Bray replies

Dennis Bray has replied to my post on his study.

I am very disapointed in his response. He writes:

For the two groups, the ‘sceptics’ and the ‘saviours’ there seems to have been equal access. If any one knows of other postings I would be interested to note how far the survey was distributed. The purpose of the survey was to attempt to gain an objective view of the state of the science not to provide fodder any camp of activists, but no measurement instrument (survey) is prefect, in any science.

While no study is perfect, this study is so imperfect as to be useless. Since it was posted on the climatesceptics list, the sample is not representative. As a social scientist Bray should know this.

Comments

  1. #1 TallDave
    May 6, 2005

    I’d be interested to see another study done. I think you’d still find a fair amount of skepticism as compared to widely accepted indirectly testable theories.

    Still think it’s too early to claim anthropogenic GW models have enough predictive power to mandate anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences. But it certainly seems to warrant further study.

  2. #2 Bob
    May 6, 2005

    WRT: “it’s too early to claim anthropogenic GW models have enough predictive power to mandate anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences.” Even if your assessment of climate models were accurate, what economic models have the predictive power for you to make such an uncritical claim about “significant negative economic consequences”?

  3. #3 Mark
    May 6, 2005

    As a social scientist Bray should know this.

    If you read Bray’s response to my comment, he seems to be a very poorly educated social scientist, as he appears to have no idea what a self-selected sample is.

  4. #4 TallDave
    May 7, 2005

    Bob,

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=energy+costs+economic+growth

    It’s generally accepted that increases in energy costs negatively affect economic growth. I think you’d be harder-pressed to find economists that would disagree with that statement than to find global warming skeptics.

    But I think you raise a good point in that the economic effects of different actions can and should be debated. Of course, not everything we can do to reduce CO2 emissions would necessarily have a negative economic impact. Funding more research into fusion and other alternative energy sources, building pebble-bed nuclear plants, etc., are probably easier to justify than, say, enacting regulations that make using existing CO2 producing fuels more expensive.

  5. #5 Yelling
    May 7, 2005

    TallDave, I was going to make the same comment as Bob. From what I see, there is far more doubt about the economic consequences then the science. I believe that we have a good handle on the maximum costs but we still don’t have a good idea of the benefits of a Kyoto-like plan. As a “far-out” example: I could argue that if oil prices increase then more people will walk or bike. This will lead to a healthier population and thus a significant savings on healthcare in the years to come.

    Regards,
    Y.

  6. #6 TallDave
    May 7, 2005

    Yelling:

    Well, what can I say besides check the link; all the economists seem to disagree with you. There seems to be very little doubt about the economic consequences or desirability of higher energy prices. There seems to be a relatively large amount of doubt about the consequences of GW, and also how much of is anthropogenic in origin.

  7. #7 Yelling
    May 7, 2005

    TallDave:
    you have missed my point. Every report on the costs of Kyoto has included some phrase like “the benefits of the implementation of Kyoto will be ignored”.
    Your links all support this position which I say has been undervalued. It should be easy to show me wrong. Just quote a report that says they have considered the health benefit I mention above (a fairly reasonable one I assume) and even if they say it is inconsequential I will retract my statement.

    Predicting the future is always uncertain so I agree there is some uncertainity there, but as the recent analysis of Peiser’s work shows, the consensus is that most of it is anthropogenic.

  8. #8 Dano
    May 7, 2005

    In support of Yelling’s point, Lindzen himself in the WSJ has sown doubt on the future predictions, but only because economics can’t do a good enough job at predicting human behavior. He has couched the phrase very carefully, but the implication is clear:

    This is because we cannot forecast economic and technological change over the next century, and also because there are many man-made substances whose properties and levels are not well known, but which could be comparable in importance to carbon dioxide.

    The rest of the article is a marvel of doubt-sowing, but the biggest septic of them all disagrees with TD and the rest of the folks who argue for mammon.

    D

  9. #9 Dano
    May 7, 2005
  10. #10 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Yelling,

    I think in order to show some benefit from the Kyoto accords, you need to show some definite harm that they would prevent, beyond merely introducing some coercive economic inefficiencies that will supposedly make people exercise more (I’m curious, are we also going to take away their dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, and electric toothbrushes next, on the grouds they’ll exercise more and use less energy?). I didn’t comment on your “health benefit” initially, because I didn’t think you were being serious, but now I’m beginning to worry that you were.

    Dano,

    That’s quite amusing. You took an incredibly vague statement about the nebulous future of economic and technological change for next 100 years, and tried to apply it to whether higher energy prices have an economic cost today. Did you read the link? Economics isn’t some esoteric field that most people have never heard of, where the odd paper is published now and then. Economics is intensively studied and analyzed in the public eye precisely because it impacts everyone’s life, and there is very little debate about that point among economists today. There is comparatively a lot more debate about how much anthropogenic climate change there is, what its effects will be, and even whether it is in fact harmful.

    Mammon? He gets his regardless, unless you seize his wealth and distribute it to the working classes by force, and I think Eastern Europe has tried that economic model already. I’m more worried about the the middle-class family that has to spend their hard-earned dollars on gas, electricity, heat, the independent truck driver that goes out of business, the ripple effect of lower disposbale income in lost jobs, failed businesses, etc.

  11. #11 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    “it’s too early to claim anthropogenic GW models have enough predictive power to mandate anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences.”

    Good thing the Kyoto Protocol (and likely follow-on measures) will probably have net positive or only very mildly negative economic impacts.

  12. #12 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    “I think in order to show some benefit from the Kyoto accords, you need to show some definite harm that they would prevent{”

    You mean like reducing the 10,000+ plus deaths in the developed world every year directly linked to emissiosn from coal-fired power plants?

    Or reducing the much larger number of deatsh each year in the developing world from cancers caused by inefficient open cooking fires?

    Or the positive impact on employment of shifting to more labor-intensive forms of energy production?

    Or removing the need for the estimated $70 billion a year cost to the US of maintaining stability in the middle east oil-producing states?

    Or the more favorable terms of trade oil-importing states would experience?

  13. #13 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    The Kyoto Protocol, while flawed, is primarily about creating an economic framework in which enterprises and countries can identify the most cost-effective mechanisms to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.

    Some government policies enacted to promote wind power (for example) may not be economically optimal but that’s the fault of the governments not the Protocol.

  14. #14 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Ian,

    No, I mean something related to global warming. None of those things you listed are caused by GW. There are aspects of Kyoto I agree with, just not the GW portion.

    Some government policies enacted to promote wind power (for example) may not be economically optimal but that’s the fault of the governments not the Protocol.

    Actually, that’s more the fault of reality. Although in the case of wind power, it is actually economically viable in some cases.

  15. #15 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    Dave,

    The benefits I outline imply that the net cost of the Kyoto Protocol will be low (or that there will be net benefits) regardless of whether global warming is real or not.

    Hypothetically, if the NPV (cost) of Kyoto is $100 billion and the NPV of potential harm which it might avoid is $1 trillion then if there’s even a 10% chance the AGW hypothesis is correct then its an economically rational policy.

  16. #16 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Ian,

    Again, the benefits you outline have nothing to do with GW, they have trade-off costs which are greater than the benefit or the free market would be doing them already, and if as you postulate GW’s “not real” then it’s very difficult to find a net economic benefit in wasting money trying to affect illusory events. As for your estimate:

    The major conclusions are: (a) the net global cost of the Kyoto Protocol is $716 billion in present value, (b) the United States bears almost two-thirds of the global cost; and (c) the benefit-cost ratio of the Kyoto Protocol is 1/7.
    http://www.iaee.org/en/publications/kyoto.aspx

    Hypothetically, if the NPV of the cost of Kyoto is $716 billion and the NPV of the harm it avoids is $100 billion, we just wasted over $600 billion dollars. That’s if we accept the unproven notions that Kyoto will reduce GW, that GW is primarily anthropogenic to begin with, and that GW will cause $100 billion in damage.

  17. #17 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    “they have trade-off costs which are greater than the benefit or the free market would be doing them already”

    not true as anyone who’s completed even a first-year course in Economics could explain to you.

  18. #18 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    “they have trade-off costs which are greater than the benefit or the free market would be doing them already”

    not true as anyone who’s completed even a first-year course in Economics could explain to you. Hint: look up “environmental externality”.

    The paper you link to is from 1999 – i.e. when oil prices were about 1/5th of their current level. It was also co-authored by an employee of an energy industry group.

    Tell me what result you want from a multi-variant econometric model and by selecting the right starting assumptions I can pretty much give you whatever outcome you want.

  19. #19 Disputo
    May 8, 2005

    First of all, anyone who writes “they have trade-off costs which are greater than the benefit or the free market would be doing them already” doesn’t understand the first thing about economics. Well, rather, he understands just enough econ to get everything wrong. Perfectly working markets are just as illusary as frictionless inclined planes and unicorns. If you cannot name off a dozen types of market failures, go back and finish reading your econ 101 textbook. Pay particular attention to the section on public goods and externalities.

    Secondly, am I the only one who finds it, er, interesting that those who most aggressively argue that more data must be obtained before making a decision to reverse this global experiment of pumping GHGs into the atmosphere are the same people who argue that wars can, nay must, be fought with little information collected either before, during, or afterwards? $300 billion so far (just from the US, and not including lives lost), and we haven’t even seen a cost benefit analysis. Where are all the sceptics complaining about the costs?

    That’s a rhetorical question, btw. We know where they are.

  20. #20 Ian Gould
    May 8, 2005

    As an economist I have to make a confession: economic modelling is subject to a wide range of potential errors. For starters, you never know the starting state of the economy with absolute certainty and the accuracy of even the best CGE models is less than perfect.

    If economists were honest we wouldn’t say “economic policy X will increase GDP by 5% over the next twenty years” we’d say “economic policy X has a 95% chance of having an effect on GDP of between -1% and plus 8% with a medium expected value of +5%.”

  21. #21 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Disputo,

    Anyone who thinks the government does a better job than free markets missed the last 100 years of human history.

    I do find it interesting that same people who want to wreck the economy in the name of unproven benefits also claim we cannot, nay must not, assign any value to freedom or democracy.

  22. #22 Yelling
    May 8, 2005

    TallDave:

    And I find it interesting that there are some who are positive that a program like Kyoto will wreck the economy or that it will cost $716 billion (not 717 mind you) and at the same time argue that the is no evidence for AGW.

    Y.

  23. #23 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Ian,

    I’ve completed several economics courses. If you’ve taken any, you should know those arguments don’t apply to chasing illusory benefits. It’s like arguing we should spend $700 billion to try to move Mercury so our astrological signs will be better, on the basis it can’t hurt because we don’t know what the economic effect will be anyway.

    Tell me what result you want from a multi-variant climate model and by selecting the right starting assumptions I can pretty much give you whatever outcome you want.

  24. #24 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Yelling,

    I find it very amusing people argue Kyoto is free, or actually less than free(!), or that we can’t tell whether it costs anything because we don’t understand economics well enough, but that GW is proven enough to spend ~ $700 billion on (but even so: it still might be free!).

  25. #25 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    If it can be argued that Kyoto might have a net positive economic effect, it can also be argued Kyoto might have negative net environmental effect, for instance were we to experience a solar-induced Little Ice Age similar to what Europe experienced a few hundred years ago, in which case we’d want all the AGW we could get.

  26. #26 Meyrick
    May 8, 2005

    TallDave: “Anyone who thinks the government does a better job than free markets missed the last 100 years of human history.”

    I’m tempted to note the health care system in the US! In addition every government on the planet has substantial spending, private companies have substantial bureaucracies of their own (I should know, I study them!), and finally the notion of externalities is well established in economics.

  27. #27 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Meyrick,

    I’m tempted to note the horror stories I hear from British ex-pats about the UK health system, not to mention 70+ years of gov’t-planned Soviet/Chinese/N Korean/Cuban economic failure.

    The issue is not bureacracy, it’s the efficiency of free markets vs. the inefficiency of gov’t-controlled markets. And again, externalities still have to be real to have an economic effect.

  28. #28 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    Look, I’m all for funding research into alternative, nonpolluting energy sources like wind, fusion, geothermal, oceanic, etc. I think it would be great if we could get the left in America to allow pebble-bed nuclear reactors to replace every coal- and oil-based power plant in the U.S. What I don’t like is creating coercive economic inefficiencies in the name of preventing AGW when there is so much doubt about what the impact of doing so will actually be. Those inefficiencies will hurt people, and I think we need a stronger case for imposing them than what is currently available.

  29. #29 TallDave
    May 8, 2005

    I suppose my above statement is technically wrong regarding whether free markets would already be doing those things, since externalities are generally disregarded by free markets and tend to be imposed by gov’ts, which I agree is a positive and necessary interference with free markets. Let me amend my statement to say that the free market would already be regulated to do those things if there weren’t unfavorable trade-offs. And again, my main objection to Ian’s list is those things aren’t caused by AGW.

  30. #30 Ian Gould
    May 9, 2005

    Dave,

    If action decided to prevent AGW produces economic benefits, who cares whether the problems addressed are “caused by AGW” or not?

    Reducing coal-fired power in the west will save lives through lower mercury levels and lower levels of ground-level ozone and reduce maintenance costs for buildings and agricultural productivity losses related to acid deposition. These savings probably justify the reductions REGARDLESS of whether AGW is real or not.

    Hence the expression “no regrets”.

    In the case of dung fires in the developing world, the case is probably even stronger. These fires are a MAJOR health and safety problem with major economic consequences. Increasing availability of kerosene and propane and subsidising stoves that use them will produce major economic benefits in coutnries like India and china. They’ll also significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

  31. #31 TallDave
    May 9, 2005

    Ian,

    Increasing availability of kerosene and propane and subsidising stoves that use them will produce major economic benefits in coutnries like India and china.

    Then why aren’t they doing it already? Easy for you to say “no regrets”; you don’t freeze to death because you can’t afford kerosene and you’re not allowed to burn dung even though dung is cheaper than kerosene.

    If action decided to prevent AGW produces economic benefits, who cares whether the problems addressed are “caused by AGW” or not?

    Besids the concerns of honesty scientific and political, the economic benefits are arguably suspect. If you want to implement these things for those reasons that supposedly justify it, then they really need to write an accord based on those reasons. If the reasons you give are worthy, it should pass with no mention of AGW needed.

    Because otherwise you get things like this:

    17,100 basic and applied American scientists, two thirds with advanced degrees, are against the Kyoto Agreement. The Heidelberg Appeal–which states that there is no scientific evidence for man-made global warming, has been signed by over 4,000 scientists from around the world since the petition’s inception. All those scientists were in total agreement: the Kyoto Protocol was complete fiction.
    http://canadafreepress.com/2005/cover050705.htm

    There do seem to be some significant doubts about AGW.

  32. #32 Tim Lambert
    May 9, 2005

    The Heidelberg Appeal does not even mention global warming. It seems that facts don’t matter to the author of the linked article.

  33. #33 Ian Gould
    May 9, 2005

    Dave

    Why aren’t they doing it already? Well in large part that’d be because the households in question are extremely poor – in large part because the female hosuehold members spend several hours a day collecting fuel and because of the health costs and early morbidity and mortality associated with open cooking fires in unventilated buildings.

    Investing US$200-300 in a propane stove, even when you know it’ll give you an effective rate of return of several hundred percent per annum is pretty difficult when your annual income is on the order of $2-300 per year and you spent 80% of that on basic food, clothing and shelter.

    “Besids the concerns of honesty scientific and political, the economic benefits are arguably suspect. If you want to implement these things for those reasons that supposedly justify it, then they really need to write an accord based on those reasons.”

    No, when you want to measure the economic impact of a policy you measure all the economic effects both positive and negative.

    For example, when I did economic modelling on the use of sugar-cane-deriveed ethanol as a fuel in Queensland I included the effect on cattle feed prices of diverting molasses from cattle feed to ethanol production. The fact that the policy wasn’t “intended” to affect cattle feed prices was irrelevant.

    By the way have you heard the joke abotu the two economists and the $20 bill on the foot-path?

  34. #34 Thomas Palm
    May 9, 2005

    Note Bray’s responses to me where he tries to understand the analogy with a poll on evolution. In this he states that a poll of only scientists ” In the first instance you would have a bias of selecting a group only focused on evolution, a groups biased by its very epistemology.” seemingly thinking a poll including the clergy would somehow be more fair. The idea that scientists are somhow biased is in itself suspect, and in his own poll Bray claimed that it was a poll of scientists, not of anuyone who somehow thought he knew something about the subject.

  35. #35 TallDave
    May 9, 2005

    Ian,

    You seem to be missing the point. Kyoto is not a magic wand that creates propane stoves out of thin air, not to mention infrastructure to deliver propane thereafter. Someone is going to have to pay for all that. If the benefit is there, why aren’t they already doing so?

    No, when you want to measure the economic impact of a policy you measure all the economic effects both positive and negative.

    Yeah, but you don’t propose imaginary benefits and justify the policy for imaginary benefits based on real ones. If the real benefits are enough, a policy based on them should be sufficient. The fact you have to resort to AGW as an argument tends to argue the benefits are not worth it on their merits.

    Your argument is like saying we need a $700B mission to go to Pluto to collect magical pixie dust, but that even though magical pixie dust doesn’t exist the positive effects on the space industry justify the mission anyway.

  36. #36 Thomas Palm
    May 9, 2005

    If you choose to mail Dr Bray, be aware that he considers it acceptable to publish received messages on his website. In his comment to my message he also reveals himself as a clear contrarian.

  37. #37 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Tim,

    While I don’t agree with everything in this article, if I’m reading this correctly it seems to be saying the global warming references were removed after the scientists signed it.

    There is still much debate and absolutely no consensus among scientists about global warming, no matter how hard President Clinton tries to tell us otherwise.

    In 1992, over 400 scientists from around the world signed the Heidelberg Appeal prior to the UNCED conference in Rio. They expressed their doubts about global warming and asked the delegates not to bind the world to any radical treaties based on global warming. Today scientists agreeing with the Heidelberg Appeal number over 4,000!

    The UN’s IPCC report on climate change put together by atmospheric scientists meeting in Bonn, Germany last year had significant sections by atmospheric scientists who said there is not enough data to suggest that man is radically altering the temperature on the planet.

    When the report was published, however, the United Nations had systematically removed that information in over a dozen pages to eliminate the appearance of disagreement. The scientists were outraged at politics hijacking science by means of fraud.

    http://www.khouse.org/articles/1997/94/

  38. #38 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Oops, no, actually that seems to be referring to the second IPCC report.

  39. #39 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Still, it does seem reasonable to invoke Heidelberg regarding AGW, as there is a definite anti-progress movement that often invokes AGW and lobbies with religious fervor for AGW mandates like Kyoto. Ironically, these are the same people who have helped prevent any nuclear plants from being built in the U.S. in the last 30 years, which might have significantly reduced greenhouse emissions. These granola Luddites really do see technology as the problem.

  40. #40 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Although I hasten to add, I do agree that the author of the article was wrong to say this: The Heidelberg Appeal–which states that there is no scientific evidence for man-made global warming

    It clearly does not state that, it just says technological progress is a good thing.

  41. #41 Dano
    May 10, 2005

    A clue I use includes a poster invoking religion.

    Having someone use ‘granola’ and ‘Luddite’ in proximity is a bonus.

    72 posts in a row is, as we Murricans say, a slam dunk.

    [We used to have a basketball player some years ago who named his dunks. Very colorful, poetic, over-the-top names. I imagine him calling this dunk ‘Marmite Thunnnnnderrrrr’].

    Best,

    D

  42. #42 John Quiggin
    May 10, 2005

    As regards “17000” scientists, you need to check the Oregon petition on Tim’s bingo card.

    Honestly, TD, you’d be better off getting up to speed with the topic than showing your ignorance in this way. There’s plenty of time to do this – the debate isn’t going to go away as long as Exxon is in business.

  43. #43 Eli Rabett
    May 10, 2005

    Those 17,000 scientists are not really scientists, but they did play one on TV. Practicing scientists are rare on the list and those who work in climate or climate related areas are about as numerous as live passenger pigeons.

    What is amusing is how some string physicists (Lubros Motl for example) and condensed matter folk (Seitz) let their politics direct their judgement. Generally the statement that they are completely ignorant about climate change is giving them undeserved credit.

  44. #44 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Quiggin,
    From Tim’s bingo card:

    Did 17,000 scientists really say that global warming is a “lie”? I looked further and found the actual words of the petition. What they actually agreed with was this:

    There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate

    As I said, there seem to be some doubts about AGW and how much of a problem it is.

    Honestly, you’d be better off actually reading Tim’s bingo card than merely citing it and displaying your ignorance in this way. There’s plenty of time to do this – the debate isn’t going to go away as long as climatologists need research grants and the gramola Luddites need a cause to rally round.

  45. #45 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Eli,

    Well, tarring those who disgree with you as “completely ignorant” is certainly compelling evidence for the rectitude of your casue.

  46. #46 Jeff Harvey
    May 10, 2005

    TallDave, (p>

    You are one exasperating writer. Its one thing countering your idea that the U.S. is the great provider or democracy to the world when there are so many examples of the opposite. Now you’ve ventured into the scientific arena with some rather simplistic views about the scientific evidence for AGW (which is immense in terms of peer-reviewed studies).

    First things first. The “Heidelberg Appeal” (HA) was proposed as a contrarian counter to the “World Scientists Warning to Humanity”, both of which appeared coinciding with the Rio Summit on Biodiversity (1992). The HA is counter science at its best. Former New York Times environment writer Philip Sahbecoff demolishes the HA here: http://ecoethics.net/hsev/NewScience/Shabecoff-Paper-Text.htm

    With respect to your last idiotic assertion, “The debate isn’t going to go away as long as climatologists need research grants and the gramola Luddites need a cause to rally round”, this is nothing than a pure straw man, a bogus argument that attempts, Lomborg-style, to impugn the entire scientific community with one stroke of pure stupidity. Please, before espousing such bilge, provide some examples supporting your argument, other than the kind of rhetoric that comes out of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Petroleum Institute, Tech Central Station, or any number of thousands of other greenwashing sources funded by conglomerates. Given the fact that most of the petrocrats currently occupying the White House are hostile to any policies that limit the consumption of fossil fuels, its logical to assume that grants claiming that other factors besides anthropogenic causes are responsible for the current warming episode are more likely to get funded.

  47. #47 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    Jeff,

    You are one exasperating writer. Its one thing (but very easy) countering your idea that the U.S. is the not the greatest provider/defnders of democracy to the world when there are so many examples of it (Germany, Japan, Taiwan, S Korea Afghanistan, Iraq, Western Europe in the Cold War).

    As the rest of your ramblings, my assertion is simply that there are significant doubts about AGW and its effects.

  48. #48 TallDave
    May 10, 2005

    And God forbid free enterprises that employ millions should advocate policy.

    its logical to assume that grants claiming that other factors besides anthropogenic causes are responsible for the current warming episode are more likely to get funded.
    This is nothing than a pure straw man, a bogus argument that attempts, Lomborg-style, to impugn the entire scientific community with one stroke of pure stupidity. Please, before espousing such bilge, provide some examples supporting your argument.

    BTW, it’s also logical to assume that climatologists who demonstrate AGW is a serious problem are more likely to be backed by enironmental groups and gov’t agencies.

  49. #49 TallDave
    May 11, 2005

    Or, as Dr Ragenda Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, puts it:

    “Well I agree that it’s probably easier to take some short and immediate steps than to look at something that’s much longer-term. But the reason why I’m suggesting that is because the science is far from clear about what’s going to happen in the long term, than in terms of helping countries decide what their burdens should be in the immediate term. ”

  50. #50 Bob
    May 11, 2005

    Tall Dave,

    I suggest you find the entire context for the Pachari quote and retract your assertion before you confirm Lincoln’s adage, ” It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

  51. #51 Jeff Harvey
    May 11, 2005

    Dave,

    Please don’t get me to demolish your “U.S. is the great supporter of democracy” crap again – especially with respect to the non-sequiter examples of Afghanistan and Iraq. I advise you to obtain some of the volumes of material that have evidently, in pure Orwellian fashion, gone down your rather large ‘memory hole’. Seems to me that at present your memory ends at about last night’s 11 o’clock Fox news broadcast. American actions in the 1970’s and 1980’s didn’t seem to have much to do with ‘spreading democracy’ in these countries (it was more about ensuring the presence of a client regime that does at it is told, much as it is now). “Democracy’ is just a convenient pretext now that the other feeble excuses for aggression were shown to be calculated lies.

    With respect to climate science, you are on even shakier ground. Having to dredge up the Heidelberg Appeal, for all of its appallingness and dishonesty, makes we wonder where you get all of your information on the workings of the world (redux: Fox? MSNBC? Centcom? Is this it?).

  52. #52 Robert
    May 12, 2005

    Jeff Harvey, the Heidelberg Appeal was not put for the as a counter to the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity – the Heidelberg Appeal came first. It was issued in April 1992, the Warning appeared in November of that year. I remember reading both when they came out.

    There is actually a substantial overlap between the lists of signatories on the two documents. Note that the HA says nothing whatsoever about global warming.

  53. #53 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    Jeff,

    Well, you’d have to demolish it a first time for there to be an “again.” Your earlier effort was quite laughable, as it doesn’t begin to wash away the obvious fact America has done far, far more good than harm in this regard. For instance, you bring up Central America as though it would not be rife with Soviet-backed Communist dictatorships absent the US intervention you so decry.

    Frankly, your anti-US opinions are so virulent and counterfactual I am beginning to question your sanity.

    Bob,

    I’ve read the whole interview. I’m aware she is advocating for Kyoto, but of course my point is even she admits the long-term predictive ability of climate modelling is weak.

  54. #54 BobWI
    May 12, 2005

    Who is “she”? You obviously did not understand the interview or Pachauri’s point. The long term predictive abilities of climate models is limited by the ability to model economics – you know those unreliable models you take as gospel. Climate models have been demonstrated to be quite robust. Find another canard.

  55. #55 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    Bob,

    “She” is the doctor, who I assume is female but I could be mistaken; either way it’s irrelevant to my point.
    The long term predictive abilities of climate models is limited by the ability to model economics
    Besides the fact that even if that were true it merely validates my main criticism of AGW policies, it’s obviously not true (you should have taken your own advice from the above thread). If it were, there wouldn’t be different climate modelling scenarios based on scenarios where variables other than the economy are changed, and there would be a lot more agreement about what the actual effects are going to be.

    you know those unreliable models you take as gospel.
    What I take as gospel is that wasting vast sums of money on illusory benefits that make energy more expensive hurts the economy. Virtully all economists accept that (did you read the link?), but it really doesn’t require complex economic modelling to figure that one out. And besides that, whether economics can predict GDP decades into the future is a very different question than whether economics can predict whether the effect of changing a particular variable will be positive or negative on economic growth. It’s like the difference between predicting Earth’s population in 2050 and predicting whether that population growth will be higher or lower this year if 10% of the population is rendered sterile today.

    More science needs to be done before the level of certainty about AGW and what its negative effects are is high enough to justify the costs of measures being proposed.

  56. #56 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    You obviously did not understand the interview or Pachauri’s point.

    I did understand both the interview and her point (though I disagree with her main point), but you seemed to miss mine again, which, again, was that climate modelling is not that precise in the long-term, which point even the interviewee agreeS with.

  57. #57 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    But all models must assume something: the climate system is far too complex for us to feed the laws of physics into a computer and ask it what the climate will be like in 2030.

    Not enough predictive ability. We can say whether something is good or bad for the economy or whether it will tend to make Earth warmer or less warm, but we’re not near being able to say “if we don’t enuch such-and-such standard, global temperatures will be this many degrees in 2030,” (any more than we can predict what U.S. GDP will be in 2030) and also have little ability to predict what the effect would be even if we did know what the temperature would be. We do know less economic growth is bad for living standards.

  58. #58 Eli Rabett
    May 12, 2005

    I mispoke. The guys who signed the Oregon petition were mostly suckers.

  59. #60 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    *enact, not enuch

  60. #61 Steve Bloom
    May 12, 2005

    Perhaps TallDave would care to enlighten us as to why the wild-eyed radicals in the reinsurance industry apparently have flung economic sanity to the wind and become advocates for action on GW. (See http://www.swissre.com and http://www.munichre.com; for some reason pages on these sites don’t show separate URLs, but it’s pretty easy to find the climate stuff.) Is there perhaps something about actuarial science that turns otherwise sane people into environmentalists? For those unfamiliar with the insurance industry, these folks are the ones who have to shell out the big bucks when large-scale disasters happen.

  61. #62 Jeff Harvey
    May 12, 2005

    Two points, first for TallDave: if you actually believe that the U.S. intervened in Latin America to stop the spread of communism, its you who have a few screws loose, not me.

    Robert: The HA was demolished by writer Philip Shabecoff a few years ago (see my ealier link). What the HA asserts is that “irrational ideologies” [by this it presumably means environmentalism] are hindering the search for solutions to the human and environmental predicament. It goes on to state that “hmans have always advanced by harnessing nature to its [our] needs and not the reverse”. In other words, its blindly suggesting that human ingenuity can solve any problems that we as a species create via technological ‘fixes’. The validity of the HA hinges on techno-optimism. But as PS says in his piece, environmentalism is neither irrational not is it an ideology; its a pragmatic and scientific response to human assaults on the biosphere, and ultimately the effects that these assaults have on the heath and vitality of our global ecological life support systems. Moreover, since our understanding of the intricate ways in which these systems evolve, assemble and function is in its infancy, we continue to simplify them at our peril. The HA is nothing more than a clarion call to push ahead blindly with ‘development’, and not to worry about unlimited economic growth and consumption, because whatever problems we cause we can solve with technology. This, of course, is the sprint of folly.

  62. #63 BobWI
    May 12, 2005

    TallDave,

    It takes about 4 giant inferential leaps to get from your evidence to your conclusions. The relationship between short-term energy costs and economic growth within a carbon centred economy doen’t say anything about the relationship between investment in carbon emissions reduction and economic growth. Look up the term Non-Sequitur.

  63. #64 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    Jeff Harvey,

    Me, and most historians and policy analysts. We’re a wacky bunch! That’s right, and the U.S. only rewrote Japan’s constitution so they would make us cheap cars and dominate the consumer electronics industry.

    Steve,

    At a guess, they want what insurers always want: to sell more insurance. (Even better: the chance to insure against events that may never happen.)

    BobWI,

    Your point is what, exactly? Non-sequitor, indeed: Your arguments don’t speak to mine. You took two unrelated concepts and apparently pretended my premise rests on them being related.

  64. #65 TallDave
    May 12, 2005

    BobWI:

    Again, if you read back to the top of thread, my argument is

    “Still think it’s too early to claim anthropogenic GW models have enough predictive power to mandate anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences.”

    It looks like you’re another one who is going to argue either 1) we can’t model economic effects accurately to argue against Kyoto, which is a logically useless argument (logically then we might as well spend any amount of money on anything since we never know what’s going to happen anyway), or 2) throwing money after illusory benefits and making energy costs higher doesn’t hurt the economy, in which case I refer you to the link.

  65. #66 BobWI
    May 12, 2005

    Your conclusion [i]anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences[/i] doesn’t follow from your evidence, [i]energy cost/short-term economic growth[/i].

    Your argument operate from the false assumption that the only way to reduce carbon emmissions is to raise the price of carbon. Your premise is false, therefore your conclusions don’t follow. You ignore all other carbon reduction strategies, the economic benefits available from investment, the opportunity costs of deferral, and dozens of other economic variables. You need lessons in both basic energy economics and logic.

  66. #67 Jeff Harvey
    May 12, 2005

    TallDave,

    You are sooooo selective. Where is your evidence that your conclusions, as inane as they are, are supported by most historians and policy analysts’? Besides, I am certain that ‘most historians and policy analysts’ within the communist Russian and Nazi German establishment also argued that their regimes were ‘global benefactors’. Susan Power wrote a book about the history of genocide a few years ago which won a Pulitzer Prize. However, the book made made virtually no reference to the U.S. role (directly or indirectly) in genocide, either in its own imperial wars of aggression, or through its client states. This is because the establishment continually promotes that myth that the U.S. (and the U.K. for that matter) are benign powers, and that the U.S. is a basically benevolent nation. The fact is that, as John Pilger states quite rightly, ‘terrorism, mass murder and barbarism are standard practices on our side; only the technology is different’. And of course we have the corporate (and state) media aparatus, which aims to normalize atrocities carried out in our name by our pseudo-elected government plutocracies. In their outstanding work, Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky stated that “The ‘societal purpose’ of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state.” You can throw your ‘mainstream policy analysts and historians’ into the mix.

  67. #68 Robert
    May 13, 2005

    Jeff Harvey:

    Phil Shabecoff doesn’t so much ‘demolish’ the Heidelberg Appeal as demolish hi interpretation of what the Appeal (a vague and platitudinous document) implies. Nowhere does the Appeal say that the ‘irrational ideology’ to which it refers is ‘environmentalism’ – that’s just Shabecoff’s reading. It could just as well be referring to Deep Ecology, or Dave-Forman style ecoprimitivism, and my guess is that’s how the great majority of the initial signers read it. Nowhere does it say that technofixes can solve all environmental problems. Hans Bethe, Linus Pauling, and Harold Varmus aren’t(weren’t) exactly what one would call right-wing antienvironmental technoweenies !

    I’ve gone back through my records, and I find (if I’ve counted correctly) that of the 73 Nobel Laureates who signed the Heidelberg Appeal, 54 also signed the _World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity_. That’s an awful lot of scientists who didn’t find any essential inconsistency between the documents.

    Now I will readily concede that more than 90% of the people who have been flagging the Heidelberg Appeal since 1992 have, in fact, used it to support an antienvironmentalist agenda. As I said, I followed this controversy when it first came up; I quickly noticed that folks like Petr Beckmann and Fred Singer were promoting the “Appeal” pretty heavily, which made me suspicious. I believe (I’m relying on memory here) that this is what inspired the UCS to send out the “Warning”.

  68. #69 TallDave
    May 13, 2005

    Jeff,

    Where is your evidence that your conclusions
    Well, there’s every book by historian Victor Hanson, for starters.

    ‘most historians and policy analysts’ within the communist Russian and Nazi German establishment also argued that their regimes were ‘global benefactors’
    Well, if they hadn’t said nice things about their masters, they and their families faced death and torture. Of course, that’s what makes the US different from Nazis and Communists: we’re an empire of freedom, so our historians and analysts tend to be more accurate and independent.

    imperial wars of aggression
    The U.S. has fought in dozens of wars during the last 100 years, mostly on behalf of other people’s freedom. The only territory we’re ever asked for in all those wars was enough to bury those who did not return home.

    Noam Chomsky
    Well, that explains a lot of your mistaken views. The essential problem with Noam is that though he praises freedom and enjoys prosperity, he is utterly incapable of recognizing the mechanisms necessary to preserve freedom and create prosperity. He focuses on a few minor examples of what he feels is U.S. injustice, and ignores the much larger historical reality that U.S. military action has been responsible for creating and preserving more human freedom than anything any other institution has ever done. Noam is the proverbial gentle man who sleeps peacefully at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on his behalf if his freedom is threatened.

    Noam worships abstract principles which are utterly unworkable in the real world. Only a sheltered academic like Chomsky could argue with a straight face that a society could function with no paid labor, and that the work people voluntarily choose to do (for free) will be both “rewarding in itself” and “socially useful.” Does anyone really take him seriously when he says society should be run under a system of peaceful anarchism, with no state or government institutions?

    I doubt even Noam really believes what he wrote in “Manufacturing Consent.” Unless of course he can explain why somehow, despite all those supposed filters, 90% of Washington news bureau heads voted for Clinton (only 7% for Bush) and just last year the press polled itself as being five times more leftist than society in general. Calling the book counterfactual is probably too kind; I think this is what term “idiotarian” was coined for.

    Poor Noam, it must be hell living such a rich, free lifestyle off the largesse of the economic/governmental system he so despises. I bet that really keeps him awake at nights, wondering if he should be working for free instead of making millions. Or, more likely, he snickers every time someone buys one of his books, remembering to himself what P.T. Barnum said.

    Here’s a link to one of the better columns describing Noam’s many notable hypocrisies:
    http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/may03/chomsky.htm

  69. #70 TallDave
    May 13, 2005

    BobWI,

    “Your conclusion [i]anti-GW policies with significant negative economic consequences[/i] doesn’t follow from your evidence, [i]energy cost/short-term economic growth[/i].”

    First off, that’s not my conclusion, it’s what I’m arguing against doing in return for poorly defined and possibly illusory benefits.

    Your argument operate from the false assumption that the only way to reduce carbon emmissions is to raise the price of carbon

    In fact, I have argued in favor of noncoercive measures like funding alternative energy research and using more nuclear power. But some of the solutions proposed do raise the price of carbon-based power and those I oppose.

    You ignore all other carbon reduction strategies, the economic benefits available from investment, the opportunity costs of deferral, and dozens of other economic variables. You need lessons in both basic energy economics and logic

    LOL You need lessons in reading. Like, reading my posts before you attribute arguments to me I don’t make.

    Also, you appear to need to take your own advice again. There are no economic benefits to investing in solutions for problems that don’t exist, and no opportunity costs to deferring action on a problem that doesn’t exist and whose effects aren’t harmful. Until the existence of the problem and its negative consequences are better-proven, the case for coercive measures does not justify the harm it will do to people trying to live their lives.

  70. #71 Eli Rabett
    May 13, 2005

    Well, here is a new one. The tobacco and asbestos companies were the impetus behind the Heidelberg appeal. You can start here http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2025498348.html , http://tobaccodocuments.org/mayo_clinic/2025498346.html , http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2028385370.html . These are documents found in tobacco company files and ordered made public by a court.

  71. #72 Tim Lambert
    May 13, 2005

    Eli, the links are broken. Did you discover this? Or has someone else noticed?

  72. #73 nicolo
    May 13, 2005

    They just have unhelpful commas tacked on the ends of the urls Tim :)

  73. #74 Tim Lambert
    May 13, 2005

    Ah, right. Fixed. Folks, if you post a bare URL, leave a space after it, so my commenting software knows where it ends.

  74. #75 Jeff Harvey
    May 13, 2005

    Robert,

    FYI, here is the mission statement of the Heidelberg Appeal, and it says exactly what I claimed it did:

    We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.

    We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology [WHICH THEY MEAN IS ENVIRONMENTALISM, WHAT ELSE COULD THEY BE HINTING AT?] which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

    We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past [AGAIN, A DIG AT ENVIRONMENTALISM], does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.[THIS IS NONSENSE. AS SHABECOFF SAYS QUITE RIGHTLY, WE HAVE ALREADY HARNESSED TOO MUCH NATURE, AND NATURE NEEDS PROTECTING FROM HUMAN ACTIONS. HUMANS CURRENTLY REDIRECT SOME 50% OF FRESHWATER FLOWS AND ALMOST THE SAME PERCENTAGE OF NET PRIMARY PRODUCTION].

    We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved. But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on irrational pre-conceptions.[ANOTHER SMOKE-SCREEN – ALL OF THESE CRITERIA HAVE BEEN MET SCIENTIFICALLY. THE PART ABOUT ‘IRRATIONAL PRE-CONCEPTIONS’ IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PLOY TO REDUCE THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN THE ECONOMY, THEREBY EVISCERATING PUBLIC CONSTRAINTS IN THE PURSUIT OF PRIVATE PROFIT].

    We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind. [WHAT HOSTILE FORCES ARE THESE? THIS IS TECHO-OPTIMISM BABBLE. NO WONDER IT WENT DOWN WELL WITH THE CONTRARIAN CROWD]. We therefore consider that scientific ecology [AS A POPULATION ECOLOGIST I FIND THE TERM ‘SCIENTIFIC ECOLOGY’ IS AN OXYMORON. ITS LIKE SAYING ‘SCIENTIFIC PHYSICS’ OR ‘SCIENTIFIC CHEMISTRY’. ECOLOGY IS A SCIENCE. THE PEOPLE WHO WROTE THIS DOCUMENT WERE CLEARLY TECHNOLOGISTS OR POLICY ANALYSTS AND NOT LIFE SCIENTISTS] is no more than an extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of future generations. We intend to assert science’s responsibility and duty towards society as a whole. [AS SHABECOFF SAID, PUT ALL OF OUR EGGS IN ONE TECHNOLOGICAL HAT, AND HOPE TO FOREVER PULL RABBITS OUT OF IT] We do however forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet’s destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.[HERE, THEY REHASH THE SAME BOGUS ARGUMENT MADE EARLIER. WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS TRYING TO CONVINCE THE LAYMAN THAT ‘SOUND SCIENCE’ DOES NOT TEND TO SUPPORT THE ARGUMENT THAT HUMANS ARE LIVING BEYOND THE SUSTAINABLE CARRYING CAPACITY OF THE PLANET AND THAT ALL WILL BE WELL IF WE PUT OUR FAITH IN TECHNOLOGY. BUT THEIR MOTIVES ARE NOT DRIVEN OUT OF SOME CONCERN FOR HUMAN BENEFACTION, BUT FOR PROFIT. THIS IS A VILE DOCUMENT AND ONE THAT I, AS A LIFE SCIENTIST, CAN SEE THROUGH IN A MILLI-SECOND].

    We draw everybody’s attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their dignity.

    The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, [WHAT ABOUT SCIENCE BEING TWISTED TO BOLSTER A PRE-DETERMINED WORLDVIEW? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE THJINK TANKS, PR FRMS AND SMAL COTERIE OF CLIMATE SCEPTICS ARE DOING. THEY ARE HONING THE ART OF ‘DIRECTED CONCLUSIONS’. and not Science, Technology and Industry whose instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself, overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases.'[MORE B*S, REPHRASING WHAT WAS SAID ABOVE. SHABECOFF WAS 100% CORRECT.

    BESIDES, ELI HAS ALREADY SHOWN IN HIS LINKS WHO FUNDED THE ORIGINAL HA. THIS COMES OUT OF THE SAME LEAGUE AS THE ‘ADVANCEMENT OF SOUND SCIENCE COALITION,’ ANOTHER TOBACCO LOBBYING GROUP HEADED BY JUNKMAN AND CORPORATE LACKEY STEVE MILLOY IN THE 1990’S.

  75. #76 Eli Rabett
    May 14, 2005

    I found this stuff through a rather over the top web site, and throught it best to post the raw material. If you are interested http://www.ecosyn.us/adti/Seitz_Tobacco_Crimes.html with a number of links to other interesting characters at the bottom. Most of the older stuff eventually links back to the tobacco memo archive for evidence.

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