Carbon Tax Backflips

Julia Gillard has done a backflip and agreed to introduce a budget-neutral carbon tax after last year promising not to introduce one.

In a matching backflip John Humphreys has come out against the tax, describing it as a "grab for cash" after writing a report in 2007 that favoured a carbon tax:

Our government is currently using an approach of regulation and
subsidy while considering the possibility of implementing a carbon
trading scheme. We would be better served if the government replaced
all of these options with a revenue-neutral carbon tax. A carbon tax
is preferable to a carbon trading system because it is more efficient,
effective, simple, flexible, and transparent. More importantly, a
carbon tax has the added benefit of providing revenue which can be
used to cut other taxes. Indeed, a revenue-neutral carbon tax may have
little or no economic cost.

Compare this with Humphreys' rhetoric on his web site opposing the tax:

In a deal with the Australian Greens, Prime Minister Gillard announced a multi-million dollar tax on carbon, with no offset in other taxes.

That's rather deceitful. They haven't announced what other taxes will be cut, but they did say that it would be budget neutral.

This is a tax that will hurt every single Australian: electricity bills alone for the average family will go up by over $300 a year.

They haven't even decided how much the tax will be, so how can Humphreys claim this? In any case, it's the net cost that matters to Australian families -- since the tax is budget neutral, that's going to be zero on average.

This is simply another grab for cash by a wasteful government that will do nothing to address climate change.

"Budget neutral" does not mean the same thing as "grab for cash"

This proposal makes no economic sense, and will do nothing to address climate change. All it will do is make every Australian family suffer and cripple our economy.

Or it might have "little or no economic cost" according to Humphreys in 2007.

Humphreys tries to justify his backflip with this.

"A moderate carbon tax, with offsetting tax cuts, would be the least harmful policy for combating climate change" said Mr. Humphreys. "However, the current policy fails because it does not provide the offsetting tax cuts, and so it will increase the size of government and hurt the economy. It is also worrying that the government seems intent on switching to an emissions trading system, which is an unnecessarily complicated and inefficient response to climate change."

The difference between revenue neutral and budget neutral doesn't seem to be that large and insisting on revenue neutral seems to be a less flexible approach when you want to compensate low income folks for the cost of the tax. As for the switch to the ETS, surely Humphreys should oppose that, rather than the carbon tax itself.

Update: Humphreys denies that his position has changed. John Quiggin suggests Humphries is arguing like a politician rather than an economist.

More like this

So, there's been much argument lately in my neck of the woods, over the BC's new carbon tax. This is coming online in a few days (July 1st), and will be responsible (amongst many other things) for what has been figured to be a 2.4c/litre hike in gas prices. Anyway, folks are getting quite antsy…
It's just my phone camera, so don't look too closely. Refs * Why We Support a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax by George Shultz & Gary Becker - April 8, 2013.
Episode 1 and episode 3 refer. It turns out that Exxon cares enough to answer. Not to answer in any great detail, so I'm not sure they care enough to read the criticism, but never mind. They say stuff like Our scientists have been involved in climate research and related policy analysis for more…
I've finally been provoked into writing this post. Though actually it is going to be about something slightly different, or at least I'm going to go through a long rambling diversion, inspired by Idiocy on carbon permits by Timmy. But since I'm also rather conscious that many of my posts are (when…

If you increase tax and spending by the same amount then that is "budget neutral", but it is still a grab for cash and it is NOT revenue neutral. The distinction is actually very important.

I have consistently said that a carbon tax MUST be linked to offsetting tax cuts (NOT spending increases). Given that is what I said in 2007 (with my original report) and 2009 (with the NZ version of my report) and now in 2011, I think it is fair to say I've been pretty consistent.

The only quote above that comes from me is the last one. The other quotes come from the "Stop Gillard's Carbon Tax" website, which is a project of Menzies House. While I am editor-in-chief of Menzies House, that does not mean that I personally write every word on the website, and so those quotes shouldn't be attributed to me.

John Humphreys, I assume you came down hard on the damaging GTS tax that failed to internalize part costs of damaging activity that the carbon tax does.

Surely you must rate the carbon tax as superior to the GTS and many other taxes we currently have.

Let's not get conned here...the proposed tax is supposed to help reduce carbon pollution but we have not been told how much of a reduction is hoped to be achieved via this tax...Is the hoped for reduction going to justify the expense or has that been put in the too hard basket and deliberatley obscured by stupid arguments over who said what and what they really meant.
Arguing about the tax on economic grounds is pointless as if there is not going to be any measurable reduction in carbon emissions then the whole basis of the tax is totally invalid and it is simply just a grab for cash and/or the support of the Greens.
I would have expected something a bit more balanced than the above article on a site named scienceblogs.com ....it is full of faulty logic that is not worthy of having the term science anywhere near it....but then again "computer scientist"...lol what an oxymoron that is.

Humphreys, Iain:

You self-proclaimed 'skeptics' keep saying that there's so much uncertainty over how the Earth's climate works... yet you're absolutely, totally, 100% certain that emissions legislation

> will do nothing to address climate change.

You think that doubt, uncertainty, and open-mindedness are only for other people.

And I think you're full of nonsense.

-- frank

Lol again..hey frank...I'm not a climate change skeptic at all and know that we have trashed this planet and something EFFECTIVE must be done asap to turn it around.
But..I've been around for a long long time and I know better than to trust any Government to do anything effective about the problem due to the conflicting pressure groups that hold sway...my main concern is that no figures have been given as to any hoped for reduction in carbon emissions, and if the tax comes into effect people may assume that all will be well with the planet because the Government tells us this is the way to fix the problem...and nothing real will come out of it...except another tax.
Maybe you are trusting enough to rely on a Government to be 100% honest with the facts ...that's fine by me but I am not.

As for "You think that doubt, uncertainty, and open-mindedness are only for other people."... is that to try to further muddy the waters so this issue will remain a political or ideological squabble and the real issue of reducing carbon pollution via an EFFECTIVE means is forgotten or were you just having a princess moment ?.

Iain, how would you propose we lower emissions without the government or a carbon tax? Magic perhaps?

.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

via #6; "...how would you propose we lower emissions without the government or a carbon tax? Magic perhaps?..."

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

...meanwhile, over in China, a new coal fired power station comes on line every week or so.

Hmmm, seems to recall China were not long ago trying to buy up all of Australia's coal mines. Obviously the idea were to close the coal mines down so none of that bad CO2 escaped... Heh...

.

.

.

By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

As I was saying, Iain, how would you propose we lower emissions without the government or a carbon tax? Magic perhaps?

Iain, I said:

> You think that doubt, uncertainty, and open-mindedness are only for other people.

You say,

> Maybe you are trusting enough to rely on a Government to be 100% honest with the facts [...] but I am not.

followed by

> [...you] try to further muddy the waters so this issue will remain a political or ideological squabble

You proved my initial point. Perfectly.

And not only that, you're a concern troll, and possibly a new kind:

> 'm not a climate change skeptic at all and know that we have trashed this planet and something EFFECTIVE must be done asap to turn it around.

So instead of doing nothing because global warming is a hoax, we now have someone who claims we should be doing nothing because for some reason we can only take action after finding a 100.000000000000000% perfect way to curb greenhouse gas emissions which every human, plant, and sockpuppet can agree with.

Meanwhile, the socks, shills, trolls, and concern trolls just keep going 'doubt doubt doubt uncertainty doubt doubt doubt uncertainty uncertainty doubt doubt...'

-- frank

One of the best things you could do with a carbon tax is to return each and every dollar of it back to the people, equally to everyone. So a small carbon emitter will pay (say) $300 per year in carbon tax, but get $600 back. A big emitter might pay $1200 in carbon tax, but get $600 back.

This essentially recognises that we are each entitled to put a certain amount of carbon into the atmosphere, and if you put less than that, you get paid for doing it, and if you put more than that, you have to pay for doing it.

If the return of the carbon tax is made explicit, then people could not view it as a tax grab by the government.

Note that nothing here in any way reduces the effectiveness of a price on carbon to reduce emissions. The change in emissions will not come from consumers deciding to use less power, it will come from producers substituting low emission power for high emission power when it becomes cheaper to do so.

By John Brookes (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

John Humphries:

Indeed, a revenue-neutral carbon tax may have little or no economic cost.

That's not true of course that it would have no direct economic cost.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

"Lol again..hey frank...I'm not a climate change skeptic at all "

Iain, you appear to have the same ideology and writing style as Iain Hall.

http://iainhall.wordpress.com/

A right wing blogger, that is not a climate sceptic but links to WUWT? Would that be correct?

Here's Iain Hall at Pure Poison July 18, 2009

It should be obvious to you my now Mick that I want to see some proof that there is a link between the rise in Co2 and a climatic warming thus far there is nothing that is anything more than hypothesis and assertion. {...}But in the absence of hard evidence fro the causal link Between the âextraâ Co2 that humanity has added to the the atmosphere and the claimed changes in the climate Your belief in AGW must be based upon faith alone .

This approach is typical of his observations.

So he was lying then or is lying now. He is a troll.

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

John Brookes said:

One of the best things you could do with a carbon tax is to return each and every dollar of it back to the people, equally to everyone.

A version of that is occurring with the proposed framework, but that would not meet Humphrey's specification since the rebate would count as new spending. He wants tax cuts, even though a rebate is almost certainly more equitable and likely to reach the beneficiaries more quickly. This clearly reflects Humphreys'libertarian-fundamentalist obsession with the evils of taxation. It's not even the substance of revenue flows between the state and the citizenry that troubles him -- but the name of the revenue flow in question.

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

Iain:So this is what you do when the citizens of Eastwood won't elect you, 'cause you are palpably nuts?

Let's not jump to conclusions about Iain's identity. please.

By Tim Lambert (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

Iain writes:

>*Let's not get conned here...the proposed tax is supposed to help reduce carbon pollution but we have not been told how much of a reduction is hoped to be achieved via this tax...Is the hoped for reduction going to justify the expense or has that been put in the too hard basket and deliberatley obscured*

Iain this is in part an exercise in price discovery. Without which we would [forever speculate](http://everythingischanging.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/how-much-would-it-…) on the price of carbon required to mitigate dangerous level of carbon emissions.

So far we have come up with three approaches to mitigating carbon:

1)Direct regulation (requires price discovery)

2)Emission trading (requires price discovery)

3)Carbon tax (requires price discovery)

I fail to see how the lack of certainty in price of carbon vs level of mitigation is an augment against a moderate price on carbon versus the other mitigation approaches.

At a modest prices we are not at risk of overshooting the actual mitigation cost of either of the other two mitigation options available.

If the question is which method is most efficient, then I invite you to make your best argument that a moderate carbon is less efficient than the other two methods.

More relevant than John Humphrys changing position on a Carbon Tax (CT) is why have such a tax at all?

The whole purpose of pricing carbon is to bring about a reduction in CO2 emissions but a CT will not achieve this per-se. While a CT may encourage emitters to curb their emissions there is no compulsion for them to do so. Emitters, there are about 1,000 in Australia, are left with the option of doing nothing or as little as possible in order to remain in business, passing on the extra cost of paying the CT, then claiming hardship and seeking government assistance.

Business, my friend, means maximising profit opportunities! And business would expect Mr Humphries to appreciate this and accordingly support introduction of a CT. It would also expect him to realize that without a CT, new technology now available to the energy sector, which will reduce CO2, is simply unaffordable and therefore curbs new business opportunities.

With an ETS, CO2 reduction targets are specified and enforced by government and the price of carbon is determined by the market place. Now I could understand Mr Humphreys baulking at that since it allows the business sector none of the âflexibilityâ or âopportunitiesâ of a CT.

Of course there are other reasons for having a CT. First and foremost, it is supposed to curb CO2 emissions by sending a price signal to both emitters and consumers. That notion is usually defeated by compensating affected parties so that they are no worse off or, if they are, can afford the extra cost of a CT, something else which one would expect Mr Humphreys to support.

One could understand Mr Humphreys bitterly opposing introduction of an ETS which entails government setting CO2 reduction targets which are actually achieved while the market place, rather than bureaucrats, decides the price of Carbon.

But a CT poses none of that kind of threat. Indeed, judging by countries where it has been used, it is doubtful that a CT results in curbing CO2 emissions at all, certainly not in an efficient and cost effective way. So why the backflip Mr Humphreys?

By Mike Pope (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

Tim Lambert said:

Julia Gillard has done a backflip and agreed to introduce a budget-neutral carbon tax after last year promising not to introduce one.

Quibble: I hate this use of backflip. Really it's a metaphoric twisting somersault since the metaphor suggests one ends facing in the opposite direction. Why do we need journalistic cliches anyway? Why not say "reversed, repudiated, abandoned or rescinded previous policy"? That said ...

The claim is debatable. People will recall that Julia Gillard said she favoured a market-based mechanism and used this interchangeably with a CPRS. Kevin Rudd's rejected CPRS, like Ms Gillard's proposed mechanism had a fixed price period before transitioning to a full ETS. The period during which this fixed price aplied was shorter in Rudd's than Gillard's but the structure is essentially the same. Had she simply implemented Rudd's CPRS exactly or with minor modifications, she could have used the same nomenclature. Had she simply said that a pure carbon tax were the way to go, the claim for her reversing herself would have been strong. That said, the Opposition, for their own purposes, deliberately and repeatedly blurred the lines between Rudd's CPRS and a carbon tax, so they could persistently claim that Rudd wanted a GBNT since that was easier to run a populist campaign against. They can't now rely on that very distinction to claim she breached her promise. This is pure hypocrisy, but what one expects from the Abbottistas, who have never met an intellectual scruple they wouldn't spit on.

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

Mike Pope, can you clarify, are you suggesting that and ETS will send are more efficient price signal than a carbon tax?

>*But a CT poses none of that kind of threat. Indeed, judging by countries where it has been used, it is doubtful that a CT results in curbing CO2 emissions at all, certainly not in an efficient and cost effective way. So why the backflip Mr Humphreys?*

What is your evidence for this?

I broadly agree with your argumentation, Mike Pope. A Carbon tax is easier to abolish or subvert, which is why the right likes it. An ETS creates enduring securities which could no be abolished without offending large swathes of business -- and thus operates as an economic and political wedge. An ETS would also be easier to reconcile across national frontiers than a tax, and of course, it would be open to members of the public to force business to act more aggressively by buying and holding permits to emit. Business would not like non-profits effectively voting with their purchases to push up the price of emissions.

You say however:

{a carbon tax} is supposed to curb CO2 emissions by sending a price signal to both emitters and consumers. That notion is usually defeated by compensating affected parties so that they are no worse off or, if they are, can afford the extra cost of a CT, something else which one would expect Mr Humphreys to support

If you are speaking of subsidies to emitters, then the claim is correct. Rebates to households however offer households the oppritunity to choose between continuing previous consumption patterns, handing back the rebate in the process, or new less Co2-intensive consumption while keeping the rebate. It's effectively the reverse of a loyalty scheme. The government offers you an incentive to do less business with the polluter. You can give up some or all of the incentive or some or all of the pollution. If someone can offer you a cost-effective way to have more of your preferred lifestyle while holding your compensation -- i.e. someone with less Co2-intensive but cost-competitive services, then that business wins at the expense of rivals.

Success here turns on elasticity of demand for Co2-intensive services and the price of abatement. To the extent that demand is inelastic, new (and probably more expensive) LCCO2-intensive technologies will be required. The price on carbon is designed to establish a kind of trading parity between businesses trading on cheap/free access to the biosphere as an industrial sewer and those that don't.

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

oops, mea culpa:

To the extent that demand is inelastic, new (and probably more expensive) LCCO2 {LLCCO2}*-intensive technologies will be required.

* Low lifecycle CO2-intensive

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

Mike Pope:

>*The whole purpose of pricing carbon is to bring about a reduction in CO2 emissions but a CT will not achieve this per-se. While a CT may encourage emitters to curb their emissions there is no compulsion for them to do so.*

Is contradicted by Mike Pope:

>*Business, my friend, means maximising profit opportunities!*

I'm currently involved in transforming my organisation's carbon emissions. We have $100,000 budget for this out of our 60 million total budget. This year we have found projects to fill this budget that will pay for themselves over 5 years. With a carbon tax we will be able to close do the same in the 2012 financial year.

At home I buy "greenpower" and the excess I pay should be reduced by a carbon tax. I also installed a heatpump to make hot water, this uses less power but currently cost more due to comming off the J-tariff. The J- tariff is a subsidy to support coal fired power's deficiency of providing too much base-load.

Business and families trying to do the right thing will less disadvantaged by the carbon tax.

PV will get closer to price parity with coal fire power and thus benefit from the positive feedback than come with [production learning curves](http://www.iea.org/work/2007/learning/Nemet_PV.pdf). The examples go on and on. Entrepreneurs will adapt to this change in price structure.

Malcolm Turnbull on his [blog](http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/blogs/malcolms-blog/time-for-some-str…) in December 2009

On Liberal policy on Climate Change ...

"The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is âcrapâ and you donât need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing."

On Tony Abbott and an ETS ...

Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it.

His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with âMate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, butâ¦..â

Greg Hunt, opposition spokesman on Climate Change as reported in the [Australian](http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/hunt-warms-to-challenge-of…)

He says the Coalition is in "complete agreement" with the government on the science of climate change and Australia's emissions reduction targets. The Coalition also agrees with the government that it is a global issue.

[Andrew Robb](http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/02/28/3150553.htm?section=justin) threatening Turnbull

The overwhelming majority of the party room are violently opposed to this new tax and I'm sure Malcolm will ... run the party line and do it effectively.

There is no chance that Abbott will get to the next election without these tensions playing out. If you are looking for policy gymnastics look no further.

Greg Combet has also pointed out that the government's proposal is for an ETS. From [Insiders](http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/content/2011/s3149986.htm)

We have put forward an emissions trading scheme, notwithstanding all the debate about tax, however we have said that it will have a commencement period of between three and five years that would start with a fixed price to get the system going, to transition business and the economy in particular through to a floating price fully flexible emissions trading scheme structure.

But it is an emissions trading scheme starting with a fixed price period and it is the case, as the PM has been very upfront with, that during that fixed price period it would operate like a tax and hence of course a lot of the debate. But to be fair and to look at the facts, we have put forward an ETS.

My... that GTS tax goes real fast ! ;-)

By Billy Bob Hall (not verified) on 27 Feb 2011 #permalink

John Brooks @ #10 said:

If the return of the carbon tax is made explicit, then people could not view it as a tax grab by the government.

I've been lurking here off and on for a while, but I though I'd pop-in to say that I agree completely with this. A carbon price that doesn't appear to have an immediate benefit is a hard thing to sell to a public that mostly still sees AGW a a distant theoretical risk.

For a while now I've been a big fan of James Hansen's Cap and Fade approach.

It's simpler than cap-and-trade, there are no "carbon credits" to be stolen by hackers or counterfeited, it sounds like it should be more effective at making actual emission reductions, and it can't be as easily spun by denialists/do-nothing-ists as benefiting "wall street" at the public's expense.

Best of all, the public can see an near-term benefit in their own lives as it helps them improve their homes and replace older cars, which will also benefit construction and manufactures of more efficient products. This should make "Cap and Fade" both more effective and more politically bulletproof from the fossil-fuel industry's political mercenaries and useful-idiots.

"A carbon price that doesn't appear to have an immediate benefit is a hard thing to sell to a public that mostly still sees AGW a a distant theoretical risk."

Then the option left is a Government command economy: fossil fuel rationing.

Do you think that's going to be a better seller?

An ETS and a carbon tax each have their benefits and their failings.

A carbon tax gives industry a guarantee on price, which is good. However it doesn't guarantee meeting an emissions target. The setting of the rate of tax on carbon will be difficult politically, and there is a strong risk that the tax will be set too low and doesn't curb emissions very much.

An ETS has the advantage that you guarantee your emissions reductions. From the point of view of business, the problem is that they don't know what they'll have to pay for carbon emissions. Politically, it would be very difficult to backpedal on an ETS target, so it is likely governments will stick to a reduction schedule. I understand that, with an ETS, we in Australia would be able to buy emission permits from other countries. I don't like this option. The possibility of fraud in other countries is high. We need to reduce our emissions. Just paying some other country to continue to not emit so that we can continue to emit won't do the trick.

The issue of compensation is important. Paying compensation to emitters defeats the purpose of a price on carbon. A price on carbon works, not principally by causing us to use less energy, but by the producers discovering that the price on carbon makes other means of producing energy cheaper. If you compensate (say) a coal fired power station, there is every likelihood that they will use that compensation to simply reduce the price of the energy they produce, thus delaying the success of alternate energy producers. They may even use the compensation to back political parties who promise to abandon a price on carbon.

If you want a sort of marxist perspective on our current system, look at it like this. Some emit a lot more carbon than others, but the cost of the consequent greenhouse warming does not magically target the big emitters. We all pay. Putting a price on carbon fixes this.

Starting with a carbon tax and then moving to an ETS is not a bad way to go, but if I could trust the government to make tough decisions on a carbon price, I'd probably prefer a straight tax.

By John Brookes (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

@ Wow:

You seem have misunderstood what I actually typed. You're, perhaps inadvertently, putting words into my mouth and therefore coming up with a false dichotomy while missing my point.

I clearly presented a link to an alternative plan to both Cap-and-Trade as well as "rationing", specifically a plan where people can see an immediate benefit. I also listed it's benefits over the "Cap-and-Trade" approach. In case you missed it the first time here it is again (I'll make it more obvious this time)....

----> "Cap and Fade" by James Hansen, New York Times Opinion, Dec. 6, 2009 <----

If you have a specific objection to the previously linked "Cap and Fade" I would be more than happy to read it (I really would like to read the thoughts of others on Hansen's suggestion), but I'm not going to try and defend a point that I never tried to make in the first place.

The problem (as I see it) is that in trying to solve the issue of AGW some policies seem to be put on the table, not because they are better or more popular, but simply because they were there first and have more "institutional momentum". Failing to try and implement an approach that is potentially better than cap-and-trade in many ways, and is easier to get public support behind, has done nothing but delay any sort of carbon pricing among many countries and therefore has only had the result of worsening the effects of AGW and the costs associated with dealing with the issue.

It's not just an issue of cap-and-trade vs. rationing/regulation.

It's an issue of cap-and-trade vs. other carbon pricing strategies vs. rationing/regulations vs. the continued progression of AGW.

If you prefer the regular Cap-and-Trade approach, I would be interested in reading why you think that it is preferable to other forms of carbon pricing, such as "Cap and Fade". But, Cap-and-Trade is not the only pricing option out there, and the alternatives may be better.

We should consider other strategies to reach the same goal.

That was my point.

Abbott 'begged' for PM's job: Windsor

Tony Abbott on a number of occasions said that he would do absolutely anything to gain government - anything," Mr Windsor told Sky News.

One could draw a conclusion from that that if we pulled a tight rein and said 'Well, you've got government if you put a carbon price on' he would agree with it - that was the inference from his statements

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

The 'Centre Right political activists' of Menzies House are purely and simply opposed to action on emissions and promote the idea that climate science is too uncertain to rate any kind of action - ie they promote doubt and denial. They promulgate the usual alarmism - such as "The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow" -such 'absurdities' apparently including concerns about climate change. ie those promoting action on climate and emissions are considered wreckers and saboteurs of freedom and prosperity. What an appallingly shortsighted bunch.

Whilst I have real concerns about how effective measures such as this Carbon Tax to actually cause a shift to lower emissions (that doesn't entrench gas which can't achieve long term reductions), there's not much evidence that the 'Centre Right political activists' at Menzies House have any serious alternatives in mind. On the contrary they favour the messages of doubt and denial. Uncertainty is pushed hard on the consequences of climate change. Certainty on the consequences of action on climate change goes uncontested.

If the couple of articles I bothered to read at Menzies House are typical, these are dangerously irresponsible types that promote (and avoid contesting) absurdities in the process of creating slogans for their cause. Just what kind of cause can legitimately deny science based reality in preference to accommodating reality within their policy is a mystery.

By Ken Fabos (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

I think I'd caution people against leaping to conclusions about the "AGW sceptical" nature or otherwise of those who have doubts about the effectiveness of a carbon tax.

I'm in the camp of "Not sure yet whether a carbon tax is the best way forward, but totally agree the evidence for AGW is overwhelming and we need to develop plans of action".

One of the interesting things about ideas like this is that you need to be 100% certain they have broad public support (and public support is often a fickle thing), otherwise they will result in a change of Government and will be scrapped at the next election, then you're back to square one. All for nothing.

I agree that industry should have to pay to pollute, which is about the only way of seriously encouraging people to find more efficient ways of living and putting pressure on industry to become cleaner. However I'm not so sure that this proposal and the way it has been handled is going to get over the line.

@ Mike #30:

Agreed.

It's in everyone's long-term best interest to find ways to move forward on reducing CO2 (and CO2e) emissions in a manner that is as quick and effective as possible. We need to be looking at ideas that will have more popular support, not just the first proposal that someone came up with. Especially when such proposals just keep getting delayed due to a lack of political support.

People generally don't like to make changes that cost themselves money unless they can see some sort of benefit. IMO too many of the proposed solution appear to the general public to be benefiting "someone else" and are therefore easy targets for denialist obstructionism. Smarter approaches need to be made in order to make substantial and lasting progress.

Zetetic:

.If you have a specific objection to the previously linked "Cap and Fade" I would be more than happy to read it

Zet, Hansen's criticism of cap and trade is essentially:

1) If emissions fell faster than the cap was reduced, then the incentive for even more rapid reductions would disappear as the price of permits would collapse.

2) Lobbyists achieved exemptions, eg for existing coal-fired plants.

3) Emissions could be higher because of offsets which could turn out ot be imaginary or unverifiable.

4) Under a cap and trade system, voluntary reductions in emissions would make way for someone else to emit that amount.

5) Banking yuppies would make money out of a trading scheme.

In answer to those criticisms.

1) So what? in this case, emissions will be reduced at least as rapidly as the cap is reduced. Is that such a bad thing?

The cap has to be set so emissions are reduced as fast as economically practicable. Will the cap be set at exactly the right level - of course not, but if emissions fall faster than the cap, then great. In that case, it could always be adjusted down further, but how likely is that? I mean, a cap is set and businesses get all gung-ho and cut their emissions even faster? Give me a break.

2) If lobbyists can achieve exemptions for a cap and trade, they will certainly be able to do the same for a tax. In fact they have already started in Australia right now. yes, even the coal miners.

3) Any verification regime will be subject to fraud, but the idea that offsets should be rejected doesn't follow from that. If a cap and trade system can be used to encourage, say, reforestation, then I say that's great. Just get the processes right, which is something you have to do no matter how you try to encourage such things as reforestation of sequestration. Note that offsets could just as sensibly be a feature of a tax and spend arrangement.

4) I don't think the voluntary reductions would have a measurable impact on the market price of permits, but if it did, that's just part of the process of getting the cap right. If there's a lot of voluntary (I mean not for economic reasons) reductions, then the cap can be set lower. But frankly, I don't think this is going to be an economically significant amount.

5) Accounting yuppies will make money out of a carbon tax. Banana traders make money out of trading bananas. Big deal. I think the likely volume of trade in permits is exaggerated. In any case, if the most efficient way of allocating permits is a market, then the cost of having a market is that people work in it and get paid. Welcome to the real world.

Other points.

1) It's not a fee it's a tax. And it's not a dividend it's government spending. So Hansen can call it fee and dividend, but it's really a carbon tax with compensation, so lets call it tax and spend. Though I can see why he would prefer fee and dividend, given the political environment he's living in.

2) "All of the collected fees would then be distributed to the public." Hansen is pretty much mute on how this would be acheived. I don't think he's thought it through, frankly. You rake in a massive amount of tax and distribute it on what basis - a flat amount per capita, pro rata relative to income, discount for families, more for farmers and invaldis, blah blah blah He should pay attention to the unfolding debate in Australia if he thinks it's a trival issue. Yes, what the Gillard giovernment is about to introuduce is the "fee and divdend" model.

3) While Hansen worries about the effect of a cap set too high and the price of permits might fall to ineffective levels, he doesn't seem to get it that the level of the tax is no less critical but arguably much more difficult.

It's all very well to say it could be set at a low level then lifted gradually, but that doesn't solve the problem. After ten years it could turn out that the level has been so low and the increments so small there's been no appreciable change in behaviour and we've lost yet another decade.

I suspect this is why some conservatives are more in favour of a tax and spend rather than cap and trade, because under a tax and spend, there's a real chance that carbon emissions don't change at all and it's just business as usual expct for this new tax that's passed on to the consumers.

4) Hansen seems to think the adjustment would come about through consumers changing their preferences for less carbon intensive goods and services.

I can see that he'd make that assumption, but the real key is to change the behaviour of businesses. Eg if a wind-power supplier can produce electricity for half the cost of a coal-fired plant, does Hansen think they'd actually sell it for half the price? No they won;t, but investorts will put all their money into wind power and less profitable coal-fired plants will close down. That's not to say the end result might not be the same, but it seems clear that - again - Hansen has not really thought it through.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. When a climate scientist, distinguished though he may be, starts banging on about economic policy he's just another bloke with an opinion.

Beware the Dunning-Kruger, my son. The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

The fact is, until major powers like the US and China are on board, the denialists are always going to say our tax will have negligible impact on the climate. Their argument is already sorted, no matter what Gillard imposes.

Jackerman @ 20

Dr Starvins (http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/rstavins/Forum/Column_22.pdf) sets out many of the advantages of an ETS compared to a CT. Note the environmental inefficiency of a CT. See also work by Ross Garnaut, Nicholas Stern and others.

Table 1 (http://www.commissionontaxation.ie/submissions/State%20Bodies/L01%20-%2…) indicates that an ETS would result in greater reduction of CO2 emissions but raise less revenue than a CT. In other words, an ETS is a more cost-effective and efficient mechanism for reducing CO2.

Unlike an ETS, it is difficult to accurately measure the effectiveness of a CT in achieving its primary purpose â reducing CO2 emissions. However, after reading Natalia Shakhova, (http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?org=NSF&cntn_id=116532&preview=fa…) you may think reducing CO2 to avert rise in global temperatures of over 2C, or disastrous sea level rise, is somewhat academic?

Fran Barlow @ 21

Yes, I am referring to compensating emitters. Sorry, I should have been clearer.

Zetitec @ 31

I think you make a very important distinction by referring to CO2-e but maybe this is not the appropriate place to discuss this other than to note the threat to global warming arising from massive CH4 emissions noted by James Hansen and Natalia Shakhova

By Mike Pope (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

@ John #32:
I agree with you about the USA and China. China at least is making some moves in that direction and their per capita emissions are lower than the USA's, but China is becoming an increasing problem due to it's extreme growth in energy use.

The USA is a different kettle of fish though, IMO.
The USA could easily make major moves to reducing it's emissions, but doesn't even though a majority of Americans would like to see them reduced, not enough of them actually care enough (since it's not perceived as an immediate threat yet) to create enough political pressure to override the fossil fuel industry's control of the Republican party, or push the Republicans into a harmless minority. This is where coming up with policies that would have more public support is important, and create the needed pressure for change.

As to it not mattering what Australia does about carbon, that seems to be your point, I must respectfully disagree. Every country that takes serious action to slow down AGW makes it harder for denialists in other countries to make excuses like "Why should we be the only ones?" or "It won't be enough". Additionally the more countries that are on board, the greater the political pressure that can be collectively applied to the "hold-outs" such as the USA. Failing to do anything because not everyone is on board at the same time is exactly what the denialists/delayists want everyone to do. It's playing into their game.

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@ Mike Pope #33:

I apologize if it looked like I was trying to change the subject, that wasn't my intent.

I was merely mentioning Co2e in the subject of policies designed to reduce AGW causing emissions in general. Obviously CO2 is the bigger player in the game for now, but I think that we also must not overlook some of the other gasses that can be reduced in order to reduce the effects of AGW if progress can be made on those fronts while the fight over CO2 continues. Especially if we want to prevent such a massive CH4 release as is feared may occur.

"Quibble: I hate this use of backflip. Really it's a metaphoric twisting somersault since the metaphor suggests one ends facing in the opposite direction."

A 'backflip' on policy comments is the super dooper version of 'stepping back'. No, the physical doesn't perfectly match the conceptual context, but if you dissect the literal meaning of metaphorical terms and phrases to check their applicability, you'll wind up with a constant headache. There will always be jargon, but no one will be misled by this particular term.

If it wasn't clear, I'm for the carbon tax.

@ Gaz #32:

Thank you for you insight.

I do agree with you that Hansen's proposal was extremely short on specifics, but since it's an opinion piece I wouldn't expect much more there. Obviously people with more economic experience would need to "hammer out the details" for such a plan to ever be implemented in the first place.

As to your rebuttal of Hansen's criticism:

1) I agree that the utility there is debatable, but I do think that Hansen has a minor point that cap-and-trade does seem to make it easier to justify polluting activities, by rewarding others for polluting less. On the other hand I do agree with you that total net reduction is ultimately what is important.

2) True, but lobbyist interference is a problem inherent in any system. Between cap-and-trade and cap-and fade they seem to be on equal grounds there.

3) I agree that any verification system is going to be prone to fraud for either system. One benefit for cap-and-fade though is that without carbon credits to be transferred between parties, there isn't the same issue of an additional level of possible theft/counterfeiting as was seen recently in Europe.

4) I believe that here you are referring to the reduction in use due to people potentially reducing their energy use through upgrading their home efficiency. Please correct me if I misunderstood you there.
Considering the potential saving in efficiency, at least as far as the USA and some other countries are concerned, I'm not so sure that I agree with you there. Granted I'm not an expert but much of the housing in the USA is rather inefficient. IIRC the USA spends about 40% of it's energy on lighting/heating/cooling buildings and housing. Now obviously in areas that already have more efficient buildings and vehicles I would agree that it would have much less of an overall impact.

5) Granted. I personally don't see it as that big of a deal either, but politically it is a bit of a "poison pill" that traders will benefit from cap-and-trade. It's ironic that the same denialists that have been defending those that created the banking crisis and the fossil fuel industry, will turn right around and act like they're trying to protect the poor. But, it does give them some rhetorical ammunition that appeals to the emotions of many voters. In this respect I believe that a fee-and-dividend approach is potentially superior in terms of political tactics with gaining acceptance by the general public.

===============================================

For your other points:

1) Yes, I completely agree that it's actually a tax. But as you said before "Big Deal". The important thing IMO is for carbon to be priced, as for how exactly to determine what that price should be and what to do with the money collected be I'll gladly defer to the relevant experts.

2) Again I agree. It's not by any means a trivial issue. It seems to me (and again please correct me if I'm wrong about this) that in the Gillard situation part of the problem is not doing more to try and work that out beforehand, this leaves the public very unsure about whether it will be a benefit or a cost to them. Regardless you do make a good point that it seems to be unavoidable that there will be complications in trying to determine the dividends, and IMO this seems to be the weakest area of the fee-and-dividend approach.

3) You make some good points setting the fee targets too low in Hansen's approach. Arguably that will be a problem for any approach, but I do think that cap-and-trade has it's benefits on that issue. I also think that you made a good point about why some conservatives prefer a tax-and-spend approach.

4) You make another very good point there, but to be fair to Hansen I think that he was also taking into account improvements in efficiency of power use, at least in areas that are already very inefficient.

Obviously Hansen isn't an economist, but that is also why I also asked for the feedback of others on his proposal. It's not that I'm opposed to cap-and-trade per se, but I think that we do need to consider all of the options to come up with plans that are both effective and politically "sale-able". I really do appreciate your feedback and you've brought up some excellent points in favor of cap-and-trade over cap-and-fade, especially in how in some respects cap-and-trade has simpler targets/goals.

The biggest problem I see with cap-and-trade is trying to sell the public on the benefits in order to get a passable proposal that will stay in effect as a long term policy, that creates an "interesting" hurdle.

Thanks again for your input, it's food for thought. :)

If it wasn't clear, I'm for the carbon tax.

Me too, if a cap and trade is out of the question.

If tax and spend is the best we can do, it will suffice, but if anyone thinks it's a perfect way to overcome problems with a cap and trade is kidding themeselves.

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Zetetic @36, "...but China is becoming an increasing problem due to it's extreme growth in energy use..."

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Zetetic, believe what you want though China fully intends to dramatically increase its use of coal. The proof of China's intent is the brand new coal fired power stations coming on line every few weeks and the recent attempt by China to buy up much of Australia's coal mine interests.

IMO, apart from AGW being based on faulty science and pseudo-religious hysteria, any silly moves by Australia to limit human CO2 output is futile in the extreme. The only people who would benefit are the bankers and rent seekers.

The well intentioned environmental supporters who think carbon trading/taxing will result in some Gaian utopia will realise in time that they've been played as useful idiots.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

Carbon Tax or ETS - I am for either or both (e.g. a tax on imports from countries who refuse to join an international ETS) so long as there is genuine intent to reduce emissions.

Even the Liberal's direct action fund has merit as part of a mix of policies if it was used for example to close Hazlewood power station which by itself accounts for around 3% of Australia's emissions.

It would be possible to design any carbon mitigation policy with so many exemptions it is useless.

The real issue is that outlined by Malcolm Turnbull ...
"The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is âcrapâ and you donât need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing."

@ Flying Binghi:

Yes, never mind that they've been deploying renewables faster than most other countries, all that matters to a denialist's juvenile mind-set is that if someone else is making a mess then everyone else gets to make as big a mess as they want to also, and damn the consequences.

Ah the proud motto of the denialists... "But MOM! They're doing it too!"
Sorry Binghi but the only "useful idiot" on the thread here so far is you, but don't worry I'm sure that your fossil fuel masters will reward your loyalty. [snicker]

As long as your side still has no credible positively supporting evidence, just like with the tobacco company "science" showing that smoking was harmless, it's still just fossil fuel company lies and blind ideological dogma that supports your faith.

@Flying Binghi

@7 at February 27, 2011 9:42 AM you say
"...meanwhile, over in China, a new coal fired power station comes on line every week or so"

@41 at March 1, 2011 12:00 AM you say
"...China's intent is the brand new coal fired power stations coming on line every few weeks"

Why don't you give us all a break and wait until next week when on current performance you are due for another "original" thought before you post again.

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Zetetic @43; "...never mind that they've been deploying renewables faster than most other countries..."

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Zetetic, tell me, what is this "deploying renewables" ?

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

>*China fully intends to dramatically increase its use of coal*

The longer we continue emitting 400% more CO2 per capita than China, the longer China will be able to justify increasing their use of coal.

We have to break this cycle, we are amoung the worst polluting, we are amoung the richest, and among those with greatest capacity to play a leadership role in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Countries like Australia (the worste polluting and richest) waiting for China is a prescription for failure.

@ Flying Binghi:

Well you see Binghi, other people around the world, yes even in China, are putting up these amazing machines that make energy from wind, solar, geothermal, etc.

I know that it's hard for you to believe that much of the world already uses them instead of relying completely on burning fossil fuels, and continues to add these renewable sources of energy as a increasing part of their energy supply. No doubt it must sound like some kind of "black magic" to you since it violates the sacred gospel of the burning fossil fuel, that there can be no other source of power. Yet the windmills still move.

BTW have you found any credible positively supporting evidence for your AGW denialist position yet? I know that those so-called "free-market" think tanks, that earlier were telling us that smoking is harmless, aren't the most forthcoming about their evidence but I'm sure you can find it any day now.

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via jakerman @46 "...we are amoung the richest, and among those with greatest capacity to play ..."

Actually, jakerman, Australia is currently in debt - it is China that has a very healthy bank account.

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via jakerman @46 "...play a leadership role..." - Best ask the Dali Lama about our 'leadership' role...

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via jakerman @46 "...waiting for China is a prescription for failure..." - errr, jakerman China will do as China will. If you think China will care about the opinion of some soon to be carbon bankrupted third world country down in the South Pacific, yer best think again...

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

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via Zetetic @47; "...Well you see Binghi, other people around the world, yes even in China, are putting up these amazing machines that make energy from wind, solar, geothermal, etc..."

Do tell Zetetic. Now, these Chinese wind and solar generators located in China, are they fully funded by China ?

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via Zetetic @47; "...No doubt it must sound like some kind of "black magic" to you since it violates the sacred gospel of the burning fossil fuel, that there can be no other source of power. Yet the windmills still move..."

Zetetic, around my little farm i use solar panels with back up generator, collect me own water and chops me own wood fer the stove - i've even got an old 32volt wind generator i'm tinkering with at the moment.... so yer could say i have a little bit of an understanding of the reality of basic power systems. Great stuff that solar and wind power, though it is not the answer to provide power for our city's.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

>*Australia is currently in debt - it is China that has a very healthy bank account.*

What is your source for this Flying Bingh? on [2000 figures](http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTEEI/214578-1110886258964/20748034…) the per capita wealth of China it is $9,387. Australia's more than 30 time greater at $371,031 per capita.

So like [I said](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/carbon_tax_back_flips.php#comme…),

>We have to break this cycle, we are amoung the worst polluting, we are amoung the richest, and among those with greatest capacity to play a leadership role in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Countries like Australia (the worste polluting and richest) waiting for China is a prescription for failure.

>*China will do as China will.*?

What, another empty comment. Can't say I'm surprised. Still readers can judge you for what you are.

Flying Bullshit: OK, we get it - you're a coal-fired Kochsucker. BTW you may need to adjust the character-simulation algorithm (yes, yes, we know, algorithm is fat): you slipped up a bit @41 and keyed in some stock phrases with insufficient spelling errors. Still a space wasting troll, though.

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rhwombat @51, were it this question that upset ya -

"...these Chinese wind and solar generators located in China, are they fully funded by China ?..."

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 28 Feb 2011 #permalink

"You seem have misunderstood what I actually typed. You're, perhaps inadvertently, putting words into my mouth and therefore coming up with a false dichotomy while missing my point."

Maybe I did miss your point, but the element I quoted didn't have any false dichotomy and I never addressed any such.

You stated, and I quote: "A carbon price that doesn't appear to have an immediate benefit is a hard thing to sell to a public that mostly still sees AGW a a distant theoretical risk."

Which has two elements completely at odds, though tied in a sentence, they are not tied phenomena.

You stated that carbon prices must have an immediate beneft or they'll be a hard sell.

The problem is that you either leave it up to the market to find the cost or you tell the market not to do it.

We don't, after all, put a price tag on a child, we tell corporations they cannot employ them, no matter what the immediate benefit or otherwise is (the family, after all, now have one less breadwinner).

"I clearly presented a link to an alternative plan to both Cap-and-Trade as well as "rationing""

But that doesn't make a blind bit of difference to the statement you made which is unsupported and is, because it's a cap, exactly what I stated: government rationing.

That is going to be a hard sell too. In many countries much, MUCH harder.

Whether it would be more successful is irrelevant, your statement was that you need something that is an easy sell.

Imagine what would the republican right do if Obama told them they could only buy 70% of the petrol they used to?

If it wouldn't require an accelerant, they'd burst into flames.

The UK public also have a big problem with rationing.

Cap and Fade is government rationing and that IS going to be a hard sell.

Argue whether your scenario is better and what levels you should manage it.

NOTE: already there is trouble with carbon credits being scammed in Europe.

Mike Pope writes:

>[Table 1](http://www.commissionontaxation.ie/submissions/State%20Bodies/L01%20-%2…) indicates that an ETS would result in greater reduction of CO2 emissions but raise less revenue than a CT. In other words, an ETS is a more cost-effective and efficient mechanism for reducing CO2.

Mike can you clarify your inference from this table,

>*emissions in 2010 are likely to be 48 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, 20 MTCO2 of which is regulated under the EU ETS. If the carbon tax is â¬20/tCO2, revenue would be â¬550 million.*

The table shows that the ETS regulate the first 20 MTCO2 and the carbon tax regulates the rest 28 MTCO2. The revenue per MTCO2 is same for the ETS and the tax ($20/ton in 2010 and $38/tonne in 2020).

It does not show the ETS is more efficient that the carbon tax.

@ Flying Binghi:
So in addition to playing the "But Mom! They're doing it too!" game. Now you seem to be suffering from an inability to use Google, poor dear.

It's a wonder that you haven't been given your own thread like sunspot yet.

As to your first question...

Now, these Chinese wind and solar generators located in China, are they fully funded by China ?

Through the magic of Google we can find that the answer to both parts of the first question is "Yes!"

China trouncing U.S. in clean energy investing

China winning renewable energy race

See how easy it is to find answers if you bother to look for them Binghi? Now granted China still has a long way to go, especially with the way they are packing on new coal plants, I dread to see the health consequences from that. But the problem with your childish "They're doing it too!" argument is that it ignores that even if China doesn't stop buying coal from everyone else and keeps pumping out CO2 that reducing emissions for everyone else would still be an important goal, if not even more important if China doesn't stop.

If you were drinking contaminated groundwater, and had no other choice, would you deliberately contaminate your own ground water (adding to the toxic levels) more just because your neighbor wouldn't stop too? How is that even remotely sane?

around my little farm i use solar panels with back up generator, collect me own water and chops me own wood fer the stove - i've even got an old 32volt wind generator i'm tinkering with at the moment.... so yer could say i have a little bit of an understanding of the reality of basic power systems.

Oh, so of course that makes you an expert on large scale power generation for cites!
Yes that makes sense.

So I guess that California and many countries in Europe getting about 20% or more of their power from renewables must just not exist then? Not to mention that California recently mandated getting 33% renewable by 2020.

Or how about Scotland that is on track for 80% renewable power by 2020? I guess that doesn't exist either...
Scotland on track to hit tough targets on renewable energy

So have you found that positively supporting your AGW denialist position yet? I notice that you never seem to offer any... why is that?

The problem with the 'backflip' locution is that it suggests deceit, betrayal or humiliating backdown. If a politician goes from policy position a to b, the media will always describe this as a backflip. But sometimes it just might be a reasonable response to good arguments or to a changing situation. It is not a vice to change one's mind (this is not meant as a comment on the current proposal, just on the lazy and irresponsible use of this term).

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via Zetetic @55; "...in addition to playing the "But Mom! They're doing it too!" game..."

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Zetetic, more a case of pointing out to the AGW true believers just what a futile exercise it will be for Australia.

Something more to dwell on -

"China plans to build at least 45 new airports in the next five years to serve booming travel, the top industry regulator said last week"

http://en.mercopress.com/2011/02/27/china-plans-to-build-45-new-airport…

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Wow #53:

We still seem to be talking past each other.

but the element I quoted didn't have any false dichotomy and I never addressed any such.

True, the part from my earlier post that you quoted didn't have a false dichotomy. My point was that I was suggesting that it's easier to "sell" some form of carbon pricing to the general public if the public perceives an immediate benefit. Your response though was to suggest that only other alternative was some form of "rationing", when what I was trying to bring up was to discuss one proposed an alternative plan that might provide the public with a benefit that they could more immediately perceive.

You can have a plan were the public doesn't see an immediate benefit, you can have a plan where they do see an immediate benefit, you can have a plan that fails to be implemented due to political opposition and does no good at all. That right there are three choices, not the two you seem to have initially been offering.

The problem is that you either leave it up to the market to find the cost or you tell the market not to do it.

Again you seem to have not understood what I was getting trying to say. Obviously there will never be any non-mandated carbon market since the fossil fuel companies would never go along with that. It's a clear case of massive market failure for both CO2 emissions as well as every other form of pollution.
My point was about "selling" (metaphorically only) carbon pricing to the public for political support. I don't know where you seem to have gotten this other idea from.

But that doesn't make a blind bit of difference to the statement you made which is unsupported and is, because it's a cap, exactly what I stated: government rationing.

Here we seem to be using different definitions, this may be part of the communication problem. I was using "rationing" in the sense of a hard mandate, such as the EPA in the USA trying to place a maximum limit on CO2 without any sort of credits trading or pricing, after the cap-and-trade bill was killed by the Congress. You seem to be using it in a broader sense of the term as meaning any sort of restriction regardless of it's type.

Whether it would be more successful is irrelevant, your statement was that you need something that is an easy sell.

Actually my statement was that if we can find ways to make any form of carbon pricing seem as more of a benefit to the voters, then it will be easier to implement them politically. The problem is getting voters to see that benefit in the first place.

I honestly don't see how you got from my statement (that you quoted) "A carbon price that doesn't appear to have an immediate benefit is a hard thing to sell to a public that mostly still sees AGW a a distant theoretical risk." that I "need something that is an easy sell" when I was clearly discussing the relative easy of implementation against the inevitable political opposition.

Imagine what would the republican right do if Obama told them they could only buy 70% of the petrol they used to?

Actually what would happen is that the Republicans, much of the media, and much of the public (that still sees AGW as an potential but distant threat) would probably just refuse to pass it. Therefore, the 30% reduction would never happen, even if it was for the long term good of the country.

The only way he would be able to get away with such a plan was if either the Republicans got something very big out of it, or the USA's oil supplies suddenly got severely curtailed creating an obvious and immediate problem that the public couldn't just ignore thereby putting pressure on the republicans to capitulate. Obama has limited authority (more limited now, after the last election) as President of the USA. Hence the need for political tactics to achieve desired goals.

You seem to think that the political aspect of getting a plan implemented in the first place is irrelevant. If that is your point then I have to disagree. Ultimately, a carbon price that never gets implemented due to a lack of political support is utterly useless for solving AGW, for that particular nation/state. One that gets overturned in a few years with a new election is almost as useless. For a carbon pricing plan of any sort to do any good is has to first be implemented, and secondly needs to persist (perhaps with modifications over time). I'm having trouble seeing why you think that's controversial, unless we are still talking past each other there again.

NOTE: already there is trouble with carbon credits being scammed in Europe.

Yes, which is one of the reasons I previously listed it as a potential drawback to the standard cap-and-trade approach in my very first post here. Every system has it's benefits and drawbacks (both politically and economically), and that is what I was attempting to discuss.

@ Flying Binghi #57:

So after having been show once again to be wrong you now try to change the subject yet again. Big surprise.

I guess this means that if your neighbor was contaminating your drinking water, that you'd still add more pollution to your own groundwater? Very interesting.

So find that positively supporting evidence yet for your AGW denialist position yet? You seem to be very busy not trying to positively support your position, I wonder why?

"My point was that I was suggesting that it's easier to "sell" some form of carbon pricing to the general public if the public perceives an immediate benefit."

And my point is that cap and fade will be hard to see to the general public who perceive AGW as a distant theoretical problem.

Your idea is difficult to sell.

Am I therefore saying you shouldn't think of trying it?

"You seem to think that the political aspect of getting a plan implemented in the first place is irrelevant."

Your plan has a political problem in getting it implemented.

Carbon tax has a political problem in getting it implemented.

As a differentiator of which plan to attempt implementation, the political problem in getting it implemented IS irrelevant.

So quit with the "your idea of a tax is a hard sell" because it also kills your plan just as well.

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Heck, almost fergot. Here's a little on the reality of China's wind power industry -

The United Nations body in charge of managing carbon trading has suspended approvals for dozens of Chinese wind farms amid questions over the countryâs use of industrial policy to obtain money under the scheme.

China has been by far the biggest beneficiary of the so-called Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon trading system designed to direct funds from wealthy countries to developing nations to cut greenhouse gases

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/128a52de-deaf-11de-adff-00144feab49a.html#axz…

Western muppet's living a Gaian fantasy pay China to build wind generators...Heh

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...meanwhile, back in the real world, China continues to buy up world coal supplies.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

Flying Bin is telling us something when starts citing random claims.

A troll who is unable to respond to peoples' devastating rebuttals and so resorts to spamming links? Get *out!*

> ...meanwhile, over in China, a new coal fired power station comes on line every week or so.

For anyone who wants to respond to this tired, old idiocy:

* [China Outpaces U.S. in Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants ... **requiring power companies to retire an older, more polluting power plant for each new one they build.**](http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html?_r=2&ref=scien…)

* [China aims to cut amount of energy and CO2 needed for every unit of economic growth by 16 to 17% from this year to end of 2015 after meeting target to cut amount of energy produced per unit of GDP growth by 20% over the 2006-2010 period.](http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFTOE71Q00N20110227?sp=tr…)

* [China has raised its target for renewable energy to 500 GW by 2020](http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/07/renewable-…)

Or just point idiots like Flying Bunghole at [per capita CO2 emissions](http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&ctype=l&strail=false&nselm=h…) and tell them to shut up until the Chinese are somewhere near their level of per capita CO2 pollution.

.

Oh dear, looking at the hysteria around here it looks like some just prefer to deny reality...Heh

No need for me to provide any more links, a simple google of China and coal or wind and power tells all. The China renewables like wind power were mainly an artifact of outside funding. Caint blame China if they are astute enuf to take money from the hands of the gullible Gaian dreamers.

The important thing now is to ensure that the muppets that want to take money from Australian taxpayers and give it to the carbon scammers are kicked out.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

Which bit of AGW do you deny, Flying Binghi?

CO2 is a greenhouse gas?
It's presence in the atmosphere is increasing?
That comes from human/industrial sources?
Temperatures are gradually warming?
This cannot be explained by solar activity?
Rising temperatures in the 21st century will have consequences, many of which are not good ones, for human habitation?

Which bit of the whole AGW scam is false? [Or is it just the vibe of the whole thing?](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJuXIq7OazQ&feature=related) (Binghi = Dennis Denuto)

David COG, thanks for the links, but they are wasted on Flying Bin.

@ Flying Binghi:

Sorry but the only hysteria here is still on your part.

I notice you still keep hoping that we don't notice you attempts to ignore the absurdity of poisoning yourself more, just because your neighbor is doing the same.

Oh and what's this now!?

China to slow GDP growth in bid to curb emissions

How interesting!
Other countries (especially the USA) don't seem to be planing to deliberately slow their own growth just to get a handle on their pollution problem. It sounds like China is taking this issue far more seriously than before.

I suspect that their pollution/health problems due to the massive use of coal are far worse that the public is aware of. Not to mention the waste of sending large amounts of money to other countries to keep your own lights on.

I don't know of the top of my head how much China spends on coal and oil but as an example the USA sent about US$1 billion overseas a day in 2010 on just oil. It makes up almost half of the USA's trade deficit.

===========================================================

Oh and yet more news about China!

China Issues Warning on Climate and Growth

But of course Australia and the USA should keep poisoning themselves and throwing away money just because China still uses lots of coal, right Binghi?

========================================================

Have you found that positively supporting evidence for your AGW denialist claims yet? You still seem strangely silent on that issue.

How odd....

@ DavidCOG:

Thanks for the links, the per capita emission chart will be especially useful.

BTW try adding Sweden to the list, it's interesting.

Impact of Australia's action = 0.00000000000000001 C
Outstanding.

>*Impact of Australia's action = 0.00000000000000001 C Outstanding.*

Show us your maths Canturi [popcorn].

[From Garnaut](http://www.garnautreview.org.au/chp7.htm)

Australiaâs per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the highest of any OECD country and are among the highest in the world. In 2006 our per capita emissions (including emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry) were 28.1 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per person (DCC 2008d). Only five countries in the world rank higherâBahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Kuwait and Qatar. Australiaâs per capita emissions are nearly twice the OECD average and more than four times the world average

Impact of Australia's inaction. Disastrous. The idea that Australia can avoid action on climate change is a fantasy of the far right wingnuts. There has already been calls within the EU for a tax on imports from countries without a carbon price. Who will we trade with - Saudia Arabia and a tea party led USA - dream on.

@ MikeH:

Heck Saudi Arabia is applying for Global Warming relief aid, which they originally opposed, that is intended to help poor countries. They want a part of that $100 billion pie for lost oil sales if the world kicks it's oil habit.

Saudi Arabia seeks share of $100 billion climate aid fund

I wish that the EU would threaten such an action, and if needed impose it. It might help to kick-start things with the stranglers to sanity.

MikeH thanks for that, and we can add the contribution of Australia is advancement toward other countries reductions.

Australia's failure to lead means China etc will delay their reductions even longer.

In other words, Australia transitioning to a clean economy and cutting its 1.5% of global emissions is the path to other countires taking the percaptia and pro-rata steps required.

Oops...typo

"kick-start things with the stranglers stragglers to sanity."

BTW thanks Mike for the link. Every country that gets on board takes away one more excuse from the denialists/delayists especially when they are a big contributor.

Blowfly@52: No it wasn't that "question" that annoyed me. It is that you are a low-rent, dumb denialist Troll who desperately needs their own thread to pollute.

.

via Mike @67; "...Which bit of AGW do you deny..."

Heh ...Mike, are you accusing me of denying your religion...

.

...anyway, here's an extract from The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge. Seems fairly reasonable to me -

ââ¦A doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will probably occur over the next hundred years or thereabouts because we are burning lots of fossil fuel. It is a fairly easy to calculate the likely rise of global-average surface temperature caused by such a doubling, provided that we confine ourselves to the purely theoretical situation where nothing else is allowed to change. Such a calculation can be done reasonably easily these days, and was first done more than a century ago quite without the aid of number-crunching computers. The answer is just over one degree Celsiusâ¦â

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

.

via Mike @67; "...CO2 is a greenhouse gas?..."

Yes Mike, CO2 is a greenhouse gas -

"...The benefits of carbon dioxide supplementation on plant growth and production within the greenhouse environment have been well understood for many years..."

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/00-077.htm

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...Heh.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

@Binghi, it's interesting you choose to get your value for climate sensitivity from a pop-science book written by a geriatric who's scared of "number-crunching computers".

A sensible and more sceptical person might prefer to check the academic literature, eg,
- Knutti, Reto; Hegerl, Gabriele C. (2008-10-26). "The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth's temperature to radiation changes". Nature Geoscience 1: 735â743.

As far as I can make out, the value documented in the peer-review literature is almost three times higher than Paltridge's.

Is there some reason you reject the value documented in the academic literature in favour of that documented in a pop-science book?

By Vince whirlwind (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

>> it's interesting you choose to get your value for climate sensitivity from a pop-science book written by a geriatric

Wow, any other groups we should mock and make fun of? Perhaps science done by women? Or maybe Germans? How about people who are left-handed?

Vince, if you have some intelligent comment about Binghi or Paltridge, you should make it. Your ageism and stereotypes should offend everyone here. I wonder if anyone else who agrees with the point you make will comment on the offensive way you make it?

Dingbat:

here's an extract from The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge

Ah yes, the man who wanted to believe that the CSIRO was trying to abstract many tens of millions of climate research money from the future Australian Greenhouse Office so much when he was involved in setting up the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre that he invented the fiction that it had already existed. It didn't actually exist until at least seven years later.

Nice to see you care about getting all the facts right as much as Garth Paltridge.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

Bill @84: Speaking as a geriatric, I whole heartedly endorse Vince Whirlwind"s argument and can find nothing offensive about it at all.

Your concern has been noted.

>*It is a fairly easy to calculate the likely rise of global-average surface temperature caused by such a doubling, provided that we confine ourselves to the purely theoretical situation where nothing else is allowed to change. Such a calculation can be done reasonably easily these days, and was first done more than a century ago quite without the aid of number-crunching computers. The answer is just over one degree Celsiusâ¦â*

Accurate but irrelevent. The warming due to CO2 is not the extent of real world warming induced by CO2. Bit where PG says "*provided that we confine ourselves to the purely theoretical situation where nothing else is allowed to change*" is were he misleads suckers like Flying Bini.

In the real world CO2 forced warming increases the water vapour content of the atmosphere, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas, and thus forces warming further. The actual climate sensitiveity is as Vince cited documented by [many authors such as Knutti](http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity-advanced.htm) and the most probable sensitivity is around 3 deg C per doubling of CO2.

@82. So because they pump CO2 into some greenhouses, this shows that elevated atmospheric CO2 will be good for humankind?

Here's a proposal for ya Binghi: Why don't ya go and hunker down in one of them greenhouses they're pumping CO2 into? Gotta be beneficial for ya, right? Don't forget to close the doors. Don't want any of that life-giving stuff to escape now!

OK, sarcastic jokes aside, you & I both know that something which is beneficial in unique ways to certain things, is not necessarily beneficial (and may indeed actually be harmful) when it is used in other ways, right? We do know that don't we?

@81 & @82
A village somewhere is missing its idiot.

@81. I missed that moronic comment by Binghi. My Binghi filter must be getting pretty saturated!

Religion - a set of beliefs, normally in an omnipotent and omniscient sky-fairy who controls every aspect of your life, with no verifiable evidence.

AGW - a large volume of observable facts and verifiable evidence that human produced CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere in ever-increasing volumes and in accordance with the known laws of radiative physics, and the absence of any other viable/demonstrable causes, appears to be measurably affecting planetary climate.

Just ever-so-subtly different, don't you think Binghi?

@Bill, 84,
You've made some pretty basic errors in analysis of my post - I'm not making fun of Paltridge for being geriatric, and I'm not making fun of his science.

I'm denigrating his misleading and unscientific pop-science book and stating the plain fact that he is geriatric.

I have previously noted a correlation between geriatrics and science-denial, which is why I mention this - yet another example which fails to contradict my prior observations.

As far as women, germans, and sinistrals go, I believe there is
- a negative correlation between women and science-denial
- a positive correlation between germans and science-denial on a global level
- I wouldn't be surprised if there was a negative correlation as there is a correlation between left-handedness and analytic aptitude

Now I trust Bill that in your reply you will provide facts and well-presented argument, not to mention good comprehension skills for the post you are responding to.

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 01 Mar 2011 #permalink

Vince

[Max Planck](http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Planck.html) made a similar if harsh point about the opposition to quantum theory from the aging classical physicists.

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

However with climate science there would be a much stronger correlation between far right political views and climate denialism.

> any other groups we should mock and make fun of?

Well, clowns. Comedians. Idiots. Fools. Charlatans. Dangerous dictators. Politicians. Quacks. Frauds. Bankers.

Lots of groups we should at least be able mock and make fun of.

What would Garnaut really know - he's simply an uncritical outlet for CSIRO's research output. Level of certainty of impacts - LOW !

Another unsupported opinion from Canturi. Wake us up when you've got something supportable Canturi.

I don't know Humphries from a bar of soap, but with Sophie Mirabella dog-whistling civil unrest, and Abbott condoning it, looks like things are heating up and not just from global heating.

And our Sophie is supposed to shadow science. One begins to wonder if she has a shadow :(

a positive correlation between germans and science-denial on a global level

And your prove for this claim is what? Our center-right party is not a bunch of denialists. So there is rather a correlation between australians and science denial.

IM, you make a good point. Germany seems to be more leaders than Australia in carbon mitigation.

As an Australian I tip my hat.

To be honest, if Germany had as much mining and related industry, we would lag more too. And some sorts of quackery - alternative medicine e. g. were more or less invented in Germany. So anti-vaccination is still going strong here.

I shouldn't let myself distracted into national score keeping; after all the problems with inactivism are the more or less the same all the world over.

@82:

Please explain in detail the differences between growing plants in a greenhouse environment and growing plants in their ecological context. Discuss the growth effect of comparing ambient vs elevated CO2 and the differences observed when the rate of CO2 elevation changes over the experiment. Explain why plants don't respond to elevated CO2 with increased growth after a certain point. How about tackling the response of below-ground carbon stores to elevated CO2 and temperature? Why not discuss how the balance of ecosystem respiration and assimilation changes depending on whether one considers soil organisms?

Or were you just hoping that no one would call you on your meaningless soundbite that shows your ignorance of plant ecology?

@IM: We have some AGW denialists in Germany, but they are usually ignored.

By Chris From Europe (not verified) on 02 Mar 2011 #permalink

@IM, & Chris from Europe,
HSBC attitudes survey, 2007

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 02 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Flying Binghi #81:

LOL!
So rather than go by the peer-reviewed scientific literature, you go by a book written by someone with ties to the fossil fuel industry.

SourceWatch- Garth Paltridge

On top of which he gives a "low-ball" estimate of CO2 sensitivity, that in your own quote shows that he's additionally leaving out positive feedback such as increases in water vapor.

How do we know more CO2 is causing warming?

And yet you have the arrogance of ignorance to accuse those that side with the consensus of the climate science community of being "in a cult".

That's just too funny! :D

===========================================================

@ Flying Binghi #82:

As the others have already pointed out to you, growing plants involves more than just CO2. Surely you must be aware of this, right?

This article looks rather timely since it deals with the effects of AGW on Australian agriculture....

Australiaâs farms âparticularly vulnerableâ to climate change, adviser Ross Garnaut Says

BTW F.B. any thoughts on China's sudden change in energy policy? I noticed that you haven't responded yet.

===========================================================

@ Sab #100:

Oh but Sab don't be too quick to rule F.B. out just yet as an agricultural expert.
After all his/her post at #49 clearly demonstrates that by virtue of having a windmill and some solar panels that F.B. can declare with complete authority that the world can't use renewable energy sources to power cites, in spite of the fact that the world already is doing just that.

We've got it all wrong folks. The great man was on Lateline last night (I checked a few minutes ago, it's not yet up on i-view.) Turns out the PM is all wrong. A carbon tax is proabably a good idea, but giving the money back to the punters is bad.

Surprise, surprise, Mr B Lomborg thinks that **all** of the money should go into research. Most importantly, noone anywhere in the world should instal any wind, solar or other form of renewable power until we've done all the research that leads to wonderful breakthroughs showing us how silly we were ever to have a solar hot water system.

The technology fairy dust will automagically disapparate all our problems. (And I should hope so too if it's been eating all our money for 30 years.)

>*Surprise, surprise, Mr B Lomborg thinks that all of the money should go into research. Most importantly, noone anywhere in the world should instal any wind, solar or other form of renewable power until we've done all the research that leads to wonderful breakthroughs showing us how silly we were ever to have a solar hot water system.*

Technology and capitalism will fix it but only if we get government to pick winners and keep markets out of it?

I could subscribe to the Lomborg vision paraphrased by adelady, but only if we were to address economic inequality via other avenues.

Here is an interesting quote from [MT's site](http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2011/02/press-and-climate-anti-testi…)

>*Right now we're trying the free market solution -- have commodity prices double every year or so, with spikes that triple or quadruple the costs, have the global economy shrink while the financial resources are concentrated in a small power base, rinse and repeat.*

>*It's certainly one mechanism to reduce overall emissions.*

BJORN LOMBERG:
>*Any economist would say global warming, CO2 is bad, so you should tax it at its damage cost, which is by the best peer-reviewed estimates that we have about $7 per tonne of carbon dioxide right now.*

Where does he get $7 per tonne from? anyone?

Zetetic, Gaz,

You seem to be repeating a discussion that has taken place here two years ago.

Gaz - you may remember this. I am afraid your arguments haven't become any more convincing. I have still to read (from you or anyone else) one single real advantage of a scheme which either (1) allows trading or (2) allows getting credit for existing pollution levels or (3) requires up-front estimates of the price elasticity of energy.

>*Listen, the simple point here is right now solar panels and other green energy sources cost a lot more than fossil fuels. Solar panels cost perhaps 10 times as much as fossil fuels. Now, you can get a few rich, well-meaning Westerners, put them up on their rooftops, feel good about themselves, but it's not going to solve global warming.*

>*But if we could innovate the price down of solar panels over the next two to four decades to be cheaper than fossil fuels, we would have solved global warming. Everyone, including the Chinese and the Indians, would switch.*

Subsiding PV is allowing "rich, well-meaning Westerners, put them up on their rooftops" which is helping to "innovate the price down of solar panels" and is [projected to continue](http://www.iea.org/work/2007/learning/Nemet_PV.pdf) "over the next two to four decades to be cheaper than fossil fuels".

I suppose he's arguing to increase the rate of learning? I'd agree.

*I suppose he's arguing to increase the rate of learning? I'd agree.*

I.e. the capacity factor and storage required for PV need to also be overcome by the price advantage gained via learning curves.

Where does he get $7 per tonne from? anyone?

Not from any serious study I've seen. Most put the cost at closer to $80-$100 per tonne, assuming one focuses narrowly on Co2 and excludes other ciommunity costs associated with industrial scale FHC harvest and combustion.

Of course, since we really can't tell how the whole matter will play out over the next few decades it might be that even these estimates are light. If the period from 2050 forward asees a roiling series of unstoppable climate-driven disasters that finally set back GDP to something like that of the early 20th century and famine, disease, human displacement, and war become commonplaces, then even $500 per tonne isn't going to fix that.

By Fran Barlow (not verified) on 02 Mar 2011 #permalink

From [Lomborg Errors](http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/coolitBchap2carboncuts.htm)
>*A key argument in Cool It is that if a carbon tax is introduced, it must not surpass the social cost of carbon. On page 36 **he cites ONE economist, Richard Tol, for his "best guess" about the costs of emitting CO2, and this guess is $2 per ton of CO2 (that is $7 per ton of carbon)**. Consequently, according to Lomborg, it will reduce the prosperity of the world society to no avail if carbon taxes are set higher than $7 per ton of C. **However, Tol himself does not recommend an estimate of $7/tC, but rather cites an average estimate of about $16/tC, and probably recommends to use a value of $23-25/tC.***

[Dr Alex Bowen, Dr Simon Dietz, Dimitri Zenghelis and Bob Ward](http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/02/climate-change-bjorn-…)

>*Dr Lomborg last year began to call for an investment of $100bn per year on research and development for low-carbon technologies, instead of the $25bn he was advocating 18 months ago. He now proposes that this should be raised through a carbon tax of $7 per tonne of carbon dioxide, rather than the $2 per tonne for which he previously argued.*

>*However, his strategy is alarmingly risky â invest heavily in R&D and hope that this alone will keep atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases low enough to avoid the risk of serious and damaging impacts from climate change. This might work, but it might not.*

>*A more robust approach to managing the risks of climate change would be not only to invest in R&D, but also to use a carbon tax (or cap-and-trade) to discourage greenhouse gas emissions in the short run...*

BTW [Tol uses models that assume](http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/01/richard-tol.html) rising temperature has little impact on extinction levels. He justifies this assumption by arguing that extiction rates are already high so that we will destory speicies regardless of temperature change.

He fails to account for the fact that climate disrutpion makes our extinction impact synergistically worse, and hence it cost more an more to protect vulnerable species as the climate is perturbed.

That might be why Lomborg likes Tols work even if Lomborg needs to cherry pick the bits that suit his current position.

Hi Sortition:

I have still to read (from you or anyone else) one single real advantage of a scheme which either (1) allows trading or

If there is a limited amount of emissions permits to go around, trading allows those who can make the most efficient economic use of them to get access to them. That's not a new idea.

It's the same argument for having a market for stuff like, you know, bananas, houses, jobs, cars, oil, jobs, shares, etc. A system which creates a limited number of nontradable permits would make no sense.

(2) allows getting credit for existing pollution levels or

Agreed. Giving free kicks to polluters is nuts, whether it is done under cap and trade system or a carbon tax. Exemptions like that are not a logical outcome of the cap and trade model any more than they would necessarily end up as part of a carbon tax arrangement.

(3) requires up-front estimates of the price elasticity of energy.

Do you mean the price elasticity of demand for energy? And by "energy", do you mean energy whose generation releases GHGs? I'm not sure what your point is. Can you explain that a bit more please.

Just a general point. I don't want to defend the CPRS as rejected by the Australian Senate in December 2009. The basically sound cap and trade idea got a mangling at the hands of the negotiations with the conservatives, who reneged on their agreement to pass it anyway.

I'd just invite you to do a thought experiment and think about what a carbon tax would have loooked like after protracted negotiations between Penny Wong and Ian McFarlane in the context of frantic lobbying by the coal industry. Something like the Frankenstein's Monster the CPRS ended up as, I'd guess.

Have any economists worked on the employment effects of Hansen's Carbon Fee? [morejobs.org.uk](http://www.morejobs.org.uk/?p=34) says

[Hansen's Carbon Fee] would support the lower-paid who have lower carbon footprints than the affluent. This could allow other changes to tax regimes which could conteract the poverty trap that unemployment payments can create, mirroring some of the effects of Professor Swales proposals to make Value Added Tax employment friendly

MoreJobs [quotes Professor Swales proposals](http://www.morejobs.org.uk/?p=3) saying "That is to say, the introduction of the new tax scheme would increase employment and reduce taxation."

>*It's the same argument for having a market for stuff like, you know, bananas, houses, jobs, cars, oil, jobs, shares, etc.*

An important point is that permits are not as verifiable as such as oil, bananas etc. As such I have a different hesitation towards real world permit trading than I do towards theoretical trading.

Making this system more complex than necessary [can lead to problems](http://www.dhf.uu.se/publications/critical-currents/carbon-trading-â-ho…).

>*Carbon trading is a complex system which sets itself a simple goal: to make it cheaper for companies and governments to meet emissions reduction targets â although, as we will show, emissions trading is designed in such a way that the targets can generally be met without actual reductions taking place.*

Though design is important, its possible to to make a carbon tax really bad, and possible to make an ETS good. What we are offered is another question.

At this stage I think it harder to cover the flaws in a bad tax than it would be to make the problems in a bad ETS appear opaque.

Jeepers Janet - you do go on - are you camped out here? Anyway back on Garnaut - why would even begin to accept CSIRO's rainfall projections for Australia. What's your rationale?

Why?

Maybe this:

"The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia's national science agency"

would be why.

Or do you ask your gardener what stocks to invest in?

The CSIRO are just part of the scam, Wow. Canturi says he believes global warming is happening, he just believes that every government agency is scamming us and some nutter with Excel can do a better job.

Nah, Canturi is part of the scam.

After all, if AGW is accepted, then there's no money in researching whether AGW is real!

Canturi is just trying to make sure he can get some of that hot money being passed about for global warming.

Perhaps Cartooni believes that certain key initials in CSIRO stand for "chemtrails", "illuminati" and "rothschild".
Oh, and of course "scam".

Which isn't any more insane than whatever it is he does seem to readily believe.

Julia Gillard has avoided every opportunity and ignored all prodding to explain the about-face. This club-footed politicking is well partnered with hyperbolic terminology.

.

via Zetetic #103; "...renewable energy sources to power cites,.... the world already is doing just that..."

Do tell Zetetic, put forward your example of a solar/wind power city and we will have a look-see.

.

.

An oh so true observation of the climate hysteria...

"...There is a fair amount of reasonable science behind the global warming debate, but in general, and give or take a religion or two, never has quite so much rubbish been espoused by so many on so little evidence. One wonders why. We live in an age where common sense and tolerance are supposed to be the basis of our system of education, but there is very little of common sense and absolutely nothing of tolerance in the public argument about the climate change business. Perhaps it is that people simply have a basic need for fairy tales and doomsday stories."

via Garth Paltridge, The Climate Caper.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 03 Mar 2011 #permalink

Lying dingbat quoting Paltridge:

never has quite so much rubbish been espoused by so many on so little evidence.

Continuing in his sole objective of spreading poop, dingbat shows us that Paltridge can't even get his Churchill quote right. It should be "never has quite so much rubbish been espoused by so FEW on so little evidence." That few is, of course, the 3 per cent of active Climate scientists that espouse rubbich.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 03 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Flying Binghi #125:

Thank you for proving that you don't actually bother to read what we post in reply to you. If you had you would have seen that I already cited some examples and provided a link to Scotland's progress on the issue (targeting 80% renewable by 2020). We can't help you learn if you don't try.

Still no reply though on China's change in energy policy that I linked to earlier? I noticed you suddenly seem to be ignoring that.

Maybe instead you can tell us why you believe in a book written by someone with fossil fuel industry ties over the massive body of scientific peer-reviewed works on climate? Especially when the quote you gave us earlier not only shows that he was going with a unscientifically low estimate of CO2 sensitivity, but (as noted in your own quote) he was giving a very simplistic example. So now you again quote this biased "expert" who is somehow not able to actually backup his assertion. It's funny how often you hear the exact same rhetoric coming from all of the other types of denialists (AIDS denialists, Young Earth Creationists, Intelligent Design advocates, Geocentrists, etc.) projection truly seems to be universal in the psychology of denialism.

So far the evidence of AGW is overwhelming with several thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers and samples of evidence from around the world, collected by thousands of independent scientists internationally.

Yet your AGW denialist side continually relies on cherry-picking, misrepresentation, out-right fabrication, and repeating the same long-discredited falsehoods over-and-over. All while they are being represented by the same groups (and often individuals) that told us smoking was safe, and some of which also support so-called "Intelligent Design", all while being funded by fossil fuel money.
Do you really not see a credibility problem with your side there?

So where is that credible positively supporting scientific evidence that supports whatever it is you think is actually causing the warming, and how do you justify it in light of the evidence that clearly shows an effect by increasing GHG's? You've been asked for it repeatedly, yet for some reason it's not forthcoming. Why is that?

Hi Gaz,

> If there is a limited amount of emissions permits to go around, trading allows those who can make the most efficient economic use of them to get access to them. That's not a new idea.

Well, I don't understand your position: if polluters do not get credit for existing pollution, what kind of trading will there be? All permits will be bought directly from the government â not so? Unless you are thinking about speculation in permits (buying permits from the government in order to sell them later to polluters for higher price), which sounds very likely, but doesn't sound like it will be a positive development.

> Do you mean the price elasticity of demand for energy?

Yes.

> And by "energy", do you mean energy whose generation releases GHGs?

No â any energy. This is returning to my main point from two years ago: The inelasticity of the demand for energy makes it impossible to predict the value of the permits because the polluters cannot predict how high the energy price will go before demand drops below the cap. This makes bidding for the permits a very risky financial instrument: bidders could easily either make a windfall profit or incur huge losses. (I would suggest that you briefly re-read our exchange from two years ago â I did. This could save re-covering a lot of old ground.)

> Just a general point. I don't want to defend the CPRS as rejected by the Australian Senate in December 2009.

I agree â comparing ideal type vs. actual political plan doesn't make sense. My point is about ideal type vs. ideal type. The best cap-and-trade - really, cap-and-permits, since no trade is involved - has polluters bidding for permits from the government. In such a situation, the only difference is that with the cap-and-permits policy the polluters need to speculate about the elasticity of demand, while with the tax policy, the elasticity is observed and drives the adjustment of the tax level, but there is no need to predict it ahead of time. (Again â see our previous discussion.)

Excellent post [by Quiggin](http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2011/03/03/9539/):

>*McCrann, in particular, is certainly capable of doing arithmetic when he chooses to. He correctly estimates that the revenue from a carbon tax is going to be between $10 and $12 billion a year, perhaps one quarter of the revenue raised by the GST. As McCrann wrote in 2009, âthe carbon tax is going to arrive like a thief in the night; taking an extra $1 for every $4 plucked by the GST, which, in effect, is an increase in the GST from 10 to 12.5 per cent.â*

>*At this point, it would be sufficient to observe that, if the GST at 10 per cent had none of the catastrophic effects predicted by Labor, a tax one-fourth the size is even less likely to have the catastrophic effects predicted by conservatives like McCrann. But we donât need even to take that step. We can simply quote McCrann himself who, in August 2010, advocated raising the GST, not to 12.5 per cent, but to 15 per cent. Apparently, McCrann wants to destroy the economy twice over.*

Isn't it time to give FB the attention he deserves and focus on reality? The point is Australia and Australians should be doing the most they are capable of rather than the least they can get away with. Sure, China burns a lot of coal and if they want to burn more there are plenty within Australia, from big business to government leaders who will do their best to sell it to them. No responsibility taken. I'm sure methamphetamine suppliers would be pleased to know that all harm is the responsibility of the users. And if we say we'll continue to produce CO2 for as long as they do, surely the converse is true; if we continue to entrench further reliance on fossil fuels they will feel justified in doing so. More so given that their per capita use is still a fraction of ours and we've had the benefits of decades of unconstrained fossil fuel use. And the benefits of being the biggest coal exporter.

So what will be the political and economic impacts to Australia of being a Carbon pollution pariah? Do people really think the rest of the world, especially the poorest ones that will feel the impacts hardest will fail to take note of who has been profiting most from making the situation worst? Do people think Australia could not ever be subject to trade sanctions?

By Ken Fabos (not verified) on 04 Mar 2011 #permalink

My feeling is that fossil fuel incineration and selling the stuff will be seen in future years in much the same way as whale hunting. Modern people look askance, if not disgusted, at Japan's commercial whaling and feel very uncomfortable about the allowances for indigenous and cultural exemptions to bans on whaling.

They only take notice of our own former uses of whale products _ lamp oil, or whalebone corsets, or canned cat food with a little shiver of distaste when someone forces the nasty information under their noses. Maybe a shocked "How could you!".

"How could you!" will probably be the least of it in a generation or so's time.

That generation will be trying to speed up imitation geological carbon sequestration processes in more sophisticated ways than our crass approach to accelerating geological carbon release processes by incinerating stuff we dig up using machinery run by other stuff we dig up.

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via adelady #132; "...Modern people look askance, if not disgusted, at Japan's commercial whaling and feel very uncomfortable about the allowances for indigenous and cultural exemptions to bans on whaling..."

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via Tim Flannery;

"...In terms of sustainability, you can't be sure that the Japanese whaling is entirely unsustainable..."

"...It's hard to imagine that the whaling would lead to a new decline in population..."

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/flannery-says-whaling-is-ok/story…

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 06 Mar 2011 #permalink

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via Zetetic #127; "...post in reply to you. If you had you would have seen that I already cited some examples and provided a link to Scotland's progress on the issue..."

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Heh, Zetetic, Scotland has something like 85% of UK hydro power. Nothing like padding out the figures with a power source that's been in use for over fifty years.

Hydro is a very useful power source as has been demonstrated by Australia's very own Snowy rivers scheme. IMO, we should be looking into more hydro/water supply dams in Oz.

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A quick google exposes the reality of the UK wind power fiasco -

"...Wind farms are failing to produce electricity when the temperatures drop, costing billions of pounds and potentially leading to blackouts, leading industrialists warned this week..."

http://www.walletpop.co.uk/2011/01/10/failure-of-wind-farms-in-cold-wea…

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 06 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Flying Binghi #133:

Way to miss adelady's point there F.B.

==========================================================

@ Flying Binghi #134:
I noticed a few details that you conveniently left out of your post.

You left out how in Texas during the recent unusually cold weather shut-down many of the fossil fuel powered plants, due to the cold, but the wind farm kept on producing electricity for many.

Texas Wind Energy Comes Through in Ground Hog Storm

You also seems to fail to consider that the placement and design of a wind generator has effect on it's ability to perform in adverse weather.

I also noticed that the article you cited had no links to any data or organizations to verify it's story. Therefore, of course it makes perfect sense that you would trust it implicitly, while any thinking person would find it to be suspicious. So I did a little digging and the only thing that even came close to the story you cited was how denialists (much like you) were trying to stop further wind projects from being built. Funny that, isn't it?

While you are correct that Scotland has an abundance of hydro power available, you failed to note that most of it was already developed by the 1950's and therefore most of the expansion is in other sources of renewable energy. Now why did you leave that little detail out? (Not that I expect better from someone that considers a book written by someone with fossil fuel industry ties to superseded the peer-reviewed science.) Was it for the same reason that, in the article I had earlier linked to, you failed to note that they were talking about expanding other sources of power and how they had "Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, and the figures follow a steady trend towards Scotland's energy becoming greener and cleaner"? [emphasis added]

So now you want to focus on wind?

OK, how about Denmark heading to 50% of it's power from wind alone?

How Denmark manages its wind variability â paper launched today

In the mean time I'm guessing that you're expecting lots of blizzards on Australia to prevent the wind power from working? (Regardless of the fact that as Texas showed, wind power can work in blizzard conditions.)

===========================================================

How amusing though, still no word on China's change in policy.

Still no credible scientific evidence that supports your position.

Do you really think we haven't noticed how you like to change the subject?

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via Zetetic #135; "...While you are correct that Scotland has an abundance of hydro power available, you failed to note that most of it was already developed by the 1950's..."

err actually, Zetetic, in my post #134, i wrote - "...Scotland has something like 85% of UK hydro power. Nothing like padding out the figures with a power source that's been in use for over fifty years..."

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via Zetetic #135; "...You left out how in Texas during the recent unusually cold weather shut-down many of the fossil fuel powered plants, due to the cold,..."

Hmmm, and ah though we was in Scotland ...Heh.

...anyway, apparently them Texas power plants had trouble with burst pipes due to it being a bit cold. Considering coal and gas fired power plants operate successfully in far colder climates, methinks the Texas plant operators got caught out by the cold - caint blame them really with all them climate hysteric muppets running around saying that due to global warming children will never again know what winter snow looks like.

Having a further google look-see at the Texas wind power, apparently it don't do much in summer when its needed the most ....Hmmm, the stupidity of building a half arsed power system that needs an entire coal/gas power plant infrastructure to back it up.... dum-de-dum-de-dumb...

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via Zetetic #135; "...article you cited..."

Zetetic Yer want me to google up some different links ?

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via Zetetic #135; "...still no word on China's change in policy..."

Zetetic, as far as i know China is still buying up all the coal/gas mines it can. So no change in policy that i know.

Considering China has astute political management and gets sent money to build wind power turbines and is one of the worlds largest manufacturers of wind turbines, i guess they will tell the climate hysteric muppets just what they want to hear - meanwhile, China's coal mine buying actions tell us the reality...

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 07 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Flying Binghi #136:

I apologize it was late and I missed that one detail.

Regardless you still continue to miss the essential point that you missed twice now, that Scotland is going from a current level of 27% renewable, only some of which was hydro-electric to 80% renewable by 2030. In other words, No matter how you try to rationalize it away, that is a lot of renewable power that has nothing to do with hydro-electric since Scotland has already developed most of theirs. You seem to be trying to avoid that obvious point. I wonder why?

Hmmm, and ah though we was in Scotland ...Heh.

You're the one that brought up the effects of cold weather with your unverifiable story. The point is to demonstrate that even in weather that is cold enough to shut down fossil fuel plants in Texas, that wind can still keep working.

So, I take your lack of response to my earlier question to mean that you are in fact expecting lots of blizzards in Australia to shut down the wind plants? How amusing.

Regardless, that still ignores that there are other sources of power that can be combined with wind, and the goal with wind is to have several farms scattered over a very wide area, all feeding into the grid. This is so that if one farm does stop producing power (say if the wind stops) the others can take over, that's where we get into the smart grid to distribute the power. Texas for example doesn't do much of this since many in political power over in Texas "don't trust dem big gubment prawjects". This subject (energy distribution) was also noted in my earlier cite about Denmark.

Considering coal and gas fired power plants operate successfully in far colder climates, methinks the Texas plant operators got caught out by the cold

Yes, the weather was unusually cold, funny how that happened what with the Arctic warming faster than the reset of the world, pushing a cold air mass down across much of the USA. Just like the global warming models predicted might happen.

caint blame them really with all them climate hysteric muppets running around saying that due to global warming children will never again know what winter snow looks like.

Funny how the only people that seem to say this are the denialists. While the scientists talk about a wider range of increasingly extreme weather. It's especially funny when many in Texas take pride in ignoring AGW, not to mention laws limiting polluting the air and water.

But, I'm sure that you'll have no trouble at all finding a cite for climate scientists claiming "children will never again know what winter snow looks like", right?

Hmmm, the stupidity of building a half arsed power system that needs an entire coal/gas power plant infrastructure to back it up.... dum-de-dum-de-dumb...

Well F.B. I do have to agree that it was awfully dumb of you to get everything backwards there, although it is to be expected from a denialist. The fact of the matter is that it the coal/gas system that was there first and the wind power has been added slowly, and still only amounts to a small amount of Texas power. So as usual you have the reality of the situation reversed to fit your dogma.

Having a further google look-see at the Texas wind power, apparently it don't do much in summer when its needed the most

Do you mean like this, from last March?
Setting Wind Power Records in Texas
Gee, I wonder if your story is going to be another unverifiable dead end from another denialist "news" site?

==========================================================

Zetetic, as far as i know China is still buying up all the coal/gas mines it can. So no change in policy that i know.

Ah but that was then, and policy changes take time to implement. While we still have to see what China will be doing in the future, their public statements indicate that they have become very aware of the problem with relying on coal. Only the most adamant of the denialists fails to see that poisoning your own food, air, and water from coal pollution is a bad idea in the long run. This means that China is a aware of a problem that you seem to insist on ignoring.

So then, are you still going to maintain the irrational assertion that if your neighbor is poisoning you (and themselves) that you should poison yourself more?

Considering China has astute political management and gets sent money to build wind power turbines and is one of the worlds largest manufacturers of wind turbines

True. Funny though how if renewable energy is going to be such a futile effort that China is pouring so much of it's resources into developing it? I also noticed that you left out China's own expansion of their renewable power base, yet again.

Funny how you consistently leave out those important little details that tend to undercut your denialism, isn't it?

===========================================================

Maybe you can tell us more about these blizzards you are expecting in Australia? I'd like to hear about them.

So F.B have you finally found any credible positively supporting scientific evidence that positively supports your denialist position yet? You know, something other than a made-up statement in a book written by someone with fossil fuel industry ties?

We're still waiting... It can't be that hard for you, right?

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Looks like i need to repeat post #62 again -

The United Nations body in charge of managing carbon trading has suspended approvals for dozens of Chinese wind farms amid questions over the countryâs use of industrial policy to obtain money under the scheme.

China has been by far the biggest beneficiary of the so-called Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon trading system designed to direct funds from wealthy countries to developing nations to cut greenhouse gases

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/128a52de-deaf-11de-adff-00144feab49a.html#axz…

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...meanwhile, back in the real world, China continues to buy up the worlds coal mines.

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By Flying Binghi (not verified) on 07 Mar 2011 #permalink

@ Flying Binghi #138:
So, as usual, you're going to ignore the previous points again rather than address them.

Big surprise.

Sortition (@129).

Well, I don't understand your position: if polluters do not get credit for existing pollution, what kind of trading will there be?

Why should polluters get credit for existing pollution? The logical basis for an ETS is that anyone who wants to emit should buy the right to do it.

There is a case for government subsidy to smooth the way to lower-emissions technology, and that could take the form of emissions credits or free permits or whatever. But that's not an essential feature of an ETS, just way of helping the transition to occur because the world does not function as it does in textbooks (ie no uncertainty, perfect knowledge etc).

Having to buy permits and allowing anyone to buy and sell them may be anathema to many people but our society is based on markets, like it or not. The alternative is for governments to tell people what to do, like the Peter Garrett's insulation batts scheme or whatever Tony Abbott has in mind (direct action? Oh, please. )

Sortition, you seem to think you can eliminate risk from this process.

The inelasticity of the demand for energy makes it impossible to predict the value of the permits because the polluters cannot predict how high the energy price will go before demand drops below the cap.

I don't think whether demand is elastic (responds to price changes) or inelastic (doesn't respond to price changes) is the issue, it's estimating the response.

Granted, there's uncertainty about the effect of price on demand, and that makes it difficult to predict how how the price must go to reduce demand.

But the same uncertainty also means it's just as difficult to predict the correct level for the tax.

That's because policymakers polluters cannot predict how high the tax will go before demand drops below the target.

In other words, a *cap and trade* will involve some risk in buying and selling permits - businesses might buy too many or too few, or buy them when the price is at a high and sell when it is low, thereby losing money.

On the other hand, under a *carbon tax*, businesses will plan their production and investment in technology, based on what they predict the effect of the rising tax will have on customer demand and profitability, and they could turn out to be wrong, thereby losing money.

There is also the *added risk under a carbon tax* that the government will change the rate and trajectory of the tax when *it* realises it miscalculated the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the tax, meaning businesses may thereby lose money.

But risk is a part of business. And shifting energy prices are one of the biggest risks businesses worldwide have faced *and coped with rather effectively* over the past few decades.

You can't make risk go away.

The best cap-and-trade - really, cap-and-permits, since no trade is involved - has polluters bidding for permits from the government.

But a more efficient system would enable polluters to sell surplus permits to those who underestimated their needs, or to businesses which could make better use of them. Not allowing trading means that the worse businesses are at forecasting demand, the more negative the economic impact would be. In other words, it would magnify the negative effect of the uncertainty you are so concerned about.

In such a situation, the only difference is that with the cap-and-permits policy the polluters need to speculate about the elasticity of demand, while with the tax policy, the elasticity is observed and drives the adjustment of the tax level, but there is no need to predict it ahead of time. (Again â see our previous discussion.)

Sortition, of course businesses needed to speculate about the price elasticity of demand - under either system.

How many permits to buy (based on how much you intend to emit) is an important question for emitters under an ETS.
But the question doesnât go away under a tax.

How much you produce and how you produce it depends on the effect of the tax, which has to be forecast based on some estimate of price elasticity of demand.

Sure, the elasticity is observed and drives the adjustment of the tax level, but that's not much help to a business implementing a 5 or 10 year investment program.

Just a final point, I think it's a mistake many people make to assume pricing carbon will drive change through the effect on consumer behaviour. The important thing is to change business investment in technology.

Even given uncertainty about the effect on final demand, a tax or a permit price will change the profitability of different technologies. That's what's going to drive change.

>*meanwhile, back in the real world, China continues to buy up the worlds coal mines.*

Meanwhile back in the real world the emmission of rich nations like Australia is more than 4 time greater per capita than China's. If we are going to achieve a global agreement reduce emission we to reduce this gap by taking a leadership role in slashing our emissions by transforming our energy sector. And/Or we need to compensate China etc to aid them to take an cleaner development path than the one we took.

Gaz,

I disagree with much of what you wrote. You still have not provided a single advantage for a permits policy (with or without trading) over a tax policy. The stories about the wonders of trade I find unconvincing, to put it mildly. They are exactly the kind of stories that we were told about the wonders of trading mortgages.

However, I would like to move the discussion forward so how about we proceed by attempting to flesh out your proposal. Can you suggest what you think would be a reasonable emission cap schedule?

How about a 5% a year for 20 years? That will put you at two-thirds reduction 20 years from now compared to current levels. That sounds like a relatively modest goal.

If that sounds right, what do you think will be the price of energy 5 years from the starting point? After 5 years, the public would have to emit 22.6% less carbon than today. That would put the per-capita carbon emissions at about 1950 levels. Do you really think this can be done in the space of 5 years without decreases in energy consumption driven by dramatic increases in energy costs? Do you really think that within 5 years new technologies would emerge which would yield the desired emission reductions purely or mostly through energy efficiency and non-polluting energy production? If so, why didn't those technologies emerge as economically viable over the last decade, in which energy prices (and particularly gasoline prices) increased significantly? Why has neither energy production technology nor energy consumption per capita changed over the last decade? Why has neither car propulsion technology nor gasoline consumption per capita changed over the last decade?

Hi Sortition,

I'm sorry you aren't convinced by the "wonders of trade".

Presumably you would then want the government to close the following markets and give some board or committee the job of allocating:

Jobs

All durable consumer goods

All non-durable consumer goods, including food

Electricity, water, fuel, sewerage services

All serivces including restaurant meals, holiday
accommodiation and travel

Motor Vehicles

Plant and equipment

Land, housing and other buildings

All mineral commodities

Finance

And anything else which is bought and sold in a market.

Alternatively, you could just take a trip to North Korea and let us know your assessment of "the wonders" of non-market economies.

Sure, markets have to be regulated properly and we know what happens if they aren't but by and large they work, something which you adherence to a carbon tax implies quite unambiguously.

Unlike you I'm not a proponent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As for all your other questions, why are you asking me? The technical or economic viability of any given trajectory of emmissions reductions applies pretty much to tax or cap.

The âgo live in North Koreaâ maneuver is pathetically worn-out. Anyway, moving on.

> As for all your other questions, why are you asking me? The technical or economic viability of any given trajectory of emmissions reductions applies pretty much to tax or cap.

I would think this is obvious. These question try to examine your claim that emission reductions would be achieved without changing the lifestyle of the average American. If this is to happen, at least one of two things must occur â either huge efficiency gains must be made, reducing the consumption of energy without affecting the lifestyle, or cheap, non-polluting energy resources have to be developed. My point is that if either of those were technologically feasible, we should have seen them emerging during the run-up of energy prices of the last decade.

Since neither efficiency, nor non-polluting energy made any substantial gains over the last decade, why should we believe they would suddenly appear in the near future, without dramatic increases in energy cost beyond the already increased level? If energy costs increase dramatically the consumption behavior of the average American will surely be affected.

By the way, in typical American fashion I wrote about "American lifestyle". This applies to other Western countries as well (although most of those start from a somewhat better baseline in varying degrees).

Abbott (the leader of John Humphreysâ party) is proposing the same targets for emissions cuts as the ALP (5% below 2000 levels by 2020). Tony Abbott and John Humphreys need to answer these questions:

1)How much will Abbottâs direct action plan cost the tax payer (per tonne of CO2)?

2)How will his direct action plan lead to development of low carbon energy, as opposed to simply offsetting emissions from dirty energy?

3)If his plan does little to promote development of low carbon energy, how will this affect Australia when fossil fuel becomes more expensive?

I just want to say that the suggestion that the "Iain" who posted comments at the beginning of this thread is me are totally wrong.

If I wished to post comemnts here I would do so under my full name and linking to my home page (as I do in this comment)
For my views on this particular aspect of the climate change debate Warministas ore cordially invited to drop by my blog where they will be welcomed for civil debate.

It is noted that Iain Hall does not accept expert professional advice on this matter from the properly qualified Australian scientific research organisations.

What are the implications for good governance when politicians refuse to take proper evidence-based technical advice in favour of accepting inexpert advice for the purpose of confirming their ideological bias?

By Vince whirlwind (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

Warministas ore cordially invited to drop by my blog where they will be welcomed for civil debate

They'll get civil debate allright. That's why they're called Warministas.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

Vince
Just accepting any argument from authority as you are suggesting does not make any sense for a thinking individual, especially when those saying "trust me" are "climate scientists" who have a vested interest in there being an AGW industry that gets lots of money for "research"

Chris O'Neill
I may call AGW believers "Warminisitas" But how many of you insist on calling AGW sceptics "deniers"???
Its horses for courses to give our interlocutors in this debate with our favourite labels what surely matters is that no one gets personally abusive.

> ...Just accepting any argument from authority as you are suggesting does not make any sense for a thinking individual...

You're right. They first have to think about whether they are personally qualified to assess the science themselves, and if not what kinds of bodies or groups would be the best bet to delegate that kind of assessment to - and what the chances are that an overwhelming consensus amongst the professionally qualified scientists in the field is badly wrong.

Then the thinking individuals who don't have their own climate science expertise will mostly figure that national scientific bodies reporting on an overwhelming professional consensus complete with masses of evidence and documentation of the procedures used to reach it are a far better bet than pretty much all of the bodies and individuals who disagree with that consensus.

> ... especially when those saying "trust me" are "climate scientists" who have a vested interest in there being an AGW industry that gets lots of money for "research"...

When you use scare quotes around the word "research" and "climate scientists", you are implying that they are not actually climate scientists and not actually conducting research.

On what basis do you form that opinion, and on what basis do you assert that your opinion is accurate?

And no, they don't have a vested interest in AGW itself. They have a vested interest in there being money for research - no scare quotes needed - either in the climate, or in other fields which they could equally well apply themselves to if there were no important climate questions left to study. And it would be foolish to pretend that understanding the climate system is not pretty damn important even if they were to find that AGW was not a problem.

You also seem to be unaware that the vast majority of the "lots of money for "research"" you refer to goes to satellite monitoring programs. We'd still want to do that even if AGW were not a concern.

And one should also note that there is a lifetime of kudos, boundless professional opportunity, a Nobel Prize and widespread fame on offer for any scientist who can prove that anthropogenic factors are not significantly influencing the climate. You'd think if as you imply a whole bunch of scientists were conspiring to suppress the truth that someone would step up to claim these prizes, no? Why haven't they?

And if you're going to talk about vested interests...how about them fossil fuel industries, heh?

> "But how many of you insist on calling AGW sceptics "deniers"???"

I only call people deniers if they deny the fairly clear facts - such as the facts that "climate scientists" are actual scientists, and there "research" is actual research, and that there is a great deal of evidence that says it's far more likely than not that human influences are significantly contributing to ongoing warming.

You seem to be angling to be in that category.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 23 Mar 2011 #permalink

"Chris O'Neill I may call AGW believers "Warminisitas" But how many of you insist on calling AGW sceptics "deniers"???"

Because Warministas means nothing. We say it's warm outside?!?

However, AGW skeptics are not called deniers. Because you're not a skeptic, you're a denier. As in you're shown evidence and deny it is valid.

The FACT that you state AGW skeptic as your moniker when skepticism is not skepticism ABOUT ONE THING shows that you are not a skeptic but just wish to state that AGW is not a problem.

Funnily enough, all the self-proclaimed skeptics who deny AGW have multitudinous (well over a hundred) different explanations of what is going on, but they're incompatible with each other, the only thing they have in common is "it's not what the IPCC says it is".

Not once will one of them go and be skeptical of someone who thinks it's not warming when they think it is but it's due to some lensing effect they'll discover any day now, honest.

Most self-proclaimed skeptics actually have nothing to their mantra other than "it's not what the IPCC says" which absolves them of this problem but does rather mean they fit the dictionary definition of denier.

It's horses for courses. If you don't like "denier" then start being a skeptic.

Iain Hall:

Chris O'Neill I may call AGW believers "Warminisitas" But how many of you insist on calling AGW sceptics "deniers"??? Its horses for courses to give our interlocutors in this debate with our favourite labels what surely matters is that no one gets personally abusive.

You can call people warministas if you like but it's so obviously silly because it implies that you don't accept that warming is occurring, regardless of the cause. Anyone who doesn't accept that warming is occurring is in plain denial of a lot of facts.

So call people warministas if you like but it comes with a big red flag that says "I deny that it's warming".

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Iain Hall.

You expect to be taken seriously on the matter of objective delineation of climate science. Unfortunately for you, you have failed to convince me to sign up as a potential member of your audience by your inability to title your posts objectively: to wit - "Being Bobâs Biatch..." as a heading for your opinion on the protest against climate change science and carbon pricing. The protestor's sign to which you refer said "BITCH", Iain Hall, not "Biatch" - there's no benefit in being all coy and demure about what those on the ignorant side say.

However, that's just a simple snark. What struck me as somewhat more incongruous with objectivity was your claim:

Of more concern to me is the lack of an apostrophe to designate the possessive case in the word "Browns". It is usually the left who make such basic orthographic errors and I am deeply disturbed that one of my fellow conservative/sceptics has been remiss enough to have missed the most important punctuation marks from their placard...

In my experience in dealing with lay people on non-scientific fora, it is overwhelmingly the conservative right that harbours the ill-educated folk who have difficulty in appropriate apostrophising.

Of course, this is simply my personal experience, but that's the point - I predicate my observation as such. Your sweeping generalisation indicates both an inadequate assessment of the reality of who does what with apostrophies, and a preparedness to base your opinions on less than evidence.

For these reasons I dismiss your pratings.

Oh, and there's the small, specific matter of your cavalier denial of the work of thousands of professional scientists. Which, in the end, is really the substantive point anyway...

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

> Of more concern to me is the lack of an apostrophe to designate the possessive case in the word "Browns". It is usually the left who make such basic orthographic errors...

Pot. Kettle. Black.

It took five seconds on Iain's website to find Iain making basic errors of grammar and punctuation:

> To be honest I have been amazed at the rancour of the many minions of the left over the pithy signs at this rally its not as if the minions of the left have never been lacking in good taste or due respect to the leaders of the nation when the coalition have been the subject of the peopleâs ire in public protests, In my youth I vividly remember...

Count the errors in that one fraction of a sentence - errors including misuse of the apostrophe - in the very post where he chides people for misusing the apostrophe.

Perhaps he's doing it as performance art or satire.

Unfortunately it seems more likely that it's merely Dunning-Kruger at work.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

And for those who like to keep score at home, that quote is not the only misuse of the apostrophe that Iain engages in, even when restricting consideration to merely the front page of his blog.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

And for those who like to keep score at home, that quote is not the only misuse of the apostrophe that Iain engages in, even when restricting consideration to merely the front page of his blog.

Omigod! Iain Hall must be one of those lefty commie bastards wot cant spell or grammerate!

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Well my rather innocuous comments seem to have generated a whirlwind of response

Lotharsson

...Just accepting any argument from authority as you are suggesting does not make any sense for a thinking individual...

You're right. They first have to think about whether they are personally qualified to assess the science themselves, and if not what kinds of bodies or groups would be the best bet to delegate that kind of assessment to - and what the chances are that an overwhelming consensus amongst the professionally qualified scientists in the field is badly wrong.

My point here is that any "argument from authority" is generally considered to be a very poor way to argue about the details of any scientific question especially in a forum that is open to the scientific laity. Further you compound the weak argument by suggesting that "consensus " proves anything in scientific terms when it is quite clear that it does no such thing(until Copernicus demonstrated that the earth was not the centre of our solar system the consensus used to be that the sun rotated around this planet didn't it?)

Then the thinking individuals who don't have their own climate science expertise will mostly figure that national scientific bodies reporting on an overwhelming professional consensus complete with masses of evidence and documentation of the procedures used to reach it are a far better bet than pretty much all of the bodies and individuals who disagree with that consensus.

So what you are saying here is that we should all just bow down to those who are suitably anointed by the priests of the green faith and don't dare to ask the most basic questions like "can you actually provide a proof for the AGW theory that meets the requirements of the scientific method? Or can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?

... especially when those saying "trust me" are "climate scientists" who have a vested interest in there being an AGW industry that gets lots of money for "research"...

When you use scare quotes around the word "research" and "climate scientists", you are implying that they are not actually climate scientists and not actually conducting research.

On what basis do you form that opinion, and on what basis do you assert that your opinion is accurate?

No That is the implication that you are choosing to draw from my using quotation marks in that context You are making a straw-man argument here and all that I am implying here is that the cult of the "expert" to which you so obviously subscribe is not something that we should bow down to in an age when ordinary folk can have a say in the matters that will affect our lives

And no, they don't have a vested interest in AGW itself. They have a vested interest in there being money for research - no scare quotes needed - either in the climate, or in other fields which they could equally well apply themselves to if there were no important climate questions left to study. And it would be foolish to pretend that understanding the climate system is not pretty damn important even if they were to find that AGW was not a problem.

I think that you will find that I said that they had a vested interest in the AGW Industry and that is certainly true because without the ongoing scare campaign many of those involved in climate research would be unemployed.

You also seem to be unaware that the vast majority of the "lots of money for "research"" you refer to goes to satellite monitoring programs. We'd still want to do that even if AGW were not a concern.

The majority? Oh please provide some proof for this assertion because it sounds like you just made that up.

And one should also note that there is a lifetime of kudos, boundless professional opportunity, a Nobel Prize and widespread fame on offer for any scientist who can prove that anthropogenic factors are not significantly influencing the climate. You'd think if as you imply a whole bunch of scientists were conspiring to suppress the truth that someone would step up to claim these prizes, no? Why haven't they?

The other side of that same coin is obviously "Why has no scientist definitely proven that anthropogenic factors ARE significantly influencing the climate?" because for all of the words and papers uttered in favour of the AGW theory no one has quite managed to do this now have they?

And if you're going to talk about vested interests...how about them fossil fuel industries, heh?

How much has been spent by the "fossil fuel industries" to argue against the AGW theory and how much money has been extracted from government and industry for AGW research?

I only call people deniers if they deny the fairly clear facts - such as the facts that "climate scientists" are actual scientists, and there "research" is actual research, and that there is a great deal of evidence that says it's far more likely than not that human influences are significantly contributing to ongoing warming.

You seem to be angling to be in that category.

As I suggested earlier you are fighting your own straw man here rather than addressing my actual argument but that is not unusual for you is it Lothorsson?

Wow

"Chris O'Neill I may call AGW believers "Warminisitas" But how many of you insist on calling AGW sceptics "deniers"???"

Because Warministas means nothing. We say it's warm outside?!?

However, AGW skeptics are not called deniers. Because you're not a skeptic, you're a denier. As in you're shown evidence and deny it is valid.

The FACT that you state AGW skeptic as your moniker when skepticism is not skepticism ABOUT ONE THING shows that you are not a skeptic but just wish to state that AGW is not a problem.

So I make it clear that my scepticism is on this occasion specifically about the theory of AGW , which is absolutely accurate in this context, for you to suggest that my scepticism is not broad enough is just ludicrous because only an idiot would think that being specific about one issue means that it is the only thing that I am sceptical about.

Funnily enough, all the self-proclaimed skeptics who deny AGW have multitudinous (well over a hundred) different explanations of what is going on, but they're incompatible with each other, the only thing they have in common is "it's not what the IPCC says it is".

Isn't it the responsibility of those who are proposing a theory (like AGW) to prove their theory? Well it was when I learned about science...

Not once will one of them go and be skeptical of someone who thinks it's not warming when they think it is but it's due to some lensing effect they'll discover any day now, honest.

But where you fall down is to assume that being an AGW sceptic means that someone has to doubt that it is warming (or that the climate may be changing) neither is necessary (or accurate in my case) all that one has to be is doubtful that the argument for human responsibility for any observed changes has been proven.

Most self-proclaimed skeptics actually have nothing to their mantra other than "it's not what the IPCC says" which absolves them of this problem but does rather mean they fit the dictionary definition of denier.

It's horses for courses. If you don't like "denier" then start being a skeptic.

Well I speak for no one but myself and my argument is simply that the AGW theory is unproven and those who claim otherwise have the onus of proof and they have failed to provide it.

Posted by: Chris O'Neill | March 24, 2011 7:13 AM

You can call people warministas if you like but it's so obviously silly because it implies that you don't accept that warming is occurring, regardless of the cause. Anyone who doesn't accept that warming is occurring is in plain denial of a lot of facts.

So call people warministas if you like but it comes with a big red flag that says "I deny that it's warming".

Sorry to disappoint you Chris but that is an incorrect implication , I call AGW enthusiasts Warministas because it is making an oblique reference to the left-wing guerillas from Nicaragua ( the Sandinistas) as I said a little earlier in this response its not the warming or climate change that I dispute, its the amount of human responsibility for that change that is the real issue isn't it?

Lotharsson

You expect to be taken seriously on the matter of objective delineation of climate science. Unfortunately for you, you have failed to convince me to sign up as a potential member of your audience by your inability to title your posts objectively: to wit - "Being Bobâs Biatch..." as a heading for your opinion on the protest against climate change science and carbon pricing. The protestor's sign to which you refer said "BITCH", Iain Hall, not "Biatch" - there's no benefit in being all coy and demure about what those on the ignorant side say.

The title of my post is a Rap culture reference if you really need to know and since when does any writer of a blog have an obligation to meet any standard of "objectivity" when writing about politics? Because despite your suggestion to the contrary that is what my post is about, the politics of protest and the ridiculous faux outrage about a couple of signs at a rally.

However, that's just a simple snark. What struck me as somewhat more incongruous with objectivity was your claim:

[...]In my experience in dealing with lay people on non-scientific fora, it is overwhelmingly the conservative right that harbours the ill-educated folk who have difficulty in appropriate apostrophising.

Of course, this is simply my personal experience, but that's the point - I predicate my observation as such. Your sweeping generalisation indicates both an inadequate assessment of the reality of who does what with apostrophies(sic), and a preparedness to base your opinions on less than evidence.

Well my experience has been contrary to yours, especially when it comes to the younger generation who are forever texting or putting their thoughts out on twitter, they seem to be entirely oblivious when it comes to the use of the apostrophe to designate the possessive case. We will just have to agree to disagree on this.

For these reasons I dismiss your partings(sic).

Oh, and there's the small, specific matter of your cavalier denial of the work of thousands of professional scientists. Which, in the end, is really the substantive point anyway...

I have never denied that thousands of scientists who are paid for their work do research, what I have said is that they have a way to go when it comes to proving the AGW theory and that those who suggest otherwise are at best being elastic with the concept of scientific proof or don't understand it in the first place.

Lothorsson

Pot. Kettle. Black. (ect)

Wearing your Subbie's hat are you ?

Count the errors in that one fraction of a sentence - errors including misuse of the apostrophe - in the very post where he chides people for misusing the apostrophe.

Perhaps he's doing it as performance art or satire.

Unfortunately it seems more likely that it's merely Dunning-Kruger at work.

I am absolutely humble about my abilities and understanding of science, you on the other hand are deluded enough to think that if you genuflect to authority with enough sincerity then any argument that you put forward will be definitive and beyond challenge, sadly for you your foray into debate here proves otherwise.

156And for those who like to keep score at home, that quote is not the only misuse of the apostrophe that Iain engages in, even when restricting consideration to merely the front page of his blog.

Really?

Like who cares? Its a personal blog and I make no claims for spelling perfection and I am not a professional word smith like you are. How is the Book coming BTW? Care to send me a copy for review?

Cheers

Iain Hall

Iain, first things first.

Theré isn't any "AGW theory". There's 'climate science' which examines and explains the past and present climate. AGW is merely a sub-set of the general science because, at present, that is the major observable event in climate.

If the major influence on climate of the last 60+ years were a warming/ cooling sun or an upsurge/decline in volcanic activity, that would most likely be the focus of more research. As it happens, those things are researched anyway, to examine whether they could explain all or most of the climate phenomena that we see.

"AGW theory" is just the outcome of careful research showing that those other factors are minor or, in the case of the sun, actually providing a cooling effect over the last 20+ years. The research also shows that the predicted effects of gases having certain properties are borne out by the evidence.

Adelady

AGW is a theory that suggests that the extra emissions from human activity is the major driver of the observed climate change but there is no definitive proof of this assertion.

Iain Hall has some explaining to do, Iâll list [some of his arguments](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/carbon_tax_back_flips.php#comme…) as examples:

>*you compound the weak argument by suggesting that "consensus " proves anything in scientific terms*
Is that true Iain, did someone here really suggest that suggesting that *"consensus " proves anything in scientific terms*? Can you show us who made such a claim?

Iain continues:
>* So what you are saying here is that we should all just bow down to those who are suitably anointed by the priests of the green faith and don't dare to ask the most basic questions like "can you actually provide a proof for the AGW theory that meets the requirements of the scientific method? Or can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?*

Is that really what was said or this just the straw that youâd prefer to argue rather than address the really issues? If you are actually interested in climate sensitivity we [can discuss that](http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sensitivity-advanced.htm).
BTW, Last time I looked proof was not how science operated, science is based on the preponderance of evidence. Maths is based on proofs.

>*"Why has no scientist definitely proven that anthropogenic factors ARE significantly influencing the climate?" because for all of the words and papers uttered in favour of the AGW theory no one has quite managed to do this now have they?*

Would you like a pink unicorn to go with your impossible standard Iain. You seem very attached to this not scientific standard call proof. Let me redirect your interest to the actual scientific standard of preponderance of available evidence.

I counted (roughly) eleven times were you made your argument about the proof or lack of re AGW. I hope you now realize this is a pink unicorn strawman argument relying on an non-scientific impossible standard. I suggest if you are interested in a scientific argument, that you move to the scientific standard of evidence.

(make that 12 bogus times with your response to Adelady.)

Iain Hall writes:

>I think that you will find that I said that [climate researchers] had a vested interest in the AGW Industry and that is certainly true because without the ongoing scare campaign many of those involved in climate research would be unemployed.*

Mmm, and same for those cancer reserchers. And the Alzheimer's reserchers. I guess we can expect the Medical association to begin advancing laxer public health standards so they can increase their customer base and employment opportunities?

Clearly, Iain Hall is a denier. He does not accept authoritative expert scientific opinions, but he does give credence to the ideas of fringe-living cranks.
He can't explain why all the properly-qualified are wrong, and seems to think the science is something that's up for "debate" by people who don't have the skills, training or knowledge to contribute to it. The sole justification he supplies is a vague and laughable accusation of corruption against scientists. The fact that none of them drive Ferraris doesn't seem to register with him.

Ultimately, Iain will take his place in history alongside Tony Abbott and the rest of the deluded and ideological anti-science kooks.

If he were willing to accept any advice, I would offer this: think of your reputation and discard ideology before bringing proper analytic skills to this issue. It's not just your own career that is on the line, the credibility of the Liberal Party itself is at stake, and things are not looking too good so far. Get Malcolm to explain it to you if you're having trouble - not everybody in the Liberal Party has allowed itself to be fooled by the cranks and kooks who agitate on this issue.

By Vince whirlwind (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

jakerman

Iain Hall has some explaining to do, Iâll list some of his arguments as examples:

{...}

Iain continues:

{...}

Is that really what was said or this just the straw that youâd prefer to argue rather than address the really issues? If you are actually interested in climate sensitivity we can discuss that. BTW, Last time I looked proof was not how science operated, science is based on the preponderance of evidence. Maths is based on proofs.

{...}

Would you like a pink unicorn to go with your impossible standard Iain. You seem very attached to this not scientific standard call proof. Let me redirect your interest to the actual scientific standard of preponderance of available evidence.

I counted (roughly) eleven times were you made your argument about the proof or lack of re AGW. I hope you now realize this is a pink unicorn strawman argument relying on an non-scientific impossible standard. I suggest if you are interested in a scientific argument, that you move to the scientific standard of evidence.

(make that 12 bogus times with your response to Adelady.)

What is so wrong with wanting a high standard of proof for a theory that is the foundation for calls to change every aspect of our economy and our lives? Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence doesn't that suggest that you are working on the basis of faith rather than empirical science?

Further your link to the article about climate sensitivity just demonstrates the problem in that aspect of the theory, namely there is not even a consensus of just what the climate sensitivity is

 

Mmm, and same for those cancer reserchers. And the Alzheimer's reserchers. I guess we can expect the Medical association to begin advancing laxer public health standards so they can increase their customer base and employment opportunities?

Actually that is a rather poor analogy because it is pretty well known how both of those diseases work (which does not mean a cure or a treatment is pending) but there is some rather blatant examples of researchers manipulating research to make more money while the results for patients are at best questionable.

Iain Hall:

Sorry to disappoint you Chris but that is an incorrect implication , I call AGW enthusiasts Warministas because it is making an oblique reference to the left-wing guerillas from Nicaragua ( the Sandinistas) as I said a little earlier in this response its not the warming or climate change that I dispute, its the amount of human responsibility for that change that is the real issue isn't it?

You still don't get the point. Since you accept that it's warming it makes as much sense to call you a warminista too. What do you think the word "warm" means? Don't you think it's a bit silly everyone calling everyone else warmininistas? (Apart from the people who are completely in denial of warming).

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

> My point here is that any "argument from authority" is ...a very poor way to argue about the details of any scientific question especially in a forum that is open to the scientific laity.

Er, disregarding the illogic of implying that argument from authority has no place in a forum frequented by people who don't have any scientific expertise of their own...

...you missed my point.

See my comments after the next quote:

> ...by suggesting that "consensus " proves anything in scientific terms...

No, no, no. This is not my argument at all. Nuances matter.

I argue that if one is incompetent to assess the science oneself, as you seem to acknowledge that you are:

> I am absolutely humble about my abilities and understanding of science...

...then one needs to move on to a different method of determining one's belief about what is most likely true.

A reasonable method is to accept that while it is possible that an overwhelming consensus amongst qualified scientists will turn out to be wrong, (a) it is rather unlikely, and (b) until such time as evidence turns up to lend significant support to the idea that it might be wrong it's wise to assume that it's right, and (c) clinging to arguments as to why the consensus is wrong that sound good to amateurs in the pub but don't hold any sway with scientists who know their stuff is idiotic.

I'm more than happy to hear arguments as to why the consensus is wrong, but they have to pass scientific muster! Point (c) is especially important for those who aren't scientifically competent themselves, and it's the one that's most often violated.

And none of this applies to those competent to assess the science, which reinforces that I'm not arguing that scientific consensus is always correct.

> So what you are saying here is that we should all just bow down to those who are suitably anointed by the priests of the green faith...

Er, no. I see comprehension is not your strong point, and you've somehow determined that the scientists are en masse making ... what, fraudulent claims on behalf of an ideology other than a search for scientific truth?

So...once more with feeling - if you aren't scientifically capable yourself, then making an argument that "I don't believe the science" without backing it up in terms that pass scientific muster with those who are actually competent in the appropriate scientific field is ... well, Dunning-Krugeresque, for starters.

And your assertion that somehow the national science bodies are captive to "high priests of the green faith" is ... interesting, and apparently unsupported by any evidence. How did you come to this belief? Do you assert that you think you understand the science deeply enough to make this conclusion? Or are you ... appealing to some authority?

> ...don't dare to ask the most basic questions like "can you actually provide a proof for the AGW theory that meets the requirements of the scientific method?"

Please! That question is asked all the time!

What the heck do you think climate scientists studying AGW - and creating IPCC reports - have been working on? Perhaps your misapprehension is due to a flawed understanding of "the scientific method". (There is a common denialist meme that operates just like this...)

> Or can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?

Don't be obtuse.

Can you provide an accurate value for how deeply the front end of my car will be crushed if I drive it off this cliff? Should the lack of an accurate value mean that I should not be worried for my safety if I start driving towards it? Or does the reasonable uncertainty bounds for that value imply that I really don't want to do so?

> That is the implication that you are choosing to draw from my using quotation marks in that context

Indeed, because that is what "scare quotes" mean, making it hard to draw any other implication. If you don't realise this, then you probably shouldn't use them.

> The majority? Oh please provide some proof for this assertion because it sounds like you just made that up.

Google is a remedy for your ignorance.

> ...because without the ongoing scare campaign many of those involved in climate research would be unemployed.

On what basis do you make this claim? Please provide some proof for this assertion because it sounds like you just made that up. And on the other hand, we have actual working scientists commenting on this blog asserting otherwise.

> The other side of that same coin is obviously "Why has no scientist definitely proven that anthropogenic factors ARE significantly influencing the climate?" because for all of the words and papers uttered in favour of the AGW theory no one has quite managed to do this now have they?

No, it's not the other side of the coin. You reveal your lack of understanding of science by claiming that it is.

Science operates with uncertainty and likelihood bounds, and within reasonable bounds scientists have proven what you claim they have not. You can assert that they have not done so, but so far your assertions on that point are merely unsupported and non-scientific bluster. You seem to be echoing classic "high-proofer" or Popperian fundamentalist memers - stances that I'm betting you don't apply to other scientific results that you leverage in daily life.

> The title of my post is a Rap culture reference...

I didn't write the quote to which you were responding there, and yes, I got the rap culture reference.

> Wearing your Subbie's hat are you ?

I don't know what a Subbie is or why it should be capitalised. I do know something about stones and glass houses though.

> ...you ... are deluded enough to think that if you genuflect to authority with enough sincerity then any argument that you put forward will be definitive and beyond challenge...

Not at all! I'm more than happy to have my arguments challenged - it's how errors in my thinking are corrected. But I also know there are questions I'm not competent to answer, and in those cases I try to look for those who are. I note that this is not a universal practice.

And I merely insist that the merit of any scientific argument cannot be reliably assessed ... unfortunately rather tautologically, but apparently it's necessary ... by those who aren't equipped to assess the science. Being suitably equipped includes a reasonably broad knowledge of the particular field in question so that one can weigh all the evidence, not just a subset that someone would like you to focus on.

And I also note that many of the "skeptics" and "deniers" are (a) clearly not equipped to assess the science, if only because they insist on scientific "facts" that scientists have clearly refuted, and (b) clearly make assertions such as "the scientists haven't proved AGW" that either (i) rely on the assumption that they are so equipped, or (ii) rely on appeal to some perceived authority - which wouldn't be very smart if they were also arguing that appeal to authority in arguments about science on blogs is not useful or valid.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

> Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence doesn't that suggest that you are working on the basis of faith rather than empirical science?

Good god. Really?

The evidence is quite strong. Saying it's weak doesn't make it so. You have to provide a reasonable argument for that assertion.

So feel free to explain why you assert that the evidence is weak, without resorting to argument from authority. References would be really helpful. You'll find copious references to evidence and logic in the sections of the IPCC reports that deal with the case for AGW - you should probably go through the vast majority of those and show how they are outweighed by other evidence and logic. And if you want any credibility you should check your arguments and evidence before you publish to make sure climate scientists haven't already assessed and dismissed them as bogus or irrelevant.

I look forward to reading your argument.

But really, "every aspect of human life and culture"? Remind me who's supposedly running a scare campaign here?

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Iain Hall writes:
>*What is so wrong with wanting a high standard of proof*

Iâve explained what is wrong with it. âProofâ is not a scientist standard. You may has well ask for a pink unicorn. Your continued adherence to this pink unicorn standard is denial of how science operates.

Iain reverts to his strawman fallacious tactic:

>* Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence*

You havenât debated, let along establish, the strength of the evidence, so how do you know the evidence is weak?

Iain continues:

>*Actually [cancer & Alzheimer's research] is a rather poor analogy because it is pretty well known how both of those diseases work (which does not mean a cure or a treatment is pending)*

You should be more precise, we understand some important parts of how these diseases work. And thus itâs a fair analogy as there is much that is understood of how the climate works.

>*but there is some rather blatant examples of researchers manipulating research to make more money while the results for patients are at best questionable.*

Which distinguishes climate researchers as a higher standard, as despite unprecedented scrutiny know scientific fraud has been found in climate science.

>*Further your link to the article about climate sensitivity just demonstrates the problem in that aspect of the theory, namely there is not even a consensus of just what the climate sensitivity is*

Your arguing for a purple unicorn to match your pink one. You donât need consensus on a specific climate sensitively. We have multiple lines of evidence used to determine probability density function of climate sensitivity. This is diverse and strong evidence that the climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

Chris @167

You still don't get the point. Since you accept that it's warming it makes as much sense to call you a warminista too.

No sorry but to be a Warminista you a have to believe that it is both warming and that the warming is the fault of modern industrial society.

What do you think the word "warm" means? Don't you think it's a bit silly everyone calling everyone else Warministas? (Apart from the people who are completely in denial of warming).

As I have said before in this thread the point of contention is not the climate warming or failing to do so, but the amount of any perceived warming that can be attributed to human activity. You clearly think that most of the perceived warming is due to human activity where as I don't think there is enough proof to make such a claim, I'm willing to be convinced though so please try.

Iain writes:
>*What is so wrong with wanting a high standard of proof*

Iâve explained what is wrong with it. âProofâ is not a scientist standard. You may has well ask for a pink unicorn. Your continued adherence to this pink unicorn standard is denial of how science operates.

Iain reverts to his strawman fallacious tactic:

>* Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence*

You havenât debated, let along establish, the strength of the evidence, so how do you know the evidence is weak?

Iain continues:

>*Actually [cancer & Alzheimer's research] is a rather poor analogy because it is pretty well known how both of those diseases work (which does not mean a cure or a treatment is pending)*

You should be more precise, we understand some important parts of how these diseases work. And thus itâs a fair analogy as there is much that is understood of how the climate works.

>*but there is some rather blatant examples of researchers manipulating research to make more money while the results for patients are at best questionable.*

Which distinguishes climate researchers as a higher standard, as despite unprecedented scrutiny know scientific fraud has been found in climate science.

>*Further your link to the article about climate sensitivity just demonstrates the problem in that aspect of the theory, namely there is not even a consensus of just what the climate sensitivity is*

Your arguing for a purple unicorn to match your pink one. You donât need consensus on a specific climate sensitively. We have multiple lines of evidence used to determine probability density function of climate sensitivity. This is diverse and strong evidence that the climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

Iain Hall writes:
>*What is so wrong with wanting a high standard of proof*

Iâve explained what is wrong with it. âProofâ is not a scientist standard. You may has well ask for a pink unicorn. Your continued adherence to this pink unicorn standard is denial of how science operates.

Iain reverts to his strawman fallacious tactic:

>* Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence*

You havenât debated, let along establish, the strength of the evidence, so how do you know the evidence is weak?

Iain continues:

>*Actually [cancer & Alzheimer's research] is a rather poor analogy because it is pretty well known how both of those diseases work (which does not mean a cure or a treatment is pending)*

You should be more precise, we understand some important parts of how these diseases work. And thus itâs a fair analogy as there is much that is understood of how the climate works.

>*but there is some rather blatant examples of researchers manipulating research to make more money while the results for patients are at best questionable.*

Which distinguishes climate researchers as a higher standard, as despite unprecedented scrutiny know scientific fraud has been found in climate science.

>*Further your link to the article about climate sensitivity just demonstrates the problem in that aspect of the theory, namely there is not even a consensus of just what the climate sensitivity is*

Your arguing for a purple unicorn to match your pink one. You donât need consensus on a specific climate sensitively. We have multiple lines of evidence used to determine probability density function of climate sensitivity. This is diverse and strong evidence that the climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

Iain continues:

>*Actually [cancer & Alzheimer's research] is a rather poor analogy because it is pretty well known how both of those diseases work (which does not mean a cure or a treatment is pending)*

You should be more precise, we understand some important parts of how these diseases work. And thus itâs a fair analogy as there is much that is understood of how the climate works.

>*but there is some rather blatant examples of researchers manipulating research to make more money while the results for patients are at best questionable.*

Which distinguishes climate researchers as a high standard, as despite unprecedented scrutiny no scientific fr@ud has been found in climate science.

>*Further your link to the article about climate sensitivity just demonstrates the problem in that aspect of the theory, namely there is not even a consensus of just what the climate sensitivity is*

Your arguing for a purple unicorn to match your pink one. You donât need consensus on a specific climate sensitively. We have multiple lines of evidence used to determine probability density function of climate sensitivity. This is diverse and strong evidence that the climate sensitivity is between 2 and 4.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

Iain, can you explain why doctors and mediacal associates campaing for high public health standards that reduce the demand for medical services? Why do they act against what you might have us believe is (in your critique of climate researchers) their self interest for employment?

Frankly if you are happy to have every aspect of human life and culture on this planet changed on the basis of such weak evidence doesn't that suggest that you are working on the basis of faith rather than empirical science?

That's the question for the deniers to answer.

Climate change is going to affect every aspect of our lives. So far no denier has produced strong evidence supporting their case.

Lothersson

My point here is that any "argument from authority" is ...a very poor way to argue about the details of any scientific question especially in a forum that is open to the scientific laity.

Er, disregarding the illogic of implying that argument from authority has no place in a forum frequented by people who don't have any scientific expertise of their own...

I did not say that it has NO place in a forum discussing this topic only, that it is a fundamentally weak way to argue

...you missed my point.

See my comments after the next quote:

...by suggesting that "consensus " proves anything in scientific terms...

No, no, no. This is not my argument at all. Nuances matter.

I argue that if one is incompetent to assess the science oneself, as you seem to acknowledge that you are:

I am absolutely humble about my abilities and understanding of science...

And you mistake my humility for an admission that I know nothing about science, which is not the case.

r...then one needs to move on to a different method of determining one's belief about what is most likely true.

A reasonable method is to accept that while it is possible that an overwhelming consensus amongst qualified scientists will turn out to be wrong, (a) it is rather unlikely, and (b) until such time as evidence turns up to lend significant support to the idea that it might be wrong it's wise to assume that it's right, and (c) clinging to arguments as to why the consensus is wrong that sound good to amateurs in the pub but don't hold any sway with scientists who know their stuff is idiotic.

Lets agree that there being a "consensus" may lend some weight to an argument but it is never wise (as my earlier referencing Copernicus shows) to suggest , as you do, that it is in any way definitive or substantial when it comes to making a scientific argument.

I'm more than happy to hear arguments as to why the consensus is wrong, but they have to pass scientific muster! Point (c) is especially important for those who aren't scientifically competent themselves, and it's the one that's most often violated.

Would any scientist worth their salt make the argument that their ideas are consistent with the consensus therefore they are scientifically correct? Being consistent with some broad consensus proves nothing.

And none of this applies to those competent to assess the science, which reinforces that I'm not arguing that scientific consensus is always correct.

Its funny that you should say this now because earlier you were suggesting that the consensus is of great import and that we should accept it as a proof of the AGW theory.

So what you are saying here is that we should all just bow down to those who are suitably anointed by the priests of the green faith...

Er, no. I see comprehension is not your strong point, and you've somehow determined that the scientists are en masse making ... what, fraudulent claims on behalf of an ideology other than a search for scientific truth?

I see that you don't do metaphors very well and if I was going to allege a conspiracy then I would just come straight out and say so, My comment actually addresses your excessive zeal for suggesting that all we need to see is the qualifications of someone talking about AGW to know how true their claims are. That is fundamentally unscientific.

So...once more with feeling - if you aren't scientifically capable yourself, then making an argument that "I don't believe the science" without backing it up in terms that pass scientific muster with those who are actually competent in the appropriate scientific field is ... well, Dunning-Krugeresque, for starters.

You have no idea how scientifically capable I am, I am a modest man but I do appreciate the basics pretty well.

And your assertion that somehow the national science bodies are captive to "high priests of the green faith" is ... interesting, and apparently unsupported by any evidence. How did you come to this belief? Do you assert that you think you understand the science deeply enough to make this conclusion? Or are you ... appealing to some authority?

No I am suggesting that You are en the thrall of those high priests not the "national science bodies" which I did not invoke at all.

...don't dare to ask the most basic questions like "can you actually provide a proof for the AGW theory that meets the requirements of the scientific method?"

Please! That question is asked all the time!

What the heck do you think climate scientists studying AGW - and creating IPCC reports - have been working on? Perhaps your misapprehension is due to a flawed understanding of "the scientific method". (There is a common denialist meme that operates just like this...)

They may have been working on it but they don't have an unequivocal answer now do they? as for the scientific method I under stand it well enough to appreciate that there is no way of testing the AGW theory that would validate it by way of a repeatable experiment .

Or can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?

Don't be obtuse.

Can you provide an accurate value for how deeply the front end of my car will be crushed if I drive it off this cliff? Should the lack of an accurate value mean that I should not be worried for my safety if I start driving towards it? Or does the reasonable uncertainty bounds for that value imply that I really don't want to do so?

Yes I could actually, as I have built a car myself and I understand a fair bit about automotive design But your analogy does not really work as it makes a faulty assumption that in terms of the future climate we are heading over a cliff and there is no great certainty tah thais will actaully be where we are heading.

That is the implication that you are choosing to draw from my using quotation marks in that context

Indeed, because that is what "scare quotes" mean, making it hard to draw any other implication. If you don't realise this, then you probably shouldn't use them.

The majority? Oh please provide some proof for this assertion because it sounds like you just made that up.

Google is a remedy for your ignorance.

You made the assertion so you have the onus of proof, this is just a cop out.

...because without the ongoing scare campaign many of those involved in climate research would be unemployed.

On what basis do you make this claim? Please provide some proof for this assertion because it sounds like you just made that up. And on the other hand, we have actual working scientists commenting on this blog asserting otherwise.

How much money is being pumped into research about climate compared to say thirty years ago?

Would those "working scientists " be working without the funding from government to consider the future of the climate?

They would not be working without the funding QED.

The other side of that same coin is obviously "Why has no scientist definitely proven that anthropogenic factors ARE significantly influencing the climate?" because for all of the words and papers uttered in favour of the AGW theory no one has quite managed to do this now have they?

No, it's not the other side of the coin. You reveal your lack of understanding of science by claiming that it is.

Another cop out! It is entirely appropriate to counter your suggestion that those who doubt the AGW theory have to prove a negative (to win great accolades) by reminding you that those making the AGW argument don't have a high standard of proof either.

Science operates with uncertainty and likelihood bounds, and within reasonable bounds scientists have proven what you claim they have not. You can assert that they have not done so, but so far your assertions on that point are merely unsupported and non-scientific bluster. You seem to be echoing classic "high-proofer" or Popperian fundamentalist memers - stances that I'm betting you don't apply to other scientific results that you leverage in daily life.

Well I would argue that the higher the stakes are the higher standard of proof we should require before we act, AGW enthusiasts like yourself want to see our entire society remade into a low energy low environmental impact society without substantiating your underlying reasons for doing so.

Not at all! I'm more than happy to have my arguments challenged - it's how errors in my thinking are corrected. But I also know there are questions I'm not competent to answer, and in those cases I try to look for those who are. I note that this is not a universal practice.

So how precisely do you decide who to turn to is such circumstances?

On what basis do you respect an authority?

And I merely insist that the merit of any scientific argument cannot be reliably assessed ... unfortunately rather tautologically, but apparently it's necessary ... by those who aren't equipped to assess the science. Being suitably equipped includes a reasonably broad knowledge of the particular field in question so that one can weigh all the evidence, not just a subset that someone would like you to focus on.

If a scientific argument is so dense and obscure that the gist of it can not be understood by a layman then it is open to the reasonable suspicion that it contains too much bovine excrement.

And I also note that many of the "skeptics" and "deniers" are (a) clearly not equipped to assess the science, if only because they insist on scientific "facts" that scientists have clearly refuted, and (b) clearly make assertions such as "the scientists haven't proved AGW" that either (i) rely on the assumption that they are so equipped, or (ii) rely on appeal to some perceived authority - which wouldn't be very smart if they were also arguing that appeal to authority in arguments about science on blogs is not useful or valid.

You are currently arguing with me rather than the nebulous straw sceptics that invoke here, and If my suggestion that AGW is unproven is wrong then kindly show me where it has been definitively demonstrated to be correct , heck I'll even be happy with the civil litigation standard of proof here. But by the way It is you who keeps making appeals to authority here, not I.

The evidence is quite strong. Saying it's weak doesn't make it so. You have to provide a reasonable argument for that assertion.

Hmm shall we start with the paucity of the data for the planets climate the further into the past that we go?

How about the weakness of climate proxies for the reconstruction of paleo climates?

So feel free to explain why you assert that the evidence is weak, without resorting to argument from authority. References would be really helpful. You'll find copious references to evidence and logic in the sections of the IPCC reports that deal with the case for AGW - you should probably go through the vast majority of those and show how they are outweighed by other evidence and logic. And if you want any credibility you should check your arguments and evidence before you publish to make sure climate scientists haven't already assessed and dismissed them as bogus or irrelevant.

Like a lot of god-bothers that I used to argue with in days gone by you insist on trying to make the argument all about the tenants of your faith, and cite your prophets pronouncements, go instead to the fundamentals, of accurate data and sound reasoning

I look forward to reading your argument.

Well please try to address what I say rather than your men of straw and we will have a lovely time ;)

But really, "every aspect of human life and culture"? Remind me who's supposedly running a scare campaign here?

So are you suggesting that for your cure to the "AGW problem" that there doesn't have to be huge changes to the way our society functions?

Zoot

Climate change is going to affect every aspect of our lives. So far no denier has produced strong evidence supporting their case.

Assuming for the sake of argument that you are right (and to get this thread a bit closer to the original topic of Carbon tax backflips ) don't you think that it is unwise to create a huge money churn that will achieve nothing of substance (for nearly a thousand years according to Tim Flannery) rather than to put our efforts into practical adaptation as the climate changes?

Iain: tl; dr.

Please come back when you can make a concise argument. I suggest you spend a little time at skepticalScience or similar before engaging here.

Why do deniers flood the web with such lengthy but ultimately empty writing? (Don't answer that, I think I already know the answer to this one, and I don't want anyone bursting my bubble.)

Iain:
>>*can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?*

Loth:
>Don't be obtuse. Can you provide an accurate value for how deeply the front end of my car will be crushed if I drive it off this cliff?

Iain:
>*Yes I could actually, as I have built a car myself and I understand a fair bit about automotive design*

Are you being truthful Iain? If so, then please give your answer (and confidence interval) for how deeply the front end of your car will be deformed if driven off a cliff?. Lets start with a modest 5 metre cliff.

Zoot:
I think the phrase is "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

This is not a one-or-the-other scenario. We will be spending a lot of money on adaptation (practical and otherwise.) When we have to eat into our prevention budget in order to fund our adaptation budget (as was proposed after the recent Qld wet season) then we are not thinking with our heads.

>*don't you think that it is unwise to create a huge money churn that will achieve nothing of substance (for nearly a thousand years according to Tim Flannery) rather than to put our efforts into practical adaptation as the climate changes?*

Yes I agree with that.

But instead of discussing Iain's unspecified thing that "will achieve nothing of substance ", let us instead get back to the topic of a carbon tax, which if desinged correctly will send a market signal to price part of the damage of excessive CO2 and rightful aid growth in low carbon alternatives.

Jakerman

For the fall from your five meter cliff does the car have any forward momentum or is it just a nose first dead drop to the ground?

How hard is the ground in question? is it solid rock, soil, sand or mud?

When I crashed the car into an embankment at 60kph (in the rain) the damage was restricted to the destruction of the fibreglass nose-cone and radiator and some superficial damage to the engine cover the chassis was in fact undamaged I quite reasonably expect that the damage would be in the same ball park in your 5m drop hypothetical
Iain

Jakerman

Yes I agree with that.

Hooray! a small patch of common ground!!!

But instead of discussing Iain's unspecified thing that "will achieve nothing of substance ", let us instead get back to the topic of a carbon tax, which if designed correctly will send a market signal to price part of the damage of excessive CO2 and rightful aid growth in low carbon alternatives.

But will it do what you hope it will is the most pertinent question when it comes to a Carbon tax and the whole idea of a carbon tax seems to be predicated on wishful thinking and a wrong headed assumption that making existing sources of energy more expensive will be enough to make up for the greater expense and lower efficiency of the alternatives. Surely that is approaching the problem from the wrong direction and It makes more sense to make the alternatives more efficient and less expensive?
How for instance are you going to "design it correctly" so that it sends an effective "market signal" and still make it acceptable to the people in our democracy?

Iain, 2008 Camry Altise moving at at 10km/hr horizontally, falling on dry soil (80% clay, 10% sand, 10% river loam) with the ocassional stainless steel bollard (150mm dia, 20m thick 304 Stainless tube) extending 1 metere in the air, spaced radomly at 1 bollard per 20 m2.

Please provided your answer with your confidence intervals.

>* Hooray! a small patch of common ground!!!*

âAâ for comedy, âFâ for comprehension.

>*whole idea of a carbon tax seems to be predicated on wishful thinking and a wrong headed assumption that making existing sources of energy more expensive will be enough to make up for the greater expense and lower efficiency of the alternatives. *

Your argument seems to be predicated on a wrong headed assumption that a carbon tax simply makes existing sources of energy more expensive. A carbon tax not only internalises part of the cost of fossil fuels, but it increases demand and production of low carbon energy sources which [decrease in cost with rising production]( http://www.iea.org/work/2007/learning/Nemet_PV.pdf).

And you have left out how the revenue from the tax can be used to furthr accelerate the development of low carbon alternatives.

Not sure which alternatives you believe are lower efficiency than fossil fuel. As fossil fuel comes form photosynthesis (approx 1% efficient) and requires high temperature and pressure cooking, then mining, extraction or pumping, before being burned to create heat which is turned to kinetic energy then electricity (less than 30% efficiency) giving an overall efficiency of less than 0.3%.

Jakerman

Aâ for comedy, âFâ for comprehension.

Although I am rather fond of sarcasm I was not in fact being sarcastic when I suggested that it is good for us to find something to agree on. So am I to take it that You are retreating from your previous claim to agree with me about Flannery's statement?

>

Your argument seems to be predicated on a wrong headed assumption that a carbon tax simply makes existing sources of energy more expensive. A carbon tax not only internalises part of the cost of fossil fuels, but it increases demand and production of low carbon energy sources which decrease in cost with rising production.

Will it do this is the real question here isn't it? and there is considerable doubt that something as amorphous as our economy will dance to the same tune that economists are playing here surely that is wishful thinking that assumes too much about the behaviour of business

And you have left out how the revenue from the tax can be used to furthr(sic) accelerate the development of low carbon alternatives.

Will it really? the example of all of those wind turbines in China come to mind, they were required to build them by the government but have no obligation to connect them to the grid so they are touted as an example of China going green but in reality they don't do anything to reduce their burning of coal.

Not sure which alternatives you believe are lower efficiency than fossil fuel. As fossil fuel comes form photosynthesis (approx 1% efficient) and requires high temperature and pressure cooking, then mining, extraction or pumping, before being burned to create heat which is turned to kinetic energy then electricity (less than 30% efficiency) giving an overall efficiency of less than 0.3%.

By efficiency I mean the delivery of the energy when it is actually required, wind turbines produce substantially less than their rated output and can not be relied upon in most circumstances, Photovoltaics produce no energy at night Geo thermal has not been made workable despite a large

As for your ever more ridiculous car falling of a cliff hypothetical you can't be serious!
look in a 5m fall you can't just say that the car would be travelling at an arbitrary 10kmh it would never reach that velocity in 5m and if the bollards are only occurring at a rate of one per 20 sq m then with a frontal area (of the engine compartment) of less than 2 sq m there is only a one in ten chance that the bollard would even come into the equation at all.
You asked me if I could say what the deformation of the front of my car would be in a 5m fall now as I have experienced an analogous impact in an actual crash I think that I have made may point and shown you that I understand what is involved here.

Lost a bit of my penultimate paragraph which should read:

By efficiency I mean the delivery of the energy when it is actually required, wind turbines produce substantially less than their rated output and can not be relied upon in most circumstances, Photovoltaics produce no energy at night Geo thermal has not been made workable despite a large investments, nuclear has been ruled out for Oz so it is not just price for the hardware that is in play here but also just how well the technology will actually work for business that matters.

> look in a 5m fall you can't just say that the car would be travelling at an arbitrary 10kmh it would never reach that velocity in 5m...

Basic high school physics that should be recalled by anyone claiming to "[appreciate the basics pretty well](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/carbon_tax_back_flips.php#comme…)".

Free-fall under the influence of gravity, dealing only with the vertical component of motion via decomposition, ignoring air resistance which is relatively small until approaching significant fractions of terminal velocity:

d = 0.5 * g * t^2

=> 5m = 0.5 * 9.8 * t^2

=> t = about 1s

v = g * t

=> v = about 10m/s = about 36km/h.

Checking assumptions: this is not even close to terminal velocity, so ignoring air resistance was reasonable.

So you're still making claims that (a) you can't substantiate and (b) would be really easy to check before you made them and (c) turn out to be flat wrong and (d) demonstrate that your self-assessment of your scientific capabilities is probably wildly inaccurate.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 24 Mar 2011 #permalink

Loth, not mention Iain mixes up horizontal with vertical.

Running ouf the door, but I'll be back later to discuss the rest of Iain's post. More fun to be had with his latest gem!

>*So am I to take it that You are retreating from your previous claim to agree with me about Flannery's statement?*

Given that you gave no specific statement from Flannary, there is nothing for me to retreat from. The point I agreed to was that I do not support steps that make no difference, which is why I on the contrary support a carbon tax (if designed well).

>*By efficiency I mean the delivery of the energy when it is actually required*

So you are using the well understood term of efficiency incorrectly. But thanks for telling us what you actually mean.

>*wind turbines produce substantially less than their rated output and can not be relied upon in most circumstances*

Again you use inaccurate language. Wind turbines produce on average less than that rated maximum. Yet this is factored into their cost per unit of energy delivered. When connected up over large distances (across different wind regimes) they are very reliable. There is nothing to prevent a 100% renewables grid where wind, solar, PV, hydro all support eachother with grind balancing capacity provided by flywheels, gas turbines, pumped storage and thermal storage.

>*Photovoltaics produce no energy at night*

Highest energy demand is during the day. PV is also well balanced by well distributed wind. And when we get closer to 100% renewables we can be interconnected with high voltage DC intercontinental linkages- Its always day somewhere.

>*Geo thermal has not been made workable despite a large investments*

Geo thermal is workable and is already [a going concern of 9 GW](http://www.geo-energy.org/pdf/reports/GEA_International_Market_Report_F…)

>*nuclear has been ruled out for Oz*

Nuclear can still play a significant role in geologically stable regions with lower renewable capacity.

Iain:
>>>>*can you provide an accurate value for the climate's sensitivity to Co2?*
Loth:
>>>>Don't be obtuse. Can you provide an accurate value for how deeply the front end of my car will be crushed if I drive it off this cliff?
Iain:
>>>*Yes I could actually, as I have built a car myself and I understand a fair bit about automotive design*

Jakerman:
>>Are you being truthful Iain? If so, then please give your answer (and confidence interval) for how deeply the front end of your car will be deformed if driven off a cliff?. Lets start with a modest 5 metre cliff.

Iain:
>>*For the fall from your five meter cliff does the car have any forward momentum or is it just a nose first dead drop to the ground?*

Jakerman:

>moving at 10km/hr horizontallyâ¦with the occasional stainless steel bollard â¦spaced randomly at 1 bollard per 20 m2.
Please provide your answer with your confidence intervals.

Ian:

>*As for your ever more ridiculous car falling of a cliff hypothetical you can't be serious! look in a 5m fall you can't just say that the car would be travelling at an arbitrary 10kmh it would never reach that velocity in 5m*
Iain not only mixed up horizontal velocity with vertical acceleration, but his assumptions about acceleration [are way off]( http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/carbon_tax_back_flips.php#comme…)

Iain:

> You asked me if I could say what the deformation of the front of my car would be in a 5m fall*

Incorrect Iain, [I asked you for]( http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/carbon_tax_back_flips.php#comme…) âan accurate value for how deeply the front end of Lotharssonâs] car will be crushed if I drive it off this cliff? That is the question to which you replied â*Yes I could actually*â

I suspected that when you did the real calculations youâd find that a range of probable deformation would be more realistic (given the chaotic factors in play and the low probability yet high impact resulting from the odd bollard)

Iain
>* now as I have experienced an analogous impact in an actual crash I think that I have made may point and shown you that I understand what is involved here.*

No Iain, youâve shown me the opposite. I overestimated your ability to calculate a realistic answer.

Iain Hall:

No sorry but to be a Warminista you a have to believe that it is both warming and that the warming is the fault of modern industrial society.

Says who? You? I can't quite find the phrase "fault of modern industrial society" in definitions of the word "warm". I'll call you a Warminista or warmist from now on.

You clearly think that most of the perceived warming is due to human activity where as I don't think there is enough proof to make such a claim, I'm willing to be convinced though so please try.

It's straightforward, though complicated, to use so called line-by-line calculations (meaning one frequency at a time) to prove that CO2 on its own will produce 1.2 deg C of warming from a doubling. It's also an observed fact that the warmer the global atmosphere, the more water vapor it is holding which our denialist friends keep reminding us is a strong greenhouse gas. So direct warming caused by CO2 will cause more water vapor to sit in the atmosphere which itself will cause further warming (and so on, fortunately to a finite sum). I believe the water vapor feedback approximately doubles the climate sensitivity (to approximately 2.4 deg C/CO2 doubling), although this feedback is usually computed by climate models that incorporate all feedbacks together. Cloud feedbacks bring the expected climate sensitivity to around 3 deg C/CO2 doubling. However cloud feedbacks greatly increase the uncertainty to a 95% confidence interval of 2-4.5 deg C/CO2 doubling.

What you're saying is that we should pray that cloud feedback turns out to be far more negative than we expect and just take the risk that it won't turn out the way we expect. You obviously have a different attitude to risk but this is not a risk I'm prepared to take.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 25 Mar 2011 #permalink

What the questions that no one is asking is.

Who has really called for this tax on the whole world?
Who asked for it to be introduced here in Australia?

The money is not to be used for cleaning up polluters, no they can go on their merry way and just pay a tax. In the meantime the average bloke gets to pay for increased energy, food, fuel etc.
Global Warming, sorry I mean climate change numbers are like the USD, manipulated to suit those who want to control us all.

By Danny of Adelaide (not verified) on 01 May 2011 #permalink

sorry I mean climate change numbers are like the USD, manipulated to suit those who want to control us all.

Yes Danny boy, it's a giant conspiracy, the biggest of all time.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 01 May 2011 #permalink