Rethinking climate policy

Roger Pielke Jr has been promoting his new paper in Issues in Science and Technology. The paper is called opening up the climate policy envelope and Roger has been suggesting that people should read it. I’ve read it a couple of times and there are some things I agree with, and some things that seem somewhat confused. The overall suggestion, however, seems reasonable (consider a broader range of policy options) but – unless I’m missing something – I’m not really seeing anything specific, or anything particularly insightful.

The paper criticises the use of BECCS and negative emission technologies in many of the scenarios. I think this is a perfectly fair criticism. We haven’t even really developed these technologies yet and have no real idea if they could be implemented at scale. There’s a section about how the rate at which we’re currently decarbonising is well below what would be needed if we wished to achieve some of the targets. Again, seems quite correct. Then there’s the obligatory complaints about the use of RCP8.5, which we discussed in this this post, and a dig at Kerry Emanuel. I think he misses the mark here, and one should bear in mind that Kerry Emanuel was the one who wrote a response to Roger’s 538 article.

So, some of the criticisms seem quite valid. However, one of the things I found a bit confused was the claim that

[t]he restricted policy envelope that results from the scenarios of the IPCC — typically formalized in the form of so-called integrated assessment models — is the result of two reinforcing sets of assumptions. One is that the costs of inaction will be high due to projected large changes in climate resulting from a massive increase in future emissions and resulting negative impacts on societies. The second is that necessary incremental actions to reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions will be technologically feasible at low cost, or even at no net cost at all—that such actions are economic and political no-brainers.

This doesn’t seem quite right to me, but then I’m not an expert at integrated assessment models. I thought some of these results at least emerged from integrated assessement models, rather than them being assumptions.

Another thing that seemed confused was that

[a]t the center of the current approach is a target and a timetable. The target is to stabilize concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a low level. In the past this level was commonly expressed as 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalents, and more recently has been expressed as a temperature target such as 2 degrees Celsius (2°C).

Well, stablising temperatures is not really the same as stabilising concentrations. The common target is to stabilise temperatures by getting net emissions to ~ zero. If you want to know more about this, see this comment.

The paper ends with a set of suggestions as to how we could expand the policy envelope. The responses to some of these seem quite obvious. If we didn’t include BECCS in the scenarios, then it would seem much more difficult to get net emissions to ~zero. If we abandon the 2oC target, then we’d probably make it even more certain that we’d miss this target. If we focussed less on worst case scenarios, then everything would seem more positive. However, I think it is well worth considering how we expand carbon-free energy, how we substantilly reduce our use of fossil fuels, and how we scale up new technologies.

A couple of things did surprise me about the article. There was no real discussion of how those who dispute the need for climate policy influence our ability to implement it. We’re not developing climate policy in some kind of vacuum. It’s not as if all we need to do is find the optimal policy and it will be implemented; there are many who dispute the need to do so. In some sense, there’s a whiff of deficit model thinking. Also, I didn’t see any mention of a carbon tax, which I had thought was one of the preferred policy instruments. I think the idea of us trying to expand our policy options is well worth considering. It’s just not clear in what way this article helps us to do so. Maybe I’m missing something, though, so if others have seen things that I’ve missed, feel free to point them out.

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290 Responses to Rethinking climate policy

  1. Jon Kirwan says:

    You write that stablising temperatures is not really the same as stabilising concentrations. The common target is to stabilise temperatures by getting net emissions to ~ zero. I agree with you about an important difference in meaning. But I also think you should elucidate this further with a sentence or two. It subtle enough, and too many people not up to your par in thinking quickly and well enough, that it could probably use an extra line or two of clarification. (And I don’t mean any slight to your readers, all of whom I’m sure are exceptional people.)

  2. Jon,
    I’ve written various posts about that, but I can’t seem to find a good one to highlight. As you probably know, the point is that if we stabilise concentrations then we’d continue warming to equilibrium. To stabilise temperatures requires getting emissions to ~zero, so that the natural sinks draw down atmospheric concentrations at a rate that means that global average temperatures will remain ~constant. There is a good Realclimate post about this. I should also clarify that even though the natural sinks will draw down atmospheric CO2 if we were to get emissions to ~zero, about 20-30% of our emissions will still remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

  3. Jon Kirwan says:

    What you just wrote is pretty much what I was asking you to add to the blog, itself. It’s very similar to what was in my head when I chose to say something.

    It’s just that you cannot ever repeat yourself enough. It seems that no matter how many different sources have sliced through the topic from dozens of angles, memories are short and the instant moment of reading something is all that someone sees or thinks about. So, at least from my own experiences, I’ve never been able to just say something hoping others will understand it the way I do in my head. I have to say enough to bore the smarter folks, in order to bring along the rest. And this goes double for this particular subject, which is elusive enough for regular folks to latch onto.

    I think what you wrote in response is pretty much it. I like it. I think it should have been there as you wrote out your blog, though. That’s all.

    And thanks so much to you and your readers, who also write. I’ve been improving myself by listening to how other excellent people think about the world around them. Appreciated!!

  4. Bob Loblaw says:

    “Roger Pielke Jr has been promoting his new paper…”
    and
    “…I’m not really seeing anything specific, or anything particularly insightful.”

    is more or less “situation normal”, isn’t it???

  5. Bob,
    Pretty much.

    Jon,
    Okay, I’ve added a link to the comment at that place in the post.

  6. Willard says:

    > [Junior] has been suggesting that people should read it.

    Alright. Let’s start with the “recommended readings.” First comes the Hartwell Paper (May 2010), signed by the Breakthrough Boyz, and in which we can read in this Very Serious take from its executive summary:

    It is now plain that it is not possible to have a ‘climate policy’ that has emissions reductions as the all encompassing goal.

    This piece of Schadenfreude hasn’t aged very well.

  7. One interpretation I have of these kind of suggestions is that the suggestion is essentially that we can develop sensible climate policy as long as we give up on why we wanted to develop climate policy in the first place. To be fair, I realise that part of what is being suggested is that we can find others way to achieve some kind of goal, but my concern is that if we don’t highlight why we’re trying to do this, and what we’re hoping to achieve, we’ll end up with a policy that we call “climate policy” but that isn’t really.

  8. Everett F Sargent says:

    The beauty of being RPJr is that he gets to criticize all the policy choices, that none of those criticisms are new (e. g. BECSS) and that he doesn’t make any policy prescriptions himself.

  9. Willard says:

    > he doesn’t make any policy prescriptions himself.

    One policy prescription may be to manage one’s echo chamber:

    ***

    The second entry in Junior’s recommended readings is a commentary from Glen (whom I rather like) & Oliver (whom I rather not), in which we can read:

    The political implications of large-scale CDR [Carbon Dioxide Removal] have remained largely out of the debate. In principle, the governments that signed and ratified the Paris Agreement accept the IPCC consensus that CDR cannot be avoided if ambitious climate targets like 1.5 °C or 2 °C are to be met. But so far, there is no debate on the one issue that usually dominates UN climate negotiations — differentiation and burden sharing. Which countries are going to start CDR first? Which countries will deliver the bulk of the CDR? Currently, no countries have mentioned BECCS in their Nationally Determined Contributions, and only about a dozen even mention the key ingredient of carbon capture and storage.

    This paper thus criticizes something that has been deemed impossible by the Hartwell paper.

    So here are the first two steps:

    (1) A global policy for mitigating AGW is not possible.

    (2) If it’s possible, we need to discuss CDR.

    Intriguingly, there’s no occurence of “tax” in that commentary. By contrast, the Hartwell Paper contains 33 occurences of “tax.”

    As the Auditor would say, hmmm.

  10. Willard says:

    The third entry is by SteveR, one of the signatories of the Hartwell Paper. Vintage 2010, it also exploited the Copenhaguen failure to sell a bottom-up approach, whatever that means.There is a mention of a divide-and-conquer strategy, i.e. to eat the elephant bit by bit. This may run counter to Judy’s (and also Oliver’s, if memory serves well) proposal that AGW may be a wicked problem. The money quote:

    For all of these reasons, major public investment in carbon-neutral energy R&D is urgently required. To pay for a publicly funded programme of energy modernization, various commentators (Prins and Rayner, 2007; Galiana and Green, 2009; Prins et al., 2010) have suggested a very modest hypothecated or dedicated carbon tax. Because the initial purpose of the tax is to raise revenue for R&D, it can be set at a level much lower than anything that would have a sustained influence on consumer behaviour. As Galiana and Green (2009: 23) point out, ‘a low tax on each tonne of carbon dioxide is all that is needed to raise tens of billions of dollars globally. A $5 per tonne CO2 tax would raise $30 billion a year in the USA, about the same in China, almost as much in the EU, and lesser, but significant amounts in Russia, India, and in other countries. Annually as much as $150 billion could be raised in this way worldwide.’

    The authors cited are all signatories of the Hartwell Paper.

    Cue to Junior’s tweet about echo chambers.

    ***

    Fourth entry is another commentary, this time by Junior, TomW, and ChristopherG. The bottom line:

    There is no question about whether technological innovation is necessary — it is. The question is, to what degree should policy focus directly on motivating such innovation? The IPCC plays a risky game in assuming that spontaneous advances in technological innovation will carry most of the burden of achieving future emissions reductions, rather than focusing on creating the conditions for such innovations to occur.

    The more or less implicit inference seems to collide with KevinA’s own conclusion:

    Relying on the promise of industrial scale negative emission technologies to balance our carbon budget was not the only option available to Paris – at least in relation to 2°C.

    With CO2 emissions in 2015 over 60% higher than at the time of the first IPCC report in 1990, the carbon budget for 1.5°C has been all but eliminated. However, reducing emissions in line with 2°C does remain a viable goal – just. But rather than rely on tenuous post-2050 BECCS, this alternative approach begs immediate and profound political, economic and social questions; questions that undermine a decade of mathematically nebulous green-growth and win-win rhetoric.

    Not surprisingly this alluring rhetoric has been embraced by many of those in positions of power; all the more so as it has been promulgated by two influential groups. First, those, typically but not exclusively economists, who work on the premise that physical reality and the laws of thermodynamics are subservient to the ephemeral rules of today’s economic paradigm. And second, those vested interests desperate to preserve the status quo, but prepared to accept an incremental tweak to ‘business as usual’ as a sop to meaningful action (e.g. the opportunist enthusiasm of ‘progressive’ oil companies for “oh-so-clean” gas over “dirty & nasty” coal).

    But move away from the cosy tenets of contemporary economics and a suite of alternative opportunities for delivering the deep and early reductions in emissions necessary to stay within 2°C budgets come into focus. Demand-side technologies, behaviours and habits all are amenable to significant and rapid change – and guided by stringent policies could drive emissions down in the near-term. Combine this with an understanding that just 10% of the global population are responsible for around 50% of total emissions and the rate and scope of what is possible if we genuinely thought climate change was an important issue becomes evident.

    https://kevinanderson.info/blog/is-the-climate-change-academic-community-reluctant-to-voice-issues-that-question-the-economic-growth-paradigm/

    But Iron Law. But Iron Law.

  11. -1=e^iπ says:

    This comment:

    “[t]he restricted policy envelope that results from the scenarios of the IPCC — typically formalized in the form of so-called integrated assessment models — is the result of two reinforcing sets of assumptions. One is that the costs of inaction will be high due to projected large changes in climate resulting from a massive increase in future emissions and resulting negative impacts on societies. The second is that necessary incremental actions to reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions will be technologically feasible at low cost, or even at no net cost at all—that such actions are economic and political no-brainers.”

    Seems like nonsense to me. Integrated assessment models like DICE, FUND and PAGE do not take RCP scenarios into account.

    Maybe the comment refers to RCP scenarios in the first place… but it seems to be more likely a misunderstanding of IAMs.

  12. Nathan says:

    “Maybe I’m missing something, though, so if others have seen things that I’ve missed, feel free to point them out.”

    I think you missed Pielke’s Iron Law… Really important Law that needs repeating ad inifinitum

  13. Richard S J Tol says:

    @wotts
    The unit costs of climate change and the unit costs of climate policy are assumptions in integrated assessment models, rather than results from IAMs.

  14. Richard,
    I don’t think the quote says “unit”. Also, are those assumptions, or are they the results of calculations?

  15. Richard S J Tol says:

    @wotts
    The assumptions are on the unit costs. Total costs and marginal costs are computed by the model, but follow more or less straightforwardly from the unit costs.

  16. Richard,
    Okay, then what’s the point of that? If the result depends so strongly on the assumptions (as Roger appears to be suggesting) then that would seem to tell us little?

  17. Richard S J Tol says:

    @wotts
    The point of integrated assessment models is to generate papers, influence and grants.

    Every so often, these models generate insight.

    Recall that an early version of MAGICC had this in the code
    pause(360) %pause for three minutes to make the model look interesting

  18. Dave_Geologist says:

    ATTP, I think it’s worth pointing out that Issues is not an academic journal, and certainly not a peer-reviewed one. Based on it’s self-description, it’s a platform for op-eds.

  19. Dave,
    Yes, I wasn’t entirely sure about that.

  20. Dave_Geologist says:

    Seems pretty clear from their About Us page. Although the phrase “The pages of Issues are open to all responsible points of view” suggests a degree of editorial control to screen out the cranks.

  21. Dave_Geologist says:

    Richard, is that interesting in the cynical please-the-sponsors sense, or interesting in the give-people-a-chance-to-look-at-a-snapshot sense? Perhaps to “generate insight”. IOW interesting in the GGWS chop-the-end-off-the-IPCC-graph-and-change-the-dates sense, or interesting in the innocent “Nature trick” sense.

    It’s so easy to accidentally misconstrue motives 😦 . For example, all the scientists I know personally (and myself before I went into industry) had a general love of the science. The point of a study or model was always to advance the science. If that enhances the author’s influence, it’s deserved because it must have been a good paper. Getting grants was seen as a necessary evil, a chore rather than an objective.

    Is it different in economics?

  22. Magma says:

    Recall that an early version of MAGICC had this in the code
    pause(360) %pause for three minutes to make the model look interesting — somebody

    Sure it did. Except the (now obsolescent) Fortran 77 command PAUSE halted execution for user input, not for a timed period. Perhaps someone was thinking of SLEEP(). Perhaps someone didn’t calculate that 360 seconds is six minutes, not three. [Oh, those gremlins.] And perhaps someone is just spinning yet more BS for reasons known only to himself — if even that.

  23. Magma says:

    somebody yesterday: “Geosciences is physics for those who are not very good at math”
    somebody today: “pause(360) %pause for three minutes”

  24. verytallguy says:

    Magma,

    That’s Tol’s first law of blogs in action.

    reposted from 2015

    Tols first and second laws of blogs

    First Law: “However poor you expect Tol’s behaviour to be, he will promptly fail to meet even that level”

    Second Law: “In any blog comment thread where Tol contributes the subject will tend to being about Tol”

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/the-big-questions/#comment-51990

    And we now also demonstrate Tol’s paradox: Tol’s tedious predictability is such as to allow definition of the laws of Tol, and he is thereby in contravention of his own first law.

    Yup. Nothing changed. Move along now.

  25. Richard S J Tol says:

    @magma
    Indeed.

    @dave
    Integrated assessment models are not really economics. The word “integrated” refers to the fact that the model boundaries coincide with the problem’s boundaries, rather than with disciplinary boundaries.

    There is some cool stuff on climate policy in economics journals, but that is outside Pielke’s scope. This paper, for instance, shows that Hotelling’s putty is not innocent https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20150986

  26. Magma says:

    @vtg, I overlooked my own guideline. I don’t know if it rises to the level of a third law.

    (Tol’s time expended)/(Σ Tol responders’ time expended) << 1

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/more-nonsense-sorry-nonsensus-from-richard-tol/#comment-63110

  27. Dave_Geologist says:

    Aarrgh! I somehow managed to over-write my name. Could you delete the duplicate from . please, Willard?

    I thought FORTAN 77 didn’t allow inline comments. Or lower case. Although newer versions still supported many deprecated commands or syntaxes, so perhaps it was old code carried over into a newer version. Or perhaps it was just made up by someone who doesn’t remember FORTRAN 77 (or indeed FORTRAN IV, where I started). Or perhaps someone was playing the old trick of inserting something that didn’t make sense, as a way of detecting copyright violation (even open-source generally has licence provisions, usually to ensure credit is given where it’s due). If something is required or industry standard, e,g, “once upon a time” or “1 + 1 = 2”, you can claim it’s convergence not copying. But that doesn’t work with “once upon several times” or “twice upon a time” or “1 + 1 = 3”.

    Just for fun I looked out some of my old code

    C SUBROUTINE TO ASSIGN APPROPRIATE YG VALUES TO YR
    Assign! He’s making stuff up! Call the Auditor! Actually no, just some boring maths to ensure that grid and non-grid points remain properly matched in a rotated reference frame. There’s lots of that. Looks like I used ASSIGN where I really meant ALLOCATE.

    C PROGRAM TO CONVERT Z VALUES OF GRID POINTS LYING OUTSIDE THE
    C MODEL FROM 0. TO 2.
    He’s faking data! Call the Auditor! I had to look that one up. it’s to distinguish between two kinds of null values, those within the model which don’t exist because the horizon is absent from a grid node because of faulting or erosion, and those outside the model boundary. Why didn’t I use (say) -999 and -777? Can’t remember. Probably had a reason for sticking to positive real numbers. 0 and 2 are such small numbers they would never occur in the real data. Obviously I would have avoided NaN. I was still scarred from handling alphabetic characters in FORTRAN IV. I have experienced problems with modern geomodelling programs where extreme null values fail to be recognised as nulls. You get spikes extending halfway to the edge of the known universe, which are very hard to clean up in a graphical editor. I remember one instance (not me) where something like that wasn’t visible on screen but was on the plotter, which started turning out acres of blank paper because it was printing a map which extended from somewhere in the North Sea to Birmingham. And if they slip through they badly distort your aggregated data. The odd 0 or 2 slipping through in large datasets with typical values in the thousands is pretty benign. A -77777 (Beicip’s preference for nulls), not so much.

    C SELECT MAJOR AXIS
    He’s at It again! Picking and choosing! Exploiting researcher degrees of freedom! No, just some more boring maths. No data manipulation. I should probably have used IDENTIFY

    C REJECT ELLIPSES WITH AXES LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO 0.0
    What’s all that about? How does he know negative lengths are not allowed (clue: it’s an absolute length)? If electrical engineers can have imaginary numbers, why can’t geologists have imaginary lengths? In practice this arises from numerical errors in the solver where you have a number of points very close together (differencing is part of the process). Especially common when you’re using an 8-bit computer with only 7 bits available for data. In practice you can’t trust the answer anyway when points are too close together, because their separation is smaller than their positional uncertainty.

    C FACTORISE STRAIN TENSOR FOR TWO SELECTED SIMPLE SHEAR DIRECTIONS
    He’s at it again! Selecting! In this case they’re user-specified parameters corresponding to particular a priori models you might want to test.

    Enough. That was going halfway through about 60 pages of code, minuscule compared to a climate model. See how easy it is to misconstrue when you put your mind to it? And to cherry pick wording that was put in innocently because I was not assuming bad faith on the part of the reader (this was part of a government-sponsored research pilot and the code and explanation was put on open file). It’s hard enough proofing your code for errors, without also having to make your comments misrepresentation-proof. Can you imaging how much that would add to scientists’ workload? It’s almost as if the Auditors want to hamstring climate scientists with fruitless effort 😉 .

  28. Dave_Geologist says:

    Mea culpa, now I’m really wasting virtual space :-(. Out of interest did WordPress autocorrect it (always interesting to know how much Web software knows about you 😉 ), or was it a manual correction?

  29. Manual, I will delete the duplicates in a minute.

  30. Dave_Geologist says:

    Richard
    “Integrated assessment models are not really economics.”. I didn’t say they were. I’ll rephrase on the basis that they are science and economics (and a few other things) glued together. The cynical view you express about why people make and run the models does not accord with my experience of science. So it must have come from somewhere else. Or it’s not generally true and you’re projecting. I was wondering if the economics part was “contaminating” the norms of the science part, or if there is something about IAMs which spontaneously generates a non-Mertonian approach, at least wrt Communalism and Disinterestedness.

    Re the anti-Hotelling paper. When someone tells me that “conventional wisdom” is wrong, and there really is a free lunch, visions of a fabled bridge in New York come to mind. And when I see Proofs I think Maths, because you can’t prove anything in science. And you can only do it in maths if you take certain axioms as read. And my layman’s view of economics is that where it uses mathematical proofs, it does so by accepting axioms which are untested or proven wrong in the real world. But maybe that’s just my prejudice showing.

    All the GCM outputs I’ve seen require CO2 emissions to go to zero instantaneously (not just flatline), and stay at zero forever, in order to make temperature flatline. Their Fig. 1 shows temperature flatlining at a carbon price of $300/tCO2. Surely that’s not enough to zero out annual emissions? And then it falls to $200/tCO2. Surely that’s not enough to keep emissions at zero? It looks like there’s something hokey in their climate model. Garbage in, garbage out. They should have recruited a climatologist onto their team.

    From a quick look it appears that they have only a single value for their inertia parameter. Which presumably means it’s time-symmetric. Which is why their middle graph in Figure 1 is drawing down CO2 as fast is it rose. The climate doesn’t work like that. Natural CO2 drawdown is orders of magnitude slower than human CO2 emission. And orders of magnitude slower than the thermal inertia of the oceans as they adjust to a new radiative forcing. And for CO2 drawdown we’re talking geological processes, so they should be using an ESS-type measure rather than an ECS-type. If they increased climate sensitivity by 50%, and inertia by an order of magnitude, they might get into the ballpark. But that would be putting lipstick on a pig. They need a more sophisticated representation of inertia.

    In the real world, their scenario would overshoot the target temperature and take centuries or millennia to get back down to it. Even their “more inertia” case in Figure 2 doesn’t really have enough inertia. But what they really need is asymmetrical inertia. Unless they’re invoking negative emissions on a heroic scale, which amounts to believing in unicorns, CO2 declines far too quickly after their peak. Conventional wisdom is rarely wrong, at least when it comes to informed conventional wisdom.

  31. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    The paper is not anti-Hotelling. Do keep up.

  32. Dave_Geologist says:

    I was being concise Richard. If you prefer, they (purport to) show that this “Hotelling” tax on carbon emissions is actually inefficient. I did not intend to imply that they had some personal animus towards Hotelling, or his ghost. They do go beyond stating “this is an interesting piece of maths” into advocating policy, right their in the title. So I think it’s reasonable to say they’re anti a “Hotelling” tax. But whatever.

    On a rather more important note, do you agree that their climate model appears to violate the laws of physics? And fly in the face of everything we’ve learned about climate from GCMs and geology?

  33. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    Eq (1) and (2) are indeed poor descriptions of the physics. I don’t think this affects the key results.

  34. BBD says:

    Richard, last time I asked you for a substantive response, you failed to provide one. Perhaps you could actually answer DG’s question?

  35. I don’t think it’s only been the last time. In the spirit of rething policy, maybe we should avoid engaging in wishful thinking.

  36. Dave_Geologist says:

    Yes it does Richard. It devastates them. Their CO2 concentration and temperature curves are mutually incompatible. That makes everything else a nonsense. Without that unrealistic relationship, the top left curve in Figure 1 won’t plateau at 2°C. Their “optimal” tax profile will be sub-optimal because it will overshoot 2°C and take centuries or millennia to get back down to 2°C. Compare the top left and middle left graphs. The plateauing of the least cost path relies on CO2 being drawn down naturally at least two, probably three, orders of magnitude faster than it will in the real world. The’re taking advantage of “climate inertia” on the assumption that drawdown of CO2 is as fast as the fast warming feedbacks in ECS. It’s not. Drawdown relies on slow feedbacks, not fast feedbacks. And drawdown involves earth System processes and so should use ESS not ECS. Albedo loss due to ice melt will keep on happening for centuries, not just if we stabilise CO2, but even if we stabilise temperatures. The’re using apples to balance oranges. Or, reflecting the scale, peanuts to balance pineapples.

  37. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Dave,

    None of those devastating problems are among the things that Dr Tol meant by “the key results”.

    Do keep up.

  38. Willard says:

    Richie’s squirrels distract from Junior’s editorial.

    The Fuss & al 2014 NCC commentary he suggests in his recommended readings. It tries to frame negative emissions narratives, and they suggest that these narratives need to have four components:

    The first component refers to technological aspects: with BECCS being the negative emissions technology most widely applied by IAMs […]

    The second component in Fig. 2 describes carbon cycle uncertainties and dynamics in the Earth system. If negative emissions options such as BECCS are used only after significant climate change, then the response of the global carbon cycle can make the necessary amount of negative emissions even larger than for a scenario where the future CO2 trajectory is contained below 430–480 ppm.

    […]

    The third component acknowledges that negative emissions will be part of a wider mitigation effort and their deployment will depend on the cost, risks and timing profile of other options […]

    The final component is concerned with institutional and policy challenges. CO2 removal will be expensive and contentious, whereas emissions will remain cheap in the absence of strong climate policies. Therefore, any CO2 removal strategy requires an extraordinary global regulatory framework taking into account national economic conditionsm.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2392

    How to reconcile these suggestions with Junior’s Iron Law remains an open problem.

  39. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    Richard, last time I asked you for a substantive response,…

    I believe that somewhere above, someone characterized the act of repeating patterned behaviors and expecting novel outcomes.

  40. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    How to reconcile these suggestions with Junior’s Iron Law remains an open problem.

    Just think about the poors as an Honest Broker should:

    In this context, arguments about long-term costs and benefits and unaccounted for externalities — no matter how theoretically valid — simply will not trump the immediate challenges of reducing hunger. To put more bluntly — few are going to be willing to increase (or arrest the decrease of) the number of starving people around the world to further an emissions reductions agenda.
    So we’ll simply have to find another way — one that prioritizes (rather than slows) economic growth and one that focuses on making energy less costly. Until we do so, climate policy will continue to make little progress. It is an iron law.

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/09/reducing-hunger-and-iron-law-of-climate.html

    GROWWWWTH – It’s the (iron) law.

  41. I thought I might make a comment about Roger’s criticism of Kerry Emanuel’s paper. All the Emanuel did was to use an RCP8.5 simulation to estimate how much it would increase by 2081-2100, relative to 1981-2000. You can then estimate how much it has increased today, relative to the earlier period (at least, I think that’s what he did).

    Roger says

    Consider that if Emanuel’s study had used a scenario for 2100 that had emissions stabilized at a low level, then the change in the risk of flooding like that of Hurricane Harvey over the past several decades in the study would have been minimal or none at all.

    I think this is wrong, because the assumption isn’t that it will increase linearly between 1981-2000 and 2081-2100 under all scenarios. Under a lower emission scenario, it probably would not. Hence using the change by 2081-2100 to estimate how much it has changed today would be much more complex if he had used a lower emission pathway, than was the case using an emission pathway along which we might expect the change to be roughly linear.

  42. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    The key result is that because there are two convoluted differential equations, the efficient price path is not Hotelling (who assumed a simple differential equation).

    Replacing their no-ocean climate model with a slab ocean would not restore Hotelling. The Schneider-Thompson model, for instance, would have three convoluted differential equations.

    Replacing their one-box carbon cycle with a Maier-Reimer/Hasselman five-box model would again push us further away from Hotelling, because the efficient price would be a weighted sum of four renewable Hotellings and one non-renewable Hotelling.

  43. Willard says:

    > I think this is wrong

    It matters little for Junior’s point, which is to bash RCP 8.5:

    [The Editor] has done a great job documenting how RCP 8.5 has been frequently invoked as a “business-as-usual” scenario.

    {See “Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!” describes the implausible assumptions of RCP8.5 — which makes it a good worst-case analysis. Also see this about the use of RCP8.5: “Manufacturing climate nightmares: misusing science to create horrific predictions.“}

    In fact, once you start looking, you’ll see RCP 8.5 everywhere in the climate impacts literature.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/11/21/roger-pielke-jr-describes-the-politics-of-unlikely-climate-scenarios/

    Note that the Editor (of Fabius Maximus, also known as the Delayer) is Junior’s go to guy in all things RCP 8.5

  44. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ah, I see I was somewhat hasty in assessing Lemoine & Rudik. My bad. They do separate out CO2 drawdown as a series of exponential decays, it just happens to look symmetrical because warming inertia and CO2 drawdown happen to have similar time constants. What was missing was the emissions curve. Had that been in Figure 1, it would have been apparent that they are consistent with the models which show temperature flatlining if we stop emissions dead. And LR17 do indeed get carbon emission net of abatement to zero in 2085-2090, and keep it there. But unless I’m screwing up again, they achieve that with a carbon price rising to about $20/tCO2 by 2075, based on Figure 1. Which I make about $70/bbl for oil. We were paying that to OPEC ten years ago and yet consumption went up. But strangely, in Appendix D1, where I got the 2085 zero-emissions from, the carbon price exceeds $1000/bbl by 2076, which is more like it. Maybe they have gremlins. Or maybe they assume CO2 extraction, but surely that has to be costed. And they mention geoengineering.

    Anyway, too much to dig into now. Going by the appendix Figure D1, the Hotelling curve is not very different to the least-cost curve. Just 20 years earlier and not going right to zero. That’s a difference ‘way below the impact of ECS uncertainty. So maybe I was wrong about it being novel but devastatingly wrong. Maybe it’s right but not terribly novel or different. I still think there’s something wrong though, at least in the published figures. I think they’ve pasted in the carbon pricing curve from a different scenario. I don’t see how you can get the fast-feedback CO2 drawdown they show in the post-peak, pre-plateau period without slamming on the breaks and cutting net emissions to zero at the peak. And if it’s being left to the market, I don’t see how you can get that with carbon pricing in the tens of dollars per gigatonne. You’d need an order of magnitude more, in not much more than fifty years from now. Which will HURT.

  45. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    aTTP,

    My wife has a paper coming out shortly (hopefully) showing that observed extreme sub-daily rainfall is increasing faster than previously expected compared to theory (CC scaling) and previous observational studies. It shows approximately 20% increase per degree of warming or 3xCC scaling for the tropical region studied.

    While the study only covers one region the potential level of increase demonstrated is beyond what is expected from climate models. This is because the climate model do a very poor job at accurately representing sub daily rainfall due to resolution and poor parameterisation of convection. This is also likely to be the case for hurricane rainfall in climate models as convection is critical in hurricane development.

  46. Willard says:

    > Maybe it’s right but not terribly novel or different.

    Like the Goldilocks curve, it’s not too wrong, not too right. Just about right:

    We show that the marginal cost of emission reductions should follow a qualitatively different trajectory when policymakers aim to limit total warming rather than total CO2. The reason is that an increase in CO2 neither immediately nor fully translates into an increase in warming. The climate system displays substantial inertia, warming only slowly in response to additional CO2.1 A year’s temperature is determined not just by the contemporary quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere but also by the past trajectory of CO2. Additional warming incurred by temporarily raising CO2 cannot be undone simply by returning to the original CO2 trajectory. By allowing additional warming over the next t years, a policymaker sacrifices some of the braking services provided by the inertia in the climate system. In order to return to the original temperature trajectory, the policymaker must undertake a sufficiently large quantity of emission reductions to bring time t CO2 some distance below its original trajectory. This additional spending offsets the policymaker’s earnings from interest and from the natural decay of CO2. The efficient tax on CO2 emissions must grow more slowly than exponentially.

    I’m not sure how last sentence can be reconciled with the emphasized bit, which basically says that the more you dump CO2 into the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow, the more you pay for it later.

  47. So I read RPJr’s paper and had a few thoughts. These are independent of the comments above, which I have not thoroughly read, and so am not responding to them.

    It’s clear RPJr is attacking the current global system, namely, UNFCCC for addressing this problem, pointing out that it is limited in what it can do, and using what-ifs to justify that. I very much agree that the UNFCCC process leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, it’s not clear it is effective or even can be effective. The self-congratulatory gestures that leaders make during big announcements belie both the severity of the problem and the lack of mechanism to achieve the results the UNFCCC has claimed they want to achieve. We don’t really need RPJr to point this out. Kevin Anderson and colleagues have done so repeatedly and for longer, and RPJr does not acknowledge them.

    I disagree with RPJr that BECCS is a cornerstone of UNFCCC plans, even if it might be mentioned. I do think negative emissions technologies — which go well beyond BECCS — are required to meet the UNFCCC targets and I agree no one knows how to do those, let alone do them affordably. Again, Anderson and colleagues noted this a long time ago.

    How can anyone know if RCP 8.5 is realistic or not? It depends entirely on what governments and world economies do, and how quickly various technologies are adopted, and extrapolations, even with logistic curves is difficult to do. (I might say especially with logistic curves.) So arguing about it being something which was a mistake to adopt seems pointless.

    And, yes, while I had no role in the IPCC reports, it does seem to me that the IPCC existed to serve the goals of the UNFCCC and its perspective. Simply noting the gap between the language and content of the report to policymakers and the scientific substance is enough to produce wonder about whether or not the entire UNFCCC process gives governments a fig leaf to try to hide behind, so they can claim they are trying to do something. I concluded at the last go-round they are not, not really. That doesn’t excuse Trumpism, but it means the image is more important to them than the substance.

    Where I loudly disagree with RPJr and, by extension, Socolow, is the idea that the +2C limit was chosen because of its political and economic implications rather than being a point of pain. It well may have political and economic implications. I do not know. I don’t study that kind of stuff. Surely, from what I have studied, negative emissions technology is something no one knows how to do and, moreover, is not something which it makes any sense to deploy until emissions are zero. And it is astronomically expensive at present estimates.

    People seem to repeatedly forget that +2C is a global anomaly, averaged over the oceans. Oceanic climate sensitivity is much lower than land. What produces +2C globally very well could produce +4C or even +6C on land. Moreover, the implications of +2C have now been studied by biologists and the public health field for several years, and there is no way that insight is ethically acceptable. Moreover, given that, as Adrian Raftery and colleagues have recently reported, keeping to under +2C looks improbable, the arguing over +2C is a red herring: We’re looking at +3C with a chance at +4C globally. The thing about that is there are natural triggers in the +4C region and possibly a tad below where new, natural sources of greenhouse gases could be released, and these would begin to nudge the warming into a regime where we could start losing control. These are not buried methane hydrates in oceans for, at least the last time I read something technical upon that, there are no short term mechanisms for bringing sufficient heat to those to release them, especially with ocean pressure keeping them contained. But there is plenty of stuff in permafrost. And that could get touchy especially with land climate sensitivity mapping +3.5C into +8C or something.

    The trouble about dubbing whatever is out there now to try to mitigate change as alarmist is that the threshold of action on the part of the globe’s relatively wealthy public is already too high. Downplaying the risks will raise it further. As Professor Emanuel wrote in his rebuttal to RPJr, taking a backwards-looking actuarial approach to the problem is asking for trouble. The other analogy is driving an auto at speed by looking only in the rear view mirror. Still, it’s done. It’s done because those who gain short term advantage having the accounting turn out that way know perfectly well what they are doing. It’s no different, except for the scale, than when small town conservation boards soft-pedal implementation of the Clean Water Act because development is good for town taxes.

    Whatever RPJr writes, we are hurtling at a cliff at 20 meters per second, driving by looking in the rear view mirror, and we are preoccupied with immigration, tariffs, biodiversity, public freedoms, and all that. These are important. But when we are racing into the maelstrom of a nonlinearity and not caring about it, permit me to suggest we are being extremely foolish.

  48. Dave_Geologist says:

    I think it’s consistent Willard, as long as it’s just a tweak. See supplementary material Fig. D1 (get that from the publisher’s website – it’s open access; usually only the paper is paywalled). Delay Hotelling by 20 years, then slam on the brakes hard and allow no net emissions thereafter, instead of keeping 10% which you could use for essential services.

    The one in the paper may be OK. I suspect there’s a discount-rate factor which says that for the sort of unrealistic scenario they’ve chosen in Fig. 1 (1.5°C by 2100 with a carbon price of zilch this century – get real!), the pain is delayed until a long way out relative to Hotelling. Because we have a long, long wait before going cold turkey. Figure D1 is more consistent with Paris and with reasonable emissions profiles if we try hard. Wonder why they didn’t put that one in the paper? Just askin’. Would have made it less interesting I suppose. Maybe they want to “generate papers, influence and grants”?

    And BTW, when economists apply Hotelling curves to AGW mitigation (assuming that they actually do, and it’s not just a straw man), surely they allow for warming-in-the-pipeline? The DICE model seems to have it built in. So is that “Hotelling curve” in the paper a straw man in the real AGW world? Does everyone use Hotelling curves with inertia built in anyway? Or does no-one use Hotelling curves and everyone uses numerical models which already do all the stuff the paper is claiming as novel? Is it just making an academic point about a special case which is used in rhetoric or in simplified explanations, but not in practice? Kinda like pointing out that the forcing effect of CO2 is not strictly logarithmic, that’s just an approximation over the range of interest; and the water content of air at constant relative humidity is only exponential by approximation.

    I’m left undecided whether it’s wrong (parameter tweaks?), right but not novel or interesting, or pedantic pinhead-dancing. But very strongly decided that Figure 1 is a godsend to misinformers: “We can delay the pain by a century for zero climate impact”. Interesting.

  49. [Now on to commenting on comments!]

    @Richard S J Tol, @Dave_Geologist,

    From The Economist, 10 October 2013:

    (Free Exchange, by the editors) Hot Air: Are models that show the economic effects of climate change useless?” (possible paywall)

    This riffs off:

    N. Stern, “The structure of economic modeling of the potential impacts of climate change: Grafting gross underestimation of risk onto already narrow science models””, Journal of Economic Literature, 51(3): 838-859, and

    R. S. Pindyck, “Climate change policy: What do the models tell us?”, NBER Working Paper.

    Note also the online discussion at The Economist.

    Pindyck’s assessment via his Abstract seems entirely consistent with Richard’s, perhaps a little bit more scathing:

    Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g. the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models’ descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.

    The Economist summarizes:

    The models also tend to underestimate damage from climate change because, as William Nordhaus of Yale University has noted, they are extraordinarily poor at extrapolating beyond a warming of more than 3°C. One of Mr Nordhaus’s own models assumes that a rise of 19°C would be associated with a loss of half of world output. Warming on that scale would more probably be associated with the extinction of human life on Earth. Many models imply the world would be better off despite higher concentrations of carbon dioxide of up to 650 parts per million (compared with 400 ppm now). To most climate scientists, 650 ppm looks like a Mad Max scenario. Mr Pindyck calls the models’ assumptions about climate damage “completely made up”.

    Regarding Stern, they write:

    Lord Stern is a little more hopeful. He points out that scientists are producing a new generation of climate models and urges economists to do the same. But to work, he says they require sweeping changes to incorporate the idea that global warming can damage capital stock, productivity and growth. They would also, he says, need low or even negative discount rates, to reflect the possibility that future generations will be worse off than the current one.

    I do not know if it was here, or if it was at Eli’s blog or elsewhere, but I do recall a rash of discussion about negative discount rates. Richard may have been part of it. Perhaps it was someone else also talented in Economics. Anyway, I think that discussion concluded negative discount rates were somehow self-contradictory. I don’t really see how that means they oughtn’t be tried, but, then, again, this ain’t my field. Ido know, however, that logic and causation have their limits when explaining coupled, complicated systems.

  50. BTW, and mentioning Eli, he has a blog post doing technical reminiscence of the Hansen paper from 1988 which he calls, quite rightly, “HFLRLRRS” in hearty acknowledgement of everyone who contributed. And I think he gets it right on the nose: The remarkable thing about HFLRLRRS which people miss is that in order to be reasonably correct, it also had to forecast emissions as well as their effects. Eli pointed that out in 2006. (He also had a remark for Our Friend Of The Hour.) Maybe that’s easy, or they got lucky, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem easy.

    But that surely builds confidence that it was a masterful work, done without IAMs.

    And it also suggests that there might well be something to these RCP characterizations as well, even if they don’t handle the dissolution of economics which Professor Pindyck worried about in 2013.

  51. Willard says:

    > [W]hen economists apply Hotelling curves to AGW mitigation (assuming that they actually do, and it’s not just a straw man), surely they allow for warming-in-the-pipeline?

    That looks like the intuition the authors are trying to exploit, DaveG. Their two main results:

    The first result says that a least-cost CO2 trajectory overshoots the steady-state CO2 level consistent with the temperature constraint. This occurs because the inertia in the climate system enables CO2 to temporarily exceed its steady-state level without violating the temperature constraint. Any path that does not take advantage of this ability to overshoot the steady-state CO2 level cannot be a least-cost path. The proposition’s second result follows from the first: because a least-cost path must overshoot its steady-state CO2 level, indirectly achieving a temperature constraint by directly constraining CO2 must increase the cost of the efficient policy program.

    I’m not sure the authors realize that once you overshoot CO2, you’re stuck with a part of it for a long while, enough to undermine their “temporarily exceed,” unless they’re only after a theorical result that makes little difference in the end. This may explain why they later assert that “additional CO2 emissions have more chance to decay when emitted at an earlier time,” which implies we should burn fossil fuels ASAP. Something seems to be amiss.

    Think of it this way. If the costs and benefits are equal, Hotelling obtains. Adding inertia means you get benefits now, and you can discount later costs. Which is exactly why the authors candidly observe that after the year 2100, the least-cost policy does end up raising the carbon price to levels beyond any reached under the Hotelling trajectory.

    While I wish the authors’ argument correct, it does seem a bit overoptimistic:

    The climate system’s inertia allows for greater natural decay of CO2 because it delays the temperature consequences of CO2 emissions (granting more time for decay) and because it allows the CO2 concentration to overshoot its steadystate level (decay is proportional to the quantity of CO2). The ability to postpone emission reductions and to undertake fewer emission reductions in total lowers the initial carbon price by over 90 percent, although the need to bring CO2 back down to its steady-state level increases the peak carbon price by around 200 percent.

    Even if they’re correct, that means hiking the CO2 peak price by 300% or 500% depending on if you wish to stick Under 2C or 2,5C.

  52. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    A key result of Lemoine and Rudik is that optimal climate policy is very different in the short run.

    There are a number of integrated assessment models, including ones that are prominent in the IPCC and in the (supra-)national policy discussions, that use Equation (10) but without the second term on the right-hand side.

    L&R show that these models give the wrong advice.

    L&R do not give the right advice, because they get the physics wrong, but improving the physics would push you further from current policy advice.

  53. BBD says:

    Since the ocean is by far the largest carbon sink, this ‘decay’ comes at the cost of decreased ocean pH, something not ‘quantified’ in economic analyses of climate impacts of temperature alone.

  54. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’m not sure how last sentence can be reconciled with the emphasized bit, which basically says that the more you dump CO2 into the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow, the more you pay for it later.

    Willard, I think it’s basically saying that because they’re generating an optimised path, “a lot more pain later” is discounted to the point where its (negative) value matches “a bit more pain now”. Which is fine, subject to all the usual arguments about inter-generational fairness, cross-nation fairness, the appropriate discount rate, lifetime and buildout-time of infrastructure, the feasibility of ever getting to net zero emissions, etc. Plus a consideration of Earth System processes if you plan to hold at a steady temperature, which means that holding CO2 constant long-term won’t cut it.

    Fig. D1 (supplementary material) should really be swapped for Fig. 1. Fig. D1 lays out the choices starkly, looks realistic compared to other modelling, and doesn’t misinform. I see it uses a different carbon model, “the more realistic decay model of Golosov et al. (2014)” (their own words!). Why on earth did they use the less realistic model in the main paper? And front and centre, Fig. 1 in a math-heavy paper where most readers, and all deniers and misinformers, will skip to the pictures? And why on Earth does Fig. 1 not include an emissions profile? Come on guys, that’s inexcusable. I bet even the Ladybird Book of Climate includes one. Cynical me wonders whether it looks like RCP6.0 or worse, so it would have blown the gaff. Everyone except the deniers would have said “hey, how come your emissions profile looks like RCP6.0, but your temperature profile looks like RCP4.5, but with the brakes slammed on even harder past 2100?”.

    And how on earth can they claim that “the main text’s primary results still hold” when their inferior carbon model lets us delay imposing a prohibitive carbon price by 75 years. Presumably they’ll weasel-word it as “but our main conclusion is that Hotelling is sub-optimal, Fig. 1 just shows the results of a toy model and should not be used to formulate policy”. If that’s what they wanted, why not show Fig. D1 as well? Fig. 1 could then be used (a) to highlight pitfalls for the unwary (I’m thinking they themselves were unwary prior to peer-review), and (b) to demonstrate that more rapid CO2 drawdown increases the difference between Hotelling and Least-Cost. Although that would be better done by adding negative emissions to a G14 model. Are they really unaware that 99% of those who quote the paper don’t give a fig about abstruse mathematics, but will latch on to a 75-year delay in taking drastic action. This really belongs in the previous, misinformers thread. Intentionally or otherwise.

    So I withdraw yesterday’s withdrawal. I was right first time. Their carbon drawdown model sucks. The use of an unrealistic model (one they themselves admit is less realistic than one already in the literature, a model which they have actually run), invalidates their results. At least in the main paper. Garbage in, garbage out. Did a peer reviewer tell them “your carbon model sucks, use G14”, and they did but hid it in the supplementary material? (It’s a Tol thread so I’m applying Tol thinking 😦 ).

  55. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    Like Willard, you should read Waldrup’s Complexity.

    The model in the main text has a closed-form solution for the least-cost price path. The model in the appendix does not. That’s why.

    By the way, I don’t think that this paper will be influential in policy. Climate policy is largely political, with neither side particularly interested rigour and facts.

  56. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks Richard. So it falls into this category: “my layman’s view of economics is that where it uses mathematical proofs, it does so by accepting axioms which are untested or proven wrong in the real world.”

    I can do the maths precisely, with no approximations, iterations or infinite series required, secure in the knowledge that I’ll get the right answer to the wrong question. Or I can accept the need for numerical approximations and solutions, and get a right-enough answer to the right question. And do things like try different solvers or approximations, perturb the inputs, reverse-calculate from the answer (if there’s a closed form in one direction but not the other), etc., to see how much the approximations matter. Got it. One is elegant but useless. The other is inelegant but useful.

  57. Dave_Geologist says:

    you should read Waldrup’s Complexity

    Umm… why? From the reviews it’s the story of the setting up of the Santa Fe Institute and a series of partial biographies of its founders. “This book consists of ~5% information on dealing with complex systems and 95% aimless storytelling. If you are looking for an efficient way to increase your knowledge of complexity theory then go elsewhere.”

    I hope you’re not implying that it’s all too hard because butterfly wings, so we shouldn’t try. Or that we can’t rule out a subtropical gyre colliding with a stray hurricane and spontaneously self -assembling into a giant unicorn. In which case who knows what might happen, so let’s not do anything that involves planning for the future.

  58. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    Waldrop lays out, with great clarity, the brilliance and madness of economics

    (@willard
    showing that economists are a good bit better at math than physicists)

    Hotelling’s rule is a mathematical result. Maths is the only way to show the limits of its applicability. I think it is a neat paper, because it explains discrepancies we have seen between numerical models, and it exposes lazy thinking.

  59. @Willard, @Dave_Geologist,

    The idea of overshooting being harmless has an analogy in the treatment of short-lived non-CO2 GHGs. Sure, most like CH2 become CO2. So, Prof Ray Pierrehumbert wrote “Short-lived climate pollution” in Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 2014. 42:341–379 where he concluded in part

    A re-examination of the issues shows that the benefits of early SLCP mitigation have been greatly exaggerated, largely because of inadequacies in the methodologies used to compare the climate effects of short-lived substances with those of CO2, which causes nearly irreversible climate change persisting millennia after emissions cease. Eventual mitigation of SLCP can make a useful contribution to climate protection, but there is little to be gained by implementing SLCP mitigation before stringent carbon dioxide controls are in place and have caused annual emissions to approach zero.

    No doubt. But Zickfield, Solomon, and Gilford came back with:

    K. Zickfield, S. Solomon, D. M. Gilford, “Centuries of thermal sea-level rise due to
    anthropogenic emissions of short-lived greenhouse gases
    ”, PNAS, January 24, 2017. 114 (4) 657-662.

    From their Abstract:

    Mitigation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases with short lifetimes (order of a year to decades) can contribute to limiting warming, but less attention has been paid to their impacts on longer-term sea-level rise. We show that short-lived greenhouse gases contribute to sea-level rise through thermal expansion (TSLR) over much longer time scales than their atmospheric lifetimes. For example, at least half of the TSLR due to increases in methane is expected to remain present
    for more than 200 y, even if anthropogenic emissions cease altogether, despite the 10-y atmospheric lifetime of this gas. Chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons have already been phased out under the Montreal Protocol due to concerns about ozone depletion and provide an illustration of how emission reductions avoid multiple centuries of future TSLR. We examine the “world avoided” by the Montreal Protocol by showing that if these gases had instead been eliminated in 2050, additional TSLR of up to about 14 cm would be expected in the 21st century, with continuing contributions lasting more than 500 y ….

    Unlike pulse scenarios by Archer, et al, they use RCP 8.5 to 2050, whereupon they zero all emissions.

    Their Figure 1 is shown below, with caption:

  60. @BBD,

    Yea, verily, regarding oceans! And I didn’t read your comment until after I posted the above, else I would have referenced it. The oceans are a big time integrator and they essentially never forget.

    Your point, and especially the point from Zickfield, Solomon, Gilford, is that once heat goes into the oceans it’s not going to come out for 20,000 years or so, and there is no technical means of fixing that. There’s clear air capture, as expensive as it is for atmosphere, but no heat removal process for oceans.

    The significance of this is that unless there is immediate and rapid zeroing of emissions, coastal cities and all coastal real estate will eventually be lost. It might take until 2200-2300, but it will be lost. With their time horizons fixed at 2100 when, as climate scientists joke, everyone knows global warming ends, the economic models don’t have that hit built in: It means depreciating out to 2200-2300, of course, but, then, those assets need to be moved and reconstructed.

    Excellent, fun times!

  61. Willard says:

    I think Richie’s going for a variation on the “but chaos” argument, Dave G: AGW is a wicked problem, wicked problems are impossible to analyze by simplification, therefore the Lomborg fallacy is prfct. Appealing to the complexity of a problem does not work the way Bjorn, Judy, and now Richie do. Like Mr. T, complexity is no contrarian friend.

    As for G’s decay model in L&R’s appendix, the authors claim it saves even more money. The authors mention that G’s model “abstract from inertia” (fn 10). So we have a peculiar situation: L&R can save money both by taking inertia into consideration and by abstracting it away! This indicates that one must look back at their shuffling between carbon concentrations and temps for the formal exploit.

    These two squirrels distract us from paying due diligence to Junior’s crap, to which I will return shortly.

  62. Willard says:

    Oh, and since Richie seems to like overshooting Gremlins, he might appreciate that if we match temps with where people are, we already are overshooting:

  63. Dave_Geologist says:

    I kinda thought it was “but chaos”. Which actually has some merit in the economic part of IAMs, because unlike climate physics, there are no conservation laws to keep things in order (bad pun 😦 ).

    I did wonder if LR18 were playing games with the input parameters, but I thought I saw yesterday they used an ECS of 3 (OMG, was it 3°F?). It’s why they need to show CO2 concentrations and emissions, and temperature, and carbon price, so you can see if they together make sense, or where the pea is hiding.

  64. Willard says:

    I think this paragraph says it all, DaveG:

    Table D1 is the analogue of Table 1 in the main text. The new decay model restricts the policymaker much more severely than did the geometric decay model: some fraction of CO2 now persists forever, so the policymaker must reduce emissions more aggressively to make up for the reduction in natural decay. Accordingly, all temperature limits imply a much more expensive policy than estimated in the main text. The conventional Hotelling trajectory is now around three times as expensive as the least-cost trajectory. In the main text’s setting, recognizing the climate system’s inertia saved a bit over $2 trillion in unnecessary costs when the temperature limit was 2 degrees Celsius. Here the savings are even greater: almost $13 trillion. The new decay setting increases the magnitude of spending and also the gains from getting policy right. As in the main text, recognizing inertia allows the policymaker to use a smaller emission tax in early years, reducing the initial emission tax to less than onethird of the Hotelling value when the temperature limit is 2 degrees Celsius. The emission tax still eventually reaches a higher level along the least-cost path than along the Hotelling path, but the percentage increase in the peak emission tax was greater in the main text’s setting because there CO2 was able to overshoot its steady-state level by a larger amount. In contrast, the presence of a permanent CO2 stock here forces the policymaker to be less aggressive in overshooting the steady state level of CO2.

    https://assets.aeaweb.org/assets/production/files/5494.pdf

    Overshooting a toy model for CO2 decay saves money, and overshooting a model where we get a permanent CO2 stock saves even more money? Hard to beat that logic.

    The only way I can make sense of that framework is this way. L&W discounts the value of carbon so much that it’s more optimal to burn all we got as soon as possible without overshooting so much that we ever exceed a temperature target. This only obtains by making cutting emissions now more expensive than cutting emissions later with overshooting.

  65. Dave_Geologist says:

    Back to RP Jr.

    Climate policy discussions have tended to emphasize worst case scenarios of the future. What might climate policy look like if scenarios expected to represent more likely futures are placed at the centre of climate policy discussions?

    We had a whole thread recently that demonstrated that’s not true, at least in modelling effort. That RCP8.5 results in unacceptably bad outcomes may well get it more press because it’s scary, but that’s not the scientists’ fault. Usually it was run in concert with other scenarios. And how does he reconcile that with

    Worldwide, there has been almost no questioning of the parties’ intention to hold the temperature increase to below 2 or 1.5°C.”

    So, we spend all out time talking about RCP8.5, then develop all our policies to go for something not remotely like RCP8.5? Really? Is the world that stupid? Methinks people have looked closely at RCP6.0 and 4.5 (because they differ in stabilising or not stabilising CO2 concentration this century, which bracket obvious policy choices), and RCP4.5 and RCP2.6 (because they bracket confidently staying below 2°C and staying below it if we’re lucky; and staying below 2°C well past 2100 and staying below it if we’re very, very lucky.

  66. Dave_Geologist says:

    Overshooting a toy model for CO2 decay saves money, and overshooting a model where we get a permanent CO2 stock saves even more money? Hard to beat that logic.

    It is hard to reconcile those words with Fig. D1 Willard, since the difference between paths is only a 20-year delay in policy implementation, and a harsher, cold-turkey end-point. I think it’s because the bad-physics model wildly underestimates the future damage from climate change because they somehow contrive to make the world less warm than it really will be. Damage would probably be an order of magnitude or two bigger if they kept everything else the same but fixed the broken physics. The pea is hidden in the distinction between subtraction and division. Combined with pushing everything much farther out into the future and discounting to present day, their model makes the costs and damages of both paths minuscule. Better to look at it this way: with the bad-physics model, Hotelling is 25 times more costly then the efficient path; with the good-physics model, Hotelling is only 3 times more costly.

    Fig. R1 raises interesting questions, even you assume the exact numbers are wrong but use it to design thought experiments.

    For example, what is the real (not artificial NPV) value of keeping open the option of non-zero emissions forever, in return for a bit more short-term effort? What is the policy-choice value of delaying action by 20 years in return for more effort later? Not in the hope that the IRIS will save our bacon, but because it may be clearer where wind/solar/tidal stack up once all the technologies have matured. And delaying a huge nuclear buildout until it’s clear how third-gen stations will perform in real life has immense value if we choose that route. What about ocean CO2? Allowing a CO2 excursion and fall may keep temperatures below our target but kill the reefs. For three million years. Is that a risk worth taking? What about SLR? If it tracks temperature in the short term, Hotelling gives you up to 40 more years leeway to upgrade sea defences that would fail at 1.7°C. And as has been pointed out, SLR from the extra heat we put into the oceans in the short-term will stay around for 20,000 years. If we leave our descendants with no choice but to make existential decisions, can we trust them to do it? Do we have the moral right to put them into that bind?

  67. Dave_Geologist says:

    And back again, after that digression. I’d like to Open Up the Climate Policy Envelope. But not in a way Roger would like. Banging the geological drum, I want more attention paid to what happens well past 2100, due to things we’ve locked and our descendants can’t do anything about short of some fantasy vision of atmospheric CO2 drawdown by an uninvented technology. From my bucket-list:

    ECS. Probably too low. Even after PAGES2K removed the ESS-influenced ones, it’s still higher than IPCC (so you can throw away anything 2°C or lower). Although there’s more overlap, the remaining high end is also higher. There are worse things possible than RCP8.5 with an ECS of 3 °C.

    ESS. Probably too low. It’s positively scary that the 6°C ones which have been discounted include spookily familiar ones. Like interglacials, the Pliocene and the PETM. Yes, interglacials had big albedo feedback, but what happens when Greenland and half of Antarctica melts? Yes the Panama Isthmus was (sorta) open, but is that really a big enough difference?. Maybe there were special circumstances in the PETM, like 10 Ma worth of decayed vegetation frozen into the tundra and waiting to burp methane, but maybe not. And it is the best example of a rapid, organic-carbon-driven warming.

    Ice melt/SLR. Consistently underestimated by models. We know where we’re headed. Only crossed fingers tell us it’s in 1000 not 100 years.

    So I’ll beat the same drum I’ve beaten before. As well as considering the likely outcomes and a smallish range about them, we should identify the unlikely but existential outcomes and ask what we have to do to prevent them happening with a very high level of confidence, approaching 100%. Then have a hard conversation about how unlikely they have to be for us to say “we’ll take the chance of ending civilisation as we know it”. What chance of destroying civilisation are you prepared to take? 10%? Surely not. 5%? Really? 3%? Getting there perhaps, linking it to house insurance and the life of a mortgage. 1%? Maybe, because we routinely plan for and engineer for hundred-year events. But on a local scale, not a planetary scale.

  68. Dave_Geologist says:

    BTW has anyone else read Julian May’s Pliocene books? TL;DR plot summary: a group of late 21st and early 22nd century misfits/outcasts travel through a one-way time-gate to Earth’s Pliocene epoch, in the hopes of finding a simple utopia where they can escape the complexity and politics of modern society. Spoiler alert: it’s not (a utopia).

    They should just have stayed at home. All the benefits without the risks and the one way nature of time-travel. Although I suppose our current terraforming exercise is a bit one-way itself 😦 .

  69. John Hartz says:

    Given the new findings described below, the human race better damn well speed up the implementation of effective climate mitigation policies! Time is not on our side.

    Future global warming may eventually be twice as warm as projected by climate models and sea levels may rise six metres or more even if the world meets the 2°C target, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries.

    The findings published last week in Nature Geoscience are based on observational evidence from three warm periods over the past 3.5 million years when the world was 0.5°C-2°C warmer than the pre-industrial temperatures of the 19th Century.

    The research also revealed how large areas of the polar ice caps could collapse and significant changes to ecosystems could see the Sahara Desert become green and the edges of tropical forests turn into fire dominated savanna.

    “Observations of past warming periods suggest that a number of amplifying mechanisms, which are poorly represented in climate models, increase long-term warming beyond climate model projections,” said lead author, Prof Hubertus Fischer of the University of Bern.

    “This suggests the carbon budget to avoid 2°C of global warming may be far smaller than estimated, leaving very little margin for error to meet the Paris targets.”

    Global warming may be twice what climate models predict, Newsroom, UNSW Sydney, July 5, 2018

  70. @Dave_Geologist and others,

    … due to things we’ve locked and our descendants can’t do anything about short of some fantasy vision of atmospheric CO2 drawdown by an uninvented technology.

    In addition to the apparent failure to understand the differences among global ECS, oceanic ECS, and land ECS I mentioned before, even assuming we were to have a clear air capture drawdown and sequestration technology in hand, if priced at US$100/tonne CO2 in present day of, say, 380 ppm (750 ppm to 350 ppm) would cost three dozen Gross World Products (2014) and probably take a couple of centuries. 750 ppm may sound high but, after converting all the CH4 and such into CO2 we’re actually about 500 ppm now, not 410 ppm. It’s growing at about 2 ppm per annum (based upon 2005-2014). We could be at 700 ppm by 2120.

    US$100/tonne is lower than anyone anticipates clear air capture costing.

    The point is that unless you want to shell out several times the GWP, even assuming inflation and productivity and all that, that technological genie is unaffordable. So, people had better hope 600 ppm and 700 ppm don’t have catastrophic consequences, because you can’t go home again. Tokarska and Zickfield (2015) take some care to lay out the options and their consequences.

  71. JCH says:

    Recent:

    The effect of obliquity‐driven changes on paleoclimate sensitivity during the late Pleistocene

    Abstract

    We reanalyze existing paleodata of global mean surface temperature ΔTg and radiative forcing ΔR of CO2 and land ice albedo for the last 800,000 years to show that a state‐dependency in paleoclimate sensitivity S, as previously suggested, is only found if ΔTg is based on reconstructions, and not when ΔTg is based on model simulations. Furthermore, during times of decreasing obliquity (periods of land‐ice sheet growth and sea level fall) the multi‐millennial component of reconstructed ΔTg diverges from CO2, while in simulations both variables vary more synchronously, suggesting that the differences during these times are due to relatively low rates of simulated land ice growth and associated cooling. To produce a reconstruction‐based extrapolation of S for the future we exclude intervals with strong ΔTg‐CO2 divergence and find that S is less state‐dependent, or even constant (state‐independent), yielding a mean equilibrium warming of 2–4 K for a doubling of CO2.

    Plain Language Summary

    Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will lead to rising global mean temperature through the greenhouse effect. The amplitude of this warming, estimated with computer simulations for the equilibrium climate response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, is called climate sensitivity. It is necessary to verify these simulation‐based quantifications of climate sensitivity with independent alternative approaches. One such approach is the analysis of past (paleo) climates, which has indicated a state‐dependent paleoclimate sensitivity. Here, we compare different data‐based reconstructions and computer‐based simulations of paleoclimate sensitivity of the last 800,000 years and find that they disagree. In data‐based reconstructions global mean temperature and CO2 diverge during intervals when land ice growth is particularly pronounced. This temperature‐CO2 divergence is not observed in simulations, probably due to an underestimation of the rate of land ice growth and the associated cooling. However, these periods of pronounced land ice growth are not of relevance for a warming future and can therefore be neglected when estimating climate sensitivity from reconstructions of the past. Consequently, we find that paleoclimate sensitivity derived from reconstructions is less state‐dependent than previously thought and agrees with warming estimates of 2‐4degree signC as derived from simulated equilibrium climate response for CO2 doubling.

  72. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    There are conservation laws in economics. Mr Trump is currently testing two. He has yet to realize that the balance of payments really is zero; and that reducing the trade deficit will drive up the cost of debt. Let’s hope Mueller gets him before he finds out.

  73. @Richard S J Tol,

    Regarding balance of payments and debt, excellently put, because it is succinct. I am quoting your first three sentences there on Google+ and LinkedIn, with ack.

  74. Dave_Geologist says:

    Richard. I’m not sure we share the same definition of “conservation laws*”. other than for very short time intervals where stuff can be fixed or assumed to be fixed.

    I’m tempted to say that the first example is like the Third LOTD. Which i’ve always regarded as more like an accounting convention than a conservation law. Even virtual particles equate to a shopkeeper dipping into the till to bowwow petty cash which will be made up by the end of the day. I’m not sure abut the second.

    But anyway, the relevant conservation laws are LOTH I and II. And mass, angular momentum, etc. A climate (energy content) random walk equates to a perpetual motion machine. A share price, exchange rate, whatever random walk doesn’t.

  75. Dave_Geologist says:

    On a related note (contrasts between fields; Richard privileging a closed-form solution to the wrong question over a numerical solution to the right question), it strikes me that we have a Two Cultures thing going on between economists and physical scientists. So there are (at least) two Two Cultures! Economists think of themselves as being like mathematicians but better. Scientists think of themselves as being like engineers but better. Economists like their mathematical proofs. Scientists like stuff that accurately describes reality. Some, like me, are quite happy to Shut Up And Calculate most of the time. I’m in exalted company there (but so are the other camp 🙂 ).

    As it happens I do have form with the closed-form vs. numerical decision. TL;DR version: I did both. And used them for different purposes. If I’d written LR18, I’d have used the closed form to demonstrate that technically, Hotelling is sub-optimal. But made it very clear that this was a toy model where the actual values and dates were meaningless and should not be used beyond the demonstration. maybe even used stupid values to make it obvious. Like my high school maths textbook, which used lipe and umpty shends to introduce Venn Diagrams. Because if you used cats and dog, or mice an chickens, pupils could use collateral knowledge to end-run the mathematical logic. And I’ve had included Fig. D1 in the main paper, with a caveat that it too had limitations, although it was a much better representation of reality. And run a version of Fig. D1 using Fig. 1’s parameters, to see how different the analytical and numerical solutions were. If at all.

    Anecdotal longer version follows 😉 .

  76. Richard S J Tol says:

    Sure, Dave, for the sake of your education I would hope that Trump will take you with him on his journey of discovery. (That would be the only upside, so I’m still counting on Mueller to keep you in the dark.)

  77. Richard S J Tol sez: @dave
    There are conservation laws in economics. Mr Trump is currently testing two. He has yet to realize that the balance of payments really is zero; and that reducing the trade deficit will drive up the cost of debt. Let’s hope Mueller gets him before he finds out.

    Dave_Geologist sez:
    Richard. I’m not sure we share the same definition of “conservation laws*”. other than for very short time intervals where stuff can be fixed or assumed to be fixed… (and forward)…

    Exactly, Dave_G, exactly.

    Conservation laws aren’t about double-entry bookkeeping, Richie.

    Shall we issue more mass from treasury? Quantitatively ease two terms in PV=nRT? etc.

  78. MV=PQ
    PV = nRT
    blah, blah, in a closed system, blah, blah…

  79. Dave is in the dark????

    Lame. So lame.

  80. Dave_Geologist says:

    Closed-form or not?

    In sedimentary basin modelling, it’s common to use exponential compaction functions to describe the loss of sediment porosity with depth. There’s a mathematical argument that it should be exponential if it’s a first-order process with no memory. But of course real rocks have memory, and the approximation fails badly in the first few hundred metres below seabed, where the actual porosity is higher. Or at great depth, where it goes asymptotic but compaction continues by chemical and crystal-plastic processes. Which is not a memory issue but goalpost-moving. But hey, it’s fine in the depth range of interest to oil companies. Of course you always calibrate it to your own basin, and test it against integrated density logs to ensure that the function is an acceptable fit. We used it because it has a closed-form solution. And in those days, if you were really lucky, you had access to a 16-bit computer with 4Mb of memory, and if you were really, really lucky that was all semiconductor memory, not partially magnetic-core left over from the 8-bit machine that was scavenged to reduce the cost of the new toy. Access via teletype of course, because the machine was the size of a car and located in a different building. So there was a premium on avoiding the use of solvers requiring things like iteration or series expansions.

    However, what we were interested in was the average density and thickness of the sediment column, which only has a closed form if the basin is simple, with a fixed, constant lithospheric stretching factor and a flat floor. I wanted to more realistically model actively extending basins, where the stretching factor increases over time, the floor is (approximately) saw-tooth and the teeth widen and flatten over time. Just like there’s always an app for that, but sometime it’s not very useful, there’s a closed form for that, but only for a constant-density sediment column. So not very useful in the real world. Rather like accepting an axiom you know is wrong, so that you can get a definitive proof.The number of real-world use cases is singular: a purely water-filled basin (almost) like the Gulf of Corinth (OK, two, an air-filled basin but that’s even simpler because you can just ignore the density of the basin fill). So what to do? Bite the bullet, discretise the model, and write an iterative numerical solver. And plan for lots of computer time (speak to boss; explain how important this is). But how do I know the solver has worked and not wandered off the fairway into the rough? Fortunately, there are closed forms for zero extension, for infinite extension, and for a few other special cases, which can be checked against the solver output. But mostly it was just experimenting with resolution, time-steps, convergence criteria etc. and refining things until it stopped making a difference. I did have an issue with unexpected drift between some test points, but I spotted the error by running the model backwards and seeing unwanted hysteresis, and fixed that by changing the solver from a forward-predictor to a predictor-corrector.

  81. @rustneversleeps, @Dave_Geologist, @Richard S J Tol,

    I just saw this …

    Conservation laws aren’t about double-entry bookkeeping, Richie.

    No, that’s not how it works. Suppose, because of some perturbation or policy there’s a violation of KCL in the balance of payments to which Richard was referring. What happens is that some bunch of traders out there notice the imbalance. When there is an imbalance, that means something is cheaper than it otherwise should be and something else is more expensive. So they figure out a way to arbitrage between the two, making themselves money, and they bring things back to zero, reestablishing KCL.

  82. Oh. So “balance of payments” is also a law of conservation because speculators? Thanks for the help!

  83. @rustneversleeps,

    Oh. So “balance of payments” is also a law of conservation because speculators? Thanks for the help!

    No, not speculators at all. If corn is selling in Banglore at US$29.70 per bushel and in Turkey at US$30.00 per bushel, there’s nothing speculative about it. You buy contracts in Banglore for units of corn, and immediately sell them in Turkey, making US$0.30 per bushel less transaction costs. Period. No risk at all.

  84. Dave_Geologist says:


    So, did I publish the closed-form or the numerical results? Both! The closed-forms first to demonstrate the principle of what I was doing, and that for those simplifying assumptions the maths added up. Kinda like “consider a spherical cow”; “now consider a circular field”; “now put the cow in the field”; “everyone got that? OK let’s throw them away and move to a realistic model”. All the real-world-relevant stuff used the numerical models. It was obvious to any reader that the toy models were just that, toy models for the purpose of exposition. All the models fully satisfied the relevant laws of physics. The simplifying assumptions in the toy models were fully physical but were non-geological (or at least, very rare or unlikely). The only curve-fitting was the exponential compaction (which does sorta have a physical justification). That’s how I’d have written LR18. I’d have relegated the Appendix to the supplementary material and promoted section D of the SM to the main paper. And clearly distinguished between toy models which are there for didactic value to demonstrate an abstract truth uncontaminated by potential numerical problems, and real world models, which, warts and all, are the only ones relevant to the real world. And indeed in my case I went on to run the numerical models on real-world problems, with real-world implications like my real-world oil-company employer betting serious moolah on the results. Of course it’s all water under the bridge now. Some of the stuff I sweated blood over has been reinvented and cpu/memory/cycles-crushed to the point where you can run it on an iPad 😦 .

    Fun fact: I was even more elegant. I published all the key graphs in dimensionless form too, with physically meaningful scaling. That was a digression where I thought it might be more efficient to have a streamlined dimensionless solver and do a parameter conversion and un-conversion at each step. It turned out not to be but I thought it was worth publishing for people who might use the charts as nomograms. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. It’s routine in structural geology and geomechanics to rotate coordinate systems so as to diagonalise or symmetricalise* tensors and simplify the problem, even if you have to rotate them back and forward in each time-step. I’ve done it, commercial software does it, and textbooks do it for expository purposes.

  85. Dave_Geologist says:

    re Conservation laws.

    So GDP is sooo much higher now than 10,000 years ago because… virtual dollars? And once the universe realises all that Hawking Radiation is changing the Dark Energy balance of the cosmos, it will spit out the negative energy/negative dollars right now?

    re Balance of Payments

    1 + 1 = 2. Arithmetic, not a conservation law.

  86. @Richard S J Tol, @Dave_Geologist,

    No, Dave_G, I think they are the same. Richard’s balance of payments is what EE’s call an example of Kirchoff’s laws, specifically, the Kirchoff current law (or KCL as it is dubbed). Indeed, this generalizes. There’s another Kirchoff’s law, that for thermal radiation (same Kirchoff, different law) which is the thing many people don’t understand about radiative forcing and climate change and blackbody radiation. Network theory, basically, the application of conservation laws to flows, is quite general. In the Economics case, it’s payments.

    In fact, there’s are things physically analogous in microeconomics, even in businesses. For example, inventory can be pretty well modeled as potential energy, and sales rate as kinetic energy. We see this on the Web, too, where there is some kind of viral draw, perhaps a new cat video, and there is pent up demand (potential) and then views (kinetic). That’s complicated by there being various kinds of diffusion processes … Word of mouth, or shared links and such. But modeling of it is quite analogous to either diffusion of new products, or even a virulent pathogen in a population. In the large, comes down to coupled PDEs. But, interestingly, and we see this all the time on the Internet, there are some things which even at a macroscale reflect the discrete nature of decisions. This stuff can get crazily fun.

    Professor John C Baez of the Azimuth Project has written about these generalizations. Moreover, with colleagues and students, he’s studying and teaching about emergent conservation laws, for instance.

  87. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re conservation laws. Don’t forget my “other than for very short time intervals where stuff can be fixed or assumed to be fixed” caveat 🙂 .

  88. aka “my tautology is tautological”! 😉
    also germane:
    “my analogy is tautological. conservation laws are tautological. therefore my analogy is a conservation law.”

  89. hmm…

    I find it hard to imagine that I would be the first to coin that… but I like it!

  90. Richard S J Tol says:

    The balance of payments is zero. If you reduce the trade deficit, foreign investment will fall. If the Americans buy less Chinese stuff, the Chinese will buy fewer treasury bills.

    This is not an accounting identity. It is real.

  91. And globally, the aggregate balance of all those balance of payments is also zero. It is real AND an accounting identity.

    It’s not a conservation law.

  92. By the way, back to:

    MV = PQ

    Accounting identity or “real”, Professor? thanks in advance

  93. I don’t know, @Dave_Geologist. Anytime I see Kirchoff at work it sure looks like a conservation law to me. In fact, I’ll counter: In many cases with physical materials, I bet the economic conservation laws work better than the real materials cases do … Tribology and all that. But you’re also right: Conservation laws are fundamentally continuity equations, which can be seen as arithmetic, but that’s selling them short: Noether’s theorem and symmetries. In the case of KCL and payments flows, if one considers a perturbation \delta off \sum_{i} I_{i} = \sum_{j} O_{j}, where I denotes an incoming flow and O an outgoing one, or, equivalently

    0 = \delta_{I} + \sum_{i} I_{i} - \delta_{O} - \sum_{j} O_{j}

    where

    |\delta_{I}| << |\sum_{i} I_{i}|

    and

    |\delta_{O}| << |\sum_{j} O_{j}|

    it remains true that \sum_{i} I_{i} = \sum_{j} O_{j} and so that implies \delta_{I} = \delta_{O}. Arithmetic and the local symmetry principle for KCL (that is, \sum_{i} I_{i} = \sum_{j} O_{j}) yields a conservation law:

    \delta_{I} = \delta_{O}.

    Anyway, that’s a rough attempt to explain.

  94. @hypergeometric

    Next time you argue for a “revenue neutral carbon price with border adjustments”, I invite you to come back here and check out what you seem to be claiming for “balance of payments” as being “conservation laws” vs. “accounting identities”.

    Just saying.

  95. caveat @hypergeometric

    Maybe I am wrong with respect to your economic prescription to the dilemma – I did not check, just my impression – but if correct, I think it’s incoherent with other claims here…,, ymmv

  96. Ken Fabian says:

    I have become deeply suspicious of those calling for Rethinks and Going Back to the Drawing boards; whilst I think some are sincere in wanting to do things better what I see practically is a willingness to align politically with doubt, deny and delay obstructionists.

    That is, perhaps, a revealing characteristic of Lukewarmers and Ecomodernists – that they so readily align politically with obstructionists. The differences they seek to highlight are between themselves and the convinced and concerned, not the climate science rejectors and obstructionists. The changes they seek are to the agendas of the alarmed and active, not those of the deniers and obstructors.

    I don’t think their relentless criticisms of the alarmed and active can be characterised as “friendly fire”, I think we are seen as the principle enemy whom it is their task to take out of the “game” and they feel no obligation to treat with us honestly. And they will side with obstructionists to achieve that end. However, what they will not do is side decisively with the convinced and concerned and the alarmed and active to take obstructionists out of the “game” – despite the best and most effective way to reach the circumstances where a real Rethink, one that is effective rather than time wasting, is to take obstructionists out of this “game”. Even if they are sincere in wanting to address the climate problem more effectively – which I seriously doubt – they show they have a poor sense of strategy by lending aid to what should be seen as our common enemy.

    The science rejecting obstructionists are on shakier ground than ever before and the renewable energy that LW/EM’ers persistently rejected have driven an economically rational wedge into what looked like an unbreakable alliance of industry and commerce with pro business political parties to obstruct and delay strong climate policy. We are closer to a political tipping point than ever but I can’t see our LW/EM’ers ever stepping up beside us and swinging their maul to whack that wedge too.

    But they will not. Which leaves me thinking that for the prominent Lukewarmers and Ecomodernists we encounter, it is not that sincere. I suspect that it is indeed just a game. That, despite the outward appearance of sharing the aim of dealing effectively with the climate problem they do not have deep commitment or a sense of urgency. Like they don’t really think it’s that serious. Like maybe they don’t really accept the mainstream climate science as valid or think that delay is intrinsically problematic. Like, deep down, they share a fundamental disbelief with the climate science denying obstructors. Like they are climate science denying obstructors.

  97. Balance of payments is no more or less simply arithmetic and accounting than demanding that rotation vectors of tectonic plates sum to zero.

    And I don’t know where you got the idea that I was in favor of a Carbon Tax. I did say that a Carbon Tax which failed to have border adjustments was useless, but I never said doing the border adjustments would be easy. Moreover, I think a Carbon Tax is useless because (a) its benefits are very laggy, (b) it ends up being a disincentive to cut emissions once they are significantly reduced, (c) it won’t work, meaning it won’t disincentivize emissions strongly enough to do any good, (d) the amounts a Carbon Tax needs to be to be meaningful are well beyond political feasibility, and (e) it’s unlikely the proceeds from the Tax will all be compensated back to the public, as the political sausage will insist that it be used for government coffers in return for further reductions in income taxes. “(e)” will further enhance the problem of “(b)”. To be effective, a Carbon Tax must be stiff enough to be the equivalent of well in excess of US$120/bbl of oil: Inelasticity.

  98. @rustneversleeps,

    Maybe I am wrong with respect to your economic prescription to the dilemma.

    I do not have an economic prescription. I don’t think the public or governments have shown any evidence that they are effective. I trust corporations more than I do them. If publics were to do something, this would need to be by world government fiat, in my opinion.

  99. Ok, I guess I “misremembered”. You’re more a TCFD guy? Better?
    Anyway, back to “balance of payments” vs. “accounting identity” vs. “conservation law”?
    Genuinely curious…

  100. e.g. “DEMANDING” “that [x] sum to zero“…

    Conservation laws are about “DEMANDING“?

    Like double-entry bookkeeping? Or observations?

  101. @Ken Fabian,

    I don’t have the foggiest idea of what you are talking about in your comment.

  102. @runstneversleeps,

    No, it’s “demanding”, because they don’t normally sum to zero. That’s partly because of measurement error, and partly because there’s some non-conservative slop in tectonic motions.

    Have you ever really done a physical experiment? Conservation laws are, in physical measurements, only approximate. There are plenty of non-conservative forces around to spoil things. Indeed, this is why it took so long for humanity to get this correct, per Galileo. Galileo’s figures required an unnatural abstraction.

  103. Also, people, it’s possible for a person to change their mind. That’s called being alive.

    Facts are, I am much much more pessimistic about personal choice and political action being able to solve the climate thing, and putting all the blame on Trumpists, and energy companies, and deniers is wrong. That’s part of it but it’s mostly about most Americans (and other wealthy Westerners) not wanting to give up a lot of good things, or putting their lifestyles and jobs at risk.

    They have to and should, but won’t. And that’s something I think we all have to face.

  104. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    A barrel of crude oil weighs approximately 300 pounds, and is about 85% by weight carbon, or 255 pounds carbon (crude varies a bit, those are rough averages). Combustion yields 44/12 times as much mass of CO2, which is about 0.4 ton CO2 emitted per barrel of crude oil. If CO2 emissions were taxed at US$100 per ton, the tax would be about US$40 per barrel, or about US$1.00 per gallon at the pump.

  105. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    The above references your estimate of CO2 from crude oil posted on July 4 at 6:38, which appears to be much too high.

  106. Steven Mosher says:

    “If we leave our descendants with no choice but to make existential decisions, can we trust them to do it? Do we have the moral right to put them into that bind?”

    we know better, of course.
    if we can’t trust them, then what makes you think you can trust yourself.
    Further, since the unborn have no rights, we have no moral obligations toward them. zero. none.

    If hyper and you are correct, then whats required is big pain now. And of course, as hyper points out, the US and europe owe all the money, because of their ancestors.

    Reminds me of ancient Korea. Lets say you were a noble who screwed up, maybe you plotted against the king. there was a three generations punishment rule.

    oh, still used by North Korea
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/north-korea/galleries/what-you-didn-t-know-about-north-korea/there-s-a-three-generations-of-punishment-rule/

    nice company to keep.

  107. Steven Mosher says:

    “That’s part of it but it’s mostly about most Americans (and other wealthy Westerners) not wanting to give up a lot of good things, or putting their lifestyles and jobs at risk.

    They have to and should, but won’t. And that’s something I think we all have to face.”

    sounds like a Jr point.

    But I think we will be incredibly lucky I think people will buy into and continue to support climate policies that cause them big pain today which they can feel, for the future benefit of people they
    dont even know. Look we have clear evidence today that people will sacrifice for the benefit of
    others, just look at how we wiped out world hunger. Opps. If I elect you you better do more than make me feel morally superior. Kinda why a climate policy that works is incompatible with democracy as we know it. North Korea could do good climate policy, democracies, not so sure as the policy would of course create present day vicitims. bad optics, like kids in cages.

    Wana know who are the real lucksters? folks who believe that the right climate policy ( as determined by the science) has any hope of being politically viable.

    Best to be a happy Nihilist?. Science gave you the diagnosis: terminal. Sure, there are some
    things you can try, but it will look to many that the cure is worse than the disease. At least on a personal level. For some people the diagnosis of a terminal disease is horrific. For others
    it brings incredible power. An end date, still time to do some great things.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_(poem)

    actually not bad for wikipedia

  108. Jesuit casuistry aside, Boston and Miami Beach, as well as others, are seeing qualitative changes in blue sky flooding, and these are obviously NOT due to sudden changes in rates.of glacial rebound, or rate of coastal development, or recent changes in calculation, assessment, or disposition of sea surface height.

  109. Qualitatively, there has never, ethically, been anything quite like this choice. Sure, it isn’t as deliberate as the Shoah, but the sheer number of people who could lose their lives and, worse, will be affected, dwarfs that sad, sad incident. ALL our mechanisms for morals and ethics, churches, religion, and all, are wanting in their ability to deal with this and tell us what to do.

    So far, the wholesale approach has been to run away from the problem and manage one”s personal purity. Oh, how nice.

  110. Richard S J Tol says:

    @rustneversleeps
    It is true that the sum of all national balances of payments is zero. The sum of zeros is zero. 0 + 0 + … + 0 = 0. True, but not helpful.

  111. izen says:

    There are a number of past global policy collective actions that have targeted the reduction or banning of certain materials based on scientific advice.
    Lead, CFCs, DDT would be examples.

    In each case there was significant industry resistance and manipulation of the discourse and agenda to resist that science, most notably in the case of tobacco.

    I share hyperG’s doubts on the policy competence of governments, business seems to be the tail that wags the dog in many ‘advanced’ Nations. It is clear that the IPCC was established not to facilitate unified action on the basis of science, but to dilute and minimise the impact of scientific input to the policy debate, and shape it to the political/financial interests involved.

    Past global policy to ban certain products it is possible, and have been driven by scientific knowledge.
    But will be resisted by all the commercially interested parties and unlikely to be effective until the involved institutions can maintain their status by utilising the alternative technologies that are developed to replace the banned materials.

  112. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks stevefitzpatrick

    Arrgh. Type (and do mental arithmetic) in haste, repent at leisure. I divided when I should have multiplied 😦 .

    But then even Fig. D1 of LR18 doesn’t make sense (I’ll ignore Fig. 1 because its broken carbon model makes it GIGO). The Hotelling curve is OK. It will just keep going up exponentially until it gets to my notional $1000/bbl carbon price. At which point we’ll be back to the Scottish retorted shale-oil days of the late 19th Century. It was too expensive to use as fuel, and was reserved for specialist purposes like lamp oil and the nascent petrochemical industry. How on earth do they get emissions to zero with a tax that would only raise oil prices to $150/bbl or so? Is there another pea hiding under a shell somewhere? Hmmm … Emissions net of abatement? CCS everywhere? Drawdown from the atmosphere using a Moon-sized pile of crushed basalt? Turning over all the world’s farmland to trees (have they allowed for tree-growth inertia; and what about when they’re full-grown?). How is “abatement” costed in their model?

  113. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’m with Ken. I read RP Jr’s recommendations. They are exactly what I would expect from someone who, deep down, doesn’t believe global warming is real, or that if it is real, most of it is natural so cutting human emissions will have little impact, and that in any case the harms have been greatly exaggerated. And exactly unlike those I would expect from someone who accepts that global warming is real, that human emissions and our other actions are causing it so we can make a difference, and that the harms are real, have not been exaggerated and are already happening (as per the post-AR5 peer-reviewed literature).

    I think he’s at best a deep luckwarmer, but doesn’t want to say so because then he’d be flagged as an irresponsible gambler or a science denier, and presenting himself as an honest broker or a concerned ally would be a tough gig.

  114. Steven Mosher says:

    “Arrgh. Type (and do mental arithmetic) in haste, repent at leisure. I divided when I should have multiplied 😦 .”

    clearly a graduate of the Tol school of mathematics

  115. Steven Mosher says:

    “ALL our mechanisms for morals and ethics, churches, religion, and all, are wanting in their ability to deal with this and tell us what to do.

    So far, the wholesale approach has been to run away from the problem and manage one”s personal purity. ”

    Yup. there is only one thing worse than each managing to keep ones house clean.
    That is others managing your purity

  116. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    Seems to me there are a couple of parallel processes here: progress toward eliminating extreme poverty, and the desire/need to reduce CO2 emissions. There has been a lot more progress on the former, and on current trend, extreme poverty (and the many ills that come with it) will be just about eliminated globally within 15-20 years. (People like Maduro in Venezuela may delay this via liberal application of stupidity, of course.) That will make the least wealthy better able to cope with the consequences of warming. Gathering the political will to reduce emissions of CO2 is a much tougher task, and will require migration to non-fossil energy sources in the most economical way possible, but which is consistent with not substantially reducing the material wealth of most voters.

    How much can CO2 emissions be reduced? I don’t know, but approximating zero seems far out of reach in the foreseeable future, if only because reduced carbon is a critical material input (as opposed to energy input) for the global economy. Just about every material product depends on the availability of reduced carbon as an input (eg petrochemicals, polymers, steel, etc). People simply will not accept a path to lower CO2 emissions which makes everything they do and every product they purchase extremely costly, and for many, completely out of reach. US$1,000 per ton of CO2 is not going to happen. I rarely agree with James Hansen, but when I do, it is always about the need for more economical energy sources to replace fossil fuels; I am frankly shocked that there is so little support for nuclear power. YMMV.

  117. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM “clearly a graduate of the Tol school of mathematics”

    I’m sorry, but that is a poor attitude. We all make mistakes (I’ve done this one myself, sadly in a peer-reviewed paper), the difference is that some people can acknowledge them and some can’t. It is only the latter that deserves opprobrium. There is no better recipe for making elementary mistakes than thinking you don’t make them.

  118. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Hypergeometric,
    “Boston and Miami Beach, as well as others, are seeing qualitative changes in blue sky flooding, and these are obviously NOT due to sudden changes in rates.of glacial rebound, or rate of coastal development…”
    .
    I don’t know about “others”, but Boston and Miami beach both have extensive development on man-made land (filled water/wetlands areas). Those areas are subsiding. There is obviously some rise in sea level as well, but subsidence is a big contributor. I am currently on Cape Cod, so not far from Boston, and I can assure you, from looking at the same large rocks on the shoreline that I have seen for 60 years, that sea level here has risen somewhere around 8-10 cm during that time.

  119. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “extreme poverty (and the many ills that come with it) will be just about eliminated globally within 15-20 years. (People like Maduro in Venezuela may delay this via liberal application of stupidity, of course.) ”

    I suspect there is a residual percentage (~10%?) of poverty that is systemically difficult to eliminate. And it is unwise to discount the ability of autocratic capitalism (Trump?) to increase the shift towards the inequality of the gilded age.

    @-” People simply will not accept a path to lower CO2 emissions which makes everything they do and every product they purchase extremely costly, and for many, completely out of reach.”

    Even less welcome would be the significant reduction in food supply if the fossil fuel input to agriculture was curtailed. Part of the ‘Green Revolution’ that falsified the predictions of starvation from the Club of Rome crowd has been the efficiency with which hydrocarbon is converted to carbohydrates.

  120. Chubbs says:

    To follow-up on SteveF’s comment. Oil costs about 10x coal on a $ per ton of carbon basis. So initially a carbon tax would have a much bigger impact on coal than oil. That is the main benefit – to focus on the most cost effective areas for emission reduction. Another way to think about it – coal is doing more climate damage, $100/ton, than the recent economic value, $50/ton, per market pricing.

  121. Jeffh says:

    “There has been a lot more progress on the former, and on current trend, extreme poverty (and the many ills that come with it) will be just about eliminated globally within 15-20 years”

    Are you serious? The gap between the have’s and have not’s is still growing, and is an attendant tenet of neoliberal capitalism. Read Mike Davis’ quite outstanding ‘Planet of Slums’ and it becomes clear that the agendas of the rich and powerful corporate states does not include solving the equity dilemma. While you are at it, read ‘Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation’, ‘The Looting Machine’, or ‘To Cook a Continent’. These books demolish the myth of benign western agendas when it comes to resource-rich continents like Africa. Maintaining poverty in these lands is important because it enables the rich states to maintain significant ecological deficits at home.

    And why focus on Maduro? Because he is non-aligned with the interests of western nations and their corporations? What about the words of the late, influential planner George Kennan who was still an erudite scholar well into his 90s. Just before he died in 2005 he stated that the US should be worried at the move towards more left-leaning populist governments in South America because, as he put it, this threatened US access to ‘our resources’. ‘Ours’ even though they happened to lie under the land masses of other countries. Then earlier this year the POTUS calls El Salvador, Haïti and African nation states ‘shitholes’. The role of the US in creating and maintaining these ‘shitholes’ of course is not part of our narrative.

  122. stevefitzpatrick says:

    WRT a minimum level of extreme poverty: Perhaps one exists, but there is little evidence for it. (https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/02/496099777/global-poverty-declines-even-amid-economic-slowdown-world-bank-says)
    .
    Sub-Sahara Africa and south Asia are the remaining areas with relatively high rates (those regions contribute most to the overall global average of 11% as of 2013), but outside those regions, the average is low single digits, and in developed countries, the rate is very near zero. Even in Africa, the downward slope seems to be increasing, not decreasing. So I do expect the global rate to continue dropping to well below 10%, and probably low single digits within a decade or two.

  123. Dave_Geologist says:

    People simply will not accept a path to lower CO2 emissions which makes everything they do and every product they purchase extremely costly, and for many, completely out of reach.

    Which is why I think a carbon tax is more workable and equitable, rather than a rigid, one-size-fits-all carbon price. Where oil is used as a feedstock for essential plastics etc., it would be taxed on the emissions produced during manufacture. There may be a disposal charge if it releases more CO2 then. A price that stops power station use won’t stop aircraft use, so you can vary the tax between products and sectors. And exempt ones you want to encourage, e.g. public transport. Of course that becomes politically more complex, but that’s like.

    And why I like something like the LR18 Fig. R1 Hotelling curve, which is a bit more stringent now so we don’t have to drive net emissions to zero but can allow a small amount for centuries. By which time it may be reasonable to posit negative emissions at a reasonable cost and scale.

  124. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Jeffh,
    “And why focus on Maduro?”
    Because Maduro’s policies have eliminated freedom of the press, impoverished millions to the level of starvation, generated shortages of everything from basic foods to medicines, cut GDP by half or more and driven inflation to 30,000% per year. Educated Venezuelans (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc) are fleeing to wherever they can. He is destroying the country.

  125. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    Nearly all reduced carbon feedstocks (eg for polymers, steel production, etc.) ends up as CO2 in the long run. WRT taxes on carbon, a command and control regime like you describe, with taxes rates that vary widely based on certain people’s ‘desired outcomes’, is going to generate enormous political push-back, as well as invite those with political influence to game the system in their own favor. But more importantly, the setting of non-market based allocation of a limited supply will usually lead to economically inefficient use.

  126. steve,

    But more importantly, the setting of non-market based allocation of a limited supply will usually lead to economically inefficient use.

    I’m a little confused by what you mean by this. My understanding of the basics behind a carbon tax (and Richard Tol can clarify if he wishes) is that it’s intended to develop a market-based approach by attempting to properly price the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. If everything is priced properly (which may not be be absolutely possible, but may be possible as an approximation) then the most efficient energy infrastructure will emerge.

  127. Jeffh says:

    Steve, IMHO you focus on Maduro exactly because is non-aligned. The US is by far the greatest threat to the planet (Bill Blum calls it the global ‘wholesale rogue state’) and has long downplayed or ignored democracy when it isn’t in their interests (in the words of Reagan planner Thomas Carrothers). He hasn’t eliminated freedom of the press; that charge was also levied at Chavez and was utter nonsense then. The US has a long history of supporting vile despots who don’t risk upsetting traditional sources of power with which the US has long been allied (also the words of Carrothers). A far more repressive regime, like Saudi Arabia, gets softball treatment in the media because it is a client state.

    As for eliminating poverty across the globe, its simply not on the agenda of western planners, because it conflicts with our desire to loot and plunder their resource base. Read ‘Unpeople’ by Mark Curtis as well. He went through declassified UK planning documents and the real agendas were spelled out in black and white.

  128. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Ken,
    What I mean is that straight-up tax per ton is effectively “market based” while a command and control system (different tax rates for different users) leads to economically inefficient use, and makes the allocation a political football.

    Which is not to say that I think a tax on carbon is likely in the near future. But if one were to ever be instituted, it would be best if market (rather than politically) controlled.

  129. izen says:

    @-sfp
    ” But more importantly, the setting of non-market based allocation of a limited supply will usually lead to economically inefficient use.”

    This a feature not a flaw with some items of limited supply.
    Health care is allocated according to need, not ability to derive a profit.
    At least in most advanced societies.
    (in the US, YMMV)

  130. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Jeffh,
    You can have any opinion you want of why I think Maduro is bad news, but I assure you I object mostly due to the damage his policies cause, not who he is aligned with.

    WRT poverty: perhaps there are evil people plotting to increase poverty around the world, but if so, they are doing a rather bad job of it (see my link above to the World Bank report). I have visited lots of developing countries over the past few decades, and my observation is that in most places, extreme poverty is declining.

  131. @izen,

    There are a number of past global policy collective actions that have targeted the reduction or banning of certain materials based on scientific advice. Lead, CFCs, DDT would be examples.

    Professor Susan Solomon who was instrumental in setting the CFCs regulatory apparatus up or at least contributing the basic science to it has repeatedly made this point. The shortcoming, of course, is that fossil fuels are used for nearly everything, not just refrigeration, whether at food scale or room scale.

    I run through my neighborhood. In hot weather, when there are contractors and workpeople about, I invariably find them running their F-150s to run their air conditioning, even though Massachusetts has a anti-idling ordinance. Heck, even the local police do that. That’s exactly the problem. They don’t tie their behavior to the long range outcomes.

    There’s other psychology, too, as has been discussed in other threads here, about how people act when they have residential PV, per McAllister, “Solar adoption and energy consumption in the residential sector”, 2012, UC Berkeley doctoral dissertation.

  132. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Izen,
    I’m not sure I see health care as a limited resource, like say, copper. I think it is more accurate to say that access to publically funded heath care is limited in many countries, and so limited mainly to keep costs under control. In most places, if you can pay for heath care yourself, there is no limitation on supply. In any case, health care is considered by many to be a ‘right’ not a product you purchase, which makes a rational economic evaluation problematic.

  133. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    That’s exactly the problem. They don’t tie their behavior to the long range outcomes.

    Plus maybe they don’t understand, or care, that we’re all in this together.

  134. Steven Mosher says:

    “Plus maybe they don’t understand, or care, that we’re all in this together.”

    Huh, speak for yourself. If you think that we are all in this together, then why antagonize people
    who you may have to convince. Second, urine is sterile.
    some folks swear by it

  135. @stevefitzpatrick,

    This part is entirely correct:

    I am currently on Cape Cod, so not far from Boston, and I can assure you, from looking at the same large rocks on the shoreline that I have seen for 60 years, that sea level here has risen somewhere around 8-10 cm during that time.

    But this part is completely wrong:

    I don’t know about “others”, but Boston and Miami beach both have extensive development on man-made land (filled water/wetlands areas). Those areas are subsiding. There is obviously some rise in sea level as well, but subsidence is a big contributor.

    I don’t know the details of Miami Beach building footings, but I suspect it is limestone bedrock. See any of the recent extensive studies on Miami Beach done. (Use Google Scholar.)

    However, Boston and environs have been extensively studied. Large buildings are also mounted in bedrock. There is some subsidence due to glacial offsets, but every major effect, including that, is tied to climate change. The subsidence is a little complicated, but a big component is offloading of ice mass from Greenland. (Plates flex.) The two major contributions to your 8-10 cm are thermosteric sea level rise and the slowing of the AMOC, both tied to climate change. Many people on the East Coast affected don’t appreciate the AMOC contribution. (I know Miami Beach is affected by that as well.) The waters of what they sometimes call the Gulf Stream are piling up against the East Coast because the flow is the lowest it has been in at least 1000 years. There used to be a belief this was due to the freshening of the North Atlantic from Arctic melt, but it turns out there’s a change in the energy balance which appears to be contributing to this effect.

    The best single comprehensive study of all these effects on the East Coast is from 2017, Kulp and Strauss:

    S. Kulp, B. H. Strauss, “apid escalation of coastal flood exposure in US municipalities from sea level rise”, Climatic Change, June 2017, Volume 142, Issue 3–4, pp 477–489.

  136. Steven Mosher says:

    “Where oil is used as a feedstock for essential plastics etc., it would be taxed on the emissions produced during manufacture. There may be a disposal charge if it releases more CO2 then. A price that stops power station use won’t stop aircraft use, so you can vary the tax between products and sectors. And exempt ones you want to encourage, e.g. public transport. Of course that becomes politically more complex, but that’s like.”

    Wow that’s a paradise for graft, bribes , corruption and gray markets. Oh wait, everyone will follow the rules, like they always have.

  137. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’m sorry, but that is a poor attitude. We all make mistakes (I’ve done this one myself, sadly in a peer-reviewed paper), the difference is that some people can acknowledge them and some can’t. It is only the latter that deserves opprobrium. There is no better recipe for making elementary mistakes than thinking you don’t make them.”

    weirdly I have never seen you correct people when they attack Ross McKittrick for his bone headed
    error of radians and degrees, which he corrected. not your job I know, but you seem to think it was your job here.

    But generally I agree, we should be more forgiving of errors, acknowledged and unacknowledged.

    You know you are right abot Tols mistake. he knows you are right. but there is no civil way to merely
    end the matter. I know for example I made a mistake that arthur smith caught. Admitted it at length,
    but for some people even that was not enough. so it goes.

  138. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Which is not to say that I think a tax on carbon is likely in the near future. But if one were to ever be instituted, it would be best if market (rather than politically) controlled.”

    Given the regulatory capture that is a feature of most ‘neoliberal’ economies that seems inevitable.

    But if the sugar tax that some governments have tried is any indication, it would achieve neither the required level of reduction in consumption or an income stream for government to invest in harm reduction.

    As for poverty, as the late, great Hans Rosling (Gapminder) described, that is eliminated most effectively by the state provision of education (especially female literacy), healthcare and a safety-net welfare provision.
    In fact those seem to be a necessary precursor to poverty reduction or wealth creation.

  139. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Huh, speak for yourself. If you think that we are all in this together, then why antagonize people
    who you may have to convince.

    So sorry if my comment triggered you, Steven. Clearly, you live on another planet.
    My bad.


    Second, urine is sterile. some folks swear by it

    Except for all the microbes.
    And some folks swear that Donald Trump is a gift from God.


    Admitted it at length,but for some people even that was not enough.

    Some people aren’t as forgiving as Steven Mosher and Ross McKittrick.

    Or they just make fewer mistakes.

  140. Willard says:

    To return to Junior’s editorial, here’s a mysterious paragraph:

    The restricted policy envelope that results from the scenarios of the IPCC —typically formalized in the form of so-called integrated assessment models—is the result of two reinforcing sets of assumptions. One is that the costs of inaction will be high due to projected large changes in climate resulting from a massive increase in future emissions and resulting negative impacts on societies. The second is that necessary incremental actions to reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions will be technologically feasible at low cost, or even at no net cost at all—that such actions are economic and political no-brainers.

    Here’s a series of questions:

    Q1. How does scenarios entail a restricted policy envelope?

    Q2. Where did Junior find the set of assumptions?

    Q3. How are they reinforcing?

    Q4. How is the first set of assumptions even an assumption?

    Q5. What is a “political no-brainer”?

    Tracing the last assumption in the IPCC’s deliverables might help Junior’s case.

    ***

    Here’s a little trick. To see how Junior coded his message, read the paragraph backwards, and explicitate his implicit position:

    (J1) Necessary and incremental actions to reduce and halt emissions hit an Iron Law.

    (J2) Inaction may not cost much.

    (J3) The IPCC prevents us from pushing some unidentified (luckwarm) policy envelope.

    And then he wonders why he gets flack.

    ***

    Sometimes, I think Junior is just abusing the fact that nobody really reads him.

  141. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Sometimes, I think Junior is just abusing the fact that nobody really reads him.

    Helped along by the fact that he really doesn’t read anybody else.
    Self-citation has its advantages.

  142. dikranmarsupial says:

    “weirdly I have never seen you correct people when they attack Ross McKittrick for his bone headed error of radians and degrees, which he corrected. not your job I know, but you seem to think it was your job here.”

    IDSTR commenting on that one, but can’t be everywhere ;o) If I didn’t then my hubris has met its reward by having made an equally boneheaded mistake in a paper! I am also growing (slowly) wiser with age (the radians/degrees this was a fair while back wasn’t it?) and am more understanding of error now than used to be the case, but that was my error then, not now. Offhand the only interaction I can remember with him was here. There McKittrick didn’t seem to want to discuss the fundamental flaws in his paper.

    But generally I agree, we should be more forgiving of errors, acknowledged and unacknowledged.

    Indeed. Basically we should (i) follow the golden rule (I want people to be understanding when I am reasonable, but apply the cluebat when I am being unreasonable because I want to be reasonable more than I want to avoid the pain of acknowledging mistakes) and (ii) encourage the behaviours we would like to see in the environment and punish those that don’t. Passive acceptance of bad things is (to an extent) tacit encouragement of them. Refusal to acknowledge error should be criticized though, especially in science.

    You know you are right abot Tols mistake. he knows you are right. but there is no civil way to merely end the matter.

    I was rather hoping that making fun of him a bit would help; he shouldn’t mind that as he seems to like making fun of me (even if he has to make up words to do so). ;o)

    I know for example I made a mistake that arthur smith caught. Admitted it at length, but for some people even that was not enough. so it goes.

    In a way, the longer someone puts of admitting they are wrong, the greater the loss of face when they do, so perhaps more deserving of kudos rather than less?

    Big fan of Montaigne:

    to learn that we have said or done a stupid thing is nothing, we must learn a more ample and important lesson: that we are but blockheads…

    We need to be understanding of our own failures, if only so that we are more easily able to accept and learn from them. Sadly practice is the most frequent tutor on this one… ;o)

  143. Just to comment on errors. Yes, of course we should be forgiving of errors. We all make them. However, there are a couple of importants factors to consider. Does the person who made the error, endeavour to not make similar errors in future? Does the person who made the error forgives other when they make errors, or do they behave as if they’re somehow in a position to look down on others who err?

  144. dikranmarsupial says:

    Good points ATTP, fully agree.

  145. dikranmarsupial says:

    Perhaps we need a list of people in the climate debate who have admitted mistakes so we can given them proper credit for it? ;o)

  146. Richard S J Tol says:

    @mosher
    If you buy less from the Chinese, they have fewer dollars to invest in the USA
    http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/20/investing/chinese-investment-united-states-falls/index.html

    @all
    I’ve now read Pielke Jr’s. He points out what people have been saying all along. We will not meet the 2K target, for political, economic and technical reasons. The Paris Emperor has no clothes, never had any. Pielke Jr is not even the first to point this out.

  147. @stevefitzpatrick,

    About 2 GtC of annual human-caused 10 GtC is due to agriculture, quite apart from related fossil fuel emissions for planting, harvesting, transport, processing

  148. Willard says:

    > The Paris Emperor has no clothes, never had any.

    For an Emperor who wasn’t even possible in the first place, pace the Breakthrough Boyz (and perhaps even you, Richie) it’s a compliment. But that’s not what Junior says exactly:

    If climate policy can’t be made to work in the real world thus far, then at least it can be made to work in the scenarios and models of the future that underpin the debate. It is Policy Analysis 101 to consider the consequences of alternative policy interventions, and economic and other types of models can often help us to productively understand these consequences and associated uncertainties. But in addition to supporting insight, models and scenarios can obstruct understanding and discourage critical thinking.

    This empty proof by assertion (e.g. just about anything can obstruct understanding, including Junior’s word salad) reminds me of a related theorem:

    And speaking of critical thinking, if a set of actions A that is enacted by goal G doesn’t (i.e. can’t) meet G, then G doesn’t really constrain A. In (other) words, Junior focuses on G when it’s A that matters. He’d need to argue that a better set of actions (say A’) that tops A and is independent from it. He can’t, and in fact doesn’t seem to suggest anything else than what we already have in the pipeline.

    In a nutshell, Junior is once again bashing the IPCC for no other constructive reason than to protect his own ClimateBall safe space.

    This switcheroo isn’t unlike trying to handwave and appeal to the mathematical beauty of a paper that refutes Hotelling’s rule when in fact its result appears to be based on a physical caricature.

  149. The Very Reveend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The Paris Emperor has no clothes, never had any. Pielke Jr is not even the first to point this out.

    Actually, Pielke Jr has it backwards.

    There is no Paris Emperor. It’s all clothes.

  150. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Hypergeometric,
    High rise building foundations are most certainly on bedrock in the Boston area (lots of granite below the surface). So those high rise buildings are immune to subsidence, even if the surrounding surface land is filled (and most of Boston is). The areas that are most in danger of flooding in Boston are subject to significant subsidence:

    Climate change and coastal flooding in Metro Boston: impacts and adaptation strategies
    Paul Kirshen, Kelly Knee & Matthias Ruth, Climatic Change, January, 2008
    “Sea level elevation relative to land is also related to processes that affect a specific region, including tectonic uplift and down dropping, isostatic rebound and depression, land surface changes due to compaction, dewatering, fluid extraction, and diagenetic processes. For example in coastal Boston in the northeastern United States (USA), land subsidence is estimated to have been 1.5 mm/year or 0.15 m in the last 100 years (Nucci Vine Associates, Inc.1992). An estimate
    of 2 mm/year for historical subsidence in Revere, nearby to the north of Boston, was
    reported in Clark et al. (1998).”

    In Miami Beach, subsidence is a major contributor to flooding. See for example:

    http://www.ces.fau.edu/arctic-florida/pdfs/fiaschi-wdowinski.pdf
    “Preliminary results detected localized subsidence, up to ‐3 mm/yr,
    mainly in reclaimed land located along the western side of Miami Beach.
    Although the detected subsidence velocities are quite low, their effect on
    the flooding hazard is significant, because houses originally built on higher
    ground have subsided since the city was built, about 80 years ago, by 16‐24
    cm, down to flooding hazard zones. The combined effect of subsidence and
    SLR further expose the subsiding areas to higher flooding hazard than the
    rest of the city.”

    I would add that subsidence usually slows as the fill ages…. so the initial rates of subsidence in Miami Beach and Boston were probably higher.

  151. stevefitzpatrick says:

    HyperG,
    I forgot to mention: South Florida is almost all limstone karst below a sandy surface layer, so not reliably solid. High rise buildings are set on deep piles, either driven or augured and then cast in concrete. Neighbors complain about driven pilings because of the noise generated when they are driven.

  152. @Chubbs, @stevefitzpatrick,

    On the amount that taxing Carbon in a barrel of oil would increase the ppg of petrol, the advertised calculation failed to include upstream emissions needed to produce and ship that barrel. Similarly, to work properly, a Carbon Tax would need to be charged in proportion to contained Carbon and upstream emissions to create the product, as long as the country of manufacture did not penalize them comparably with its own Carbon Tax. I do not know offhand how big production emissions per barrel of oil are.

  153. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    TVRJH,

    Kevin Anderson has been saying the same since 2015.

  154. Dave_Geologist says:

    the setting of non-market based allocation of a limited supply will usually lead to economically inefficient use.

    Well obvs. Which is why I mentioned politics and tried to say “that’s life”. You could, for instance, set a price based on the negative externalities, agreed globally, and let countries decide internally how they allocate it. Some (perhaps the USA) would let the market decide and keep a flat rate. Others might decide to vary it in favour of socially worthy uses (e.g. ambulance fuel) or to nudge technological or social change (e.g. a higher than average fuel tax but rebates for public transport; or tax rebates on the energy consumed in manufacturing renewables) . Just as some countries provide universal healthcare but others are content to let the poor go unprovided for and suffer morbidity or death. Of course the politics would be difficult. But they’ll be difficult whatever we do. One advantage on charging the waste/burning/decay tax at end of product life is that is should encourage reusable or long-lasting products. Use the product-lifespan inertia the way LR18 purport to use climate inertia.

  155. Dave_Geologist says:

    Forgot to add. What if the most efficient allocation results in lots of poor people who didn’t cause the problem dying needlessly? The most efficient choice is not necessarily the best. We could choose to be efficient for reasons of humanity, morality, or whatever. We choose to be inefficient all the time. Look at all the SUVs cluttering up city streets.

  156. Dave_Geologist says:

    Jeffh,
    “And why focus on Maduro?”

    Obvs. False dichotomy, Trying to pretend that the only alternative to the hard-right is the hard-left.

  157. Dave_Geologist says:

    For clarity, Jeffh, it’s not you I was accusing of the false dichotomy (typing in haste again 😦 ).

  158. Dave_Geologist says:

    Wow that’s a paradise for graft, bribes , corruption and gray markets. Oh wait, everyone will follow the rules, like they always have.

    You think a flat carbon tax will entail no graft, bribes, corruption or gray markets, and that no-one will break the rules? How touchingly naive you are, Steven.

  159. stevefitzpatrick says:

    izen,
    “As for poverty, as the late, great Hans Rosling (Gapminder) described, that is eliminated most effectively by the state provision of education (especially female literacy), healthcare and a safety-net welfare provision. In fact those seem to be a necessary precursor to poverty reduction or wealth creation.”

    No argument about education… it is for certain one of the most important factors that reduced poverty. Healthcare and safety-net welfare? I doubt it, since most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare. Healthcare, aside from childhood immunizations, is focused mostly on the elderly (like me), and is arguably an economic drain, not an economic plus. I suspect more mundane things, like inadequate childhood nutrition, lack of clean water, the lack of legal protections for property ownership and contracts, political corruption, and a high rate of criminal activity, are bigger factors in what keeps very poor people very poor.

  160. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Why not a revenue neutral carbon tax with everyone getting a per capita rebate. This will drive behavioural change, help with inequality, as then poor use less CO2 so would likely provide a net income, and penalise heavier users of CO2.

  161. Dave_Geologist says:

    I do not know offhand how big production emissions per barrel of oil are.

    Small. Low-single-digit percent. Except for tar sands, of course. Gas? Lower, until you include fugitive emissions from facilities and pipelines. Then, it’s higher by most estimates.

  162. The source on the slowing of the AMOC is recent, and was summarized at RealClimate by Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, with the original paper also being from 2018. Given the slam given Rahmstorf (and others) because of a claimed lack of mathematical erudition, I should take the opportunity to note that the slowdown is an emergent phenomenon which the fluid dynamics boffins, who presumably are mathematically erudite, missed and, when speculating, got the wrong reason. The prediction came from a high resolution model run with counterfactual 1860 CO2 levels and the actual ones.

    I am so insistent upon this because the trends I see are that the penchant for doing small models is becoming less useful for complicated and big systems, while it has served and sometimes serves well. I don’t believe formal knowledge or the Calculus will ever be obsolesced, certainly for purposes of thinking, but, even in numerical work, such as optimization, where you would think it had plenty of prizes to win, it is becoming less useful. It gets sidelined through simple changes like going from an L_{2} loss to L_{1} or L_{\infty}, and not just big changes in mechanism. For quantile regression for instance, least squares is no longer feasible and linear programming needs to be used.

    The causal connection between AMOC slowing and SLR along the East Coast has been treated in a couple of places, J. Yin and P. B. Goddard did “Oceanic control of sea level rise patterns along the East Coast of the United States” in 2013. Goddard, Yin, Griffies, and Zhang document how sea levels jumped 13 cm in two years, 2009-2010, in “An extreme event of sea-level rise along the
    Northeast coast of North America in 2009–2010”. That in itself tends to dampen the plausibility that these variations are due to long range and long term periodic controls.

    There’s a summary from a WHOI team done separately where they estimate the AMOC is weakest it’s been in 1500 years.

  163. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Healthcare and safety-net welfare? I doubt it, since most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare.”

    The issue is poverty, not development.
    Wealth, or the absence of poverty is measured by more than money.
    Without an effective healthcare system illness becomes the major cause of bankruptcy.
    And infant mortality rates are a good indication of poverty.
    https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/infant-mortality-u-s-compare-countries/#item-neonatal-mortality-u-s-higher-comparable-countries

  164. @stevefitzpatrick,

    BTW, you should probably get comfortable with those higher ocean levels … The same team projected in 2009 that “For New York City, the rise due to ocean circulation changes amounts to 15, 20 and 21 cm for scenarios with low, medium and high rates of emissions respectively, at a similar magnitude to expected global thermal expansion.” (I added emphasis.) That’s from

    J. Yin, M. E. Schlesinger, R. J. Stouffer, “Model projections of rapid sea-level rise on the northeast coast of the United States”, Nature Geoscience, 2009, 2, 262-266.

  165. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    In terms of energy policy for developing countries decentralised energy systems make much more sense than traditional centralised systems requiring expensive distribution network. Decentralised networks are likely to be much more resilient and with advances and cost reduction in storage technologies, wind turbines and solar panels potentially cheaper. The other issue centralised networks with thermal plants is water usage. This is a big problem especially when water demand is competing with agriculture in areas of drought prone region, typically developing countries. Power outages in India and even the US have been caused by lack of water for cooling. With renewable there is no competition for water.

    I agree that Nuclear has a place in developed counties or counties with established distribution networks.

  166. Willard says:

    > most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare

    Citation needed. Meanwhile, a thread:

    ***

    Returning to Junior’s editorial, some lip service has been paid to one of Richie’s letters (no, not the ones about Ackermann):

    The result was to make business-as-usual climate policy under the UNFCCC appear to be on track. The paradoxical result, as Tavoni and [Richie] noted in 2010, was that demands for more stringent climate targets were accompanied by greater apparent policy feasibility at lower cost. “In order to be able to satisfy this new policy demand,” they said, “the models that have analyzed the more ambitious policies have been pushed towards implementing more optimistic assumptions about the range and availability of their mitigation portfolio, which has the effect of lowering the costs of climate policies.”

    Perhaps Richie would need to have a word with Jordan:

    ***

    The possibility of carbon capture technologies is one of the three “assumptions” that Junior mentions. These assumptions are not exactly like the “sets” of assumptions he mentions earlier. Nevermind.

    Junior’s main point in recalling these “assumptions” is that The three key assumptions discussed above—negative emissions, spontaneous decarbonization, and reliance on RCP 8.5 as climate policy business as usual—are far from the only ones that can be used to modulate or restrict the boundaries of the climate policy envelope. The first two assumptions seem opposite to the third one, which indicates a double bind. Also note that there’s no citation for his “reliance” claim – handwaving to the Editor’s crap or a silly Scholar miscount may not have been well received.

    I haven’t found any other assumption to “modulate” or “restrict” anything in Junior’s editorial. This may explain why he switches at the end to paradigms. This hypothesis isn’t contradicted by pointing at Oliver’s stuff and the Hartwell Paper. Considering that this Paper was premised on the idea that Paris Agreement was impossible, the concept of policy envelope remains elusive and ironic.

  167. Dave_Geologist says:

    A bit stale Richard, but I was not defending Hotelling. I’d never even heard of him. I was saying that it doesn’t matter whether LR18 handles the multiple differential equations better than Hotelling, their flawed carbon model makes it GIGO. If Hotelling can’t handle the multiple sources and sinks, don’t use Hotelling. In this particular case, of the two, Hotelling is the better. Assuming no inertia is a smaller error than assuming impossibly fast CO2 drawdown. If making realistic assumptions about climate inertia and CO2 sinks requires you to go to a numerical model because there isn’t a closed-form solution, so be it. Just because it’s a numerical model, that doesn’t mean its wrong. Or that you can’t test it for wrongness. If that was the case, there’d be no modern trains, planes and automobiles, and I wouldn’t be typing this comment. “But it might be wrong” doesn’t cut the mustard. You have to show where it’s wrong and why.

  168. @stevefitzpatrick,

    If you can have a 128 mm rise in two years, 1.5 mm/year is surely negligible.

  169. All, what do you think about forgoing the Carbon Tax, and, instead, simply withdrawing all price supports for flooding and disasters, including Biggert-Waters, and the whole sh’bang? That is, rather than socializing risk from storms and flooding, including flooding from major events on inland rivers, privatizing it? That is, in a way, imposing a cost of emissions, and it, per the arguments Professor Anderson advances, imposes it on those most responsible.

  170. @Willard,

    sigh Yeah, APS in 2011 said US$600/tonne. The estimates associated with the graphic you posted have a low end cost of US$100/tonne. To get to something that’s reasonable, like costing US$1 trillion in 2010 dollars (about 100 Chunnel projects worth), you need to get the price down to less than US$0.50 per tonne. And I’m not sure these include the sequestration and transport costs.

    They certainly do not include the indirect costs of rapidly reducing extraneous emissions to zero, nor do they include the costs of dealing with 2.5 GtC per annum from agriculture (which presumably aren’t going to be zeroed) nor the overhead of setting up, managing, and defending a global scale project for a couple of centuries.

  171. Dave_Geologist says:

    dikran, The problem with the radians/degree thing isn’t that the error was made, IIRC, it was their subsequent insistence that it may no difference to their argument. When in fact it was devastating. It effectively randomised their latitude data, which made it impossible to find the thing they claimed wasn’t there, even if it had been there.

  172. Willard says:

    > Assuming no inertia is a smaller error than assuming impossibly fast CO2 drawdown.

    More so for risk-benefit analysis. I’d rather pay a premium to make sure we never overshoot than to bet the farm away by overshooting. The same applies to discount rates, which should certainly not be set in stone by looking at the average value from a set of cherrypicked studies. The concept of Hotelling scarcity is less interesting here than the one of shadow value:

    A shadow price is commonly referred to as a monetary value assigned to currently unknowable or difficult-to-calculate costs. It is based on the willingness to pay principle – in the absence of market prices, the most accurate measure of the value of a good or service is what people are willing to give up in order to get it. Shadow pricing is often calculated on certain assumptions and premises. As a result, it is subjective and somewhat imprecise and inaccurate. The origin of these costs is typically due to an externalization of costs or an unwillingness to recalculate a system to account for marginal production. For example, consider a firm that already has a factory full of equipment and staff. They might estimate the shadow price for a few more units of production as simply the cost of the overtime. In this manner, some goods and services have near zero shadow prices, for example information goods. Less formally, a shadow price can be thought of as the cost of decisions made at the margin without consideration for the total cost.

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

    Considering that nothing really replaces fossil fuel, I’m not sure why its shadow value shouldn’t be very high.

  173. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard, the TL;DR answer to your 5 questions about Jr’s editorial is “he made it all up”.

    On “most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare”. The UK is currently celebrating the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service. Before that, you had to pay a doctor or be lucky enough to live close to a charitable hospital (the ones with “Free” in their name). And Social Security came in about the same time, Before that it was the Poor House, charity or Debtor’s Prison. Read Dickens. So the UK was developed enough to be first, the industrial capital of the world, and second, the Empire On Which The Sun Never Set, all before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare.

    My own grandparents lived in what had been a Company Town, where if you lost your job you lost your house the same day. They actually moved in after the company had decided to get out of the housing business, but they’d have had neighbours who’d lived the Company-Town life. The city had expanded to encompass the site and the company no longer needed a captive workforce. Probably no longer wanted one, they could draw on a larger potential workforce and keep wages down that way.

  174. @stevefitzpatrick,

    I’ve now identified

    S. Wdowinski, R. Bray, B. P. Kirtman, Z. Wu, “Increasing flooding hazard in coastal communities due to rising sea level: Case study of Miami Beach, Florida”, Ocean & Coastal Management, 2016, 126, 1-8 with electronic supplement

    as a definitive study of SLR at Miami Beach. The mentioned subsidence is immaterial because the primary data source used to develop their rates of SLR are from the Virginia Key tidal gauge which is located 5 km southwest of Miami Beach. A gap in data allowed for a switch to an in-Miami Beach gauge, and cross-reference analyses with Miami Beach administrative documents and insurance claims was done retrospectively. (Results summarized in their Figure 2.) Comparison was done with Key West gauge records.

    You would think subsidence would be a long term phenomenon and, as you indicated, it would probably plateau at some point. There’s little evidence of that in these data.

  175. Richard S J Tol says:

    @dave
    No worries. Hotelling needs no defense. His legacy is Hotelling’s Lemma, Hotelling’s Law, Hotelling’s Rule and Hotelling’s Distribution. And that is only because the First and Second Welfare Theorem are not named after him, or spatial equilibrium, or principal component analysis. Oh, and he was the professor of one Nobel Laureate, the grandprofessor of three, and the great-grandprofessor of two more.

  176. stevefitzpatrick says:

    willard,
    “Citation needed.”
    Here is the history of health care expenditures in the USA:
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2016/093.pdf
    Total expenditures (public and private) were ~5% of GDP in 1960, with government expenditures at all levels equal to about 2% of GDP. This was long after after the USA was an economically developed country. Before 1960, government healthcare expenditures gradually rose from near zero (1900) to 2% of GDP. Federal and State expenditures grew rapidly starting in the mid 1960’s with Federal funding of elderly health care (Medicare), followed by Federal/State funding of health care for poor people (Medicaid), with total healthcare expenditures now at ~18% of GDP, of which ~10% of GDP is funded at the Federal level.

    Here is the history of safety net/welfare spending in the USA:
    https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/welfare_spending
    There was virtually no expenditure prior to the 1930’s (great depression), when it rose to ~1% of GDP. It fluctuated between 1% and 2% of GDP until the late 1960’s, then fluctuated between 2% and 4% of GDP until present (currently a bit over 2% of GDP and falling).

    Economic development and industrialization in the USA were long underway before public funding of welfare and health care became significant. Educational spending, mostly funded by local government, has been >1% of GDP since before 1900, and increased gradually to ~5% of GDP by 1970, after which it has been relatively stable. (https://www.usgovernmentspending.com/education_spending)

  177. izen says:

    @-W

    I admire your willingness to attempt a close textual analysis of RJPjr, but suspect it will reveal ambiguity rather than meaning.
    Or even a coherent (lukewarmer?) subtext.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
    ― Lewis Carroll

  178. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “Before that it was the Poor House, charity or Debtor’s Prison. Read Dickens.”

    The Poor House and Debtors Prison were responses to preceding conditions that were worse. Along with Charity, a religious ethic, they were an early form of social welfare.
    Or at least an attempt to ameliorate the divisive impact of poverty (starvation and death) on a developing society. A developing society in this context is one that is using fossil fuels to provide an energy multiplier for human actions.

    My concern is that if fossil fuels are removed as an energy source without an effective alternative, some …less developed or collapsing societies from climate change impacts, will rediscover the advantages of slavery.

  179. stevefitzpatrick says:

    HyperG,
    2 to 3 mm/yr subsidence is still a significant contributor in Miami beach, even if the trend since 2006 has been considerably greater. It will be interesting to see if the local trend in South Florida continues at much greater than the global average. It is also important to keep in mind that subsidence has likely been happening since the water/marshland was filled 80-90 years ago, so has a greater cumulative effect.

  180. John Hartz says:

    While the human race continues to fiddle-faddle, the world burns. Time is not on our side.

    Much of the world is in the grip of a heatwave. Britain is so hot and dry that we have Indonesia-style peat fires raging across our moorlands. Montreal posted its highest temperature ever, with the deaths of 33 people in Quebec attributed to the scorching heat. And if you think that’s hot and dangerous, the town of Quriyat in Oman never went below a frightening 42.6C for a full 24 hours in June, almost certainly a global record. While many people love a bit of sun, extreme heat is deadly. But are these sweltering temperatures just a freak event, or part of an ominous trend we need to prepare for?

    Earth’s climate system has always produced occasional extreme weather events, both warm and cold. What is different about now is that extra short-term warmth – from the jet stream being further north than usual – is adding to the long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The warming trend is very clear: the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that all 18 years of the 21st century are among the 19 warmest on record; and 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded. Overall global surface air temperatures have risen by 1C since the industrial revolution. It is therefore no surprise that temperature records are being broken. And we can expect this to become a feature of future summers.

    This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast, Opinion by Simon Lewis*, Comment is Free, Guardian, July 6, 2018

    *Simon Lewis is professor of global change science at University College London and the University of Leeds

  181. Joshua says:


    I doubt it, since most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare.

    How to create a false dichotomy in one easy step.
    Amartya S. Or Steve F. Tough call;

    https://books.google.com/books/about/Development_as_Freedom.html?id=vbmK-ud8M9YC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button

  182. izen says:

    @-sfp

    The market will decide,

    http://fortune.com/2018/04/21/climate-change-is-already-depressing-the-price-of-flood-prone-real-estate/
    “New research shows that real estate properties in areas affected by extreme weather and sea level rise are losing value relative to less exposed properties. … These impacts are unfolding even despite large taxpayer-funded outlays that effectively subsidize flood-prone real estate markets by providing artificially cheap flood insurance. … President Trump signed a disaster relief bill last October that included forgiveness for over half that debt. ”

    policy.

  183. Dave_Geologist says:

    Well, if we want to redefine social welfare to include charity and looking after the neighbours … there were benevolent associations, local subscription clubs (effectively mutualised health insurance), and industry (union not employer) cooperatives before the NHS (and they contributed to its model), it goes all the way back to Homo Erectus*. So not wrong, but not useful either.

    * If we accept the histological interpretation that she was injured falling from a tree, and lived for a few weeks before succumbing to her injuries. So someone was providing food, water and protection from leopards. Presumably her family/clan/tribe/whatever.

  184. Dave_Geologist says:

    Since healthcare has been mentioned.

    If markets always find the most efficient solution, how come the USA has the most free-market healthcare system in the developed world, and yet it’s very expensive, has no better outcomes than the majority who spend half as much, and contrives to leave a large fraction of the population (>10% IIRC) uncared-for? If it’s due to something deeper in society, not the healthcare system, how come my travel insurance company, which is very good at assessing actuarial risks and knows my baseline health is the same wherever I travel, charges twice as much for a visit to the USA as it does for a visit to Canada or Mexico, which is the same repatriation distance?

    Defining efficiency as output ÷ input, and not some abstruse legerdemain about efficient allocation of resources, the argument that markets always provide efficiency would make sense if the US had lesser coverage and comparable outcomes, but spent less money. However, it has lesser coverage and comparable outcomes, but spends more money.

    And don’t blame Obamacare/Romneycare2.0. The situation predated that.

  185. @izen,

    Some refs …

    J. M Keenan, T. Hill, A. Gumber, “Climate gentrification: from theory to empiricism in Miami-Dade County, Florida”, Environmental Research Letters, 2018, with online supplemental materials.

    M. Gibson, J. T. Mullins, A. Hill, “Climate change and flood risk: Evidence from New York real estate”, unpublished working paper (in progress).

    N. Smith, “Climate change turns coastal property into a junk bond”, Bloomberg, 3 May 2018.

    L. Bretz, “Climate change and homes: Who would lose the most to a rising tide?”, Zillow Research, 18 October 2017.

    Y. Chen, G. Pryce, D. Mackay, “Flood risk, climate change and housing economics: The four fallacies of extrapolation”, Adam Smith Research Foundation,
    Working Papers Series 2011:02, 12 December 2010.

    The last is particularly interesting, having the Abstract:

    This paper argues that major gaps exist in the research and policy understanding of the intersection of flood risk, climate change and housing markets. When extrapolating the research on historical flooding to the effects of future floods – the frequency and severity of which are likely to be affected by global warming – housing economists must be careful to avoid a number of methodological fallacies: (a) The Fallacy of Replication, (b) The Fallacy of Composition, (c) The Fallacy of Linear Scaling, and (d) The Fallacy of Isolated Impacts. We argue that, once these are taken into account, the potential magnitude and complexity of future flood impacts on house prices could be considerably greater than existing research might suggest. A step change is needed in theory and methods if housing economists are {to make plausible connections with long-term climate projections.

  186. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    “If markets always find the most efficient solution, how come the USA has the most free-market healthcare system in the developed world, and yet it’s very expensive, has no better outcomes than the majority who spend half as much, and contrives to leave a large fraction of the population (>10% IIRC) uncared-for? ”
    .
    It is a complicated question. Not to burst your bubble, but the system in the USA is very far from “free market”, and hasn’t been since a little after WWII. It is preposterously expensive because there are no incentives for people to control the costs; it is difficult to even find what the costs are for specific treatments ahead of time. Hospitals in the USA are in most places forbidden by law to refuse treatment to someone in need of it, even if they have no insurance and can’t pay. So they off-load those costs on those who either have insurance or have government funding (Medicare, Medicade). But that is a small part of the problem.
    .
    Since most people have some kind on insurance which is funded by a third party (an employer or the government), most people opt for the very best (and most costly) treatment available…. it costs them nothing for the best available. A symptom of the problem (certainty not the problem) is how much medical doctors earn… compare average annual earnings for general practitioners in the USA with what they earn in other countries. There is no real competition, and no real market.

  187. Willard says:

    Izen,

    Ambiguity seldom hides subtext, which hides in plain sight. Take a look back that the tagline: Fudged assumptions about the future are hampering efforts to deal with climate change in the present. It’s time to get real. While getting “real” is ambiguous, its function is obvious.

    What would getting real look like to Junior? Looking at when he uses the word “real” should suffice. There are nine “real” in the page:

    (9) “RCP 8.5 is not a business-as-usual scenario and has been criticized for its unrealism”

    (8) “as with BECCS, assumed rates of spontaneous decarbonization necessary to achieve desired results had yet to occur in the real world but were assumed to be reasonable in the future”

    (6-7) “Carbon dioxide removal at massive scale is science fiction—like a light saber, incredible but not real. Yet BECCS plays a very real role in today’s climate policy arena […]”

    (5) “”Achieving the 2°C and even more the 1.5°C goal is unrealistic without intentional atmospheric carbon dioxide removal” [Rickels & al 2017]”

    (4) “An option was created, not in the real world, but in models that sustain the current policy envelope.”

    (3) “If climate policy can’t be made to work in the real world thus far, then at least it can be made to work in the scenarios and models of the future that underpin the debate.”

    (2) “How many more decades of failing to make real progress will be necessary before asking such questions is not only politically acceptable but unavoidable?”

    (1) “It’s time to get real.”

    Getting real, according to Junior, amounts to state that the modulz are too stoopid to be realistic. Besides these critical comments, the only place where he’s almost getting real is when he asks a series of what if I told you‘s:

    [WIITY1] What do climate policy options look like if BECCS is not assumed in scenarios and models?

    [WIITY2] What happens if we abandon the 2°C temperature target?

    [WIITY3] What alternative long- or short-term targets might be used to track climate policy progress?

    [WIITY4] What might a technology-focused climate policy architecture focused on targets and timetables for the adoption of carbon-free energy sources look like (rather than emissions or temperature targets)?

    [WIITY5] How might the world decommission such a magnitude of fossil fuel energy? The UNFCCC policy envelope has been an exercise in avoiding this question. What would it mean to get serious about answering it?

    [WIITY6] What policy options would support innovation at the scale needed to transform the global energy system?

    [WIITY7] Are there innovation investments or practices that would be amenable to targets and timetables?

    [WIITY8] Above all, what magnitude of investments is likely to be necessary for a massive scale-up in carbon-free technologies?

    [WIITY9] What might climate policy look like if scenarios expected to represent more likely futures are placed at the center of climate policy discussions?

    [WIITY10] How might costs and benefits look under such scenarios?

    [WIITY11] What new policy options might become politically plausible with changes in predicted costs and benefits focused on central tendencies and not extremes?

    [WIITY12] What might climate policy look like if costs and benefits of proposed policies are not calculated over decades and longer (e.g., under assumptions of future spontaneous decarbonization), but instead are examined from a perspective of one or several years, so as to be more consistent with political calendars?

    I’m not sure how asking these questions introduce any new paradigm or “get real” in the sense that they solve anything, but here you go.

    ***

    From a ClimateBall perspective, the most remarkable aspect of Junior’s line of argument is to claim both that carbon storage technologies are pipe dreams for now and that RCP8.5, which presume such tech, is unrealistic.

  188. From a ClimateBall perspective, the most remarkable aspect of Junior’s line of argument is to claim both that carbon storage technologies are pipe dreams for now and that RCP8.5, which presume such tech, is unrealistic.

    Yes, this is something I don’t get. Our rate of decarbonisation is well below what would be required to achieve the targets, negative emission technologies and BECCS are unrealistic, a high emission pathway (RCP 8.5) is also unrealistic. There does seem to be a lack of consistency in that argument.

  189. @stevefitzpatrick, @Dave_Geologist,

    Agreed, with more:

    My son works as a Director of a financial firm in London, a branch of a New York City company. He reported that when they post employees for semi-permanents around Europe and elsewhere, health insurance can be had in most for well under US$5000 per annum, in Switzerland for US$5000 per annum, and in the USA for more than double Switzerland’s.

    This increases costs to businesses, and acts as a drag on their profitability and function.

    There is also the fact that physicians need to pay for their own schooling, rather than having that provided by government subsidy. It is also true the USA is more litigious, but it’s difficult to see if that’s a cause or an effect, assuming those actually mean anything.

    There is also the fact that productivity of employees is hampered by employees having to care for elderly family members, sometimes needing to drop out of the workforce to do so. In a democratic socialist setting, these would also be provided by government programs.

    So, yeah, one needs to consider economic efficiency, but, repeatedly now, people also need to consider the costs and ramifications of cost of anarchy, and of uneven education. There are similar costs which don’t rise to the standard of being incurred on the part of society by selfish agents. These include lack of coordination and risk assessment for placement of key assets important to markets and society.

    In general, yes, I do not like government interventions, but I really mean government interventions. Bailing out people and towns who make poor choices where to set their homes, or companies who make poor choices on placement of their factories, or companies which have been bankrupted by the latest recession are just as bad — and possibly worse — than providing universal care. We don’t seem to have any problem with such socialization of risk, whether GM or banks.

    This is pertinent to the overall discussion. I say zero to the fossil fuel companies and workers who will be busted furloughed when solar energy dominates — and the communities who hitched their wagons to them. Let’s see some real market forces play.

    At least universal care provides a steady, trained workforce which can focus upon their jobs, and not have to worry about family and their retirement. And, while some economists might identify impacts to capital formation, I’m not convinced there’s evidence that happens everywhere these policies are embraced.

  190. Willard says:

  191. Joshua says:

    It is preposterously expensive because there are no incentives for people to control the costs;

    It’s expensive (looking past the subjectivity of proclaiming what is preposterous) because it is a for-profit system.

  192. KeefeAndAmanda says:

    stevefitzpatrick says:
    July 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    “[izen wrote]’As for poverty, as the late, great Hans Rosling (Gapminder) described, that is eliminated most effectively by the state provision of education (especially female literacy), healthcare and a safety-net welfare provision. In fact those seem to be a necessary precursor to poverty reduction or wealth creation.’

    No argument about education… it is for certain one of the most important factors that reduced poverty. Healthcare and safety-net welfare? I doubt it, since most developed countries became so before there was much healthcare or safety-net welfare. Healthcare, aside from childhood immunizations, is focused mostly on the elderly (like me), and is arguably an economic drain, not an economic plus.”

    Putting aside the moral question, the relevant science has been showing for some time that when *done right* (please don’t forget this emphasis), much more collective financing of health care – including preventative health care – rather than individual “free-market-law-of-the-jungle” financing actually increases rather than decreases per capita nominal GDP. (This point on collective financing of course does not hold for the vast majority of commodities, since the vast majority of commodities are such that people don’t sooner or later experience physical morbidity or premature death when they don’t get them.) Here are just some recent samples of either the science in question or articles supporting and reporting it:

    Health expenditure and economic growth – a review of the literature and an analysis between the economic community for central African states (CEMAC) and selected African countries
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5462666/

    Quote:

    “Results showed that health expenditure has a positive and significant effect on economic growth in both samples. A unit change in health expenditure can potentially increase GDP per capita by 0.38 and 0.3 units for the five other African countries that achieve the Abuja target and for CEMAC countries respectively, a significant difference of 0.08 units among the two samples. In addition, a long-run relationship also exist between health expenditure and economic growth for both groups of countries.”

    There is a strong economic case for universal health coverage
    http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/opinion/2014/10/20/there-is-strong-economic-case-for-universal-health-coverage

    Quote (author is Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group):

    “The economic case for universal health coverage is strong. The recent Lancet Commission on Investing in Health looked at broader measures of growth and found that from 2000 to 2011 health investments were responsible for nearly a quarter of growth in developing countries.”

    Both in rich and poor countries, universal health care brings huge benefits
    https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/04/28/both-in-rich-and-poor-countries-universal-health-care-brings-huge-benefits

    Quote:

    “It is becoming increasingly clear that better health can lead to higher incomes, as well as the other way around. Economists at the World Bank used to call spending on health a “social overhead”, but now they believe that it speeds up growth, says Timothy Evans, one of its senior directors. A study in 2011 carried out by the University of St Gallen looked at 12 European countries between 1820 and 2010 and found a close link between the expansion of health care, a fall in mortality rates and growth in GDP per person. Another study found that in Britain as much as 30% of the growth in GDP between 1780 and 1979 may have been due to better health and nutrition. A paper by two leading economists, Dean Jamison and Lawrence Summers, found that 11% of the income gains in developing countries between 1970 and 2000 were attributable to lower adult-mortality rates.”

  193. Roger the Younger’s reluctance to discuss policy matters in private rivals his desire to monoplize public public policy conversations in forums like the GWPF.

    This putd him somewhere in the middle ground between Carl Sagan and Scott Pruitt.

  194. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “It’s expensive (looking past the subjectivity of proclaiming what is preposterous) because it is a for-profit system.”

    That expense can be more than just monetary.
    One of the most profitable ‘healthcare’ provisions in the US since the treatment was approved in the mid 1990s has been opioids for pain relief.
    Very few other healthcare systems make opioids readily available, or aggressively market them, because of the known risk of addiction and overdose.

    Policy intervention to regulate the profitable activities of commerce because of external costs would seem to be justified for fentanyl. If this has any implications for CO2 … YMMV.(!)

  195. Jeffh says:

    Steve, I don’t defend Maduro, I just wonder our supine corporate-state media focuses laser-like on Venezuela while giving far more vile regimes a free pass. But of course, the answer is simple. Those vile regimes are client states. They are essentially free to suppress their populations with relative impunity, so long as they do as they are told. John Perkins details some of this in his writings.

    But I digress. Again, I simply do not agree that in 15-20 years deep poverty will be eliminated in the south. As long as the world exists under the auspices of a mutant, nakedly predatory form of capitalism called neoliberalism, then there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that deep poverty will be eliminated. For nations in the developed world fostering deep ecological deficits, it simply isn’t in their interests to raise the living standards of poor nations in the south that are the source of resources that our corporations covet. Look at the Congo. It is perhaps the poorest nation on Earth, and yet reports suggest that there are literally trillions of dollars worth or resources stored in the ground there. Who owns those resources? Thirty eight corporations, all based in the G-7. They plunder and loot the resource wealth of the south not only the benefit of elites in the north but, as my link below shows, to maintain the lifestyles of most of us in the north.

    http://www.passblue.com/2015/05/18/if-africa-is-so-rich-why-is-it-so-poor/

    As Mark Curtis explained in his book Unpeople, if populations in the poor nations aspire to attain the same standard of living as most of us in the rich north, then this will seriously conflict with our need to take their resources from them. Again, almost every developed nation is utterly dependent on externalities – resources that come from somewhere else. If poor nations wish to utilize these resources for their own internal development, then we can’t have them. Read any number of declassified British or American planning documents over the years as I have done and the real agendas become clear. Read the words of influential people like Kennan, Kissinger, Carrothers and others and you will see that what I say is hardly rocket science.

  196. Steven Mosher says:

    “@mosher
    If you buy less from the Chinese, they have fewer dollars to invest in the USA
    http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/20/investing/chinese-investment-united-states-falls/index.html

    Duh, I do export from china

  197. Steven Mosher says:

    “So sorry if my comment triggered you, Steven. Clearly, you live on another planet.
    My bad. ”

    Not triggered , amused. Irony.

    Generally speaking if you are in a crisis its a bad idea to divide folks.
    There is an exception, sort of, but it really doesnt divide

  198. Dave_Geologist says:

    @stevefitzpatrick. So, assuming you’re right about the causes of the state of US healthcare, what makes you think that a real-world US “free market” in carbon abatement would not be subject to similar maladies, as well as all the usual lobby-group, pork-barrel, superPAC, powerful incumbents, tragedy-of-the-commons problems?

    Ironically, your “because my employer pays” excuse is close kin to The Tragedy Of The Commons.

  199. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    If a price were to be placed on carbon, the most efficient way, and the one least susceptible (not immune) to political influence, would be an across-the-board rate on all carbon admissions. Of course, in every case government mandate is substituted for market driven choices, the result is political influence becomes more important; the two are linked at the hip. I would never suggest otherwise. One need look no further than the 10% corn/ethanol in gasoline boondoggle to appreciate this. Corn based ethanol does not significantly change total CO2 emissions (more petroleum is burned to grow more corn), while simultaneously increasing the cost of food, and not just in the USA, increasing stress on farmland, and increasing pollution in run-off. The only people who benefit are those who grow or process the corn…. everyone else pays in both higher net costs and negative side effects. Same thing with sugar duties and sugar import restrictions. Same thing with sugar duties and restrictions in Europe, and with biodiesel in Europe, farm product import restrictions in Japan, the ‘chicken tax’ on pick-up trucks in the USA, the import duties on cars in Europe and China, etc. The list is very long. Yet it is just about politically impossible to kill these nightmarish programs, which do clear net damage, once they are in place, because of political influence. Diffuse costs and concentrated benefits always lead to political influence (or if you prefer, ‘soft corruption’ of politics).

    WRT the problem of third party payers: the need for financial skin in the game is always key for economically efficient choices. People also need to be able to make choices based on their evaluation of their needs, their priorities, and their means to pay. In the USA, there are currently regulations which make it unlawful to offer health insurance policies which match the (economic) needs of the customer. The result is policies which are too expensive for many people to purchase. Worse yet, tax laws give strong incentives for companies to compensate employees with costly benefits (like generous health insurance) because that compensation is considered a cost for a business, reducing the company’s tax burden, while not considered taxable income for employees. Net result: US government (both Federal and State) subsidizes health insurance at the marginal tax rate of the individual. Someone with a large salary often has a marginal tax rate approaching 50%, so has their health insurance is subsidized at ~50%… while a low wage earner with a very low marginal rate (sometimes zero) receives minimal or no subsidy. Most can probably see how this distorts market choices. If employees where given the choice of receiving tax free benefits as tax free cash, to use as they wished, I suspect they would be a lot more prudent in their choices of health insurance to control cost (absent mandates for specific coverage, of course). Better yet, treat all tax free benefits as taxable wages, and watch the expenditures on those benefits drop.

    It seems to me there are two ways to control health care costs: a national single payer that limits cost by a combination of rationing of care and setting of prices paid to care providers, or a free market that is not distorted by tax incentives and regulations. The USA has the highest health care costs in the world relative to GDP because we do neither.

  200. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Food for thought and possible grist for a new OP…

    It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. According to new research published in Nature, humanity will witness marked sea level rises and frequent killer heatwaves before governments take decisive action against climate change. And to predict the future, mathematicians have turned to game theory.

    The paper, published by a team of mathematicians, uses game theory to explain why it is so hard to protect the environment, updating it so they could model the effects of climate change, overuse of precious resources and pollution of pristine environments.

    The bad news is that the model suggests that, when it comes to climate change, things might have to get demonstrably worse before they can get better. The good news, on the other hand, is that game theory could help policymakers to craft new and better incentives to help nations cooperate in international agreements.

    Climate change will get a whole lot worse before it gets better, according to game theory by Roger Highfield, Wired UK, July 6, 2018

  201. JH,
    I think that’s the article that the Global Warming Policy Foundation was promoting a couple of days ago. They seemed pleased.

  202. stevefitzpatrick says:

    jeffh,
    “I don’t defend Maduro, I just wonder our supine corporate-state media focuses laser-like on Venezuela while giving far more vile regimes a free pass.”
    Please name a few client countries the USA supports that are far more ‘vile’ than one where government policies have lead to >20,000% inflation (driving people to barter for exchange of goods), widespread confiscation of land and businesses, food shortages, medical shortages, shortages of all consumer goods, widespread power blackouts, a rapidly falling GDP, and an emigration rate of >1% of the population per year. Sure, there are plenty of bad governments, especially WRT human rights and corruption. But Maduro’s government is unique in that it infringes on rights, is horribly corrupt, and is rapidly destroying what was once a productive economy.

  203. Willard says:

    I’ve seen “but Venezuela” peddling before, but where:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/peddling/

    Freedom Fighters may not be creative, but they sure are persistent.

  204. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Jeffh,
    “I simply do not agree that in 15-20 years deep poverty will be eliminated in the south.”

    Did you look at the trends in extreme poverty published by the world bank? Two large concentrations of extreme poverty remain (sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia), and the rate is South Asia is already falling rapidly. Even in Africa the rate is falling. A simple projection of trends over the last two decades suggests the global rate will be low single digits within 15-20 years. The things driving that fall in extreme poverty are not going to change without cause. Africa remains the biggest problem, in large part because of bad/corrupt governments which make economic growth much slower than it could be. I am not suggesting that getting out of extreme poverty is the desired end point; once out of extreme poverty, people need to continue to improve education, infrastructure, and most of all, improve government to ensure continued economic growth. But getting out of extreme poverty has enormous benefits for individuals (nutrition, health, reducing tropical diseases, reducing childhood mortality, etc), and is the minimum condition needed for a country to progress toward greater economic development.

  205. stevefitzpatrick says:

    willard,
    Seems to me those opposed to freedom are persistent as well.

  206. Dave_Geologist says:

    Seems to me those opposed to freedom are persistent as well.

    Indeed. I presume an assault on Roe vs. Wade is pending.

  207. Willard says:

    > Seems to me those opposed to freedom are persistent as well.

    Freedom Fighters mostly use “Freedom” as a war cry, SteveF:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/freedom-fighters/

    One of their champions, FriedrichH, preferred dictatures to mixed economies:

    [A]s long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking in liberalism. My personal impression. . . is that in Chile . . . we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government . . . during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers, not as something permanent, but as a temporary arrangement.

    http://coreyrobin.com/2012/07/08/hayek-von-pinochet/

    In the quote above, “temporary” means more than fifteen years.

  208. JCH says:

    I wonder how 25,000 families fleeing the violence in Venezuela by illegally crossing the border into the United States would be handled by Trump? Lol.

  209. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    “I presume an assault on Roe vs. Wade is pending.”

    I doubt Roe will be overturned. The Court is more likely to allow significant restrictions in the second trimester than to overturn. But if it is overturned, then most states will pass laws allowing abortions (just as many did before Roe), while a few will do the opposite. In that case, women in states where the procedure is not allowed would have to travel to a state that does. My personal opinion is that early abortions ought not be an any way restricted. But I have just one vote.

  210. Dave_Geologist says:

    I didn’t say it would be successful steve. Just that those who desire that outcome have persisted in their efforts for decades. It’s probably how some Evangelicals justify their support for Trump, even though anyone following Christian morality could find a reason to condemn him from the pulpit every week. You may be an exception, but I find it odd that most freedom fighters apply the concept to guns and other things which potentially harm third parties, who therefore have a valid interest, yet want to intrude into peoples’ bedrooms, marriage ceremonies and medical procedures, which generally do no harm to third parties, so they therefore have no valid interest. It’s almost as if it’s not really about freedom after all 😉 .

  211. stevefitzpatrick says:

    JCH,
    “I wonder how 25,000 families fleeing the violence in Venezuela by illegally crossing the border into the United States would be handled by Trump? Lol.

    More than that have already been given asylum in MIami. Of course, they present themselves at Miami International Airport and apply for asylum, which seems to usually be granted. I expect they would be treated the same if they requested asylum at other ports of entry. Crossing the border illegally would probably lead to other outcomes.

  212. Joshua says:

    People also need to be able to make choices based on their evaluation of their needs, their priorities, and their means to pay. In the USA, there are currently regulations which make it unlawful to offer health insurance policies which match the (economic) needs of the customer.

    Means to pay is already an important factor associated with the choices that people make.

    It seems to me there are two ways to control health care costs: a national single payer that limits cost by a combination of rationing of care..

    Another false dichotomy. We have a form of rationing of care. Keeping costs down would require a different approach to that rationing.

  213. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Dave_Geologist,
    “..yet want to intrude into peoples’ bedrooms, marriage ceremonies and medical procedures, which generally do no harm to third parties, so they therefore have no valid interest.”

    I don’t give hoot about those things. I think you would be surprised how few people do. I do care about the rule of law and the need to actually amend the Constitution when you think it should be changed, rather than subverting its meaning via “new interpretations” never before recognized over 200 years.

  214. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Very few other healthcare systems make opioids readily available, or aggressively market them, because of the known risk of addiction and overdose.

    Just one of the many pathways through which a for profit aspect contributes significantly to the cost of our system. I wonder if it might be a bigger factor than the current regulations to limit sham insurance?

    Does anyone know of if our healthcare system was comparatively expensive before those regulations were implemented?

    Policy intervention to regulate the profitable activities of commerce because of external costs would seem to be justified for fentanyl. If this has any implications for CO2 … YMMV.(!)

    One, very good way (IMO) to track the influence of political identity on how people reason (on polarized issues) is to track how they deal with the phenomenon of external costs. Often, in my observation, concerns about externalities magically appear and disappear depending on context. It’s very much like concerns about “unintended consequences” in that regard.

  215. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    You sure like the expression “false dichotomy”, but never provide a reasoned argument. I find it odd.

  216. Joshua says:

    I do care about the rule of law.

    I’ve read a lot of your political comments over at Lucia’s. I don’t recall you being a fan of Trump, but neither do I recall you expressing any concern about Trump’s, and his associates’, blatent disregard for the rule of law. Temheyvaew a pack of crooks, and have been for decades. Maybe I just missed them? Given that he and his associates control the reins of power in the world’s most important country, is that a concern of yours?

    In my experience, concern about the rule of law tends to be quite selective.


    I think you would be surprised how few people do

    On what evidence do you base your conclusions on how few people care about those things?

    And on what evidence do you conclude that DG likely overestimates that number?

  217. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    You sure like the expression “false dichotomy”, but never provide a reasoned argument. I find it odd.

    I don’t find it odd that you don’t see the false dichotomies in your reasoning.

  218. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    I find it odd that you are unwilling (unable?) to explain what you mean.

  219. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    It seems to me there are two ways to control health care costs: a national single payer that limits cost by a combination of rationing of care..

    The implication of that statement (as I read it) is that a “rationing of care” is a function of a national single payer system. We have a system that rations care as a function of cost of care (largely mediated by insurance companies decision-making, somewhat based on profit) and limited access of care. The rationing criteria are different, not the very existence of rationing. You seem (to me) to be creating a false dichotomy between our healthcare system and the rationing of care.

  220. Joshua says:

    I find it odd that you are unwilling (unable?) to explain what you mean.

    I don’t find it odd that you don’t (aren’t able to) see a point that (1) I already made and, (2) is so blatantly obvious.

  221. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    There is pretty strong support for gay marriage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States
    I think support for sodomy laws (“intrude into people’s bedrooms) is logically lower.

    Abortion is (or course) contentious, but there is considerable support for allowing early abortions (2011 polling data from CNN):
    Support Oppose
    First trimester 62% 29%
    Second trimester 24% 71%
    Third trimester 10% 86%

  222. Joshua says:

    the need for financial skin in the game is always key for economically efficient choices.

    Who doesn’t have financial skin in the game w/r/t to their Healthcare choices?

    How do you measure the amount of financial skin in the game for someone relatively wealthy who is considering a medical procedure (in a private pay system) that would cost a tiny % of their wealth?

  223. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    We have, unfortunately, been through this before. A waste of both our times. Cio.

  224. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    Definition: Rationing- Allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a particular commodity).
    That prices limit consumption is not the same as rationing.

  225. Jeffh says:

    Steve blames corrupt governments in Africa for slowing economic growth. The role western governments and corporations play in implementing and propping up those regimes is nowhere in Steve’s narrative. It’s almost as if Africom and the nefarious role of western planners didn’t exist. Steve have you read anything by Patrick Bond? Samir Amin? John Pilger? Mark Curtis?… or indeed a number of other writers who have detailed western foreign policy agendas over the past century? What about Henry Kissinger’s infamous 1974 comment regarding depopulation of poor nations as an authentic way of ensuring US access to minerals and resources in these countries? Or any number of comments by George Kennan? Or Lawrence Summers notorious leaked World Bank memo where he said that there was impeccable logic in dumping toxic waste in third world countries? The US has never supported true forms of bottom-up democracy in its foreign policy because this would impede their access to resources. Neoliberal capitalism is not remotely sympthetic to the plight of the poor in the south. The fact that almost half of the world’s poor are crammed into ghettos in southern cities, as Mike Davis described in ‘Planet of Slums’, is indicitive of the equity dilemma. The wealth gap is not decreasing; it continues to grow.

    Futhermore, at what cost to the environment will the equity dilemma be solved if the rich nations expect to continue to maintain large domestic per capita ecological deficits? As detailed in the ecological footprinting work of Rees, Wackernagel and others, most developed nations depend on external capital to maintain the consumption rates they currently enjoy. In other words, our carrying capacity is imported. We also know that because of this nature is in a full scale retreat across the biosphere. Every major global ecosystem is in decline; this is a form of suicide in slow motion for mankind because we are utterly dependent on these systems for our own survival. By now we know that nature sustains humanity through a range of critical provisioning ecosystem services. Yet the human assault on nature continues unabated. If there is any hope for us, it is imperative that we solve the equity dilemma. We have two options: we will embrace a system that provides justice and security for everyone, or we will continue down the slow road to catastrophe. There is no ‘third way’. Right now I see no signs whatsoever on the part of the rich and powerful nation states to reduce their patterns of consumption and waste production. We appear intent on descending into the abyss.

  226. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    No doubt, polling in gay marriage has changed a good bit in the last decade or so,..

    Citing aggregated polling might be considered by some as somewhat misleading – given that I would think that DG knows your basic political orientation.

    That said, I would venture the guess that DG is well aware that support for gay marriage and relatively early abortions run quite high among the @50% of the country that vote Democrat. I’m pretty sure that DG was not referencing that group.

    Support is not nearly as high among Republicans on gay marriage. Not a number I, at least, would qualify as “few.”

    My guess is that he also aware that a strong majority of Republicans oppose abortion in all or lost cases. I wouldn’t characterize that number as “few,” either.

    Thanks for caring, but I don’t find discussing your arguments as a waste of time, exactly (not to say that there aren’t more productive things I should be doing right now – and will start on right now).

  227. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    IMO, in a non-pedantic sense, in our country health insurance and Healthcare are rationed (to some extent, at least) based on ability to pay and cost of care.

    But if you prefer to rationalize based on (IMO) pedantry, have at it (but be sure you aren’t wasting your time).

  228. Dave_Geologist says:

    Correlation between freedom-this and anti-freedom-that (using party affiliation as a filter because most surveys don’t combine the questions, or they disaggregate the data).

    If >80% of Republicans favour extending concealed-carry and arming schoolteachers, and 65% believe abortion should be illegal in all/most cases, there must be a lot of Republicans who share both viewpoints. There just isn’t room for a large, split-viewpoints middle.

    And if 62% of Democrats favour banning assault rifles, and 75% believe abortion should be legal in all/most cases, there must be a lot of Democrats who share both viewpoints. There just isn’t room for a large, split-viewpoints middle.

    The difference is that the Democrats are open about supporting some freedoms and opposing others. They don’t claim “freedom-fighting” as a badge of honour or a virtue. The final graph shows that it’s a party thing, not a generational thing (i.e. you can’t just explain it away by saying that conservative voters are older on average).

  229. @Joshua, @stevefitzpatrick,

    The health care thing really isn’t my tea, apart from knowing single payer should happen, but in countries where there exists such a thing, it rarely is the only choice. Those who can afford do get private insurance. The only complaints I have heard is that with the exception of emergencies time to appointments are longer.

  230. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Definition: Rationing- Allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a particular commodity).
    That prices limit consumption is not the same as rationing.”

    It is exactly the same.
    Money is a general purpose ration token.

    The amount of healthcare available (measured in qualis IIRC) in any society depends on 2 factors. Cost per unit and the % GDP.

    If the cost is high, then to get the same amount as other systems a larger % GDP has to be spent.

    Single payer variations like many European systems have voters who want the largest amount for the least money. Governments want the largest amount for the least outlay.
    Private healthcare providers want the most money for the least amount of healthcare.
    Governments and the electorate have greater power to regulate and negotiate the largest amount of healthcare with private providers than an individual.
    Or even a large company.

    Those healthcare systems that provide the largest amount of qualis, by both controlling costs and allocating a higher % of GDP also have the widest accessibility, according to need. That and close regulation are required to enable the single payer to accept the higher cost.

    A system in which you pay twice as much for the about same other nations get, and has limited access and suffers from regulatory capture seems unlikely to be popular.
    And yet Americans sometimes defend their healthcare policy.

  231. Joshua says:

    Hyper –

    I think its a complicate issue. From what I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard from people from a variety of countries with single payer, the simple fact of there being a single payer system in and of itself does not, IMO, explain levels of “patient satisfaction.” Further, I am very wary of drawing any conclusions in that regard from anecdotal report.

    But “patient satisfaction” is just one measure, obviously, and they all seem quite complicated to me. Per capita costs for healthcare is one I happen to consider pretty important. But the one I happen to think may be most important is inequality of access to healthcare.

    To my point, while some articles I’ve seen rank US healthcare higher than Canadian healthcare on patient satisfaction, I’ve also seen stuff like this:

    Results. In multivariate analyses, US respondents (compared with Canadians) were less likely to have a regular doctor, more likely to have unmet health needs, and more likely to forgo needed medicines. Disparities on the basis of race, income, and immigrant status were present in both countries but were more extreme in the United States.

    Conclusions. United States residents are less able to access care than are Canadians. Universal coverage appears to reduce most disparities in access to care.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1483879/

    The mechanics behind such results are complicated, IMO, but I don’t think that such results are a necessary, or desirable outcome.

  232. Joshua says:

    Well, I’ve screwed up on formatting in comments more times than I can count…but I’m not sure I ever managed to screw it up like that before. Anyway, here’s that struck-through part:

    Results. In multivariate analyses, US respondents (compared with Canadians) were less likely to have a regular doctor, more likely to have unmet health needs, and more likely to forgo needed medicines. Disparities on the basis of race, income, and immigrant status were present in both countries but were more extreme in the United States.

    Conclusions. United States residents are less able to access care than are Canadians. Universal coverage appears to reduce most disparities in access to care.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1483879/

    The mechanics behind such results are complicated, IMO, but I don’t think that such results are a necessary, or desirable outcome.

  233. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Jeffh,
    No, I have not read things those people have written. I have however traveled extensively to many of the places were there are lots of very poor people, often living in deplorable conditions. My personal observation is that extreme poverty is clearly declining, and that obvious indications of extreme poverty (such as kwashikor) have become much less common. I have also tried to improve the situation by helping to support (with education, one good meal a day, correspondence and encouragement) very poor kids in Africa, Central and South America, and South Asia. My personal efforts are modest, but I am not alone. Maybe you could help.

  234. stevefitzpatrick says:

    “It is exactly the same.
    Money is a general purpose ration token.”

    No, money is a token of economic value, used to facilitate exchange It has nothing to do with rationing. When asked the difference between rich people and poor people, Joseph Kennedy (John Kennedy’s wealthy dad) replied: “Rich people have more money.” Rationing is allocation of goods/services independent of ability to pay.

  235. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    You can play semantics ’till the cows come home if you gain some measure of satisfaction from doing so.

    My point was that in this country we limit access to healthcare by one set of criteria, and in other countries they limit access by other sets of criteria – through a centralized peocess. I would say that there are costs and benefits to whichever set of criteria is being used. But everyone can judge which set of costs and benefits they prefer. I would prefer a criteria set to be used that bases rationing (given a limited resource, to some extent) on limiting costs and weighing the relative benefits of different medical practices.

    Some of the reasons, outside of just a more general view of a desired social envieonment, for my preference for a universal healthcare style of rationing would be to reduce inequalities in access to healthcare and to reduce the overall costs of healthcare (which eats up such a huge portion of our gdp). Of course, I recognize that there are risks and costs from using such a centralized set of rationing criteria.

    Lest we forget, we have other forms of rationing other than rationing in the ability to pay. I mentioned earlier the rationing by insurance companies (on the basis of profit.

    But there are others, also (perhaps more similar to what is used in universal care, even if more circumstantial and less centralized) :

    For example:

    Sheeler says the finding about physicians in solo practice could be explained by the “rationing by proxy” phenomenon. “Physicians become rationing agents of insurance companies because of the paperwork burden and excessive hoops of prior or excessive out-of-pocket costs that are set up by payers and pharmacy benefit managers,” he explains. “Solo practitioners have fewer resources to deal with the paperwork and other barriers; it may be easier not to make the effort in the first place when they know that their efforts will likely be in vain or will not be compensated.”

    https://www.springer.com/gp/about-springer/media/research-news/all-english-research-news/rationing-healthcare–more-than-half-of-us-doctors-say-no-to-clinical-services/10504490

    Or:

    Rationing decisions pervade daily practice in ICUs.5,12,16 For example, it is common to transfer a patient out of an ICU when she might still derive some small degree of benefit from ongoing monitoring; such transfers accommodate the needs of sicker patients in the face of a finite number of ICU beds. Physicians in ICUs also routinely ration their time.12 They must decide which patients to see first and how much time to spend with each. Physicians also must balance the needs of patients against their nonprofessional obligations, such as responsibilities to their families. It is undoubtedly true that physicians cannot provide every potential benefit to every critically ill patient. Therefore, the reality of practice in ICUs is that patients are routinely denied some potential benefit—however small—through implicit rationing decisions made by physicians at the bedside.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415127/

  236. stevefitzpatrick says:

    joshua,
    I don’t believe that accurately using words is sophistry. ‘Rationing’ is not the same as priced based decisions about purchase. Private jets are not rationed, even though I won’t ever own one. Money is simply not a unit of rationing… that is just inaccurate, and it is perfectly reasonable to say so.

    If you want to talk about different ways health care is allocated, fine. One way is by market pricing; if you can’t afford that cutting edge US$250,000 treatment for lung cancer, or the platinum plated insurance that would pay for it, then you don’t get that treatment. Another way health care is allocated in single payer systems, is in fact to actually ration care; eg: You get two colonoscopies in your lifetime unless you present with symptoms of colon cancer. It is not up to you or your doctor if it is not covered. That US$250,000 lung cancer treatment? Forget it, not covered. Long waits for expensive procedures and visits to specialists is another means of rationing in single payer systems. The Canadians I have talked to all complain about long waits, though that is a small sample and may not be representative.

    Some health insurance companies do make providers jump through hoops, no doubt in an effort to discourage treatments that may be less than absolutely required. Of course, if someone is actually buying their own insurance, they can always go to a different company if they are unhappy. If someone has no choice in insurance (like employer funded), then they are stuck.

  237. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Rationing is allocation of goods/services independent of ability to pay.”

    Rationing is a consequence of scarcity. When demand exceeds supply there has to be some method of allocating the supply.
    I suspect you are taking a rather narrow definition of how a scarce resource is apportioned, and only calling it rationing if it involves direct government provision of fixed and equal shares.

    But deciding on what ration of food, water, and energy each individual receives can also be an attempt to avoid an arbitrary/random distribution and select an optimal share out.

    Only if there is no shortage of a resource, is there an abscence of any rationing scheme. Oxygen usually falls into that catagory, unless you are trapped in a cave.

    Governments print food stamps and ration cards, but they also print money. The economic value it has is a measure of how much of the scarce rationed resources and service it can give that person.

    Money is an efficient method of rationing a limited supply.
    Unless there is a mismatch between how many government ration tokens you posses and your need for a resource. Allocating some services according to how much money you hold is not always optimal.

    The policy of taxing carbon in its varients are all attempts to ration its use by raising the cost. It is an imitation of scarcity in an attempt to reduce consumption AS IF it was a limited supply.

    Ration cards and money carry out the same process of resource distribution. The difference is in the amount of flexibility and personal choice the methods allow.
    Same names and faces tend to appear on both.

  238. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Some health insurance companies do make providers jump through hoops, no doubt in an effort to discourage treatments that may be less than absolutely required. ”

    There are reasons for a lot of doubt.
    ‘Managed Care’ resulted in hoops to discourage expensive care, an ignominious history of tests and treatments selected for profitability by insurers and fraud by providers.

    An overview…
    https://www.willis.com/Documents/publications/Industries/Healthcare/When_the_Government_Alleges_Fraud.pdf

    It is the common story of health insurance and care providers seeking the most cash for the least amount of healthcare.
    Regulatory capture is a likely cause.

  239. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Izen,
    Rationing is a political response to scarcity, not an economic one. An economic response is a rise in price which reduces demand and also incentivizes an increase in supply. Jimmy Carter wanted to ration gasoline and control prices (ration coupons required to buy gasoline) rather than allow prices to increase when Arab countries refused to sell crude oil to the USA…. resulting in a sudden shortage.

    Your comments strike me as a confusion of politically motivated thinking and misconceptions about economics. I doubt further exchanges will be constructive.

  240. Joshua says:

    I don’t believe that accurately using words is sophistry.

    I think that accurately using words is using them to correctly convey meaning. For example, I didn’t suggest sophistry, but you used that word, assuming a similar meaning to the words I did use (pedantry and semantics).

    Many people use the word “ration” to refer to how medical care is allocated in the US. Are they all wrong because of how you view the technical definition? Or, is their meaning accurately conveyed, and you know exactly what they mean.

    At any rate, beyond this semantic nitpicking – I think my point was clear.


    One way is by market pricing; if you can’t afford that cutting edge US$250,000 treatment for lung cancer, or the platinum plated insurance that would pay for it, then you don’t get that treatment.

    I think that citing extreme examples is a poor way to more generally characterize the situation. There is rationing, on a pretty wide scale, across different axes of criteria, in how healthcare (and healthcare insurance) are allocated in the US. You know what I mean, and I know what I mean. But, of course, the cows aren’t home yet, eh?

    The Canadians I have talked to all complain about long waits, …

    Just the other week I talked to a Canadian who spoke of the wonderful healthcare she received, under very trying circumstances, for a complicated condition, for which she paid zero. I think that the wait times vary widely across services.

    though that is a small sample and may not be representative….

    I think that trying to evaluate this complicated situation by individual collection of individual anecdotes is pretty useless. It can help to fill in the background, and to help evaluate the larger-scale analyses, but ultimately isn’t very informative. As I said, I’ve seen some studies that show that “patient satisfaction” in Canada is somewhat higher than in the US. Other countries with universal care have higher patient satisfaction rates than the US. From looking at those reports, I would say that trying to tie patient satisfaction to the simple existence of universal care (or lack thereof) is probably futile. YMMV.

    Anyway,while I think that patient satisfaction is important, like I said it probably isn’t at the very top of the list of criteria I would use to evaluate different healthcare systems. The relatively low marks in the US for equality of access ranks higher in my estimation. The comparative data on outcomes also suggests significant problems with the US system (although that is a complicated metric). But the main point I was focusing on, was the aspect of cost, which is obviously extremely high in the US, which presents a severe problem for the economy, and which, IMO, is at least attributable to the profit factor as the “skin in the game” factor – which is, IMO, a very nebulous metric.

  241. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Izen,
    Sorry, that was Richard Nixon, not Jimmy Carter.

  242. JCH says:

    The Canadians I have talked to all complain about long waits, though that is a small sample and may not be representative.

    It’s called efficiency. Short wait times is one of the most expensive aspects of US healthcare.

  243. stevefitzpatrick says:

    Joshua,
    No, I really don’t know exactly what you mean. Rationing is a conscious regulatory response to an actual shortage. There is no shortage of available health care services if you can pay for them. But there is a widespread unwillingness to accept some pretty simple economic realities: prices are driven to high levels by high demand. Demand is at least in part disconnected from cost by government subsidized employer health insurance, and by essentially unlimited funding of health care for the elderly (who consume a large portion of total health care services). Insurance companies are forced to accept people with known pre-existing conditions, but can’t charge them more than lower risk customers. All this is a prescription for rising prices, and it is no surprise that prices rise.

  244. JCH says:

    My neighbor was physician, a surgeon, before employers started providing health coverage. He retired around 2000. The way he explains it, in Canada a patient who needs a heart surgery sometime in the next year might wait several months. In Dallas an OR will suck that guy off the street and cut him in about an hour. That capacity is extraordinarily expensive: a lot of operating rooms; a lot of doctors; a lot of administrators; a lot of nurses; etc. It’s all sitting there like a bunch of hungry bears.

    Quality difference between the two approaches? In terms of health outcomes, none.

    If a patent needs a surgical intervention in the next 5 minutes, in both places, Dallas and Canada, they will be bleeding in less than 5 minutes.

  245. izen says:

    @-sfp
    “Your comments strike me as a confusion of politically motivated thinking and misconceptions about economics. I doubt further exchanges will be constructive.”

    Perfectly expressed, I agree completely.

  246. Willard says:

    > When asked the difference between rich people and poor people, Joseph Kennedy (John Kennedy’s wealthy dad) replied: “Rich people have more money.”

    JosephK Senior’s bon mot is simply erroneous:

    Poverty is the scarcity or the lack of a certain (variant) amount of material possessions or money.

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

    Now, scarcity:

    Scarcity refers to the limited availability of a commodity, which may be in demand in the market. The concept of scarcity also includes an individual capacity to buy all or some of the commodities as per the available resources with that individual.

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

    Scarcity is closely related to rationing:

    Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services, or an artificial restriction of demand.

    […]

    As the British Royal Commission on the National Health Service observed in 1979, “whatever the expenditure on health care, demand is likely to rise to meet and exceed it.” Rationing health care to control costs is regarded as an explosive issue in the USA, but in reality health care is rationed everywhere. In places where the government provides healthcare rationing is explicit. In other places people are denied treatment because of personal lack of funds, or because of decisions made by insurance companies. The American Supreme Court approved paying doctors to ration care, saying that there must be “some incentive connecting physician reward with treatment rationing”. Shortages of organs for donation forces the rationing of organs for transplant even where funding is available.

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

    Since money is a thing governments print and that no economy exists in a political vacuum, the dichotomy between economic and political responses can lead to sophistic arguments.

    ***

    Parsomatics exercises should stay at Lucia’s.

  247. Okay, while dealing with climate policy may have revealing parallels with dealing with health care, I kind of feel I’m witnessing a drop into a hugely progressive conference here, where people seem incapable of disentangling one social issue from another. People might wander in that way, and I understand it, but from the perspective of policy and practice, it is essential that topics and policies be narrowed. If you try to solve everything, you will solve nothing. That is an engineering principle. And, while there are some which might assign that attitude to white, male, European, or at least eurocentric attitudes, facts are, like it or not, that for a large set of complicated problems, it works.

    So, I guess this is a plea: Can we get on track a wee bit, please?

  248. Joshua says:

    Steve +

    There is no shortage of available health care services if you can pay for them.

    OK. You don’t get my point, but yet state my point.

    Whatever works for you, bro.

    prices are driven to high levels by high demand. Demand is at least in part disconnected from cost by government subsidized employer health insurance, and by essentially unlimited funding of health care for the elderly (who consume a large portion of total health care services).

    Now that, there, is a work of art and a thing of beauty.

    You make that argument, despite that our healthcare is exponentially more expensive than in other counties, despite that their governments subsidize way more than ours does. That’s an interesting correlary to government subsidization causing high prices.

    And btw, your notion of “essentially unlimited” is different than mine. My impression is that while Medicare covers a lot, “essentially unlimited,” it ain’t (at least for many people). I always assumed that’s why many people I know who are on Medicare pay for secondary insurance. But maybe they just like pissing away their money?

  249. Joshua says:

    Btw, I was just in San Francisco. There, health insurance companies are building housing for poor people because in such an expensive housing market, their profits are higher when they do so.

    How crazy is that?

    (Kind of reminds me of a bit of Singapore, actually.)

  250. Willard says:

    > in San Francisco. There, health insurance companies are building housing for poor people because in such an expensive housing market, their profits are higher when they do so

    Link or it doesn’t exist.

  251. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    I may have been just a tad hyperbolic about the profit part. Just a tad.

  252. Steven Mosher says:

    SF is crazy

    https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Annual-Income-of-117400-in-San-Francisco-Qualifies-for-Low-Income-Housing-486506371.html

    Lived there by ATT park. ( where first yahoo offices where) before the first internet boom
    the area was a bowry. empty industrial buildings. Then came the boom. Then came the bust
    After the bust you could get a cheap place, then came twitterati, and other start ups. Boom again.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Park,_San_Francisco

    about two blocks from my place one of the homeless parks still “thrived”, guys prolly from the early days still there. A block away, Jack londons birthplace. An old Vet friend and I used to walk the park, find old guys and get them into services. like here
    http://hydestreetcs.org/programs/tenderloin-outpatient-clinic/
    or http://www.delanceystreetfoundation.org/ or here
    about two blocks from where I lived.
    https://svdp-sf.org/what-we-do/msc-shelter/
    Around the corner was Lyft’s first office. Irony.

    Some days you’d walk behind these kids talking about their latest exit, and they would just step around the sleeping homeless like they were garbage. maybe they talked about climate change
    but they certainly never stopped to ask if anyone needed help. my experience, not generalizable.

  253. Steven Mosher says:

    oh, and if a vet every needed medical care, we never took him to the VA.
    death sentence. single payer, love it. so you just take them to emergency, what ever the malady,
    and you instruct them on how to get 5150.. they get the medical care they need,
    all for minor annoyance of a 72 hour psych hold ( food and warm bed too)

  254. Dave_Geologist says:

    But Steven, if a UK vet needs health care, (s)he just goes to the NHS. Single payer. No death sentence. So whatever the flaws are in the VA (appointing unqualified chums to senior positions probably doesn’t help; and I’m pretty sure death sentence is an exaggeration anyway), single-payer is not the cause.

    There are even a couple of NHS hospitals specialising in treatment of war-type physical and psychological injuries. There are higher rates of crime, self-harm, suicide among vets, especially among those with PTSD. But I bet that’s the same in all systems. Stress is, well, stressful, and the mind is the hardest thing to heal.

    Oh dear, I skipped the healthcare debate even before the plea to go back on topic, because it was off topic 😦 . This will be my one exception. Yes, I know, not fair, hit-and-run and all that. But hey, off-topic.

  255. Steven Mosher says:

    “But Steven, if a UK vet needs health care, (s)he just goes to the NHS. Single payer. No death sentence. So whatever the flaws are in the VA (appointing unqualified chums to senior positions probably doesn’t help; and I’m pretty sure death sentence is an exaggeration anyway), single-payer is not the cause.”

    I like how people argue so blithely about how sure they are something is not the cause.
    Reminds me of deniers. It was warmer before when there were no SUVs.

    NHS, I dunno, only what I read
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/08/patients-suffering-direct-result-nhs-wait-time-failures

    Same with the VA, A budget is set, and money spent accordingly. Close friend does stats
    for cost of care and how they allocate services. fascinating stuff, those numbers. any hoo
    non single payer is also not fre from this brutal logic.

    Death sentence? I dunno, how many guys have you picked up to take into the hospital?
    how many did you lose?

    Sometimes they wont even go to regular emergency. Tried to get this guy scott, not a vet, to go in.
    he refused.
    The next day? he put on a PG&E outfit.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/08/gary-scott-holland-pleads-guilty_n_1082965.html

    my suggestion is you may not understand everything you think you do. But hey, you make a mistake with multiplying and dividing and you can correct it. Other endeavors are not so forgiving.

    Again, I only know my experience. pretty grim. As for NHS, again, I only know what I read
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-195277/NHS-death-rates-times-higher-US.html

    VA? just my experience and what I read
    https://www.cnn.com/2015/09/02/politics/va-inspector-general-report/index.html

  256. Steven Mosher says:

    Willard –

    I may have been just a tad hyperbolic about the profit part. Just a tad.

    In califorinia is so bad that the liberal government refused to pass a bill to allow developers to
    build buildings more than 5 stories high by mass transit.

    The effectiveness of mass transit is all about high density population corridors. But they refuse to allow high density development around the stations. So if you ever go aprtment hunting buy a BART station what you find is a bunch of small buildings.. while the taller buildings are farther away

  257. Dave_Geologist says:

    OK Steven, one exception because it’s general advice, not health-specific. Don’t believe anything you read in the Daily Mail, not even the date on the front page. Especially it’s health and science stories*.

    *The exception is where a science story doesn’t push any of the editor’s hot buttons. Then they just quote a Reuters or AFP piece verbatim, often including links to the paper. Those exceptions are obvious because the writing style is a couple of years more advanced education-wise.

  258. JCH says:

    Yes, I spent some time looking for a paper on Google Scholar that matches what is described. So far, no luck. Maybe it’s there, maybe not. The odds it reads like that article are pretty low.

    There is a gigantic bias against single payor in the media. They just love to hammer and smear it. A week ago on CNN Chis Cuomo expressed huge concern, warning viewers with his stern look, that single payor is way more expensive.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Oxycontin and his/her trophy spouse and his spoiled-rotten kids are living large. Yeah, send the vets with PTSD to that provider.

    My brother owned a factory in Canada and has lived there since around 1970. I have heard ~50 years of mostly very positive stories about the Canadian system. All systems have negative stories.

    My son is currently a 4th-year resident physician at one of the best hospitals in the world. In his specialty, the best. The federal government pays his salary: around $55,000 a year. I guess it is being suggested he pay himself?

  259. Joshua says:

    I dunno, how many guys have you picked up to take into the hospital?
    how many did you lose?

    My partner is a hospice nurse manager. Obviously, she deals with patients receiving healthcare from all manner of institutions – including boutique healthcare, concierge medicine.

    I would guess more people getting care from the VA than you’ve picked up, by orders of magnitude.

    She says that people at the VA can be difficult to get on the phone, and sometimes they don’t pay in a timely manner… but patients from the VA could receive a wider variety of treatments and services than patients from other outpatient hospice services.

    This the problem with reasoning on vastly complex problems by personal anecdote.

    Reminds me of some “skeptics” I’ve come across.

  260. Joshua says:

    I worked with some doctors in Korea. I had positive impressions of their healthcare system.
    Not sure what the resolution was from the doctors’ strike shortly after I left. They struck because it was easy to get medication there without doctors’ involvement (thus limiting their income), something I found to be extremely beneficial.

    Many Korean ex-pats I work with go back to Korea to get medical care (despite having insurance here). They vote with their feet.

  261. Willard says:

    > In califorinia is so bad that the liberal government refused to pass a bill to allow developers to build buildings more than 5 stories high by mass transit.

    For the “liberal” part, I thought Arnold was Cali’s Governor for a while. The “refusal” part is indeed true but omits important aspects of the systemic housing problem:

    A recent report from the UCLA Anderson School retells a familiar tale. Housing starts nationwide have doubled since the 2008 crash but still aren’t keeping up with demand. That problem is at its worst in California and the Pacific Northwest (oh, hi, headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft). As the UCLA economist David Shulman puts it in his section of the report, if you own a home in those parts of the world, you are psyched. Value is way up. If you’re a renter without rent control or you hope to buy a home, you are a person whom it sucks to be.

    Zoning rules and regulations make it even harder to build new homes. Construction labor is hard to find, and new tariffs on Canadian lumber have pushed the price of wood up 50 percent. But the market’s so tight, builders are able to pass all those costs along to buyers. “Housing activity is plagued by excessive zoning constraints in the hot employment markets of the Pacific Coast and the Northeast,” Shulman writes. “Larger homebuilders have learned to profit from the tight zoning controls as regulation works to reduce competition.”

    As a consequence, despite demand and a decent economy, far too few houses get built anywhere—especially in cities. In the past decade, we needed 15 to 20 million new housing units to keep up; the country built a tenth of that. Demand, meet supply: Prices have soared—especially in places like California, which is adding high-paying tech jobs and is, let’s face it, a damn nice place to live.

    Worse still, the federal government has mostly been out of the subsidized-housing business since the 1980s (when the current homeless crisis had its start). That pushed responsibilities outward, to states and municipalities, which mostly can’t afford to fix it.

    https://www.wired.com/story/big-tech-isnt-the-problem-with-homelessness-its-all-of-us

  262. Joshua says:

    Hard to figure out exactly wha Steven’s point is.

    https://la.curbed.com/2018/4/10/17178288/california-senate-bill-827-transit-zoning-los-angeles

    The areas involved in SF (and, IIRC, the area where Kaiser Permanente is building housing for homeless, new Uber headquarters, new Warrior’s stadium) ) are largely black and brown areas previously redlined and the most vulnerable for displacement and gentrification. The racially exclusionary mostly white suburbs don’t get the growth. And ask them where the value capture mechanism is to get the money from all the development rights to pay for more transit. Just building the housing doesn’t pay for the transit infrastructure or future transit service. And if it’s not affordable housing most of those folks drive anyway.

  263. Joshua says:

    IMO, the whole argument that building more housing will magically make housing more affordable for those who can’t afford the current housing is rather dubious. I think it is unlikely that SF, in particular, is going to be able to build their way out of unaffordable housing by giving developers carte blanch to build high end housing. It’s a nice theory… my sense is that building more high end housing will just mean more housing for the wealthy people who are displacing their poor people.

    Seattle is an interesting case study. Incredible amount of building doing on there. To the point where there is a glut of apartments. Landlords are offering a couple of months rent free or a couple of thousand dollars to entice people to move in. The increase in rents has leveled off somewhat, for now. But surprise, surprise, housing for poor people hasn’t magically appeared. Rents are still way above their means.

    But in the land of Shangri-la of extremist libertarian utopianism, theory is good enough. How else can you hold firm to a belief system that things would be different from anything in the history of civilization, if only they could rule the world?

  264. Joshua says:

    And it’s not just US cities where the problems are in play. Among with SF and Seattle, we went to Vancouver. Similar dynamic there, from what I could tell. Crazy growth (jump-started by streams of wealthy Chinese from the Hong Kong handover) and incredibly costly housing along with a “homeless problem.” Of course, it’s all “because libruls. “

  265. Willard says:

    And as far as refusals go, JeffB’s deserves mention:

    Last fall in Seattle, a coalition of grassroots and progressive organizations called Housing For All came together to push our city to do better. We quickly emboldened members of Seattle’s City Council to put forward a proposal that would tackle not just homelessness, but also our regressive tax system: the City’s largest businesses would be required to contribute funding for housing and shelter. Mega-corporations like Amazon, which are driving and benefitting from our region’s rapid growth, and which also just got a big [Donald] tax break, would pay a modest per-employee tax to help mitigate the worst impacts of that growth.

    […]

    In a special meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 12, city councilmembers voted 7-2 to repeal the big business tax they had passed unanimously just four weeks before.

    https://inequality.org/research/jeff-bezos-amazon-seattle-homeless-tax/

  266. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    FWIW, I had a few convos about that tax repeal w/ librulz in Seattle. They were (somewhat surprisingly to me) not particularly animated by the repeal. They mostly felt “its complicated” and that the tax would have been a rather ineffectual approach to the problem (somewhat along the “you can’t keep throwing good money after bad to spend your way out of the problem” line of thinking). And the corporations were surprisingly open to the tax, at least at first. From what I could tell, most of the opposition came about because of concern about job losses and killing the Golden goose. Apparently, Seattle had a long history of poor approaches to the problem of homeless, and people lacked confidence that the money raised would create effective strategies (given the scale of the problem). It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.

    The amount of building going on there was incredibke – in particularly the massive skyscrapers being build by Amazon and the like. They literally built their own eco-climate there.

    Bezos has big balls:

    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jul/04/is-bezos-holding-seattle-hostage-the-cost-of-being-amazons-home

  267. tedpress says:

    The solution is the problem. The poor / homeless go to cities with liberal policies on social housing and other benefits. It is dramatically better to be homeless in Portland, where I live, than in cities with tougher policies. And tougher police.

    I don’t want harsher policies in Portland. I want the cities that export their homeless to man up,do the right thing and care for the needy in their back yard.

  268. @Joshua and interested parties,

    Given the circumstances and context, and noting that high tech and banking are the two highest domestic-product-generating components on the economy, it seems unwise to savage or even their operations in any way. There will be huge costs visited upon the U.S. economy in the next half century. If the cards continue to be played, this could include a dollar crash, economic penalties imposed by a world order led by China, and even the loss of a war, with punitive penalties. We are aligning ourselves both with the wrong side of history and acting as if there are no costs or consequences to how we treat other countries or what we do.

    Look to what happened to Britain after their empire dissolved.

    There may be far more homeless due to economic dislocation. After all, unemployment can only go up. Rome had a homelessness problem too: They provided free housing paid for by the government.

    These problems you are talking about are non-problems compared to other big ones. Like it or not, and I don’t there will be bigger role for government and much much higher taxes.

  269. Willard says:

    > it seems unwise to savage or even their operations in any way

    Except it doesn’t, because size matters:

    And since this is related:

    Schumpeter has a faulty theory of social leadership. While correctly stressing the contribution of the personal qualities of leaders to their performance (integrity, intelligence, creativity, managerial ability, devotion to duty, and the like) he virtually ignores the equally important contribution of the structures of external accountability to which leaders are subjected. This systematic oversight explains the relative weakness of Schumpeter’s defense of political democracy in comparison with more traditional defenses. Democracy’s chief strength in fact is not its ability to identify leadership qualities, but its ability to render the powerful accountable for their actions through the institutions of freedom of expression and information, due process, and periodic elections. Since no other known political system exhibits this strength, it is reasonable to consider political democracy a necessary condition of good government.

    http://www.umass.edu/preferen/gintis/SchumpeterChallenge.pdf

    The US of A exhibits the main characteristics of an oligarchy. JeffB and his ilk’s power allows them to escape accountability. This cannot end well.

  270. Ken Fabian says:

    “Democracy’s chief strength in fact is not its ability to identify leadership qualities, but its ability to render the powerful accountable for their actions through the institutions of freedom of expression and information, due process, and periodic elections.”

    I would put independent judicial systems that make try to make all people accountable for their actions – systems that put evidence and reasoning, ethical principles and precedent ahead of allegiances and money, even if they do so imperfectly, in there along with these. The most egregious government mismanagements – which would extend to creating the conditions that make violent revolutions and coups to look attractive as well as to sustaining totalitarian systems that arise from them – occurs when judicial systems are corrupt and those holding positions of responsibility and trust are not accountable.

    Whilst ‘hard’ corruption – where the laws exist but are sidestepped for some baksheesh – looks to me like a problem for those outside our successful modern democracies, ‘soft’ corruption is very much our problem; when the laws are rewritten in ways that diminish accountability our enduring ability to develop and enact effective policy is diminished.

    There has always been a high degree of regulatory capture of courts and legislators for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful but our legal systems – in conjunction with freedoms of expression, access to information and periodic elections – have worked well enough so far that it does impose some real limits. Perhaps in the past we could tolerate the social and economic burden of that, but I suggest the stakes have become much higher with the climate problem and the consequences of the mismanagement that corruption engenders are no longer transitory ones, but permanent and enduring ones.

    I think our collective poor management of the climate problem to date is in large part due to ‘soft’ corruption – yet our legal system still looks to me like the right arena to push back in.

  271. Joshua says:

    Hyper –

    it seems unwise to savage or even their operations in any way.

    Well, I think “it’s complicated.” First, there’s just the astounding degree of inequality, as Willard points to upstairs. But second, I think that Bezos et al. should be doing much more for their community in compensation for what the gain from their community. It goes back to that whole externality thingy, which I think many people just have a tough time coming to terms with.

    That said, as I said, I was surprised at the amount of slack my lefty friends (liberal is such a lousy term, particularly since it was a term of insult for someone on the left when I was growing up) in Seattle were cutting the Bezos crowd on the whole business tax thang. These are pretty left o’ center folks..some of whom have been involved in providing services to the poor and homeless for decades. The article I linked painted a somewhat different picture than what I found. It’s a tough situation because the tax policies are so regressive, but they were reluctant, nonetheless, to just think that sticking it to the man was the thing to do. I have a good friend that works with a public policy non-profit consulting organization in the SF area – and while he seems less convinced that the SF Google, Facebook, et al. have much sincere concern about their community, they do have him and his colleagues to many planning sessions with their community outreach entities.

  272. Joshua says:

    ted –

    I want the cities that export their homeless to man up,do the right thing and care for the needy in their back yard.

    As you no doubt realize, the situation is somewhat complicated in that many of those other cities have a very different climate than the Portland-like cities,…which adds to the influx of homeless into those areas.

  273. @Williard,

    Well perhaps Schumpeter does fail or didn’t work, but, in my book, the United States Constitution as a political construct is failing to solve or even some might say address the most important problem humanity has faced, something that if left unchecked will be bigger than the two world wars, bigger than bubonic plague or the Influenza Epidemic. According to the already cited article in Nature, there might be movement, but it won’t happen unless a couple of catastrophes occur. Sure, that’s human: It’s the town doesn’t install traffic lights until a sufficient number of body bags are carried away approach.

    Sure, but, by then, because the climate system has inertia and lags, there’ll be enough built into it that the catastrophes will just keep on comin’ for a while. People will begin to doubt that the measures being imposed upon them have anything to do with it at all, because they don’t understand lags, and they don’t understand exponential growth.

  274. @Joshua,

    Conditional probability. Triage. If the probability of fixing something is p, the probability of fixing both it and something else, like income equality, having a probability of being fixed q is p q. And p q < p and p q < q. In words, adding conditions, like climate justice onto the problem of fixing the climate makes the fixing of the climate problem less likely, not more. We no longer have the luxury of picking how. Maybe we did in 1990.

  275. Steven Mosher says:

    “And it’s not just US cities where the problems are in play. Among with SF and Seattle, we went to Vancouver. Similar dynamic there, from what I could tell. Crazy growth (jump-started by streams of wealthy Chinese from the Hong Kong handover) and incredibly costly housing along with a “homeless problem.” Of course, it’s all “because libruls. “

    Not so sure I care which political view is responsible or partly responsible, or currently in power to fix the problem. I guess my point is that even people who profess to care have a difficult time
    “solving” the problem. Having lived in SF I will say they are particularly stupid regardless of their
    political beliefs

  276. Steven Mosher says:

    My partner is a hospice nurse manager. Obviously, she deals with patients receiving healthcare from all manner of institutions – including boutique healthcare, concierge medicine.

    I would guess more people getting care from the VA than you’ve picked up, by orders of magnitude.

    She says that people at the VA can be difficult to get on the phone, and sometimes they don’t pay in a timely manner… but patients from the VA could receive a wider variety of treatments and services than patients from other outpatient hospice services.

    This the problem with reasoning on vastly complex problems by personal anecdote.”

    Since she works in hospice, she would not see the several hundred thousand that die waiting.
    She would see those destined to die. I dunno, maybe she does run around picking up guys and getting them medical care. My sense was hospice was for people who were already being treated. A censored data group, but what do I know.

    Now if you want to deny that vets die waiting for service at the VA go right ahead. The IG will disagree with you

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/09/04/ig-report-300000-veterans-died-while-waiting-health-care-va.html

    now, what are all the causes of these waits? hard to list all the causes, dont think its simple to rule out entirely the fact that there is essentially 1 payer, and they dont have to compete to be better.
    It would be good to see evidence that there is no way that single payer contributes to the problem.
    but absent that, I did what works. Im sure you SO also does what works for her. These may differ

  277. Steven Mosher says:

    Hard to figure out exactly wha Steven’s point is.

    https://la.curbed.com/2018/4/10/17178288/california-senate-bill-827-transit-zoning-los-angeles

    No easy to figure out

    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/04/californias-transit-density-bill-stalls/558341/

    you need to check where bart stations are son, and also cal train stations.

  278. Steven Mosher says:

    “I know, let’s see how they do it in South Korea:

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

    Yes, single payer. Its a straight percentage of your wage, last average I saw was premiums 8000 per year, plus deductibel
    If you are self employed it’s also based on your possessions. the health insurance actually only covers 55% of the cost of the system

    All doctor offices and hospitals are privately owned, so there is a ton of doctor offices and hospital beds competing. Consequently Koreans will go to the doctor for almost everything. Feeling tired?
    Go in for “ringers”. Whats that, you go to an office building and find this little office
    There are rows and rows of beds and little rooms. You pay your deductible and get ringers lactate.
    kinda like a pick me up.

    So if you have the sniffles or something minor then nothing beats the korean system as far as I have seen.

    Downsides? Korean doctors earn 1/4 of what american doctors earm, so they dont have a good ratio of doctors to patients, but a huge amount of care is done outpatient. For the same proceedures korean doctor can charge 1/8th of american doctor.

    To compensate for this the korean doctor will see 3-4 times as many patients as average. The local term is “5 minute diagnosis” The other way to compensate is to recommend certain proceedures
    C sections, for example. Korea is the world leader. over 40% of all births.

    Since the hospital are privately own, you have an excess of beds and cosnequently longer stays in the hospital than average.

    The other things docs will do to compensate for the lower salary is…….. specialize
    pick a specialty NOT controlled by the state.

    Result? plastic surgery mecca.

    Other thing they do is kickbacks from Pharma, result? overprescription. especially of anti biotics.
    Changes were made ( about separating prescribers from dispensers) and presciption has decreased, but they are still above normal.

    Lastly, you dont want to get a chronic disease ( like cancer) because there are a bunch of things the national insurance doesnt cover in chronic cases that you might get in the us

    Other problem? Well since you can see any doctor you want the best doctors ( at SNU) have really long lines.

    On balance its pretty good in Korea, there are good and bad aspect.

    short wait to see any doctor for 5 minute diagnosis
    absolute freedom to see any doctor, which means long lines for the best doctor.

  279. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Its a straight percentage of your wage, last average I saw was premiums 8000 per year, plus deductibel
    If you are self employed it’s also based on your possessions.”

    If that is $ you must move in the upper quartile.
    I understand the National Health Insurance rate ~7%. So that average would be for those on over $100,000. The S. Korean average is <30,000, the median less.

    It is an interesting system, goverment taxing a percentage of income, with a discount for agricultural work and pensions. But the full rate charged on income from rents and investments. In the West tax rates on unearned income is often lower or zero for health, and other re distributive taxes.

    Sounds like the providers are gaming it to provide the least healthcare for the most money, overprescribing and pushing non-health related 'treatments'. I bet the clinical evidence base for 'ringers' is thin.

    Apart from the method of funding, which diverts ~8% of GDP to healthcare(+), the most important aspects are probably universal coverage and price fixing by goverment. The result is comparable outcomes for half the cost of the US system.

    I read that this was a policy choice, to replace private insurance schemes, started in the late 1980s and completed in 2000. Perhaps the absence of a long history or established healthcare system inhibits change that those societies without regulatory capture well entrenched can embrace.

    Single payer is clearly excluded from the US policy options. But 'younger' Nations can follow RJP's suggestion to open up the policy envelope.
    (is that too contrived an effort to avoid getting OT?!)

  280. Steven Mosher says:

    Sorry my mistake. 8000 won.

    For me much higher

  281. Brian Dodge says:

    Pielke says “…is the result of two reinforcing sets of assumptions. One is that the costs of inaction will be high due to projected large changes in climate resulting from a massive increase in future emissions ….”
    The high cost of inaction is not an assumption, but a projection based on risk analysis. Its not only getting warmer, but the tail of the distribution on the high side is getting longer.- http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/hansen_17/ – see figure 2; what used to be 3 and 4 sigma events are dozens or hundreds of times more likely. When you multiply the probability ratio function by the also nonlinear damage functions, or the nonlinear Clausius-Clapeyron relation related to extreme rainfall. the integrated risk grows very quickly. For instance, the volume(& mass) rate of water sheet flow varies with the cube of the depth – so the energy available in a 2ft vs 1 foot deep flood per unit time =m*v^2/2 = (2^3*(2^2)^2)/2 = 64 times. Crop loss versus temperature, deaths versus temperature, windstorm damage versus windspeed or duration are all nonlinear functions. The Ice loss from both Greenland and Antactica is accelerating and statistically significant.
    Pielke deliberately mischaracterizing these observations as “assumptions” makes it unlikely that I will bother to read his entire screed.

  282. Dave_Geologist says:

    Pielke says “…is the result of two reinforcing sets of assumptions. One is that the costs of inaction will be high due to projected large changes in climate resulting from a massive increase in future emissions ….”

    That’s the sort of thing that convinces me Jr is at best a luckwarmer, at heart a denier. Not that it’s warming, but that the outcome will be harmful. In trusting his cherry-picked, amateur-hour analyses of those of the professionals, he is indeed denying a large chunk of the science.

    But if he came out about it he could no longer play concerned friend or honest broker. I would imaging that the denial is of the unconscious, psychological sort, not the dishonest sort. But it’s still denial.

  283. BTW, Lewis and Curry have a new paper in J. Climate. From their Abstract:

    Using an 1869–82 base period and a 2007–16 final period, which are well matched for volcanic activity and influence from internal variability, medians are derived for ECS of 1.50 K (5%-95% range: 1.05-2.45 K) and for TCR of 1.20 K (5%-95% range: 0.9-1.7 K). These estimates both have much lower upper bounds than those from a predecessor study using AR5 data ending in 2011. Using infilled, globally complete temperature data give slightly higher estimates: a median of 1.66 K for ECS (5%-95% range: 1.15–2.7 K) and 1.33 K for TCR (5%-95% range: 1.0-1.9 K). These ECS estimates reflect climate feedbacks over the historical period, assumed to be time invariant. Allowing for possible time-varying climate feedbacks increases the median ECS estimate to 1.76 K (5%-95% range: 1.2-3.1 K), using infilled temperature data. Possible biases from non–unit forcing efficacy, temperature estimation issues, and variability in sea surface temperature change patterns are examined and found to be minor when using globally complete temperature data. These results imply that high ECS and TCR values derived from a majority of CMIP5 climate models are inconsistent with observed warming during the historical period.

  284. hyper,
    I wrote a post about that paper when it first appeared.

  285. @ATTP,

    Sorry. Your post was dated April 2018 and the current J. Climate online publication from American Meteorological Society was dated July 2018, so I thought it was a different paper.

  286. hyper,
    I think it must have appeared online just after being accepted but is only now formally published.

  287. dikranmarsupial says:

    Will have to read the paper to see if that caveat is given. Arguably misinformation if it isn’t ;o)

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