Property Rights and Climate Change

by Judith Curry

Jonathan Adler has an interesting article at the Volokh Conspiracy (a libertarian legal blog) entitled “The GOP’s Anti-Climate Policy.”

Excerpts from the article:

Regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a mistake.  This decades-old statute was designed to address a quite different set of problems and is not well-suited to greenhouse gas emission control, let alone regulating the planetary thermostat.

Stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a good idea, but it is not, by itself, a climate change policy.  More is necessary, but Congressional Republicans do not seem likely to even attempt the next step.  As is so often the case in environmental policy, Republicans have a good idea of what to oppose, but no clue about what to support.  The result is a half-baked approach to environmental issues, and measures that, in some cases, are worse than doing nothing at all.

So what should Republicans be doing on climate change?  For years I have been arguing for a combination of policies that would include a) a revenue-neutral carbon tax, like that proposed by James Hansen, offsetting new taxes on carbon with reductions in income or other taxes; b) measures to incentivize and accelerate energy and climate-related innovation, including  technology inducement prizes; c) streamlining of regulatory requirements that hamper the development and deployment of alternative energy technologies, including (but not limited to) offshore wind development; d) policies tofacilitate adaptation due to the inevitability of some amount of climate change, and e) elimination of policies that subsidize energy inefficiency and excess greenhouse gas emissions, including ill-conceived ethanol mandates (which, among other things, forestall efforts at reforestation).  Would this be enough?  Maybe not, but it would be a start — and it would be far better than simply stripping EPA of regulatory authority and then hoping the risk of climate change would just go away.

An interesting (and IMO sensible) list of recommendations.  Reactions from the libertarian denizens?  Adler’s perspective is not the typical libertarian one.  For some further background on Alder’s perspective on climate change, see this post:

While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world.

So-called climate “skeptics” make many valid points about the weakness or unreliability of many individual arguments and studies on climate. They also point out how policy advocates routinely exaggerate the implications of various studies or the likely consequences of even the most robust climate predictions. Economists and others have also done important work questioning whether climate risks justify extreme mitigation measures. But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong. In this regard, I think it is worth quoting something Ilya wrote below about the nature of evidence in his post about 12 Angry Men”:

People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points. It’s a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem.

The “divide and conquer” strategy of dissecting each piece of evidence independently can make for effective advocacy, but it is not a good way to find the truth.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there is room to question the global warming “consensus,” particularly as represented by activist groups and some in the media, and to challenge various climate scenarios and their policy implications. I am unpersuaded that climate change threatens civilization or justifies truly draconian measures. Nevertheless, I believe climate change is a serious concern. And as much as I wish it were not the case, I believe the threat of climate change justifies some measures that the libertarian in me does not much like. But that’s the way it is.

On another post, he states:

I believe that certain policy responses are justified because even if one accepts a fairly “skeptical” view of the science, the best estimate is that human activity will produce some warming that will have deleterious effects in some parts of the globe, particularly in areas that have not done much to contribute to the warming. As I explain in this paper (and in shorter pieces herehere, and here), these effects should be sufficient to justify a policy response, particularly if one believes in the importance of property rights, as I do. I also believe that taxes on consumption, including energy consumption, are preferable to taxes on income, and so would welcome a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

And yet another statement:

I share Hendricks’ and Farber’s frustration that more conservatives don’t take climate change or other environmental concerns seriously.  But I also believe some of this is the environmentalist movement’s own doing.  If everything calls for the same big government solution, why does it matter what the problem is?  If progressives really believe climate change is an impending catastrophe — not just a problem worth addressing but a potential apocalypse — and seek to enlist conservatives to their cause, they should pursue consensus efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including efforts to stimulate technological innovation or proposals for revenue-neutral carbon taxes (see, e.g., herehere and here).  Yet Hendricks’colleagues at CAP excoriate any and all who deviate from the progressive climate orthodoxy or espouse anything short of dramatic government intervention throughout the economy.  Environmentalists will be more successful enlisting conservatives (and many moderates) to their cause once they become more focused on solutions, and less insistent on government control.

Adler’s arguments regarding property rights and climate change are fleshed out more completely in this paper:

Taking Property Rights Seriously:  The Case of Climate Change

Abstract. The dominant approach to environmental policy endorsed by conservative and libertarian policy thinkers, so-called “free market environmentalism” (FME), is grounded in the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources.  Despite this normative commitment to property rights, most self-described advocates of FME adopt a utliitarian, welfare-maximization, approach to climate change policy, arguing that the costs of mitigation measures could outweigh the costs of climate change itself.  Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic – indeed, even if it is net beneficial to the globe as a whole – human-induced c limate change is likely to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights.  Viewed globally, the actions of some countries – primarily developed nations (such as the U.S.) and those nations that are industrializing most rapidly (such as China and India) – are likely to increase environmental harms suffered by less developed nations – nations that have not as of yet made any significant contribution to global climate change.  It may well be that aggregate human welfare would be maximized in a warmer, wealtheir world, or that the gains from climate change will offset environmental losses.  Such claims, even if demonstrated, would not addess the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations.  A true FME approach to climate change policy should be grounded in a normative commitment to property rights.  As a consequence, this paper suggests a complete rethinking of the conventional conservative and libertarian approach to climate change.

Well, Adler’s writings put to rest the libertarians as stereotypically  “deniers.”  I am most interested in the reactions from the libertarian denizens.

579 responses to “Property Rights and Climate Change

  1. Oh well, Adler said the following:

    So-called climate “skeptics” make many valid points about the weakness or unreliability of many individual arguments and studies on climate. They also point out how policy advocates routinely exaggerate the implications of various studies or the likely consequences of even the most robust climate predictions. Economists and others have also done important work questioning whether climate risks justify extreme mitigation measures. But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong. In this regard, I think it is worth quoting something Ilya wrote below about the nature of evidence in his post about 12 Angry Men:

    “People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points. It’s a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem”.

    Very wise words! Or to put it another way, it’s about the “consilience” of evidence.

    Sorry – couldn’t resist.

    • Prof. Muller gives great argument as to why what US does is irrelevant to Climate Change, no regulations are going to make the slightest difference. So why are they pushing so hard for them? Do they not know this? Or is the reason for these regulations something totally different … I would argue that the agenda is very different than doing something about “emissions” and that’s why they don’t care about real effect – that’s not what they’re interested in.

    • I’m already feeling a bit guilty for having pushed this concept back into the limelight, but I do think it’s important. For more informative commentary from Pekka Pirila in an exchange I had with him on the Bayesian elements of the argument, including their uncertainties, see

      Pirila on Energy

    • You hijacked the thread, Fred! In any case you are wrong if you are claiming that skeptics have no understanding of the overall weight of evidence in the debate. We are not that stupid.

      There is no cumulative weight or consilience of evidence in favor of AGW. On the contrary, overall AGW has lost a lot of ground in the last two decades, mostly due to the discovery of various modes of natural variability. The discovery of complex natural variability is arguably the only useful thing to come out of the many billions spent on climate research.

    • It’s not a question of stupidity, David, but it does require a detailed familiarity with the scientific literature and the intricate set of geophysical principles underlying our comprehension of climate change. In any case, I hope anyone interested will visit the sources I cited above.

    • Fred, many skeptics have a familiarity with the literature, including me. No one has a “detailed familiarity” as it is too large. For example, Google Scholar lists about 10,000 papers just under “solar variability”. It lists 73,000 papers under “solar cycle.” The climate science literature probably exceeds 500,000 papers, if not one million. What percentage have you read?

      Also, I suspect that the phrase “the intricate set of geophysical principles underlying our comprehension of climate change” is perfectly meaningless, but it sure sounds good. “Geophysical principles” indeed! How many are there in the set? This is what I call the “I know more than you do” argument for AGW.

      As for you consilience argument I find it to be logically incoherent, for the reasons I stated early on when you first started making it, and I am a logician. It does not begin to capture the logic of the debate.

    • David – Which journals do you follow regularly on a weekly or monthly basis as each issue is published? I’m not trying to imply ignorance on your part, but I would be interested in knowing where you get your information?

      I try to be aware of all the current literature on an ongoing basis. My knowledge of earlier studies is based on selected reading, reviews, and textbook sources. Of the latter, I am currently finding value in Raymond Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate”.

      I will let others follow the logic of the consilience argument to draw their own conclusions, but I would ask that they visit the details I outlined in my previous postings. I believe that the principle, once applied in detail, is a powerful one, but that can’t be settled by a brief exchange of comments here.

      I’m not sure there’s much to be gained by our debating our respective credentials, which few readers will care about, if they even read this set of comments. Most of all, I would expect readers to review what you, I, and others contribute to the scientific dialogue here in order to make their assessments. From my own experience here, I’ve certainly not concluded that you are stupid, or even that you are totally uninformed, but fairly or unfairly, I do believe you have misinterpreted or misunderstood evidence on some important points. I’m sure the same can be said about statements I’ve made, but I try to be careful not to proclaim knowledge beyond what I possess, which is why I don’t think I’ve been gulity of many rash claims.

    • Fred, a quick comment on DW. My take is that he focuses on the logics of the arguments (rather than widespread reading of the empirical literature), but of course David will answer for himself. It is the overall logic of the argument that is the key issue. The reason that the multiple lines of evidence argument doesn’t work as it has been applied by the IPCC is a main topic of the uncertainty paper that I am writing for climate change (hope to post a draft within the week).

    • Fred – you reminded me of an old East German joke. Cast: Comrade Mittag, the Secretary for Economics. Comrade Honecker, the Secretary General. Comrade Honecker sees Comrade Mittag sitting at the entrance of a Central Committee building and crying.
      - Comrade Mittag, don’t cry here. People will see you and think something is wrong with our economy. What’s your problem?
      - I cry because I can’t understand how our economy works.
      - Stop crying, come with me, I’ll explain it.
      - Please don’t. I have explained it myself.

    • I would say that the consilience of evidence principle that I have described is unrelated to how the IPCC evaluates evidence. I am reasonably hopeful that anyone who makes the effort to review this concept in the way I have formulated it will appreciate its strength, but that is a judgment for others to make. However, I am fully confident that the logic is impeccable, and that level of confidence is not something I would assert lightly. Even so, I would welcome any challenge, so that we might all learn from the experience.

      My principal reason for formulating the consilience principle in the way I have, including the quantitation of uncertainty, is that it permits us to place a multitude of data in a more accurate perspective than is possible when each item is viewed in isolation. To quote Adler above: “The “divide and conquer” strategy of dissecting each piece of evidence independently can make for effective advocacy, but it is not a good way to find the truth.” For better or worse, it is a strategy that can be used to distort rather than inform.

      I don’t think any of us can claim to know “the truth”, but there are ways to move closer or further from it, and consilience, properly applied, does the former. It’s a very powerful instrument, in my view, and one that has seen less use than deserved.

      Judy – I will look forward to your uncertainty paper. Appropriate estimates of uncertainty are an integral component of properly applied consilience analysis rather than its antithesis.

    • I’ll take a quick stab at consilience of evidence. The major piece of evidence for AGW is the global average temperature record since about 1970. It shows a temperature rise of about .6deg.C, of which about .4 deg. is attributed by the IPCC to human produced CO2. Using global climate models the IPCC attributes an additional “forcing ” of the temperature rise caused by an increase in water vapor in the atmosphere due to the increased temperature. The effects of this increase in water vapor could be a further increase in temperature, or an increase in cloud cover(negating any temperature rise), or some other unknown result- according to the IPCC the effects of water vapor on cloud cover are highly uncertain. Given that a 2% average change in cloud cover would completely negate any temperature effect of CO2 and we daily see a wildly variable change in cloud cover on a minute to minute basis over most of the globe there is no way to detect that 2% change.

      So the consilience of the evidence is “we just don’t know what is going on” and we won’t until we better understand how the atmosphere, oceans, and climate actually work.

      The other consilience problem is that most of the climate papers published rely on a very limited number of data sets which are based on the same underlying instrument readings- selected, averaged, gridded, and otherwise manipulated. A big surprise would be if the conclusions were different amongst various studies, given the same basic data. In order to add to the weight of evidence studies need to be based on new data.

      We’ll leave the discussion about whether the very concept of a global average temperature is a useful metric or even a meaningful construct to another thread.

    • Out of curiosity, David, you state that Google Scholar lists 73,000 papers for “solar cycle”. How did you get past their 1,000 title limit? I ask because a source of all relevant peer-reviewed papers may become useful in evaluating the weight of evidence for or against a particular proposition.

    • As usual Fred, I don’t understand what you are saying. GS reports the total number of papers it has containing the exact search term, which for “solar cycle” is about 75,000. There are about 5,500 with this term in the title. That’s the data. I am not trying to read them all.

    • Google Scholar states that it has a 1,000 title limit, and that was what I found when I tried to see the listings under “solar cycle” – there were 100 pages with 10 listings per page.

      The appearance of the term somewhere within an article doesn’t tell us that the article dealt with the solar cycle; it might have been a passing reference in an article about something completely different – e.g., the role of external cycles in human physiology.

      The words in a title would probably be more relevant, but we can’t be sure without seeing the actual listing.

      It appears that the 73,000 figure was probably a gross exaggeration of the number of peer-reviewed, non-overlapping papers devoted to the solar cycle.

    • Human Diastolic Blood Pressure During Consecutive Solar Cycles

      That article had the term in the title, but most among the 73,000 don’t. I don’t plan to belabor the point, but if we can’t exclude the possibility that most papers without “solar cycle” in the title, and not listed in the first 1,000 actually cited are about something other than the solar cycle, then citing an exaggerated figure is very misleading.

    • I did a GS search for “solar cycle”. Here is what I got
      Results 1 – 10 of about 73,600. (0.10 sec)
      It looks like 600 new papers have been added.

    • It looks like you believe you understand the literature well, just because you happen to read more of them. I dont have familiarity with vast amounts of climate science literature. But the few areas I have looked into, I get the feeling you actaully dont understand the literature or havent paid full attention to the arguments being made. As I have demonstrated on a couple of occasions in reply to your comemnts, many times you come up with an explanation that demonstrates that you actually dont understand or come up with a conclusion that is just the opposite of what can be concluded logically or even based on the specific technical arguments being made in that article.The most recent example is the one where you claim a) global temp anomaly trend computation instead of global temp computation helps preserve the local changes. b) wrongly make the claim that anomaly calculation is a change from year to year or some other interval, neither of which is true that the global anomaly computation process actually

    • Sorry. something happened and the comment was posted before I completed it.

      Here goes the rest: on point a) above, the anomaly is nothing but the temperature change from a baseline, which happens to be mean temperature over a base period. This base period differs a bit for GISS and CRU data. No matter, it is not based on a particular year to previous year changes or the particular year to any other prior year changes. In addition, anomaly computaion is purely a temporal phenomenon by definitoin. While the relationship between local vs global change is a spatial phenomenon. I dont see how anomaly calculation instead of global temp calculation preserves or helps carry over local changes into the global anomaly calculation. if anomaly computation can help preserve local changes, so can global temperature trend data. This is a fundamental misunderstanding on your part. Hence my suspicion that you are misunderstanding the literature substantially. Some of it isnt even climate science specific. Like the spatial vs. temporal change you are mistaking.

      Further, the aggregation of local changes to global anomaly, that you refer to is an averaging process, that actually ends up losing the local changes, as I illustrate in my previous comments on another thread. For example, Imagine a temp anamoly series of local grid anomalies of say 2, -2, -2, -2, -2, 2, 2, 2, 2, -2. The average info conveyed to the global anomaly completely loses the key changes in the local grids.

      I would argue knowing and understanding global temp anomaly computation and the limitations of these variables is fundamental to many arguments being made on global climate change, at least in the blog topics.

      To me the quantity of readin/knowledge g is only relevant if the corresponding quality of knowledge on all that breadth is good enough to understand the key principles, conclusions and caveats.

    • I realize I am commenting on one individual and talking about his or her strength of knowledge, which is something I am not comfortable doing typically. I hope no offense is taken from my comments. My objective was to address the repeated arguments from Fred that larger volume of reading equals better understading, which I think isnt true much of the time, in my experience. My apologies if it offends your sensibilities.

      As I have said before non-climate scientists cannot replicate the level of knowledge that climate scientists have on climate science. So I wont argue that non-climate scientists get to review/judge every new paper or technique and get to approve or disapprove them. However what non-climate scientists should and can do is to judge how right climate scientists have been in the past, before we can take them at their word about the future. This is what I call output validation. Just the way we get to judge the quality of weather prediction (or lack thereof) by the meteorologists.
      This being a blog, I guess commenting on papers and discussing deeply technical climate papers is par for the course for non-climate scientists as well, as long as they make the effort to read the papers and understand them.

    • I believe you misunderstood my point about anomalies. Maybe the subject will come up again and we can discuss it further.

    • The previous thread was titled “Talking past each other?”. In this particular case that question must be answered in the affirmative.

      As far as I understood the earlier discussion, you were talking about different issues.

    • It looks like I can only reply to my own posting, instead of either Pekka’s or Fred
      s postings. So here goes

      Fred: No I dont think so.

      Here was the comment from Bob Koss:

      “Fred,
      The basic point is that global temperature means so little at the local level that people don’t even notice that it changes throughout the year”

      Your reply to that was:

      “Bob – Yes, but that is why global temperatures aren’t computed as part of the process of determining global temperature trends. Instead, what are computed are temperature “anomalies”. These are the change from one year to the next (or over some other interval) in the temperature at each individual location, so that locations are compared with themselves”

      I have quoted your own words. this is just plain english. Nothing to misunderstand. What you have said about anomalies is just plain wrong. Anomalies arent “change form one year to the next” in any formulation of global surface temp anomalies. Anomalies are also not computed at each individual location by any means. You of course have left some wiggle room by saying “location”.

      Further you state “The anomalies can be averaged to yield a global trend, but they still represent the aggregate effect of changes computed at individual locations”

      Bob’s comment correctly points out the loss of information in spatial aggregation of the quantity we call “global temp”. Even if we go by your own definition of anomalies, it differs from global temp purely temporally. It has no more spatial properties than global temperature. so your above answer “that is why global temperatures arent computed as part of the process…. what are computed are anomalies” is not a meaningful statement. Whatever local info you get or dont get with anomalies, you can get with global temp as well, since they both have the same spatial info. Again your own words. Plain English. You dont need any training or degree in climate science to come to this simple temporal vs. spatial difference.

      Whichever way you slice it, Bob’s comments about losing the local info in computing “global temp” including the anomaly computation is simple math as I have illustrated above, if you know well how the anomalies are computed”. This is very hard to misunderstand.

      Pekka:

      I am not sure which previous discussion you had looked at. The one I am quoting above is the one I was referring to. If you refer to the specific discussion that would be helpful. Not that I have a lot of time left on my hands to reply to every one of these standard replies “you are misunderstanding Or you were talking about different issues”. You can just address the simple straightforward issues I address in the above posting. You dont even have to make the effort to refer to previous issues.
      .

    • Shiv – I think you’re still missing the point I was trying to make. You should go back and read the entire exchange of comments, including those below yours.

    • Well, your redirection to another part of the thread brings me to my Occam’s razor for these situations:

      I have noticed that whenever I ask a simple question that can be answered in a few lines and the responder comes up with, “look above, look below, look on the side, it has been explained well before, go look at this article or paper or presentation” they usually dont want to answer the question or dont know the answer. Another more sophisticated approach I have seen is the one that asks you back, have you read this paper or that other paper or have you done this experiment etc. Sooner or later you end up answering no I havent. Then the responder goes, there you go, thats why you dont understand this topic. Now go read all those papers and come back and talk to me. This too usually means that the responder doesn know or doesnt want to answer the question. There are exceptions, but very few and often the situation makes it clear why they are exceptions.

      I know next to nothing about climate science. But I have no hesitation admitting that. Particularly if you are not a climate scientist, there is no shame in saying I dont know or I only have a rought idea of what it is. That way you dont get to judge others for not reading too many papers that you might have read. Quality over Quantity and all that.

      The entire anomaly computation algorithm (Lets take the Hansen version of it) can be summarized in about 4 steps +/- 2 steps based on more or less granularity. Granted Hansen 81, 87, 2001 etc are written badly enough not to give you the clear steps to compute the anomaly. Hansen 99 does a much better job. So if you can put down the algorithm in simple steps, we could then at least look at those steps and say where you perhaps mis-spoke something or at least were partially right with a different interpretation of the step based on the bad write up of the paper. It is hard to demonstrate you understand something well, by being in the abstract all the time.

      In anycase, the anomaly isnt change in temp from one year to next year or computed at “individual locations”. Those are simply wrong under any interpretation. It is simply a weighted average of the all the station temps within the 1200 Km grid – mean grid temp for 1950-1981. Most charitable explanation I can come up with for your confusion about how the local temp “influences” (as Hansen puts it) other points _within the grid_, is that I think you are confusing the record aggregation for a given “location” with anomaly computation. Beyond the grid any influence these weights have is simply lost. Hansen says so much in many places. I dont know if you read these papers carefully. It doesnt look like it, given you are getting the basic things wrong.

      The other charitable explanation I have for your misunderstanding of year to next year, is likely the fact you can compute annual, monthly mean temps using this procedure.

      Anyway, it is clear to me you really havent studied the founding principles of climate variables like global temp anomaly.I would encourage you to put down the algorithmic steps in clear terms. Things become much clearer once that is done. You really dont have to read too many papers on this anomalies after you do that. NO point in continuing the discussion with pointers to this posting or that posting. Much more productive to get some sleep instead. :-)

    • Shiv, 3/11/11 12:59 am, Climate stabilization; 3/15/11 2:13 am, Property Rights and Climate Change

      Congratulations on your plea for a rational dialog. However, your position suffers on substance for lack of reference to IPCC Reports. The situation there with respect to anomalies is a mess.

      Viewing the problem from the top down, IPCC suspiciously uses anomalies for temperature but not for CO2. Perhaps this is to capitalize on IPCC’s Unprecedented Axiom, the justification for its hockey stick in several forms. It goes something like this: if the record is unprecedented before the industrial era, man must be the cause. It’s a corollary to correlation establishing cause and effect. Temperatures are not unprecedented, but IPCC can manufacture a case that CO2 is – a least for a million years or so.

      Another top-down view is that IPCC appears to use anomalies in every chapter of the TAR and AR4, with one exception: the AR4 Summary for Policymakers (SPM). In the SPM, temperature anomalies turn into temperature differences — an anomalous difference without a distinction. The concept must have been deemed just too difficult or too shaky to explain at the epistemic Level 4 mentality.

      IPCC says temperature records are recoverable from anomaly data:

      Estimates of actual temperatures can be retrieved by adding back the climatologies to the anomaly data (Jones, et al., 1999) [Jones, P.D., et al., 1999: Surface air temperature and its changes over the past 150 years. Rev. Geophys., 37, 173–199.] AR4, ¶3.B.1 Methods of Temperature Analysis: Global Fields and Averages, p. SM.3-3.

      Climatologies are descriptions of the state of the climate, listing the nominal condition for every station or cell, as appropriate, determined by some prescribed method. Jones, et al., describe four methods for land components. The Climate Anomaly Method (CAM) converts station temperature to an anomaly by subtracting the mean value for each station determined directly for at least 20 years, augmented if necessary by data from nearby stations. The Reference Station Method (RSM) adjusts station temperatures successively to agree on regional averages. The First Difference Method (FDM) uses first differences in temperature between successive values in a station time series. The fourth method they describe as new, and as computing regional and hemispheric averages directly, presumably without first creating a station climatology. The authors describe a fifth method for marine regions. These are in general methods for the reduction of temperatures to anomalies, and then converting them to regional or global presentations. IPCC reports what only minor differences between the method in trends and interannual variances.

      Two conclusions can be drawn from this brief introduction. First, support exists for each of the different views you discussed about what constitutes an anomaly. Second, the implication that information is lost in the global anomaly reductions would be false if the applicable climatologies accompanied any reductions were publicly accessible. IPCC supplies information with its anomaly records about grid box weighting, but does not provide the relevant climatologies. In fact, a station climatology could be created using a random number generator, and original temperatures could still be recovered from the anomalies, given the climatology.

    • Sorry. I havent really looked at IPCC AR4 or other reports, given the issues some reports seem to have, wrt to the false claims made. Perhaps that is an unfair characterization of all IPCC reports.

      However this exercise is really a very simple exercise. This doesnt need addition of climatologies or anything else. I think you are conflating several other thigns with the quantity we call “global temperature anomaly”.

      What global temp is attempting to do is take all the temp data from around the world (say it is 10,000 data points. Im just throwing an arbitrary number for making a point. Im not sure what the exact number is) and reduce that to one number so that it somehow represents a global perspective. This process doesnt need anything like “climatologies” other than the instrumental temp data from around the globe. Thats it. You could argue this is not a good way to represent 10000 measured data points or the algorithm is flawed or inadequate. However those are separate arguments.

      I am just taking Hansens algorithm and saying that the points that Fred made about global anomaly computations are wrong. This really is separate from whether we should have a global CO2 anomaly computation in addition to global temp anomaly. I dont know the answer to that one.

      Frankly I dont have more interest or time to pursue this further though in the abstract. :-)

    • Fred Moolten

      I have to agree with David [with this slight addition] that

      There is no cumulative weight or consilience of evidence in favor of [potentially catastrophic] AGW.

      This sort of makes the rest of Adler’s op-ed [regarding what to do about it] rather superfluous.

      I know you will most likely disagree, but that’s what this ongoing scientific and policy debate on AGW is all about, i.e. the science is NOT settled [that there is a problem at all].

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      There is a certain degree of absurdity in bringing up 12 Angry Men while discussing the concilience of evidence. The entire movie was predicated on the fact concilience easily and unjustly masks uncertainty. Concilience creates an illusion which is unsupported by the evidence.

      In other words, the very principle you espouse was used to delude people into condemning an innocent person to death, and the lone “skeptic” was forced to save the day through thorough analysis of the evidence which everyone else had failed to do.

      The parallels are striking.

    • Precisely. The AGWs and Lukewarmists squirm and twist like crazy (e.g., FM) to avoid acknowledging that the entire balloon of model projections is vulnerable to disproof (bursting) by failure to match reality.

      As it is, the balloon is so weighted down with clumsy Duct Tape patches it’s sagging to the ground. There’s no chance it can lift the huge weight of ruinous “mitigations” it’s tasked with lofting.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Brian H, I’m afraid I am unable understand your point. You seem to have said model projections could be discredited by a failure to match reality (I assume this is meant to be a “good enough” match, not an absolute one). However, this comment would make no sense. As far as I can tell, nobody has tried to avoid admitting that possibility. It’s obviously true, and it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to anything currently being discussed.

      That model projections could be discredited doesn’t diminish any argument for being concerned about global warming. In fact, it can only support such arguments.

    • Bear in mind that the only difference between a moderate and probably beneficial 0.6 degrees/century and a potentially adverse warming are the projections of unproven and unreliable models: And only those runs which were preselected to present a 3 degree sensitivity.

      When the models are dismissed there is no need for alarma nd any arbitrary 2 degree limit can likely easily be reached by business as usual.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      This is in no way responsive to what I said. My comment was limited to discussing whether or not the possibility of model projections being falsified was evidence of some failure in the models which people like Fred Moolten try to avoid admitting. Obviously it is not, and the possibility of such falsification is actually a good thing.

      Moreover, I cannot “bear in mind” what you said as I don’t agree with it in the slightest. Boldly stating things as fact and acting as though the person you’re talking to agrees with them is poor practice.

      There is no inherent need for global circulation models to make predictions about harmful effects from global warming, and there is no way you could know a .6C/century trend would be “probably beneficial.”

      And none of that matters for what you were responding to.

    • My response was to this statement which is merely a very odd, even farcical, opinion, not a fact of any kind:
      “That model projections could be discredited doesn’t diminish any argument for being concerned about global warming. In fact, it can only support such arguments.”

      Hence physician heal thyself.

      On the beneficial effects of moderate warming, you need to read the IPCC documents, specifically the bit that states that moderate warming is probably beneficial (with numbers even). If you don’t accept that then look at any history book and find out how people were taller, crops were better and civilisations generally prospered during the warmer parts of what used to be the universally accepted historical temperature highs before the hockey stick became a novel dogma. So you don’t have to take my word for it – just the collective wisdom of everyone who ever gave an opinion on cold climate versus warm climate.

      The only scary part of warming is if it is unprecedented and going out of control. The only thing that posits the former scenario is a now discredited paleo reconstruction and the latter scenario only comes from models. It’s not me saying that, it’s the consensus IPCC position. Without the models it just isn’t possible to extrapolate 3 to 6 degrees of thermageddon from a fairly steady 0.6 degrees of warming in the last century. That is a fact, not an opinion.

      So indeed you don’t need to bear anything in mind (because clearly it wasn’t there in the first place) or agree with it (which is merely your opinion), you need to read and understand what the IPCC case, as-written, actually is.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      JamesG, you are far too vague and condemning for me to be interested in continuing and exchange. You’ve effectively just repeated yourself and added, “Look it up.” That doesn’t work. Seeing as none of this is particularly topical, I’m content to stop this now.

      However, I feel obliged to point out you mocked a comment of mine which is perfectly sensible, but nothing you said contradicted it. A common problem expressed by people in the global warming debate is falsification, specifically how the various hypotheses involved in the global warming debate could be falsified. If predictions are so vague they cannot be falsified, they have little value. The fact model projections can be falsified means they don’t fall into this trap (of course, they could still be overly vague).

      Other than that, all I said is the possibility of something being falsified doesn’t mean it is discredited. That’s an obvious statement. You never addressed it or the other point, so I have no idea what you think is “farcical” about what I said.

    • Precisely. I often end up scratching my head on these kind of comparisons. It is as if either they havent thoroughly looked into the example they cite or they really dont understand the example or paper they cite. I dont mean to single out anyone (including Fred) on this one. But I often see that those who seem to quote climate papers, articles, books etc and those (Im assuming non-climatalogists) who seem to appear fluent on the technical terms seem to either miss the whole point of that article or havent looked at it carefully to comprehend the real conclusions and caveats.

    • Absolutely right about how wrong the 12 Angry Men example is. In the movie, the govt wants to take away from the accused some or all of his rights (to life, liberty or property). To do so, the prosecutors must prove their case with evidence that establishes the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury feels that any one of the elements of the crime has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, the verdict must be not guilty. And we see Henry Fonda poke enough holes in the evidence presented in the case that reasonable doubt emerges.

      Now, climate alarmists want to infringe on the rights to life, liberty and property of billions of people. They can’t prove their case to do so, but try to argue that all the holes skeptics have poked in their case do not matter. It doesn’t matter, they say, that the science is shoddy, that no one bothers to check anything, that the process is biased, that key scientists lacked integrity, that the instruments fail basic standards, and the statistics and software are routinely butchered. Since all the evidence has yet to be exposed as flawed, they should be able to infringe on the rights of billions of poor people. Just in case they might turn out to be right.

      Hell of an argument.

    • “People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points. It’s a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem”.

      Cuts both ways, Fred.

      Max

    • Perhaps, Fred, you might see the irony in saying that sceptics poke holes in many aspects of climate science, while failing to recognise that this too is “cumulative evidence” – in this case, for the weakness of the CAGW arguement.

      Just sayin…

    • Neil – I addressed this precise point in detail in the consilience thread, with additional details about the Bayesian aspect in the discussion on Pekka’s blog.

    • Sorry Fred, haven’t read it – not enough spare hours in the day, I’m afraid!

      At the end of the day though, adding more dodgy legs to the table doesn’t make it more stable – you’re better of ensuring that the existing legs are up to the job than trying to prop it up with paddlepop sticks and chewing gum.

  2. The libertarian position is that pollution is a property rights violation that should be settled in court, not a system for wealth transfer. Essentially, sell shares in the atmosphere and the seas and let the owners sue polluters. The private sector will do a better job at lower cost than the government. That’s their position. That’s the position that he conservatives will support as well as the libertarians.

    As of this point in time, the economics are not in the green movement’s favor. People pay for cleanliness when they’re out of poverty. Right now the world is very a very dirty place outside of the west. It needs to be wealthier before people prefer cleanliness to poverty. And the world economy is too volatile, and the shift of political and economic power away from the west to the much poorer east is creating too much uncertainty. ie: nothing is going to change. And I suspect that the current millennial generation will be replaced by a less idealistic generation, who will solve the issue, if there is one, through more pragmatic means.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Right now the world is very a very dirty place outside of the west

      The west (Europe) is a fairly clean place, but it’s not uniformly so. The US has become increasingly dirtier and shoddier. Our infrastructure and public urban places in general aren’t what you’d expect from the world’s biggest economy. It’s as if investing what we hold in common is a ridiculous idea. It impoverishes us all. Empire is a drain.

      That’s the shocking revelation of travel.

    • Jeffrey, you may be correct in saying that the US infrastructure in many locations leaves a lot to be desired.

      And Shanghai sure looks a lot cleaner and better organized than Detroit, for example.

      But Shanghai is the exception in China, as is Detroit in the USA.

      And the air pollution in most Chinese cities is ten times as bad as in US cities.

      I live in Switzerland today (where infrastructure is in pretty good shape), have lived in China and have visited many Asian countries, as well as the USA.

      With some exceptions, western Europe nations probably have a better maintained infrastructure than the USA today, but Asian nations are still well behind, again with a few exceptions, such as Singapore.

      If we rank it by population, I’m sure the US would rank in the top 5th or 10th percentile.

      Max

    • While you’re right in general about many Asian cities, I would wager that virtually anywhere in Japan is far cleaner than the average location in the States. I would say that the U.S. is about on par with (South) Korea. NZ is certainly cleaner, Australia probably so. My guess would be that the U.S. is closer to the 10th percentile than the 5th.

    • Jeffrey

      Yeah. Parts of Europe are cleaner/dirtier than parts of the USA.

      Extremes (like sections of Detroit) are hard to find in western Europe.

      And it’s probably true that the infrastructure is generally in better shape in Europe.

      Plus there is usually better public transportation. Higher population density has probably helped but there another key factor: the populations in Europe expect their government to provide this service, which is partially covered by taxpayer funding. In the USA the federal and state governments provide a network of highways but do not get involved in other means of public transportation.

      However, living in Switzerland, which is arguably one of the better maintained spots on this planet, I am always hit with three initial positive impressions when I visit USA: the size and scale of everything, the limitless availability of products and services and how things generally work well.

      But the question remains: is the USA in a state of terminal decline or will it reinvent itself (as it has done in the past)?

      I’m betting on the latter.

      Max

    • The libertarian position is that pollution is a property rights violation that should be settled in court, not a system for wealth transfer.

      And, although I do not classify myself as a libertarian, I believe there is also an inherent libertarian suspicion of moves to “tax the air we breathe”.

      Max

    • John Whitman

      Curt,

      You said, “The libertarian position is that pollution is a property rights violation that should be settled in court, not a system for wealth transfer.”

      First, I think pollution in a fee society is strictly private property right issue.

      If pollution is to be addressed by applying individual property rights, then an individual (real estate) property owner could take legal action against an air polluter only if it can be shown the polluter’s action affects the air space immediately over his privately owned real estate.

      That concept has the ability by extension to solve all climate issues globally, and can bring science correctly into the evaluation of determining if a pollution exist and alleged effects of it. The simplicity is elegant.

      Note: I am a lifetime supporter of Von Mises and the tradition that follows him.

      John

    • Alexander Harvey

      I take it that you wish to see a court with the jurisdiction to settle global property rights disputes. Are you sure that is wise?

      Also, how could a suit for the prevention from irreparable damage play out in an equitable manner? Should and could such a court grant preventive injunctions?

      If such a court issued damages how should it enforce payment? Would you wish your domestic courts to uphold such decisions?

      I can see how it would work if all suits were dismissed, but would it work if suits were upheld? A justice that would only work when it restricts itself to certain decisions must seem a mockery, so should I presume you would be happy with every injured or potentially injured party suing you successfully, should that be the courts decision.

    • The End is FAR

      Global Property rights are not necessary and are in great dispute regionally. Property rights here in the US and modern civilizations are enough.

      The fundamental and inalienable right to the fruits of one’s own labor (wages) are already at risk and being infringed as massive amounts of wages are being confiscated to support AGW grants, fees, regulations, taxes, etc.

      This must and should be tried criminally where a preponderance of evidence does not suffice, proof beyond a reasonable doubt must be exhibited. This is little different than what the Scientific Method offers itself. It leaves little room for doubt. If one side is allowed to offer evidence and it is not allowed to be scrutinized by the most ardent and capable of Skeptics, then it leaves plenty of reasonable doubt.

      This needs to be settled in court and both sides best be prepared. The skeptics for some time now have been forced to prove a negative, it is high time the Advocates be forced to prove a positive in causation.

      The Advocates have for some time now expressed their hypothesis as a Theory, yet have failed to lay out their claims in a manner that offers the skeptics a reasonable cross examination or test.

      Does it worry me that the Advocates will win the case? Not if Skeptics have good representation and are allowed to examine and refute the evidence offered. If the Advocates win under these conditions, then it is time for mitigation.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      That process — suing in court for multi-point pollution is beyond comic. A grotesque: Caliban wearing a judge’s wig.

  3. Eric (Skeptic)

    It is odd that he can support property rights for climate (is Arctic summer ice property or shoreline above sea level??) but ignore the confiscation of carbon-based property in Hanson’s plan. That plan seems reasonable on the surface: tax carbon at the source and give out the proceeds to everyone to help them pay for the resultant price increases. But the people who own the carbon now or rights to it, get nothing at all. I am one (a small shareholder in energy trusts). It looks like selective Libertarianism to me.

    • Funny, most libertarians are familiar with the concept of the law of unintended consequences. Taxing fossil fuels (let’s drop the taxing carbon or CO2 dodge, unless you’re talking about a tax on Coke and Pepsi), is only acceptable in a conservative/libertarian economic sense if the certainty of damage from CO2 emissions is sufficiently certain, and severe, to justify such anti-libertarian government conduct. And more importantly, the tax would have to be both effective and the solution that is the least intrusive on liberty. The Hansen style redistributive tax would be neither.

      If receipts from taxes on oil, coal and natural gas are redistributed to consumers, the net effect on fossil fuels purchases could very well be nil. They will simply use the government transfer payments to purchase the more expensive fuel. Such a tax has little likelihood of succeeding. Moreover, even accepting the CAGW hypotheses, without action on a global scale, a carbon tax in the U.S. would have a de minimis effect.

      But prices throughout the economy on items having nothing to do with CAGW will rise also. There is simply no way to know the effect on the unemployment rate, inflation, economic growth, etc. (the unintended consequences). Nor is there any reason to assume that the government, once it got its hands on those hundreds of billions of dollars, would actually distribute those funds to the public. No lucid conservative or libertarian would believe that is likely to happen.

      What he proposes is not likely to be effective, nor is it the lest intrusive means of dealing with the uncertain risks of CAGW. All Adler’s article shows is that libertarians can adopt liberal positions as well as conservative ones.

      Mr. Adler, may I present David Brooks and Christopher Buckley?

    • “Nor is there any reason to assume that the government, once it got its hands on those hundreds of billions of dollars, would actually distribute those funds to the public. No lucid conservative or libertarian would believe that is likely to happen.”

      Your first statement is not quite right. It should be “would actually distribute those funds to the public based upon each individuals use of energy”.

      Your second sentence is exactly right!

    • Jim,

      Hansen did not propose returning the tax receipts based “upon each individual’s use of energy.”

      “To create strong “green” incentives, the levy should be given directly back to the public on a per capita basis — in the United States, he said, it would amount to several thousand dollars per household.
      ‘A person with several large cars and a large house will have a tax greatly exceeding the dividend. A family reducing its carbon footprint to less than average will make money,’ Hansen wrote in December in an open letter to then president-elect Obama and his wife Michelle.”
      http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gHU_kN8Ojundra5TdBHr_-CIjb0w

      The intent of the whole scheme, apart from destroying the fossil fuel industry, is to get the public to accept it through the promise of transfer payments, ala the British Columbia carbon tax discussed elsewhere here.

      But we agree, there is nothing libertarian about the proposal as it is structured (either way).

    • Steve Reynolds

      But we know that if we tax something, we tend to get less of it. The taxes on employment (which are regressive) are probably some of the worst policies we could have right now. A tax on carbon that replaces taxes on employment would be an improvement in policy even if there was little or no benefit to having the carbon tax. So as a libertarian, I can support a revenue neutral carbon tax replacing employment taxes without being convinced AGW is a very serious problem.

    • Nullius in Verba

      Yes. But if you put a tax on energy, then you get less energy, and all the things produced by means of it.

      As a libertarian, I propose a tax on regulations, a tax on protectionism, a tax on the beneficiaries of big government, a tax on advocates for higher taxes, and more government spending, a tax on advocates for interfering with others freedom. There seem to be more than enough people around who support that sort of thing…

      The problem with using taxes as an instrument of policy is that it negates the virtues of the market while claiming to be market-based. It is still just a way for a minority to impose their values on the majority – which is always fine so long as you share the values of that minority, but clearly illiberal if you don’t. It is usually less damaging than outright regulation, but what usually happens in the case of a fundamentally unpopular tax or regulation is that the market, instead of inventing ways to solve the problem, invents ways to exploit or circumvent your tax. It would be like trying to stop drunkenness by means of Prohibitionist levels of tax.

      In my view, we should declare that the world as a whole *will* respond to help anyone facing weather-related disasters, and that *if* it can be shown to be caused by fossil fuel use, by standards of evidence we all sign up to in advance, then those whose use it is attributed to, in due proportion, will be liable. Knowing this, those people can decide how they want to deal with the risk. If they all raise prices as a result, then so be it. If they research alternatives, then good for them. If they develop the means for people to adapt and survive, that solves the problem. And if they decide to take the risk, it’s their own wealth they’re risking.

      It’s not perfect, but nothing in politics ever is.

    • Steve Reynolds

      I would agree with you if no other taxes existed and we were talking about instituting a carbon tax. But replacing some very bad taxes with at least a less bad tax (that also likely has some Pigovian benefits) would seem beneficial.

    • Nullius in Verba

      It’s arguable whether it’s less bad. A tax on employment reduces employment, but that is not inherently a bad thing. It may, for example, result in more leisure as we find ways to produce more by working less. A tax on energy, on the other hand, impacts generally on our ability to produce. It would result in less energy-intensive and more labour-intensive methods of working. Both reduce total output, but in the absence of any proven benefit to the climate, the latter arguably reduces utility more.

      I don’t insist on the point – it’s not clear to me. But the problem with instituting it as a tax is that you’ll never know, because there’s no way for the market to choose a fundamentally different and better solution. They can choose only the one you prod them towards, or they’ll find a way to circumvent it entirely. It means *you* as the policy maker have to get it right.

      The power of the market is that it enables a billion brains to make a trillion decisions minutely tailored to local circumstances, everywhere, all at once.

      I agree that it may be *less* bad than some other taxes. But it’s still bad.

    • Even if replacing part or all of the income tax, a carbon tax is a terrible idea. If anything, a general value added tax, a consumption tax that does not pick and choose winning industries, would make more sense. But a tax on energy? Just a bad idea overall.

    • Steve Reynolds

      A carbon tax is not a tax on all energy, just on fossil fuels. Hydro, nuclear, geothermal, wind, solar, etc would not be taxed.

    • Steve,

      Huh? I didn’t say “all” energy. A”carbon” tax clearly is not a tax on energy forms that are not based on carbon. Is that somehow unclear?

      My comment was that a tax targeted on consumption in one sector of the economy is a bad idea period. A general VAT is at least more defensible because it does not pick winners and losers.

  4. As a registered Libertarian and serious supporter of CATO, here’s my libertarian views on the Adler quotes you provide:
    1. Before I adopt a carbon tax, I would like to see some numbers that illustrate why a carbon tax is superior to the absence of a carbon tax; Adler offers none.
    2. If in general “things country A does that affect country B” are reasons for compensatory payments, then I’d put ‘global warming’ a loooong way down the list. Well above that would come everything from starting major wars to ocean fishing.

    • Robert – Among the many other difficulties in quantifying what country A does to country B is the problem inherent in the fact whatever it is, it is likely to be minimal, whereas it is what all countries do to each other that greatly exceeds the sum of their individual transgressions.

      This aggregate effect that can’t be derived from the individual contributions is the essence of the Tragedy of the Commons

    • Robert Ayers

      As Jonathan Adler’s views are freakishly similar to my own on this issue, I immediately distrust them and and endeavoring to re-examine both what he says and what I have said with a fine-tooth comb for errors.

      However, to your point, “1. Before I adopt a carbon tax, I would like to see some numbers that illustrate why a carbon tax is superior to the absence of a carbon tax;”

      You may wish to check out a fellow named Dr. Ross McKitrick who has written at length on the topic for the past 15 years. (http://ideas.repec.org/p/gue/guelph/1996-10.html)

      You could follow up with reviewing the numbers for British Columbia, in Canada, which introduced a revenue neutral carbon tax in 2008.

      BC would have real, actual, true life numbers not dissimilar to US figures for South Carolina, except that BC arguably has the world’s strongest performance for an economy of its size, and SC.. not so much.

      The numbers for BC come to approximately 70% of citizens obtaining more direct benefit from CO2 revenues than they spend in CO2 fees.

      BC hasn’t become a haven of communists: it has one of the smallest local governments per capita in Canada, and one of the lower tax rates in North America, with local income taxes dropping 15% in the past decade. What US state can make the same claim? Ever?

    • Robert Ayers

      Bart R: Yeah, when I said “I’d like to see some numbers’ I meant “from the proponent, Adler”. I, like you, have seen many numbers, including via CATO and from Lomborg. I agree with you that the public numbers don’t support the massive interventions proposed.

    • Robert Ayers

      The public numbers .. *squint*

      Massive? *blink*

      We seem to be talking past each other.

    • Robert Ayers

      Bart R: You write
      The public numbers .. *squint*
      Massive? *blink*
      We seem to be talking past each other

      I’m not sure what you mean there. If you want some public numbers you could go to your publiclibrary and obtain one of Lomborg’s books. CATOs’ papers are at http://www.cato.org: go to their home-page and search on “climate”. You will find the Michaels/Balling book there too.
      And if you seriously think that the interventions proposed by climate “believers” are not massive, you have been reading different newspapers than I have. I’ve seen everything from cutting per-capita power use back to 1850s levels to a world government enforcing global population controls.

    • Wow

      So, what you’re really saying is that you have a straw man and you want a prize for dressing it up.

      No wonder I felt like we weren’t connecting.

      It’s my straw allergy.

    • So a neutral carbon tax is a good thing, because it makes 70% of the population richer, which it does by transferring to them wealth seized from the other 30%.

      This well illustrates that what drives CAGW thinking is actually totalitarian/socialist political advocacy. An alleged concern for the environment is just a front, and is in reality just a government-funded ruse to justify more government coercion of society.

    • Punksta

      Nice spin!

      The revenue neutral carbon tax could be a good thing because it allows a mechanism for pricing CO2 emissions and paying the owners of the CO2 budget.

      All this redistribution malarky is so much tired cold war era hooey.

      You want to look at redistribution, look at the subsidies redistributing into the fossil industry in the USA.

      Which would illustrate the corporate communist nature of the parties in power, no?

      Less inflaming of ancient and outmoded feuds, if you would.

      The Soviet Union hasn’t existed for two decades, and Canada has lower taxes than the USA.

    • ‘Canada has lower taxes than the USA’

      Garbage. While there are many great things about Canada, lower taxes are not among them. The average tax freedom day for the USA taxpayer is April 9th, while Canadians enjoy the privilege of supporting big government until June 6th. Citizens of the most taxed state – Connecticut – are still free before the citizens of the least taxed province – Alberta.

    • You need to investigate economics with the fervor you apparently put in climate change. Richer or poorer is not an issue in a revenue neutral situation.

      Example: I’m a truck driver. Do you really think I’m not going to pass along any fossil fuel tax increases? That extra money I charge to haul, because of the tax, is going to show up in the products you purchase. Therefore, nobody is richer or poorer, except for the government who will rake off a percent to fund the bureaucracy needed to handle the tax!

    • JimG

      So you pass on your costs?

      That’s the general idea.

      You pass on your costs, or eat them as you need because some won’t pay and will go elsewhere.

      Others pass on their savings, or keep them as they choose because your costs are higher than theirs, encouraging still more people to get into that business and compete with them because of how good their business is for sellers.

      You stop making money by squandering something that isn’t yours because now you pay for it.

      Welcome to a world with less corporate communism.

      Feel what it’s like to not be a charity case sucking blood out of the economy with every dollar you make.

      If that scares you, that’s too bad.

      Maybe you’ll find a place in some alternative employment that doesn’t steal from the limited CO2 budget, and be able to call yourself and honest businessman.

      The government uses the same bureacracy for the carbon tax in BC as it uses for any retail tax or any income tax refund.

      See, minimal extra expense, and possibly more efficient due to synergies.

      A tax system that’s actually useful for something, for a change.

    • You need to reevaluate what you’re talking about. If I must pay $10.00/gal of diesel fuel so will my competitors. This cost will be passed on to the consumer regardless of who can compete based upon other costs.

      Your argument assumes I can save elsewhere in order to make myself more competitive or that someone else will. Sorry to tell you but energy costs are built into everyone’s base costs, even my competitors. You are only assuming that the full costs won’t be passed on. Why don’t you get into the real world and deal with rising fuel costs. Your argument sounds like something from a government bureaucrat.

    • JimG

      Again you get the general idea.

      Right now you and all your fossil-using competitors can out-’compete’ any less-fossil-intensive alternative seven ways from Sunday.

      Why? The power of subsidies and free-ridership.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think your profession is noble as grapes.

      You seem like a bright guy who can handle himself in a debate.

      I have no doubt you’ll weather what comes just fine in a smaller and one hopes saner transpoertation industry, what with the advances in logistics and management science.. which will happen no matter what comes of CO2 pricing, because why should they keep ten of you on the job when they can just find a more efficient delivery route using just nine of you?

    • Bart, I was a bit “unconvinced” with your RAH RAh for AGW. That Canada remark, IMO just did you in.

    • DEEBEE

      Where have I been rah rah AGW?

      Could you quote me? Cite a link?

    • All this redistribution malarky is so much tired cold war era hooey.
      Yes. So why do you continue to advocate redistribution malarkey?

      You want to look at redistribution, look at the subsidies redistributing into the fossil industry in the USA. Which would illustrate the corporate communist nature of the parties in power, no?
      Yes, socialism for capitalists, just as bad as any other socialism. Scrap it immediately.

      Less inflaming of ancient and outmoded feuds, if you would.

      ie, stop bringing up issues you have no answer for, but nevertheless refuse to reconsider. Sorry. If you want mindless far-left agreement, try realclimate.

    • If I read Ross McKitrick’s stuff a bit more closely, I see that it’s all about how to implement a carbon tax to make it less onerous, not a justification for imposing such a tax in the first place:

      The possibility of using revenues from environmental taxes to reduce other distortions in the tax system has been much discussed recently. This paper reviews the current debate and presents empirical evidence to suggest that the double dividend approach to CO2 emissions control in Canada can significantly reduce the costs involved, and possibly eliminate aggregate welfare and output reductions due to implementation of a carbon tax.

      Ross (like Adler) is talking about step 3, where step 1 is identifying the need for a carbon tax and step 2 is deciding to implement it.

      These steps need to be made first, and we are not there yet.

      Max

    • manacker

      You read McKitrick backwards.

      McKitrick proposes carbon tax even if there is — as he is well-known to believe — no negative effect of CO2.

      To him, taxing fossil is a better way to raise revenue than other taxes because it’s less distortionate of the markets overall.

      Now, I do disagree with McKitrick on much; he implies by his usage that the government owns the air, which I find reprehensible.

      Air is a shared common resource, a right never relinquished by individuals to any government.

      McKitrick provides step 1 and step 3; step 2 has been taken one way or another (usually not as well one would wish) by two dozen jurisdictions already, and has been shown can be workable in at least one case.

    • To [McKitrick] taxing fossil is a better way to raise revenue than other taxes because it’s less distortionate of the markets overall.
      This is the Land Tax approach, taxing of the use of natural resources, which are thus treated as being owned in common, and managed for them by govenments.

      implies by his usage that the government owns the air, which I find reprehensible. Air is a shared common resource, a right never relinquished by individuals to any government.
      Ditto fossil fuel then, which means governments have no right to tax it.

    • Punksta

      No, not ditto fossil fuel, nor ditto real estate, nor ditto retail sales, nor ditto words on a page or even radio waves.

      All of those other things have either ancient Common Law doctrine for private ownership and government taxation of private transactions, or recent democratically elected and constitutionally-supported governments enacting such laws.

      I think, though, a politician campaigning on government ownership of air might be a little harder to accept.

    • iow, govenment can grab and control – which means ‘own’ in practical terms – whatever they please, historical precedent or not.
      And of course they’ll be far to clever to call government ownership of air what it is, they’ll talk about protecting it or something. So there is no reason all for for your obvious enthusiasm for state controls to stop short of ownership of the air.

    • As the globe cools, the toll on alarmists will fun the skeptics.
      ========================

    • Punksta

      I’m with you on this.

      With cunning guys like Ross McKitrick running around, we do have to be skeptically vigilant of everything that reduces the democracy of the market, distorts the economy, and lends control to the few at the dismay of the many.

      Like continuing to give away our common air rights with no price to the already subsidized fossil industry.

      You may think if you turn a blind eye to one excess, you’re saving yourself from having to be vigilant of the other.

      Remember the price of freedom is evenhanded vigilance.

    • Yes, our Bart is every bit as clever as a politician. He also spins government ownership of the air into something more cuddly – “common” ownership.

    • Thought I’d look at this miraculous British Columbia carbon tax. A few salient points:

      1. The tax is not necessarily “revenue neutral,” except for the first year. “The government’s commitment to be revenue neutral in 2008/09 will be achieved through the following tax measures.” However, while the tax started out a $10.00 per ton in 2008, and will triple automatically to $30.00/ton in 2012, the redistribution of those increased tax receipts will have to be approved as the plan progresses. In other words, the tax goes up automatically, but the transfer payments do not. Anyone wanna bet that the rise in taxes will stop in 2012? Or that the government will actually part with any more of the growing tax receipts?
      http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents_library/notices/British_Columbia_Carbon_Tax.pdf

      2. The tax is a little over a year old, and there are no results yet to show it has any effect on consumption, let alone emissions. “While the economic effects of the tax have been negligible, the environmental impacts are expected to be positive.” (Notice the word “expected”)
      http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-vine/76595/bcs-carbon-tax-experiment-seems-be-working

      3. A carbon tax low enough to avoid the most severe economic damage is a tax too low to really affect consumption. “The current level of the tax is still quite low (about four cents per litre of gas). At the $30.00/ton level, the tax will cost roughly 23 cents per gallon. Europeans have been paying more than twice as much for gas as Americans for decades, with no proportionate reduction in consumption.

      4. The tax is not a tax on carbon, it is a tax on fossil fuels at the retail level. “The carbon tax applies to the purchase or use of fossil fuel within the province.”
      http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2008/bfp/2008_Budget_Fiscal_Plan.pdf

      5. Even if effective, the tax will have no noticeable effect on global CO2 levels. “The province’s economic modeling projects that the policy will lower greenhouse gas emissions by about 5 per cent.” A five percent (hoped for) reduction in the emissions of one province in Canada, with no corresponding reductions in the U.S., Russia, China, India, or pretty much the rest of the entire world. So what value have the BC tax payers actually received for their taxes?
      (Quotes in paragraphs 3 and 5 are from the article cited in paragraph 2.)

      6. Here is what the tax was really about – buying votes. The BC tax regime does provide for “introduction of a new ongoing low‐income Climate Action Tax Credit to help low‐income individuals and families with the carbon taxes they pay.” Apart from this directly undermining the stated purpose of the tax, it does have the amazingly coincidental and salutary value of allowing the politicians in BC to get credit for sending checks to voters. Guess what happened in the next election?
      ” The election win gave Campbell a third term — a rare occurrence in the province — with his party holding a majority of British Columbia’s 85 legislature seats.
      While elections are not referenda, the AFP report makes clear that the carbon tax stood front and center in the BC voting.”
      http://www.carbontax.org/blogarchives/2009/05/13/bc-voters-stand-by-carbon-tax/

      Politicians buying votes with transfer payments. Who woulda thought?

      What a great conservative/libertarian program this is.

    • GaryM

      Many of your thoughts crossed my mind, but either I’ve been doing this longer than you so have an advantage, or am a more patient reader:

      (http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/A6.htm) for some mythbusting (as you seem to trust the government sites);

      1. http://www.leg.bc.ca/38th4th/3rd_read/gov37-3.htm#section4 details that the law is not as you say revenue neutral for only the first year, but that the exact measures to make good may change every two years; the minister in charge must reimburse the people or forfeit 15% of their salary for failing to make good on what is collected.

      2. Yes, two and a half is slightly more than one. The two and a half years in question were the two hardest years in the world economy for the better part of a century, and BC’s economy barely missed a tick, according to its top ranking in financial reports. Long term proof of success? No. Dire failure? Not by a longshot, through a trial by fire.

      3. Europeans have been what? The average European produces a fraction of the average American in CO2 emissions, and burns about half of the American average in the gas tank. Huh. They pay twice as much, and they use half as much. How straightforward is that?

      4. Quibble. It’s a tax on all fossil fuels at the retail level proportional to their fossil carbon content. It’s not the way I would have done it, since they exempt biofuels. It’s a tax on carbon to be burned, which makes it a CO2 tax, not a fuel tax. Apparently in the broader BC plan, they’ll be going after ‘fugitive emissions’ that escape retail fuel sales.

      5. I dunno about no effect, GaryM. It got you seriously studying it (albeit to look for flaws). That’s pretty impressive on its own. ;)

      6. GaryM.. You think that a politician, or political party, is going to find the vote-buying power of revenue-neutral CO2 fees a factor counting against the idea, or a factor counting for the idea? ;)

      The same idea was floated elsewhere in Canada about the same time, but the party that proposed it apparently got trounced in the public pretty badly. There’s little to no vote-buying power in anything with the word ‘tax’ attached to it.

      You’re talking out both sides of your mouth here. Which is it, a tax grab that people will hate, or a vote buy that people will love?

      You seem to have engineered it in your mind to be both at once.

      And this objecting to something that’s overall good for everyone except free riders, and directly good for 70% of people — how does that work in your mind?

      Are you against reading, writing and arithmetic too? Handwashing and tooth-brushing? Looking both ways before crossing the street?

    • As a BC resident, I have some skin in this; G. Campbell basically championed and rammed thru these initiatives, and longer range commitments, in an effort to make BC the Greenest jurisdiction Evah.

      It’s all unproductive inanity, and at the very least a distracting jerking-around of effort and resources. At worst, a barrier to doing what works and attracting viable job-creating business.

      Never forget that the “broken window” effect of government subsidized and shaped economic decisions is to incur Bastiat’s “unseen” costs far in excess of purported benefits. Spain, Denmark, and the UK are discovering that this amounts to about 2-4 jobs lost for every Greenwash job created.

      As money passes through the hands of government, friction erodes much of its purchasing power!

    • Bart R

      1. – You admit was correct. Nice. Why would there be a penalty provision in the bill for the minister’s failure to enact full redistribution of the tax receipts if it were automatic?

      2 – You admit it has not been a success. Nice again.

      3 – You ignore the main point which is that if a tax that is low enough to avoid serious harm to the economy (like the BC tax) will not lead to people switching from fossil fuels, particularly when there is no “alternative” fuel even available.

      4 – You have kept on insisting it was not a tax on fuel, but a “rent” of the Co2 “budget.” Not according to the government of British Columbia. So…don’t quibble.

      5 – You didn’t answer. Oh, and “it” didn’t make me “seriously study” the BC tax. I was just curious if you were making up your description of the tax like you make up your pseudo economic analysis elsewhere. Turns out you were.

      6 – The article I quoted said exactly what it said. And it appeared in a paper that favors the tax. Even the liberals in BC credit the redistributive tax in part for the election victory. As you note in another comment above “The numbers for BC come to approximately 70% of citizens obtaining more direct benefit from CO2 revenues than they spend in CO2 fees.”

      Herre’s a new one.
      7. In light of your claim that “70% of the populace receive more back than they pay in taxes,” how exactly is that then supposed to reduce fuel consumption. This from the cite you linked to: “If everyone was given back the exact amount of carbon tax they paid there would be no incentive to use less fossil fuel and reduce emissions.” Let me get this straight, if the government gives people back the same amount they pay in a fuel tax, the tax won’t work. But if the government gives them MORE than they pay in the tax, that will reduce consumption? You would think that someone who pretends to be a libertarian would understand the concept, particularly when the liberal bureaucrats themselves do.

      You may read patiently, but you don’t comprehend very well at all.

    • GaryM

      Wow. Spinny as a top, aren’t you?

      1. Why would there be a penalty in a law for failing to follow the law? Wouldn’t that be to make it illegal to not follow the law?

      Wouldn’t it be great if every politician had to stand up and admit it by audited numbers, and pay a penalty for breaking a promise?

      2. How else do you measure the success of a four-year plan in two and a half years, than to compare it to others? By that measure, BC’s carbon tax is Superbowl Champion two years running and on the way to its third win.

      By your logic Charlie Sheen, California, Wisconsin, and you are winning.

      3. It starts low, it builds up. You’re claiming a harm that has not yet been demonstrated, and that there is no data to support.

      You’re like a.. what’s the expression? Climate Change catastrophe scaremonger. Except with no data or studies.

      4. I’m happy to call it a tax. Like the tax your bartender charges to give you drinks. Sure, you want free drinks from the bar, but that darn bar tax means you have to get a job and pay your own way for what you want from others.

      5. That was a question? Sounded more like a rhetorical device.

      What value do you get from having your consent asked, rather than assumed?

      From having your interest in what you own recognized instead of ignored, paid for instead of stolen?

      If you only see this as about a tax, you will always have blinkers of your own making, and be blind by your own choosing both to the benefits we all can have and to the harm you do.

      But maybe that’s why you choose to be blind.

      6. Yes, I’ve answered below this ‘redistribution’ folly you’re spinning out of context and without foundation. The cops have caught the bad guys and redistributed the loot back to the rightful owners, your defense attorney antics notwithstanding.

      7. See http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/12/property-rights-and-climate-change/#comment-55850 to save repeating myself. Wouldn’t want to be accused of argumentum ad nauseum

    • Bart R

      I’ve figured out who you really are. Humpty Dumpty.

      “”When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

      Tax, rent, budget, negative elasticity of demand (a simple term which you continue to mangle horribly elsewhere in this thread), capitalism, communism, redistribution, and now “price signals.” You use none of these in the way they are defined in simple dictionaries, let alone economics textbooks.

      At first I thought you were, like Hansen, intentionally misusing certain terms to justify an argument you could not support on its own merits. Now I see you really simply do not grasp the terminology you are googling, nor the very proposals you want to advocate so strongly. You are not acting like a troll, you genuinely think you are making sophisticated, coherent arguments, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

      This makes debating you much less interesting. I’ll leave it to others then to try to put Humpty’s shattered logic back together again. This king’s horseman hereby retires from the field.

    • “The numbers for BC come to approximately 70% of citizens obtaining more direct benefit from CO2 revenues than they spend in CO2 fees.”

      Funny, I thought this wasn’t about redistribution of wealth. Well, it did help the Liberal Party get re-elected. They got that goin’ for them.

    • They are very unlikely to realize that benefit, because the tax gets added onto the fuel, but this raises the price of everything dependent on fuel, which acts as a multiplier to increase the costs to the economy much more than will be returned by the tax. People can put off driving short term when prices go up, by delaying less critical tasks. Eventually these need to be done however, so all you really have done is delay consumption rather than reduce it.

    • Ferd,

      Absolutely. I was not suggesting there was a net “benefit” to anyone from such tax, merely showing that the tax is, by the express terms of its proponents, redistributive. I doubt any tax is really revenue neutral, if you consider all of the unintended costs that result.

    • David L. Hagen

      Bart R
      Please reexamine McKitrick’s T3 Tax to calibrate a carbon tax to the average temperature of the region of the atmosphere predicted by climatologists to be most sensitive to CO2. This explicitly incorporates the uncertainties in whether and how much anthropogenic emissions versus natural causes impact climate.

      The tax INCREASES if the tropospheric temperatures RISE per GWM models
      BUT
      The tax FALLS and then becomes a GRANT if tropospheric temperatures FALL, such as if they are caused by the PDO, cosmic rays impacting clouds etc. etc.

      The uncertainties in understanding climate,
      in understanding the impacts of anthropogenic causes, and
      in understanding the costs and impacts of proposed mitigations, and
      in understanding the costs and impacts of adaptation measures,
      that I see no sound basis for proposing any carbon cap or carbon tax.

      However, the statistical depletion of oil wells is well known and the cumulative statistical result in a bell shaped curve is very well established from millions of wells.

      Conventional light oil production from existing wells is declining about 6.6%/year.

      Conventional light oil DISCOVERIES peaked in the mid 1960s and have been declining since.
      Global production of light oil has plateaued since 2004.
      Global production of light oil will be declining soon.
      Oil consumption in producing countries is rising.
      Oil consumption in China & India is rising about 9%/year.
      Net oil exports will soon decline.
      Then what will you run your economy on, which you are so eager to tax?

      There will be a mad scramble to develop alternative transport fuels. Current projections are that they will not be fast enough, resulting in a major decline in the global economy for lack of transport fuel.

      See

    • David L. Hagen

      Yes, I’m familiar with McKitrick’s more recent proposal, and recommend it as reading, though I remain skeptical of it overall, as much as I remain skeptical of McKitrick’s original (and ongoing) statist desire to have the revenues of the sale of our air rights go to the coffers of government.

      Moreso, because his later proposals are more intricately complex and harder to disentangle.

      Further, he’s turned what began as a partly sane proposal for putting a price onto CO2 emissions into a completely insane plan to randomize government revenues and subsidies based on roulette-wheel climatonomy.

      By all means read McKitrick.

      Then give your head a shake.

      See, I’m not eager to tax.

      I’m eager to set a price.

      If recycling and reusing the tax system as a price-setting system is the cheapest and easiest way to accomplish this, I’ll take the hit of calling it a tax.

      Just like the tax you pay the farmer for her apples or the rancher for his beef.

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      “Just like the tax you pay the farmer for her apples or the rancher for his beef.”

      I’m going to render the “hit” :)

      I don’t think you pay the farmer or the rancher a tax for the apples or beef. You have inappropriately redefined the PRICE of a good or service as a tax. The government has imposed the tax on the farmer and rancher for the mere exchange of money between the farmer/rancher and the consumer. The farmer and rancher do not get to keep the tax revenue, they have to give that to the government.

    • John Carpenter

      Go back and read harder.

      It’s you who call CO2 emission price a tax. You got confused because that’s what BC calls it? Fine, that’s on me.

      I just use your word the same way on apples and beef as you use it on CO2, for the same reasons.

      Sorry it’s confusing to you. Some people have an agenda in keeping you confused it seems.

      I get that it’s harder because this historic inversion has given ‘tax’ a new, different and sort of opposite meaning.

      I’m told the word ‘run’ has 93 different meanings, yet people figure it out.

      Here’s the difference: tax goes from someone with no choice to someone who isn’t the owner; BC’s carbon tax goes from people who choose fossil over non-fossil and goes to the people of BC per capita, not to the general revenues of the government.

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      “Sorry it’s confusing to you. Some people have an agenda in keeping you confused it seems.”

      So far only you Bart ;)

    • The Orwellian abuse of our language is not helping to discern or to analyze the AGW argument.
      Taxes become prices, or investments.
      Unremarkable weather is dangerous change.
      Etc.

    • Just like the tax you pay the farmer for her apples or the rancher for his beef.

      OK, Bart – let’s talk about that rancher and farmer and how your scheme is wealth redistribution from the rural and suburban folk to the city dwellers.

      Let’s say for example that the city dweller drives a car 10,000 miles per year, at 20 mpg, which is then 500 gal of gas. Using a 4.45 ¢/litre tax rate that would be $84.55 tax paid.

      Now the farmer – has to use fuel to plow, to fertilize, to harvest, to haul materials from town, to haul products back to town – and for whatever other driving he/she does. It costs energy to grow food, babe. Let’s assume then that the farmer uses 10,000 gal of fuel. And I’m giving you the benefit here. That equates to $1729.00 in tax. Which if I understand your scheme, would be thrown in a pot and divided between farmer and city dweller, giving us $1813.55 to distribute, or $906.78 each.

      Thus the city dweller gains $822.22 at the expense of the farmer. And for many city dwellers it’s even better cause many of them don’t drive cars at all.

      Of course, the farmer and the city dweller may both have a wife and a couple kids – but if it’s really a per capita return, that just splits the pot more ways and the farmer still loses.

      It’s still called wealth redistribution.

      And don’t tell me the farmer can just raise his/her prices – it doesn’t work like that. Or are you ignorant of that process, too?

      Now – want to make a comparison with a truck driver who puts down 100,000 miles per year? How much does he get hit for?

    • Jim Owen

      Now you’re getting it!

      Of course, if the city guy runs a cement manufacturing plant the same size as the farmer’s farm, then the shoe goes back on the other foot.

      Maybe your farmer picks cherries?

      The world is too complicated for any one person, for any committee, for any planning body to determine how much of everything everyone should get.

      The fair market, once goods are in a range of equitable prices, is the right way to determine this ‘re’distribution.

      Why do you oppose capitalism?

    • How many cement factories in your town, Bart?

      What’s the townie/farmer ratio? 5:1, 10:1?

      It’s still a form of socialist wealth distirbution.

    • Jim Owen

      I look around many of the cities I’ve worked in, and see far more concrete than farm produce, and steel, and gas stations, and complexity.

      No Central Planner can out-guess the market.

      Handing a seeming gift from goernment to farmers may sound like generous charity, but in the long run it will hurt all more, and when all are hurt, farmers take the sharp end of that stick every time.

    • Your istake here, Bart, is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking farmers or cement factories. You’re still talking about penalizing someone who’s providing necessary serevices.

      Or perhaps you fail to understand that a true “lack of farm produce” would leave a lot of people, including you, starving? And then the concrete wouldn’t matter, would it?

      Whatever – you’re still taking from those who’ve earned the money and giving to those who haven’t.

      That used to be called theft, Robin Hood notwithstanding. Now, I suppose, it’s papered over with different, less disagreeable words. But it’s still theft.

    • Bart, cunning statists like me prefer to have the government capture the rents associated with air emissions policy through the use of emission taxes, not because of our secret Stalinist yearnings, but because (please note all 3 points in what follows): (i) scarcity rents, or in other words windfall transfers from losers to winners, are always created by any emission control policy regardless of the particular form of the policy: tax, tradable permits, emission standards, appliance standards, etc. Only in the case of taxes and auctioned permits are the rents visible and traceable. In all other cases they are still there, they are just hidden from view and typically accrue to aggressive rent-seekers who understand how these things work and structure the regulation to their benefit. (ii) Taxes and auctioned permits minimize the overall size of the rents created per unit of emission reductions. To understand why see my textbook (http://rossmckitrick.weebly.com/textbook.html) or other standard treatments of the topic. (iii) By putting the revenues into the hands of government, taxes and auctioned permits create the possibility–albeit only theoretical–that the money can be used to reduce other tax rates, thereby creating offsetting economic gains. However, as I explain in Ch 8 of my textbook, we have known since Sandmo’s classic 1975 paper that revenue recycling can only reduce, but not eliminate the costs of pricing externalities in the presence of distorting taxes elsewhere in the economy. And of course governments cannot really be trusted to maintain revenue-neutrality over time.

      With regard to claiming the government “owns” the air, I do not take that view. Nobody owns the air, it is a common property. But that creates a problem requiring a policy remedy, namely the incentive for over-exploitation arising from the fact that common property users receive all the private benefits from the use while transferring most of costs to others. In some cases a legal framework relying on property rights (a la the Coase theorem) solves the problem, but it breaks down when there are large numbers of victims and/or tortfeasors (see yon textbk Ch 9). Then regulatory policy (or taxes or permit auctions etc.) are needed. But they, of course, have imperfections of their own.

      There’s one other point people need to get clear on, which applies mainly to scattered comments further down the thread. The point of an emissions tax is not to achieve a particular amount of emissions reduction. Emissions are on the quantity axis, and a tax is on the price axis. You can target emissions (as in Kyoto) and let the market determine the associated cost of reaching the target. Or you can target the price, and let the market determine the resulting quantity of emissions. But the regulator can’t pick both. With regard to the question of whether to regulate the price or the quantity, it depends on the particular circumstances, and the idea is that you pick the approach that minimizes the expected social welfare losses arising from the fact that you will inevitably make a mistake. In the case of CO2 regulation, economists have largely concluded that it is better to pick the price rather than the quantity.

      For that reason it makes no sense to say that carbon taxes fail to achieve their purpose. The purpose of applying an emissions tax is to put a price on emissions. The purpose of a $10/tonne carbon dioxide tax is to make it $10/tonne more expensive to emit a tonne of CO2. The tax achieves its purpose by definition. If as a result of imposing what we believe to be the optimal tax on carbon dioxide emissions we observe that emissions do not subsequently fall, that tells us that the optimal policy does not entail much emissions reduction. But it doesn’t mean that the policy failed to achieve its purpose.

    • Ross, from what I read above, the purpose of a tax is to raise the price of emissions. However, this may or may not reduce emissions. e.g. Norway introduced a CO2 tax on fossil fuels in 1991. Norway’s per capita emissions rose by 43% between 1991 and 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_tax

      What if your objective is simply to reduce emissions? What is the preferred policy?

    • Ferd,
      Norway is a really misleading example, because the Norwegian energy system has been so totally dominated by hydro power. Electricity has been used widely even in heating multistory buildings. Thus emissions have been produced mainly by traffic and even minor usage of fossil fuels for other purposes has been a large relative addition in that particular field. As there are limits in building more hydro power and to counter large annual variations in generation, Norway has built some gas fired plants.

      The European taxation for gasoline and diesel fuel is very high, much higher than any present ideas an CO2 taxes.

    • What if your objective is simply to reduce emissions>

      At any price?

    • Norway is the example we have as they were the first to put a tax on Carbon. If their example is misleading because their economy is different than some others, that same argument to be applied to any economy and the idea of a one size fits all solution is misleading.

    • “What if your objective is simply to reduce emissions>
      At any price?”

      To reduce emissions in the most cost effective way possible, to generate the most benefits to the country that is reducing emissions.

      Nowhere in the CAGW debate is increasing the price of CO2 a stated objective. The state objective is to reduce emissions. Raising the price is the policy by which some hope to achieve a reducton, but as Ross mentions, direct controls may work better than pricing controls if reduction is your aim.

    • If the goal is a significant reduction, there is no reason to say that a limit would be better than a tax. The limit is only better if the goal is a precisely specified number and if the policies are built in a way that guarantee reaching the goal. If we replace the goal of a fixed reduction to the largest reduction our economy can bear without larger losses that we are prepared to accept, then a high carbon tax may give much better results than a limit. This is the conclusion of most studies that have analyzed the issue.

      When we do not know precisely, what would be the right limit, there is really no reason to select this less efficient procedure – unless it turns out that it can be agreed upon, but the comparable level of tax cannot.

    • “This is the conclusion of most studies that have analyzed the issue.”

      Isn’t this the argument made by the IPCC in support of CAGW?

      If we don’t know up front how much it will cost for a specific level of benefit, how can we know if it is a good idea. For example, you raise a billion dollars in tax to build a bridge. This is going to generate economic activity, land values will go up, and business will increase, thus increasing tax revenues. You can calculate with some degree of certainty what you will get for your billion dollars.

      But if you don’t know how much tax it will take to (for example) get a 0.1C degree of cooling, and you don’t even know how much benefit (if any) your country will get from 0.1C degree of cooling, it seems like a fool’s errand to me to consider the project until these questions can be answered.

    • Ferd,
      Two different issues are considered here.

      One question is, how much weight one should put in reducing the CO2 emissions.

      A separate question is the best way of proceeding, when some conclusion has been made on the first question.

      What I am saying that there are several arguments to support the view that carbon tax would be superior to a cap and trade solution, when the actual level of the cap would be based on inaccurate information, which tells in reality only in a very approximate way, what the optimal cap would be. When the optimal cap and the optimal tax level are both unknown, the final outcome is likely to be better with carbon tax than with a cap when the goal of reductions is essentially the same.

    • I don’t follow the last two sentences.

      You seem to be conflating the specific price with the policy itself. I.e. if $10/tonne (or $X/tonne) doesn’t achieve much emissions reduction, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the overall policy of a carbon tax failed. It’s more likely that the failure would be more to do with “what we believe to be the optimal tax”, as you refer to it. I.e., we erred in estimating the elasticity of demand and/or the substitutability of alternative supply.

      Yes, it could well be that the policy tool itself fails, but I suspect it’s far more likely that it would be the specific implementation.

    • The price is the policy. In other words, if we start from the question “what is the optimal policy?” we could derive an optimal emissions level and propose the cost-minimizing mechanism to achieve it, or we could derive the optimal emissions price and apply it as a tax. It is a fallacy to suppose that “climate policy” has to prescribe a quantity of emissions. In economic analysis it is more natural and intuitive to think of determining the optimal emissions price.

    • I don’t agree here.

      “Pricing” is the policy. Not “price” is the policy.

      If the working assumption is that we would be trying to limit emissions by either targeting quantity (and letting price vary in response) OR by targeting price (and letting quantity respond), I don’t see why that means we have to be omniscient as to what the initial levels are.

      In either case, I have always understood that the levels would be adjusted as our experience proceeds. In the case of caps, that typically includes “safety valves” in case quantity limits caused unexpected price spikes, etc. In the case of price, the advantage was that it gave participants more certainty – for some period of time – vis-a-vis pricing certainty, but that the future prices/tonne emissions would be recalibrated based on response.

      As I recall, even your proposal is geared to changing the price based on temperature. So “price” is not the policy. Some prescribed “quantity” is.

    • You are right. There are clear advantages in carbon taxation in comparison with cap and trade. Even if some long term goals are in mind for the future emission level, it is likely that a better result is obtained by carbon tax that is adjusted gradually and predictably than with cap and trade, which may lead to badly unfavorable results, if the level of cap is misjudged.

    • “You” in my comment refers to Ross McKitrick.

    • Rust: My working assumption is not that we try to limit emissions. My working assumption is that we are trying to internalize a cost. So the price (tax) is the policy. “Pricing” is not a mere means to a quantity end. At least that’s my working assumption. You are correct that some people only propose taxes as an indirect means of capping quantities, and they expect to vary the tax down the road in order to force a quantity response, and in that case they might as well control the quantity directly.

      As I recall, even your proposal is geared to changing the price based on temperature. So “price” is not the policy. Some prescribed “quantity” is.

      .

      Nope, I don’t prescribe quantities in this case. I have no idea what the optimal quantity of CO2 emissions is and I believe no one else does either. I do believe we can say something about the likely optimal price, but I am more comfortable saying only that we could define a mechanism that would likely reveal the optimal price over time.

      The failure to establish CO2 quantity regs even after 20 years of enormous international effort points to the underlying reality that the effort is being applied to the wrong axis, and all such measures are doomed to fail for more or less the same reasons each time.

    • I’m really not following here, Ross.

      When you say:
      “I am more comfortable saying only that we could define a mechanism that would likely reveal the optimal price over time. “

      how exactly is that price “revealed” if not by some experience with the actual response of the emissions to various price levels AND with that in the context of some understanding whether certain levels of emissions are good or bad?

      It seems that there is something so abstract here that I am really struggling to comprehend what you are trying to convey…

      Are you saying that we simply can’t determine – objectively?, subjectively? – a desired target for emissions?

    • When there is no solid argument for any particular level of CO2 emissions, even those who consider the risk to be large and strong actions necessary might agree on the superiority of the carbon tax to a fixed cap. They may agree, if they can be convinced that this is likely to result to essentially as large reductions in emissions or even larger and at the same time with lesser economic losses.

      There are many studies that have concluded this to be the case. Whatever the chosen basic approach is, the major problem of implementing strong policy measures remains, but by now it starts to be obvious that the Kyoto process has its own major obstacles as well. Therefore there is no strong reason to believe that trying to continuing on that line will succeed in any case. The difficulties in agreeing, how much each country must cut its emissions will recur every time a new agreement of Kyoto type is attempted.

      Who can tell with confidence, whether possibilities of agreeing on a new Kyoto type agreement are any better than those of agreeing on some internationally harmonized carbon taxation. Both approaches are difficult, but which is more and which less difficult is not a clear issue.

    • “The price is the policy”

      Yes, and policy has an objective. The stated IPCC policy is to reduce emissions. For example, the US has made a commitment (non-binding) to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020, which appears to be incorporated into much of the EPA activity.

      The question I’m interested I is how best to achieve a 17% reduction in emissions, which is the objective of the policy. Whether we achieve that by price of some other mechanism, I would like to know what mechanism is likely to deliver an actual reduction in emissions of 17%

      It seems probably that raising price may not be an optimum policy to reduce emissions 17%, because there appears to be a strong cause and effect relationship between emissions and economic output. As such, the only way to reduce emissions by 17% may be to reduce economic activity by 17%, which will have a huge cost in terms on unemployment, tax revenues, and political instability. In the end, a 17% reduction in economic activity would it seems to me outshadow any net revenue from the tax.

    • What I think Ross is saying, Rust, is that his recommended policy is to internalise the cost of fossil fuels. Once this is established, whatever choices are made will be made on the basis of real costs.
      This does of course assume we already know the true costs of using fossil fuels, so that we know how much tax to set.

    • doesn’t the “true” cost of fossil fuels depend on who you are? If I’m a farmer in a cold country, the benefits of CO2 may far outwieght the harm. So, it could be very difficult if not impossible to set a cost that reflects any true value.

      What if it turns out that science proves 10 years down the road that the IPCC is wrong, that the greenhouse effect does not apply to planetary atmospheres? Are we all going to get our money back, for having cause not harm? Will the trillions of dollars needlessly spent be returned?

    • Rust, I think you have followed my argument.

      Are you saying that we simply can’t determine – objectively?, subjectively? – a desired target for emissions?

      Subjectively one can make any determination, but the objective target is the one that (in principle) maximizes the net social benefits of the activity generating the emissions. Or, equivalently, the optimal emissions abatement target goes to the point where the benefits of further emission reductions are outweighed by the costs. To figure this out we face 2 large uncertainties: how quickly abatement costs rise as emission cuts deepen, and what the benefits of lower emissions are. There are definable camps on each question, and I can be placed based on my writings. The ideal policy, however, doesn’t depend on whether the person writing the laws holds a correct opinion or not.

      The first uncertainty can only partly be resolved by consulting reports and modeling studies prior to the policy. Ultimately it is by observing the response to an emissions tax that we would obtain objective information about abatement costs. If, as in BC and elsewhere, emissions hardly budge in response to the tax, that means the cost curve is very steep, as I would have predicted. So the first uncertainty gets resolved by implementing the policy.

      The second uncertainty has to do with, among other things, the climate system. That’s why — (addressing Bart now) — I propose tying the tax value to an observable state variable like the mean temperature of the tropical troposphere. This isn’t a “random” variable, though there is noise in it. If that is a problem you can use, say, a 24-month moving average to dampen the random fluctuations. What we want is a measure that will trend upwards if the models are right, and we can play with slope parameters to generate what look like reasonable numbers (more here.

      Ferd – Taking an arbitrary number like 17% and then asking how best to achieve it is a wrong turn. It begs so many questions that the discussion simply breaks down. Why 17%? Why not 0%? Why not 50%? Simply put, the short answer is that a revenue-neutral carbon dioxide tax is the “best” way to achieve your 17% reduction, but if you ask for a show of hands on 17% I am not optimistic you’ll get much agreement.

    • 17% was the number Obama pledged in Copenhagen. It is very likely why the EPA has moved to cap CO2, based on Obama’s public statements.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/03/climate-conference-uss-st_n_668631.html
      AMSTERDAM (AP) — The United States assured international negotiators Monday it remains committed to reducing carbon emissions over the next 10 years, despite the collapse of efforts to legislate a climate bill.

      U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing told a climate conference in Bonn, Germany, Washington is not backing away from President Barack Obama’s pledge to cut emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels.

    • “the short answer is that a revenue-neutral carbon dioxide tax is the “best” way to achieve your 17% reduction”

      Given that we have seen little or no reduction in jurisdictions that have implemented revenue neutral tax plans, what indications that this will work? So far, the only plan that has worked was to sharply reduce economic output as happened during the financial crisis. This did result in a measurable reduction in emissions. For a tax plan to actually work when it has not previously, it seems likely the tax would have to be punitive to the point where it caused a drop in economic activity, and thereby reduced emissions.

      Albert Einstein Quotes

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

      http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html

    • Ross McKitrick, Property Rights etc., 3/15/11 10:31 am

      You have shined a unique ray of light on this sand castle thread.

      The target for emissions is easy to state objectively, and several have been suggested by IPCC, et al. They include emission scenarios, projected and modified. Some have suggested rolling back emissions to some past, post industrial year. Of course, this is all based on a rationale for emission abatement, averting a fearful global warming. Another objective, but cynical, target is to extract money from the economy, to be spent in any arbitrary way, or to balance the power between nations, i.e., reduce United States influence.

      These are intended targets. What’s missing in this thought experiment is the thing always missing from central government planning: the unintended consequences. One that comes immediately to mind is exemplified by two widely publicized discussions: the problem that the tax burden cannot be applied universally. Pro-union forces in Wisconsin, as in other communities, have a simplistic answer to the financial crisis: simply raise taxes on the wealthy (i.e., successful individuals and businesses). The immediate problem would be that Wisconsin, for example, would create an economic vector to move its wealth and enterprise to other states and off-shore. On the instant problem posed by a CO2 abatement tax is that the rapidly growing, developing countries, i.e., China and India, don’t buy into the program. AGW supporters and liberal taxers are going to have to be satisfied with a political victory, success in the US.

      When you talk about objective social benefits, how might you weight and sum, for example, public health, public safety, freedom to travel, job opportunities, and standard of living? Social benefit seems like an ultimately and inescapably subjective criterion. If social benefits meant just standard of living, it would be more quantifiable. However, you might as well use energy consumption per capita because it is so strongly correlated with standard of living.

      Any increase in taxes in the short term, and in the long term when not spent on infrastructure, decreases economic activity. This means that the contemplated tax will decrease the standard of living where applied, and being a tax on energy the effect should be amplified. Decreasing the standard of living would have the desired effect of abating emissions.

      Your alternative target of a measurable climate standard indeed shifts the dialog from subjective to objective. Your choice of the temperature of the (tropical) troposphere, however, is problematic. (The altitude doesn’t matter.) Only recently have some measurements been available, so the climate models have yet to be built on that measure. Secondly, the prevailing (i.e., IPCC) models are radiative forcing, which by definition incorporates exclusively global macroparameters, introduced in the baseline climate state, the Kiehl & Trenberth Energy Budget of 1997. Those authors lumped the entire atmosphere into one node, as they did with cloud cover and with Earth’s surface. Those defining parameters for radiative forcing do not include the myriad regional effects, such as temperature, pressure, CO2, and water vapor atmospheric lapse rates, nor even the largest scale surface parameters, such as observations about NH vs. SH, MOC, SOI (El Niño/La Niña), sea vs. land, or climate events.

      A great deal of research has been spent on these phenomena, and while they can be helpful in removing artifacts from data and in standardizing among GCMs and between radiative transfer calculations, in the end they can contribute little to the ultimate climate parameters. Elevated tropospheric temperature is one of these mesoparameters that fail to be significant. One reason is that none is unique to the climate state. The uniqueness problem is not just many to one, but uncountably many, a continuum, to one. Another, compounding reason is that the prevailing climate model is nonlinear, which means that the global effect of none of these regional parameters is determined by any known or measured state of that parameter, such as an average or typical state.

      If you were to switch to global average surface temperature, you would have a measure that is as well-quantified as any, and widely comprehended. The instrument record for surface temperature is about 140 years long. However, using this measure surfaces an immense problem with the Property Rights vs. Climate Change dialog.

      The surface temperature closely follows the Sun (0.11ºC, 1 σ) over the instrument period, filtered with a dominant smoothing coefficient of 134 years, a secondary smoothing coefficient of 46 years, and a lag of 6 years, all as shown by the Solar Global Warming model. These are lags comfortably within the realm of the definitions of climate, and have physical significance in ocean absorption and circulation. This fit means that the surface temperature is predictable for several decades beyond measured solar activity. The prediction is validated in part by the large number of degrees of freedom remaining in the predicted temperature record after deducting for the few parameters in the solar filter.

      The fit means that CO2, and especially human emissions and land use effects, predicted by the greenhouse theory, are not discernable, and not likely measurable. Consequently, the energy tax rate would follow the Sun, not emissions, but it would at least be predictable, which is sometimes a fiscal asset.

      By the way, these parameters are random variables because their measures all contain noise, which is axiomatic in science. They are random variables by definition. It is noise which makes correlation possible, a prerequisite for a cause-and-effect model. Leading investigators and many amateur witnesses alike, as among the posters here, believe that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is correlated both with human activity and with global average surface temperature, and that the link is due to the greenhouse effect. It is partly true. The conclusion, though, that man is therefore the cause of the observed global warming is unwarranted. They have relied on visual correlation, the odd correlation coefficient, and data reduction that creates correlation through filtering and cross-calibration. The primary analysis omitted is the correlation function by which lead and lag are measured. Causation requires cause to lead effect. Worse than unwarranted, the conclusion is false because the human influence imagined in the temperature data, also appears in the total solar intensity, TSI.

    • Dr. McKitrick

      I stand corrected on my misreading of your proposals — which remain cunning (statist or not) in the best sense — and I thank you for your clarification.

      You are very kind; it has been observed my Economics skills are not what they ought be, I will make good use of the reference you provide to your textbook.

      The roulette wheel of the T3 proposal still confounds me.

      Why base the tax level on so random a figure with so large a non-internalizable component as temperature level, instead of CO2 level, when after all CO2 is more stable, can be nearly fully internalized and is the likelier manipulable variable?

      (I really have to start reading your textbook.)

      I find very exciting the question of right-pricing a carbon tax. Punksta doesn’t ask a bad question. My hope would be that with a ‘right’ CO2 emission price, the market will find more efficiencies than any central planner could plot, but who if not the government fixes this price?

      Hence my own different focus from your own; in treating the problem of the commons as one of equal stakeholders, we naturally will resort to market mechanisms, not regulatory ones, as our default position.

    • rats, my reply is in the wrong place in the thread, and I missed a close-italics quote. See just above.

    • BC’s economy experienced a boom as a result of construction (and land speculation) in the lead up to the Winter Olympics. It had nothing to do with any “revenue neutral” CO2 tax.

      Current fuel prices at the pumps in Vancouver yesterday for regular 87 octane was $1.2999 per liter CDN. 1 US gallon = 3.7854 liters, so that is $4.9207 CDN per US gallon. The CDN $ = 1.0273 USD, so the current price in Vancouver for a US gallon of gas = $5.499.

      $5.50 US a gallon for regular gas takes a pretty big chunk out of the pay check each week. Add to that a 12% sales tax on everything else you buy. Add to that a 44% marginal income tax rate for just about anyone that makes over $30k a year. Add to that prices on just about everything are quite a bit higher than in the US, even though our dollar is worth more. You might start to get the idea of what it is really like.

      So, that government wants to take a bigger share of my pay check by increasing the already huge taxes on fuel. And then if I’m poor they will give me some of it back, so that I will be beholden to the government and vote for them in the next election. In this way the government, having made everything more expensive and reduced the size of my pay check, not wants to give me some of my money back to buy my vote.

    • ferd berple

      I took some time to look up the marginal tax rates in BC and BC tax rules.

      You’re lying again.

      44% marginal income tax rate for just about anyone that makes over $30k a year.

      To be taxed at 43.7% in BC, you must either over $128,000 a year after all deductions, ie $130,000+ a year.

      You lie about this by $100,000+ a year.

      Why would you do such a thing?

      You lie about BC’s 12% VAT which doesn’t apply to everything (groceries are exempt, according to the government website, for instance) and doesn’t add to the BC carbon tax.

      Is there anything you tell the truth about?

    • Bart R,
      For a guy as wrong as often as you, I would be a wee bit more careful about tossing the ‘you lie!’ around.
      It is not that BC does tax at 44%, it is that he was wrong about the specific break point.
      Here is the most comprehensive look at taxes in Canada taht I could quickly find:
      http://www.city-data.com/forum/canada/636122-mystery-solved-total-tax-we-pay.html
      It is absed on an income of $71,800:
      “Total $31,535 spent on taxes. That’s 43.9% of income ”

      Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/canada/636122-mystery-solved-total-tax-we-pay.html#ixzz1GbUaIHZu

    • Bart, you are confusing average and marginal tax rates. Here is a handy calculator to find our how much tax you will pay in Canada.

      http://www.fraserinstitute.org/tools/personal-tax-calculator.aspx

      For example, a 30 year old male making $15 per hour would pay $13,070 in tax on an annual income of $30,000. If they got a raise to $15.50 per hour, that would be an extra $1000 in income a year, and an extra $469 in tax, for a marginal tax rate of 46.9%

      In other words, if you are making $30k per year in BC, almost half of any raise you get for doing a good job will be taken by the government in taxes.

    • Ah.

      It’s “Fraser Institute” true.

      I take it back.

      You’re not lying.

      You’re Frasering.

      Like the guy who claims KFC is almost half corn because the chickens eat corn.

      The Fraser tool, have you looked under the hood to see how it arrives at its figures?

      I don’t mean to call it bogus, but it bears no resemblance to the reality of the taxes I pay.

      Look at hunter’s claim: 70k+ income, ‘only’ 10k in income tax; a whopping 31k+ in claimed tax including the mandatory health insurance, unemployment insurance, ‘profit tax’ (wth?!), a 200% exaggeration.

      Look at the actual US tax freedom day counting deficit of May 18+/-1 day and count in Canada’s mandatory health insurance as if part of the tax, and then add in all those other things the Fraser Institute sneaks in to their tax calculator… Sure, it’s fun and games to claim Canada’s taxes are so much worse than US taxes, but as someone who’s been in the position of calculating both to see what hit his pocket was taking, it’s not so clear cut.

      For most people, much of the time, the tax freedom day is as meaningful a measure as using the global average temperature to decide what to wear.

      My mistake for thinking I was dealing with skeptics.

    • Also, that same individual making $30k a year in BC, will pay only 10,876 in tax in neighboring Alberta. Almost $2.2k less.

      Newfoundland $12,774
      P.E.I $11,398
      Nova Scotia $12,431
      New Brunswick $11,728
      Quebec $12,738
      Ontario $11,758
      Manitoba $11,922
      Saskatchewan $12,266
      Alberta $10,876
      British Columbia $13,070

    • Whoa! 30K in the US puts you in the 15% bracket so $4500 then with self-employment there is another 15.3% (13.3 % this year woohoo!). So about 9 grand is max in FL. We don’t start getting screwed until 34.5k where the tax rate jumps to 25%. Our tax system sucks.

  5. Yawn. An academic bloviating. Reads a bit like concerns that the GOP supposedly doesn’t have an energy policy. Sure they do — drill for oil in the Gulf, both oceans, and in ANWR. Let the private market work.

    Given the gross incompetence that has been exposed repeately in climate science, the proven failure of the science community to correct blatantly incorrect work, and the public exposure of a science process which is woefully ill-suited to support policy proposals of life-altering breadth, I see no basis for Adler’s conclusion.

    I realize that the scientists still haven’t got a clue about how the public needs far more quality control than they are accustomed to providing, but human rights still deserve a well-established record before they are infringed by the state. The idea that an ill-defined sense of smell about the weight of the evidence is somehow enough to overcome incompetent quality control is ridiculous.

    • Given the gross incompetence that has been exposed repeately in climate science, the proven failure of the science community to correct blatantly incorrect work, and the public exposure of a science process which is woefully ill-suited to support policy proposals of life-altering breadth, I see no basis for allowing CO2 emissions to continue unabated.

      The science has failed to rule the drug safe. It must be banned. Emission cuts purlease!

  6. We are told that the melting of Arctic Ice is unprecedented, again.
    The Arctic seems to be warming up (1922)
    http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/050/mwr-050-11-0589a.pdf

  7. Since I have no political affiliation, I am in the minority. I really see no reason to consider additional taxes in this economy. Not taxing alternate fuels, especially for trucks, is a large enough incentive for truckers to more seriously consider natgas. That will require some infrastructure expansion, but a good deal would be market driven. Streaming approval for proven nuclear designs is a must, which doesn’t require an extra tax. This may not sound like much, but is a good start for right now.

    Some tax breaks, faster permit approval and backing loans for infrastructure expansion are now kind of ideas. There are already plenty of commitments made than have funding but are in limbo waiting on technology, infrastructure and states that are in the red, to catch up.

  8. The idea of a ‘revenue neutral carbon tax’ is as credible as UFO abductions.
    The idea that we are going to tax our way to climate management is not even a good SF plot idea. It is an absurdist idea that MontyPython would have used to skewer in a skit.

    • The proponents basically understand that they are, at heart suggestion re-distribution. They just want to put some market based lipstick on this pig, so as to show-off their non-socialist creds. Hence more and more fantabulous schemes.

  9. If we accept that certain groups of countries are violating the property rights of other groups of countries by emitting greenhouse gases that cause harmful global warming, then the question becomes; which groups of countries are doing the damage, and which are suffering the consequences?

    The following estimates of historic contributions to global warming prepared by the MATCH sub-group of the UNFCCC provide the answer: (http://unfccc.int/files/methods_and_science/other_methodological_issues/application/pdf/match_summary_report_.pdf)

    Developed Countries: 40%
    Developing Countries: 45%
    Former East Bloc: 15%

    According to the UNFCCC the developing countries have done the most damage so far, and because of their rapid growth they will do proportionately more in the future. (Almost all of the +/- 30% increase in global CO2 emissions since Kyoto has come from the developing countries, and about 20% of this from China alone.)

    As to ability to pay for the damage done, it’s noteworthy that the recent rapid growth in Chinese CO2 emissions has been a major contributing factor to the rapid growth of China’s foreign reserves, which now stand at $2.5 trillion, far more than any other country.

    • While I appreciate your figures, it should be stated that property rights are not applicable to a “group”, but rather to individuals. There is no such thing as “group rights”.

    • Roger Andrews

      The UNFCCC disagrees. It divides nations into two distinct groups – the “developed” nations, who supposedly caused global warming, and the “developing” nations, who will suffer the impacts. It goes on to state that the developed nations will recompense the developing nations for the damages suffered. A variety of mechanisms will be used to do this, but all of them amount to a transfer of money.

    • I think Jim may be trying to clarify that the libertarian view discussed (policy that can be based on the defense of individual property rights) would not actually seek to redress harm to individuals in other nations, or support mechanisms to do that. Jim is clearly correct on this point, and the reasons are mostly related to the difficulties involved in showing that a specific harm was done by this individual person to that individual person i.e., to that individual person’s property. Most libertarians also tend to refuse to support any kind of multinational decision-making bodies because these are perceived as likely to threaten sovereignty.

      “all amount to a transfer of money”

      No. Proposed considerations for at least initial assistance proportional to the developing economies’ ability to take responsibility would include developed economies’ investment in infrastructure, assistance to develop adaptive technology, crisis response, etc., in addition to the likelihood of financial aid.

    • John Carpenter

      Why is it with reparations, nature will have some uncanny ability to distinguish between developed and developing countries? Nature never did before… yet nations that advanced from developing to developed were able to cope with the challenges their respective climates bore upon them.

      Or is it a ploy to shift blame away from the failures of developing economies to the developed? Make them pay for their inability to grow. Isn’t there a similar argument some people make about illegal immigration? The immigrants are the problem, not us?

    • “According to the UNFCCC the developing countries have done the most damage so far”.

      No, that is not what this says. Maybe you don’t understand how to read statistics. It says the developed nations have typically had the highest CO2 emissions per capita; and also led the growth of CO2 emissions.

      Now, some developing countries are leading in the growth rate of CO2 emissions.

    • And, many of the people that contributed the most are dead or have their money in offshore trusts. Why should someone who happens to live in Country A have to pay Country B for pollution they did not cause, just because someone in Country A is alleged to have caused the harm to Country B? It could well be that the factory in Country A that caused the pollution was actually owned by someone Country B. After all, some of the wealthiest people in the world live in the poorest countries in the world.

      The whole question of reparations is inherently unfair and problematic. Look at the Treaty of Versailles which ultimately led to WWII.

    • Roger Andrews

      Martha:

      You say “No, that is not what this says. Maybe you don’t understand how to read statistics. It says the developed nations have typically had the highest CO2 emissions per capita,”

      Had you read the MATCH report, which you clearly haven’t, you would know that it says nothing about per capita CO2 emissions. All it does is estimate how much different countries and regions have contributed to global warming, and its conclusions are summarized on the pie chart at the top.

      You may find the fact that the developing countries have caused more global warming than the developed countries distasteful, but this is the conclusion MATCH reached.

    • I assume this is deforestation vs fossil fuel burning.

      Developing countries have been doing the former (largely to provide cheap beef, sugar, cocoa, copper, tin etc for the developed countries) whilst the developed nations have been doing the latter.

  10. If AGW is not happening, how will we know if any imposed measures are successful?

    We’re told repeatedly that AGW causes droughts and flooding, snow and lack of snow, large and less frequent hurricanes and smaller and more frequent hurricanes, etc. If everything is evidence of AGW, how will we know if any imposed measures are successful? Think about it…..

    • Jim S,
      Shhhhhhhh!
      Those kind of questions only show that you are pushing for an extra bonus from the Koch family.
      Seriously, only politicians and journalists could be stupid enough to not consider that inconvenient little question and what it implies.
      ‘property rights and climate change’, ‘revenue neutral carbon tax’ and ‘climate stabilization’ are all terms that indicate the one pushing them has little contact with reality.

  11. drill for oil in the Gulf, both oceans, and in ANWR. Let the private market work.

    Given the gross incompetence that has been exposed repeately in climate science, the proven failure of the science community to correct blatantly incorrect work, and the public exposure of a science process which is woefully ill-suited to support policy proposals of life-altering breadth…..

    Interesting juxtaposition of ideas. “Climate science” has been exposed as incompetent, blatantly doesn’t correct for failures, and is ill-suited to support policy development, so let’s allow for more drilling by the private sector — because we certainly know that there hasn’t ever been incompetence exposed in the private sector? Because we know that the private sector always corrects for mistakes? Because the private sector competence and error-correction has proven to be a sound basis for supporting public policy? The BP Gulf spill never happened. Nor did Exxon Valdez. Or ENRON. Or myriad other examples of (1) private sector incompetence, (2) private sector failure to adjust to patterns of error, (3) private sector interests that run counter to public policy goals.

    • John Carpenter

      Joshua,

      Since the Exxon Valdez disaster, what other major tanker spills have occurred? I’m not aware of any big headlines since then. Wouldn’t that count as a correction made?

      How does ENRON fit into this group? I thought ENRON, a company that was trying to create carbon trading schemes, collapsed because they were caught falsifying profitability in order to falsely raise and maintain their stock price. Couldn’t we consider ENRON as a harbinger of what to expect from speculative companies looking to profit from carbon trading schemes, such as Cap and Trade?

      I don’t think anyone here is claiming the private sector is somehow immune to mistakes, unlike “the team” who would never be caught admitting any mistakes.

    • — John.

      Exxon Valdez is jut a particularly infamous example of corporate incompetence. Correcting problems after a disaster doesn’t mean that there weren’t apparent and correctable problems before the disaster – which were not dealt with properly because of profit considerations: Some examples (from Wikipedia):


      Supervision failures and the failure to ensure rested crews. The NTSB found this was wide spread throughout industry, prompting a safety recommendation to Exxon and to the industry.

      Exxon Shipping Company failed to properly maintain the Raytheon Collision Avoidance System (RAYCAS) radar, which, if functional, would have indicated to the third mate an impending collision with the Bligh Reef

      At the helm, the third mate never would have collided with Bligh Reef had he looked at his RAYCAS radar. But the radar was not turned on. In fact, the tanker’s radar was left broken and disabled for more than a year before the disaster, and Exxon management knew it. It was [in Exxon's view] just too expensive to fix and operate.”

      Other factors, according to an M.I.T. course entitled “Software System Safety” by Professor Nancy G. Leveson included:

      Tanker crews were not told that the previous practice of the Coast Guard tracking ships out to Bligh reef had ceased.

      The oil industry promised, but never installed, state-of-the-art iceberg monitoring equipment.

      Exxon Valdez was sailing outside the normal sea lane to avoid small icebergs thought to be in the area.

      The 1989 tanker crew was half the size of the 1977 crew, worked 12−14 hour shifts, plus overtime. The crew was rushing to leave Valdez with a load of oil.

      Coast Guard tanker inspections in Valdez were not done, and the number of staff was reduced.

      Lack of available equipment and personnel hampered the spill cleanup.

      My point is simply that the private sector is in no way immune incompetence and failure to correct for errors. In addition, as we might see with ENRON (or if you’d prefer, mining companies that repeatedly fail to comply with safety regulations), in the private sector you have the very relevant trade off that is often made between public interest (say, safety precautions or fiscal responsibility) and profits.

      Simply “letting the market economy work,” is not a particularly judicious policy, IMO. The definition of “work” can vary in meaning and serve the interests of different stakeholders.

    • John Carpenter

      Fair enough Joshua, similar examples can be made in government run programs as well i.e. information known and actions not taken in both space shuttle accidents. We could trade examples ad infinitum to no avail. I guess it’s better left off all humans are subject to errors of bad judgement when they perceive bad outcomes if they don’t act, but misjudge or don’t foresee worse outcomes when they take actions despite warnings. (I guess that last comment could cut both ways wrt to CAGW)

    • Now we’re in agreement, John. There are pros and cons on both sides of the ledger. That’s why some degree of private/public sector partnership makes sense. I just have a hard time stomaching it when people make unrealistic comments reflecting a free-market fetish.

    • As von Mises trenchantly observed, if you think laissez-faire is dangerous because humans are fallible and selfish, then you should even more strongly reject government intervention [because of the massive concentrated power to exercise their immorality government provides]. Not a country on Earth doesn’t have horror stories proving his point.

    • Ah, but Mises was fallible and selfish. The problem with listing the horrors resultant from I’ll-use of the concentrated power of government when they are accompanied by A notable lack of accounting for the benefits achieved by concentrated government power and a dedicated unwillingness to speculate about the potential (and historic) realities of cave-man I beat you over the head and take your wife social structures.

    • Ha.

      I guess that’s what I get for posting a comment from an I-phone while riding in a car. Can someone explain to me what I just wrote? I think the gist was to make fun of extremist libertarians who chase fantasies about societies that have never existed on the face of the planet, but I’m not sure.

    • John Carpenter

      Judith, I lost one to the great abyss, oh well.

      Joshua, I am too tired to re-write my original reply to you, however it was very good and put you in your place ;)

    • John, I will take your word for it, imagine what you might have written, and feel appropriately chastised.

    • I always copy comment to clipboard before hitting “Post Comment” button, redundant extra saftey measures are a built in reflex for a machinist.

    • Nullius in Verba

      If you use Firefox, there’s an add in called Lazarus that saves all posts as they’re sent.

    • Yes, and it works a treat! Just getting used to having it, now.

      I also have ClipMate, which saves everything copied, temp or perm, and has a “compose new clip” function which allows direct, editable creation of a post, requiring only a paste operation to insert it. Check it out; probably the best $35 you’ll ever spend on software, IMO.

    • People in the private sector do not have the monopoly on violence to force their preferences on the rest of us. Everyone screws up. The difference between the private sector and the public sector is that private sector screwups mostly hurt the ones who screw up and public sector screwups mostly hurt lots of innocent people.

      This is one of the really weird aspects of the climate science debate that doesn’t get talked about enough — what is with the gross indifference by alarmists with the horrible impacts of their preferred policies on the billions of poor people around the world? The law is not a subtle instrument. It’s a sledge hammer. And when swing that sledge hammer at the fly on the wall, more than the fly gets hurt — assuming you even manage to hit the fly.

    • Here’s two ironies for the price of one. First, the choice we’re being asked to make is between richer and warmer or poorer and colder. The irony is in the ease of the choice and the urge to choose wrongly. The second irony is that we’ve probably no choice; we’ll end up poorer and colder, thanks to the sun.
      =================

  12. Well, Adler’s writings put to rest the libertarians as stereotypically ”deniers.”

    Judith – do you seriously think that Adler’s writings are even remotely representative of a significant percentage of libertarians? How does his writing disprove the stereotype rather than serving as an exception that proves the rule? Do you not even read they stream of posts on your blog written by libertarians? What percentage would you suppose agree with Adler’s ideas as presented in your post?

  13. Ahhhh….so this is what it looks like at the bottom of the Climate Etc. spam filter bore hole…hole…hole…hole.

    Nice echo.

  14. Alexander Harvey

    “Taking Property Rights Seriously”

    This paper makes one huge unstated assumption that:

    The rest of the World shares our ideology and our world view.

    He raises the issue of “injunctive relief” which he seems to dismiss on the basis that no plaintiff (in this case nation) would be prepared to suffer the hardship that you be produced in order to substantiate a claim. Notably foregoing a carbon economy and its associated benefits.

    Obviously none could be that stupid.

    Oh couldn’t they! What if they did not share the author’s ideology, in fact detested it, and did not share the author’s world view.

    Let us say that they aquire a pleasant low lying island nation property under the rules supported by the author and conduct themselves according to their anarcho-primitivist ideology. They do not like the fact that this property is being depleted by rising sea-levels and obtain injunctive relief from the emitter nations. The emitter nations open their wallets and make a handsome offer that is refused on the principle of those land rights described by the author and supported by a quote from the paper:

    ““Although the damage to the plaintiff may be slight compared with the defendant’s expense of abating the condition,” the court held, “that is not a good reason for refusing the injunction.” Such a ruling, the court explained, “would deprive the poor litigant of his little property by giving it to those already rich.””

    Such a ruling would require the emitter to cease emitting with no guarantee that plaintiff will ever yield given that they have no further use for money.

    On the strength of the land rights that the author would wish on them, the world all becomes like them, poor and primitve, and that suites them just fine.

    This may be obsurd, but then so is anarcho-primitivism and perhaps ideology in general. The primitivists are of course libertarians one and all.

    Less fancifully, there is a case where ideology is not the obvious issue but a world view in the terms of nationhood is.

    An existing large less developed and populous nation finds itself facing an existential threat and seeks an injuctive remedy. They argue that there is no appropriate compensation for their accumulating losses and insist that the emitters desist immediately and in support of their claim they renounce all prospects of further carbon based development themselves as only by sucessful suit can they hope to preserve their nationhood.

    The author’s arguments seem to suffer from being forged on the basis of a narrow parochial view and extending just certain parts of that view to the world stage and then reasoning that the world would act as the author would act.

    Now for all those that have nasty suspicions that there be an enemy afoot that seeks to bring down the market economy, I would suggest that proposing to solve the emissions issue on the basis of land rights is to lead with ones jaw.

  15. “People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points.”
    Six dodgy arguments, combined, do not make a strong one.
    I am genuinely searching for good evidence on which to make an informed decision and it is pretty thin on the ground. 90% of what is written consists of counts of the number of scientists who agree or recycling Dr Mann’s hockey stick. (Excluding, of course, the vast quantity of personal attacks that do nothing to further the discussion.
    We know how the greenhouse effect works, but we don’t know whether it operates with positive or negative (or neutral) feedback. We don’t know whether we will see saturation occur.
    We are told that CO2/greenhouse MUST be causing the warming that we’re seeing. But the reason we’re given is “that’s the only way to make the models work”, which is a very feeble argument.
    We’ve been told that we need to reduce CO2 emissions by huge numbers, often 90% or more. Then we’re told that a “revenue neutral” tax is the way to go.
    If we are to mitigate the sort of climate disasters that are threatened in the time-frames requested, we will have to take modern industry back towards the stone age. If that is what it takes to prevent disaster then so be it. But I want to see some solid evidence before I can support that.
    So OK. I’m ready to be convinced. Where is the evidence. Not plausibility, but real evidence.
    Sorry, I’ve been brushed off one time too many. :-)

    • Michael J,
      Great points.
      But I am afraid you will be waiting for quite a while on that evidence.

    • @Hunter – But I am afraid you will be waiting for quite a while on that evidence.

      But why should that be? After all, the science is settled. Why can’t somebody just point me to clear evidence that has convinced all those scientists?
      I’ve been pointed to the IPCC reports, but there seems to be mostly advocacy and graphs with no information on how the numbers were gathered and processed.
      I can understand datasets, I can do maths and statistics, I can even read computer code. I’m ready for the hard stuff, but I want to know where it is?
      To misquote Tom Cruise: “Show me the money numbers”. :-)

    • Michael –
      To misquote Tom Cruise: “Show me the money numbers”.

      I’ve been asking for the numbers for the last 10 years. Let me know if you find them. Good luck.

  16. @Judith Curry

    You have asked for comments. Like several other posters, I have no political affiliation, especially not in the USA. But here are my thoughts on Adler’s suggestions.

    I believe Adler (like many others) has got the cart before the horse, in addressing the issue of how to solve the AGW problem. His “null hypothesis” here appears to be “there is a problem which requires a solution”.

    So his next step is to see what the least onerous sounding “solution” could be to address the “problem”.

    [The unstated third step will undoubtedly be to ratchet up the "solution".]

    As long as there are no empirical data based on actual physical observations from a recent time-frame, which give clear support to the “CAGW premise”, i.e. that AGW (caused principally by human CO2 emissions) has been the primary cause of 20th century warming, and that it, therefore, represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment, there is no reason to even discuss how to solve the “problem”.

    As long as this hypothesis is not falsifiable, it has no scientific merit. And, once a falsifiable hypothesis has been proposed, it remains an uncorroborated hypothesis until it can be validated by empirical data and successfully withstand all attempts to scientifically falsify it. If not, it simply becomes a falsified hypothesis until the falsification can be scientifically refuted, based on empirical data from physical observations or reproducible experimentation. That’s the process, folks. Let’s don’t try to short-cut or by-pass it by simply declaring CAGW the “null hypothesis”.

    It’s up to the climate science community (from Trenberth to Spencer and everyone in between) to identify and agree on these empirical data.

    So far this has not occurred.

    A “revenue-neutral tax” of any kind is by definition an oxymoron. It is never “neutral” for everyone on an individual basis. Someone will end up paying for someone else. Is the someone who pays the citizenry of the industrially developed nations? Is the someone who benefits the impoverished cattle herder in Malawi? Or the government functionary there? Or is it the GE shareholder? Or the industrialist in the Pearl River Delta? And how much of the tax revenue will be lost in collecting it, shuffling it around and administering it, even if there is no corruption along the way?

    As a rational skeptic in the scientific sense, who has the advantage of living in a democratic society and therefore having a voice, I will insist that the scientific method be followed rigorously to identify and quantify if there really is a “problem”, before I would give serious consideration to politically supporting any “solutions”.

    I am absolutely certain that a large majority of the citizens of the democratic world (who will have the last word in this process) are of basically the same opinion as I am.

    And I am also quite certain that this number has grown recently, in the aftermath of the hockey-stick fiasco, climategate, the IPCC fudged data and other revelations, the patently obvious white-washes, the failures at Copenhagen and Cancun, the lack of warming of the past decade and the harsh winters across most of the northern hemisphere (where most of these people live).

    Do your work, scientists.

    If you can come up with unbiased, completely transparent and independently audited empirical evidence to support the CAGW premise, make it clearly understandable to the citizenry of the developed world and “explainl” it to them (but, for heaven’s sake, not in another monstrosity like IPCC’s AR4 – in fact, your best bet for success is to get rid of IPCC – it is tainted and is not helping you or climate science today in any way).

    If you can’t achieve this, forget about proposals for “solutions” (this is not the job of the climate scientists, anyway).

    If you are, however, able to convince the citizenry of this world that a problem exists and that action is needed, then we get to step 2.

    A “carbon tax” will not change our planet’s climate one iota. (I’m sure all climate scientists will agree that this is the case.) No tax ever did.

    What would be needed are specific actionable proposals, each supported by a cost/benefit analysis (how much warming will this action avoid by when and what will it cost?).

    Nice-sounding “goals” or “targets” are meaningless hot air (or political posturing), unless they are backed up by such proposals.

    Voluminous summary reports filled with imaginary horror scenarios, bogus numbers and economic doubletalk (like the Stern Report) are meaningless and a waste of the paper they are printed on.

    But we have not even reached that point yet, folks.

    The ball is still in the court of the climate scientists, and they’d better make sure they don’t screw it up, as the “consensus” team did recently. As a result, these guys, and the blatantly open AGW activists, like Hansen, and a few others, have most likely become essentially redundant to the future of climate science today, and need to step aside for a new group of individuals, like Judith Curry and many others, who are willing to open their minds and give us all some honest science, so we can make up our minds on what we want our governments to do.

    It’s actually a great challenge and opportunity for a climate scientist to shed all the preconceived notions and address the issue with a completely open mind, with the objective of really finding out the truth, rather than simply providing the proof for a politically based, preconceived notion.

    Sorry this has gotten long, but it’s not a simple topic.

    Max

  17. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, again we are discussing solutions to a problem which has not been shown to exist … after the null hypothesis is falsified, that’s the time to talk about possible solutions. Until then, it’s just auto-computeroticism.

    As regarding the “revenue-neutral” nature of the proposed tax, both you and Adler seem to have been distracted by the revenue question. The fact that a particular tax is revenue-neutral to the individual does not mean that his income and indeed the entire economy may not suffer as a consequence.

    Where a tax is applied in the economic cycle is as important or more important than the amount of the tax or whether it is revenue-neutral. And energy is the worst thing to tax in an economy, because it drags the economic activity down the most. It is an input to the economy, and taxing inputs to economic activity slows down the activity much more than taxing the output of the same activity.

    Indeed, I find this simplistic view of things throughout Adler’s work. He claims, for example, that

    But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong. In this regard, I think it is worth quoting something Ilya wrote below about the nature of evidence in his post about 12 Angry Men”:

    People often dismiss individual arguments and evidence against their preferred position without considering the cumulative weight of the other side’s points. It’s a very easy fallacy to fall into. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least be aware of the problem.

    There’re several things wrong with this.

    1. When one “individual argument” is the fact that the AGW supporters haven’t been able to falsify the null hypothesis, falsifying the rest is not really an issue. At present the AGW hypothesis is a solution looking desperately for a problem.

    2. One by one, the majority of the “individual arguments” have all been dismantled and dismissed. The accuracy of the models, the Himalayan glaciers, the underlying climate math, the Hockeystick, the “Jesus Paper”, the IPCC itself, the claimed temperature changes in Antarctica, they have been weighed and found very wanting. What “cumulative weight” is there of discredited arguments? If there is any “cumulative weight”, it is the cumulative weight of unsuccessful attempts to establish the AGW hypothesis. People have been trying unsuccessfully to falsify the null hypothesis for a quarter century now … I find the cumulative weight of that quite persuasive.

    3. I love guys who say things like:

    … the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong

    That statement is so vague that it is totally, completely useless. If black carbon deposition on snow affects the arctic climate by a thousandth of a degree, his statement is completely confirmed. There is a human contribution. So what? Read his stuff and think about it. His statement is content-free, meaningless.

    4. Perhaps on his planet a fist-full of poor claims equals one good claim. Not on mine.

    Sorry, Judith, but I am completely unimpressed by his ideas. He starts from an assumption that there is a problem, and starts spinning off solutions with buzz-words like “revenue-neutral” without considering the implications. Some of his stuff is OK, he’s against ethanol. But he hasn’t thought things through, and his claims are oatmeal mush, no substance at all. He says:

    While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world.

    Oh, good. He’s convinced that someplace in the world, at some time in the future, some unknown, unspecified “human contribution to climate change” will make some unspecified aspect of the weather worse … thanks for letting us know, Mr. Adler.

    I have to say that if that level of thinking and idea presentation impresses anyone, I would no more hire them than I would hire Adler. If he wants to sell me a solution, first he has to show me that there is a problem. The fact that he is “convinced” that some unknown bad problem is in our future doesn’t cut it anywhere but academia. Here in the real world, we need to be shown real problems, not told that someone somewhere is “convinced” there is a problem.

    w.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Willis Eschenbach, your comments are far too strident. For example, you say:

      Judith, again we are discussing solutions to a problem which has not been shown to exist … after the null hypothesis is falsified, that’s the time to talk about possible solutions. Until then, it’s just auto-computeroticism.

      You effectively say nobody should be talking about solutions until a problem is proven to exist. That’s obviously nonsense. You don’t need to know a problem exists to discuss possible solutions for it. Beyond that, your comment is so vague as to render it impossible to satisfy. Exactly what needs to be “proven,” and just what qualifies as “proof”? You also say:

      One by one, the majority of the “individual arguments” have all been dismantled and dismissed.

      You list seven issues, and you claim they are the “majority of the ‘individual arguments’” for the existence of a problem. That’s nonsense. Offering examples like Steig’s paper to claim the majority of evidence for global warming has “been dismantled and dismissed” is just silly. The most you could argue is the majority of “individual arguments” which have been examined by “skeptics” have been found wanting (a claim I’d dispute).

      In short Willis, you are massively overstating one side of the argument. It’s unfair, and worse yet, it’s extremely obvious. All you can do with these sort of comments is make “skeptics” look worse.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Brandon Shollenberger | March 13, 2011 at 3:09 am

      Willis Eschenbach, your comments are far too strident. For example, you say:

      Judith, again we are discussing solutions to a problem which has not been shown to exist … after the null hypothesis is falsified, that’s the time to talk about possible solutions. Until then, it’s just auto-computeroticism.

      You effectively say nobody should be talking about solutions until a problem is proven to exist. That’s obviously nonsense. You don’t need to know a problem exists to discuss possible solutions for it. Beyond that, your comment is so vague as to render it impossible to satisfy. Exactly what needs to be “proven,” and just what qualifies as “proof”? You also say:

      First, I don’t know what needs to be “proven”. I rarely use that word since things in science can’t be proven, only falsified.

      Second, people have been trying for a quarter century to disprove the null hypothesis. Read up on that, as your comments seem to indicate that you don’t understand it. You keep claiming that GHGs are causing all kinds of strange weather … but whenever we examine the weather, it’s the same as it’s always been. Yes, there’s less ice in the Arctic … and there’s more ice in the Antarctic, and the global total is unchanged. Where is the evidence that GHGs are a problem, much less a catastrophe?

      One by one, the majority of the “individual arguments” have all been dismantled and dismissed.

      You list seven issues, and you claim they are the “majority of the ‘individual arguments’” for the existence of a problem. That’s nonsense.

      I didn’t say that those seven are the “majority of the individual arguments”, that’s also your misinterpretation. I said the majority of the individual arguments have been shown to be faulty. I also gave several examples. These are called “examples” because they are representative of the others. I have written over a hundred posts, many of them critically examining such arguments. Steve McIntyre and a host of others have done many more. Did you really expect me to list them all?

      Offering examples like Steig’s paper to claim the majority of evidence for global warming has “been dismantled and dismissed” is just silly.

      Steig’s is just another example among many which have gone down in flames.

      The most you could argue is the majority of “individual arguments” which have been examined by “skeptics” have been found wanting (a claim I’d dispute).

      Fine, dispute it. To do so, you have to do more than wave your arms. Citations to evidence are your friend. The problem, you see, is that there is very, very little evidence that man is warming the planet. There’s plenty of evidence that the planet has been slightly warming, overall, for a long time. But no evidence of unusual weather. No evidence of a human effect. So please, bring out the evidence. (Remember that computer model output, while interesting and possibly useful, is not evidence. For example, the fact that a computer program says your stock portfolio will make lots of money, while it is encouraging, is not evidence that you will soon be rich, you probably shouldn’t buy the new BMW quite yet.)

      In short Willis, you are massively overstating one side of the argument. It’s unfair, and worse yet, it’s extremely obvious. All you can do with these sort of comments is make “skeptics” look worse.

      I’ll let the readers judge that. You are making up things I never said and claiming that they were my ideas, so your judgement is obviously not neutral. People know that when someone starts making up and attacking “straw men”, things their opponent never said, their scientific arguments usually aren’t all that persuasive. In addition, many of them have watched the arguments falling one by one. So yes, I’m happy with my statements, I’ll let science and history judge them.

      My thanks to you,

      w.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Willis Eschenbach, you say:

      You keep claiming that GHGs are causing all kinds of strange weather

      I have never made any such claim. Complaining about me misrepresenting you while assuming a position for me is rather cheeky. On the issue of misrepresentation, two points:

      First, I don’t know what needs to be “proven”. I rarely use that word since things in science can’t be proven, only falsified.

      You said the null hypothesis needs to be falsified. I treated this as requiring “proving” the null hypothesis wrong. The quotation marks were there to indicate we are not literally talking about proof, since as you mentioned, that’s (sort of) impossible. I don’t see anything wrong with this.

      I didn’t say that those seven are the “majority of the individual arguments”, that’s also your misinterpretation. I said the majority of the individual arguments have been shown to be faulty. I also gave several examples. These are called “examples” because they are representative of the others.

      You actually did say those were the majority, even if that wasn’t your intention. Look at how you worded your comments regarding them:

      One by one, the majority of the “individual arguments” have all been dismantled and dismissed. The accuracy of the models, the Himalayan glaciers, the underlying climate math, the Hockeystick, the “Jesus Paper”, the IPCC itself, the claimed temperature changes in Antarctica, they have been weighed and found very wanting. What “cumulative weight” is there of discredited arguments?

      If you intend to offer something as an example, you indicate it is an example with phrasing such as, “For example.” Lacking such indication, the natural way to interpret a list is the list is complete. There is nothing in your initial remark which indicates these were merely examples, so while it is certainly quite possible I misunderstood your intended meaning, it is due to your failure to indicate it. As such, it is absurd for you to say:

      I’ll let the readers judge that. You are making up things I never said and claiming that they were my ideas, so your judgement is obviously not neutral.

      Everything I have said about your comment has a clear basis in your comment. Even if this weren’t true, the most that would indicate is a mistake on my part. The claim my “judgement[sic] is obviously not neutral” is completely unsupportable.

      And to be perfectly clear, in my entire life, I have never claimed GHGs are causing any sort of weather, much less “all kinds of strange weather.” I have no idea what would make anyone thing otherwise.

    • Seeing mentions of the null hypothesis again, I would like to see it stated. Is it (a) doubling CO2 will have zero effect on global temperature, (b) man is having zero effect on climate by adding CO2? These are equivalent, but I don’t know which is preferred. On the face of it, (a) is a ridiculous hypothesis, given that reducing CO2 by 30% from 280 ppm, gets us into an Ice Age, so why should doubling it not lead to any warming at all? Are we forced to have a ridiculous null hypothesis like this? Who even supports this null hypothesis any more?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      This is the sort of confusion I was getting at when I said demanding the null hypothesis be falsified is too vague. Neither of the examples you listed can be taken seriously, and both have effectively been falsified. This means “the null hypothesis” should be something else, but just what is it? There are dozens of null hypotheses we can easily falsify in regards to greenhouse gases, so what are we really talking about?

    • Nullius in Verba

      It varies, there isn’t just one.

      But I’d choose “the current behaviour of the climate (with its anthropogenic CO2 contribution) is not significantly different (either statistically or practically) from the natural background variation.”

      Getting into an ice age reduces atmospheric CO2 by 30%, not the other way round.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Of course, falsifying that wouldn’t mean we’d have any particular reason to reduce emissions.

    • So can we use a reductio ad absurdum to say, therefore doubling CO2 also has no effect? Isn’t it just a statement about observations, not an actual scientific hypothesis? What is the relevance of this to future climate projections?
      Also point taken about CO2. The best evidence comes only from models and paleoclimate (weathering-dominated periods) that reducing CO2 leads to cooling.

    • Nullius in Verba

      “Isn’t it just a statement about observations, not an actual scientific hypothesis?”

      By “current” I mean both the immediate past and immediate future, over a period relevant for decision making. But I’m curious that you think statements about observations can’t be scientific hypotheses. What do you mean?

      Like I said, this is not the *only* null hypothesis of interest.

    • The definition of a hypothesis is a proposed explanation of an observed phenomenon. In this case it is a hypothesis that natural variation explains current observations (mainly the global surface temperature). This also implies that adding CO2 has had no effect on these observations, which implies that doubling CO2 also will have no effect, does it not? Do people believe this natural extension of the null hypothesis? If not, why is it even a hypothesis that CO2 has absolutely no effect when everyone admits it has?

    • Nullius in Verba

      “This also implies that adding CO2 has had no effect on these observations”

      No, it implies it has no *significant* or *detectable* effect. We know it has an effect.

      We know that if you keep on increasing it, it would eventually become detectable. But is this at 1.4xCO2, or 2xCO2, or 4xCO2, or 20xCO2? If we knew that we could barely detect it at 8xCO2, say, would we consider 2xCO2 a problem?

      If feedbacks are negative, sensitivity to doubling is 0.7C, and we multiply CO2 by 8 we would get 2.1C. And if it turns out that 2C changes happen all the time (MWP-LIA may be around 2C, earlier warm periods might have been warmer) we might argue then that it was ‘just detectable’. Furthermore, it could turn out that such warming is generally beneficial, and that it isn’t until we get to about 5C that it starts to become a problem – which would allow more than a 100-fold increase in CO2! It may be unlikely, but is this scenario *really* logically impossible?

      It’s not an all-or-nothing conclusion. I would say that almost all sceptics would agree that CO2 has *some* tendency to warm – but it doesn’t follow that it has therefore caused the observed warming, or that it will cause noticeable warming in the coming century, or that all the predictions of imminent disaster follow. Those require addition evidence and argument.

    • So we all know the null hypothesis is wrong on scientific grounds, and just disagree on how wrong. A better null hypothesis would relate to the no-feedback response (~1 C per doubling) versus measurable greater warming. At least a few scientists hold that view.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      So, you have a hypothesis that the calculable energy from a given concentration of cO2 just disappears.

      Do you have a mechanism?

    • Nullius in Verba

      “So, you have a hypothesis that the calculable energy from a given concentration of cO2 just disappears.”

      Who are you replying to?

      There is no “calculable energy” from CO2. The greenhouse effect doesn’t work that way. Energy arrives from the sun, and either radiates back out into space or is transported into the deep oceans. CO2 affects where in the atmosphere it radiates from, which adds to the temperature, but there are lots of other factors affecting its flow.

      Nothing just disappears. The total energy flowing is exactly the same, with or without CO2. But the route it travels before it does so can vary, affecting the temperature.

    • andrew adams

      NiV

      But I’d choose “the current behaviour of the climate (with its anthropogenic CO2 contribution) is not significantly different (either statistically or practically) from the natural background variation.”

      So how could that be falsified?

    • Nullius in Verba

      “So how could that be falsified?”

      By observing a change that is considerably larger than the background, either in past data or future events.

      Or – and this is a lot harder – by measuring the global atmosphere and oceans simultaneously in sufficient detail to pin down all the energy flows, and reconcile them against the physics in enough detail to be reasonably confident that we haven’t missed anything important. With such an understanding of climate, we *might* then be able to construct a chain of argument to confirm or refute the point.

      Bear in mind that some questions are so difficult and the data so sparse that we simply do not have the information to be able to answer them. Not being able to reject the null hypothesis does not mean we should assume the null is true, it means we should say we don’t know that it isn’t.

    • @Jim D

      given that reducing CO2 by 30% from 280 ppm, gets us into an Ice Age

      Sez who?

      Let’s do a quick “sanity check” on that statement, Jim.

      Since the Ice Age, Earth’s temperature has risen approximately 9°C.

      Reducing atmospheric CO2 to 70% of the “pre-industrial” value of 280 ppmv would put it at 196 ppmv.

      Using IPCC’s 2xCO2 average CS of 3.2°C, that would result in a theoretical reduction from todays 390 ppmv of 3.2°C (390/196 ~ 2), with half of this (1.6°C) occurring when we got down to 280 ppmv and the second half when we reached 196 ppmv.

      So it was NOT CO2 that caused us to come out of the Ice Age. It could, at best, only theoretically have caused one-third of the temperature increase.

      More importantly, there is absolutely no empirical evidence that supports the notion that coming out of the last Ice Age was caused by increased atmospheric CO2 concentration.

      And, thirdly, if you look at the Vostok curve on CO2 and temperature, you see that temperature rose first and CO2 lagged by several hundred years.

      So that “given” is a red herring, Jim.

      Max

    • You need to look at paleoclimate to understand. During the last few 10′s of millions of years, CO2 was slowly decreasing naturally, and meanwhile the temperature was cooling as a direct consequence. Eventually it cooled enough first for Antarctica to form, then later the Ice Ages began.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Have you ever checked this site?
      http://www.schollenberger.org/genealogy.htm

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I hadn’t. I’m not sure how I’m related to anyone mentioned on site since it’s possible other people with the same last name moved to the United States (where I live). However, it seems plausible some of my ancestors are mentioned on it considering where my family has lived.

      For what it’s worth, my name did have a “c” in it at some point in the past. It was taken out to make the name more “American.” I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it was generations ago.

    • Look worse to whom, exactly?
      True believers who have changed the scientific process into a popularity contest?
      Has climate science completely left the territory of Einstein pointing out that it would only take one paper to disprove his work?
      Does he make skeptics look worse to those who profit off the tax payer in the promotion of AGW?

    • Brandon, could you kindly explain the meaning of this, your sentence, so that people like me, who are a bit dense, can understand:

      “You don’t need to know a problem exists to discuss possible solutions for it.”

      See – I don’t understand how one can discuss possible solutions to a problem if one doesn’t know that a problem exists … or did you mean we ought to talk about ‘possible solutions’, even without having been told that there is a problem, because we didn’t need to know … or what … ?

      As I said – I am a bit dense …

    • Finally. Solutions without problems. I knew we’d get here sooner or later. Ever again.
      ==========

    • The solutions without a problem argument suffers from poor nomenclature. It gets confused with the old truism, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

      Call it hedging your bet or parallel action, something like that. Then mix in a little jargon.

      “While the magnitude of risk due to Anthropogenic Climate Change is uncertain, positive action that parallels that wished by the “believers” of ACC that will benefit the community as a whole should be considered. Proven, cost comparable sources of utility scale energy can be promoted which have a positive overall societal impact without disruption of economies of scale.”

      Or more colloquially, “Heck, I don’t know if it’s a big deal or not, but we start building nukes, maybe I won’t have to smuggle in Edison light bulb for my hen house.”

    • contingency planning, risk management

    • Lost and Found opportunity costs.
      ===========

    • John Carpenter

      Precautionary principle?

    • not necessarily at all. the military and insurance companies (and the broader financial sector) deal with this kind of decision making all the time.

    • Both acknowledge that some sort of problem exists or might exist, even if it is not fully understood.

      How do you manage risk, or plan for contingencies, when you have no inkling that there actually is a problem?

      That is why I think this sentence is nonsense:
      “You don’t need to know a problem exists to discuss possible solutions for it.”

    • How do you manage risk, or plan for contingencies, when you have no inkling that there actually is a problem?

      It would be extremely difficult to argue that no matter how much warming occurs, regardless of cause, no ill effects would result. As such, it’s a matter of what changes might occur, what might serve to mitigate and/or adapt to those changes, and do the costs justify the benefits.

    • It could be argued that warming will cause good and bad effects and that the good will outweigh the bad. That most commonly in the past human civilization prospered during times of warming and fell during times of cooling. Thus it is illogical to conclude that warming will be a net bad effect.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      It could be argued that warming will cause good and bad effects and that the good will outweigh the bad. That most commonly in the past human civilization prospered during times of warming and fell during times of cooling. Thus it is illogical to conclude that warming will be a net bad effect.

      Driving to work no doubt produces a good effect, but you still take out liability insurance.

    • A bit like the Victor Borge sketch, where his uncle invented a cure for which there was no disease :-)

    • It’s blanny, it is, and I got the cure in this precious little bottle here.
      =========

    • And, perhaps more pertinently, followed by: “Unfortunately, he later caught the cure and died” ;-)

    • That’s the idea. Now, since the guys stuck in the middle, followers say, want a voice of reason to prevail, they need a movement with a cool name that has a cool acronym. Followers INgaged in Global Energy Reform, FINGER. That may not be a good choice, but it conveys the idea.

      Then by carefully selecting middle of the road planks and presenting them as novel approaches to resolve perceived problems presented by the fringe political groups, we can effect change.

      Once the planks are in place and properly worded, we can enlist the aid of celebrities, that have no recent history of emotional instability, to promote the message. Wording is crucial for success. We will be appealing to the highly intellectual leadership on one end and masses with common sense on the other.

      This should be a post, Proper Manipulation of Media to Effect Responsible Change.

    • “Solutions without problems”

      Not really.

      What we have here is “solutions before problems”.

      A classical case of causation, where the desired “solution” caused the suggested “problem” (which in a circular “feedback loop” was then used to justify the “solution”)

      IPCC climate science at its best.

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I have to say I’m rather surprised by this question. I don’t mean to be rude, but it does sound rather “dense.”

      As indicated by our host, people discuss solutions to problems they don’t know exist all the time for things like “contingency planning, risk management.” But this isn’t anything fancy, complicated or special. People do it in their day-to-day lives.

      Suppose you had noticed some spots in your throat. They don’t hurt or cause you any trouble, but to be safe, you visit the doctor. He tells you it may be strep, and you should start taking antibiotics to be safe. You’ve now discussed a solution to a problem you don’t know exists. You have some indication it might exist, and that’s enough for you to want to discuss possible solutions.

      If there is indication a problem might exist, it is natural to discuss how the problem could be solved. Depending upon the solution, it may make sense to wait to implement that solution until you are certain the problem exists, or it may make sense to be cautious and implement it right away. You could also do any number of things in-between.

    • Sorry, but that is no answer.
      You said above: “You don’t need to know a problem exists to discuss possible solutions for it.”

      Contingency planning is about trying to take into account known risks, even if they are far out – you cannot plan for a contingency if you don’t know that there is a problem.
      The same with risk management.

      You don’t seem to grasp that there is a difference between a possible problem, an imaginary problem, a problem which we assume might exists based on everyday occurrences – all of which would be amenable to ‘risk management’ – and a problem we don’t know exists.

      Planning for problems we don’t know to exist is an exercise in futility.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I honestly don’t understand what you are trying to say.

      Contingency planning is about trying to take into account known risks, even if they are far out – you cannot plan for a contingency if you don’t know that there is a problem.

      If I’m managing a computer network, I’ll want to account for the possibility the DNS server will fail in an unrecoverable manner. I might have a backup server, or I might just know where to get a replacement (and hopefully have backups of the software). I don’t know there is a problem, but I accept there is risk.

      In the same sense, I don’t know global warming is a problem. However, I can accept there might be risk from global warming and want to plan accordingly.

      You seem to be using “know a problem exists” to mean something I don’t understand. Could you explain just what you think it means?

    • Killing people by denying them (or their parents) access to the energy they need to escape grinding poverty is not acceptable “contingency” planning.

    • Brandon –
      If I’m managing a computer network, I’ll want to account for the possibility the DNS server will fail in an unrecoverable manner.

      What you’re talking about is contingency planning. That was one part of my job wrt a number of spacecraft, their respective control centers and the associated remote ground stations, communications networks and computer facilities. You plan for the most probable forseeable failure modes of the sytem and of the individual components. And one of the first lessons you learn is that NONE of the failure modes you plan for ever happens. It’s ALWAYS the Black Swan, the totally unforseen, that nails you to the wall, makes you sweat and, sometimes, takes down the system. I can give you two dozen examples without even thinking about it.

      So what’s the point of contingency planning?

      Simple – it’s part of a “planning” process that allows you to become familiar with not only the “failure modes”, but also with the allowable/available recovery actions in order to deal with ANY failure mode. And that’s the ONLY point to the exercise – management opinion notwithstanding.

      In the same sense, I don’t know global warming is a problem. However, I can accept there might be risk from global warming and want to plan accordingly.

      No – NOT in the same sense. You may KNOW that a DNS server can fail. I knew beyond doubt that a spacecraft attitude control wheel would fail. I also knew that any of 30,000 other components might fail. Or that atmospheric conditions could cut off communications with the Kiruna station – or that any of 100,000 other factors could interfere with the communications and/or operation of the spacecraft, network or remote stations.

      You DO NOT do continency planning for ALL possible failure modes in the system. First because you don’t have enough time in your life to do all that planning nor will you be allowed the funds for that kind of planning. Second, because it would be utterly useless in that, however many failure modes you plan for, the Black Swan, the unknown, the unforseen, will show up and kick your butt anyway.

      Now let’s talk about “global warming” planning. Just what kind of “planning” do you have in mind? Specifically what would you do about it? Tax fossil fuels perhaps? What do you think that will do – except make life harder and more expensive for everyone and provide governments with more of your money to waste on unnecessary and unrelated “programs”? Same with Cap & Trade or Carbon markets which then have no/zero/nada effect on climate, but would make a few individuals extremely wealthy. Witness the ETS, the Chicago Exchange and others.

      Perhaps you’d like to STOP ALL fossil fuel usage? And what specifically would be the result of that particular action? Whether done NOW or 10 years from now, my answer to Cthulhu earlier this afternooon would still apply –

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/12/property-rights-and-climate-change/#comment-55779

      Understand that stopping SOME fossil fuel usage is utterly useless because it will require stopping ALL usage to make even the smallest dent in atmospheric/climate effects. And there’s NO assurance that even that would work.

      Or perhaps you’d like to simply remove massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere? But then you have the problem that there is no sufficiently efficient technology to be effective for that action. And – once you’ve got a system that could efficiently remove CO2, you also have another problem – to keep it from being TOO efficient. You really wouldn’t want to remove so much CO2 that you’d induce cooling – and perhaps another Ice Age, would you?

      And then there’s the problem of storage. The Canadians tried that – and it escaped. Slippery stuff, that CO2.

      Then there’s the question – do you really believe that ANY government is capable of developing the technology for CO2 removal – in a timely manner and at reasonable cost?

      Now – all of the above is predicated on the presumption that there IS a problem. And that “planning”, that “mitigation” would be EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE.

      For what? For “planning” – for something that’s an unproved and possibly unprovable problem that presently exists only in the minds of those who are too fearful to even look at the data and those who are ignorant of history?

      If you’re looking for problems that require “planning” and the infusion of money, I’d suggest you look at some of the REAL problems of the world today. For example – the real need for clean water, education and medical attention in the Third World. That’s not only more urgent, but a whole lot more useful than pouring money down a rathole called “global warming” with no real prospect of real-world results.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Sorry, but my eyes glaze over when people assume any sort of planning based upon concerns about global warming must necessitate some drastic action. If you want to have an exchange with me, you’ll have to accept some forms of planning may amount to nothing more than taking note of what changes global warming might produce and considering what infrastructure changes might be warranted due to them. Or encouraging general efficiency. Or any number of other things which are nothing like you two have discussed.

    • But “drastic action” is exactly what’s being proposed as the solution to an undefinable problem.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Jim Owen, there are many things being proposed by many people. This is not a binary issue.

    • Brandon –
      Jim Owen, there are many things being proposed by many people. This is not a binary issue.

      Isn’t it?

      Yes, there are a number of proposed “solutions”, but how many of them could be classified as anything other than “drastic”? How many of them do NOT require massive taxes, global government, draconian sacrifices in lifestyle and personal freedom? Or do you believe the fantasy of “green energy”? It happens I DO believe it – but not in my lifetime. Nor will it be any of the present “enery sources”.

      But – you started this with these words –
      I don’t know global warming is a problem. However, I can accept there might be risk from global warming and want to plan accordingly.

      So I have a question – how do you envision “planning accordingly”?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Jim Owen, your question is strange. I gave an explicit example just two comments prior. You never said anything about it, and now you ask me for such an example.

      I don’t know what to make of that.

    • I think it is naive to think of this as a “problem we don’t know exists” as if it doesn’t deserve some special classification. Rainy days funds are for the unexpected, problems we know don’t exist but may come into existence.

      If you can plan for a problem you know doesn’t exist, why can’t you plan for a problem you don’t know exists?

      So you are saying your ignorance of a problem justifies a different action than your knowledge that no problem exists would. The unexpected is just as likely in either case.

      In this case, you have a potential problem proposed that you feel is unlikely to be a major problem. That is the honest statement. Since you feel it is unlikely, how unlikely is it? Also what do you base your odds on? An iron sun? Mann is an idiot? Chuck across the street said it ain’t so? Venus proves there is no greenhouse effect? We all going to die in 2012? If you consider natural variability, the likely sensitivity to 2xCO2 is between 1.3 and 2 degrees C, with 95% confidence levels it lies between 1.0 and 4.0 C?

    • Viv

      You wrote:

      “Planning for problems we don’t know to exist is an exercise in futility.”

      It sort of goes back to Rumsfeld’s distinction between “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”.

      We do not know that there is a current problem. That is an “unknown”.

      We have some model simulations and hypotheses, but no real notion of what could have been the cause of our current problem (if there, indeed, is a problem).

      We have some more model simulations, but even less of a notion whether or not our postulated current problem (which we do not really know that we have) will get worse or better with time, how much worse or better it may or may not get over which period of time and, if this is assumed to be so, what could be the cause of this future change.

      That is an “unknown unknown” (maybe even an “unknown” to the third power).

      Yet politicians are grappling to find (and – shudder! – implement) expensive “solutions” to this “unknown unknown” problem.

      I agree with you.

      Go back to establishing whether or not we really have a problem before wasting time on finding a solution to what may end up being a non-problem.

      Max

      PS “Precautionary principle”? Fuggidaboudit. That’s simply an excuse for not finding out whether or nor we really have a problem.

    • Manacker 3/13/11 4:11 pm,

      The Precautionary Principle is the Bayes game. I push you to your threshold between naiveté and wanting to appear reasonable and intelligent, getting you to admit that my fantastic event has some remote, even infinitesimal, probability of happening. Then I multiply the costs by the product of something quasi believable and a factor greater than the reciprocal of that infinitesimal probability. Presto! I have the winning Bayes hand.

      But if not, I’ll jack up the costs a bit more. If necessary, I’ll throw in floods, tsunamis, humanity, and, as a last resort, the rain forest and all the little animals! I’ll show no mercy.

    • Willis,

      In the next 20-25 years in the US we will need to build 300GW’s worth of electric generating capacity. We already have some problems completely unrelated to climate in the area of transportation fuel.

      We can be like Sri Lanka, which listened to the coal salesmen’s argument that ‘cheap coal’ would be available forever or maybe take a more circumspect view.
      http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/03/13/coal-no-longer-a-cheap-energy-source/
      The Minister noted that coal when Sri Lanka ordered its first shipment, was at US$ 69 per tonne and the energy cost of a unit was Rs. 3.20. When the second shipment was ordered, the coal prices had increased to US$ 140 per tonne resulting in an increase in the per unit energy cost to Rs. 6.50.
      “We have now ordered the next shipment and the coal prices have further increased to US$ 160 per tonne,” Ranawaka said. The increase in coal consumption and the lack of energy sources are expected to make coal a very expensive energy source by 2020.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Not sure what your point is here, harry. I think we should build more power plants, both nuclear and (preferably) natural gas, all over the planet. However, many countries will also use coal fired plants because they have domestic coal or other reasons. That’s fine by me as long as they have the smokestack controls on sulfur and heavy metals.

      What does that have to do with Sri Lanka? I don’t understand your point.

      Thanks,

      w.

  18. In all the discussion of carbon tax, cap and trade,,, there hasnt been any mention of a “roll-back” mechanism that I recall. At the basis (IPCC WG1) there is uncertainty. (Distilled into weasel words: likeley, very likely,,,) I remember at least one serious IPCC climate scientist agreeing that a 15 year decline would convince them that the current hypothesis is wrong. If it turns out to be wrong, and there has been a scheme in place, then the scheme will have to be cancelled and the “losers” compensated. Any proposer should be tasked to explain how “roll-back” of their proposal can be done. There seems to be around a 10 percent chance that a roll-back will be necessary.

    • You are harsh — SORYY should be enough and look at all the good we have done with the money :-)

  19. A libertarian response to

    a) a revenue-neutral carbon tax

    If there is going to be a tax, then certainly there must be offsetting tax cuts elsewhere. This issue must not be allowed to serve as an ideological tool to grow the state.

    b) measures to incentivize and accelerate energy and climate-related innovation, including technology inducement prizes

    No. The rewarding of ideas that actually work will come via profits to companies that implement them, under the new carbon tax regime. Political prizes are too open to political bias.

    streamlining of regulatory requirements that hamper the development and deployment of alternative energy technologies

    Sounds ok, but what are these?

    d) policies to facilitate adaptation due to the inevitability of some amount of climate change

    Why is government interference needed for adaptation?

    e) elimination of policies that subsidize energy inefficiency and excess greenhouse gas emissions, including ill-conceived ethanol mandates (which, among other things, forestall efforts at reforestation).

    Yes. Note this proposal contradicts the “prizes” proposal above, in that it reduces rather than increases direct political controls over industry.

    • Punksta,

      Not sure if you are arguing that a “revenue neutral” carbon tax, assuming one were ever really implemented, could be libertarian or conservative in any sense of the word in the absence of a severe, reasonably certain risk that the CAGW hypothesis is correct? A revenue neutral tax only means government is penalizing one economic activity, and redistributing the proceeds to some governmentally determined preferred class. In the absence of a genuine, imminent risk of CAGW, there would seem to be no conservative/libertarian basis for such a tax.

      Or was that an underlying assumption of your comment?

  20. The current process of mining fossil fuels for their energy content, provides a profit incentive for the utilization of the locked up energy released by combustion to be harnessed to provide the energy to achieve the increased production of the recapture of the CO2 into food stuffs for the support of the rest of the biomass.

    There by increasing the amount, quality, and diversity of life forms that benefit from the buildup in life sustaining CO2. When the energy is used in country A the CO2 is released to all other countries at no production costs, so they have free access to the use of this life support system to capture more solar energy from photosynthesis.

    The amount of profit from all countries is proportional to the efficiency with which they are able to achieve positive growth rates sustainable production above their secondary food and energy needs, they then draw from the food stuffs and bio fuels they can produce from the FREE CO2 from the rest of the world.

    Where is the problem in this CO2 economy? Why would you need to tax anyone? Those who make the most efficient land use changes to generate the most broad spectrum set of food stuffs and bio fuels will profit the most. The hidden CO2 wealth is freely available to everyone, how could this be more fair? Those who do the work that needs to be done will reap the rewards of more global CO2.

    • Essentially you’re saying there is already an economic incentive to harvest CO2 from the air. Is anyone trying this? If not, why not?

    • Every one who farms or gardens is profiting from the increased yield, and from less crop water consumption as the CO2 level rises world wide.

    • And do you think increased plant growth has any chance of levelling off CO2 levels ?

    • As the increase in plant growth is still increasing, and the resultant soil fertility from the residual organic matter as they turn over will be like compound interest, as the fossil carbon becomes absorbed as biomass carbon almost as fast as it is being released by people.

      There is a finite amount of fossil carbon available, the total release of all of it would result in less than the 1000ppm CO2 concentrations used in commercial green houses for maximum productivity.

      We cannot expect the third world or even China or India to slow down their consumption of Coal as the price for them continues to stay artificially low, from the restrictions of use, in the developed countries from within as the west alone strangles itself in red tape and taxes.

    • We cannot expect the third world or even China or India to slow down their consumption of Coal as the price for them continues to stay artificially low

      Steam Coal is $14/ton in Wyoming. It’s $120/ton in China and India.

      China’s 2011-2015 Development Plan is 40 GW nuclear, 120 GW hydro, 70 GW wind and 5 GW of solar.

    • Test to close italic

    • That didn’t work

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Amusingly enough, the italics are gone due to the host editing the offending post. This happened right after you tried to fix things.

      If you hadn’t said you failed, people might have given you credit.

    • LOL, I will only take credit when due! Blame on the other hand I will free share.

    • May 2, 2007

      China will build 500 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, at the rate of almost one a week. This massive appetite for coal means equally huge greenhouse gas emissions.

      But Xu Dingming, one of the men in charge of China’s energy policy, says coal-fired power plants are the quickest solution to its urgent need for more power.

      China has more than 10 million people who still don’t have electricity. In rural areas, many children have never seen an electric light.

      Coal-fired power plants are not just bringing light to rural villages. They’re also powering the factories that make up China’s exploding manufacturing base. In the past year, China has added generating capacity that is equal to the whole of France’s electricity grid.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9947668

    • Coal use in China’s electricity sector increases from 27.7 quadrillion Btu in 2007 to 72.2 quadrillion Btu in 2035, at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year (Figure 64). In comparison, coal consumption in the U.S. electric power sector grows by 0.4 percent annually, from 20.8 quadrillion Btu in 2007 to 23.1 quadrillion Btu in 2035. At the end of 2007, China had an estimated 496 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in operation. To meet the demand for electricity that accompanies its rapid economic growth, an additional 736 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity (net of retirements) is expected to be brought on line in China by 2035,

      http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/coal.html

    • Quadrillion? That is almost like a bazillion.

      quadrillion [kwɒˈdrɪljən]
      n
      1. (Mathematics) (in Britain) the number represented as one followed by 24 zeros (1024) US and Canadian word septillion
      2. (Mathematics) (in the US and Canada) the number represented as one followed by 15 zeros (1015)
      determiner
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/quadrillion

      Sorry, that is one of the set points in my BS detector.

    • The source was the US Department of Energy.

      HEre is what Wikipedia has to say:

      A quad is a unit of energy equal to 1015 (a short-scale quadrillion) BTU,[1] or 1.055 × 1018 joules (1.055 exajoules or EJ) in SI units.

      The unit is used by the U.S. Department of Energy in discussing world and national energy budgets. The global primary energy production in 2004 was 446 quad, equivalent to 471 EJ. [2]

      Some common types of an energy carrier approximately equal 1 quad are:

      8,007,000,000 Gallons (US) of gasoline
      293,083,000,000 Kilowatt-hours (kWh)
      36,000,000 Tonnes of coal
      970,434,000,000 Cubic feet of natural gas
      5,996,000,000 UK gallons of diesel oil
      25,200,000 Tonnes of oil
      252,000,000 tonnes of TNT or five times the energy of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quad_(unit)

    • LOL, and a perfectly good unit, peta, doesn’t get asked to dance.

      The president was told that two Brazilians were lost in Iraq. He asked how many that was. :)

  21. General libertarian approach: if CAGW is ever shown to be scientifically sound, the libertarian approach would take into account that property rights in air are problematic, and that hence some form of political interference would be needed.

    Right now though, climate science is not only not settled, but unapologetically corrupt and politicised (probably unavoidably so, given that it is politically funded), and by and large simply a weapon in the armoury of totalitarian-oriented ideologues (hence its popularity with leftwingers).

  22. If land and water property rights are held by individuals then they become free from government taxation and controls, the resulting independence is what the totalitarians and Malthusians fear the most Those who think they know better than the surfs they wish to control.

    While the average citizen of the planet, irregardless of country of origin, who only really want to have an intimate secure family life, and provide as much of their own needs for their friends, family, and neighbors as possible, are the true libertarians. Participation in the local / global economy should be reserved for the provision of tools and products that are difficult for individuals to make on their own.

    The addiction to massive amounts of useless stuff, is what drags the consumer down to the status of wage slave of their own choosing.

    • You seem to have this idea that “true” libertarians want to live simply and austerely, be totally self-contained and only interact with others economically for a few things – ie are autarkic.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps there are few libertarians who feel this way, but none of this has any bearing on them being libertarians. I would venture there are more communists (or commune-ists) who have these primitivist ideals.

    • I am only speaking for those who would be the “cheap labor wage slaves” to the international corporations and banks who are behind the political manipulations of the CAGW scare. Those in the middle levels of the educated highly skilled labor force are a whole nother ball of wax.

      The social climbers who strive to get ahead of the Jones, and plan all of their activities on winning the image and power play game, have lost sight of the real things of value that money and power cannot buy.

      Those who manufacture derivatives of others investment and productivity, to scrape profits out of a system and leave it to rot as the dupes that invest secondarily, take the losses and clamber for insurance to hedge their bets, instead of being responsible for themselves, while leaving others on the resultant short end of the stick, instead of them selves.

    • My point was that primitivist autarky you espouse, has no bearing on libertarianism or property rights. You have said nothing to change that.

  23. A lukewarmer who claims to be a libertarian, scholar and invokes the precautionary principal? Yawn. There are more nuts in the capital L Libertarian party than Planter’s has cans. Why Judge Judy thinks it’s fun to put a plate of meat in the libertarian cat corral in some sort blogosphere social study of might be worthy of intro-inspection. I know I’m thinking “I’m not a lab rat”

  24. a) a revenue-neutral carbon tax, like that proposed by James Hansen, offsetting new taxes on carbon with reductions in income or other taxes

    As I understand the concept, not libertarian. A tax is a tax is a tax. The stated purpose of a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon tax is to force fossil fuel energy producers out and bring ‘renewables’ in without directly taxing energy consumers. But of course, if energy producers’ costs go up (via carbon tax), that cost simply gets passed on to the consumer.

    And there will be winners and losers. Which renewables do the politicians favor? Maybe those that contribute the most to their campaigns…

    The marketplace works best when left alone. As fossil fuels get more scarce, prices goes up making alternative energy sources more competitive. Economics 101…

    b) measures to incentivize and accelerate energy and climate-related innovation, including technology inducement prizes

    Not libertarian. Again, politicians are picking winners (those who put money in their coffers) and losers (those who don’t). Let the marketplace dictate the best energy solutions.

    c) streamlining of regulatory requirements that hamper the development and deployment of alternative energy technologies, including (but not limited to) offshore wind development

    Sounds libertarian but not really. ‘Streamlining’ to government (like tax simplification or NAFTA) is a code word to make even more rules. Just get rid of the regulations… don’t streamline them.

    d) policies tofacilitate adaptation due to the inevitability of some amount of climate change

    Not libertarian. The first thought a libertarian has to this is, “Why is the government responsible for facilitating adaptation?” Leave that to the insurance industry. Insurers underwrite risk thus regulating risk taking. A useful role of government would be to quantify (honestly, if that’s possible) the risks so that people can make informed decisions. Beyond that, the government has no moral obligation to do anything and the decision to adapt or not should be left to the interested private parties. And people need to be held responsible for their choices (an alien concept to liberals). If someone builds in an earthquake zone and there’s an earthquake… they should bear the cost of that decision (other than for emergency response). If someone builds or has built where rising sea levels eventually flood their property… it’s between them and their insurer unless it can be *proven* that actions by others caused the damage. No place for government here except to enforce legal contracts.

    e) elimination of policies that subsidize energy inefficiency
    and excess greenhouse gas emissions, including ill-conceived ethanol mandates (which, among other things, forestall efforts at reforestation)

    Agree with this one, but then why stop there? Eliminate *all* government regulation irregardless of AGW…

    Ultimately, libertarians are going to see the AGW problem as one for law enforcement on the basis that each individual has the inalienable right to be secure in their person and property. AGW (*if* it’s happening and *if* it’s harmful) should be handled by enforcing laws in defense of those rights; not with arbitrary regulations or creative tax schemes.

    Judith, I don’t think libertarian responses to the alleged problem of AGW are what you’re seeking. In order for them to work, we have to have a libertarian society and we don’t. When I imagine AGW if it were real and harmful, my libertarian brain thinks about the challenges of proving and assigning guilt, remedies and, if necessary, prosecution with respect to violation of my rights. That’s not how policy decisions on AGW are going to be framed.

    • libertarians are going to see the AGW problem … that each individual has the inalienable right to be secure in their person and property.

      The diffiulty being property rights in air. How are these to be decided?

    • It’s not a question of air ownership.

      The atmosphere and the air we breath falls into one or both rights categories. If air is made harmful to people (pollution for instance), then it violates an individual’s right to be secure in their person. If human caused harm damages someone’s property (as with AGW), then that violates the owner’s property right.

      Either way, to make air (or water or food or consumer products or whatever) harmful to people without their consent libertarians hold is a violation of one or both of these inalienable rights.

    • Putting SO2, NOx, mercury, arsenic, hydrocrabons, particulates into the air makes the air (or water or food or consumer products or whatever) harmful to people without their consent. This should not be allowed.

      Putting CO2 into the air does not. It’s a natural trace component, essential to all life on the planet. Plants love the stuff. Animals (including us) can handle orders of magnitude more than what would result if all our planet’s fossil fuels were burned.

      Max

    • Max Manacker

      Surely the measure that matters is consent, not proof of harm?

      I mean, you don’t take a lady on a date based on no proof of harm, do you?

    • The hypothetical context here is that too much manufactured CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere; not what is naturally occurring. Too much of anything at some point can become bad.

    • “Too much of anything can be bad”

      But how much CO2 is “too much”

      5,000 ppm?

      10,000 ppm?

      There’s just enough carbon in all the optimistically estimated fossil fuels on our planet to get us to almost 1,000 ppm once they have all been 100% combusted.

      So we will never quite get there, because the long-term “half life” of CO2 in our atmosphere is only around 100-120 years.

      But let’s ignore that and say we really did.

      Is 1,000 ppm CO2 “too much”?

      If so, come with some evidence that this is so, not just empty words.

      Max

    • Max Manacker

      Is this Australian-style dating?

      You hear “no consent” and go on to debate what “no” means in terms of how much harm could a little more do?

      My point isn’t about the harm of CO2.

      It’s about the antidemocracy, the lacking consent, in this ‘prove-the-harm’ mindset.

      How do you support this assault on the right to say no?

    • Bart R,
      It is the AGW community that claims there is a problem and wants to impose costly solutions (that do not work) to solve it (without proving the problem exists). It is AGW opinion leaders who openly speak of suspending democracy and imposing the solutions they demand through non-democratic means.
      ‘Prove the harm mindset’ is called ‘rational thinking’ in most circles. Why are you so opposed to that?

    • Bart: My point isn’t about the harm of CO2. It’s about the antidemocracy, the lacking consent, in this ‘prove-the-harm’ mindset.

      Translation : if the majority vote to use some feeble, trumped-up argument of global warming as cover to advance their totalitarian ideals of more taxes and more govenment, just leave it be. How dare you question their democratic right to be fraudulent bullies?

  25. Harold Pierce Jr

    Here is comment I recently posted over at WUWT.

    RE: BC CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
    RE: THE BC COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
    RE: BC CARBON TAXES ON FOSSILS FUELS

    In NA, BC is the first jurisidiction to levy hefty carbon taxes on fossil fuels. Here are the current rates based upon a tax of $20 per tonne of CO2 equivalent as of July 1, 2010:

    Gasoline 4.45 ¢/litre
    Diesel 5.11
    Jet Fuel 5.22
    Propane 3.08

    Natural Gas 3.80 ¢/cubic metre

    Coal, high heat value 41.54 $/tonne
    Coal, low heat value 35.54 $/tonne

    Note the apparent low tax rate on nat gas. The actual tax is $0.9932 per gigajoule of BC nat gas which costs $4.568 per gigajoule. That is tax rate of 21.7%

    On July 1, 2012 the the carbon tax will increase to $30 per tonne of CO2 equivalent, i.e., the above taxes will increase by 50%

    There are no free passes on fossil fuel carbon taxes although low income wager earners receive a carbon tax rebate. For industry and commerce there are complex rules and regulations for computing and paying carbon taxes.

    If a government can levy taxes on fossil fuels and control the emission of GHG’s, that goverment can:

    1. Sieze control of the means of productions of goods and services.

    2. Control of the production of goods and services

    3. Redistribute wealth

    4. Control of every aspect of the lives and affairs of the people.

    You can view and download the BC Communist Manifesto from:

    http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/cap.html#cap

    Although the BC carbon tax is presently touted a being overall revenue neutral, the government can change the rules at anytime in the future.

    The man behind the BC Clinate Action Plan is SFU Prof. Marc Jaccard.

    ATTN: AMERICAN YANKEES

    PLEASE FORWARD THIS COMMENT BY EMAIL AND FAX TO YOUR MEMBERS OF THE US CONGRESS AND STATE LEGISLATURES.

    ATTN: AUSTRALIANS AND NEW ZEALANDERS

    PLEASE FORWARD THIS COMMENT BY EMAIL AND FAX TO YOUR ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE VARIOUS LEVELS GOVERNMENT

    Once the People understand the true intent of the UN and its front orgainzation the IPCC, the People with scythes, pitchforks and torches will be in the streets demanding a purge of the Communists from their governments.

    • Harold Pierce Jr.

      Psst. Psst.

      The same ‘commie’ government of BC dropped its income taxes 15% in a decade and cut its civil service by a hefty margin.

      Ronald Reagan couldn’t achieve that.

      Ron Paul doesn’t claim he could achieve that.

    • Bart R,
      BS is a province, a state. Not a nation.
      That a mere subdivision would have a 15% income tax is a disgusting thought.
      That they lowered it to that level speaks of an out of control local government that makes California or Illinois appear responsible.
      History informs us that any tax will be used by those in power to further their agenda, line their pockets and help their supporters.
      There is no revenue neutral tax.

    • Besides which, once a revenue stream has been established, government has a vested interest in maintaining that revenue stream, even after the original reasons for the tax are long gone.

    • hunter

      People in BC pay less tax overall than Americans in most states in the USA.

      BC’s closest American neighbors pay more tax in almost every sector.

      Your armwaving hysterics aside, you got nothing here. Move on.

    • Back it up, Bart. What tax rates – income tax (BC AND National), sales, real estate, etc.

      Been through BC – several times. Wasn’t impressed by the number of businesses that were no longer operating. Why would that be? C’mon – take a swing at it.

      Wasn’t at all impressed by the price of food, gasoline, services – or anything else. Care to swing at that one, too?

      Or do you need me to give the answer?

    • Jim Owen

      Take a swing at your personal impressions?

      You’re welcome to your personal impressions.

      You’ve been through BC?

      I’ve filed taxes in four states and two provinces.

      You’re not impressed with the businesses closed in BC?

      I’ve worked in Detroit, where a downtown area some 30 blocks on a side has been practically wasteland for decades.

      Your impressions are mere handwaving hysteria.

    • We’re not talking about Detroit, Bart. You’re having trouble staying on topic again, eh?

    • I live in BC. The fuel taxes are so high that an extra CO2 went unnoticed. People need to drive to make an living and raise a family. BC’s taxes are generally higher than the US which is reflected in our higher prices for almost everything. However, you can’t directly compare the two because mortgage payments in BC are NOT tax deductible and the cheapest house on the market starts at about $700,000.

      BC did however manage to cut nighttime driving dramatically to the point where the police were told by the Attorney General not to enforce the law. Some businesses were reporting 80-90% reduction in revenues. However, this had nothing to do with CO2.

    • *squint*

      ferd berple

      “BC did however manage to cut nighttime driving dramatically to the point where the police were told by the Attorney General not to enforce the law. Some businesses were reporting 80-90% reduction in revenues. However, this had nothing to do with CO2.”

      Are you talking about that thing where drunk drivers were taken off the road and their cars towed so fast that bars in the habit of relying on serving drunk drivers lost business?

      Huh. Drunk drivers and the opportunists who enable them. How am I to weep about their adversity if it keeps them off the road?

      Sounds like effective law enforcement to me.

      Why would you leave out the drunk driving part?

      Why this campaign of slant, when you have so much valuable and valid to say?

    • Reagan cut the top rate from 50% down to 28%. Everyone else’s rate was cut to 15%. Not BY 15%, the tax rate WAS 15%. And it set in motion the greatest economic expansion in history.

    • stan

      Are you sure that the top tax rate wasn’t cut from 70% to 28%?

      That’s an even more impressive accomplishment, no?

      If http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaganomics is wrong, you may wish to let them know so they can get the numbers right.

      Reagan’s overall reduction was in the neighborhood of ONE PERCENT, from 20.2% to 19.2%, one FIFTEENTH BC’s cut.

      Why would you try to lie to us like that?

      Now, as to the greatest economic expansion in history…

      Could you state the basis for your claim?

      Reagan came in at the tail of a Recession, and the market recovery had already begun before he took office with no significant observable help from him for the first year of his presidency due to the time it took his programs to be implemented; the lion’s share of the improvement in the economy under him took place in that one year period.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think he ought be remembered as a great man with many positive things to be said about him, but it waters down his achievements to spread lies and fertilize myths.

      His accomplishment was on larger scale than BC’s because he was at the helm of the USA, not some backwater of no more significance to the world than — excuse the comparison, I admire the people of the state greatly and mean no disrespect — South Carolina.

      It was not in proportion as great an achievement.

      And to be fair, BC clearly has many flaws, too.

    • Harold Pierce Jr

      Download and read the BC Communist Manifesto Or call the Climate Action Secretariat and request free copy.

      The tax cuts were a bribe. The personal tax cuts only apply to the bottom two levels.

      Really rich guys with big house, cars and boats will pay a lot of carbon taxes and they won’t get much back.

      As I said, they can change the rules at any time in the future, or when Commissar Jaccard commands them to do so.

      If the climate continues to cool, what will they do when the demand for nat gas for heating soars?

      What will they do when they find out the GHG’s emission continue to increase as they population grows?

      If a hydro dam goes down , BC Hydro might have to fire up the Burrard thermal plant.

      How do you reduce the emission of GHC’s from the ferries, in particular the new super C Class boats?

    • Harold Pierce Jr

      You sound like you’re very familiar with the situation in BC.

      Are you from there?

      Do you have some affiliation or background that could enlighten us as to what your broader point of view might be?

      Some of what you say sounds like the tract of the socialist New Democratic Party of BC.

      Some of it is just plain self-contradictory.

      Which is it, will the population and CO2 emission of BC grow, or will the BC climate cool because of dropping CO2 emission?

      And could you cite a source for the cooling of BC’s climate?

      While the global climate has warmed in the eyes of most, I won’t hold you to proof about the whole world.

      Just BC.

      Cite a source.

      Prove your cooling claim to the same certainty as you would require of the contrary claim for the world’s warming.

      Really rich guys with big house, cars and boats will pay a lot of carbon taxes and they won’t get much back.

      My heart bleeds for really rich guys with big houses, cars and boats paying a lot. They will certainly get back in greater democracy in the market when their non-fossil alternatives become more price efficient based on economies of scale and willingness of investors to back innovative technologies, but I do see what you mean.

      You mean really rich fossil guys who have been sucking the blood out of the economy by subsidies and government support will be cut off.

      This Stockholm Syndrome support for your victimizers, Harold, is it because you didn’t get enough attention in the Cold War?

    • Which is it, will the population and CO2 emission of BC grow, or will the BC climate cool because of dropping CO2 emission?

      Your reading comprehension problem is showing again, Bart.

    • Jim Owen

      I read. I comprehend.

      Sorry if that’s a problem for you.

      But I’m not going to let you make your problem my problem.

    • Then why did you claim that Harold said something he did NOT say? You do that a lot.

    • Jim Owen

      http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/12/property-rights-and-climate-change/#comment-55634

      If the climate continues to cool, what will they do when the demand for nat gas for heating soars?

      What will they do when they find out the GHG’s emission continue to increase as they population grows?

      Now that Harold has clarified that he is talking about natural variability, instead of the implied (by context) drop of temperature by drop of CO2 levels, I entirely agree I misread what was to me an ambiguous and self-contradictory passage.

      So now it’s not a self-contradictory assertion. Merely an assertion that ignores some of the facts..

      You are quite right sir.

    • Bart –
      My estimation of your character just went up several notches.

    • Harold Pierce Jr

      I am a US citizen with landed immigrant status and came to BC in Oct 72 after completing grad studies in organic chemistry at UC Irvine. I worked at SFU Burnaby in Prof J. H. Borden’s insect pheromone research group. Prof Borden is a world expert on bark beetles in paritcular mountain pine beetle.

      The provincial motto is “Beautiful British Columbia, the Best Place on Earth”. I tell you BC has got it all, and in Metro Vancouver there are no mosquitos in the summertime!!!

      “Prove your cooling claim to the same certainty as you would require of the contrary claim for the world’s warming”.

      Please Check out:

      “Cyclic Climate Changes and Fish Productivity” by L.B. Klyashtorin and A.A . Lyubushin.

      You can download the English translation for free thru this link:

      http://alexeylyubushin.narod.ru/Climate_Changes__and_Fish_Productivity.pdf?

      NB: This mongraph is 224 pages. This book is not about climate science. The literature is reviewed thru early 2005.

      By analyzing a number of time series of data influenced by climate, they found that the earth has global climate cycles of 50-70 years with an average of about 60 years comprised of a cool and warm phase of 30 years each. The results of their analyses are reported in the first two chapters.

      The last warm phase began in ca 1970-75 and ended in ca 2000. The global warming from ca 1975 is mostly due to this warm phase. A cool phase has started in 2000 and their model projects a cool period until 2030.

      So far this spring has been unusually cold and rainy

    • Harold Pierce Jr.

      So this is some sort of internal SFU squabble?

      Do you know Jaccard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Jaccard) personally?

      Has he done something in person to offend you to Red Menace him like this and call for a McCarthy-era witch hunt?

      Did he deny funding for a grant proposal of yours, or take your parking spot?

      I think the parameters for natural variability you lay out are roughly accurate, within some narrow constraints.

      In 2005, Klyashtorin and Lyubushin would have had data at best six years out of date compared to what we now know to much higher confidence.

      Which is, the temperatures right now are high and have been for a longish time, all the way through the supposed start of the cool phase.

      We might not be able to attribute this high temperature to any particular thing with certainty, but it is higher than I think known natural variability would statistically explain, and has been at this high plateau for a lot longer than the temperature record of the past century and a half might suggest to me.

      In short, where is your cool phase?

      So I am skeptical of this six years out of date study’s bearing on today. It might be slightly relevant, but it is unconvincing.

      So far this spring has been unusually cold and rainy (even for what natural variability would predict), but do you not remember the unusual warmth during the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which also would have been during your cool phase?

    • harold Pierce Jr

      In summer of 2010, 35 million swimming weather stations aka salmon, returned to the Fraser River. This was the second biggest run since 1903 and was due to coolder water in Juan de Fuca strait which keeps herring and mackeral, main predators of smolts, out of BC waters. These salmon left the Fraser river for open ocean 1n 2006.

      The salmon are reporting that the north Pacific ocean has cooled.

    • harold Pierce Jr

      Humboldt squid in 2009 in those same waters in the neighborhood of the Saanich Sea, and other recent aberrant northern appearances of normally southern species from California tell the opposite tale.

      Fish are living things, not thermometers.

      Speculating on the meaning of their oddities to climate is dubious.

      Speculating while ignoring contrary evidence of more startling proportion seems not in the spirit of science.

      I give you that more extreme events and changes may be happening within this very high very prolonged temperature regime, or possibly not. But to call it cooling is contrary to the evidence.

    • Bart
      It is true however that since 1998 ish we have been in the cool mode of the PDO which is characterized by cold water in the NE pacific. If you look here, you can see that the La Nina is still well established

    • RobB

      _This_ La Nina is well-established.

      That’s true.

      However, how many El Nino’s and La Nina’s have there been since the mid 1990′s? How long do they last each?

      (Which, come to think, are there usually so many of them in so short a time?)

      This effect is one of the reasons I’m skeptical of Ross McKitrick’s T3 proposal.

      The tropics are strongly influenced by all sorts of things that may be inversions of the dominant trend.

      Also, comparing La Nina year to La Nina year over time, are the regional temperatures falling, constant or rising on comparable La Nina intervals, do you think?

      So a cold 2006, hot 2008, hot 2009-10, cold 2010-11 in the northeast of the Pacific with what, ten? of the warmest years on record among the past 13-15 amounts to what, again?

    • Jeffrey Davis

      What do these cycles that are supposed to be driving the climate do with the energy from the increase in CO2?

    • Bart you are showing your ignorance once again.

    • An unusually enlightening insight for you, DEEBEE.

      I have tons of ignorance, and I show it time and again in questions, in reference to the work of others who have studied and researched where I have not, and in putting out for discussion among those sure to sharply dispute and test them opinions based on intellectual foundation and skepticism, not blind faith and illogic.

      Tonic for dyskeptisia.

      If I could bottle and sell it, I would, as it appears a scarce commodity.

      Which brand of ignorance do you favor? Argument by assertion?

    • John Carpenter

      The problem with taxes are, once implemented, there are still never enough. Like it or not, governments are only revenue spenders, not revenue generators. Why encourage them with a larger pile? Redistribution of wealth, in the name of reparations due to climate change, is no solution. Its sort of like the sin tax, the least capable of paying it are the ones that end up paying for the bulk of it, yet are the ones the tax is allegedly trying to “help”.

    • John Carpenter

      By your definition, everything done by everyone is “redistribution”.

      Pay for a fish? Redistribute cash for fish.

      Teach a man to fish? Redistribute the means of production for growth of labor contributing to the fish market.

      In the classic argument, redistribution is undesirable because it reduces the democracy of the market and teaches indolence by rewarding sloth and punishing industriousness.

      Which is more like this?

      1.) Making people pay for the benefit they get at a cost to all in the shared common; or,

      2.) Letting free riders take so much as they want while depleting a limited resource they do not own unconditional rights to?

      If the BC carbon tax is redistribution, then so too in exactly the same way is a system without a carbon tax ‘redistribution’, except that in the BC case there’s a win-win of increasing the democracy of the market while compensating shareholders in the commons, and in the other case — your case — the redistribution is by theft from all unconsented to the few who benefit and the several who waste by free ridership, a net loss.

      Government shouldn’t be spenders at all, except in the narrowest necessities.

      That you accept them as such in the same category as other spenders is backwards, an inversion, an implicit assumption that runs contrary to minarchism.

      Governments should only govern, and that minimally.

      Which is smaller, A.) or B.)?

      A.) Government that taxes all by whatever means — mainly distortionate — to spend on subsidies for the fossil industry and to build and maintain a fossil-dependent infrastructure, through such inefficient means putting a drag on the economy as a whole by subverting the Free Market with huge bodies of regulation on top;

      B.) Government that increases the size of the market overall by recognizing the value in administerable, limited (ie scarce) resources and enforces by straightforward minimal regulation (using the already existing tax revenue system) the Free Market mechanism.

      This is sort of like sin tax?

      Except the cash goes to those who own the resource, per capita, in direct benefit, except that the bulk of this ‘tax’ goes to those who benefit most or waste most of the limited resource?

      Sure, it’s just like that. In the same way as the moon is just like cheese.

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      I’d like to say I understood what you were trying to say, but I didn’t, even after reading it several times. I guess I’m a bit dense.

      What exactly is the purpose of the BC tax? To what end will it make energy cheaper and by degree consumables? It adds cost to the production of energy, of which the payer of the tax passes on to the consumer, who in turn then gets repaid by the government from the tax ? This sounds circular.

      What I meant by wealth redistribution was, western developed government imposing tax on carbon, utilities paying tax by passing expense on to consumer (western consumer paying more for all consumables) government taking said tax and paying into a UN controlled fund, UN distributing fund to developing (typically corrupt and unstably run) nations, governments of developing nations pocketing said reparations, people of developing countries still destitute, absolutely no impact on carbon emissions made.

      Please respond in simple, easy to understand sentences with words used by common folk like me. :)

    • John Carpenter

      Simple words?

      Fair enough.

      BC says it put in its tax to send a ‘price signal’ on CO2 emission.

      This would be like the ‘price signal’ of apples or beef in the budget of the buyer.

      If you have a fixed budget and buy a shopping basket of goods, then when the price of one good — in this case CO2 emission (notice, this is the opposite of CO2 as a commodity because it is the price of emitting, not of getting) — goes up, people must choose whether they like that good more than everything else in their basket.

      At the same time, BC pays out to everyone in BC per capita (the means varying every two years, but at the moment some of it by direct payment to the poor, and some of it by tax reduction on everyone) all the revenues of CO2 emission. Not a penny of the CO2 tax goes to general government revuene.

      So, you have a basket, and you have more cash, but one item in the basket now costs more because you’re finally paying for it, not stealing it.

      Basket of many items. A bit more cash. One item costs more.

      You can take that cash and pay for that one item — CO2 emission — or you can spend it on whatever else you want.

      This is the democracy of the marketplace.

      Suppose apples were free, and suddenly had an apple tax. Same thing.

      Suppose beef was free, and suddenly had a beef tax. Same thing.

      There’s a limited resource being squandered, and now it is being priced.

      The market no longer is encouraged by neglect and sloth to use up something past reasonable limit.

      The market now acts as a market ought.

      Free choice to the buyers to determine how they want to buy.

      Now, there are pricing problems still.

      I am the first to admit my own pricing suggestion (push up the price until ‘aggregate elasticity’ is properly negative in all segments) is wonky.

      So is having the minister of finance fix the price of CO2 emission as a proxy for the seller (all of BC’s people).

      It’s true that an elected official is making a democratically-determined decision, and that’s swell that it isn’t some unelected committee of experts or communist collective plan, but it’s still government.

      I don’t agree with everything about the BC revenue neutral carbon tax, but it withstands scrutiny, and it proves such a thing can work in the real world in an American-style democracy.

      Adler is not completely blowing smoke.

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      Thanks for dumbing it down for me, I understand better.

      Why would we not tax then, other finite materials that people steal out of the ground like iron ore or bauxite?

      What other choice does the consumer have to choose from other than CO2 emission energy source to put into the basket? Hydroelectric? Does this then put the government in a position where they are favoring one form of energy generation over another, resulting in favoritism and an un-level playing field? How is this democratic? Government is forcing a change, and like I asked before, for what purpose?

      I drew the analogy to the “sin” tax b/c the theory was: cigarettes are unhealthy, lets tax the cigarettes to make them more expensive, making them more expensive will make those smokers quit, fewer smokers mean fewer smoking related deaths (good result)… HOWEVER… making less tax revenue at the same time… So.. increase sin tax more..repeat iteration until there is a diminishing return on the number of people who quit (we still have lots of smokers despite the now hyper-inflated price of cigarettes), government addicted to tax on people with smoking addiction problem (typically poor).

      Now apply to the BC carbon tax. Let’s get to the point where tax revenue decreases b/c CO2 emitting source has been driven out of market. Stockholders who enjoyed returns from tax no longer enjoy return. Stockholders unhappy and begin to promote usage of more CO2 emitting sources to maintain levels of dividends, more CO2 emissions as a result of promotion, stockholder addicted to the dividend revenue while not decreasing CO2 output.

      Could this be a problem with the BC tax scheme?

    • John Carpenter

      Well said, but a little off the mark.

      You ask, “Why would we not tax then, other finite materials that people steal out of the ground like iron ore or bauxite?”

      We do.

      You need mining rights to mine, which you paid for or earned.

      This sale of mining rights provides revenue to many governments.

      The few jurisdictions who charge no fee for mining rights gain benefits by the stimulation of the economy provided by mining, and then tax the product of the mines or the income of the mine owners. Some, all of the above.

      And the sky doesn’t fall.

      As a minarchist, I favor minimal tax and minimal regulation, but I do not propose no ownership or no obligations of ownership.

      We all own the air, including CO2′s level in that air.

      We’ve been giving that level away, and as a result it is clearly being squandered without control or thought.

      We as owners have a responsibility to maintain the value of our air interests, as they are shared and where we squander we steal from our neighbors.

      You ask, “Does this then put the government in a position where they are favoring one form of energy generation over another, resulting in favoritism and an un-level playing field? How is this democratic? Government is forcing a change, and like I asked before, for what purpose? “

      This is a very wise question, and I thank you for dumbing it down for me.

      Are there imbalances in the prices offered in the world due to government intervention?

      Absolutely.

      We must remain vigilant about this all ways.

      Right now, it is clear there is a limit on the amount of CO2 the biosphere will process back into biomass before the system backs up and we get CO2 build-up in the air and oceans, and risk side effects of that.

      This in and of itself tells us it is past time to act responsibly and unleash the power of the market to correct the problem.

      If you propose other imbalances due to government intervention we could correct by reducing government or growing the market, I’m all ears.

      I’ve already elsewhere proposed cutting out ethanol, oil and coal subsidies.

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      I don’t understand what you mean by “squandered away” the level of CO2 in the air. You use words in very peculiar ways. To me, squander would mean wasting something by using it up. If I get your meaning, you must be saying we are “squandering” an opportunity, because as we all know CO2 is not decreasing, it is increasing. Further, CO2 in the air, at this point in time, has no marketable benefit to exploit for profit as it is a harmless byproduct. So if we are squandering an opportunity to tax, there are an endless number of opportunities that are being squandered. The context in which you use the word “squander” really is confusing to understand. Like a crafty sales pitch ;)

      I agree with you 100% that subsidies to Oil and Gas, Ethanol, coal etc… should be eliminated. They should be able to stand on their own. If not, then other power generation sources will prevail, and the free market will do so without government intervention!

      You say

      “Right now, it is clear there is a limit on the amount of CO2 the biosphere will process back into biomass before the system backs up and we get CO2 build-up in the air and oceans, and risk side effects of that.

      This in and of itself tells us it is past time to act responsibly and unleash the power of the market to correct the problem.”

      I take this to be the answer to my question “to what purpose is the tax?” So this is where we will disagree. Excess CO2 in the atmosphere is first, harmless and is not likely to lead to scary end of world disasters. Second, there is no free market incentive to put a price on CO2, as it is has no intrinsic value mankind can harvest, aside from the benefits of agriculture, in which case the atmoshphere and its contents have always been “free”. Third, government imposition to force a change is not a “free market” idea. Remember the term “Laissez Faire” . Lastly, and to my original comment way at the top, once a tax (dividend in your world) has been established, no one will want it to go away whether it is the government or, again your term, the “stockholder”. Once the money flows, no-one will actively pursue to stop it and if it is based on emitting CO2, no one will want that to stop. This is basic human nature, the greedy will gravitate to this scheme and exploit it in ways not yet conceived.

      So in the end, there will be no reduction in CO2 emissions, but probably an increase, as we have now put a price on it and a profit to do so.

      No amount of word re-definition and salesmanship will change that.

    • John Carpenter

      We’re talking past each other again a bit, it seems, if you see my paragraph starting, “Right now, it is clear there is a limit on the amount of CO2 the biosphere will process back into biomass before the system backs up..” as not also an answer to your question starting, “I don’t understand what you mean by ‘squandered away’ the level of CO2 in the air.”

      We know there must be an upper limit of CO2 in the air before the harm of one more unit outweighs the benefit.

      We do not know where that limit lies, if we near it at this rate in decades or months, are passing it now, or past it long ago.

      We further are unlikely to ever know where it is, and only know that with higher CO2, the Risk is higher.

      You speak of the CO2 ceiling we know must be there as if speaking of CO2 itself. The two are opposite in sign and direction. The more CO2, the closer to the ceiling, the less CO2 budget remains.

      Put crudely, but accurately, your septic system only has so much capacity. You don’t confuse waste with capacity to process waste, do you?

      In a septic system where every additional unit of waste produced is a roulette wheel spin away from an unknowable system failure of some sort, the issue is Risk.

      Certainly, then, proof of harm is not the measure, but consent to endure Risk.

      “Excess CO2 in the atmosphere is first, harmless and is not likely to lead to scary end of world disasters.”

      I certainly don’t say end of the world, and don’t mean to scare you.

      Perhaps if you eased up on the caffeine, your nerves might handle the shocks of less-catastrophic but still costly propositions, like higher food prices due to interrupted growing seasons? ;)

      You say harmless.

      How do you know this?

      What is your clear and unassailable evidence of harmlessness you assert that all have assented to?

      I know I don’t assent to it, as I haven’t been presented anything like convincing evidence.

      To the contrary, evidence of the true believers in CO2 seems biased, unduly and wildly optimistic, and based on no studies whatsoever or studies that contradict the harmlessness asserted. The name Idsos comes up a lot in this context. To speak of salesmanship.

      Is your only measure of ‘harm’ the condition of ‘not end of the world’?

      “Second, there is no free market incentive to put a price on CO2, as it is has no intrinsic value mankind can harvest, aside from the benefits of agriculture, in which case the atmoshphere and its contents have always been ‘free’. “

      Again, flipping CO2 ceiling and CO2 floor.

      CO2 in air has all sorts of intrinsic value — like that without it above some lowish level we all die one way or another, and without it above some level the GHG hypothesis says our atmosphere would be some 33C colder — that we get plentifully from the CO2 range of the past 15-20 million years, roughly 230+/-50 ppmv.

      The problem is, the septic system is now 22% more full than it has been for that 15-20 million year period, and while we don’t know what if any changes will happen as this continues to increase due to our CO2 emissions, we have to treat this as an increasingly risky situation, if not risk for ourselves then risk for other shareholders of the common resource.

      “Third, government imposition to force a change is not a ‘free market’ idea. Remember the term ‘Laissez Faire’ .”

      I get that the Libertarian Party has succeeded in getting ‘Free Market’ redefined to mean the same as laissez faire in the past couple of decades of the victory of appetite over intellectual foundation. However, before it came to mean the same as unregulated, it meant that the conditions for individual actors to exercise freewill in their decisions.

      Returning to that fundamental, to that first principle of the democracy of the fair market, even a minarchist must acknowledge, and regret, the need for government intervention.

      This is no different from the government passing any other law against theft, except that the far more pleasing and powerful force of the market itself acts as the cop.

      Lastly, and to my original comment way at the top, once a tax (dividend in your world) has been established, no one will want it to go away whether it is the government or, again your term, the ‘stockholder’. “

      This is an interesting Slippery Slope argument to see in a page that reminded us that Ronald Reagan dropped the top tax rate from 70% (50%?) to 28%, that he eventually dropped the average overall tax rate by one percent from 20.2% to 19.2% (or by about 5% proportionally), that BC, the place with the revenue neutral carbon ‘tax’ has dropped its income tax three times as much as Reagan..

      Tax cuts are possible. They’re natural. They’re hard but doable.

      Throwing up our hands, abdicating our responsibilities, because we’re afraid of hard work and hard choices, how is that the way we were raised?

    • John Carpenter

      Bart,

      You always do better job explaining the second time around. I understand your CO2 ceiling now as well as your usage of “squander”. I see the logic in your argument. Before we get to that, lets clear up some misconceptions. You say…

      “I certainly don’t say end of the world, and don’t mean to scare you.”

      I didn’t mean to imply you would use such tactics, however you must acknowledge that many trying to sell this type of scheme would. And you don’t scare me :-)

      “Perhaps if you eased up on the caffeine, your nerves might handle the shocks of less-catastrophic but still costly propositions, like higher food prices due to interrupted growing seasons?”

      I don’t drink any form of caffeinated beverage, don’t like them much. Personally, I think its because my mother was never caught w/o a coffee cup in her hand and I continue to rebel in my own little way. I don’t smoke either.

      as to your whether CO2 is harmless…

      “What is your clear and unassailable evidence of harmlessness you assert that all have assented to?

      I know I don’t assent to it, as I haven’t been presented anything like convincing evidence…….. only know that with higher CO2, the Risk is higher.”

      Obviously not all have assented to that position. Likewise, I have yet to be presented with anything like convincing evidence that it is harmful…. or risky.

      As there are those who are true believers in CO2 (Idso), there are those who are true believers in CAGW (Hansen). The “talking past each other” thread went over this ground already, as you know. I submit neither side can offer evidence to support their respective causes, and in some ways they are both very similar.

      “Returning to that fundamental, to that first principle of the democracy of the fair market, even a minarchist must acknowledge, and regret, the need for government intervention.”

      I can’t argue with that, other than in this case intervention is unnecessary.

      I am not a minarchist or a libertarian, but one would know that unnecessary intrusions of government upon the free market, as in this case, are less desirable than allowing it. The term Laissez-faire has a long history of use in which the meaning has been generally used to denote keeping government intrusions out of free markets, which may include regulations (more present day as you note) but not exclusive to that.

      Now to the logic of your argument. You claim that continued dumping of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher risk environment (we will reach the ceiling), so taxing CO2 producing energy (and passing the tax revenue on to the shareholders) will help mitigate the use of carbon fuels by making them more expensive and shifting choice of usage to carbonless/carbon neutral forms of energy. Got it… taxing will reduce usage…. give tax revenue back to people as lower taxes or dividend… great!…. CO2 production declines and rate into environment slows… we’re almost to shangri-la… except developing countries not participating in this scheme pump CO2 into the environment unabated while tax revenues dwindle in scheme participating developed country making stockholders unhappy and wondering why they can’t get more dividend thus taxes increase again (or greedy begin to find ways to allow for more CO2 emissions to bolster gains)…. impasse in getting developing countries to participate in energy tax scheme b/c the energy is cheap and don’t see why they should change for developed countries that were built by using the same w/o tax…. remaining job producing industries in developed countries move to developing countries to escape high energy costs due to carbon tax creating more unemployment in developed country… developed country government must care for more unemployed by giving them health care, welfare, etc… but continue to have less tax income… developed country increase taxes… again, all the while CO2 concentrations continue to increase from developing countries…. man, this ain’t what we advertised anymore….

      Bart, I have really enjoyed our exchange and have learned a lot. We will not agree on this topic, we will continue to talk past each other. But by all means neither of us should stop discussing this and other topics in the future. If we keep open minds, some common ground will be found and we can build on that. Specifically within our exchange, stop subsidizing coal, O & G, Ethanol… it’s a start.

    • John Carpenter

      Also enjoying and learning from our exchange, though more optimistic that we’ll eventually get somewhere that isn’t only mere talking past and inevitable disagreement.

      However

      “except developing countries not participating in this scheme pump CO2 into the environment unabated..”

      Could be.

      Could be not.

      Certainly China has it in its power to overwhelm the world with CO2, but will do this for certain if the USA continues to dawdle and fenestrate like Nathan Lane in The Bird Cage.

      Possibly, China will see advantages in a system developed, implemented and proven in the West, as it generally does, and adapt its own version.

      We can’t know.

      The negotiating power of states is undermined by hypocrisy, and America has that in spades on this issue.

      “..while tax revenues dwindle in scheme participating developed country..”

      You assume dwindle.

      Why dwindle?

      As Dr. McKitrick points out, in 2.5 years, BC’s fuel usage has barely budged (it would have been unreasonable to expect much change in so short a period, given the thin-edge-of-the-wedge pricing scheme and long run-up times for some industrial changes in fuel-intensive applications.

      Perhaps the price is so inelastic (or even expresses some short run positive elasticity) as to require a very substantial carbon tax level to have first order effects on use.

      (Even at lower levels there are second order effects like encouraging alternate technologies to develop due to the possibility of a large carbon tax incentive, and more subtly the increasing taste for those goods currently overpriced that would be preferrable to a market with more money and higher relative fossil prices.)

      If the carbon tax succeeds in driving down usage and opening the market to alternatives, then why not continue to increase its level to the point of diminishing returns?

      Or, more to the point, as a rising tide floats all boats, the dwindling revenues of a working carbon tax will tend to make themselves obsolete in the stronger resulting economy.

      “..making stockholders unhappy and wondering why they can’t get more dividend thus taxes increase again..”

      Why can’t they get more dividend?

      On every good there is a point of diminishing returns on price.

      That is the natural level the seller seeks.

      Past that level, the returns diminish.

      When the sellers ask themselves this, and get greedy..

      “.. (or greedy begin to find ways to allow for more CO2 emissions to bolster gains)..”

      How do you propose people will do this? If all CO2 emissions are captured, then someone will have to pay. If someone’s paying and that is being diluted on a per capita basis, then there will have to be some sort of rampaging idiocy afoot for such a fossil Ponzi to take root and not be stomped out.

      .. impasse in getting developing countries to participate in energy tax scheme b/c the energy is cheap and don’t see why they should change for developed countries that were built by using the same w/o tax….

      How you gonna keep them down on the farm, once they’ve seen Paris?

      remaining job producing industries in developed countries move to developing countries to escape high energy costs due to carbon tax

      See, flight of jobs is a complex enough issue as it is, and would deserve a library of textbooks.

      Will some jobs and capital move around?

      Yes.

      As the carbon tax is less distortionate, it is a postulate of Economics that the best response it to make the choice that is best for your economy as a whole and thrive with the biggest share and choicest industries, and let those too wed to poorer methods pick up your crumbs while you experience growth in those better areas.

      ..creating more unemployment in developed country… developed country government must care for more unemployed by giving them health care, welfare, etc… but continue to have less tax income… developed country increase taxes… again, all the while CO2 concentrations continue to increase from developing countries…. man, this ain’t what we advertised anymore….”

      This part is all Slippery Slope without intellectual foundation or rational support. It’s the basis for the same sort of tariffs and quotas that led to the Great Depression and its worsening.

      It’s part of why the recent recession got as bad as it did and tailed on for as long as it did.

      The resulting Protectionism, Nationalism, Splendid Isolationism are a blight that steal from those who believe in these Isms, and from those they make their victims.

  26. On topic of the UN (h/t Bishop Hill) , it has unsurprisingly not hesitated to make cheap political capital out of the Japan tsunami human disaster, by turning it into an opportunity to promote its self-benefitting CAGW dogma.

    From http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.staffan-nilsson-speeches.15361
    “The earthquake and tsunami will clearly have a severe impact on the economic and social activities of the region. Some islands affected by climate change have been hit. Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity – not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming? Mother Nature has again given us a sign that that is what we need to do. “

  27. I’ll probably need this explained with real world examples. How do you impose reparations for damages that have not yet occured? Explain how this is not slipping into some sort of ‘Minority Report’ scenario were future crimes are prosecuted now. I have to admit I’ve been too lazy to check through all the links to see if the list of certain damages from human induced climate change are outlined by Adler.

    I don’t know if the “all men are potential rapists” view is just an urban myth about feminism but the presently discussed idea about climate change seems to have some of the same philosophical, legal and moral connotations.

    I’m probably an old-fashioned sort of a guy but I like to see some evidence of a crime before somebody gets prosecuted for it.

    • Atomic Hairdryer

      HR,

      I’ll probably need this explained with real world examples. How do you impose reparations for damages that have not yet occured?

      The usual way, by legislation. There is existing legislation covering potential losses due to negligence. Those are generally based on the potential for causing harm or losses.

      The reverse should also be true. Australia has implemented property rights laws that may cause harm to land owners. People are not allowed to clear firebreaks around their homes. After the Victoria fires, a Royal Commission recommended changing these policies to allow land owners to protect themselves, their families and their property. As I understand it, those recommedations haven’t been adopted and land owners can still be fined for attempting to reduce fuel loads.

      A similar situation appears to exist in the UK. I’d been contemplating buying some land to be self-sustainable. Here, Councils seem to have adopted or co-opted all trees. Trees can’t be felled or trimmed without official permission so the idea of planting and harvesting for firewood becomes far more costly and cumbersome than it needs to be. Land owners are forced to care for trees on their land, but Councils offer no compensation if ‘their’ trees cause any loss or harm.

      Are those just, or even sensible policies, or do they simply remove common-law property rights from land owners?

  28. Here is a libertarian response. That Adler’s position is libertarian seems even less likely than that AGW is true. He is calling for (1) taxation to force behavior changes on a grand scale and (2) massive wealth transfers (presumably paid from these taxes) to least developed countries, to pay for damages that are impossible to determine (and probably do not exist). This reeks of government power, including global government power. That a libertarian might be forced into this bizarre position is testimony to the absurdity of the whole notion of climate control, which must entail people control on an entirely new scale.

  29. It’s interesting that this thread should raise the question of enforcement of pollution standards under common law because it brings to mind a fascinating booklet written by Roger Bate titled Saving Our Streams (pub by IEA – Research Monograph 53).
    Rather than describe in my own words here’s the blurb from the back cover:
    In Saving Our Streams, Roger Bate explains the history of an
    unusual and remarkably effective ‘environmental’ organisation
    - the Anglers’ Conservation Association (ACA). Founded in
    1948, the ACA is a voluntary association of angling clubs and
    individual anglers which brings civil suits against polluters
    who harm fishing.
    Dr Bate’s original and instructive history explores how the
    ACA, using the common law, has operated to indemnify its
    members against the cost of litigation, bringing thousands of
    actions and being awarded hundreds of injunctions and
    millions of pounds in damages for plaintiffs. Most cases end
    in out-of-court settlement which, though efficient, brings little
    public recognition to the ACA.
    The ACA has not sought the limelight, unlike other
    environmental groups, but, argues Dr Bate, it is the most
    efficient and determined pollution prevention body in Britain.
    Its success demonstrates the value of private initiatives
    against polluters.

  30. Willis Eschenbach | March 13, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
    “Judith, again we are discussing solutions to a problem which has not been shown to exist”…

    I take your point Willis but there is the real problem that needs addressing! I have read through both the original article, Judith’s reply and the comments and no one say a thing about it!

    The problem is scientists need to get back to science and stay the **** out of politics. I know we do not live in a perfect world but the egos involved in this minor science are mind boggling! I am sick to the back teeth, as is an ever increasing public, of being lectured by hypocritical, money grabbing charlatans. We all know who they are, we all know they have behaved disgracefully and their usefulness is way past its sell by date!

  31. Nullius in Verba

    There’s too much being assumed here about the range of options available. I don’t have the time or energy to attempt a complete/detailed analysis, but I’ll add some thoughts.

    1. As others have noted, you can’t even start until you have proved a causal connection between harm and fossil fuels, by some means all parties agree on. (i.e. it’s no use *you* deciding harm has been proved and imposing that judgement on me when I don’t accept your arguments or jurisdiction. Otherwise any corrupt legislature could assert harm has been done against anyone on spurious grounds.)

    Hence, the following points are all hypothetical on this being established.

    2. The issue requiring compensation is not CO2, or global temperature change, but specific and significant *harm*. Likewise, it is not the ownership of the air that is at issue, or ownership of the world’s temperature, for that matter, but responsibility for any *harm* attributable to others actions. If everybody can adapt at zero additional cost, no harm has been done, and nothing is owed. Until the harm is actually done, nothing is owed. Although it may be sensible to start saving up against the event in advance, it’s still your money until the harm actually happens.

    3. It is also relevant how we deal with the harm done by natural weather events. In the case of the Pakistan floods or the Russian wildfires, we offered aid, but not because we felt we owed it. If we are going to help anyway, does it make a difference if we are partially responsible or not? Do we have to pay extra?

    4. People are assuming that the optimum response is to prevent climate change, when it might be to help people adapt to it, or to compensate for the impacts.

    5. For all the shared *benefits* of climate change, such as CO2 fertilisation, will the farmers be taxed to pay to the oil companies? Will those areas that benefit from warmer weather have to pay for the privilege? If fossil fuel owns the consequences, it surely owns *all* the consequences.

    6. Fossil fuels provide great benefits as well as causing harm. There has to be a mechanism by which people can say “I accept the harm, for the sake of the benefit.” For example, suppose we consider the case for stopping China and India industrialising. That would constitute a harm done to others. How do we include that?

    7. Assuming we wish to pay compensation, we have to make sure we have the means to afford it. If we de-industrialise, we might no longer have the spare resources. Who pays, if nobody has any money?

    8. We need to consider what our response does to our resilience to other threats. Climate change is not the only problem we face. (e.g. disease pandemics.) If the de-industrialisation reduces our capability to respond to other forms of harm, then that itself constitutes harm done, which must be balanced. Must the advocates for de-industrialisation be taxed to compensate the victims of non-climate disasters made worse by our response to climate change?

    9. From a libertarian point of view, the totalitarian regulation of every aspect of our private lives is itself a risk and a harm, which proposed regulatory solutions increase. Once they have introduced the controls with climate change as justification, the barriers and costs to extending that into other areas are lowered. The return of totalitarianism is a constant threat facing humanity, too. (That’s not paranoia, just a brief study of human history and present-day world politics.) How do we balance this harm against others?

    • When the discussion of external costs comes around, the focus is always on harm to others done by countries that have consumed the most fossil fuels. What is ignored almost completely is the huge benefit that has been spread around the world by the developed countries. This isn’t only direct monetary and other aid, it is also the fact that many poor nations have gotten a boost from the technology that was transferred to them for little investment on their part. The undeveloped world has benefited greatly from the developed world.
      This is roundly ignored and if the benefits were accounted for as well as the costs, the poor countries might actually owe the developed ones money!

  32. But none of this changes the fact that the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes [GLOBAL WARMING], when taken as a whole, is quite strong.

    No.

    It is extremely weak.

    EVIDENCE:
    Little warming for 13 years at the rate of 0.01 deg C per decade
    http://bit.ly/dSA3Ly

    Slight cooling for 10 years at the rate of -0.04 deg C per decade
    http://bit.ly/dP6EEZ

    Where is IPCC’s warming of 0.2 deg C per decade.

    When are AGW advocates going to heed the data?

    • 10 years isn’t long enough. Neither is 13 when you deliberately start from a super El Nino.

      Your time period has declining solar cycle and declining ENSO trend. (MEI index and solar cycle trend negative in that time period). Both of which had a cooling influence. Both of those trends are coming to an end.

    • You can’t find the 11 year solar cycle in the temperature record so why pretend?
      =========

    • I might not be able to but those smart scientists have
      http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2007/2007GL030207.shtml

      If you remove the ENSO signal, the volcanic eruptions and the longterm warming trend what is left is a clear ~11 year solar cycle. The downturn from solar cycle 23 has perhaps caused as much as 0.15C cooling. ENSO has also trended negative since 2002. So all in all the cooling effect since say 2002 looks to be enough to mask out the warming. That HadCRUT doesn’t show 0.2C cooling since 2002 is probably tantamount to ongoing global warming.

    • I see your point. But is the effect noted from TSI or from the sunspots and how? Note, too, the oncoming Livingston and Penn effect. Also, the oceanic oscillations are in cooling phases or entering them, so I expect further global cooling. To what to attribute any warming or cooling is not yet determinable, with our present state of knowledge. It seems, however, that CO2 is not showing itself to be as strong as recently feared.
      ================

    • Being neither a Libertarian nor an economist nor a lawyer, I don’t feel qualified to expound on most of arguments raised here, but only to make some comments at the periphery.

      At the beginning of the thread, I emphasized the importance of cumulative evidence in evaluating climate change data, with links to an earlier blog post here and discussion on Pekka’s blog regarding quantitation.

      I also suggested that estimating the role of individual nations in contributing to warming and its consequences is beset by the aggregate effect that operates in a different and more detrimental manner than the net risk/benefit calculation for individual nations, as described by the TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS.

      Finally, a small point here about temperature trends, which must be evaluated over multiple decades for an accurate estimate of anthropogenic contributions vs short term natural variations. The link Girma cited to a WoodForTrees linear regression analysis does not show a 10-year slight decline but has been chosen to describe only a slightly shorter period. For an accurate 10-year calculation, one needs 11 data points, starting at the end of 2000 and continuing to the end of 2010 (as for example, one would need two data points for a one-year estimate). The WoodForTrees interactive application doesn’t allow you to do that, but when it is done with the actual HadCrut data used to draw the HadCrut temperature curves, it turns out that the slope was actually very slightly positive. None of this means very much, if anything, because ten years is an inadequate interval in general, and even less useful if cherry picked, and because linear regression for 2001-2010 is about as useful as linear regression for describing the shape of a camel’s back. However, if one does wish for a visual depiction of the various sources that start at the end of 2000 and continue to 2010, this WoodForTrees page is informative. It equally warns against the kind of cherry picking that is typified here.

  33. lukewarmist claim that the climate forecasts are not catastrophic, hence mitigation is not needed; in fact mitigation would be doing more harm than good as breaks on the economy would prolong poverty.

    • They can’t demonstrate forecasts are not catastrophic because…something about the science not being settled or something. Also they are ignoring ocean acidification. Failing to mitigate and reduce CO2 emissions is a massive danger given we can’t easily just reverse the changes once they happen.

    • One easy step for Earth, just not quite possible for Man.
      ========

    • John Carpenter

      It’s called adapting…. if necessary. OA, another scary non-problem.

    • Adaptation is a sure thing, but at what cost. The surviving global population can claim to have “adapted” to the new situation. The ones that did not survive will be just part of that adaptation process. They might have preferred mitigation.

      I don’t have much faith that the human race could easily just stop climate disasters once they happen. All the technology in the world and it took months to fix a relatively small spill of oil. If a climate disaster was to occur I doubt very much the world would fare much better.

    • You’re not even listening to your own side of the debate. Mitigation only works if one stops increasing the behavior/problem/whatever is to be mitigated. And those on the believer side have already claimed that we’re beyond the point of no return wrt future consequences.
      So wrt CO2 – even if we stopped ALL CO2 production, we supposedly would still suffer climate disasters in the future.

      So what’s your solution, your “mitigation” procedure? Do you propose that we close down ALL coal plants, ban ALL fossil fuel use (thereby stopping ALL transportation, heating, air conditioning) ? When? Next week maybe?

      If you listen to the believers, even that won’t save us – or the planet.

      OK – so what happens if we implement that “mitigation” plan? Do you live in a city – or even suburbia? How will you get your food? Do you even know where it comes from? Or how it gets to your local market? Will you miss your computer, TV, elecric lights, cooked food? What, you think the Nuclear plants in our country will keep the grid up? Not unless you live in France or Japan, it won’t. Certainly not in the US.

      Your talk about “mitigation” is just so much hot air. You don’t know HOW to mitigate CO2 and the present technology won’t allow you to do it in any case. And by the time the technology improves to allow real “mitigation” (if such ever actually becomes necessary), according to your own folks, it’ll be too late to prevent “climate disaster”.

      In this case, “mitigation ” is an oxymoron and adapttion is the only practical course of action.

    • John Carpenter

      Cthulhu,

      You make it sound like the planet will dive into a cataclysmic catastrophe in a weeks time. We know the climate can change rapidly in some areas of the planet (as you go towards the poles) from historical and geological records. But rapid is still on the scale of centuries. Its seems that in your worst scary dreams, you imagine biblical events occurring to throngs of people. There is time to adapt…if necessary.

  34. Judith,

    Government interference plays a huge role in shaping science.
    (Making science to fit an agenda).
    Many promises and policy changes that have greatly eroded science role as impartial. Subsidies on inferior products only benefits the rich class at the expense of the poor class all in the name of science going green.

    Meanwhile, worthwhile breakthrough in science are shoved aside and any good technology has major obstacles put in place by government policies for funding.
    If I had not gone through all the BS, I would still be uninformed.
    The problem I currently have is that I am too far advanced and it is extremely difficult to explain the process due to the complexity. Even though there is a great deal of actual mechanical recreations to back this up and tons of mathematics to generate on distances and past equations of speeds.

  35. This article reminds me again that it is time and prudent to have a Climate Change Summit that allows each side to present and defend all the evidence available.

    The two camps for too long have been holding exclusive meetings that serve primarily to entrench their positions rather than confirm them.

    My biggest issue, apart form not having a detailed understanding of the atmosphere at work myself, is that Skeptics are spending far too much energy trying to get data, methods, etc from those that have at best given ‘almost’ conclusions, and at worst ‘almost’ conclusions based upon ‘almost’ conclusions.

    It is time for the poker game to end and everyone show their cards. No more bluffing, no more ‘wild’ cards, no more games. The stakes are high for both sides and only the Truth allows a win win for Mankind.

    Both sides seem very confident of their hands, it is time to show them in a Public forum.

    • It has already been scheduled. November 6, 2012. Election day in the U.S. The issue will be decided then. All interested parties may submit their arguments to the voters between now and that date.

      May the best conservative politicians win.

    • The End is FAR

      Wish it were that simple. This debate needs to be put to rest and electing what are more American Idol than not, conservative, liberal, up, down, left, right, whatever their moniker I don’t believe will end it.

      Relativity, Expanding Universe, and Piltdown Man were all resolved by understanding and proving beyond a reasonable doubt the Cause of an Effect, not proving that an effect occurred. Effects are easy to prove, causes are less so.

      As stated before, if both sides are relatively confident in their positions, then an open and public forum for a showdown is necessary and proper. Perhaps I am wrong, but I don’t believe the Advocates are confident.

      If I held their positions and felt confident, I would be racing to the debate floor and court room, instead of just the Press and Advocate Journals. If I truly understood that my posterity would suffer at the hands, cars, power plants, etc of these Fossil Fuel worshiping monsters, then I wouldn’t, I couldn’t risk waiting for an election that looks to unseat more of those that Advocate for the left if not the President himself.

      Popularity is fickle, beyond a reasonable doubt has staying power.

    • A showdown? That will put this debate to rest? By the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt? In the context of the climate debate?

      One it’s a terrible idea. Two, no such summit will ever happen. Three there is no body, personal or political, who could act as a jury and “put to rest” the issue, let alone impose the “verdict” in such a Quixotic enterprise on the entire world.

      Why are so many so eager to do away with elections?

    • I would like to see the issue reframed for such a conference. Governments and the IPCC have it the wrong way round.

      It’s a bit like having a conference where public release of drug is being decided. Any such conference should be based on the premise that the drug is unsafe and demand evidence that it is safe before public release is permitted. In the climate case though the drug is assumed safe until scientists can prove specific events will happen.

    • The End is FAR

      This is nonsensical. CO2 is a byproduct, not a product that is voluntarily consumed. It is like saying that Sweat needs to be proven safe before you can go cut the grass or have sex.

      The AGW Advocates are claiming damage, just as other negatives, we Skeptics cannot be held to prove a negative. Do we make criminals prove they did not commit a crime? No. But an alibi doesn’t hurt. I think CO2 has a few good ones.

    • Nature doesn’t care whether our emissions are a byproduct or a product. Your example of sweat doesn’t work because we do have sufficient evidence that it’s not a danger. For future CO2 levels, we don’t.

      “we Skeptics cannot be held to prove a negative”

      You don’t have to prove it. But you should have to provide sufficient evidence that it’s safe. Kind of like what drug companies have to do.

    • Tentacle-Face;
      Given the immense volume of historic evidence that Warm Eras were boom times for humanity and virtually all other species, and that CO2 increase has greatly improved agricultural yields, the “null” is that CO2 and Warming, together or separately, are Good Things.
      Up to you to disprove Beneficial Anthropogenic Global Warming (BAGW). You haven’t a prayer, but go for it if you insist.

    • You’ve cited evidence that one or two of rising CO2 effects are beneficial. That’s not evidence that rising CO2 is safe. Drug companies can’t simply say “well this drug will cure X” and then the regulator goes “oh ok it must be safe then, sell it”

      With regard to temperature your argument is basically pointing at a different drug (perhaps the Sun, or orbital variations) and saying that was safe. Again that doesn’t provide sufficient evidence that the CO2 drug is safe. It’s a different drug.

      We don’t have an example in our species history of CO2 going above 300ppm. In fact we don’t have an example in geological history of CO2 doubling in the space of 200 years, at least for the past 10 million years. Maybe an event like that happened 55 million years ago, but that case is not a great example of safe consequences.

      Basically we don’t have historical precedent for where we are heading so we can’t say the future CO2 levels are safe based on “testing” it out. The null hypothesis certainly shouldn’t be that it’s safe. The null hypothesis should be that it’s a danger given what we know about the molecule in terms of both it’s impact on ocean acidification and the greenhouse effect.

      When the science isn’t settled it really means we have insufficient data to rule out disaster. Until we can rule out disaster we should put effort into ending this grand geoengineering experiment.

  36. Judith,

    What are the odds???

    2 major earthquakes and 3 volcanoes going off at the same time?

  37. Yet even if anthropogenic climate change is decidedly less than catastrophic – indeed, even if it is net beneficial to the globe as a whole – human-induced c limate change is likely to contribute to environmental changes that violate traditional conceptions of property rights.

    This sentence reminds me of Francis Hutcheson’s “action is best, which produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number”. While this can be used to abrogate individual property rights, it is important to keep in mind while defending them.

    This leads me the supposed violation of property rights and ending the poker game as I mentioned above. Time to go to trial and a Criminal trial, not a civil one. Civil can come afterwards. Evidence beyond a reasonable doubt is necessary.

    If driving my car is violating your property, by damaging it via CO2, then report my crime to the police. I am driving my car willfully with full knowledge that there are many who believe it is damaging their property. This can and should be considered reckless, with regard to producing CO2.

    Due Process is guaranteed, it is time to go to trial as I am quite tired of being accused for alleged misdeeds. Gather your evidence, put out a warrant, and have me arrested.

    Those of you who simply feel bad for committing the same crime should be anxious about the outcome of the trial.

    • It’s not so much that we damage other’s property through CO2 emissions, but that we elevate the risk of damage. The causative chain from elevated CO2 to actual damages is not pinned down with any certainty.

    • Nor to benefits.
      ======

    • The End is FAR

      Due Process is still my right. If the Gov’t is going to deprive me of my property (wages) via taxes, fees, regulations, etc at the urging a of particular group of plaintiffs for some risk of damage, then I am allowed to provide evidence to the contrary to put a jury in reasonable doubt.

      This opens another argument that elevating risk is equal to or close to actual damage or will effectively lead to damage. The plaintiffs keep saying they have proof, but I want my day in court. I shall no longer be deprived of Life, Liberty, or Property without Due Process.

      I’m quite pleased Dr. Curry brought up this subject. A couple years ago I posed a mock trial of CO2. CO2 was accused of warming the planet and I suggested that ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ was necessary to convict. It has been some time, but an Advocate expressed this was more a Civil case and that reasonable doubt was not necessary. The Advocate refused to argue a Criminal case.

      However, this time I am saying that I am willfully and recklessly ignoring my neighbors claims that I am infringing upon their property via CO2 production. I have already been found guilty in Civil Court since I’m paying extra for my production of CO2 (Billions in grants, subsidies, and the like), without Due Process I might add.

      Whether actual damage or increased risk of damage I say I’m not guilty of either and want my day in court to be proved otherwise.

      I cannot say that I’m stating this without some risk. My understanding of atmospheric physics is still in development, but what I am learning is that there are far fewer instances where Convective cooling is less efficient than Radiative cooling.

      Convection is effectively a heat pump with Gravity as the power for the pump. While circulation may be interrupted or reduced, this pump on average is always more effective at moving heat from the ground to the Tropopause than is Radiation. What I’m studying right now is when it is not in particular cases. Not many. I feel I have a strong case.

  38. Property Rights and Climate Change 3/12/11

    Climate Etc.’s quotation from Jonathan Adler (about 7 paragraphs down), included last in bold, needs to be read in its context:

    Almost every time I post something on climate change policy, the comment thread quickly devolves into a debate over [H1] the existence of anthropogenic global warming at all. (See, for instance, this post on “conservative” approaches to climate change policy.) I have largely refused to engage in these discussions because I find them quite unproductive. The same arguments are repeated ad nauseum, and no one is convinced (if anyone even listens to what the other side is saying). I have also seen nothing in these exchanges that would alter my current assessment of the scientific evidence.

    Given my strong libertarian leanings, it would certainly be ideologically convenient if the evidence for a human contribution to climate change were less strong. Alas, I believe the preponderance of evidence strongly supports the claim that anthropogenic emissions are having an effect on the global climate, and that effect will increase as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. While I reject most apocalyptic scenarios as unfounded or unduly speculative, I am convinced that the human contribution to climate change will cause or exacerbate significant problems in at least some parts of the world. Link deleted, bold added Jonathan Adler, 2/2/08, .

    So J. Adler twice rejects science for advocacy, which is not too surprising for an attorney, trained in the art of advocacy and as unlikely as many scientists ever to have been trained in the principles of science and to have been imbued with a science literacy. He joins IPCC, a political body practicing advocacy science, and its over 3,500 expert plus several hundred writers in being convinced AGW exists. Including Adler and some posters on Climate Etc., the count is unchanged: still over 3,500. Another vote in the poll is legally cumulative.

    Adler is rare among the 3,500 plus admitting that he refused to engage in discussion of H0, that AGW does not exist. Of course he would. H0 is equivalent to having his case thrown out of court. In this case it is the court of science.

    Nor is science is about a preponderance of evidence. It’s about models that fit all the facts in their domain (the evidence), that postulate cause-and-effect (the method, opportunity, and motive), and that make non-trivial cause-and-effect predictions for validation by future observations (the judge and jury). Adler does not disguise that his argument is on process, not substance.

    AGW once a conjecture, sold unethically by IPCC to the public as a theory (skipping over hypothesis), has now failed, and no longer ranks even as a scientific model. The coup de grace to H1 and the dominant evidence supporting H0 is the same: the discovery that the Sun accounts for the 140-year temperature record. Previously that temperature record appeared to some certainly and convincingly correlated with industrial era CO2 emissions. It was a breakdown in science literacy, an example deserving to become a classic of correlation substituting for cause-and-effect.

    Adler, above, wrote in 2008, and apparently from a sheltered alcove. He needed to get out more. The others who were and are listening (and we won’t count the numbers) have reached the new, post-2010 GOP, which is cutting off funding for IPCC, pulling EPA’s teeth, and launching investigations. Ignorance can mean receptive, not stupid. Advocacy means not receptive, and closed-minded. Advocacy scientists call the new response anti-science. Actually, it could be the threshold of a major victory for science.

    Meanwhile, CO2 will survive on its merits as a benign, beneficial gas – an incongruous greening agent for the Delicate Blue Planet romantics and opportunists.

    • “the discovery that the Sun accounts for the 140-year temperature record. Previously that temperature record appeared to some certainly and convincingly correlated with industrial era CO2 emissions.”

      It’s never been about correlation. It’s about physical mechanisms – causation. Your claim that the Sun accounts for the 140 year temperature record is not supported by modern science. Sorry.

    • It may well be, though, that natural mechanisms do explain the temperature record. We do not know the strength of CO2 as a greenhouse gas in the heat engine that is this planet, but it seems to be weaker than recently promoted.
      ===========

    • Cthulhu 3/13/11 12:14 pm,

      Apparently you’re not up to speed on modern science.

      Or perhaps you deny that the paper SGW, rocketscientistsjournal.com, is modern or science? Read it and submit your evidence, or save your regrets.

      The 140 year thermometer record is reproduced by filtering the best estimate for solar radiation with a handful of constants to an accuracy comparable to IPCC’s smoothed estimate for that same temperature record. It’s 0.11ºC, 1 σ, with 4 constants, or 0.13ºC with 3 constants.

    • Ha modern science, you point at your blog.

      Modern science, as published in the peer reviewed literature at best shows recent warming cannot be explained with solar activity. At worse it shows solar and temperature correlation works up until about 1970, providing evidence that the recent warming is due to something new…hmmm

    • >>The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability – not the validity – of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed [ jiggered, not repaired], often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong. Id.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review, citing from http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/172_04_210200/horton/horton.html .

    • The post above came out a bit garbled. The citation is from Richard Horton, Editor, The Lancet. The rest of my post included:

      Cthulhu 3/13/11 4:46 PM

      You seem oblivious to the fact that a Solar Global Warming (SGW) model is not acceptable for publication in a peer-reviewed climate journal.

      Every few weeks we come across a Believer or a tyro who needs this reminder: [above]

      Such peer-review journals practice advocacy science, not science. They are a shelter for unscrupulous practices and for Believers.

      So, did the SGW model arouse any scientific skepticism?

    • At best though the correlation works up to 1985 according to Lockwood and Frohlich. The correlation to CO2 however doesn’t work anywhere – unless you smooth it to death of course.

      The sun mechanism requires a strong amplifier plus an explanation for the climate shift from 1985 and 1998. The CO2 mechanism requires a less strong amplifier plus an explanation for the 60′s dip and the 12 plateau post-1998. The latter is already taken to be natural variation which should have raised the question of how much natural variation was in the pre 1998 temperature rise – and what exactly was the mechanism for this natural variation (as Trenberth pointed out in the climategate emails).

      In short, we have missing mechanisms/amplifiers for both alternatives. One though is in-fashion, well-funded, dogma and the other is out-of-fashion, largely unfunded dogma.

    • The End is FAR

      Modern science or observations?

      The Sun is the only source of significant energy to warm the Earth’s surface. The Earth as seen in the cyclical glaciation process that is under ice for ~90,000 years and temperate for ~25,000 years shows a bias towards efficient cooling, not warming. This makes sense as it takes ever increasing amounts of energy to continue a warming increase.

  39. When you compare the atmospheres of Venus and Earth at the same pressure (different altitudes) they show the same temperature within a few percent (allowing for the different distances to the sun). Vernus has very high levels of CO2, earth very low levels of CO2. This is direct evidence that CO2 in the atmosphere does not lead to a greenhouse effect. It is thickness of the atmosphere that warms the planet, not the percentage of CO2.
    http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html
    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1003/1003.1508v2.pdf

    • As I mentioned on the other thread, taking into account the albedo of Venus , which is 0.7, even being closer to the Sun, it’s radiative equilibrium temperature would be only 243 K, compared to Earth’s 255 K. Even the upper atmosphere of Venus is hot enough to be proof that its CO2 atmosphere is keeping things much warmer than 243 K.

  40. I lean fairly libertarian.

    I’m against a carbon tax because it won’t have it’s intended effect.

    Unlike Europe, the base price of carbon in the US is not uniform.
    Imposing a modest carbon tax in Wyoming won’t change behavior, it will just be a tax.

    One doesn’t need a carbon tax to discourage the construction of coal fired generating capacity on the US Eastern Seaboard. The cost of shipping coal from Wyoming already represents a $60/ton ‘tax’.

    Regardless of whether or not global warming is a global problem, a global solution’ won’t be a solution.

    Local energy economics will drive the solutions.

    If the only people left in the world burning coal in 50 years are the residents of Wyoming, Gaia will get over it.

  41. All people here overlook a simple fact: no effective mitigation policy exists, that can acheive a substantial reduction in Co2 emissions. We do not posses the technology to reduce emissions. It can’t be done (for now).
    A carbon tax may be desirable or not, but it won’t acheive reduction. Same for cap&trade.
    We cannot reduce emissions because we have no technology to produce energy without emissions (not counting nuclear which has other environmental problems, not emissions of co2).

    Wind and solar can’t produce the enrgy in the quantities we need. Not even close.

    So the only “feasible” mitigation policy that exists is depriving mankind of energy. This is beeing put in practice already: every attempt to build a new power plant, new oil refinery or new drilling for oil and gas – is blocked. No new power plants are beeing built in the West.

    The result: energy starvation. This is much, much worse than any of the aleged damages that may be caused by AGW (like for example – sea level rise).
    So, it’s not a matter of libertarians vs. liberals. It’s a matter of people who understand engineering and quantiative reality, and those who live in a world of illusions where green enrgy is a viable alternative.

    • “No new power plants are beeing built in the West”

      Not true

      http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn11_016/pn11_016.aspx

      When you make a statement that can easily be shown to be false, I tend to disregard the rest of your piece. That may be wrong of me but it is very easily corrected by you – check your facts before you make statements that are easily shown to be wrong and your credibility will rise.

    • It is wrong of you, but that is not unusual. If you are being that picky then give an exampleof one that has been built not being promised to be built.

    • Jacob,
      Great point.
      What too many people forget as well is that we are very good at adaptation to changing climate / enviro conditions.
      Adaptation is proven to work.
      Mitigation/stabilization has no chance of working.

  42. I propose another point for the “agreement” idea – agreement between alarmists and deniers: here it is: (modelled on the hurricane agreement)

    We agree that stopping technological and economic progress is not a desired goal; energy deprivation and blackouts are unacceptable, imposing poverty is not a solution.

  43. People that live in developed, first world countries can have a poor understanding of how unfriendly the natural environment is to human beings. We go outside our doors and take a walk in the park and believe we are experiencing nature. We forget that we are walking in an artificial environment.

    The romantic views of nature presented in Hollywood films are just that, romantic views. For most of human history nature was the force that killed 1/2 of all children before age 5, that made winter a time of hunger and malnutrition, that routinely killed pregnant women and anyone much past age 45, and on occasion wiped out large portions of the population with plagues or famines.

    It is only very recently in history that we have started to put this behind us, though there are still billion of people that live day to day at the mercy of nature. Events in Japan should serve as a reminder that even in the first world, nature is not kind, nature is not fair.

    When we set out to save the environment, we need to be very clear what we are trying to save. If we save the environment by removing our ability to defend ourselves against the forces of nature, nature will not be kind, nature will not be fair.

  44. As to building power plants in the West: true, a few gas-poweret plants are being built.
    It’s coal and nuclear plants that have been totally blocked.
    Anyway, what is being built is far less than what is needed. Blackouts are going to be a normal and frequent experience in the West, as old plants burn out.
    If you want to get a pre-taste of it go to Africa or India. You might also notice how the environment (clean air, clean water) fares in a poor country.

    • We are doing okay in the USA. You are correct that coal has been stopped, and the new generation of nuclear power is presently tied up in a very long regulatory pipeline. However, peak demand, which is what causes blackouts, rises roughly 20,000 MW a year on average. We have a building boom every decade or so and about 10 years ago we added 200,000 MW of gas fired capacity, which is a lot, about half combined cycle (intermediate load) and half gas turbine peakers. The economic downturn has temporarily halted demand growth, but it will return and we will then build a bunch more. These plants are cheap ($600/kw or so) and quick to build so we are basically okay. Fracking may even keep the price of natgas down.

      Coal would have been better but AGW has been prevailing. Coal is dead for now, but we have our juice.

    • ‘coal and nuclear plants being blocked’.

      Germany has 8 GW of coal fired generating capacity under construction.
      Last I checked the US has about the same.

  45. Poor people consumne less energy and probably emit less carbon.
    Advocates of mitigation should be clear and honest with themselves and the rest of us: is poverty acceptable as a mitigation policy? Is it preferable to the dire consequences of warming? What do you think on this ?

    • Jacob you might be correct in your perception of the desire to keep third world people poor, but IMO for perhaps more invidious reasons. If we can agree to a global per capita quota then we will effectively create a global cap & trade. The first world has money but little (or no) carbon head-room. The third world has the latter due to its current poverty. The transactions, whatever form they take (national agreement, free market) will all be an engine of wealth transfer. This will create a whole class of middlemen who would depend on the perpetuation of this engine, thus resulting in the maintenance of the artificially created head-room for the third world. Opium anyone?

    • Any meaningful quota would require a drastic reduction in world trade to start, unless we are going to equip all freighters and aircraft with nuclear engines, or convert back to sail power.

      Forget about importing fruits and vegetables from the tropics during winter. Forget about annual vacations in exotic lands. Sunday drive with the family out into the countryside, all gone. No unnecessary travel.

      Today’s single family homes, all gone. One single room flat per family — if you are lucky. Personal cars a thing of the past. Take the bus if you need to go shopping or maybe a horse drawn buggy.

  46. There is a strong correlation between standard of living and CO2 production. A fuel tax on CO2 isn’t going to stop someone making $200k+ a year from owning a SUV. The politicians and celebrities that are proposing these changes do so knowing that they will not be required to sacrifice.

    It is always the poor that must pay the price in the end. They is no way any CO2 tax plan that gives money back to the poor will work, because they would simply buy more fuel at higher prices using the taxes. To work, the plan must take money out of the hands of the poor and give it to the rich, because the rich will continue to buy the same amount of fuel regardless of how much money they have. By removing money from the poor they will not be able to buy as much fuel, which will reduce CO2.

    Of course, this fact will be ignored when the tax is introduced. The poor will be encouraged to participate. They will be told it is revenue neutral, that they will get money back. It will be later, when it becomes apparent that CO2 production is not decreasing, that the taxes will have to be increased ever higher in an attempt to reduce CO2. At that point the money transfer from the poor to the rich will begin to reduce CO2 production.

  47. Above, Jacob makes an interesting point – that regardless of proposed mechanisms for achieving substantial reductions in carbon emissions (carbon taxes, cap and trade, etc.), the reductions can’t be accomplished without subjecting societies to severe energy deprivation.

    I believe he overstates the case, but I have to agree that we currently lack the wherewithal to achieve the most optimistic mitigation goals. What I would suggest, however, is that we can move significantly in that direction based on current and emerging technology. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, the combination of mitigation with adaptation strategies should be synergistic, in that mitigation, by slowing the rise in CO2 and temperature, even if not halting it, would better enable adaptation measures to be matched to anticipated scenarios. The one consequence of CO2 emissions where adaptation is not easily accomplished involves ocean acidification, which will probably become an increasingly formidable component of future climate change as we begin to address the temperature issue.

    If we are to make a start, where do we focus? The approaches most within our reach entail conservation and increased energy efficient. It’s important to realize that these two concepts are not identical. Conservation means that we turn our thermostats down in winter and up in summer while remaining with comfortable limits, or that we carpool rather than driving solo when feasible. Increased energy efficiency is a more comprehensive strategy. It varies from improved home insulation and frequent checks of automobile tire pressure required for optimal gas mileage to the construction of “zero energy buildings” that annually generate as much energy as they consume from the grid, and to grid restructuring itself to maximize the efficiency of energy utilization. The potential energy savings in the construction sector alone are not trivial.

    The second part of the solution clearly involves alternative energy, with nuclear power as a component. This also involves expansion of wind power, as is already occurring in many localities, with solar, geothermal, and other alternatives less ready for scale-up. Where I live, it is already possible to purchase at least 10 percent of electricity from alternative sources (mainly wind with some nuclear), at a very minor additional cost, and capacity is expanding. It also means transfer of some tax incentives from fossil fuel sources to alternative energy R&D.

    Although carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power plants is of uncertain large scale feasibility, this option should also be further explored.

    The rationale for all these undertakings is that carbon mitigation is not an all-or-none problem. Partial solutions that ramp up as we improve the technology will ameliorate adverse effects even if they cannot eliminate them. At the currently estimated canonical range for climate sensitivity (2 to 4.5 C per CO2 doubling at 90 to 95 percent confidence levels), the beginnings I suggest above are likely to constitute a “no regrets” approach with discernible benefit over the next half century.

    Important issues I haven’t touched on include the means to ensure that the interim costs of any policy are borne by those who can afford them. The worst consequences of continued climate change (warming and ocean acidification) will inevitably be borne by the poorest societies. The distribution of costs is much more within our control. The overall cost/benefit analysis is something that I, not being an expert economist, prefer to leave to the experts.

    • FM, all the interventionist solutions you and other “convinced” folks suggest, are informed by your view that there is a CO2 problem and that the market mechanisms are not correcting them fast enough. Unless the “unconvinced” get there everything else talking past each other.

    • DEEBEE 3/13/11 3:58 pm

      As you point out, the CO2 problem is a phantom. However, the free market doesn’t address such problems, concocted by academics, community organizers, or politicians, or any of the myriad other imaginable things that are not profitable. These are the purview of governments.

      Because the free market raises everyone’s standard of living, the government forces shift the public focus to equality of outcome, even when the outcome drags everyone down (except the apparatchiks).

      List all the things that are not profitable to do, that are wasteful, pointless, counterproductive, harmful, or increase entropy, and you’ve gone a long way toward defining government for the left. Start instead with an empty slate, add police and fire, and you have a government for libertarians. Now let that government fight some wars and oversee a broadband commercial infrastructure, and you’ve got a definition for conservatives.

    • All of that is already happening now actually. The “start” was quite a while ago.

  48. Before we go off down another bunny trail in search of the one true solution shouldn’t we wait and see if carbon is 1) really a problem, 2) a problem with a real world solution?

    Before we do anything at all we need to find a proper metric to track that tells us the energy balance trend. Air temperature is not it – by that metric there is no global warming as of March, 2011, for example. Temperature turns out to be a poor choice to know and understand how much energy has arrived in the Earth’s environment, and how much of that has been stored out of sight to be released later. This is like monitoring the health of your checking account balance based on the number of unused checks you have available.

    After all this time and all this debate we really don’t know if the current energy balance trend indicates warming, cooling, or a continuation of natural cycles. It is a damn good thing the world revealed itself in the 1970s before we rushed off to tax our unborn to fund crazy regulations and programs to reverse global cooling.

    It is at least well established that the climate is a chaotic system. In any chaotic system any influence can have some impact in the response. Because the climate is chaotic and because we don’t understand it well we don’t know have a freaking clue what the long term impact will be of our meddling. All around us the biosphere is adapting to the changing conditions as it always has. If we in our floundering with our POG activities err, and the probability for erring is enormous, the biosphere may lack the ability to respond in a helpful way. Our interference in natural genetic adaption has produced crops that are the most fragile in the history of agriculture. We have the fewest varieties, the fewest natural varieties, and the most specialized crops every to reach for the sun. Fiddling with the climate just may prove to be the ultimate act of self destruction. Not that we would be missed.

    I vote for a moratorium on all regulation having to do with climate change reversal activities until the facts are gathered, peer reviewed, unencumbered for FOI queries, and which do not allow any contribution from the current members of the “Team”. And hopefully by the time we know what is going on we will know whether our actions should be toward adapting to cooling or warming or neither, and we that we will have a sound exit strategy.

    Imagine a time well into the future when an alien space fleet arrives at Sol and discovers a blue planet populated only by legumes and cockroaches. Hints of higher life forms abound. Circling in orbit around the planet they find a vast array of robotic mirrors that have responded badly to an unanticipated mode in the planetary climate.

    Category: Life supporting

    Life Forms: Carbon based, principally fruit bearing flora, exoskeletal crawlers

    History: Evidence of earlier life forms capable of abstract thought, fabrication, primitive space exploration and exploitation.

    Cause of decline: Classic case of manipulating chaotic weather. Utopia complex evident, supported by orbiting climate management system. As with every such system discovered, failure was assured and occurred, resulting in depleted atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification.

    Remediation: Erection of solar and wind powered CO2 generation plants, introduction of lichens and mosses, single cell aquatic life forms, and a pair of monkeys. The robotic array has been de-orbited.

    Notes: I see in our records this is our second visit to this planet. We’re adjusting the remediation and will not leave the monkeys this time.

  49. I would support significant increases in carbon taxes offset by matching cuts in income tax and VAT (in the UK). This would drive the search for non-carbon forms of energy without slamming the economy into the wall. I also think that consumers would cut carbon use more than you’d hope.

    I think you’d put me down as a luke-warmer, but suspicious about the motives of the likes of climate activists. I’m on the left myself (card carrying member of the Labour Party) but get awfully nervous when I see leftists in general signing up to the Chicken Little (the sky’s falling down) routine and the right saying there’s nothing there.

    After all, arguments on string theory or astrophysics don’t generally break down on party lines, so why is climate science so different?

    • Tolkein – What would the carbon tax revenue be used for? As I see it, there are three goals a carbon tax might accomplish:

      1) discourage fossil fuel consumption in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

      2) subsidize alternative energy R&D.

      3) pay for the societal costs arising from carbon emissions.

      Your proposal to replace one tax with another would presumably accomplish some of (1) but not the other two. Is that adequate?

    • FM, WOW no end to your castle building, especially with OPM

    • DEEBEE 3/13/11 4:02 pm

      What the Fred Mooltens don’t realize is that tax rates are to control and punish public behavior. Tax revenues go into a pot to underwrite whatever government wants to do, but with emphasis on increasing its power base in the short term. The notion that tax revenues might be earmarked for special purposes ranks right up there with CO2 being harmful.

    • I’m not proposing raising taxes in total. I think we pay quite enough tax in the UK, thank you very much.

      The point is that if we want to cut carbon emissions, and I think it’s a good idea, then encouraging a reduction by (at least equal) cuts in income and consumption taxes is a good way of proceeding. Perhaps I drive at 60mph on the motorway instead of 70, and pay less income tax or VAT. Or I walk to the shops instead of driving a mile or so.

      I get that the price of goods in the shops goes up because energy costs in general, not just petrol/diesel, go up, but I have more money in my pocket to pay for them. And my preferences will cut back on carbon intensive products so I may actually have more money to spend.

      I’m not interested in subsidising alternatives. If they can’t make a go even with increased carbon taxes they are a bad idea. Governments are pretty awful at picking winners as well.

      Who can measure societal costs except people I don’t trust?

      1 is good enough for me.

    • @Fred Moolten

      “What would the carbon tax revenue be used for?”

      Get serious.

      What is any tax revenue used for?

      For any spending projects that happen to need money at that time.

      What were the US Social Security tax revenues from employee withholding “used for”?

      To provide a future pension for those who paid them in?

      Or for any spending projects that happened to come along on the way?

      You need a refresher on C. Northcote Parkinson who wrote

      Expenditure rises to meet income

      But this was in innocent days long ago, before governments realized that expenditures could rise to exceed income by simply racking up huge deficits year after year.

      But you can be 100% sure that if there ever were a carbon tax, the revenue would be used to finance anything that needed money at the time, because that’s the way governments operate, Fred.

      Max

  50. “Because the climate is chaotic and because we don’t understand it well we don’t know have a freaking clue what the long term impact will be of our meddling.”

    Mainstream science argues that climate is not chaotic. The problem with chaotic systems is that they are unpredictable. A very small change can have a large effect and a very large change can have a small effect.

    The problem with CO2 reduction strategies is that they require a huge early investment and there is a risk they will deliver no benefit. To be effective, we need to start cutting back conventional energy production in China, India, the US and Europe in a big way today. However, we may discover 10 or twenty years from now that CO2 actually plays a small part in climate change. So, having made this big change, having invested all this money, we end up getting no benefit.

    Mitigation strategies however do no suffer from this problem. If we find in 10 or 20 years that CO2 is not causing climate change, then will not have spent money on the wrong strategy. The money we would have spent on CO2 reduction is still available for mitigation.

    If however we find in 10 or 20 years that CO2 is the problem, we can spend the money on mitigation. The world in 10 or 20 years will be considerable richer if we continue to expand our use of low cost fossil fuel in India and China, making mitigation cheaper in relative terms than now.

    This can be seen by a simple decision tree. Mitigation has a good outcome regardless of the science. CO2 reduction is good or bad, depending on how correct the science is. Thus, if one believes in the precautionary principle, you should select mitigation, as it has no risk of a bad outcome.

    strategy 1A – reduce CO2 – outcome 1A – CO2 is a problem – good investment
    strategy 1B – reduce CO2 – outcome 1B – CO2 is not a problem – bad investment

    strategy 2A – mitigate CO2 – outcome 2A – CO2 is a problem – good investment
    strategy 2B – mitigate CO2 – outcome 2B – CO2 is not a problem – no investment required

  51. “Well, Adler’s writings put to rest the libertarians as stereotypically “deniers””.

    Not really. He is not typical of the overwhelmingly more common climate change denial and inaction that is promoted on your blog. He openly and (and correctly) observes that “Most libertarians and conservatives argue that the best response to the risk of climate change is to do little or nothing at all.”

    He is informed about regulatory law, so makes a smart post on the topic. It is easy to see why you like his views and wish to attach yourself to more intelligent libertarians, instead of what you have been doing.

    He argues that international bodies e.g. the U.N. will harm individual liberty because they involve extra-national powers that he believes would threaten sovereignty and would undermine a free market economy. He expresses concern about the challenges of cross- cultural communication and multi-stakeholder negotiation and feels it is too complex.

    Not surprisingly, he believes that the U.S. should only primarily ‘compensate’ other countries by doing its best to reduce emissions – not by providing financial aid or trying to redress specific harms caused by climate change. Why? Because it is too difficult to show whose emissions caused what specific harm to another person. By always fixing the parameters of his arguments to the defense of the priority of individual property rights, he ensures that his argument is self-serving.

    By laying bare the basis on which libertarians can form policy, he has sketched out a preliminary guide for you.

    It amounts to essentially doing as little as possible to take meaningful responsibility internationally. My, what a surprise.

    • Martha, the main motivation for this post can be understood in the context of my previous post on Talking Past Each Other, where in one corner we had the enviro “believers” and in the other corner we had the libertarian “deniers.” In terms of finding some common ground between these seemingly irreconciliable groups, Adler proposes something that is in between these two extremes, that is worth discussing.

    • Martha,
      You are consistently derogatory not only to skeptics but to our host.
      You seem to be stuck on assigning motive towards skeptics and Dr. Curry.
      You, like most of us, are just an anonymous voice on the internet.
      But you offer little but condescension and denigration of those with whom you disagree.
      My best is you get invited to more parties the first time than the second time.

    • Martha –

      Do you have your own blog …. I’d like to follow it, if so …. ?

      cg

  52. also:

    strategy 1B – leaves NO money for investment to solve climate change if some problem other than CO2 needs to be solved

    strategy 2B – leaves money for investment to solve climate change if some problem other than CO2 needs to be solved

    Thus, strategy 1 is the high risk approach, because if CO2 is not the problem and we discover in 10 or 20 years that something else is that needs a lot of investment, there is a good chance that having already spent the money on CO2 reduction, it will not be available to spend a second time on the true problem – such as mitigating against natural climate variability.

  53. to summarize:

    Assume that climate change gets worse. It is caused either by CO2 or by natural variability. There are two strategies available. 1) reduce CO2 or 2) mitigate. What is the least risk approach?

    strategy 1A – reduce CO2 – outcome 1A – CO2 is the problem – good investment – climate change is minimized.
    strategy 1B – reduce CO2 – outcome 1B – CO2 is not the problem – bad investment – no money left for mitigation – climate change disaster results.

    strategy 2A – mitigate CO2 – outcome 2A – CO2 is the problem – good investment – mitigate effects of CO2.
    strategy 2B – mitigate CO2 – outcome 2B – CO2 is not the problem – good investment – mitigate effects of natural variability

    As we can see, only mitigation is assured to lead to a good result. If we invest in CO2 reduction and the underlying problem is natural variability, then we no longer have the money spent on CO2 reduction to provide mitigation and we will have a climate disaster.

    • Ferd, perhaps you mean adaptation where you are saying mitigation. In the climate debate mitigation usually means reducing CO2 emissions.

    • thanks, you are correct. Option 2 should say “mitigate warming” or “adapt to warming”.

    • Uh, ferd, I think you may have failed to fully control for just a couple of variables there. Maybe your equations would take a different turn if your logic wasn’t determined by your desired conclusions.

      For example, the long-term cost/benefit of CO2 reduction might differ if we invested in improving solar energy technologies as opposed to, say, wiping out millions of automobile drivers by dropping nuclear bombs.

    • “wiping out millions of automobile drivers by dropping nuclear bombs”

      Who is suggesting this as a solution? The question is do we spend the money to reduce CO2, trusting that the warming is because of Co2. Or do we spend the money to deal with warming if it occurs, because we can’t be sure, and we don’t want to waste trillions of dollars in the meanwhile that could be used for lots of projects that we know will deliver value.

      What if the warming is natural, and we have already spent the money to reduce CO2. Where will we then get the money to deal with natural warming. What about all the projects that were put on hold to reduce Co2 in a mistaken quest to change the climate?

      We are talking about a lot of money here. It isn’t like we can afford to do everything that is possible. If we invest a lot of money in solar research, how do we reduce CO2 levels today? I bought 60W US made Arco solar panels in 1985 in Hawaii for $200 each. There has not been very much improvement in panel efficiency since then, and the price has not gone down a lot either. Inspite of 25 years of research, they are still way more more expensive than fossil fuel for generating electricity. Few can afford such a large increase in fuel bills with the economy as it is. We are told that we need to start reducing CO2 today, so investment in solar technology doesn’t really solve anything. It is more a long term promise.

    • If you believe nuclear powered electricial generation = nuclear bombs then you are extremely poorly informed….or simply stupid.

    • “As we can see, only mitigation is assured to lead to a good result. If we invest in CO2 reduction and the underlying problem is natural variability, then we no longer have the money spent on CO2 reduction to provide mitigation and we will have a climate disaster”.
      Fred, how about we just do nothing. See what happens in 50 years. Where is that scenario? It has worked pretty good for the last couple of thousand. Why not give not spending anything a shot. The objection can’t be because folks will perish. Check out what just happened in Japan. I don’t think CO2 had anything to do with that. Again, just my 2 cents.

  54. I love this bit

    “…the cumulative evidence for a human contribution to present and future climate changes, when taken as a whole, is quite strong.”

    Sorry, dude, science doesn’t work like that – otherwise you end up agreeing with:

    “…the cumulative evidence for UFOs, when taken as a whole, is quite strong.”

  55. There appears to be an unshakeable faith in the role of CO2 as evil in this discussion. That is not certain because we don’t understand what changing levels of CO2 lead to. One faction says it leads to cooling because of increased cloud cover, one faction says we’re the next Venus. I say, based on billions of years of stability we need to focus only on variability that is to be expected.

  56. One of the AGWist arguments for doing something about climate change is that it is going to badly impact the people of third-world nations, and concludes that the answer is to do things which are going to badly impact the freedoms and economies of first-world nations. I maintain that the reasons why those nations are third-rate in the first place is because of cultural restrictions that are anti-freedom and anti-developmental and political systems that are repressive and exploitative, both of which prevent the people from making economic progress. We are told that in order to not have any negative impact on these people, we must give up our freedoms, give up our economic progress, and revert to a lifestyle of past centuries.

    But the most important way to deal with climate change is to be able to adapt to changing conditions, to create infrastructure and energy use to protect people from whatever conditions may exist in the environment. That requires freedom and an economic system that allows people to solve problems.

    While I think that climate change does occur, and that there has been natural global warming over the past couple of centuries, I certainly don’t think that it has been proven to be chiefly or even partly human-caused. I have yet to see the kind of rigorous scientific analysis by the AGWists that Feynman described as the hallmark of scientific integrity.

    The problems faced by people in poorer nations are caused by their inability to overcome all that nature throws at them, but the bigger problems are those caused by how their own ideas limit them and how their rulers and their governmental systems repress them, in other words due to the lack of freedom that they have. Those problems are infinitely greater than any that may be blamed on relatively free nations and their economic activities. To say that other nations must give up their freedoms in order to somehow prevent harm to those whose problems are caused by lack of freedom is an appalling and perverse idea.

    • @John Kannarr

      For a good explanation of all that, I can recommend an older book (1998), The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, by David S. Landes.

      Max

  57. One of the defining aspects of AGW is the slowness with which it proceeds. Its massive inertia. Libertarian thought has nothing in it to handle something as massive and impersonal as the climate. It deals in the minutiae of politics. And worse: abstractions about politics. Watching libertarians trying to get a handle on climate change is like watching a matador trying to stop a bull with a wash of soap bubbles.

    • Libertarian thought is about the principles of decision making in a democracy, especially preserving freedom, which is hardly minutiae. But perhaps you are one of those folks who believe that a free democracy cannot respond to climate change, so it needs to be discarded. Put another way, what school of thought do you like, if not libertarian?

    • Jeffrey Davis

      … what school of thought do you like, if not libertarian?

      Gardening. As in the Chinese proverb:

      To be happy for a night, get drunk.
      To be happy your whole life, tend a garden.

    • You are wasting our time.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      It is ever thus, innit? That’s how I find Libertarians.

  58. With the exception of James Hansen, who seems to really believe in tipping points and 20 deg temp rise, the majority of believers in AGW recite claims of harm that suffice to take action which are so minor that it raises a question of how they perceive risk. If hurricanes were to double in frequency, only a few % of the world’s population would be affected. If drought increased, farmer’s insurance rates might go up. These do not constitute the end of the world, but are treated as if they were. As people become wealthier and safer, they become concerned about smaller and smaller risks. If you work in a gold mine in Brazil, you aren’t too worried about the little things that many westerners worry about. Organic food is a luxury of the comfortable. I think that the brain has a certain amount of real estate set aside for worry and fear for the future, and if there aren’t real risks, we manufacture imaginary ones. Then, for the comfortable urban educated person, it is easy to imagine that we can simply DECIDE to stop using fossil fuels, at no cost (and no risk) to alleviate the fear they feel for a few storms or “climate disruption”. Really, how much does climate interfere with your daily life? 10 days in winter where it is hard to get to work? A tree branch that falls on your house once in a while? Is it really a problem?

    • Jeffrey Davis

      I don’t know how you managed to condense the majority of AGW thought. Magic?

      I think Hansen over-states the risk of Venusian runaway but catastrophe absolutely doesn’t depend upon 20C of rise.

    • Jeffrey D: Well, what is the majority of AGW thought? Seriously. What is the consensus of the consensus?

    • Jeffrey Davis

      The increase in the burning of fossil fuels is leading to the warming of the planet.

    • That’s not too useful. I’d say that the majority of posters even here at Climate Etc agree with that. I know I do. But if that’s all there is to it, what is all the disagreement about?

      How is that we go from that bland statement rather quickly to cap-and-trade, Al Gore, the 10:10 video, all the machinations of the Hocky Stick and Climategate, and demands that we reduce per-capita CO2 levels for the entire world to peasant levels?

      No, there is more to it than that. Try again.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      That’s not too useful. I’d say that the majority of posters even here at Climate Etc agree with that. I know I do. But if that’s all there is to it, what is all the disagreement about?

      Beats me.

      But since homo sapiens are involved, I suspect money has something to do with it.

    • Craig Loehle

      Point me to a single catastrophe in the IPCC report 2007. Vague predictions of more droughts and floods are hardly catastrophe.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      This is a revelation? The IPCC reports are the production of the consensus of thousands of scientists. It’s the base. The Lowest Common Denominator. Lots of people, obviously, don’t believe that AGW will lead to catastrophe. There are fewer dour imaginings about the possible effects of AGW than mine, and even I don’t think catastrophe inevitable.

      Our hostess here, as conservative and cautious a scientist as you’ll find, puts the range of climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 as from 0-10C. 10C. What the hell? That’s a real possibility to a conservative scientist. So, what does the reasonable person do in the light of this? To me, I think this yammering about “property rights” and Libertarianism is grimly comic and the product (charitably) of people with more Aspbergers than sense. To me, I think we take out some insurance and start to work towards mitigation.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      The IPCC is three things: the lowest common denominator of climate science, still evolving, and out of date.

      The two biggest deficiencies are clouds and ice. And ice is melting faster than the IPCC imagined.

      I think Hansen 2007 “Climate Change and Trace Gases” is still apt:

      “An ice sheet response time of centuries seems probable, and we cannot rule out large changes on decadal time-scales once wide-scale surface melt is underway.” [my emphasis]

      Since then, Hansen’s thinking has obviously become more apocalyptic but Hansen 2007 is still a good piece of work. Arctic ice has melted in the past and under the right conditions will do so again. It’s easy to imagine that a planet that turbulent would not be hospitable to 7-8 billion people. Particularly 7-8 billion people on the lee side of Peak Oil.

    • Great comment, if you are without food and water, in your world, you only have one problem. After you acquire food and water, you have many, many problems.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      This seems to belong over in the “talking past each other” thread. “Oh, AGW? That’s a limousine liberal concern.”

      Nice rhetoric and politics. Just doesn’t reflect the facts.

    • “Just doesn’t reflect the facts”.

      What are a few of the basic facts? That we know to be true.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Who are “we”? Reasonable people?

    • Does it matter where the “truth” comes from?

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Hey, Pontius, hows the boy?

    • I think you were making an attempt at amusement (trying to be funny). It’s a good deflection when there’s a common vocabulary. HaHaHa

    • “I think that the brain has a certain amount of real estate set aside for worry and fear for the future, and if there aren’t real risks, we manufacture imaginary ones. ”

      Bingo!

    • Don’t forget guilt. We wee bits of clay have a positively divine ability to assume guilt; perhaps it’s herd immunity.
      ========

  59. The best things in life are free, but sooner or later the government will find a way to tax them.

  60. We keep stumbling over Adler’s reference to a “revenue neutral carbon tax”, with nobody really understanding how this is supposed to work.

    I have an idea:

    Every head of household calculates an estimate of his/her household’s total annual carbon footprint, expressed in annual tons of carbon emitted .

    Standard “carbon footprint” tax calculation forms are passed out by the various governments to their taxpayers worldwide, in order to make this simple (these can be picked up free at any retail store).

    Let’s do a quickie calculation for the USA, for example. There are an estimated 114 million households in the USA.

    Total carbon emissions are around 6 GtCO2/year (this equals 1,600 million tons C equivalent).

    So (ignoring any imbalances from imports/exports) each household has an average carbon footprint of 1,600 / 114 = 14 tons of carbon.

    Remember, this is the total carbon consumed to produce and transport all the energy, fuel products and services, which the household consumes over an entire year.

    The “short form” tax calculation allows the taxpayer to enter this average number, if he wishes to avoid making the detailed calculation.

    Some households (such as that of Al Gore, for example) will lie considerably above the average, while others will be below, but the “short form” option is available for everyone.

    Each form has a slot for “Unit Carbon Tax”. This is already included on the form at $120 per ton of carbon.

    So each household can calculate the carbon tax it owes. On average, this will be $1,680 per household per year.

    So this number goes into the “tax owed” box on the form.

    Just below this box there is a “tax credit” box.

    Since this is a “revenue neutral tax”, the “tax credit” equals the “tax owed” (by definition). That is the amount to be entered in this box (with a minus sign in front).

    The final box is the “net tax to be paid” box. It is (by definition) zero, as this is a “revenue neutral tax”.

    The completed form should then be mailed to the various government agencies responsible in the various countries in a self-addressed stamped envelope, provided by the government agency. In the USA the forms should be sent to the Department of Energy in Washington, DC, to the attention of Energy Secretary, Steven Chu.

    The advantage of this form is that it alerts householders to what their carbon tax could be if the government decided to make it not “revenue neutral”, so they can apply the needed pressure on their Congressional representatives, to make sure this does not ever happen.

    Sound like a plan?

    Max

    • Max, et al, your plan sounds neat, though the cost of this in-effect lobbying effort would be horrendous. A more serious question: when they say “revenue neutral” is that for each individual payer (as they seem to imply) or is it neutral for the government… meaning the government would dole out equal proceeds of the carbon tax but in an allocation they choose? With the former why would anyone be incented to reduce his carbon footprint? If he doesn’t he pays a hefty carbon tax but credits his income tax (say) dollar for dollar. Or if he reduces his carbon footprint he pays little carbon tax but the same amount of total tax.

      I know this seems like a simpleton question, but I can’t get it.

  61. Willis Eschenbach

    Brandon Shollenberger | March 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I have to say I’m rather surprised by this question. I don’t mean to be rude, but it does sound rather “dense.”

    As indicated by our host, people discuss solutions to problems they don’t know exist all the time for things like “contingency planning, risk management.” But this isn’t anything fancy, complicated or special. People do it in their day-to-day lives.

    Suppose you had noticed some spots in your throat. They don’t hurt or cause you any trouble, but to be safe, you visit the doctor. He tells you it may be strep, and you should start taking antibiotics to be safe. You’ve now discussed a solution to a problem you don’t know exists. You have some indication it might exist, and that’s enough for you to want to discuss possible solutions.

    Brandon, you’ve put your finger exactly on the problem. Unlike the person with the throat issues, we don’t have any evidence that a problem exists. In your analogy, a patient goes to a doctor. Why? Because she read that a scientist claimed there was a throat problem. She has no symptoms, there is no evidence of any throat problem. Instead of evidence, a computer neck and head simulation model (untested on humans) says that there is a problem with her throat.

    Now, any doctor prescribing antibiotics in that situation should lose their license. And that’s the situation here. We don’t have any evidence that the climate has changed. There’s no little spots in the throat of the climate, anywhere. How do I know? Because the AGW supporters have looked for 25 years, and at the end of that, they want to change the null hypothesis … doesn’t spell “We Found Little Spots!” to me …

    Judith says it’s useful for “risk management” and “contingency planning”. But that’s true of anything you could imagine. It may be useful to do risk management and contingency planning to prepare for the possibility of a sudden outbreak of intelligence among the American voters … but I don’t see anyone wasting money on doing that. People prefer to spend money analyzing risks and planning for contingencies for things that we have at least some evidence will be a problem. You know, evidence, not vague fears, not thought, not computer models, and not claims by serial failed doomcasters like James Hansen. Evidence. Spots in the throat.

    And evidence for any coming climate catastrophe is very, very scarce. There’s lots of computer models. Lots of scientists yelling and waving their arms and saying “Think of the Grandchildren”. But very little evidence, either that the climate is changing, or that CO2 is the “master thermostat” of the climate as claimed, or that a degree or so of warming over the next century would be a problem. The earth has been warming, in fits and starts, for 300 years … where’s the catastrophes and the “climate refugees” from that?

    w.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Willis Eschenbach, I’d appreciate it if you’d follow up on the exchange above. It seems more sensible to seek resolution of current disputes than simply start another exchange. However, I have to say your comment here is overly strident as well. For example:

      How do I know? Because the AGW supporters have looked for 25 years, and at the end of that, they want to change the null hypothesis …

      How do take one person suggesting something to be a general position for AGW supporters? I mean, unless I missed something, that’s all we’re talking about. I don’t recall the IPCC adopting Trenberth’s idea, and I don’t remember any letters from the NAS supporting it. So exactly how do you come up with this ridiculous position? Given all the trouble I’ve seen with “skeptics” in general being conflated with the various nutjobs who would deny anything, I’d think you would avoid this sort of behavior. And by the way, this is just silly:

      We don’t have any evidence that the climate has changed.

      It may just be extremely poor wording on your part, but this is the strangest comment I’ve seen in a while.

    • Brandon Schollenberger

      Climate always changes. It alway has and always will.

      As Willis has pointed out to you, there is nothing at all unusual about all this.

      Let me see if I can explain it to you, since you apparently had trouble with Willis’ explanation.

      The early 20th century warming cycle was almost identical to the late 20th century warming cycle, except that there was only a minor increase in CO2 the first time, so essentially all of the warming had to be caused by something other than CO2. Yet the second warming period is essentially attributed to CO2 because the models cannot explain it any other way.

      The IPCC logic goes as follows:

      1. Our models cannot explain what caused the early 20th century warming.
      2. We know that CO2 caused the late 20th century warming.
      3. How do we know this?
      4. Because our models cannot explain it any other way.

      This is obviously flawed logic.

      As Willis pointed out, the long-term warming record shows these fits and starts of warming interspersed with cooling cycles, with the overall cycle time around 60 years, the amplitude around +/- 0.2C, all resembling a sine curve on a slightly tilted axis with a long-term warming rate of 0.04C per decade.

      This bears no resemblance to atmospheric CO2, so there has to be something else at work here, which is the primary driver of our climate swings – not CO2.

      In fact, there is no robust statistical correlation between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature. It is what statisticians refer to as a “random walk”. Without a robust correlation, the case is extremely weak for causation.

      Then Willis points out the lack of empirical data based on physical observations or experimentation, to support the premise that AGW has been the primary driver of our climate or that there is an impending climate disaster from AGW. The supporters of the dangerous AGW hypothesis have been searching in vain for these data for over 25 years, as Willis has pointed out. Without such scientific evidence the hypothesis is on a very weak foundation. Computer model simulations are not empirical data; they are only as good as the assumptions fed in. And based on the “hit rate” of past projections made by these computers (viz. Hansen’s failed 1988 model projections, the UK Met Office’s dismal record in predicting one season or year in advance), it is clear that they are unable to provide any realistic projections. Yet we are supposed to take predictions for the year 2100 and beyond seriously.

      Then we have the observed fact that our atmosphere (both at the surface and in the troposphere) has not warmed since January 2001. At the same time ARGO measurements have shown that the upper ocean has also cooled slightly since 2003. In other words, our planet is not warming, despite continued increase in atmospheric CO2 to record levels. IPCC computer models had predicted warming of 0.2C per decade, but we are seeing slight cooling instead! Kevin Trenberth has referred to this “unexplained” “lack of warming” as a “travesty”. In an interview he has even conceded that the “missing energy” may be being radiated out to space, with “clouds” acting as a “natural thermostat”.

      What is being observed here raises serious questions regarding the hypothesis that CO2 is a major climate driver, upon which the whole “dangerous AGW” premise rests. In fact, it represents a “de facto” falsification of the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis, which has yet to be scientifically refuted.

      Brandon, it’s far too early to start looking at mitigating actions.

      Let’s fist find out whether we have a problem or not – so far it looks extremely unlikely that we do, as Willis has pointed out to you.

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Let’s try discussing one issue you raised. If we manage to resolve it, we can discuss more. If we can’t, we’ll know talking to each other is a waste of time without having wasted much effort. This seems to be the most egregious portion of your post:

      Then we have the observed fact that our atmosphere (both at the surface and in the troposphere) has not warmed since January 2001.

      Here is the issue I’d like to discuss. Do you think this comment of yours has any value? Do you think the existence of a ten year period in which there is no observed warming (something I’ll stipulate for now) is meaningful?

      If yes, there is nothing to discuss; the two of us won’t have any sort of reasonable discussion. If no, maybe we can find other things we’d agree on.

    • Well, Brandon, you appear a bit testy and rigid in your outlook,.

      But let me respond to:

      “Do you think the existence of a ten year period in which there is no observed warming (something I’ll stipulate for now) is meaningful?”

      Yes. Of course it is “meaningful”.

      It is obviously much less “meaningful” than a 160-year record. Or even a 30-year record.

      But it does tell us something, in combination with all the other data points.

      It tells us, for example, that the IPCC model projections of decadal warming of 0.2C caused by increased GHG concentrations were wrong for the first decade of the new century.

      It does NOT tell us WHY these projections were wrong, but simply that they were.

      It also does not tell us whether or not future decades will again start to warm, and if so, whether or not this will be at the projected rate of 0.2C per decade. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      The other points I made are pretty clear and I hope you have been able to understand them.

      But frankly I don’t really care whether our discussion continues or not.

      Max

    • manacker,

      It does not have much meaning when a pattern is trying to be drawn from that small area of time in temperatures compared to the rest of the planets 4.5 billion years.
      Then it really has no meaning.

    • @Joe Lalonde

      I agree fully with you that a period of 10 years or 30 years does not mean much in the overall scheme of things regarding our planet’s climate.

      Even the period of 160+ years since the global HadCRUT record started does not tell us everything.

      It simply shows multi-decadal cycles of warming and slight cooling, sort of like a sine curve, with a total cycle time of around 60 years, an amplitude of +/- 0.2C on a tilted axis with an overall rate of warming of 0.04C per decade (as we have emerged from a generally colder period) and no statistical correlation with atmospheric CO2 levels.

      Now THAT may tell us something (but only if we WANT to see it).

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      A ten year trend has no statistical significance. It means nothing. Your claim it shows IPCC projections wrong is nonsense. You cannot draw any valid conclusions off such a short time period.

      But frankly I don’t really care whether our discussion continues or not.

      Then it’s probably for the best we stop it. Though for the record, when I looked at a couple recent graphs of temperatures, I could have sworn I saw warming since January, 2001. Not that it matters.

    • @Brandon Schollenberger

      when I looked at a couple recent graphs of temperatures, I could have sworn I saw warming since January, 2001

      Get a new pair of glasses, Brandon.

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Responses like “look it up” and “learn to read” are both rude and non-constructive. I really don’t get why people love to use them so.

    • @Brandon Schollenberger

      You wrote:

      A ten year trend has no statistical significance. It means nothing.

      Hey, Brandon, we may actually agree that a 10-year or a 30-year on global temperature trend does not tell us much.

      In a multi-decadal cyclical record like we have here, with overall cycle times of around 60 years, we need to look at least at a couple of cycles.

      Fortunately, we have these now since 1850, so we can begin to see some meaningful trends.

      - three statistically indistinguishable multi-decadal warming cycles of about 30 years each

      - two multi-decadal cycles of slight cooling of around the same length in between

      - a most recent 10-year “blip”, which could or could not be the start of another cycle of slight cooling (only time will tell)

      - all with an underlying linear warming trend of 0.04C per decade over the 160+ years

      That’s it, Brandon.

      Each piece tells us very little, but the whole picture tells us a bit more.

      So I believe we agree. Right?

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I’m not sure what you think we agree on, but I certainly don’t agree with the contents of your comment as a whole. Perhaps there are some individual points we’d agree on, but your representations of the temperature record are not amongst them.

      And I wasn’t going to comment on this since it isn’t important, but since it keeps cropping up, my last name doesn’t have a “c” in it.

    • Brandon S is correct when he (and others) say a ten year trend has no statistical significance. But wrong when he says it means nothing. The temperature rise hiatus, while not statistically significant from a climate context, ought to raise a scientist’s curiosity. Why is it doing that — on the surface contrary to the basic theory? This most likely would certaintly not abrogate the entire theory, but it deserves more than a throw-away answer like “Oh, some kind of natural variance, probably,” or “”just does odd things like that on a short scale,” or …. whatever. There is something — not nothing — behind it.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Rod B, I agree with you about the ten year trend not literally meaning “nothing.” Everything means something. I had assumed it would be clear I was limiting my comments to the discussion of things like comparing the period to model projections.

      So yes, it’s something worth looking into. It just can’t be used to support/falsify claims regarding predictions, projections and theories.

    • To do decadal warming calculations correctly, you would take the decade of the 2000′s average and subtract that of the 1990′s. This gives a warming of about 0.17 C in line with projections. Or you can use any two neighboring non-overlapping decades with different starting points. For the last 30 years you would get similar results, increasing slowly with time as with projections that have a 2.5-3 C per doubling sensitivity.

    • @Jim D

      Your approach to doing “decadal warming calculations correctly” is not the approach used by IPCC to compare warming rates over different time periods.

      IPCC uses the linear rate of change over a specified period to do this.

      Using this approach we have a period of no warming (or even very slight cooling) over the past decade.

      Will it continue? Will it restart warming? Will it start cooling more rapidly?

      Who knows?

      Not you. Not I. Not IPCC.

      Max

    • The problem with using 1990 and 2000 as end points is that a different choice of end points will yield a different result. Climate over the past 150+ years appears to have a 60 cycle, so if you are going to calculate trends the end points should be based on 60 or 120 years. Otherwise you are measuring the cycle, not the trend.

      The proper calculation would be something like 2000-1940 or 1960-1900. If we have done things correctly, then these should give about the same result.

    • manacker, I doubt the IPCC looked at only ten years when they figured out a trend. The early 2000′s was warmer than the
      expected trend line, so it gives the impression of a cooling later. It is just more statistically robust to do trends with longer periods.

      ferd berple, I am not a believer in the 60-year cycle. I believe the ocean is as chaotic as the atmosphere, and has no such cycles that will stand up over more than one cycle period.

    • “ferd berple, I am not a believer in the 60-year cycle. I believe the ocean is as chaotic as the atmosphere”

      When I first looked at this I had the same thoughts, from the 3 body problem in gravity. Then I looked at Laplace resonance. Everywhere we look in the solar system there are cycles that are integer multiples of other cycles. It is impossible these are coincidence. Then i noticed that the climate has many repeating cycles. drought, locust, step beaches. how is that possible?

    • ferd berple, nice video, but if you are looking for cycles in the atmosphere/ocean, you have to look a lot harder. The stratosphere’s QBO is the longest cycle I am aware of, and that seems tied to the annual cycle. There seems no natural reason for much longer cycles, unless they are tied to the orbit of Neptune or something.

    • Jim –
      There seems no natural reason for much longer cycles, unless they are tied to the orbit of Neptune or something.

      All you said there was that you don’t know what the reason might be. Which does not mean there is no reason. As the saying goes: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    • In this case, not only absence of evidence, but absence of reason when it comes to cycles.

    • The reason for the cycles is synchronous in phase forcings. Think of a child on a swing. They lean back and pull. It has very little effect. However, if they repeat this in phase with the motion of the swing it can have a very large effect.

      This is totally ignored when we look at climate, which is why we don’t see the forest for the trees. For example, the Milankovitch cycles. The solar forcing resulting from the orbital differences is not enough to cause an ice age according to mainstream, but the record is clear in the ocean sediments. That is becaues mainstream only looks at the solar forcings as a one time event, without considering that the earth’s climate responds like a coupled oscillators, with cyles as long as 100k years.

      Look at the tides on earth. That is how they work. The tidal motion of the ocean is much greater than the one time sun/moon forcing, because the forcing is cyclic, in phase with the motion of the ocean. This results in an extremely complex tidal motion within the ocean basins that is not nearly as simple as most people might think.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M2_tidal_constituent.jpg

    • JimD –
      In this case, not only absence of evidence, but absence of reason when it comes to cycles.

      Try again, Jim. The cycles are there whether you see them or not. The reason is also there – whether or not ANYONE understands WHY.

      Do you understand the WHY of 11 year Solar cycles? I think not, but they’re there anyway.

    • @Brandon Shollenberger

      Sorry about the “c” (being Swiss, I spelled it the Swiss way)

      But back to my post, where I wrote:

      we may actually agree that a 10-year or a 30-year on global temperature trend does not tell us much.

      In a multi-decadal cyclical record like we have here, with overall cycle times of around 60 years, we need to look at least at a couple of cycles.

      Fortunately, we have these now since 1850, so we can begin to see some meaningful trends.

      - three statistically indistinguishable multi-decadal warming cycles of about 30 years each

      - two multi-decadal cycles of slight cooling of around the same length in between

      - a most recent 10-year “blip”, which could or could not be the start of another cycle of slight cooling (only time will tell)

      - all with an underlying linear warming trend of 0.04C per decade over the 160+ years

      To this you replied

      I certainly don’t agree with the contents of your comment as a whole. Perhaps there are some individual points we’d agree on, but your representations of the temperature record are not amongst them.

      Can you be a bit more specific, Brandon?

      Do you not agree that the long-term global temperature has warmed in multi-decadal warming and cooling cycles? (Phil Jones has acknowledged this).

      Do you not agree that these past warming trends have been statistically indistinguishable? (Phil Jones has stated this.)

      Do you not agree that the overall linear warming trend we have seen since the HadCRUT record started in 1850 has been around 0.04C warming per decade? (If you disagree, what linear warming rate do you think we have seen and how have you derived this?)

      I think it’s time for you to get specific, Brandon, and not just give general negative comments without any real substance.

      Ball’s in your court.

      Max

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I think you misunderstand the current situation. I suggested the two of us look at one specific issue to see if we could have a reasonable discussion. I explained why I held a position contrary to yours. You choose not to address it. This suggests we could not have a reasonable discussion. This is further supported by the fact when I mentioned your representation of facts conflicted with my examination of said facts, you responded with a rude and non-constructive remark.

      The situation is quite simple. I don’t believe I could have a reasonable discussion with you. As such, I have no intention of discussing things with you. I especially have no intention of discussing things with you which are predicated solely upon your representation of facts. Should I disagree with anything you say, the most I can reasonably expect is for you to tell me to “get a new pair of glasses.”

      On top of everything else, none of this is even topical. As such, I cannot think of any reason I would “get specific” at this point.

  62. When is the “scientific community” is going to start to heed what the data says?>/b>

    The data says human emission of carbon does not cause additional warming as shown in the following data:
    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    The above data shows no change in the global warming rate of about 0.15 deg C per decade with increase in human emission of carbon.

    Here is the data on the increase in human emission of carbon:
    http://1.usa.gov/gIkojx

    1) Total human carbon emission until 1910 was about 18 Gton
    2) Total human carbon emission until 1970 was about 112 Gton

    3) Total human carbon emission for the 30-years period from 1910 to 1940 was about 30 Gton
    4) Total human carbon emission for the 30-years period from 1970 to 2000 was about 172 Gton

    Note that in the warming period from 1970 to 2000 compared to the period from 1910 to 1940, the human carbon emission increased by 172/30=5.7 times.

    Note also that at the start of the second warming period in 1970 compared to the start of the first warming period in 1910, the human carbon emission increased by 112/18=6.2 times.

    CONCLUSION
    With increase in carbon emission by about 6-times during the most recent warming compared to the previous warming, and with increase in carbon emission by about 6-times at the start of the most recent warming compared to previous warming, there was no change in the global warming rate. Which invalidates the claim that human carbon emission causes global warming.

    • Good analysis, Girma.

      There is a problem with many devout supporters of the “dangerous AGW” belief, however.

      It is my observation here (as well as elsewhere) that they are unable to see the multi-decadal ups and downs in the long-term temperature record, because these represent a threat (namely that there could be cyclical natural forcing factors which are overwhelming the postulated forcing by human CO2).

      Your comparison of the two distinct warming cycles of the 20th century with the human CO2 emissions over these periods raises serious questions in anyone’s mind as to how important CO2 really has been in the past as a climate driver.

      But if you can’t see these warming cycles because they lie “outside the box” of your preconceived notion, then you don’t have to explain them, and world (plus the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis to which you cling) is still in order.

      Max

    • Thanks Max

  63. Sorry for the error in the bold format

  64. When is the “scientific community” is going to start to heed what the data says?>

    The data says human emission of carbon does not cause additional warming as shown in the following data:
    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    The above data shows no change in the global warming rate of about 0.15 deg C per decade with increase in human emission of carbon.

    Here is the data on the increase in human emission of carbon:
    http://1.usa.gov/gIkojx

    1) Total human carbon emission until 1910 was about 18 Gton
    2) Total human carbon emission until 1970 was about 112 Gton

    3) Total human carbon emission for the 30-years period from 1910 to 1940 was about 30 Gton
    4) Total human carbon emission for the 30-years period from 1970 to 2000 was about 172 Gton

    Note that in the warming period from 1970 to 2000 compared to the period from 1910 to 1940, the human carbon emission increased by 172/30=5.7 times.

    Note also that at the start of the second warming period in 1970 compared to the start of the first warming period in 1910, the human carbon emission increased by 112/18=6.2 times.

    CONCLUSION
    With increase in carbon emission by about 6-times during the most recent warming compared to the previous warming, and with increase in carbon emission by about 6-times at the start of the most recent warming compared to previous warming, there was no change in the global warming rate. Which invalidates the claim that human carbon emission causes global warming.

    • Pretty clear comment Girma. Data is such a b&%$# isn’t it?

    • The comparison between the atmosphere of venus and earth shows that temperature is a function of atmospheric density, not composition. For a given density, both planets have the same relative temperature, independent of CO2 levels.

      http://theendofthemystery.blogspot.com/2010/11/venus-no-greenhouse-effect.html#comment-form

      However, this has been ignored by climate science because it does not fit the belief in CO2 driven CAGW. There is no money in naturally caused climate change.

    • Yeah. One can look at Mars, which also has an atmosphere primarily composed of CO2, but at a much lower pressure than either Earth or Venus.

    • I’d like to see that comparison if anyone has a reference. If mars, earth and venus all line up with the same relative temp per atmospheric density, there is no way CO2 can be a driver. Venus and mars are CO2 rich while earth is nitrogen/oxygen rich and CO2 poor.

    • Fred,

      Earth has this crazy thing that is called a breathable atmosphere. It is what star trek called a class M planet. Mars can give you a very slight comparison to Earth. Venus you can’t get close, sorry, you and Oliver are barking up the wrong trees. Think about Venus. Isothermal layer to its atmosphere 670 C up to about 7 kilometers. Why is it Isothermal? Heat can’t get out fast enough to change the temperature. It is major league thermos bottle. Why would that be?

      What happens to your comparison when you have a constant temperature below your lovely arbitrary point high up in the atmosphere but it has a constant temperature right under it? Different physics happen.

      At your magic arbitrary point where the pressure happens to be 1 bar, why do you think the density is the same as Earth? Do you know that the specific gravity of sulphuric acid is 1.8 time water? The sulphuric acid at the top of Venus’ atmosphere floats. Could it be that a much thinner layer of atmosphere could have the same density and the same pressure as the bottom of Earth’s atmosphere? Not likely.

      Also the temperature of the isothermal layer is 670 C +/- 20 C. That +/- 20 doesn’t mean the temperature varies, it means the accuracy of the temperature reading has a margin of error of +/- 20 degrees. So your theory is absolutely correct if you include margins of error for temperature +/-20, pressure +/-? and density +/- ? and allow for a layer of sulfur compounds floating on top, that might just tweak things a bit.

      So that neat little site you reference, check the accuracy of the measurements and makes some notes. When Judith does her uncertainty, we can take a look at them.

  65. I’m trying to ignore Judith’s taunts these days (libertarian, indeed!), but I just have to put in my $0.02 here. I think Adler typifies the ivory tower “liberal arts” (non-scientific) eggheads who have way too much say in our policies (probably because most current policy-makers (on both sides of the isle) are the result of the inbreeding between the politically correct scientifically illiterate Gotham City denizens found at our “famous” major universities). They are simply hope-and-change bumpersticker dreamers, when it comes to reality and science. I wish they would shut up, before they destroy us all!

    It is just STOOPID to tax carbon (sorry, Roger). It is just another way for government to hire more non-productive bureaucrats at the expense of the wealth-creating capitalistic system. The laws of thermodynamics make it very clear that all the research possible will never make “alternative energy” schemes like wind, solar, and wave energy anywhere near as practical or economical as fossil fuels and nuclear energy (and biomass, until it is maxed out), simply because the energy density is not high enough in these sources. This is just the most basic simple logic, folks. For some proof: the US Department of Energy, through its Golden, CO Natural Renewable Research Laboratory, as well as all the other DOE “National Labs,” has spent $$$billion$$$ researching this stuff, and there have been NO important breakthroughs of which I’m aware. I’m most familiar with “cellulosic ethanol,” being a carbohydrate chemist, and this forever “fertile field of research” has gone virtually nowhere in the 40 years that I have followed it. Even the latest multi-million dollar “pilot plant” went TU. AFIK, Solar and Wind and Wave Energy are in the same boat. If you look at life-cycle analyses, these “alternative energy” sources probably create MORE CO2, as well as more real pollutants. We are repeating Jimmy Carter history, to our peril.

    We need to stop this unbelievably ignorant concept of “trusting in research solutions” and focus on practical KNOWN technology for now. The research money should go toward making our energy use more efficient (without mercury poisoning issues) and developing better nuclear energy technology.

    Good Grief, already.

  66. The gramophone was not replaced by the cassette player by a gramophone tax.

    The cassette player was not replaced by the CD player by a tax on a cassette player.

    The CD player was not replaced by I-Pod by a tax on a CD player.

    As a result, fossil fuels will not be replaced by other forms of energy by a tax on fossil fuels.

  67. This post / thread uses the word “pollution” 13 times at last count.

    Please remember that it was the EPA that declared CO2 to be pollution, under the “broad”, “capacious” and “sweeping” wording of the Congress’ Clean Air Act, in a cause that Massachusetts (among others) claimed, that sea level increase (among other harms) would harm its welfare. EPA’s finding relied on the IPCC report, suppressed Alan Carlin’s internal report to the contrary, and now enjoys the power that comes from “Command and Control”.

    The word “pollution” for CO2 does not have a good pedigree. Nor does the IPCC and UNFCCC after the Cancun delegate from Zimbabwe called for developed countries to pay developing countries $100 billion per year.

    In my opinion, a better use of $100 billion is to find out what is really going on with the climate, and how it works, by scientists with integrity.

  68. Geoff Sherrington

    Stripped back to the metal, the main concern is that global temperature will increase from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

    The classic property rights response to this was given in 2007 by Ross McKitrick, see
    http://sites.google.com/site/rossmckitrick/#t3tax and many other sites.
    In the simplest form, if temperatures rise, GHG emitters pay a tax in proportion to the rise. If temperatures fall, GHG emitters are rebated in the same proportion, by the same party set up to take and give.
    What could be fairer, more simple more inarguable or more intelligent than that? There are no losers.

  69. Judith,

    The time frame climate science is trying to explore is worthless to try and generate a model or project any event.
    This is like taking the temperature all over our body in a one minute time frame.
    Generates no sensible meaning.

  70. Ms Curry,

    I apparently failed to correct properly close an italics in one of my comments if you could either delete it or fix it it would be appreciated.

    Sorry

  71. I tend to be libertarian-ish in my thoughts, but I could really care less about property rights in comparison to climate change. There is a point where the greater voting public good overrides property rights. Same reasoning I use when I support some liberal ideas. I agree with the abstract at the end up to this point:

    “Such claims, even if demonstrated, would not add[r]ess the normative concern that the consequences of anthropogenic global warming would infringe upon the rights of people in less-developed nations.”

    If this is true, sorry, but too bad. The people in those less-developed nations are free to try to do something about it, but I’m not voluntarily voting to ruin my country’s economy for their potential future well being. We aren’t under a global government. We are 195 countries competing with each other to give its citizens the best life possible. There will always be winners and losers. I know that’s selfish, but I can only enjoy the comfy life I do today because of the selfishness of my forefathers and hope my children have the same opportunity of a relatively comfortable life.

  72. Moderator:
    The comment at

    harrywr2 | March 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    requires a closing italics markup.

  73. I think Adler’s point is being missed here. This is an ethical quandary about what current libertarians hold to be one of the highest of their principles – and that is the protection private property rights. This is not true of all individualist movements, like the collective left, but, nonetheless, he is attempting to tackle that exact issue because, he believes there is no mechanism to deal with the principles involved from a free market perspective, except to deny the problem.

    All that is necessary is that it impose identifiable harms on those who do not consent to the imposition of such harms, a scenario that even ardent warming “skeptics”
    acknowledge is likely. For instance, climatologists Patrick J. Michaels and
    Robert C. Balling, Jr., posit that a “best guess range of sea-level rise during
    the next century would be about 5 to 11 inches.”

    Michaels and Balling suggest that such an increase in sea level would not be disastrous, and could be “a rise that most people might not notice and to which they could easily adapt.” This may be so, but those countries flooded by such an increase in sea level should not be forced to bear such costs if they are the foreseeable consequence of polluting activities by others.

    And he is undoubtedly correct. For instance, in his conclusion he writes:

    The aim of this essay has not been to identify an actual legal cause of
    action that could be brought in court or before some international tribunal.
    The institutions necessary for resolution of such property-rights claims do
    not exist. Nor has the aim been to identify the precise contours of an FME [free market environmentalism] climate policy agenda. Rather, it has been to suggest how FME advocates should approach the question of climate change as they seek to develop positive policy proposals that are consistent with FME principles. If FME advocates are to be true to their stated commitment to property rights, they will need to take the threat of climate change at least as seriously as they have taken the threat of ill-considered climate change policies.

    For an example of what he is talking about, go to page 314 for a theoretical example, or go to 304 for his look at past approaches through the court system. This is him calling out his own movement to deal with the issue in a market approach and the balance between maintaining the rights of other’s property and personal rights of the individual to avoid government regulation.

    He also has a very succinct run-down of the different players within the policy argument, which is a the root of said argument.

    Those who are risk averse, or place a high value on avoiding anthropogenic disruption of natural systems, or place a relatively low value on
    economic growth may be more predisposed to support costly controls on
    greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, those who place a high value on individual liberty and property rights, or are more suspicious of government regulation, or believe that economic growth is more important than a pristine environment to human prosperity may be more reluctant to endorse emission control measures. Similarly, those who have a utilitarian preference for the maximization of net human welfare may come to different policy conclusions than those who believe that certain actions necessarily violate rights or otherwise constitute “wrongs” worthy of redress.

    I’m glad Judith posted this.

  74. Tomas Milanovic

    ScottB

    “If this is true, sorry, but too bad. “

    Well it is not even true. The whole concept is incredibly stupid.
    A warmer climate will be better for some and worse for others.
    The distinction will not happen according to wealth (e.g poor and rich or developed and underdevelopped) but according to the currentclimatic zones.
    When one considers that the biggest part of land is in temperate to cold zones , one can infer that for a majority of people a warmer climate will be better.
    Less heating costs , better agriculture , better infrastructure, pleasant weather etc.

    Similar for water.
    If one admits that with a warmer climate there will be on average more precipitation than it means that a majority of people will benefit (more water) and a minority will not (less water).
    For instance in Europe everybody knows that to benefit from a warmer Mediterranean climate , one has only travel a few 100 km south.
    And once people did that journey (many do it even every year) , they have all observed that a climate with 2-4 °C more than what they are used to, is actually more pleasant than harmful.
    Of course there is a potential see level increase but that worries nobody in Europe either – in Holland they knew to cope with that already centuries ago.

    So basically the conclusion could be that the question is answered and the answer Is that there is no problem.

    But your point goes actually beyond and is important.
    You say that as long as the voters have the say, they won’t vote for measures that make their personal living and the one of their children and grand children worse.
    This is simply NOT going to happen regardless how loud some minority shouts.
    I also agree when you say that we enjoy a standard of living that has been legated to us by our fathers and grandfathers.
    The least that we can do for our children is the same thing .

    That’s why that when Adler writes :

    “Stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act is a good idea, but it is not, by itself, a climate change policy. More is necessary, but Congressional Republicans do not seem likely to even attempt the next step.

    he shows that he has absdolutely no contact with the people and with the voters.
    He still did not understand that for the majority of voters doing NOTHING special in the climate matters is exactly what they ask from the politicians they elect.
    So in this sense the elected Republicans do exactly THE climate change policy their electors asked for – namely putting priority on matters that need it like economy, jobs, growth, cheap energy , purchasing power.
    A majority doesn’t care for the climate change.

    If they change their mind one day , be all very sure that they will make the politicians know but as long as they didn’t, articles like the Adler’s one are just like the Franch say “intellectual masturbation in the vacuum”.

    • Tomas Milanovic

      Do you know what’s even better for people than high temperatures?

      Stability.

      Will you truck arable soil to the tundra to turn the rocks to farmland?

      This Holland-style system of dikes and ditches, who will pay for it?

      With less heating costs come higher cooling costs, which are triple per degree the heating cost.

      The winners and losers will not be determined by current climate zone but by current wealth and power to take advantage of instability.

      Which is to say, the winners will be opportunists and privateers, backed by larger central brokers, increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of few.

      How does someone so good at math get so bad at math?

    • Bart R– Please identify when the climate was stable in the 4.5 billion year history of the planet. LOL….it has never been stable. it is occasionally predictable

    • Rob Starkey

      Why stop at 4.5 biLOLion years?

      The universe is almost 14 biLOLion years old, after aLOL. Earth 4.5 biLOLion years ago was much more like the 9 biLOLion years before — space phenomena accretizing in orbit of a star — than the most recent 15-20 miLOLion years which hosted increasing primate population and the life that co-evLOLved with us.

      Stable depends on scale.

      On the scale of the past 15-20 miLOLion years, the CO2 level has been remarkably stable at 230 +/- 50 ppmv up to 260 years ago.

      This aLOLowed ergodic patterns to develop: the relative violence of cyclones tended (we have cause to believe) lower, and the region and season of cyclones were smaLOLer overaLOL (probabLOLy); in the agriculturaLOLy and botanicaLOLy important temperate zones the timing of the first snows and first frost-free days, first thaws and frequency of unseasonabLOLy warm winter weeks or cold springs was probabLOLy more reguLOLar than now, with 70% higher CO2 than the median of the last 15-20 miLOLion years. Likewise, water vapor content of the air was very likeLOLy LOLower then than now, LOLeading to LOLess risk of variabiLOLity and extremity in precipitation; likeLOLy, so too was windspeed overaLOL sLOLower.

      So you want to know when we had more stability?

      From about 20 miLOLion years ago to about 260 years ago.

      LOL indeed.

    • Bart R,
      The climate has never been stable. The rest of your post is a waste of time.

  75. Brandon Shollenberger

    There’s an unclosed italics tag in a post up above, and it’s making everything below it appear in italics. If possible, could we get that post edited?

  76. Judith or Other possible admin, Try this:

    Go to your dashboard, then to ‘settings’, then to ‘writing’ and check off the box that says,

    WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically

    That might fix this.

    • And then edit that incorrect comment.

    • WordPress corrects normal missing closing tags, but fails when the closing tag </i> is misspelled as <i/>. Similar problems apply to many other tags as well. The failure may be related to the fact that these erroneous tags are syntactically correct but meaningless.

      Still I think that this problem may be classified as bug of WordPress.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      It’s definitely a bug. There are two reasons I can see this happening. First, the closing tag winds up operating as a second opening tag, and WordPress only attempts to close one instance. You could test this by placing two regular opening tags in the same post without closing either.

      Second, the forward slash following the i confuses WordPress. When WordPress checks for opening tags, it checks for the presence of “i” in between two specific symbols. However, it checks for an exact match. Adding a forward slash doesn’t alter the HTML interpretation, but it does make it so there is no longer an exact match. The problem is WordPress assumes stricter requirements for HTML than actually exist, and as such, their editing is more restricted than it needs to be.

      The latter seems seems more likely to me. You see the same sort of problem in any number of things, whether it be sanitizing input for databases or parsing files with regular expressions.

    • A tag with a slash at the end both opens and closes the tag. It’s a shorthand that is useful for tags that contain information themselves. In this case it opens a second level of italics and closes it, which doesn’t have any effect as there is no text in between.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      You may be right in regards to XHTML (or something else), but that isn’t true for HTML. This is easy to test. Open up Notepad, type something, and in the middle type an italics tag with a forward slash following the i. Save the file as an html file, and open it in a browser.

      Offhand, I can’t think of any tag in HTML which contains information and needs to be closed, so I suspect you are thinking of something else. I know XHTML doesn’t like empty tags, so I’m guessing that’s it.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      And in case I wasn’t clear enough with my other response, the test I described will result in an open italics tag. The forward slash will just get ignored.

    • You are right. I have recently worked with XML, where every tag must be closed either by a separate tag or by a slash at the end.

      I checked, what WordPress is doing with repeated tags to start italics and found that it adds automatically a closing tag before the new starting tag. Perhaps the code is anyway influenced by the fact that the erroneous tag is legal in the related languages.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I really think it is as simple as the fact HTML ignores the extraneous forward slash, but WordPress doesn’t. It would be an easy mistake to while coding. Normally adding extraneous characters to a toggle tag makes the tag not work. The fact a forward slash is an exception to this isn’t common knowledge. Because of this, when a person writes code to check for unclosed tags, it isn’t likely he’d think to make the code check for anything more than the normal italic tag.

      It’s especially problematic because you’d have to account for the fact extra spaces could exist between the i and forward slash. This means you couldn’t just match two cases, but would have to try to create a general rule. Some programming languages could do it fairly easily, but others could not.

      If I’m right, it’s an uncommon bug based upon a quirk of HTML most people wouldn’t know. It’s quite plausible.

    • I made some experiments by a simple html-file. It turns out that <i followed by either a space or a forward slash and after that by any text up to > starts italics. This is where WordPress fails to work properly.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Yikes. I never thought to try putting in other characters after the space/forward slash, and I’ve known about this issue for years. That’s a pretty significant discovery. I wonder how well-known it is.

      I guess it isn’t a “bug” with HTML, but it is certainly a poorly documented feature. A pointless one too.

    • The fact that the first space ends the name of the tag and is allowed to be followed by other text may originate from SGML and thus precede the creation of HTML. Perhaps that applies also to the forward slash, which has a special meaning, when occurring immediately after < or as the last character before the ending > in XML and probably also some other SGML derivatives.

    • I also tried checking that box in my WordPress blog. It didn’t help on this issue.

  77. @Jim D

    Further up the line you wrote

    A better null hypothesis would relate to the no-feedback response (~1 C per doubling) versus measurable greater warming. At least a few scientists hold that view.

    To me, personally, this sounds quite reasonable, although there is still a small “hook”.

    The 2xCO2 response of ~1C is not based on empirical data derived from physical observations or reproducible experimentation (impossible to do for the theoretical no-feedback response). The derivation of this number is very dicey, as is generally conceded. While some paleo-climate data were used the uncertainties and unknowns are great, so its derivation is essentially based on theoretical deliberations.

    Myhre got 0.98C (used by IPCC; based on 2xCO2 radiative forcing = 3.7 W/m^2)
    Lindzen got 0.65C
    Kondratjew got 0.88C
    Hansen got 1.1C
    Charnock + Shine got 1.45C

    I would agree with you that, while being a purely theoretical number, it is much better than the model-based estimate of 2.0C to 4.5C including all feedbacks, as used by IPCC AR4 in 2007.

    One would have to include the more recent findings of Spencer + Braswell, Lindzen + Choi, plus at least consider the model simulations by Wyant et al. using super-parameterization for clouds, all of which would extend the lower end of the range to around 0.5C.

    So we would have a range of 0.5C to 4.5C, which is pretty meaningless, and certainly cannot be the basis for a “null hypothesis” (AOT because it can only be falsified by showing that the top end of the range is too high or the bottom end is too low).

    But how about using the no-feedback sensitivity of 1C as the “null hypothesis”?

    It still seems a bit too hypothetical for me, Jim, so I’d say that the “null hypothesis” (by its very name) should be that there is no (= null) impact on our climate from increased atmospheric CO2.

    In effect, it is up to the proponents of the AGW premise (and especially those who postulate dangerous AGW resulting from human CO2) to show, with empirical data, that the “null hypothesis” is incorrect.

    For those postulating dangerous warming from AGW, they would not only have to falsify the “null hypothesis”, but also demonstrate with empirical data that the 2xCO2 CS is at least 3C (otherwise all the carbon in all our planet’s fossil fuels would not result in “dangerous” warming). So, in effect, the “null hypothesis” for these folks is 2xCO2 = <3C.

    Isn’t that the way the “scientific method” is supposed to work, Jim?

    Max

    PS Maybe Judith would like to dedicate a future thread to the “null hypothesis” on AGW. The earlier thread citing Trenberth’s recent attempt to shift the “null hypothesis” on severe weather events did not really cover the basic issue here. And I believe it is the key issue regarding AGW (or even more so the postulation of potentially dangerous AGW).

    • The current null hypothesis is easier to disprove, for sure, so I wouldn’t complain if it was left as it is. It is just not any of scientific use to disprove it because no one believes it anyway.
      If the hypothesis is that there are no feedbacks to CO2 increases, positive or negative, then in either direction you get an interesting result. It would also be up to Lindzen, Spencer, et al. to prove the negative feedback, just as much as for others to prove it is positive.
      Anyway, now I am beginning to see that these hypotheses have no value, and science should just go about quantifying the feedback regardless of any a priori hypotheses.

    • That is a point that I have tried to argue in many comments. The warming rate or climate sensitivity is not a scientific theory that should be proven or disproven. The real issue is estimating, what is the quantitative effect of additional CO2 and also the uncertainties of this estimate. The results should then be used in further analysis to determine, what kind of actions are warranted or optimal taken again into account all uncertainties.

      At no point in this chain of operations is there need to prove or disprove some hypothesis. Making policy decisions is not about proving, but about choosing the best alternative under large uncertainties.

    • @Jim D

      A “null hypothesis” of CS=0 may be easy to disprove, as you say (although it hasn’t been done as yet).

      But it doesn’t tell us much.

      To get to “alarming” AGW, one needs to disprove another “null hypothesis”, as I wrote:

      For those postulating dangerous warming from AGW, they would not only have to falsify the “null hypothesis” [of CS = 0], but also demonstrate with empirical data that the 2xCO2 CS is at least 3C (otherwise all the carbon in all our planet’s fossil fuels would not result in “dangerous” warming). So, in effect, the “null hypothesis” for these folks is 2xCO2 = <3C.

      This one will be very hard to disprove. And that’s the one required to get to alarming AGW.

      Max

    • Currently they put the likelihood of > 3 C at 50/50. Isn’t that enough to act on? I think it at least has to go into cost-benefit calculations when planning for the future, so they already have actionable information.

    • @Jim D

      Currently they put the likelihood of > 3 C at 50/50. Isn’t that enough to act on?

      “They?” Whodat?

      Answer to question: NO.

      We are talking about providing scientific evidence based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation which falsify a “null hypothesis of 2xCO2 3 C is at 50/50″ is totally meaningless, because this is no better than a flat-out guess.

      We’re talking “science” here, Jim.

      Not Vegas bookie odds “based on expert judgment rather than formal attribution studies” (using IPCC phraseology).

      Max

    • There is a typo in my last message,

      It should read

      We are talking about providing scientific evidence based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation which falsify a “null hypothesis of 2xCO23C is at 50/50″ is totally meaningless, because this is no better than a flat-out guess.

      Sorry for typo

    • Somehow the system garbles this message I wrote:

      We are talking about providing scientific evidence based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation which falsify a “null hypothesis of 2xCO23C is 50/50″ is totally meaningless, because this is no better than a flat-out guess.

      Let’s hope it cam through OK this time.

      Max

    • Judith

      Don’t know why the system is garbling messages

      Maybe it does not like >

      Or maybe it does not like <

      Anyway, am posting my statement in two separate posts.

      First statement:

      We are talking about providing scientific evidence based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation which falsify a “null hypothesis" of 2xCO<3C.

      Second sentence to follow in a separate post.

      Max

    • Second message.

      The claim “they” make that “2xCO2>3C is at 50/50″ is totally meaningless, because this is no better than a flat-out guess.

      Max

    • Jim D,
      I put it at 2%. Is that enough to ignore the problem?

  78. If we can’t even figure out HTML, what makes us think we can figure out climate?

  79. For those who are interested, Fred Moolten claims to have discovered the algorithm that captures human reasoning when multiple pieces of evidence act to confirm an hypothesis. Not likely, moreover it does not work when there are multiple hypotheses, nor when the evidence is itself hypothetical, as is the case with AGW. More on this later. This comment is a place holder for a longer discussion.

    • Well, David, if you’re trying to stir up interest, that comment might do the job, even if it doesn’t quite match what I’ve done with the consilience principle, which I didn’t invent. In any case, it’s worth waiting to see what turns up before judging it. That’s logical, isn’t it? (I chose that word as a form of gentle ribbing for David, who claims to be a logician in his spare time).

    • I also have a little self-published textbook on the logic of complex issues: http://www.stemed.info/reports/Wojick_Issue_Analysis_txt.pdf

      The structure of the debate is tree-like (an issue tree) so each purported fact has multiple challenges, each challenge multiple responses, and so on. (The tree-like structure of this blog gives a glimpse of this fundamental logical form.) Thus there are no simple evidence-to-hypothesis relations to sum up. Every piece of evidence is itself an hypothesis. Observation is “theory-laden” throughout the debate. We don’t agree on what we see, much less what it means.

    • Fred, as far as being logical is concerned, one of the things I enjoy most about my research is how it shows that people are very logical, far more than is usually realized. This is why my textbook begins with what looks like a silly argument, about buying a Ford and how one’s son drives. The depth of the logic is astounding. My students and I used to ride on the trolley in Pittsburgh, just to listen to people reasoning.

      However, the fact that people are logical in no way makes them logicians, any more than the fact that they have mass makes them physicists.

    • David – I was ribbing you about the “logician” part. Regarding how logical people are, I suspect most people are can be logical except when their prejudices are threatened.

      The trolleys were long gone from Pittsburgh by the time I moved to that part of Pennsylvania.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      For what it’s worth, I think this characterization is rather inaccurate. I also wholly support the idea Fred Moolten has discussed. I don’t think there is any actual issue with it.

      Of course, there can be issues with how it is implemented. And in that regard, I disagree with Fred Moolten. I think he massively over-estimates the independence of the evidence. Seeing as his estimates are entirely based upon his feel of things, and not any sort of quantitative analysis, this isn’t surprising. It is on this issue his claims would stand or fall, not on any perceived issue with the idea he proposed.

    • As I think about it, Brandon and David, Judith Curry plans a new blog post relevant to this topic in about a week or so. Would it be a good idea to see what she has to say rather than tackling the issue here?

      Brandon – Since my original description, I’ve looked at implementation from a more nuanced perspective. Some of that has been discussed already in various places, but I have more to add to that. Thanks for bringing up an important issue.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I don’t see much point in the subject being discussed in thread after thread so waiting seems like a good idea to me.

    • Unlike you folks I am not constantly available. Enjoy yourselves, and especially Fred’s formula. It is great fun.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      You’re welcome to post anytime.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Er, that last comment of mine got cut off. It should have said:

      “You’re welcome to post anytime. I intend to hold off discussing things with Fred Moolten because so far I haven’t seen anything from him I haven’t already addressed. He apparently believes in a level of independence amongst evidence which I find absurd, and that is the only point we disagree on. Since he can’t give a basis for his belief other than it being the impression he gets, there isn’t anything more to discuss at the moment.

      If you think the methodology he suggested is faulty, it would be worth discussing, either now or later. However, nobody has given any reason to think it is, and as such, I don’t see anything to talk about right now”

    • should have draft paper ready to post by end of week. doing the airplane thing today

    • I will be interested to see your “nuances” Fred, but given that my objections are fundamental I doubt they will help. You claim to have an algorithm that turns 10 pieces of weak evidence into a virtual certainty. That may actually be correct when there is only one hypothesis, but not when there are several competing hypotheses, each with it own weak evidence. Your algorithm makes them all virtually certain and that just can’t be true.

    • I’ve tried to address those points in my discussions. The next one will presumably have to wait for Judith Curry’s blog post to come.

  80. Here are some numbers I came up with.
    If the carbon tax (or premium as I prefer to call it) is 1 cent (dollar or euro) per kg fossil CO2 released, that adds about 10 cents per gallon to gas, and gives a total US annual revenue as $60 billion (6 Gt per year emission). The average US household would pay $250 per year given the average household footprint.
    What we would do with that $60 billion, I don’t know. Give it out to help the needy with their higher fuel bills, subsidize the cost of wind energy, biofuels? I haven’t thought much about this, but the mathematics is interesting.

    • Per capita CO2 emissions vary greatly by state.

      Which is why it’s never going to fly in the Senate.

      I live in Washington State. The average per capita emission is 12.8 tons annually. So I would have to pay $116/year.

      But if I look at North Dakota the per capita emissions is 76 tons. They’ll have to pay $690/yr.

      It’s easy for Senators from places where the majority of the population is relatively urban with relatively small heating and air conditioning bills to support a tax on energy.

      It’s not so easy for Senators from states that are predominantly rural that have high heating and air conditioning costs to support a tax on energy.

      Hence, any sort of energy tax scheme is DOA in the Senate and always has been and probably always will be.

      Doesn’t really matter if the public believes in Climate Change or not.

    • I researched some more conversions. Home energy usage costs would be up to 1 kg CO2 per kWh electricity (depending how clean the local energy is), and 5 kg per therm gas. Last month, with my 1 cent per kg tax, I would have paid an extra $3.42 max for electricity, $5.85 for gas, about 8% of my utility bill. Yes, people with high utility bills or greater mileage travel pay more, but proportionately the same amount more. They are just adding the same percentage. Giving more relief to ‘dirty’ states would defeat the point, so I don’t know what the solution is in terms of fairness.

    • Jim D,
      Call it what you will, it is still a confiscatory tax.
      And will do nothing to stabilize/mitigate/manage the climate.
      It will simply be a vast source of patronage.

  81. having followed these arguments, please let me raise a few points.

    In the USA there are various sales taxes levied in all states, in all sorts of strange complex, twisted and convoluted ways. Sales taxes are of course regressive – the poor spnd proportionately more of their income than the welathy, so there is an implicit transfer of wealth to the welathy. however, no one seems to be concerned about sales taxes.

    Yet if you mention a carbon tax, you are deemed to be socialist, and any other bad word that Americans can think of (try “cheese-eater”, given the quality of cheese produced in the USA).

    If you employ a builder to add an extension to your house and he leaves behind a ton of rusting scaffolding and pigshit on your driveway, would you bear the cost of getting it removed? I suggest you would insist that the builoder do it. And yet, by tax incidence, you have paid already since it should have been factored in to the building cost.

    A carbon tax simply shifts thye cost of dealing with the pollution to the end-user.

    What is not to like?

    • Graeme,

      If you believe “no one seems to be concerned about sales taxes”, then I’d suggest you’re not listening to the right people. You’ll get more grief re: carbon taxes because it’s a new tax, but you won’t find raving fans of the existing ones. That being said, a lot of jurisdictions lessen the potential regressive effects by exempting necessities like groceries and prescriptions – the exact opposite of what you’d have with a carbon tax. Additionally, most sales taxes are only applied at the point of sale to an end user – carbon taxes would have a cascade effect on fuels and even other products.

    • Graeme
      While it is true that a sales tax is regressive and hits poorer people proportionally higher, it is not a “transfer of wealth” to the rich. Poorer people also proportionally benefit more from the sales tax proceeds than do the wealthy.

      It would seem a direct carbon tax would also be regressive since poorer people spend a greater percentage of their disposable income of CO2 producing stuff.

  82. I looks like there is no way to get people to accept that the correct answer to is CO2 causing dangerous global warming is, “We don’t know.” Everybody acts like they know, but you don’t. So the reasonable thing to do hedge your bets and take reasonable steps to reduce the chances a little. Cleaner energy is not a bad thing and are cost effective options. Some of the alternates are not up to snuff yet, you don’t drop a bundle speculating on solar that will get better and cheaper, or it will continue to be the “future” energy. Wind in near maxing out with the grid, so nuclear, natgas for power plants and cleaner coal until something better and affordable comes along.

    It would be nice to see a thread on the energy reality.

    • Dallas,
      The vast majority of skeptics I have run across are all for nuclear power.
      Nuclear power is the only proven source of dependable power that generates zip CO2 in its operation.
      Skeptics are generally willing to support an effective alternative power sources that also happens to generate 0 CO2.
      Believers are much less clear.

    • Hunter,

      Skeptics are for this and the convinced are for that. There is an energy reality in the middle. People cannot make good decisions without some idea of the reality. The reality of Climate, whatever it is called this week, is also in the middle. The climate debate is screwing up a perfectly good time in our history to do things that will make a real difference in our future. A positive one if people actually think.

    • Let me add a little quiz for the enlightened:

      From a CO2 production perceptive (reduced of course), which is better, using second growth wood (30 year old trees from a tree farm) or diesel fuel?

    • Dallas – I’m not “enlightened” enough to give a confident answer. Diesel fuel burns to CO2 in a manner that is carbon-positive (it adds to atmospheric CO2). Cutting down trees, and thereby reducing their CO2 uptake, has effects that depend on latitude, tree density, and the rate of regrowth, as well as changes in albedo (in some regions, tree loss increases albedo whereas it does the opposite elsewhere). It is also time-dependent, because loss of CO2 absorption will be temporary if a new tree grows where the older one was cut. My guess is that controlled tree reduction might often be preferable, but “it depends”. What’s your answer?

    • Considering CO2 residence time, CO2 per kilowatt, efficiency of conversion to transportation fuel, it is a coin toss. Diesel is 0.24 Kg CO2/Kwh and wood is 0.39 KgCO2/Kwh. So you would be putting a minimum 62% more CO2 in the air with wood verses diesel, neglecting conversion efficiency. Including total energy and associated efficiency of conversion for each process and resident time it is a wash. Selection of bio-fuel source is kinda important, even if you neglect economic impact (food crops, land use etc).

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Cleaner energy is not a bad thing…

      Whew. I was afraid that “dirty” was the Libertarian criterion for goodness.

  83. “I would have paid an extra $3.42 max for electricity, $5.85 for gas, about 8% of my utility bill.”

    Is that sufficient to cut your energy use 17% by 2020? I expect most of us would not make cuts that dramatic without a substantial price increase well beyond what you have mentioned. Considering that the population of the US is increasing at the same time, each person would have to make cuts much deeper than 17%, and they would have to be applied to industry as well, including cement production. Otherwise, if consumers were called upon to shield industry, the cuts would have to be very much larger.

    • No, but $60 billion would surely be helpful in promoting better power generation and transportation efficiency, which should be the priorities, and probably won’t happen much on their own.

    • @Jim D

      Your figure of $60 billion in added carbon taxes in the USA doesn’t sound too bad.

      That’s only around $526 per household per year. This should be doable even for less affluent households and, hey, it’s “for a noble cause”, i.e. to “(maybe) save the planet”.

      Is it going to force people to have a lower “carbon footprint”? Hardly.

      But this rate of carbon taxing is only the “door opener”.

      There is talk of the “cost of carbon” being $130 per ton (or even higher).

      The USA emits around 6 billion tons CO2 per year. This is equal to around 1.6 Gt carbon.

      At $130/ton this represents $213 billion, or $1,870 per household per year.

      I do not believe that this level of carbon taxation is “doable” (i.e. acceptable to the voting US taxpayer). So I do not believe it will ever happen, no matter how eloquently we deliberate about it here.

      As to your statement:

      $60 billion would surely be helpful in promoting better power generation and transportation efficiency

      Don’t be naïve, Jim.

      The billions will go where all tax billions go: to finance programs and pet projects that need money, whatever these might be, or simply in an attempt to plug the deficit hole that already exists because of overspending.

      And, most importantly of all, it is clear that a carbon tax (no matter how high) will not change our planet’s climate one iota. No tax ever did.

      Max

  84. Global Warming is Cyclic!

    What more evidence one needs to see the global mean temperature pattern is cyclic for both hadcrut3 and gistemp than the following chart:
    http://bit.ly/ePQnJj

    Note that, in this chart, the cyclic maximum temperatures for 1880, 1940 & 2000 are nearly equal. Also, the cyclic minimum temperatures for 1910 and 1970 are nearly equal.

    In the leaked/hacked emails there are evidence for the cyclic maximum temperatures of 1880s and 1940s:

    The verification period, the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all. This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to (they have not yet risen to this level of sophistication, but they are “on the scent”).
    http://bit.ly/ggpyM1

    So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC, then this would be significant for the global mean – but we’d still have to explain the land blip.

    http://bit.ly/fcoFJK

    CONCLUSION
    Global mean temperature has an overall warming of 0.06 deg C per decade and a cyclic warming and cooling phases of 30-years duration. During the global warming phase, the total warming is about 0.15 deg C per decade. As a result, the contribution to the total warming from the cyclic warming is about 0.15-0.6=0.09 deg C per decade. To present the total global warming rate of 0.15 deg C per decade as an overall warming that continues into the future, without subtracting the contribution of the cyclic warming, is seriously abusing mathematics.

    • Girma

      Your data on our cyclical temperature record is crystal clear to me, as is your conclusion.

      I’m just not sure whether some other posters here are physically able to see the multi-decadal cycles in your graphs or if these lie in the “blind spot” outside their “box” or paradigm.

      Let’s see.

      Max

  85. Schrodinger's Cat

    If the scientists are quick, they can issue dire warnings about global cooling, which is exactly what they did in the seventies.

    • I’m waiting for them to show that CO2 cools the earth. Hey, what price desiccated air?
      =========

  86. Whose Property Rights?
    Here in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, it is OUR property rights that are under attack from the holier-than-us “control the land, control the people” faction. The latest gambit is, with the help of climate alarmism and our need to be protected from same, a comprehensive program to deem virtually all properties to be “non-conforming” with the moving-target Land Use Bylaw. We run the risk of being denied permits for septic system repair / renewal, rebuilding of dwellings after fires or other damage, and many other limitations, with consequences in areas of insurability, mortgagability and eventual confiscation. All with the stroke of a pen. And this is all being financed by our good friends associated with Tides and Tides Canada, the Suzuki Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra and tentacles, laundering funds through the Rockefeller, Packard and many other presumably “charitable” Trusts. Screw the rest of the world, let me protect my own!

  87. Schrodinger's Cat

    I agree with Girma and Manacker. Try posting again on a newer thread.

  88. For those concerned about ocean “neutralization, this paper is an interesting read:
    http://www.paleolands.com/pdf/cenozoicCO2.pdf
    The paper shows that 60 million years ago, the PH of the oceans was 7.4 (page 697). It has been increasing since then until 14 million years ago, and decreasing since then. Coral has existed for 500 million years, many million of years at PH lower than current levels.

    The paper also show (page 698) that CO2 levels have been increasing for the past 3 million years, and that 1 million years ago the level was 300 ppm. And that levels below 500 ppm are asociated with ice ages (page 698). This would indicate that if we can increase CO2 levels above 500 ppm, we can likely save the earth from the next ice age. By driving around in your SUV you are helping to save the planet.

    • Yes, last time we had this much CO2, Antarctica (let alone Greenland) did not have an ice sheet. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Jim D,
      Bunk. Prove it.
      This assertion of yours is exactly why fewer and fewer people take AGW seriously.

    • Yes, last time we had this much CO2, Antarctica (let alone Greenland) did not have an ice sheet

      So why do we have one this time?
      Anthropogenic Global Cooling?

    • But for the AGW believers, this will not be considered, and the opinion leaders will simply ignore it. Or say the Koch family funded it.

    • ferd berple, 3/15/11 9:56 pm, Property Rights and Climate Change

      Checking your citation against the bible, the IPCC Reports, reveals that IPCC considered it once, lumping it in with three similar reports to dispose of them all.

      Pearson & Palmer, Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 60 million years from Nature, August 2000, is one of four primary proxies used for the pre-Quarternary CO2 levels, identified as the one that relies on the ratio of boron isotopes. AR4, ¶6.3.1, p. 440. IPCC graphed the results of all four in Figure 6.1. Id., p. 441. These proxies are poorly correlated, and inconclusive as far as the AGW parable goes. IPCC makes no reference ocean acidity, which you found particularly significant in Pearson & Palmer.

      An interesting sidelight is that Pearson & Palmer committed the same fatal error as IPCC did in its analysis: reliance on the ocean surface layer being in equilibrium. IPCC relied on that preposterous assumption to create a buffer against dissolution of anthropogenic CO2 (ACO2), but not natural CO2(!). This is a triple-edged challenge to Henry’s Law, making dissolution dependent on the carbonate state in the surface layer, making dissolution not only dependent on the isotopic mix of CO2, but keeping that mix intact between natural CO2 and ACO2. For IPCC’s purposes, the assumption made ACO2 long-lived, made it well-mixed in the atmosphere, made MLO data global and not regional, and made the MLO increase attributable to man. It was too good an assumption to ignore. As a pure bonus, it made ACO2 acidify the ocean.

      Pearson & Palmer deduced the CO2 levels from the boron-isotope ratios of ancient planktonic foraminifer shells to estimate the pH of surface-layer sea water throughout the past 600 million years. The method relies first on equilibrium coefficients for the ionization of boric acid, which is as problematic as carbonate equilibrium except that surface layer is not subjected to boric acid flux. Then with that pH estimate in hand, they could deduce the CO2 concentration by assuming carbonate equilibrium. It’s a fantastic story.

      Like the drunk looking for his keys where the light was best, ocean chemistry yields quantified results only if equilibrium is assumed. Chemistry provides neither an estimate nor a likely range for stoichiometric coefficients in disequilibrium.

      Pearson & Palmer was not just irrelevant to IPCC. Their results are unreliable, resting on an unrealistic assumption.

  89. fred b;
    You do good posts, but the last was one of the best!

    Bring on the CO2 subsidies, maximize your output. Plants, and the animals which depend on them (=100%) will thank you.

  90. Willis Eschenbach

    Brandon Shollenberger | March 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Willis Eschenbach, I’d appreciate it if you’d follow up on the exchange above. It seems more sensible to seek resolution of current disputes than simply start another exchange.

    Which exchange are you referring to?

    However, I have to say your comment here is overly strident as well. For example:

    How do I know? Because the AGW supporters have looked for 25 years, and at the end of that, they want to change the null hypothesis …

    How do take one person suggesting something to be a general position for AGW supporters? I mean, unless I missed something, that’s all we’re talking about. I don’t recall the IPCC adopting Trenberth’s idea, and I don’t remember any letters from the NAS supporting it. So exactly how do you come up with this ridiculous position? Given all the trouble I’ve seen with “skeptics” in general being conflated with the various nutjobs who would deny anything, I’d think you would avoid this sort of behavior.

    I take it as a general position for a couple of reasons. One is that he expressed it as the invited speaker for a major meeting. The main reason is that, as far as I know, only I and a few others objected. I certainly didn’t notice you standing up and saying it was wrong. Those of us who did protest were in a distinct minority. RealClimate thinks it’s a great plan, I hear. None of the leading lights in the field spoke against it.

    This is the recurring problem. The entire field gets blamed. But the field has no one but themselves to blame. As long as the majority of AGW scientists don’t speak up against the bogus science, people will reasonably assume that they agree with bogus science. And if they don’t speak out against Trenberth, I for one will assume that they agree with him. Might not be true … but I’ll believe it until they do start speaking out.

    And by the way, this is just silly:

    We don’t have any evidence that the climate has changed.

    It may just be extremely poor wording on your part, but this is the strangest comment I’ve seen in a while.

    Brandon, what do you think I meant by that? I mean, you’ve read my writings. You know I’m not dumb. If you thought for a minute you’d realize that I most likely meant that we have no evidence that the climate has changed in any unusual or anomalous fashion … we were discussing the null hypothesis, which should have given you a clue.

    However, if you truly were confused, a simple question as to the meaning would have been the polite way to clarify the issue.

    Calling it “just silly”, on the other hand, shows that you’re not just interested in clarification. You also want to bust me for lack of clarity. OK, I’m busted. Can we get back to the issues at hand?

    w.

    • It would seem, from watching Trenberth and the whole range of AGW advocates, that they NEED to force acceptance of their position as the Null (default). There is no way they can overcome the near infinite mass evidence of natural variation’s ability to produce the minor swings of temperature we’ve witnessed.

  91. Of course a revenue-neutral fossil-carbon fee is the most efficient solution, and truly Libertarian. First, however, the GOP has to agree on the problem, and they are constantly, en mass, denying any problem. Discussing with GOP politicians, who are not scientists, all of the imperfections of the scientific enterprise really helps them approach acceptance, I’m sure…

    The problem with a revenue neutral carbon tax is that there is no way to seed the money *equally* back into the economy. We know as human beings that a good way would be with a check or equal tax cut to all adults (with some smaller additional amount paid to heads of household per child). But corporations as entities will not allow such a thing without taking a cut. If somehow it is not vile to include them, how do you determine how much each corporation gets?

    If an acceptable (to the powers of this world, the kosmokrators) method of feeding the money back into the economy can be found, then the phased-in rev-neutral fossil-carbon fee will become law. This is because there are more people whose majority wealth is not tied directly fossil investment than aren’t. If everyone else gets together, they can tell the Kochs et al to suck it up and take one for the team.

    • No, the big problem with a revenue-neutral tax is that it will never happen. Governments will keep finding ways to give back less and less of it, and divert it into other ‘vital’ areas (that buy them more votes), making it ever less neutral.
      If indeed anything needs to be done, what is required is somthing that doesn’t put any money into governments’ pockets in the first place.

    • Anderlan

      If Joe P. incurs an $X carbon fee and then gets about $X returned in the re-distribution, where does the efficiency come from? What motivates Joe to reduce his carbon? (I assume by efficiency you mean it helps reduce carbon.)

      In a worst (best??) case corporate scenario where corporations pay a very large carbon fee and get nothing in return, how does the public cover the major increase in the price of much of what he buys? The cost of his electricity just doubled, maybe about like the cost of his new car or concrete driveway, etc., etc., etc. Will Joe P. get enough premium of his return over his fee to cover it? How do you know? Wouldn’t that require a 500,000 person bureaucracy to constantly tinker with and keep everything in tune?

      And how exactly is this an example of “truly Libertarian?”??? I wasn’t aware that bigger central government and wealth re-distribution are a prime tenet of Libertarianism.

      Though you have made some progress by gussying up a tax in “fee” clothing.

    • ps

      Actually, Punksta’s argument is the strongest.

    • Good point, Rod. It would take an army of office wallahs to run the system. And how would the refund system work?

  92. I suppose you could say it’s libertarian in the sense that it’s less unlibertarian than other options. It’s fairer (less unfair), since only a once-off coercive wealth redistribution. If CAGW turns out to be real, and you had to do something, that would be the sort of thing a libertarian might consider.

    And a monthly check to each citizen would do it, no reason to have corporate payments. Minimal admin.

    If only we could trust politicians ….

    PS
    And wtf are the “kosmokrators” ?

  93. IMO, the whole point of pricing carbon higher is to force us to use less so that there’s more for the rest of the world to use (and at a cheaper price due to the lower demand).

    This is economic insanity. Cheap plentiful energy is the lifeblood of a modern economy.

    On top of this, if the price of carbon is raised, so will the prices of these mostly everyday products that we use:
    http://www.texasalliance.org/admin/assets/PDFs/The_many_uses_of_Petroleum.pdf
    Not only will the prices of these items rise, what jobs that are still here making them may very well be shipped off to other countries because of the higher carbon price.

    Looks to me like our economy and way of life is being contracted while our jobs and wealth are being redistributed to other nations to raise their standards of living and at some point, they will ‘converge.’

  94. A revenue-neutral carbon tax, in theory, could be fairly administered. In practice … you’d have to trust the politicians. The real reason to be suspicious, though, is that it won’t drive anyone’s economy towards reduced carbon emissions, or improved technology. The best demolition of the rationale for a carbon tax is available below:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/crisis-removes-easy-path-to-low-carbon-world/story-e6frg6zo-1226023501327

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  97. My guess? The latest dispatch from Al Gore’s intrepid Antarctica expedition. Looks like the boys are getting a little bored with their PR stunt.

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