18813361_1533741416678444_8062868971593521307_n Scott Adams is suddenly interested in global warming. Why? It isn’t a new issue and he doesn’t really have anything new to say about it. I think the answer is that he has become a Trump fanboi and is running cover for Trump; or is still over-obsessed by his own perspicacity; or perhaps it is just a momentary interest. Or like covfefe we may never know.

Aanyway, having cartooned it once – and not again, and my patience is now exhausted – he’s blogged it a bit, and has finally said something sensible1. Or at least, sensible compared to the rest. And since it is close to one of my hobby horses, I thought I’d parade it in the ring.

SA starts badly with “What the heck is “climate denial”? Is that even a thing?”. Ermm, yes it is. If only all the world’s knotty conundrums could so easily be unravelled. He then continues, in somewhat self-aggrandising terms, to attempt to distinguish GW science from the economics. And if you think that’s a distinction that doesn’t need to be made, then try reading climatecrocks report on the cartoon (although irritatingly cc seems to have just copied then garbled P Z Meyers take; and more irritatingly freethoughtblogs is currently down for me, so that’s an archive of Google’s cache, oh this modern world is so complicated). Anyway, that’s kinda my point. I thought – but didn’t say at the time so I can’t prove this in any convincing way – that the correct answer to SA’s cartoon argument was to point out that not trusting the economic models doesn’t make you a science denier4. The economic models are different, and require different understanding. Arguably, most-to-all states today are indeed economics deniers, because they insist on tariffs not free trade, and on subsidies not carbon taxes3. But you’ve heard that one before.

Trexit

I didn’t really want to say much about Trexit because everyone else already has. How about I just point you at ATTP’s Trump and Paris, which you’ve already read, and say that I agree with most of it. The important thing to do is to not waste your time analysing the reasons Trump gave for leaving. They are all fluff, chaff, smoke and mirrors, and of no importance. The real reasons are the obvious ones: he promised his fanbase he would; Repubs on the whole dislike it and Dems like it; it was an Obama policy. What more reason does he need? This isn’t a thinking president.

Notes

1. Part of what he said that is sensible is hidden in another post, which is Disclosure: My current view on climate science is that the climate scientists are probably right on the basic science, and their climate models are probably directionally right too2. But no one has created a credible economic model around climate change…. It is weak and I think deliberately vague, but at least accepts the science – or fails to dispute it – whilst worrying about the economics.

2. Note that in the cartoon, SA rather obscures this point, by having his scientist say “dozens of different climate models and ignore the ones that look wrong to us”. That’s not quite totally incorrect, but definitely at least misleading in context.

3. And so, dear reader, I suspect, are you. But that doesn’t worry you because of <excuses>. Of course your excuses are good excuses and in no way resemble the excuses that Bad people make for things that you dislike.

4. His continuing point, that this argument is a killer because there are no credible economic models, is simply stupid. Economic models are used all the time for policy making because, imperfect as they are, they are better than nothing.

Refs

* Us at Peterborough, IM3 heat. Sadly we came third. I’m just visible at 7.

Comments

  1. #1 Jon
    2017/06/04

    I came to this article hoping for coherence. The first citation is a wikipedia page. That’s just pathetic.

    [Why: because you personally dislike what it says; or because there is something actually wrong with it? Did you trouble yourself to read it? -W]

    What’s ultimately hilarious about this refutation of his claims is that’s no attempt was actually made to refute. The author went straight into ad-hominem attack, which for scientists who are not aware of the art of rhetoric, essentially means that the argument that “policy should be made from economic models, once those models can be verified” wins the day.

  2. #2 Hank Roberts
    he's getting a bit personal, isn't he?
    2017/06/04

    SA: “Look for your friend to fight like a wounded weasel …”

  3. #3 matt
    2017/06/04

    May be wrong but I think you underestimate the support for a carbon tax, particularly by your readers, and by the left*.

    Perhaps I am too biased from being in a country where the left introduced a CT and the right abolished it (amongst all the other biases, like thinking most ppl think like I do).

    *terrible term, but I won’t write an essay to define what I mean

    [No, you are right: I think most of my readers would indeed support a carbon tax; it’s just that they would tend to favour subsidies I think. Perhaps I should just have stuck to free trade as my example -W]

  4. #4 Hank Roberts
    2017/06/04

    PS, do economists ever do back-casting, or what-if scenarios?
    I’ve always wondered what North America would be like if the passenger pigeons hadn’t been extinguished. That would imply large expanses of forest left not logged, and less market hunting (free meat). Or, for that matter, if the bison had remained viable on the Great Plains, the economic aspects of avoiding the dust bowl.

    I suppose Britan has similar possible scenarios the economists could do something with, but I don’t know that much about what you had and when you quit having it. Fish?
    https://books.google.com/books?id=tWs9AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=britain+kipper+harvest&source=bl&ots=alcDl4_3i3&sig=fZAvE15rqq0pSjmZxBwY0vEX2DA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjL2ZLGpqXUAhUUzGMKHZGkDU0Q6AEIRDAE#v=onepage&q=britain%20kipper%20harvest&f=false

    I suppose that’s fodder for writers of alternate ecology/history.

  5. #5 Griff
    -35.4 174.5
    2017/06/05

    I just wish the economic models were based on the real world .
    We have about 1.5 C locked in right now.
    Present global temperature + the inertia in the climate system – effects of aerosoles
    All the economic models I have seen have 1.5 as a result of further emissions .
    The keeling curve and the modeled human emissions seem to be diverging presently .
    This suggests they are also ignoring the potential feedbacks at play in the carbon cycle .

    [I think we’re talking about somewhat different things; I wasn’t really thinking about the future-emissions models. and neither, if you read him, is SA -W]

  6. #6 Raymond Arritt
    Over the green hills and into the sun
    2017/06/05

    Narcissists are boring.

  7. #7 See Noevo
    2017/06/05

    There must be a Scott Adams-Russia connection.

  8. #8 Steven Mosher
    United States
    2017/06/05

    I agree with you.
    how the hell did that happen

    [ZOMG. Convergent evolution? -W]

  9. #9 Marco
    2017/06/05

    Maybe it is just me, but in my view the high uncertainty in economical models isn’t exactly an argument to do nothing. I’d almost say “au contraire” – let’s remove the economical question from the table, since we have no idea, and focus solely on the expected physical effects.

    [That uncertainty doesn’t help, but makes things worse, is an argument that mt has been pushing for some time and with which I agree. The non-linearity goes that way. However, it is still no reason to push “economic models” to one side. In a sense, i don’t mean their models – I mean the basic concepts of economics. And to recognise that most of the effects don’t come straight from the raw physical changes -W]

  10. #10 Marco
    2017/06/05

    I shouldn’t be writing stuff when I have a headache…My last sentence is rather poorly (make that, incorrectly) formulated. What I meant to say is that if we remove the economical question from the table, since we have no idea (or so says Scott Adams), we can only focus on the expected physical effects and decide based on those.

    I agree that we can’t do without the economic assessment to guide our decisions – as long as they aren’t the sole decisive factor.

    [OK; though I’d have left off that last qualification -W]

  11. #11 Phil Hays
    Not in Omelas
    2017/06/05

    Economics can’t be the sole decisive factor. See location.

    [I agree. And this is consistent with my previous comment -W]

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    and follow the links
    2017/06/05
  13. #13 Russell
    Salem on the Charles
    2017/06/06

    Scott is living proof that science is best communicated to cartoonists in Comic Sans

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/05/why-science-journals-arent-published-in.html

    As to your lede toon, thanks for reminding us that the kid on the The Dutch Boy Paint billboards grew up to be President.

    [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Boy_Paint? Not familiar over this side -W]

  14. #14 Lars Karlsson
    Sverige
    2017/06/06

    One can just turn it around and ask: “How many of Trump’s economic policies (whatever they really are) do you think have been tested by running accurate and reliable economic models?

    And not just Trump’s – I suspect that argument can be extended to almost any economic policy ever proposed.

  15. #15 toby53
    Ireland
    2017/06/06

    If Adams thinks climare science basically gets it right, why does he need an economic model to tell him to reduce fossil fuel burning?

    [Because climate science only tells you the (mostly physical) effects. It doesn’t tell you how to trade off those effects against other things you care about -W]

  16. #16 Steve Milesworthy
    2017/06/06

    “but at least accepts the science”

    Scott Adams regularly says things in a way that means he doesn’t mean what he says. It’s part of his analysis and practice of so-called “Master Persuasion”. He believes absolutely everything Trump does (including Covfefe) is part of a complex act that will successfully persuade everybody to support him.

    Scott believes he himself has strong persuasion abilities too and regularly puts easy-to-spot sleights of hand messages into his blogs. In this one he complains about climate scientists ignoring economic models in some sort of pretence that the frame in the tweet that is being criticised for misrepresenting climate models is non-controversial.

  17. #17 Marco
    2017/06/06

    “It doesn’t tell you how to trade off those effects against other things you care about ”

    But do the economic models do that? Aren’t those just doing a purely monetary cost-benefit analysis? If we’d do that in healthcare…

    [Not necessarily the models. But economics is the science of doing those trade-offs -W]

  18. #18 Hank Roberts
    and a bit more
    2017/06/06

    Here’s another version of that cartoon for ya.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DBVVKZXV0AAeN2u.jpg

    Too bad all that Facebook captures is the “Sb” logo to illustrate any link to one of your threads.

  19. #19 Russell
    2017/06/06

    William:

    Advertising in America- the apotheosis of lead paint-

    http://tinypic.com/1r55guxl

  20. #20 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/06/08

    > economics is the science
    > of doing those trade-offs

    Except economics (see the other link I posted about antibiotic resistance) also says ignore any tradeoff that doesn’t benefit you personally. Rationality trumps commons sense (the sensibility of not screwing up the commons for personal profit)

    [If you mean tragedy of the commons type stuff… oddly enough, economists are aware of that. So economics includes designing system to avoid them.

    The particular example you cite is http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38828079. It’s not terribly helpful, because boiled down it says “the tragedy of the commons exists”. There are potential solutions, it is odd that it doesn’t explore any -W]

  21. #21 Lars Karlsson
    Sverige
    2017/06/10

    Elinor Ostrom got a Nobel prize 2009 for her research about how to manage commons.

  22. #22 Hank Roberts
    2017/06/10

    Okay, so what’s the design economists suggest to avoid this developing tragedy?

    “… In the big emerging economies – where demand for meat grows as incomes rise – use of agricultural antibiotics is set to double in 20 years….”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38828079

    Surely the economists, who must have been aware of this, have published scenarios analogous to the cautionary tales the climatologists are telling us about climate change.

    There’s a cliff up ahead. Should we turn, or slow down?

  23. #23 Hank Roberts
    but for those who didn't click, excerpts
    2017/06/10

    And yeah, a global tax on antibiotics, analogous to a carbon tax, would change the equation. Anyone suggesting that. And yeah, if the pharma companies can’t sell antibiotics to the ton to agribusiness, the price per gram charged to pharmacists will rise. And the need for them will diminish, reducing sales further.

    It’s a puzzlement. But the economists ought to be writing about where we’re headed.

    I haven’t seen anything recently on lead poisoning either.

  24. #24 Hank Roberts
    well, OK, lead _bullets_ and economics ...
    2017/06/11
  25. #25 Hank Roberts
    2017/06/15

    Or Kessler Syndrome, today’s tragedy of the global commons. Where are the economists?

    Gonna tax the use of vacuum? There’s an obvious need growing here.

    [I would guess that the bulk of Space Debris is from the Govt, but I could be wrong -W]

  26. #26 Russell
    2017/06/17

    What vaccum? Low orbit is now a tenuous cloud of paint chips placed there at taxpayer expense.

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