Ian Musgrave has written an open letter to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, correcting him on his claim that “at the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth the climate was considerably warmer than it is now”.

But where did Abbott get the notion that it was considerably warmer in Roman times? Most likely from Ian Plimer, who on page 59 of Heaven and Earth writes:

The Roman Warming Period (250 BC – 450 AD)

Warming started about 250 BC and was enjoyed by the Greeks and Romans. The Romans had it easy. Although the Empire started in cool period, grapes were grown in Rome in 150 BC. By the 1st Century BC, Roman scribes record little snow and ice and that vineyards and olive groves extended northwards in Italy.[213] At he peak of the Roman warming, olive trees grew in the Rhine valley of Germany. The location of vineyards is a good climate proxy. Citrus trees and grapes were grown in England as far north as Hadrian’s Wall and most of Europe enjoyed a Mediterranean climate. This suggests a very rapid warming. It was also wetter. Temperatures in the Roman Warming were 2 to 6°C warmer than today. Sea level was slightly lower than today despite the fact that times were warmer[214] suggesting that land movements associated with the collision of Africa with Europe influenced local sea level. Roman clothing also shows that it was warmer than today.

[213] Allen, H. W. 1961: The history of wine Faber & Faber, London.
[214] Lambeck, K., Anzidei, M., Antonioli, F., Benini, A. and Esposito, A. 2004: Sea level in Roman time in the Central Mediterranean and implications for recent change. Earth and Planetary Science 224: 563-575.

“2 to 6°C warmer” would certainly qualify as “considerably warmer”, but as he commonly does, Plimer provides no cite to support his claims. He only has two references in the entire paragraph. One, about vineyards, doesn’t support his claim that the Roman period was “2 to 6°C warmer” since there are plenty of vineyards in England today. The other, on sea levels contradicts it. If sea levels were lower in Roman times, then it was likely cooler. Plimer tries to wriggle out of this by suggesting that the difference is caused by land movement, but after adjusting for land movement, sea level was still lower. Look at the abstract:

These data provide a precise measure of local sea level of −1.35±0.07 m at 2000 years ago. Part of this change is the result of ongoing glacio-hydro isostatic adjustment of the crust subsequent to the last deglaciation. When corrected for this, using geologically constrained model predictions, the change in eustatic sea level since the Roman Period is −0.13±0.09 m.

In other words, sea level in Roman times was similar to that at the start of the 20th century, suggesting that temperatures were also similar to those at the start of the 20th century, and hence cooler than curent temperatures nad certainly not “considerably warmer”.

Comments

  1. #1 Shane
    May 14, 2010

    What is it with these guys and grapes?
    Haven’t they heard… grapes come in different varieties/cultivars? In Germany varieties like Riesling (that name doesn’t sound very Roman) are grown, whereas in Italy Sangiovese is the most common.

    Also, wineries today (and then) aren’t just placed anywhere as is implied above, local climate and conditions influence location.

    http://www.winepros.org/images-content/perfect.gif

  2. #2 Kristjan Wager
    May 14, 2010

    I am seriously considering registering to vote in the next Australian election, just to vote against Abbott.

  3. #3 anthony
    May 14, 2010

    The location of vineyards is a good climate proxy.

    No it’s not! They have vineyards in Japan and their wine is uniformly awful. Good wine is a good climate proxy – the bargain bins are littered with poor climate-variety choices.

  4. #4 Arthur Smith
    May 14, 2010

    Tim – I think you have the results of your reference backwards:

    “the change in eustatic sea level since the Roman Period is −0.13±0.09 m.”

    I.e. sea level was slightly *higher* in the Roman Period after the adjustment. So likely temperatures were close to or a bit higher than now. Of course we’ve known we were in a general cooling period from the Holocene Maximum, so that’s not too surprising.

  5. #5 Rattus Norvegicus
    May 14, 2010

    And of course, Mediterranean climates are dry, not wet.

  6. #6 MartinM
    May 14, 2010

    “the change in eustatic sea level since the Roman Period is −0.13±0.09 m.”

    I.e. sea level was slightly higher in the Roman Period after the adjustment.

    I can see how you could read it that way, but the text of the actual paper is pretty clear:

    …sea level at 2000 years ago was
    1.35 +- 0.07 m (standard deviation of the mean) lower
    than today…The total isostatic contribution to the change in sea
    level over the past 2000 years at Torre Astura is
    estimated at -1.22 +- 0.06 m at 2000 years BP for
    the weighted mean earth model. When compared with
    the observed value, this indicates that eustatic sea
    level in Roman time was at -0.13 +- 0.09 m.

  7. #7 Brian Schmidt
    May 14, 2010

    The “citrus in England” claim is a new one to me. I assume it was produced from the same source as Plimer’s other uncited claims, but will now enter the denialist canon.

  8. #8 jakerman
    May 14, 2010

    Arthur compare with Lambeck’s [3000 year SL reconstruction here](http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_intro.html).

    Perhaps the wording in the abstract is confusing (as Martin thinks), the chart indictes SL 2000 years ago was approx 0.13 m lower than present.

  9. #9 jakerman
    May 14, 2010

    As Martin thinks shows.

  10. #10 lord_sidcup
    May 14, 2010

    This made me laugh:

    “Roman clothing also shows that it was warmer than today.”

    Never mind availablity of materials, economics, fashion, or the general hardiness of the population.

    Actually, I would have thought wool and animal hide were the main materials available to the Romans. Both of these are considered to be best suited to making warm clothing.

  11. #11 chek
    May 14, 2010

    “The “citrus in England” claim is a new one to me.”

    Sure – grapes, pineapples, oranges, lemons – is there anything the Chinese Navy wasn’t shipping across the North Polar route from Britannia back then?

  12. #12 Eric Lund
    May 14, 2010

    What is it with these guys and grapes? Haven’t they heard… grapes come in different varieties/cultivars?

    The medieval Vikings reported the existence of a land they called “Vinland” because of the grapes that grew there. This “Vinland” is probably what we call the island of Newfoundland (the Vikings did attempt to settle near the northern tip of this island), although it might be as far south as Nova Scotia or Maine, or it might even be Labrador. Even though this was during the Medieval Warm Period, northeastern North America is not exactly known for its warm climate. There are wineries in New England and southern Quebec, but the varietals are ones that most people would not recognize–the more usual wine grapes would not survive winter in this area.

  13. #13 Richard Simons
    May 14, 2010

    Given the importance of wine in Roman culture and their inability to pick up a bottle from the nearest corner store, no doubt they were willing to put up with poorer quality and lower production than a modern English winery would accept.

  14. #14 Chris S.
    May 14, 2010

    “By means of glasses, hotbeds, and hotwalls, very good
    grapes can be raised in Scotland, and very good wine too
    can be made of them at about thirty times the expense for
    which at least equally good can be brought from foreign
    countries … As long as the one country has those
    advantages, and the other wants them, it will always be
    more advantageous for the latter, rather to buy of the
    former than to make.”
    Adam Smith (1776)

  15. #15 Steve Reuland
    May 14, 2010

    So, people calling themselves “skeptics” refuse to believe multiple independent paleoclimate reconstructions published in top peer reviewed journals, yet the presence of grapes grown in regions where they are grown today is undeniable evidence that the past was warmer.

    In my book, actual skeptics aren’t gullible fanatics.

  16. #16 JamesA
    May 14, 2010

    > Roman clothing also shows that it was warmer than today.

    Clearly he hasn’t heard about the socks:

    >Evidence for what, by modern standards, would be considered a lack of style has been uncovered at a major archaeological dig in south London, where a foot from a bronze statue appears to be adorned with both socks and sandals.

    >”It’s embarrassing for them,” said Nansi Rosenberg, senior archaeological consultant at EC Harris, which is managing the excavation.
    >”I would think their excuse would be the cold. We know from the writings of Tacitus that the weather in Britain was terrible.”

  17. #17 Steve Bloom
    May 14, 2010

    We can count ourselves lucky that the denialists haven’t read Darwin. If they had they’d be on about the Early 19th Century Patagonian Hothouse (based on Darwin’s description of the local clothing, or more precisely the lack therof). Don’t anyone tell Plimer…

  18. #18 Scott A Mandia
    May 14, 2010

    A bit OT but we are speaking about denialism so this comment is perhaps appropriate:

    Vermont State Climatologist: Why Is That Link Still There?

    The VSC is prominently linking a Fraser Institute document that is filled with errors and misleading/missing information. Although alerted to this over 6 months ago, the link is still there! Story linked above.

  19. #19 Steve L
    May 14, 2010

    What about Plimer’s proposal that local sea area was lower due to collision of Africa with Europe? The abstract of the cited paper makes it clear that isostatic rebound is the factor to be concerned about. Is Plimer’s claim as ridiculous as it seems?

  20. #20 Steve Reuland
    May 14, 2010

    @19:

    While I’m pretty sure that “a collision of Africa with Europe” and isostatic rebound are entirely different things, it’s true that changes in land have affected relative sea levels. The point is that once you remove that factor, sea levels would have still been slightly lower in Roman times, implying that it was not in fact warmer back then.

  21. #21 Steve Reuland
    May 14, 2010

    Reading Steve L’s comment more carefully, I see he’s inquiring about the Africa and Europe collision claim per se, not about effects of land changes on sea level.

    Yes, it strikes me as pretty ridiculous. But I’m not a geologist.

  22. #22 Jim Eager
    May 14, 2010

    Eric Lund wrote: “The medieval Vikings reported the existence of a land they called “Vinland” because of the grapes that grew there.”

    Yeah, but those same medieval Vikings also called that large island with a permanent ice cap in the northwest Atlantic Greenland, too.
    Cheeky buggers, they were, but shrewd real estate promoters.

    Anyone who thinks Newfoundland could be ‘Vinland” has never been there to see its coastal marine barrens and largely boreal forests for themselves

    The Norse Vinland sagas also talk about a place with great tidal differences and landlocked lagoons where halibut could be caught in puddles on the shore as the tide retreated, which sounds an awful lot like the Bay of Fundy, suggesting New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, both of which are far more more temperate candidates for Vinland. In fact today there are several commercial vineyards in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and in southern New Brunswick around Moncton.

  23. #23 Paul UK
    May 14, 2010

    Re anthony @3

    >No it’s not! They have vineyards in Japan and their wine is uniformly awful. Good wine is a good climate proxy – the bargain bins are littered with poor climate-variety choices.

    Indeed.
    There is an assumption that the growing of vineyards in Britain by the Romans meant the wine was good.

    AFAIK there is no record as to how good or bad it was.
    And as you point out, you can grow vineyards in all sorts of places.

  24. #24 Steve L
    May 14, 2010

    Steve Reuland @21 — yeah, I’m specifically asking about how Plimer can use the African and European continents colliding to say something about sea level 2,000 yrs ago. It’s not as though the continents just bumped into one another then (to cause a sudden subduction or something) and, to my knowledge, it’s not as though they’ve stopped running into one another since then. Right? I’m not a geologist, but Plimer is! So either I’m lacking the relevant facts or he’s incompetent even in his field of expertise.

  25. #25 Brian Angliss
    May 14, 2010

    I live in the Denver, Colorado, USA metro area, a part of Colorado that is not known for its wine (microbrews yes, wine no) or grapes. Yet I have a grape vine growing in my back yard that produced grapes last year. Were it bigger, I’m sure I could crush them, ferment them, and make terrible wine from them.

    Heck, I accidentally made wine my sophomore year of college by taking a sip of Welch’s grape juice and letting the now contaminated jar sit forgotten in the sun on the windowsill for a week or so. Nasty stuff, but I got a buzz off it.

  26. #26 Berbalang
    May 14, 2010

    So, can anyone recommend a Scottish wine made form grapes?

    BTW, there is one species of hardy orange that will survive surprisingly cold climates. So the claims of citrus growing in England during Roman times does not impress me.

  27. #27 Adrian Wall
    May 14, 2010

    Plimer must have got his tip off about Roman Clothing proxies from Denial Depot.

    “Britain is too cold today for an army to invade it wearing skirts. But the Romans did exactly that.”
    http://denialdepot.blogspot.com/2009/08/all-you-need-to-know-about-recent.html

  28. #28 el Gordo
    May 14, 2010

    J Bowers

    Plimer and you agree on something:

    ‘Sea level was slightly lower than today despite the fact that times were warmer, suggesting that land movements associated with the collision of Africa with Europe influenced local sea level.’

  29. #29 John Cross
    May 14, 2010

    On the other hand, the idea of using clothing as a proxy for temperature has lots of good science behind it

  30. #30 ChrisO
    May 14, 2010

    The Romans didn’t need wine to be good. They drank it sour (effectively as vinegar) mixed with water and herbs, a mixture which they called *posca*. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posca for details. So yes, wine from Roman Britain probably was crap, but that was just fine for the Romans’ purposes – they weren’t trying to win prizes for quality!

  31. #31 chek
    May 14, 2010

    El Gordo Said:’Sea level was slightly lower than today despite the fact that times were warmer, suggesting that land movements associated with the collision of Africa with Europe influenced local sea level.’

    So is this evidence that you’re buying into Goddard’s hypothesis that higher atmospheric pressure causes warming?

    And to think it’s often said that contrarian mythology is a bunch of self-contradicting crap?

  32. #32 Moopheus
    May 14, 2010

    I seem to recall a mention in Nennius of the Orange Groves of the Picts.

  33. #33 chek
    May 14, 2010

    Apologies for the superfluous question mark in the final sentence of my previous post.

    I was somehow unconsciously thinking it with an Aussie accent whilst typing.

  34. #34 Nick
    May 14, 2010

    It was clearly too cold to grow wine grapes in Australia before 1788.

  35. #35 Ian Musgrave
    May 14, 2010

    Ah ha! Thanks for the detective work Tim. I wondered where Aboot got that from, the “Roman Warm Period” is fairly obscure if you are not a climate researcher. But as I noted in my post, it’s not a global phenomenon, and unlikely to be warmer than the medieval warm period, let alone warmer than now.

  36. #36 el Gordo
    May 14, 2010

    chek

    JB and I had a discussion on another thread about sea level during the Roman Climate Optimum and Plimer may have cleared it up. Let’s not split hairs over Goddard’s hypothesis.

    From another source the sea level fluctuated around this time, but starting about 200 AD there was a short phase of warmer conditions which lasted for a hundred years. Anecdotal evidence suggests that sea level increased and covered the floors of Roman buildings along the English coast.

  37. #37 John Mashey
    May 14, 2010

    We’ve been through this before @ Deltoid, see starting @ #11 onwards. I expect few peopel are as authoritative on wine in UK as Selley.

    See also About the Book, as the second edition has more material. On our next visit back to Yorkshire, I am keen to do a wine tour and see what they actually get.

    Grapes != perfect proxy for temperature, but since good wine is a high-value crop, people do create vineyards as poleward as they can, so it is a useful proxy, if handled thoughtfully.

    Living not too far from Napa&Sonoma, I always thought the phrase “Canadian wine” was an oxymoron, but reasonable grapes have been marching Northward through the Lake Okangan area:

    ‘The British Columbia wine industry was reborn in the late 1980s when many cool-climate, hybrid grape varieties were uprooted and replaced with vinifera grapes which now thrive in selected microclimates along Lakes Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos and as far north as just above the 50th latitude.”

    We ski up there ~3 weeks a year, and always sample local wines, and they’re actually getting reasonable.

    (But, I will admit, the most delightful wine-tasting trip I ever had was along the Swan River (near Perth) via canoe, like this. Very different from usual wine-tasting in Napa, Sonoma, or (back in AU) Hunter Valley.)

  38. #38 Agnostic
    May 14, 2010

    Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have one thing in common. They both have Ian Plimer as their adviser on global warming and, in addition, Abbott has benefitted from the advice of Lord Monckton. At least these people take their advisors seriously.

    That is more than can be said for Rudd who, judging by his refusal to put a price on carbon or take action to reduce emissions, may listen to his advisers (the Chief Scientist for Australia, CSIRO, BOM, etc) but he certainly does not take them seriously, or implement policies consistent with their views.

  39. #39 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    May 14, 2010

    Agnostic – “At least these people take their advisors seriously.”

    I hate to say this but you actually have a point.

    What is worse – a denier who is consistent or someone that accepts the science, publicly accepts the science and the importance of climate change action, gets elected on that platform and then does nothing.

    Ulitmately Rudd’s and Abbot’s position results in exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.

  40. #40 jakerman
    May 14, 2010

    Readers please be aweare that el gordo is a serial propagandist with a [demonstrated disregard for the truth](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/open_thread_48.php#comment-2512518).

    You can take nothing hes says as being in good faith.

  41. #41 John
    May 14, 2010

    I’m no historian but 250 AD was not the time of Jesus anyway.

  42. #42 jakerman
    May 14, 2010

    >Agnostic – *”At least these people take their advisors seriously.*”

    And
    >*I hate to say this but you actually have a point.*

    My take would be that Abbott has found the advisors that tell him what he wants to here.

    Rudd finds himself in a more nuanced position (even Howard went to the 2007 election with a promise for an ETS.

  43. #43 Craif Allen
    May 14, 2010

    Adrian Wall (love the name!) mentioned ClimateDepot’s lame argument of – “Britain is too cold today for an army to invade it wearing skirts. But the Romans did exactly that”

    Ha! Tell that to those kilt wearing highlanders who fought in so many of Britian’s wars. Besides, didn’t the nudey and blue Picts stop the rather better dressed Romans in their tracks?

  44. #44 Sab
    May 15, 2010

    @43: From what I recall of the museum at Bennachie it went something like this:

    We beat the Romans a few times and were on the receiving end of a few severe drubbings, but it was the combination of our stubborn refusal to stop fighting them and (importantly) the terrible Scottish weather that caused the Romans to give up on invading Scotland as a very bad idea.

  45. #45 Snarki, child of Loki
    May 15, 2010

    Adrian Wall:”Britain is too cold today for an army to invade it wearing skirts. But the Romans did exactly that”

    Craif Allen:”Ha! Tell that to those kilt wearing highlanders who fought in so many of Britian’s wars. Besides, didn’t the nudey and blue Picts stop the rather better dressed Romans in their tracks?”

    Kilts are a relatively modern introduction, 16th century. And it’s not like the Picts actually stopped the Romans, but it is true that traditional battle “garb” in Englaland and Eire of the time (and a long time after, for Eire) *was* a nice thick smear of woad.

    I guess the idea is to fight extra-hard just to stay warm. Not a good climate-proxy, then.

  46. #46 sailrick
    May 15, 2010

    I grew up in central Massachusetts, west of Worcester, where Winters are quite cold – quite a bit colder than the British Isles.
    There was always an abundance of concord grapes growing wild. I don’t know their origin, whether native or not, but they would certainly make an okay wine.

  47. #47 ChrisC
    May 15, 2010

    Argghhhhhhh!!!

    and most of Europe enjoyed a Mediterranean climate.

    No. No. No! “Mediterranean Climate” actually means something, and it is NOT “warm”. For central and northern Europe to experience a Mediterranean climate, would involve a substantial shifting of weather patterns. I’m not aware of any evidence for this. As I’ve told my first year students many, many times, you can’t just say stuff. You have to back it up and know what your words mean. Plimer should friggin’ well know this.

    As for Norse Vinland, I always thought it was located at L’Anse Aux Meadows in New Foundland?

  48. #48 eddie
    May 15, 2010

    I’ve often wondered about vinland. Not realy about the exact location, but did the vikings find vines there (which leads to other interesting questions), or just claim they could be grown there?

  49. #49 Marco
    May 15, 2010

    @eddie and ChrisC:

    The problem with “vin” is that it can mean “grape” or “meadow”. While the former is more likely, what exactly did the Vikings consider a “grape”? Etymology is a tricky thing. It may well be that they considered the cranberry a “vinber”. However, if Vinland included (or actually referred to) New Brunswick, there are abundant grapes (riverbank grape, frost grape, and fox grape). Butternuts were found at L’Anse Aux Meadows, and they also happen to grow in New Brunswick.

  50. #50 savemejeebus
    May 15, 2010

    “…Mr Howard, by what we call a perforation, caused a vault or cave to be made quite through the hill, which came out again into a fine vineyard, which he planted the same year, on the south side, or slope of the hill, and which they say has produced since most excellent good wines, and a very great quantity of them.” Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through England and Wales, 1724 (non-fiction travel guide).

    “I at Sir W. Batten’s did hear the particulars of it; and there for joy he did give the company that were there a bottle or two of his own last year’s wine growing at Walthamstow, than which the whole company said they never drank better foreign wine in their lives.” Samuel Pepys, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1660-1669.

    The Doomsday Book (1068) lists 55 setlements with vineyards including one at Eaton Socon in Bedfordshire (now Cambridgeshire).

    Henry of Huntingdon’s Historia Anglorum (1129) remarks that “Britain abounds in so many commodities, it is even fertile enough for vines …” and William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Pontificum Anglorum (112?) noted that wine produced in Gloucester was “abundant and of good quality.”

  51. #51 Chris O'Neill
    May 15, 2010

    Ulitmately Rudd’s and Abbot’s position results in exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.

    That should be:

    Ultimately The Greens and Abbot voted for exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.

  52. #52 Nathan
    May 15, 2010

    Chris

    “Ultimately The Greens and Abbot voted for exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.”

    That’s a really poorly thought through argument. Labor refused to negotiate with the Greens, why would the Greens support something they disagreed with from the start (and told Labor so) and were sidelined from any negotiations.

  53. #53 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    May 15, 2010

    Chris – “Ultimately The Greens and Abbot voted for exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.”

    True enough. I do agree with the next comment that the Greens did not like the ETS as it overly compensated polluters, had too low a target and locked in those pathetic targets till 2030.

    However, and this is a big however, the end result of the Greens and Abbot and Rudd was like you said, no action on climate change precisely what the coal industry really wanted in the first place.

    Funny thing is why does the government bend over backwards to acccomodate big coal when something like the super profit tax, that has all the miners up on their hind legs, get though without a hitch.

    Why can’t the government upset the coal lobby the same way with a simple carbon tax??????

  54. #54 Paul UK
    May 15, 2010

    Re Berbalang @26

    >So, can anyone recommend a Scottish wine made form grapes?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/wine/7182584/First-Scottish-wine-to-be-produced.html

  55. #55 J Bowers
    May 15, 2010

    ChrisO: “The Romans didn’t need wine to be good. They drank it sour (effectively as vinegar) mixed with water and herbs, a mixture which they called posca. ”

    Think that sounds bad? Look upgarum; they had it with everything.

  56. #56 mark
    May 15, 2010

    Citrus in Britain?
    A typo, perhaps?
    I think it should be circus.

    I find these arguments for warmth very uncompelling.

  57. #57 _Arthur
    May 15, 2010

    According to Denial Depot, a very trusted source, hippopotamuses were wading in the Thames river in great numbers, in Roman times, before Global Cooling froze them all, or something.

    “Meanwhile in England beautiful hippos were swimming up and down the Thames and people were dancing and singing through vast vineyards covering the country. A large volume of wine was produced by England in this time causing a few arguments with France, although thanks to the warmth both countries often overlooked their differences.”

    “After years of prosperity caused by a very warm world, the climate decided to disprove manmade global warming again by cooling down on it’s own. The world became grim and frostbitten.”

    “The Hippo population in London was eradicated and people had to resort to selling meagre goods on the frozen Thames. Millions died in such frost fairs. The cold brought plague, famine and war.”

  58. #58 Nick
    May 15, 2010

    #57,Hippos were the ice-breakers of choice in the River Thames around the time of Tony Abbott,sorry Jesus Christ, but records show they were not eradicated: they won a contract to supply river ice-breaking services in Africa and moved their business there.

  59. #59 Chris O'Neill
    May 16, 2010

    “Ultimately The Greens and Abbot voted for exactly the same thing – no real action on climate change.”

    Nathan:

    That’s a really poorly thought through argument.

    It’s not an argument, it’s a statement of fact.

    Stephen Gloor:

    I do agree with the next comment that the Greens did not like the ETS as it overly compensated polluters,

    Other Senators that the ALP needed to pass the legislation would never have agreed to an ETS that caused an instant capital loss to carbon-emitting industries. The ETS would still have motivated them to reduce their carbon emissions because they could then sell their freed-up permits. The Greens had an ideological agenda to punish carbon-emitting industries which was not necessary to reduce carbon emissions in future.

    had too low a target and locked in those pathetic targets till 2030.

    And what targets do they have now? There is no such thing as “locking-in” targets a long way in the future. Future governments are not bound by current legislation. BTW, 5% reduction for the whole country by 2020 means 20% reduction PER PERSON by then. Not a trivial reduction. Just asking again, what targets do they have now?

    Funny thing is why does the government bend over backwards to acccomodate big coal when something like the super profit tax, that has all the miners up on their hind legs, get though without a hitch.

    I didn’t realize it had got through the Senate. I mustn’t have been paying attention.

  60. #60 Gaz
    May 16, 2010

    The Greens had an ideological agenda to punish carbon-emitting industries which was not necessary to reduce carbon emissions in future.

    Sadly, that appears to be correct.

  61. #61 jakerman
    May 16, 2010

    Gaz, Chris,

    That would be similar reckoning to a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But my reckoning is that its too early to tell if the Greens made a mistake. We won’t know the answer to for at least a decade.

    The design of Labour/Turnbull ETS was so poor that even Garnaut said it was a line ball call on whether it was useful. And no ETS has yet to prove cost effective compared to competing abatement mechanisms. ETS have so far shown themselve to been highly rortable.

    I see no way forward for incorporating carbon offsets whose rubbery accounting seem a designed to maximize both incentives and a smoke screen for corruption.

    We must remember that so far there has been zero lost abatement (compared to the Rudd Turmbull ETS) and less payout (resource pumping) given to the big polluters.

    We might know in a decade or two if your initial judgement bears out. But it seems to me that Rudd was only for the ETS when it meant zero net political cost to him. And that shallow commitment seemed built into the design of the ETS.

  62. #62 el Gordo
    May 16, 2010

    Sea level was lower during the Roman Climate Optimum, when temperatures were higher. Why is it so?

  63. #63 jakerman
    May 16, 2010

    Oh lets remember Labor could have negotiated a deal with the Greens and Xenophon if [Labor had not](http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2004/results/sendVIC.htm) put [Mr 1.8%](http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/national/national/general/fieldings-climate-change-views-of-concern/1536869.aspx) in the Senate.

    So 2011 might bring a more climate friendly Senate.

  64. #64 Robert Murphy
    May 16, 2010

    “Sea level was lower during the Roman Climate Optimum, when temperatures were higher.”

    All the evidence says it wasn’t warmer than now globally, no matter how many times you repeat it.

  65. #65 Chris O'Neill
    May 16, 2010

    jakerman:

    That would be similar reckoning to a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    So are you disputing that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

    The design of Labour/Turnbull ETS was so poor that even Garnaut said it was a line ball call on whether it was useful.

    Garnaut proposed zero compensation that would have caused instant capital loss to the businesses affected. I know the Greens want to live in an ideal world but that is politically impossible.

    And no ETS has yet to prove cost effective compared to competing abatement mechanisms

    or the other way round either.

    ETS have so far shown themselve to been highly rortable.

    That’s the scare story pushed by anti-climate scientists. The rorts have come from carbon-credit-creation schemes, not from emissions trading itself.

    We must remember that so far there has been zero lost abatement (compared to the Rudd Turmbull ETS)

    That’s just not true (from when the scheme was due to begin operating). Carbon emitters with their permits would have been motivated to reduce their emissions if they could sell their permits for more than the cost of reducing their emissions.

    and less payout (resource pumping) given to the big polluters.

    Yes, it wouldn’t have punished carbon emitters the way the Greens want. But the sad fact is that we don’t live in an ideal world.

  66. #66 Chris O'Neill
    May 16, 2010

    el Gordo is a f℧ckwit (look it up in the dictionary, it’s not just a name). Why is it so?

  67. #67 jakerman
    May 16, 2010

    >So are you disputing that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

    Depends on the bird and what comes wrapped up with it.

    >Garnaut proposed zero compensation that would have caused instant capital loss to the businesses affected. I know the Greens want to live in an ideal world but that is politically impossible.

    Compensation can come in many forms, free permits to worst polluters undermines the system and entrenches the polluting technology.

    >>And no ETS has yet to prove cost effective compared to competing abatement mechanisms
    >or the other way round either.

    Not quite, The Euro ETS has been [rorted to the extreme](http://euobserver.com/885/29132)

    >ETS have so far shown themselve to been highly rortable.
    >*That’s the scare story pushed by anti-climate scientists.*

    No [the police actually](http://euobserver.com/885/29132).

    >*The rorts have come from carbon-credit-creation schemes, not from emissions trading itself.*

    Explain and ETS without carbon credits and explain how your would have our credits immune from such rorts?

    >We must remember that so far there has been zero lost abatement (compared to the Rudd Turmbull ETS)

    >*That’s just not true (from when the scheme was due to begin operating). Carbon emitters with their permits would have been motivated to reduce their emissions if they could sell their permits for more than the cost of reducing their emissions.*

    That would the the carbon emitter who would have been compensated with free permits.

    >and less payout (resource pumping) given to the big polluters.
    >*Yes, it wouldn’t have punished carbon emitters the way the Greens want. But the sad fact is that we don’t live in an ideal world.*

    That would be with the free permits which undermine the very incentive that was supposed to drive the change. Then they could buy (the cheapest) offsets in a dodgy rort that didn’t actual cut any emissions (and their uselessness is the precise reason why they were the cheapest offsets).

  68. #68 jakerman
    May 16, 2010

    What is stopping Rudd starting out with a simple carbon tax? Rudd could make it revenue neutral with a per capita dividend every quarter. Then granny could get rewarded for using less then average energy whilst the profligate get charged until they feel it.

    That would drive incentive for change and establish the revenue for new efficiency and energy service industry.

    Mum and Dad would start getting money back for their sensible choice of installing a solar hot water unit. And research into those smart film windows start to tickle the investors fancy.

    Then take it up a notch when people are comfortable and invested in the sensible feedback mechanism that would establish.

    To be politically smart Rudd could combat Abbotts’s predictable stance by asking Abbott to defend the GST. He’d achieve this by offering to replace the Great Big GST with a carbon tax. (This would require curbing of the 100% dividend).

    Why tax everything at the same rate when different activity has far higher destructive impact? Why tax renewables like knowledge services at the same rate as coal burning?

    Dump the GST, save small business a hell load of paper work, and put a carbon tax on at the source (mine or wharf). Then ask Abbott to defend that Great big tax that is indiscriminate, unfair to sustainable elements of the economy and a burden of paper work.

  69. #69 el Gordo
    May 16, 2010

    The warmists would have us believe that the MWP and Roman Climate Optimum were basically a series of different localized warming events in different locations at different times.

    There is very little academic work done on the RCO, so I cannot confirm or deny, but the MWP was universal yet at different times. The RCO was probably the same, which would account for the fact that sea level was lower even though temperatures were higher in some places.

  70. #70 Paul Norton
    May 16, 2010

    Plimer also gets his history wrong:

    “Warming started about 250 BC and was enjoyed by the Greeks and Romans. The Romans had it easy. Although the Empire started in cool period, grapes were grown in Rome in 150 BC.”

    The Empire did not start until the accession of Augustus in 27BC.

  71. #71 chek
    May 16, 2010

    El Gordo said ” The RCO was probably the same, which would account for the fact that sea level was lower even though temperatures were higher in some places”.

    Yeah, so what you do is you get your denialist buddy machine to get up off their big fat butts and go find out if that was actually the case in reality.

    Asserting it by proxy is something you and your ilk have gotten away with for far too long.

  72. #72 el Gordo
    May 16, 2010

    In a couple of thousand years they will look back at this post modern climate optimum and be able to say with confidence that Greenland and the Arctic were slightly warmer, but it wasn’t universal.

  73. #73 David Horton
    May 16, 2010

    #72 “post modern climate optimum” that would be the one, I guess, Mt Gordo, that just happened inexplicably to coincide with the massive rise in CO2 belching out of power stations and car exhausts. An amazing coincidence, I mean, it’s not as if there is any known link between CO2 and temperature.

  74. #74 el Gordo
    May 16, 2010

    Melt Water Pulse 1a was local, but it had universal effect.

  75. #75 Anthony David
    May 16, 2010

    Wishful thinking does not make current observations a regional-phenomenon.

  76. #76 Fran Barlow
    May 16, 2010

    jakerman@68 said:

    What is stopping Rudd starting out with a simple carbon tax?

    Even better is simply making fossil-fuel-derived energy costs non-tax deductible. This might be the simplest route of all to putting a price on emissions.

    No new laws need to be passed by the senate or even the House of Reps for a measure like this, so tough luck Liberals. No complex accounting and compliance would be necessary so little new bureaucracy would be needed (though we might need someone with expertise to ensure that models of CO2 intensity in energy were standardised and accurate), making transaction costs nearly nothing.

    It wouldn’t just cover Australia’s 1000 largest companies either. Every business would be in.

    As compensation, the government could simply
    a) set aside 80% of the revenue gained for lifting the bottom tax threshold
    b) use the other 20% to give cash (quarterly and scaled from the bottom up) to people under $26,000 or so who won’t get enough under a) to compensate them for price rises.

    So it’s revenue neutral. No GBNT arguments, as tax is the same.

    You could allow those using certified low-net-carbon energy in business to claim this as a deduction based on the proportion of their energy coming from non-thermal fossil sources. You could even allow householders buying certified low carbon energy to sell these credits to companies or others via an exchange like e-bay, allowing renewables to compete in the household energy sector. You could introduce it with almost immediate effect — say July 2011. To be consistent, you’d remove fuels subsidies in mining, forestry and agriculture.

    I don’t see a downside to this. The government argues that it is irrational to subsidise the consumption of fossil fuels by favourable tax treatment, and that if these costs really are essential to business, then they should be passed onto end users of the goods and services to whom we give the funds clawed back who can then decide whether they as individuals need to accept these costs or make other arrangements.

  77. #77 Bernard J.
    May 16, 2010

    [ENOUGH](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/tony_abbott_and_the_roman_warm.php#comment-2516835)

    Sea level was lower during the Roman Climate Optimum, when temperatures were higher. Why is it so?

    …[ALREADY](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/tony_abbott_and_the_roman_warm.php#comment-2517805).

    In a couple of thousand years they will look back at this post modern climate optimum and be able to say with confidence that Greenland and the Arctic were slightly warmer, but it wasn’t universal.

    Tim, can we have a “recalcitrant troll” thread to which we might banish the likes of El Fatso, Brent, Sunspot et al once they have definitively demonstrated their refractoriness to scientific fact and logic?

    None of them deserve their own thread, and they are simply clogging up the rest of the threads here with their rubbish. If such a recalcitrant troll thread becomes too long and cumbersome (say, > 1000 posts), perhaps you could close it and start a new one, with a warning to any particulalry pernicious trolls that they tighten their games lest they face a complete ban from Deltoid.

    This way those of us who have a modicum of interest in a focussed discussion might have our wish, and those of us who are so inclined (including myself on occasion!) might whack the moles on the corner of the lawn to which they have been restricted, without disturbing the rest of the readers.

    Anything that stops the bad pennies turning up where they are not wanted must surely be a good thing.

  78. #78 Fran Barlow
    May 16, 2010

    I second that Bernard …

    Anyone who is one of the trolls specified or who posts their claims as credible, gets the post dfleted with a standard {repost in troll thread} banished to the specified troll thread

  79. #79 ChrisC
    May 16, 2010

    +1 to that Bernard.

    El Gordo et al, are really, really tedious. Vacuous. Boring. Banish them to their own thread until they prove to all and sundry that they can stay on topic for longer than the attention span of a teenager raised on MTV and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

  80. #80 Bernard J.
    May 16, 2010

    On the matter of the ETS, I have generally tended to agree with jakerman about the dubious utility of the one proposed by the current Australian Government and by the Liberal Opposition prior to Abbott’s coup. Especially, my concern was that it would be ineffective in terms of delivering discernible (to a lay populace) positive outcomes whilst causing some noticable initial ‘negative’ economic impacts, which might have caused future governments to hesitate strongly in considering future tightening of the parameters.

    Conversely, Australia adopting an ETS would have given a strong signal to the rest of the world, especially had we taken it to Copenhagen instead of bailing out at the last minute as happened when Tony Abbott elicited his own ["et tu, Brute?"](http://www.smh.com.au/national/shock-result-as-abbott-wins-liberal-leadership-by-one-vote–ets-dead-20091201-k1uz.html) from Turnbull by the merest gasp of a margin from the Coalition.

    It staggers me that Abbott puts his faith in his religious and economic ideologies ahead of rational science, and that he does so dragging a whole nation (and now possibly the world, given his actions last December) further toward irreparable long-term climate harm, and that he was able to do so on the basis of one bloody vote! And this nonsense that we couldn’t “go first” was exactly that – nonsense. Someone always has to go first, and the responsibility should fall to the highest per captia polluters such as we are, else the world risks (and appears to be now locked into) a game of ‘chicken’ where there are no prizes for holding out the longest.

    I take Chris O’Neill’s point though about what is [politically possible](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/tony_abbott_and_the_roman_warm.php#comment-2516871), and how the Green’s approach might be idealistic, and this sets me to hours of contemplation of the best route forward. What most concerns me though is that in the end our political ‘pragmatism’ might be accompanied by the tune of a fiddle being played from the smouldering ruins of a climatic Rome.

    I know others here have argued that carbon taxes wouldn’t limit emissions in the way that an ETS supposedly would, but the more I ponder this claim the more I find it difficult to follow its logic. Ultimately, if such a tax it properly costed, shouldn’t it have roughly the same impact as an ETS, without many of the intermediate steps that make an ETS vulnerable to rorting? Putting a truly reflective monetary penalty on the cost of pollution, at the source of said pollution, would seem to be a fairly straight-forward way of making the polluters pay, and if the lowest-income earners are conmpensated; well, how is this not fair for society in general?

    And I agree with [Fran](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/tony_abbott_and_the_roman_warm.php#comment-2518002) – remove the subsidies for fossil fuel energy. Seriously… how can the parties dedicated to “small government”, to “lowering taxes imposed on the public”, and to “dismantling the nanny state” condone the corporate welfare which sucks staggering amounts from the averge “working family” to fatten the pockets of our wealthiest corporations?! As an example, isn’t the Australian fuel subsidy to industry alone something like $2 billion per year?

    Of course, this might reduce their profits a little, but if they ceased paying their executives the obscene salaries that they do, there would be rather less of a sting from the removal of such corporate tit-sucking than there might otherwise be.

    For pity’s sake, when is the political and the business leadership of this country going to get real? Or is it in fact just a matter of one rule for the rich and another for the average joe and jane in the ‘burbs?

    [There, that should stir the neo-cons and the Randians up a little...]

  81. #81 AndrewD
    May 16, 2010

    “Citrus trees and grapes were grown in England as far north as Hadrian’s Wall”
    I grew up near Hadrian’s wall. As a schoolboy, I visited the Roman forts and camps nearby and saw the central heating systems they installed in their villas, where the hot draft from fires at one end of the building flowed through under-floor passages to keep the Romans’ feet warm. (At the time, we didn’t even have central heating in our home – nearly 2000 years later!). The (modern) pictures of the soldiers on the wall also had them all rugged-up because it was so cold – they certainly weren’t wearing sandles and short skirts.

  82. #82 Chris O'Neill
    May 17, 2010

    jakerman:

    So are you disputing that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

    Depends on the bird and what comes wrapped up with it.

    You’re moving the goalposts.

    Garnaut proposed zero compensation that would have caused instant capital loss to the businesses affected. I know the Greens want to live in an ideal world but that is politically impossible.

    Compensation can come in many forms, free permits to worst polluters undermines the system and entrenches the polluting technology.

    No that’s not true as I pointed out above. The carbon-emitters with free permits can sell them if they reduce their carbon emissions. So they do indeed have a motive for reducing emissions.

    And no ETS has yet to prove cost effective compared to competing abatement mechanisms

    or the other way round either.

    Not quite, The Euro ETS has been rorted to the extreme

    No the police actually.

    “Rorting” meaning tax evasion in this instance. Who’d have thought that people would try to evade tax. I’m sorry but the existence of tax evasion is not a great reason for giving up on a method altogether. In any case VAT on emissions permits hardly seems necessary because the permits themselves are already a form of tax.

    The rorts have come from carbon-credit-creation schemes, not from emissions trading itself.

    Explain and ETS without carbon credits and explain how your would have our credits immune from such rorts?

    That’s an argument for proper regulation of carbon-credit schemes (reforrestation etc.), not an argument against ETS.

    We must remember that so far there has been zero lost abatement (compared to the Rudd Turmbull ETS)

    That’s just not true (from when the scheme was due to begin operating). Carbon emitters with their permits would have been motivated to reduce their emissions if they could sell their permits for more than the cost of reducing their emissions.

    That would the the carbon emitter who would have been compensated with free permits.

    And your point is?

    Yes, it wouldn’t have punished carbon emitters the way the Greens want. But the sad fact is that we don’t live in an ideal world.

    That would be with the free permits which undermine the very incentive that was supposed to drive the change.

    No they don’t undermine the incentive. They have an incentive to get their emissions down so they can sell their permits.

    Then they could buy (the cheapest) offsets in a dodgy rort that didn’t actual cut any emissions (and their uselessness is the precise reason why they were the cheapest offsets).

    You’re not getting the point. I’m talking about the incentive for them to sell permits they’ve already got, not buying new ones.

  83. #83 Fran Barlow
    May 17, 2010

    In general I agree ChrisC that a properly configured ETS would be the best way to reduce emssions, especially across different jurisdictions if the architechture were right.

    I disagree with “free permits” or improperly specifed REDD credits.

    All permits should be auctioned. As Grattan pointed out, free permits distort the market undermining those who take action to reduce emissions and lowering the relative cost of polluting.

  84. #84 Lotharsson
    May 17, 2010

    > Or is it in fact just a matter of one rule for the rich and another for the average joe and jane in the ‘burbs?

    The cynic in me says that’s pretty much always been the case, with only minor exceptions throughout history :-(

  85. #85 Bernard J.
    May 17, 2010

    I know that I’m off-thread again (I’m sorry!) but could we add the tedious [Dave Andrews](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/rose_and_mcintyre.php#comment-2517624) to [the proposed thread for unresconstructable trolls](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/tony_abbott_and_the_roman_warm.php#comment-2518049)?

    His fatuous – indeed, completely assinine – snipes are growing mildly bothersome.

  86. #86 jakerman
    May 17, 2010

    Fran’s points make a better step one, with carbon tax a step two.

    I too wrestle with similar question as Bernard wrestles – re tax and ETS.

    Chris writes:

    >*You’re moving the goalposts.*

    Yes if you mean I’m focusing back on the ETS rather than my broad introductory meta analogy of birds.

    >The carbon-emitters with free permits can sell them if they reduce their carbon emissions. So they do indeed have a motive for reducing emissions.

    The problem is that the free permits shields them from costs, and the cheap offsets (including the cheapest imporper offsets) enables them to profit from their permits without changing a thing. Keep the coal trains rolling in.

    >”Rorting” meaning tax evasion in this instance. Who’d have thought that people would try to evade tax. I’m sorry but the existence of tax evasion is not a great reason for giving up on a method altogether. In any case VAT on emissions permits hardly seems necessary because the permits themselves are already a form of tax.

    Actually there are structural problems with the ETS’s credit system that lead to [multiple and diverse examples](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Development_Mechanism#Concerns) of rorting. How do you properly measure what doesn’t exist?

    >[It makes it easier](http://euobserver.com/885/29132) for fraudsters because it’s an intangible good. Before, goods actually had to be transported from one member state to another. You had to prove that goods were really being transported. With this, it’s just the click of a mouse.”

    >”It’s an incredibly lucrative target for criminals,” he added, warning that there are other aspects of the ETS that are creaky.

    >”Beyond the missing trader scam, the ETS is attractive to fraudsters because in order to trade in EUAs [European Union Allowances] you have to register your company, but there are no strong regulations or checking principles as there is in banking to prevent such activities as money laundering.”

    >Even if there were more stringent regulations, “How can you control this, how can you check up on someone selling an intangible credit from Belgium to Denmark to Paris even with more rules?”

    I repeat how you properly measure something that doesn’t exist? You are creating a massive incentive for fraud, at at the cost of both good will and the climate.

    >*That’s an argument for proper regulation of carbon-credit schemes (reforrestation etc.), not an argument against ETS.*

    If you like’ And then…

    …back to the problems with carbon credit regualtion that are intrinsic to and ETS.

    >>That would the the carbon emitter who would have been compensated with free permits.

    >And your point is?

    My point is that they are shielded from the costs that were supposed to incentively change. And they can profit from buy highly rortable credits.

    >No they don’t undermine the incentive. They have an incentive to get their emissions down so they can sell their permits.

    In a market flooded with dodgy credits, they’ll just keep BAU and use their free permits.

    >You’re not getting the point. I’m talking about the incentive for them to sell permits they’ve already got, not buying new ones.

    See above.

  87. #87 Nathan
    May 17, 2010

    Chris

    I disagree with your thoughts about the Greens not voting for the ETS.

    “Other Senators that the ALP needed to pass the legislation would never have agreed to an ETS that caused an instant capital loss to carbon-emitting industries. The ETS would still have motivated them to reduce their carbon emissions because they could then sell their freed-up permits. The Greens had an ideological agenda to punish carbon-emitting industries which was not necessary to reduce carbon emissions in future.”

    Labor presented their legislation, the Greens said we don’t like it; Bob Brown offered numerous times to negotiate with Rudd… Rudd ignored them. If the Labor party wanted to pass this legislation they should have ATTEMPTED negotiation with the Greens. In the end the legislation served it’s purpose, it was simply a wedge to bust up the Liberal Party. It was a political stunt.

    Also remember, if the Labor Party had a double dissolution election (and they won) they could pass ANYTHING they like. The double sitting would avoid any Senate problems. This is what the Greens new, they new the bare minimum that would get done was the Govt’s ETS. They wanted more.

    The key point here is that Govt could pass anything they like after a double dissolution election. If they wanted their ETS so badly, they could have it in August no problems.

  88. #88 jakerman
    May 17, 2010

    My long reply is held up in moderation (I can’t recall using that many links)

    But a particular comment from Bernard struck a chord:

    >What most concerns me though is that in the end our political ‘pragmatism’ might be accompanied by the tune of a fiddle being played from the smouldering ruins of a climatic Rome.

    I had a similar reflection after reading [this guy's work](http://www.skil.org/). For a six minute brief watch his video in the top LH corner. I hope he has miscalculated and I supposed we can act under that assumption and hope.

  89. #89 tonysidaway
    May 17, 2010

    “Besides, didn’t the nudey and blue Picts stop the rather
    better dressed Romans in their tracks?”

    Obviously, being mostly Mediterraneans, and therefore ridiculously overdressed for the sweltering climate of Northern Europe, Julius Caesar’s Roman troops succumbed to heat prostration!

  90. #90 Stu
    May 17, 2010

    This business about the Romans growing grapes up near Hadrian’s Wall is, as far as I have been able to discern, utterly unsourced. I’ve heard it suggested by various sceptics but never by anyone who might know, e.g. archaeologists or historians of the period. They certainly drank wine there, but most likely imported from Gaul. Indeed amphora sherds are routinely excavated at Roman sites.

    Beware of claims for medieval wine making too: it was required for religious ceremonies but needn’t have been any good. Claims of good quality wines being grown in Medieval Wiltshire are meaningless without any idea of what it was being compared with. Drain cleaner plonk from other parts of England is a pretty low bar by any standards. It needn’t imply they were capable of making vintage Claret!

  91. #91 Chris O'Neill
    May 17, 2010
    The carbon-emitters with free permits can sell them if they reduce their carbon emissions. So they do indeed have a motive for reducing emissions.

    The problem is that the free permits shields them from costs,

    No you’re still ignoring the point. If you want to look at it this way then free permits do not shield them from the lost opportunity cost of selling those permits.

    and the cheap offsets (including the cheapest imporper offsets) enables them to profit from their permits without changing a thing.

    Again, I’m not talking about them buying permits, I’m talking about them selling their permits.

    Keep the coal trains rolling in.

    I don’t know what that non-sequitur is for.

    “Rorting” meaning tax evasion in this instance. Who’d have thought that people would try to evade tax. I’m sorry but the existence of tax evasion is not a great reason for giving up on a method altogether. In any case VAT on emissions permits hardly seems necessary because the permits themselves are already a form of tax.

    Actually there are structural problems with the ETS’s credit system that lead to multiple and diverse examples of rorting.

    You’re just restating the tax evasion issue. Taxation of permits is a spurious issue. The issue is tax enforcement, not structure (assuming they even need a tax on emission permits in the first place).

    How do you properly measure what doesn’t exist?

    Money doesn’t represent anything physical either but that doesn’t stop it from being measurable.

    “Beyond the missing trader scam, the ETS is attractive to fraudsters because in order to trade in EUAs [European Union Allowances] you have to register your company, but there are no strong regulations or checking principles as there is in banking to prevent such activities as money laundering.”

    So is there some law of physics preventing regulation as there is in banking?

    Even if there were more stringent regulations, “How can you control this, how can you check up on someone selling an intangible credit from Belgium to Denmark to Paris even with more rules?”

    Maybe the person saying that doesn’t know much about what he’s talking about. There is nothing new about an authority issuing credits with registered owners. Ever heard of real estate, shares?

    I repeat how you properly measure something that doesn’t exist?

    I’ve already dealt with this but I’ll point out here that the same fundamental issue exists with taxing emissions. Emissions have to be measured and the regulation of emission measurements has to be at least as good as the registration of emission permits.

    You are creating a massive incentive for fraud, at at the cost of both good will and the climate.

    Just like when emissions are measured.

    No they don’t undermine the incentive. They have an incentive to get their emissions down so they can sell their permits.

    In a market flooded with dodgy credits,

    That’s a different set of goalposts. If your objection is dodgy credits then say dodgy credits in the first place.

    they’ll just keep BAU and use their free permits.

    It’s hardly likely the government will keep allowing dodgy credits to flood the country.

  92. #92 tyro rex
    May 17, 2010

    As a trainee Classicist (i.e. a post graduate student in Classical History), I would like to point out to the climate scientists that you are being *doubly* fooled by the likes of Abbott, Plimer, etc.

    When I hear “in the time of Julius Caesar and Jesus” I immediately question why that is not *times*, in the plural? I see no “time” when these two men could ever have met. Because there are some 77 years between the dates of their deaths (only one of which we know for sure, i.e. 15 March 44 B.C, the other belonging to the world of myth anyway). Their worlds would have been considerably different. It’s like referring to the 1930s as a parallel to the modern time … clearly not a precise comparison. Well I accept that perhaps according to Geological Time 77 years is “mere” trifle, but not to a historian, and especially not to *those particular 77 years*, which saw another great civil war (two depending how you want to measure it), many proscriptions and social upheavals, a Triumvirate, and finally the establishment of the Principate by Julius Caesar’s heir, Augustus. There was a great social, political, artistic and cultural revolution during this time, cumulating in Augustus’ many innovations. So *agriculture* changed? Throw another one on the bonfire, and give a royal shrug. The Roman world was never static.

    Also, if you said to me or any of my colleagues, that by the 1st century B.C. “vineyards and olive groves extended northwards in Italy”, I would probably take that to be saying something about the growing spread of Roman domination over the Italian peninsular in the wake of Social War which concluded in 88 B.C. This was the war in which the Italian allies of the Romans revolted and then were crushed. After which Roman control of Italy finally became undisputed. At which point I would expect to see change in the social and economic structure of Italy accelerate. The Romans conquer territory and intensified agriculture follows? That’s supposed to be news?

    Another critical part of this sentence is that “Roman scribes record little snow and ice”. Well, the question of “which scribes” exactly? and “what do they say?” immediately comes up (i.e. not a paraphrase, but quote the Latin or Greek that they wrote and indicate the edition this quote is from). Because sometimes our actual sources for information in the Classical world are writing these facts many years – sometimes hundreds of years – after the fact. So the precise sources, and who *their* sources are, and how they came to know what they say they know, and how *we* know what they say, all these things can be critical questions in nearly all historical research in the Classical world.

    But then follow this up with an item about crops in Britain, using the phrase “up to Hadrian’s Wall”, is to employ a glaring a-historicism of the first order. At the time of the Social War Britain was not a Roman province – neither was most of modern-day France. Julius Caesar captured Gaul in the first century B.C. and mounted two brief expeditions to Britain in successive years, 55 and 54 B.C., never establishing any permanent Roman presence there, and never left the south eastern part of that land (and never faced “Picts” in battle either). The emperor Claudius captured it in A.D. 43, probably at the invite (or with the cooperation of) of certain local elites. Hadrian built the wall in 120 A.D. So you are talking about a 150 year period during which a dominant, urbanised, civilisation conquered non-urbanised peoples and then in the wake of this agricultural practices changed? Proof of this developing agriculture in Britain at this point would generally be regarded as proof of increasing Roman influence over settlement patterns and economic activity.

  93. #93 Stu
    May 17, 2010

    Oh blimey, how confusing! Another Stu!

    Hi, other Stu.

  94. #94 Derecho64
    May 17, 2010
  95. #95 Bernard J.
    May 17, 2010

    I don’t usually like to comment on straight party political topics, especially when they have nothing directly to do with the subjects of threads here, but did anyone else see Q&A on the ABC last night?

    Abbott’s shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey had his arse whupped – I say, whupped – red-raw by Lindsay Tanner, the Finance Minister, and one of the most well-prepared and well-composed politicians I have watched in years.

    Red-raw was the entrée… main was salted paper à la cut, and dessert was lemon sorbet minus the sorbet.

    I never thought that I’d see the day that Hockey was left speechless, but speechless he was, and Tanner hadn’t even worked up a sweat.

    It was amazing television to witness, even though matters financial usually make my eyes glaze over.

    I actually had a friend save it from his tuner’s time buffer in order to watch it again.

  96. #96 chek
    May 17, 2010

    Tyro rex said: “As a trainee Classicist (i.e. a post graduate student in Classical History), I would like to point out to the climate scientists that you are being doubly fooled by the likes of Abbott, Plimer, etc.”

    TR, you’ll find that the entire denialist canon is overwhelmingly composed of half-baked, plausible-sounding nonsense aimed at rubes and morons – without exception.

    They’re aiming at a mass audience, not what might be loosely termed the intelligentsia.

  97. #97 Fran Barlow
    May 17, 2010

    Bernard

    The transcript will be up by by Thursday and they do vodcast it at the QANDA site

  98. #98 Lotharsson
    May 17, 2010

    > I actually had a friend save it from his tuner’s time buffer in order to watch it again.

    I wasn’t going to watch it, but given what you said I just undeleted it on my PVR.

    IIRC you can also get it online at ABC’s iView website.

  99. #99 MattB
    May 17, 2010
  100. #100 Tim Lambert
    May 17, 2010

    I really like the second graph at Nova’s — she has the Roman Warm Period ending at 100 BC followed by Dark Ages Cooling starting at 100 BC. Her source was CO2 science which misrepresents the paper as evidence for the MWP, but not even CO2 science was willing to make the argument that it was evidence for a RWP. And if you click through to CO2 science you find that CO2 science only thinks that one of the six is evidence for the RWP.