. Again it’s a feature not a bug, and Cass makes no attempt to explain why it’s a bug. Burke:

    We estimate how economic production changes relative to the previous year—that is, annual economic growth—to purge the data of secular factors in each economy that evolve gradually. We deconvolve economic growth to account for: (1) all constant differences between countries, for example, culture or history; (2) all common contemporaneous shocks, for example, global price changes or technological innovations; (3) country-specific quadratic trends in growth rates, which may arise, for example, from changing political institutions or economic policies; and (4) the possibly non-linear effects of annual average temperature and rainfall

    If Cass is implying that technological or social advances have made and will make countries less vulnerable, the evidence is against it. Burke Fig. 2c shows that the curves for 1960-1989 and 1990-2010 subsets of the data are virtually identical. That is comparing a period when rapid AGW was just getting started with one where it was in full flow. Or, of you prefer, pre-IPCC and post-IPCC. No evidence that countries have become more robust. Wishful thinking that they will in future.

    Burke builds a modified set of SSP growth forecasts that accounts for the effect of warmer temperatures on every country in every year, and concludes that global warming will reduce per-capita gross world product (GWP) by 23% by 2100.

    So either Cass (a) didn’t read the paper, (b) didn’t understand it or (c) is being, ahem, disingenuous. Do you read that as Burke claiming the world will be 23% poorer by 2100 due to climate change? Back to about 1990 global GDP? I would. But that’s not what Burke et al. say.

    Using our benchmark model (Fig. 2a), climate change reduces projected global output by 23% in 2100 (best estimate, SSP5) relative to a world without climate change

    Ah, what a difference those final few words make. And right there in the same sentence too. Careless of Cass not to notice it. Homo economicus gremliae?

  138. Dave_Geologist says:

    More Cass:

    Let’s say that a country’s gradual warming raises its temperature from, for example, 15°C during 1980–2010, to 19°C in 2100. The model attempts to predict the effect
    on economic growth of a 15°C country experiencing a sudden 19°C year.

    No it doesn’t. Or only in a way that’s so oversimplified it could mislead the reader into thinking “19°C doesn’t sound too bad, these ‘scientists’ must be silly”.
    Burke Fig. 1c is key to this bit. It’s all about the long, hot tails of the daily temperature distribution. As we all know shifting the baseline temperature up 1°C may only shift the maximum temperature up 1°C, but can easily the frequency of occurrence of temperatures above a threshold close to the maximum by a factor of five or ten. Or cause a few days cross a threshold never previously reached. It’s not about the average temperature. It’s about how many days in the year it gets too hot to work outdoors, and whether it gets hot enough for long enough to kill half your crops or animals or cause an a/c power demand that brings down the grid.

    The effects of predicted global warming are less dramatic but likewise implausible. For instance, Burke forecasts that Mongolia, whose per-capita income of $861 made it the 118th wealthiest country in 2010, will leap to seventh in 2100, with a per-capita income of $390,000—more than four times America’s projected per-capita income of $90,000.

    Cherry-picking. What about the other 164 countries? Do they pass your sniff test? Did you pick an outlandish pair for it’s effect on your target US audience? And this is from the full “paper” (scare quotes justified in this case I think – I don’t know economics journals, but it wouldn’t pass peer review in a scientific journal, based on my experience as an author, reviewer and editor). And can’t Mongolia be the next China? It’s got lots of cold steppe which might be the new chernozem, and IIRC lots of minerals, rare earths and stuff. The USA is interesting. It sounds dramatic but the South, West and Coasts are going to be really hard hit under RCP8.5, even if most of the population chooses not to be believe it. And the funny way infrastructure replacement after disaster is counted in GDP (or rather, the capital loss is not counted) means that the real impact on the US will be harder than raw GDP figures suggest.

  139. Dave_Geologist says:

    No more Cass. Other than noting that on p. 16-17 he sinks to the tired old ploy of using the scientists’ honesty in showing the 5-95% range, which encompasses the possibility of a positive outcome, as a stick to beat them with. While of course ignoring the flip-side that it could be really, really bad. I’d block-quote but the formatting is awkward across pages in my pdf reader.

    I’m a three-strikes-and-you’re-out, don’t-flog-dead-horses kind of a guy. Like with that website which touts 300 mainstream papers that refute AGW. Once you’ve checked the first five, and found that they do no such thing, there’s no point checking the other 295. The smart money is on them also saying no such thing.

    So, whatever the other criticisms of Burke et al. are, I don’t rate Cass’s “takedown”. At least, not as anything other than a tarted-up polemic. In fact it’s a right Gish Gallop, which in classic style takes ten times longer to check out, let alone refute, than it does to read. If he rally has something substantive to say, he should submit a Discussion or Letter to the relevant journals. After all, if the facts are on his side, what has he got to be afraid of?

  140. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Victor,

    If a region gets three 1 in 1000 year floods in a few year you have to ask the question, is that really a 1 in 1000 year flood or just what the historic observations tell us the estimated magnitude of the 1 in 1000 year flood would be. In reality it could be a 1 in 100 year flood or even a 1 in 10 year flood.

    Extreme value theory assumes stationarity in the system and that the floods we experience are independent for data pooling purposes. Neither of these assumption is true and as a result the uncertainty of estimates of return periods is huge. Now this is a big problem as all our infrastructure is designed based on a short observation period of, in most of cases, less than 50 years. Even excluding climate change if this period was unusually dry due to internal variability, as potentially is the case for the UK, then all our infrastructure could be woefully underdesigned. Add in the fact that investment in new flood defence schemes is driven using cost benefit models that use the same underlying assumptions, therefore significantly underestimate risk and consequently damages. This leads to chronic under investment which ironically leads to more costs, due to damages and losses, but also reactive spending to try an maintain standards of protection.

    I would like to see both near term climate model information, like this work undertaken by the UK MET Office, and historic an paeleo data incorporated into flood estimation to try an constrain the uncertainty. We can’t start to understand the future without understanding the present, however with climate change the past is likely to be a poor representation of the future. This is my problem with those who advocate for adaptation above mitigation as we need to have some idea of what we are adapting to.

  141. Dave_Geologist says:

    On the topic of this page though, Burke et al. is an interesting choice for Cass to attack. As I mentioned a couple of posts above, their Fig. 1c can be read as evidence that we haven’t adapted (yet). Or that if we have, what we’ve done hasn’t worked. That doesn’t bode well for future adaptation.

    So I can see at least three reasons for assuming no adaptation*:

    1) A frequentist approach would say that the average mitigation achieved so far through adaptation has a value very close to zero.
    2) A Bayesian approach would say we’re not adapting now and should use that as an informed prior, at least until we see evidence of successful adaptation.
    3) As a counter-factual, even if we do start adapting, to demonstrate effectiveness and value-for-money in the adaptations we’ve chosen.

    Also, per my comment a few days ago about deniers believing three impossible or mutually contradictory things before breakfast: it’s funny how the people who say “don’t worry, we’ll adapt” are often the same people who say “it’s not really happening”.

    * I don’t think you can say that Burke et al. assume no adaptation. They tested for that in a sense by splitting the data pre- and post-1990 and finding no difference. I would presume that, had they found a difference at the point, they’d have cycled back round and built a model with adaptation included. But they didn’t, so they didn’t. IOW they have demonstrated no successful adaptation post-1990. Of course, if Cass has a denier mindset, he probably thinks that there has been nothing to adapt to since 1990, so of course there’s no evidence of adaptation 😉

  142. Dave_Geologist says:

    HH
    There is a published paper relevant to the Carlisle floods, which looked at palaeo data (lake sediments in the same catchment). IIRC the 1000-year flood tag is not just from an unreliable extrapolation from 100 years of data, but from the frequency of floods of that magnitude in 1000’s of years of data. Which conveniently, being the UK, includes medium-term local variability 😉 like the LIA and MWP. Of course that doesn’t mean that it will be a 1000-year event in future. Probably much more frequent.

    Unfortunately the area was only freed from ice 10,000 years ago, so there won’t be a long enough record to get good statistics on whether, for example, you would expect a couple of 1000-year floods within a decade, every 100,000 years or so. Even if we did have those records, I suspect I’d still feel it was more than just bad luck if my town took the hit. after only a few decades of accelerated warming.

    I’ll have another look for that paper, but not today.

  143. Hyperactive Hydrologist, it is naturally an interesting question whether something has changed. But “just” three one in a thousand year events may not be enough to determine this. A one in a thousand year event means that every year there is a 1 in thousand chance it happens. Thus the chance of this happening three times is 1 in a billion. There are easily a billion regions the size of an English community. So this can also happen also without climate change.

    One will have to study all rain events and try to understand the physics to know whether something has changed. In the Age of Climate Change I expect you find a reason, but you do need the study, just being flooded (once) is not enough to evacuate a region.

  144. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Dave,

    Do you mean this EGU paper? Not sure the results have been publish in a journal yet. However, the estimate of the December 2015 flood was >1 in 10000 year based on the historic period sampled.

    However, this is contradicted by the MET Office paper I linked suggesting that the present day 1% monthly rainfall event could be as much as 20-25% more than the largest events in the historic record.

    Victor,

    I am arguing that estimating flood return periods on short historic records leads to significant uncertainties in the estimates.

    P.s Cumbria is a big county you know 😉

  145. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks Victor. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t find it – I was looking for a full paper. A couple of years ago sounds right. Also for my memory to morph 10k to 1k years 😦

    Does that contradict the Met Office? They may be referring to human records. Or not accepting the palaeo data until it’s in the peer-reviewed literature.

    Cumbria is fairly big but the Eden and its tributaries represent a fair chunk of its catchment. And Carlisle wasn’t like Houston where the storm parked itself over the city. The water came from upriver across the catchment, so is representative of a wider area.

    And they can’t easily move Carlisle, it’s on an inland flood plain in a mountainous area, not on the coast.

    Same with Port Elphinstone which flooded at the same time. Despite its name it’s not on the sea, but 25km inland from Aberdeen. Port is because it was at the end of a canal from Aberdeen, which is now the railway line. The last lock on the canal was at Dyce, about 20km from Port Elphinstone. At the former lock location the railway line is about 10 feet above road level. And by the centre of Dyce it’s at road level. So the flood plain is completely flat for 20km and confined between hills. Nowhere for the water to go.

  146. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Dave,

    The Met Office paper uses the UK RCM to simulate thousands of months worth of rainfall for the present climate. There is more on this in the National Flood Resilience Review although the Nature Communications paper I linked is the published work.

    The flooding was caused by an frontal rainfall system so it probably covered a wider region than just Cumbria. The same system also caused serious flooding in Cumbria to Keswick and Cockermouth on the river Greta and Kendal on the River Kent. Both Keswick and Cockermouth had new flood defences installed following the flooding in 2009 with a standard of protection of 1 in 100 year. In both cases the flood defences were exceeded. In Kendal the river Kent exceeded its previous highest peak flow by 40-50% with a record going back about 50 years.

  147. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks HH (and the last one should have been Thanks HH, not Thanks Victor!).

    And of course once in 10k years doesn’t really mean that when there was an ice cap there 10k years ago (I see you used >).

    It means unprecedented since before the last glaciation. Maybe since before the entire Pleistocene, interglacials and all. We can’t tell because the evidence was scoured away.

    Which kinda puts out impact into perspective. And we’re still 82 years from 2100.

  148. angech says:

    “Steven Mosher says Greg.. 7 years ago your shop was flooded..What idiots allowed you to repair and rebuild. Knowing what we know about the climate your property should have been condemned. That’s adaptation.
    Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog) says:March 18, 2018 at 12:12 pm
    Just being flooded once is no reason to evacuate a region. What matters is the expected frequency of flooding, which you cannot determine with just one flood event.
    There was a region in England that a 1000 year flood event three times, even there I am not sure if that three coin flips are already enough statistical information.
    (And adaptation can go beyond evacuating an area. Here along the Rhine there are regions that often flood, where it is hard to go elsewhere. The houses have a separate electrical circuit for the 1st floor and the walls are tiled so make it easy to clean after a flood. Elevated walkways are erected by the local government before the flood happens.)”

    Thanks Victor.
    I am reminded of my trip to Cambodia where villages on the lakes have houses on stilts 20 feet above the ground because the water level rise that much each and every year.
    Now that is flooding and adaptation.
    Venice that plaza regularly floods and they also may use walkways along with their canals.
    Ah, Miami, the Venice of flooding USA in the future.
    Even more beautiful to holiday in and visit.
    What idiot would want to condemn Venice?

  149. JCH says:

    The second issue is cost. When you spend $6 billion in tax dollars to fix a problem, it had better work, because at that price, it’s unlikely you’ll get a do-over. But costs don’t stop there. There is also the question of maintenance. MOSE might be a Ferrari on the seafloor, but Ferraris require a lot of work to keep them rolling. Initial estimates for maintenance charges were $12 million to $18 million a year. Ambrosini suggested that $50 million a year is a more appropriate figure; others have suggested it could go as high as $80 million a year, depending on how often the gates are used. This money is like a ransom that has to be paid every year — if maintenance lags and the gates fail, Venice could be inundated.

  150. Willard says:

    > Homo economicus gremliae?

    I might steal that one, DaveG.

    Thanks for your analysis of Cass’ crap.

  151. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard.
    I even followed the trinomial rule for you 🙂 Of course it should have a non-italicised name at the end for the discoverer. Perhaps one starting with T? 😉

    angech

    Ah, Miami, the Venice of flooding USA in the future.

    Seawater encroachment into the aquifer. Under the dykes through the porous bedrock. Where will they get their drinking water?
    Golfing from boardwalks using long clubs on a seagrass fairway. I can totally see that catching on.

  152. Steven Mosher says:

    Victor.

    I’m well aware there are places on the Rhine where it is difficult to go elsewhere.
    Tough
    It’s difficult to stop eating meat.
    Difficult to stop flying or driving.
    Mitigation is tough and yes getting people to
    Stop building by water is tough.
    So
    What.

  153. angech says:

    “Seawater encroachment into the aquifer. Under the dykes through the porous bedrock. Where will they get their drinking water?”
    Nuclear Desalination plants?
    Aqueducts from Canada?
    Rich enough to live on Miami waterfront I am sure there are ways?
    Very few people live in deserts. Water is essential for life. The fact that there are so many people on the Eastern Seaboard suggests to me that there must be big rivers and dams inland. Do not know, not American and not using google for this, it just seems to make sense.

  154. Dave_Geologist says:

    The fact that there are so many people on the Eastern Seaboard suggests to me that there must be big rivers and dams inland.

    Most of the eastern seaboard doesn’t sit on porous limestone. Miami does. For the same reason there are all those nice coral reefs there and none in New York.

    There is a big river in Florida. It’s called the Everglades and flows very slowly towards the sea. With much of the water underground, in the same porous limestone. At current sea levels, it’s strong enough to keep the seawater at bay until you get outboard of Miami. In a few decades time, not so much.

  155. Dave_Geologist says:

    Nuclear Desalination plants?
    Aqueducts from Canada?

    How much will that cost? And what about the millions of not-so-rich people who make the rich people’s lives possible? If they move away, there’ll be no-one to clean the pools or man the gas stations.

  156. angech says:

    Aqueducts from Canada?
    We have a problem with Western Australia water to main city Perth.
    One solution already proposed is similar to the Roman solution.
    Bring the monsoonal rains up north 1,500 miles to the south by aqueduct and river changes
    Adaption??
    A number of states have Desalination, mainly the ones where it started to rain again.
    An indicator of rainfall increase is putting in a desalinization plant.
    Nuclear is not expensive in Australia.
    Uranium everywhere.

  157. zebra says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/20/save-the-planet-half-earth-kim-stanley-robinson

    If you reduce the population, this happens “automatically”– the current urbanization trend will accelerate as less productive population nodes become unsustainable.

    And, the remaining population nodes will be more pleasant to live in– you would still be able to accommodate less dense habitation on the periphery.

  158. verytallguy says:

    Nuclear is not expensive in Australia.
    Uranium everywhere.

    You have fundamentally misunderstood the economics of nuclear. Before carbon emissions were seen as a big issue, the USP of nuclear was always the low cost of fuel

    For example:

    The US Nuclear Energy Institute suggests that the cost of fuel for a coal-fired plant is 78% of total costs, for a gas-fired plant the figure is 87%, and for nuclear the uranium is about 14% (or 34% if all front end and waste management costs are included).

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/economics-of-nuclear-power.aspx

  159. angech wrote “Nuclear is not expensive in Australia. Uranium everywhere.”

    my BS meter registered that one quite clearly.

  160. BBD says:

    zebra

    If you reduce the population, this happens “automatically”

    But neither EO Wilson nor KSR says anything about reducing population. Rather, the proposal is to increase urbanisation as populations grow.

    There are various possible reasons for this, which may include profound distaste for the notion of state-directed population control, recognition that it is in fact unworkable, and understanding that even if attempted, it is too slow when the need is to reduce emissions starting right now.

  161. Steven Mosher says:

    well, seems pretty clear that we wont stay below 2C.
    better start preparing to adapt to 3C

  162. BBD says:

    well, seems pretty clear that we wont stay below 2C.
    better start preparing to adapt to 3C

    Without mitigation we could blow past 3C and on up. It’s not an either / or. Going in circles now.

  163. angech says:

    Too early to call?
    Arctic maximum reached this year.
    Hoping for a late boost still

  164. I’m late to this discussion and there’s a lot to read and follow here.

    But something which occurs, after reading a bunch, is that economic models have a bunch of implicit boundary conditions on the conditions of climate. After all, there is a pretty severe sampling bias in whatever experimental verification is done for their hypotheses and models. I mean, no one has ever really tested whether these continue to operate under arbitrary conditions, say, if the 1916 Flu Pandemic continued for another 50 years. (Why that? Well, the unavailability of young men to do work might have a wee effect upon economic productivity.)

    A big concern I have is regarding how fragile the links in the economic network are, including supply chains and uncertainties regarding resource needs. At least if these are analogous to communications networks, with those, if f denotes the probably of total failure of an individual link, it does not take a very large f for the network to fragment into islanded subnetworks, and, in some cases, collapse altogether. Of course this depends upon topology, the ability to dynamic reconfiguration, and to what extent successful transactions at one node depend upon information which can only be sourced far away.

    I think there are many examples which don’t seem to be of great interest to economists, or reveal, perhaps, that their models are really statements about asymptotic characteristics and solutions rather than useful policy prescriptives. For example, China has been accepting recyclable materials from the U.S. for many years. They have been such a good market that U.S.-based recycling sinks have almost gone out of business. Suddenly, China declared U.S. plastics and paper and things to be too contaminated and too dirty to accept any longer. (They are. They should never have been allowed to deteriorate to the degree of contamination that’s seen.) They are cutting off acceptance of our recyclables. What would an economic solution be?

    Presumably, this would create an incentives structure for U.S. sinks of recycling to rise up once more. However, this requires capital, and that requires higher prices, and the market has gotten used to prices where they are. If prices increase, the collective fear of the industry is that people will stop recycling altogether, and simply dispose in landfills and waste-to-energy incinerators. That’s a structural change.

    I wish economists had some kind of notion or measure akin to the physicists’ cross section idea. That is, how much of a disruption to an economic network fractures or destroys it? How big is an economy’s cross section? When does it dissolve into local trading regions, e.g., post-war Iraq? The idea that economic processes and things will just continue to swim along, albeit with price adjustments and incentives for innovation and adaptation seems to me incredibly simplistic. Maybe I don’t appreciate the sophistication economists have with coupled systems of non-linear differential equations. But, then, except in special, well studied areas, backed up by plenty of experiments (see below), I don’t think anyone has such sophistication.

  165. Steven Mosher says:

    bbd.

    we already are mitigating..i dont see much adaptation going on. we still rebuild in the paths of hurricanes. my suggestion is simple and not anti science. we need to do more on mitigation and adaptation. i doubt we will do enough.

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