Policy?

ATTP has a post discussing Mapping the sceptical blogosphere (which I’m sure I read (the paper, I mean) and had the same reaction: “whaat? You mean they’re taking these jokers seriously?” But I don’t seem to have written it down anywhere). Anyway, ATTP then asks, of the septics:

So, why do these sites focus on the science (which isn’t really up for debate) and not on policy (which – in my view – is up for debate)? Is it because if one broadly accepts the science, it means that we should be taking some of the more unpalatable policy options more seriously?

Its a good question, which has been asked before. I was going to reply in the comments there, but then realised my answer was rather long and not at all snappy, and why should I waste a decent posting as a comment elsewhere ;-?

If you want to be charitable to them, the answer is that since they don’t believe the science, talking about policy is irrelevant. I’m not charitable though.

Another possible answer is that dissing the science is these sites’ ecosystem niche – they have nothing to say on policy, because they’ve never got that far. Their only opinion is “no”. And they can’t, now, go on to the interesting discussion of policy, because they wouldn’t carry their readership.

Further, this may reflect they and their readership buying a large part of the “green argument” if I can put it that way: they’re afraid that science implies policy. In fact the connection isn’t at all definite (in my opinion). As I’ve tried to say before, to no great applause.

A better one though is, I think, a variation of incompetence. They can’t interpret the science properly (if they could, they wouldn’t be taking the stance they are) and I think they are uneasily aware of that. So they have no certainty, no confidence. So they can concede or admit nothing, because their defence, so to speak, is multiple layers of fluff; not a single layer of iron. Its also a variation of what VV complained about Curry: the deliberate use of ambiguous language and the avoidance of making testable statements; because that’s the aim: chaff (or fluff), not certainty. But you need a thick layer of chaff, or people will see though it.

All this is nothing new. People have been saying it since sci.env.

But, given this is how the denialospheere is almost by definition, there’s not a lot of point complaining about it. There *are* people out there who are prepared to accept the IPCC science (or, if you prefer, take it as the basis for argument) and then discuss policy. For example Timmy; e.g. this one. And for the hard of thinking: no, you don’t have to agree, but if you want to discuss policy, you can.

Comments

  1. #1 MarkB
    2014/04/08

    If you want to be charitable to them, the answer is that since they don’t believe the science, talking about policy is irrelevant

    I’d suggest exactly the opposite causality. The policy is a given, broadly free-market/libertarian/capitalism, and the science is whatever is necessary to avoid cognitive dissonance with that mindset. In other words, since the desired policy is “business as usual” the problem is not so much getting the science right as it is getting the right science to plausibly support continuing that policy.

    [I think you've fallen into the usual "green" trap of mis-describing the desired policy. Its entirely possible to be in favour of free markets (I am) and of a carbon tax (I am) and to accept the IPCC science (I do) -W]

  2. #2 Flakmeister
    2014/04/08

    The problem for most of the denialati is that existence of a problem due to the actions of the collective which requires a statist solution is anathema to the postulated primacy of individual liberty….

    In other words AGW reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of the Libertarian ideology…

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/08

    Markets are the way to beat climate change
    Written by Tim Worstall | Tuesday 1 April 2014

    The date makes me a wee bit suspicious.

  4. #4 crandles
    2014/04/08

    You have lost me with the “usual “green” trap of mis-describing the desired policy”

    Surely you accept that a carbon tax is seen as anti business as usual so your position is unacceptable to them.

    [Depending on how you define BAU. If you define it as "with no carbon tax" then obviously yes. But the assertion was that carbon taxes are anti-free-market, which is wrong. Obviously -W]

  5. #5 Victor Venema
    2014/04/08

    “In other words AGW reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of the Libertarian ideology”

    Or at least the most fundamentalist may think, that do not want any government, just anarchy and complain about stealing their tax money at gunpoint.

    The ones that claim to be classical liberals and accept that the government has to collect some taxes for military, police and courts are being weird by insisting that the taxes should stay on labor and not be moved to energy. Thus increasing unemployment and reducing energy efficiency according to their economists.

    “had the same reastion [sic (fixed - W)]: “whaat? You mean they’re taking these jokers seriously?”

    Me too, but maybe you need to be a natural scientists to read the abstract that way. The other people seem to be able to read that these blogs only pretend to do science, according to most comments at ATTP.

  6. #6 Michael Hauber
    2014/04/08

    Count me as someone who believes in moderately free markets – but not so free as to dismantle consumer protection legislation. And I support a variety of pigovian taxes such as carbon tax, which could be considered making the market slightly less free with the aim of improving competitive outcomes – coal and solar should compete on a fair basis where the negative impacts of coal on the environment have an impact on coal’s competitive position.

    I accept the IPCC position as probably wrong because climate is so complicated, but the best we’ve got and the scientists have done a good job in putting together the science that IPCC rests on.

    I am somewhat skeptical of the seemingly nebulous, and possibly strawman view of ‘catastrophic’ climate change. For instance I don’t believe that 2 degrees of warming is something we should avoid at all costs, that there is any realistic risk of human’s going extinct, or that there is anything more than a very low chance of civilization collapsing.

    I am even more skeptical of economic catastrophe claims from opponents of a carbon tax. We may grumble about increases on our electricity bill, and perhaps some people such as pensioners who are already in a tight spot may feel the pinch, but for most of us I doubt we’ll notice any difference in the amount of ‘stuff’ we can afford to buy before and after any carbon tax is implemented.

  7. #7 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/08

    Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months. This was NOT predicted. Science gets “interesting” even “exciting” when something happens that was unexpected and can’t be readily explained. Could this be a clue?

  8. #8 stuart
    Australia
    2014/04/08

    I think MarkB at #1 was saying that it is the deniers who fall into your “green trap.” They seem to believe, and fear, that the science requires a particular policy (S implies P). They reject P outright, so they have to insist that the science is wrong, because (not P) implies (not S).

    The fact that S does not imply P doesn’t seem to occur to most of them. Nor does the fact that their assumptions about P often draws from bizarre paranoid consipiracy theories. So even if S did imply P, P isn’t what they claim it is.

    There really isn’t anything they get right.

  9. #9 Captain Flashheart
    2014/04/08

    This points to the underlying reason so many free market and rightist “think” tanks and “thinkers” have to hate on AGW science so much. Once the consensus is in among policy-makers, it will represent the final admission that the environmental movement is broadly right. They will have to simultaneously accept the concept of ecosystem services, incorporate ecological fragility into economic policy, give up on the whole eternal growth ideal (or at least question it), and – worst of all – revitalize economic policy so it includes externalities.

    [I think they fear the over-regulation that would likely result from incorporation of all externalities. But I don't agree that accepting the science of GW implies zero economic growth -W]

    To the people occupying the free market right, this is anathema: it is the final victory of the patchouli- and BO-stinking dreadlocked hippy, those *horrible* people in the trees and the squats. They can’t handle it, and they’ll take the world down with them before they accept that the stinking unwashed were right about something so radically different to their individualist, christian conscience.

    [But the hippy-types are as wrong about economics as the denialists are about GW -W]

  10. #10 Martin Gisser
    2014/04/08

    One factor is the cultural hegemony of economics, which is pseudo natural science (equilibrium, yada, yada), or, a social science without knowing it (Geisteswissenschaft, since money is a mental construct). No wonder they are confused about epistemology for practical purpose.

    The Green scare obviously is a factor. It’s insulting to the conservative industrialist ego to admit that some of those “greens” of old were right. Yet I know several greeny hippies who happily parrot tired old denialist propaganda, and tell me we can’t know anything for sure – while using a GPS cell phone based on quantum mechanics and relativity theory.

    Apropos cultural hegemony. My theory actually is: The Late Homo S “Sapiens” suffers from accelerating dementia civilisatoris.
    — It started in late Bronze Age when city folk lost contact with the ground under their feet and ever since have their heads in the clouds (worshipping civilization gods, or mammon, or the cosmos, anything not stained by earth).
    — (The evolution of Buddhism seems a microcosmic example: Most see rebirth in the literal sense as a keystone of buddhism. Yet it contradicts core teachings of the sutta pitaka (e.g. khanda theory, and the Buddha’s strong advice against metaphysical speculation). Rebirth is quite probably just another case of the Buddha hijacking brahmanic terminology to describe mindful meditation: It’s all about the continuous rebirth of your ego.) The insisting in literal inter-life rebirth is likely a result of the growth of monastic life and scholasticism (learning lots of text by heart) and its cultural hegemony over those few who go into the forest to just sit under a bodhi tree.) Sorry for this excursion, but my other occasional “evidence” is too mundane.

  11. […] By William M. Connolley […]

  12. #12 Adam R.
    2014/04/09

    “Another possible answer is that dissing the science is these sites’ ecosystem niche – they have nothing to say on policy, because they’ve never got that far. Their only opinion is “no”. And they can’t, now, go on to the interesting discussion of policy, because they wouldn’t carry their readership.”

    That describes the crack in which WUWT is wedged exactly. Denialism is Anthony’s rice bowl; he must maintain it at all costs now or—the horror!—get a real job.

  13. #13 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2014/04/09

    @Jim Berkise:

    Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months.

    I call bovine excrement. Citation definitely needed for your claim.

  14. #14 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2014/04/09

    @Jim Berkise:

    Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months.

    I call bovine excrement. Citation definitely needed for your claim.

  15. #15 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2014/04/09

    @Jim Berkise:

    Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months.

    Citation DEFINITELY needed for this, especially since the last few years include the hottest ones on record.

  16. #16 Flakmeister
    2014/04/09

    Hey Jim, if you were indeed correct, then how would the following be possible?

    http://flakmeister.blogspot.com/2014/03/on-other-hiatus.html

    There is an old saying where I come from; [redacted -W]

  17. #17 thomaswfuller2
    2014/04/09

    Sigh. You won’t ever beat your enemy because you take no time to know him.

  18. #18 Eric Lund
    2014/04/09

    There are terms that, because of US politics, have been redefined in ways that would seem absurd without that context. “Free market” is one of those terms. The people in the US who claim to favor the “free market” (which assertion the US media does not challenge) seem to have a very different idea of what that means than you do–to them “free market” implies “no new/increased taxes”, or as a fallback position “taxes on labor, not capital”. They are very much afraid that accepting that global warming is occurring means that they will have to accept policies they consider to be anti-“free market”. That’s not necessarily true, as you note, for sensible definitions of “free market”, but it may very well be true for their definition.

    And if you dig deeper, you quickly find that a large chunk of funding for the denialosphere comes from people and organizations that get most of their money from the production and distribution of fossil fuels. They are very much afraid that people will find ways to get their energy needs from sources that both are cheaper and don’t produce anywhere near as much CO2 per joule. Global warming and carbon taxes give people incentives to look for such ways. In this sense, they aren’t really pro-free market as you would define it. But the US press still swallows their propaganda to that effect.

    For them, it doesn’t really matter whether the hippies really are wrong (at least about the economics). They fall into the Manichean trap that if they are wrong, then the hippies must be right, and they cannot allow that outcome.

  19. #19 thomaswfuller2
    2014/04/09

    “And if you dig deeper, you quickly find that a large chunk of funding for the denialosphere comes from people and organizations that get most of their money from the production and distribution of fossil fuels.”

    False to fact.

    The reason libertarians oppose you is not because they consider themselves the heroes of an Ayn Rand book It is because so many of you persist in acting like the cardboard cutout villains from the same turgid novels.

  20. #20 bratisla
    2014/04/09

    @18 : if it goes with a cool villain name, I’m all for it.

    Now you shall know me as … the Infamous Dr Kommentator !! [insert evil laugh here]

  21. #21 Marco
    2014/04/09

    Yep, it’s *our* fault that septics are questioning the science. If only we’d be nicer…(read: say what they *want* to hear, not oppose them when they have yet another brain freeze because the facts are not in concordance with their beliefs).

  22. #22 Dunc
    2014/04/09

    I think you’re being too generous to a lot of them. I think a lot of it is straight-out hippy-punching, with no real thought beyond “people I hate believe X, therefore I believe not-X”, and everything else is rationalisation. Honestly, I think a lot of these guys would come out against hugs and puppies if they became strongly identified with hippies / “liberals”. It’s simple tribalism. The specific markers of tribal identity are arbitrary.

    Then, of course, there’s the well-documented industry strategy of sowing doubt about the science to forestall any kind of regulatory response whatsoever, whether that be a carbon tax or anything else (cf. the tobacco industry). They don’t care what response you propose, because anything that actually works to reduce emissions is a blow to their business. In this respect, a carbon tax is probably the worst possible outcome for them, because it would quite probably work. Again, all the “free market” talk is just rationalisation… They don’t care about free markets, they care about profit – they will quite happily support any market distortion you care to name if it works in their favour. These are the people who have worked hard to get acceptance / non-acceptance of mainstream climate science established as an identity marker in the first place. But now that that’s been achieved, the whole thing is self-sustaining.

  23. #23 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/09

    thomaswfuller2

    “And if you dig deeper, you quickly find that a large chunk of funding for the denialosphere comes from people and organizations that get most of their money from the production and distribution of fossil fuels.”

    False to fact.

    I realize it’s difficult to prove a negative, but you sound pretty sure about that. OTOH, it’s well documented that

    …Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, have recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to countermovement organizations through third party pass-through foundations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, whose funders cannot be traced, has risen dramatically.

    It is your “false to fact” statement that appears to be false, in fact.

  24. #24 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/09

    thomaswfuller2, also:

    The reason libertarians oppose you is not because they consider themselves the heroes of an Ayn Rand book It is because so many of you persist in acting like the cardboard cutout villains from the same turgid novels.

    I’m skeptical that you speak for all libertarians (or even all Libertarians). On a site calling itself The UK Libertarian, for example, a blogger says:

    So why do we tend to question the science of global warming, and not just the proposed solutions?

    A MESSAGE TO STATISTS

    The reason is because we can.

    Statists, as long as you are going to use “science” to bolster more power for the state, libertarians have got to fight it whether it is true or not.

    Yes, whether it is true or not.

    Now, is this an admission that libertarians “know” the science to be correct and are just fighting it as a political tactic? Absolutely not. I’ve already given a host of, to me, perfectly valid reasons to question the theory.

    But in a way the claim made against libertarians probably contains a half truth. We don’t care that much about the science because we’re looking behind that to what happens if the science is accepted.

    In other words, he has nothing more than an argumentum ad consequentiam against the scientific consensus for AGW. Will you tell us No True Libertarian would say something like that, Mr. Fuller? Or are the likes of Gavin Schmidt and Kevin Trenberth “acting like cardboard cutout villains from the same turgid novels”?

  25. #25 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/09

    Julian (and any others), for a source we should all be able to agree is reputable, mainstream science and difficult to dismiss out of hand:

    Tollefson, Jeff; Climate Change: The case of the missing heat;
    Nature, vol 505, issue 7483 January 15, 2014

    This is a Nature News Feature, not a research article. The headline reads: “Sixteeen years into the mysterious ‘global-warming hiatus’ scientists are piecing together an explanation” Most sources I monitor put the “pause” at the 17 years and 8 months I used in my earlier post, but I won’t quibble about when it started.

  26. #26 Jim Berkise
    2014/04/09

    Flakmeister, Can you really, with a straight face, claim that a result on the order of .017 degrees C / decade is significant?

  27. #27 BBD
    2014/04/09

    England et al. (2014).

    At least try to understand the topic. There is no “pause” in the rate at which energy is accumulating in the climate system as a whole. And you are completely OT.

  28. #28 BBD
    2014/04/09

    Most sources I monitor put the “pause” at the 17 years and 8 months

    Monckton, using RSS.

  29. #29 Jon
    2014/04/09

    @Jim Berkise

    From the Nature News piece you seem to like:

    “Simulations conducted in advance of the 2013–14 assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the warming should have continued at an average rate of 0.21 °C per decade from 1998 to 2012. Instead, the observed warming during that period was just 0.04 °C per decade, as measured by the UK Met Office in Exeter and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.”

    From your earlier comment: “…no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months”

    “no warming” is not the same thing as warming at a rate of “0.04 °C per decade”. The Nature piece would be difficult to be dismissive of; you, not so much.

  30. #30 AnOilMan
    2014/04/09

    Volumes of fluff and Chaff are the standard technique used by lawyers when they have no case.

    The idea is to shower the judge with excessive information to make it look like they have a large and succinct case full of viable facts. Never mind if the bulk is complaints about spelling, or merely questions from the author demonstrating that they don’t know the answer.

  31. #31 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/09

    OK Jon, I should have said “no statistically significant warming”; at a rate of .04 degrees/decade, by 2165 it will be .6 degrees C warmer. And I’m so sorry if I misunderstood the topic, BBD; I thought that the fact that there were quite a few open questions–like where did the heat go, for example, and why did none of the many models suggest this sort of result was possible instead of a straightforeward linear increase in temperature?–was germain to the question posed i.e. “why do these sites focus on the science?”

  32. #32 MarkB
    2014/04/09

    For those of us without access to the subject paper, there’s a working version here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publications/WorkingPapers/Papers/120-29/Mapping-the-climate-sceptical-blogosphere.pdf

    In the conclusion (section 7), the author speculates along similar lines as this thread.

  33. #33 BBD
    2014/04/09

    BBD; I thought that the fact that there were quite a few open questions–like where did the heat go, for example

    That’s not a mystery, and England14 explains the mechanism:

    Ocean heat content, 0 – 2000m layer

    why did none of the many models suggest this sort of result was possible instead of a straightforeward linear increase in temperature?

    Individual model runs display plenty of inter-decadal variability. This idea that “the models” predict monotonic warming is simply wrong.

    “why do these sites focus on the science?”

    This is the kind of information you get from the actual science. It is clearly at variance with your narrative, which is what you get from contrarian blogs. So these sites do not focus on an accurate presentation of, or understanding of, the actual scientific evidence.

  34. #34 BBD
    2014/04/09

    no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months

    Using Kevin Cowtan’s trend calculator:

    Decadal trend August 1996 – present

    GISTEMP: 0.085 ±0.114 °C/decade (2σ)

    HadCRUT4: 0.065 ±0.111 °C/decade (2σ)

    HadCRUT4 hybrid*: 0.124 ±0.132 °C/decade (2σ)

    UAH (TLT): 0.100 ±0.193 °C/decade (2σ)

    *See Cowtan & Way (2014).

  35. #35 Marlowe Johnson
    2014/04/09

    i’m adding ‘cardboard cutout villains’ to the list used in the Tom Fuller Drinking Game. Thanks Tom, it was getting a bit stale. Nice to see you haven’t lost your way with words ;)

  36. #36 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/09

    Jim Berkise, Tollefsen is a journalist, not a climate scientist. You’ll be better prepared to discuss what scientists actually agree on after studying Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, a 36-page booklet jointly published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society. The PDF is free to download at the link. It includes 20 common questions, with answers that represent the distilled expertise of two of the world’s most respected scientific bodies. For example:

    Does the recent slowdown of warming mean that climate change is no longer happening?

    No. Since the very warm year 1998 that followed the strong 1997-98 El Niño, the increase in average surface temperature has slowed relative to the previous decade of rapid temperature increases. Despite the slower rate of warming the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s. A short-term slowdown in the warming of Earth’s surface does not invalidate our understanding of long-term changes in global temperature arising from human-induced changes in greenhouse gases.

    Each summary answer is followed by a more detailed explanation of one or two pages, and there is a discussion of the basics of climate science after the Q&A.

    When you come back here to argue, you can assume the contents of that booklet are common knowledge, and if you dispute any of it, you’ll need to have an argument that hasn’t already been addressed in one or more of the sources linked on the last page. Good luck with that.

  37. #37 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/09

    BBD, did you miss where I admitted I should have said “statistically significant warming”? Notice that the difference between the largest (0.124) and smallest (.065) value you
    present as a possible rate of decadal warming is almost as large (.059) as the smallest value itself–the range of possible values is almost as large as what you’re measuring–and it should be plain that these are not statistically significant numbers. And besides, it doesn’t matter for the point I was making, which is that none of these rates are anywhere near in line with the predictions or models, so there is still quite a bit to study and talk about in “the science”.

  38. #38 BBD
    2014/04/09

    You have ignored everything said about the way that energy continues to accumulate in the climate system as a whole, and that transient variability in the rate of ocean heat uptake modulates the rate of surface warming.

    And besides, it doesn’t matter for the point I was making, which is that none of these rates are anywhere near in line with the predictions or models, so there is still quite a bit to study and talk about in “the science”.

    It seems increasingly likely that some of the forcings used for the CMIP5 runs done for AR5 were wrong.

    If the models are forced with observed solar, observed ENSO and improved, updated estimates for volcanic aerosols rather than those used for AR5, they come into much better agreement with observations post-2000 (Schmidt et al 2014). When the full effects of cooling from enhanced wind-driven ocean circulation are taken into effect (England et al. 2014), the agreement will presumably get better still.

    Then of course there’s the very real possibility that the instrumental record is itself biased cool because of coverage lacunae (Cowtan & Way 2014).

    Claims that “the models are wrong” are premature.

  39. #39 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/09

    Mal Adapted, I believe I pointed out when I provided the citation that the piece was journalism. How could it not be? The fact I was trying to support was that scientists were working to explain a situation where the new data coming in did not match what they expected. And the only claim I made was that this is when science gets really interesting. I’m familiar with the publication you recommended, to some extent it’s very existance supports the position I’ve taken here–what’s been happening is not what was expected. When they say things like ” Despite the slower rate of warming the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s” it borders on dishonesty. Yes they can produce a number that is larger, but when the increase is in the second decimal place it is, again, not statistically significant. And when the “short term slowdown” is already almost half as long as the “long term trend” that ran from the mid 60s until whatever date you accept as the start of the “pause”, it just might be time to start reexamining the “long term trend”

  40. #40 Quiet Waters
    2014/04/09

    http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/of-moles-and-whacking-mojib-latif-predicted-two-decades-of-cooling/

    “It may well happen that you enter a decade, or maybe even two- you know- when the temperature cools- alright- relative to the present level- alright?
    And then- you know- I know what’s going to happen -you know? I will get- you know- millions of phone calls- you know:
    “Eh, what’s going on? So, is global warming disappearing?” You know? “Have you lied on [sic] us?””

    Mojib Latif (2009)

    “Latif is saying that because people don’t understand that global warming isn’t supposed to be monotonic, and that there could be periods where temperatures pause or even dip below the present, the media and/or public will incorrectly believe that global warming has stopped/was wrong/etc. even though such “pauses” in warming are decidedly not contrary to our understanding of the climate system and how we anticipate it will respond to emissions driven warming.”

    Things Break (spelling it out for the hard of thinking).

    “Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months. This was NOT predicted. Science gets “interesting” even “exciting” when something happens that was unexpected and can’t be readily explained. Could this be a clue?

    Jim Berkise 2014.

    Ho hum.

  41. #41 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/09

    JB#37 – ” the point I was making, which is that none of these rates are anywhere near in line with the predictions or models”

    This was already addressed by BBD in #33. The models *do* predict interdecadal variability. I believe you are mistaking the mean of an ensemble with individual runs.

    There is very little difference between what you are claiming and flipping a coin 17 times with a result of 10 heads and 7 tails and then proclaiming….. but, but, but you *predicted 50% heads!!!! Your theory of probability is WRONG!!!

    No, it isn’t. If we perform the 17 coin flip experiment 1000 times the coin-flipping model will have numerous individual instances where heads comes up 10 times or more — and an approximately equal number of times where it’s tails that comes up more often. But when we *average* them the mean value will be very close to 50%/50%. Averaging – or using an ensemble mean – removes the variability of individual trials.

    So, claiming that a model is incorrect by taking it’s averaged output and comparing it to a single observational period or experiment and expecting 100% fidelity is *not* what you want to do.

  42. #42 Jon
    2014/04/09

    @Jim Berkise

    “Notice that the difference between the largest (0.124) and smallest (.065) value you present as a possible rate of decadal warming is almost as large (.059) as the smallest value itself–the range of possible values is almost as large as what you’re measuring–and it should be plain that these are not statistically significant numbers.”

    You don’t have the foggiest idea how one determines whether a trend is statistically significant or not, do you? I’m not a statistical expert either but trust me on this ( or don’t – going out and learning statistics would now doubt do you good), the test you’re proposing – range of values almost as large as the low end of the range > no statistical significance – isn’t how it’s done.

  43. #43 BBD
    2014/04/09

    Jon

    While I agree with you, I think that “statistical significance” is a rabbit hole. What Jim *doesn’t* want to discuss is the accumulation of energy in the climate system as a whole and the effects of transient variability in ocean heat uptake on the bigger picture.

    So let’s talk about that. Physical climatology in the round.

  44. #44 Jim Berkise
    2014/04/10

    Jon, I do, actually. And measurement error–you have a range of values for something that can have only one, so the variation must be due to error introduced in trying to measure a difficult to measure value–as large as one of the possible values for what you’re trying to measure i.e. .06 + / – .06 is a pretty simple example of what we mean when we say that in this case the .06 is not statistically significant.
    And you’re still ignoring the fact that I’m not the one who made any statement whatsoever about warming, I merely pointed out that a science news article in a scholarly journal reported considerable scientific work trying to explain unexpected results.

  45. #45 BBD
    2014/04/10

    See what I mean, Jon?

  46. #46 Jim Berkise
    New York
    2014/04/10

    BBD, you’re playing right into my hands. I was never trying to make a case for ANY position regarding warming per se; my sole point was that there was a lot going on in “the science”, so it seemed to me to make sense that this would be a possible explanation for the continued focus on “the science”. So discussing an emerging picture of the greater climate system would only validate my thesis. And the ONLY reason I dipped into a discussion of statistical significance was to explain, out of courtesy, why the shorthand “no warming” was accurate from a scientific perspective. Phil Jones used “no warming” as shorthand for “no statistically significant warming” in the Climategate emails, for example.

  47. #47 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/10

    Jim Berkise, you should really be making your statistical arguments at Tamino’s blog

  48. #48 adelady
    city of wine and roses
    2014/04/10

    They don’t care about free markets, they care about profit – they will quite happily support any market distortion you care to name if it works in their favour.

    So why don’t they choose a market distortion in favour of the sorts of action that would mitigate/adapt/ameliorate climate change?

    Any individual or group with financial backing and political contacts along with the drive and the necessary nous to change legislation in favour of fossil industries or prisons-for-profit or any industry you can name, can do those things just as readily for other activities. I’m mystified that people with a clear eye on profit aren’t looking to make out like carpetbaggers on renewable energy or retrofitting the housing/commercial/industrial building stock of a place like the USA.

    Subsidies, long-term contracts, preferred tendering status, all the other ethically dubious shenanigans of politically favoured, financially profitable activity are just as available for entrepreneurs looking to manufacture and instal double glazing on every window in every high rise building in the world as they are for fossil activities. Or solar panels on every suitable (and unsuitable) roof in the world, or building mass transit or long-distance rail transport, or any and all other activities that can turn a profit. If you can bend the ear of politicians to your favoured activity, or you financially support politicians that support your industry, why do you choose old fashioned fossil stuff rather than bright and shiny new stuff?

    I’m pretty sure it’s really about the model of the unwashed lazy hippies chewing raw root vegetables in an uncomfortable cave and a refusal to acknowledge that most people can actually survive and thrive withlittel detriment and possible improvements in lifestyle if you take away the smokestacks and the digging stuff up to burn it. (I also have a nagging notion that it’s also about rejecting the transition away from centralised, high visibility projects where CEOs and dignitaries get lots of camera flashes at ribbon cutting ceremonies. But there are still plenty of those at big transport interchanges and other infrastructure anyway.)

  49. #49 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/10

    Jim Berkwise appears to be either a) a typical troll, or b) a retired engineer – it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.

    Evidence for a) is #46, Phil Jones used “no warming” as shorthand for “no statistically significant warming” in the Climategate emails, for example.

    Evidence for b) is #44: i.e. .06 + / – .06 is a pretty simple example of what we mean when we say that in this case the .06 is not statistically significant.

    It ain’t what we know that gets us in trouble, it’s what we know that just ain’t so.

    There is no known cure for either condition.

  50. #50 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/10

    > the hippy-types are as wrong about economics
    > as the denialists are about GW

    The _economists_ are usually wrong about economics.
    It’s the physicists, chemists, biologists, and public health folks who’ve earned attention by being more often right.

    [I think that's facile. The denialists are quite often "not even wrong" about GW, because they know so little they can't even talk to the point. There's a lot of that from the "green" side about economics. By contrast, economists know enough to at least be wrong. And I think you're wrong to assert that they're usually wrong. If you're judging them by "predictions", that's as bad as the denialists attitude to GCMs -W]

    “The EU’s policy on blocking high-CO2 fuel from tar sands from Europe is being fiercely resisted by Canada.”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26955982

  51. #51 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/10

    WC in comment at #9: “[But the hippy-types are as wrong about economics as the denialists are about GW -W]

    I’m not sure who ‘the hippy-types’ are; since I would consider myself one and I know that my understanding of economics is better than any libertarian/free-market conservative.

    The financial crisis and it’s aftermath was a perfect laboratory experiment for basic economic understanding. On the right you saw massive outcries screaming for austerity. On the left you saw basic macro 101; lack of aggregate demand required the government as the ‘spender of last resort’ to *increase* spending.

    These two completely opposite views have been tested and the data shows that austerity was the wrong answer.

    More important, the fundamentals – interest rates, inflation, deficits all followed the predictions of us ‘hippy-types’ as opposed to what libertarian/free-market economists predicted when the U.S. Fed expanded the money supply by trillions of dollars.

    Even the slope of the recovery, such as it is, was essentially predicted by us ‘hippy-types’ based on the size of the stimulus – i.e., a slow recovery because the hole in the economy was much bigger than the stimulus plan enacted.

    Laissez-faire capitalists have long believed that free markets are the best and most efficient means of setting prices. What the financial crisis revealed was not only weren’t they the best means of setting prices, they COULDN’T SET ANY PRICE AT ALL and it was the completely unregulated shadow banking system that forced the system to the brink of complete collapse before governments finally intervened.

    When conservative economists come up with an economic model consistent with their espoused beliefs that can explain why hyperinflation never came about in the U.S., why massive government borrowing never caused interest rates to skyrocket, and why countries that embarked on austerity have seen their deficits by and large *increase* — then maybe I’ll move them ahead of the denialists, but right now they’re at the same level.

    In short, it was the economist on the left – your run of the mill Keynesians – who got this largely correct and those on the right – especially libertarians – who are still searching for excuses and explanations why their predictions were all dead, dead wrong.

  52. #52 MarkB
    2014/04/10

    adelady: So why don’t they choose a market distortion in favour of the sorts of action that would mitigate/adapt/ameliorate climate change?

    ExxonMobil in recent years has declared support for a carbon tax. A cynic might suggest that they do so because such a tax would favor their oil and natural gas interests over their energy market competitor’s coal interests, at least in the short to medium term. A cynic might also suggest that a carbon tax is a more favorable outcome for ExxonMobil than a cap-and-trade policy.

    http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/current-issues/climate-policy/climate-policy-principles/overview

    To be clear, I’m not suggesting that a carbon tax is not a good approach to mitigation. There will be winners and losers regardless of what is done or not.

  53. #53 mike
    2014/04/10

    Love the thread, guys! And I can see us flat-earther, anti-science, Republican-brain, conspiracy-theory “ideationist”, headless-chicken “skeptics” can now lay claim to some further, choice honorifics–hippy-puncher (heavy man!–blows my mind!), Manichean-entrapped (gotta admit it, I’ve always had a “soft-spot” for total booger-brain fustian like that), dementia-civilastoris sufferers (can’t be sure, but I don’t think that’s French), sutta-pittaka deniers (definitely not French. Esperanto maybe?), and fluff-and-chaff dispensers (Huh?!!! Idiomatic English?!!!–an inept, COINTELPRO provocateur here, maybe?).

    But here’s your guys’ problem: You lecturing, geek-ball gas-bags are forever jetting about from one grab-ass, hive-swarm, party-time eco-confab to another–gabfests that could easily be held as Gaia-friendly, GHG-free video conferences–to rail against “demon-carbon” while dispensing tons and tons of lethal CO2-spew into our fragile, threatened, life-sustaining atmosphere. And as you brazen-hypocrite trough-suckers know, CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for a giga-gazillion years, condemning generations of mewling babes, yet un-born, to some one or another horrific, scare-mongering, tot-cidal apocalypse. And that’s the heart of your problem–who, in their right mind, would trust the so-called “science” embraced by a bunch of in-your-face, cavalier BABY KILLERS?

  54. #54 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/10

    Kevin O’Neill

    It ain’t what we know that gets us in trouble, it’s what we know that just ain’t so.

    There is no known cure for either condition.

    I wouldn’t give up on Mr. Berkise just yet. After all, it’s been proposed that “incompetent people will… recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.” And according to some experts :

    “There is also some thought that perhaps we should give people experience with their overconfidence,” Dunning noted. “That is, get them to make an overconfident display, and then expose it for what it is, so that people are more on guard for such an issue.

    I see that last as an essential role for blogs like this one. It may not always be effective, but at least it’s entertaining to try.

  55. #55 Dunc
    2014/04/10

    Mike, I can’t speak for any one else here, but I haven’t flown anywhere for any reason in more than 15 years. I don’t own a car either.

  56. #56 BBD
    2014/04/10

    Jim Berkise

    BBD, you’re playing right into my hands. I was never trying to make a case for ANY position regarding warming per se; my sole point was that there was a lot going on in “the science”, so it seemed to me to make sense that this would be a possible explanation for the continued focus on “the science”.

    This is getting tedious. As we have seen upthread, the pseudosceptic blogosphere distorts and misrepresents the science, producing confused, contrarian narratives like yours. You are, I believe, being extremely disingenuous, and I don’t like disingenuity. It is an insult to the intelligence of your interlocutor.

  57. #57 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/10

    > a lot of that from the “green” side about economics.

    Oh, agreed. I had taken Ecology 101 before the first (1970) Earth Day, after which suddenly there were all these soi-disant “environmentalists” who were very clear about what they wanted kept out of their yards but clueless about ecology. I haven’t seen much improvement there. Not that we knew a lot about ecology either, back then.

    >By contrast, economists know enough to at least be wrong
    A fair definition for any science, that. Some of them do.

    The American Geophysical Union has a new open access journal, Earth’s Future. Economics is considered — here’s from an interview in the ((paywalled) EOS newsletter:

    Eos, Vol. 95, No. 13, 1 April 2014 Earth’s Future Aims to Break Barriers to Interdisciplinary Science
    PAGES 113–114

    —-quote—-
    Eos: I’d like to turn to you now, Dr. Norgaard, as Earth’s Future’s resident expert on economics. Traditionally, AGU journals have not covered topics that connect economics to Earth and space science. How do you plan to change that with Earth’s Future?

    Norgaard: Many economists are working to include ecosystem services and natural capital into our economy—and this is okay— but they are not addressing the problems of accelerated economic growth….

    Eos: But why should Earth and space scientists be thinking about economic theory? What are some of the pressing issues in ecological economics?

    Norgaard: … it is the acceleration of human impacts on Earth processes the last few centuries that is really important. The increase in market-based economic activity in the past century has been approximately 15 times greater than population growth. The global economy, in terms of market activity, increased by a factor of 10 in the second half of the 20th century. There is nothing “natural” about this phenomenon. Rather, it is closely tied to how we have built our economies, and that is closely tied to how economists and pol-icy makers, along with the public and economic interests, have understood economics.

    Ecological economists have a lot of issues to work through, as do scholars engaged in other efforts to bridge the disciplines, understand what sustainability means, and be effective….
    —- end quote —-

  58. #58 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/10

    And, aha — I find Norgaard has described that distinction I’ve tried to make above — between the self-serving myths (‘environmentalism’ and ‘economism’) on the one hand, contrasted with the sciences (ecology, and economics) on the other hand, here:

    http://www.humansandnature.org/economy—richard-norgaard-response-26.php

    “Economism is to the formal models of the discipline of economics as the complex beliefs that make up environmentalism are to environmental science. While distinctions between environmentalism and environmental science are commonly made, the term economism is relatively new, and the juxtaposition rare. Economism, this brew of popular, political, and academic philosophy and practical beliefs, keeps industrial civilization glued together while it furthers the economy’s expansion ….”

  59. #59 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/10

    Mike, that’s quite a riff! How long did it take you to write? I’ll say this for you, you’re highly verbal. You aren’t much of a scientist, but you could be the next Hunter S. Thompson.

  60. #60 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/10

    <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/greenish-shootlets-in-southern-europe-implicitly-wonkish/&quot; what we should really be doing, of course, is asking what the models (not the person) predicts….

  61. #61 BBD
    2014/04/10

    Mal Adapted

    I’ve always acknowledged that Mike has a certain talent for writing. There’s something of the Anglo-Saxon poetic style, itself rooted in an oral tradition that relishes alliteration and the mesh of word-sound and evoked imagery.

    It all makes for a superior rant the first time you see it. But he is narrow and repetitive. There is no unfolding narrative. He is not our new Chaucer.

    The search goes on.

  62. #62 Victor Venema
    2014/04/10

    It would be nice if the economists would write an IPCC-like document. I am curious how much common ground the various schools would find.

    [An interesting point. Its easy to think that they'd disagree a lot; there are even jokes about it. However, its also possible to suggest that if they were forced to discuss the basics, there would be more agreement than you might think. Taxes on imports, for example, are universally applied by pols, but I'm fairly sure they are universally recognised as stupid by economists -W]

  63. #63 Adam R.
    2014/04/10

    @59 Mal Adapted:

    He clearly thinks he Is HST. He’s blathering in these comments for his own entertainment; don”t encourage him.

  64. #64 Frank
    Sydney
    2014/04/10

    Fluff indeed. I think you have confirmed the unease I get reading Dr Judith Curry’s blog Climate Inc – I have difficulty figuring out what she is trying to say, or if she is saying anything at all. A bit like seeing a comment on a blog which contains a link, but no description why the commenter thinks the link is significant.

  65. #65 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/11

    Scholar suggests some favor taxes on imports, as I read this (as an amateur, of course); anyone know more? Border tax adjustment: a feasible way to support stringent emission trading
    R Ismer, K Neuhoff – European Journal of Law and Economics, 2007 (PDF)

    “We thus run two scenarios combining a CO2 tax with border-tax adjustments (BTA). With the more ambitious BTA tested, not only is there no leakage, but emissions in the rest of the world decrease slightly. However ….”

    That’s a first page result searching Scholar for “tax imports”+economist

  66. #66 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/11

    and BTA is much discussed going back years, with many ideas about how to use border tax adjustments for policy purposes.

  67. #67 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/11

    William,

    You are spot on about the danger of the green trap to all the actors in the climate opera. It saps money, time and effort from more useful applications. It comes from the information deficit model that dominates climate communication.

    Wondering why the three “central” skeptic blogs focus on science rather than policy is like wondering why Pablo Casals didn’t play the trombone. Interestingly, the paper found that in a subset of the non-central blogs the majority had a policy focus. It also concluded that the science focus was key to their centrality among the culturally diverse skeptic blogosphere – not surprising, really. So, I think the “comfortable in their niche” explanation is the best.

  68. #68 Victor Venema
    2014/04/11

    WMC: “Taxes on imports, for example, are universally applied by pols, but I’m fairly sure they are universally recognised as stupid by economists -W”

    I am less sure. All economists will be able to cite Adam Smith and his comparative advantages of trade, but I would guess that only the libertarians would act as if this static picture is the full story and would refrain from looking at empirical evidence and dynamical development.

    The other economists might have more eye for a lock-in process occurring that keeps the poor countries specialized on cheap labor, which is nice for us, but not for them. (Outside of economics scientists may also note that having no taxes on imports makes a lot policy impossible and therewith destroys democracy. For example without a price or stop of battery chicken eggs or US chlorine hormone meats, we would not be able to compete and would not be able to disallow such practices.)

    [I don't believe this. If you don't want to import someone else's food cos it dangerous then you ban it, not tax it. But conversely, lots of "bans for safety reasons" are just politicking trade disputes - see Russia / Ukraine recently -W]

    The nice thing of an IPPC-like process is that you would not only have the market radicals that dominate the (English-speaking) media, but would also have to be able to convince foreign economists from countries that have made enormous economic development due to strong regulation.

    I hope that Prof Ha-Joon Chang born in South Korea would be in the writing group. I really enjoyed his book: 23 things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. He is a better writer as talker; content starts at 11:30.

    [Sorry, but trying to "read" by listening to speaches on youtube is too annoying. Does he not write this down anywhere except behind paywalls? Has he no blog? Happily, Timmy does have a blog and has written about Chang's book. He doesn't like it: http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/economics/23-things-were-telling-you-about-capitalism-i -W]

  69. #69 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/11

    WMC, in response to #62:

    Taxes on imports, for example, are universally applied by pols, but I’m fairly sure they are universally recognised as stupid by economists.

    Are you referring to tariffs in general,

    [Tariffs in general. BTA is perhaps an example of them being sensible; but none such exist at the moment so that's somewhat irrelevant -W]

    or specifically to Boundary Tax Adjustments as a complement to domestic CO2 taxes?

    Speaking of CO2 taxes, I recently came across this site: Carbon Tax Center. I haven’t had time to digest much of it, but it looks intelligent. I’d appreciate knowing what others here think.

    Also, Elizabeth Kolbert has the lead comment in this week’s New Yorker:

    Economists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the most efficient way to reduce emissions is to impose a carbon tax…If other countries failed to follow suit, the U.S. could, in effect, extend its own tax by levying it on goods imported from those countries.

    Kolbert’s grasp of the climate issue is unusual for a journalist in the MSM.

  70. #70 Jon
    2014/04/11

    @Jim Berkise

    “And you’re still ignoring the fact that I’m not the one who made any statement whatsoever about warming…”

    You quickly you forget:

    “Most people admit–VERY QUIETLY in the case of those with a vested interest–that there has been no warming for the last 17 years and 8 months.”

    “Most sources I monitor put the “pause” at the 17 years and 8 months I used in my earlier post, but I won’t quibble about when it started.”

    But go ahead, explain to me how those two aren’t statements about warming, specifically your endorsement of the view that there hadn’t been any in 17 years and 8 months.

  71. #71 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/11

    Dunno about the UK, but here are some US economists favoring (some) taxes:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/19/157047211/six-policies-economists-love-and-politicians-hate

    “… the common-sense, no-nonsense Planet Money economic plan — backed by economists
    of all stripes, but probably toxic to any candidate that might endorse it.”

    One: Eliminate the mortgage tax deduction …
    Two: End the tax deduction companies get for providing health-care to employees….
    Three: Eliminate the corporate income tax. Completely. If companies reinvest the
    money into their businesses, that’s good….
    Four: Eliminate all income and payroll taxes….
    Instead, impose a consumption tax, designed to be progressive
    to protect lower-income households.
    Five: Tax carbon emissions. Yes, that means higher gasoline prices. It’s a kind of
    consumption tax, and can be structured to make sure it doesn’t disproportionately harm
    lower-income Americans. More, it’s taxing something that’s bad,
    which gives people an incentive to stop polluting.
    Six: Legalize marijuana.
    _______________________

    Oh, those economists, what _are_ they smoking?

  72. #72 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/11

    Tim Worstall on the 2008 financial crisis:

    Professors Paul Krugman and Richard Layard have launched a manifesto – they are trying to get economists to sign up to their version of what went wrong with the world economy and what we should do about it. I can’t sign it as I’m not an economist. But even if I were, I wouldn’t – because they’ve made a very bad error in the analysis of the basic cause of the crisis.

    … What caused our current problems was the inherent failure of Keynesian economics.

    Umm. … no. Ummm anyone that thinks that was the cause really needs to get out more. Likewise anyone that agrees with him.

    Worstall had little need to state upfront that he isn’t an economist – his writings make that abundantly clear. The inherent contradiction? That counter-cyclical spending requires equally symmetrical surpluses and *politicians* never implement spending cuts or tax increases to achieve symmetry.

    A) This is a political problem – not an inherent contradiction in the General Theory

    B) It’s not true. There is no need to achieve symmetry in surpluses and deficits. With inflation, economic growth, and modest changes in deficit size it is possible to run constant deficits and still maintain an even debt to GDP ratio. This, in fact, is what has transpired for much of the world *since* the Great Depression.

    C) There is no evidence the financial crisis had anything to do with deficits/surpluses. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. A very weak case can be made that it influenced the *response* to the crisis – but that’s a different story (and as I said, weak at best).

    Very ironic that Worstall, someone that champions free markets, says nothing about how lax regulation, deregulation, and no regulation at all were the real culprits.

    I haven’t read anything else by Worstall on economics, but if this an indication, then he’s the equivalent of reading Anthony Watts on climate change.

  73. #73 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/12

    Kevin O’Neill,

    Do you favor a carbon tax? Worstall supports a carbon tax. Does his quoted remark mean that he is also wrong about carbon taxes? If not, then why do you bring up his – at the very least – arguable viewpoint as a condemnation?

  74. #74 John Puma
    2014/04/12

    In the recent past science has progressed mainly via governmental policy decisions to fund it.

    Given what it purports to be, a vehicle to understand our physical surroundings, AND its prior successes in applying knowledge gained, it would be extremely foolish for policy makers NOT to consider themselves informed profoundly by science.

    Of course, current (US) government is infiltrated, perhaps controlled, by “these jokers.”

  75. #75 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/12

    #73 PK – read WC comment in #68

  76. #76 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/12

    Paul K – Do I favor a carbon tax?

    Let me start with a quote from Sebastian Bastiat: “In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

    I am a child of the 1960’s and grew up in Wisconsin. Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) was the founder of Earth Day. I won a prize as an 11-yr old for a poetry contest run in conjunction with the first Earth Day. At the time, pollution was the visible effect that we (humans) were having on the environment. But even back then there were scientists who recognized the unseen effects – climate change. With this background, I applauded John Anderson’s proposal in 1979 to institute a 50-cent per gallon gasoline tax (when a gallon of gas cost 70 to 90 cents). In the intervening years I have supported every proposed increase in gasoline taxes.

    We can often influence outcomes by using either a carrot or a stick. In this case the desired outcome is a reduction in anthropogetic CO2. A carbon tax acts as a stick. Tax deductions, loan programs, and other incentives for alternative energy sources are the carrot. I support both.

    Of course the devil is in the details. Specific proposals that purport to be solutions are sometimes nothing but political boondoggles. I am very pessimistic that we – in the US specifically, but the world in general – will do anything substantive to alleviate the problem. I am selfish enough and of an age where I really don’t worry about it much. My life-long love affair with the great dystopias says much.

    “The leech’s kiss, the squid’s embrace,
    The prurient ape’s defiling touch:
    And do you like the human race?
    No, not much.”

  77. #77 Howard
    2014/04/12

    Policy from a denier of CAGW:

    First, do no harm.

    1) Replace coal with standard nuke and fracked CH4. This is a two-fer as it also takes a bite out of actual air pollution that kills people today.

    2) Apollo-type Manhattan projects for small-scale, non-proliferating, inherently stable nuclear power technological development.

    3) Carbon tax rebates. Encourage business and industry to reduce carbon by encouraging investment in techno fixes and R&D.

    4) Re-forestation. Government’s and private foundations should buy-back and replant forests. This would include encouraging selective harvest to fund the long-term O&M.

    5) Have governments buy up proven patents on carbon reduction and low-no carbon energy to give licenses away for free.

    6) Slowly introduce a slowly growing carbon tax over time set to make the tax breaks for low carbon investment more attractive.

    7) Invest more in oceanographic, biogeochemical and satellite data collection.

    8) Invest more in the physics, chemistry, biology of aerosol research.

    9) Invest in infrastructure hardening and distribution of assets to reduce vulnerability.

  78. #78 crf
    2014/04/12

    Carbon policy has evolved the way it has due to the present overall economic environment.

    World-wide austerity and threat of depression dampens economic spirits. Few governments (certainly those in the west) want to invest in anything to the degree we’ve seen in the past (infrastructure, business expansion, schools, health care, pensions, welfare, etc). So no commitment to invest in reducing carbon emissions is not at all surprising. Taxes dampen growth further.

    A commitment to reduce emissions is only going to come with a worldwide commitment to economic growth. Which means there needs to be a commitment by most large economies to terminate austerity and investment stagnation. Once growth occurs, people will feel comfortable paying for polluting, and investing in new, clean energy to reduce the cost of polluting. The US would need to take the lead on that kind of policy. We can only hope they will, but, unfortunately, everything says that they won’t: both parties are committed to policies that have fostered the current austerity and depression.

  79. #79 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/13

    crf – “Taxes dampen growth further.”

    Two things: 1) The underlying assumption that constant growth is good is a recipe for disaster. 2) The correlation between tax rates and growth is not what you think it is.

    The first should be relatively obvious. We have finite resources and space on this planet. At some point it must end. As an avid SciFi fan I’d love to see us colonizing the solar system. Unfortunately the likelihood of that remains fiction.

    [You're making the usual confusion between "growth" in an economic sense and use-of-physical-resources. This is what I mean by so many being not even wrong -W]

    The second is one of those truisms never questioned by libertarians and anti-tax types. Apparently they are unaware that such a thing as economic data exists. Since I live in the US and am more familiar with our statistics I’ll use that as an example. Higher tax rates have been accompanied by faster economic growth and lower tax rates have been accompanied by slower economic growth. This has been true at the federal, state, and local levels. In other words, the data suggest the opposite of what you claim.

    [CRF offered no proof of his assertion, but I notice that you don't, either -W]

  80. #80 Captain Flashheart
    2014/04/13

    William, I wasn’t talking about hippy economic policy: I was talking about the consequences for everyone’s economic policies if the basic concepts of the environmental movement are correct. These concepts are not specific to a particular economic “theory” (<- I lose the term loosely, economists being so useless and stupid) – they are important concepts about the interaction between humans and their environment that need to be taken into account regardless of the economic system in place. The Soviets also failed to incorporate externalities into their economic engine (possibly more egregiously than capitalist America!)

    The problem for the free market/liberal right is that they have spent 30 years fighting against this idea that we need to incorporate thinking about eocsystem services and externalities into our industrial and social systems. But every battle they have lost to the environmental movement, and the solutions that worked have been chipping away at the neo-liberal ideal of unfettered free markets.

    AGW of course is the big one: once they give in and accept it's real, they're admitting that their belief in free markets unregulated by govt would have taken us all to the brink. They will have accepted basic environmentalist principles as fundamental to human social progress, and they'll have to significantly adjust their economic theory.

    [No, I don't agree. I do agree that the right wing types don't want it to be necessary for govt to intervene, much less for global govt to intervene. However (apart from the truely lunatic fringe) all of them accept govt intervention anyway: police, courts, army, food standards, subsidies for their pet industry, whatever. Carbon taxes are not anti-free-market; and having "green" folk keep insisting that they are, doesn't help their acceptance. Ditto having greenish types saying "ha ha, if you accept this, you'll have to accept we won the argument". Your assertion that there is a large consitutuency for "free markets unregulated by govt" is a strawman. There's a large consituency for "free markets with minimal govt intervention" though, and that constituency see over-regulation as a serious problem. Which you're reinforcing -W]

    This is why people like Worstall were climate change deniers before they were for a carbon tax (which I have said before, here and elsewhere, will not be enough).

    [{{cn}} -W]

    As for hippy economic policies being as wrong as denialism – pull the other one. Mainstream economics can't even agree on the implications of fiat money, the value of govt debt, or the effect of a minimum wage or immigration. Mainstream economics is at a stage of development similar to climate science in the 19th century. Mainstream economists are still willing to broadcast the ignorance of people like Roghof and Reinhart, and doesn't even have an established system of peer review. It's a joke. So who cares if the dreadlocked dude has some kooky ideas about socialism? At least he isn't hiding his spreadsheet errors from grad students while he runs around the world telling everyone that the govt is going to eat their children …

  81. #81 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/13

    Mal Adapted quoted:

    “Economists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the most efficient way to reduce emissions is to impose a carbon tax.”

    Question. Is there a more efficient way to impose the tax than through government which rarely operates efficiently? Just getting a government to impose carbon taxes is a never ending process. One did and the government changed,

    Even with political majorities in favor, governments cannot get it done. In 2008, McCain and Obama each offered their own climate action, cap/trade plans. The Democratic Party controlled the House and had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. The President made climate legislation a top priority..

    The House Bill was horrible and the Senate couldn’t even get something written in Democratic controlled committees. The President, at present, is not in favor of a carbon tax.

    Of course, if instead. of a carbon tax a Voluntary Mitigation Tax were imposed, government might not be much needed. Now that is a free market idea.

    [I don't think its a free market idea. It has nothing to do with markets -W]

  82. #82 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/13

    > between “growth” in an economic sense and
    > use-of-physical-resources

    Where is this confusion disambiguated?
    Is there an economy, or a model plan for one, to point out?
    Seriously, I have no notion how these get disconnected.
    I know Stein’s Law says they must be disconnected, eventually.

    [Don't look to me for economic references. Browse Timmy; he'll point it out. The point, really, is that now you know, you can look for yourself -W]

  83. #83 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/13

    WC #79: [CRF offered no proof of his assertion, but I notice that you don't, either -W]

    The data is the proof. Simply look at it. It’s widely available through various websites. Many summaries exist – for instance:

    Congressional Research Service, Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945, Thomas L. Hungerford, Specialist in Public Finance September 14, 2012

    Real Per Capita GDP Growth
    The annual real per capita GDP growth rate plotted against the top marginal tax rate and top capital gains tax rate is shown in Figure 5. Each point represents the real per capita GDP growth rate and tax rate for each year since 1945. The fitted values seem to suggest that higher tax rates are associated with slightly higher real per capita GDP growth rates. The top marginal tax rate in the 1950s was over 90%, and the real GDP growth rate averaged 4.2% and real per capita GDP increased annually by 2.4% in the 1950s. In the 2000s, the top marginal tax rate was 35% while the average real GDP growth rate was 1.7% and real per capita GDP increased annually by less than 1%.

    The scattered points, however, generally are not close to the fitted values line indicating that the association between GDP growth and the top tax rates is not strong. Furthermore, the observed positive association between real GDP growth and the top tax rates shown in the figure could be coincidental or spurious because of changes to the U.S. economy over the past 65 years.23 The statistical analysis using multivariate regression (reported in Table A-1) does not find that either top tax rate has a statistically significant association with the real GDP growth rate.

    These results are generally consistent with previous research on tax cuts. Some studies find that a broad based tax rate reduction has a small to modest, positive effect on economic growth. Other studies have found that a broad based tax reduction, such as the Bush tax cuts, has no effect on economic growth. It would be reasonable to assume that a tax rate change limited to a small group of taxpayers at the top of the income distribution would have a negligible effect on economic growth.”

    If you’d rather not read a pdf, much the same analysis is available here with downloadable data links.

    A Few Graphs on Real GDP Growth Rates versus Taxes and the Size of Government also has ggraphs with links to data sources.

    [Your graph shows no correlation. How does that support your assertion that "Higher tax rates have been accompanied by faster economic growth and lower tax rates have been accompanied by slower economic growth"? -W]

  84. #84 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/13

    WC – [Your graph shows no correlation....]

    A) They are not my graphs – they’re plots of Internal Revenue Service and Department of Commerce data that have been reproduced many times in many different places.

    B) My assertion was that the statement made by crf that “Taxes dampen growth further.” was incorrect. The data shows this. There is no negative correlation between marginal tax rates (or capital gains rates) and economic growth. A lack of a correlation disproves crf’s assertion.

    C) Furthermore, and as pointed out in the text in the second link above:

    “Making matters worse for conventional wisdom, the correlation between the top marginal tax rate in any given year and the growth rate from that year to the next has been positive for every time period in the little table that is pasted in the graph. In other words, for all the years for which official data exists, higher tax rates have been accompanied by faster economic growth and lower tax rates were accompanied by slower economic growth.”

    Now, these are simple facts that have been evident for decades. I first became aware of these relationships as a teenager when Ronnie Reagan was running for the Presidency with his “voodoo economics” plan (circa 1979). The fact that so man libertarian and free-market types believe the opposite is true shows how much they value ideology over data. Krugman calls these ‘zombie lies’ because they never die no matter how many times you shoot them down. The analogy to GW denialists should be obvious.

  85. #85 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/13

    Paul Kelly:

    Question. Is there a more efficient way to impose the tax than through government which rarely operates efficiently? Just getting a government to impose carbon taxes is a never ending process. One did and the government changed,

    I suppose your definition of “efficiency” depends on whether you’re a climate scientist, an economist or a politician. For a carbon tax to achieve significant emissions reduction, it would have to be carefully designed. Clearly, a political evolution will be required before the U.S. enacts one, and what emerges may be less than optimally efficient. Results in other countries have been mixed, but it has apparently been done successfully: see Wikipedia discussion.

  86. #86 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/13

    Scholar refereces? I find these quickly; anyone know more search terms? I’d rather not browse Timmy if there’s a more direct way to find the sources.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22economic+growth%22+%22physical+resources%22+%22resource+use%22+demand+supply

  87. #87 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/14

    WC in comment at #79: [You're making the usual confusion between "growth" in an economic sense and use-of-physical-resources. This is what I mean by so many being not even wrong -W]

    If we’re not talking about economic growth – then I don’t know what we’re talking about. Personal growth? Spiritual growth?

    [I'm talking about economic growth. And the lack of necessary direct correlation with use of physical resources -W]

    If we are talking about economic growth, are you then asserting there is no relationship between growth and physical resources? I do try to be a charitable reader – part of the reason I have waited this long to reply to your comment is trying to decipher something that makes sense. I’ll admit to having failed.

    [Not "no", but not the direct connection you, and so many others, appear to believe is "obviously" necessary -W]

    Not only have I never seen a stable economic system described with constant growth, it’s theoretically physically impossible. At some point you run out of resources — even with a stable population you would reach such a state. Of course (I suppose) one could assign unlimited and ever growing value to non-physical resources and just arbitrarily assume that’s where all the needed growth would occur. This seems an awful lot like cheating and merely a parlor trick to win an argument.

    [Why? -W]

    Any closed system that puts a value on a physical resource (gold, corn, diamonds, soybeans, grains of sand, whatever) must eventually reach a physical limit to growth. We can change the timeframe at which we reach this limit by minimizing growth or expanding the system, but buying time is the best we can do. In other words, there is no such thing as “sustainable growth.”

  88. #88 Captain Flashheart
    2014/04/14

    William, it took me five seconds on google to find a group of right-wing free market types arguing essentially that carbon taxes are anti-free market. And oh look! It’s the same mob who funded WUWT! What a coincidence!

    [So what? I can find you nutters who think that the aren't Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine. Finding nutters who believe a thing means nothing. Though in this particular case, I don't think you've done what you asserted: they definitely don't like carbon taxes, but they don't say such taxes are anti-free-market -W]

    I didn’t argue that there is a “large consistency” of these people. I argued that this is the reason the anti-AGW bloggers and their supporters are so terrified of talking about policy. We are talking about precisely the lunatic fringe you have parenthesized in your response to me, but let’s not be silly about this: that lunatic fringe are the people who have captured US politics on this issue (or at least people like the Heritage Foundation have).

    [No, don't believe you: you can't capture US politics if you're the lunatic fringe -W]

    And once again, I am not arguing about whether some hippy thinks a carbon tax is anti-free market. I am saying that the free market fundamentalists (like the Heritage Foundation) cannot accept the social and policy implications of the fundamental challenge in AGW, because it forces them to accept that the free market cannot fix these problems. It’s no coincidence that most of these anti-AGW bloggers think that the ozone layer was never a problem, and/or regularly comment that the hole is still there despite big govt, and still think the Clean Air Act was a good idea. They cannot handle even teh smallest socially mandated limits on their market activities – and that is the fundamental message of AGW for all economists of all stripes.

  89. #89 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/14

    WC:[Why? -W]

    As the IPCC says, “Economic growth can either be achieved by increasing the factor inputs to production, such as capital and labor, or by increasing productivity.”

    By claiming that there is or can be economic growth without changes to physical input, you are merely postulating unlimited productivity growth.

    It’s the same argument putting a different variable into wonderland. I’m not sure which is more fanciful.

    [Perhaps you'll believe Krugman: http://www.coveredinbees.org/node/458 -W]

  90. #90 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/14

    > you can’t capture US politics if you’re the lunatic fringe -W]

    Gödel: “Oh, yes, I can prove it.”

  91. #91 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/14

    But according to Spencer, et, and al, there’s no problem anyhow, so why worry? I’ve just come across this in some rural US newspapers that are reporting it as news:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2014&hl=en&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5&cites=7564117707246111182&scipsc=

  92. #92 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/14

    W, inline to #88:

    [No, don't believe you: you can't capture US politics if you're the lunatic fringe -W]

    If only that were true. You’ve probably heard of James Inhofe, Oklahoma’s senior Senator, who published a book a couple of years ago titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. Do you know about the 163 other AGW deniers in the current U.S. Congress? Politicians are more likely to be cynical than crazy, but what about the voters who elected them? As a U.S. citizen, I’d say U.S. politics is pretty well captured by the lunatic fringe already.

    [If you have 163 members in the US Congress, you're not the lunatic fringe, politically, no matter how much we might desire them to be, or how much they may be lunatic and fringe scientifically -W]

  93. #94 crf
    2014/04/14

    My assertion that “Taxes dampen growth further” was meant to be taken in the context of the current low-growth, depressive (and depressing) economic situation we are currently in. If you’re in a slump, economically, its pretty uncontroversial to suggest raising taxes is going to be an easy sell, politically and economically, even if the tax is for a good reason, because that tax would act to dampen growth, absent other policies to conteract it.

    I think Carbon taxes are an excellent idea.

    But I think a higher economic growth environment would be much more amenable to having them be successfully introduced. (In British Columbia, where I live, we’ve fairly happily lived for some years with a small carbon tax: economic growth in B.C. and Canada, generally, has not been good: but it is better than much of the rest of the western world.)

    I’m not an anti-tax, libertarian, climate-denialist zealot. I don’t appreciate the logic which takes my comments out of context in order to create a false dialectic aimed at pigeonholing me.

    I think the governments of much of the world ought to be running much larger deficits, and financing growth through deficits, at least until economic growth solidly resumes. Thiis isn’t a libertarian argument for certain, but it also isn’t anticapitalist. (You’ll find lots of economists in agreement (Delong Krugman, Summers for instance on the American side.)) Lots of people think differently than me, and that’s fine.

    I think global climate change is a huge problem. I like Nukes of all kinds. I think renewables are massively oversold in what role they can play over the next few decades. Indeed, I’ve called renewables homeopathic medicine for climate: maybe it could be real medicine with programs like ex-Desertec, for example: which was canned, perhaps in part due to the ongoing economic slump. (Maybe I come to my cynical understanding about renewables because I follow closely the energy policy in Ontario.) I don’t like much of what passes for “environmentalist” thinking on how to mitigate climate change because it seems too often to be, to an the extent thatanti-geo-engineering, anti-nuclear, anti-GMO, and anti-growth.

  94. #95 Adam R.
    2014/04/14

    [If you have 163 members in the US Congress, you're not the lunatic fringe, politically, no matter how much we might desire them to be, or how much they may be lunatic and fringe scientifically -W]

    That merely illustrates the ominous possibilities implied in the Gödel quote, above. The lunatics currently in charge of the US House of Representagives

    [Lunatics, perhaps, but not lunatic fringe, alas -W]

  95. #96 Adam R.
    2014/04/14

    er, “Representatives,” as I was saying, are there at the behest of a fringe empowered by careful gerrymandering, but it is a fringe of the American public, nonetheless. Its propaganda home, Fox News, for all its infamy counts at most 14 million viewers.

  96. #97 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/14

    OK, TW:

    http://pando.com/2014/04/09/my-very-mainstream-solution-to-climate-change/

    “… James Hansen does, it is true, say that the tax should be up to $1,000. But note that it is “up to”.

    His actual paper on the subject says that if climate sensitivity is high, if emissions growth is high and if we go down the worst possible route for the economy then, and only then, might it be that high. Unfortunately, that’s not quite how you should do it: you need to take the entire range of such estimates and then adjust them by the probability that they will happen in order to get your proper number. Which, even in Hansen’s case, brings us back to under $100 a tonne. Or, if you prefer, the $1 on a gallon of gas that Greg Mankiw’s Pigou Club has been arguing for.

    As you can see from the names I’ve been dropping this idea of a carbon tax to deal with climate change is simply the mainstream, scientific consensus one, about how to do that dealing. There’s amazingly little disagreement among the economists who study the point. Hell, even Exxon now applies a $60 a tonne tax to emissions in their internal modelling. There’s also nothing new about this point, it’s the same thing all those economists have been saying for the past decade. It’s also nothing new for me to be saying it, I even wrote a book on the point three years back.

    Yes, climate change is a problem we should do something about and that something is a carbon tax. What a very mainstream conclusion….”

    [Sounds like the std Timmy line. Its not quite right, but it close enough. Certainly much closer than most other people.

    And since you quote Timmy, so shall I: this is him pointing out a piece of Green / EU economic illiteracy -W]

  97. #98 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/14

    WC -in comment at #97: “And since you quote Timmy, so shall I: this is him pointing out a piece of Green / EU economic illiteracy -W”

    Once again I read Worstall on economics and once again I came away shaking my head. His ideas fly in the face of the data (the LSE, with no minimum tick size has had historically higher spreads than the NYSE for the same stock – even though the NYSE has rules for tick size). He makes no distinction between dealer markets and auction markets and why minimum tick sizes are essential to auction markets (time priority is meaningless otherwise). Nor does he seem aware of the vast literature that shows reductions in tick size often have adverse impacts on transaction cost.

    Go read an actual economist. Hell, just Google “tick size rules trading” and practically every link will be worth more than the one you provided to timmy.

  98. #99 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/14

    > … not the lunatic fringe, politically, no matter how
    > … lunatic and fringe scientifically -W]

    Wait. Do a Venn diagram there.

    The voting majority in Germany in the 1930s, who voted in the government Gödel escaped from — are you thinking the fringe is somehow restricted to the edges, so they weren’t?

    A social fabric unravels when the fringe exceeds the center.

    It won’t be only the fringe on one side.

    The tactic of funding marginal thinkers on several sides of a question works that way, to hollow out the center.

    [I don't think it helps to redefine the word "fringe" as "people you don't like". Or perhaps we're jut using different meanings. To me, it means "a small number of people at the edges". Having more than 100 people in Congress or whatever, is a non-small number of people at the center -W]

  99. #100 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/15

    Ah, I think of fringe as
    — threads attached only at one end, not woven together with other threads to constitute the fabric: frill, flounce, ruffle

  100. #101 JBL
    2014/04/15

    WMC wrote: “To me, [fringe] means “a small number of people at the edges”.” Well, sure, but in this case the claim “you can’t capture US politics if you’re the lunatic fringe” is just a tautology.

    [Yes. That's exactly what I meant -W]

  101. #102 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/15

    W at #99:

    [I don't think it helps to redefine the word "fringe" as "people you don't like". Or perhaps we're jut using different meanings. To me, it means "a small number of people at the edges". Having more than 100 people in Congress or whatever, is a non-small number of people at the center -W]

    So, the science deniers in Congress came in through the Overton window?

  102. #103 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/15

    There are a lot fewer ‘fringe’ opinions among the populace than you’d think from just counting elected politicians. Like there are a lot fewer septics than you’d imagine just looking at blogs. Dominating the visible forum is a tactic, not a representation.

    http://www.pulitzer.org/files/2014/editorial-cartooning/siers/09siers2014.jpg

  103. #104 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/15
  104. #105 dhogaza
    2014/04/15

    While not exactly an indicator of the fringe taking over, it is true that 7% of the presidential elections in the US have been lost by the candidate winning a plurality of the vote.

    Gerrymandering has long been used in some places to ensure that a state’s representation doesn’t represent the party membership of the residents. Both parties have done it. Currently, the Republicans have been doing it very visibly the past two decades.

    In addition, conservatives (currently represented almost exclusively by the Republican party) have been passing state laws to make it more difficult for poorer people, and non-whites, to vote, for the simple reason that they tend to vote for Democrats.

    Then add the fact that many people tend to vote for the party that their parents and other ancestors have voted for, and these affiliations often date back to our Civil War.

    When all the factors are added up, fringe extremists aren’t that difficult to elect, especially when they’re new on the scene and not fully understood. The Republican Party hierarchy is unhappy with the rise of the Tea Party precisely because they’re expecting a backlash as the extreme positions of many who were elected on the coattails of the backlash against Obamacare become better known. The extreme positions only held by a fringe minority of the electorate, that is. I trust the political savvy of the Republican Party leadership more than I trust William’s, when it comes to US politics. William will disagree, of course.

  105. #106 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/15

    Apropos the fringe:
    http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2014/03/joan-slonczewski-field-of-discovery/

    —- quote follows—

    ” One response is to embrace the new discoveries, whatever they are, no matter how shocking. To some extent people are willing to do that. For instance,…. If you need to eat shit in order to save your digestive track – a digestive bacterial transplant, or fecal transplant – people will do that.

    ‘‘But on the other hand, if you need to accept that the world is 4.5 billion years old, that’s too shocking for some people. I live in a community where we had a middle-school teacher that was fired after teaching creationism for 11 years. The community I live in, the community surrounding the college, includes some people with this cultish view of rejecting science, rejecting climate change. …

    … people who live in a city, they can say ‘That’s fringe,’ but it’s not fringe, because to be a presidential candidate in one of our two major parties you have to deny evolution. What’s up with this?

    ‘‘The trouble is that some people think false science has no consequence….
    … Forests, as part of their response to increasing carbon dioxide, now draw less water from the earth. The problem with that is that if they draw less water from the earth, then they make fewer clouds. Trees make rain – you think rain makes trees, but trees make the clouds…..

    ‘‘People who reject good science don’t realize they are manipulated by powers that earn money off their disbelief. The people who have churches that believe this stuff sincerely don’t realize they are manipulated ….”

  106. #107 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/15
  107. #108 Russell
    u.s.
    2014/04/16

    I wish you would offer more examples, William, in conversation. I sense you have some examples in mind about growth which might not increase resource depletion. Posed as a puzzle, I am thinking. As well you don’t often discuss your best conclusions on level of carbon tax and prudent path forward while implementing it. You hint. (And you hint well, so far as that goes: that’s why I read your writing here.) Searching for “carbon tax” here is fun, but you spend time slaying dragons. (Again, this is a good thing.)
    In any case, thanks for running this show.

    [Thanks. As for the economics, well, I don’t know economics very well, certainly not nearly as well as I know climate. I know enough to know that lots of people are badly wrong / not-even-wrong, but I’m very reluctant to try to [pr|t]each. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/05/11/on-getting-out-more/ -W]

    Also on my mind is this: is there any fruitful thought experiment that could be constructed in which all the ice melts, the temperature remains the same, and deniers suddenly realize “where the heat went?”

  108. #109 Russell
    u.s.
    2014/04/16
  109. #110 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/16

    I really need to stop following these links that end up with Worstall blathering on about economics. “Finally, think of it from the point of view of the whole society. No, don’t start thinking about “full employment” and the like just yet. Think instead about labour as being a scarce resource.” He wrote that in September of 2013. Really, he did.

    A) Last I checked labor *isn’t* a scarce resource.
    B) Last I checked wage earners could use some labor scarcity to reverse the (decades long) trend in wages.
    C) Last I checked “green jobs” aren’t really a luxury we can decide are economically sub-optimal.

    Is UKIP the British equivalent of America’s Tea Party? If so, it all starts to make sense.

  110. #111 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/16

    [I don't think its a free market idea. It has nothing to do with markets -W]

    Self imposed taxes may be paid in whatever way the payer desires. Payments put into the market could have as direct effect on the market as a government imposed tax.

    Both taxes seek to overcome the principle impediment to a market solution., the cost of fossil fuels vs their replacement. One tax hopes to make the replacements a better economic decision by raising the cost of fossil fuels. The other hopes to do it by lowering the cost of the replacements.

    We live at an incredible time of worldwide connectivity and ability to work collectively. A carbon tax must be imposed, collected ans disbursed through a political process. A voluntary tax does it through a social process. The advantage of a social process is that political majorities are not required for success.

  111. #112 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/16

    Kevin O’Neill,

    We share a Midwest upbringing. I’m from Illinois and voted for Anderson in 1980. I think you are in what William calls a trap. See, anyone reading your comments about Worstall would conclude he is an economic incompetent who is just wrong, wrong, wrong. There’s no reason to believe he isn’t also wrong about a carbon tax. Yet you support a carbon tax too. Your comments our counterproductive to your shared goal of reduced emissions. That’s the trap. The misplaced focus on economic orthodoxy makes an enemy out of an ally.

  112. #113 Kevin O'Neill
    2014/04/16

    Paul, as the old saying goes – even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. Still doesn’t change the fact the squirrel is blind. And it shouldn’t stand as rationale to anoint the blind squirrel as head of the foraging party.

  113. #114 Dunc
    2014/04/16

    Is UKIP the British equivalent of America’s Tea Party?

    Not really in terms of specific policies, but there are some parallels… They’re where the nutters who are too extreme for the right-wing end of the most right-wing mainstream party, but who aren’t quite full-on swastika-tattooed neo-fascists, tend to end up. Their particular animus is somewhat different (they’re principally driven by a desire to leave the EU, at least nominally) but if you’re looking for a place which can provide a happy home for someone who thinks that climatology is a Marxist plot, feminism and “Islamofascism” are the Scylla and Charybdis both simultaneously threatening to destroy “Western Civilisation”(tm), and that gay marriage causes flooding (no, really), they’re just the ticket. (In fairness, the guy who said that gay marriage causes flooding did eventually get the heave, once he attracted too much adverse publicity. It is an EU election year, after all…)

  114. #115 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/16

    In other news, collateral damage from (alleged) oil exploration continues: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27049627

  115. #116 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/16

    Paul Kelly:

    We live at an incredible time of worldwide connectivity and ability to work collectively. A carbon tax must be imposed, collected ans disbursed through a political process. A voluntary tax does it through a social process. The advantage of a social process is that political majorities are not required for success.

    You’d get some support from the late Elinor Ostrom for that:

    The literature on global climate change has largely ignored the small but positive steps that many public and private actors are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A global policy is frequently posited as the only strategy needed. It is important to balance the major attention on global solutions as the only strategy for coping with climate change. Positive actions are underway at multiple, smaller scales to start the process of climate change mitigation. Researchers need to understand the strength of polycentric systems where enterprises at multiple levels may complement each other. Building a global regime is a necessity, but encouraging the emergence of a polycentric system starts the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and acts as a spur to international regimes to do their part.

    Notice, though, that she says building a global regime is a necessity, and that “polycentric systems” are a spur to international regimes.

    I’d argue that a U.S. carbon tax, carefully designed, would strongly spur the rest of the world. If a domestic tax on fossil-fuels from all sources were complemented by a carbon tariff (by whatever name) on imported goods, China for example would be under enormous pressure to accelerate its own de-carbonization.

    Yes, “a carbon tax must be imposed, collected ans disbursed through a political process”, but tax collection and disbursement, at least, are solved problems. Political opposition is still high (I’m not forgetting those 163 AGW deniers in Congress), but emphasizing revenue-neutrality should help. IMO the carbon-tax idea is gaining momentum. I’m taking every opportunity to talk it up in the “real world.”

  116. #117 Howard
    2014/04/16

    As far as I can tell, Imhoff’s book is a CAGW denier book. He accepts radiative physics and just has a problem with the one-sided feedback and the unsubstantiated peer-reviewed doom and gloom.

    Making Policy requires consensus across political divisions. Calling the very people who are absolutely necessary to help you successfully implement policy “lunatics” is, by definition, crazy. Dehumanizing ones neighbors into an “enemy” causes a psychological shift that makes it easier to condone extreme and tyrannical measures.

    The Lewandansky research may be rubbish,

    [Not according to the journal. It was retracted due to legal threats, not scientific flaws -W]

    but the conclusions are true. This is why the WUWT crowd is up in arms. However, his conclusions are equally applicable to many bloggers and commentators on SkepSci, RealClim, etc.

    So if you really want to talk policy, the first step is to empathize with the people who disagree with you.

  117. #118 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/16

    Mal Adapted,

    “Notice, though, that she says building a global regime is a necessity”

    A global regime may be a necessity, but it seems silly to wait for it. A voluntary tax doesn’t have to be imposed instead of a carbon tax. but it can and should be imposed until a carbon tax. It is very easy to pay a voluntary mitigation tax. As Elinor Ostrom points out private actors are taking positive actions at multiple, smaller scales to start the process of climate change mitigation.

    Question: Why would anyone willing and hoping to pay a government imposed carbon tax be unwilling to pay a self imposed one?

  118. #119 Jason
    2014/04/17

    “Question: Why would anyone willing and hoping to pay a government imposed carbon tax be unwilling to pay a self imposed one?”

    Lack of confidence that other players will volunteer to do the same and the fear of thus making yourself voluntarily uncompetative. An imposed carbon levy provides a level playing field, fairness for all players and the confidence to prioritise invest in carbon cutting practices.

  119. #120 GSW
    2014/04/17

    I think part of the problem is that we can’t actually agree what the “science” is, or at least where the boundary between science and policy actually lies.

    “the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius” (Copenhagen Accord 2009)

    Well is that the “science” or not? It’s Jim Hansen’s view certainly, but is what Jim Hansen, or others, think now what we are all supposed to accept as being the “science”?

    There’s a lot of what I’d call “policy” being pushed as “the science” in an attempt to channel the options to a predetermined conclusion.

  120. #121 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/17

    Paul Kelly

    A global regime may be a necessity, but it seems silly to wait for it. A voluntary tax doesn’t have to be imposed instead of a carbon tax. but it can and should be imposed until a carbon tax. It is very easy to pay a voluntary mitigation tax. As Elinor Ostrom points out private actors are taking positive actions at multiple, smaller scales to start the process of climate change mitigation.

    If by “voluntary mitigation tax” you mean “investments in energy-efficiency and renewable sources, by individuals and private organizations, that pay off for them in the long run”, then the Ostrom article I linked supports you.

    If by “voluntary mitigation tax” you mean “voluntarily payment, by selfless individuals and private organizations, of higher prices for goods and services in order to internalize their own share of AGW costs”, then Jason’s answer to your question is as good as any I could give. Ostrom [my emphasis]:

    Whenever actions taken by some individuals or organizations benefit a larger group, a risk exists that some participants will free-ride on the efforts of others and not contribute at all or not contribute an appropriate share. At the current time, there are many governmental and private entities at multiple scales that are increasing their greenhouse gas emissions substantially—especially in the developing world—without adopting any policies to reduce emissions. This is a major problem. Current debates over who caused the human threat and thus who should pay the most in the future are legitimate debates. At the same time, they may also cover a free-riding strategy by at least some of those involved.

    So, what do you mean by a voluntary mitigation tax, Paul?

  121. #122 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/17

    hmm, italics tags around portions of blockquoted text don’t really work, do they?

  122. #123 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/17

    “can’t actually agree what the science is”

    Similarly, can’t agree what economics is, or should be:

    “… The search for culprits proved frustrating. There existed no equivalent of the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission to actually police the economists, just as there were no detectives and DAs to do the hard investigative work. And it dawned upon some that (unlike medicine and even sociology) there was not even a professional code of ethics to which bona fide economists were enjoined to subscribe. You can’t transgress a law that doesn’t exist. Contrary to first impressions, then, it was going to be a long hard slog to make any indictments stick. Furthermore, some of the self-appointed cops (and not a few of the political protagonists) turned out to be card-carrying economists themselves. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Hence the jejune American habit of dividing up the dramatis personae into the “good guys” and “bad guys” ran smack dab into the journalists’ nightmare, namely, the Sargasso Sea of Ambiguity, where all shadows were gray and all doctrines context-laden. That didn’t stop the attacks on economics, but it did encourage certain lazy journalistic practices ….”
    http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2010_Summer_Mirowski.php

    [Its a long article, with lots of words, insufferably self-regarding, but apparently without any meaning at all -W]

  123. #124 Paul Kelly
    2014/04/17

    Mal Adapted,

    Closer to the Ostrom article. The second definition: payment by selfless … of higher prices for goods and services in order to internalize their own share of AGW costs is not close at all. The free rider problem doesn’t impact a voluntary taxpayer any more than a book buyer is impacted by those reading for free at the library.

    I see a heretofore unavailable opportunity to connect large groups of people for the purpose of funding specific alternative energy and efficiencies deployments. So many people desire a 21st century energy transformation.

  124. #125 Victor Venema
    http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/
    2014/04/17

    Had not noticed the inline comments.

    WMC: “I don’t believe this. If you don’t want to import someone else’s food cos it dangerous then you ban it, not tax it. But conversely, lots of “bans for safety reasons” are just politicking trade disputes – see Russia / Ukraine recently -W”

    Banning is not fundamentally different as taxing. A high tax has the same effect as a ban. And, as you already indicate, is used for similar reasons. For trade wars and for gaining the ability to enforce rules on the market fitting to the morals of a certain democracy (in the best case) or to protect the local industry in its initial stages like all(?) or most now rich countries did when they were poor. In a non-functioning democracy bans and import taxes can naturally be abused by special interests. That is a reason to implement a good democracy and get away from winner takes all district systems.

    [I disagree. For example, you're banned from killing people. If there's someone you don't like, it doesn't matter how rich you are, you can't just kill them and pay Danegeld later. That's a pretty fundamental difference -W]

    WMC: “Sorry, but trying to “read” by listening to speaches on youtube is too annoying. Does he not write this down anywhere except behind paywalls? Has he no blog? Happily, Timmy does have a blog and has written about Chang’s book. He doesn’t like it: http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/economics/23-things-were-telling-you-about-capitalism-i -W”

    Oh, my, my I ask do you stand behind your linked post?

    [Yes -W]

    Maybe it is because I am no libertarian, but I can only discover the cheapest kind of rhetoric and in the end the guy is even forced to agree with the main point of the chapter of Chang he is attacking. So embarrassing.

    [I disagree. He begins by attacking Chang for making the assertion "there is no such thing as a free market" as though it meant something. It doesn't; Timmy is correct -W]

    He acknowledges that a democracy can determine the extend of the free market and can disallow voluntary agreements between capitalists needing workers and kids wanting to work. Once he is on that slippery slope away from pure libertarian thought, I wonder what keeps him from other sensible policies.

    [No-one realistic believe that "pure libertarian thought" can work in the real world. You have to be disconnected from what they are actually saying to think otherwise -W]

  125. #126 Victor Venema
    2014/04/17

    WMC: I disagree. For example, you’re banned from killing people. If there’s someone you don’t like, it doesn’t matter how rich you are, you can’t just kill them and pay Danegeld later. That’s a pretty fundamental difference.”

    We were talking about free trade over national borders. There the difference between a high tax and a ban does not matter in practice.

    [We were (well, not free trade exactly, because we were talking about the difference between bans and taxes; free trade would ideally involve neither), but I was trying to provide an example where there *is* a clear difference between a ban and taxes, in order to demonstrate the concept -W]

    Your friends, the economists, use the income over a life time to compute how much a human is worth.

    [People struggle to find ways to translate human life into monetary terms, but I think you're wrong to assert that is the only way used -W]

    If some policy, e.g. more coal power plants and less mitigation, could earn the Koch Brothers a few billion more and as a consequence hundreds of people die in Africa, their policy advice would be: go for it. As long as you do not directly pull the trigger, you apparently pay Danegeld.

    [Sorry, I don't understand. Taking what you say as valid, in what way are the Koch's paying Danegeld in your example? -W]

    I disagree. He begins by attacking Chang for making the assertion “there is no such thing as a free market” as though it meant something. It doesn’t; Timmy is correct -W

    Depends on how well you think your audience understands the issue. If everyone already understands that the limits of the market are an arbitrary social construct, you are right. However, I do not think that most people in the general public think that way and then it is good to explain that to them.

    [Its good to explain it; I agree with you that most people don't understand these points. But to explain it in such a way as to suggest that this isn't well known to anyone, including your opponents, who has studied the matter, is dishonest -W]

    No-one realistic believe that “pure libertarian thought” can work in the real world. You have to be disconnected from what they are actually saying to think otherwise -W

    So what is the libertarian argument against child labor? Why should the guv’mint restrict voluntary contracts in this case? Isn’t that social engineering? Or is this an ad hoc exception to pacify popular opinion and not look to much out of touch with reality with the bizarre claim that libertarianism has nothing to do with politics just “logic, or rights, or civil liberty”. People might start to think whether this logic is really so impeccably logical.

    [I don't speak for the libertarian, nor do they speak with one voice. My best guess would be that strict libertarians would argue that there is no call for the gummint to restrict child labour. In the West, child labour is of little value anyway. Its not clear to me what this has to do with what has gone before -W]

  126. #127 Victor Venema
    2014/04/18

    It feel a bit like discussing with a climate ostrich today. :-( Every small mistake in my comments is used to evade the topic.

    I should have written: “We were talking about trade over national borders. There the difference between a high tax and a ban does not matter in practice.”

    [I'm very dubious that's true. But its not my field. Thing like the US embargo on Cuba spring to mind -W]

    And the real topic was that having some friction at the border gives a democracy some room to develop policy for the common good.

    [That's the usual excuse people offer. But I'm very doubtful its true -W]

    The Danegeld in this case is the tribute the poor (in Africa) would have to pay not to be killed by the rich (Koch, danish Vikings) and in the example they unfortunately do not have the money and the invisible hand will choke them to death.

    [Ah, my apologies. I used entirely the wrong word: Danegeld is not correct. The concept I was trying to get across was paying "death money" to the relatives of people you've killed. This, I'm saying, is not permitted any more: murder is banned, not taxed -W]

    This is somehow seen as okay as long as the invisible hand does so and no person pulls the trigger directly. It would be easier to free markets if there was more equality. If the world were more equal it would be less likely that the “bio”-fuel for a test drive with the latest BMW is valued more than the food for a poor person that could have been grown on the same plot of land.

    I find child labor an interesting example because libertarians claim that their idea of freedom is the highest good and in case of child labor, at least some libertarians seem to notice to there is more and limit the freedom to make voluntary contracts between employers and kids. I would be curious what these higher values are to a libertarian. Why child labor can be an exception. Could be the photo-electric effect of libertarianism; well if i were a science and not an ideology. Tim Worstall does not make many exceptions, wants free trade in organs and all narcotics (makes the tern voluntary contracts somewhat cynical). I almost start to wonder whether he also would like to have free trade in weapons of mass destruction.

    [If you want to know what Timmy thinks, then one obvious solution is to go and ask him. He has a blog. Its not a very pleasant place to talk, though, as his commentators are uncivilised and he does nothing to restrain them. In fact he very rarely answers comments at all, so you're better off emailing him directly.

    As to child labour and contracts, I'm fairly sure that even the most ardent of libertarians would agree that children of age, say, 4 are unfit to sign contracts and are under the authority of a parent or guardian, who would make the decisions and be responsible for the contracts for them. I'm sure there would be disagreement as to whether 14 year olds are also unfit, and indeed if a hard limit or case-by-case was appropriate. Hobbes also discusses this -W]

  127. #128 Mal Adapted
    2014/04/19

    W: “I used entirely the wrong word: Danegeld is not correct. The concept I was trying to get across was paying “death money” to the relatives of people you’ve killed.”

    The word you want is “weregild”.

    [Aha, yes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weregild. Which leads me to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_money_(restitution) -W]

  128. #130 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/21

    er, that Daily Express is from some blog I stumbled into — that seems mostly to be about the need to deploy ecologically-friendly neutron bombs, featuring insights including:

    “(1) WWI and WII were due to our lack of a credible war-fighting proved nuclear deterrent in the years 1914 and 1939″

    Don’t go there.

    If you are mapping the fringes, it’s sometimes useful to know how far out there some of them are.

    [The Daily Express is a typical trashish UK tabloid newspaper. Nothing they say is to be taken seriously, other than it provides some evidence of what they think people are likely to want to buy -W]

  129. #131 Hank Roberts
    2014/04/24

    Just for the record, on policy fringe size:
    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/22/kansas-really/

    The Electrical Freedom Act, which ALEC’s Board of State Legislators adopted on October 18, 2012, was a model of the legislation that state legislatures could use to repeal their renewable energy mandates and ends with this clause:

    BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED, that the State of {insert state} repeals the renewable energy mandate and as such, no electric distribution utilities and electric services companies will be forced to procure renewable energy resources as defined by the State of {insert state}’s renewable energy mandate.

    On page four of the attached document, ALEC claims their Electricity Freedom Act became the model for legislation in “approximately 15 states across the country.”

  130. #132 Hank Roberts
    hankroberts.wordpress.com
    2014/05/31

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gop-science-deniers-threaten-us-national-defense-2014-05-28

    “… here’s the likely scenario if the GOP takes back the Senate. The senator most likely to head the Senate Armed Services Committee is ranking GOP Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, “a vocal skeptic of the established science that greenhouse-gas emissions contribute to global warming.” Inhofe “scoffed at the idea that climate change is linked to national security threats.”

    Inhofe dismissed the updated Pentagon report by personally attacking retired Air Force Gen. Charles Wald, one of the 16 contributors. “There is no one in more pursuit of publicity than a retired military officer,” said Inhofe. “I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. Now you have people who are mentally unbalanced, with the ability to deploy a nuclear weapon. For anyone to say that any type of global warming is anywhere close to the threat that we have with crazy people running around with nuclear weapons, it shows how desperate they are to get the public to buy this.” …”

    Let’s see your not-a-Peer match that for crazy.

  131. #133 Hank Roberts
    hankroberts.wordpress.com
    2014/06/01

    ok, last one from me on this topic, it’s too good not to quote:

    Steering our outrage in wrong directions
    “… I thought the House “science” committee was run by troglodyte science-hating morons. Clearly they include at least a few troglodyte science-hating geniuses… or else (more likely, given past behavior) the morons have a pub-relations genius on their staff.  (They do!  Several veterans of the successful 30 year campaign to obfuscate and delay any regulation of Big Tobacco.)

    This ain’t science fiction.

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