Social cost of carbon: Part II

by Judith Curry

Climate change is an externality that is global, pervasive, long-term, and uncertain–but even though the scale  and complexity of this externality is unprecedented,  economic theory is well equipped for such problems–and advice based on rigorous economic analysis is any way preferred to wishy-washy thinking. – Richard Tol

Integrated Assessment Model-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading. - Robert Pindyck

In the preceding post Social Cost of Carbon, we were left with two outstanding issues:  what is the uncertainty/ignorance associated with the SCC estimates, and how should the SCC be used in policy making.  In this post, I present perspectives from two economists that are arguably in the ‘middle of the road’, at least in relative terms, on this topic.

Targets for global climate policy:  an overview

Richard Tol

Abstract. A survey of the economic impact of climate change and the marginal damage costs shows that carbon dioxide emissions are a negative externality. The estimated Pigou tax and its growth rate are too low to justify the climate policy targets set by political leaders. A lower discount rate or greater concern for the global distribution of income would justify more stringent climate policy, but would imply an overhaul of other public policies. Catastrophic risk justifies more stringent climate policy, but only to a limited extent.

Published by Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, full manuscript available [here]. Some excerpts:

There is broad agreement between these studies in four areas. First, the welfare effect of a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas emissions on the current economy is relatively small—a few percentage points of GDP. Second, the initial benefits of a modest increase in temperature (up to ~2C) are probably positive, followed by losses as temperatures increase further.  Third, the uncertainty is vast and right-skewed. Undesirable surprises are more likely than desirable surprises. Fourth, poorer countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate change. 

Although Table 2 reveals a large estimated uncertainty about the social cost of carbon, there is reason to believe that the actual uncertainty is larger still. First of all, the social cost of carbon derives from the total economic impact estimates, of which there are few, incomplete estimates. Second, the researchers who published impact estimates are from a small and close-knit community who may be subject togroup-thinking, peer pressure and self-censoring.

The second paper is by MIT economist Robert Pindyck:

Climate Change Policy, What do the Models Tell Us?

Robert Pindyck

Abstract.  Very little. A plethora of integrated assessment models (IAMs) have been constructed and used to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate alternative abatement policies. These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis: certain inputs (e.g., the discount rate) are arbitrary, but have huge effects on the SCC estimates the models produce; the models’ descriptions of the impact of climate change are completely ad hoc, with no theoretical or empirical foundation; and the models can tell us nothing about the most important driver of the SCC, the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision, but that perception is illusory and misleading.

Published in Journal of Economic Literature, [link] to full paper.  Summary excerpts:

I have argued that IAMs are of little or no value for evaluating alternative climate change policies and estimating the SCC. On the contrary, an IAM-based analysis suggests a level of knowledge and precision that is nonexistent, and allows the modeler to obtain almost any desired result because key inputs can be chosen arbitrarily.

So how can we bring economic analysis to bear on the policy implications of possible catastrophic outcomes? Given how little we know, a detailed and complex modeling exercise is unlikely to be helpful. (Even if we believed the model accurately represented the relevant physical and economic relationships, we would have to come to agreement on the discount rate and other key parameters.) Probably something simpler is needed. Perhaps the best we can do is come up with rough, subjective estimates of the probability of a climate change sufficiently large to have a catastrophic impact, and then some distribution for the size of that impact (in terms, say, of a reduction in GDP or the effective capital stock).

First, consider a plausible range of catastrophic outcomes (under, for example, BAU), as measured by percentage declines in the stock of productive capital (thereby reducing future GDP). Next, what are plausible probabilities? Here, “plausible” would mean acceptable to a range of economists and climate scientists. Given these plausible outcomes and probabilities, one can calculate the present value of the benefits from averting those outcomes, or reducing the probabilities of their occurrence. The benefits will depend on preference parameters, but if they are sufficiently large and robust to reasonable ranges for those parameters, it would support a stringent abatement policy. Of course this approach does not carry the perceived precision that comes from an IAM-based analysis, but that perceived precision is illusory. To the extent that we are dealing with unknowable quantities, it may be that the best we can do is rely on the “plausible.”

Robert Samuelson discusses Pindyck’s paper in the Washington Post titled Global Warming Pragmatism.  Excerpt:

Pindyck sounds like a “global warming denier.” He isn’t. True, he thinks climate change and its adverse economic consequences could be wildly overstated. He also thinks they could be wildly understated. The effects might ultimately be catastrophic. We simply don’t know. Ignorance reigns. The best course, he says, would be to adopt a modest carbon tax — because there are certainly some ill effects of global warming — and adjust it as we learn more. Meanwhile, we shouldn’t assume that computer models convey scientific truth. “The models create an illusion of knowledge,” he says. “For me, the issue is being honest.”

JC comments:  I like both of these papers; they pay substantial attention to uncertainty, and both recognize the issues associated not just with statistical uncertainty but also methodological reliability (e.g. see recent reliability thread on the paper by Petersen and Smith) as well as flat out ignorance.   Tol is an IPCC insider (who is unusually open minded for an IPCC insider, IMO) while Pindyck does not have any apparent connection to the IPCC (and the issue of IAM and SCC does not seem to be a primary focus).  Hence Pindyck’s perspective partially addresses Tol’s concerns about narrow perspectives from a small close-knit community.

But all this still leaves us with the issue of what to do re climate policy.  Even with high levels of uncertainty and ignorance, looking at the model results and sensitivities is useful, provided that this information is used in context of a broad scenario approach such as suggested by Pindyck.  The use of these model results to drive policy in an optimal decision making mode, such as what seems implied by the White House doc, does not seem defensible given these analyses of uncertainty and areas of ignorance.

385 responses to “Social cost of carbon: Part II

  1. There has been some discussion on the same topic at Klimazwiebel. I’m not going to repeat here, what I wrote there except for the first comment:

    Journal of Economic Literature has published a series of three articles under the title Forum: How Should We Model Climate Change? in its September issue. Pindyck’s article is one of those. The two others are by Nicholas Stern and Martin L. Weitzman.

    Nobody should be surprised by the fact that Stern’s view is quite different. He writes in the abstract:

    Scientists describe the scale of the risks from unmanaged climate change as potentially immense. However, the scientific models, because they omit key factors that are hard to capture precisely, appear to substantially underestimate these risks.

    Weitzman has a more technical approach as he concentrates on problems of discounting.

  2. You can apply the “social cost” approach to anything. Take oxygen, for instance.

    The social cost of oxygen
    It’s well known that oxygen is dangerous. It is the necessary ingredient in fires, which cost the US about 2.2% of GDP ($324 billion) annually (http://www.nfpa.org/research/statistical-reports/economic-impacts/total-cost-of-fire). Before its toxic potential was fully understood, it was supplied at levels near 100% to premature infants in intensive care units in the US in the 1940s and early 1950s, during which time it was the leading cause of blindness in US infants. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/rop/rop.asp. We all remember the terrible accident costing the lives of three astronauts due to a spark in the enriched oxygen environment. (After which oxygen was banned from the spacecraft interior in favor of helium.)
    The decisions to remove excess oxygen from the intensive care units and spacecraft can be considered early cases of regulation of this dangerous invisible and odor-free gas. However, these decisions have had virtually no effect on the 20.95% level of oxygen in air. People, this is 600 times the amount of carbon dioxide! http://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/publications/ralph/1_Correlations.pdf. And we all know the imminent and unavoidable catastrophic effects of this tiny concentration of another invisible, odorless (although nontoxic) gas. We are all taking in one of these dangerous pollutants with every breath! (and in fact contributing to the coming disaster with every exhalation of the other dangerous pollutant).
    For some reason, there is considerable effort now on estimating the social cost of carbon, while there is no visible focus on its “partner in crime” (and the periodic table), oxygen. Although I am not an economist, I call upon economists and regulators (where are you, EPA, when we need you?) to follow the pernicious effects of oxygen throughout all the ways it affects our economy and the lives of our people, and arrive at a defensible estimate of its true social cost. At that point, we will be able to institute an oxygen tax that will be supported by all, especially our government, which needs it the most.

    • Old age and death by natural causes are essentially the result of chronic oxidation that is enhanced by the big ball of UV that irradiates us to a crisp.

    • …but, not if you pay a higher tax on cigarettes.

    • Exactly correct analogy. Perhaps we do need to try to cut the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere.

    • Burning fossil fuels does exactly that.

    • David Springer

      @Bob,

      That is, by far, the most astute observation to date I’ve seen come from you.

    • And let’s not forget oxygen’s role in rusting, where our solid infrastructure soon crumbles into red dust. It’s the demon oxygen with it’s crazy eights of protons, neutrons and electrons….

    • Hey, this is interesting!
      So, instead of “frying in a vat of CO2″ we are really “rusting away in a bucket of oxygen”

      I’ve always suspected oxygen as a bit of a troublemaker…always overreacting with everything.

    • Lance, notice that Tol is quoted as writing: “Second, the initial benefits of a modest increase in temperature (up to ~2C) are probably positive, followed by losses as temperatures increase further.” Obviously, the estimates that Tol is describing must include both external benefits and external costs; otherwise Tol’s assertion that “the initial benefits [of warming] are probably positive” could not make any sense at all.

      I know this is what Tol means, because he has previously left comments saying that (for instance) the (net) scc they estimate is corrected for fertilization of agriculture.

  3. Judith, you write “But all this still leaves us with the issue of what to do re climate policy.”

    Nothing.

  4. Here’s a perspective on externalities that I believe reflects reality. http://ipencilmovie.org/

    In these discussions of SCC I cringe at the hubris. To me, “…how should the SCC be used in policy making.” is simply, it shouldn’t.

  5. “Fourth, poorer countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate change”

    Poorer countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate change, generally for the following reasons -1) corrupt government officials, 2) Failure to inustrialize through the use of fossil fuels which would enable them to build infrastructure that can better withstand climate change, whether natural or (not likely) man made, and 3) some combination of 1 and 2.

    SCC is nothing more than a political tool devised by a corrupt US administration to use in it’s war on fossil fuels. I believe the current cost estimate is something like $40 per metric ton, but whatever it is is irrelevant. Green groups are already lobbying to have the cost raised to even more idiotic levels.

    If fossil fuels are so evil and cause so much damage, let’s try a little experiment and start eliminating the use of fossil fuels, starting with the most evil of all, coal. We can shut down every coal fired power plant in the US tomorrow for a week, month, or year and get a real-life sense of what the social cost of that would be.

    • Pedro Oliveira

      If the poorer countries are the most affected by ‘global warming’ let them tax carbon.

    • @PO: If the poorer countries are the most affected by ‘global warming’ let them tax carbon.

      Sure. And If the poor are the most affected by gang warfare let them tax gangs. Should solve their problem, right?

  6. The Earth has coped with a wide range of pCO2 without significant heating or cooling from that factor; the IPCC climate models are woefully wrong.

    Look at that physics in detail and it is a horror story of junk science pushed by politicians acting as agents for big capital, big oil/gas, big renewables and big Marxist-Lenism morphing into Corporatist fascism.

    Look at the fiddling of past temperature data and it is obvious that many so-called scientists have behaved unprofessionally ‘to prove’ this non-science.

    Do the correct physics and the real GHE is from variation of cloud albedo via biofeedback and recent AGW was Asian industrialisation adding to the CCN level further to reduce cloud albedo.

    Look at the many interacting control systems, Proportional, Integral and Derivative, and the atmosphere has remarkable stability, as exemplified by the Faint Sun Paradox.

    Ultimately, the system is controlled by the irreversible thermodynamics of OLR which causes pCO2 to maximise. Fflora and fauna are the way the system does it. pCO2 will soon stabilise as the chlorophyl kinetics catch up.

    No economic prediction based on the IPCC projections is realistic.

    • Look at the many interacting control systems, Proportional, Integral and Derivative, and the atmosphere has remarkable stability, as exemplified by the Faint Sun Paradox.

      If PID control were optimal there’d be no need for optimal control.

      If nature ever experimented in the past with PID control she’d have dropped it like a hot potato. There’s a raft of papers on how to cope with the difficulties of tuning for no overshoot, and the method has no way of adapting to changes in the environment without changing the three constants of proportionality. The only reasons people use it are because it’s in wide use and it’s easy to program. There’s got to be something better!

  7. Underlying AGW and the idea of a Global Temperature is a concept whereby central control over the worldwide production and distribution of goods and services will be related to a meaningless average that is calculated by a central authority. Control will be accomplished by creating a carbon market whereby the cost of CO2 will become a global exchange rate. Failing to bring that about, CO2 will be classified as a poison and everyone who deals in it — pastry baker to candlestick maker — will be taxed like cigarette-sellers.

  8. I would like to know If Richard Tol has investigated the economic cost of climate change towards cooling scenarios.

    Whereas he says that net benefit remains for about 2degC warming till about 2080. Presumablby that date would be extended if warming were less rapid.

    For example what would be the impact is of say -1degC cooling world wide by 2040. That seems a much more likely outcome of the current state of the solar cycle.

    • The fact that such plausible possibilities are not being explored gives away the biased nature of the policy analysis game. CAGW is a political movement.

    • When Tol says: “Second, the initial benefits of a modest increase in temperature (up to ~2C) are probably positive”, he is identically saying that a cooling would probably cause net losses.

      Again, Tol has answered comments like these before, pointing out that his and others’ estimation includes (for instance) the benefits of co2′s fertilization of agriculture.

    • Considering cooling scenarios makes sense only:
      - accepting that CO2 has a significant warming influence on climate
      - considering that there’s a significant likelihood that the climate might get too cool even at the realistically achievable levels of CO2 concentration like 450-600 ppm
      - assuming that this matter of state is not understood early enough for changing policy.

      Is there really a single person, who thinks that all the above is true?

    • Pekka

      Yep.

      Lots of people (including me) are:

      - accepting that CO2 has a significant potential but undefined warming influence on climate
      – considering that there’s a significant likelihood distinct possibility that the climate might get too cool cooler than the heights at the end of the 20thC even at the realistically achievable levels of CO2 concentration like 450-600 ppm
      - assuming that this matter of state is not understood early enough for changing</strike defining policy.AMEN!

    • David Springer

      All the above are potentially true. The precautionary principle is a sword that cuts both ways.

    • The hypothesis that dare not be mentioned in politically-correct circles is that the atmosphere self controls to minimise temperature deviation and because is uses CO2 to do this, is insensitive to change of pCO2.

      The reason why it has been ignored is the incorrect belief that aerosols, by causing smaller droplets, somehow increase cloud albedo when it’s obvious to anyone who looks at real clouds that rain clouds have highest albedo. The effect of aerosols is to reduce albedo, increase warming, all other factors constant. Hence it’s the real AGW.

    • @edmh
      I am not aware of any study estimating the impact of cooling, and I certainly did not work on that. I’ll put it on my to-do list.

    • dear Richard Tol.

      thank you for your considerate reply

      It would be very good to assess the impact of possible or to my mind probable cooling. I look forward to hearing your progress in that respect.

      However I contend that it may well be that real cooling would be truly catastrophic economically in the immediate or short term.

      Looking at the CET values it is clear that temperatures in the UK in this millennium have significantly declined and that in 2013 the first six months were dramatically cooler by almost 2deg C than the average of the previous 12 years. Although a “cherry picked” one off it would seem to be a significant change in the context a growing line of colder winters in the Northern hemisphere.

      I know it is not politically correct to think such thoughts, but it is my contention that “climate change” has to cut both ways. It is certain that any measures to control CO2 emissions cannot protect the world from a cooling change.

      In the light of current solar activity that cooling process could well be upon us already. So the CAGW movement could well be pointing the world in exactly the wrong direction.

    • Richard Tol,

      @edmh
      I am not aware of any study estimating the impact of cooling, and I certainly did not work on that. I’ll put it on my to-do list.

      Edmh followed with a comment @November 28, 2013 at 11:11am in which he said:

      I contend that it may well be that real cooling would be truly catastrophic economically in the immediate or short term.

      it is my contention that “climate change” has to cut both ways.

      I agree, but I have a different reason for my interest in the impact of cooling.

      If net damages increase with cooling, as seems likely, then this would suggest that warming would be net beneficial. It strains credulity to believe that we happen to be living on Earth just when it is at its optimum temperature for life. It seems if cooling is bad, as we strongly believe it is, then it is quite likely that warming will be beneficial.

      I realise you have projected that warming would be net beneficial up to around 2.2. C increase from now. But I wonder if this may be an underestimate; perhaps it would be net beneficial to well beyond 2.2. C. We know that life struggled in the cold past and thrived during warmer times in the distant past. We know that life thrived during warming periods, even rapid warming as in Greenland and Ireland. So, there seems to be some reasons to believe warmer and warming is beneficial

      We also have much more evidence about impacts in the colder past than we do in the more distant warmer past. So it would seem we could get trends with lower uncertainty about impacts for cooling than our pure guesses about a warmer future.

  9. Plausible possibility is no basis for policy action. The number of plausibly possible catastrophic futures is unbounded. These are academic exercises. Their one value lies in rejecting the bogus models being used by some governments, but that is not a policy direction; it is a no policy direction.

    • Star Wars.
      During the reagan build up our “plausible possibility “was a two front war. it was in fact the least likely scenario.

      There are many cases were a plausible possibility drives policy. policy isnt about probabilities, although that’s the story folks tell.
      sometimes we are driven by implausible possibilities

    • War prep is a perpetual human activity.

      Global Warming is a squiggly line drawing.

      Andrew

    • The Reagan build up was not based on a “plausible possibility” scenario, nor was it for a “two front war”. It was based on a determination that a certain level of force was necessary to deter the Soviets from taking advantage of what was then seen as a distinct advantage in materiel.

      The two theater concept came later in the early 90s when the Soviet Union ceased to be the major threat, and the concern was with multiple bad actors in multiple locations.

    • “The Reagan build up was not based on a “plausible possibility” scenario, nor was it for a “two front war”.

      It most certainly was.

      The policies related to weapons procurement and weapon design
      were driven by a two front war scenario. Most certainly. Of course,
      I worked under these policies, you didnt.

    • “The two theater concept came later in the early 90s when the Soviet Union ceased to be the major threat, and the concern was with multiple bad actors in multiple locations.”

      Wrong. In the mid 80s the two front war had one theatre centered around a fulda gap scenario and another on the korean peninsula.
      At least that is what I briefed to the Korean MOD. I didnt see you there.
      The Fulda gap scenario drove the design of the B2 and the F-22.

    • I’m glad you briefed the Korean MOD on the basis for the military build up under Reagan.

      Too bad you didn’t bother to inform Caspar Weinberger of what US defense policy was.

      http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/40800/caspar-w-weinberger/us-defense-strategy

    • Great Point Steven Mosher. Trillions of dollars and billions of man-hours into great planning and technology, failure analysis, game theory, tactics, countermeasures, etc. up the ying-yang falsified by 19 psychotic drones with box-cutters.

    • If Wall Street is too Big to Fail, is the Pentagon and all their engineering blood-sucking lapdog contractors too stupid to be blamed for failure?

    • Oh wait, I know the answer! If us pee-on’s just knew all the sooper secret stuff the Military Industrial Human Rendering Plant knew, we would give them the last remaining blood of our youth and all of our remaining treasure not printed or stolen by Wells Fargo Goldman Sachs BofA for protecting us lambs.

    • In Weinberger’s excellent essay, he notes that:

      “It is not necessary for me to argue that the considered judgment of the American people is always correct. My thesis is more modest, but more important. It is that American democracy is constructed on the principle, not that the American people will always be right, but that there exists no better guide to a wise policy. Our government, therefore, constructs a process that forces the president and the Congress to lead and argue, to seek and win the support of the American people in order to sustain a course of action. The inherent assumption here is that this process will, in the long run, produce wiser choices than any other mechanism yet discovered. Our Constitution does not say that this will be easy. But as Churchill once remarked: “Democracy is the worst form of government known to man—except for all the others.” Our government is founded on the proposition that the informed judgment of the people will be a wiser guide than the view of the president alone, or of the president and his advisers, or of any self-appointed elite.”

      It seems to me that this sensible view has been completely rejected by those leading the CAGW push.

    • GaryM,

      Mosher is right on the two front war plan that is what the 600 ship navy was for:

      “For over 30 years, Lehman has been at the forefront of American naval policy. From 1981-1987, he served as Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. A champion of the “600-ship Navy,” he greatly expanded and refocused the role of the Navy in national defense strategy and developed the “Lehman Doctrine,” a two-front response to a Soviet invasion of Europe.”
      http://chamberect.com/john-lehman-america-sea-award.html

      Weinberger was the biggest champion of that strategy and supported Lehman wholeheartedly. It was to have the Soviet have to respond to our build up In the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. It was in the context of a larger strategy of bankrupting the Soviets trying to keep up with our military spending. The first report Reagan asked for when he became President was asking CIA Casey to determine if the Soviet could break under the weight of spending trying to keep up. It’s not hard to imagine what the report said.

    • ordvic,

      The two front response to a Soviet invasion of Europe was tactical. It was not the strategic basis for the military build up under Reagan.

      The strategic thinking was outlined by Weinberger, and others in the administration. It was a global presence, and an effort to build a military which the Soviets could not match. The strategy was to either achieve clear conventional superiority over the Soviets ( to match our nuclear superiority), or bankrupt them if they tried to keep up.

      It was a response to the Carter delusion that MAD was sufficient for national defense. That naivete was a gift to the Soviets, who knew they could engage in all types of military actions, and our only response would be all out nuclear war. Reagan’s strategy, with the help of Thatcher, Walesa and John Paul II, won the cold war.

      That is why progressive revisionists like Mosher try so hard to claim the whole thing was a major boondoggle.

      There is a reason Carter was considered the worst president of our time (until recently), and Reagan one of the best, on national defense.

    • David Springer

      The probability of a two front war is inversely proportional to preparedness for it. Enemies look for weaknesses. If we aren’t prepared for a two front war that is a weakness that won’t go unnoticed by potential adversaries. Strategic thinking was and remains above your pay grade, Mosher.

    • David Springer

      GaryM | November 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      “Too bad you didn’t bother to inform Caspar Weinberger of what US defense policy was.”

      http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/40800/caspar-w-weinberger/us-defense-strategy

      BURN!

    • David Springer

      GaryM

      +many

    • @Faustino: In Weinberger’s excellent essay, he notes that: “It is not necessary for me to argue that the considered judgment of the American people is always correct.”

      Weinberger wrote that in 1986, Michael. Had he not believed this at the time it would have so undermined his self-confidence that he’d have retired on the spot.

      During Weinberger’s stint as defense secretary he raised US defense spending by a staggering amount. Each week (week!) the US taxpayers had to fork over US$6B more for defense than before him. This mind-boggling spending eventually plunged the US into more than two trillions dollars in debt, way more than anyone had previously achieved in any country in any previous time in history.

      And you seriously believe the American public was “correct” about this gross fiscal mismanagement?

      SUrely you’re joking, Mr Cunningham.

      The inherent assumption here is that this process will, in the long run, produce wiser choices than any other mechanism yet discovered.

      Navigator: Captain, the plane is on fire! Should we bail out?

      Captain: Let us discuss this. In the long run this process will produce a much wiser choice than any snap judgment we might make now.

    • GaryM and Springer are all missing the point which is understandable since you have no experience.

      It’s rather simple and true.

      When we build weapons ( following a policy directive) those weapons designs are built to to have operational effectiveness in a defined scenario. During the Reagan build up the scenario that had to be responded to was a two front war. One front in the Fulda Gap, the other in Korea. For the Fulda Gap scenario we had to model the entire region and the electronic order of battle. Long before the collapse of the soviet union and even after its collapse this scenario ( think of it as an emmissions scenario) was used to evaluate the effectiveness of
      the F117, F22, F35. Even after the collapse the scenario was used.

      The point is this. In defense we routinely use implausible futures to drive policy.

      David Wojicks Point was this:

      “Plausible possibility is no basis for policy action. ”

      My comment, which none of you have yet come close to addressing is this.

      Policies actions, SPECIFICALLY POLICIES THAT DIRECT THE DESIGN AND PROCUREMENT OF WEAPONS, have been and will continue to be driven by implausible scenarios. During the reagan build up, the policies that drove the design and procurement of ships and planes was driven by a two front scenario. That scenario was implausible yet it drove the design and procurement. in the case of Star Wars which we havent even discussed, you had similar implausible scenarios informing policy actions.

      If we were to look at climate change as a threat analyst would we would
      look at climate models and pick the worse case scenario and make our policy recommendations based on that. So, when briefing Malaysia on the future threat they faced it would be my job to explain this implausible scenario to them and what they could do to adapt. Same in Korea, same in Taiwan, Same in Jordan. In none of those cases did anyone in charge of policy argue that the scenarios were implausible. So, David or Gary, here is what you need to address.
      When you guys briefed the korean airforce on how many and what types of planes they would have needed in 1987 to defend
      against a North Korean attack, what assumptions about US help
      did you use? Did you tell them they could assume the full complement
      of US forces or only a portion? Did you tell them they needed to plan to go it alone with no US help? or did you tell them that they should plan
      assuming that the US would only be able to offer limited forces, or did you tell them they didnt need to upgrade their forces at all because the US would be there with all their assets? Which did you brief? I’m curious. David, Gary? which did you brief? and did Reagan’s pentagon sign off on your briefings before you went in country? Did you have to follow the two man rule with the material you brought? get ITAR clearence? And what was the story you told to Taiwan? Did you tell them that they needed to plan for a war where the US was already engaged on two fronts or not? which was it?
      Again, I’m curious, David, Gary, what did Reagan’s pentagon authorize you to say when you sold weapons to foreign countries?

      Now, when either GaryM or Springer can address this question
      we might have a discussion. But neither of them has any experience whatsoever in this area. They have google which doesn’t answer this question. The simple fact is that the policies that drive the design and procurement of weapons systems ( policies that say design this or buy that ) are based on implausible scenarios. They are based on worst case scenarios not most likely scenarios. Even after a threat has passed, as in the case of the soviet union, the old policy still drives the design and procurement. A simple example will suffice. The F-35. The design of the F-35 ( which started as the NATF back in the 80s) was based on a set of assumptions and scenarios which fell apart long before the first PAV. Yet, the aircraft continued to built to meet a threat that had long since been vanquished and which was never real to begin with. Contrary to what David Wojick argued we do in fact have situations were implausible possibilities drive policy. And that’s a GOOD thing.

      Finally, since we are all fans of the scientific method here, what do you all think of the defense departments ability to predict the future? Do we use un tested models? un testable models? can we come close to estimating future threats? And do we object to our defensive plans and decisions because they are unscientific and untestable in principle?
      or do we spend billions of dollars preparing for threats that are unlikely, using models that can never be tested in a controlled fashion? do we used informed guesswork and not science to build our defenses? Yup. that’s exactly what we do. back then and now.
      here’s a hint. what’s the probability of war with Iran and how do you calculate it? use science now boys. No fair building and calibrating a model using past observations. No fair having big uncertainties big uncertainty means take no action. So, knock yourself out. What’s the probability of war with Iran. Show your work and code.

    • Next up we discuss how “informed guesswork” shaped Reagan’s economic policy.

      the argument is simple, neither economic policy nor defense policy is based in hard science. Hard Jim Cripwell science, controlled repeatable experiments, is not possible in either of these realms. We do not allow the uncertainty of these disciplines to prevent taking policy decisions and actions. we often work from anecdotes ( Kennedy’s tax cut worked, therefore… ) and few on the right demand that we use the rigorous methods of the lab, to establish truth in these areas. Climate science is no different. It is informed guesswork and can be used to determine policy even if the scenarios are implausible and even if the uncertainty is large.

    • Mosher, tell us how informed guesswork didn’t waste trillions on a Soviet paper tiger while leaving the US vulnerable to the 911 attacks. Was informed guesswork used to disarm Marines in Beruit, then cut and run after the hotel was destroyed? Was informed guesswork used to follow the Pakistani ISI path to a Taliban victory and safe haven for OBL?

      Please, tell us about all of your brilliant success in the military industrial complex and how it will make for great climate policy.

    • Also, Mosher. Please, please, please, more name dropping because we all know that appealing to authority is the very best most convincing argument ever.

      You were doing so well the last year, why can’t you get a handle on Mr. Hyde?

    • Yer a funny guy Mosher.

      Obscurantism at its very finest. We started with – “During the reagan build up our ‘plausible possibility’ was a two front war. it was in fact the least likely scenario.” and end up learning that Mosher has a resume that would make Walter Mitty blush.

      Forget what Caspar Weinberger said about American policy. Forget what Reagan said. Forget what Thatcher said. Forget what actually happened. Steven Mosher, an anti-conservative purveyor of CAGW progessivism, will let us all know the truth about the global strategy, and ultimate facility of a global military build up that ended the Soviet Union.

      Steven Mosher, designer of US weapons systems, designer of models for testing those systems, builder of weapons systems, war game modeler, briefer of foreign governments on US military policy, seller of weapons systems to foreign governments, and general man about town.

      Well let’s be fair. The Climate Etc. obscurantist in chief doesn’t actually come out and claim he held all those positions simultaneously, he just implies it. Lots of “we” this and “did you” that. The part that has me confused is how such an insider could be so oblivious to what the actual, stated, implemented military policy was at the time.

      Nope, I wasn’t in any briefings of foreign leaders, I wasn’t designing aircraft and personally making and selling weapons systems to foreign governments, after briefing them on US global strategy. (How ever did you find the time?). I was assigned to HQUSAREUR in the early 80s. and was present during war gaming exercises where the Fulda Gap scenarios were actually gamed, including diversion of assets because of possible adventurism on other fronts (not just Korea and not just the Soviets). I was allowed to observe only, and onlt certain aspects. So I make no pretentious claims to some kind of insider information. Though I suspect the 4 stars in the HQ during the games had access to slightly better information about US intentions, strategy and capabilities than anyone who briefed some procurement officer in Jordan.

      None of which has anything to do with anything other than Mosher’s B2 sized ego. If anyone thinks the entire US build up was based solely on a “two front” Fulda Gap/Korea scenario, they weren’t even reading the newspapers in the 80s. Just as one example, there was this little problem we had called Iran in the Persian Gulf. You might have heard of it. It was in all the best papers.

      Oh, and the SDI you seem so eager to talk about, had zip, zero, nada to do with the Fulda Gap. (Don’t tell us, you modeled it, developed it, tested it and briefed other governments on it, when you could spare time from otherwise running the defense department.)

      One thing I did learn early in my military service was how many low level apparatchiks claim after the fact to have been deeply, personally involved in matters far above their pay grade. Particularly progressives who held any position in the Reagan military or government.

  10. Mention Pigou tax and jump right into mandated solutions without even counter views presented in Coase’s ‘The Problem of Social Cost’?

    How soon they forget.

  11. So the discount rate turns out to be like aerosol forcing: No one knows what it is likely to be or what it should be. But by varying it, you can make the model produce a predetermined desired outcome. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  12. I guess for the easily alarmed, no measurable change in climate connected to mans emissions of co2, would be considered a catastrophic outcome.
    For the CAGW committed activists, the failure of their modelling, failure of their “communication” and exposure of their failure agenda are all catastrophes.
    The social cost of this mass hysteria, engineered by our bureaucrats, is yet to be tallied up.
    But if the current estimation of $billion/day is accurate, somebody is going to have to be seen to pay for this.
    I predict interesting times ahead for politicians,bureaucrats and govt funded activists.

  13. The use of these model results to drive policy in an optimal decision making mode, such as what seems implied by the White House doc, does not seem defensible given these analyses of uncertainty and areas of ignorance.

    They justify the US Energy Acts of 2005 and 2007…which was to throw some cash at full scale demonstration of every conceivable techno-fix including loosening EPA permitting requirements for experimental fracking fluids.

    Of course the result is that the US leads the world in CO2 reduction…despite having no legal framework to reduce CO2 emissions.

    in other words…when you aren’t sure of the scope of the problem and you aren’t sure of the optimal solution…let the market sort it out.

  14. The problem is that climate policy, UN-style, is a tool of income redistribution from richer to poorer countries so the assumptions used necessarily make the case that a carbon tax, cap & trade, etc. is required to save the world from “carbon pollution” (one of the stupidest concepts ever created).

    • “The problem is that climate policy, UN-style, is a tool of income redistribution from richer to poorer countries……”

      Close Chuck, but no cigar. With a little editing, we have this:

      The problem is that climate policy, UN-style is a tool of income distribution from richer countries to the UN/NGO nomenklatura by laundering it through the murderous thugs who rule poorer countries.

    • True in all respects, Bob.

    • And here’s the key technical presumption/assumption on which it all hangs: “because there are certainly some ill effects of global warming ” Oh, really? Which ones have actually shown even tiny evidence of existing? Benefits are multiple and large. The net message that reality is sending is the very opposite of this key claim.

    • David Springer

      I wonder if anyone is really laboring under the belief that wealth transfer from rich to poor nations won’t simply be sucked up by corrupt governments and opportunistic outside contractors operating within said poor nations effectively bypassing any benefit to the general populations in those nations? Is there anyone really that naïve?

    • Of course not David,

      Being sucked up by corrupt governments, opportunistic contractors, and, most importantly, the Government/UN/NGO slugs who stole the OPM in the first place was the ORIGINAL INTENT of the wealth transfer.

      The whole scam is a money laundering scheme. It has nothing to do with climate change or ameliorating the effects thereof. It is making a lot of people wealthy; except for the murderous thugs in charge, NONE of them are in the ‘poor countries’.

  15. “Third, the uncertainty is vast and right-skewed. Undesirable surprises are more likely than desirable surprises.”

    I don’t think I’m putting words in his mouth by interpreting this as “Uncertainty concerning the risks arising from the failure to discourage fossil-fuel use is . . . right-skewed.”

    Couldn’t one say the same about the failure to launch a trillion-dollar-per-year program to guard against asteroid strikes?

    • That sentence refers explicitly to the cost of climate change, not to the cost of policy actions. Thus your interpretation is erroneous.

    • Pekka

      The sentence obviously applies BOTH for “the cost of climate change” and the net “cost of policy actions” including the cost resulting from all unintended negative consequences these actions might bring.

      To argue otherwise is sticking the head in the sand.

      Max

    • Max,

      Read the paper. In the paper it’s presented for cost of warming. This is a factual statement, not a matter of opinion.

      There are other statements that relate to uncertain costs of climate policies, but are not particularly similar to that one.

    • The only risks of climate change that make it worth discussing are those that follow from failure to discourage fossil-fuel use (or emit carbon dioxide, or however you want to put it). If there’s nothing we can do to affect the climate, then the the whole discussion is pointless.

      So, although I don’t profess the ability to read Mr. Tol’s mind or anyone else’s, I don’t find your exegesis compelling.

    • Pekka

      How the “paper is presented” is interesting, but the important thing is that the sentence applies equally to both the “cost of climate change” and the “cost of policy actions” related to climate change.

      [Think: "uncertainties" and "unforeseen negative consequences".]

      To deny this is sticking the head in the sand.

      Max

    • The comment of Joe Born made an erroneous assumption on what Tol had written. I pointed that out.

      That paper of Tol is not an original research paper but an overview of all published research that presents results on issues covered in the overview. As scientists (almost) always try to do in writing such overviews, Tol presents with equal weight both those results that are close to what he has concluded in his original research and those that deviate very much from that.

      =====

      I must say that I have problems in accepting fully the conclusions any of these papers. I feel strongly that something fundamentally important is missing in the basic approach used in evaluating future costs and benefits. I cannot make myself believe that the methods used can properly account for the great uncertainties that apply to both the specific issues considered and more importantly to the general development of societies. Neither can I make myself believe that the approach can take properly into account the adaptation that’s a permanent feature of all economies.

      While I agree on many other points on the asymmetry that adds to the weight of the risks of climate change, I have a strong intuitive feeling that the problems I discuss in the above paragraph work strongly in the other direction, i.e. the natural adaptation seems to be more powerful in reducing the risks than normal economic analyses tell.

      As all that is unformulated in detail and unspecific, I may err totally, but presently I do think along the lines described here.

    • Pekka -

      As all that is unformulated in detail and unspecific, I may err totally, but presently I do think along the lines described here.

      That comment, and the rest of your 5:05 post provides an example of I why I refer to you as a touchstone when considering the issues discussed at Climate Etc. It is very rare in these pages (and beyond) to find someone who is willing to acknowledge how his/her opinions are not derived, simply, from factual certainties. Those “skeptics” who are truly interested in identifying uncertainty should follow your lead.

    • “strong intuitive feeling”

      I’ve heard religious people say similar things as well as John Cook.

    • And this is why the climate wars = same ol’ same ol’.

      I’ve heard religious people say similar things as well as John Cook.

      So Pekka acknowledges the role of intuition, along with factual certainties, in how he formulates his opinions. Note how this is unlike some “skeptics” (and “realists” alike), who try to argue, in contrast to what we know about human nature, that their opinions involve no intuition, but only clear-eyed and unbiased interpretation of fact.

      And for acknowledging the role of intuition in his opinion formation, he gets criticized.

      Same ol’ same ol’.

    • And of course, our much-beloved “skeptics,” even as they pay lip-service to the notion of uncertainty, seem to believe that opinions should be certain and rooted only in pure factual interpretation even though the science is uncertain.

      The climate wars are a work of art and a thing of beauty.

    • Pekka @ 5.05, agree with your last three paras. Peter Lang often takes issue with you, but I trust that he too will agree in this instance.

    • Yes, I also agree with Pekka’s last three paragraphs in his 5:05 comment.

      I’d add the following in response to this sentence:

      I must say that I have problems in accepting fully the conclusions any of these papers. I feel strongly that something fundamentally important is missing in the basic approach used in evaluating future costs and benefits.

      I agree, and here are some of my reasons:

      1. I cannot envisage warming being ‘catastrophic’. My main reason is because the planet has been much warmer in the past and life thrived during those times. Therefore, warmer is not threatening to life although some species will not thrive and others will benefit. The fact life thrived in warmer times suggests more will benefit than die out. So warming is not likely to be catastrophic. Beyond that high level argument people will drill down into cherry picked details to support their beliefs. However, it will be cherry picked and will inevitably miss most of the benefits we cannot envisage – the unknown unknowns.

      2. Sea level rise has insignificant costs compared with GDP over the century

      3. I strongly agree that the analyses do not take into account life’s ability to adapt quickly and especially humans ability to adapt. Apparently this ice cover retreated from Ireland very suddenly after the last glaciation – in about a decade. Life thrived. Similar in Greenland. Life thrives in a warming climate.

      4. We can do almost anything if we have plentiful energy. And we do have. We have virtually unlimited nuclear fuel. And nuclear energy could be cheap.

      5. And, very important, as far as I know no one has analysed the probability that the advocated mitigation policies will succeed. I suspect the probability of them succeeding is very low. But the cost would be enormous for no benefit. That is the biggest “something fundamentally important is missing in the basic approach used in evaluating future costs and benefits“.

    • Peter, good points, and I look forward to you and Pekka becoming bosom buddies.

    • Pekka Pirila,

      You posted a reply to one of my comments on the previous ‘Social cost of carbon thread’. I saw it but have been tied up with other matters so didin’t have time to repond. So I will respond now because I think some of your points need to be addressed. You wrote: http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/21/social-cost-of-carbon/#comment-417268

      Peter,

      I have written several times that I support nuclear power. I don’t, however, agree on all your views about, how nuclear power should be promoted. I have been working close to nuclear power activities since 1980. That has happened in Finland, which is the one of very few OECD countries where a power plant is under construction and two more in the process aiming to reach the construction phase in a couple of years.

      All the experience and information that I have received over the years tells, how difficult it is to proceed more widely on nuclear energy. Most certainly the solution is not a drastic reduction of safety related regulation. Accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima must be made even much more unlikely than they have been so far. Both were due to laxness in practices at a level that was not acceptable in some other countries. As long as stricter practices are not in use everywhere, nuclear power will have great difficulties in expanding or even maintaining its status.

      The “anti-nuclear phobia” may be largely irrational, but it’s a reality. Reversing that requires something different than what you are proposing.

      You’ve told me many times you have worked close to nuclear power and have friends in the nuclear industry. This is irrelevant to the arguments. It’s like saying “my friend told me …”. Anyway, I suspect I have far more experience with it than you have in the 60 years I was involved with energy projects all over the world (since I was 7 years old)m including nuclear energy,. From my perspective you have been an academic, and you filter what you want to read and what you want to accept. I suspect you have little if any practical experience. So, from now on can we not waste time saying “I had a friend who told me X” and instead deal with the actual substance of the arguments.

      You say: “I don’t, however, agree on all your views about, how nuclear power should be promoted.

      OK. Why? What do you agree with and what do you disagree with and why? That is the issue that needs to be debated. And what is your alternative – i.e. to get the cost of nuclear power down so it is cheaper than fossil fuels (while still remaining orders of magnitude safer)?

      All the experience and information that I have received over the years tells, how difficult it is to proceed more widely on nuclear energy. Most certainly the solution is not a drastic reduction of safety related regulation. Accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima must be made even much more unlikely than they have been so far. Both were due to laxness in practices at a level that was not acceptable in some other countries. As long as stricter practices are not in use everywhere, nuclear power will have great difficulties in expanding or even maintaining its status.

      The issue blocking nuclear power is the cost. If it was cheaper than fossil fuels, we’d be adopting it. So we have to get the cost down. It is already the safest way to generate electricity by a factor of 150 compared with coal generation in USA and 600 compared with world average for cola generation. So there is no rational justification for maintaining the high costs on the basis of safety. It seems to me to be irrational to argue that way.

      By the way, I didn’t argue for a reduction in safety. IMO, safety will improve as more an more plants are built, designs turn over faster, improvements are built into new designs so the breed is improved and costs reduce. This is what happens in all other industries, but it is blocked in the nuclear industry. I suggest you need to think outside your box and apply what you said in another comment on this thread:

      something fundamentally important is missing in the basic approach used in evaluating future costs and benefits

      You said:

      All the experience and information that I have received over the years tells, how difficult it is to proceed more widely on nuclear energy.

      Yes, we all know it is difficult. But unless you put that statement in proper context it is just hand waving. The context is that it is also difficult to implement global carbon pricing that would be sufficient to cut global emissions substantially. It may be impossible when the practicalities are considered. Likewise it is difficult to implement or targets and timetable with penalties, or renewable energy. All these others are near impossible because of the economics, and in the case of renewables the physical constraints. At least we know nuclear can be cheap, and has enormous opportunities for cost reductions (such as potentially about a factor of 100 increase in energy density).

      The “anti-nuclear phobia” may be largely irrational, but it’s a reality. Reversing that requires something different than what you are proposing.

      Well, please explain what you recommend is the “something different than what you are proposing.” Please explain how you see getting the cost down to substantially cheaper than fossil fuels and suitable for the whole world.

      Please don’t dodge the questions. Try to actually answer them.

    • Pekka Pirila often makes comments supporting renewable energy and damming nuclear with faint praise. He is clearly an advocate of renewable energy like solar and wind power. This is despite solar and wind supplying just 0.2% and 3% of global electricity generation. The Energy Collective has a relevant article today: Limitations of Unreliable Energy Sources, aka ‘Renewables’
      http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/306636/limitations-unreliable-energy-sources-aka-renewables

      The rest of this comment is an excerpt from that post Excerpt:

      “As part of the discussions stimulated by their airing of Pandora’s Promise, CNN hosted a debate between Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute and Dale Bryk of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

      Shellenberger really missed the ball by not mentioning the inherent energy inefficiency of the main renewables: wind & solar.

      1. Induced cycling inefficiency in the shadowing fossil fuel power plants
      2. Necessity of long distance power transmission to get rid of surpluses and import shortages due to the vagaries of wind & solar, waste energy in transmission & the energy of construction & maintenance of the transmission lines
      3. Economics of heavily subsidized fluctuating renewables favors low capital cost, low efficiency generation to backup and shadow the Wind & Solar. That is mostly diesel generation, OCGT and archaic low efficiency coal burners. Utilities are now being forced to pay expensive capacity payments to keep these inefficient generators operational.
      4. The inevitable overbuild that comes with wind & solar generation. Even renewables advocates admit that. In order to supply peak energy, winter in the north, summer in the south you need to greatly overbuild the renewables. That inevitably means throwing energy away in the fall & spring. Compounded by the fact that hydro is max in the spring, when energy demand is minimum. That is the epitome of energy inefficiency.
      5. Need to heat & power wind turbines when they are not generating electricity, especially in the north.
      6. The inherent energy inefficiency of energy storage, very much needed by wind & solar. Typically batteries with about a 70% round trip energy efficiency. Pumped hydro about 80-90%. CAES about 65%. Hydrogen about 40%. Add to that the embodied energy in all that additional infrastructure.

      In his response to my request for his permission to promote his comment to the front page, Fred added the following information:

      One additional point on electricity transmission. The substations, transformers, switchgear and transmission lines must be sized to carry peak load, while only carrying an average ~15% of peak for solar & ~30% of peak for wind. The actual transmission conductors are made of aluminum. A high energy input material. Normally the conductor size & number of conductors is determined by economics, the marginal cost of increasing conductor size or number of parallel conductors to reduce line loss should equal the revenue gained by the increase in available power sold.

      With solar & wind you are only transmitting a highly peaked power for an average of a few hours per day, so it is not economical to reduce line loss to a minimum by adding a lot of aluminum. Thus line losses are going to be considerable for long distance transmission. An absurd fantasy to send solar from the SW to match wind from the plains. A ridiculous waste of energy.”

    • Peter,

      I discuss what I see as possible in democratic societies where distrust of nuclear power is widespread. Closing eyes on the reality of that and assuming that declaring nuclear safe in blog posts (or other media) will lead to to it rapid adoption is unrealistic in my view. That’s what I have been writing about. Many people have tried to promote nuclear energy all the time. We see now, how much that has helped.

      I’m positive on renewable energy in comparison with you. I don’t see it all black, but I’m certainly not all positive on its potential, and I have said that in many ways in many comments also on this site.

      You cannot expect that I would be as extreme on these issues as you are.

    • People should take a look at this current 7 day graph provided by the Bonneville Power Administration for the NW US. The hardly visible green trace at the bottom of the graphic is wind generation. Their system has 4500 MW of wind capacity and over the past week maximum generation has been 203 MW. Less than 5% of rated capacity.
      http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/Wind/baltwg.aspx

      Wind will never be more than an erratic and expensive boutique source of power. The goal is to maintain reliable power and hell will freeze over before 100% backup by reliable fossil/nuclear/hydro is not required. And solar is worse.

      Discussion of renewables shouldn’t even be on the table. It is foolishness. If you want to provide a good life for your descendants, you do your best to leave them with a cheap, reliable electrical supply. And backing up wind/solar with more reliable power is in no way cheap.

    • Bob Koss,

      Well said. Unfortunately, Pekka has been in academia far too long. He believes the ideological hogwash about renewables, and avoids addressing the fact that without economic nuclear power no significant mitigation is feasible. What an example of head in the sand.

    • David Springer

      Peter Lang | November 28, 2013 at 4:30 am |

      “Anyway, I suspect I have far more experience with it than you have in the 60 years I was involved with energy projects all over the world (since I was 7 years old)”

      I’m almost certain I will regret asking this but…

      Please elaborate about your energy project experience at age 7.

    • DS,

      Since you asked, I was on the coffer dam for Guthega dam when the diversion tunnel was opened, and in the headrace tunnel when it had been excavated in just 300 feet or so at age 7 and then on many of the dams and in tunnels and power stations during construction for the next 10 years or so. I could say much more but knowing what you’re like I recognise it would only be used for abuse and pejorative comments.

    • David Springer

      @Peter Lang

      Yeah, that’s about what I thought. I used a magnifying glass to start a fire when I was four years old (solar energy) and watched the Kinzua Dam being constructed beginning at age five (hydro power). So I got an earlier and more diverse start than you did in “energy projects”.

      Lest you forget, write that down!

    • David Springer

      @Peter Lang

      Dang. I forgot to mention that the solar energy project when I was four, starting a fire with a magnifying glass, was also a biofuel project since the fire was locally grown and harvested sticks.

      At age six I lit a fart and thence began my involvement with natural gas energy projects. I also started flying kites that year beginning my experience in wind power.

      So to recap, before your energy project experience began at age 7 I was already experienced in wind, solar, biofuel, natural gas, and hydro power projects. What do you surmise caused you to lead such a sheltered life that you didn’t begin the path to your illustrious career as climate blog troll/nuclear power cheerleader until so late in life?

  16. Judith Curry

    But all this still leaves us with the issue of what to do re climate policy.

    Richard Tol has stated that it is not possible to make a meaningful cost/benefit analysis with the sketchy input information that is available from the climate models to date.

    [This is obvious with a 2xCO2 ECS range of 1.5C (no problem whatsoever) to 4.5C (potentially significant problem).]

    So the problem lies with the climate scientists, not with the economists or policy makers.

    Until this range can be narrowed down, there is no point doing anything with “climate policy”.

    My suggestion

    1. Figure out whether or not there really is a potential for a “CAGW problem” by
    - doing more extensive research to identify and quantify all possible natural climate forcing factors and variability
    - analyzing in detail the current pause (despite unabated CO2 emissions) and its causes
    - re-evaluating and narrowing down the “most likely” range of 2xCO2 ECS with the above information in mind (several independent partially observation-based studies have already started this work; these all point to a much lower ECS range than IPCC is currently using for its forecasts).

    2. Using the new narrower 2xCO2 ECS range as defined above, make a forecast of potential theoretical GH warming based on various alternate CO2 scenarios:
    - Business-as-usual, with future CO2 emissions tied to expected future population growth, allowing for a reasonable increase in per capita CO2 emission, based on past experience (rather than “pie in the sky” worst case scenarios, that are absurdly exaggerated to start off with)
    - Reduced CO2 scenarios, tied to specific actionable proposals (not simply meaningless political statements of “X% reduction below the level of year Y by year Z” or “hold AGW to 2 degrees C by year 2100″)

    3. Once a range of future global temperature estimates can be projected, analyze in detail what the negative as well as positive climate-related effects could potentially be (more or less tropical storms, flooding, droughts, increased growing season and arable land, net effect of higher CO2 levels on crop yields, etc.)

    4. AFTER ALL THIS WORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED (and a realistic projection of future warming under various scenarios can be estimated), do a detailed cost/benefit analysis based on the overall winners and losers from this potential future warming to arrive at a net figure.

    5. Assuming the net result of all this is that the net long-term effect of AGW is likely to be negative on humanity and our environment, do detailed cost/benefit analyses for every actionable mitigation/adaptation proposal, using an appropriate discount rate to offset current investments against projected future reduction of losses (Tol approach). [This discount rate must be high enough to take into account all the many uncertainties regarding future reduction of losses plus possible unintended negative consequences.]

    Lots of work remains to be done before we can reasonable address “the issue of what to do re climate policy”, Judith – and the ball is still in the court of the climate scientists, who have postulated that there is a potential “climate change problem” in the first place.

    Just my opinion.

    Max

    • Exactly!

      Before embarking on billion to trillion dollar solutions that carry the enormous baggage that is inevitably associated with a government with essentially unlimited power that would be necessary to implement the ‘solutions’ proposed so far, FIRST, demonstrate that there is a PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED.

      So far, other than ex cathedra pronouncements to the effect that ‘THE SKY IS FALLING!’, there is no evidence that the climate is doing anything out of the ordinary, with or without ACO2. If it ain’t broke, don’t spend a trillion dollars to fix it.

    • Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist , ref Ch 7, on social and
      economic benefits of fossil fuels, freeing people from the
      tyranny of hard labour, increasing productivity and affluence.
      http://beththeserf.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/8th-edition-serf-under_ground-journal/

    • Manacker asks what should we do about climate policy.

      absolutely nothing, zilch. is a very good and economic response

    • edmh

      Agree we should do “absolutely nothing” on “climate policy”.

      Max

      PS And living in a representative democracy, I’ll inform my representative that this is what I want him/her to support.

    • Second that motion.

    • Max, see my Weinberger quote above.

    • Faustino

      Yes.

      Agree completely.

      The “unwashed masses” (who supply the tax revenues) will be the ultimate decision makers in our representative democracies – not a small group of climatologists.

      This may me tough for guys like Lacis to accept, but that’s the way it is.

      Max

    • As I mention below, this type of wait-and-see approach should include carbon emissions in that “wait” part. That is, slow them down until we know more about their effect. It is pointless waiting another decade or two to prove a dangerous level, only to find we are going past it already by the time we know. That would be the ultimate stupidity with an irreversible process like this. It is not at all like CFCs or acid rain pollution, that are somewhat reversible, and ratcheting up the CO2 level demands a more cautious approach.

    • Jim D

      I would disagree with your premise that we should embark on a costly exercise of “slowing down” carbon emissions while we “wait and see” if the consensus predictions were right or wrong.

      Cutting back CFCs was a relatively inexpensive thing to do.

      Slowing down carbon emissions is not.

      The cautious approach is to get the science straight first, before embarking on any costly remedial actions whose unintended negative consequences we are unable to foresee.

      It’s just common sense, Jim.

      Max

    • Max, as some of us have long argued, this should have been done before any costs were incurred in reducing emissions. Better late than never, but better still not to have acted without due basis.

    • Although the uncertainty involved makes action unlikely, these papers do have the potential to force us to recognize that, not only can we change the parameters of climate change, we inevitably will.

      We could drastically reduce emissions now if we chose, building more non-emissive generation capacity with present technology (nuclear) and penalizing emissions. So far we choose not to.

      But by having an ‘arbitrarily selected’ input such as the discount rate, we can place a value on present investments as well as a value on the well-being of future generations.

      If we decide that the chase for economic growth is all-important then it should fall to the generations enriched by that growth to take care of the very real damages significant climate change could cause. Future generations will be far richer than we are today because we enabled future growth as well as achieving present gains. They will have the means to adapt to climate change, which Stern projects will cause a paltry 1% to 5% decrease in GDP.

      Should we decide that it is our responsibility to shoulder the burden of mitigating future climate change and preparing adaptation, we impoverish ourselves for the climate benefits for future generations. We also condemn them to far poorer circumstances economically.

      We do have choices. One of them is not choosing. That’s probably not the optimal choice. It’s also the most likely to happen.

    • What would be extremely foolish is to adopt a policy that would make us, and future generations, poorer, and achieve no mitigation of climate damages.
      This is exactly what is being done now with the useless renewables.

    • The point is that doing nothing might not be the best policy, but it is much, much, better that what is being done, or what is being advocated by the usual suspects.

    • Max: Pindyck and Weitzman argue that a cost-benefit analysis of climate policy is not possible. I argue that it is.

    • Perhaps the present situation is not in either extreme – or is dependent on our views of correct discount rate.

      If the discount rate is high enough, the outcome is dominated by reasonably near future making a cost-benefit-analysis practical, while a discount rate that makes future centuries dominate the outcome makes cost-benefit-analyses highly suspect.

      Or perhaps the period to be considered can be limited through arguments of somewhat different nature. Whatever we decide right now, future decision-makers will do further decisions. They do their decisions based on the conditions and knowledge of that time. If we make an error today, they may decide on corrective actions. If we use less of a finite resource now, they may decide to use more later.

      From that kind of arguments it follows that the influence of our decisions may last shorter than typically assumed. Perhaps this kind of phenomena should add one more factor similar to discounting to our calculations.

    • Richard Tol

      You write:

      Max: Pindyck and Weitzman argue that a cost-benefit analysis of climate policy is not possible. I argue that it is.

      Maybe.

      But a meaningful “cost-benefit analysis of climate policy is not possible” UNLESS the key parameter (the temperature response of increasing CO2) is identified much more closely than it is today, for the reasons I outlined.

      At 1.5C there is obviously no AGW problem requiring climate policy action at all.

      At 4.5C there could well be a significant problem for some segments of society.

      Several recent studies (which I cited) are pointing more toward the lower end of the range.

      Unfortunately, IPCC has been reluctant to accept these – and is sticking with its upper end of the range, despite these recent studies.

      So it looks like, if these recent studies are correct, there is very likely no potential future problem from AGW by definition.

      Makes an economic study real easy (net cost/benefit of added carbon is a benefit); also makes making policy decisions a slam dunk (i.e. do nothing).

      Is that what you had in mind?

      Max

    • Manacker,

      [This is obvious with a 2xCO2 ECS range of 1.5C (no problem whatsoever) to 4.5C (potentially significant problem).]

      So the problem lies with the climate scientists, not with the economists or policy makers.

      You seem to keep ignoring the most important uncertainty – the damage function. It is far more uncertain than climate sensitivity. We don’t even know the sign. And, I suspect it is far more important for reducing the uncertainty in the economic models too. Nordhaus “A Question of Balance” seems to suggest that the damage function causes greater uncertainty in the DICE outputs than climate sensitivity (see Table 7-2 and Chapter 7 here: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

    • Peter Lang

      The damage function (resulting from projected climate effects of adding CO2 in the future) is directly related to the 2xCO2 CO2 temperature response.

      Before you can attempt to estimate the former, you must have a meaningful estimate of the latter.

      Today we do not.

      It’s just that simple.

      You point out that even if we were to have a meaningful estimate of the CO2 temperature impact, we still would not know the “damage function”.

      This is clearly also true.

      So I believe we agree.

      Max

    • [repost with corrected formatting]

      Manacker,

      Thank you for your reply.

      The damage function (resulting from projected climate effects of adding CO2 in the future) is directly related to the 2xCO2 CO2 temperature response.

      Before you can attempt to estimate the former, you must have a meaningful estimate of the latter.

      That is not how I understand the ‘damage function’. ECS and ‘damage function’ are two separate, independent parameters. The damage function is the cost or benefit per degree of climate change. See Table 7-1 here http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf for the eight main variable inputs to the DICE model, and Table 7.2 for their effect on the uncertainties on the calculated social cost of carbon.

      @ November 29, 2013 at 2:52 pm you said:

      But a meaningful “cost-benefit analysis of climate policy is not possible” UNLESS the key parameter (the temperature response of increasing CO2) is identified much more closely than it is today, for the reasons I outlined.

      My point is that the damage function is at least as important and probably more uncertain than ECS and TCR. I suspect we don’t even have much confidence in the sign of the damage function (although I expect Richard Tol would not agree with me on that).

      You said:

      At [ECS= ] 1.5C there is obviously no AGW problem requiring climate policy action at all.

      At [ECS = ] 4.5C there could well be a significant problem for some segments of society.

      But those two assertions are a leap of faith. We don’t know that unless we know the damage function. Perhaps both are a big problem. Perhaps neither is a big problem. We just don’t really know. To make those statements you are making an assumption about what you think the damage function is.

      As an aside, if Richard Tol’s Figure 3 here http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/climate_change.pdf is correct, then the most significant negative contribution to the damage function is the cost of energy. I believe we can do a great deal to significantly reduce the real cost of energy over this century. That would reduce the damage function (as will other unknown-unknown adaptation measures humans will come up with, as we always do).

    • Manacker,

      Further to my previous comment, I feel there are a number of highly uncertain parameters that are just as important for a meaningful CBA as climate sensitivity:

      1. climate sensitivity
      2. the damage function
      3. the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy that can be achieved with ‘no regrets’ (i.e. no cost) policies
      4. the probability that a chosen mitigation policy (like carbon pricing) will succeed and deliver the projected benefits
      5. The capacity of humans and natural systems to adapt

  17. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry quotes approvingly [for no clear reason]  “Rigorous economic analysis is any way preferred to wishy-washy thinking. – Richard Tol”

    Resolved for purposes of debate  “Wishy-washy thinking” is a self-serving label that is embraced by self-centered sociopaths for the selfishly amoral purpose of evading and denying the centrality of moral human cognition

    Is this guy? wrong for plainly speaking this common-sense truth?

    The world wonders!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  18. A group in London has just presented the results of a massive, and expensive, vCJD population incidence study. New variant CJD has killed less than 170 people in 30 years, but the financial costs in money and destroyed industries has been huge, 10′s of billions of dollars.
    This prion disease is similar to the sporadic CJD which has been known about for years. All the people affected with vCJD are homogeneous for the prion precursor protein with a methionine in a critical position (MM).
    Screening 38,000 appendixes has show 16 individuals to have positive prion tissue, population odd’s 500 per million. Each and everyone of these people was homogeneous valine, (VV).
    So no vCJD individuals, (MM)’s were identified, nada, squat.
    Some of the 16 (VV)’s may go on to have sporadic CJD, but probably not.
    The money spent on research into vCJD was the result of ‘we are all going to die’ headlines. The diversion of research funds destroyed Alzheimer’s and Dementia research in the UK, with all those people working in geriatric brain research leaving for the USA, Europe or changing fields, including the vCJD band wagon.
    This is what climate research reminds me of.

    • Doc

      Interesting analogy.

      As in the case you mention, we are chasing a fear-based virtual paper tiger here.

      Max

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      DocMartyn deplores  “expensive vCJD population incidence stud[ies]

      Thank you for your profound economic and cognitive insights DocMartyn!

      These insights may be summarized

      • Science-minded citizens gain confidence from studies that commonly are slow, costly, and uncertain.

      • Denialists rapidly and cheaply achieve high levels of confidence by simply *claiming* to certainty, in multiple spheres that prominently include public health *and* climate-change.

      Thank you for plainly demonstrating this classic model of denialist cognition to Climate Etc readers, DocMartyn!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • “Thank you for plainly demonstrating this classic model of denialist cognition to Climate Etc readers, DocMartyn!”
      Up yours.
      The fear-mongering of the prion researchers, based on quite stupid models, cost the British taxpayers a fortune and took money from research in to very common and devastating neurological diseases.
      It destroyed all the blood based pharmaceutical companies in the UK.
      It destroyed all the small slaughter-houses in the UK.

      The misallocation of resources has been highly damaging to British brain research, unless you are interested in prions.
      There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and there have been 222 vCJD cases, worldwide, since 1996.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      DocMartyn vents  “[abusive, pointless, fact-free rant redacted]“

      Gosh-golly DocMartyn, wouldn’t it be cool if prion-style protein malfolding were implicated in multiple further degenerative diseases, including (but not limited to) type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

      That be a wonderful, extraordinary, unexpected, clinically transformational scientific payoff to prion-style conformational biology, wouldn’t it?

      The world wonders … and hopes!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • “prion-style protein malfolding were implicated in multiple further degenerative diseases”

      They are not.

    • The anti-prion Fan must be in the pay of Big High Fructose Corn Syrup!

    • Some men you just can’t reach.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      FOMD emotes  “Gosh-golly DocMartyn, wouldn’t it be cool if prion-style protein malfolding were implicated in multiple further degenerative diseases, including (but not limited to) type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis?

      DocMartyn responds [wrongly]  They are not.”

      20th century dogma by DocMartyn, 21st century science by FOMD.

      Wonderful new scientific worlds are opening, DocMartyn!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Since I have followed your links several times only to find half-baked designs and even worse statistics, it’s going to take some work for you to get me to follow your links anymore. And, do you have anything original to say? Do you do any careful research yourself? If you do, your prattle never shows it. Your level of discourse is about here: “Gosh, Mr. Science, another paper with an interesting abstract!”

    • David Springer

      Sigh.

    • Good analogy. The lesson is that it pays to know what you are talking about – don’t base your policy on some nebulous “threat.”

    • The analogy should hold further. In that case we stopped dangerous practices with meat almost immediately, even before the research was complete, because the downside of keeping on with those was considered catastrophic. Similarly we should slow down on pouring CO2 into the atmosphere until we know more about its effect, which can be measured better with passing decades.
      Another analogy is driving into a fog of uncertainty, you slow down of course because you don’t know it is safe ahead. Uncertainty demands braking actions, not coasting.

    • John DeFayette

      Doc, I’m sure you know that some countries still do not accept British blood. At donation time in Italy anybody who has lived in the UK for more than 6 months is rejected. Everybody knows we will all die a grisly death, brain rotting slowly away, from a transfusion using that blue blood.

      Oh, and DDT causes cancer–just ask anyone.

    • I am in the USA, part of the ‘Brain Drain’ resulting from the loss of funding in Alzheimer’s research in the UK. Not only can I not donate blood, but I cannot be a bone marrow donor.

      The UK now has a large body of people trained to find misfolded proteins and has the epidemic of vCJD has failed to emerge, funding for Prion diseases is falling. The obvious thing for these researchers to do is to ‘fish’ for misfolded proteins in other disease states; they will of course find them. Misfolding is a common fate of proteins, and cells have a numbers of, energy dependent, mechanisms to repair or recycle them. A repair pathways, for all cellular damage, are dependent on cellular economics. In unstressed states cells are able to allocate part of their budgets to general house keeping, but when stressed, they alter their budgets and something has to be chopped.
      One way to look at it is the nature of clothing of the British population from 1934-1954. The economy of the UK switched from having defense as 10% of GDP in 1934 to >75% a decade later. The clothes people wore in 1944, were sometimes the same clothes that people had worn in 1934. The allocation of resources into new cloths was tiny, except for uniforms. People wore patched or cut down clothes, they were ragged. Clothing began to be manufactured post-war, but was directed to former service personnel first.
      So it is with cells, give them something that you know causes a specific type of lesion, completely unconnected with protein damage, and you will observe an increase in the level of protein damage. The average lifetime of proteins increases in stressed cells and their proteins have a longer time to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
      If I were to look for something unconnected with a specific mechanism, say the crosslinking of a pair of proteins (SOD and actin), if I sampled enough disease states I would find it. You can find anything if you look carefully enough; looking changes the statistical likelihood of finding.
      Some with ‘global warming’ signals, if you, a prior, look at a multitude of things between 1970 and 2010 and find a change, you can link this change to ‘global warming’, one way or another.

    • Doc: Very interesting. Can you provide a reference? This information needs to be more widely disseminated.

  19. The problem that I have with both of these papers is the presumption that “climate change”, the definition of which is so imprecise as to be meaningless, is something that we need to have a policy about at all.

    That is very different from having sensible policies to deal with known regional phenomena such as floods or droughts, which many countries have had for hundreds of years.

    In high level policy development,the first rule is to go back to the initial assumptions. That means asking the question – what exactly is this thing we are supposed to have a policy about? What are its known dimensions and probabilities? How reliable is our information?

    At a global level, “climate change policy” falls at the first hurdle, IMO. At the regional level, we can use historical data to good effect in being prepared for events which we can reasonably expect to occur from time to time.

    A Nikita Khruschev astutely pointed out: “politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.”

    • Thank you……………….PRECISELY!

    • And in the case of the US, socialists running the government are building those wasteful, unnecessary bridges all over the place.

    • (But for them, those are bridges to voters.)

    • First of all, let the record show that President Obama is right and the GOP is wrong about these tax breaks. They make the economy less–not more–efficient and do nothing to reduce prices at the pump.

      Although the president hopes to eliminate eight specific tax breaks–which cost the Treasury $43.6 billion over 10 years–only three, accounting for $31.9 billion of that total, are particularly important. Conservatives have no business defending any of them.

      The largest tax break at issue is a tax credit passed in 2005, which is available to all U.S. manufacturers. Oil and gas companies qualify for that credit, so they will likely deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of $18.3 billion from their tax bill over the next 10 years. Note that this isn’t really an “oil subsidy”; it’s a manufacturing subsidy that oil and gas companies–along with many other companies–enjoy.

      http://www.forbes.com/2011/05/02/eliminate-oil-subsidies.html

    • Wow, just WOW! You call a lowering of taxes a subsidy? Really? What a warped world of words you live in.

    • > You call a lowering of taxes a subsidy?

      Where did I call anything? That’s a quote, formatted in your style, jim2.

      But since you ask:

      A subsidy is a form of financial or in kind support extended to an economic sector (or institution, business, or individual) generally with the aim of promoting beneficial economic and social outcomes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidy

      We can speak of tax expenditures, for all I care. Not that I mind a good semantical debate. But they’re too easy.

    • You wish it were easy, Willard.

    • From the linked Forbes article:

      “Another significant tax break allows companies to accelerate the deductions of the costs of labor and various other inputs associated with drilling oil or gas wells. Now, there’s nothing wrong with deducting the cost of doing business from one’s tax bill. In other industries these expenses would be capitalized and deducted over time as income is earned. But in the oil and gas sector, the tax code allows oil and gas firms to deduct 70% of these expenses in the very first year of a well’s operation and the remainder over the next five years. These accelerated deductions are far more valuable to small producers than they are to large producers because the Alternative Minimum Tax for vertically integrated oil companies usually prevents “Big Oil” from using this tax break to its advantage. Still, it will likely cost the treasury $12.4 billion over the next 10 years.”

      About the first and five year subsidy. Timing difference. In the typical soft analysis, they say it costs $12.4 billion. A timing difference in general, doesn’t cost anything. Total long run deductions remain the same, what period they end up, changes. Two examples of this are the section 168 and section 179 deductions, that are available to purchasers of business assets, with limits.

      On the AMT. That it favors smaller producers is believable. The AMT is a parallel tax system. Pick the answer that says you owe the most taxes. In this case, it appears the AMT is blocking the subsidy to Big Oil but not as much for the smaller producers. Perhaps that was intended.

      “Finally, small oil companies (not, incidentally, “Big Oil” companies) are allowed to deduct a specified percentage of their gross income from the taxes due from producing fields rather than simply deduct the actual costs of the capital investment over time. The subsidy arises when the deductions exceed the actual investment costs.”

      I think the are taking about depletion. There are not many oil wells in Minnesota. I agree with the article here. Depletion in excess of the cost of the asset is some made up thing, and the books do not balance.

    • > You wish it were easy [...]

      On the contrary, jim2.
      Lots of fishes, one small barrel, and a philosophical shotgun.

    • Thanks for the comment, Ragnaar.

      Thought jim2 would have appreciated me citing Forbes.

    • The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. We then pander to various special interests via the tax code. It would be better to lower the rate across the board and eliminate the special treatment for the politically connected.

    • johanna

      +100

    • The Lefties have “rebranded” global warming into “climate change.” It is indeed moronic at best. Obama and his Leftie minions are attempting to do the same with Obamacare. I’m thinking it won’t be easy to do in that case.

  20. This issue has been beaten to death.

    The fact of the matter is that the “social cost of carbon” has been a net benefit to humanity (and not a cost), and this benefit has been enormous (especially in the industrially developed world, but also in the underdeveloped countries).

    The net benefit has been a dramatic increase in GDP, standard of living, quality of life and average life expectancy at birth.

    If we assume that only half of the improved quality of life since pre-industrial 1750 was a result of the availability of a reliable source of energy based on low-cost fossil fuels, we end up with a “social benefit of carbon” of around $900 per ton.

    This is the “social benefit of carbon” that has to be offset against a postulated net “social cost of carbon” some day in the far distant future.

    Without even fully considering this net positive impact on humanity of fossil fuels in the past, Richard Tol has estimated that the net social impact of carbon has been positive for humanity to date, and (using the arguably exaggerated IPCC projections of the effects of future climate change due to AGW) has estimated that it will continue to be so until warming exceeds 2.2C to 2.5C above today’s temperature.

    Using the most recent estimates of several independent observation-based studies on CO2 temperature response, this level of warming will never be reached based on human fossil fuel combustion – as there are not enough total recoverable fossil fuel resources remaining on our planet to reach this level of warming.

    The whole thing is a virtual, imaginary paper tiger – and only a fool would throw vast sums of money at it (at least until it can be predicted with a much lower level of uncertainty than now exists).

    Max

    • Hi Max,

      Continuing your theme, lets address the problem like in traditional physics classes: Postulate the boundary conditions and analyze the problem.

      In our case the boundary conditions are:

      A. Assume for the moment (with no evidence so far) that CO2 DOES have some influence on the TOE and that if we have NO climate change policy at all and continue to burn fossil fuels at a rate that makes ECONOMIC sense, the TOE MAY rise by 2 degrees or so over the next 50-100 years, based on current estimates of climate sensitivity.

      B. With the same assumptions as above, declare that the dire situation requires that we take immediate action to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels by 90+%, per current recommendation of the climate experts. And do so.

      Since the above scenarios would seem to be the boundary conditions of anthropogenic CO2 problem, which do you think would incur the greatest ‘social cost’? Continuing to use fossil fuel as we see fit, or shutting it off?

    • Bob Ludwick

      Your analysis is spot on.

      Add in the fact that today’s investment (the loss of productivity that results from replacing 90+% of our current fossil fuel consumption with other existing non-carbon sources) happens today.

      And it happens for sure.

      The postulated benefit (of avoiding the purported deleterious effects of a warming of a couple of degrees) might possibly happen in the far distant future.

      And it might not happen at all (or the net reduction in warming might be significantly less than 2 degrees).

      And there could be unintended negative consequences of our action, which we are unable to foresee or estimate today.

      So we must apply a significant discount rate to the economic study to balance today’s real investment with tomorrow’s possible savings..

      At a modest 5% discount rate, a 2013 investment of $1 trillion would be offset by a net savings in 2100 of $70 trillion.

      So this is a dead duck at the starting gate.

      Max

    • “So this is a dead duck at the starting gate.”

      Sorry Max, you are wrong. I WISH you were right, but you are not.

      The politicians have a solution: government control over everything. Climate Science provides a problem: runaway TOE driven by ACO2. Empirically, that is Climate Science’s ONLY function and it has succeeded beyond any rational person’s conception. It may be empirically insane from a scientific viewpoint, but as you see here daily, actual data is simply meaningless. CO2 is purported to be ‘knob that controls the TOE’, but empirically, in the last century, CO2 has increased monotonically, neglecting seasonal variations, while the TOE has seen periods of increase AND periods of decrease. That proves that whatever influence that CO2 DOES have is negligible in comparison to other unknown or unspecified ‘drivers’. Doesn’t matter.

      I have often said that I considered AGW to be an existential threat to civilization. Not because of any changes in the TOE, but because of the following:

      http://dailycaller.com/2013/11/27/epa-preparing-to-unleash-a-deluge-of-new-regulations/#ixzz2lsMfk6kx

      These people want power. Climate Scientists and their model-driven predictions of ACO2 driven catastrophe have provided the excuse for assuming it. And they are assuming it with a vengeance.

    • Max & Bob, a succinct presentation of the issue which, if had been repeated in the MSM over the years, would surely have killed off this nonsense long ago. Somehow, a death-wish has prevailed.

    • Bob Ludwick

      I’d agree with you that many politicians are hell bent to ride this hysteria to a very costly and highly irrational conclusion in order to extend their power.

      But I am a firm believer in the democratic form of representative government, which we all enjoy.

      As Abe Lincoln said – you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time – but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.

      In the long run, the public (and not a handful of climatologists) will decide what actions are to be taken following the democratic process.

      And this computer-generated hysteria will blow over, as others have before it.

      Max

    • Bob Ludwick,

      I seldom disagree with you, but have to on this one. I think your first assumption is incorrect:

      A. Assume for the moment (with no evidence so far) that CO2 DOES have some influence on the TOE and that if we have NO climate change policy at all and continue to burn fossil fuels at a rate that makes ECONOMIC sense, the TOE MAY rise by 2 degrees or so over the next 50-100 years, based on current estimates of climate sensitivity.

      Based on the knowledge at the time of AR4, with no mitigation action the the temperature increase (from 1900) would be about 3 C by 2100 if population growth and per capita fossil fuel energy consumption are as projected over the century. (Only slightly different than you stated but we should state the boundary conditions correctly).

      This provides a good grounding (for non specialists) in how the Nordhaus DICE IAC model works, their inputs etc. http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf.

      This explains the calibrations: http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/Accom_Notes_100507.pdf

      And Richard Tols new book is good too (and can also be read online): https://sites.google.com/site/climateconomics/

    • @ Max

      “As Abe Lincoln said – you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time – but you cannot fool all the people all of the time.

      In the long run, the public (and not a handful of climatologists) will decide what actions are to be taken following the democratic process.”

      We (in the US) are past the point at which people need to be fooled. As you speak, decrees are going out: Thou shalt do this! Thou shalt not do that! Or else. Congress need not bother its pretty little head. Fooling the people is only necessary for squeamish governments. The squeamish quotient of ours is asymptotically approaching zero.

      In the long run, you are correct. Unfortunately, at my age, I have to deal with the short run.

      @ Peter

      The exact number is not all that important. After all, whatever you pick it is simply a guess as to what will happen 50-100 years–at least–in the future. As an added feature, the ‘guess’ is based on the outputs of GCM’s whose entire raison d’être is to predict catastrophe from ACO2. There is no actual evidence that ACO2 has any measurable effect on the climate.

      The point is that the negative effects of any remotely feasible ACO2 driven increase of the TOE amortized over 50-100 years or more, assuming that we continue to have access to cheap, plentiful energy, pale into insignificance compared to the disaster of cutting CO2 emissions by 90+% over a decade or so. Reducing anthropogenic emissions by 90+% would teach the human race the meaning of the word ‘catastrophe’.

    • Bob,

      I agree with all that.

  21. When did Tol get to be in the middle of the road?

    Just what road is that?

    And why talk about the social cost of carbon, when the nominal financial cost of carbon is so high?

    The http://www.cogenra.com/financing offering shows that from today forward, paying to burn carbon is a losing proposition on its face, without even considering AGW.

    A modest geothermal baseline, some conventional hydro, some pumped hydro, a bit of wind power at the margins (www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/HosteFinalDraft), and at the current Moore’s Law like rate of dropping price of solar, the whole SCC topic (https://pangea.stanford.edu/ERE/pdf/IGAstandard/SGW/2013/Li.pdf) is about four years out of date, or certainly will be by the time the next carbon-fired electricity generating plant has paid off its fixed + variable costs.

    • > Just what road is that?

    • Same as it Ever Was!

    • Bart R

      The “nominal financial cost of carbon” to date has been enormously beneficial for humanity.

      It has been instrumental in raising the quality of life of everyone on the planet from pre-industrial days to today.

      Those in the industrially developed world, like you and I, have benefitted the most – but even those living in countries that have not developed as much have also benefitted from the net effects of the carbon-based industrial revolution.

      Sales blurbs for solar power which you cite are just that – sales blurbs. They have nothing to do with the “social cost of carbon”.

      Max

    • Curious George

      Bart – with a dropping price of solar, why does my PG&E electric bill go through the roof? (PG&E is a California utility company).

    • Curious George

      PG&E apparently hasn’t caught on to Bart R’s strange economic analysis.

      Neither has my power company here in Switzerland.

      The price of “green power” is still substantially higher here than that of “conventional power” (even with a CO2 tax, if it comes from fossil fuels).

      Max

    • The burden of a history of bad decisions?

      Sure, manacker’s happy to live in the past, waxing nostalgic for the days when technology depended on brute force and ignorance, slavishly extolling the virtues of the modest achievements of bygone times, but the presence on this blog of his comments proves he doesn’t still exclusively use tube transistors and snailmail, betraying his hypocrisy.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42wZ6guIKJo gives a moderately useful state-of-the technology for solar.

      And sure, Congenra’s $0.50/W solar isn’t there yet, the price today of ‘green power’ is — though heading sharply downward — still slightly above the much-subsidized price of carbon, but electric power generation is a matter of decisions you have to live with for five to eight decades after they’re made. Coal and natural gas still benefit from the economic conditions — and subsidies — of the 1970′s. Those conditions don’t exist any more. Hopefully the last of those subsidies will soon end, too.

      The conditions that will exist in the latter half of this century are what PG&E should be considering, if it wants to lower your electric bill over the long haul. (I know, if you’re old enough, you really don’t care what electric bills will be in 20 years, but you aren’t PG&E’s only customer; why should it only make decisions for people who will be dead in ten years?) And in 20 years, the cheapest energy will be coming from something a lot more like Cogenra than like coal.

    • (Jim2) Solar is really just a black hole for tax payers money. Like so many other socialist initiatives – this one is ugly to the bone.

      From the article:
      Another risk is that the solar industry has been propped up by subsidies. The solar industry cannot currently thrive on its own without these subsidies. Therefore, the industry will need the world’s governments to continue to offer subsidies to support growth.

      http://seekingalpha.com/article/1850491-solar-stocks-4-companies-expected-to-be-profitable-in-2013http://seekingalpha.com/article/1850491-solar-stocks-4-companies-expected-to-be-profitable-in-2013

    • jim2 | November 27, 2013 at 7:45 pm |

      When you Google “coal subsidy”, I get 4,270,000 results.

      When you Google “Cogenra subsidy”, the phrases returned are “without subsidy” and “no subsidy”.

      Sure, solar research gets subsidies. But if you’re a coal company still researching to figure out how to make coal work, there’s something wrong with your business model.

    • Bart – coal companies have been doing just fine for centuries without subsidies. (Sorry to burst your bubble.)

    • (I’m sure you have a “Bartified” definition of subsidy.)

    • The federal government has been subsidizing so-called clean coal for decades, and the hand-outs have resulted in one bipartisan boondoggle after another.

      Under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, for example, the government pumped $2 billion into the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, which supported efforts to convert coal into a gas fuel. The SFC collapsed in the mid-1980s in a spasm of gross mismanagement, conflicts of interest, and changing market conditions.

      http://www.cato.org/blog/clean-coal-subsidies

    • SFC did subsidize the exploration of certain technologies. But the Fed wasn’t giving money to coal companies to dig coal out of the ground. They had that figured out and were profitable doing it for centuries.

    • > A 2012 report by Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concluded that, since 1982, the Fair Market Value (FMV) lease process administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided a $28.9 billion subsidy to coal producers and utilities in lost royalties and bonuses.

      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Federal_coal_leasing

      The report is here:

      http://policyintegrity.org/documents/6.1_Sanzillo_coal_lease_PDF_.pdf

    • The BLM shouldn’t have control of coal in the first place, Willard. Property owners should and the Fed shouldn’t own so much of the land in the first place.

    • Bart R

      Sure, solar energy may some day become more reliable and hence more competitive with fossil fuels.

      It isn’t there yet, today, except for some relatively small localized applications.

      As you know very well, the sun only shines half of the time and, when cloudy or foggy days are included, it is only around 25% of the time in most locations.

      This means that a standby power source must be available for the remaining 75% of the time.

      The most economical (and hence logical) source of intermittent standby power is from gas turbines using natural gas. These are less efficient in intermittent standby service than in continuous operation, so that they would require roughly 90% of the fuel to operate 75% of the time as they would to operate continuously.

      So the fossil fuel savings is only around 10%.

      And the additional investment cost is substantial.

      But, hey, maybe the solar guys will figure out a way to become economically competitive one of these days.

      Max

    • Solar power generates 0.2% of global electricity:
      http://www.iea.org/statistics/statisticssearch/report/?country=WORLD&product=electricityandheat&year=2011

      Woopie! What a complete waste of time even discussing it.

    • Peter,

      Spoken like a man with his eye well and truly on…. the past.

    • Peter Lang, it’s interesting that on the IEA list of energy sources, biofuels and waste are above nuclear when nuclear supplies more that 3 times the energy of either of those.

    • Bart, Tol in the middle of the road? I think that that arises from a scaling effect under which the left-side is vastly exaggerated and the right side minimised.

    • wow! And what evidence do you have for that, Faustino – other than using your own politics to calibrate your overview of the spectrum?

    • Joshua

      I sense that Faustino’s rationale for judging Tol’s opinion on AGW to be “left of middle of the road” is common sense.

      My impression is that Tol has more or less accepted the “consensus” climatology assertions (as summarized by IPCC) in making his economic evaluation of the cost/benefit of AGW, but has cautioned that the uncertainties in the climatology part are so great that a meaningful economic analysis of the consequences is highly doubtful.

      And that, Joshua, displays a lot of common sense.

      Max

    • Faustino | November 27, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

      Tol is indeed very closely tied to Lomborg, and Lomborg is so far Left that he warps space and appears far Right.

    • If my experience is any gauge, assigning an ideology to Richard Tol is a waste of effort. Were it not a waste we would not see so many admissions against interest, nor the plethora of interests seen. Give thanks that you don’t daily have to wade through so many double negatives, and remember that Richard Tol once thought the science was settled, and is no longer so certain that is so.
      ==========================

    • max -

      Thanks for your response. I can’t help but notice, though, that you failed to answer my question as did Faustino.

      Must be a coincidence.

    • Richard Tol (@RichardTol) | November 28, 2013 at 7:10 am |

      On a day like today, at least we can give thanks there have yet to be any “Tol Road” puns in the comments here.

      From the abstract and the comments cited, there is too little of what I am sure is a lucid and thoughtful paper for me to comment on much. Simply, given the rapid innovations in alternate energy, the freakish inversions of economic sense that come out of the monopoly power of large coal/gas-burning operations through off-peak and smart grid arbitrage to deploy barriers to entry for alternatives that will inevitably drop to far lower prices than any carbon-free alternative, ploys exploited to inappropriately promote new large coal and frackgas in the developing world when the long run payoff favors alternatives, and the defenses of sunk costs by private interests and governments that obstruct movement to greater economic benefit of innovation mean it’s a largely moot enterprise.

      Why talk about the social cost of carbon, when the social cost of bad economic policy founded on bad economic analysis (and yes, I include incorrect application of Nordhaus’ DICE in that) is so much worse?

    • Meh. For “carbon-free alternative” read “carbon option”.

      Sometimes my Yodaspeak translator fails.

  22. Only fools
    would base action
    on useless tools
    and descriptions ad hoc,
    putting back the clock
    on productivity. Tick tock!

  23. Beth

    Yes, indeed.

    Throwing real money today at an imaginary future paper tiger is a fool’s errand.

    Your fellow serf Max

  24. As I had noted in the previous post, decision-makers should not be hooking their wagon to the various uncertainties in global climate change as their excuse to be doing nothing about global warming.

    The inertia of decision-makers to stick with the current status quo is quite comparable and of the same order of magnitude as the thermal inertia of the ocean in trying to maintain the global temperature at current climate levels despite all the radiative forcings that are causing the global temperature to increase.

    Decision-makers have to take everything into account when making decisions, including all the tangibles and intangibles, as well as certainties and uncertainties. Typically, decision-makers want to appear responsible and cautious in making their decision. Above all, they do not want to appear stupid, incompetent, and uninformed.

    This is where decision-makers need to be paying particular attention to those aspects of global climate change that are really quite certain, and are based on undisputed facts and physics. All along, I have been making the point that we live in a universe that operates according to the laws of physics. To keep ignoring these laws of physics can lead to catastrophic consequences. The fact that we have decision-makers in Congress who are exceedingly ignorant and clueless about the basic consequences of global warming is a real cause for concern.

    Similarly, the statement by Robert Pindyck that “These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis” is both silly and erroneous, indicative of abject ignorance as to what the global warming problem is all about. And, it could well be that Pindyck gets this “narrow perspective from a small close-knit community” made up of MIT colleagues such as Dick Lindzen.

    I have a paper that has just been published in Tellus B, and is freely available at the GISS webpage http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/la06400p.html as part of the “Natural and Man-made Climate Change Symposium” in May 2012 honoring Bert Bolin. It describes the physical basis of the terrestrial greenhouse effect, and why it is that atmospheric CO2 is the principal control knob that governs the global climate of Earth.

    • “the ocean in trying to maintain the global temperature at current climate levels despite all the radiative forcings that are causing the global temperature to increase”

      Anthropomorphization of the earth and climate does not instill confidence that we are dealing with physics.

      But it does raise some questions I have asked before.

      Why weren’t the oceans trying to maintain the global temperature (and here I thought temperature was passe’) when reported temps were trending upward prior to 1998?

      Why won’t the oceans continue to try to maintain the global temperature in the future?

      Why won’t they succeed?

      When will they fail?

      Why?

      By how much?

      What does the “physics” tell us about these questions? I know what the politics says, but where is the science?

    • Pindyck has written with Dixit the most classic textbook on investment under uncertainty. Uncertainties are not for economists like he a reason for refraining from acting, but they do influence the choices. He mentions only in passing uncertainties of climate science, and is more concerned on the issues of economics in integrated assessment models. Based on that his preferred initial choice is a modest but not negligible carbon tax.

    • Pekka

      Nope.

      The present choice on “climate policy” is do nothing.

      The choice for “climate science” is to better identify the problem (if there even is one) before we even talk about carbon taxes or any such nonsense.

      Max

    • Max,

      Is it really impossible for you to discuss what others have written?

      Your only reaction every time is to tell your own conclusion that we all have already seen thousands of times.

      I don’t believe anyone has any interest in reading it one more time. You start to be the worst spammer on this site.

    • David Springer

      manacker | November 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

      “The choice for “climate science” is to better identify the problem (if there even is one) before we even talk about carbon taxes or any such nonsense.”

      You can’t possibly say that too many times, Max.

      +many

      Keep on truckin’

    • Pekka’s monkey’s got his hands over his eyes.
      ========

    • A Lacis

      decision-makers should not be hooking their wagon to the various uncertainties in global climate change as their excuse to be doing nothing about global warming.

      Sure they should.

      It would be foolish to invest large sums of money today to avoid a computer-generated virtual catastrophe that is postulated to possibly occur several decades from now and is simply a figment of some climatologists’ imagination.

      And if it’s my money, I’m going to vote against it – and instruct my representative to do the same.

      The “excuse for decision-makers doing nothing about global warming” is that the people who would pay the bill for this are a) not convinced it is necessary, b) not convinced it would do any good and c) therefore opposed to doing so.

      And in our democratic society that’s who makes the decisions – not a group of climatologists.

      Max

    • I’d strongly urge A Lacis to stop crapping on about physics and instead answer these three issues Manacker raised:

      The “excuse for decision-makers doing nothing about global warming” is that the people who would pay the bill for this are

      a) not convinced it is necessary,

      b) not convinced it would do any good and

      c) therefore opposed to doing so.

      Until the alarmists address the issues that are the key issues skeptics want answers to, skeptics will remain opposed.

    • Right. A trace gas, of which man contributes roughly 3% to the total volume of .04% of atmospheric concentration, the atmosphere being but one of 5 separate subsystems to the overall climate system, which is also affected by externalities like the sun, gravity, polarity, cosmic rays, and who knows how many unknown unknowns, is the control knob. Co2 is THE single variable, completely overiding and rendering meaningless all the other possible variables and forcings along with the untold number variables resulting from the interactions of the various subsytems and externalities, making Co2 the only variable that matters when it comes to controlling temperature or climate. If we control Co2, we are the masters of the climate.

      The level of hubris in your position is simply breathtaking.

    • that last comment was supposed to be a reply to A Lacis.

    • The ignorance is truly breathtaking,

      Cosmic rays don’t affect climate, gravity doesn’t affect climate, polarity doesn’t affect climate and the level of variance in the Sun’s output is just smaller than the effect of CO2, which the increase is almost entirely due to mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

    • A Lacis,

      Fourier sums it up fairly well, if you are referring to his 1824 publication (1827 translation).

      “The solar heat has accumulated in the interior of the globe, the state of which has become unchangeable. That which penetrates in the equatorial regions is exactly balanced by that which escapes at the parts around the poles. Thus the earth gives out to celestial space all the heat which it receives from the sun, and adds a part of what is peculiar to itself.”

      The Earth is cooling, according to Fourier.

      Find another reference. I agree with Fourier inasmuch as he states that the Earth is cooling Even though you quote his work in support of your paper, you appear to have misunderstood what he actually wrote.

      Talk of “control knobs” is just plain silly, as well as appearing condescending.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Matthew R Marler

      A Lacis: This is where decision-makers need to be paying particular attention to those aspects of global climate change that are really quite certain, and are based on undisputed facts and physics.

      Once you get beyond the absorption spectrum of CO2 and the notion that an increase in atmospheric CO2 might lead to an accumulation of additional radiant energy someplace in the atmosphere, everything claimed in AGW is disputable. Because 20+% of incoming radiant energy is absorbed in the upper atmosphere, and radiatied spaceward, there is certainly the possibility that doubling the CO2 concentration there will lead to the Earth radiating energy spaceward faster than it does. Add to that the fact that the upper troposphere experiences net radiative cooling (the temp being maintained within limits by the non-radiative transport of sensible and latent heat in thermals), and you can see that a doubling of the CO2 in that region of the atmosphere might increase the net radiative cooling.

      Every derivation, of increased CO2 producing increased mean temperature on the surface of the Earth depends on assumptions that are untested or clearly counterfactual with unknown approximation errors. Every decision make needs to be aware of these shortcomings in the science before taking more money away from economic development.

      The only global climate change certainty is that the climate will change. Every claim for human influence via CO2, feared or hoped for, is dubious on scientific grounds.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      Matthew M. said:

      “Once you get beyond the absorption spectrum of CO2 and the notion that an increase in atmospheric CO2 might lead to an accumulation of additional radiant energy someplace in the atmosphere, everything claimed in AGW is disputable.”
      ——–
      Since the “accumulation of radiant energy someplace in the atmosphere” is not a signicant part of the physics or models based on the physics, then you can get passed it pretty fast. It it the physical and chemical alteration of the atmosphere via the human carbon volcano that is of importance. Most of the energy storage is, by basic physics, going to be in the ocean.

    • Most of the energy storage is, by basic physics, going to be in the ocean.

      The energy transfer (subsurface warming) in the SH ( 40S poleward) is transferred by wind stress.Here this antigreenhouse effect is (by mixing) in the SH is suggested to be caused by the O3 problem eg O3 assessment 2010.

      Since we can attribute much of the poleward shift
      in the surface wind stress to ozone forcing (Gillett and
      Thompson, 2003; Cai and Cowan, 2007; Son et al., 2009b;
      Fogt et al., 2009), we can infer that ozone forcing in the
      1970–2000 period contributes to the observed subsurface
      warming in the Southern Ocean. That is, the stratospheric
      ozone-induced change in the Southern Ocean opposes the
      effects of global warming of the Earth’s surface; greenhouse
      gas forcing warms the ocean surface and increases
      high latitude precipitation, which stratifies the ocean surface
      and thereby reduces oceanic mixing of heat (and, by
      extension, the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide). In
      the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory coupled models
      CM2.0 and CM2.1, Russell et al. (2006) find that the
      enhanced Ekman transport signal associated with positive
      Southern Annular Mode-related wind trends counteracts
      this and contributes to an increased heat uptake

    • The Lacis paper is a valuable resource.

      Skeptics like M.Marler who don’t delve too deeply into the science tend to drift further and further from reality.

      OTOH, those of us that make the effort and cross-check the work of climate scientists tend to reinforce the consensus, simply because it is difficult to find much wrong with the results.

      As an example, as the CSALT model matures, the quality of the model continues to improve as I understand more and more of the significant forcing parameters and thermodynamic free energy principles.

      http://entroplet.com/context_salt_model/navigate

      It’s getting to the point that one can attribute every yearly temperature value over the past 130+ years to a known set of thermodynamic variables. Nature does the book-keeping for us — all we have to do is understand how to figure out the system and then read the ledger.

    • R. Gates

      Most of the energy storage is, by basic physics, going to be in the ocean.

      A statement of faith (as there are no meaningful empirical data to support this notion).

      However, if it is really true, it is wonderful news for those (like Lacis) who are all worried about CAGW – because it, in effect, tells us that the oceans are the buffer that will prevent the atmosphere from warming significantly as a result of AGW.

      Max

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      R. Gates said:

      “Most of the energy storage is, by basic physics, going to be in the ocean.”

      Max said

      “A statement of faith (as there are no meaningful empirical data to support this notion).

      However, if it is really true, it is wonderful news for those (like Lacis) who are all worried about CAGW – because it, in effect, tells us that the oceans are the buffer that will prevent the atmosphere from warming significantly as a result of AGW.”

      ———
      Your suggestion is indeed accurate– the ocean is indeed buffering the troposphere from too rapid of temperature changes, as it has for hundreds of millions of years. But such buffering– especially under the extremely rapid changes brought about by the geologically rapid human carbon volcano, have come at cost to the oceans. It would prove unwise to ignore the stress the oceans are under,

    • NW,
      I don’t understand why you always refer to econometrics research when the topic is physics. To bring up the usual cliche, I guess when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

      The reason I do all the physics, yet keep it at a level of first-order energy balance is that there is a huge contingent of deniers that claim the more advanced science — say at the level of GCMs — is completely screwed up.

      This anti-GCM stance is a strawman argument coming from a position of FUD. Of course most people would not have a clue of what is involved in a GCM, and it is clear that numerical simulations of this complexity have their limitations. I recall that Andrew Lacis has stated this on a CE comment thread from a couple of years ago:

      “One reason to separate the global climate change problem into the two components of (1) global warming, and (2) natural variability is to recognize that the model analysis of these two components has different modeling requirements. For global warming, the GHG forcing is globally uniform, and the modeling goal emphasis is on global energy balance and global temperature change. For this purpose, coarser model resolution is adequate since the advective transports of energy (latent and sensible heat, geopotential energy), which are an order of magnitude larger than the radiative terms, must by definition globally add to zero. Since the global energy balance and the greenhouse effect are all radiative quantities, the emphasis then is on assuring the accuracy of the radiation modeling.

      The natural variability component, which includes the unforced local, regional, and interannual climate changes is a more difficult problem to address, and requires higher model spatial resolution and greater care in dealing with horizontal enrgy transports and conversions.”
      http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/09/atmospheric-co2-the-greenhouse-thermostat/#comment-122333

      So the CSALT model acts as an antidote to the deniers who claim that climate scientists are biting off more than they can chew. It only uses first-order book-keeping physics, in which it carefully accounts for all the free-energy terms that contribute to the temperature of a thermodynamic system. To get a feel for the agreement between model and data, this is the latest fit of the CSALT model against the historical GISS global temperature data using the Pratt 12-9-7-month filter to remove the seasonal noise.

      This is the kind of modeling which separates econometrics from physics. Econometrics is not an objective science and is not governed by laws. All of the historical economics data is impossible to model because it is fundamentally governed by game theory, which is the human propensity to alter or compensate for any trend that may exist. And game theory is impossible to model.

      Climate science does not have this problem — the climate is only based on physics that obeys the fundamental laws of thermodynamics.

    • Matthew R Marler

      R. Gates, skeptical warmist: Most of the energy storage is, by basic physics, going to be in the ocean.

      Before that can happen, the increased CO2 must first absorb more upward radiation than it now does (a hypothesis supported by laboratory science) and then re-radiate at least some of that in the downward direction (another hypothesis supported by laboratory science.) Whether the increased downward radiation causes more warming of sea surface water or more evaporation of sea surface water is not known from careful studies. The increase in downwelling radiation is less than 1% of minimum downwelling radiation in most places, and evaporation occurs all the time, so it just isn’t knowable without careful studies whether the increase produces more “sensible” heat in the ocean or more “latent” heat in water vapor.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: As an example, as the CSALT model matures, the quality of the model continues to improve as I understand more and more of the significant forcing parameters and thermodynamic free energy principles.

      So tell us something new: will the 3.7W.m^2 increase of downwelling lwir on the ocean surface produce more latent heat of vaporization in the ongoing evaporation of surface water, or more sensible heat in the surface water?

      Sooner or later, your references to science that I don’t know will have to be accompanied by propositions and the evidence for them. It is one thing to know more than I know, which lots of people do, and another thing to know the answers to particular questions, like the one above.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope, quoting A Lacis: For this purpose, coarser model resolution is adequate since the advective transports of energy (latent and sensible heat, geopotential energy), which are an order of magnitude larger than the radiative terms, must by definition globally add to zero

      Where and over what time span do they add to 0? Advection/convection carry latent and sensible heat from the surface and lower troposphere to the upper troposphere, whence the energy is radiated to space. That isn’t disputed, is it? It’s in the energy flow diagram of Graeme Stephen et al. that was discussed here at Climate Etc. Ocean and atmospheric currents carry sensible heat from the Equatorial region to the poles where it is radiated to space (some of it) or melts the ice producing an increase in latent heat carried to the upper troposphere. What is added by the assertion that, “by definition” these processes globally add to 0 energy transport?

    • Matthew,

      The only immediate effect that an increase of downwelling radiation to the ocean surface has is a reduction in the net cooling of the skin by IR. A decrease in net cooling leads to warming. Warmer skin affects all heat fluxes from the skin to the atmosphere adding evaporation, convection and IR radiation. The warmer skin does also lead to a reduction in the heat flux from below to the skin leading to accumulation of heat in the ocean.

      All the changes listed above are sure to occur, their relative strengths are much more difficult to determine. Because of this difficulty another approach is more fruitful – looking at the balance at TOA.

      A downwards net flux at TOA tells that heat must be accumulating somewhere in the Earth system. It’s easy to figure out that only the ocean can take persistently energy at the level of estimated net flux at TOA. The heat capacities of atmosphere and top soil to the depth heat penetrates at significant rate are too small to absorb much of that. Melting of ice takes also some heat, but again too little to be the main component. Based on these considerations it can be concluded that oceans take far more than half of all the extra heat.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Pekka Pirilä: The only immediate effect that an increase of downwelling radiation to the ocean surface has is a reduction in the net cooling of the skin by IR.

      How is that known? I have been looking for information on exactly that topic. Is it possible for the skin to warm up, as you describe, without an increase in evaporation? Recall that in this region, evaporation is almost always occurring.

    • MattStat, “Is it possible for the skin to warm up, as you describe, without an increase in evaporation?”

      That is an absolutely marvelous question :) The answer is yes but not very likely.

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/evaporation-water-surface-d_690.html

      This is one of the points where Pekka and I disagree the most because of something called convective triggering potential. There appears to be a limit of sorts to the maximum sustainable temperature in the tropics. Since the average surface relative humidity is close to 85% with a SST close to 30C degrees pretty much any increase in evaporation should increase precipitation since the air at the planetary boundary layer is super-saturated. Increased precipitation would cause increased over-turning in the convective entrainment zone which caps the planetary boundary layer which increases surface winds until an equilibrium of sorts is obtained. Since the latent energy increases exponentially with surface temperature you have a marvelous natural regulator. I think without adding density or viscosity i.e. pressure, to the atmosphere this will be a strong negative feedback.

    • Matthew Marler, I think you are asking if evaporation can increase without an increase in skin temperature when the IR balance changes. The answer is no because evaporation is dependent on the air-sea gradient of moisture. Drier air can increase surface evaporation, as can more wind, but not just the IR balance which warms the skin temperature and doesn’t have the right effect to increase evaporation, since it neither dries the air nor increases the wind. Evaporation may temporarily increase after the surface temperature has warmed, but soon the air has more moisture and evaporation reduces back again, so what the IR achieves is a surface warming and more moisture in the air (which later helps with a positive feedback), but not a change in evaporation rate.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Capt Dallas: MattStat, “Is it possible for the skin to warm up, as you describe, without an increase in evaporation?”

      That is an absolutely marvelous question :) The answer is yes but not very likely.

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/evaporation-water-surface-d_690.html

      Thank you for the link.

    • It seems that the surface phenomena should be explorable experimentally, but our pitiful digital simulacrums of the great analog computer that is the Earth are too feeble to provide light, let alone heat.
      ======================

    • Matthew R Marler

      Jim D: I think you are asking if evaporation can increase without an increase in skin temperature when the IR balance changes. The answer is no because evaporation is dependent on the air-sea gradient of moisture.

      That was my question at first. Given the air-sea gradient of moisture, and the wind, can a slight increase in downwelling lwir increase the rate of evaporation without an increase in surface water temperature? A more proper question is What is the mix of radiant energy transferred to heat the water and the radiant energy transferred to evaporate the model. Check out Capt Dallas’ link: with an increase in the rate of energy input, there must be some increase in evaporation rate.

    • Matthew Marler,

      When the only change is an addition in IR coming to the surface, the only immediate change is that the top few µm of water start to warm. That’s the answer of physics, because only something like photon in 10000 is absorbed so close to the surface that the molecule getting the could leave the surface. In addition there’s no reason to expect that the additional energy from a photon would be any more effective in releasing the molecule than the billions times more frequent and more energetic kicks that the molecules give to each other all the time.

      All other consequences of extra IR result from the warming. The order is always

      more IR to the surface -> rising temperature of the surface -> changes in other forms of heat transfer.

      In addition it must be remembered that the net effect of IR is always cooling, i.e. the skin always emits more IR than it receives from atmosphere. That’s because the skin emits at all frequencies with high emissivity, while only part of the downwards spectrum has an intensity close to the blackbody intensity at the temperature of the lowest atmosphere.

    • Pekka said, ” That’s the answer of physics, because only something like photon in 10000 is absorbed so close to the surface that the molecule getting the could leave the surface. In addition there’s no reason to expect that the additional energy from a photon would be any more effective in releasing the molecule than the billions times more frequent and more energetic kicks that the molecules give to each other all the time.”

      Right, so DWLR has virtually no impact on the “surface” if the “surface” is defined as the real surface. Where the “surface” is defined as the ~-30 ERL then DWLR has an impact since radiant exchange is more likely relative to conductive/collisional exchange.

      Enter Mosher: A doubling of CO2 will cause based on first principles an increase of 1.5C which will warm the “surface” and cool the TOA by raising the ERL. This is proven since heat seeking missiles work even in the rain provided the IR window is tiny and very accurately calibrated.

      Dallas: No one lives in the tropopause. What is the impact at the real surface where people actually live?

      Group: Dunno

    • Matthew R Marler

      Pekka Pirilä: When the only change is an addition in IR coming to the surface, the only immediate change is that the top few µm of water start to warm. That’s the answer of physics, because only something like photon in 10000 is absorbed so close to the surface that the molecule getting the could leave the surface.

      That makes sense to me, fwiw, but is there evidence?

      In addition there’s no reason to expect that the additional energy from a photon would be any more effective in releasing the molecule than the billions times more frequent and more energetic kicks that the molecules give to each other all the time.

      The question is: What is the effect of the extra kicks given the billions that are already occurring? So that comment is irrelevant.

    • The details of interaction are much better known for gases, but enough of that knowledge can be transferred to liquid water.

      One essential factor has been measured, the penetration depth in liquid water, curves can be found on the internet.

      In atmosphere at surface pressure the rate of collisions of of a molecule with other molecules is roughly one billion times that of absorption of IR or more depending on the wavelength (time between collisions is less than 1 ns, time between absorptions of IR typically close to 1 s). In liquid the collisions are much more frequent. The energies of molecular collisions are on the average essentially equal to that of IR. In addition the linear momentum transferred in the collisions is larger and for the molecules at the surface typically in the direction out of the surface.

      The photos interact always with a single atom within the molecule. Such interactions have only little different properties at the surface compared to the interior of the liquid. Therefore the topmost molecules do not interact with significantly higher likelihood than molecules inside the liquid.

      The above arguments provide a sufficient proof for the general picture of what’s going on.

    • “Enter Mosher: A doubling of CO2 will cause based on first principles an increase of 1.5C which will warm the “surface” and cool the TOA by raising the ERL. This is proven since heat seeking missiles work even in the rain provided the IR window is tiny and very accurately calibrated.”

      It depends on the size of the rain drop. If you want to challenge the physics of C02 effects you have to provide a substitute physics that will allow you to this kind of analysis
      which is vital to our nations defense

      http://www.ausairpower.net/TE-IR-Guidance.html

      Until you can replace this working physics, you have nothing of practical interest.

      And until you can replace that physics engineers at this company will laugh your ass out of any discussion

      http://www.flir.com/uploadedfiles/Eurasia/MMC/Tech_Notes/TN_0001_EN.pdf

    • mosher, ” If you want to challenge the physics of C02 effects you have to provide a substitute physics that will allow you to this kind of analysis
      which is vital to our nations defense.”

      I am not challenging the physics of CO2. I am challenging the wisdom of the large number of assumptions that are supposed to triple and quadruple the physical impact of CO2 on a real surface with real water vapor and real turbulent fluid flow. The models are consistently high for a reason – there is more going on than CO2 – like that long term secular trend that just happens to fit the time frame required for the oceans to respond to/recover from long term atmospheric forcing.

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Water_infrared_absorption_coefficient_large.gif

      With super-saturate water vapor you have the blue and red curves to content with. Above 3000 meters not so much. Then if you really want to get down to the nuts and bolts, a 0 C effective water vapor radiant layer would be an oblate spheroid that has a different surface area than a -30 C effective dry gas radiant layer. In between those two ERLs there would be much more interesting stuff going on like SSW, AWW and BDC in the approximately 14% of the atmosphere not properly considered in the models.

      The challenge is the people that mumble “first principles” and wander off.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Steven Mosher: If you want to challenge the physics of C02 effects you have to provide a substitute physics that will allow you to this kind of analysis which is vital to our nations defense

      Is national defense now “the last refuge” of ignorance about climate? Of course you are not a “scoundrel”, but is it impossible for you to understand or accept that some important processes are not well enough known to make accurate predictions/projections/etc about future effects of future increases in CO2? Whenever you are directed toward something not known, your answer is that a particular theory must be relied upon until a better theory is in place; how is anyone to develop a better theory (or do the investigations that might lead to one) if there is not first the recognition that the extant theory is inadequate?

    • Andrew, I’m sure that I have far more experience of policy-making and policy-makers, including Prime Ministers et al, than you do.

      Ideally, and sometimes in practice, they will seek to put in place policies which foster the well-being of their populace in the short to medium term, and which will further promote it in the longer term. In my view this would include accepting that our ability to predict the future is extremely poor, so that longer-term policies would be directed to coping well with whatever befalls, rather than being driven by alleged specific dangers in the very long term.

      To the extent that they have adopted costly GHG emissions reductions which almost certainly harm well-being both now and into the future, they have failed. In this instance, they have acted out of ignorance, failure to make effective economic and cost-benefit analyses, and jumping on a possibly vote-winning bandwagon. Fortunately, the wheels are falling off the bandwagon, and, in Australia and Japan at least, some politicians are returning to their proper role.

    • A Lacis,

      As I had noted in the previous post, decision-makers should not be hooking their wagon to the various uncertainties in global climate change as their excuse to be doing nothing about global warming.

      You have demonstrated repeatedly you have not the slightest understanding of policy analysis and not the slightest understanding of cost benefit analysis. Can you understand this:

      Uncertainty about the problem (man-made climate change) is a given; but uncertainty about the chosen solution is inexcusable. This is to say, we should be confident that our solutions are going to be effective, and the more expensive the solution the more confident we should be. In short, big responses require high levels of confidence that they will work. There seems to be a lack of credible evidence to demonstrate carbon pricing passes this test.

      Can you understand that if a policy, like carbon pricing, would cost twelve times the benefits using all the IPCC inputs, that we should definitely not be doing it. That is the case with the Australian ETS according to Treasury’s own modelling (to 2050) http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/

    • Gates, I’m confused by your statement that “every expert tells us the oceans are in trouble.” What does this mean? What does this tell us? Are the oceans going to run out of water? Are they going to solidify? Cease to circulate? Abandon the ocean beds and move onto land?

      Could you please assuage my ignorance and list the major points in which you think that “the oceans are in trouble,” and perhaps briefly explain the impact of that and why reducing anthro GHG emissions will make a worthwhile difference? A link or some links will do.

    • James Hansen reckoned the oceans will boil off unless humans cease their evil ways (and stop the death trains).

    • Peter, surely boiling oceans would be an enormous source of cheap power? :-)

    • Absolutely. No problem. With cheap power we can do anything. :)

    • The 2013 Serf Policy Award fer “A Productive World”
      goes ter……faustino. (A. Lacis, sorry ter do not qualify.)
      Serf – Kommissioner – in- charge – of – Serf – Awards.

    • Beth, aw, shucks! Depending on the format, I’ll have to clear a space on the wall, our house resembles an over-crowded art gallery.

    • Btw us Faustino, yer award is rather large but serfs went ter
      a lot of effort makin’ it … genuine raw hide and burnt letterin’.
      It’ll be delivered by ox cart termorrer.

    • A Lacis,

      To keep ignoring these laws of physics can lead to catastrophic consequences.

      Listening to physicists would be an enormous mistake, given ‘t even recognise that temperature change is not a measure of damage. You continually make the assumptions that x degrees of temperature equates to some amount of net damages. You haven’t yet understood the difference or that degress C is a meaningless measure of damage. Only a physicist could have such a poor understanding of units of measure

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      “Listening to physicists would be an enormous mistake, given ‘t even recognise that temperature change is not a measure of damage.”
      —–
      So much is flawed with this kind of mushy, illogical thinking that it is hard to know where to start.

      1) Physicists should be representatives of science and hence , presenting what the known laws of physics tells us about a given situation, and with complex situations involving chaotic systems, inherent in that is uncertainty.

      2) There is very little uncertainty that increasing GH gases in the Earth’s atmosphere increases energy retention in that system.

      3) The primary location for energy retention will have both the highest thermal inertia and thermal storage capacity and will have the highest correlation for measuring the effects of “damage” from higher temperatures. That would be the ocean, and every expert tells us the oceans are in trouble.

      Thus, both listening to scientists, and judging damage by higher temperatures is exceptionally wise for policy makers. The oceans need our attention. It is the undue attention placed on the low thermal inertia and storage troposphere that is absurd.

    • Gates,

      You just don’t get it. Temperature change is not good or bad. It is not a measure of cost or benefit. It is meaningless for informing policy (other than in the minds of alarmist who try to conflate temperature change with ‘catastrophe’ / danger).

      But, clearly you don;t understand this. So it is you that is participating in the mushy thinking of alarmists, scaremongers and doomsayers.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      Peter Lang said:

      “Temperature change is not good or bad.”
      ——
      It is a proxy for what may be good or bad– and that is the point. If some forcing caused the ocean temps or the troposphere to suddenly shoot up by an average of 10C, it would be unquestionably bad for the biosphere in each.

    • Gate

      But your extreme example is not what is happening. Do you have any reliable information to conclude that conditions are changing in a “net negative” way for the world overall or for the US specifically?

      I think we both know the answer is no.

    • R Gates,

      No. Temperature change is not a proxy for damage/benefit, because you haven’t a clue what the relationship between temperature change and damage/benefit is. You are just running on belief, emotions, and gut feelings. And exaggerating

      ocean temps or the troposphere to suddenly shoot up by an average of 10C

      shows how ridiculous is your thinking and your arguments. If you have to exaggerate like that, it should make it clear to even you that your argument has no credibility. You’ve clearly been influenced by doomsayers like James Hansen – and his assertions that the oceans would evaporate if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels.

    • Andy, you write “Similarly, the statement by Robert Pindyck that “These models have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis” is both silly and erroneous”

      Complete and utter GARBAGE, None of the climate models has ever been validated. One of the few detailed predictions from a climate model was made by Smith et al, Science August 2007, and is now being shown to be just plain wrong.

      In the FAR, we were assured that a CO2 signal would be clearly visible in temperature/time graphs by 2002. It is a fact that no-one has measured a CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph. And if there is no signal, it follows from classic signal to noise ratio physics, that there is a strong indication that the climate sensitivity of CO2, however defined, is indistinguishable from zero.

      It has just been stated that the meeting between Lord Lawson and the Royal Society has taken place, IN SECRET, the secrecy at the insistence of the RS. There is no information, as yet, as to what was discussed. One wonders why secrecy is essential for the RS when discussing CAGW. When I read the nonsense Andy writes, then I understand why someone like him would WANT to keep the so called science his conclusions are based on, secret.

    • “Nigel Lawson: The Secret Meeting With Royal Society Fellows

      Date: 28/11/13 Nigel Lawson, The Spectator

      The long-discussed meeting between a group of climate scientists and Fellows of the Royal Society on the one side, and me and some colleagues from my think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation on the other, has now at last taken place.

      It was held behind closed doors in a committee room at the House of Lords, the secrecy — no press present — at the insistence of the Royal Society Fellows, an insistence I find puzzling given the clear public interest in the issue of climate change in general and climate change policy in particular.

      The origins go back almost a year, to a lecture by the president of the Royal Society, the biologist Sir Paul Nurse. In it he chose to launch a gratuitous personal attack on me, making a number of palpably false allegations. I wrote to him, pointing out his errors, and he replied — somewhat changing his tune — conceding that ‘it is quite legitimate for both of us to talk about climate change policy, but before doing so we need to have access to the highest quality climate science. I am not sure you are receiving the best advice, and I would be very happy to put you in contact with distinguished active climate research scientists if you think that would be useful.’

      I readily accepted his offer: hence, at long last, this month’s meeting in the House of Lords. The charge that my critical views about climate change policy are based on inadequate exposure to reputable scientists was always absurd, not least given that the academic advisory council of the GWPF has on it, among others, the world’s most highly regarded physicist, Professor Freeman Dyson of Princeton, arguably the world’s most eminent climate scientist, Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT (who flew over for the meeting), and three Fellows of the Royal Society.

      So Nurse’s team were able to tell me little I did not already know. But what did emerge was that, if anyone needed educating, it was them. Despite the fact that they were headed by Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, the Director of the Grantham Institute, which has pronounced views on climate policy, and a member of the Climate Change Committee, which is concerned with the implementation of the Climate Change Act, they were very reluctant to engage on the crucial issue of climate change policy at all. What was clear, however, was that they had no understanding of, or interest in, the massive human and economic costs involved in the policies they so glibly endorse.

      http://www.thegwpf.org/nigel-lawson-secret-meeting-royal-society-fellows/

  25. I cannot for the life of me see how an idealistic global price on carbon can work. Different countries at different stages of development with different levels of education and technology and different levels of unemployment and fluctuating currencies. …

    The economists are over-reaching themselves taking the beautiful simplicity of market driven regulation of ‘a cost’ within a defined economy, and thinking they can somehow apply that globally.

    The concept of an international market of carbon credits is an abomination, albeit one beloved by multinational financiers, international, regional and local bureacracies and some cunning and opportunistc governments.

    • Some economists would agree with you. May we prevail.

    • “I cannot for the life of me see how an idealistic global price on carbon can work.”

      As opposed to, say, a global dockside price for Australian coal? Or Latin American bananas? Totally unworkable, I tell you!

      The real problem here is how such a worldwide market is designed–if it is consciously designed at all. One of the more interesting and unique things about a system of tdps (transferable discharge permits) is that it would allow the spontaneous order that is a complex, worldwide market in X to emerge in the only way that an ecologically rational market does–spontaneously, without conscious design, which is always the big mistake (the fatal conceit, someone called it) of complex economic life.

    • I need to say, ecological rationality doesn’t have anything to do with ‘ecology’ in the lay sense. The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer coined the term, and the economist Vernon Smith ran with it. This is Smith’s Nobel lecture as reworked for the AER:

      http://www.international.ucla.edu/media/files/Smith.pdf

    • Nat, thanks for that excellent link, which I’ll finish reading later. Up to mid-2002, I had good access to economic literature and read extensively in relation to my economic policy work, thereafter, with years of serious illness, I lost both access and much of my capacity to read it – partly the many years of not accessing that mental facility – so I appreciate it when papers such as this are brought to my attention. To a large extent, my comments here and elsewhere are based on my experience and reading to 2002 rather than since then, it’s good to rebuild my intellectual stock occasionally, and re-utilise those faculties.

  26. Stasis is impossible. Which of these two should we prepare and mitagate (if possible) against: Global Warming or Global Cooling? If you have any stake in the biosphere, fear the latter.

  27. typo: mitigate

  28. The primary concern of economists ought to be the world economy. So have they past the test? No, their failure to predict the GFC is sufficient evidence that their predictive capability is very low indeed. Put that in series with the unvalidated IPCC models and the result is near to worthless.

    However Robert Pindyck views are more realistic if we must ask the economists.

    This opinion comes fro, a pioneer in computer modelling and simulation who accepts that anthropogenic climate change is real but insufficient for concern .

    • Alexander, prediction is the worst and least useful area of economics, in part because it of necessity tends to assume continuation of present trends, when it is the unexpected, the Black Swans, which very often dominate outcomes. Hence my repeated advocacy for policies which do not depend on specific forecasts or projections but which are known to increase our capacity to deal beneficially with change, whatever befalls. Flexibility, innovation, entrepreneurship rule, OK?

    • PS, so we shouldn’t focus on the “world economy,” a vast, complex and uncertain beast, but on policies in those realms where we might have some influence.

    • Good point, Faustino. I have had a bit to do with economic models, and people tend to forget that they have many uses apart from prediction – and they are far better in those areas. Essentially, they can provide information which is useful for making decisions, which is not the same as the models making predictions, at all.

      It’s a pity that climate modellers did not stick to this kind of work. Modelling things like the effects of different (known) climate scenarios on a small, regional basis could be quite helpful, and is much more feasible than the grandiose visions of the GCMs.

  29. If we had the mathematics and knew what we were doing and took advantage of every computer on Earth running day and night to churn the numbers to model the physical mechanisms and the product of their synchronizations and the effects of the swirling vortices of ocean currents and monsoons bringing on heat and cold waves around the globe as hurricanes spout heat to dark reaches of empty space and volcanoes shoot more pollution into the atmosphere than ever produced by every single car that that has ever been driven on the face of the Earth — enabling us to foresee the climate of the world 50 years into the future — we still need to face the fact that today we cannot even produce good seasonal predictions.

  30. After the storm which likely caused the heaviest loss of Philippino lives – the middling Thelma – the Japanese helped with flood mitigation and other prudent conservation measures on Leyte which have proven to be lifesavers. The costs were substantial, but far, far less than if nothing had been done when eg Auring struck at a similar scale a few years later. Perhaps, twenty years ago, there was not enough “climate science” or “science communication” to get in the way of weather knowledge, engineering, experience and commonsense.

    Consider New York, where engineering and judgement of risk should never have failed. It is built near sea level, in a notorious hurricane belt. Yet not that long ago rubble was allowed to be dumped into the mouth of the Hudson River – narrowing it substantially – to create more vulnerable real estate. Is it surprising that educated types in NY would love to talk forever about uncertainty, risk, externalities etc in the most abstract way possible? I’m sure they can’t wait to send their kids to expensive colleges where they will become experts in externalities (or whatever word is buzzing next) and in the art – akin to molasses swimming – of “communication”.

    I was born in one of the best-sited cities on earth, yet plenty has always gone wrong with Sydney’s weather and climate. We parched in the horror El Ninos of the early 1790s. We were waterless in 1888. Suburbs went underwater in the 1950s. A million hectares burnt right on our southern outskirts in 1980 (after the regrowth and drenching of the 70s). And here we are talking about siting and climate which is about as good as it gets.

    If Richard Tol wants to be some kind of scientist (as opposed to award receiver etc) he needs to ditch that the word “unprecedented”. That word is being used to perpetrate a fraud that has only too many precedents through history. Also, he may think “economic theory is well equipped for such problems”…but that might be because he is an economic theorist. I’m sure 97% percent of economic theorists think their specialty can do wonders. But when Professor Tol makes his very moderate utterances on climate change he is just as simplistic, literal-minded and mechanistic as the hardcore alarmists.

    Sorry, Time to get the kids out of the kitchen. Even the nice polite ones.

    • “Yet not that long ago rubble was allowed to be dumped into the mouth of the Hudson River – narrowing it substantially – to create more vulnerable real estate.”

      So what I think happened is the natural defenses were impaired. If you have wide open rivers and a hurricane stacking up water along the shores, the Zen approach is let the stacked water flow inland, up the rivers during the hurricane.

      Inland from New York City, there probably is far less natural water retention than in the past. As the rain falls, it ends up more quickly in the rivers, decreasing the rivers ability to take excess water at the worst possible time.

      It looks more like development and less like global warming and sea level rise.

    • .. which is why I recommended the humility of economic theorist Robert Lucas recently. More power to the ‘umble, me lord.

    • Is it surprising that educated types in NY …

      Ah yes. Those “educated types in NY….” Just horrible, aren’t they? I just hate those elitists like those educated types in NY who think that they can judge others by class or grou….

      oh.

      wait.

      nevermind.

  31. Dr. Judith Curry:

    Redesigning the CO2 no feedback sensitivity analysis

    I think the correct way to do this problem is to use the surface energy balance approach, as broadly outlined by Ramanathan. I would design the analysis in the following way:

    1. Compute the surface radiative forcing and its amplification by the atmospheric warming in a manner following Myhre and Stordal 1997, using gridded global fields of of the input variables obtained from observations (e.g. the ECMWF reanalysis, ISCCP clouds, satellite ozone, some sort of aerosol optical depth from satellite. Conduct the calculations daily over two different annual cycles (say 1 El Nino and 1 La Nina year). These two different years provide an estimate of the uncertainty in the sensitivity associated with the base state of the atmosphere. Note, each annual forcing dataset will need to be run repetitively for maybe up to a decade to get equilibrium for the ocean and sea ice models. A grid resolution of 2.5 degrees should be fine.

    2. Use the calculated fluxes to force the surface component of a climate model (without the atmosphere), including the ocean, sea ice, and land subsystem models, for the baseline (preindustrial) and the doubled CO2 forcing. Conduct two calculations for both the baseline and perturbed cases:

    keep the the (turbulent) sensible and latent fluxes for the perturbed case the same as for the baseline case
    determine the perturbed surface temperatures by calculating the turbulent sensible and latent heat fluxes using the perturbed surface temperatures

    Note, these two different ways of treating the sensible and latent heat fluxes tell you different things about sensitivity (without allowing the evaporative flux in #2 to change the radiative flux).

    This is how I would do the analysis to determine the CO2 no feedback sensitivity. The number would almost certainly be less than 1C.

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/11/co2-no-feedback-sensitivity/

  32. The Social Benefit of Carbon. It’s not a cost, and could hardly ever be one.
    ========

  33. (Jim2) Here’s a nice benefit from carbon.

    From the article:
    On one hand, it could be seen as a warning sign that usage is down, but reports have suggested that is not the case. Instead, the increasing inventories of oil appear to be driven by robust production here in the U.S., which is leading to gluts. That effect is backed up by the low price of American WTI oil (West Texas Intermediate) vs. international Brent. Brent oil, at $110.64, is now approximately $18.40 more expensive than WTI, well up from the $3.18 spread in mid-July.

    The subsequent easing in fuel prices is also one of the factors that will have helped the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index to increase from 72.0 for October to 75.1 currently. So if the holiday shopping season comes in strong this year, maybe a bit of credit is due to America’s oilfield workers.

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/1867281-oil-supply-overflowing

  34. ”social cost” well, for a start is ignored the social cost what the carbon-mania creates zombies, as for example the prolific commenters

  35. So, don’t do something that might be stupid and when you don’t know what is smart and what is stupid. Don’t do anything until you really know much more

    • Yes, and consider that emitting lots more carbon dioxide could be stupid. What you say follows. It is common sense. I have said this above, but this is neatly stated. Don’t emit CO2 if it could be stupid.

    • Jim D

      “Emitting CO2″ is NOT “stupid”.

      First of all we (and all other animals) do it when we breathe.

      And, since the Industrial Revolution, we have been doing it to improve our standard of living, quality of life and average life expectancy at birth immensely, by burning fossil fuels.

      Without it our affluence and quality of life would vanish.

      So it is not “stupid” to emit CO2.

      It would be “stupid” to stop doing so without an economically competitive alternate (which does not yet exist today).

      Max

  36. Judith
    These studies are biased. Why only cost? Economists deal with cost and benefit. They should talk about the social benefit of carbon. How can any economist miss that? Fossil fuels account for 86% of the world’s energy consumption. The social benefit of carbon is glaring. It powers the world economy. Do a cost vs. benefit analysis. The cost must be greater than the benefit to justify ban on fossil fuels.

    “Even with high levels of uncertainty and ignorance, looking at the model results and sensitivities is useful, provided that this information is used in context of a broad scenario approach such as suggested by Pindyck”

    Or we can ask a psychic or a fortune teller and use their information in context of broad scenario approach suggested by Pindyck.

    “But all this still leaves us with the issue of what to do re climate policy.”

    That’s easy. Do not use climate models to do climate policy. Pretending to know what will happen is worse than admitting we don’t know. If the sea rises, build dikes or move to higher ground. Adapt to climate change. Don’t try to predict because it’s wishful thinking.

  37. From the article:

    Research studies into the psychological value of losses and gains have identified a loss aversion ratio of between 1.5 and 2.5. This means that a loss that is identical in money terms to a gain is valued up to 2.5 times more than the gain. This is an average of course as some people are more or less loss averse than others.

    Where people are presented with a situation where both a gain and a loss are possible people tend to make extreme risk averse choices. For example, a person is presented with the choice between a small guaranteed gain over 5 years (e.g. a deposit based account) and a stock market linked product that carries a low risk of a large loss. People have a tendency to focus on the large potential loss and often select the former, less risky option. This is why advisers will focus on the large upside potential of a stock market linked investment and try to play down any potential for large losses.

    http://blog.usabilla.com/how-loss-aversion-and-risk-influence-decision-making/

  38. You are not easily deflected once you set your course. You had your SCC blog already and now you want another. Why? Why do you think it is more important than say, the hotspur of Warsaw conference participants to demand payments for totally imaginary past damage caused by a non-existent global warming? Bangladesh alone wants 100 billion dollars and there are many others that have their hand out. They actually staged a walkout to make their point. Too bad they did not stay out. Part of the problem is true believers in our own government who actually swallow and eat up this nonsense. Now here is a source of real damage to our economy that is not imaginary if certain ideologues get their way. And there is not a lack of ideologues in the Obama administration who are working around the clock to thwart the will of Congress, our elected representatives, and institute irrational climate policies that are against our national interest. As I pointed out in commenting for SCC-1, there is no warming now and there has not been any for the last 15 years despite highest ever atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. This means that there has not been any greenhouse warming, the cause of the alleged “anthropogenic global warming,” for the last fifteen years. This is recorded in official temperature curves. What is not recorded is that there was another 18 year stretch of no-warming in the eighties and nineties, fraudulently hidden from the public by a fake warming in official temperature curves. The temperature sources involved were GISTEMP, HadCRUT, and NCDC. I exposed this in my book “What Warming” in 2010 but it took them two years to withdraw that fraudulent warming. This means that there has actually been not 15 but 35 years without any greenhouse warming. The Arrhenius explanation simply does not work as predicted by Ferenc Miskolci and it is clear that only the Miskolci theory can explain the lack of warming observed today. And since greenhouse warming is the alleged cause of anthropogenic global warming it is also clear that AGW simply does not exist. Anyone who still wants to talk about a “social cost of carbon” or “reparations” for past warming after the fake warming has been exposed is either completely stupid or, more likely, criminal. I hold the latter view. In my opinion the personnel in charge of policy have been derelict in their duty to advise the government on the true state of global warming and should be reprimanded for incompetence.

    • Arno,
      You appear to be hopelessly confused about what is going on with the climate system. Greenhouse warming is happening continuously to keep the Earth from freezing over solid. The greenhouse warming does vary quite a bit seasonally as solar illumination changes (and with it the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere).

      You also need to know that the predictions by Ferenc Miskolczi are totally erroneous because Ferenc got his basic physics wrong . Try reading my paper that just appeared in Tellus B (freely available at the GISS webpage http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/la06400p.html). It might help you understand what global warming is all about.

    • Arno Arrack,

      I read his paper. Needless to say, it’s the usual Warmist rubbish. Simulations masquerading as fact, model runs masquerading as experiments, negative greenhouse effect over Antarctica (true!), and so on.

      A small sample -

      ““Locally, the greenhouse strength is seen to vary from near-zero values in the polar regions to more than 250 W m−2 in the tropical convectively active regions. The largest greenhouse strengths are found in those regions with the highest surface temperatures flux (e.g., the Saharan and Australian deserts),”

      Translation –

      “The highest surface temperatures are found in areas remote from the sea which receive intense sunlight, and little cloud cover.”

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

  39. We need to turn our attention to the socialistic costs of government carbon programs. I’m thinking that’s more easily quantified and predictable than the social cost of carbon.

  40. Richard Tol said:

    Climate change is an externality that is global, pervasive, long-term, and uncertain–but even though the scale and complexity of this externality is unprecedented, economic theory is well equipped for such problems–and advice based on rigorous economic analysis is any way preferred to wishy-washy thinking.

    I agree and add:

    “Uncertainty about the problem (man-made climate change) is a given; but uncertainty about the chosen solution is inexcusable. This is to say, we should be confident that our solutions are going to be effective, and the more expensive the solution the more confident we should be. In short, big responses require high levels of confidence that they will work. There seems to be a lack of credible evidence to demonstrate carbon pricing passes this test.”
    http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/

    I do not know of any substantial and persuasive analysis that demonstrate carbon pricing would be likely to succeed in the real world. In fact, it seems to me any policy that will do economic damage in the short term is not likely to be implemented and even if it was implemented initially would be unlikely to last.

    • I doubt carbon pricing will succeed. In fact, I doubt, any UN sponsored policy – such as Kyoto or targets and time tables with penalties for not meeting commitments (or ‘contributions’), will succeed. However, I believe there is a realistic alternative policy that would cut global emissions substantially by mid century. It needs no international agreements. It would run because it is economically advantageous for all countries. It could be started by a good US President. If the US President said something like the following, and kept leading on it for his term as President, I suggest it is plausible the world could cut global emissions substantially by around mid century and beyond, and be richer as well:

      “If the US citizens pull together, we can lead the world to have almost unlimited, lower cost, cleaner and safer energy and low-GHG emissions as well.

      We need to get rid of our anti-nuclear paranoia as a first step. Then we need to remove the impediments that are preventing nuclear energy from being developed so that it becomes cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Once we remove the impediments, the US’s demonstrated capability in innovation, engineering, manufacturing, production and entrepreneurship can lead the world to cleaner and cheaper sources of energy.

      As prices come down, nuclear energy will replace fossil fuels for electricity and cut global emissions without any need for centrally controlled, international, legally binding agreements to cut emissions. It will just happen as a result of freer markets and freer trade.

      Once we have cheaper electricity, it can be used to produce transport fuels.”

      To show why I am suggesting it is plausible I’ll provide some numbers:

      At a moderate cost reduction rate of 10% per doubling of capacity, the cost of electricity from small modular reactors (SMR) could be the same price as new coal plants in Australia when 3 GW are in service world wide and half the cost of new coal plants in Australia when 250 GW are in operation world wide. That could be by about 2045 assuming first units in service in 2022 and at the projected cost of electricity for SMRs in Australia (See AETA report:http://www.bree.gov.au/documents/publications/aeta/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf, Table 3.10.1 and Table 4.38)
      When the wholesale price of electricity for SMR’s is below the cost of new coal plants in Australia, they’d be much cheaper just about everywhere else around the world. In that case no legally binding international agreements would be needed to cut global emissions at an accelerating rate. Nuclear will replace fossil fuels.

      To get there we need leadership, and especially from the US President, ‘progressives’, greenies and environmental NGO’s. If these people and groups get behind it, the change from ‘antagonistic anti-sponsors’ to ‘enthusiastic advocates’ to reduce the impediments for nuclear power could be relatively swift. It could happen within two terms of one good US president.

  41. John (the second)

    Judith, you close with these words:

    “The use of these model results to drive policy in an optimal decision making mode, such as what seems implied by the White House doc, does not seem defensible given these analyses of uncertainty and areas of ignorance.”

    May I suggest that you do not (yet) have an appropriate level of cynicism about the political process? Obamacare is now a clear example: the Economist reports that almost all the health care cognoscenti knew that most existing insurance plans would not meet the new standards and would have to be cancelled. Yet Obama told everyone that they could keep their policies. I’m not singling Obama out as more perfidious than most Presidents, I’m saying that lying is part of the job of getting your party’s priorities done, whether R or D.

    So how do we view what is defensible in the eyes of the White House? Just look at what the most important interest groups in the D party want: now that health care is (apparently) a done deal, climate change is next up. Seen with cynical eyes, the social cost of carbon has the appearance of some amount of scientific certainty, but in reality, it is merely the tool to get a policy done. If a different answer were needed, the tools would provide a different answer.

    This is similar to Pauchauri denigrating the Indian scientist whose science found that the Himalayan glaciers wouldn’t melt by 2035 — Pauchauri called that person’s analysis “voodoo science.” A political response, not a scientific one, from the head of an allegedly scientific body.

    I’m actually a registered D, but I vote independent. The R’s would, and have, lie just as much as the Ds.

    What I am saying is that the parties in power don’t actually care about the models or believe what they say — they are merely a tool for getting what the interest groups that have power in the party want.

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  43. Tol and Pindyck

    Do you know the social benefit of carbon? It’s $3.2 trillion from 1961-2011. That’s just the benefit to agriculture. Of course it also contributes $5 trillion annually to the world energy industry.

    http://www.co2science.org/education/reports/co2benefits/MonetaryBenefitsofRisingCO2onGlobalFoodProduction.pdf

    Suppose sea level rose due to global warming. What’s the cost to build dikes to protect coastal cities? The Enclosure Dam in Netherlands is probably the largest dike in the world. It’s 32 km long and 7.25 m high. It costs $900 million and has a life of over 100 years. Annualized cost is $9 million. Peanuts compared to the social benefit of carbon.

    • http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/21/social-cost-of-carbon/#comment-416420

      See the third statement. If you don’t believe Tol, then float a question to him.

    • Dr. Strangelove

      Tol included carbon tax in the social cost. This is nonsense. If not yet implemented, carbon tax is a future cost to avoid real or imagined negative externalities of carbon emission. Sensible if the negative externalities are real and accurately estimated. Nonsense if they are imaginary. That’s the whole point. We cannot assume it to be true when the climate models are patently wrong.

      If the carbon tax is already implemented, it should be considered a social benefit to suspend such taxes (cost savings). Take the negative externalitles rather than the carbon tax. Incur the true cost of carbon emission and avoid the carbon tax.

      Put simply, these economists will charge society a ridiculously expensive carbon tax and then say see the social cost of carbon is high.

    • “Tol included carbon tax in the social cost.” I think maybe you are getting this backwards. Tol and others are trying to estimate the net external benefit (or net external cost) of carbon. Let’s call this NEB(c), for net external benefit of total carbon c, understanding that when NEB < 0 the external effects of carbon are costly rather than beneficial. What Richard is claiming is that when estimating NEB, he and others do indeed try to include benefits. Notice above in Dr. Curry's top post that Tol says that at warming up to 2C the NEB is actually positive: That could not happen if Tol (and people like him) were excluding external benefits of carbon (like crop fertilization) from their calculations. You could ask Richard what external benefits are included; and maybe in the course of the discussion you might uncover something that Richard and others have neglected. But it's just not right to claim (as many have in this thread) that Tol and others completely ignore external benefits of carbon.

      Moreover, when they talk about the SCC(c), this is actually not the NEB(c) but rather the derivative of NEB with respect to c, evaluated at the prevailing level of c. It is a mistake to conflate "the total benefits of carbon" (which is mainly net private benefits which are properly priced in market transactions…the net external benefits are a relatively small part of the total net benefits of carbon) with the derivative of the net external benefits of carbon. Virtually everyone on this thread is conflating these. Amazing, since most of them are engineers and physicists, who ought to tumble to the distinction between a sum of functions, and the derivatives of the functions, with no trouble at all.

      IF you believe the estimate of the SCC(c), THEN you would add that to the private price of c to get a "total social price" of c–if you want to make net total social benefit as large as possible. They are not engaged in circular reasoning as you seem to think.

      The question of whether the premise they work with (e.g. some range of possible warmings associated with some rate of increase in c) is correct or not is a fine question. But it is separable from whether Tol is correctly reasoning from that premise to an appropriate range of possible SCC(c) with associated likelihoods. Tol isn't the climate scientist. Like you, I have strong doubts about the climate science that informs the premise. But whether Tol is or is not doing the social cost/benefit analysis correctly, given the premise, is an entirely different issue.

    • Dr. Strangelove

      Are you saying carbon tax is included in benefit by Tol? Is it cost or benefit? Make that clear because it changes the whole computation whether you’re doing NEB or the derivative of NEB. That’s the point.

    • Strangelove, to economists in this particular context of social cost/benefit analysis, benefits and costs arise from the consumption of goods, bads and/or services (how this consumption increases or decreases the welfare of people) and the production of goods, bads and/or and services (how this production takes away from the consumption of OTHER goods, bads and/or services–this is what we call opportunity cost).

      The idea of a Pigouvian tax is a modification of market-determined prices. From the viewpoint of standard economics, prices+taxes are mediators of the behavior of consumers and producers–they are not themselves either costs or benefits since they don’t enter directly into welfare or production relations. Instead, price+tax acts to coordinate (that is, make mutually consistent) the desired purchases and sales of consumers and producers. In a well-functioning price system, prices (with tax included) will measure the derivatives of net total private benefit (on the consumption side) and net total private cost (on the production side), but the prices (with tax included) are not themselves those benefits or costs from the viewpoint of the social cost/benefit accounting.

      Does that help?

    • Dr. Strangelove

      No it doesn’t help the consumers who end up paying for all this. How economists do their accounting is academic. Consumers pay for carbon tax and it’s neither cost nor benefit according to economic theory? No wonder the management guru Peter Drucker had low regard for economists. They are like theologians with no faith. Economists with no sensible economic theory.

    • Oh golly, all the cool kids have low regard for economics. I’m so crushed.

    • The cool kids have a low regard for ox goring views, no? That should be a tenant of economic theory alongside prospect theory. Perhaps it’s an internal driver of prospect theory which, based on your link to the 2002 Nobel prize was essentially stolen from Hume. As a field geologist, we must accept that the Scottish enlightenment is the fount of scientific common sense.

      My question: Why are taxes favored over tax breaks as the prefered measure to reduce CO2?

    • Some of that is too clever for me to follow, Howard.

      As Tol would tell you too, the point of a Pigouvian tax on carbon is not to raise revenue but rather to alter the relative prices of carbon goods and non-carbon goods. Therefore–rather than placing a tax on carbon goods–you could get the same result by placing a subsidy on non-carbon goods.

      Generally, whatever congress has done to tax rates, the total effective federal tax take has remained about 19% of GDP for a very long time. That is, when congress monkeys with the tax code, they generally raise some rates and decrease others, in such a way that overall revenue remains about the same in the long haul. That is, the actual behavior of congress in the long haul has tended to produce revenue-neutral tax policy. They can do it and generally they do.

      So IF we were going to use tax or subsidy to monkey with the carbon-intensiveness of the economy, I would advocate placing a Pigouvian tax on the carbon goods and services and cutting other taxes so as to get a rough revenue neutrality. Notice I said IF. There is a long string of presumptions to get past that IF.

    • NW,

      So IF we were going to use tax or subsidy to monkey with the carbon-intensiveness of the economy, I would advocate placing a Pigouvian tax on the carbon goods and services and cutting other taxes so as to get a rough revenue neutrality. Notice I said IF. There is a long string of presumptions to get past that IF.

      It seems to me, what nearly all advocates of carbon pricing ignore, is that the probability of implementing a global carbon pricing system and maintaining it for a century or so is near zero. And if carbon pricing is not global it will not work and will not survive. It won’t change the climate so it would deliver no benefits. But the costs would be huge to the countries or regions that try to implement them. If USA tries it, it will disadvantage the USA’s businesses compared with its trading partners and competitors. It will damage the economy and people’s well-being. People will understand. They vote. They will vote to remove the policy and the legislation, just like Australia has done.

      IMO, raising the price of energy is the wrong way to go about cutting GHG emissions. It almost certainly won’t work – for practical reasons. The assumptions that underpin the modelling do not include any of the real world realities, such as the probability of succeeding with a policy that raises the cost of energy. This explains: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/

      The cost of the Australian ETS would be about one year of lost income per person from 2012-2050. That amounts to about two years lost income per worker, because those earning a living have to pay, not those who are not earning an income. And that’s for no benefit!. Ask people: “are you prepared to give up two years of your income for a policy that has next to no chance of delivering any benefits?” Not many will say yes. Once voters realise the cost to them personally, they will dump it.

    • Peter, a couple of comments.

      I am not an advocate of a Pigouvian tax, or TDPs, or a government industrial policy that picks and subsidizes research in various low-carbon technologies. I’m not even convinced we have a serious problem meriting any of the above.

      I think almost every proposal has some hard politics and political economy. There is of course a severe free rider problem involved with any TDP or Pigouvian tax/subsidy system that does anything that might be helpful. But everyone knows that. Commons problems have been solved without a Leviathan stepping in for thousands of years, so I am not convinced those problems are insurmountable. The countries of the world haven’t been debating this as long as they’ve been debating freer trade, and they still make progress with the latter in fits and starts. But an industrial policy to favor (say) nuclear power also has severe political problems in most of the countries of the world; and a widespread civilian use of nuclear power throughout the world breeds its own set of potential hazards (I am thinking of proliferation and terrorism but disposal is the great NIMBY of all NIMBYs… we still don’t have a facility in the US because of the politics of it).

      Argueing for one alleged solution’s technical feasibility without noticing its political problems, while noticing nothing but the political problems of another alleged solution without talking about it’s technical feasibility, doesn’t seem fully useful to me.

    • NW,

      Thank you for your comment. Thanks for clarifying your position on a few things, and pointing out where we disagree.

      In forums like this where people are pushing for climate mitigation, UN climate conferences “to take action”, international legally binding agreements, carbon pricing, and interventions in the market to impose renewable energy by regulations and subsidies, I do take a strong advocacy position in support of economically rational and ‘no regrets’ solutions and against irrational policy proposals.

      I don’t agree with some of your points. I accept and recognise the political issue with nuclear power. However, there is also a much bigger political problem with carbon pricing and any solution that will increase the cost of energy. So, let’s be realistic about that. I see the problem of reducing the cost of nuclear power – which has been caused the political opposition to nuclear power and led by elites in the developed countries – as being easier to address than the political problem of raising the cost of energy for the whole world.

      I don’t regard comparing freer trade negotiations and climate negotiations as comparable. With freer trade almost all countries, all economies and the vast majority of people and interest groups are winners. The opposite is the case with mitigation policies. Almost everyone, except some free loaders, would be losers. That is why carbon pricing has very little chance of getting implemented, let alone surviving for a century or so.

      You say: “But an industrial policy to favor (say) nuclear power also has severe political problems in most of the countries of the world;”

      But, as I’ve explained many times, that is not what I am advocating. I am advocating removal of the impediments that have been imposed on markets as a result of irrational fear and scaremongering. I am advocating we remove the bad industrial policies that have been implemented in the past. I want to remove the constraints governments have imposed, not add more artificial distortions on the market. I see it as totally the opposite of imposing more interventions.

      and a widespread civilian use of nuclear power throughout the world breeds its own set of potential hazards (I am thinking of proliferation and terrorism but disposal is the great NIMBY of all NIMBYs… we still don’t have a facility in the US because of the politics of it).

      I agree there is a political and NIMBY problem. But this is political and public perception. So it can be changed. I don’t agree used nuclear fuel storage is a technical problem. Certainly nowhere near the equivalent technical problem of managing the vastly larger quantities and toxicities of chemical wastes from other energy sources. I agree it is a political problem. Therefore, it can be solved. Political problems that are based on irrational beliefs can be solved. I also don’t agree with the concerns about proliferation.

      Argueing for one alleged solution’s technical feasibility without noticing its political problems, while noticing nothing but the political problems of another alleged solution without talking about it’s technical feasibility, doesn’t seem fully useful to me.

      What are you referring to in the second part of the quoted sentence? If you arfe referring to carbon pricing did you read this: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/ ?

      I understand the political problems of the various options. I can also consider separately the technical problems and the political problems.

      Technically and rationally nuclear is the way to provide most of the energy for a world requiring more energy, environmentally benign, safer etc. Politically it is an issue, but solvable.

      Carbon pricing is not an economically rational solution over any reasonable time frame. It would be high cost make people poorer and impracticable in the real world. Twenty years of UN climate negotiations should make that absolutely clear. Carbon pricing will be much harder to impose on the whole world than reducing the cost on n nuclear power by unwinding the unnecessary constraints that have made it so expensive. Carbon pricing is an almost prohibitively impossible political solution. Furthermore, carbon pricing cannot succeed in cutting global emissions without a large proportion of nuclear energy. Carbon pricing would make the world poorer and less able to move as fast to reduce the cost of nuclear and, therefore, the speed it is rolled out across the world and, therefore, the speed at which global emissions are reduced.

      The very people and groups who say they are most concerned about CAGW are the same people and groups (like Greenpeace) who have led the anti-nuke campaigns and continue to do so.

      Part of the problem is that people mix and conflate the rational and the political arguments. And they mix and conflate short term and long term arguments. And they ignore that the political problem for nuclear is driven by a smallish group ideologically driven elites in the developed countries who hate nuclear. Contrast this with the whole world will not wear high energy prices caused by imposing carbon pricing.

      Carbon pricing would be a major issue for the whole world for a century. How irrational is that. But we could get over the main opposition to nuclear power in around two terms of a good US President – especially if the environmental NGO’s get rational. Then, it would take time for the costs of nuclear to come down (see my previous comments).

      In short: nuclear is the one technical solution available now or likely to be available in the foreseeable future that can achieve the huge cuts in global emissions CAGW alarmists are calling for.

      Nuclear would have to be the main contributor for much of this century at least. There is no other realistic option.

      The politics of nuclear power can be overcome and this could be achieve quite quickly. Conversely, the politics of carbon pricing or any policy that raises the cost of energy worldwide will be an impossible political problem for ever.

    • NW,

      I’ll attempt to present my response to your comment in a clearer way.

      Let’s try to break this down to a minimum number of technical options to cut the global GHG emissions rate massively by say 2060. Let’s consider three options:

      1. Global carbon price
      2. subsidise renewable energy
      3. remove impediments to nuclear so it can become cheaper than fossil fuels

      Let’s divide the arguments for each option into political and technical

      Political

      1. Carbon price – I cannot conceive how the world’s government could agree to implement and maintain an optimum carbon price for as long as is needed (e.g. a century). Unless it is global it would cost the participants too much and would not survive. And since it will be very difficult for people to believe that the carbon price is actually going to give them a benefit, I just can’t imagine how other than the rich elites in the rich countries would support it, let alone for a century.

      2. Politically renewable energy is very popular. But some people are beginning to recognise the costs and feel energy poverty because of the costs – and that is with a very small contribution from renewable energy. The costs will get much higher as more renewables are rolled out. I suspect the political support will fade. It’s already starting to in Europe and Australia.

      3. Nuclear power is unpopular and people are scared of it. But it is an irrational fear. If it replaced coal fired electricity generation world wide now it would avoid over 1 million fatalities per year now and over 2 million a year by 2050. There are many other major benefits and no substantial disadvantages. If it really is important to reduce global emissions, then the greenies will eventually change their mind. Once they lead, the nuclear paranoia can be largely reduced. Then the impediments can be removed and the price will come down. There will be many competing designs. Safety will improve. We’ll be over the hump. There will be accidents, no doubt, but probably small with smaller reactors and the community will come to accept them just as they accept aircraft accidents and the fatalities from the other types of power stations. The politics of nuclear are fixable when the elites are ready to be genuinely more concerned about CAGW than their irrational ideological anti-nuke propaganda.

      Technical

      1. Carbon price cannot cut emissions by much unless the technologies are available to substitute for fossil fuels. Raising the price of the competitors is not the right way to get the alternatives – either renewables or nuclear – to be cheaper than fossil fuels.

      2. Renewable energy has technically and financially insurmountable technical constraints: intermittency, energy storage, transmission, material requirements, land area required.

      3. Nuclear is proven. It can do the job now. But small reactors are needed. The existing impediments to their development are prohibitively expensive. They need to be removed. The impediments are not technical. They are regulatory and financial risks because the politics is poisonous. Fix the politics and we fix nuclear. Nuclear has effectively unlimited fuel available and its efficiency in using the fuels can be improved nearly 100 fold compared with the current generation of reactors. There is no technical constraint over the time we are talking about. The only constraint is politics, and that can be changed sufficiently to get started in a decade or so.

    • ‘ready to be genuinely concerned about CAGW’. Ah, there is A rub, if not THE rub.
      ==========

  44. Climate Etc. is getting badly spammed tonight. Was there a breakthrough in spamming blogs this morning?

    • Very heavy spam for some reason today, i will try to keep on top of it

    • Heavy spam may mean that the Alarmists are getting Alarmed that their influence is rapidly dropping.

      I think this is likely the case. I have talked to dozens of people, just in the past Month. I have told each of them my short version of Climate Theory and given them my Climate Card, which reads:

      On the Front:
      Herman A. (Alex) Pope
      Pope’s Climate Theory
      http://popesclimatetheory.com/
      Retired Aerospace Engineer
      NASA-JSC- 1963-2007
      alexpope13@gmail.com
      281-734-2110

      On the Back:
      When the oceans are warm and wet, it snows more and that bounds the upper limits of temperature and sea level.
      When the oceans are cold and frozen, it snows less and that bounds the lower limits of temperature and sea level.
      CO2 just makes green things grow better, while using less water.

      Some of the people listened and agreed, some listened and did not respond, yes or no.

      No one has disagreed with me in several months, not including some of my liberal friends who always disagree with me about consensus and peer review, and a few Alarmists who come to our Climate Study group activities.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      “When the oceans are warm and wet…”

      Is there time when oceans are not wet?

    • It’s hard to put all the examples on the back of a card, but the surface of the Arctic in February can get dry.

      Or, more likely, that RGates was just spamming.
      ==========

  45. The best course, he says, would be to adopt a modest carbon tax

    That’s very easy to say. But so far none of the people who advocate a carbon tax have addressed the key question” what is the probability it would succeed in the real world?

    Here are some of the assumptions that underpin the models which are used to justify a carbon tax:

    • There will be negligible leakage (of emissions between countries, between industries and between emissions sources)

    • All GHG emission sources are included (all countries and all GHG emissions in each country)

    • There will be negligible compliance cost and negligible fraud

    • There will be an optimal carbon price and the whole world implements it in unison

    • The whole world acts in unison to increase the optimal carbon price periodically and will continue to maintain the carbon price at the optimal level for all of this century (and thereafter).

    If these assumptions are not met, the estimated benefits of carbon pricing would not be achieved.

    • The whole purpose of the worldwide carbon tax is to halt the catastrophic rise in the TOE that is being driven by ACO2. Otherwise, why the tax?

      “If these assumptions are not met, the estimated benefits of carbon pricing would not be achieved.”

      You are right: meeting the assumptions is a necessary condition to achieve the the estimated benefit (controlling the TOE) of carbon pricing; it is not a sufficient condition however. Controlling worldwide CO2 emissions will make many people (the controllers) wealthy, powerful, or both. It will make the rest of us poor. It will have no effect on the TOE.

    • Carbon already has a modest tax.

      We do not need to follow Europe and Others down a path that we see is not working for them.
      The jobs that already go to China and India and other places that don’t tax energy, show us that we need low cost energy to be compete abd be successful.

    • Actually, Carbon has more than a modest TAX, when you consider what the EPA is already causing. The subsidies and tax credits for Wind and Solar and Ethanol is already a huge Tax above what tax we pay at the pump and in our utility bills.

    • The KEY QUESTION is why does NO ACTUAL DATA match the CLIMATE MODEL OUTPUT that is used to cause this WORLDWIDE CARBON TAX ON WELL TO DO COUNTRIES.

  46. A number of people are really not getting it.

    My paper does a cost-benefit analysis. That is an optimization. In the optimum, the first partial derivative of the cost of the policy under consideration equals the first partial derivative of the benefit. Put differently, the marginal costs of emission reduction equals the marginal benefits of avoided climate change.

    Cheap and abundant energy is a great good. Using less or more expensive energy therefore has a cost to society. If we reduce emissions by a little bit, the cost is low. If we reduce emissions by a lot, the cost is high.The relationship between the intensity of emission reduction and its total cost is roughly exponential.

    The impacts of climate change are a mix of positives and negatives. Positives include CO2 fertilization, reduced heating costs, reduced cold deaths, cheaper timber, fewer schistosomiasis cases. Negatives include increased heating costs, increased heat deaths, more malaria and diarrhea, water stress, more intense extratropical storms, sea level rise. The impacts of climate change are the sum of adaptation costs and residual impacts. What matters are the NET impacts, the sum of all the positives and negatives.

    I have found that the positives dominate the negatives for moderate warming, and that the negatives dominate the positives for more pronounced warming. Others disagree.

    In a cost-benefit analysis, we are interested in the marginal benefit, that is, how the net impact of climate change is altered if emissions fall by a little. Because the climate system responds very slowly and because the positive impacts of climate change are concentrated in the near term, most (but not all) estimates show that there is a cost to increased emissions (the so-called social cost of carbon) and thus a benefit to reduced emissions.

    The benefit of reducing emissions then need to be weighted against the cost of reducing emissions.

    • Richard, you write ” and that the negatives dominate the positives for more pronounced warming. Others disagree.”

      You are right that others disagree. There is zero empirical data to show that adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels causes any significant increase in global temperatures. The fact that no-one has measured a CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph means that there is a strong indication that the climate sensitivity of CO2, however defined, is indistinguishable from zero.

    • Negatives include increased heating costs,…

      I assume you meant “…increased cooling costs?…”

      When you speak of CO2 fertilization as a positive – are you discounting for: (1) increased fertilization costs to keep up with increased growth, (2) increased cost for irrigation and, (3) impact from altering the balance of the existing eco-system?

      Not to say that any of those 3 factors wouldn’t be a net positive….

    • More CO2 makes green things grow better with LESS water.
      Warmer Climate produces MORE Precipitation.
      The balance of the existing eco-systems would be altered in a beneficial direction with More CO2.
      Actual Data shows this to be true.

      Climate Model Output shows that our historic data is wrong, it could not have happened the way the data shows. Instead of temperature going up and down, over and over again, like the data shows, the Models show that temperature was steady until CO2 when up and it went with CO2 and looked like a hockey stick. Even the Alarmist IPCC had to quit using the hockey stick. It is time for the rest of the Alarmists to go back and look at some real actual data and quit using hockey sticks.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      The Earth climate has evolved along with the biosphere. In the biosphere, optimums exist in ranges. There is a range of CO2 that is good in your blood and in the the atmosphere. Go outside this range– especially pretty rapidly, and the system gets out of balance.

    • May I ask how you computed the effect of a ‘modest’ carbon tax on economic growth? See the thing is that if an economy grows, on average at 2.5% per year it doubles every 28 years, or during the 50 year adult lifetime its increases by 3.44 fold.
      However, at 2% growth, caused by your ‘modest’ carbon tax it takes 35 years to double and after 50 years is only 2.75 times as big.
      Now as time goes by the less taxed economy gets increasing bigger, and bigger means more robust, more elastic and with greater resources to over come trivial problems like rising oceans or loss of fossil water reserves.

      You analysis reminds me of the anti-vaccine people. They know that vaccines can cause harm to individuals, but they know that the scientists cannot say how safe a particular vaccine is, so they go for baby and bath water. Throw the vaccines out and reduce the risk of vaccination injury, then let the health baby take on the pathogens in the natural state.
      It is not something I am moved by from them or from you.
      2 degrees from NOW would be mostly positive and 2x[CO2] from NOW would give you that.

    • more malaria and diarrhea, water stress, more intense extratropical storms, sea level rise.

      None of these are supported by actual data, only flawed Model Output.

    • CO2 makes green things grow better with less water.

      More CO2 reduces Water Stress.

    • Richard Tol

      No question that it is a daunting task to try to do an economic evaluation of policy options regarding potential future climate change.

      What we do know for sure is that the total and per capita GWP, standard of living, quality of life and average life expectancy at birth have increased enormously since the start of the Industrial Revolution around 1750, when human-induced greenhouse warming started.

      Even if we assume that the availability of a reliable source of energy based on low-cost fossil fuels was only responsible for half of this improvement, it would still put the net “social benefit” of carbon to date at around $900 per ton. [ 0.5 * $71 trillion increase in GWP in 1990 US$ (Wiki) divided by an estimated 380 Gt carbon emitted from fossil fuels since 1750 (CDIAC).]

      Of course, population also grew: from 791 million to 7 billion, so the per capita increase in GDP (standard of living, quality of life, etc.) was only 63 times (6300%). In the underdeveloped world (Africa, for example) it was lower, nut still substantial.

      We now have very dicey projections based on computer model simulations with all sorts of empirically unsubstantiated input assumptions, that tell us that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (something that could possibly occur within the next 150 years or so) could lead to global warming of 1.5C (no problem whatsoever) to 4.5C (could represent a net overall problem, especially for regions at lower latitudes).

      To make any sort of meaningful economic evaluation based on this meager input is more than just a daunting task – it is flat out impossible (as I believe you have already commented).

      The ball is now in the court of the climatologists. Until they can narrow down the estimated range for the 2xCO2 CO2 temperature response, there is no point trying to refine any economic evaluation as a guide to policy makers.

      Fortunately, there have been several recent independent, (partially) observation-based studies, which suggest that the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity at equilibrium is in the range of 1.0°C to 2.9°C, with a mean value of 1.8°C, or about half of the model-based predictions cited by IPCC.

      Lewis (2013) 1.0C to 3.0C
      Berntsen (2012) 1.2C to 2.9C
      Lindzen (2011) 0.6C to 1.0C
      Schmittner (2011) 1.4C to 2.8C
      van Hateren (2012) 1.5C to 2.5C
      Schlesinger (2012) 1.45C to 2.01C
      Masters (2013) 1.5C to 2.9C

      As I understand it, your study has concluded that the net economic impact of AGW has been beneficial to date, and would continue to be so until global temperatures exceed current levels by 2.2°C to 2.5°C.

      So, if these new studies on 2xCO2 ECS are correct, then there is no problem to be expected from AGW, even in its worst incarnation.

      But it is now clearly up to the climatologists to refine their estimates before any policy actions should be considered.

      Max

    • We need to take the Climate Work completely away from Consensus People and hand it to Skeptical Scientists.

      It is not up to the consensus climatologists, they will not consider that they are wrong when model output does not match earth data. They cannot be trusted to handle this.

      They need to be sued in court and forced to try to prove their case without supporting data. Texas does this. YES WE DO!

    • Richard Tol

      A second point, which has been discussed.

      What discount rate should be used to offset today’s (fairly certain) investments/costs against tomorrow’s (rather doubtful) avoidance of costs related to the effects of AGW – especially in view of the unintended negative consequences that we cannot even foresee?

      The many uncertainties associated with the expected net future benefit resulting from the current mitigation investments would suggest to me that a fairly high discount rate should be applied. [IOW, if I was investing my own money, I'd want to have a fairly high estimated rate of return.]

      A rather modest discount rate of 5% would equate today’s $1 with a net cost reduction by 2100 of $70.

      Max

    • Dr. Strangelove

      Tol

      “the marginal costs of emission reduction equals the marginal benefits of avoided climate change”

      This is an assumption. Does it happen in the real world? Can you prove it is true? If the assumption is wrong, your whole economic theory falls apart.

      “Negatives include increased heating costs, increased heat deaths, more malaria and diarrhea, water stress, more intense extratropical storms, sea level rise.”

      Warmer climate will increase heating costs? Malaria increases with poverty incidence and poor or non-implementation of preventive measures. Diarrhea is caused by dirty water supply and unsanitary environment. No empirical evidence of more intense extratropical storms. Lindzen argues less extratropical storms based on all textbooks on meteorology.

      The negatives are largely imaginary. The devil is in the details. The grand conclusions are nothing if the assumptions are wrong.

    • “the marginal costs of emission reduction equals the marginal benefits of avoided climate change”

      That’s not an assumption, that’s the optimality condition in the calculation. That’s like saying that at the maximum of a function the derivative is zero.

    • Richard, you said:

      “Negatives include increased heating costs, increased heat deaths, more malaria and diarrhea, water stress, more intense extratropical storms, sea level rise.”
      ———————————————————-
      How did you come to the conclusion that malaria is a function of climate? There is plenty of literature that demonstrates that this is simply wrong. It is a function of the presence of an infection pool and Anopheles. Nothing to do with climate. The worst known epidemic was in Siberia.

      The claim about extratropical storms is also without empirical foundation.

      I respect your work as an economist, but as soon as you start to inject assertions from outside the field into your work, your critical faculties seem to depreciate somewhat, with negative consequences.

    • Malaria is a disease of poverty first, second and third and of climate fourth

    • I think most people, when they think of a cost benefit analysis WRT CO2, expect the cost of CO2-caused problems to be compared with the benefits due to CO2.

    • Indeed, Jim. But that means that, as someone who is stepping out of their field of expertise, you try to choose variables which have a sound empirical foundation. The literature on malaria, which is extensive, does not support the assertion that its prevalence is influenced significantly by temperature – and that is the mainstream view. The same goes for extratropical storms.

    • Doubly twisted the mythology of malaria; that it is tropical and the whole DDT thing. The cell dedicated to transmission of information is parasitised.

      When we gonna think schmart? Give thanks, the day is coming.

      But the end is not near, though the ice may be.
      =========

  47. Any time I see someone attempt to estimate the heating effect of a doubling of CO2, they use only CO2 in the estimate. It is well known that the atmosphere contains much more water vapor, on average, than CO2. This water vapor must be included in any realistic attempt to estimate warming from a doubling of CO2.

    I was going to try to figure out how to do this, but research discovered someone already did it. And this explains why observations don’t comport with estimates of warming by a doubling of CO2.

    This renders the exercise to determine social costs an exercise in futility.

    From the article:

    You should notice that the legend cites six traces, but you see only four. That is because the 10, 50, and 90% humidity traces are superimposed. There is very little change in the downward radiation for any humidity from 10% and above and for any CO2 concentration from zero to 1000 ppm, or indeed for any concentration of CO2 up to 10,000 ppm.

    http://notrickszone.com/2012/08/07/epic-warmist-fail-modtran-doubling-co2-will-do-nothing-to-increase-long-wave-radiation-from-sky/

    • More from the article:

      As you can see, only in the driest desert on Earth will increasing CO2 increase the “back” radiation. Water vapor is by far the strongest greenhouse gas, but it is nearly saturated at 10% humidity. At 10% humidity and above, no amount of CO2 does anything. Most of the humidity on Earth is in that area on the right where doubling CO2 will do nothing to increase the long-wave radiation from the sky. Yet another warmist fail.

    • Wow, who is that? It is completely wrong! What he has done is used the MODTRAN program, but in the option where you choose looking up at the surface, he seems to have chosen looking down to get those numbers. That’s as near as I can get to see that effect. Try it yourself and verify, and then you can contact him about his error before he makes a fool of himself.

    • I’ll check that out, probably tomorrow. See, blog review is good :)

    • JimD, do you agree that considering only CO2 in this scenario will produce misleading numbers?

    • Yes, doubling CO2 you will see several W/m2 impact at the surface keeping H2O fixed. It emits in bands where H2O has almost no effect.

    • According to the discussion on that site US standard atmosphere was used. US standard atmosphere specifies, however, the moisture profile. Thus the humidity cannot be changed as long as it is US standard atmosphere. The mixing ratio of H2O is 0.77% (that’s about 45% relative humidity at the surface temperature of 15C) in the lowest layer, 0.61% in the next etc.

      Using another program (essentially the Matlab implementation of Science of Doom) I got for the US standard atmosphere the following values for flux down at surface:

      100ppm CO2: 265.9 W/m^2
      360ppm CO2: 271.7 W/m^2
      1000ppm CO2: 277.0 W/m^2

      Correspondingly the flux up at TOA was

      100ppm CO2: 270.1 W/m^2
      360ppm CO2: 262.7 W/m^2
      1000ppm CO2: 256.8 W/m^2

      It clear that the results shown in that post are something totally different than they are claimed to be.

    • It just came to my mind that perhaps the author thought that the humidity values of MODTRAN are relative humidities while they are actually mixing ratios. The results shown for 1% are not so different from the correct ones for the US standard atmosphere. The high humidity values would then be results obtained for physically impossible states where most of the air molecules are water vapor.

    • Pekka, as I mentioned above, if you switch to “looking down” at the surface you get the 360 W/m2 type numbers he displayed. It was a mistake at least for the important sections of his table.

    • Jim,

      With the impossibly high water vapor concentrations you get almost as much IR downwards as upwards. I consider my explanation of the error most likely to be true.

    • Pekka, the online MODTRAN program that I think is used most has a water vapor scaling factor. This is also not RH, so they may be changing this without knowing what it is. You can’t change RH with that program, and I agree they misinterpreted something, but I think it is not coincidental that the downward looking value is similar to what they mostly display, and would of course not care much about water vapor or CO2 either.

    • Checking, what the UChicago MODTRAN implementation tells, the error is clearly that they have imagined that the Water Vapor Scale would be relative humidity in percent. The make a “small” error by the factor of 45 in that.

      The numbers I got repeating that same error at UChicago site are very close to the table of that blog post, but not quite identical.

    • JimD says: @Jim D | November 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      Yes, doubling CO2 you will see several W/m2 impact at the surface keeping H2O fixed. It emits in bands where H2O has almost no effect.

      Actually, with higher water vapor levels, it is only 2 to 3 W/m2. And with clouds, in the cases I have run on Modtran, doubling of CO2 from 400 to 800 does almost nothing to the downwelling IR..

      The temperature calculator doesn’t seem to work. I am curious to see what the predicted temp is for cloud cover.

    • Jim2, that is about the effect expected. You have to remember GCMs use codes that have similar physics to MODTRAN, clouds and all. You won’t find anything there that is outside of AGW. In fact, this type of radiative physics is central.

    • I’ve never doubted the radiative physics part of climate. It’s the feedbacks I question.

      But one thing new to me is that clouds pretty much negate the effect of an increasing CO2 concentration. I recall the 31C limit found by Willis and scientists before him. I wish the temperature calculator worked on Modtran onliine.

    • Jim2

      Interesting article re MODTRAN observations.

      If I understand it correctly, it is telling us that CO2 plays only a minor greenhouse role globally, limited to those geographic regions above land where relative humidity is quite low.

      Increasing CO2 only increases “back” radiation at extremely low RH. Water vapor is by far the strongest greenhouse gas, but even it is nearly saturated at 10% RH.

      Since the oceans already comprise close to 75% of Earth’s surface and many land areas have higher than 10% RH, this would limit the effect of CO2 considerably.

      How could the “mainstream consensus” climate scientists have missed this if it is correct?

      Max

    • Read my comment. They made a mistake.

  48. CO2 does not cause harm, but it does cause good and more is better.
    Take some of it away and you will kill some of the Life Forms on Earth.
    Take it all away and we all die.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/21/steward-turning-the-green-earth-greener/

  49. Increasing CO2 on earth is a measure of increasing prosperity and improved health of people on earth. Germany is the poster child for taking away of energy and CO2.
    Australia has voted the anit-CO2 people out of power. They learned the hard way.

    • Herman Alexander Pope

      Australia has voted the anit-CO2 people out of power. They learned the hard way.

      It is quite likely that the USA will also “vote the anti-CO2 people out of power” next time around.

      This might be a reason for the very timid anti-CO2 rhetoric coming out of the White House (maybe the Democrats are astute enough not to want to “learn the hard way”).

      Max.

  50. Climate Change Policy, What do the Models Tell Us?
    Abstract. Very little.

    What the Models tell us is much worse than Very Little.

    They tell us to do things that are actually HARMFULL and NOT HELPFULL.

  51. Apology to Richard Tol: I made a flippant response to a remark of “When did Tol get to be in the middle of the road?” To my surprise, my remark attracted several comments on Tol.

    For the record, I regard Tol highly as an economist, and think that he is highly professional. I have no information or views on whether he is left, right, neutral or whatever. I am delighted that he is prepared to give his time to this blog.
    I mix serious and (hopefully) humorous comments on CE. I assume, perhaps wrongly, that it is clear which is which! I’m often tired and in pain when I post; yesterday, more so than usual, and affected by the terrible vibe when I inadverdently walked through the scene of a recent murder en route to a medical appointment. I get more manic when I’m tired, and my judgement is poorer.

    Richard, you remarked @28/11 4.35 am: “Max: Pindyck and Weitzman argue that a cost-benefit analysis of climate policy is not possible. I argue that it is.”

    I agree that it is possible. I haven’t followed the discussion on it here in detail, so will merely say that the time-frame and uncertainties inherent in the task must limit its capacity to well inform policy: it can be a factor, but a less convincing one than, say, a CBA of a more defined and short-term issue. My inclination would always be towards policies which enhance our capability to deal well with whatever befalls, rather than adopting costly policies which might or might not have some value in a projected distant future.

    • Faustino,

      I agree. CBA is possible. that is demonstrated by the fact that Tol, Nordhaus, Stern, Ross Garnaut, Australian Treasury and others have done it. I think CBA helps us to understand. It is essential, IMO. However, I also agree that the uncertainties are enormous, and far higher than in the GCMs.

      I suspect the uncertainties in the damage function are huge and we don’t even know the sign. I suspect any global warming that does occur this century is more likely to be net beneficial than a net damage.

      So, IMO, the CBA’s help our understanding, but the enormous uncertainties must be recognised. They also help to reveal where the most important uncertainties are. In my opinion they are (not in order of importance):

      1. climate sensitivity
      2. the damage function
      3. the rate of decarbonisation of the global economy that can be achieved with ‘no regrets’ (i.e. no cost) policies
      4. the probability that a chosen mitigation policy (like carbon pricing) will succeed and deliver the projected benefits
      5. The capacity humans and natural systems to adapt

  52. mosher i’m trying real hard to square your wisdom on DoD risk analysis that you describe (no issues there) with your views on climate mitigation. cognitive dissonance lurks nearby methinks….

  53. Doubling of CO2 with water vapor taken into account, revisited.

    Ed Caryl, the guy who did the Modtran analysis of a doubling of CO2 with water vapor included, did get feedback concerning the water vapor scale setting in Modtran. I’ve been looking for information on that feature and have found that documentation of Modtran online is almost non-existent, especially for the water vapor scale setting.

    From what I have found, it is apparently a fraction of water vapor present in a column of air representing a “standard atmosphere” defined for various latitudes. Ed Caryl found the same sort of information, or lack of it.

    Given what he could determine about Modtran, he did the analysis again.

    From the article:

    “There is very little change in the downward radiation for any humidity from 40% and above and for any CO2 concentration from 50 to 1000 ppm, or indeed for any concentration of CO2 up to 10,000 ppm.

    Here are the Excel numbers copied from MODTRAN used to draw the above chart.

    Figure 7
    As you can see, only in the driest desert on earth will increasing CO2 increase the back radiation very much. Water vapor is by far the strongest greenhouse gas, but it is nearly saturated above 10% humidity. At 10% humidity and above, no amount of CO2 does very much. Most of the humidity on earth is in that area on the right of figure 6, where doubling CO2 will do little to increase the long-wave radiation from the sky. Yet another CAGW fail.”

    http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/analyzing-earths-w-modtran-update-1.doc

    and also …

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/ed-caryl-modtran-shows-co2-doubling-will-have-almost-no-effect-on-temperature/

    • From the update you can see that the results are totally different. The change in downwelling radiation is comparable to the change of opposite sign at TOA, and both are very roughly equal to the radiative forcing determined by Myhre and others.

      New results that contradict totally his earlier conclusions didn’t make Ed Caryl to give up as he makes the unsubstantiated claim that even his new calculation would somehow prove that main stream thinking is in error. He should have just noted that he made a mistake, but for some reason he didn’t do that.

    • The doubling of 400 to 800 ppm CO2 only increased downwelling radiation by about 2 w/m2 at the higher humidity levels.

      What do the “mainstream” scientists and/or models predict?

    • It is well known that drier atmospheres have more surface CO2 impact than moister ones. This is because water vapor dominates more in the moister cases. Using their tropical sounding versus subarctic demonstrates this quite well.

    • Well, yes, JimD. I believe that is the point of his article.

    • The correct way of considering this question is looking at the analyses that have led to the conclusion that climate forcing is about 3.7 W/m^2. It’s known that the estimate is not accurate, its accuracy is often given as ±10%, the error may be even a little more, but not much.

      Calculations of specific profiles like the US Standard atmosphere give each different results. The forcing of a particular profile may differ by a few tens of percent of the average value.

      The publicly available implementation of MODTRAN is not the most accurate model for radiative transfer calculations, but it’s close enough for experimenting with it, when it’s understood that the standard atmospheres implemented represent only a sample of all possible situations. Myhre has shown that not many more clear sky profiles are needed for good results, but taking clouds properly into account is a more complex issue, and also the main reason for the relatively large uncertainty that remains.

    • After correcting his mistake, there is an influence for normal relative humidities too, so the “epic fail” was his own.

    • jim2,

      If the article would have concentrated on explaining how the influence on back-radiation varies according to the updated calculation that would have been fine and in full agreement with main stream knowledge. The emphasis seems, however, to be in the mistaken claim that an error had been found in standard results of climate science.

    • In no reasonable way of thinking is a water vapor scale a percentage relative humidity, but now I believe Pekka was right in his theory of their error. The default value is 1. The soundings they have as examples come with an RH profile (water vapor can seen as an option in the display of the profile). The scale allows you to reduce vapor in the column by the uniform factor, and this normally would be less than 1 or not too much greater for a real atmosphere. Carlyle was hopelessly wrong and blogged it with lots of people just believing him through confirmation bias, not checking. I am sure there are still people quoting this. He needs big red capital letters on there that this is now proven wrong, and that MODTRAN shows the effects of CO2 in normal atmospheres after all.

    • the lesson is dont let idiots who cant even spell LBL use modtran.

  54. Ian Foster tweets an interesting reference
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312723

    Climate impacts on economic growth as driver of uncertainty in the social cost of carbon

    One of the central ways that the costs of global warming are incorporated into U.S. law is in cost-benefit analysis of federal regulations. In 2010, to standardize analyses, an Interagency Working Group (IAWG) established a central estimate of the social cost of carbon (SCC) of $21/tCO2 drawn from three commonly-used models of climate change and the global economy. These models produced a relatively narrow distribution of SCC values, consistent with previous studies. We use one of the IAWG models, DICE, to explore which assumptions produce this apparent robustness. SCC values are constrained by a shared feature of model behavior: though climate damages become large as a fraction of economic output, they do not significantly alter economic trajectories. This persistent growth is inconsistent with the widely held belief that climate change may have strongly detrimental effects to human society. The discrepancy suggests that the models may not capture the full range of possible consequences of climate change. We examine one possibility untested by any previous study, that climate change may directly affect productivity, and find that even a modest impact of this type increases SCC estimates by many orders of magnitude. Our results imply that the SCC is far more uncertain than shown in previous modeling exercises and highly sensitive to assumptions. Understanding the societal impact of climate change requires understanding not only the magnitude of losses at any given time but also how those losses may affect future economic growth.

    • This paper presents just one more argument for the conclusion that it’s not possible to calculate, how the economy will change far in the future.

      The paper considers changes up to year 2300. That should be compared with the idea that cost calculations of today’s economy had been done in 1725. Perhaps today’s economic models are better than models of 1725, but that’s hardly the main reason for the impossibility of making any quantitative calculations of that kind far to the future.

      Cost-benefit analyses may be useful when they are restricted to a period of a few decades (or results dominated by nearest few decades). A reasonable approach could be combining such a cost-benefit analysis with other less detailed and perhaps semi-quantitative approaches for taking the later future into account to the extent that’s possible.

    • Pekka -

      So the question for me becomes whether a cost/benefit analysis, as imperfect as it is with the imperfection growing in proportion to the time period analyzed, is useful in contrast to completely certain proclamations that exclude any cost/benefit analysis.

      How often do we read proclamations on both sides of the climate wars that assert with complete certainty, or almost complete certainty, that climate change will cause economic damage/benefits and/or that policies that target climate change mitigation will cause economic damage/benefits?

      Is there some limit in time frame of cost/benefit projections where we can identify a point of diminishing returns?

    • Joshua,

      The issue of climate policies is in many ways totally unfamiliar to every decision-maker (as it is to everyone else as well). Therefore experience and intuition are not enough to prevent really serious mistakes. To improve on this situation some quantitative economic analysis is really important.

      Unfortunately the spectrum of results produced by environmental economists is really wide. The paper of Moyer et al gives additional evidence for the spread of plausible results at least, when it’s decided to extend the calculation on equal basis to hundreds of years.

      Any calculation directly dominated by distant future beyond 50 years is too sensitive to subjective choices that cannot be substantiated objectively. It’s still right to consider also the distant future, but it must be done in a better understood way, not feeding parameters to a black box.

      If a action can be justified by cost-benefit analysis dominated by the next couple of decades, that’s a good justification, but failing in that is not yet a proof that the action should not be taken.

    • Pekka -

      I agree with the logic of your comments.

      If a action can be justified by cost-benefit analysis dominated by the next couple of decades, that’s a good justification,…

      I think that is key – from a theoretical standpoint but also from a practical standpoint, as action justified by a longer-term time frame runs headlong into the limitations in how people generally approach risk.

      ….but failing in that is not yet a proof that the action should not be taken.

      And this point, IMO, is where tribalism begins to dominate the debate. “Skeptics” (often) seek to simply dismiss potentially low probability risk, turning a blind eye towards large-scale impact, and “realists” (often) seek to ram through policy implementation to address potentially low probability risk, turning a blind eye to known attributes and limitations in how people tend to approach risk.

      I see the only way to move past that gridlock is through stakeholder dialog, where people are committed to addressing the problems as opposed to blaming the problems on their ideological “others.”

    • Pekka

      Calculating the cost of carbon based on economic (and AGW) projections to year 2300 is totally absurd, as you note.

      Can you imagine someone in the year 1725 making projections that go as far as today?

      The lunacy of making such projections is only exceeded by the arrogance of seriously believing that they can be made.

      In the fast changing world of today, even making projections of a few decades is already a daunting challenge.

      On top of this, the key parameter for such projections (2xCO2 ECS) is unknown.

      As a result, all of the IPCC projections can be discarded as pure fantasy.

      Max

  55. Another article on it here with a little more info on where the word “cyclical” came from.
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/27/nebraska-conservatives-demand-flawed-climate-study-scientists-refuse/

  56. A survey of the economic impact of climate change and the marginal damage costs shows that carbon dioxide emissions are a negative externality.

    Among the climate change projects already funded by the EU is a 13-mile-long train line in Quito, Ecuador, a country that has enjoyed growing wealth and reduced inequality due to its oil industry.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10469434/Britains-bill-for-climate-aid-rises-to-4.5-billion.html

  57. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  58. Pingback: Social cost of carbon, economic models of climate, Sept 2013 JEL articles | Teaching Environmental Economics at NU

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