Roy Spencer takes a break from his parody writing with a new column at Tech Central Station. He has some questions for Al Gore. I think he should have just used Google to find the answers, but what the hey, I’ll do it for him.

1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?

No. Glaciers are receding and calving at record rates. And there has been a global rise in the most intense hurricanes over the last thirty years.


2) Why did you make it sound like all scientists agree that climate change is manmade and not natural? You mentioned a recent literature review study that supposedly found no peer-reviewed articles that attributed climate change to natural causes (a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted….I have a number of such articles in my office!) You also mentioned how important it is to listen to scientists when they warn us, yet surely you know that almost all past scientific predictions of gloom and doom have been wrong. How can we trust scientists’ predictions now?

No Oreskes’ study has not been refuted. Even the author of the purported refutation now admits he was wrong. And past scientific predictions of this kind have never had almost all scientists behind them.

3) I know you still must feel bad about the last presidential election being stolen from you, but why did you have to make fun of Republican presidents (Reagan; both Bushes) for their views on global warming? The points you made in the movie might have had wider appeal if you did not alienate so many moviegoers in this manner.

Past statements by Republican presidents about global warming were wrong. How can we trust the current Republican president on this issue? Recognize the argument? You used it in the previous question, except that this time it’s actually applicable.

4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?

I don’t know, maybe because it’s likely those alternative views are wrong?

5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son’s tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I’m confused…do you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?

No. Did you watch all the way to the end of the movie?

6) There seems to be a lot of recent concern that more polar bears are drowning these days because of disappearing sea ice. I assume you know that polar bears have always migrated to land in late summer when sea ice naturally melts back, and then return to the ice when it re-freezes. Also, if this was really happening, why did the movie have to use a computer generated animation of the poor polar bear swimming around looking for ice? Haven’t there been any actual observations of this happening? Also, temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930’s…before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don’t you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?

i-e789b854a23f596df0b655bc4ea85a0b-arctictemps.png Yes, there have been observations of it happening. It was in the Wall Street Journal and lots of other papers. Have you heard of this thing called Google? It’s a search engine. It lets you find things on the Internets. And temperature measurements don’t suggest that it was just as warm in the Arctic in the 30s. There were a few warm years then, but there were also some cold years. The moving average (green line in the graph) exceeded the peak from the 30s in 1990 and since then has kept on going up.

7) Why did you make it sound like simply signing on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions would be such a big step forward, when we already know it will have no measurable effect on global temperatures anyway? And even though it represents such a small emission reduction, the economic pain Kyoto causes means that almost no developed country will be meeting its emission reductions commitments under that treaty, as we are now witnessing in Europe.

Because if Gore proposed an immediate 50% reduction in emissions, you’d be right on board? You have to start with a small reduction — it lets you see that it doesn’t destroy the economy like the anti-Kyoto people say and lets us learn how to further reduce emissions.

8) At the end of the movie, you made it sound like we can mostly fix the global warming problem by conserving energy… you even claimed we can reduce our carbon emissions to zero. But I’m sure you know that this will only be possible with major technological advancements, including a probable return to nuclear power as an energy source. Why did you not mention this need for technological advancement and nuclear power? It is because that would support the current (Republican) Administration’s view?

So you did watch all the way to the end. What was the point of question 5 then? And as for this question: maybe if you didn’t spend so much time trying to obfuscate the issue there would be more time for the rest of us to discuss possible solutions?

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    May 29, 2006

    A: This is highly controversial. People disagree about the data and their interpretation!

    B: Not true. Climate scientists are virtually unanimous in their agreement that global warming is serious and that human activity is a significant component of it.

    A: But I question their agreement! Thus there is, by definition, a controversy!

    B: What do you know about it?

    A: I know there’s a controversy!!

    B: Not really.

    A: Yes, there is! There is, there is, there is!

    And so it goes. They’ll keep screaming until they drop from heat stroke. Even if they have to scream about insignificant details or demand answers to questions already answered. Are they all paid shills, or just stupid?

  2. #2 llewelly
    May 29, 2006

    They’ll keep screaming until they drop from heat stroke. …

    Does anyone know of any relevant attribution studies? For example, is the number of heat strokes during AGW arguments correlated with global temperature averages? Can someone point us to a study showing heat strokes amoung denialists are related to settlement patterns, and not arguments about climate science?

  3. #3 Zeno
    May 29, 2006

    ;-)

  4. #4 Ian Gould
    May 29, 2006

    “Are they all paid shills, or just stupid?”

    Your question presupposes they can’t be stupid paid shills.

    Seriously though, the topic of global warming arose on an internet forum I visit which is completely unrelated to such matters.

    Several people – all American, all on the political right – quite sincerely echoed the usual lies.

    I went through and gave them detaield rebuttals on every point raised.

    Eventually I asked if I had changed anyone’s minds – and if not what else I could do that WOULD change their minds.

    That was several days ago and so far I haven;t recieved a single response.

    For many people, global warming is simply a partisan political issue. MY party says it’s false so it must be false.

    If I admit my party is wrong on that, I might have to consider the possibility that they (and I) am wrong on a lot of other fronts.

  5. #5 mark
    May 30, 2006

    what else I could do that WOULD change their minds.

    That’s a key question in the “debate”. The response from the denialists is, of course, that nothing will change their minds, and that shows that they are driven purely by ideology.

  6. #6 z
    May 30, 2006

    “Eventually I asked if I had changed anyone’s minds – and if not what else I could do that WOULD change their minds.
    That was several days ago and so far I haven;t recieved a single response.
    For many people, global warming is simply a partisan political issue. MY party says it’s false so it must be false.”

    My experience also. I often request that they state a priori what evidence would convince them. Anything would do as an answer; numerical data, some guru making a statement, whatever. Answer cometh there none. None. Nothing would ever convince them there is AGW.

  7. #7 Sir Oolius
    May 30, 2006

    They still can’t get out of their pre-Katrina mentality. It’s time to dump them into the wastebasket of history and come up with post-Katrina solutions.

  8. #8 Dano
    May 30, 2006

    Does anyone know of any relevant attribution studies? For example, is the number of heat strokes during AGW arguments correlated with global temperature averages? Can someone point us to a study showing heat strokes amoung denialists are related to settlement patterns, and not arguments about climate science?

    There are studies, but the authors won’t give up the data for amateurs to audit, so therefore they are all meaningless.

    Best,

    D

  9. #9 Meyrick Kirby
    May 30, 2006

    a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted

    How can a study be non-repeatable (does he mean non-replicable?) and yet be refutable at the same time?

    Does non-repeatable mean something other than non-replicable?

  10. #10 Tim Curtin
    May 31, 2006

    Tim Lambert said: Because if Gore proposed an immediate 50% reduction in emissions, you’d be right on board? You have to start with a small reduction — it lets you see that it doesn’t destroy the economy like the anti-Kyoto people say and let us learn how to further reduce emissions.

    I say: are you so sure that the 50% would not destroy the economy?

    Here are my comments on John Quiggin’s Submission to the Stern Review, “Assessing the costs and benefits of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases”, 17 March 2006, which suggest that 50% could be very damaging indeed.

    Quiggin seeks to show that “the cost of substantial reductions in emissions implemented over a long period is likely to be of the order of 3% of national income or about one year’s economic growth. On the other hand the potential costs of failure to mitigate global warming may be much greater than this” (p.2). But in reality, as my Note shows, Quiggin actually implies either zero income growth from now to eternity or else unspecified technological advances that somehow eliminate the emissions resulting from rising demand for energy as incomes grow. But if such technological advance can costlessly offset or prevent the emissions otherwise concomitant with the income effect on energy demand, then it can also painlessly achieve the reductions in emissions that Quiggin attempts to show can be derived from price effects alone.

    1. His numerical estimate of “only” a 3% reduction in national income resulting from a reduction of “energy demand” (and thus emissions) by 50% implies a reduction in total energy demand even though his worked example refers only to demand for transportation fuel. Achieving his 50% reduction in the latter would not achieve the total reduction in emissions of 50% proposed by the British government, as energy for transport acounts for only 30% of total emissions in USA (and somewhat less in Britain and the EU). Thus to reduce total emissions by 60% as proposed by Quiggin (p.4) just by reducing those in the transport sector would require total elimination of all use of petroleum there and some other fossil fuels in other sectors as well, since petroleum accounts for only 40% of total emissions in the USA (and less in Europe)! Yet Quiggin asks us to believe that eliminating all use of petroleum would produce only a 3% reduction in national income! Quiggin’s worked example refers only to the motor vehicle end-use of petroleum, and omits aviation; to achieve the targeted reduction in emissions from just motor vehicle use would require cessation of all such use.
    2. Quiggin claims that although Nordhaus and others have estimated that the elasticity of demand for energy in the OECD is – 0.7 (e.g. an increase of 10% in price reduces demand by 7%), the “long run price elasticity of demand” is more likely to be “at least 1 and probably higher” (p.4), along with an income elasticity of just 1 (e.g. a 10% increase in income produces only a 10% increase in fuel demand). Even if Quiggin’s elasticity estimates are correct, the truth is that with per capita income growth in the OECD currently at 2.5%p.a., average incomes will rise by over 60% by 2025, and energy demand by the same amount using Quiggin’s own income elasticity, so that the increase in price needed to reduce transport fuel demand by 50% by 2025 would not even reduce emissions below today’s “catastrophic” level! To achieve the 50% reduction in emissions would involve both preventing the 60% increased demand that results when incomes rise, as well as the 50% reduction in today’s usage he claims to be feasible at minimal cost. Thus his model requires if not a reduction in incomes of at least 60%, back to levels not seen since 1980, then at least a total cessation of growth so as to keep national income at 2005 levels in perpetuity. The forgone cost by 2025 would be 64% of average OECD per capita income in 2005, or more than 20 times larger than the one-off loss of 3% of GDP touted by Quiggin. Quiggin does at one point (p.4) again acknowledge that income growth raises energy demand, but claims that unspecified “exogenous” technological change along with unspecified induced “changes in the emissions-intensity of efficiency use will yield emissions reductions sufficient to offset the effects of income growth and reduce emissions by a further 20% for a total reduction of 60%”. These unspecified changes are un-costed, and like the whole paper merely assume what was announced would be proved.
    3. Quiggin’s neglect of the effect of rising incomes as an offset to rising fuel prices is indicated by his assumption that the latter is “already” leading to a fall in demand for SUVs, for which he offers no citation. However it has been reported that it is rising demand for its SUVs that has improved General Motors’ prospects this year. Quiggin again overlooks the income elasticty of demand and its associated scale factor: a 3% increase in an income of $100,000 p.a. or $3000 is clearly enough to offset the effects of doubling petrol costs for average annual usage from even as much as $1,000 in 2000 to say $2,000 in 2006 (the actual increase in pump prices in Canberra Australia on 28 May 2000 was A$0.889, and on the same day in 2006 A$1.32, an increase of 48%).
    4. Quiggin’s paper is equally unreliable on the costs of doing nothing about global warming. He rejects the estimates of the costs of the alleged loss of biodiversity arising from climate change by Nordhaus and others as trivially low, when the truth is that first, there are pace Nordhaus unlikely to be any net losses, and even if there were, there is no evidence that there will be any measurable financial or economic cost of any such loss. En passant, it is curious that while global warmers tend to be as much evolutionists as apparently deniers like Roy Spencer are agnostic or even creationist, yet the former totally discount the ability of almost all known species that already cope with daily changes in temperature of as much as 20 degrees C (as in Canberra at present) – not to mention an annual range from -7C to 35C – to adapt (or evolve!) to handle the IPCC “scenario” rise of 3C, implying a new range here of say -6 to 37, and mutatis mutandis elsewhere. And if they do not so adapt or adjust, tant pis, we have survival of the fittest. As for flooding in Venice, what’s new there? but in any case there is NO evidence of net rises in sea levels anywhere else.
    5. Quiggin concludes that doing nothing “carries with it both a small but economically significant possibility of catastrophic loss and the certainty (!!!) of massive damage to natural ecosystems” (for neither is any evidence offered). However quite near to his home, the recent cyclone Larry in North Queensland was certainly catastrophic for the affected communities, and has resulted in a severe shortage of bananas (in Australia, largely because of refusal to import) – but both these effects are short term, and it is doubtful even if global emissions had been reduced by 50% since 1990 that Larry would have been avoided, since the cyclone that hit Darwin in 1976 was even more catastrophic, despite much lower emissions then than now. Not only that, the damage incurred in Darwin is a distant memory, and the city has been rebuilt in a manner that makes it more able to withstand a future cyclone.

    Conclusion

    As a former economics lecturer, albeit 36 years ago, I am fearful for those who sit at the feet of John Quiggin, with his apparent inability to cope with income and price elasticities of demand. I know he can do better that, and I hope he will demonstrate that by NOW withdrawing his submission to the Stern Review.

  11. #11 david tiley
    May 31, 2006

    Can you do us a favour Tim, when you cut and paste something from another place and purpose?

    Reformat it so it can be read online? A few paras would help, and two carriage returns between paras.

    There is a bit of an imbalance between the effort you have to make to do this, and our effort to read it.

    This, for instance, is very jumbly indeed:
    “However quite near to his home, the recent cyclone Larry in North Queensland was certainly catastrophic for the affected communities, and has resulted in a severe shortage of bananas (in Australia, largely because of refusal to import) – but both these effects are short term, and it is doubtful even if global emissions had been reduced by 50% since 1990 that Larry would have been avoided, since the cyclone that hit Darwin in 1976 was even more catastrophic, despite much lower emissions then than now.”

  12. #12 Tim Curtin
    May 31, 2006

    Hi David

    Sorry about that, especially as we may well be related (my 3Xgreat grandmother and my2X great grandmother were both named Jane Tiley (from Wedmore in Somerset). That sentence could certainly be improved, eg by adding “that” after “doubtful”.

    If you send me your email address I will gladly forward the whole paper in Word format.

  13. #13 Stephen Berg
    May 31, 2006

    Re: “I say: are you so sure that the 50% would not destroy the economy?”

    No. Sen. John McCain sponsored a study into emissions reductions and technological advances and found that 800,000 jobs would be created in the US alone.

    Also, health care costs would decrease as a result of cleaner air, fewer heat waves, and a reduction in the spread of tropical diseases. Personal property loss would be reduced as a result of less intense storms and fewer flood events. The insurance industry wouldn’t be saddled with a rising number of claims, as well.

    Seems to me that would be GOOD for the economy.

  14. #14 z
    May 31, 2006

    “my 3Xgreat grandmother and my2X great grandmother were both named Jane Tiley”

    Yeah, we’ve got families like that in the hillbilly regions of America… (just kidding!! no offense!!)

  15. #15 Dano
    May 31, 2006

    Re: “I say: are you so sure that the 50% would not destroy the economy?” No. Sen. John McCain sponsored a study into emissions reductions and technological advances and found that 800,000 jobs would be created in the US alone.

    New US Treasury Sec’y: Failure To Ratify Kyoto Undermines U.S. Competitiveness

    Best,

    D

  16. #16 david tiley
    June 1, 2006

    I am now going to go spectacularly off topic.

    Tim and I are certainly related, particularly since his mob are Somerset Tileys. There is ultimately only one family and it comes from that part of the world.

    The earliest of my direct mob I have visual evidence of is a James Tiley, who was photographed around 1860. He owned a farm called (and I kid you not) Tiley Bottom.

  17. #17 Tim Curtin
    June 1, 2006

    Hi David Tiley – where was the farm? I have rewritten my Note as below so hopefully it is less opaque now, but the graph failed to get in.

    Comments on John Quiggin’s “Assessing the costs and benefits of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases”, 17 March 2006

    Tim Curtin, 1st June 2006

    [The British Government has appointed Nicholas Stern (until recently Chief Economist at the World Bank) to review UK energy policy options. Stern’s ‘What is the Economics of Climate Change?’ is available at
    http://www.hmtreasury.gov.uk/independent_reviews/stern_review_economics_climate_change/sternreview_responses2.cfm
    together with responses by various academics including John Quiggin]

    Quiggin seeks to show that “the cost of substantial reductions in emissions implemented over a long period is likely to be of the order of 3% of national income or about one year’s economic growth. On the other hand the potential costs of failure to mitigate global warming may be much greater than this” (p.2). In effect Quiggin implies either zero income growth from now to eternity or else unspecified technological advances that somehow eliminate the emissions resulting from rising demand for energy as incomes grow. But if such technological advance can costlessly offset or prevent the emissions otherwise concomitant with the income effect on energy demand, then it can also more painlessly achieve the reductions in emissions that Quiggin attempts to show can be derived from price effects alone. Not only that, Quiggin overlooks the vastly greater importance of income growth on demand for energy relative to price effects arising from carbon taxes and the like.

    1. Quiggin’s numerical estimate of “only” a 3% reduction in Britain’s national income resulting from a reduction of “energy demand” (and thus emissions) by 60% contrasts with the IPCC’s estimate that preventing global emissions of carbon dioxide rising by 50% would incur annual costs of up to 3.2% of world national income. Quiggin’s example is for the UK only but implies a reduction in its total energy demand even though his worked example refers only to demand for transportation fuel. But he suggests that could easily be reduced enough to secure the target of a 60% reduction in total emissions of greenhouse gases (chiefly carbon dioxide) by such simple measures as improving vehicle fuel economy, congestion charges, and use of smaller cars. Yet even achieving a 60% reduction in the transport sector’s emissions would not achieve the total reduction in emissions of 60% proposed by the British government, as energy for transport acounts for only 30% of total emissions in USA (and somewhat less in Britain and the EU). Thus to reduce total emissions by 60% as proposed by Quiggin (p.4) just by reducing those in the transport sector would require total elimination of all use of petroleum there and some other fossil fuels in other sectors as well, since petroleum accounts for only 40% of total emissions in the USA (and less in Europe). Yet Quiggin asks us to believe that eliminating all use of petroleum would produce only a 3% reduction in national income! Quiggin’s worked example refers only to the motor vehicle end-use of petroleum, and omits aviation. To achieve the targeted reduction in emissions from just motor vehicle use would require not merely cessation of all such use but major reductions in demand in other sectors.

    2. Quiggin claims that although Nordhaus and others have estimated that the elasticity of demand for energy in the OECD is – 0.7 (e.g. an increase of 10% in price reduces demand by 7%), the “long run price elasticity of demand” for motor fuel is more likely to be “at least 1 and probably higher” (p.4), along with an income elasticity of just 1 (e.g. a 10% increase in income produces a 10% increase in fuel demand). Even if Quiggin’s elasticity estimates are correct, the truth is that with per capita income growth in the OECD currently at 2.5%p.a., average incomes will rise by over 60% by 2025, and by 200% by 2050, and energy demand by the same amount using Quiggin’s unit income elasticity. That means total energy demand would have to be constrained to not just 60% below the 1990 level but to more than 260% below the “Business As Usual” (BAU) level in 2050 unless non-GHG sources of fuel can be utilised. It appears not to be generally realised just what a mammoth task is involved in not simply getting emissions below the 1990 level, but below the BAU level in 2050. Using an income elasticity of just 0.7, so that energy demand grows at 1.75% p.a. while income grows at 2.5% p.a., energy demand under BAU would by 2050 be more than double the level in 2005 (see Fig.1), and GHG emissions likewise, unless there was a truly massive shift to non-GHG-emitting fuels.

    Thus to achieve the 60% reduction in emissions from the 1990 level by 2050 would involve preventing the doubling of energy demand that results when incomes triple by 2050 in addition to the 60% reduction in 1990 usage he claims to be feasible at minimal cost. Thus his model requires a total reversal of growth so as to get national income back to the 1990 level in perpetuity. The forgone cost even by 2025 would be 64% of average OECD per capita income in 2005, or more than 20 times larger than the one-off loss of 3% of GDP touted by Quiggin.

    3. Quiggin does (p.4) acknowledge that income growth raises energy demand, but claims that unspecified “exogenous” technological change along with equally unspecified induced changes in the emissions-intensity of efficiency use that “will yield emissions reductions sufficient to offset the effects of income growth and reduce emissions by a further 20% for a total reduction of 60%”. These unspecified changes are un-costed, and like the whole paper merely assume what was announced would be proved, with specifics only for reductions in emissions from vehicle use and just pie in the sky for the much larger reductions required from industrial energy demand associated with incomes compounding at 2.5% p.a.

    4. Quiggin’s neglect of the effect of rising incomes as an offset to rising fuel prices is indicated by his assumption that the latter is “already” leading to a fall in demand for SUVs, for which he offers no citation. However it has been reported that it is rising demand for its SUVs that has improved General Motors’ prospects this year. Here Quiggin overlooks the income elasticity of demand and its associated scale factor: a 3% increase in an income of $100,000 p.a. or $3000 is clearly enough to offset the effects of doubling petrol costs for average annual usage from even as much as $1,000 in 2000 to say $2,000 in 2006 (the actual increase in pump prices in Canberra Australia on 28 May 2000 was A$0.889, and on the same day in 2006 A$1.32, an increase of 48%). This scaling shows how income effects swamp price effects even when crude oil prices have climbed from around US$20 per barrel five years ago to US$70 now. The truth is that when incomes are growing energy demand is most unlikely to be as price elastic as imagined by Quiggin, as evident from the lack of any perceptible reduction in demand for crude oil since 2001 despite the tripling of the US$ price.

    5. Quiggin’s paper is equally unreliable on the costs of doing nothing about global warming. He rejects the estimates of the costs of the alleged loss of biodiversity arising from climate change by Nordhaus and others as trivially low, when the truth is that first, there are pace Nordhaus unlikely to be any net losses, and even if there were, there is no evidence that there will be any measurable financial or economic cost of any such loss. En passant, it is curious that while global warmers tend to be as much evolutionists as apparently deniers like Roy Spencer are agnostic or even creationist, yet the former totally discount the ability of almost all known species that already cope with daily changes in temperature of as much as 20 degrees C (as in Canberra at present) – not to mention an annual range from -7C to 35C – to adapt (or evolve!) to handle the IPCC “scenario” rise of 3C, implying a new range here of say -6 to 37, and mutatis mutandis elsewhere. And if they do not so adapt or adjust, tant pis, we have survival of the fittest. As for flooding in Venice, what’s new there? Not only is there NO evidence of net rises in sea levels, the rise in sea levels by 2100 predicted by the IPCC’s “Business as usual” scenario is only 50 cm (2 inches), hardly likely to be noticed in Venice or elsewhere.

    6. Quiggin concludes that doing nothing “carries with it both a small but economically significant possibility of catastrophic loss and the certainty (!!!) of massive damage to natural ecosystems” (for neither is any evidence offered). However quite near to his home, the recent cyclone Larry in North Queensland was certainly catastrophic for the affected communities, and has resulted in a severe shortage of bananas (in Australia, largely because of refusal to import) – but both these effects are short term, and it is doubtful whether even if global emissions had been reduced by 50% since 1990 that Larry would have been avoided, since the cyclone that hit Darwin in 1976 was even more catastrophic, despite much lower emissions then than now. Not only that, the damage incurred in Darwin is a distant memory, and the city has been rebuilt in a manner that makes it more able to withstand a future cyclone.

    Conclusion

    John Quiggin’s submission to the Stern Review is flawed by a failure to realise that the relatively inelastic relationship between income growth and energy demand far outweighs his claimed (but not evidenced) price elastic demand for carbon intensive fuels. Quiggin seems not to be alone in neglecting the income factor, but its role may well explain why the EU’s carbon emissions trading system has so far yielded no measurable reduction in either demand for GHG-intensive fossil fuels or output of GHG emissions.

  18. #18 Ian Gould
    June 2, 2006

    Tim C.:

    I don’t, at this time, have the time to give your comments a detailed critique.

    Would you say though, that an accurate summary (although one you would nto necessariyl use yourself) is that a fairly radical reduction in greenhouse emissions would not result in the collpase of modern civilisation or a reverseion to pre-industrial living standards but would imply a stagnation of total output around current levels?

    (This would still be bad enough given the projected growth in world population and the unacceptable levels of poverty in which 50% or more of the world’s population live.)

  19. #19 Tim Curtin
    June 2, 2006

    Ian: as I have said before we are often in broad agreement! But I would put your “stagnation” not at present levels of standard of living, but at around 1980, which having been there I would not appreciate, but as for the benighted Chinese, Indians, and Africans??!! So I do indeed agree with you. I am still expanding that article, and find that Nicholas Stern is even (if possible!) more absurd than Quiggin: Stern’s paper largely misses the point that it is not enough to cut emissions by 60% from today to 1990 but from 2050 (and associated incomes) to 1990. In addition he laughably if unwittingly describes how global warming will achieve this anyway, which means that we need do nothing ourselves, as global warming will reduce the incomes that give rise to the global warming, so what’s the problem? (Lovelock might well agree on the basis of his Ghaia principle).

  20. #20 Sarah Jewell
    June 12, 2006

    I saw this movie on opening day (June 2) in Seattle and found myself surrounded by interested viewers. I found myself aware of the current global warming issues, but I found that “An Inconvenient Truth” provided me with many of the facts that I didn’t know about. The movie was loaded with factual information that I found very informative. As I left the theater I really wanted to step up and help to change the problem, but how many times do you say I’m going to go do something and follow through with it. This made me realize that this could be a general problem of the crisis because if I don’t step up to help make a change than who will? As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This issue is so important to my young generation, and as a young teen I feel that I must help to make a difference we all need to help pitch in so we won’t have to worry. We can’t wait until this issue is completely destroying us and the earth, the time is now and we need to step up to the plate.

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