Deferential?

I was listening to a podcast interview with Steve Keen, whose work I’ve written about before. It was about his paper the appallingly bad neoclassical economics of climate change. I have a lot of sympathy with what he’s presenting. Some of the assumptions being made by economists in this context seem rather odd, and I’ve been critical of Integrated Assessment models (IAMs) myself.

credit : xkcd

I also make an appearance in the podcast, as an example of a scientist who is too deferential towards neoclassical economists. I don’t know if deferential is quite the right word (some of you may recall interactions I’ve had with a prominent climate economist), but I see what they mean and they do have a point. The point being made in the podcast is that some of the assumptions made in the neoclassical economics of climate change are so obviously nonsensical that they really should be being called out by scientists.

I agree that many of the assumptions seem odd. Economic growth is often assumed to be baked in. The damage estimates for high levels of warming seem ridiculously low. However, I’m also aware that it’s easy to look at some problem outside your area of expertise, think you’ve seen some obvious glaring error, and be wrong. Retired engineers are sometimes noted for this when it comes to climate change.

Also if you think it’s important to listen to experts, then you’d need to then have pretty strong reasons for arguing that we should ignore some of them. So, I am indeed reluctant to vocally call out neoclassical economists who work on climate change, mostly because there may well be (certainly are) aspects that I don’t understand, but partly because I do think expertise matters.

The suggestion was also not just that some scientists were too deferential, but that they should really be pushing back strongly against what is being presented by neoclassical economists.

I don’t really see why this should be the responsibility of scientists. I certainly think that it’s utterly bonkers that we could end up warming the climate (this century) by an amount comparable to the difference between a glacial and an inter-glacial, but I don’t have a good way to quantify the societal, and ecological, impact. It just seems obviously a silly thing to do.

I think scientists have done a great job of highlighting the risks. If others are still buying low-ball estimates from neoclassical economists, I don’t think this is the fault of scientists. I’m not suggesting scientists shouldn’t continue to highlight, and stress, these risks, but I don’t think they should be expected to sort out failings in another discipline. Feel free to disagree in the comments, though 🙂

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53 Responses to Deferential?

  1. Michael,
    Thanks, yes I did see that yesterday. Seems like a reasonable step.

  2. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” The point being made in the podcast is that some of the assumptions made in the neoclassical economics of climate change are so obviously nonsensical that they really should be being called out by scientists.”

    There is a fair bit of distance between “defferential” and “hubristic”. “calling out” nonsensical assumptions made by experts in some other field is getting into “hubris” territory IMHO! “Questioning assumptions” seems a reasonable middle-ground?

    I suspect that those making the “residence time” argument, or the “second law of thermodynamics” argument might view themselves as calling out climate scientists on their “obviously nonsensical assumptions”.

    No academic ought to mind having their assumptions questioned, but “calling out” is unlikely to result in productive dialogue.

  3. Chubbs says:

    I am very skeptical about any economic modeling of the future, just not the same as a physical system. Not only are damages uncertain, the costs of reducing emissions are just as bad. Economic models haven’t even deployed the right technologies.

  4. Greg Robie says:

    This post Ken, from my perspective, is why the University of Edinburg is running out of time host a pan-academia symposium on how academia can effect a zero carbon business model by (2025/2050/2100) in conjunction with COP 26 in Glasgow … and this (of course) being done virtually, not in person. Don’t academic scientists [& economists] exist as a consequence of the Gestalt of Academia? Isn’t each ‘field’ of study a derivative of the whole, more so than a dif’rent ‘organelle’?

    My intro to all things climate was the BBC docu-drama “After The Warming”. In it, 1°C was stated as the upper boundary that scientists considered ‘safe’. So when 2°C showed up as a ‘safe’ limit my first question was “why?”. The answer was economic subterfuge regarding neoclassical economics, or what once-upon-a-time might have been seeable as subterfuge (but for scientists adapting their work to inform the economic biases that increasingly constrained policy debate after 2006?).

    I find it helpful to consider what enculturation is in play when examining one’s own motivated reasoning/observer bias. Are academics uniquely challenged in this regard [due to delusional multiple garrets in an equally delusional metaphorical Ivory Tower]? How might the enculturation – or is it a form of inculturation – regarding the delusional segmentation of society that apartheid, as a social construct, was built upon, also be in play?

    For me, until the modeling of the cryosphere in the Arctic approximates observations during this time of the loss of the Arctic cryosphere’s latent heat of ice, can what is “silly” be meaningfully asserted?

    =)

    Pertinent? https://twitter.com/opentoinfo/status/1356415154305560578?s=21

    sNAILmALEnotHAIL …but pace’n myself

    https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCeDkezgoyyZAlN7nW1tlfeA

    life is for learning so all my failures must mean that I’m wicked smart

    >

  5. Bob Loblaw says:

    Well, if you wanted to be an “economics skeptic” following the methodology of a “climate skeptic”, you could always say “Hey, economists can’t even predict what the stock market is going to do next month. Why would we expect them to be able to predict the economy 20 years from now?”

  6. There are overlapping uncertainties in both economic and climate projections for the next 80 years. It’s not that either or both are necessarily wrong (or right), but underlying assumptions account for the different results, not the calculations themselves.

    If economic growth does not continue, neither will the growth in emissions. If temperatures continue to rise at .16C per decade, the positive economic impacts forecast for the next two decades will temporarily mask the negative impacts thereafter and will mute the negative outcomes that follow.

    Economists and climate scientists do not need to shout at each other. Showing their work makes it clear that neither is necessarily wrong.

  7. Tom,
    I’d probably agree with you more if economists were a bit more upfront about the uncertainties in their modelling.

  8. Mightn’t the economists say the same about climate modelling?

  9. Tom,
    They may indeed, I guess.

  10. Willard says:

    Might not we say that SteveK is a plain model of a SpeedoScience guy? For instance:

    Being confrontational sometimes pays off:

    https://www.patreon.com/ProfSteveKeen

    Not sure why he still calls himself a Professor as his Kingston gig ended in 2018. I would not always want people to be deferential, but when I would I would call myself a Professor. For more on SpeedoScience:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/speedoscience/

  11. “Retired engineers are sometimes noted for this when it comes to climate change.”

    I actually don’t care that you made this rather hasty generalization. But I would much prefer something along the lines of …

    ” … are sometimes noted for this when it comes to climate change.”

    Meaning scientists, economists, engineers, technicians, mathematicians, geologists, heck any field one cares to name More specifically, it is usually EE’s, CS’s and geologists (API types) that appear more frequently in my own form of a hasty generalization.

    I am personally aware (meaning 1st person aware as I knew both) of only two research CE’s that promoted BS on SLR, Houston (still alive afaik) and Dean (now passed away). But I am sure that there are others (known and unknown to yours truly).

    Quite a lot of papers are published by civil and environmental engineers within the School’s of Civil and Environmental Engineering (e. g. Mark Z. Jacobson).

    :/

  12. dikranmarsupial says:

    “They may indeed, I guess.”

    it doesn’t always turn out well though. I vaguely remember a paper using econometric methods complaining that climate models were not very good at predicting station level data (which isn’t all that surprising when you think of the size of a grid box).

  13. Steven Mosher says:

    The point being made in the podcast is that some of the assumptions made in the neoclassical economics of climate change are so obviously nonsensical that they really should be being called out by scientists.

    the point is unlike other disciplines economics are very specific about their can openers.

    you dont like them. then offer an defend alternative assumptions

    you want them to play your game.

  14. dikranmarsupial says:

    Or offer a range of assumptions, labelled with an acronym and a number, covering the range considered just about possible. Who could object to that? ;o)

  15. Steven Mosher says:

    pop quiz in ar4.foror attributionstudiesmodels with excessive drift in control runs were not used. what assumptions underlythis decision and what is the impact on the final answer?
    dk?
    bueller?

  16. Steven,
    Whatever their can openers, if they’re claiming to be able to say something about the future, then they should be willing to have their claims tested.

  17. dikranmarsupial says:

    SM I don’t know enough about the detailed operation of climate models to be able to answer that (although I was aware of it). You would have to ask an expert, not me. However, I would suggest that if you “call out” modellers rather than ask informed questions you are not likely to have a productive dialog, but you know that already.

    However, it isn’t all that unusual in stats to reject mcmc chains that have gone wrong, or at least give the more burn in. If a model run does something untypical, it seems reasonable to leave it out. Tools are not perfect, an econometrics people are free to wite better climate models and defend them.

    My main point was that modellers assumptions Are questioned RCP8.5 anybody?

  18. dikranmarsupial says:

    Untypical should be unphysical, sorry autocorrect

  19. Ben McMillan says:

    I think there is a reasonable discussion to be had about how seriously to take various disciplines for the purposes of making real-world decisions.

    Unfortunately that is not something the economists can sort out for themselves, but has to be made collectively.

    e.g. hard sciences can make a strong argument for making testable predictions about the real world that have been confirmed by observations.

    Things like economics, cultural studies, not so much.

    “People take economics too seriously” seems like a perfectly sensible position. I think that people see blackboards full of equations and something that sounds a bit like a Nobel prize and get confused and think they are dealing with a hard science.

  20. dikranmarsupial says:

    BTW I don’t think screening model runs is based on assumptions, I suspect it is a pragmatic fix for an imperfection of climate models, rather like flux corrections and the use of baselining because models are much better at predicting changes in climate than they are at getting the absolute temperature right. Like flux corrections, it may well be that models improve to the point that the screening is increasingly unnecessary, just as modern models don’t need flux corrections anymore. None of this is hidden, it is openly discussed in the literature (even I know about it and I am not an expert in climate modelling – far from it). It is all open to question by anybody willing to do their homework. It is all open to improvement by anybody that has better modelling assumptions that they can build into their own model (or adapt one of the ones in the public domain). However it is much easier to just do a bit of JAQing, which requires no effort whatsoever.

    I am generally rather cautious about selecting particular model runs based on various criteria to answer more specific questions, but that is selecting from physically plausible runs. I’d ask why you *would* want include a model run that had done something unphysical in the warm up period, when you know that the models are not perfect (so some quality control seems a reasonable thing to do).

  21. dikranmarsupial says:

    Ben “e.g. hard sciences can make a strong argument for making testable predictions about the real world that have been confirmed by observations.”

    Indeed, which is ironically what makes the “soft” sciences rather harder than the “hard sciences”. Unfortunately if you are forced to make decisions, then you have to go with the best models you have, even if you perhaps have reservations about some of the links in the chain (some links more than others).

    Perhaps we need something like CMIP for economic models? At least then we can see the spread of the economic projections, if only from an “ensemble of opportunity”.

  22. Ben McMillan says:

    Sure, you could do climate economics ‘better’. I guess I’m really arguing that you could also just do it less, or give it less prominence. To take the extreme position, do we need it at all? It is not as if every decision humans make is made by economists.

    We didn’t spend much time asking economists what to do about covid, for example.

    I guess if you took the view the economics is generally pretty unreliable, you could just rely on it as little as possible. Basically, you could devise a reasonable plan to stay below 2C without doing very much economics at all. Especially anything to do with discount rates/climate damages or estimates of future ‘growth’.

    Just have a yearly target and figure out how to meet it used existing tech, deploy at least advanced tech, and spend a reasonable amount of money on r+d alongside.

    In other words, what is happening in the real world anyway, except more.

  23. Ben,
    Yes, that was sort of my thoughts too. It’s not clear that scientists need to engage directly with these economic models. We could decide to limit our emissions even if economic models suggest that continuing to emit GHGs into the atmosphere might have little impact. As you say, we don’t need to, and often don’t, base societal decisions on what is presented by economics.

  24. dikranmarsupial says:

    there is also a lot of questioning/”calling out” of sci-comm, but “econ-comm” is more conspicuous by its absence, even thought it is where most of the real problems lie in the public debate on climate change.

    Maybe science/sci-comm is the punchbag to avoid tackling the real issues?

  25. Mal Adapted says:

    Two economic models commonly applied to AGW are the “free market” and the “Tragedy of the Commons”. They identify the root cause of currently accelerating climate change in individual and aggregate human behavior: namely the anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere. Here is a prediction from the two related models: Under specified assumptions, there is a per-ton producer carbon fee on domestic fossil fuel producers that will result in a carbon-neutral US economy by 2050. The assumptions include an equivalent tariff on embodied carbon in imported goods at the port of entry; a periodic 100% return of the combined fee and tariff revenue to every federal tax filer in equal-sized dividends; a stable, effective plurality of US voters in favor of rapid decarbonization and/or their dividends; and a politically feasible schedule for initializing and increasing the per-ton carbon fee. The prediction is that correcting the price signal while leaving the fee and tariff revenue within the economy, available for reinvestment, will drive the otherwise-free market to replace fossil carbon with carbon-neutral energy at the lowest net social cost, compared to other public options including BAU.

    Testing the prediction isn’t really feasible, of course, not even by enacting national CF&D-BAT legislation tomorrow. For one thing, rigor requires there be no additional decarbonization policies enacted during the interval. It also requires testing all other public options in isolation as well. Are the underlying economic models justified? IMHO they are, enough for me to advocate a US CF&D-BAT with or without other collective actions against AGW. I’ll entertain counter-arguments, however.

  26. Mal Adapted says:

    me:

    a per-ton producer carbon fee on domestic fossil fuel producers

    Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. The first ‘producer’ is of course superfluous.

  27. Trying to isolate policy relevant discussions by treating ‘climate change,’ ‘economics,’ ‘politics,’ etc. without considering their impacts on each other seems a bit fruitless.

    I support a revenue neutral carbon tax. I cannot conceive of the impacts on climate change without internal debate on the economics and political ramifications.

    What level should it be assessed at?
    Economics: What is the minimum level that would change behavior? Do we need a sliding scale to compensate for success of the policy? Do we want to gather the same revenue even as people abandon CO2 production for greener alternatives or does the tax wither?

    Politics: What will the populace stand for and how different is that from what carbon producers will accept? How will revenues be hypothecated?

    Etc., etc. A whole of earth approach is called for. I’m not sure it can be modelled.

  28. Mal Adapted says:

    thomaswfuller2:
    Not bad. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Truculent Tom? He’s much more combative than you ;^D.

  29. Same ol’ me. I have my own theories on why I’m perceived as truculent, but that’s off topic.

  30. Ben McMillan says:

    The following is interesting:

    https://www.pnas.org/content/117/16/8664

    Basically, the economists, tend to view carbon prices/taxes as the most efficient policy by definition. And usually propose a universal/uniform carbon tax that drives marginal changes towards the goal.

    But actually, in the real world, most of what is needed is a transformation, not marginal change. So you may get stuck in a local equilibrium or find out there is some path dependence involved.

    You don’t design a jet aircraft by slowly modifying a butterfly. You don’t get to zero-carbon by slowly making a coal-plant more efficient.

    Basically, the problem is that markets, by themselves, might suck at solving the problem we are in. Instead, like for most complicated real-world problems, people might need to get together and make a plan. Not that markets can’t be part of the solution, but putting all the eggs in one basket seems a bad idea.

    Even in places that have a carbon tax, the things that have catapulted low carbon tech into a viable solution are mostly a consequence of more directed regulation, e.g. subsidies for wind+EVs in the US, solar in Germany. Plus people just doing it because it is needed, without being handed wads of cash.

  31. Mal Adapted says:

    Ben McMillan:

    But actually, in the real world, most of what is needed is a transformation, not marginal change. So you may get stuck in a local equilibrium or find out there is some path dependence involved.

    Yes. It’s true that renewable energy, mainly PV solar and wind, have come down in price rapidly without US carbon taxes. It’s an interesting question how much of the pace of the decline is the result of piecemeal collective interventions in the energy market, .e.g. direct subsidies or mandates for renewables, anti-emissions regulations that raise producer cost of compliance, outright bans on coal for electricity generation, and let’s not forget public investment in basic science as well as R&D. The other question is whether those factors alone can build out the 100% carbon-neutral US economy in time to prevent ever more horrific casualties due to climate change. IMHO, decarbonizing the US economy is a political rather than technical problem. CF&D-BAT has the political advantages of being (IMHO) easy to understand, fair, and progressive. A big enough per-ton fee/tariff can be expected to take the profit out of fossil carbon production, by internalizing enough of their marginal climate-change costs to shift capital investment to renewable-energy supplies and distribution, as well as carbon-neutral goods and services. At least, so this bipartisan group of economists was willing to say in the Wall St. Journal. I defer to them ;^).

    BM:

    You don’t design a jet aircraft by slowly modifying a butterfly. You don’t get to zero-carbon by slowly making a coal-plant more efficient.

    If you charge a big enough per-ton fee for carbon, coal is isn’t competitive with alternatives like wind, solar or natural gas. Keep raising the fee, and gas becomes uneconomic too. If you raise the fee too far, too fast, however, the legislation will be repealed. Decarbonization won’t happen in one fell swoop in any case. The goal is to bring our aggregate emissions down as fast as possible without provoking US consumers to vote against effective policies. IOW, it’s a political optimization problem. I Am Not A Politician, so I don’t really know where that optimum lies. OTOH, I believe public advocacy can make a difference on collective decisions under constitutional democracy, despite the sophisticated disinformation campaigns of fossil fuel investors and their Republican allies in government.

    BM:

    Not that markets can’t be part of the solution, but putting all the eggs in one basket seems a bad idea.

    On that much, we agree.

    BM:

    Plus people just doing it because it is needed, without being handed wads of cash.

    Enough to overcome the Tragedy of the Climate Commons? Maybe, depending on what ‘it’ is: E. Ostrom drew our attention to polycentric approaches to climate change. My own preference is for “all of the above”. I still want the US to enact some kind of CF&D-BAT legislation, though. There’s a bill in Congress now, see energyinnovationact.org. I’m not prepared to defend its particulars against a recognized expert, however.

  32. Ben McMillan says:

    Well, the EU is taking an all-of-the-above strategy and has a carbon price (in some sectors) on top of various other regulatory schemes. You can see the market switching between coal and gas over the last decade as the price has wobbled around.

    That is what it is meant to do, but gas is not great and a long term investment in new gas plants would be a problem. It might prompt people to build real low-carbon generation now that other policies have made renewables cheap, as long as people have confidence in the carbon price staying high.

    Carbon-price seems like a useful piece of the toolkit, but it isn’t doing the heavy-lifting at the moment.

    I’m always a bit non-plussed when people talk about how politically saleable some carbon-price-and-dividend idea is. What has actually been simple to understand, easy to sell, and always polls really high, is subsidising low-carbon technology rollout. And it has been made law much more often than anything else. It would be great if the US implemented some kind of carbon price, but seems like it will be a hard sell.

    It looks to me like there is a building critical mass where the risk of being left behind starts looking a lot more scary for countries/regions than the cost of transitioning to a clean economy.

  33. Mal Adapted says:

    Ben McMillan:

    What has actually been simple to understand, easy to sell, and always polls really high, is subsidising low-carbon technology rollout. And it has been made law much more often than anything else. It would be great if the US implemented some kind of carbon price, but seems like it will be a hard sell.

    I’m in complete agreement with every word!

  34. Chubbs says:

    Regarding Tom’s point about uncertainty. The main uncertainty in projecting future temperature is emissions, i.e., economics, politics, and technology. Furthermore, the climate science uncertainty is mainly at the high end, the part that Tom ignores.

  35. dikranmarsupial says:

    Tom says “Trying to isolate policy relevant discussions by treating ‘climate change,’ ‘economics,’ ‘politics,’ etc. without considering their impacts on each other seems a bit fruitless.”

    economics and politics have no impact on the science of climate change. I would have thought that it would be more fruitful to discuss the science of climate change without being distracted by the irrelevant economic and political considerations, if if is the science we are actually discussing. Whether the rise in atmospheric CO2 is natural or whether ECS is more than three has nothing whatsoever to do with anybodies views on carbon taxes.

  36. Mal Adapted says:

    dikranmarsupial:

    economics and politics have no impact on the science of climate change. I would have thought that it would be more fruitful to discuss the science of climate change without being distracted by the irrelevant economic and political considerations, if if is the science we are actually discussing. Whether the rise in atmospheric CO2 is natural or whether ECS is more than three has nothing whatsoever to do with anybodies views on carbon taxes.

    Uh. If the rise in atmospheric CO2 is natural, why would anyone support carbon taxes? Isn’t the centrality of human behavior to anthropogenic global warming obvious? If it wasn’t anthropogenic, the globe might still be warming, but collective mitigation choices would be different (geo-engineering?)

  37. dikranmarsupial says:

    Mal, that would be an impact of science on politics/economics, the point I was making is that the impacts between fields are directional, so sometimes is is more constructive to look at some issue in isolation. Science is an input to the discussion of policy and economics, but politics and economics are not an input to the science (except in setting some of the questions).

    I mention the rise in CO2 as quite often discussions of that have ended up with “but taxes” ;o)

  38. Mal Adapted says:

    dikranmarsupial::

    I would have thought that it would be more fruitful to discuss the science of climate change without being distracted by the irrelevant economic and political considerations, if if is the science we are actually discussing.

    I think I understand what you mean, but I’m with Tom here. The methodological framework of science as a hierarchy of systems compartmentalizes, and the culture of science departmentalizes, the universe of phenomena. It isn’t actually divided into departments, however. If we insist on treating it that way, we miss the connections, and never apprehend the cosmos as a whole. We know beyond a reasonable doubt that the accelerating rise of GMST observed in the last half century is rooted in economics and politics, considered sciences of human behavior. Therefore, so are any plausible actions to cap the warming. The reason anyone cares about AGW is that it’s already costing money and tragedy around the world, and the final cost is open-ended as long as we keep digging up fossil carbon and burning it. Scientists who investigate human behavior can’t make epistemic claims as confidently as physical scientists can, but they do know some things other scientists don’t, and their help is needed to limit the death and misery due to AGW. IMHO a little forbearance, if not deference, seems appropriate.

  39. Sorry I can’t be more truculent, but I agree with MalAdapted.

  40. dikranmarsupial says:

    Mal, I am all for recognising connections where they exist and the direction of those connections.

    Science isn’t all about compartmentalising. You can take a cladogram and look at it as compartmentalising the animal kingdom by focusing on the differences between families, but if you look at it in the other direction, it is bringing the animal kingdom together according to it’s similarities. Some science is looking at the details, some is looking at the big-picture. The aim of science is to understand the natural world, both in detail and the big picture.

    Economics has no bearing on phsyics. So consideration of taxes is irrelevant to a discussion of the absoprtion of IR by greenhouse gasses, so we shouldn’t connect them in that way. Likewise science, not economics tells us that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not a natural phenomenon. Economics tells us why anthropogenic emissions have risen and (in conjunction with politics and science) what to do about it.

    The public debate on climate is often derailed by (i) questioning the science as a means of procrastinating away from a discussion of the really important matters (economics and socio-poltical issues) and (ii) accepting science based on our view of economics and politics. Both are examples of incorrectly connecting things, and both obfuscate the discussion.

    I am advocating connecting things that are connected, not connecting things that are not connected, and noting the direction of the connections.

  41. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” IMHO a little forbearance, if not deference, seems appropriate.”

    completely agree there a little humility is always in order, especially when making a foray into another domain.

  42. Mal Adapted says:

    dikranmarsupial:

    Economics has no bearing on phsyics. So consideration of taxes is irrelevant to a discussion of the absoprtion of IR by greenhouse gasses, so we shouldn’t connect them in that way. Likewise science, not economics tells us that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not a natural phenomenon. Economics tells us why anthropogenic emissions have risen and (in conjunction with politics and science) what to do about it.

    I guess it depends on what we come to this blog for. My training and interests have been in ecology, evolutionary biology, human psychology and economics. I’ve never done any of those for a living, however. I, for one, am more than sufficiently confident in the physical basis of AGW, and am now focused on overcoming political obstacles to decarbonization. I really just want to forestall misery and premature death for people including me and my collateral descendants, and slow the pitiless 6th Great Extinction. AFAICT, that will involve all knowledge humanity possesses.

  43. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I really just want to forestall misery and premature death”

    me too (actually what I want most is for decisions not to be taken on the basis of misinformation/bullshit, but I think the end result would be the same).

    I’m also confident that I understand enough of the physics of AGW (which isn’t all that much), the economics and politics are where the real problems lie, and I have very little to bring to that discussion!

  44. Mal Adapted says:

    dikranmarsupial:

    Likewise science, not economics tells us that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not a natural phenomenon.

    Sorry, can’t resist: We know that the large-scale anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere amounts to twice as much as the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1700. How do we know that? Why, from data gathered and analyzed by economists 8^}.

  45. Mal Adapted says:

    I left out my supporting link for “the large-scale anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere amounts to twice as much as the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1700”.

  46. Global Carbon Budget 2020
    https://essd.copernicus.org/articles/12/3269/2020/
    Pierre Friedlingstein1,2, Michael O’Sullivan2, Matthew W. Jones3, Robbie M. Andrew4, Judith Hauck5, Are Olsen6,7, Glen P. Peters4, Wouter Peters8,9, Julia Pongratz10,11, Stephen Sitch12, Corinne Le Quéré3, Josep G. Canadell13, Philippe Ciais14, Robert B. Jackson15, Simone Alin16, Luiz E. O. C. Aragão17,12, Almut Arneth18, Vivek Arora19, Nicholas R. Bates20,21, Meike Becker6,7, Alice Benoit-Cattin22, Henry C. Bittig23, Laurent Bopp24, Selma Bultan10, Naveen Chandra25,26, Frédéric Chevallier14, Louise P. Chini27, Wiley Evans28, Liesbeth Florentie8, Piers M. Forster29, Thomas Gasser30, Marion Gehlen14, Dennis Gilfillan31, Thanos Gkritzalis32, Luke Gregor33, Nicolas Gruber33, Ian Harris34, Kerstin Hartung10,a, Vanessa Haverd13, Richard A. Houghton35, Tatiana Ilyina11, Atul K. Jain36, Emilie Joetzjer37, Koji Kadono38, Etsushi Kato39, Vassilis Kitidis40, Jan Ivar Korsbakken4, Peter Landschützer11, Nathalie Lefèvre41, Andrew Lenton42, Sebastian Lienert43, Zhu Liu44, Danica Lombardozzi45, Gregg Marland31,46, Nicolas Metzl41, David R. Munro47,48, Julia E. M. S. Nabel11, Shin-Ichiro Nakaoka26, Yosuke Niwa26,49, Kevin O’Brien50,16, Tsuneo Ono51, Paul I. Palmer52,53, Denis Pierrot54, Benjamin Poulter55, Laure Resplandy56, Eddy Robertson57, Christian Rödenbeck58, Jörg Schwinger59,7, Roland Séférian37, Ingunn Skjelvan59,7, Adam J. P. Smith3, Adrienne J. Sutton16, Toste Tanhua60, Pieter P. Tans61, Hanqin Tian62, Bronte Tilbrook42,63, Guido van der Werf64, Nicolas Vuichard14, Anthony P. Walker65, Rik Wanninkhof54, Andrew J. Watson12, David Willis66, Andrew J. Wiltshire57, Wenping Yuan67, Xu Yue68, and Sönke Zaehle58

    1College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK
    2Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, CNRS-ENS-UPMC-X, Département de Géosciences, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24 rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France
    3Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
    4CICERO Center for International Climate Research, Oslo 0349, Norway
    5Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Postfach 120161, 27515 Bremerhaven, Germany
    6Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
    7Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
    8Wageningen University, Environmental Sciences Group, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands
    9University of Groningen, Centre for Isotope Research, 9747 AG, Groningen, the Netherlands
    10Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Luisenstr. 37, 80333 München, Germany
    11Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
    12College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
    13CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Canberra, ACT 2101, Australia
    14Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    15Department of Earth System Science, Woods Institute for the Environment, and Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305–2210, USA
    16National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (NOAA/PMEL), 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, USA
    17Remote Sensing Division, National Institute for Space Research, São José dos Campos, Brazil
    18Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
    19Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada
    20Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), 17 Biological Lane, St. Georges, GE01, Bermuda
    21Department of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
    22Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Fornubudir 5, 220 Hafnarfjordur, Iceland
    23Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemuende (IOW), Seestrasse 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
    24Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique/Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure/Université PSL, Sorbonne Université, Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, France
    25Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Yokohama, 236-0001, Japan
    26Center for Global Environmental Research, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), 16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8506, Japan
    27Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
    28Hakai Institute, Heriot Bay, BC, Canada
    29Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
    30International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schlossplatz 1 2361 Laxenburg, Austria
    31Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA
    32Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), InnovOceanSite, Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400 Ostend, Belgium
    33Environmental Physics Group, ETH Zürich, Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics and Center for Climate Systems Modeling (C2SM), Zurich, Switzerland
    34NCAS-Climate, Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
    35Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), Falmouth, MA 02540, USA
    36Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61821, USA
    37CNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
    38Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan
    39Institute of Applied Energy (IAE), Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0003, Japan
    40Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Plymouth, PL13DH, United Kingdom
    41LOCEAN/IPSL laboratory, Sorbonne Université, CNRS/IRD/MNHN, Paris, France
    42CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, TAS, Australia
    43Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
    44Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
    45National Center for Atmospheric Research, Climate and Global Dynamics, Terrestrial Sciences Section, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
    46Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608-2067, USA
    47Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
    48National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Global Monitoring Laboratory (NOAA/GML), Boulder, CO 80305, USA
    49Meteorological Research Institute, 1-1 Nagamine, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0052 Japan
    50Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies (CICOES), University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
    51Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency, 2-12-4 Fukuura, Kanazawa-Ku, Yokohama 236-8648, Japan
    52National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FF, UK
    53School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FF, UK
    54National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (NOAA/AOML), Miami, FL 33149, USA
    55NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
    56Princeton University, Department of Geosciences and Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
    57Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK
    58Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, P.O. Box 600164, Hans-Knöll-Str. 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
    59NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Jahnebakken 5, 5007 Bergen, Norway
    60GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
    61National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA ESRL), Boulder, CO 80305, USA
    62School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 602 Ducan Drive, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
    63Australian Antarctic Partnership Program, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
    64Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    65Climate Change Science Institute and Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA
    66University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
    67School of Atmospheric Sciences, Guangdong Province Key Laboratory for Climate Change and Natural Disaster Studies, Zhuhai Key Laboratory of Dynamics Urban Climate and Ecology, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, Guangdong 510245, China
    68Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment Monitoring and Pollution Control, Collaborative Innovation Center of Atmospheric Environment and Equipment Technology, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST), Nanjing 210044, China
    anow at: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

    Correspondence: Pierre Friedlingstein (p.friedlingstein@exeter.ac.uk)

    I have not checked the above authorships, but I am pretty sure making a hasty generalization is, in general, bad form or some such.

  47. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Sorry, can’t resist: We know that the large-scale anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere amounts to twice as much as the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1700. How do we know that? Why, from data gathered and analyzed by economists 8^}.”

    Nah, that’s just data ;o)

    Good point, well made!

  48. Ben McMillan says:

    Yep, if one was dividing climate-related economics into “really useful” and “dubious” then the systematic data collection aspect would definitely fall on into the useful pile.

    The ‘psychohistory’ style predictions a century into the future I’m a bit less sure about. Not that that is completely useless, but the warning labels need to be in a bigger font, and ideally you would emphasise alternative lines of evidence/reasoning.

  49. Mal Adapted says:

    Not to belabor the point, but we’re expected to cite our factual claims authoritatively. A more direct citation than Wikipedia for “the large-scale anthropogenic transfer of fossil carbon to the atmosphere amounts to twice as much as the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1700” is this 2004 RealClimate post by Eric Steig, How do we know that recent CO2 increases are due to human activities?:

    Careful accounting of the amount of fossil fuel that has been extracted and combusted, and how much land clearing has occurred, shows that we have produced far more CO2 than now remains in the atmosphere. The roughly 500 billion metric tons of carbon we have produced is enough to have raised the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to nearly 500 ppm.

    The specific calculations are detailed in the comment thread for the post, with inline responses by various RC contributors — those were the days! The error bar around “twice as much” is implied. And the land-clearance component has been going on much longer than fossil-fuel burning has, of course. I trust I needn’t cite that, but see Bill Ruddiman’s work.

  50. MA.

    Trend analysis of the airborne fraction and sink rate of anthropogenically released CO2
    https://bg.copernicus.org/articles/16/3651/2019/
    Mikkel Bennedsen1,3, Eric Hillebrand1,3, and Siem Jan Koopman2,3
    1Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Fuglesangs Allé, 4 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark
    2Department of Econometrics, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    3Center for Research in Econometric Analysis of Time Series (CREATES), Aarhus University, Fuglesangs Allé, 4 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark

    Correspondence: Mikkel Bennedsen (mbennedsen@econ.au.dk)

    Received: 07 Sep 2018 – Discussion started: 08 Oct 2018 – Revised: 26 Jul 2019 – Accepted: 26 Aug 2019 – Published: 26 Sep 2019

    “Abstract
    Is the fraction of anthropogenically released CO2 that remains in the atmosphere (the airborne fraction) increasing? Is the rate at which the ocean and land sinks take up CO2 from the atmosphere decreasing? We analyse these questions by means of a statistical dynamic multivariate model from which we estimate the unobserved trend processes together with the parameters that govern them. We show how the concept of a global carbon budget can be used to obtain two separate data series measuring the same physical object of interest, such as the airborne fraction. Incorporating these additional data into the dynamic multivariate model increases the number of available observations, thus improving the reliability of trend and parameter estimates. We find no statistical evidence of an increasing airborne fraction, but we do find statistical evidence of a decreasing sink rate. We infer that the efficiency of the sinks in absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere is decreasing at approximately 0.54 % yr−1.”

    YMMV

  51. dikranmarsupial says:

    Mal, there is always this one as well ;o)

    https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/ef200914u

  52. Mal Adapted says:

    Thanks, guys.

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