Krugman and Climate

Aside from the climate blogosphere, Paul Krugman's "Conscience of a Liberal" is my most regular blog visit.  He does not usually have a lot to say on climate change (which is mildly disappointing) and I have seen only very shallow and casual dismissals of the, to me compelling, notion that perpetual growth as a requirement for economic prosperity is problematic (which is very disappointing).  It is however, usually very interesting and I have learned a lot about economics, something very apropos given the ongoing global crisis.  I do enjoy the political snark as well, as long as it is reality based!

Uncharacteristically, he has made quite a few posts and op-ed columns over the last few months centering on climate issues and I have been keeping tabs on that (literal sense here, I have 10 tabs perpetually open meaning to post about!).  So that I can finally close these down, here is a quick rundown of all that content:

Salvation Gets Cheap - A discussion of some economic optimism regarding the costs of climate change mitigation, specifically good news about the solar energy industry.  This column has an example of the casual dismissal of perpetual growth skepticism I mentioned above.  After the caveat "(I hate it when pundits try to make every issue into a case of “both sides are wrong,” but, in this case, it happens to be true.)" he says "On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth. But there’s no reason we can’t become richer while reducing our impact on the environment."  That "but" only really addresses the concern from the right.  This is not to say the "left" position he has presented is necessarily correct, but it certainly is not dealt with in his column.

Crazy Climate Economics - a discussion of the anticipated Republican response to the (at the time) coming new EPA regulations.  The headline captures well the flavor of that discussion!

Cutting Back on Carbon - this is a good one on how a Chamber of Commerce search for bad economic news regarding carbon regulations is really an "own-goal".  Their as-pessimistic-as-possible prediction is for a cost to the US economy of $50 billion per year.  This may be many month's income for a guy like me (hello blogging fees!) but it is just 0.3% of a $17 trillion economy.  This is a tiny price tag given the existential threat climate change poses to society.

Energy Choices - Here Krugman turns his attention to a letter to the Financial Times from Roger Pielke Jr and finds him sadly lacking in intellectual honesty (...or competence, Roger really likes to keep us all guessing on that one).  Money quote: "This is actually kind of wonderful, in a bang-your-head-on-the-table sort of way."  Welcome to our kitchen, Paul!

The Climate Domino - another op-ed column on the (then proposed) EPA regulations of coal fired power plants and specifically how it relates to the "But China!" objection to any US climate policy.

Interests, Ideology and Climate - Dr. Krugman thinks that ideology is more important than the Koch factor in the climate denial machinations.  Here's an excerpt:

So why is the opposition to climate policy so intense?

And the natural reaction is denial — angry denial. Read or watch any extended debate over climate policy and you’ll be struck by the venom, the sheer rage, of the denialists.

Incentives and Technology - just addresses a little blow-back from his take-down of RPJr above (Energy Choices).

Yes He Could - An op-ed giving praise to Obama's accomplishments in the passage of ACA (Obamacare) and his actions around climate change.  I don't know how much praise Obama merits with respect to action on climate change, but the accomplishment falls short of what is needed regardless of whether it is the best that could be done or not.

The Big Green Test - a discussion of long-time republican Henry Paulson's op-ed calling for republican action on climate change and more generally how this fits with conservative approaches to economics.

Depression Economics and Climate Policy - a debunking of the "reform conservative's" answer to calls for climate mitigation action, i.e. "not while the economy is hurting".  (I'm sure some years down the track it will be "not while the economy is booming").  Krugman says economically that this is exactly the time for agressive government intervention, while stimulus spending is sorely needed.  This point was actually the cause of my initial Obama disappointment.  I thought that the moment of crisis when he took office was exactly the moment for fundamental changes, economic, political, social.  Kind of a "disaster progressivism" approach ala Naomi Klein's disaster capitalism, substituting change because we need it to solve the problem for change because that's what we wanted to do anyway.

And that does it.  It is a relief to close those tabs

...discuss if you wish!


More like this

> "... while reducing our impact on the environment.”

He should have said "reversing" rather than "reducing" there.

I'd like to see someone like him give us a hypothetical for discovering another 'New World' -- in the sense Columbus et al. did -- and deciding what if any level of 'impact' would be sustainable.

Then move the clock back to where there were still giant sloths and mastodons as the top grazers and do the same exercise.

Nobody remembers that bison were a poor replacement for the original big grazers, and few admit that cattle fail as a replacement for bison.

Look at the whale pump story. What if we'd not screwed _that_ trophic system up by taking the top predator off? How much more CO2 would the ocean ecosystem be managing now if it were in good shape?

Paging Dr. Krugman. An economist is just a partially educated ecologist with a sideline in imaginary ecosystems like banking.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 16 Jul 2014 #permalink

I agree, now it is essential to reverse our environmental impacts to some substantial degree, and then any new regime must be a net 0 impact. I really fail to understand how this is compatible with any meaningful definition of growth.

An economist is just a partially educated ecologist with a sideline in imaginary ecosystems like banking.

Good one!

"I have seen only very shallow and casual dismissals of the, to me compelling, notion that perpetual growth as a requirement for economic prosperity is problematic (which is very disappointing)"

These are not shallow and casual dismissals. Economists have spent a lot of time and effort studying and explaining this fallacy, and Krugman knows this literature well, as he helped Nordhaus in his early work. What has been casual and shallow is the dismissal by some scientists (Meadows and Meadows are perhaps most infamous) of elementary economics.

Indeed, perhaps the most powerful argument for curbing global warming quickly and soon is that the cost of doing so is very low, a small fraction of one percent of growth, probably not even noticeable in the larger scheme of things. And this is according to a number of estimates that typically make pessimistic assumptions about induced innovation that might come about from actually pricing greenhouse gas emissions.

Look, there are plenty of economists who share your passion for science and interest in saving the planet. But what you're doing here is roughly equivalent to an economist casually dismissing evolution as obviously flawed and casual dismissal of creationism. Smart economists that share your will politics will dismiss you (appropriately so), as just plain ignorant.

You should do better.

By Michael Roberts (not verified) on 30 Oct 2014 #permalink

Hi Michael,

"These are not shallow and casual dismissals."

What is your "these" referring to? Regardless, I do not mean to say economics is flawed, rather only that I can not find anything that seems to me is seriously addressing the issue that perpetual growth as a requirement for economic prosperity seems to me problematic.

I would be very interested to read something that addresses that directly, from Krugman or anyone else. If you can explain, or point me somewhere (specific) I would be keen to engage.


coby, so you are a "degrowth" activist, true?

I don't know what a "degrowth activist" is, so can neither confirm nor deny your allegation.

coby, it's someone who sees a cancerous growth and thinks it would be a good idea to prevent it growing worse.

Kaibot doesn't believe that is necessary if he, personally, has to pay a damn thing for it.

I.e. it's a neocon loon in his teens.

Coby, others,
It might help your discovery if you first defined what you mean by growth, whether it is a goal or a result, then surmise why it is or isn't needed.

Pauline, it may help us to say what you expect to understand if we answer that question.

A few queries for you and the other neocon deniers:

Is rioting a good thing because of all the extra industrial activity needed to rebuild and restock?

Is growth a good thing in and of itself? If so, why? If not, then why must we grow?

I dont expect anything. The answer is for you.
So, you're also calling for the end of carbon by 2050, or are you the denier, neocon or otherwise?
please clarify the last two. they're not making sense.
It might help to define what you mean by growth.

I dont expect anything.

Then feel freeto accept nothing.

Here it is:
You're welcome.

So, you’re also calling for the end of carbon by 2050, or are you the denier, neocon or otherwise?

Do you want to give an either/or option where the two are at least somewhat relevant to each other? The calling for the end of carbon, being unstated as to what you mean there, is orthogonal to being denier, neocon and only, by covering anything else, "otherwise".

Of course, you will avoid any comment other than one to make your name appear, so this query is mostly to educate any noob deniers that they need to up their game to stand a chance of being taken seriously.

Thanks for nothing. If you don't need it you're off to a great start discussing growth.
The end of carbon by 2050 means exactly that. Shut down of all sources by 2050. It's the only choice to minimize the coming climate mayhem.

> shut down all
You understand how the perfect can be the enemy of the good?

Yeah, you can do that, but you won't accomplish much to help the world by consuming no carbon fuel whatsoever.

Do something that nets out positive.

For example, go buy a piece of waste land and grow topsoil on it. The way to be carbon neutral is to turn more into carbohydrates than you burn as hydrocarbons.

Start when you're young, as it's a 200 year project.
Here's how:…

Yeah, I know, one person doesn't make a significant difference, but it's good exercise, keeps you outdoors a lot, serves as an example of at least trying to do it right.

And you'll have to keep track of how much carbon you burn, and estimate how much you fix. That'll educate everyone around you and inspire them as well.

Just sitting and burning zero carbon doesn't do that.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 15 Nov 2014 #permalink

Already way ahead of ya on that one Hank.
At the end of the day though, we have to net negative globally.

It’s actually worse than we thought.
The warming continues at record levels.
Many areas will see climate depart from normal ranges as early as 2025 to 2040.
We have seen the beginning of the 6th great extinction.
The human population may dwindle by half as early as 2050.
oh, and this time . . .
. . . there will be no ark.

wow, the dwindle risk is grossly related to the west's dangerous behavior towards president PUTIN.

as "climate change" has not been shown scientifically convincingly, forget it, no danger.

Carbon neutral kingdom
November 13, 2014

Thanks for nothing.

If you're going to get our panties in a bunch because you get nothing when you ASK for nothing, then why not just stay in your room and pout like the angsty teenager you are, Pauline?

You're definitely not going to go to all the effort of explaining what you want, are you. So your disappointment is entirely self-manufactured by you so you can feel as though you've been hard done by the world.

Feel free, but on your own dime, your self pity sickens me.

wow, the dwindle risk is grossly related to the west’s dangerous behavior towards president PUTIN.

Do you want to try again, but this time NOT in baby-talk babble, dearie?

as “climate change” has not been shown scientifically convincingly

As climate change HAS been shown extremely convincingly to those whose minds aren't closed off to anything they don't like, you're an arsehole.

you must have trouble accepting gratitude.
I was thanking you for what you gave.
Again, I don't want anything, the definition of growth is for you to determine in the context of your use for your discussion.
If you so choose.
nothing to do with me, for me or otherwise.
oh, and thanks for the kind words.


instead of blathering "... As climate change HAS been shown extremely convincingly ...." you MUST provide at least three statements which support your claim more specifically

you must have trouble accepting gratitude.

Nope, I have no trouble in that regard.

However you appear to have a problem in reading English sentences.

instead of blathering “… As climate change HAS been shown extremely convincingly ….” you MUST provide at least three statements which support your claim more specifically

Yup. Easy, moron-boy.

1) IR absorption by CO2 and not N2/O2.
2) Temperature rates rising in the night more than the daytime, more in the winter than the summer
3) Temperature rates rising despite a reduced solar output

Any chance of YOU supporting your insane blather about how "as “climate change” has not been shown scientifically convincingly" with anything other than a head-up-your arse refusal to look?

Ahh, let's have some more fun at the expense of the loco local.
Shall we go back and look for the "question" to which he refers?
Well, we could, except there isn't one! What a maroon. Tirade after tantrum for something which does not exist.
This guy is too funny.

Every time you post, we do, Pauline. Every time you post.

A new study using robots from below the ice in the antarctic sea found unexpected (from the perspective of the CAGW aarmists) thick ice, much thicker than expected. This is poison to the warming church.

You chicken littles have NO IDEA what the IPCC claims for the ice thickness, dildo.

"**Wow**", are you still able to digest honest scientific information or are you already too old or conservatively trapped in your mental prejudices?

Kaitroll, I've ALWAYS been able to digest honest scientific information.

When will you provide any yourself?

wow, your proposals do not match reality, sorry.

BTW, who is kaitroll??? Can't you spell correctly a commenter's name?

non-sequitur, freddie.

wowbot, tertium non datur, hic et nunc, morituri te salutant. apes domini licet bovi.

ps: I hate Manchester United

The same lack of content as always, troll.

As you don't speak italian, blatherian, you cannot juge any content in this language. Therefore, yo have to live with your reality.

Other question: what will you do when global temperature decreases by 0.5K by 2025?

PS: I hate Manchester United

Gee, freddykaiboristroll is so stupid, he doesn't even know they no longer speak Latin in Italy. Many do still understand Latin, though, and they will wonder what these disparate phrases are supposed to mean. Especially that last one makes no sense whatsoever.

marco, the problem YOU have is that are there so many "climate criminals" who are so much more educated and intelligent than CACGW activists who envy their betterness.

BTW, I addressed wow-troll, AND NOT YOU. how many socket puppets do you play, troll?

freddykaiboristroll, you did not address anything in my comment. Now, we know you work with sockpuppets, so it is understandable you think I would do the same. But welcome to the real world, where there are honest people like me who do not have a psychological disorder that requires them to use sockpuppets. And yes, you can take that as an accusation that you have a psychological disorder. Get yourself treated, freddykaiboristroll, before your disorder transgresses into a condition where you become a danger to others.

Kai never does, Marco. When it's said anything, it's found that it has been debunked PDQ and this means it can't pretend to know things.

Non-sequitur and bollocks is all it has left.

Some children shouldn't be allowed on the internet, Kai is one.

Gee, freddykaiboristroll is so stupid, he doesn’t even know they no longer speak Latin in Italy

It also doesn't know that English will happily include foreign languages for the apposite phraseology. Kai doesn't understand the limited dictionary of words it has been taught in school to date, so thinks that the inclusion of latin *must* mean it cannot be English.

It's just so passe.

Marco, re: Italians speaking Latin, remember kai was taught by xtian fundamentalists, the finest minds of the fourth century, when Italians *were* speaking Latin.

wow-troll, the problem with you and marco is that you as monolinguists suffer from minority complexes. I cannot help you with this. BTW, did you know that "renewable" energy from solar panels produces ZERO watt when it is dark outside?

That's ok Freddy.
Solar power is only used during daylight hours.

Seriously, Freddy, get some professional help. I have met my share of delusional people, but you are hors catégorie. You simply cannot even once acknowledge an error, like mistaking Italian for Latin, and writing a few disparate Latin words that are connection, or just plain meaningless (the last few).

And then you call *me* monolingual...

wow-troll: again terrible deficits in education (like monolingual Macro), your bollocks: ".... fourth century, when Italians *were* speaking Latin..."

Lecture for wow-troll: there were no Italians in the 4th century, you idiot. Go to your community library and read a history book. Incredible low level of basic school education among green activists

Macro, the word "serious" is out of your scope, since you are a clown

Freddy, I wish *you* were a clown, but it is clear from all your comments you are mentally deranged. Get help.

Freddy, it might be best if you didn't try (and miss) at educating others.

There was a part of the world called "Italia" in the 4th Century AD.
Question: Where do you suppose this was?

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 12 Dec 2014 #permalink

Here is an excerpt from Plutarch's Lives, Pyrrhus, written about 75AD:
"Pyrrhus offered also to return all the prisoners he had taken in the fight without ransom, and promised his assistance for the entire conquest of all Italy, asking only their friendship for himself, and security for the Tarentines, and nothing further. Nevertheless, most were well inclined to a peace, having already received one great defeat and fearing another from an additional force of the native Italians, now joining with Pyrrhus."

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 12 Dec 2014 #permalink

So, clearly, there was a place called "Italia" and its inhabitants were collectively identified as "Italians".

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 12 Dec 2014 #permalink

BTW, did you know that “renewable” energy from solar panels produces ZERO watt when it is dark outside?

BTW did you know (of COURSE you don't: you're an ignoramus!) that solar power isn't synonymous with renewables?

Did you know that we have... duhn duhn duuuuuhn... WIND POWER too?

BTW did you know about solar thermal power?

Gosh, looks like the denier morons don't know much about anything other than hate.

wow, macro, craig, YOU cannot teach anybody (like me) who is absolutely superior to you in any mental dimension you can or cannot imagine. That's a fact.

PS: you ignornants really believe that any living organisms that lived in remote times in today' Italy frontiers can be called "Italians": you three are really very strange clowns devoid of any historical and biological education

PPS: I hate Manchester United

The only reason we cannot teach freddykaiboristroll is because he has a mental disorder. If Coby happens to know his real e-mail address, he may want to direct a psychologist to take action, because it won't take that much longer before freddykaiboristroll does something that causes physical harm (either to himself or to someone in his near surroundings).

Sister Mary Elephant would be so proud!

Wow at #52,
Correct. Precisely.

olet marii industria aunque wow non placet virumque tenevit. patavit cliatico fundes vam te quevit, dominus vobiscum tantum malum prohibit

"The only reason we cannot teach freddykaiboristroll is because he has a mental disorder"

No, the fruitcake IS a mental disorder.

Pauline, #57, so you agree your earlier post was compost at best, consisting of the half truths that are the worst lies of all. Well done.

The loco local should google "context".
(thanks again for the entertainment, I'm sure the crowd is pleased as well)

wow-troll, the main reason why you cannot teach freddy is that the level of your education and knowledge is far below that of freddy. Digest it, child

No, pauline, it's because he, just as you, is a complete moron.

indeed, you DO need to google context, then work on a thing called "comprehension" when you read the results, dearie.

That there's a 4 sylobel word by the loco one.
I'm gonna hafts look that one up.

Look up the word "sylobel" too...

It is clear now that COP20 was a terribe catastro and Paris 2015 the end of the IPCC and delusioned "climate change" policy. This is part of the explanation why childish morons like wowtroll, macro and others behave so incivil and cowardly anxious.

It's clear you have no ability to make that claim.

One way or the other Carbon emissions will need to be cut by half by 2020. That's increasingly evident with the likelihood of blowing past 2C increase and heat accumulating faster than ever as 2014 closes as the hottest year ever.

COP or no COP, it's not going to be pleasant.
Hope you're ready Freddy.

wow, your english is too terrible: listen child: I made the claim, hence I WAS ABLE to make the claim. Can you grasp this simple concept?

Kaibot, when you're finally growing pubic hair, THEN you can start calling others "child".

You can make the claim because you've never worried about accuracy or facts, but your claim is, as mentioned earlier for those with operating hippocampi, your ability is not able to make the claim.

Only your ignorance.

wowtroll, define "gippocampus", blatherskite. i am sure you have no idea about what you are talking, troll.


Do it yourself if you don't know what you're talking about.

wowtroll, no, it's your duty. you must clarify the idiocies about which you are moroning. do some work, you lazy grapulog.

It is sad to observe that climate morons like wowtroll start talking about animal biology fundamentals without ANY education and formation on the topic, and are even unable to define what they tried to exeforilim.